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May 14, 2016

Open thread 212
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:51 AM * 1051 comments

There’s a stand at the street market in Waterlooplein that sells old postcards. Sometimes what a person finds there is a delightful, insoluble mystery.

I don’t know (and will never know) what these three couples were doing in Vienna that evening in February of 1903, but I kinda wish I were there with them. Particularly that fellow in the middle. They remind me of these folks.




Comments on Open thread 212:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 07:27 AM:

It's like the sudden discovery that your parents were young once too...

#2 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 10:00 AM:

The linked picture reminds me of the results of my cousin's wedding photo booth. My parents got a good picture, a sweet picture, and then two ridiculous pictures because they didn't realize how long they'd have to kiss to make them all kissy pictures. Then we got into a competition with the other side of the bride's family and ended up cramming eleven of us in there. We won.

#3 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 10:41 AM:

Totes adorbs. Definite Gilbert & Sullivan vibe in the postcard.

#4 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 10:43 AM:

Incidentally, HLN: Local woman is now entitled to write "MPH" after her signature; is gratified when favorite professor says "you would be really good at x" job, which coincidentally happens to be exactly what local woman would like to do after imminent grant-funded one-to-three-year research position ends.

#5 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 10:52 AM:

The couple on the right..."I don't really want to be photographed cuddling in the sight of God and radar, but I love you." "I know, honey, and thanks for standing up here anyway."

#6 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 12:39 PM:

These pictures and the linked ones are such fun.

Lila @4 Congrats! Best of luck with finding job x after the research position ends.

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 02:05 PM:


New York City's area code is 212. (I'm sure there are overlays now, and area codes for outer boroughs.)


On old-style rotary phones, it is the area code that took the least time to dial, in terms of number of pulses.

#8 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 02:33 PM:

Congrats, Lila!

Stefan Jones #7: I had a friend in NYC whose phone was one of the most likely to be dialed by kids whose parents put the phone lock on the 3. Her number was all ones and twos. Fortunately, she was very sweet-tempered.

#9 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 02:35 PM:

"Wohlgeb." for "Wohlgeboren", lit. "well-born", an honorific title for low-to-middling titled aristos, probably equal "The Honourable Miss Anna Skokan" (is that an initial S?)

Signed under photo "mit Grüsse," i.e. "regards".

Schönbrunner Strasse is a bit southwest of downtown Vienna; probably more suburban at the time.

Could these have been actors in a current play? The fact that their names are printed in the photo suggests that the photo is a publicity shot of some kind.

#10 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 02:40 PM:

Yup. Gettke was almost certainly Ernst Gettke, actor and director. Between 1893 and 1907 he was the director of the Raimundtheater in Vienna.

#11 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 02:51 PM:

Hansi Niese is also recognizable in her Wiki photo:

There is no entry for a Schweighöfer of the right age, but there seems to be a long family of actors by that name. Joachim (b. 1936) was the son of Willy (b. 1906), who were both actors and directors, so we may be seeing Willy's father (grandfather? talcum powder?) here.

#12 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 02:56 PM:

And there is no separate page for Jenny Reingrüber, but she is listed on the page for that surname as "Jenny Reingruber (1881–nach 1902), österreichische Theaterschauspielerin," sc. austrian actress.

#13 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 03:48 PM:

David θ121:935: Long ago there was a picture of a pornstar who had been linked to a member of the British royal family, and the headline next to it said "Student Sets Teacher On Fire!"

A friend clipped it, omitting the real headline about the pornstar and the real story about the malevolent pyromaniac student.

Lila 4: Congraduations!

#14 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 04:16 PM:

Stefan, #7: Interesting. Detroit's area code, when I was growing up there, was 313. Houston's is 713. I wonder what could be deduced about city sizes by looking at their original area codes?

#15 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 04:19 PM:

Los Angeles: 213
San Francisco: 415

Area codes with a 0 in the middle are more recent.

#16 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 05:41 PM:

Washington, D.C. are code is 202 and always has been. So "1" in the middle may not be an indication of older area codes.

#17 ::: emgrasso ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 05:55 PM:

The original area code for all of Connecticut was 203, the original area code for all of Colorado was 303. I think it is area codes with neither 1 nor 0 in the middle that are newer.

#18 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 06:28 PM:

Yes, area codes originally had either a '1' or a '0' in the middle. But the '0' takes a lot longer to dial on actual dial telephones, so it is very plausible that it was the biggest cities that got the '1' for their area code. (Atlanta's is 404.)

#19 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 06:55 PM:

Mary Aileen @18: Which is why none of us could ever find Atlanta....

#20 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 07:30 PM:

RIP Madeleine LeBeau, 92.


"Vive la France!"

#21 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 07:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore (19): ::snerk::

#22 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 10:36 PM:

Lee, P J Evans:

I had heard (but have no source to hand) that LA got 213 because it was not only big but far away from New York. That is, they tried to give nearby cities quite different area codes, to reduce ambiguity.

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 11:16 PM:

I'll buy that. It makes a lot of sense. (805 is in California. 806 is in West Texas.)

#25 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2016, 11:28 PM:

For the interesteed, the North American Numbering Plan wikipedia entry is a reasonable place to start for information about how area codes (and the rest) came into being ...

#26 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 12:22 AM:

I totally needed this, today. (Though in the back of my mind I would worry about rabies.)

#27 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 12:27 AM:

Grumpy that I missed the Nebulas. Grumpier that it was due to apathy on my part. But Twitter is making it sound like everything went well. I'm very glad that C. J. Cherryh finally got made a Grandmaster.

#28 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 12:58 AM:

(Warning: Old telco guy geeking about old times below.)

North American Numbering Plan Telco notation
- X is any digit 0-9
- N is any digit 2-9 (which had letters on them)
- Y is 0 or 1
Long-distance dialing originally used numbers of the form 1-NYX-NNX-XXXX, and the area codes for big places got faster-to-dial codes with small digits and Y=1; places with smaller populations got stuck with bigger digits and Y=0, and N11 codes were special. Notice the exchange format NNX - that was originally two letters and a digit, where the two letters were part of a more memorable word, e.g. PEnnsylvania-6-5000; I forget how many pairs of letters had mnemonics, but it wasn't the full set of 64, and the letters didn't include the Q or Z.

As the numbering space filled up, various techniques were used to get more
- Using all the NNs, even if there weren't good mnemonics, which was part of the reason we got rid of the letters in the ?60s?early 70s
- Splitting area codes to use more NYXs (they weren't all needed at first.)
- Filling up or re-balancing the XXXX and X-XXXX space (more later.)
- Allowing NXX exchange codes (which required more modern telephone switches in those area codes)
- Allowing NNX area codes (which required more modern switches or complicated hackery everywhere, so that took longer)

The silly piece - there were also lots of meetings, mainly in the late 80s, to deal with the problem of "Where do we put the Q and the Z?" - the switches didn't care, it would be irrelevant except people were starting to use touch-tone pads for banking-by-phone and building them into ATMs, and wanted to be able to enter names or text, and putting them in order messed up things like "press the key once for the first letter on it, two for the second, three for the third", so some people advocated putting Q and Z on the 1 instead.

Now for the even geekier part :-) The first telephone switches were called "step by step", because they used electromechanical relays that handled one digit at a time, connecting on to the next step if there was one, instead of dialing the whole number and then doing something with it like modern switches. If the first digit was 0, you got the operator. If it was 1, it connected to a long-distance trunk (which originally got you a toll operator, later a toll switch, and remember that calls in your area code might still be long distance, so it used NYX vs. NNX to know if the next digits were an area code or not), and otherwise it would make a local call, which might be 7 digits, or might just be 5, because digits cost money and took time to dial, so why waste them if your exchange was the only one within local calling distance; they standardized on the 1+4 digits for local exchanges to keep things from getting too complex in larger areas, but that space might not all get used, especially in small towns and mom&pop rural telcos.

When phone switches became electronic and had things like memory in them, many of those constraints went away, and the "1" got repurposed as a country code for North America in international dialing (later for most-of-North-America, because Mexico moved into the Latin American country code zone when it was modernizing.)

Back in the early 80s, we were trying to find better ways to connect the government's AUTOVON network to the regular phone network, and I proposed encoding some of the special features into the middle digit of the area code, but fortunately that didn't get adopted. (AUTOVON had another row of touch-tone keys for signalling priority calls, so generals could always get through and majors usually could and enlisted grunts might get dropped if there was an emergency going on or the international trunks were too full, and it had its own separate phone switches located way outside of major cities that might get bombed.)

#29 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 01:05 AM:

My parents had the same phone number from about 1960-2000, originally with letters, later with numbers, though the black dial wall phone eventually got replaced with a wimpier touch-tone. Unfortunately, after my dad died and my mom moved out of the house into an apartment a mile away, it was just across the exchange boundary and she had to change her number. Still area code 302, though; Delaware has under a million people, so they're unlikely to fill it up even with cellphones and faxes and whatever.

#30 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 02:17 AM:

@Bill: Good crunchy backgrounder. I'd learned some of this in a "cybernetics" course in the mid 80s.

My childhood home number was in the ORiole 6 exchange. The 1960s phone books listed the names. MAD magazine would occasionally print a parody phone book with satirical exchange names. Humor you'd have to explain to kids, these days.

#31 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 06:30 AM:

@oldster Wien Geschichte Wiki has a Felix Schweighofer (no umlaut) who was acting in comic light opera in Vienna at the right time.

#32 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 06:51 AM:

@ mercy #31--

Thanks for that. Now I see that the umlaut in Else Schöller's name is very prominent, so its absence in Schweighofer's name is not to be overlooked. So my conjectures about the Schweighöfers were irrelevant. That's grand, mercy.

#33 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 07:16 AM:

@oldster #32 -- I love this kind of historical puzzle!

#34 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 07:25 AM:

This is wonderful and fascinating. Thank you, oldster and Mercy!

#35 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 08:57 AM:

Xopher @ #13: the Toronto Sun has long had a tendency to juxtapose a headline with an unrelated photo on its front cover. Given the Sun's tendencies, it's frequently a headline about sex crimes with a photo of one or more women in bikinis.

#36 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 09:01 AM:

@ Mercy #31 --
He's certainly got the comic light opera expression down pat!

#37 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 10:23 AM:

Bill Stewart (28): That's fascinating. Thank you.

I'm pretty sure that using letters stopped by sometime in the 1960s, at least in Atlanta. I was born in 1963 and would have learned at least my (family's) number by the late '60s; there were no letters in it that I ever heard. When I encountered letters in phone numbers in fiction later, it was an odd and exotic old-timey thing that they used to have in foreign places like New York.

#38 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 11:15 AM:

I remember they stopped using letters around 1964 or 1965 - we moved to a different city in 1966, and I don't remember getting the number in word-form (although I think it would have been 'CYpress', based on others of the time, for '29x').

#39 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 11:30 AM:

Glad you enjoyed the answers, Abi. It's a testament to the power of the Internet. It would have taken me a lot of work to assemble these clues from the postcard into a coherent picture, prior to the Web. It would have required a trip to Vienna, at the least.

On phone numbers: contrast the Marvelette's 1962 hit (written by Marvin Gaye) "Beechwood 4-5789" with Wilson Pickett's 1966 hit (written Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper) titled "634-5789". That pair of titles brackets the transition.

#40 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 01:14 PM:

When I moved from Austin (512) to Pittsburgh (312) with my cell phone, I discovered the flip side of the "very distant cities have similar area codes to reduce confusion" thing. Namely, I had the apartment rental company show up suddenly at my door with strangers to view the apartment without warning TWICE, because each time they read my phone number (512-XXX-XXXX) and instead of calling that went "Oh, this is obviously an error," called the 312 version, got no response, and simply shrugged and came by.

I was not pleased with that company. But they were far from the only ones in the city to make that same error. It got to the point where every time I gave out my phone number, I'd make the person I was giving it to repeat it back to me, just to make sure they were getting the area code right. That helped about half the time.

#41 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 02:18 PM:

I grew up in a city with 5-digit dialing, so we didn't use letters in the prefix because we didn't use the first two digits at all (except for calling home from far away, which I never did).

#42 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 02:25 PM:

312? When was that? Pittsburgh and environs have been 412 since I can remember.

#43 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 02:58 PM:

Chicago has, so far as I know, always been 312.

#44 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 02:59 PM:

Stefan Jones @7 et seqq

In Turkey, Istanbul is 212 for what I presume is the same reason (and Ankara is 312)

#45 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 03:02 PM:

312 is a little village in Illinois called Chicago.

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 03:08 PM:

HLN: Area man learns that he has become a great-uncle. Younger brother has turned into proud granddad. Mother and baby look extremely happy (as far as may be ascertained by trans-Atlantic photography).

#47 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 03:24 PM:

HLN: Local homeowner has entered the "guest bedroom" in his house and removed approximately half the clutter, which was filling 85% of the floor area (with a further 10% occupied by bed).

The removed material has been sorted through and categorized for further, more organized storage, or removal from premises. Many dynasties of dust elephants were greatly disturbed. Their emperor was not available for comment.

Local homeowner is reported to be exhausted but proud, rather as one is after childbirth. "It'd be good to get a few more things done today," he told a reporter, "But if this is all I manage, dayenu. [epithet redacted] but it's good to actually get that all out of there."

In related news, approximately 8 boxes of children's clothes in good repair, sized between 3T and 6T/small, and shoes in a myriad of sizes, are now in search of loving owners. If none specific volunteer in the next few days, they will be sourced through a thrift store. Some items expressed joy at returning to the place of their birth to be returned into the great Circle of Life and get worn by another kid.

#48 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 03:28 PM:

Ah, 412 instead of 312. I've been away from Pittsburgh (and thank god for that) long enough that I forgot the specifics.

#49 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 06:52 PM:

Some time ago, I read an article about barbed-wire telephone networks, eventually going into what was necessary to call long-distance into them. Quite a lot of convincing operators that it'll work.

I've twice bought handsets for cellphones that resembled proper wall phones, but neither worked right. I miss the wall-mounted rotary phone. And the phone that replaced it, which was a big cordless deal that lasted years. None of the ensuing phones have been any good.

This is all in my parents' house, anyway. I have an aging cellphone meant for aging people.

#50 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 08:47 PM:

Even as of the early 70s, people in my neighborhood were still using the letters for exchanges -- PY1-XXXX. And there were occasional signs and business cards still preserving what PY stood for, IIRC "Plymouth".

And I went to various summer camps and such where 5-digit numbers were still used internally.

#51 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 09:40 PM:

Another couple of items via Boingboing, found via Jacque's squirrel link:
Postcards from Google Earth (stitching together the many images that go into their database is not always seamless)

Jet Powered Hoverboard flies 380 meters.

(I'm putting a couple more items into other threads here, according to topic)

#52 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2016, 09:44 PM:

Re: Phones: Larry Josephson at WBAI in the late '60s used to give the station's phone number as VAmpire 6-0880 (he had stopped doing that by the early '70s).

We lived in Queens for a couple of years in the mid-'60s and the number we were issued was AR4-something or other; when we moved to another state, we got an all-numeric number which was pretty obviously the digital equivalent of the name of the town.

I remember when all five boroughs were area code 212.

#53 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 12:41 AM:

I can just barely remember when local phone numbers were only 4 digits long. Then they went to 7 digits, but the prefixes were always and only either 486 or 487. So you gave your number as "6-NNNN" or "7-NNNN" and everybody knew what you meant. They added a 481 prefix as the population grew, so local numbers were "6-NNNN," "7-NNNN," or "1-NNNN," but then cell phones became available locally and the whole system went cockeyed (grump grump).

#54 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 12:59 AM:

Jenny, #53: The area where I grew up had 3 exchanges, but they all started with 88 -- so I remembered numbers by the last 5 digits, as you describe here. 88 was TU, which stood for TUxedo, but I never heard anyone use the word, only the letters.

I'm willing to trade the ability to know where someone lives from their area code for the convenience of never having to change my phone number again even if I move to another state. (OTOH, I do have to say that the last 4 digits of previous telephone #s make great PINs, easy to remember but not trivially obvious.)

#55 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 05:23 AM:

UK phones: I found it quite exciting when I was living in Somerset to discover that many of the local phone numbers were only ten digits - the five-digit area code, and then five. I hadn't seen that before. It's usually always eleven total digits.
I do think there's been a change in habits from giving just the local number, on the assumption that everyone who might call you lived within the same area code (and therefore did not need to dial it) or would know the nearby area codes by heart, to reciting the whole thing. Mobiles may have affected that, since you can't omit the first five digits of a mobile number and succeed in calling it.

#56 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 06:00 AM:

One of the big changes in Sweden was ushered through "sometime in the 70s", when you no longer needed to wait for a second dial tone whenever you were making an out-of-local-area-code call, but instead could just dial all the numbers in sequence.

Then there was the quite involved juggling required to merge the "surrounding Stockholm" area codes into the Stockholm (08) area code (basically to free up the entirety of the 07xx prefix for mobile phones).

This required first changing all the 6x yy yy numbers in the 08 area code to 66x yy yy numbers (the old numbers worked in parallel for a while, then worked after a recorded voice announcement telling you how to do the conversion yourself, then stopped working). Once that was done, all the 5x yy yy were converted to 65x yy yy (following the same pattern).

Once all of that was in place, the 07aa xxx yy numbers were turned into 08 aa0 xxx yy (well, there were SOME cases where they were turned into aa1, aa2, aa3 or aa4, but I cannot recall the specifics; these were basically places that had ended up in a given area code because it was borderline more convenient to cable things that way, rather than being sensibly related by administrative subsubregion or anything).

#57 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 06:11 AM:

When I stayed in the south of England in the spring of 1991, my hosts' house was still on a local exchange. I recall them answering the phone with "[VillageName] 543."

James Harvey, of this parish, may be able to tell us when this ended. Since it was his parents' house.

#58 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 07:13 AM:

UK phones: I take a lot of telephone messages at work, and there's a very clear divide between people who give the whole number and people who say "Leeds [rest of number]" instead of spelling out the area code, or who omit the area code completely. The divide seems to be both regional and generational - the people who just give the local part of the number usually sound both older and Yorkshire-born. Which would make sense.

I have also observed that fewer people these days seem to have their phone number by heart. Not having to remember all your friends' numbers is an amazing advantage of the mobile phone, but I find it slightly strange that one wouldn't know one's own number.

#59 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 07:54 AM:

I haven't known my landline number for ten years, because I've moved house every one of those years. There has been no advantage to knowing the landline - anyone I actually want to be able to get in touch with me needs my mobile number, which has a high chance of being the same by Christmas. I haven't even plugged a phone into the current line - I don't even own a phone of that sort - the only people who would call me on it are trying to sell me something.
A landline doesn't really belong to a person. It belongs to a house. And if you don't belong to the house, if the house is a temporary arrangement... your mobile is more natural and reliable.

#60 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 08:14 AM:

Craft @ #58:

I would not be able to give you the number of any of my work phones (one mobile, one desk phone) without checking. I never, ever, call them so why would I need the number? I do know my home number (I got lucky enough to get a memorable one) and my private mobile number (15 years with the same number...), but in both cases do I need to reach for them, mentally.

#61 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 09:16 AM:

Open Threadiness, of the Hugo-Award-Winning-Novel (no spoilers) variety:

I just encountered the song "L'homme armé" in a very unexpected place. My mind was already well on the way to being blown, before that.

#62 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 09:55 AM:

The first phone number I learned, for the place we moved into when I was five, was "RE9-nnnn" (RE9=739, but I learned it with the letters). That was in 1968. My parents changed to an unlisted number in 1976, which we were given as "545-nnnn"; I suspect that exchange had once been called JAmaica5.

The cell phone number I've been carrying around for years (through two cross-country moves) is in one of the overlay area codes that didn't exist when I was young, 646.

Despite having a phone number that announces itself as "New York" on cell phone displays, I think things like "why is someone calling me from Albuquerque?" when I see an unknown number. ("Albuquerque" turned out to be a person at my physical therapist's office, in western Washington, using her cell phone rather than the office phone.)

#63 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 02:03 PM:

Rural England here. We were still getting 3-digit telephone numbers on new lines in 1960. Because we didn't get a telephone before my brother was born. The GPO monopoly was still running. The electro-mechanical exchange was at the top of the hill and served two villages. The code for the exchange was 065 27, and there were special local dialling codes to adjacent exchanges.

When the System X digital exchanges came in, the 3-digit numbers became 6-digit by adding a 3-digit prefix, and the exchange code was changed to 01652, which covers a huge area.

"0" was the signal for making a "trunk" call, and some of the big cities had very short dialling codes. London had the STD code "01", introduced in 1959, and the London exchanges were coded according to their name, the letters marked on the dial, which became a 7-digit number. Famously, Scotland Yard was WHItehall-1212.

The zero was originally the code used to connect the call to a human operator, who would then set up the trunk connection.

My grandfather was a little awkward about such things, and the family business was run without a telephone until after he retired.

"Q" and "Z" were not assigned to numbers, while the "1" was not linked to any letters. Somebody did have the bright idea of linking the letter "O" to the digit "0". On a mechanical dial, sending precisely-timed pulses, the "1" was one pulse, the "9" was nine pulses, and the "0" was ten. When the emergency-number system was set up in the UK, the number "999" was chosen because there was almost no chance of a line fault producing that pulse sequence.

"999" started to be used in London, in July 1937. The European standard of "112" is also recognised now.

#64 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 02:27 PM:

The thing i miss about POTS is how dependable it was. It was a rare occurrence to dial a number and not have it go through.

Yeah, we can do a whole lot more with VOIP and wireless, but we can't reliably do the thing we made the original telephone system for -- call someone and get an answer.

#65 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 02:55 PM:

Craft (Alchemy)@58: one still occasionally sees telephone numbers on vans that give only the name of the town and the local phone number, eg Anytown xxxxxx. Outdated and inconvenient, but if that's the way they want to do it... there may be a bit of folk memory involved about the old 'very local' dialling codes that used to exist—up until I think the 90s it was possible to dial Bradford from Leeds without dialling 0274 (as it then was) for Bradford; you could dial a special short code (was it 9? 89?) before the Bradford local number. Don't know if this affected the cost of the call or if it was just a useful shortcut.

When I used to answer phones for a living we used to get calls on Saturday afternoons to our free 0800 number from people who had slightly misheard the audience phone-in number for BBC Radio 4's Any Answers. They usually didn't listen to our gabbled "hello this is $myname at $company how may i help you" and they launched straight into their polite middle-class thoughts on animal welfare and the EU.

I hated telephones then and I still do now. I used to wake up occasionally in the middle of the night thinking I'd just heard the incoming-call headset bleep and I'd reach for my bedside mobile phone to deal with a non-existent customer. (See: Acoustic shock.)

I remember when making a phone call in the morning (at Peak Rate) denoted either substantial wealth or having to deal with a real emergency.

#66 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 02:59 PM:

One of the volumes of Brian Aldiss's memoirs, either Bury My Heart at W.H. Smith's: A Writing Life or The Twinkling of an Eye, or My Life as an Englishman, has a picture of a van belonging to either his dad or his uncle before the war. The phone number on the van is, I think, Dereham 3.

#67 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 03:22 PM:

The telephone discussion finally prompted me to look up one of the changes in London telephone numbers that I watched in stop-motion, as an occasional visitor: the shift from 0171/0181 xxx.xxxx to 020 xxxx.xxxx via the sort of phantom exchanges of "0207" and "0208". Apparently, the "0207" and "0208" exchanges never had an official identity; but to an outside observer—and apparently to many residents—there seemed to be a two-stage conversion.

#68 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 03:48 PM:

I remember when making a phone call in the morning (at Peak Rate) denoted either substantial wealth or having to deal with a real emergency.

In the mid-70s, while my boyfriend-now-husband and I were in college, we had several quarters where I was living at home working on a co-op program while he was at school. Phone calls were always after 11:00 when the rates went down, and calls to me needed to be answered immediately so the ringing didn't disturb my parents who would be asleep by then. There was the night the damned phone kept ringing and I couldn't succeed in answering it because the cord to the unit I was trying to answer had been (I later discovered) chewed through by our new puppy, but the downstairs phone still worked just fine...

#69 ::: Jameson Quinn ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 03:48 PM:

Heads up for those interested in issues of Hugos and Puppies: there’s a discussion of EPH and further proposals on File 770.

#70 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 04:28 PM:

On telephones etc, I just got a book today which had a piece of notepaper from Ferranti in it, and the telephone number 031-332 2411, and "Telegrams Ferrant Edinburgh - Telex 72141"
The book it is in is copyright 1978, I'm kind of surprised telegrams were still hanging around then given that email was growing at that time.

I just read some of "A brief history of the future" by John Naughton, and was amazed at how much of our current information network stuff was invented so long ago.

{insert obligatory Gison quote about the future being unevenly distributed}

The book in question that I aquired is called "Design and manage to life cycle cost" (I have a weakness for old management books, they are often clearer and more accurate than modern ones).

#71 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 04:31 PM:

guthrie @70, I started in my current job in 1987. The company still had a telex machine, and did not have an email address until probably the early 1990s. It didn't buy its own domain name until (if memory serves) the mid- to late-1990s.

#72 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 05:41 PM:

@Craft no. 58: I've read one too many scary articles about people who lost their phones while traveling and had no idea how to reach anybody anywhere. I have my important phone numbers written down in a separate location, and also memorized, and I'm drilling my kids on their important numbers as well.

#73 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 05:50 PM:

All Knowledge, etc: I bought an 8-lb roast instead of a 4-lb roast and I wish to slow-cook it. Recipe is for slow cooker, 4 lbs.

Anyone got any ideas about this? Heat transfer isn't really helping here.

#74 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 06:03 PM:

Update: The question is moot, as the 8 lb. roast will not fit so I'm going to have to cut it in half anyway.

#75 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 06:59 PM:

Sandy B, it's nice when a problem solves itself....

#76 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2016, 11:28 PM:

My first "real" job was with a computer "mail order" place. Most orders were placed by phone; email as a commercial thing was years away. The web literally did not exist.

There was a Telex machine; a gadget the size of a portable typewriter that took rolls of thermo-paper. It sat on the desk of a lady in the accounting department.

Incidentally, that was the job that taught me to talk on the phone. I still have a nice phone voice even though I'm shy and stumbling face to face. I learned many, many area codes; I've forgotten most of them, 29 years on.

#77 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 12:58 AM:

I no longer remember the phone number of the house I lived in, in New York, but I remember my grandparents' phone number, also in New York, because my mother drilled it into me; Independence 13938. You picked up the phone (perhaps you dialed zero? I'm not sure) and a human voice said, "Number, please." This was long before area codes; (I'm guessing) 1950 or so.

It's astonishing that I can still recall that number. I am probably the only one who does.

#78 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 05:37 AM:

The photograph is almost certainly from the collection of Victor Leon, now kept at Harvard; it is probably one of the ones listed under "Niese, Hansi" (nos. 10,445 or 10,446) on this page. Which is to say, oldster and Mercy were right in their identifications, and it is a picture of various actors in Viennese Opera.

I immediately thought of the actor Matthias Schweighöfer too, but had forgotten he had an umlaut.

#79 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 05:47 AM:

Ingvar M. @60: but don't you have to give your number to people sometimes? I suppose these days numbers come up automatically on the phone display a lot of the time.

Steve with a book @65: my parents used to have a landline that was one digit (one easily-typoed digit - 4 instead of 7, adjacent buttons) away from the local supermarket's enquiries line. Everyone in the family, including the kids, ended up knowing the correct supermarket number by heart so we could give it out to people. I can still remember that number even though we moved in 1999 ...

Jenny Islander @72: This comment prompted me to take stock of how many of my own important numbers I actually know offhand. Other than my own number the only one I can reel off reliably is my parents' landline - which is a good start, but I should probably commit e.g. my partner's number to memory. Thank you for the PSA.

Not about phones, Lila @61: it took me ages to figure that out; I think I only realised when I saw a literal translation of "L'homme armé" somewhere that was close enough for me to make the connection. Karl Jenkins' setting for the Armed Man mass always reminds me of those books now.

#80 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 08:55 AM:

Craft @ #79:

My work number? No, I don't think that's happened this side of 2005. Home and (own) mobile number, occasionally. Most frequently "mobile number and name" as a means of identification at the mobile network store(s) (which, given that I only visit them very very infrequently, is telling).

There may have been occasional "type phone number into email or Twitter DM", so I shall count that as give out.

All in all, I communicate a LOT more by email or some sort of instant messaging than I do by phone, or indeed SMS.

#81 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 09:41 AM:

My work phone number is on a post-it on my monitor, in case someone asks.

I should really get the names of my new manager and some co-workers on my phone. There's no receptionist any more.

#82 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 10:48 AM:

candle @78:

Nice detective work!

It would have to be 10,445; there's no Metzl (woman) in the photo, and there is a Gettke (man). So 10,446 doesn't match.

#83 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 10:59 AM:

Thanks, abi, and I'm sure that's right. I didn't do a proper check on which photo it must be because I didn't fancy jumping between tabs so much, and I'm supposed to be doing other things! It's nice to be able to pin it down, though, and sorry to have left the last part undone.

I agree by the way that the picture is nicely relaxed for (how I imagine) its era, and I really liked the linked image, which I had never seen.

Incidentally, my partner is taking up a new job in Amsterdam next February and we are making plans to move to Weesp (although I will continue to work in Ireland, which will be tricky). Any tips for moving to the Netherlands? We are currently in Germany, but I am English and my partner is Flemish, so languages and residence shouldn't be a problem.

That's to anyone, rather than just abi, by the way.

Also, can anyone tell me how to link to my old posts after changing email addresses?

#84 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 11:07 AM:

candle (83): The usual method for linking comments from old and new emails is to make a pair of comments:

one using your new email address containing a link to your old view-all-by
one using your old email address containing a link to your new view-all-by

#85 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 11:13 AM:

Thanks for shedding more light on the mystery, candle!

I see that both of the photos that you point to in that inventory were taken by a photographer named Hahn, which matches the note on the front of Abi's photo, sc. "Fot. Hahn".

Some of the other entries in that inventory also list which play or opera the photograph recorded or promoted. I wonder if there's a way to reconstruct that tidbit for this photo as well? It would tell us more about, e.g., why Schweighofer's character is self-satisfied and silly, why Reingruber's is reserved and bashful, etc.

#86 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 01:41 PM:

I can't imagine not knowing my own phone number. Every time I go to a new medical provider they want my phone number. Every time I apply for a show they want my phone number. Many of the places where I order things online want a phone number. Several stores where I have loyalty cards look those up by phone number. Pretty much any time I fill out a form of any sort they want a phone number. It's still a standard question, even if they only want it as a backup form of communication.

For things like the loyalty cards, I provide the landline number, which doesn't get much use any more. If I think someone is going to spam me with advertising/begging calls, they don't get my phone number. But the idea that you wouldn't know your number because nobody ever asks for it is incomprehensible to me.

#87 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 02:03 PM:

I've sometimes had to stop and think when I'm asked for my phone number. I don't call it, so it's not always instantly remembered.

#88 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 02:39 PM:

If you like looking at old postcards you'll enjoy the long series of articles that begins here on the Poemas del río Wang blog. This is a great site, particularly good for Austro-Hungarian historical titbits but full of multilingual essays and good pictures—a great timesink if you have an evening to spare. The Trieste meridian. Hugo Grotius's apologia for the VOC.

#90 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2016, 11:48 PM:

Our local community association publishes a (very local) phone book. Many people are listed with 4 digits, but we now have mandatory 10-digit dialing. (Others are listed with 7 digits.) It's rumoured that 4-digit dialing actually used to work, though not in my time here. Soon enough we'll have two NPAs, so next year we might list 4, 7, or 10 digits.

Nearby, but outside that area, I know people, neighbours and sister-in-law, who have consecutive phone numbers and house numbers separated by 2. So I guess when the phone lines came in, the numbers were handed out in order. But in reverse sense of the house numbers.

When I first moved to this area in the 1980's the toll boundary ran along a road near here. I knew people who could, with a good wind, throw a frisbee from one house to the other, but it was a long distance phone call. Not until after municipal amalgamation was there a sensible local calling area, and I think we're still paying a small monthly surcharge to fund it.

Exchanges in cities also tend to separate similar numbers. I have an acquaintance whose number differs from mine only in the 2nd digit of 7 (or 5th of 10), but he lives literally at the other end of the city.

#91 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 03:40 AM:

First comment with new email address, linking to my old view all by.

#92 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 03:42 AM:

Last comment with old email address, linking to my new view all by.

Thanks all, and especially Mary Aileen for these instructions.

#93 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 04:19 AM:

Having a quick look for what the production might have been, I find a different but very interesting report of Felix Schweighofer's multiple appearances on the New York stage in, I believe, 1899/1900:

"Haubenlerche, Dec. 14; Ein Blitzmaedel (A Telegraph Girl), by Costa and Millocker, was also given, when Herr Felix Schweighofer, the German character comedian, made his American debut, as Leo Bruller. This bill was repeated Jan. 1, 2, 3, 1900. Pension Schoeller (Schoellers Boarding House), by Carl Laufus, was also acted, with Schweighofer as Philipp Klapproth. He appeared Jan. 4, 5, and 6, as Stocker in Die Gypsfigur (The Statuette). On Jan. 11 Schweighofer varied his entertainment by appearing as a monologuist in a series of descriptive stories illustrating every-day life in Vienna. He was alone on the stage for forty-five minutes. He gave three sketches, in which he impersonated various widely different characters with remarkable skill. The remainder of the performance consisted of a one-act comedy Unter Vier Augen, in which Anna Braga was the principal figure, and Ein Vereinsschwester (A Female Lodge Member), a musical comedy in which Herr Schweighofer again displayed his skill. Jan. 15 Mathias Gollinger was played with Schweighofer in the title role; Jan. 18, Gebildete Menchen (Educated People), Schweighofer as Adolf. He appeared Jan. 23 in a one- act comedy Scheu vor dem Minister (Timidity Before the Minister), a short farce called Othellos Erfolg (Othellos Success), and the second act of Blitzmaedel, for his farewell."

Link is here.

Note also letters from Felix Schweighofer to Ernst Gettke, placing S. at least in Vienna in January 1903 (and in Dresden in March 1903): see no.3235 on this page.

And finally, this history of the Munich Gärtnerplatztheater suggests that the 1902-3 season saw a (touring?) production of Wiener Blut, with a libretto by Victor Léon, and a cast of four men and three women. Does the photo have to be of a theatre in Vienna? The fact that the card was sent there may suggest not.

This doesn't add up to anything conclusive. I can't see a way of reading Schweighofer's letters online, unfortunately, which might clear it up. And of course the postcard need not have been of a current production. But I'm going to turn off my historian's brain and pretend that this is enough to conclude that what we have is a promo photo for a production of Wiener Blut in the 1902/3 season, starring Felix Schweighofer and Hansi Niese. That's good enough for me!

#94 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 06:15 AM:

The card isn't necessarily sent from Vienna, but the postmark looks like it says "WIEN" and the stamp is Austrian. Given that it was sent on 20 February, and the front appears to be autographed on 18 February, I'd guess that it was signed wherever the group was touring at the beginning of the year. Where it was sent from is hard to read.

#95 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 06:51 AM:

Chasing down the indication "BKWI" on the photo side of the card, I find that it is the mark of the Kohn Brothers postcard publisher in Vienna (Brüder Kohn Wien).

Salomon, Alfred, and Adolf Kohn started a postcard company in Vienna in 1898. It was successful and innovative, featuring local Viennese scenes, building, celebrities, etc. Salomon and his wife were sent to Theresienstadt in 1942; he was murdered in Auschwitz in late 1944. Their daughter Minna had fled to England in 1939; she restarted the company on her return to Vienna in 1946 and died in 2003. Their son Walter also went to England in 1939; they were hosted by a British couple who were also in the postcard business. Walter Kohn studied physics in Toronto and then held a number of academic appointments in the US; he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1998.

#96 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 07:02 AM:

I wonder about the communicative intention of sending a photo of an opera-company. My best guess (founded on nothing) is that these cards were available in the lobby of the theater, and that one sent them after seeing the show, perhaps as a way of saying, "didn't we have fun watching that show!", or "I watched this show--you would like it, too!"

The name of the piece itself may have been left off for copyright reasons. Candle, I like your suggestion that the show was Wiener Blut--a light romantic farce set among nobility. A version of the operetta was filmed in Nazi Germany in 1942 and became one of the best-selling films of the era, taking in over seven million Reichsmarks.

#97 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 10:53 AM:

Returned from Sweden last Friday. It was an excellent trip (there were some things that were less than good, but they're being wiped out in the remembering of it, as they probably should).

The Vasa Museum, in particular, was spectacular. I went in having nooo idea what was in there, paid admission, walked through the doors, look up... Holy ship!*

*(For those who do not know, the Vasa Museum holds a reconstructed five-story tall 17th-century wooden ship, dragged up from the bottom of Stockholm Harbor in the 50s.)

Of course, I also got my fill of many of the beautiful historical museums, and a good tour through the botanical gardens on my last, exhausted, day, and miscellaneous wanderings in Stockholm and Uppsala. And some of the manuscripts and books on display in the Carolina Rediva. Also, discovered to my delight that Eurasian Magpies are colored a bit like spats.

The two things I miss the most, however, are 1) the public toilets with sinks right there in the little stall room, and 2) cardamom buns! Cardamom buns, my goodness. Must find the time and space to make some yeasted breakfast pastry deliciousness.

Overall, a good trip; would do again. (Although I may be slightly allergic to the country...! I had mysterious hives up and down my arms and hands for 2/3 of the trip, which promptly vanished when I was in Boston waiting for my last connecting flight.) Next time: horseback tour of Iceland? :D

#98 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 11:33 AM:

abi@94: Ah yes, I hadn't spotted the postmark. And the stamp is Austrian, of course. I'm intrigued (like oldster) at the sending of a postcard of an opera cast with only a brief greeting, and within Vienna. But probably, as oldster says, it was either a reminder of a joint visit or a suggestion for future viewing.

And I suppose I'm also stuck thinking of postcards as things to send from a distance, when probably it was entirely natural to send a card to someone in the same city. Perhaps it still is.

#99 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 11:47 AM:

estelendur @ #97:

Most, if perhaps not all, of the ship you saw is the original ship, lovingly preserved after having been raised from the sea-bed nearby. So it's probably even cooler than you imagined.

The secrets of cinnamon buns are: "add a very small amount of coarse cardamom to the dough", "before sprinkling the sugar/cinnamon blend over the dough, you need to carefully butter the dough" and "don't make them too big".

Some people argue about the last one.

#100 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 12:17 PM:

Ingvar M @99: Yes, I had in fact gleaned that information from the exhibits :D so awesome. They have some reasonably detailed explanations of the preservation process, and the trials and tribulations the ship's caretakers have encountered over the years.

Will mixing the sugar/spice with softened butter and spreading that over the dough work as well, or is there some chemistry that's lost if they're blended, or the butter is not melted, or what have you? And, if they're smaller, I can eat more of them, right? ;)

#101 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 12:39 PM:

estelendur @ #100:

You want the bun douhg rolled as flat and thin as you can get it (this ups sugary cinnamony goodness per bun-unit). The classic method I'm aware of is "roll dough thin, butter it with soft butter, sprinkle sugar on top, sprinkle cinnamon". I know some people pre-mix the sugar and cinnamon, but I've always found it more convenient to do two passes (that way, I don't have a bun-only sugar/cinnamon mix taking precious space in the spice rack).

What I grew up with are buns where each dough layer is on the order of 5 mm (call that a fifth of an inch) once baked. That means you're (probably) aiming for half to a third of that pre-baking.

For me, the most vivid sensory memory of the Vasa museum is the smell of preservative fluids and the slimy feel when you accidentally brushed against the ship. But that was before the current snazzy museum was built, in the old temporary "we are not quite a museum yet, we're merely a temporary preservation building". And by "temporary", I think I mean 20-25 years. With my estimated 15 visits to the ship, only two have been in the new building.

#102 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 01:41 PM:

Ingvar M @101: I did not get to touch the ship... probably quite sensibly on the museum's part. But they did have a piece of ship wood treated with polyethylene glycol* that people could touch. It felt waxy? But of course I've only had one visit to build sense memories in. :) So the primary memory is the visual. (The super fancy climate control system probably also cuts down on any smells! It was very comfortable compared to the 21C+ temps outside the whole time I was there.)

*The primary preserving agent.

Wow, that is very thin dough! o_o I might have to start by making an extremely *small* batch, because I really do not have counter space to roll out a lot of dough on and of course it gets bigger when rolled thinner...

#103 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 04:29 PM:

Jacque, this reminded of your weasel help.

#104 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 05:10 PM:

Wow, I just realized that it was 40 years ago this summer that I visited the Vasa. As Ingvar says, it was still in a "temporary preservation building". I remember lots of sheets of translucent plastic over almost everything, and sprinklers set up to spray a mix of water and preservative to keep it moist. The plan was to gradually increase the preservative and decrease the water, so that eventually (today?) it could be exhibited without needing frequent dousings. The temporary building was not much larger than the ship, so it was impossible to stand back and really see the whole thing at once; the photos of the current museum look like it gives a much better view.

#105 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 05:53 PM:

Bruce H: Oh, freakin' classic—I love it!

  1. Attempt to open door.
  2. Toss broom over fence to distract pandas from door.
  3. Enter pen.
  4. Extract broom from pandas.
  5. Extract other half of broom from pandas.
  6. ...
  • Do not watch video at work, or
  • Don hernia truss beforehand.

Yes, very much in the same spirit. For animals that (AIUI) are solitary in nature, they sure seem to have a lot of interest in what the humans are up to.

Meanwhile, in other news: Fun science geekiness in GIFs.

#106 ::: Mary Aileen sees old spam on a closed thread ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 06:35 PM:

undeleted spam

#107 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 10:27 PM:

re 28: Several of the Japanese WW II code machines (e.g. the PURPLE diplomatic cipher) used phoneco switches.

#108 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2016, 10:36 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 81: I don't have a phone at work. I use Skype (or similar) to have real time conversations with coworkers not in the office, when needed. Communication goes through Slack, and occasional emails.

#109 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 07:00 AM:

Estelendur @ #102:

A flattened piece of dough, roughly the size of a baking sheet gives enough buns to pretty much fill the baking sheet (you probably want the snazzy wax-paper "bun cups", if you can find them). Memory from when I was assisting or being primary bun maker is that a batch of dough is ~4 baking sheets. This is, probably, about the same amount of dough as 1 loaf of bread, maybe 2. Not that "loaf of bread" is actually a very precise measurement, but, you know...

Jeremy Leader @ #104:

New museum allows you to see the ship from several tens of metres away. It's pretty darned awesome.

#110 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 08:54 AM:

I am #@&$%&##! Microsoft installed Windows 10 without my asking for it. (In reality, I probably forgot to decline one of the popups they've been sending for a couple of months suggesting it.) I was wroth this morning. I declined to accept the terms and conditions, after which the popup said it would reinstall my previous operating system but "this might take a while." It took 15-20 minutes, I think.

But Mikey! Can't you let me alone?

#111 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 09:58 AM:

Brenda Kalt @110: Word on the street is that Microsoft has decided to make Windows 10 a "recommended" update, which means that if you have auto-update for recommended updates turned on (the default) it will do that, and will most likely do it again. If you are on Windows 7, you can change this setting by opening Control Panel, going to Windows Update, and clicking "Change settings".

Ingvar M @109: Hm, not sure I've encountered these "bun cups", unless they are equivalent to muffin cups which it sounds like they might be. At any rate... *plots baking*

#112 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 10:05 AM:

Re pandas: That is my mental image of what it's like having kids.

CAN'T ... STAY... MAD!

#113 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 10:32 AM:

I haven't been able to get to MeFi for some reason. If anyone else is having this problem, have a different link or just Google "panda basket".

#114 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 12:30 PM:

Lee, the panda video was featured on I Can Haz Cheezeburger this morning. So it's probably been slash-dotted.

#115 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 12:36 PM:

estelendur @111: Thanks. I changed the setting.

#116 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 12:59 PM:

"Thanks, Help Cat!"

also ps:
Does anybody have experience with the WayTools TextBlade?

#117 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 01:01 PM:

PSA re Windows 10: Apparently Microsoft has decided that malware scammers are a good example to emulate. In their latest push to get people to accept Windows 10, clicking on the 'close' X in the top right-hand corner accepts the install. Remember that round of malware where clicking anywhere on the pop-up box would start the install? Yeah, so do I.

#118 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 01:16 PM:

Emulating malware scammers or becoming one?

#119 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 01:46 PM:

I hate Windows 10 with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Unfortunately, when the logic board of my beloved MacBook went up in smoke in the middle of my last semester of school, I had to immediately replace it with the cheapest thing available. I pretty much got what I paid for. Ew.

#120 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 03:04 PM:

HLN: computer geekery department. Local Man is not going to rack-mount the server, but a cheap coffee table is a reasonable substitute. A bunch of cheap old hard drives, via eBay, are running as a RAID array, and it should soon be set up as a storage server, safely out of the way.

There are one or two things that local geek wants to try, but the Powerline networking is suddenly notworking. The Linux is coping with a WiFi dongle, but in some ways it could be awkward. Holes for ethernet cables may have to be drilled through walls.

Note to self: remember to get a spare key for the front bezel

#121 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 05:12 PM:

Brenda 115: I installed the GWX Control Panel, which is for the less tech-savvy and lets you block, in one friendly interface, all the different kinds of W10 vandalism Microsoft has been inflicting on us.

Apparently W10 "phones home" a LOT, which means that if you have a pay-as-you-go bandwidth arrangement, it will be expensive to RUN, not just to download.

#122 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 06:45 PM:

Ingvar M #99: I do something similar with chocolate-chip cookies -- use whatever recipe, but add 1/4 tsp cardamom. I usually replace the nutmeg, if any (the last recipe I googled doesn't even have spice).

Windows 10: When recovering from my recent computer troubles, I went for Windows 10 on purpose:
1) I figured it's pretty much inevitable, and since I was reinstalling anyway, I might as well catch up with the times. Still not happy with DVD playing being outsourced to the Micro$oft Store.
2) Lenovo shipped Windows 8 disks for recovery, and W10 was consistently described as way better than any version since W7.

#123 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 07:50 PM:

I'm fortunate-- I have Windows 7 on an inspiron laptop which is incompatible with Windows 10.

They don't even try to load it.

#124 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 08:06 PM:

candle @ #98: when probably it was entirely natural to send a card to someone in the same city.

I think I once heard a story about how someone's grandfather would send a postcard from his office if he knew he was going to be late getting home, so intra-city postcards may have been the text-messages of their day.

#125 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2016, 10:51 PM:

Sarah E @ 124 ...
That may well have been when mail delivery was twice a day...

#126 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 12:19 AM:

Bruce, thank you for that video of pandas being as helpful as cats!

#127 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 04:22 AM:

xeger @ #125

Twice a day?

In the heyday of the Post Office there was a collection in parts of central London every eight minutes.

(One of the Dr Thorndyke stories has someone sending a postcard to say he will be late for tea.)

The telephone existed but only for business and government (plus the rich) in those days.

#128 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 05:41 AM:

The past was a foreign country.

The Invisible Man wasn't so fantastical.

#129 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 09:52 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @123: Doesn't stop Apple from telling me I need to upgrade the OS on our (2008 slab) iMac to whatever the latest OSX release is.

I don't think it'll run, folks; quit asking!

#130 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 09:58 AM:

Cat vs. man with book. I love the bit at the end where the man can't manage to control all the paws.

Sorry for the facebook link, but I can't find a direct link to the video.

#131 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 10:42 AM:

Elliott Mason @129: I don't think it'll run, folks; quit asking!

In my case, it probably will run, but the only reason I'd upgrade is to support a newer version of Chrome or Pixelmator. I have no interest in moving into the Cloud. So quit asking! (This latest time, there was no "No, thanks" button. The only way I could make the dialog go away was to open the app store. >:-\ )

#132 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 10:47 AM:

Nancy: Yes, I've had that conversation. :-) When it involved reading the newspaper, I was always astonished at Squeaky's ability to pinpoint the exact paragraph that I was trying to read, and lay on it.

#133 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 10:47 AM:

...lie on it.

Oh, I give up.

#134 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 11:05 AM:

Jacque, "recline upon it." <grin> (When in doubt, rephrase!)

#135 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 11:40 AM:

Jacque @131: It's already slow as mud and hard to open stuff on the version we're running, which is about two versions behind the current.

And, yes, Chrome has been warning us for a while that it won't be supported if we don't upgrade, and we can't upgrade unless we bump the OS.

Still not doin' it.

#136 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 12:59 PM:

The 8 Tribes of Sci-Fi

Because SFF has all these different branches and sub-genres, while other genres such as romance or mystery are cohesive wholes. Yes, he actually says that. *eyeroll*

The folks over on File 770 are having fun with this pinata. I can't help thinking that I'd love to see Teresa do one of her patented takedowns on it.

#137 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 02:19 PM:

Jacque #132: I was always astonished at Squeaky's ability to pinpoint the exact paragraph that I was trying to read, and lay on it.

Well, yes. That's where you were paying attention, and Squeaky intended you to be paying that attention to him!

#138 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 02:21 PM:

Elliott Mason@129: "Doesn't stop Apple from telling me I need to upgrade the OS on our (2008 slab) iMac to whatever the latest OSX release is."

Internet lists indicate that it *will* run. 2006-era iMacs top out at 10.6 or 10.7, but 2008 is after the OSocline for desktop Macs.

(Like "isocline", but... okay, sorry.)

This message does not constitute advice to upgrade.

(If you do decide to upgrade, definitely think about adding RAM.)

#139 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 02:44 PM:

Anybody know whether Windows 10 plays nicely with OpenOffice? Due to reasons I feel no need to justify, my next computer is going to be "helpfully" pre-loaded with Windows 10, and that's all there is to it. But I refuse to use that thing they are calling the latest iteration of their word processor. I have used it and I will not use it again unless forced to by the school district sending me a form that can only be used in (spit) Word. Is OpenOffice going to run or am I facing a potential cheese error?

#140 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 03:41 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @121
Cheers for the GWX link. I've been meaning to nobble Win10 nagging for a few weeks, ever since my partner spent several hours trying to get it running on her supposedly-compatible Samsung WIn7 ultrabook that is the same model as mine.

#141 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 03:59 PM:

Seconding the thanks for that - I don't want W10 installing itself.

#142 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 04:03 PM:

additionally, GWX fixes the bug that Microsft installed in its update system: if you have a third-party security program installed, they turned off update notices.
I'm now seeing those again.

#143 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 04:04 PM:

Xopher Halftough @ 121: Thank you from me as well. Will be going onto several machines in this household (the ones running XP don't need it :-)).

Nancy Lebovitz @130: Oh yes, mine is very good at that as well. Sit on the newspaper while I'm trying to do the crossword. Lie down across my wrists while I'm typing on the keyboard - or stand between me and the laptop screen. At the moment she's curled up on the cushion that I placed in the top drawer of my desk for this purpose. I effectively lose the use of that drawer (and the ones under it, for rapid access), but that's better than losing a similar-sized bit of the desk, and if she can lie down on a cushion next to me then she will, after a while on my lap (the cushion not properly heated, but it is less likely to shift position or to get up to go boil the kettle for tea than I am).

#144 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 06:02 PM:

Lying down in the middle of the bed you're trying to make. (At least once, I draped the sheet over the cat, until it decided to leave.) Lying down on top of the pattern you're cutting out, too.

#145 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 07:49 PM:

You're all welcome. Now I wish I'd linked it here when I first found it.

#146 ::: nickelby ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2016, 08:45 PM:

139 Yes, W10 64 bit and Open Office get along.

Other free wp's to consider:



#147 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 01:57 AM:

P J Evans @ 144 ...
> Lying down on top of the pattern you're cutting out, too.

Balancing on top of the sewing machine.
Balancing on top of the sewing machine and playing with the thread.
Balancing on top of the sewing machine and playing with the thread while the sewing machine is running.
Standing between you and the sewing machine (particularly while you're in the middle of sewing something)
Jumping on your legs while the sewing machine has power, resulting in unseemly effects...

(Indeed -- one of my cats isn't even vaguely threadsafe...)

#148 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 05:15 AM:

David Harmon @137: Squeaky intended you to be paying that attention to him!

Not merely "paying attention to," but "looking at." What really cracked me up, though, was how clearly obvious he felt this was. Me: "Dude. Really?" Him: "Ah, very pleasant, isn't it?"

Interestingly, this attitude is not confined to the felines of my experience. When I'm snuggling Donkey, it is required that this be the only thing I'm doing. I don't get to read. I don't get to watch TV. Only snuggle. If my attention wanders even a little, he yanks on my shirt. "Okay, fine. If you're going to be that way, I wanna go home."

#149 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 05:23 AM:

xeger @147: playing with the thread while the sewing machine is running.

Oh ghod. ::shudder::

Laying on the cabinet and trying to play with the needle while the machine is running.

This got him summarily evicted from the room and the door closed tight behind him. I've seen what sewing machine needles can do to soft, squishy appendages.


#150 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 09:46 AM:

I spent a while untangling a long phone cord and Isaac didn't hassle me. I spent a while telling him that he is a very good cat.

He bites (enough to hurt but not break the skin, we're working on it), but he could be much worse.

Having seen Keanu, I'm very grateful that he's an ordinarily good looking cat.

V guvax gur zbivr vf orfg rkcynvarq ol Xrnah orvat n uryy-png bhg bs snr.

#151 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 10:58 AM:

Cannot retweet or reblog, so must quote: "If it's so normal and well intended, why don't men tell other men to smile?"--Abbi Crutchfield

#152 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 01:31 PM:

Well, to be fair, my father used to say "Smile, Luigi!" to me whenever I was moping. I believe he got it from an old radio/TV drama, "Life with Luigi". Of course, the father/son relation is pretty far from the situation in question.

#153 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 01:42 PM:

I've been told by other men (and by women) to smile more when I'm morris dancing -- it took several years for me to be able to get past the concentration on getting the steps right and just enjoy the dancing. Again, not quite what is being pointed to, but a bit closer.

#154 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 05:04 PM:

Why do I keep getting phone calls offering me "unforgettable Caribbean experiences"? I had fourteen plus years of those. Including getting mugged at knife and gunpoint in Kingston. Is that what the robocaller meant?

#155 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 06:02 PM:

Open Office has been mentioned. This is now controlled by the Apache Software Foundation, rather than Sun or Oracle. Most Linux distributions went for the parallel Libre Office, which started at a somewhat political fork of the code.

You would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Unlike another well-known office suite, you can be pretty confident that the file formats will remain compatible over time, though that suite may still be the best choice for dealing with the editing processes in publishing.

Some people I know prefer the Scrivener program for writing long and complicated works. I got a copy at a discount through NaNoWriMo. There's a test version, limited to 30 days of use, and it can handle outlines, research notes, and shuffling of text sections with ease. There are Mac and Windows versions. The Linux-specific version was good, but development ceased: they're making sure that the Windows version will work under WINE.

A good option for working with ebooks is the Calibre program. It's a decent reader and converter, but also good for making ebooks from word processor files.

These days, when the average web page is the same size as Doom, the chances are that you have plenty of disk space to keep all these installed. I replaced a 1TB drive last week, and the price was astonishingly low (Major UK hardware supplier, not suspiciously cheap "user-refurbished" from eBay).

#156 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 11:16 PM:

The 1959 Mike Wallace Ayn Rand Interview: The refrain going through my mind for basically the last third of the interview: " Assumes facts not in evidence." See also: "Not supported by the historical record."

#157 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2016, 11:27 PM:

To clarify: I'm referring to her assertions wrt capitalism and economics.

#158 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2016, 05:18 PM:

So apparently there's a 16,000 word opus out there that explains the true history of the Organization for Transformative Works and Archive Of Our Own, which is not at all about providing a non-monetized place for people to put up their fic but is instead about something else?

I have no link. Anybody hear about this?

#159 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2016, 10:10 PM:

Related to the particle about malachite, I give you tourmaline.

#160 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2016, 12:39 AM:

Happy news!

This is a verified observation of gorillas, approximately at the young teenage developmental stage, deliberately wrecking poachers' traps. This is awesome because adult gorillas can just smash their way out of the things (they're intended for bushmeat, not gorillas), but juvenile gorillas can be seriously hurt or killed if caught. Furthermore, the speed with which they operated and the willingness of the troop patriarch to let them tackle the things suggests that these kids have done it before.

#161 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2016, 04:21 AM:

Jenny: Now if we could just encourage them to set traps for the poachers....

#162 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2016, 08:33 AM:

More happy news: Mary Seacole is getting a statue. Hilariously, fans of Florence Nightingale are upset. The feud continues!

#163 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2016, 09:44 AM:

I would totally be into giving gorillas and chimps pistols.

#164 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2016, 10:10 AM:

Re: OTW, Jenny @158 -- I don't know about the article you refer to, but I just had need to ask for OTW's legal help. They were helpful, and got a lawyer in touch with me promptly. Problem is now resolved.

#165 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2016, 10:25 AM:

Stefan: Gorillas, maybe. Chimps, not so much.

#166 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2016, 11:16 AM:

Jenny @160 :It is good news (and impressive), but now I worry that poachers will see it as a reason to go after gorillas intentionally rather than as tragic bycatch.

#167 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2016, 11:45 AM:

Em @166: they already are, for bushmeat and body parts.

#168 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2016, 12:20 PM:

re 136: I've been running Open Office on W10 ever since being upgraded and have encountered no problems.

#169 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2016, 03:08 PM:

Coworkers discussing the relative merits of human breast-milk–based facials.

Must...not...engage.... ::grinds teeth::

#170 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2016, 04:01 PM:

My kids got squirted in the face with breastmilk all the time (breastfeeding two at once made for some powerful let-downs), and they did have beautiful skin, but somehow I think just being babies had something to do with that... (also it used to crud up behind their ears if I wasn't careful).

#171 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2016, 07:15 PM:


Any interest in a Gathering of Light at this year's Balticon?

Balticon is May 27-30 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel near the Inner Harbor.

#172 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2016, 01:12 AM:

Lila #162: The soldiers whom Seacole aided honoured her during her lifetime. Nightingale appears to have been piqued. On t'other hand, I learnt about Seacole 47 years ago when I first read West Indian history so she's not been a secret to her own people, just to the people whose ancestors she served.

It's about time she got a statue.

#173 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2016, 04:53 AM:

HLN: local man has passed his six-month performance review with flying colours. The rental contract on his flat has been renewed for twelve months. It's nearly payday, followed by a bank holiday weekend. He has marigolds growing on the windowsill.

Local man is safe and sane for the first time; consequently he is immensely dissatisfied and working on a plan for world domination. We can only assume this is a positive sign.

#174 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2016, 08:26 AM:

HLN: Local resident had unexpectedly good medical experience, resulting in enormous roller-coaster-like happy mood swings. A thing that was "about 9 weeks from now" for the past three years*, turned out to be YESTERDAY, and it is glorious.

This time next year, he expects to have at least enough own-grown facial hair to be an incredibly skimpy mustache.

* Like commercial fusion power, which has been 30 years away for the past 60 years, etc. Many similar examples exist.

#175 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2016, 08:28 AM:

Elliott Mason @ #174:


#176 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2016, 01:13 PM:

duckbunny: Congratulations!

Elliott: Megacongratulations! I know it's been a long, hard road. Can't wait to see you at WisCon!

#177 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2016, 04:56 PM:

Elliot: I just realized facial hair may be the one place guys get a ton of unsolicited opinions... I have one too and I am waiting breathlessly to deliver it.

Gratz, as the kids said ... a few years ago.

#178 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2016, 06:04 PM:

Congratulations to duckbunny and Elliott both

#179 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2016, 06:56 PM:

"Any interest in a Gathering of Light at this year's Balticon?"

Getting to cons with kids has been a bit tricky, but we actually might manage to get to this one, at least for a day. (Probably Saturday, but possibly Sunday-- we still have to work out when is going to work for us.) I'd love to meet with other folks from here who are going, either at an event or just informally. What's the best way to find out where and when might be good to meet up?

#180 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2016, 07:01 PM:

duckbunny and Elliott, congratulations!

HLN of my own: although local woman STILL does not officially have a job (hoops have not yet been jumped through by prospective boss), local woman was accepted into 2 research studies with a combined reimbursement of over $250. Plus 3 days' worth of free meals. So there's that.

#181 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 03:50 AM:

Congratulations, duckbunny and Elliott!

Open Threadiness:
Illustrator Martin Panchaud has turned STAR WARS into one single long (really long) infographic (or is that a single-panel comic?). I think of it as a 2D vertical scrolling movie. It's stupendous.

And I can't stop watching Best fast workers. The skills on display are astonishing, though I suspect Occupational Health & Safety might be wanting to have a quiet word with a few of them.

#182 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 07:57 AM:

The 'best fast workers" video really is worth a watch.

It makes me reflect on lost crafts and lost skills. Also, the mixture of efficiency and flourish that the humans display.

Many of the skills displayed--rolling out dough, slicing things, throwing things, etc.--could be programmed into a robotic machine, and probably will be before too long. But the humans who do them also frequently show some sort of flair or élan in doing it that one would not program into a robot--it is not strictly necessary to the task at hand. But perhaps it helps the human do it with greater satisfaction? Perhaps it helps us to feel that we are not merely robotic?

There is an element of play in it that makes it joyful instead of joyless. I'm going to miss humans when they're gone.

#183 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 08:00 AM:

P.S. Elliott: and now I have Jonathan Coulton's "The Stache" running through my head.

#184 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 08:22 AM:


John Mark Ockerbloom@179

I was thinking that the lobby of the convention hotel (Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace) would be the natural place to meet.

Another possibility is the "Atrium" near the registration table (see the map at

As far as time goes, whatever time is convenient for everyone. I was thinking we'd all meet up and then go out for supper somewhere, but even that is flexible.

#185 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 11:17 AM:

oldster @ 182:

Of course, automation was supposed to have reduced the amount of manual labor needed for everything, thereby leading to shorter working days and the ability to pursue other interests with more free time, all with the same or better income. Along the way, something happened.

Watching a show like How It's Made is both fascinating and horrifying. Some manufacturing processes are triumphs of automation. Then there's one where a laborer stands in front of a press for hours to repeatedly put a metal blank in, stamp it into a bowl, and then take the new bowl out and toss it off to the side for further work. The only reason to be sorry for that kind of job to be automated is that you know they're not going to find replacement work or income for the employee.

I think that's really the key. Sure, some people are temperamentally suited to monitoring a conveyor belt for hours on end, or punching blanks into bowls. For most people, though, I'd wager it's thankless, RSI-inducing, mind-numbing work with no rewards beyond a too-small paycheck at the end of the week. There's artistry, play, joyfulness, and a personal touch that can be taken in various jobs, but all those are far more likely to show up because the person wants to be there in the first place. I want the world to be a place where people are doing the things they want to do, not the things they have to do because there's no other choice.

This is also where I take issue with Mike Rowe. He's said that even in the worst of the recession, when he talked to the people at the various jobs he featured on Dirty Jobs, they all said that they would be more than happy to have another dedicated, hard worker who would show up early and stay late to get the job done. I can see at least two things wrong with that, right there.

One, show up early and stay late? I hope they're being compensated handily for that, because I know plenty of people who do not take kindly to being exploited. Additionally, there's a reason that unions fought so hard for an eight hour working day. Why make do with three employees, when two who are willing to show up early and stay late will do? Sure, they could be dedicated to the job, or they could be workaholics. Or they could be trying to prove their worth to management so they're not the ones let go when the next round of layoffs comes.

Two, the implication of laziness of unemployed people does not sit well, especially coming from a well-off man who can swan in, do a few days of, admittedly, unpleasant work, then swan out again, while making more in one week than probably the rest of the employees combined. It doesn't take into account that there are plenty of people who can't do the work. It doesn't take into account that there are plenty of people who don't want to do the work when they're required to put in more hours than reasonable. It doesn't take into account that maybe the perfect person who wants to do the job is on the other side of the continent. It doesn't take into account that management has been complaining about lack of workers for the last few decades, all while not actually hiring people.

Related to your comment about robots, flair, and satisfaction, there was a video going around a little while back, of a robot and Japanese swordsman Isao Machii competing in the thousand cuts. The robot was programmed based on Machii's moves. Machii was visibly tired and sweating at the end. The robot, of course, completed much earlier, and was not tired at all. There's certainly creativity and satisfaction in programming the robot, and in a human learning how to be an expert swordsman in the first place. But from then on the robot does what it does. I'm not sure what my point was in this last paragraph, but I thought it was a neat demonstration anyway.

Relatedly, when I searched for the video, the headlines were all over the place. On the page I linked, the headline is "Legendary Swordsman Isao Machii Trains Industrial Robot Motoman-MH24 To Become Super Samurai". Fair, although without mention of the actual programmers. Still, it's a headline. Another site had the more neutral "Watch This Robot Perfectly Mimic a Master Japanese Swordsman". Still good. Yet another site had the more sensational and much less fair headline "Watch Japanese Samurai Master Lose to Robot Swordsman in 1,000 Cuts Battle". It's a robot, duh.

#186 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 11:48 AM:

I'm interested in a Gathering of Light at Balticon, but I'm not sure what I'd be able to make it to because I'll be there with the button business which means I'll be doing latish dinners.

Dealer's Room hours

I have no idea why closing is so late on Saturday and Sunday. I may close early if all the customers have left by 6, which I think they tend to do.

Anyway, please stop by the table and say hi.

#187 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 11:52 AM:

A few years ago, my second job was grading standardized tests, exactly the kind of not-quite-automatable work that probably won't go away until we change the those sections of the tests.

I rocked that job. Seriously.

My primary job is the kind of thing people say 'must be so rewarding' while meaning 'I am not going to reward you with money'. It's not going to go away, but neither is it ever going to be paid as much as we say we value it.

Also, those people who say they'd love another worker to come early and stay late? They're probably not advertising for a worker. There are people in their town who would like that job, but don't know about it, because realistically, they're not actually hiring.

Economy. Blech.

#188 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 01:06 PM:

Thanks for your thoughts, Keith S.!

#189 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 01:51 PM:

Were the people who wanted someone to "come in early and stay late" management or the other employees?

Because one thing people in dirty jobs hate is the guy who comes in late, leaves early, and gets paid the same as them while not just doing less, but sticking them with the work of opening and closing.

Especially when that guy is the new kid who doesn't know what he's doing and wastes everyone's time.

(Disclaimer: that may be an exact description of Mike Rowe in that situation, but I don't know if the comments are aimed at him. )

#190 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 01:59 PM:

Diatryma, #107: the kind of thing people say 'must be so rewarding' while meaning 'I am not going to reward you with money'

That kind of shit makes me so angry. My response to that would be, "You can't eat 'rewarding' or pay the rent with it. How about some tangible support?"

"Rewarding" is supposed to be something that happens on top of making a living, not instead of doing so.

Two deadly warning phrases in a job interview:
- We're all one big [happy] family here.
- We need someone who's willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Either of those is code for "we're going to exploit the holy living shit out of you." I've been bitten by both.

#191 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 03:23 PM:

Lee @ #190:

I've seen a writer (and, alas, I cannot recall who, or indeed where) say "You want to pay me in eyeballs? I've spoken to my landlord, and I can't pay my rent in those..."

#192 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 04:54 PM:

Sandy B. @ 189:

It sounded like Rowe was talking to the front-line workers, although it could have been the managers too. The way he said it, it sounded like the sort of gripe that conflates long hours with dedication and doesn't admit to the possibility of abuse, rather than workers complaining about the lazy guy who never helps with opening or closing.

Lee @ 190:

Agreed, totally. Like how teaching is supposed to be morally rewarding, but god forbid those greedy teachers make decent money. Or working for a clueless or shadier non-profit (but it's for chaaaaaaaaaaarity!). See also the related abuse of conning people into working for 'exposure'.

Ingvar M @ 191:

I seem to recall a quote like that too, but I can't think of where. Alas, Google doesn't turn up anything useful.

#193 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 05:41 PM:

KeithS #185: Sure, some people are temperamentally suited to monitoring a conveyor belt for hours on end, or punching blanks into bowls.

Actually, I doubt that. That sort of work is famously unrewarding and indeed boring; there are people who can tolerate such activity, but I doubt there are more than a few outliers who are actually "suited" for it.

What's happening in those scenes, is that the human is being inserted as a component, to provide one of those low-level capabilities that machines don't do well/cheaply, such as object recognition, or moving objects around without additional infrastructure.

#194 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 06:19 PM:

David Harmon @ 193:

Admittedly, I'm going by a very limited sample size of a friend of a friend who reportedly enjoyed watching a conveyor belt for faulty items. Other than that, you're correct, I don't think that jobs like that are productive or satisfying, and I sincerely doubt that many people do.

I hope I didn't imply that workers in positions like that are anything other than components because they're cheaper than a machine, although I know I didn't come right out and state it. For the example I picked out from How It's Made, that process probably could even have been automated without much additional infrastructure, but the production rate meant that the human was still cheaper than the robot. There are some episodes you watch where the work is boring but fiddly and doesn't look easily automatable in one way or another, but that one wasn't one of them.

#195 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 08:05 PM:

I have a friend who loves coming up for a weekend and sorting our comics, alphabetizing our bookshelves, etc. I don't pretend to understand, but it makes her happy.

There are a few people who legitimately love things that drive 99.7% (or whatever) of us crazy. There are more than 0.3% of those jobs, though.

(Separate, but related, example: million hour weeks in tech. Everything in tech. Programming. Working on games is the worst, where "the final product is fun" != "making it is fun" != "we are going to work you 100 hours a week 'to get you ready for the real crunch.'")

#196 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 08:43 PM:

I really enjoy alphabetizing and merchandising bookstore shelves.

To the point that I volunteer to do it twice a year at my kid's school, running Book Fair ...

#197 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 08:45 PM:

Yeah, there's a pretty big gap between 'people become teachers for the money' and 'people stop teaching because of the money'. And of course, 'you can't solve the problem by throwing money at it.' To which I must say, have you ever tried?

#198 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 09:38 PM:

Diatryma@197: "you can't solve the problem by throwing money at it."

Analogous to the "money can't buy happiness". If there's plenty of money, and you have problems, sure, there are plenty of other factors to look at. But if you (or a system) are short of money, and have problems that could be addressed with more money, it's...unhelpful.

#199 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 09:45 PM:

My response to "money can't buy happiness" is "true, but it's very good for eliminating some of the causes of unhappiness."

#200 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 09:51 PM:

Sandy, #195: I can cheerfully stand in front of a display full of assorted similar items (e.g. bottles of nail polish, packages of small parts, etc.) for half an hour finding and fixing all the misfiled items. This doesn't mean I want to do that for 8 hours a day!

dotless i, #198: I consider "money can't buy happiness" to be one of those things greedy assholes like to say to keep the peons in their place. The difference between that and "slavery wasn't evil because it saved their immortal souls" is only one of degree, not of kind.

#201 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2016, 09:51 PM:

It's worth noting that both Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark have the superpower "ridiculous amounts of money". Which is really an amazing superpower to throw at certain kinds of obstacles.

#202 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 12:48 AM:

Have now packed the car for a 4-hour road trip* to WisCon with one other adult and three children.

In a Honda Accord.

It's gonna be funnnnnn!

I have a backpack of car-amusements and a backpack of car-food, both of which have to live in the footwell with the non-driving grownup, plus a trash box in the back seat that one kid will have to straddle most of the way.

One huge suitcase for me and Beka in the trunk, plus the Strategic Food Reserve (in a cooler and a box) for digging into when we stop to change drivers and pee. Also two large rag-towels, for (among other things) spreading across the entire suite of backseat laps when they're eating their trip-starting watermelon slices.

This leaves about 60% of the trunk for the other family group's stuff, which I hope will be enough ...

But it's all packed! In the morning I just have to get myself and the kid dressed, pack her toothbrushing supplies and a stuffie if she wants one for sleeping with, and collect the charging gameboys and ALL my chargers and electronics.

Plus, of course, anything I've totally forgotten we need and will grab in a hurry.

But I hope there's not much of that, because I want to get on the road ca. 8AM, and it's nearly midnight right now. I plan to stay up for a singalong that goes till 11PM tomorrow ... Whee!

* Well, four hours if it's a physics-class road trip, with perfectly spherical cows and no need to deal with other cars, food, or bodily functions. IDEALLY 4 hours.

#203 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 06:25 AM:

Elliott Mason @202: I remember family holidays with three small children, back when I was a small child. We used to go to self-catering places that didn't provide bedding. All clothes packed according to a strict list that required significant laundry to be done, but when shoved in a soft holdall could just about shove in the car (five t-shirts, one pair of shorts, one pair of trousers plus the ones you'll wear to travel. Two jumpers. Five sets of underwear. Toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush, but shampoo and soap are held centrally. No, you cannot have extra books in your bag. No, you cannot take a teddy.)

Which, once packed very carefully into the boot, left three children and all the bedding to be fit into the back seat. The trick is to have the children sit on top of the bedding. Indoor sleeping bags are slippery and uncomfortable but if you put the pillows as the top layer it's not too horrible, although it is hot.

We fought a lot over footwell space, elbows, and the way the eldest used to slobber excessively over the shared water bottle. We moved to a system where he had his own and the rest of us shared. Rucksacks full of books had to contain all your books for the week and somehow be fit around your feet, but you needed to do something with your brain on the trip.

It wasn't good. After Mum went back into employment and we needed two vehicles Dad starting driving a minibus to work.

#204 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 07:47 AM:

My husband almost religiously objects to the idea of buying a minivan or ANY OTHER 6+ seats vehicle, despite that I regularly have 3 kids in the car (and may in future continue to do so, once Beka has school friends we'll be schlepping places).

I don't know why car backseats are generally sized about 6" too narrow to COMFORTABLY fit three carseats/boosters across the back. They're all about the same width, though some are extra-wide. This is a known variable designers could work around. If they cared.

#205 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 08:50 AM:

Elliott Mason & duckbunny: my family were also aficionados of the self-catering/Bring Everything school of holidaymaking. I am one of five children. When I was a teenager my parents had a Ford Tourneo, which is the same chassis as a Transit van but with the van section full of seats. It carried nine. Alternatively, if you pulled out two of the back row, it could carry seven people and seven people's luggage for a fortnight.

I was the only kid who didn't get violently carsick when sitting over the back axle (the suspension had iffy moments), so on long journeys I got the solitary back row seat by default, walled in with bags. It was great - nobody elbowing me, my own snack box and water bottle, and I could pull a duvet out of the stack to nest in if I wanted to go to sleep.

#206 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 09:29 AM:

David Harmon @193:

to provide one of those low-level capabilities that machines don't do well/cheaply, such as object recognition, or moving objects around without additional infrastructure.

I'm a bit hesitant at putting "object recognition" on that list. We're right at the edge there, where the answer to the question is very much "It depends on the problem domain". On specific sets of classes of images (the most famous is the ImageNet set with 1000 different types of images), the best algorithms do about as well as people. In some cases it depends on the individual human. What the algorithms aren't very good at yet is generalizing outside of their experience - ImageNet, for instance, has many breeds of dog, but the algorithm can't say "This is a dog, but not one I've seen before" - it will guess a few breeds that it does know. But I could code that part up pretty easily - look at the confidence in the best guess, or the gap between the first and second guess, and fall back to the next level up in the hierarchy if need be. (This is actually what I'm working on right now (as in literally right this minute I have a job running using Google's Cloud Vision API) - we want to be able to use all the levels in the underlying hierarchy, so we can say "This is a Labrador retriever, which is a dog, which is an animal.")

Cheaply, I don't know, but I'll note there are numerous companies out there that will provide automated object recognition in images, and AFAIK using the Mechanical Turk instead is not a popular solution (though I bet a lot of those companies use it to generate their training sets.)

#207 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 09:38 AM:

Growing up, we had either an Aerostar (two kids in the back seat, one in the 'control seat') that took us on the big six-week trip that included New York, Washington DC, South Dakota, Washington State, and many places in between, as well as other summer vacations and trips to New York; or a big blue van, the kind with two captain's seats and then a bench that folded out into a bed. That was great for once we outgrew sharing a bench seat for reasons of leg. Any vehicle that lets at least one child be unconscious at all times will seriously help on long trips. That van got us from northwest Illinois to Key Largo in twenty-seven hours (Dad probably but not definitely slept in Georgia while Mom drove). And it taught me to drive something that handles like a zeppelin.

I tend to overpack my car, since I generally travel alone and in a Buick. When moving a friend to Pittsburgh, we did manage to cram a significant fraction of her worldly goods, including a mattress, in there, plus her, plus two cats.

I've been raised to drive, and living between airports, it's still often the best choice.

#208 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 11:06 AM:

I grew up with 8-hour trips, three kids in back seat, plus whatever small toys we felt we needed. Stops made as needed for refueling of car and people, or other necessity.
(It certainly warped my view of travel. I still do 8-hour trips. But I'm driving, and stop when I feel like it.)

#209 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 11:12 AM:

I grew up before people were seatbelt-conscious*. We had a huge 1970 station wagon, bought because you could fit most of a youth soccer team loose in the cargo area in back**. Most of our long trips we had a tent and camping supplies as well as six people's worth of clothes etc. We would put the back seat down and pack the entire back of the car level to the bottom of the windows, then unroll three sleeping bags on top of the load. Three kids would lie down in back for the trip**; the fourth kid would sit on the front bench seat between the two adults. We would swap out who was where after every gas/bathroom stop. Sometimes one adult would be in back to get some sleep before their next driving shift.

*although my mother was better than most, always insisting that belts be used in the front seat

**Now Jim Macdonald is going to reappear specifically so that he can kill me.

#210 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 12:17 PM:

Mary Aileen, we must be about the same vintage. Although the trip I remember most wasn't a soccer team in the back, it was my high-school-age brother's music ensemble. Who were playing as we drove. My mother put the station wagon back window part way down so the trombonist had room to slide the slide.

My mother had an incredible tolerance for noise while she drove.

#211 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 12:19 PM:

OtterB (210): We did a lot of singing on long car trips.

#212 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 01:23 PM:

We played word games. Or games involving signs, or license plates. (If we needed to nap, it was 'sit on the floor with your head on the seat'.)

#213 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 02:19 PM:

P J Evans (212): I don't remember any formal games like that, but we did sometimes try to make words or phrases out of the letters on license plates. (Ours were LFT, Looking For Trouble.) On one trip, my oldest brother started trying to see how many states' license plates we could spot, so we all kept our eyes out for new ones. As well as scanning the other cars on the road, we walked around looking at the parked cars at every stop. We found all but two, missing only Hawaii and either Nebraska or Nevada (I forget which).

We also helped navigate and read signs. My second brother became our map expert. And we watched for interesting sights along the road. (Oh, look! Horses!)

#214 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 02:33 PM:

I'm of similar vintage to OtterB and Mary Aileen. Games included License Plate Scrabble (double word score if the first and last letters of the plate were the first and last letters of the word; triple score if the middle letter was the middle letter of the word. There Was Debate over whether doubling the middle letter in an even-length word counted for the triple), and a Volkswagen spotting game: the first person who spotted a VW beetle said Bang! A Volkswagen bus was the occasion of a "Spider-Bang!" (I think this actually started before Amazing Fantasy 15 introduced Spider-Man to the world; certainly before he was a well-known character). (Spiders were seen as big bugs....)

#215 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 03:33 PM:

The family road trip game was mainly the alphabet game with road signs, and a Geography game where each player had to say the name of a place that began with the last letter of the previous player's place name.

I also remember counting horses - a white horse counted 5 - but that was, I think, just me.

#216 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 03:46 PM:

"I love my love with an 'A' because" - it got interesting when you got to Q, X, and Z.

#217 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 03:59 PM:

"Money can't buy happiness" and "you can't solve the problem by throwing money at it" both strike me as being statements that are reasonable approximations of reality in some places, but not others.

Some problems can indeed be solved by money. If you're constantly broke because your low-paying job is insufficient to pay off your student loan debts, probably increasing your salary by 50% will actually make you happier, at least assuming *that* is enough to eventually get you out from under your debts. If you're a well-paid professional whose main money problems stem from overspending, then increasing your salary by 50% probably won't make you much happier over time--you'll end up with a bigger house and a nicer car, but in basically the same life.

The same thing holds for something like public schools. If your school is a one-room schoolhouse with no books and a leaky roof, money is probably exactly the solution to your problems. But many of the worst schools in the US spend a huge amount per pupil, by both US and international standards. I would not expect a 50% increase in the DC school system's budget to lead to a substantial improvement in school performance, in anything except dollars spent. Their problems are probably mostly not insufficient cash, but rather bad management, a bad reputation that convinces parents with any resources to keep their kids out of the system, and lots of poor black students who don't do well in school or on standardized tests. Those aren't easy to solve with cash.

#218 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 04:48 PM:

duckbunny @ 203
... Toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush

Luxury! We had to share the same tube of toothpaste, and like it!

Did a bunch of road trips as a kid, generally involving a day or two of driving at each end of a holiday. "I spy", spot-the-latest-number-plate, and competitive counting of cars of nominated colour.

#219 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 05:02 PM:

albatross @217:

bad management, a bad reputation that convinces parents with any resources to keep their kids out of the system, and lots of poor black students who don't do well in school or on standardized tests. Those aren't easy to solve with cash.

One of these things is not like the others. Really not like the others, in ways that I'm finding really powerfully wrong. Leaving aside, to the extent that I can, the fact that you've just listed vulnerable children at the sharp end of our society's problems as some kind of difficulty in themselves.

In-school nutrition programs, after-school study spaces, good counseling and mentoring resources are all things you could spend cash on with good results. And if some of the cash didn't go to the schools but to the families—providing economic security—or the neighborhoods—improving infrastructure, providing jobs—I suspect it could do very well there too.

Academically struggling kids from communities suffering generational poverty and discrimination aren't some kind of force of nature to be cited as an insoluble problem. They're people in need of assistance, much of which is either best delivered in the form of money, or in the form of things money can buy.

#220 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 05:20 PM:

abi 219: In-school nutrition programs, after-school study spaces, good counseling and mentoring resources are all things you could spend cash on with good results.

We prove this every day at The Jubilee Center. All the kids who go there do their homework first thing, with extra tutoring from certified teachers if they need it, and are fed a nutritious meal before their parents pick them up. Between they have various fun activities. If we had more money, we could help more kids, and do more for the kids who do come there.

In this case throwing money at the problem does help; our summer students have higher scores in reading and math at the end of summer than before (and as most of you know, kids typically slide by quite a bit over the summer).

#221 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 05:30 PM:

Unrelated AKICIML question: A person at WisCon was asking if anyone remembered a cartoon show that featured a purple mole (the animal) and a badger (proper) who weasel-help a sheriff or ranger out with various crises. She said there was a lot of humor around the mole being blind, and the badger giving terrible descriptions of the situation.

She said she watched it in the late 70s–early 80s in Malaysia, but swears it was an American cartoon, though none of her American friends remember it.

I certainly don't. Do any of you know what she might be talking about?

#222 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 06:06 PM:


The kids in the DC public school system aren't problems, they're kids who need and deserve an education. We have no disagreement there.

People mostly judge school systems based on stuff like test scores, graduation rates, and whether their graduates are prepared for college. When people say the DC public school system is a mess, they mean that it does poorly on those things. And on all those measures, black kids do a lot worse on average than white kids, and poor kids do a lot worse on average than not-poor kids. I linked to a bunch of data (from the New York Times) about this a month or so ago.

This is one reason why the idea of penalizing schools with bad test scores breaks down--you mostly end up penalizing schools with poor black and Hispanic kids, and deciding that the schools with mostly well-off white and Asian kids are somehow great schools.

Can you change the black/white school performance gap by spending money? Can you fix whatever leads to poor kids doing worse in school that middle-class kids? Maybe so, and it would be worth spending a hell of a lot of money to do so, if we knew how. But I don't think you can do it just by funding the schools better. I think you're looking at some much more fundamental social changes there. And my very much non-expert impression is that nobody actually knows how to do that on a large scale. That really sucks, but as far as I know, it's true.

And so, my prediction is that if you increase the budget of the DC public school system by 50%, you will see relatively little improvement in the measures I described above.

#223 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2016, 08:57 PM:


When you say that the problems of the DC school system probably aren't lack of money, but bad management, a bad reputation, and children with problems that extend outside the school, does that mean that you don't actually know what the problems are?

The first step in solving a problem is knowing what it is. This reminds me of doctors who take one look at a patient and tell her "You need to exercise more and lose weight" without actually asking "what's wrong? Why are you here today?"

Maybe the patient would benefit from exercising more. A lot of people would. But even if that's true, it won't fix a broken ankle or a bacterial infection.

Bad management is a cause (in the same way that staphylococcus bacteria are a cause), and some of the results include leaking roofs and lack of useful textbooks. "Fire the bad manager" isn't enough, you also need to fix the roof, fix interior damage caused by the water, and buy new textbooks. Money may not be enough, but those aren't problems you'll solve without money.

The set of problems that money alone won't solve is not the same as the set of problems that can be solved without spending money.

#224 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 12:03 AM:

#221: Wow, I thought I knew cartoons, but that doesn't ring any bells.

Well, there's Deputy Dawg, which had a purple mole and other critters, but no badger:

If that's not it, might be worth asking on Twitter.

#225 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 12:53 AM:

Playing bridge today, we told our opponents that we play a 12-14 one no trump opening. One of them told the other, "Over that we do Hamilton." So I said, "Ah: we open one no trump and you get up and start rapping?"

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 01:09 AM:

Elliott, #204: IYDMMA, why is your husband so vigorously opposed to buying a vehicle suited to a type of load that you expect to be carrying regularly for the foreseeable future?

"Will it comfortably hold 4 adults, a couple of bags per person, and 2 guitars?" was one of my primary criteria for car-buying from my mid-20s onward. I knew what it was going to be expected to do, and planned accordingly.

Re travel games: I was an only child and my mother hated to travel -- the only significant trips we ever took were the annual pilgrimages to visit my maternal grandmother, until we moved to her city when I was 14. I don't remember any formal travel games until I was an adult traveling with friends rather than family. I still like the license-plate game where the numbers on the plate tell you how many things are in the trunk and the letters tell you what kind of thing they are. NPC 372, for example, would be "372 non-player characters".

abi, #219: Thank you.

#227 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 03:06 AM:


Your arguments here feel out of focus; you're kind of half-agreeing with people while phrasing it as disagreement, and not as clear on your own ground as you usually are.

I was going to ask if you were all right, but of course, I know there's a level on which you probably aren't yet. So I'll just say that after every Mass I go to, I stop and light a candle for my friends who have lost parents lately. You're on that list, explicitly and by (internet nick)name.

#228 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 04:03 AM:

Albatross, Abi, the family statistician has worked on school exams, and they're a lousy tool for judging the quality of schools. There's a certain sort of person wants hard numbers, and exams and testing are about the only way of getting them.

What's happened in England is that the numbers are being used to assess performance, and the low-reanked schools are being pushed into organising on a new model that is essentially libertarian and capitalistic, and may not work. There are already things going wrong.

Abi has had the chance to compare schools in Scotland and the Netherlands, and has told us of some of the differences which don't seem to have any relation to exam results.

Where are the best schools? Oddly, it may be Flemish Belgium. Most of the stats for Belgian schools are dragged down a bit by the figures from Walloon Belgium, the headline figure are good, but hide that difference. It's like Scotland and England without an obvious border.

What I see from politicians, too often, is somebody grabbing a theory from one particular source who happens to agree with their politics, and who in on the fringe of the educational science community. An untested theory, a book of worse, and flattery.

If you want to see what testing, and schools which get students into elite universities, can lead to, may I direct you attention to the word "Bullingdon". There's a famous photograph, and when you figure out what those clothes cost you know talent doesn't have a lot to do with it.

They're the people telling us that hard work, and exam results, beat money.


#229 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 06:30 AM:


Michael I: Thanks for proposing this. I'm going to try heading down today (Saturday) with family, though with 4 of us with varying temperaments, interests, and crowd-tolerance I can't guarantee whether we'll be there and/or up for supper. I'm guessing there may well be a message board near the registration; I'll check, and possibly post, there if it looks like we'll be around for dinner.

Nancy: I'll also stop by the button table to say hi. (I think I may have met you briefly at an event long ago, but not since I moved to Philadelphia.) Hope the business is going well!

#230 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 09:56 AM:

Family road trips! That really brings it back. We drove all over the place. Four of us kids, two parents, and sometimes Mom's mother and sister, who both loved long drives. Many states, national parks, billboards, and motel pools.

Did it again last month. I drove two days up to my sister's in Escanaba, and then she and I and my 90-year-old Dad (91 now) drove three days to Colorado, enjoying the trip as much as possible. Seriously, we avoided interstates for the majority of it, and we detoured to see things, and we dallied. It's pretty exciting for me to be on a trip where you see something and the driver immediately takes steps to help you get the photo.

So we visited my sister and her orbit (and my old chums) in Colorado, then we flew to visit the other sister in Washington, rented a car, and indulged in the same kind of slow-paced adventuring, spending a day driving from Olympia to see the Sound.

The cars were roomy and fairly comfortable. They were Toyota Sienas. The one my sister rented was a newer version of her car, so it was almost the same but with neat little things to discover, like a fish-eye mirror for seeing the back seat. It also had the back-up cam, which was always gripping viewing. Both cars have good versions of all-important ABC, or Advanced Beverage Control. I drove one time, across a parking lot. Just my sister's car, never the rental. Being responsible for that piece of metal may have taken a year off of her life. She was so glad to check it back in, unscathed.

Then we flew back, and spent some more time in Colorado before driving back to Michigan, after which I drove back to New York. Ten days destination motoring (plus at least two more meandering once we were there), four of which I drove by myself, listening to radio dramas and music. It was surprisingly tolerable, as most of my drives turn out to be. I seem to enjoy a mix of utterly familiar commutes (like the two days to Escanaba) and the bombardment of brand-new sights, like the cement prairie dog in South Dakota. It towered above me, and real prairie dogs hastened from one hole to another at its feet. At the Denver airport, I learned that the world's largest cement prairie dog is in Kansas, so I still have something to look forward to in this life.

Right now, I look forward to mowing the lawn. Hoo.

#231 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 11:40 AM:

I had a 2008 Toyota Sienna, and it was a good highway cruiser. I traded it in last year for a RAV4 which gets better gas mileage and still is able to hold my telescope gear. Still, I miss some of the creature comforts of the Sienna.

#232 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 08:19 PM:

Stefan 224: That could be it, but I won't know for sure until/unless I can check with her.

#233 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 08:20 PM:

Stefan 224: That could be it, but I won't know for sure until/unless I can check with her.

#234 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 09:28 PM:

KeithS @ #185:

The thing I noticed about that video was how much work the robot's handlers still had to do themselves to make sure the thing to be sliced was sitting in the path that the robot's sword was programmed to traverse.

According to that famous authority, I Read It Somewhere On The Internet But I Don't Remember Where, there have been studies done showing that people who find job satisfaction working on a production line aren't so much temperamentally suited for boring repetitive work as they are temperamentally suited to inventing ways to make it less boring: little private challenges and games to make this half-hour of identical widgets different from the previous half-hour of identical widgets.

Not unlike children on long road trips inventing games to play with signs and licence plates, come to think of it.

#235 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2016, 10:16 PM:

Having spent many years doing things like quality control (for data entry-type stuff) and also a couple of years doing assembly-line type work - yes, you do invent things to keep it from being really boring. It also helps if you can talk with the people in the nearest seats, and if you can have piped-in music (with real disk jockeys or news readers, because 'no talk rock' is no fun on a line: you want to be connected to reality).

#236 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2016, 12:52 AM:

I remember an article by Daniel Pinkwater. I'm pretty sure it was in the collection Chicago Days, Hoboken Nights. He described how he coped with an assembly-line job: he bought a book of poetry, and every day on his lunch break he would memorize a new poem, and then spend the afternoon repeating it back to himself, along with other poems from previous days.

As a result he...lost the job. Because he was all happy and smiling while he was working, when everyone else was miserable. This creeped them out. They wondered if he was dangerously insane.

#237 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2016, 01:04 AM:

Pinkwater. He was.

#238 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2016, 09:45 AM:

I passed time on the assembly line by figuring out how to do things faster while not missing any details. I didn't much mind the job, but it was only temporary. One time I was applying for a factory job and set a new record putting nuts on an array of bolts. Then I dropped the whole thing.

My usual road game is doing the alphabet on signs. Over the years, I've honed the rules to suit myself and make it possible to get through a game in a reasonable amount of time (sometimes several hours). My two personal rules are:
(1) Use of rolling billboards, aka trucks. This requires judgement: a big sign on the side counts. Fine print stuff, like operator number and all that, is ignored like license plates and car logos and whatnot.
(2) The EX exception. The English language, for some reason, is not littered with beginning X, so for years, I've permitted myself to count ex- words as X words. In fairness, these words are no longer E words, which makes E a bit more challenging.
I usually go from Z to A, starting a game when I notice the word ZONE on a sign in a construction area, most times. I used to play the game in competition with my sisters on family drives to the city. Now it's a form of solitaire that can occupy just enough of my attention without making me get lost or run into things. When I'm a passenger, it's an activity that keeps me somewhat engaged with the outside world. (I get carsick easily enough, though crossword puzzles are okay.)

#239 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2016, 12:46 PM:

#236: Fishwhistle.

I have that collection in audio form. Pinkwater reading that particular piece is just wonderful. Well, pretty much anything in that collection is wonderful.

"Eat pudding."

#240 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2016, 03:40 PM:

Eat pudding. Not too much. Mostly chocolate.

#241 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2016, 05:20 PM:

To me, the most tedious jobs are ones that are dull, but still require just enough thought that I can't think about any other topic while doing them. I'd rather stuff envelopes than, say, fill out paperwork for the same length of time.

#242 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2016, 06:03 PM:

Yeah. The truly mindless jobs can at least allow interesting thought.

#243 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2016, 11:59 PM:

When I worked at CopyMat I dreaded litigation document copying for just that reason. Unstaple this bunch of receipts, lay some of them out on the glass, make two copies and set them aside; lay out the rest of them on the glass, make two copies; restaple the receipts and put them in the right place, staple the copies and put them on their respective stacks. You can't just do it on autopilot because you have problems to solve, but the work doesn't actually provide any intellectual stimulation.

#244 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2016, 12:46 AM:

Sarah E That's about right.

#245 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2016, 04:17 AM:

I don't even—wut

(Not unrelated to Kip W's @238.)

#246 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2016, 12:31 PM:

#221- has to be Deputy Dawg. It wasn't a badger, it was a Raccoon named Ty Coon, Moley Mole was a creole mole, and there were also Muskie the muskrat and some other cotton pickin varmints.

#247 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2016, 02:31 PM:

(2) The EX exception. The English language, for some reason, is not littered with beginning X, so for years, I've permitted myself to count ex- words as X words. In fairness, these words are no longer E words, which makes E a bit more challenging.

Wait. You only allow the letter if it's at the beginning of a word? This is a new variation to me. Our version only requires that the letters be in alphabetical order -- e.g., if you're on U, and you see "Venus," you can count the U but have to wait for another V.

#248 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2016, 07:10 PM:

Open Thready for the knitters (Yarny?): Her son grew up... so she knitted a new one.

#249 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2016, 07:59 PM:

#221, #246: I could imagine someone who has never seen / heard of a raccoon mistaking one for a badger.

#250 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2016, 10:05 PM:

The person who first told me about this cartoon was very excited. She says "Vincent Van Gopher looks and sounds just like the character I have in mind."

So Stefan wins the prize!* Thanks, Stefan!

*There is no prize.

#251 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2016, 10:43 PM:

I'm still basically playing the way it was presented to me when I was a kidling. I've even thought how interesting it would be to play by different rules (such as yours), but never followed through on that. Possibly because the process of submitting an amendment is long and onerous, and there's no way of knowing whether the gods of the game would even hear my petition.

#252 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 08:41 AM:

Lee @226: This gets into a domain where he can sense things I can’t (like a bichromat versus a tri- or tetracromat).

There is a factor called “fun to drive,” and another factor called “steers like a pig”. The former precludes the latter, and vice versa; they appear to occur on a single-line spectrum. (Other spectra exist, some of which I'm better at perceiving). There is realm between them on the spectrum called “handles decently and does its job”.

I am completely unequipped to grok at any level what “fun to drive” is like, because to me, driving is always a mildly stressful chore that involves a very specific set of focussed cognitive tasks. I can perceive the very outlier ends of “steers like a pig”, but don’t really mind it excessively (and my “handles decently” range goes further out into that end than his).

According to him, any vehicle specced for more than 5 adult passengers*, and any vehicle over a certain total length, is “steers like a pig,” which is completely unacceptable if he has to drive it more than a couple times a month**.

Minivans both “steer like a pig” and are, apparently, prone to rolling over to an extent that is completely unacceptable.

On the gripping hand, of course, for financial reasons we need to drive the car we have until it becomes utterly uneconomic to repair, because it’s paid off and our budget is beyond tight.

* Not that such vehicles actually CARRY 5 adult passengers comfortably, for the same reason you can’t get 3 carseats or boosters amicably across the back seat. The carseats are actually within an inch or so of the usual range of widths of human shoulders. This has been experimentally verified in the vehicle under study.

** It could be argued, by someone who wished to register logical arguments, that he doesn’t actually drive the car we HAVE more than once or twice a month as it is. This angle has not yet been tried, on the grounds that it may well be ineffective. It has previously been admitted that if minor car modifications (steering wheel cover, etc) aimed mostly at the comfort of the driver are desired by the more-frequent occupier of that seat, they should be purchased and applied even if the minority-time driver finds them redundant or unnecessary. So perhaps the line of argument should be tried after all.

#253 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 08:51 AM:

Separate from but not completely unrelated to the conversation Lee and I have been having, I just completed a road trip.

Short one. 2-3 hours each way (Chicago to Madison).

We did it with two adults and three kids in a Honda Accord.

It required careful packing, the trunk was UTTERLY full, and I didn't get to provide snacks and amusements in quite the way I prefer, which led to somewhat suboptimal toleration of conditions by the back seat inhabitants.

I did print out scavenger hunts, which looked a GREAT deal of fun to me, but never got any takers. By the way, Google image searching for "car scavenger hunts" brings up some great options, and a few that are just repetitive and not much fun. One was an alphabetical list of the kinds of make/model words one often finds written on the backs of cars in chrome, for crossing off -- one can certainly write in any one sees that were not already on the list -- and counting the final total at the end of the trip.

I couldn't, for reasons of trunk Tetris, bring my violin, guitar, or my enormous bag of song lyrics, any of which I could have used on a couple occasions, but on the whole, manageable. For the adults. It verged on Cruel and Unusual for the kids a couple times, especially on the return journey when everyone was exhausted and utterly out of cope with one another -- well, the back seat inhabitants surely were.

It didn't help that of the available Electronic Amusements, two were completely inoperable for the return trip, necessitating a lot of "goose/grain/dog" type dilemmas and negotiations, which had to be brokered and guided by the front seat.

I also realized that a big part of my childhood road trips, that many other people who have done road trips might find macabre, was attempting to identify, at speed and without distracting the driver unduly, the rough species of any roadkill passed*. We also kept an eye out for raptors and other fence-sitting birds.

* On the return trip, when I was driving, I spotted at minimum two deer of varying time-since-impact, one brown something smaller than a deer but far bigger than a bunny -- possibly very large raccoon? --in a remote rural area, plus several birds.

#254 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 10:45 AM:

When I was a youngling, we did a trip of over 300 miles for family holidays. This is a long way in England.

Part of the solution to car sickness was for me to do the map-reading.

My father said I was good at it.

#255 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 10:53 AM:

Elliott, #252: SUVs are prone to rolling over in an emergency-maneuver situation. Minivans are not, because the center of gravity on a minivan is much lower. It sounds to me as if he's conflating the two.

I will admit that my minivan is difficult for me to park in a tight space. My partner doesn't have this problem, so I know it's not the car, it's me.

#256 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 11:32 AM:

Our 2000 Toyota Sienna proved to be the ideal vehicle for family road trips (2 adults, 3 kids) because it allowed spacing passengers such that no one was seated immediately next to anyone else (there is a gap between the 2 front seats and between the 2 middle seats, and we could leave 1-2 of the 3 seats on the back bench empty). We took it from Georgia to/from DC twice and from Georgia to/from Colorado once; youngest kid on earliest trip was 6, oldest kid on latest trip was 18. Plenty of room for snacks and playthings (no electronics) inside, with luggage divided between interior and roof rack.

That was also the single most comfortable car I have ever owned. I could either drive or ride for HOURS without my back hurting, which has not been true of any of our other vehicles.

Now that our kids are grown and my mother has passed away, we have no need of a minivan; but I sure loved it while we had it.

#257 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 11:54 AM:

My experience when we shopped for minivans long ago was that different ones handled very differently. We test drove a couple that felt like trucks and others that handled more like cars.

I'm with Lila - I miss my minivan in some ways. My Prius is far more appropriate for my current urban needs. But when the kids were younger, I really valued the ability to give each of them their own turf in the vehicle for routine or road trips, and to load up a bunch of Girl Scouts and some camping gear as needed.

Not to trivialize gender identity, but I think, in the way some people feel gender identity strongly and others less so, some people feel "vehicle identity" strongly and others don't. Me, as long as it runs and I can park it, I don't care very much. Elliott, it sounds to me like your husband has a gut-level reaction that he is not a minivan person and is then trying to logic his way to that conclusion.

#258 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 01:12 PM:

Kip W @251: the process of submitting an amendment is long and onerous, and there's no way of knowing whether the gods of the game would even hear my petition.

So: arbitrarily declare it to be a new game! "You know that old game we play? Well, this new game is very similar, but with these differences...."

#259 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 02:01 PM:

Elliott Mason @#252:
I used to be a "never a minivan!" guy, but then my wife and I started a family. Her Altima was fading in reliability, and I wanted the best mpg possible, and we needed room for 5 plus bags. She didn't want a minivan either. I turned it into an engineering challenge, and found the Mazda5 got better mpg than all other 3-row 6+ seat vehicles. I then found it will take 40mph posted curves at 55 without wallowing. Also fits and parks same as the Altima it replaced. We can both see over it, too, so loading a roofrack is much easier.
Cons: probably the most rust-prone of the Mazda fleet, not made anymore (2015 last model year) and for this 6' guy might be 1" too little legroom up front.

Available with a stickshift, too.

Checking Ford Transit Connect Wagon for eventual replacement as my Prizm at 172k could die at any time. I'd get the 5.

#260 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 02:06 PM:

Elliott Mason@252: I hesitate to ask this, because the vehicle has just been discontinued, but has your husband rejected the Mazda5? We have friends who regularly fit several kids with carseats into it, and it drives much more like a car (like a Mazda 3, specifically, with which it shares a base) than any other sliding-door vehicle I've encountered. It may not have enough luggage space to be a realistic step up for you, though, and given your car-buying schedule I don't know whether it's sensible to think about.

OtterB@257: The Mazda5 is/was an interesting test case for that reaction: it looks bigger than it is, and it has sliding doors, so for some people it immediately triggers the "minivan" histamine reaction. On the other hand, it drives like and has the footprint of an ordinary car, so we have at least one friend in the "must be fun to drive" camp who likes it. I think it was a particularly uncomfortable combination of characteristics for the U.S. market, though: too small for a "real" minivan, but got some of the negative emotional reaction of one.

#261 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 04:33 PM:

Ah, but there's no "we." It's just me. There's nobody to conspire with.

On a related topic, I keep thinking that Scrabble (-type games) might be as much or more fun if you could see everybody's tiles.

#262 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 05:26 PM:

Elliot Mason@252: somewhere the question of "fit for purpose" needs to come into the vehicle decisions. Not being able to take your instruments to a convention seems like a major problem to me, and the level of imposition on the kids in the back also seems pretty undesirable.

I always took driving unusual (for me) vehicles as an opportunity, a fun challenge. Like rental trucks, including the biggest ones you can rent and drive on a normal consumer license. Had one for the move back from MA to MN that actually lacked synchro-mesh on the transmission, and I had to reconstruct the idea of double-clutching on the fly and teach myself to do it. It was the right vehicle for the job of the moment.

A quick check of some statistics seems to confirm Lee@255's remark that minivans aren't especially prone to rollover. It's easy to find examples with the same rollover ratings as sedans (including specifically the Honda Accura).

Another interesting choice is the Subaru line; they have a lower center of gravity than most things in their class because of the kind of engine they use (flatter, placed lower in the engine compartment). Their SUV-body vehicles (Outback, Forester) seem to have four-star ratings, same as the Honda Accura.

#263 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 06:00 PM:

Side thought re "steers like a pig"... my partner and I have a running (minor) disagreement about the steering of our respective vehicles, both of which are minivans. He thinks the steering on my car is sloppy. Every time I have to drive his car I keep thinking, "Holy CRAP, the steering on this thing is twitchy!" I wonder if something along the same lines is happening here, that the two drivers prefer differing amounts of steering lag.

#264 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 08:09 PM:

Once when I was driving (road trip, rental car, swapping drivers) a car he found near the low end of "fun to drive" (but definitely on that end), I was shocked at how touchy the gas pedal was. I had to retrain myself so I wasn't jackrabbiting constantly.

#265 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 09:17 PM:

Data point on cars: my Suburu Forester is one inch wider and two inches longer than the Toyota Corolla it replaced. It sits significantly higher, so it FEELS like a bigger vehicle, but the footprint really isn't. I'm not a "must have sporty handling" person (I'm a "must be practical" person) so I can't speak knowledgeably regarding the handling, but it seems fine to me. For what it's worth. It only seats five, however, with a back seat fine for three kids but a little tight (not impossible) for three adults. Lots of cargo room in the back, and the split seats fold down flat if you don't have three in the back (can fit one or two with the wide or narrow part of the back seat folded down.) Roof rails for optional roof cargo. And it has all wheel drive, which for winters in Chicago is handy. (And the relatively small footprint for relatively large cargo space is a plus for finding parking spaces in Chicago....)

#266 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2016, 10:47 PM:

There's the steering ratio, how fast turning the wheel turns the actual wheels, and there's how much slop there is, how much you can turn the wheel without the actual wheels turning at all.

In a car with sloppy steering, I find myself constantly turning the wheel back and forth to push us a little one way or the other; it's a lot of work, and rather nerve-wracking, and leads to a less-clean track.

A car with just a different ratio I can get used to, especially if I'm not trying to do anything exotic with it (and, let's face it, there are very few moments when it's appropriate to do anything exotic with steering your car!).

No modern family-size vehicle (as opposed to flat-out trucks) in decent condition should have much of any slop; though possibly a more sensitive driver than I am would notice some, I guess. I don't think I've seen any large sets of measurements of actual slop to tell me objectively how common it is.

#267 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 06:53 AM:

"Handles like a pig" and "Fun to drive" can overlap, generally in the fun but terrifying zone of muscle cars. Anything can be fun for a few seconds if you have enough horsepower.

I really like minivans for the space to exterior size ratio. There's nothing quite like a large flat floor to really suck up the cargo. (except, of course, full sized vans. Great if you want 13 mpg, otherwise not so much)

We're planning on a 2 week trip this summer in a 7 seater, and I'm really worried about the balance of space for cargo vs space for three boys who will get real tired of each other. While there are three rows of seats, there's not a lot of space behind the back row, so either they're sitting on top of each other in the middle row, or we'll have nearly no space for cargo. Roughly a backpack each, + some common stuff.

Re sign games, as a kid we used to try to find our names on signs, but my sisters complained whenever we were near Frederick or Fredericksburg.

#268 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 07:02 AM:

It seems to me that "fun to drive" typically equates to feels like fast acceleration, quick turning, etc. A sports car is fun to drive because you step on the gas and you are pushed back into the seat, zooming past other, slower, cars on the road. "Steers like a pig" doesn't tend to have those features.

But they do make some SUVs which fit into the "fun to drive" category based on the above criteria. Car and Driver did a drag race competition (0-60, 1/4 mile, etc) head to head between a sports car and... a Tesla Model X SUV towing a trailer with the same model of sports car on it, and the Model X won. So an SUV which can out-perform a sports car in exactly the kind of thing which makes the sports car "fun to drive", and with a (predicted) highest safety rating ever for an SUV, it's safe, too. Too bad it costs $120,000.

#270 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 11:12 AM:

The problem with driving in wintry conditions is that even a two-wheel-drive car already has four-wheel braking (or, sometimes, not-braking) so you can wonder if 4wd gets you much extra safety.

#271 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 12:03 PM:

I am not familiar with booster seats beyond having done some light investigating into what I'd need to take my then-three-year-old tinyfriend on a trip. Is there a way to turn the entire backseat into a booster? Some of the ones I saw were very much make-the-kid-higher rather than five-point harnesses, and my roommate has the foam for the couch she's building right across the room, so... long foam pad, slits for seatbelts, velcro on one site to cling to the seat itself? Then you have only the kids' shoulders to compensate for.

#272 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 01:49 PM:

Another possible useful definition of "fun to drive"--which may be related to "doesn't feel clumsy" from my experience.[1] My wife's "feels clumsy" is heavily related to body roll, which varies both by model and by shock type. (We once replaced shocks on a vehicle and it "felt much less clumsy.") To feel body roll, go to a deserted road or parking lot, steer a steady curve like you'd use to change lanes at 20 mph or so, then switch directions abruptly. Do NOT do this at highway speeds. You'll feel the car rock, but some cars rock much less than others.

1) I am not a car person; I do not like cars, driving cars, talking about cars, competing with killer cars for road space (I'm a bike rider)....My wife used to participate in rallies and vintage racing.

#273 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 01:51 PM:

Diatryma@271: There may be legal constraints on doing that sort of construction yourself, given that you're presumably not going to actually crash test the result in advance. On the other hand, where the age, height, and weight of the children are appropriate, these sorts of adapter vests come highly recommended. They move the seat belt down to the child rather than the other way around, so they don't as good visibility out of the car, but they're very compact.

#274 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 04:08 PM:

Diatryma @271:

Is borrowing a carseat from the kid's parents an option? I know that for my own three-year-old I'd far rather lend a friend our carseat rather than rely on a homebuilt contraption. (Alternatively, there are regular carseats - not booster seats - that will fit most 3-year-olds for under $50, and as a parent I'd even buy one of those for a friend before relying on the homebuilt contraption.)

#275 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 10:08 PM:

Jack-Dann-ism spotted:

"The sound of a wild snail eating Elisabeth Tova Baley"

#276 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2016, 11:14 PM:

Oh, it turns out to be simpler to borrow the entire car, given that I have only needed to transport the tinyfriends once. I was doing research on an in-case basis.

#277 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 09:12 AM:

In hyperlocal news, I can report that I heard the meteor that went blooey over Arizona this morning, and it was very loud -- like extremely close and prolonged thunder. Haven't heard any reports of damage, just bright lights and noise.

#278 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 10:11 AM:

Cygnet, wait, what? A meteor exploded over Arizona?

#279 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 11:11 AM:

Arizona meteor

HLN: Local correspondent royally punked after complaining about Game of Thrones spoilers in an open cube farm. Local woman should have clued in after talk of "Arya's wedding."

#280 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 11:49 AM:

Cassyb, yeah -- I woke up thinking we were having a thunderstorm, but that the thunder sounded weird and there was a really long time between the flashes of light and the really loud booms.

I honestly couldn't figure out what was going on.

Not damaging, just loud. I probably heard a sonic boom(s). They're saying no impact site.

#281 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 12:00 PM:

If you haven't yet seen the Google doodle today, it's well worth pushing the "Start" button...

#282 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 01:05 PM:

#281 ::: Lori Coulson

Agreed. There was a period of boring google doodles, but I have hope for stable improvement.

#283 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 04:34 PM:

Lori Coulson #281: It was, indeed, truly cool.

#284 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 06:29 PM:

In hyperlocal news update -- that "meteor" was an asteroid ten feet in diameter and it apparently went right over our heads (we are in the area described, east of Payson). The bits and pieces that were left after re-entry may have hit the ground N. of Tucson.

"N. of Tucson" is mostly sandy flats that are already loved by meteorite hunters because meteorites are simply easy to find in the sand, so if it actually did come down in that area we'll be seeing asteroid bits on eBay shortly.

#285 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 06:35 PM:

Lori Coulson #281: Was is supposed to show an animation? I just got a search for Lotte Reiniger.

#286 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2016, 06:54 PM:

Click the triangle in the middle of the doodle.

#287 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2016, 04:03 AM:

Dave Bell@270: A 4wd gets you stuck less often in the winter. If abused, it can certainly be used to drive into worse situations than one could have managed with less traction -- your remark about everybody already having four-wheel brakes is exactly how I have explained that to a number of people.

#288 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2016, 04:12 AM:

Eric@267, Buddha Buck@268: The historical American muscle car was all about acceleration, yeah. I classify that as "exciting" rather than "fun to drive", i.e. a brief adrenaline rush while you wonder if you're going to die this time.

We probably need less value-laden descriptions; I suspect people who care about "how a car drives" don't all want exactly the same thing. Some like precision and responsiveness, whereas some like the adrenaline rush (and there may be additional preference-clusters).

Later seasons of Top Gear were interesting in regard to that -- often they, or at least some of them, preferred a car that was clearly "less good", in that they didn't like the car that was capable of getting around the track faster. The old guy (remembered, Jeremy Clarkson; the one who punched the producer), was actually willing to admit that he was looking for excitement, rather than precision and controllability (what I think of as "quality" in a car). For cars being driven on a large empty airfield I can even see some of his point.

#289 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2016, 06:36 AM:

P J Evans #286: I was, but just got the search. I've now gone over to and seen the Youtube version.

#290 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2016, 02:06 PM:

Very sad to read of Swarb's death, Patrick. An amazing musician.

#291 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2016, 02:11 PM:

Tom Whitmore@290: Yes, I'm very unhappy about that. First of the long string of musician deaths that's major to me personally.

#292 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2016, 04:15 AM:

Often, but not always, Top Gear was about cars that few of us will ever drive, driven at speeds that would not be legal on any road.

There's some impressive engineering, but Clarkson seemed to like driving at the limits, and enjoy the abnormal behaviour.

I did some fast driving, but I was starting with vehicles that were not a Bugatti Veyron. I was blasting through the twisty bits with a Mini, and gaining on the fast road cars of the time. I suspect a part of it was things such as being in the right gear.

No, I'm not talking fashion.

Anyway, I remember when the US version of Top Gear got started, and it took time for things to come together. The show format depends on the interactions between presenters, and on the viewers knowing their individual preferences. James May became known as "Captain Slow",but it was clear that he didn't want to drive in the style that Clarkson did. He preferred the precision. And that was part of why he praised different cars to Clarkson.

Will I watch the new Clarkson Product? I don't know. Will it be worth the effort of setting up? The Subsciption TV channels, satellite, broadcast, and internet, don't get the viewers the BBC can. Can the live performances that were part of the Clarkson brand survive on the back of the promised new show, without the viewing figures?

#293 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2016, 04:13 PM:

PNH @How Should America Resist a Fascist? More people should read about the rise of fascism in Italy, rather than in Germany.

I'd be interested in some pointers in that direction.

What do you feel are the most salient differences?

#294 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2016, 04:27 PM:

Dave Bell @ 270: The problem with driving in wintry conditions is that even a two-wheel-drive car already has four-wheel braking (or, sometimes, not-braking) so you can wonder if 4wd gets you much extra safety.

Consumer Reports looked at stopping distance on snowy roads in regular and AWD cars, with and without snow tires. Stopping distance was dramatically shorter with snow tires -- my memory is that it was half the distance. AWD didn't do much.

#295 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2016, 06:37 PM:

HLN: Local woman has been shopping for Father's Day cards and is feeling ranty enough to crosspost this from FB:

I very much wish that they made Father's Day cards that didn't assume all fathers are outdoorsy types who love sports and dogs.

Couldn't there be a few cards with a picture of a book-lined room, or musical instruments, or a garden, or a cat?

Couldn't some of the sappy ones that thank Dad for everything thank him for reading to the kid, or helping them with homework, or taking them to museums or concerts, or driving them to soccer practice, or sharing his love of gardening or movies or science or something?


There's an untapped market here.

#296 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2016, 06:47 PM:

#295: Around this time of year, some stores set up impulse-buy Father's Day gifts. I get the same feeling about them as you do about cards. Mixed in with "STOP DEFINING MY MANLY INTERESTS, STUPID PRE-WRAPPED GIFTS!" sort of feeling. Based on the selection, dads:

Have lots of neckties
Need galoshes

It's . . . Don Draper manhood.

#297 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2016, 07:53 PM:

Stefan Jones @296: There are enormous forces at work keeping the definition of manhood and fatherhood at the Dan Draper level that have been marshalled since about the mid-1970s. It started slow, but the backlash against the softening gender binary ramped up throughout the 80s, then in the 90s it started to deeply segregate the toy aisle (but it was still possible to find toys intended for all children to play with), and in the 2000s every bobdamn piece of infant clothing either had a baby duck or a truck on it to make sure you knew "which kind it was for," and green became a "boy color" and yellow a "girl color", and even rainbow items had to have a pinstripe of pale blue or pale pink "so you could tell".

Some groups are finding and chiselling wider areas of nonbinary expression, but the overall cultural force has been a history of repeated backlashes since even BEFORE Don Draper. It starts in enforcement in elementary school, doubles down in the tweens, and tends to be much more strongly forced by surrounding adults (who grew up 20-40 years previously) than by the kid's peers ... until the indoctrination sets in.

I am extremely hopeful for the current crop of adolescents, because Tumblr and its ilk lets them find each other and learn, early and well, that they are NOT lone freaks of nature who must tamp themselves into a wrong-shaped whole, but part of a nationwide and international subgroup who are perfectly healthy and normal.

#298 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 03:37 PM:

Elliott Mason: Yay for pluralistic healthy & normal!

#299 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 09:27 PM:

OK, I finally watched The Martian. I loved it, but there's something I don't understand. Why did they punch a hole in the roof of the rover and put a balloon in the hole? Was that for extra storage or something?

#300 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 09:57 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ #299:

It's not explained in the movie. Presumably it got cut for time or something.

In the book, the explanation goes something like this: The Rover's built-in life support is only designed to support short trips, so for the big trek he has to bring along the life support system from the Hab dome, which is designed to run continually for the whole length of the mission. It's also designed to sit in one place for the whole length of the mission, so it's bulky and doesn't fit through the door of the Rover. He gets around that by punching a big hole in the roof, putting the life support system in through that, and then sealing it up with Hab canvas. Once the system's running, the canvas balloons outward because of the pressure differential between Earth-normal inside and Mars-normal outside.

#301 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2016, 10:52 PM:

Ah, that makes sense. Thank you, Paul.

#302 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 03:22 AM:

Elliott, for carrying kids, adults, and luggages on trips, if replacing the car with something larger isn't an option, would a roof rack help? Obviously it won't give you an extra place to put a kid (or dog, unless you're Mitt Romney), but it would increase your cargo choices.

I grew up in a family that had 2 adults and eventually 4 kids, and typically 1-2 trips a year from the east coast to Kansas City, which were managed by throwing us all in the back of a station wagon (usually 3 kids in the back seat and 1 in the cargo space, or 1 in the front seat.)

For about 30 years, I usually drove vans, which steered like an underpowered pig (the new one actually was underpowered, while the first one depended on how many cylinders were working), but they were still somewhat fun to drive, for values of fun including "Sure, you need to take N people or that huge piece of cargo, it'll fit fine" and "yes, the mountain road is curvy, but there's only a cliff on one side."

#303 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 04:00 AM:

"Wild Child" by Calapine, a celebration of female characters in science fiction and fantasy.

#304 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 08:53 AM:

Bill Stewart @302: That would help with fitting more in the trunk.

But on the gripping hand, getting three booster seats across the back not only means the kids MUST elbow each other constantly (and I'll let you guess how popular that is), but there is so little room to even GET to the female ends of the seat belts that adjusting the straps of same to fit across their laps in the safe configuration involves yanking in ways that traps the strap in the buckle. Plus trying to get them plugged in with a click involves an adult leaning in through the door and elbowing the outermost kid in the face while fishing around between the boosters and pinching adult fingers.

As a related note, I really, really hate Honda for putting the right-side-seat's female buckle LEFT of the middle-seat's buckle, meaning they're ALWAYS CROSSED OVER and almost impossible to unbuckle just one of them accurately unless you can actually see the buckles (and they can swing freely in space between two not-jammed-together hips -- which ALSO doesn't happen if all three are in use, but at least human bodies squidge more than hard plastic booster seats).

Even when I am carrying zero cargo in the trunk and merely have to cart three kids to the grocery store and then two more errands, the production number of getting them in and out and in and out and secured is a nightmare.

#305 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 09:25 AM:

Oy... prepping for a two-week trip to Africa (Botswana) with family, one week to go, and now I see that my anti-malarial (mefloquine) has major indications for psychiatric effects, and is specifically warned against for people with prior diagnosis with depression or anxiety.

#306 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 11:59 AM:

Elliott Mason: Here ya go.

Well, okay, maybe not. :-)

I am reminded: years ago, a German family visited to drop off their guinea pigs, which they were rehoming because they had to move back to Germany. Five kids, ranging in ages from two to seventeen. When we had the pigs settled and finished up our visit, they headed out to their car, trailed by mom and me. Now, granted, they had a pre-kitted minivan, and two semi-adults to work with. But even so, I was impressed. In the time it took mom and me to walk out of my living room, down the half-flight of stairs, and down the stoop to their parking place, all five were belted in and waiting for us. Boy, German efficiency, I'm here to tell ya.

#308 ::: dana ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 12:19 PM:

Elliott: I was just curious if someone had tried to solve this problem (we only ever had two boosters, which was much easier), and sure enough, there are products that might help...

Here's an example

#309 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 02:26 PM:


It reminds me of my father's car, in which he installed seatbelts. Four of them. For five people.
The person in the middle of the back seat had half of each of the other two crossed over their laps. (He did this back around 1961 or 1962, so lap belts of the airplane persuasion were all that was available. They had enough length, barely, for a kid in the center.)

#310 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 03:10 PM:

Dana @308: There are also seatbelt-positioning vests that have been crash-tested and count, legally, but as a matter of bodily safety you're supposed (by parenting commenters, not just manufacturers) to keep using boosters until the kid's femurs are long enough for their legs to hang down over the front edge with their butt against the seatback.

Also they cost $140 each, and I'd need three ...

#311 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2016, 03:12 PM:

Addendum, Dana @308: I've looked at your link (for a thingie to hold buckles up and oriented) and I'm pretty sure if I got two of them the seats WOULD NOT FIT across the car. We're actually slightly canted up at both ends anyway to get them in, and two of those would add nearly 2" to the total width needed.

We don't have that. The tolerances are too tight.

#312 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 01:45 AM:

Because this is an Open Thread, and I need to say it: Today sucked. Big time. I hope tomorrow is a little easier.

And I hope Hillary Clinton wins California.

I would really like to see a woman president of the U.S. in my lifetime.

#313 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 03:13 AM:

Hear hear.

#314 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 11:53 AM:

Most sources (including the Wall Street Journal) are saying that she's clinched the nomination before today's primaries (a few more superdelegates on her side).

#315 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 02:11 PM:

Just back from Phoenix, where apparently we were either not in the right area to hear the meteoroid go over or so exhausted from the con that it didn't wake us up. :-(

Mary Aileen, #295: At this point, I would advise making your own. Even a basic word-processing program generally has the ability to embed images now; find some appropriate artwork, add the text of your choice, and print it out on cardstock.

Jenny, #303: Thank you for that link. I'm going to have to watch it a bunch of times, with my partner to catch some of the ones I don't recognize!

#316 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 02:30 PM:

Lee (315): I'll probably use a blank card; I have a few that would work okay. I'm just annoyed by the gender essentialism of the commercial offerings.

#317 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 02:52 PM:

Tom at #314: I know. But actually winning the CA primary (preferably by a significant margin of votes) would be a total fist pump for her campaign as she pivots toward the general. I respect the Sanders supporters, but I want her to have all the weapons as she takes Trump on, because I want him annihilated.

(Though I think the biggest weapon she has is ready to go. His initials are BHO.)

#318 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 04:07 PM:

After years of living in Pacific time, I'm used to knowing the results of an election no later than 6pm. Now that I'm in Eastern time, it's a real nuisance waiting until midnight!

#319 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 05:27 PM:

jaetl@318: Yeah, that's why the east coast is so weird—they have to stay up until 11 to watch the ten o'clock news. :-)

#320 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 07:23 PM:

Re Patrick's How Should America Resist a Fascist Sidelight: I notice that the article does not address previous instances of violence by Trump supporters against counter-protesters in any way. Even a "we shouldn't descend to their level" would have been adequate -- but it's as though those documented attacks never happened at all.

#321 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 07:42 PM:

True, Lizzy @317. No disagreement.

#322 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 08:40 PM:

Unrelated to anything anything at all: I just really really really want to strangle somebody today. I have a couple of specific candidates in mind, but any warm body would do in a pinch.

In addition to dealing with trolls on our HOA listserve, the chimney sweep I was going to hire (to come out today, when I'd rearranged my schedule to be here and therefore have a shortened weekend coming up) to clean and recap my chimney (now that the raccoons are out) bailed, because he didn't know the chimney access would be three stories up, and he didn't have the equipment to deal with that.

Call me crazy, but wouldn't that be something you'd want to establish before you sent a service tech out to a job...? I mean, how much of a surprise can it be that the top of a chimney on a condominium building is more than two stories off the ground?

#323 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 08:40 PM:

"anything anything" anything! ::head explodes::

#324 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 09:06 PM:

Back-to-back headlines at the Telegraph giving a capsule description of life in the 21st century:

First, a four-year-old boy who was internally decapitated in a car crash was not only saved by a smart bystander (who supported his head until the EMTs arrived) and her first responder husband (who got her in to him but did not move him), but is expected to make a full recovery. Not partial. Full.

Second, the last surviving 9-11 SAR dog was prescribed euthanasia due to intractable ailments--and sent off to the vet's between lines of saluting uniformed officers.

#325 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 09:25 PM:

HLN: Local resident discovers it is surprisingly difficult for a person to give oneself a necessary medical injection. Amazing levels of flinch reflex are involved.

The local resident has previously overcome extreme eye flinch reflexes to learn to insert contact lenses, but is disadvantaged in this case because the injection is only once per week.

#326 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 09:40 PM:

Elliott: I would overcome the latter issue by asking the prescribing doc to issue me spare syringes and a bag of saline, so I could practice on my "days off."

#327 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 09:45 PM:

CONTENT WARNING: Needles and mention of self-injection of prescribed medication. Rot-13'ed to protect those who are utterly uninterested.

Jacque @326: V unq gubhtug bs gung naq gura jbaqrerq vs V jnf orvat evqvphybhf. V qb unir cyragl bs flevatrf (40, juvpu jbhyq ynfg zr zbfg bs n lrne sbe jrrxyl vawrpgvbaf). V cerfhzr V pna trg zber cerfpevorq nf arrqrq jvgubhg orvat vairfgvtngrq nf n cbffvoyr fhccyvre gb whaxvrf ...

Gjb jrrxf ntb V qvq vg jvgu n ahefr fgnaqvat bire zr (naq znqr fbzr ebbxvr zvfgnxrf, fb vg uheg n ybg sbe dhvgr n juvyr). Ynfg jrrx V qvq vg zlfrys, jvgu zl uhfonaq fvggvat orfvqr zr naq vagreiravat jura V znqr fpnggreoenvarq sernxbhg qrpvfvbaf va gur enzc-hc, ohg riraghnyyl qvq gur cbxr zlfrys. Vg qvqa'g uheg zhpu, evtug gura be yngre.

Gbqnl V fcrag 20 zvahgrf pbzcyrgryl hanoyr gb znxr zlfrys qb vg, qrfcvgr frireny snyfr fgnegf naq rira zl uhfonaq ubyqvat zl unaq naq gelvat gb cebivqr thvqnapr naq guehfg. Ur svanyyl gbbx gur flevatr naq qvq vg sbe zr (V fgvyy qvq gur npghny qryvirel bs zrqvpngvba, fvapr gung cneg -- jrveqyl -- qbrfa'g obgure zr, whfg gur chapgher).

#328 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2016, 10:06 PM:

V unq gubhtug bs gung naq gura jbaqrerq vs V jnf orvat evqvphybhf. (To rot or not to rot? Hm....)

I would say it's a very practical tactic. But then I would, wouldn't I?

#329 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 06:23 AM:

All knowledge is contained in Making Light: I work in a porta-cabin. Most of the time this is fine, it's being used as a permanent structure, it has power and plumbing and carpets and so forth. The ventilation isn't great but the central heating is effective.

It also has a corrugated plastic roof, unshaded, which means the void above the ceiling is essentially a greenhouse. It's 21 Celcius outside today and currently 26.1 at my desk. It's not even noon. I was up half the night throwing up from how hot it was in here yesterday.

This is Not Good. I've borrowed the desk fan from next door and got that going by my window to drag some cooler air inside, and I'm drinking lots of water and dabbling it on my wrists and neck and face for evaporative cooling, and I'm barefoot in linen trousers and a short-sleeve cotton shirt.

Am I missing any obvious and straightforward ways to survive the next three months without constant illness? Whilst still fundamentally being sat at my desk doing my job in an acceptably professional manner?

#330 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 08:46 AM:

duckbunny @329, is there any way to run an exhaust fan or otherwise vent the "greenhouse" space?

Any way of shading the roof, e.g. by a tarp suspended a little way above it?

A long shot, I know, but portable air conditioning unit?

#331 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 08:52 AM:

duckbunny @ 329

Can you access the shed's "attic"? If you can, you can use my father's favorite weatherization material--double-bubble. It's about as thick as outdoor carpet, and is layered foil and airspace. Just lay it in the attic floor, and it will reflect a lot of the heat back out.

#332 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 08:57 AM:

There are air conditioning units installed; they have been disabled by Estates as a cost-saving measure. My best chance long-term is probably to become sufficiently ill sufficiently often that I rate accomodations and the aircon gets powered again.

I don't think that's going to take long. The headache's back and I'm trying not to be sick. But I don't get my annual payrise if I have more than five episodes of sick leave in the year, I've been off three times over the winter, and I want that payrise. I do not want to lose it because I have been made to work in unsafe conditions.

It's hovering around 28C now. I gather that's probably not all that hot in the grand scheme of things, but I kept my flat at 17-19 over the winter. I would quite like to cry.

#333 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 09:12 AM:

The suggestions I have have been made already, but an additional resource might be the Ask A Manager blog. They also have a very knowledgeable commentariat, and question-asking is anonymous. Alison'd also be able to advise as to what your employer is legally-bound to offer in terms of workplace safety, which might be useful.

#334 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 09:24 AM:

If the management company disabled them, check out tenants' rights statutes (or the equivalent for working conditions) in your area. Most specify a numerical temperature range in which occupied spaces must be maintained, or incur fines and enforcement.

#335 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 09:39 AM:

I work at a small-ish NHS hospital where Estates is an internal department, and the hospital is subject to the same budget gaps as the rest of our poor beleaguered service. So my department isn't going to get the aircon switched on just for the asking, because we can't, collectively speaking, afford cooling. If there's a specific need to make accomodations that might be different.

I'm aware of the relevant health and safety law, but it doesn't specify a maximum temperature - "reasonable" I believe is the wording. My managers are willing to be reasonable - the department head is the provider of the thermometer this morning, after I was doing badly yesterday, and they're trying to make sure my office gets its share of use of the fan - but I think they'll need some more evidence before they can make a case.

A fan has been stolen from the desk of a workmate who isn't present and I'm having a slightly better time of it now. Still trying not to be sick, but less cranky about it.

#336 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 10:14 AM:

duckbunny: do you have space for a small cooler? If so, you could keep a bag of ice and several damp towels in it. Hang one towel around your neck to keep you cool; trade the warmed-up towel for a cold one periodically.

This is NOT intended as a solution to your problem, but to stave off headaches & vomiting while a solution is found!

#337 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 10:21 AM:

Lila @ 336: ooh, I like that. I could stash an insulated bag under my desk and re-freeze ice blocks overnight in the wee freezer compartment of the office fridge - nobody else is using it. Expressions of gratitude!

#338 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 11:09 AM:

duckbunny: If temp isn't sufficient evidence, is there some melty (candle, chocolate bar, &c) object you could set high in the room's airspace, and take before and after pics? Maybe with a watch in the frame to show time elapsed?

#339 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 01:25 PM:

duckbunny, I hit this sort of problem back in the 1070s, and detailed UK law will have changed, but back then the school was covered by the Factories Acts, and they didn't specify a maximum temperature. It was about this time of year, and A-level exams.

Later experience, when farming, prompts me to remind you to drink more. Just plain, cheap, lemonade would be enough. There are also some "proper" sports rehydration drinks, which don't depend on sugar, but there's a lot of crap advertising surrounding that market. I have seen "no-calory" products on the market.

Your mention of vomiting does make me think of possible dehydration. But, if you think you might need salt, a packet of crisps is easier than hunting down something more obscure.

There's more info around than when I was at school, and more advertising. The advantage of that cheap lemonade, and a packet of crisps, is that it comes pre-measured.

#340 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 01:37 PM:

duckbunny @329:

Are your co-workers similarly uncomfortable in the heat? People do have widely varying temperature tolerances, and whether or not your discomfort is shared might make the difference between "get another fan for duckbunny's office to use" and "turn on the airconditioning."

#341 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 01:40 PM:

Dave Bell @399 -- I had no idea you were so old! When do you have your millenary celebration? (smiles, ducks, runs...)

#342 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 04:03 PM:

Tom Whitmore...

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

#343 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 04:27 PM:


Have you explored whether you are suffering from environmental toxins instead of heat?

Porta-cabins and other manufactured shelters often contain a lot of plastic--they may be composed largely of plastics. And when those plastics heat up, they can give off vapors and gases.

When they include wood elements, the wood is often assembled with or partly composed of formaldehyde glues. Formaldehyde and urea glues can both give off gases.

It may be those gases that are sickening you, as much as (or in addition to) the heat.

Could you call in someone from Environmental Health and Safety to monitor whether there are troubling levels of noxious gases in the Porta-Cabin?

Some of us can smell these kinds of fumes very easily. I cannot, but I still am affected by them--often with nausea, even though my nose is not sensitive enough to tell me what I am breathing in.

I don't raise all of this to make you paranoid, but because your description of your symptoms, combined with your description of your Portacabin, makes me think that the fume/vapor/off-gasing possibility is very much worth investigating.

#344 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 08:21 PM:

Dave Bell -- you wrote that, back when you were a lad of 370 or so? Pretty impressive!

#345 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 08:26 PM:

And you must have been Roger Zelazny, then, if Harlan was right.... (One of the long-lived folks from Gaiman's Brief Lives, I think.)

#346 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 08:44 PM:

AKICIML: Is there a list somewhere of the specific animals that appear to have been subject to taboo deformation or "nicknaming" (can't remember the correct term) in the Indo-European language tree? I've only seen them mixed into a long list of Indo-European roots, and I'm sure I missed a bunch.

#347 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2016, 11:24 PM:

Jenny Islander, I have no idea what any of that means but it sounds fascinating. Could you explain it more?

#348 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 01:22 AM:

Bank of America: still utter slime.

Summary: Single black mother receives a substantial settlement from a wrongful-death lawsuit. She puts the money into her account at BofA and has no trouble using it for a few weeks. Then a teller at a different branch from the one she normally uses decides that there's no way someone who looks like her could have a 5-figure account and puts a "suspected fraud" hold on it -- and it's been there ever since. She doesn't have any other accounts; she can't pay her rent or buy groceries because the bank is holding her money hostage.

Note that by virtue of the PATRIOT Act, any bank teller can make a decision like this, unilaterally, at any time and for any reason -- or, as in this case, none at all.

One more reason to go credit union.

#349 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 02:53 AM:

@Diatryma no. 347: Please note that I am a philologist to approximately the same degree that I am a Pernese dragon. Anyway, here goes:

Philologists tracing the evolution of languages in the Indo-European group, which includes languages that arose in a broad swath stretching from India (or possibly China) to Ireland and from Norway to Sicily, have noticed that the names of certain animals don't change in ways predicted by phonological change in other words in that branch of the Indo-European tree. Phonological change is sort of like a constant, slow movement of light along a spectrum, except that it's the sounds in a language through time. You can sometimes see phonological change preserved in a written language. Consider Spanish, with its H that no longer makes a sound. At other times the spelling changes with the sound, or researchers can gather clues about the pronunciation from surviving poetry.

Generally speaking, if one sound changes to another or disappears in one word, all words like that word will change. Example from Wikipedia: In Middle English, stressed syllable + sound D as in dog + syllable ending in R became stressed syllable + sound TH as in the + syllable ending in R. In other words, modern "weather" was once pronounced "weder." All words following this pattern that were present in Middle English--"mother," "father," etc.--changed their middle Ds to THs. Words that came in later, such as "rudder," did not follow that pattern: phonological change had moved on to something else.

And then you have words that pretty obviously did not come in later. Really old words. A lot of them are the names of animals, and they can be traced all or nearly all the way back to their Proto-Indo-European roots, or to put it another way, they probably existed in the group of dialects or fairly mutually intelligible languages that spread east and west and south and north to become the branches of the Indo-European tree.

Sometimes these animal names change in ways that don't fit the pattern of phonological change. It has been hypothesized that local people would take to saying the name of an important animal in a peculiar way because saying the actual name might cause something bad to happen. They might change a consonant or vowel, or IIRC switch two syllables. Other times the name drops out and a euphemism is substituted. One language--I forget which--stopped using the old word for bear and replaced it with a word that originally meant "honey-eater." Since the kind of large-scale organized mayhem that can extirpate bears, or whatever, over a large area wasn't feasible at that time, this has also been characterized as an attempt to prevent something bad happening. Compare traditional Alutiiq reluctance to say the word "bear" when out in the backcountry, replacing it instead with "Grandfather." It's more polite and less likely to attract unwelcome attention.

I'm looking for a list of animals that actually had this taboo deformation or euphemism applied to them at some point. I've tried to pick them all out from the complete Proto-Indo-European lexicon, but I always get lost.

#350 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 02:56 AM:

Forgot to mention that other words subject to taboo deformation include delicate subjects (nudity, poop) and numinous things (eyes).

#351 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 07:03 AM:

Lee @ 348

Note that by virtue of the PATRIOT Act, any bank teller can make a decision like this, unilaterally, at any time and for any reason -- or, as in this case, none at all.

I just went through the legally-required anti-money-laundering training at work and this is a legal requirement (and it applies to insurers, like my employer, and credit unions as well.)

And the kicker? It's an equally-great violation of the law to communicate to the client, in any way, that there's an investigation or what it is that is suspicious (so, of course, there's no way to get the information that "here's where that money came from").

I'm rather dislike BoA, but in this case I think the laws they are required to comply with are the problem.

#352 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 07:52 AM:

Jenny Islander@349

Pernese dragon

So you'll warn us if there is an approaching Threadfall?

#353 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 08:14 AM:

One language--I forget which--stopped using the old word for bear and replaced it with a word that originally meant "honey-eater."


English (and other Germanic) "bear" was originally "brown one"; the PIE root for the animal was *rkto, thus ursus, arktos in Latin and Greek respectively.

#354 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 08:22 AM:

Jenny Islander @349: English may throw some confounds, because between it being the mashup of three languages that we call today Anglo-Saxon, and becoming proper Old/Middle English, most of the written-down, preserved longish text are FULL of poetic figures to avoid using a plain word for ANYTHING.

Because of this it's sometimes hard to figure out if they HAD plain, declarative noun for things like "ship", because there were a couple or several standard stand-in compound noun phrases used instead.

A lot of detail and examples of this phenomenon are available in this episode of the History of English Podcast:

There's a bit more in this one, which talks about the poems attributed to Caedmon, which are by some accountings the first ones in English to be preserved and come down to us:

Alas, no transcripts that I know of, just audio files.

I rather like that podcast in general, but it's an enormous time commitment: it takes 28 hour-long episodes to even GET to Anglo-Saxon, because it starts with proto-Indo-European. :->

#355 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 08:26 AM:

Animal names that have changed in the relatively recent past are ass -> donkey and coney -> rabbit. Neither animal seems particularly threatening (normally, though there are of course tales of threatening rabbits).

#356 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 09:16 AM:

Carrie S @353: Interestingly, this etymological root connection means that the brown bear, whose Latinate binomial name is Ursus arctos, is literally the "Bear bear."

This has led to comparisons to Moon Moon, the wackiest, most deaf-to-appropriateness werewolf ever.

#357 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 09:24 AM:

Content warning on Moon Moon: a lot of people refer to him as retarded, which I think is incorrect to how the meme is actually applied (though some assholes think it's exactly the same and make inappropriate memes on that assumption) Often Moon Moon makes "dad jokes" while other wolves in the picture are making expressions that look like human eye-rolling "Get THIS guy" reactions.

Also, some people familiar with the meme have used it in real life. A man in my acquaintances-of-acquaintances circle was trying to get his dog up onto the deck to go back inside and the dog kept insisting on taking a very difficult path that wasn't going to work. Finally, in frustration, the man said fairly loudly, "DAMMIT, Moon Moon!" and from three yards away, where a party was occurring, someone else called back, "Who invited Moon Moon?!?"

#358 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 10:07 AM:

Ursus, arctos, etc: and therefore of course the areas around the poles of the world are the Bear Circle and the Circle Away From Bears.

#359 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 11:08 AM:

the brown bear, whose Latinate binomial name is Ursus arctos, is literally the "Bear bear."

It could be worse, it could be Vulpes vulpes or Alces alces. :) (Somehow I am not surprised that Wikipedia has a page of tautonyms.)

the Bear Circle and the Circle Away From Bears.

That's charming (and true).

#360 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 11:45 AM:

Carrie S. @359:

Don't forget Gorilla gorilla gorilla.

#361 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 11:55 AM:

Worse, the withdrawals were under the publicly-stated limit ($10K) for reporting as possible money-laundering. They were the kind of withdrawal that you would expect for someone who know has the money to pay those bills that have been piling up.
And BofA does have the ability to clear it up: they know where the money came from, and they should have been able to fix it with a phone call or a fax.
BofA has a rep because of stuff like this.

#362 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 12:48 PM:

Carrie S.: I wonder if the namers of "Vulpes vulpes" and "Alces alces" intended those names in the same sense in which we would say, "You know, not a bat-eared fox or an arctic fox; just a fox fox."

#363 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 01:06 PM:

P J Evans @ 361

Where are you getting "[BOA knows] where the money came from"? On my reading, it was the customer's refusal to answer the question about where the money came from that started the problem.

A side note--the $10,000 limit is irrelevant here; it's the deposit, not the withdrawals, that is the suspicious activity.

#364 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 01:08 PM:

Just to be clear: I really strongly dislike the current money laundering/terrorist financing laws; I think they are unjust and counter-productive. But when a bank is doing something that is legally required, I blame the laws--not the bank.

#365 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 01:08 PM:

Lila: Very possible, since they are the red fox and the moose respectively. But there are actually a whole lot of "double named" species, way more than I would have expected (also including the rat R. rattus and the gazelle G. gazella.)

#366 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 01:21 PM:

SamChevre, #363: BofA knows where the money came from because it was deposited by EFT and verified by them, as is clearly stated in the story. Yes, the customer refused to answer nosy questions from a teller -- but the bank ALREADY had that information.

One phone call would have cleared up the whole thing, and now they're telling her that it might take A YEAR to release the hold on her account. This is not "the bank doing something that's legally required", this is "the bank hassling a black customer in a way that they would never have hassled someone who looks like me". Time to call in the Federal Reserve regulators and the ACLU.

#367 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 01:58 PM:

Lila @362: Matching genus and species names is a strong sign that the name may have been applied at the founding of the system, by Linnaeus.

He also really liked naming species "familiaris" or "domesticus".

Often the double-named creature would be what he thought of as the most obvious central member of the class (which means something native to northern Europe, if it's present there, obviously, because that's where he was based).

Anyone interested in some of these etymological and "Why on earth did they name it THAT?" questions could read through my mother's decade-long research project tracking down the original descriptions (the published paper where a naturalist characterized why THIS creature is sufficiently different from all OTHER creatures that it deserves a new name, and what he wants to name it) and drawing that information together, for all the herpetofauna of North America.

#368 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 01:58 PM:

Bank of America has explicit procedures for dealing with problems like these. (I know, I used to write procedures for them.) I'm wondering whether the internal procedures are actually being followed (I seriously expect they are being followed partially and in an inappropriate way). The appropriate group there to discuss it with is the Compliance and Control Office. And I'm completely willing to bet nobody has called them in, or discussed it with them.

#369 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 01:59 PM:

Carrie S. @359: So our planet has a Bear-Infested end and a No-Bears end. :->

#370 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 02:06 PM:

Lee @ 366

I mean something different than you do by "source of the funds."

Funds deposited by an EFT, and verified to exist, gives a "source of the funds" in terms of "what account did the funds come from/is this deposit real?"

The question that the AML rules ask you to verify a "source of funds" in terms of "what business activity generated these funds?"

Agree with Tom Whitmore--Compliance is the appropriate department. And I'll take the opposite side of Tom's bet--I will bet that the group who put the formal hold in place, and is doing the investigation, is the Compliance Office.

#371 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 02:07 PM:

Dave Bell @ 339, duckbunny
Later experience, when farming, prompts me to remind you to drink more. Just plain, cheap, lemonade would be enough. There are also some "proper" sports rehydration drinks, which don't depend on sugar, but there's a lot of crap advertising surrounding that market. I have seen "no-calory" products on the market.

FWIW (apply all due medical cautions, yada) I use sea salt and potassium gluconate tablets at 1 ~500mg tablet each/50lbs body weight + min 8oz water when suffering badly from heat. I wouldn't recommend it for a sipping all day sort of thing, but as a solution to "feel woozy/can't get my head clear, no matter how much water I drink", it does very nicely[0].

[0] solution originally thanks to somebody that spends a lot more time in desert climates than I

#372 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 03:05 PM:

SamChevre @370: my guess about Compliance is that they're dealing with a local-level compliance person, not the actual central office. Central is more likely to cut through on problems like this. And that's who I'm betting hasn't been called. The problem has not yet been escalated to the person who can solve it, rather than make it worse.

#373 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 05:24 PM:

EFT from an insurance company should not set off alarms: the bank certainly should be aware that insurance companies require proof of identity before disbursing payouts, and should have been able to confirm that within minutes, as they have the record of the transfer and as they have the ability to contact the insurance company directly.

This is why I think they're doing something that is at the very least morally wrong, if not actually illegal.

#374 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 05:25 PM:

Andrew M @355:
Animal names that have changed in the relatively recent past are ass -> donkey and coney -> rabbit.

Also cock -> rooster. All three were considered obscene (note that "coney" used to rhyme with "honey," and was slang for exactly what one might expect).

#375 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 06:14 PM:

Jenny / Tim / everyone:

How can linguists tell between changes to the name for taboo or superstition reasons, vs. for other reasons (like people retaining a few words from an older language, or adopting slang terms as the standard word, or whatever)?

I know almost nothing of linguistics, so maybe this is a dumb question....

#376 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 07:40 PM:

Yet another Hamilton riff on the opening number. Contains slightly more spoilers for Sweeney Todd than the original opening song.

#377 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 08:50 PM:

On animal names: cool! And I would have expected the common animals to end up heavily shifted, the same way 'to be' and 'to go' usually are (n=2 on languages I know).

#378 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2016, 11:35 PM:

@Albatross no. 375: Not dumb at all. I think that for sound shifts that didn't fit the overall pattern of phonological change, anything could have happened. A clearly identifiable euphemism, or dropping a word that ended up sounding a lot like a a taboo word (coney-->rabbit as above), is more likely to have been a deliberate avoidance of the old noun.

#379 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 12:10 AM:

I watched the "Welcome to Zootopia" sequence of, well, Zootopia, again.

I realized that this scene does for me what science fiction hasn't done for me in a darn long time: vigorously massage my Sense of Wonder glands.

#380 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 12:17 AM:

albatross @ 375: I also know little about linguistics, but I do have a wild speculation: perhaps taboo/euphemistic substitutions tend to travel down the social hierarchy, and slang substitutions up?

Jenny Islander @ 378: "Rabbit" is also a euphemism; before being drafted as a replacement for "coney," it referred only to the young of the species. Or so I recall.

#381 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 01:02 AM:

Tim Walters @380 (and others referenced) -- Hare out of place?

#382 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 05:08 AM:

@379: While Zootopia isn't exactly Hard SF, it does strike me as applying some very SFnal ways of thinking to just how a city of talking animals is actually supposed to work. (Just look at the mileage they get out of *not* making all the animals about the same height alone....)

#383 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 09:19 AM:

abi 227:

I'm still recovering from the shock of it, and I appreciate your prayers. It's a little hard to talk about, especially when I'm short on spoons, which is usually these days. (Spoon shortages seem to hit my social-interaction skills before they do my logical skills--I've been unusually productive at work lately.)

#384 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 09:23 AM:

James 382:

I felt like Zootopia was pretty strongly SFnal in worldview, despite its rather strong and obvious intended message. They really tried to run with figuring out what the world looks like when all the mammals try to get together and live in a civilized peace. It made me think a little bit of some of the Uplift books, where you get the sense of wildly different species interacting (not just humans and their clients, but Tymbrimmi and Kanten and Thennanin).

#385 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 09:53 AM:

Diatryma @377: Turns out be/go/do/have aren't MADE irregular (usually. Thanks, English), they've STAYED irregular.

Neurologically, we store conjugations of regular verbs in roughly one place per conjugation, and when asked to use several of them in quick succession (reading, say, "He walked to the store. He climbed up the stairs. He reached for the food. He danced all the way home."), only that one region lights up much every time you get to a verb.

But irregular verbs are all stored in their OWN places, separate from the regular verbs.

If a kid grows up with certain irregular verbs not spoken around them very much, they will default to conjugating them in a regular way. This is why English-speaking 3yo kids often say "I put-ed it away, I sing-ed the song, I rided the bicycle, I bring-ed you the ball" etc.

Certainly in English in the past sixty years, words that were widely known in not-ed conjugations have become more usually said with -ed, even in formal writing.

Because be/do/have/go are often the very-most used words in a language, they tend to keep any irregularity they have accumulated, because everyone uses them and hears their parents using them in all their weirdness from an early age.

See also why English language learners have such difficulty keeping straight when you use "a" and when you use "an", but most 6-year-old native speakers can't even imagine why it's a problem. They internalized the system, and now that's just how they speak.

#386 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 09:56 AM:

Sandy B @376: Some of them are reading the lyrics off phones, to combat the reflex to sing the original words.:->

#387 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 10:08 AM:

Elliott, that's sort of what I meant-- the common words pick up whatever's happening to the language, but don't get forgotten and default-regularized the way others do. And then English, with 'to go' being a combination of two verbs (which I think I learned here-- there's 'go' and 'wend' combined. Oh English.)

#388 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 10:28 AM:

Certainly in English in the past sixty years, words that were widely known in not-ed conjugations have become more usually said with -ed, even in formal writing.

But 'sneak' has gone the other way, for some reason.

#389 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 10:37 AM:

Andrew M @388: Technically the -ed group is the only regular conjugation English has, but several "seem" regular-ish to native speakers, that descend from much older Anglo-Saxon patterns.

Like sing/sang/sung (bring/brang/brung, fling/flang/flung?), which also slops onto sneak/sneaked/snuck.

People's brains look for a pattern and they KNOW it's not -ed, so they fall back on one that feels similar. Until they memorize the 'right' one, anyhow.

#390 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 11:00 AM:

Re conjugation: and then there's declension. (Allen Sherman on YouTube, for those who don't like unlabeled links)

#391 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 11:04 AM:

Elliott (389): Shouldn't that be sneak/snack/snuck? ;)

#392 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 11:07 AM:

And then English, with 'to go' being a combination of two verbs

That's called "suppletion" and it happens quite a bit in the more common verbs. It's why some of the Latin ones like esse 'to be' are so extravagantly weird.

that descend from much older Anglo-Saxon patterns

Umlaut for the win! Goes all the way back to PIE. ("Laryngeal consonants don't exist? What makes you Sassure?")

Tom Whitmore: English nouns don't really decline. Even the pronoun declensions are withering on the vine.

#393 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 12:19 PM:

Carrie S: I took Latin and Homeric Greek in high school.

Then, when I went back to college after dropping out, my four years of Latin didn't count, so I needed a language. I went for Spanish, and when I saw in the syllabus we were going to get to "irregular verbs" I braced myself and my brain was all, "Here we go: sum, esse, fui, futurus -- I'm ready!"

And then it's like checkbox irregularity categories, plus one category that's basically "we spelled it different so you can pronounce it regular in the main conjugation".

Really?!? That's it? Wow. :->

Also, the main conjugation in Spanish is Latin 1st without the extra Ts.

#394 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 12:24 PM:

Why is it edited rather than editted?

#395 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 01:02 PM:

albatross @384: what the world looks like when all the mammals try to get together and live in a civilized peace.

This is one part of why Zootopia bothers me: mammals (except for humans) already do live in peace (aside from the eating each other part which: how did they handle that in the movie?). (Don't mind me, I just have a twitch around having animals stand in for humans. More, um, "homocentric" than I'm usually comfortable with.)

Elliott Mason @385: But irregular verbs are all stored in their OWN places, separate from the regular verbs.

Oh, so that's why I bailed out of Latin when we hit the irregulars. Didn't have enough bandwidth available, I guess.

#396 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 01:05 PM:

The existence of 'snuck' isn't puzzling; what is odd is that it's gaining ground on 'sneaked', when with most other verbs the -ed forms are becoming more frequent. (Another possible exception to the rule is 'dove'.) There was a major discussion of this on Language Log a while ago.

#397 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 01:15 PM:

'Snuck' somehow feels more natural, more correct than 'sneaked'. (Speaking only for myself, though.)

#398 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 01:49 PM:

As I recall, there was a very funny Art Buchwald piece about trying to conjugate wrought.

Google helped when all I could remember was that the writer's name began with B, but isn't helpful at all with finding the article itself. Anyone know the piece?

#399 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 02:28 PM:

P J Evans (397): 'Snuck' sounds more natural to me, too. When Andrew M first mentioned it in 388, tt took me minute to realize that he was saying that 'sneaked' used to be the more common. I'm still not convinced he's right. (It's not that I don't believe you, Andrew, it's just that my inner parser is rebelling: "No, no no! It's supposed to be 'snuck'; 'sneaked' is the error!" :)

#400 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 02:33 PM:

I think it's because "sneaked" is phonetically awkward in some way I can't quantify. It's harder to say; "snuck" is easier. Maybe "kd" is harder after a mouth-wide vowel like "ee"?

#401 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 02:54 PM:

Elliott Mason @400: My brain immediately presented the counterexample of eke/eked: 'uck'? :)

#402 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 02:55 PM:

"Snuck" sounds more furtive than "sneaked", of course.

There are some interesting answers to the question of "where did 'snuck' come from?" on the English Language Stack Exchange site. (Note that the KeithS who gives the accepted answer there is not me; I always feel a little weird when I see his posts.)

There is also a semi-related question on that site about how different variations of past tense forms arise, and I find Jon Hanna's answer about weak and strong particularly interesting. Also for his joke about the "hanged/hung" distinction.

#403 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 03:12 PM:

Re euphemizing words: Once upon a time, asyouknowbob, "pussy" meant "something very soft," as in a hare's nest or a kitty cat. Or female genitalia yes all right. So my MIL, who was a kid in the '20s, remembered playing Poor Pussy, a game rather like Duck Duck Goose in which It would wander among the other players stroking them and crooning, "Poor Pussy, Poor Pussy," until one of them was announced to be a Dog, who would chase It and possibly become the new It, and so forth. She taught it to her first grandchildren. She didn't teach it to the others, after she overheard them playing the game as My Pussy Hurts.

#404 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 03:35 PM:

The growth of 'snuck' is a well-documented phenomenon. Obviously, once 'snuck' is established, 'sneaked' comes to seem wrong; normally when there is a strong form and a weak form, it's the weak form (e.g. 'runned' or 'thinked') which is wrong. If we made a concerted effort to introduce 'jamp', I'm sure we would soon come to see 'jumped' as wrong.

I still think it's a puzzle why this is happening, when other words like 'knit' and 'slay' and so on are going in the opposite direction.

#405 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 04:01 PM:

Just some terms: When a word becomes regularized over time, this is called analogic change. Very commonly-used words are not subject to analogic change, because everyone remembers their forms.

This thread is the first I've heard of words being exempt from regular sound change! I'm astonished and delighted to learn of it.

While great irregularities often arise from words being exempt from analogic change but not sound change, that's not actually why the English 'be' is so irregular. It's a case of true suppletion: different forms of the verb come from different historical sources.

#406 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 04:30 PM:

My brain, when conjugating 'sneak', is doing a tossup on the participle being 'snuck' or 'sneaked'.

#407 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 04:54 PM:

Elliott Mason@393: heh, Homeric Greek. I've had Clyde Pharr's Homeric Greek on my shelf for years, saved for the months or years that I'm definitely really going to work through it. This will clearly never happen unless someone accidentally switches off the Internet and nobody has a backup. Maybe some day.

#408 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2016, 06:51 PM:

Steve with a Book @407: I took Greek sophomore year in high school (still taking Latin, second year) because I loved the myths. I soon learned to quit complaining that Latin was complicated, because just listing all the endings of ONE DECLENSION of verb in all their variations took an entire legal-sized sheet of the textbook. In about 10-pt text.

They had tenses I had no idea could even EXIST ... It opened my eyes. :->

I worked really hard, and was completely in over my head. The prof gave me a pity B when he knew I wasn't going to take the second year, to help my average and reward my effort.

#409 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 12:21 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @398: Don't recall Buchwald's take on "wrought", but Kevin Wald had a wonderful riff on "fraught".

#410 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 12:44 AM:

Elliott: One conjugation, you mean. On the one hand, Greek has only one verb conjugation while Latin has four. On the other, Greek has a couple of tenses, plus a voice and a mood that Latin doesn't. (To say nothing of English.) The upshot is that a Latin verb has four principal parts, but a Greek verb has about eight.

#411 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 06:56 AM:

One of my linguistics professors summed it up as "sound change, which is regular, produces irregularities; analogy, which is irregular, produces regularities."

(I'm not sure it holds true in all cases, but it sounds pithy, which is the main thing!)

#412 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 12:11 PM:

Andrew M. @404: Something I've being seeing more and more lately is 'casted', as in "he was casted in the movie". This will always seem wrong to me, but if enough people accept it it will become right.

#413 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 02:22 PM:

"Gifted" or "gift" as an active verb hits me wrong every time, but it is gaining popularity (at least among the advertising community.)

#414 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 02:25 PM:

In open-threadiness: Is there a word for "pen-unanimous"? Like a vote which is allowed, at most, one "nay", or the State of The Union (attended unanimously, except for one member of the cabinet) ?

#415 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 02:35 PM:

And 'coronate' as the verb associated with coronations. We have a perfectly good verb for that already, without needing to invent a new one.

#416 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 02:39 PM:

Every time someone uses "casted" I correct them, and remind them that "st" verbs don't take an "ed" ending, tense is expressed by the modifier.

#417 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 02:42 PM:

P. J. Evans: One of the Rosary Mysteries is the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven. On the rosary DVD I have, it's obvious that the person reciting the Mystery doesn't know that the verb "to crown" exists, because when they describe the Mystery they say:

"Mary is coronated Queen of Heaven..."

I broke down laughing the first time I watched that section of the DVD!

#418 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 04:11 PM:

P.J. Evens: that one bugs me a lot, and it seems to be taking over.

Open-threadiness: have the Hugo packets gone out? I'm in Ecuador, so I'm relying on it to be able to read everything.

#419 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 04:14 PM:

Rachel (418): Yes, the Hugo packets are available now. I still need to read three of the novellas, but I'm otherwise done.

#420 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 04:26 PM:

Lori Coulson @416, um, what about "Sam was a good chess player, but was bested by Jane"?

Is "bested" (used to mean "beaten") slang? I've certainly heard it a lot, usually in sports contexts. But sports does generate a lot of slang....

#421 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 05:03 PM:

Lori Coulson @416,
The monk fasted for twenty years?

#422 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 05:16 PM:

AKICIML: A while back, someone mentioned a clothing company that makes women's tank tops that are actually long enough to, like, tuck in. The company had a mascot that was something like a ground hog, who was thwarted in his efforts to oggle the woman wearing said clothes.

My Google fu is failing me, however. Anybody have a pointer?

#423 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 05:16 PM:

@Cassy B: I would call "bested" an archaism, rather. Tolkien even uses "worsted" once.

#424 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 05:18 PM:

'Bested' is fine (as is 'worsted', which paradoxically means more or less the same thing). 'Gift' as a verb has a long history in Scotland, at least (and has the advantage of meaning unequivocally 'give as a gift', as opposed to just 'hand over').

#425 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 05:25 PM:

Thanks, Mary Aileen! I wonder why I haven't gotten mine yet.

#426 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 05:51 PM:

Rachel @425

You should have by now received an e-mail with a link to the site and logon details. That is how you get to the packet.

If you haven't seen the e-mail, contact the Con.

J Homes

#427 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 06:10 PM:

On AO3, you can subscribe to a story or a writer, and be notified when a new chapter/story is posted. Is there any way to subscribe to a fandom/tag/whatever*? I didn't see any obvious way to do it.

*not sure the right terminology here

#428 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 06:44 PM:

You should have by now received an e-mail with a link to the site and logon details. That is how you get to the packet.

The logon details are the same as for voting, though, so provided you got a message notifying you of that, you should be able to access the packet. I never got a message specifically about the packet, and I have managed to access it without difficulty.

(I was going to say 'for nominating and voting', but checking the emails it looks as if I was a actually given two sets of numbers during the nomination period, one of which agreed with the voting numbers while the other didn't.)

#429 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 06:44 PM:

Thanks so much, J Homes! I thought that link was just to vote - I didn't realize that's how to get the packet, too.

#430 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 09:05 PM:

Mary Aileen @427: Yes, for a given fandom or tag. (If there's a way to do this for specific combinations of fandoms & tags, as a sort of narrower search function, I'm not currently aware.) If you look at the page for a fandom/tag, there should be a series of buttons at the top right of the page, just below the general header. They read Works, Bookmarks, Favorite Tag, RSS Feed. The last should get you a link that you can slot into your usual RSS reader.

#431 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 09:12 PM:

Fade Manley (430): Thanks. But I don't have an RSS reader and am not interested in getting one. I'm looking for a way to do it in AO3, like their Subscriptions. From your answer, I'm guessing there isn't a way.

...I'll just have to remember to check occasionally for new stories.

#432 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 09:42 PM:

I once fumbled during a coven briefing and said we would "invocate" the Goddess. General laughter ensued; I pretended to be very put out and said "Well, you don't have to crucifict me for it."

#433 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 11:04 PM:

Here's a link to the AO3 Subscriptions and Feeds FAQ.

It confirms that email alerts are only available for users and works, with RSS feeds available for fandom, character, and relationship tags. (Also that, as Fade said, there isn't currently a way to subscribe to combinations of tags.)

Some browsers, by the way, have in-built support for RSS feeds, so it may not be necessary to obtain a separate RSS reader. In Firefox, for instance, the feature is called "Live Bookmarks".

#434 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 11:27 PM:

I was thinking about this and realised that Rss feeds to email is probably a solved problem. One google, and voila!

will take an RSS feed and deliver it to your email, presumably in a fairly similar form to the subscription emails, since the AO3 RSS feeds I follow on tumblr are very similar. - An Example

You can set how often it sends them to you - for every fic posted or aggregated over the day.

That was the just top result for my "rss to email" google search, it looks like there's a bunch of services you can choose from.

And I might just be setting up some of my own to spam my email account with.

#435 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2016, 11:34 PM:

Lori@416: I'm afraid you're fighting a losted cause.

#436 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 12:03 AM:

Steven desJardins -- maybe so, but I'll keep trying.

#437 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 08:16 AM:

The rear-guard action I am fighting is for "might" as the past tense of "may," in counterfactuals like "if she had studied, she might not have failed the exam." I keep seeing, instead, "If she hadn't studied, she may not have failed," and thinking "but we know whether she failed."

If the question is "Why did she fail the exam?" then "She may not have studied" is correct if we don't know why she failed: maybe the exam was just too hard, or the study was wasted because the teacher didn't cover what they tested the class on, or the student made mistakes because she hadn't slept.

I suspect that part of why this useful distinction is slipping away is that it's fuzzier in the future tense: it's reasonable to say either "it may rain tomorrow" or "it might rain tomorrow."

#438 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 10:57 AM:

Paul A. (433): Thanks for the information. I was not familiar with Live Bookmarks in Firefox. Question: how do you know there's anything new there? The point is that I don't want to have to check; I want to be told if/when there's a new story in this very obscure fandom (current number of stories: two, and one is just a snippet).

Aquila (434): Thanks. Setting one of those up is probably more trouble than I want to go to, but it's good to know that the option exists.

#439 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 11:59 AM:

me@438: No, actually Blogtrottr does look pretty easy. Done.

#440 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 12:12 PM:

Andrew, #424: I fail to see any meaningful distinction between "gift" and "give", or "gifted" and "gave". What I do know is that the current fad for using the "gift" forms arose from a popular scam ("gifting circles") and they therefore smell bad to me. I generally don't correct other people for using them, but you sure as hell won't catch me doing it.

Current language peeve: I'm on an estrogen-suppression medication. It's called "anastrozole". This makes absolutely no sense to me; why isn't it "anestrozole"? (This is actually a serious question, and if someone with medical knowledge can answer it I'll be grateful.)

Open Threadiness: Anatomy of an IT security violation. All it took was one manager deciding that following the established company protocols "wasted time".

#441 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 12:35 PM:

Lee @ 440 - The Anatomy link reminded me of a story I heard years ago about a system manager who was asked how he handled security. Perhaps he was being facetious, but his reply was "No documentation!"

Another place I worked had security where a developer could not access the contents of any mainframe file that had the string 'pay' as part of the DSN. Even in development environments that were scrubbed of production data.

That same place would then print thousands of AP checks, and leave them on the half-door ledge to the office. Where anyone could have walked up and grabbed them.

#442 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 12:41 PM:

Dear sweet Ghu.
Where I worked, they didn't even like us loaning out a keycard so someone who forgot theirs could get lunch or go on break without having a second person along. And they never, ever asked for passwords (although some people did allow another person to know theirs).

#443 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 12:44 PM:

Lee @440: The crucial distinction for me is that "gave" might be a physical action or a transfer of ownership, but "gift" clarifies transfer of ownership without any corresponding payment or favor.

If I hand my sister a stack of plates to put on the table, "I gave her the stack of plates" is accurate. If I put the plates in a box and ask her to keep them in her garage for a few months while I sort out space issues at home, "I gave her the stack of plates" is still accurate. If we arrange for me to sell her the plates for $5, and she gives me $5 on Tuesday, and then on Thursday I come by and give her the plates, "I gave her the stack of plates" continues to be an accurate description of my actions on Thursday. But if I put the plates in the box, hand her the box, and tell her that the plates are permanently hers, no payment required, only then is "I gifted her the stack of plates" accurate.

#444 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 01:47 PM:

Steven desJardins @ #435:

At least with some of the popular mis-spellings, one could be fighting a loosened cause...

#445 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 02:06 PM:

Popping in briefly with an AKICIF question...

I need to solder wires to smallish pieces of stainless steel, for electronic purposes. What's the best way of getting a sturdy connection? Pre-tin the steel? Electroplate with copper first? Something else?

The project is a free-spinning propeller to attach to a bike helmet, with LEDs on the propeller blades. I'm rather proud of the design for the "sliding" electrical contacts.

(The personal situation here: we're doing more-or-less okay, not particularly well most of the time. Inge is unwell a lot. She's also dealing with a divorce [details deleted by request—Idumea Arbacoochee] We've got a couple of medical malpractise lawsuits going, with highlights such as "while she was getting increasingly delirious with sepsis, the nurses neglected to give her two out of four doses of antibiotics" and "when the doctor noticed that she was comatose, his response was to put in a non-urgent requisition to psychiatry". We have still managed to get out to a couple of conventions, and hope to be at Conterpoint in a few weeks.)

#446 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 02:14 PM:

Anniversary of my broken ankle.

A year ago today I slipped and broke my ankle. Seven weeks ago today I stress-fractured my pelvis during the London Marathon due to complications of that (inadequate ankle flexibility, plus lots of running, plus office chair problems, resulting in pelvic malalignment, which, plus lots of running, led to the stress fracture.)

Looking at the positives: just over six months post-fixation of the ankle fracture I completed a 26.5 mile training run, a month later I ran an official marathon, and at almost exactly nine months post-fixation I completed a 34-mile hilly trail ultramarathon. I've also run a number of 20-25+ mile training runs.

X-ray at six weeks post stress fracture showed good healing, so I'm allowed to return to running over the next 4-6 weeks. I'm taking it very carefully to the eight week mark, just in case.

Hopefully the next year will include more running and no more fractures, stress or otherwise.

#447 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 02:57 PM:

Vicki @437:

Thank you for fighting that particular fight. I agree that we're losing, but I've not given up yet.

As I said elseweb, "Truman might not have dropped the bomb" is a claim about a counterfactual (i.e. he actually did, but if, e.g. Japan had surrendered in 1942 than he would not have); "Truman may not have dropped the bomb" claims that there is a possibility that we are wrong to think that Truman dropped the bomb (Churchill dropped it! No one dropped it! It was all a hoax!). Very different claims!

Joel @445: I am not a pro about soldering, but I had thought that solder and stainless just don't mix. If you try to tin it, you will never get the solder to adhere to the stainless. No amount of scuffing, sanding, fluxing, will change it--if the stuff really is stainless, then it won't solder. But try tinning it and see how it goes--it may not be stainless (and it might not be stainless).

#448 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 03:30 PM:

Lee @440: I fail to see any meaningful distinction between "gift" and "give"

A usage I picked up somewhere is to use "gift" as a verb, in a non-consensual/-grateful sense. "I was gifted this" meaning it's a thing I don't want, don't need, and really don't want to have to deal with at all, nevermind simulating cordial gratitude for "the thought."

Office Xmas party "white elephant" exchanges seem to me to be the cannonical application of the verb in this sense. And is why I don't participate; I've got enough crap to keep track of, thank you. Nevermind some tacky tchotchke that somebody received from their inlaw and was tired of dusting. (We have a rule at our WE exchanges: "No junk." Right. Like anyone can define for me what constitutes "junk.") (Wow, that turned into more of a rant than I expected.)

Anatomy of an IT security violation. I've been more than usually conscious lately of a human tendency to want to do things the way someone wants to do them, with that someone not wanting to be bothered with "how it's done." (Please note: I am the QUEEN of this tendency, and it's only in the last year or two that I've really started to look at it seriously in myself.) The culprit in the linked story probably was giving herself all kinds of props for being Efficient and Innovative and Proactive. The hazard, as she discovered, is in failing to consider that established procedure might be there for very good and specific reasons—or even that this might be a solved problem.

Another prime example is that whole Social Autopsy clusterfsck a while back.

Joel Polowin @445: Jeezus. Here's hoping things improve drastically for you-all, and soon!

dcb @446: Yay for improvement! I am yet again reminded of my karate instructor's immortal advice: "Be careful how you limp; you might screw something else up."

I went to the dentist Thursday to have a micron or two planed off the tooth adjacent to my new crown, because the absence of the cusp that broke off was causing various other teeth to crash into each other unhappily. Between that, and some nighttime teeth-grinding, I seem to now be re-equilibrated. (It never ceases to amaze me how tight those tolerances are. The dentist, after he finished the adjustment, said he couldn't even see the difference. The change in the way my jaw fit, however, was significant.)

#449 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 03:32 PM:

Lee @440: IT link shared. My, that is ... special, isn't it.

#450 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 04:07 PM:

Olster @447 -- The bits are supposed to be stainless steel; I queried the manufacturers specifically on that point. The device isn't going to be easy to dismantle to repair it, and is likely to get rained on occasionally. I want it to be corrosion-resistant, even when there's a few volts on it. It shouldn't be activated when it's wet, but accidents happen.

Abi -- It occurs to me that I was imprudent in posting the negative details about I.'s divorce. Would you please remove them from #445? My apologies, and thanks.

#451 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 04:21 PM:

I think you can get solder that will work with stainless: ask at a jeweler or a machine shop, to be sure, because both are places that would deal with it. (Googling 'stainless steel' + solder is getting all kinds of hits, including how-tos.)

#452 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 04:35 PM:

Joel @450:

OK. Good luck to you both.

#453 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 04:37 PM:

P J Evans #451 - I recall the time served welder and metal basher at a place I used to work had to be sent on a course because he didn't actually have an up to date "I know how to solder metal together" certificate. Oddly enough the instructor ended up saying you lot know more than me, so tell me what you know.

His answer to stainless steel and a bunch of other difficult things was silver solder.

#454 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 05:59 PM:

Lee@440: I fail to see any meaningful distinction between "gift" and "give", or "gifted" and "gave".

'If I give you a five-pound note, can you give me change in coins?' That makes perfect sense, but you couldn't use 'gift', since no one is getting an actual gift in this situation.

'Gift' as a verb is historically well-established in Scotland, and has been gaining currency in England for quite a while. Traditionally it's mostly used, not for birthday gifts and the like, but for something presented to an institution - 'this picture of Alderman Mugglebotham was gifted to the city by his family', etc.

#455 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 06:11 PM:

It occurs to me that there is such a thing as a "corona", so maybe "crowned" and "coronated" could both be valid. But Google insists on "corona" being a brand of beer, so maybe not. Since it seems to be American beer I shall forbear from further comment.

#456 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 06:20 PM:

I think it's nominally Mexican beer.

Hard silver solder is one of the things Google was turning up in that connection. It's one of the reasons I suggested a jeweler - they might be willing to do it, as they'd have the solder and the correct temperature iron. It might be less expensive than doing it yourself.

#457 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 07:48 PM:

I recently, in trying to describe the two types of spun wool, explained that one of the forms was named after the town of Worstead England, and was pronounced like the non-existent past tense of the verb "to worst". I got comments on how surprisingly helpful referring to a non-existent word was.

#458 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 08:10 PM:

#440 ::: Lee

It occurs to me that just having people following the rules all the time without exception might have its own failure modes, and that apparently a lot of people in the company had no idea what good security procedures look like.

How does this approach look?

Charlie Munger:

If you tell people why, they’ll be much more likely to comply. You might ask why that is so important? Well, again that is a rule ofpsychology. Just as you think better if you arrayknowledge on a bunch of models that are basically answers to the question, why, why, why, if you always tell people why they will understand it better, they will consider it more important, and they will be more likely to comply.

So there is an iron rule that just as you want to start getting worldly wisdom by asking why, why, why in communicating with other people about everything, you want to include why, why, why. Even if it is obvious, it is wise to stick in the why.

#459 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 09:09 PM:

Buddha Buck @457

There's a recurring knitters' pun about "bested by worsted", which I've heard a few times. I think I saw it as a blog post recently.

#460 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 10:42 PM:

Jacque @ 422: AKICIML: A while back, someone mentioned a clothing company that makes women's tank tops that are actually long enough to, like, tuck in. The company had a mascot that was something like a ground hog, who was thwarted in his efforts to oggle the woman wearing said clothes.

I don't know about a lascivious groundhog, but Duluth Trading Company makes comfortable clothing designed to be active in, and they claim to have an extra 2" length on most shirts to keep you covered.

#461 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 10:45 PM:

I have finished both of Heather Rose Jone's Alpennia novels, and I am disconsolate that there isn't another one (or 5) published yet.

#462 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 11:05 PM:

Janetl, as a long-torsoed woman who is too old to pull off the bare-midriff look, I appreciate the pointer to Duluth Trading Company. Thank you!

I detest low-rise jeans and dislike medium-rise jeans, but can no longer find reasonably-priced jeans where the waist actually comes up to my actual waist. Which irritates me. And makes the inadvertent bare-midriff look more likely...

#463 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 11:08 PM:

Sandy B. @ 413, Lee @ 440 re: "gifted"

Back when searching Google Groups was simple enough to be useful for tracking usage, I did a little analysis on "gifted" and wrote it up. Brief summary: the recent fashion for "to gift" in the sense of "to give as a gift" seems to have become popular around the mid 1990s (at least in the corpus searchable by Google).

#464 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2016, 11:09 PM:

janetl @ 461

I picked a delightful time to drop by the thread! Thank you.

#465 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 12:12 AM:

Heather Rose Jones: Thank you

Casey B. @ 462: Christopher & Banks has some jeans with a higher waist than most.

#466 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 12:16 AM:

San Francisco Free Folk festival was yesterday. The last two years it's been a one-day event instead of two-day, and it was at a new (for us) middle school, so we didn't really figure out where to have all the random jamming, but it still went well.
(And there was a shape-note singing workshop, which included Idumea.)

#467 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 12:51 AM:

Cassy B., #462: Have you tried Gloria Vanderbilt "Amanda" jeans? I also despise hip-huggers, and have found these to be consistently cut to sit at my natural waist... and they fit properly in both the waist AND the butt, which is hard to find. Look for them at Goodwill -- there are usually at least a few pairs on the rack there. Also, sometimes CostCo will have a table full of them, but the Goodwill ones are only $7.

#468 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 03:02 AM:

Good to know I'm not the only one who wants jeans with the waistband at my waist! I think when I began to despair was in a shop with one style labled: "high-waisted: designed to sit just below your waist". ARRGGHHH!

#469 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 07:57 AM:

dcb et multi alia, in re all pants being SO SHORTWAISTED nowadays:

Even the men's pants have "below-the-waist" as their highest option right now, if you can imagine. So annoying.

Of course, I'm also the weirdo now for strongly preferring to TUCK MY SHIRTS IN (which means shirts are cut too short to actually tuck well; they're cut to look nice when left out, which means they keep riding up my butt and coming out of the waistband). Leaving it untucked just feels sloppy to me, and in anything but the hottest weather, it makes my bellybutton icy cold.

One change that shocked me about a year ago but I'm starting to get used to is "form-fitting stretchy pants not being considered generally immodest."

It started with what some people call "the yoga-pants" craze several years ago. Yoga pants are basically non-shiny spandex leggings that get wider from just above the knee until they've got about an inch or two gap between the anklebone and the pant cuff. This meant that people's ... detailed rear topography ... was clearly revealed to view, and for a while the popular media and discussion was all about how horrible it was to wear these out in public. It was equated with having your actual naked butt on display.

Then there were "jeggings", which are non-shiny spandex leggings that are printed in a sort of trompe l'oeil** pattern (some brands more convincing than others) to look like you're wearing tight jeans from about ten feet away. But they're spandex leggings.

Now even plain black ones with no serious shirt-tail covering (just the standard "I can't tuck my shirt in" stuff) the butt area are considered utterly normal, as long as they're not shiny. Fairly conservative parents at Beka's school send their 8 year old (or 12 year old) daughters in wearing them, and nothing is made of it.

I'm old and grumpy and these kids won't get off my lawn or put anything off their asses. But I've lost.

** I am shocked and pleased that I typed that correctly. Though I did have to backspace parts, eye it squinting, and take another run at it. Still, when I googled to check, CORRECT! Go me. This is almost as satisfying as when I started being able to correctly spell rhythm on more than 80% of tries, for which, "Thank you, Speak and Spell!"

#470 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 08:33 AM:

I confess I have never paid close attention to the height of the waist of my trousers, being generally preoccupied by the difficulty of fitting my hips and thighs with less than, say, six inches of excess waistband. I was in my twenties before I became aware of how much more comfortable jeans are when not skin-tight on the thigh.

If anything I think lower waists are slightly more comfortable for me, in that they stop before I have narrowed too much and therefore don't fit quite so badly. But I also wear men's shirts, which as a rule are designed to be tucked in and have length with which to do so. Women's work tops are always too short in the body, even untucked, and my torso is short.

It's not just me. It's not just people of my body shape. Clothes, off the shelf, just plain don't fit.

#471 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 09:31 AM:

Heather Rose Jones (463): I first encountered 'gifted' as 're-gifted', meaning to take a gift you had received and give it to someone else (specifically as a gift, not just "here, I can't use this, do you want it?" or giving it to a thrift shop). Mid-to-late-'90s sounds about right for the timing. Speculation: 'gifted' could be a back-formation from that usage.

#472 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 09:47 AM:

Elliott Mason #469: I thought the legging thing spread from the kids to the adults? Compare the lingerie-as-streetwear thing from back in the 80s, which didn't stick as a popular style, but there's still a lot more tolerance for such than there used to be. (Also, became a staple in "costume" events such as awards shows. :-) )

#473 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 11:55 AM:

David Harmon @472: I first saw the backlash against yoga pants. At that point most kids (younger than late teens) weren't wearing spandex leggings as a wardrobe staple at all: either pants, shorts, a skirt, or possibly nylons-style tights.

Some people my age were still occasionally wearing leggings-and-tunic (or oversized shirt, etc) that went low enough to cover the bottom edge of the ... um, rump contour.

There was always a subset of "shiny leggings and crop top", but it certainly wasn't mainstream or respectable enough to wear to work.

I didn't see kids in a t-shirt-and-leggings on the playground until after I saw adult women wearing the style.

#474 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 12:36 PM:

Elliott, #469: Okay, that made me actually google for "yoga pants pictures" because I'd heard the fuss and not understood WTF it was about -- I had thought that yoga pants were just a type of leggings. Now I see that they're not, and my reaction is very mixed. On the one hand, isn't this what always happens when women start wearing something that reveals parts which were routinely covered up before? (cf. miniskirts, hot pants, trousers for that matter) And to the extent that this frees women to wear something comfortable and practical, I approve. On the other, it seems to be contributing to the general sexualization of everything worn by women -- where are the pictures of men in yoga pants? -- and if pre-pubescent girls are wearing them, that combination of concepts seems problematic.

#475 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 12:40 PM:

Painted-on clothing seems to be desexualizing somewhat, is what I'm talking about.

Ten or twenty years ago, being able to see every contour of a woman's lower half was viewed as completely inappropriate for serious public appearances (like going to the grocery store). Even wearing pajamas was better.

But now it's much less ... charged? I notice that I'm often the most uncomfortable nearby person about it, because of my antiquated modesty training.

#476 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 12:44 PM:

P J Evans @451: I did do some Google searching before I came here; none of the hits I was finding seemed easily applicable to the small-scale work I need to do. Before I went to the trouble of chasing down special solders or fluxes, I was hoping someone here might have personal experience to offer advice.

But on further viewing, I'm intrigued by Robert Murray-Smith's Youtube videos about copper nanoparticle gel. It seems to produce electrode-less electroplating. It'll still be a bit tricky to work with, but it should be manageable. I'll have to improvise some of the materials, and wing some of the measurements since I don't have access to a balance that's more precise than the nearest 1 or 2 grams.

It appears that copper sulfate is no longer sold in Canada as an algaecide / root killer. Okay, copper chloride = copper wire + HCl + hydrogen peroxide; should do the job. (The reaction processes there are kind of neat.) Ferric chloride = steel wool + HCl + H2O2 again. Ascorbic acid = vitamin C tablets.

#477 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 01:03 PM:

#469 ::: Elliott Mason

I think the main reason jeggings and non-shiny spandex type pants are getting a lot of play for females is that shirt hem-lines are starting to get lower* (as in "below the waist") while some dresses are getting shorter (at least for younger girls I've seen in public in my part of the US). It's a workable, (read: fashionable) alternative to the shorts-under-dresses** solution to not showing actual underwear.

Plus, they're as comfy as sweat pants without looking as sloppy as sweatpants or as dated as knit fabric slacks (think up-scale sweatpants for office wear).

* I've been watching the series "Wynona" and I'm amused to see one of the main characters (and possibly the youngest in-story) wear cropped tops with very-high-possibly-above-the-waist-high-waisted "mom jeans". All I could think was "Well the last few years celebrated the 60's and 70's, now it's time for the '80's." My friends and I have been walking the local mall in too hot, too cold and too wet weather. We normally go to the park. Walking through the "fashionable" part of a department store to get to the concourse is a trip down memory lane for us.

** As a kid, I wasn't allowed to wear dresses unless I had shorts on under them. Shorts were not to be worn as short-and-paired-with-shirts out in public according to my very modest-minded father.

#478 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 02:24 PM:

I rather like "gifted", because, as others have said, it makes it clear that the item was a gift and not a trade or anything else.

The one that really drives me up the wall is "burglarized", but I suspect that's regional difference that I have to live with.

Elliott Mason @ 475:

I think that Lee's point is not that leggings and yoga pants are inherently sexualizing, but rather that it's yet another round in the long-standing fashion trend of women's clothing putting women's bodies on display (implied: for men), but men's clothing not really putting men's bodies on display. For everyday sports and sports-adjacent clothing, men mostly have non-form-fitting, non-amazingly-short shorts.

There's probably an interesting paper to be written about how men's basketball and running shorts have become longer and baggier from what they were decades ago, but I wouldn't know where to start.

(I really wouldn't mind wearing yoga pants or leggings around from time to time, but they're not in fashion for men, and I don't want to deal with the hassle I'd get, so...)

#479 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 03:00 PM:

Lori @ 416: Isn't "casted" used for the wrapping of a broken limb?

#480 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 03:26 PM:

In the gifted/given debate, my connotation for gifted is "adjective: a special ability" or "verb, irregular (colloquial): to give (or sometimes receive) an unasked for, and possibly unwanted, item." My dictionaries just have adjectival form. Out of curiosity, I googled the synonyms and found verb "define alikes" for gift/ed: award, bestow, give, present, proffer, dower. However, those were at the end of the entry in what I think of as the "also ran" options. Given is "verb: past participle of give"; "adjective: specific/stated or inclination/disposed toward"; "Preposition: taking into account"; "Noun: established fact/situation".

I will say that I've noticed non-slang word definitions seem to start in the connotative realm and switch to the denotative once enough people form the same opinion and use it widely enough to cause confusion or discomfort. (i.e.Donkey/ass, gay, pussy, etc). I fully expect "to math/mathed/mathing, to adult/adulted/adulting," and so on to be added to the official dictionary in about 10 years. I can use geeky "adult as a verb" language around mundanes/muggles where they both understand it and don't give off negative vibe. Nouning verbs and verbing nouns is starting to go mainstream.

#481 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 03:42 PM:

Is there a chance of a mourning/reactions thread for what happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando just recently? I don't want people to end up with comments about it just in their faces with no warning, but I have a need to process (and so might others).

I can do it elsewhere if this doesn't seem the right venue.

#482 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 03:43 PM:

Quill @ 479

That's verbing the noun "cast." The actual verb "cast" is irregular/dependent: have cast, will cast, am cast. Will be cast. I didn't know about Lori @ 416's rule of "no 'ed' after 'st'." "Cast" is not to be confused with "casting call" which is a compound noun used in a specific field of work and is very much jargon.

#483 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 03:56 PM:

481: I, also, would be interested to see such a thread.

#484 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 04:03 PM:

Keith S@478: I had understood that 'burglarize' was standard American, while 'burgle' was standard British. (It was not always so; the word began as a back-formation and so was originally non-standard. When W.S. Gilbert wrote 'When the enterprising burglar isn't burgling', he meant it as a joke.)

#485 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 04:21 PM:

Seconding Elliott's question @ # 481. ML is a much safer space for me than most of the other places where I can discuss the matter.

#486 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 04:23 PM:

Speaking as a man of a specific body type, I prefer pants which are well below my waist (as classically defined, where the side of the body bends when you lean to the side).

A few of my pants do ride that high, but they have the problem that I must either cinch them uncomfortably tight with a belt, or they fall down when I exhale -- my waist is the widest part of my abdomen, not the narrowest. As such, most of my pants ride traditionally low, under my belly, not over.

I suspect that while that works for me, and other large men, the other reason for low-riding mens pants is that it allows the men to show off their abs better. This goes against the idea of tucked-in shirts, though. Fortunately (for me) large shirts, combined with a short torso, usually yields shirts easy to tuck in. It can be a pain keeping them tucked in, however.

High-waisted pants have made me consider suspenders instead of belts, but I haven't fully embraced that style.

My ex hit the previous round of yoga uptake, when yoga shows on TV either had tights and leotards or loose drawstring pants and loose tops. So to me, "yoga pants" brings up images of fairly plain-looking pyjamas, not skin-tight. It made me wonder what the fuss was about when the "yoga pants" controversy popped up.

#487 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 05:17 PM:

As I understand it, "burgle" and "burglarize" entered the language at about the same time; "burglarize" may be a bit older. It certainly isn't a neologism of the stripe of "incentivize".

As for the nouning of verbs and vice versa, it's been very common throughout the history of English. Just start thinking of, say, body parts, and see how many of them are used as verbs or as the core of phrasal verbs. ("Arm" doesn't count; the body part is Germanic, the verb is of Latin origin. No relation.)

#488 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 05:34 PM:

I have escripted the entrification that was requestified.


Here is a place to discuss the events in Orlando. Be gentle, OK? I'm kinda busy and it's going to be swoop-and-scold moderation more than gentle-nudges-every-second-comment stuff. But I get that it's needed, and I'm glad to provide it.

#489 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 05:43 PM:

re 469: Being long-waisted and long-armed has been a lifelong curse in terms of getting shirts that reach both my ankles and by belt. I've never been able to wear polo shirts more than one washing.

#490 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 06:49 PM:

I think the "tight pants" look is just a cyclical thing, because I can distinctly remember skinny jeans in the 1980s that, umm ... well, they were tight enough to show underwear lines if you weren't careful, and they were denim, so super tight. Guess was the brand of choice.

And then there was Hypercolor clothing ...

#491 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 08:37 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 297: a less-hopeful view appears in the 12 Jun Boston Globe Ideas section; they think that even today the single-digit boys are getting pushed into binary.

Lizzy Lynn @ 317: I'm being slow tonight. BHO?

re the black BoA customer whose account was frozen by a stupid/bigoted teller: ISTM that the ACLU is too slow; does her state have Legal Aid? (The link no longer works.)

Nancy L @ 394: the rule I learned >50 years ago was that the final consonant was doubled only if the accent was on the final syllable. Current usage doesn't always agree; e.g. all the references I find insisted that a disk is formatted, not formated.

Sandy B @ 414: NESFA still "Harters" motions; the term originally noted a specific member (a wit, not a jerk) who would vote No so that less-important motions would not pass unanimously. He moved home a long time ago; these days it's overused by someone who has a singular opinion of his wit.

#492 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 08:45 PM:

Hugo Retros question - A couple of days ago, I was starting to wonder if I'd missed the Hugo Reader Packet email, then read somebody's question here about how to unpack it and found that it had arrived in my email a few hours earlier. Now the Retro Hugo packet has arrived (though most of it you'll need to read online or find in a library rather than downloading.)

The nominees are here.

My question is about H.P.Lovecraft being listed for Best Fan Writer. Was he really eligible? Admittedly, if there was anybody who wasn't going to let a little thing like having been dead for four years stop him, it was HPL, but I'd have expected that to apply more to "short story or novel he'd submitted to an editor finally getting published" than to fan writing. Was this a posthumous fanzine by the other Cthulhu Mythos folks or something, or is it a mistake?

#493 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 09:12 PM:

Jim Parish @487
"As for the nouning of verbs and vice versa, it's been very common throughout the history of English."

My understanding is that it's how English works. To put it in perhaps overly simplistic terms, in English, "noun" and "verb" are not types of word (as they are in say Latin), but roles in sentence structure, into which whatever word best conveys the meaning is slotted.

J Homes.

#494 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 09:56 PM:

WRT parts of speech -

There was an article I read about swearing that related a story about an exasperated mechanic trying without success to use a tool to loosen a part on a car. After the umpteenth time he tried, he flung the tool down in exasperation and exclaimed "The fucking fuck won't fuck!".

Adjective, noun, verb.

#495 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 10:19 PM:

Bill S., #492: I had the same question, and someone (maybe here, possibly on File 770) said that Lovecraft had such a backlog of stuff that things by him continued to be published for quite some time after his death, and that therefore it's very possible for work by him to have appeared in zines eligible for the Retro Hugo.

#496 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 10:24 PM:

Steve C at #494

Since "Buffalo" can be a collective noun, adjective, and verb, any number of repeats of "buffalo" can be parsed as a an English sentence. See Wikipedia which credits this insight to Thomas Tymoczko.

And it suggests that other words, such as "police" can do the same thing. I bet John M. Ford could have come up with a few... Since (with different pronunciation) "Polish"/"polish" have the same three functions, it might be another, I can certainly parse one, two, three, and four repeats.

#497 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 10:42 PM:

Henry Troup @496, "Fast" and "last" both hit for the cycle; they are nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

#498 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 01:50 AM:

AKICIML: Say I wanted to learn piano, and my only option for practice would be a keyboard and headphones at home, because my house is very small. Do keyboards with a full piano range exist, and is there a technical term for such things? Also, are we talking hundreds of dollars? Thousands?

#499 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 02:34 AM:

(Yet another Hamilton filk, with SCIENCE!)

#500 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 04:20 AM:

#498 ::: Jenny Islander

They definitely exist-- try searching on 88 keyboard.

There are some at around $200, but they may need things like power cords or not have a headphone jack. There are a lot at $500 or so.

#501 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 08:06 AM:

A couple hundred gets a rather decent Yamaha with five octaves of full-sized touch-sensitive keys and good sounds. I've seen full 88s for a hundred or so more—could try pawnshops.

The thread reminds me of my late friend Dave, who became legend with the utterance, "Fuckin' I'm stayin fuckin' here. Fuck you fuckers!" We miss him for other reasons as well.

#502 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 09:33 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 498

To feel like a piano and have full piano range and action, you need three things: 88 weighted touch-sensitive.

We had a Yamaha Clavinova for years that met that standard. (Decided to replace rather than move, and bought a house with an included piano.) You can get an older used one for $250 or so around here.

#503 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 09:37 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 492 / Lee @ 495: HPL could be a mistake -- an exaggeration of Freas and Silverberg getting two of the first retro-Hugos (for activity in 1950, when they weren't). It's more likely to be VD trolling, given the upset over Lovecraft's bust being displaced as the World Fantasy Awards trophy (on account of his vile and public racism). It's possible the Hugo committee should have ruled him ineligible, but that would have involved proving the negative that none of his ]fannish[ work was published in 1940. (I expect there was no significant publication -- 4 years is a couple of ages in fanzine publishing -- but something might have trickled in.)
      I have little regard for the retro-Hugos, and actively dislike awards for general activity rather than a specific work; but I've fought and lost that battle on a WOrldcon committee and won't be in KC or Helsinki to argue it further.

Steve C @ 494: Distinguo (thank you, James Blish). The first instance is a participle (derived from a verb) rather than a free-standing adjective. Yes, that's hairsplitting.

A question inspired by sleeping on Nancy L's question: when did the imperfect past of a method of execution change from "hanged" to "hung"? I remember the newer usage in a vulgar pun in 1975, and don't know whether the 1937 reference (near the end of Busman's Honeymoon) was general or merely a legal archaicism on par with white wigs and rusty bombazine.

#504 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 01:11 PM:

Joel Polowin@#445:

I need to solder wires to smallish pieces of stainless steel, for electronic purposes. What's the best way of getting a sturdy connection? Pre-tin the steel? Electroplate with copper first? Something else?

What I recall from my days in aerospace/defense work (Gosh, 16+ years ago?), you need an aggressive acid-type flux to get solder to wet out on stainless. I think we were using lead solder at the time. What I have learned since then here in the semiconductor industry is that conductive epoxy is a thing that is much easier to use, especially for such low-current needs as LED's (Heck, Playdough is conductive enough for LED's...)

The project is a free-spinning propeller to attach to a bike helmet, with LEDs on the propeller blades. I'm rather proud of the design for the "sliding" electrical contacts.

Hmm. I'm not exactly sure why you need the propeller to be part of the circuit, unless you only wanted one wire along each blade and use the blade as ground. I'd be interested in how you managed the sliding electrical contacts. I'd be tempted to raid the slip-rings from a small car alternator, or use two small DC hobby-motor's commutators and brushes and just short all the segments together on each commutator.

#505 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 02:27 PM:

cajunfj40 @504: I'm planning a plastic propeller with LEDs at the tips of the blades, with power provided from batteries on the main helmet or in a backpack or such. The propeller has to be as lightweight as possible so it will spin in the ambient airflow. A pair of fine wires will go along each blade, from the hub to the LEDs. Stainless steel bits at the hub and comprising the axle, transferring current.

#506 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 05:35 PM:

Joel Polowin @#505:

cajunfj40 @504: I'm planning a plastic propeller with LEDs at the tips of the blades, with power provided from batteries on the main helmet or in a backpack or such. The propeller has to be as lightweight as possible so it will spin in the ambient airflow. A pair of fine wires will go along each blade, from the hub to the LEDs. Stainless steel bits at the hub and comprising the axle, transferring current.

Ah, ok, so not connecting to the blades - connecting to the bits at the hub and the axle. How are you transferring the power? Friction from sliding contacts could be as much or more of a worry than the rotational inertia of the blade/LED assembly. Sounds like a neat project! I'd be tempted to use a small hobby motor and piggyback the LED's on the winding, fed through a hollow shaft replacing the original armature shaft. Of course, that's cheating and turning it into a fan...

#507 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2016, 05:30 PM:

Open threadiness: The FBI doesn't have to tell you where it has put surveillance cameras, because national security. I expect that the eventual endpoint we will reach (sooner rather than later) will be that every public space is under constant surveillance. Perhaps this will result in less crime, but if it doesn't--even if crime goes up and the cameras never seem to help--we will keep on getting more of them.

This isn't just the result of an ideology of deference to the police and spy agencies (though that's a part of it), it's more fundamentally about technology and economics. Every police state in history would have loved to have this kind of capability, but it would have been too expensive to build and monitor. Between cheaper cameras and cheaper storage and monitoring software, that's a lot less of a problem each year than it was the year before. Private surveillance is commonplace and will become more so over time, I think.

Every horror like the shooting in the news now strengthens the argument for more of this, but it's economics that's really driving it. We'd have had this in 1980 if we could have.

We have no idea what this new world we're building will look like. Imagine a world where *everything* that you do except maybe in your own home is part of your permanent record, subject to be brought up if someone ever decides to do a serious investigation of you.

That time you drove home drunk even though you knew better, and got away with it. That time you lost your temper with a coworker and said unforgivably nasty things to him. That time you left a party with a friend and ended up sleeping together, and then in the morning both laughed and decided it was obviously a mistake and never talked about it again. All recorded, waiting for someone to need to know about them.

The people with access to all that footage may have a great deal of power, the ability to get almost anyone fired or arrested or shunned. Alternatively, maybe all that footage will lead to all but the worst things losing their impact--you won't be able to keep your frequent trips to the bondage club a secret, but your neighbor won't shun you for it because she can't keep her new one-night-stand per week secret, either.

It's honestly hard for me to imagine what that world will look like, except that in many ways, life will be unrecognizably different from what has happened before. I expect that criminal conspiracies will be easier to unravel, but also that they'll be easy to invent from whole cloth when they're wanted. I expect organizing any kind of protest movement in the face of the surveillance state will be really hard, because the movement won't have any privacy at all. (I suspect this is true now, in fact.)

I can't even imagine what effect it will have on art and religion and people figuring out their own beliefs and sexual/romantic drives and such. I keep wondering if the whole massive economy made out of "get a load of this idiot" articles will sooner or later cause all the weird, interesting folks (who ultimately generate pretty much all the interesting and worthwhile new things in the world) to die of scorn and public shaming. I wonder how much freedom anyone will have to have weird political or social beliefs, when it all goes into their permanent file, and maybe they end up at 40 in a job interview, explaining why they were involved with some weird political movement when they were 20.

I don't see any realistic hope of changing this. Surveillance gets cheaper every year, following Moore's law. Even if we somehow got control of various levels of government surveillance (not likely!), the private surveillance of ad networks and social media would still be there.

#508 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2016, 05:30 PM:

Open threadiness: The FBI doesn't have to tell you where it has put surveillance cameras, because national security. I expect that the eventual endpoint we will reach (sooner rather than later) will be that every public space is under constant surveillance. Perhaps this will result in less crime, but if it doesn't--even if crime goes up and the cameras never seem to help--we will keep on getting more of them.

This isn't just the result of an ideology of deference to the police and spy agencies (though that's a part of it), it's more fundamentally about technology and economics. Every police state in history would have loved to have this kind of capability, but it would have been too expensive to build and monitor. Between cheaper cameras and cheaper storage and monitoring software, that's a lot less of a problem each year than it was the year before. Private surveillance is commonplace and will become more so over time, I think.

Every horror like the shooting in the news now strengthens the argument for more of this, but it's economics that's really driving it. We'd have had this in 1980 if we could have.

We have no idea what this new world we're building will look like. Imagine a world where *everything* that you do except maybe in your own home is part of your permanent record, subject to be brought up if someone ever decides to do a serious investigation of you.

That time you drove home drunk even though you knew better, and got away with it. That time you lost your temper with a coworker and said unforgivably nasty things to him. That time you left a party with a friend and ended up sleeping together, and then in the morning both laughed and decided it was obviously a mistake and never talked about it again. All recorded, waiting for someone to need to know about them.

The people with access to all that footage may have a great deal of power, the ability to get almost anyone fired or arrested or shunned. Alternatively, maybe all that footage will lead to all but the worst things losing their impact--you won't be able to keep your frequent trips to the bondage club a secret, but your neighbor won't shun you for it because she can't keep her new one-night-stand per week secret, either.

It's honestly hard for me to imagine what that world will look like, except that in many ways, life will be unrecognizably different from what has happened before. I expect that criminal conspiracies will be easier to unravel, but also that they'll be easy to invent from whole cloth when they're wanted. I expect organizing any kind of protest movement in the face of the surveillance state will be really hard, because the movement won't have any privacy at all. (I suspect this is true now, in fact.)

I can't even imagine what effect it will have on art and religion and people figuring out their own beliefs and sexual/romantic drives and such. I keep wondering if the whole massive economy made out of "get a load of this idiot" articles will sooner or later cause all the weird, interesting folks (who ultimately generate pretty much all the interesting and worthwhile new things in the world) to die of scorn and public shaming. I wonder how much freedom anyone will have to have weird political or social beliefs, when it all goes into their permanent file, and maybe they end up at 40 in a job interview, explaining why they were involved with some weird political movement when they were 20.

I don't see any realistic hope of changing this. Surveillance gets cheaper every year, following Moore's law. Even if we somehow got control of various levels of government surveillance (not likely!), the private surveillance of ad networks and social media would still be there.

#509 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2016, 09:28 PM:

albatross@508: David Brin made an attempt to write about that kind of overly-open society, taking the best possible view (The Transparent Society, 1998). I think I can say that not everybody was convinced. (Non-fiction, I should add, since Brin is mostly known for SF.)

Still, the question of how things will play out is an interesting one, and people mostly abandoning old prejudices is certainly one of the more hopeful thoughts about it.

Combine that with computers that can parse the speech and recognize the faces, and we get another sea-change -- you can troll for useful hits anywhere, rather than having to know a time and place to examine closely (and slowly and manually). That's as much a data-transport problem as a software problem, and we're not ready to do either on on a large scale right now.

#510 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 01:38 AM:

Will universal surveillance ever be proactive rather than reactive?

Why? Because there is good evidence that visible police patrolling in a place where crime is likely can have a deterrent effect. An example from the UK is the time-and-space combination when pubs and clubs are closing, which are known hot-spots for trouble. The passing of a visible police patrol has an effect for a while after they have left.

Those hot spots are currently found by examining historical statistics.

But I am biased. UK policing culture is different. We don't have routinely armed police officers on patrol. While some Police Services have experimented with having high-qualified Firearms Officers on patrol with closely-controlled weapons storage on their vehicle, havinf them, while un-armed, doing ordinary policing, arouses controversy.

We have a lot of surveillance in the UK, and it hasn't been predictive yet, but it doesn't feel so dreadful an idea.

Doing the same with American Police feels incredibly dangerous, and it isn't really about the guns they carry. Most countries in Europe have armed police, and of course they vary, but one large city in the USA can see more people shot and killed by their police in a year than the whole of Europe.

Anyway, here in Britain we have a right-wing government of a Political Party that, historically, has encouraged the Police in less than laudable behavior. Events such as Orgreave were complicated, but they do show how the usual model of UK policing (which worked in most places during that period) can be subverted.

I am not sure surveillance really works, but for a certain sort of authoritarian idiocy, it combines the "something must be done" attitude with a sense of power.

Sometimes the idiots, the other idiots, get shown on YouTube. I can see problems in surveillance handing you your fifteen minutes of fame as a conputer controlled, automatic, punishment.

#511 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 06:00 AM:

Jenny Islander @498: I have such a set-up at home. As others have said, 88 keys, weighted, touch-sensitive.
Mine is a Yamaha P105 and I'm very happy with it. It has since been replaced by the P115; a new one will cost you some $600.

#512 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 06:07 AM:

Too hot to sleep, am therefore online.

I have discovered a thing of beauty. In Lappkärrsberget, a Stockholm neighborhood that is dedicated to university student housing, there is a tradition. Every Tuesday at 10 p.m., you can stick your head out your window and howl your anguish to the heavens. I'm told that it gets more heartfelt as exam time approaches.

#513 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 07:02 AM:

Three a.m. and the horizon is already yellow.

#514 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 12:51 PM:

Jo Cox, a sitting MP, was shot and killed this afternoon, not ten miles from where I am. I walked past the hospital where she was airlifted to on my way to work.

It's being reported that the attacker yelled "Britain first!" before shooting.

Britain First is a far-right nationalist group. It's also a slogan being thrown around by the campaign for Britain to leave the EU. Cox, like most Labour MPs, was vocally pro-Remain.

She was married and her children are still in primary school.


#515 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2016, 07:52 AM:

Beerexit and other ways to divide up Europe

#516 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2016, 07:59 AM:

This was the first murder of an MP in almost 26 years.

No-one has been charged yet—if that does happen, contempt of court laws mean those of us in the UK will have to stop talking about this—but in the meantime, the Southern Poverty Law Center has some suggestive evidence.

#517 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2016, 10:14 PM:

contempt of court laws mean those of us in the UK will have to stop talking about this

Huh?? How does that work?

#518 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 12:14 AM:

Apropos of nothing except hamsters and cheering up, and in case this hasn't been shared around Ms. Teresa,

It's a hamster skeleton steed!

#519 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 08:05 AM:

Jacque@517: I am not a lawyer, but, briefly and roughly: it is illegal under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 to publish material possibly prejudicial to a trial. 'Publishing' includes saying things on the Internet. Once someone has been charged it is legally very perilous to say anything about the defendant. It's a rather strong restriction on freedom of speech, but FWIW one I rather agree with.

Observers of British headlines will notice they use punctuation rather carefully when reporting on trials. If Moriarty is on trial right now, Moriarty stole Crown Jewels is almost certainly an illegal headline. Moriarty 'stole Crown Jewels' would be allowable as this, apparently, makes it clear it's a claim by the prosecution rather than a statement of fact.

Reporting of court cases must be fair and factual. When someone charged with a serious offence makes their initial appearance at a magistrates' court—which has just happened in this case—reporting is restricted to a brief account of the proceedings, and papers must not editorialize or draw inferences from what was said.

#520 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 08:31 AM:

(Of course the Internet today is just a hurricane of contempts of court on this matter. Still: the law says what it says.)

#521 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 11:52 AM:

In happier news, I went to my first Sacred Harp singing today. The people were lovely, the food was lovely and the singing was astonishing. I will definitely be going back.

#522 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 11:54 AM:

I think it is going to be rather difficult for a defence lawyer to argue that his client didn't kill anyone. I rather expect the issue is going to be sanity, and the pattern so far is consistent with making sure correct procedures are followed.

The BBC have already removed one snippet from their report on the court hearing, a direct quote from the magistrate.

Sanity, in the context of a court case, is rather different from what we usually think of when we hear the term. The events reported may not be relevant to deciding that limited question.

#523 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 01:32 PM:

Steve with a book, there's a phrase in the Guardian article that I don't understand. What is a "constituency surgery"? Is it a "meet-and-greet-with-your-constituents" thing, or something else? (Two countries divided by a common language...)

#524 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 01:50 PM:

Cassy B. @523: It's a chance for the MP's constituents - who the MP is supposed to represent in Parliament - to meet their MP and to bring up any subject of concern that constituent might have that they feel their MP (their representative) should address/know about.

#525 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 02:02 PM:

Cassy B.@523: Think of it as the MP equivalent of an academic's office hours. MPs hold 'surgeries' for their constituents maybe once or twice a month, at which constituents can call in either by appointment or unannounced, sometimes to talk the MP into adopting some specific policy but more usually to ask for help with any of a huge range of problems—crime, noisy neighbours, bureaucratic tangles with the welfare or immigration or health system, etc. An MP usually doesn't have any particular power to immediately solve a problem, but a sharply-worded letter to a government agency on House of Commons notepaper, or an awkward question to the relevant government Minister, can often work wonders. The surgeries tend to be held, quite deliberately, in accessible and public locations such as library premises, as in this case.

#526 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 03:12 PM:

Ah, ok. Makes sense. (The word "surgery" confused me.) I could wish that all of our Congress held regularly-scheduled open office hours, but, alas, most don't.

#527 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 04:33 PM:

Cassy 526: And one reason they don't is gun violence. Two words: Gabrielle Giffords.

#528 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 05:10 PM:

Xopher, alas, that's altogether too true.

#529 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 09:55 PM:

Cassy B. @ #523:

Thanks for asking about that. I was puzzled too, but I'd been planning to suffer in silence.

Now that I know what a "constituency surgery" is, I can see a connection to "doctor's surgery", which in Australia (and I guess in Britain?) is a common term for the place where a GP works and his patients come to see him with their medical problems. (The name is a historical survival; a modern doctor's surgery doesn't have the facilities for doing actual surgical procedures.)

#530 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 06:13 AM:

Paul A: yes, British English says doctor's surgery, GP's surgery, dentist's surgery. (Dentists are much more likely to have actual surgical facilities in-house.)

#531 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 09:07 AM:

In an evolving Twitter conversation between TNH and Rikibeth and Wolf Baginski, someone opined that there should be a TV series about an aging Nancy Drew coping with Alzheimer's (that is, with the cumulative effects of being hit on the head many times over the years) while coaching her granddaughter(s?) in sleuthing. Someone wished Kathryn Hepburn was around to play Nancy. I drove by and parachuted in with the suggestion that Hayley Mills should play the part. Not only is she scathingly brilliant, but the producers would have access to decades of film of her doing all kinds of things that could pass as relevant flashbacks to a case she's in. ("This reminds me of the time I was undercover as a cheerful orphan in Nova Scotia!") Just put it all in sepiatone, and use the Foley wisely.

ps: Speaking obliquely of Kevin "Moochie" Corcoran, it amuses me, as an adult, to observe that his acting style consisted of shouting all his lines. This is not to minimize what was likely a much harder existence than most viewers suspected, but just to explain why I always chuckle to myself when Corcoran is interviewed as an adult. It's because I'm imagining him shouting all his answers.

#532 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 12:59 PM:

If you're interested in reading a novel about a (good) detective struggling with dementia, Peter Dickinson's last novel about James Pibble, One Foot in the Grave, is pretty amazing. And his children's book Healer has a protagonist who is much less intelligent than the people around him, and believable in it -- a very difficult feat to pull off, when the writer is really good at writing from the protagonist's point of view (which is Dickinson's specialty). So thank you for reminding me of them, because I'm now off to re-read them.

#533 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 02:15 PM:

Michell and Webb also did a take on an elderly detective suffering from dementia. It was their final sketch from their final episode of their final series of "That Mitchell And Webb Look".

The previous episode they were joking about ending the series like "Black Adder Goes Forth", so.. be warned.

#534 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 04:48 PM:

albatross at 508: I am inevitably reminded of Orwell's 1984.

#535 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 12:13 AM:

Kip W @531: Kevin "Moochie" Corcoran

I finally got to see Old Yeller sometime in the last year. Which was weird, because it was a seminal work of my childhood. We had an old vinyl audio recording of it, which I had long since memorized. It was strange to finally put actual video in place of what I'd imagined.

I would have sworn on anything you cared to name that the little kid was played by Kurt Russell. What astonished me, watching the movie, was the way Arliss was constantly climbing all over everything. I remember wondering if that was the character or the actor? The article Kip links to suggests it was the actor. :-)

One bit missed by the audio version was Bud Searcy's lunchtime visit. I loved how Jeff York's conveyed Searcy's locust-like appetite: the scene starts as Searcy is finishing off the last cob of corn and, while still talking, absently feels around for the next piece of food—that isn't there because he's eaten it all. Simply brilliant.

#536 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 08:34 AM:

I'm having a language moment. I read a lot of books and articles on energy, and I inevitably read a lot of intro-to-energy bits as a result ("this is a kWh, this is a kW, they are not the same" and whatnot.)

The phrase "slaves" (as in "mechanical slaves" or "energy slaves") gets thrown around a lot and it irritates me every time. I first noticed it in Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist and had the uncharitable thought that maybe he missed having real slaves, or at least people who wouldn't talk back to a coal viscount and rabid, incompetent capitalist.

The point the authors are attempting to make generally is "we used to use musclepower to accomplish X and now we use fuel and electricity to accomplish 20X" (or 50X or 100X).

And I suppose machines are forced labor (as per R.U.R. and so forth.) Am I right to be irritated by these authors, Ridley aside?

#537 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 08:55 AM:

I'm also reminded of MEMENTO in the conversation, a movie that brilliantly manages to give us all the information while making the audience feel the confusion of the protagonist (who suffers brain damage from physical trauma which leaves him unable to make new memories). I'd hate to spoil anything that good, so I'll leave off detailing it.

#538 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 09:28 AM:

Sandy B: I don't know if you're right or wrong, but I personally get really touchy when people use "lynched" to mean either "was subject to moderate criticism" or "was told that some racist bullshit I said was wrong and then I flipped out defending myself as correct."

It does not mean what they think it means. And anybody who thinks getting a constructive critique (or even being yelled at on the internet for a mistake you made) is equivalent to extrajudicial torture and murder has zero personal or familial experience with the latter.

#539 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 01:03 PM:

Open Thready question, for dcb or anyone who has experience with athletic/running shoes. I've been trying to replace my old falling-apart athletic/dance shoes for a while now, and I keep running into the same problem. Every new pair of shoes I buy causes my left foot to develop a band of hurting across the top of the foot just below the toes after I've had them on for a while. How long "a while" is varies from half an hour to a couple of hours, and also varies with what I'm doing (i.e. standing behind the table or walking around a lot), but it won't show up in a short enough period that I can get it to happen in the shoe store.

This never used to happen. Is there something I should be looking for in the design of the shoe, or am I just facing another unpleasant component of Getting Older?

#540 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 02:22 PM:

My first thought is 'shoe problem'. I've had shoes, in name brands, that had the edge right at the bottom of the tongue sticking out just enough to make my foot hurt, but it always took more than five minutes to do it.

#541 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 02:45 PM:


Is the problem mostly when walking a lot? My problem may be similar to your problem. I take long strides and push off from the ball of my foot, so (using for my vocabulary) if there's only a small space between the toecap and the top of the back panel, the front panel can get sort of crumpled up and turn into a leverage-providing joint that crushes the front top of your foot.

I have a pair of boots that feels great to stand in but if I have to walk for more than half a mile, it hurts me across the toeknuckles at the base of the toes.

#542 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 02:54 PM:

Ah hates buying shoes....

#543 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 03:31 PM:

#539 ::: Lee

There's a third possibility, but I don't know what specific thing you should do-- you might have a movement/muscle tension issue. If so, the problem isn't necessarily in your foot, though there's a reasonable chance that it's in your lower back or lower.

Some part of you might be too tense/out of line, and if so, your foot might be overworking to try to compensate.

Feldenkrais Method is powerful for this sort of thing, and there's Awareness Through Movement
(repeated gentle movements done with attention) available free or cheap.

Unfortunately, I don't have a strong opinion about best Feldenkrais for beginners is, but Thomas Hanna's Somatics is good.

The other thing is to check ergonomics in the rest of your life. I found that I was getting sharp random knee pains because my bike needed lubrication.

#544 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 04:11 PM:

HLN: I have been in the beautiful Caribbean for a week, and come back less beautiful. Haiti is an interesting place, but it does seem to make one less than well.

That, however, is not the news. In a couple of days I will be going into hospital where my spine will be cracked open and adjustments made inside it. I am not altogether clear on whether olive oil, butter, or lemon juice will be involved. However, some days of immobility appear to be (the proviso that they don't make a mistake and turn me into a cripple or into a corpse, notwithstanding) in my future.

If I don't do this, then I'll be in a wheelchair in a few years, and my level of pain will border on the intolerable, rather than just being moderately annoying.

I've got the best surgeon in Georgia, and I am, not at all surprisingly, scared, even though the odds are decidedly in my favour. Positive thoughts would be appreciated.

#545 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 04:13 PM:

Wishing you the best of outcomes, Fragano!

#546 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 04:19 PM:

Best wishes, Fragano!

#547 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 04:22 PM:

Best wishes!

#548 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 04:23 PM:

Fragano, #544: GoodThoughts being sent for the best possible outcome.

#549 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 04:39 PM:

Regarding the leggings/yoga pants discussion up thread, my favourite comment on the the topic was a Tumblr user who posted something like "I will fight you for my right to wear leggings as pants, and I will win, because I'll be wearing leggings as pants and will therefore have the full range of motion."

#550 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 04:49 PM:

Dave Bell et al.: It may be naive, but I keep hoping that if universal surveillance comes about, most things will turn out to be lost in the noise, and that, frex, if employers can find out *everything* in every employee's past, they're going to have to decide between 1. firing their entire staff, 2. not snooping at all, or 3. drawing a line somewhere between "once posted a picture of themselves holding a mug of beer at a party" and "assaulted someone."

#551 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 05:52 PM:

Fragano, best wishes, and I don't blame you for being scared. The thought of that operation scares me, too.

#552 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 06:09 PM:

Best wishes, Fragano!

#553 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 06:09 PM:

Fragano, I'm thinking warm and functional thoughts for you.

#554 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 06:37 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 544 ... Positive thoughts and fast healing to you!

#555 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 07:15 PM:

Lee @539: Try loosening the laces? And/or try a different lacing pattern, and/or try looking for a brand that's got a wider toebox.

Fragano: Good luck! May your surgeon's hands be steady. N.B. think NOW of all the things you're going to want to hand during the period of immobility...

#556 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 08:22 PM:

dcb, #555: I don't pull my laces any tighter than I need to, and "wide toe box" is specifically one of my criteria because I've routinely worn surfer flops for so long now that narrow shoes are actively uncomfortable from the get-go. The really frustrating thing here is that my old shoes, which are cheapies from PayLess, still don't cause that problem -- but every single pair of newer ones I've tried do. I'm wondering if there's been an overall change in the design of athletic shoes sometime within the last decade (which is about how old the old ones are).

#557 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 08:25 PM:

Fragano: Best wishes for rapid recovery. I've been in what sounds like just the same kind of situation. I was surprised that they got me out of bed the next day (with attendants on each side to prevent mishaps, which was a good thing, because my knees were not working properly). The forced immobility came the following week, after my spinal cord sprang a leak.

#558 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 08:38 PM:

#556 ::: Lee

That's really interesting. Maybe you should measure the details of your old shoes and some new shoes, and see if you can pry some information loose.

It might make sense to take your problem to Ask Metafilter or Quora.

#559 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 08:50 PM:

Fragano, best wishes headed your way.

Lee, have you tried men's shoes? They have some construction differences from women's, as I understand it. My podiatrist recommended a men's style in the athletic shoes I wear for everyday, and the one time I bought women's shoes in the same make & model they weren't as comfortable.

#560 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 10:42 PM:

Fragano, bright blessings for a successful outcome and a speedy and complete recovery!

#561 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 10:58 PM:

#539 ::: Lee

Where are you getting your shoes? Not really quite local to me but quite reachable is a shoe store with certified fitters. They have a sizable bag of tricks, including shim insoles half a millimeter thick that can make an amazing difference. Of course, it's not the cheapest place to buy shoes. I'm sure you can find such a place.

#562 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 11:19 PM:

Apropos of nothing: Today on FB there was a conversation about an incident where some dipshit Islamophobe (yes, I know that's redundant) dropped a severed pig's head on a mosque's front step, with a note saying "bon appetit."

The OP asked anyone who has contacts among Islamophobes to start a rumor that good chocolate and guacamole are forbidden to Muslims. This led to some light-hearted discussion; one gentleman said his non-Muslim friends don't understand how he can read Green Eggs and Ham to his niece.

I replied, "You mean Green Eggs and Haram?"

They started flying after that. He replied that he was working on the pilot for a new soap, Halal My Children. I proposed that The Abduction from the Seraglio and Zombies be retitled Harem Scare 'Em. He said the Lebanese-American Green Lantern's secret identity should have been Halal Jordan. I pretended to think the Muslim Hippocratic Oath began with "First, do no haram."

And like that. It was fun.

(I didn't notice til writing this that he made all the 'halal' puns, while I made almost all the 'haram' ones. I suppose that's as it should be, considering!)

#563 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 11:37 PM:

Fragano, hoping for best outcome, quick healing, and a dance-your-ass-off recovery. May all go well!

#564 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2016, 11:46 PM:

@ The Gay and Queer Person with the Name That Always Makes Me Think of Vikings, no. 562:


On a completely different tangent, I learned today that the magnificent flowering trees all over town that we call gold-chain trees are not, as I had always heard, Siberian pea trees, but are in fact laburnums. In fact, this island may be the best place in North America to see laburnums in bloom. According to an article in the gardening column of the Kodiak Daily Mirror, they flower longer and more profusely here than they do in (for example) coastal Oregon. Something about the climate of the Gulf of Alaska resembles the climate of their home range in the mountains of southern France et al.

This leads to two other observations: first, that gold-chain trees are in Tolkien ("lilies and snapdragons and laburnums of fire," IIRC), and second, that while I had despaired of finding gold-chain trees in my favorite style, Art Nouveau, they are actually one of the signature motifs of Tiffany lamps!

#565 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 12:01 AM:

OtterB, #559: My partner has suggested the same thing. The issue there will be finding men's shoes to fit me, because I fall into the Size 6 Lacuna -- you can find shoes for boys up to size 5, and shoes for men starting at size 7, but I wear a 6 or 6½ in men's sizes, and that's often unavailable. (Found that out back when I wore loafers regularly, and had discovered that men's loafers wear better and longer than women's. Then I went up a size.)

Henry, #551: Yeah, I confess that I've been going to the cheap shoe stores. I'd already decided that this issue is worth a trip to a genuine athletic-shoe store, which is more likely to have people with some fitting skills because Athletes. But I'm sure I can also find a shoe store with trained fitters somewhere in Houston, and I'm not yet in the financial position of having to settle for Sam Vimes' Boots.

#566 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 08:41 AM:

All the best for Fragano! Swift recovery, and perhaps the mysterious new ability to play the violin. (I wish these things for my own selfish reason: want Fragano around.)

#567 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 09:53 AM:

Fragano, best wishes and good healing!

#568 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 09:54 AM:

*kicks server*

#569 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 11:50 AM:

Happy local botanical news: I saw a new-to-me flower in the beds along the Pearl Street Mall that looked like a snap dragon crossed with a johnny jump-up. Very pretty.

Not so happy local news: Boulder County now officially has the emerald ash borer. It is, as is so typical for modern times, hitting all the ashes that were planted to replace the elms taken out by the Dutch elm disease. :-(

Fragano: Here's hoping for an uneventful surgery and smooth & comfortable recovery!

#570 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 12:14 PM:

Jacque @569: Thanks to you and google I know how that a flower I've been calling a viola all my life is also called johnny-jump-up. :->

There's also a plant I was raised calling teaberry that is nothing like what google turns up as teaberry -- and apparently my version HAS no common name, because it's part of a constellation of related plants that are not generally distinguished except by Latin name (and are weeds from the horticultural perspective). It's some kind of Polygonum.

#571 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 01:35 PM:

Kids in my neighborhood mangled 'johnny jump-up' into 'jumping jacks' and I refuse to give that up. Likewise, it's a rosasharon, dammit. Also 'stair plant' because that's where the first one grew, and 'ugly plant' because it is.

#572 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 01:40 PM:

Diatryma/plants thread: Tradescantia will always be "snotweed" to me, for similar reasons, and lamb's-quarter is "purple effer," because in our backyard when I was a kid they all had some kind of fungus that made purple splotches on the leaves. Note: effer, not anything else. It took me years to recognize it again in other yards, because what I thought was just an innate color pattern of the plant is a fungus.

#573 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 04:25 PM:

I have a man-eating euonymous (and yes, always referred to thusly -- and it grows with lush vigor in the springtime, as it reaches out... )

#574 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 06:33 PM:

More good wishes for Fragano.

#575 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 06:42 PM:

xeger @573: We have a bread knife whose name is Fleshrender, Eater of Souls.

It replaced the Vorpal Blade, our previous bread knife, which was called that because it could take a finger off if you weren't careful.

Fleshrender, Eater of Souls, appears to actively hunger for human blood. It's the only thing we've got that can cut really crusty boule, but you have to be VERY CAREFUL how you do it or there'll be blood all over the kitchen, because Fleshrender, Eater of Souls (sorry, I don't make the rules) likes to be tricksy and turn in your hand -- without ever physically turning! -- to snarl and bite.

#576 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 07:28 PM:

I think I have one of its cousins. I am very careful when I'm using it to slice a bagel. (The really dangerous one, when I was growing up, was my mother's utility knife. I still have a scar from getting a finger with it, back in the early 70s.)

#577 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 08:24 PM:

The Vorpal Blade would cut you if you failed to respect it.

I'm fairly sure that Fleshrender, Eater of Souls can draw blood just by being looked at funny.

#578 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 10:13 PM:

Gerber actually did a series of Named Blades (the Legendary Blades series) which included Durendal, Snickersnee (with two variants) and Excalibur. My parents had a set of 3 that included the fork, Ron. I don't know why they didn't call the fork Morton, but they didn't. They had the names inscribed on the handle. There's currently an ad for sale on eBay that has 10 of the blades listed on it.

No Vorpal, as far as I can tell; and they did precede both Tolkien and Moorcock, so they missed out on some good ones.

#579 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 11:24 PM:

Lee @misc: I need a wide toebox too. My current shoes are Keen Presidio sneakers, and Merrell Pace Glove minimalist running shoes. I don't actually run; I wear the Merrells every day when it's hot and dry, and the Keens when it's cold and/or damp.

Definitely try out some Keens, they all have roomy toeboxes. I'm not sure if the Merrell toebox works for me because it's wide, or because the shoe is so unstructured - if you need a supportive running shoe this will not fit the bill.

#580 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 12:22 AM:

Hmmmm... I think I'm going to be laid off tomorrow. I've been fairly miserable for at least 2 years now (as has the rest of my department, come to think of it) but it rankles, not being the person in control of the decision. On the plus side, I should have a goodly amount of severance and vacation time - on the minus - well finding another job and being on the hook fo my own health insurance.

#581 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 12:29 AM:

nerdycellist @580: Hugs greatly offered if welcome.

#582 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 05:17 AM:

Tom Whitmore @578: "My parents had a set of 3 that included the fork, Ron. I don't know why they didn't call the fork Morton, but they didn't."

I'm really hoping that's the medievalist nerd joke I think it is. Ron is the name of King Arthur's spear in some early sources, and a perpetual source of giggles from Anglophone students because it just seems so incongruous. "His sword, Caledfwlch, and his dagger, Carnwennan, and his shield, Wynebgwrthucher ... and his spear, Ron."

IIRC "ron" is Middle Welsh for "spear". In other sources it's given the full name of Rhongomyniad.

#583 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 06:02 AM:

Lee @539

It might be worth looking up Mortons neuroma and seeing if it matches your symptoms, my mother has just been diagnosed with it and is going barefoot a lot while she waits for treatment.

#584 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 10:54 AM:

Elliott Mason @575: Fleshrender, Eater of Souls (sorry, I don't make the rules) likes to be tricksy and turn in your hand -- without ever physically turning! -- to snarl and bite.

I have a Loyal and True old hunting knife (that really should have a Cool Name,* but doesn't) that, if you're not me, and you get too casual and/or familiar, will bite you by way of reminder. It doesn't snarl; it's generally very well tempered, but it has an odd balance to it that I find completely natural (because I've been using it for forty years), but other people have trouble with. There was one guy who was visiting, who was being kind of show-offy, and I warned him, and he said, "Oh, it's okay, I can—" and promptly spouted a gout of blood.

It's a fond reminder of my dad, not least his "if some is good, more is better" attitude. I went in looking for something in the six to eight inch range, he saw this thing (it's not quite the "now that's a knoif" scale, but substantial; it can do double duty as a hatchet) and just had to get it for me. It was even made right here in Boulder, by the late lamented Western Cutlery.

* For a long time (until I lost it), I had the tiniest WC pocket knife, and a friend suggested I call them Archy and Mehitabel.

#585 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 12:32 PM:

Craft (Alchemy) @582 -- why, yes it was, and thank you for noticing. I'm fond of nerd jokes. And thanks for the info on Ron -- a spear is not a fork, which is probably why googling "ron fork" turns up an absolute farrago of non-relevant information. My father once enlisted my help (pre-Google) for finding out what Excalibur's sheath was named -- I did manage to find references, but I don't remember the answer. He was working on a really devilish quiz....

#586 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 01:10 PM:

nerdycellist @580, sympathies. Even if it turns out to be a blessing in disguise, losing a job is still stressful. Wishing good outcomes for you.

#587 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 03:07 PM:

Fragano, good luck.

#588 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 04:25 PM:

Thanks for the good wishes. It seems they worked.

I remain employed.
My former director does not.*
They have moved me to a department that makes more sense, probably doing the same things I do now, but with the potential for new responsibilities/opportunities.

Hopefully the changes they’ve made will help break the blame cycle and lead to a less miserable working environment for me.

*Former Director will continue working during the transition, but mostly on the new systems implementation. So, you know, good that he’s not adding to unemployment statistics and whatnot, and good for the rest of us as far as change of attitude.

#589 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 05:21 PM:

nerdycellist @ 588 ...
Woo! That sounds like the best outcome of the plausible lot!

#590 ::: Affreca ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 06:34 PM:

I spent my teenage years hanging around in the SCA. One of my friends had a Roman short sword that was just the right size to cut watermelons and was thus named Melonslayer. The little eating knife that it was paired with was then named Wrath of Grapes.

#591 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 06:47 PM:


#592 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 07:29 PM:

Lee and Shadowsong, I also have a problem with some shoes causing my feet to cramp after I've been wearing them for a while. A disturbing number of shoes feel like they fit when I put them on, or even when I walk across the room, but then my foot cramps (or my ankle starts hurting) before I've gone a quarter of a mile. For a long time, I thought I needed a wide toe box, but that's only part of the problem--I need a HIGH toe box.

Keen and Merrell are great for wide toes, but I've found their toeboxes are all too low for me. New Balance and Brooks have more room top-to-bottom as well as side-to-side.

It's really hard to shop for toebox height, even knowing that's what I need. Designers don't list it as a feature of a particular shoe. Nobody mentions it in a review. You can't see it looking at most website pictures. I've got some experience estimating it by looking at shoes from the side. And by putting my hand inside the shoe. And by curling my toes when I try them on. Comfortable shoes give me a little room to curl my toes. Ones that make my feet cramp are right up against the toeknuckles.

#593 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 10:34 PM:

nerdycellist, #580/588: GoodThoughts being sent that this turns out to be a positive change in your life overall.

Aquila, #583: Thanks for the suggestion, but that doesn't sound anything like what I've been experiencing. The Mayo Clinic overview talks about a "sharp, burning pain" and/or feeling as if there's a pebble in your shoe, and neither of those are even close. Part of the problem is that I can't come up with a way to describe it to anyone else!

Adrian, #592: Interesting. I don't think that's specifically my issue, though; one of the pairs that's doing it to me has enough height in the toe box that I can curl my toes all the way up (which is one of the things I do to try to ease the problem). Nor is it a cramp exactly -- I'm of the age now where I do get leg and foot cramps, so I know what those feel like. This is a very specific ache that runs across the top of my foot just behind the toes.

#594 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 11:25 PM:

Tom Whitmore: I also got the "Morton" joke – helps that I'm a bridge player. (There's a kind of bridge play called the Morton's Fork Coup.)

#595 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 12:36 AM:

David G @594 -- I would have been surprised if you (and several others here) hadn't gotten the joke -- one of the nice things about this place is the number of people who get really nerdy references. I don't get most of my comments up to the "2 puns and a reference" standard here (Bruce Pelz reference). Still, sometimes....

#596 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 08:43 AM:

So I have kind of a weird conundrum.

About a week ago, someone left a comment on one of my pieces of fanfic, asking what a particular figure of speech meant. Then last night, the same person commented again on the same fic, asking permission to translate it into Chinese [sic] and ever-so-politely reminding me about the figure of speech question. This person is clearly not a native English speaker.

Now on the one hand, I'm flattered as heck. On the other, I really don't trust a person who refers to a 7,000 word piece as a "novel" to do a translation I'd be happy with...if I had any way at all of checking, which I don't.

I don't want to say no without explanation, as that could discourage hypothetical future translators*. But "No, because you appear to suck at English" is not easily phrased in a non-rude fashion. I have a friend suggesting making excuses of the "have to floss the cat" variety, but I'd really rather not, if for no other reason than because it's possible that my petitioner likes more than one of my fics and it will quickly get awkward to claim that I have a friend with dibs on translating all of them, or whatever.

At the moment I'm leaning towards just ignoring the person altogether, which seems rude but less so than my other options. Anybody got any better ideas?

*: It is perhaps arrogant of me to assume there will be any, but hey.

#597 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 09:14 AM:

Lee (593): How is the arch in the new shoes? The location of pain sort of matches the problem I used to have, which turned out to be the tendons in the top of my feet. The solution ultimately proved to be proper arch support and some gentle stretching exercises.

#598 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 09:37 AM:

Lee @593, Mary Aileen @597: I've gotten pain like that before, I believe; in my case it seems to have been caused by the shoes being laced too tightly across the top of my foot, and therefore pressing down on the tendons, or at least I resolved it by loosening the laces a lot over the top of the foot (still the normal tightness by the ankle).

#599 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 10:26 AM:

Carrie S. @ 596:

At least they asked to translate it! If you don't want to ignore it, perhaps something like: "I'm flattered that you like my fic and would like to translate it to bring it to another audience. Unfortunately, I don't have enough free time to answer questions about the tricky parts, so I must respectfully decline. Thank you for asking, though."

Otherwise, a "thank you for your interest, but I'd prefer not to at this time," would signal that you saw their post but don't want them to proceed, although it leaves you open to questions of the "but whyyyyyyyy?" variety.

#600 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 10:28 AM:

pokes the server

#601 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 10:28 PM:

Carrie S. @ 596

"But "No, because you appear to suck at English" is not easily phrased in a non-rude fashion."

Let me disagree with a premise here: people who suck at *writing* English may well be competent--even good!--at *reading* English. And translating it into Chinese.

I know this, because I suck at writing three or four different languages, but they are languages that I read perfectly competently. I could easily imagine writing to authors in Languages 1-4 and saying the Language N equivalent of "me want translate you story," and then doing a bang-up job of translating their stories into clear, idiomatic English. Or even English that captured the flavor of their writings in Language N!

I can *understand* what I read, quite well (except, perhaps, for the odd tricky phrase). And I can write good English. But I cannot write competently in any other language.

So this may be what you are facing: someone who reads your fanfic with complete comprehension, writes Chinese (of whatever dialect) with exquisite subtlety, and simply cannot construct an English sentence to save their lives.

I'd say: try reaching out to them and see what happens.

#602 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 10:44 PM:

oldster: You're quite right, but the problem is I have no way to check; none of the languages I can competently read are related to any Chinese language at any level more recent than Proto-World.* I don't know anyone who speaks either of the two most-likely targets of "Chinese", much less such a person who I'd be comfortable asking to check the translation of this particular piece.

*: There's also the fact that they asked twice what the phrase "the ghost of a laugh" means, which I think argues against perfect comprehension, but of course anybody can have a brain blip when confronted with a new idiom.

#603 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 01:08 AM:

Brexit vote. Oh, dear.

#604 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 02:07 AM:

@ Carrie S. @ #602

Well, "the ghost of a laugh" can have two meanings, although one would hope that context of your story would explain things.

My first thought is that ghosts loom so large in Chinese stories, I can see wanting to double check.

But you raise an interesting question - are there forums for people to get beta readers for translations like they do for original fanfic stuff?

Do what feels right to you.

#605 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 03:11 AM:

Bill Stewart: Yes. Oh dear.

#606 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 04:17 AM:


Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?


#607 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 06:47 AM:


Sometimes, I get the Idea that I should move to Helena, MT and start a handbasket company, but I believe that it's been done.

So, they've opened pandora's box and they've found a dead cat and a can of worms. So far, Wales is the only nation in the UK that hasn't had a plausible call for a referendum to leave the UK this morning due to the vote.

The only winner I can see is UKIP. Somehow this fringe party (1 MP) has split the ruling party and hijacked the national discussion, while issuing thinly veiled threats about violence being the next option. This in a country where political violence was left behind not long ago with the help of the EU (referring to NI/Good Friday).

#608 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 10:21 AM:

@eric: unfortunately, the Conservative party has always had a xenophobic wing, and also a hard ideological wing that dislikes European human rights, workers' rights, consumer rights etc. legislation, as something which interferes with the social Darwinism they would prefer. Both of these managed to find common cause with UKIP. To, I suspect, our great cost.

#609 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 10:38 AM:

I'm wondering how many of the people who voted for it will wake up in a few days - or a few weeks - actually see the mess they now have to deal with, and wonder why they thought it was even close to a good idea.

#610 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 11:21 AM:


Words fail me. No, actually dammit they don't.

Why has this happened? Is it because magically half of Britain have become racists and bigots? No, I don't think so for a moment.

So what do I think has happened?

I think a remote political class, entirely insulated from its distant regional electorate by a voting system that deliberately excludes any possibility of protest, has become obsessed with patronage and climbing the greasy pole within their own parties. They do this in the confident knowledge that they will probably eventually get a buggins-turn shot at power, and that they can mostly ignore the untermenschen outside the Palace with their faces pressed against the railings.

The untermenschen in the meantime have voted for more and more extreme options in the desperate hope that they can change something. Millions voted LibDem for years. Ignored. 4 million voted UKIP. 1 MP. So now 52% of the population have voted Brexit.

The more the Marie Antoinettes in the Palace have ignored the irrelevant voters, the worse the outcome was going to be when the masses broke through the gates.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, a more representative system has allowed this boil to be lanced early. Scottish voters learned that they were powerful, and that self-satisfied incumbents could be ejected (to their shock, horror and disbelief). Hence a different result.

Just my take.

#611 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 11:23 AM:

Brexit brings back not so fond memories of Quebec in the early 1980s and of the whole Independence referendum thing.

#612 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 11:32 AM:

I suppose we should look on the bright side - at least we will have that extra £350 million a week for the NHS, now!

And I may need it, if I stub my toe on this bridge I've just bought in Brooklyn.

#613 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 11:35 AM:

Just supposing Brexit turns out to be a really bad idea and the EU continues in reasonably good shape, how hard would it be for the UK (or however much of the UK is out) to rejoin the EU?

#614 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 11:52 AM:

Nancy @613

Very difficult and lengthy accession negotiations which need to be approved unanimously by all 27 existing/remaining members (who are obviously going to be delighted to participate in an in/out dance by us...).

And certainly not on the same favourable terms we enjoy now (huge rebate on our contribution, opt outs from the Schengen border agreement, the Euro: commitment to which is mandatory for new entrants).

#615 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 02:00 PM:

RE: James Harvey @614:

And I quote: the Euro: commitment to which is mandatory for new entrants.

Ah, maybe that's the long game? Get the UK back, only having to be part of the financial/currency mess...

#616 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 02:11 PM:

I sincerely doubt that's the long gain of the UK voters, Lori Coulson @615. There are so many easier ways to get there. That would require an unreasonable conspiracy.

#617 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 02:20 PM:

James Harvey:

I agree (to the extent I understand the issues in the UK, which is pretty limited). I also think the same thing is true of the Trump and (to a lesser extent) Sanders campaigns. Both wings of the ruling class strongly support a lot of stuff that's deeply unpopular with a lot of the public, but that will never come up for a vote. Some of that unpopular stuff is broadly good (free trade), some is broadly bad (interventionist foreign policy), but the folks on top have done their level best to keep any of it from being on the table in political terms. Thus, in the 2008 US election, neither the surveillance state nor massive bailouts of financial companies was really on the table--our input on these matters was simply not wanted.

The current order isn't working out well for a lot of people, and there are pretty major problems that nobody at the top has any interest in addressing. And that opens the door for popular revolts against the people at the top of the big parties/media/established order. Some of those revolts will be destructive as hell, many will be ill-advised, but there's not really much point in a democracy where the people in power can ignore the concerns of their citizens indefinitely and just do whatever they like.

Perhaps unrealistically, I hope this leads to a determination among the ruling class to do a better job of representing the interests of everyone. I strongly suspect it will lead to a determination among the ruling class to make damned sure the unwashed, unruly public is kept from interfering in the important decisions in the future. Specifically, I expect that both parties will make changes to their nomination / delegate rules that will make unpleasantness like upstart out-of-synch-with-the-ruling-class-consensus candidates much less likely in the future. I wouldn't be surprised to see changes in campaign finance laws and FCC regulations to accomplish the same goals.

#618 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 02:25 PM:

@Nancy Lebovitz: I think the only answer can be "nobody knows". The situation is unprecedented, after all.

As James Harvey says, any British re-entry - assuming such even to be possible - would most likely be extremely long-drawn-out and complex, and we wouldn't get anything like as good a deal from it.

I do not see much hope of a good outcome from this, frankly.

#619 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 02:43 PM:

It looks like the motivational business has struck again:

Fire Walk With Me

#620 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 03:06 PM:

Tom Whitmore @616: I'm not talking about the voters, I'm talking about the possibility of a "long GAME" in the hands of the folks promoting the "Leave" vote.

Basically, cui bono?

#621 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 05:21 PM:

OK, first thing, a strong issue for UK politics is they don't like challenges to the "primacy of Parliament". And no parliament can bind its successors. So, with Cameron up for replacement, and maybe Corbyn, and the need for a formal "Article 50" declaration under the Lisbon treaty, which Cameron is leaving to his successor, there might be a General Election before the UK starts the process of quitting. And if the right-wing were to get hammered, maybe we could stay in.

Because a Referendum can't force Parliament.

That's the end of being hopeful. The media and political elites, and the voters, might have been terrified by the market crash, but the damage from that is being done.

And I wonder where the money came from for the betting which let the bookies change their odds, which restored the slumping value of the Pound last week,before the crash today. It looks a little too much like blatant market manipulation.

I am thinking that, since 1979, the right wing has managed to dismantle the UK economy. We still have a steel industry, no thanks to a Tory block on the EU taking measures against what looked like dumping by China. But that surviving steel industry has to import the iron ore and coal it uses, so saying a devalued pound makes British steel cheaper in the export market is just wrong.

All we seem to have is the finance industry in London, which depends on us being in the EU.

The ripples from this have already his the US economy -- an instant 500-point drop in the Dow when the markets opened -- and we've all been fucked by an Old-Etonian pissing match.

There's some slight hope that the scared little snotties will run away from actually starting the process, and there's a chance that a General Election could be held, though in the last Parliament the coalition enacted a law to make that difficult. Forcing an election has never been all that easy but it looks rather as if chicken-shit-Dave has always been driven by fear.

And the, after six years of austerity that made many people despise him, the stupid wanker (even dead pigs have sharp teeth) thought he could trust the people.

I hope that doesn't come across as biased.

#622 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 05:53 PM:

A small side-note on the position of the Queen

There would be no huge problem if, for instance, Scotland grabbed the chance of independence. She is already the head of state of many independent realms. She is an old lady, and on her death an Independent Scotland would have a chance to become a republic. It's nothing really novel.

The awkward possibility involves Ireland. It's possible that Northern Ireland would combine with the Republic of Ireland. There are some reasons that I think that is a bit unlikely. But there is a strong motive for Northern Ireland to stay in the EU: both the significance of the EU-guaranteed Good Friday Agreement and financial support. An independent Scotland opens up the options.

There could be a unifying monarchy for a while, but it wouldn't be a united kingdom.

#623 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 06:09 PM:

Trump's gaffe on Scotland and the Brexit fills me with a certain amount of schadenfreude. This is not an emotion in which I usually indulge.

The reactions from Scotland have been quite wonderful.

#624 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 06:12 PM:

Apparently, at least one Leave campaigner - Liam Fox - is already calling for a "period of reflection" before activating clause 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would begin the process of leaving.

I would not be entirely surprised to see Boris Johnson doing the same, since it has always seemed to me that Boris Johnson's loyalty is solely to Boris Johnson, and now it looks like he will get what he wants - namely, Cameron out and himself as PM - he may well feel the Leave campaign has served its purpose, and that he doesn't want the job of clearing up the almighty mess it's made.... Possibly I am being too cynical about Boris Johnson. Possibly.

Lori Coulson: I think there are several different strands to the Leave campaign; there are the genuine xenophobes and Little Englanders, there are the right-wing ideologues who see Brexit as a chance to implement "proper" free-market economics, and there are, well, chancers who latched onto the cause with a view to self-promotion. So cui bono? is kind of a hard question to answer - on some levels, the different groups want different things.

#625 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 06:16 PM:

Lori @620: the problem with cui bono? as an analytical tool is that it assumes that people have a clear idea of what their interest is and understand exactly how various goals will get toward it. But the law of unintended consequences kicks in, over and over and over again...

#626 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 06:59 PM:

Way back, it was the policy of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party there there would be three options in an EU Referendum.



Shake It All About

It made some sense, there are some things the EU does which could be done much better.

The OMRLP comes across a bit like the IgNobel Prizes. They come up with funny stuff that starts you thinking

Meanwhile, I wonder if there will be an IgNobel Pieces Prize awarded. Probably not. This have never been funny and nobody seems to be thinking.

#627 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 08:00 PM:

Lori Coulson @619: Fire Walk With Me

If you cross paths with Jon Singer, ask him about Tony Robbins sometime. This is only one of many reasons why I tend to shy away from anything with Robbins's fingerprints on it.

#628 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 09:31 PM:

#609: I've heard anecdotes of "Leave" voters saying they did it as a protest and didn't expect Brexit to actually come to paass.

If things go badly, I predict that fewer and fewer people will admit to have voted Leave and in 20 years will have convinced themselves they voted Stay.

#629 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 10:00 PM:

I was at a barbecue this evening with my parents and an "aunt and uncle". This aunt and uncle are my aunt and uncle because we all immigrated to Montreal in the mid-eighties, leaving all the rest of our families behind; there are about eight families of us who adopted each other.

Both my dad and uncle, in the context of a Brexit discussion, complained about all the immigrants to the UK from the EU. I had a very hard time not saying something impolite to these people who have spent more than thirty years in a country not the one of their birth*.

*I did say something, but politely. I was sitting next to my mum, after all.

#630 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 11:19 PM:

Does, perhaps, the whole BRexit thing merit its own thread?

#631 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2016, 11:31 PM:

It's my understanding that the referendum is, in fact, not binding, and that Parliament must pass legislation to bring it about, but isn't legally obliged to do so.

However, since the UK is already beginning to pay the price for the enormity of voting to leave, it seems politically unlikely for Parliament to just say "nah, we don't like it, not gonna do it."

Someone proposed that if an election is called, Labour could run on a "cancel Brexit" platform, and then all the dipshits who voted Leave because they "didn't think it would matter" and "wanted to protest" could vote Labour, and at least the pig-fucking TORIES would be out.

Well, it's a dream.

#632 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 12:56 AM:

Other than politics, it's been a stressful week. I started the week in the middle of an annoying sinus infection which kept me in bed most of the time with no sense of balance, but that's over with. But Sunday night, my wife decided to try drugging the cat directly instead of putting liquid in her food, and got a deep cat bite that by next morning was getting infected, so we went to the doctor who opened it up (ow!) and gave her lots of antibiotics, and said if it wasn't getting a lot better in a couple of days to go to the emergency room for IV antibiotics. So Thursday we checked with the clinic who said "Yup, emergency room time", so she spent the night in hospital getting drugged, and this afternoon she got out, and her hand's starting to look better. (We've got good insurance, fortunately, so all the organizational handoffs will mainly cost us paperwork and not too much actual money.)

(And today was her birthday, which we celebrated with a few friends at the local cat cafe, but that meant she *really* didn't want to wait around for slow bureaucracy to get out. We are now recovering from Too Much Cake.)

#633 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 05:55 AM:

I can just say the mood is very somber in Edinburgh. People are shocked and didn't think the vote would go this way.

I also know people who voted to stay with the UK in the independence referendum but are now angry and say they would vote for an independent Scotland.

I'm looking into getting a dual citizenship since I've been working here for close to a decade now and I qualify. It's just very expensive to apply for and I've not needed to before.

#634 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 06:12 AM:

Dave Bell @ #626

A surprising number of the OMRLP manifesto items over the years have actually been implemented by the "mainstream" parties.

On another note, this moose signed the "other" petition (for a second referendum that would require 75% turnout and a 66% majority) on Friday morning - there were already over 128,000 supporters - and it has taken until Saturday morning for the confirmation link to arrive. There are now over a million signatures and I suspect the website got pounded flat and is still frantically catching up.

Somebody suggested that the Boaty McBoatface solution should be adopted and that Sir David Attenborough be appointed Prime Minister. This has much to commend it apart from the fact that he is far too nice to inflict that fate upon.

Local Moose also noted the Daily Hate is now attacking the finance industry for doing their job of making profit from market uncertainty. That is pretty rich (Sorry!) coming from the newspaper with the worst record for truth in the entire affair.

Pity we can't shut the lot of them in the Tower for a few years until they get a clue.

#635 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 06:39 AM:

Stefan Jones@628: in 1997, with the Tories a comical mess, opinion polling reported not only that Labour were going to win the next General Election (which they did), but also, on 'how I voted last time' answers, that they should have won the 1992 General Election (which they didn't).

There's a reasonable case to be made that a referendum is good for constitutional issues that bind future Parliaments, but that isn't what we've just had. Only maybe a quarter of current MPs support Brexit and even if we had a General Election right now that number probably wouldn't increase very much. And early General Elections are now hard to call, due to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act: they need either a Government defeat in a no-confidence motion that doesn't get overturned quickly, or a 2/3 supermajority in Parliament. Since Labour would, err, probably not do well in such a General Election, there's little chance of their helping out in this way.

Even if a General Election did happen, getting a Parliamentary majority for Brexit would involve Cameron's successor forcing Brexity candidates on a very large number of winnable constituencies, which would mean either getting current Remain MPs to recant or replacing them with compliant new faces, and winning the seats. Impossible.

First as tragedy, then as farce: the exit negotiations from the EU could be a comedy repeat of the Irish treaty negotiations of 1921, except that this time it's not a Dáil demanding an all-island republic from the UK and the negotiators' only being able to get a partitioned Free State, but instead a Parliament consenting to at best only a mild separation from the EU—probably involving free movement of people and acquiescence in most EU rules; basically EU membership with the blue and yellow flag covered with masking tape—and the negotiators knowing that nothing that can plausibly be achieved will satisfy the Brexit hard-core.

#636 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 07:01 AM:

Also the Labour Party is in a ghastly mess; there's a terrible disconnect between the party's solid core of ~200 mainly Northern, and mainly Brexity, constituencies and the Party apparatus, that may just be unfixable.

#637 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 10:07 AM:

Bill Stewart @632: We are now recovering from Too Much Cake.

Seems to me that Too Much Cake is a very sensible response to all sorts of ills.

Brexit: Don't suppose the Maldives would be interested in a swap: Maldivians for Brexiters. Maldives gets a reprieve from sea level rise, and Brexiters get shut of the EU...? Okay, maybe not.

#638 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 10:15 AM:

Have to say this for the term "Brexit:" makes for a quick and unambiguous Google search.

#639 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 11:30 AM:

Thanks for the info re: Brexit, everyone.

I hadn't been following the situation on that side of the Pond, so the vote and the result were a total surprise.

I'm astounded that they made a referendum like this a straight majority win rather than say, two thirds of the voters having to go for it.

What were they thinking?

#640 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 12:51 PM:

It's perhaps worth pointing out that it's not at all clear that an independent Scotland would be allowed directly into the EU.

Scotland may wish to break away anyway, just to get away from the likely new British government (though we ought to wait and see what will actually happen), but being detached from England and the EU seems to me the worst possible situation to be in.

#641 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 01:37 PM:

When I first encountered the term "Brexit", I thought it evoked frogs croaking in Greek. Ko-ax, ko-ax... I wasn't expecting this result. :-(

#642 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 02:25 PM:

Lori Coulson@639: Cameron made this referendum a manifesto commitment in 2015 when he thought that he'd never have to go through with it (he didn't foresee winning an absolute majority instead of being in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who never would have agreed to a referendum). Also I think he was frankly a bit cocky about referendums, having got his way in the Scottish independence one. I don't think there's ever been a need for a supermajority in any recent UK referendum although the 1979 Scottish and Welsh devolution ones had a minimum-turnout requirement.

There's an online petition circulating "to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum." Although many Leave voters now seem to be saying "I just wanted to give the government a shock and didn't think we'd actually go through it!", it's arguably a bit late for this.

Andrew M@640: the Scottish situation is very murky indeed. Scottish people are already EU citizens by virtue of being in the UK, and it might be very difficult to unpick from the current Scottish constitutional settlement those bits that rely on being in the EU. There were arguments during the 2014 Scottish referendum about whether Scotland, on seceding from the UK, could stay in the EU without going through the accession procedure; many EU countries troubled with their own regional-autonomy questions (particularly Spain) didn't like the idea of this precedent, but they might be more receptive to Scotland's inheriting the UK's membership if England and Wales left. (Northern Ireland situation is similar but even more complicated. It'd have a long land border with the EU. There are no border controls at all between NI and the Republic now; shoppers and commuters cross all the time; introducing controls would be a logistic and economic horror that would open lots of cans of worms safely sealed since the Armalite/Semtex era.)

It's a fascinating mess. The Leave campaign offered something that looked like a party manifesto but wasn't. It said we send £350,000,000 per week to the EU (we don't; there's a substantial rebate) which could be spent on the NHS (they're now saying that this money, minus the rebate, could be spent on the NHS, but no-one promised to do this). It said migration from the EU should be reduced (they're now saying that this might or might not happen). It all looked, to the uninitiated Leave voter, like a set of promises. But what actually happens is up to whatever deal gets hammered out between UK Parliaments (and possibly the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and NI Assemblies) and the EU. The EU at the moment just seems sick of us—Out means Out so please clear off—and there's a power vacuum at Westminster.

#643 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 02:40 PM:

My wife is from Northern Ireland. There is a large contingent of her friends that are talking about getting Irish passports (as is allowed by the Good Friday agreement). Apparently the Belfast post office ran out of the requires Irish passport forms today, as demand has been high.

#644 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 03:02 PM:

David Lammy MP has suggested Parliament should essentially tell the victorious Leave campaign to go stuff themselves. I was fantasizing about this yesterday, actually, but I think our reputation is too badly shot now with the EU, and particularly with Germany, which has particular reason to be a bit disgusted with countries that do disreputable things via plebiscites. No matter how polite our politicians and diplomats might be, our populism has left a stink smelt around the world. The nervously jokey apologies ("sorry, there's some mad people in this country") being made at work yesterday to EU-national office colleagues, and over the phone to overseas EU people we work with, covered a deep embarrassment.

#645 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 05:05 PM:

Overall, I'd put the odds at Parliament ruling against the referendum at about the same as the GOP kicking Trump out at the convention.

The main lesson that should be learned from this is don't do referendums. The voice of the people, bless their hearts, is best heard through their elected representatives.

Mechanics and engineers don't solicit the vote of the shop customers on how to repair a machine. That's why you have mechanics and engineers in the first place.

#646 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 06:48 PM:

Lori Coulson @639
I'm astounded that they made a referendum like this a straight majority win rather than say, two thirds of the voters having to go for it.

If such a mechanism had been used for entry to the EEC (and as it changed to the EU) there would be strong logic for this approach. However...

Steve C. #645
The main lesson that should be learned from this is don't do referendums. The voice of the people, bless their hearts, is best heard through their elected representatives.

Note that in Australia, there is strong support indicated in opinion polls for same-sex marriage. But support from MPs is well below a majority.

#647 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 07:23 PM:


Someone proposed that if an election is called, Labour could run on a "cancel Brexit" platform

Rather unexpectedly the Lib Dems have announced exactly that. It's getting a mixed reception.

If there were a General Election this autumn—the Fixed-term Parliaments Act was specifically enacted to prevent this sort of thing; it might be possible to fiddle it with Labour help if they wanted to help, which they probably wouldn't—a Lib Dem government might just be able to keep Britain in the EU. Except that going from 8 seats to 300 is implausible; and things will probably have gone too far even by then.

This is actually a very weird balloon for their leader Tim Farron to launch. As the many fannish Lib Dems know very well, Party policy is always set by Conference. There may be ructions about this.

#648 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 08:25 PM:

So, I'm back from Botswana, jet-lagged and exhausted, but otherwise fine. Saw most of the expected critters, many with young. Highlights included leopard cubs playing with their mother ("Gotcha, Mommy!"), elephants doing assorted things, and Botswana's goodbye present: On our last trip (a "water safari") of the last day, just before our boat turned into the camp's inlet, a Goliath Heron flew across the water directly in front of the boat. Awesome....

#649 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 09:17 PM:

Having had a referendum and lost, it seems like it would be really unpopular with voters (even the ones now having second thoughts) to just say "sorry, the people gave us the wrong answer so it doesn't count!". In particular, that seems like it would play really strongly into the "democracy deficit" line that the Brexit people seem to have been running with.

#650 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2016, 10:48 PM:

HLN: Local man, volunteer music librarian for his choir, has been feeling unappreciated. In fact, he was heard to say that "as far as I can tell, the choir's attitude toward my doing this work ranges from indifference to resentment."

That all changed this evening. At the end-of-choir-season party, local man was presented with a card signed by the whole choir (with added grateful messages!) and containing a nice gift card. He was very touched, and tweeted a picture of the card with a delighted message.

"The gift card was very nice," he commented, looking happy. "But the messages and signatures of the choir members are what really filled my heart."

#651 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2016, 11:38 AM:

Xopher @ 650

Local woman sings in community choir with massive music library; is in awe of the work several choirmembers do to keep it organized and catalogued. Local woman has told them this, but is reminded to do it more frequently.

#652 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2016, 02:36 PM:

Jacque@584 -- I'm late, but nobody seems to have done it yet. Of course any fine knife must be well-tempered!


Fragano@544 -- even later, but best wishes for this thing that must now be partly in the past. Hope the recovery is relatively tolerable and the results outstanding!

#653 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2016, 02:48 PM:

HLN: local gay man decides to wear rainbow bracelet at all times. "Since bigotry is now in fashion it would be cowardly to hide behind the fact that I don't conform to perceived gay stereotypes. After all," says man, "if I had a brown skin I'd be fair game, so bring it on!"

#654 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2016, 08:01 PM:

DDB: booooo—! ;-)

#655 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2016, 08:47 PM:

Pope Francis once again demonstrates that he is amazing: he says the Catholic Church should apologize to gay people and others whom it has not supported, and should apologize for blessing guns in conflicts. Not speaking ex cathedra, but in a press conference on an airplane -- but still. I wonder what the fallout from this will be!

#656 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2016, 09:49 PM:

I dunno, Tom, words are cheap. I'm still waiting for Pope Francis to actually do anything about any of the problems I see in the Catholic church.

#657 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2016, 09:55 PM:

Em: Good on you! Believe me, they sometimes wonder if anyone cares.

#658 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2016, 11:25 PM:

Xopher: That's a nice idea re Labour, but unfortunately some of the biggest Leave votes came from the Labour heartlands in England. Leave v Remain was not in any sense Labour v Tory when it came to their supporters.

#659 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2016, 09:25 AM:

Tykewriter @653: ... a week or two ago, I started wearing my rainbow & trans pride bracelets to work. I'm not out. I'm nowhere near ready to be. I have yet to be asked about them; I don't know what I will say if somebody does ask.

I didn't realise until I saw your post how much it would mean to know that someone else is doing the same thing.

Re Brexit: my general sentiments are currently those which I've seen a number of people expressing on Twitter in various forms, with the common theme that this feels unpleasantly like the "Context and Causes" chapter in some future history textbook.

#660 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2016, 10:36 AM:

How the practicalities of book size and making it possible for readers to find the books they want affect the use of cliff hangers.

#661 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2016, 10:43 AM:

HelenS @656

I'm a Catholic and had a brief experience with my church's decision hierarchy/political organization way, waaaay down on the ladder where the dust bunnies live and breed.

There is no up/down the church's hierarchy dialog. It's all top down. The Pope decides, the Cardinals carry it to the Bishops, and the Bishops to the priests and the priests to the people. The masses can ask, beg, plead, pray all they want, but they aren't allowed to impact the church's decisions. Ever. The Catholic church is not a democracy, it's a theocracy with more than a few aspects of a dictatorship thrown in to the mix.

For Pope Francis, the very top of the decision/political ladder, the Guy Who Is The Mouthpiece Of God to say "We were wrong. We need to apologize for our actions past and present" is a huge-ass thing. He's acting counter to centuries of assumptive and presumptive church politics.

When he says, "We were wrong" it also includes the next step in atoning per doctrine/faith, "We pray/ask for forgiveness" which leads to the final step of "We will never do this again." As a theocratic dictator, Pope can do that and make it stick.

It's such a huge thing in fact, that there are some people inside the church who fear Pope Francis could be a target of assassination because of his stance and actions to date.

#662 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2016, 11:05 AM:

#661 ::: Victoria

My impression is that the Catholic Church has a top down structure, but very limited ability to enforce its edicts. Don't Catholics use birth control at the same rate as their non-Catholic neighbors?

On the other hand, birth control is private, so maybe some prejudiced behavior (like throwing a teenager out of the house for being gay) that's public can be contrained by the Pope.

#663 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2016, 02:31 PM:

Went to the grocery store this morning too early; baguette wasn't out yet. Whinged to bakery person, who ran in the back and baked me some! OMG YUM.

Ze asked me to rate zir on the corporate survey website, but warned that anything less than a 9 would result in a demerit. Also warned me that employees aren't supposed to share this datum when requesting ratings.

I was sufficiently incensed to tweet the grocery store and say, basically, WTF?

First they wanted to know which store I worked in; they wanted to loop in HR.* Told them I'm a customer. Now they're after me to tell them which store I shop at. So not happening.

* Yeah, I'll bet you do.

#664 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2016, 02:56 PM:

#663 ::: Jacque

Dear ghu. I'm hoping you paid cash.

#665 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2016, 05:05 PM:


The Church has a lot of power to:

a. Teach what is and isn't permissible behavior

b Demand that priests, deacons, and religious adhere to this (for example, by demanding that a Catholic hospital not perform abortions).

c. In principle, the Church can withhold sacraments to enforce compliance with their rules.

For example, if someone wants to get married in the Church, they have to fulfill the requirements. Some of those can be waived by the parish priest; others may require some higher-level intervention or even not be possible to waive without a change in Church law. (For example, I'm pretty sure a Catholic priest couldn't marry two women without getting into some major trouble with the Church hierarchy.)

In practice, various bits of the Church disagree with the hierarchy, and there's a certain amount of flexibility in what's done from parish to parish. I know in some parishes, an unmarried couple can't get their baby baptized in the church, but this is not all that uncommon in our (fairly socially liberal) parish.

And there's very little enforcement on ordinary Catholics beyond your own conscience for most rules. For example, there are a bunch of circumstances in which you're not supposed to take communion. But most of the time, neither the priest nor the eucharistic ministers (laypeople who help out with communion) really know whether you're allowed to take communion or not, so it's a matter of your own conscience. I have served as an EM in my parish for about a decade now, and I've never heard anyone bring this up as an issue. (By contrast, we spend a lot of time trying to make sure that, say, kids taking communion don't walk back to their seat with the consecrated host in their hand.) On the other hand, I'm in a relatively socially liberal, large and active parish in the US--I'm sure other parishes work differently.

A lot of Catholics, including many priests and religious, and even some people up in the hierarchy, disagree with at least some teachings of the Church, and argue for more flexibility. For example, most Catholics I know don't, as far as I can tell, believe that using contraception is a sin. This is reflected in things like family sizes.

Also, a lot of issues of conscience can be worked out with your priest, under seal of confession. For obvious reasons, that's not something it's easy for the Church hierarchy to intervene in.

The Church is in some sense a whole bunch of communities that are tied together in a hierarchical structure, but still are independent in many practical ways. Different parishes look and feel and act very differently, from music to activities to requirements for stuff like baptism (where there is Church law, but also a lot of local policy). Parishes are communities, full of people with their own concerns and connections and ideas and beliefs. Sometimes even multiple communities--there is very little overlap in my parish between the English and Spanish speaking communities, and there are enough ministries and activities that you can be pretty involved in the church and not know some other pretty-involved people.

And in another sense, it's a monumental 2000-year old global bureaucracy. Just as the Czar could exile any one bureaucrat to Siberia, but couldn't fully control the whole bureaucracy, so the Pope could defrock any one priest, but can't fully control the whole hierarchy. He can set a moral tone, can be clear that bashing gays or Muslims isn't okay, but that doesn't magically mean that all Catholics in the world agree with him or obey him.

#666 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2016, 06:03 PM:

Nancy: If I hear of any "unintended consequences," I intend to have me a little conversation with the Department of Labor. Loudly. Online.

#667 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 02:20 AM:

Numeric rating systems for customer feedback are worthless.

What's the point if you expect a perfect score from every customer.

And on eBay there is similar feedback from the sellers about the customers.

David Cameron: null pointe.....

The 5-star illusion is wrecking everything

#668 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 03:47 AM:

Oh, and on behalf of a friend, fuck cancer.

#669 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 08:22 AM:

HLN The sky in Boulder is distinctly yellow this morning. I don't smell smoke, but my sense of smell is notoriously unreliable. There is at least one fire upwind of us (Beaver Creek, in Jackson County). My usual weather forecast isn't saying anything about smoke. I don't know what to think.

#670 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 09:17 AM:

Dave Bell (667): Worse than useless, since I doubt I am alone in wanting to give the top score only to an absolutely flawless could-possibly-be-better-but-I-don't-see-how performance. In other words, in a five-star system, I would normally give a good, solid customer experience a four. A five requires going above and beyond in unexpected ways. (I do give five star feedback on eBay, because I know how that is calibrated. But I don't like having to do so.)

#671 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 10:57 AM:

Fascism Alert from the UK

As we speak a horrible fascist is plotting the next stage in his takeover of our democracy. Helped by the dupes on the right of the Tories, permitted by the squabbling tribes of Labour.

Farage has gone to Europe with a torch and is busy burning bridges.

He will then portray any compromise as a betrayal, and himself as the humble Saviour, following the Will of the People.

He hopes to provoke a backlash in the Tory Shires and the Labour heartlands with UKIP displacing Labour as one of the two parties in British politics.

This is fascism in action folks: appealing to people as victims, blaming the other, calling to nationalism and separatism.

What we are witnessing is truly terrifying.

#672 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 01:02 PM:

James Harvey: You-all are in my prayers. (And not only for altruistic reasons.)

#673 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 01:11 PM:

Tom W: why should they call the fork Morton? Wouldn't that be like renaming Excalibur to Arthur? (Asks the man who thinks he knows of Morton's Fork via 1066 and All That.)

Victoria @ 661, expanding albatross's postscript: IANAC, but the media have been telling us a lot recently about the Church's bureaucracy. Consultation, studies, requests for clarification, etc. are standard tricks in mundane bureaucracies; how is Roman Catholicism different? Also: AFAICT the Pope was not speaking ex cathedra; is there any requirement that the cardinals act?

Meanwhile, today's Boston Globe says that financial nabobs aren't sure whether they should shit themselves or heave a happy sigh at the thought of Elizabeth Warren becoming VP. Absent a nonentity like Shrub, my view of the vice-presidency tends to run with Garner's, but it's nice watching the rats running around.

#674 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 01:43 PM:

Re: customer service metrics, I couldn't agree more. I used to work in a call centre for an automotive company, and Ipsos-Reid would call up our customers once the files were closed and ask a variety of questions rated out of 5 to get an overall CSAT score. It wasn't unusual to get all 5s in every category you could actually affect (personableness, following through, perceived effort, etc.) and wind up scoring a 1 because the customer wasn't happy with the final outcome*. It was hugely frustrating and demoralizing. "Em was fantastic, but I wanted a free new air-conditioning system for my ten-year-old car" would net me a stern talking-to; three like that in a month, and we'd get probation. One time I got a 1 because they were expecting to phone in and I'd fix their car. Over the phone. From Newfoundland.

Not that they ever actually fired anyone, because oddly enough employee turnover was low and they were desperate for any body they could get.

It's a sucky situation for everyone involved; you wind up with employees who are always stressed and wondering if it's even worth trying, and customers who (once they know) are stuck between potentially lying and feeling awful.

At current job, also customer service, we do get customer feedback (which is good and important), but it's compared with our managers looking at the actual interactions and going "yeah, you handled that well". Much nicer.

*We'd do our best, but on occasion you'd have someone wanting a repair totally covered on a vehicle that was a decade out of warranty, or in-warranty but actually damaged (sample: a sedan that had been driven off-road and had, per the mechanic, "half a tree stuck in it").

#675 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 01:43 PM:

Argh. High, employee turnover was HIGH.

#676 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 02:51 PM:

Hm. This doesn't bode well; the survey asked about a whole bunch of stuff that had nothing to do with the rating I'd signed on to give. I answered honestly but not favorably to a lot of them, because the store is currently undergoing a renovation, and they keep moving stuff around so you can't find things (if they even still have them).

Em's report above implies I may have done my bakery person a net disservice. :-(

#677 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 06:03 PM:

Breaking news:

Multiple suicide bomber attack in Turkey at the Istanbul airport.

Terrorist attack

#678 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 06:10 PM:

Most of what's in 1066 and All That is playing with genuine history. In this case, Morton's Fork is more about a choice of routes to a destination than about an eating utensil, but it is real history.

John Morton was Henry VII's Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor, with all that implies. He may well have been the source of the History of Richard III that was found in Sir Thomas More's papers.

#679 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 06:39 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 662; CHip @673;

Nancy, what you're asking about is a matter of personal/moral ethics regarding personal obedience to religious doctrine. albatross @ 665 gave you a very good answer. I'll add to that by saying, it's not unusual for the local parish priests to actively resist/undermine their bishops if they think upholding religious doctrine will harm their parish or their parishioners. The church teaches that God gave us free will and a conscience for a reason. It's up to us to use it. Or not.

CHip, the pope speaking ex-cathedra about hot-button topics is new, and virtually un-heard of. All that debate was internal and not for the public to discuss or leave open for debate. No one outside the Council of Cardinals or Bishops knew about it. It was happening all the time, but not in public for the press to get at. Ever. The Catholic church's political hierarchy is the opposite of transparent. That's starting to change. Pope John Paul II was never this open even though he made his stock-in-trade as being a good will ambassador to the world. (He smiled and made friends in high places while sweeping a lot of shit under the papal rug.) While Pope Emeritus Benedict pissed off a lot of people politically, he also publicly punished the leading evil-doers among the Council of Cardinals that his predecessor wouldn't/couldn't. Pope Francis is very much a "lets deal with the world as it is, not as we want it to be" pope which is why he is doing so much speaking ex-cathedra.

As for the rest, while I am, Catholic, I fully acknowledge I'm a bad one per doctrine. I've been informed I'm probably going to hell (not in so many words). This is because I refuse to be controlled from the outside by rules formed in committees long before I was born, committees that operated without the help of modern science operating off of third-hand accounts.

Nancy, the first thing I had to come to grips with (post first-hand exposure to church politics) is that faith is a separate thing from religion/religious doctrine. "Religious Doctrine" is just a fancy way to say "the politics involved in running a government based on a shared faith."

When I was a child, I listened to my Dad talk about how to hide/tie up the parish's money so the bishop couldn't get at it. (Local parishes are to pay their own bills from local bank accounts in non-church banks. Those accounts receive the collections taken at each mass. Nothing comes from the Catholic Central Bank except loans. Parishes don't deposit money there, they gift it.) The only way to advance up the church's hierarchy, at least at first, is to put money in the Catholic Church's central bank that is pulled from the parish's secular accounts.

Because I was a child, all the bank stuff went in one ear and out the other (as my father used to say). Then, as an adult, I got voluntold to be on the vicariate council. After a year of being in the peanut gallery, watching church politics play out, I politely stepped down and did my best to walk away from my faith. That's when I learned faith is what you have inside you, your relationship to the, with the, divine. It's something that's separate from the necessities of paying to have a building to meet in and money to keep the lights on.

#680 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 06:50 PM:

A couple of years ago I got into the habit of listening to Radio 4 while I work, mostly for the comedy, history and arts & culture programming, but I would listen to the news. After all – it wasn’t my news so it wasn’t stressful. Until, oh maybe the last month or so.

I just had to take the headphones off during Today In Parliament, when a Labour MP stated that he learned during this referendum campaign that his constituents would not stand for free movement of citizens which Merkel insists will be a condition of allowing the UK into the European Common Market, and I thought, well what damn good are you as an MP that you did not work (with your party? I don’t quite know how it works over there) to make sure your constituents were properly informed that their woes were not entirely the fault of the terrifying immigrants? And also, now that they got their nasty, xenophobic wish, that if they preferred to not allow free movement, the UK would never be part of the European Common Market. Maybe as an MP you could explain to them what that will mean for them. Because there is no third way, no matter how much you hate theoretical people you’ve never met.

Good gravy, there is certainly enough blame to go around both (all) parties in the UK without immediately assuming your life is terrible because of The EU/Other, but I suppose both the government and the media have spent over a decade wrecking stuff and whispering “immigrant” at citizens who complained.

Much sympathy to James and other people in the UK, and god help us get our crap together before the November election in the US.

#681 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 07:06 PM:

Victoria in 679, I think you might not mean ex cathedra - that means "speaking from the seat of St. Peter" and infaillably

#682 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 07:16 PM:

I also forgot the "?" At the end of the last sentence, and posted the correction on the wrong thread. Twice. Sorry.

#683 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 08:05 PM:

Does anyone have a link to the webcomic where goblin-like guys make fancy floating balloons, except there's one really goth goblin who's making a black spiky thing, and one of the other goblins tries to ask him why? And then he launches it and it goes over the edge of the world and lowers a rope to someone who's drowning in the muck?

#684 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 09:15 PM:

CHip @673

Why should they call the fork Morton? Wouldn't that be like renaming Excalibur to Arthur? (Asks the man who thinks he knows of Morton's Fork via 1066 and All That.)

"Intelligence is knowing Morton is not the fork. Wisdom is knowing Morton really is the fork."

#685 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 09:24 PM:

Carrie S. #683: From my own browser history: Stories.

#686 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 10:15 PM:

Thanks! This time I'll bookmark it...

Huh. Is anybody else seeing the majority of the panel covered in black? The last frame I can see is the one with the other guy saying, "I mean, do you even know what we're supposed to be doing?"

#687 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 11:02 PM:

Carrie S. #686: You're welcome, but I'm seeing it normally.

#688 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2016, 11:48 PM:

Oh my goodness, thank you for reposting that comic. It's impossible for me to find via searching, and I love it so. I see past the deep dark panel, too, so I'm afraid I can't help untangle that riddle.

#689 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 12:10 AM:

Pope John Paul II was never this open even though he made his stock-in-trade as being a good will ambassador to the world. (He smiled and made friends in high places while sweeping a lot of shit under the papal rug.)

I don't entirely disagree, but JPII did apologize a lot.

#690 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 03:07 AM:

Carrie, #686: Are you using Firefox? This is a known issue on Firefox when trying to look at a very long web page; I've run into it with some of the longer Shadow Unit stories, and have to read them in Opera instead.

#691 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 05:57 AM:

Someone may have reported this here before, but in case it hadn't been...

Progress in working towards curing Type I diabetes:

Public Release: 7-Jun-2015

Excerpts from the press release last year:

Massachusetts General Hospital launches phase II trial of BCG vaccine to reverse type 1 diabetes

A phase II clinical trial testing the ability of the generic vaccine bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) to reverse advanced type 1 diabetes has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). ....\

The five-year trial will investigate whether repeat BCG vaccination can clinically improve type 1 diabetes in adults between 18 and 60 years of age who have small but still detectable levels of insulin secretion from the pancreas. Faustman's research team was the first group to document reversal of advanced type 1 diabetes in mice and subsequently completed a successful phase I human clinical trial of BCG vaccination....

A generic drug with over 90 years of clinical use and safety data, BCG is currently approved by the FDA for vaccination against tuberculosis and for the treatment of bladder cancer. The vaccine is known to elevate levels of the immune modulator tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which Faustman's team previously showed can temporarily eliminate in both humans and mice the abnormal white blood cells responsible for autoimmune type 1 diabetes. Increased TNF levels also stimulated production of protective regulatory T cells.

Mass General is somewhat controversial, as regards being a high cost medical care supplier--which is mostly a function of it being a hospital where a lot of teach and R&D occur. Various members of Congress periodically get high annoyed at the disproportionate share of federal healthcare and health R&F funds going to hospital in the Boston area. The fact that some of them would not be alive without medicine pioneered in the recipient of the funds institutions, doesn't seem to particularly interest them....

#692 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 08:20 AM:

HLN: Local man has just taken delivery of a pair of rainbow wrist sweatbands. Wonders if etiquette dictates whether red or violet is worn nearest the hand.

#693 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 09:13 AM:

Lee: Yes, it's Firefox. There's that mystery solved. Happily, Chrome doesn't have the problem.

#694 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 11:39 AM:

Arrgghh! After various travails, I finally managed to import my photos from camera to computer... and discovered that I shot the whole effing vacation at 640x480! (Movies were actually quite a bit bigger, but those are a minority.)

#695 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 12:53 PM:

Tykewriter, my initial response is 'red near hand' because that's the top.

#696 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 02:36 PM:

OK, my curiosity will no longer be denied.

Diatryma, do you pronounce your name diATryma or diaTRYma?

#697 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 02:47 PM:

Or possibly even diaTREEma?

#698 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 03:13 PM:

and is the beginning pronounced like "dye" or "dee"?

#699 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 03:24 PM:

I pronounce it Dye-ah-TRY-ma. Which is not accurate to the original Greek, but you know, I am not an original Greek*. I'm someone who grew up with an After the Dinosaurs book and latched onto terror birds. For a while, 'Diatryma' pinged my it's-me sense in text in a way that my actual name did not.

*I have other ways to justify it, ranging from 'Data is my name,' to 'scientific language, written vs oral'.

#700 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 03:57 PM:

A quick thank you to Patrick for his latest particle, the article on the "Green Book" at The Toast. Amazing, heartbreaking meditation on race.

America and race. The problem of America is the problem of the color-line.

#701 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 04:06 PM:

The Particle about Hamlet has been sabotaged by the BBC, or at least the film clip it links to has been shut down by them.

May I offer this in its stead? Here is Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet in the fencing scene (silent).

I might have something else in a few minutes.

#702 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 04:18 PM:

Oldster @700: if you like the article, you might well enjoy Matt Ruff's recent novel Lovecraft Country. It involves the Green Book and a Lovecraftian conspiracy, and it's really well done -- the best conflation of race relations and the Cthulhu Mythos I've seen. A brilliant book.

#703 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 04:25 PM:

Okay, I've put a video on YouTube, my first. It's a clip from a dopey Kay Kyser comedy (with Martha Raye). John Barrymore, legendary thespian turned has-been, takes a moment out from his last movie to sag in a chair and show the young people how Shakespeare is done. The great actor still had it, in my estimation. Good night, sweet prince!

#704 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 04:54 PM:

Open Thready: "She's no better than she ought to be" is one of those phrases I've read dozens of times and never really understood. Generic searches aren't much help because I mostly find people asking what it means and the respondents being not so sure themselves.

It seems to connote both lower-class and sexually immoral; would "She's trashy" be an accurate updating (to the late 20th century, anyway?)

#705 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 05:08 PM:

Sandy B. #704: Definitely sexual immorality, not sure about class. I have the impression it implied prostitution, but I'm not sure about that.

#706 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 05:09 PM:

Sandy B (704): I've always understood "no better than she ought to be" to mean specifically sexually promiscuous. "Trashy" doesn't have quite the same connotation to me; "she's a slut" might be better.

#707 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2016, 06:38 PM:

Brexit/Crisis on the left/Crises of democracy

If you only read one article on the crisis of the British left, read John Harris's perceptive article in the Guardian.

Plenty of food for thought here, and not just for those of us unfortunate enough to be grappling with the current lunacy in the UK

#708 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 09:07 AM:

Is anyone else here going to Worldcon in August? My boyfriend and I are hunting for two roommates (or someone else's room, if you have reservations and are arriving earlier than we are). My email is diatryma, gmail, if you're interested.

As for 'no better than she ought to be', I think it comes with a side of 'of course' or 'what can you expect'. I don't understand it in terms of grammar, but then, language mangles itself.

#709 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 09:26 AM:

Go figure. I pulled the clip of Barrymore's Hamlet soliloquy from a DVD I made a year or so ago when I was taking a Shakespeare class. I decided yesterday to stop procrastinating and put it up on YouTube. After I did that, I found that someone else had posted a nearly identical clip back in March.

The coincidence is perhaps slightly less tall than it appears. I'd say we both did the same thing—recorded the same showing of the movie on TCM, and realized that the movie contained just under two minutes of worthwhile material.

This reminds me that Charles Nelson Reilly, who played the highly wrought Claymore Gregg in the sitcom of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," once recounted a moment where some sort of fan insulted his acting cred, and he responded with an on-the-spot recital of the "too, too solid flesh" monologue that reminds us: sometimes the clown really can play Hamlet. The clip lacks setup, so read this paragraph first.

#711 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 09:45 AM:

>> Garry Trudeau

You must be logged in to see this page.

#713 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 12:21 PM:

Sandy B. @704 et. al - I had always read "no better than s/he ought to be" to be a reference to the observed individual's (lower) class status. Perhaps because I have definitely seen it applied to a male, and males aren't usually accused of promiscuity?

#714 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 02:13 PM:

David Harmon @ 694: Is there any chance that your photos on the camera are fine, and the import process made the copies smaller?

#715 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 02:26 PM:

Kip W @ 710: When I follow your link to gocomics (where I do have a login), I get the message Unable to find that collection.

#716 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 02:27 PM:

Gently kicking the server, which I believe will shake another post loose.

#717 ::: Adina Adler ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 02:47 PM:

I believe the Doonesbury comic that Kip W @ 710 was noting is here , or you could try just searching for Doonesbury, it's the latest strip in the Classic series as of today. (And I remember when this one was new!)

#718 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 06:00 PM:

"No better than she ought to be."

The only place I've encountered this is in English fiction (but presumably based on actual usage), between the World Wars or just after, mostly of the cosy mystery ilk. There, it was always applied to a woman, and did always suggest sexual misconduct, but not necessarily promiscuity (it could be applied to a woman cohabiting with her fiance, or a married woman believed to be having an affair).

IIRC it was not ever used of someone of higher social class than the speaker, but was not in itself a reference to class.

J Homes.

#719 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 06:27 PM:

Sandy B. @ 704:

The OED says: "Regarded as sexually promiscuous or of doubtful moral character." This fits with my and other commenters' exposure to the phrase. I wouldn't be surprised if it connoted promiscuity when applied to a woman but not a man, because sexism.

#720 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 06:29 PM:

I've always seen it used to connote promiscuity, and I've always wondered how to parse it literally. After all, someone who's no better than she ought to be is as good as she ought to be, so isn't the speaker implying that their own standards are pretty low?

#721 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 06:35 PM:

Kip @#709: it's not quite the same thing, but a couple of months ago I watched an episode of a 1950s game show called "Party Game," basically celebrity charades, in which someone had to act out the phrase "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him; The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones."

And it took under ten seconds, because one of her teammates was Hans Conried, and once she'd got as far as indicating "Shakespeare" and "I come," he began reciting the entire speech at high speed.

#722 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 06:50 PM:

My sense that 'no better than they ought to be' is not a term of outright condemnation; it suggests 'they have done something they ought not to have done, but people are like that, aren't they?'. So yes, in a way it does imply that one's own standards are pretty low.

#723 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 07:02 PM:

janetl #714: Alas, no. I was importing from a memory card using Shotwell, which doesn't do such things. Also, I did find the resolution setting afterwards, and discovered it set to "S".

#724 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 07:15 PM:

"No better than she ought to be" - poking around a little online, I see this being called a combination of sexual morals and class. The "ought to be" is classist; it says that the expectations for this person are low. And then she's lived down to them, so to speak.

#725 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 09:35 PM:

Adina Adler, yes, and thanks. In the future, I'll have to see if some means is provided on the GoComics page to make the material visible to others. I'd think that would fit in with their business plan.

The perils of posting and then heading out to take in the daughter's soccer game.

#726 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2016, 11:56 PM:

I ran into a language deficit today, and this seems like the sort of place to ask for suggestions as to extant/invented words: Is there an antonym for envy?

This is not pride, but the specific feeling of seeing what your neighbor has that you do not, and being glad that you don't have it. For example: "I was on a playdate, and Martha's kids were a disaster area. I'm so glad our kids aren't that much trouble. I haven't felt that [[what-goes-here?]] in years."

#727 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2016, 12:05 AM:

I might use "lucky" in that particular case, Micah @726!

#728 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2016, 12:14 AM:

Grateful? Relieved?

#729 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2016, 04:54 AM:

A hundred years, and a few hours, ago, the Battle of the Somme started in France. The Verdun battle had been going on for months. Some attacks gained ground, but counter attacks drove them back. Nearly 20,000 British troops, still volunteers, died, and 40,000 were wounded.

The battle officially lasted 141 days. Conscription had started, and by the end of the battle conscripts were in the trenches and there were those "water carriers for Mesopotamia" that we now call "tanks".

A year later came Passchendaele.

At least my Grandfather came back. My father was born in 1920. And twenty years later it was all happening again.

#730 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2016, 02:31 PM:

Some friends of mine from St. John's have travelled to be at the Somme memorial today. Elsewhere in Canada today's Canada Day, but it's got another meaning in Newfoundland as the day when the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was almost wiped out (there are several songs about it; this is my favourite). There were 780 men beforehand, and 68 men at roll call the next morning. In the grand scheme of things, seven hundred people are not a lot of people, but for a place as small as Newfoundland population-wise, it's a huge chunk of a demographic group.

It's the first time my friend's left Canada. Newfoundlanders are nothing if not knowledgeable about family trees, and hers is among many which ends in a bunch of stumps a hundred years ago. Raise a glass.

#731 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2016, 05:58 PM:

Hm. Need some help thinking about this: I agree that Colorado's minimum wage should be increased. But I don't think it belongs in the constitution? How should the law be passed?

#732 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2016, 10:09 PM:

Micah #726: "Gratitude" sounds right to me.

#733 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2016, 10:14 PM:

Jacque #731: If it's currently in the constitution, then that's where it should be adjusted. AIUI, for most states and even nations "the consitution" is much larger (often a collection rather than a single document) than the minimalist itemization of the USA's federal government.

#734 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2016, 03:01 AM:

David Harmon @733

The "Common Law" system can also make court cases part of the constitution. which is something people forget. It's a hot and misunderstood topic in the UK at the moment.

Essentially, we're in the EU because of an Act of Parliament. The leaving process, Article 50, requires us to follow British "constitutional requirements". An Act of Parliament might allow various rules to be made and un-made by other means, without explicit parliamentary consent, but it can't be repealed except by an Act of Parliament.

Some Leave campaigners are in a rolling-eyed, frothy-lipped, tizzy over the idea of Parliament voting. It makes it look like political suicide to vote for a Remain option, despite the lies that backed the Leave campaign.

(I don't trust my Representative Bastard anyway.)

One of the issues the Leave campaign used was the idea that the EU breaks the Primacy of Parliament, yet now their more rapid supporters appear to be against that. And in this particular instance, it depends on a particular court case.

Some people I know are applying for Irish passports.

Meanwhile, some EU heads of state have said their can be no negotiation until Article 50 is invoked.

If they're trying to scare us, I'm scared.

#735 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2016, 02:07 PM:

Open Threadiness: Obituary.

Why, you ask, am I posting a link to an obituary of a sports figure here? Because the sports figure in question is female, yet the article reads as though it had been written for a man. The focus throughout is on the woman's career and accomplishments, not on her marriage and children, no long discussions about her "challenges in balancing family and career". It's a wonderful example of DOIN IT RITE, and deserves recognition.

#736 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2016, 06:52 PM:

This video has probably been here before, but I just stumbled across it, and was wowed: Stephen Fry's Kinetic Typography: Language.

#737 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2016, 10:13 AM:

There's a house down the street that puts up the Stars and Bars for the Fourth of July. Several large flags. This is in Illinois, not Alabama or Georgia....

I mean, it's their property and all, but, really??

#738 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2016, 10:23 AM:

Open threadiness: anyone else interested in a discussion of The Free State of Jones? It gave me a lot to think about, some things to appreciate and some to be pissed off about.

#739 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2016, 05:26 PM:

Re. Brexit, this is well worth a read - Laurie Penny writing in the New Statesman: I want my country back

#740 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2016, 05:27 PM:

Re. Brexit, this is well worth a read - Laurie Penny writing in the New Statesman: I want my country back

#741 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2016, 09:20 PM:

dcb #739: From the article: This was a working-class revolt, but it is not a working-class victory.

I'm reminded of America's "racial" riots, which consistently destroy property and business in the ghettos and slums, only.

#742 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2016, 10:15 PM:

Cassy 737: I guess it's unfortunately become more acceptable to proclaim oneself a racist in America, at least of the "that's not racist, I just think white people deserve to own black people" variety.

Do you know the people? Do they have kids?

David 741: And which were started by white people attacking POC in every case.

#743 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2016, 10:49 PM:

@742, they live two blocks away, and I've never seen the homeowners. I think it's safe to assume that they're white....

(I'd never vandalize someone else's property, so removing the flags is not something I'd do... but I have to admit that I fantasize about sneaking over there some midnight and adding a flag to his collection. A Nazi flag. This will never happen, mind you, because I'd have to buy one to do this and I'd never buy one...)

#744 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 11:36 AM:

Nigel Farage, described (in more moderate language than I could manage) in #671 above, has announced his resignation as leader of UKIP.

It is important to note that he is bowing out gracefully, having accomplished his noble and selfless goal... and not, as some cynics might have it, getting out of British politics quickly, before he can be held to account for the God-awful mess he's made. Perish the thought!

#745 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 12:56 PM:

Steve Wright @744: and not, as some cynics might have it, getting out of British politics quickly, before he can be held to account for the God-awful mess he's made.

Call me a cynic, then.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, having pulled out of the Conservative leadership race, is now pontificating about what the Conservative leadership ought to do... Easy for you to say, Boris, when you, like Mr Farage, have just stepped back and abdicated responsibility for sorting out the mess YOU made.

#746 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 05:09 PM:

It was just pointed out to me that Farage has only resigned as head of UKIP - he has not said anything about resigning his position as a member of the European Parliament. In other words, "he has left Leave to remain in the EU."

#747 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 05:14 PM:

We should never forget that this is all due to the unjustified self-esteem of David ("Pigfucker") Cameron, Boris ("BoJo the Clown") Johnson, and Nigel ("Froggage") Farage.

#748 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 05:29 PM:

To be honest, I've always thought that David Cameron was one of the more honest sorts of Tories - a genuine "One Nation" Conservative, with a sincere belief that he could make things better for everyone in this country.

Of course, I also believe that he was fundamentally mistaken, in every possible way, about how best to go about this - his vision of the "Big Society" usually turned out in practice to mean "poor people doing more work for no pay" - but his heart was in the right place. Sort of. I think.

Certainly, I don't think he deserves quite as much opprobrium as Boris Johnson (entirely self-seeking) or Nigel Farage (self-seeking with a hefty side order of xenophobia). I could picture myself saying, at some point in the future, "We'd have been better off with Cameron as PM". (Actually, looking at the current leadership contenders, I can picture that all too easily.)

#749 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 05:38 PM:

But it was Cameron who promised the ill-considered referendum in the first place, right? To make sure he stayed PM two years ago?

#750 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 06:21 PM:

That was certainly Cameron throwing a bone to the fractious element on the Conservative right, yes... and a costly misjudgement on his part, I think. I can sort of see his thinking, though. First off, he'd already chanced his arm on one referendum, the one on Scottish Independence, and it had come good for him. Secondly, the EU referendum was a promise he might never have had to keep - nobody expected a Conservative majority government at the last general election, so the probability was that he'd have to form another coalition with the Lib Dems, who wouldn't have let a referendum go ahead.

In the event, of course, the Conservatives won, Cameron had to keep his promises to the Euro-sceptics, and here we all are, up a certain creek without a certain implement. The moral of this story, if it has a moral, is that you need to plan for the consequences of absolute disasters such as winning. (Anyone thinking of voting for Trump in November should, I feel, bear this in mind.)

#751 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 06:24 PM:

Tangent: Here's a modern variant on the purloined letter trick. Did you know that Minecraft (which, for those who don't know it, is more or less a "you build it and then you have the option of allowing monsters and/or other players a chance to knock it down and/or kill you, unless you just want to build cool stuff" game) includes books that aren't just props? You can build a bookcase and stock it with books; you can also open the books, type things into them, and save them.

So if you have some information that can be saved as plain text and you're pretty sure that the people you're trying to hide it from don't play Minecraft...

#752 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 06:51 PM:

Jenny Islander #751: Well, sort of. People have been using online worlds for covert communication almost since there were online worlds -- frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if there were drug deals and such made on the early MUDS. Minecraft is just another online world, and not especially well-suited for covert operations.

For starters, the vanilla "bookcases" are just decorative blocks, which don't actually hold "written books". (You can put a book in a chest like any other item.) There are mods that do provide functional bookshelves or other ways to display books in game.

More importantly, the text of those books is stored (in cleartext, AFAIK) on the game's server, which for a single-player game is your own computer. Anyone who can get at the saved game, can access them through tools such as NBTEdit, and a saved game could certainly be searched for book items, by a standard or custom tool.

So this is basically just another place on your (or the server owner's) hard drive to stash a bit of text, and not particularly secure. It's worth noting that the vanilla implementation of books is quite limited, and I suspect that's in part to avoid issues with people passing around copyrighted material -- or even propaganda, pornography, samizdats, and other stuff that might run afoul of "think of the children!".

#753 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2016, 09:33 PM:

But if the person who you're attempting to hide the text from doesn't play Minecraft, they might well not be aware that the Minecraft files are even a place to bother searching. Avoid easily-grepped proper nouns and you might do OK.

#754 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2016, 12:10 AM:

Steve Wright @750: Anyone thinkingvoting for Trump


#755 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2016, 01:10 AM:

So, the Glorious Fourth.

Good: We finally got to camp out, after two years of no such luck. The kids were ecstatic. We...soldiered through the setup and takedown. My husband asked me to buy the fireworks on the way out to the campsite, so I was able to keep costs down (his reason for asking me) and also steer us away from bangs and shrieks toward pretty colors. Also there was bacon for breakfast.

Bad: Some of the other campers decided to have a Roman candle battle down on the beach; luckily they could aim. Also we all woke up sick and hurting, although we're all feeling better after hot showers. The wind dropped while we were doing camp takedown and this is the time of year when that means BUUUUUUUUGSSSSSSSS in my mouth in my EYES crawling up and down my HAIR MANNNNNNNN. I was driven literally to tears. And the campsite we like to use is inhabited by a colony of swifts, who were working as hard as they can eating the BUUUUUUUGGSSSSS, until some yahoo started aiming bottle rockets at them.

THE WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING: Look, Stickleback Creek (not marked on any map as such) is a completely unimproved campsite on private land; the ranchers who actually own the place don't worry about people camping/surfing/four-wheeling there as long as they don't trash the place or harass the bison. So I get wanting to bring in as many creature comforts as you can haul. We brought a portable latrine with a working door, for crying out loud. BUT. I draw the line at somebody bringing a generator instead of less obnoxious amenities such as passive cooling or battery lamps, and most especially leaving the fricking thing running ALL NIGHT LONG while the families with kids around them are trying to SLEEP. It ran out of gas at 6 a.m., after the dawn chorus had given up, so I missed that; but at least we got some sleep.

A generator. There. Are. Limits.

#756 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2016, 12:28 PM:

Jenny Islander: I hear a potato strategically placed in the exhaust does wonders.

#757 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2016, 01:15 PM:

My husband thought about "mistakenly" wandering off to pee in the middle of the night and "accidentally" hitting the generator, and also about "cheerfully" turning on the portable radio and its alarm siren at the same time and walking by their camp "listening to his music." But they were pretty clearly set up to need the stupid thing, and they had a baby.

The days when it was feasible to turn right around and look for another campsite if we saw even one other car are long gone, but we have a new rule: look for a generator, and don't bother parking if we see one!

#758 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2016, 04:31 PM:

Cooincidentally, just overheard a coworker's conversation about this very thing. Turns out that wife needs a CPAP. (Marker of my privilege: I take for granted the ability to breathe unassisted when I sleep.)

#759 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2016, 06:54 PM:

BREATHEX and no doubt others make a battery-powered CPAP, to cover camping and a number of other situations. Of course there's also money to think of.

#760 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 10:00 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 757

What on earth did they NEED a generator for?

#761 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 11:17 AM:

#762 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 01:06 PM:

Thank you, Nancy. I needed that link today.

#763 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 02:02 PM:

@Victoria no. 760: From what we could tell, without being Creepy Staring Camp Neighbors, they had decided that instead of coolers with ice/pre-frozen hamburger patties/frozen bottles of water, they would have a fridge and a beer cooler, and instead of battery lamps and flashlights they would have electric lights. They could've had a diabetic or somebody who needed a CPAP along, but I don't know one way or the other.

There's no law against toting a generator to a campsite. Basically it's on us to make sure that we don't camp next to one of the damn things ever again.

#764 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 02:11 PM:

AKICIML: Is "Indian" an occupational slang term in some part of the English-speaking world, or did it used to be so? I got lost in the weeds while searching.

#765 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 03:31 PM:

Jenny Islander @764: Can you give us some context?

#766 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 03:40 PM:

@Bruce H. no. 765: Somebody argued that the old rhyme should go:

Rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief,
Doctor, lawyer, Indian, chief,
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor...

And I want to find out whether that's even plausible. Either I'm not entering the right search terms, or it isn't there.

#767 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 04:00 PM:

I submit that your interlocutor is simply wrong. "Indian chief" is the occupation being referenced.

#768 ::: Semperfiona ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 04:21 PM:

I think it's meant to be the way Jenny Islander punctuated it, and it's contrasting "Indian" with "chief" in a similar way to the "rich man"/"poor man" contrast in the first line, similar to the old saying about top-heavy corporate orgcharts: "Too many chiefs, not enough Indians", rather than a reference to an actual job title.

#769 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 04:30 PM:

>> ... contrasting "Indian" with "chief" ...

OK. I'd be willing to entertain the argument, but it doesn't require "Indian" to be an occupation. "Poor man" is not an occupation. I assert that "rich man" is also not an occupation, but I recognize that some people disagree.

#770 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 05:21 PM:

Ah, "occupational slang term" meaning "slang term for some type of occupation" rather than "slang term used by members of some occupation". That makes so much more sense with the context!

I'd always understood it as "Indian chief", but can also see it in the sense that Semperfiona describes. A number of versions are described at the Wikipedia page for the rhyme but since it's mostly transmitted orally there's no single authoritative version.

#771 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 05:57 PM:

I also think it's "Indian chief." Not that the rhyme is a good one to be saying at all.

#772 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 09:49 PM:

Nancy @761, seconding abi @762. I needed that. Thank you.

#773 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2016, 01:14 AM:

I always heard it as "Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief.",_Tailor

There is also the song "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief," in which "Indian chief" is taken as a unit: (I recently heard this sung by high school kids, and cringed more than a bit -- at the epithets, not the singing, which was excellent.)

The contrast of "Indian" and "chief" could be from the saying "Too many chiefs and not enough Indians."

#774 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2016, 03:03 AM:

This being the end of Ramadan, I thought I'd share a memory:

Shaif was Muslim. Presbyterian,
Am I. The same way: not at all. (I threw
That off when Dad told me that Hell was true.
He had to say that.) But, at Ramadan,
Shaif asked if he could work through lunch. A plan
Was made: he'd take no break, leave early to
Attend the prayers he didn't make, and screw
The rule against it. That's Australian.

To break the rule. But breaking it, we find
Another, and obey. And then, below,
One more. The rocky strata, row on row,
Deposit and erode. Which one will bind,
And binding, tell us who we are? We know
By which one we obeyed. This one: Fair go.

#775 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2016, 09:06 AM:

That was good, Dave. I like that point about choosing. Yes.

#776 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2016, 09:58 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 766

Where I come from, we have a saying. "Too many chiefs, not enough Indians" to describe a situation where too many people are "in charge" and/or making decisions but no one is carrying out the orders and/or doing the work.

So Indian = worker. Chief = manager. Conversely, "Indian Chief" is also a job description as in "the person in charge of it all, Indians and Chiefs alike". It's very context dependent.

Based on the form, I would say. it's "... Indian, Chief" rather than "...Indian Chief"

#777 ::: Mary Aileen points to lingering spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2016, 10:25 AM:

old spam in a closed thread

#778 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2016, 02:02 PM:


A co-worker and cube mate experiences extreme job satisfaction. A Pokemon GO Goldine is living at the other end of the office in the hallway. Co-worker has commented "It's going to be weird to go into someone's office to catch Pokemon."

This reporter believes it's a Thank You from Google Maps for updating our campus map with them. Or it could just be fate. Either way, this reporter is very amused.

#779 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2016, 04:39 PM:

I mouthed off at work yesterday (there were discussions about systems monitoring happen, something I am surprisingly passionate about having done RIGHT). As a result, it looks like I may lose my one on-office week in August on a trip to LA. Which in and of itself ain't bad, but hen I need to fly back to Blighty for a con, then fly to the US for another con. So, yeah, may have 2 (!) US trips in August.

This may become interesting...

#780 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2016, 04:58 PM:

Victoria @778,

Not everyone is happy with such things.

J Homes

#781 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2016, 05:31 PM:

Mary Aileen @777:

Killed. And fixed the photo on the thread too, which appeared not to be working any more.

#782 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2016, 09:59 AM:

J Homes @ 780

I saw that yesterday, too. A treasury building in the USA has a pokemon gym. I'm sure they like it even less.

On the other hand, my university's botanical garden has a bunch of pokemon. I'm pretty sure the game designers linked "places of interest" and "public buildings" to "where do we pin the pokemon" in their design criteria. Our building has a contract post office in it on the 1st floor (right below where my co-worker captured his pokemon.) I suspect there will be some push back from real-world, non-game players.

#783 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2016, 10:25 AM:

J Homes @780, Victoria @782:

Pokemon Go was coded by the same people behind Ingress, which had a similar "walk around in the world to have effects in the game world" mechanic, and specific hotspots chosen by initial map analysis and later user suggestion about culturally or historically important places not obvious on the map (like pieces of large sculpture or pedestrian/tree-filled plazas).

I wonder if Pokemon Go is using some or all of that database.

If they are, one drawback is that Ingress let you stand significantly far away from the hotspot (as much as a quarter of a city block) and still interact with it. I get the impression Pokemon Go requires you to be nearly on top of the dot to catch Pokemon.

When an Ingress location was inside a secure place, you just needed to stand on the sidewalk outside. This is no longer the case, so they'll have to adjust their hot points (possibly to front doors of secure buildings, or street corners?). This might take some time, logistically.

#784 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2016, 10:35 AM:

"I wonder if Pokemon Go is using some or all of that database."

I haven't played either, but Twitter discussion indicates that yes, they're using a subset of that database.

(I see Avram is playing and commenting on it. Dunno if he's reading this...)

#785 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2016, 02:38 AM:

Periodic update to say yes, I'm still here (VERY occasionally), and still do not have computer access as such.

I mean, I have a computer I can use part-time, but I also have a toddler in full Toddler mode and who screams when I leave the room he's in for such mundane things as using the facilities, so spending a lot of time online really isn't much of an option right now.

#786 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2016, 08:48 PM:

HLN: Bicycling Edition

Area woman visits local bike trail for her first serious bicycle outing since 1992. Ride lasts approximately 35 minutes and inspires a desire to make this a regular weekly outing.

"It was important to just get out there and ride, no matter how long. I used to be able to say 'The last time I rode my bike, I broke my collarbone.' As of today, that statement is no longer true."

#787 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2016, 07:15 AM:

Just as US politics seems crazy to us outsiders, I suppose some of UK politics can seem very strange to those of you in the USA.

UK politics is looking pretty crazy to us.

#788 ::: Arwel Parry ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2016, 08:51 AM:

Dave Bell @787. It looks crazy enough to me. If we'd bought our political system from a shop, we'd have taken it back and demanded a refund of our money!

#789 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2016, 12:26 PM:

Tom W @ 702: I read the new Ruff 2-3 weeks ago (following a link from File:770 IIRC) -- and now it seems like everyone is rediscovering the Green Book, which I'd never previously heard of. Second the recommendation, with the note that it reads likeRuff has done his homework.

Victoria @ various: I saw in a newspaper (Boston Globe, 5-8 days ago?) that the primate of Philadelphia is refusing to accept Francis's statements wrt liberalization. Sorry, no link (this has been a scattered week ending in commuting to Readercon), but IIRC it had to do with F's attempting to dispel the suggestion of a recent pope that people who had remarried after divorce could receive communion only if they lived "as brother and sister". It will be interesting to see how many other members of the direct hierarchy also cock a snook.

Singing Wren @ 786: congratulations on getting back to it; may your desire maintain.

#790 ::: Jacque flags gnomes... ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2016, 05:30 PM:

...for a comment by CHip that seems to be stuck in Purgatory. (I.e., visible in his VAB, but not in the thread.)

#791 ::: Jacque calls gnomes off ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2016, 05:35 PM:

Oh! My @790 appears to have kicked it loose.

I will strive to use this power only for good....

Cooking Thread: Some friends of mine and I had a lovely cookout on Saturday. Many varieties of roast vegetables, as well as beef, chicken, & salmon. Vast Quantities now reside in my freezer, to fuel me through the next weeks.

Also, there was a good gallon or so of charcoal left, so I collected it Sunday morning (leaving behind the abandoned chocolate and burnt marshmallow from a subsequent gathering), smooshed it up, mixed it with wheat flour & corn oil, and now have proto-briquettes drying on my balcony.

#792 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2016, 06:03 PM:

B. Durbin @785: thank you for dropping by. Good luck for toddler permitting more online time in the not-too-distant future.

Singing Wren @786: Fantastic! I wish you many more enjoyable bike rides.

Similar HLN: Area woman (returning to running after pelvic stress fracture) is now up to 3 mins walk/15mins jog/2 mins walk/15 mins jog/ 2 mins walk/5 mins barefoot jog. Looking forward to returning to 30 mins+ running without a walking break in the next week or so,with luck.

#793 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2016, 08:35 PM:

It is good to know that hamsters can draw hamsters.

#794 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2016, 09:42 PM:

Any preferred recipes for pizza margharita? I have a pre-made square pizza base, shredded and block mozzerella, canned tomatoes of various sorts, and LOTS OF FRESH BASIL. Four varieties, in fact!

#795 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2016, 09:47 PM:

#793 ::: Em

It's a hamster cam!

#796 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2016, 09:55 AM:

Stefan Jones @794:

I have a preferred recipe for pizza margherita, but I don't think it's suitable for your use-case; like many recipes with very few ingredients, it relies heavily on the precise nature of those ingredients so starting with a pre-made (and pre-baked, I assume, since you mention the shape?) isn't compatible with my recipe.

For anyone who's interested, though, my preferred recipe is this one from Saveur. It's one of three recipes that we've printed or copied and posted inside a kitchen cabinet, because we make them so frequently.

This involves making the crust yourself (not difficult, but you do need to allow time for the dough to rise; the risen dough freezes well, so we usually make a double batch, divide it into pizza-sized balls, and freeze half. Do use the suggested 00 flour, that's important. The recipe says it should rise overnight in the fridge; you can also let it rise for a few hours on the countertop if that fits your schedule better). We do use the Cento brand of San Marzano tomatoes because that's what the local store carries, but we use a blender since we don't have a food mill, and we use fresh mozzarella from the farmer's market, since we can't get buffalo mozzarella locally.

#797 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2016, 10:12 AM:

CHip @ 789

I've sat in masses where the urge to stand up and walk out mid-sermon was almost uncontrollable because the priest was clinging to pre-Vatican II doctrine. So this is not new or news to me.

#798 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2016, 01:40 PM:

Nancy @795 -- Oof! Nicely done.

#799 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2016, 08:07 PM:

CHip 789: It will be interesting to see how many other members of the direct hierarchy also cock a snook.

Yes, it will, but I'm quoting this because I've never before encountered the phrase 'cock a snook' (which I've now looked up and added to my vocabulary). Thank you for putting me in the lucky ten thousand today!

#800 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2016, 11:21 PM:

@Lorax: I'm eating my first attempt at P.M. right now!

I went really, really simple. Canned "Italian style" diced tomatoes from Kroger, shredded mozzerella from Fred Myer, pre-made crust.

Basil, picked from my plants five minutes before baking.

Thanks for the recipe. I DO intend to learn how to make pizza crust.

#801 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2016, 10:24 AM:

Stefan Jones @800

Making crust is easier and faster than most non-bakers think. It's the quick bread of yeast-leavened baking. Here's the crust Mom made for all of her home-made pizzas.

Basic Pizza Dough

1 package dry yeast (rapid rise or pizza dough)
½ tsp sugar
1 cup warm water (110F/45C)
2.5 cups all purpose flour (use more if humid)
2 tablespoons olive oil (or any other oil)
1 tsp salt

Combine yeast, sugar water and let set until foamy (about 10 minutes). Add the salt, oil and flour, stir/knead* until smooth. Let rest 5-10 minutes. Put dough on lightly floured surface and roll/pat/stretch to desired size/thickness. Add toppings. Bake in a 450F/230C oven.

Lately, I've been playing around with this recipe. I start with 1 cup of water whisked with 1 cup of flour** and 1 package of yeast (with a pinch of sugar if I'm in a hurry--I don't like adding sugar to my bread unless I'm doing a sweet bread) until smooth, and let it set until the sponge is bubbling/frothy (30 to 60 minutes, depending***). At that point I stir in the salt and remaining flour, get my hands oily (with approximately 1 tablespoon of oil) and knead it until it forms a soft, slightly sticky ball. Then I let it rise a second time in a well-oiled bowl until doubled, pat it into shape, let rise again (15-30 minutes) and then bake for 15-20 minutes -- toppings optional^. It makes a most excellent flat bread for sandwiches (think pitas). If I take a rolling pin and make it as thin as possible, it becomes cracker-like when baked.

* If you don't like the dough sticking to your hands while kneading, coat your hands in teaspoon of oil before touching the dough.

** If you want a whole wheat crust, do this with the whole wheat flour portion - it gives the fiber more time to soften/break down/absorb liquid for a less-dry product

*** I usually start this before my morning walk/workout on the weekends and finish it between other things like chores/cooking/food prep/etc. (I tend to spend the weekend making "home-made TV dinners" to take to work.)

^ The best to date is a 50/50 mix of cream cheese/feta cheese with garlic powder and parsley to taste plus just enough milk to make it easily spreadable.

#802 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2016, 12:44 PM:

Jacque @ 790: I had emailed webmaster due to a severe-looking error, not thinking that a poke would be enough; I'll try to remember that.

Victoria @ 797: AFAICT, rebel priests are common and often have the support of their congregations. I may have misread the degree to which your original statement @661 avowed a belief that there was top-down obedience.

Xopher @ 799: I've known that phrase for so long I can't remember where I got it from; I don't \think/ it was from my father (b1898), but I can't be sure. Glad to have been an occasion of 10,000-ness.

HLAN: 55 years ago today, my parents gave me Tom Swift and His Flying Lab and another in the series, probably (from the description) Tom Swift and his Space Solartron. (This probably makes me very backward compared to some of you; for unknown reasons, I was not a precocious reader.) History does not tremble at the thought of what would have happened had they given me something mundane; I was already the oddball who'd missed at least one ride due to having their nose in a book, so being in the first flush of the space age might have led me to in the same circles anyway. (My family certainly never understood why I thought going across several states to work on a convention constituted a vacation.) But I might not, so I honor their memory (and that of their friend the head librarian(*) ) in this as in few other things.

(*) (She pointed me to Norton when I might have been content with Heinlein, Del Rey, Wollheim, ...; that's a large share of the reason for what tolerance I show.)

#803 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2016, 03:15 PM:

CHip: If you get an Internal Server Error when you try to post a comment, a second comment is usually sufficient to kick it loose. I didn't realize until my @790–1 that another commenter could accomplish that.

#804 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, ἀνεπίθετη ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2016, 03:45 PM:

An exhaustive, or perhaps just exhausting, explanation of the underlying causes and potential remedies of internal server errors can be found here.

#805 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2016, 04:27 PM:

OT: Having just discovered Eyebeam is now online, I present you with: Metaphorensics.

#806 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2016, 07:01 AM:

Pokemon GO is live in the UK.

Oh dear.

And we have so many things of our own in this country, so many magical beasts in legend. I know of a couple of slightly different versions of the Black Dog legend associated with the village where I lived, and I once heard a tale of a ghostly airman on his bike, cycling between the nearby airfield and one of the village pubs.

I suppose there is a never-ending supply of Pokemon.

#807 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2016, 08:03 AM:

Several cheers for Eyebeam! (Sam Hurt is said to be a good fella, according to my cousin who is another Texas lawyer and bumped into him a couple of times.)

#808 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2016, 08:04 AM:

"I suppose there is a never-ending supply of Pokemon."

It's an infinite-sum game.

#809 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2016, 03:27 PM:

There is a Pokéstop in Barnetby. It's the War Memorial, which feels a little odd, but in some ways it is a good location. It's close to the local school, and a fairly open location a few yards from the car park for the church hall.

I have seen reports of churches being a commonplace location, but the actual war memorial does feel a little odd. Maybe it's still a piece of living history for me: my parents and grandparents lived through those two huge wars.

#810 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2016, 07:37 PM:

Dave Bell @809: They took the existing Ingress database, where the points of interest were defined as places that were a nexus of cultural influence, religious importance, or civic government.

Then Pokemon just decided to use the database unaltered.

This means there are several rare Pokemon in Arlington National Cemetery, which really !amuses some folks.

#811 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 03:06 AM:

Aren't Niantic part of the Google complex?

There are two Pokestops very close together, the War Memorial and the Church, but Google Earth badly misplaces the marker for the Church, so the data is different, as the Niantic version looks correct. If I read things right, you could do very nicely out of the set-up, back and forth between one and the other.

I'll have a look at Ingress. When I looked it up, it suggested a reason why there could be some close-groups. It strikes me as a little less than competent that some of the hand-wringing pearl-clutching in the media ignores that the location data was used by an earlier game, which challenges the assumption that GO uses somehow-dangerous and unchecked locations.

(Later) I don't know if the Ingress and the GO locations are precise matches, but it does look as though Ingress is much less active.

#812 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 07:40 AM:

Oh France. Poor, poor Nice. I have exhausted everything I have to say about the never ending fight against totalitarians and fascists.

Instead I shall give you something positive, and life affirming. Here in the UK the Paralympics gets comparable billing with the Olympics, and wall-to-wall coverage from a major free-to-air national broadcaster. For 2012 their slogan was "You've seen the humans. Now meet the superhumans".

Here is their three minute advert for the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Enjoy.

#813 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 10:02 AM:

Dave Bell @811: Pokemon Go has more than an order of magnitude more users than Ingress.

Also, Ingress allowed you to stand quite far away from the dot and still interact with it; for Pokemon Go you have to nearly be on top of it. This is why businesses or government buildings with dots right in the middle of their lobbies are (rightfully) annoyed.

#814 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 11:34 AM:

AKICIML, curmudgeon mode: Can somebody explain to me why I would need a refrigerator that can go online? If I am pretty sure that I am going to run out of something before the end of next week, I go to the fridge, where there is a piece of paper stuck on with a magnet. I write the name of the thing on the piece of paper. On shopping day, I take the list I created on the piece of paper to the store and buy the things on the list, plus some other things that I know from experience will be required in order to feed my household and keep us clean for another week. I could do the same thing through Pea Pod or whatever. Why should I buy a fridge that can theoretically order milk for me, but is powered by a little computer that may guess wrongly? And why should I need a fridge that can tell me that [item] is about to spoil when my eyes and nose can already do that?

#815 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 11:49 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 814:

Speaking as someone who loves the advantages of modern technology and thinks that there are vast, as yet untapped possibilities for existing and new technology: I have no idea. You buy milk when you need milk. You buy other things when you need other things. You don't always buy the same things. Unless one is a particularly fussy eater, people don't have the same foods all the time anyway.

Or, more cynically, it's to enrich the appliance company at the expense of people who thought it sounded like a really shiny idea. I also have the same opinion of Bluetooth-enabled egg trays. The phrase "solution in search of a problem" comes to mind.

I'm not sure that an additional ~$5000 over the price of a normal fridge is worth being able to, say, pull up a webcam view of the inside of my fridge when I'm at the store. (Particularly when one considers the truly abysmal security record of most Internet of Things devices.)

Now, true, Samsung is positioning theirs as an entertainment center in the kitchen. I guess if you really wanted a TV or streaming audio setup in your kitchen but were limited on space, you could buy one of their refrigerators. But it seems like that's a few too many things to go wrong in one package, not to mention that the fancy tech will go obsolete long before the refrigeration tech. Hopefully. All the rest of it is, well... Yes, you can share notes and put your kids' pictures up on the door, but it's possible to do that now with magnets and paper.

I, too, would be interested to find an actual use case for these beasts.

#816 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 12:07 PM:

Having a visual entertainment center in the room where I use sharp knives just seems like an accident waiting to happen.

I guess there's an argument to be made for restaurants with large fridges/freezers, where usage remains consistent and not having to open the door as often represents potentially significant savings. But IANA business owner, so I don't know.

Also I like my house not being hackable. I was astounded when that ad about home firewalls aired years ago--the one that implied that not turning off your hub before going to bed/leaving the house is a thing? Because we do. Off go the computers, and then we push an actual rocker switch to cut off our house from the Internet. It just seemed like the obvious precaution!

#817 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 12:47 PM:

Jenny Islander@816: I use visual media in the room where I cook a lot, because I find the mechanical parts of cooking (chopping, stirring) difficult to handle unless I have some kind of distraction. I tend to watch nonfiction YouTube videos, because I don't have to stare at them full time. The soundtrack kind of tells me when I should look and then I can go back to treating it like radio.

#818 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 01:26 PM:

Jenny, #816: A couple of our house computers are on 24/7 because we have some security-related applications running on them, such as the telephone spam-blocker. The ones that don't have to be on all the time get shut off when we're going to be away for a few days, as a power-saving measure. And yes, we have a router/firewall combination that protects all of the house computers, including the laptops when they're connected to the network.

That said, I don't understand the purpose behind Internet-enabled household appliances either.

#819 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 02:43 PM:

And no one at the appliance store will warn you that you're going to need to install a whole house surge protector when you buy any appliance that has a motherboard.

We had to do that AFTER someone ungrounded the groundwire. $600 to have the surge protection installed, $800 to replace the motherboards on the washer and dryer, and I've forgotten how much a new microwave oven set us back.

#820 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 03:17 PM:

We are in France on holiday for the moment (and not as plugged into the general media noise), and I woke up to several emails and social media queries asking where we were, and if we were safe. Kind of freaky, as we were out at a little towns market the night before.

I haven't noticed anything IRL here, even the little airport seemed laid back this morning.

#821 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 03:19 PM:

Lori @819. The one thing I want from fridge instrumentation is temperature, especially when the power is out, this is not generally compatible with a motherboard.

#822 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 03:26 PM:

Eric, this alarm might approximate what you're looking for.

#823 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 04:08 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 813: Also, Ingress allowed you to stand quite far away from the dot and still interact with it; for Pokemon Go you have to nearly be on top of it. This is why businesses or government buildings with dots right in the middle of their lobbies are (rightfully) annoyed.

I can see how this sort of traffic would be unwelcome in most government agencies; in fact, one police station in Australia had warned the public not to enter the building unless they actually needed the police.

Libraries are, as far as I can tell, an exception: generally they've embraced both the increase in traffic and the community. I've seen a few library systems which have set up signs actively welcoming people and/or directing them to displays of Pokemon books and DVDs, and ALA's Association for Library Service to Children posted about how Pokemon and the library are perfect for each other.

#824 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 06:02 PM:

I hope our community members in Turkey are OK: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube blocked in Turkey during reported coup attempt

#825 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 06:10 PM:

When I was growing up, a way to contact my parents and let them know how many gallons of milk we had would have been useful more than once. It wasn't bad not to have such a system-- basically, any time anyone went to the store, they brought back two gallons of milk, and sometimes we ended up with too many to fit easily-- but it would also have been more convenient to have a milkman drop a gallon off every day, and that idea is met with less scorn.

#826 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 06:15 PM:

The community members that I know of in Turkey have checked in on Twitter. Safe at home, staying that way.

#827 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 07:12 PM:

Elliott Mason @813: Ingress allowed you to stand quite far away from the dot and still interact with it; for Pokemon Go you have to nearly be on top of it.

What? That’s not my experience.

I just went out and checked a couple of nearby portals on my way to the local bánh mì place. The PokéStop interaction range for Pokémon GO looks pretty close, maybe identical, to the portal-interaction range for Ingress (which is 40 meters). I routinely get gear from PokéStops while across the street from their actual locations.

(I can’t get any gear right now because my backpack is over-full from hitting level 13 today. I need to get in some battles and use up some of those Revives and Potions.)

Dave Bell @811, Niantic Labs started out as a part of Google, but they got spun off into their own company last year. I don’t think they’re even part of the Alphabet umbrella company. The Ingress portal data was player-submitted, so the location for that church is probably wherever some Ingress player was standing when they submitted it (or maybe when they snapped the photo).

#828 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 07:23 PM:

I've tried Pokemon GO. The distance from the location coordinates is supposed to be about 40m and I've been able to swipe Pokestops from a passing bus. I had to get closer to one, but it was consistent with typical GPS errors.

It'll be an OK excuse to get some walking in.

There always seem to be some location markers on Google Earth that are a bit adrift. If you check the historical image, you might see enough shifts to explain it. The locations are positioned with GPS grid coordinates, but they're set with the mapping pictures, and the old coordinate systems were slightly different. GPS coordinates shift the Prime Meridian a few metres. The Ordnance Survey started a couple of hundred years ago, and on many scales of map the differences are smaller than can be printed reliably.

That's a distinct measurement problem from the errors within the GPS system. I remember getting a huge shift in position once, that I am guessing came from the satellite LOS passing briefly through a tree.

#829 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 08:51 PM:

Turkey: More photos from imgur.

#830 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 09:02 PM:

I can't see a fridge that can go online being worth an extra $xxxx four figure number of dollars. And I laughed the first time I heard about the idea.

However, then I thought about it, and I came to the conclusion that I might actually use a "what's in my fridge" feature if it were affordable.

I live forty five minutes from the nearest grocery store. It would be very nice to be able to ask the fridge what the expiration date was on the milk, or if I had any butter ... I might pay a couple hundred dollars extra for a feature like that. For several thousand, though, I'll just make room in the fridge for that extra gallon of milk, thanks.

What would be awesome was a fridge that would tell me if the power went out, how long it was out, and how warm the temps got. We have power outages all the time (joys of rural living) and sometimes I'm not even aware the power was out until I notice the coffee maker is blinking at me.

#831 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 09:42 PM:

The pokestops do have a radius, but pokemon themselves you have to be basically on top of.

It has been suggested that if you have extra lures you should go to your nearest children's hospital and drop them there, so kids stuck in bed can get pokemon.

#832 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 10:08 PM:

HLN: Local cat tries for record of most simultaneous medical conditions while still having a good appetite. Snagglepuss, 16, has hyperthyroid, declining kidney function, diabetes, arthritis in the spine, heart murmur, undiagnosed mass seen on chest X-ray, possible chest tumor possibly pressing against airways, and urinary tract infection. Puts away a can of Fancy Feast a day plus whatever canned food the other cats don't finish in time, unmeasured dry food, and a handful of Temptations. Local humans not too upset that she pees on a mat (always the same one) when the litterbox is too far away.

#833 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 10:31 PM:

Allan Beatty @832 -- at least the good appetite is a good sign!

#834 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 11:46 PM:

Elliott Mason @831, according to this thread on Reddit, full of people analyzing the heck out of the game, the inner range where the pokémon shows up on your display as catchable is 25 meters. I wouldn’t have guessed that, given how the game displays them, but that may also be an issue with the accuracy of commercial-grade GPS.

#835 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 11:56 PM:

On Internet-of-Insecure-Things-Connected refrigerators: It's annoying enough when one of my computers needs to have an operating system update and reboot, or when a vendor stops supporting the software on some phone or tablet. I do not want to have to reboot my refrigerator to make it behave, nor do I want to have to send my refrigerator in for maintenance because there's a firmware bug that can't be fixed remotely, much less do I want to have to replace my refrigerator because the web site that drives the software is no longer maintained by the vendor or because it's incompatible with my light bulbs or recent phone.

If I want Internet on my refrigerator door, I'm sure there are artisanally designed iPad holders or Android tablet holders that can be attached, and if I were buying a new shiny refrigerator, I'd find a built-in holder to be a much more attractive option than a built-in screen.

#836 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2016, 11:59 PM:

Abi@826 - thanks so much for the update on folks in Turkey!

#837 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 04:10 AM:

One of the things I have noticed is that the scare-type Pokemon stories talk about "beacons". What you get in the games are Lures, which you use at Pokestops, and Incense, which you can use anywhere. Dropping Incense at a Children's Hospital would be neat.

Many of the scare stories seem to be settling as people not paying any attention to their surroundings, and doing stupid things to get near to a Pokemon. There's a rough search ability, you can't really aim at one from what I have seen, but you can figure out which way to walk down a street.

And since it depends on being in contact with a server for anything to work, anything that depends on something in game, a "beacon" for nefarious purposes for instance, can be traced.

I'm still not sure what to make a drug-dealers using Pokemon Go to talk to customers. I get the feeling that there isn't any way of doing that. Since the fixed locations are clear RL landmarks, it looks like a correlation, not causation. On what I have seen, Ingress may be better for exchanging "Meet me here" meaages.

#838 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 04:16 AM:

With NFC tags on perishable food packaging, a connect Fridge could monitor the contents, but confusion from close-together tags is a problem. I reckon you might need to swipe everything past a reader.

A tablet in the right place (possibly not on the door) could be effective. It might not be an ideal UI. A dedicated add-on gadget of some sort might be the answer.

My stupid fridges have lasted a long time, far loner than support for any electronic thingy

#839 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 04:39 AM:

I'm feeling a compulsion to swim upstream:

Some while ago, I remember Patrick using the term "hair shirt environmentalism."

How about "silk sheet environmentalism?"

#840 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 04:39 AM:

I'm feeling a compulsion to swim upstream:

Some while ago, I remember Patrick using the term "hair shirt environmentalism."

How about "silk sheet environmentalism?"

#841 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 08:43 AM:

One detail, a Lure at a Pokestop does show at a distance, but it's a very general thing. There were a lot of people around Brigg this morning, and the town has six Pokestops and a Gym. There's the Tin Tabernacle by the War Memorial roundabout; the Anglican, Catholic, and Methodist Churches; The Dying Gladiator (it's a pub), and the bandstand in the Marketplace. The Gym is at the White Horse Pub.

It's getting me walking.

The landmark for the Dying Gladiator, is misplaced, about half way between that pub and The Lord Nelson.

#842 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 11:54 AM:

>> My stupid fridges have lasted a long time, far longer than support for any electronic thingy

I suppose it would be cynical to suspect that this is the main reason refrigerator manufacturers would like to sell smart refrigerators.

#844 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 02:54 PM:

The limit for seeing Pokestops on the map appears to be a bit over a half-mile (most likely, 1km). For me, the farthest Pokestop I can see is "Pluto".

I suspect that if I can see a Pokestop, I can see a lure on it as well.

Incense is a personal thing, and will attract pokemon to you. I've used incense while walking with another player and she didn't see the pokemon I was attracting. Dropping incense at the local children's hospital wouldn't help the children, unfortunately. If the children's hospital already contains a pokestop, a lure might be useful.

Last night I went to an event at our local makerspace, which has about 5 pokestops right out of range from it. Afterwards, at around 23:15 I wandered over to the nearby corner (abutting a pedestrian mall) which had 4 pokestops, all with lures. There were about 100 people milling about, sitting on the ground, taking up seats, all with their phone out. I sat down next to a light pole for about 18 minutes and caught 22 pokemon.

#845 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 03:59 PM:

Checking distances with Google Earth, the range limit I am getting for Pokemon landmarks is somewhere between 600m and 700m. There are three Pokestops and a Gym in the village, and I can "see" two of them here, about 550m away by Google Earth. The other, and the Gym, are about 750m away, and invisible to me. (The walking route in about 1300m)

I think it's the railway station that makes the difference. It's a Pokestop, and the Gym is close to that too. There are also the two village pubs close by the Station, though one is up for grabs -- estate agent signs.

I'm finding that a powerbank is vital. The app is hammering the phone battery, which shouldn't be any surprise when you think about what it's doing.

Mobile data usage would add up. Now I know where the Pokestops are, I don't need it on all the time. The Gym in Brigg is "at" a pub on The Cloud free wifi network, and they serve decent coffee.

I would catch two of the local Pokestops from the bus, switch off , and then make sure I was connected again as I came into Brigg.

#846 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 04:52 PM:

From Jon Singer. (Made me scare the guinea pigs.)

#847 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 08:32 PM:

Jacque #846: Looks like Simon's Cat.

Misc: Adele's "Send My Love" -- Patty Cake Cover.

#848 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 10:11 PM:

HLN: Local woman took nine-year-old niece to the National Gallery in Ottawa yesterday. Local woman was very proud of niece who said, "you know, this museum IS art, because it's not built how you'd expect". Niece later saw The Triumph of Mischief and pointed out that from far away you'd think it was "just a boring old landscape with some people in it, but then you get close and everything's very surprising". She said "usually First Nations people in paintings all look the same, but these guys are kind of like that but not really."

Local woman is thinking "hey, not bad for a nine-year-old".

Other observations included "People draw a LOT of butts".

#849 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 11:02 PM:


Pokemon Go Stampede in Central Park

#850 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2016, 11:08 PM:

Buddha Buck@844 - Pluto is still a pokestop?
I'd have assumed that after Mike Brown and Brother Guy got through with it, it would have been demoted to a "dwarf pokestop", along with a whole bunch of other dwarves out in the Kuyper Belt...

#851 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2016, 04:32 PM:

Dave Bell @845, have you learned about pokémon eggs yet?

You’ve got a couple of incubators (they came with your standard equipment). Put an egg in an incubator, and it’ll gradually incubate as you walk around, but only if you’ve got the app on and in the foreground. Eggs are rated by how many kilometers you have to walk before they hatch (there’s some speed detection involved; go too fast and the app decides you’re driving and that doesn’t count towards incubation), and the longer-rated eggs hatch rarer pokémon.

And yeah, it drains the hell out of your battery. I’ve got three power banks of varying sizes and capacities, including one big and heavy enough that I usually leave it at home. I find the Anker PowerCore+ mini has a useful balance of capacity and portability.

#852 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2016, 04:54 PM:

I wonder how much it would cost to do a print run of lenticular images animating that regrettable Trump/Pence logo? (I don't regret it, but I'm sure that they do.)

#853 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2016, 08:43 PM:

abi@804: thanks for reflagging that explanation, which I will bookmark against fading memory.

Elliott Mason @ 817: you can chop and watch a screen simultaneously? I have almost-average dexterity (per Johnson O'Connor) and would not dream of trying that! OTOH, I note that the apartment my parents-in-law moved into in their early 70's has a (popup?) screen in the kitchen (over the sink, which may be less dangerous than a counter); I don't know when they've used it.

diatryma @ 825: I remember milkmen in further suburbia 50+ years ago; these days they're only in more concentrated parts of my present city (Boston) if at all, and are AFAICT expensive.

#854 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2016, 09:58 PM:

As the owner of a bicycle pump, I find the Trump/Pence logo slightly amusing.... As for the fridge, I can perfectly well look inside to see if there is butter or whatever, but an alert for serious problems like if it gives out isn't such a bad idea. However the "Internet of things" concept is unnerving. The Internet and its people don't need to know what I've got in there.

#855 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2016, 11:30 PM:

Stopping in briefly to note that with a map sufficiently bare*, I can see a Pokestop nearly half a mile away. (I know the distance because even at that distance I can tap on it to find out what it is, and then use maps.)

* Literally two pokestops in the entire (apparently half-mile!) visible radius.

#856 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2016, 11:49 PM:

Pittsburgh is full of parks, little parklets, and murals -- and they are all in the Point of Interest database, so Stops are all over the place. I pass 3 stops walking the 2 blocks from my house to my bus stop.

Children's hospitals probably all have at least one stop. I was at a hospital for a blood test the other day, and there were 3 stops out front -- the hospital, the chapel, and a sculpture each had their own. Walking from the door to the lab, I caught 4 pokemon.

#857 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2016, 07:23 AM:

One of the things due is that the schools will be breaking up for summer. I get the impression the times are a little different in to USA. The Pokemon scene will be frantic, probably servers continually overloaded.

Some people may just give up. It may ease off after the first rush. The weekend was already bad.

#859 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2016, 09:29 AM:

I am really not sure why Pokestops should be clustered around a hospital in the first place, although they'll be hard to avoid around a city centre. Some have been in odd places.

#860 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2016, 10:11 AM:

Same reason as a post office: it's an important place in the community.

#861 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2016, 12:48 PM:

Ingress had in-game theming claiming that their various points of interest naturally occurred (think ley lines, sort of) at places that a lot of cultural human interest is concentrated, either as art, religious significance, common social conviviality, or government functions.

So they seeded the database from Google maps and then encouraged users to add some.

(The titty bar at the top of my block has a marker on, I'm pretty sure, the pole dance stage marked as a "house of worship". I haven't told Niantic)

Because of the user-added aspect and the fact that Ingress was primarily a white-and-techie game, neighborhoods primarily housing people of color are embarassingly sparsely populated with Pokemon Go features. :-/

#862 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2016, 01:33 PM:

@ 831, 858: Some hospitals want them, apparently. Advice I've heard is to contact the hospital and ask first.

#863 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2016, 01:29 AM:

Angiportus @ 954 ...
However the "Internet of things" concept is unnerving.

Indeed -- I always hear it with a background voice of "There were ... Things ... Horrible Things... " and a subtext of gothic and/or lovecraftian mythos.

#864 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2016, 04:32 PM:

Turkey update: our photons there continue to shine unabated. I'm in touch.

#865 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2016, 04:35 PM:

Abi, good to hear that.

#866 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2016, 05:27 PM:

Jeremy Leader @824: In fact, one of the things that tipped us off to the fact that the suspicious troop movements, low-flying jets etc weren't a response to a terrorist alert, and the government wasn't fully in control was the fact that Twitter, Facebook etc didn't all suddenly go down at once

There's something slightly surreal about being at the pub on a Friday evening, somebody saying 'hmm, lots of traffic on Twiitter for this time on a Friday: I wonder if we're having a coup', and then piecing together the information that yes, this is in fact a coup, so it might be a good idea to head home before anyone starts shooting.

We were halfway home by the time they were announcing it on the TV. So, if you live outside of Turkey and are wondering what the point of Twitter might be, there's your answer. (If you live inside Turkey and are asking what the point of Twitter is, I probably can't help you.)

abi @825, 861: thanks for letting people here know that me and mine were fine: I'd planned to post something at the weekend, but got caught up in therapeutic cooking, along the following lines:

Post-putsch lamb kleftiko: Leg of lamb, abt 2.5 kilos: take a kilo and a half of potatoes cut into wedges; three-four large tomatoes cut into thick slices, a sliced red pepper; put in large baking tray with a couple of bulbs of garlic; place lamb on top; squeeze over juice of one lemon and some olive oil, and season; add thyme. Seal tightly with foil; put in oven at 190 for 2hrs45, occasionally checking to see that there's liquid in it. Take off foil, crumble feta cheese - if you like; I'm not bothered - brown for 15 minutes; take out of oven and leave to stand a bit before carving. Feed to stressed out friends and colleagues of all nationalities.

The obvious dessert in this season of political disasters - if, like me, you're British and suffering fro a surfeit of Brexit - is Eton Mess, of course. But it's a bit late for strawberries in Turkey. But an analogous dish, made with chopped peaches combined with crushed meringues and cream, is a very fine substitute.

#867 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2016, 07:00 PM:

praisegod barebones, so glad to hear you're ok!

Your recipe looks delightful but I'm not much of a cook, so I have to ask... You seal the foil over the top of the baking dish, yes? Can I use a glass one so I can see if there's liquid, or do I just peel back the corner? And if there's no liquid, what do I add (and how much)? The meat is propped up off the bottom of the dish by the potatoes and tomatoes and pepper, yes? And by brown, do you mean "put it back into the oven uncovered" or something else? (Sorry; I'm sure all this is obvious to experienced cooks...)

#868 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2016, 07:18 PM:

It's braising in its own juices. (At about 375F, if I'm understanding it correctly.)
I cooked something similar several years back, called etli rezene - meat with fennel and green onions, cooked in a similar way, on the stovetop.

#869 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2016, 07:31 PM:

So I just found out that the thing about sending in a photo of your handicapped parking pass or whatever in order to get a key that will unlock a version of Pokemon Go where you stay put and lure the Pokemon to you was a hoax.

Wow, bet somebody thinks they're rilly rilly funny.

#870 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2016, 08:01 PM:

I've seen instructions for playing Pokemon Go on a Windows box running BlueStacks, a virtual Android device. The process involves hacking a virtual GPS module. Supposedly this allows one to "travel" to whatever location is desired. I haven't tried it; I don't understand what the instructions would be getting my machine to do, and they involve changing registry settings. I'm not that interested in the game.

#871 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 01:18 AM:

I may have to bake a Schadenfreude pie. The evil, racist, misogynist organizer of targeted harassment campaigns, none other than Ml Ynnpls* himself, has been kicked off Twitter for inciting a harassment campaign against Leslie Jones.

Typically for him and his loathsome kind, he's whining about his freeze peach, playing the victim, and claiming that it's actually a victory for him. Also that Twitter is a no-go zone for "conservatives."

I know many conservatives who might beg to differ.

*disemvoweled that myself in case his fans are searching for just this kind of gleeful callooing. If you don't know who I'm talking about, here are the vowels:
 i o  ia  o ou o

#872 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 02:22 AM:

Joel Polowin@870: Hmm, I'd hope the hackery could be contained to the Android emulator, at which point it's fairly safe for the host computer. But if in doubt, yeah, that's what "scratch computers" (or virtual machines) are for.

#873 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 11:29 AM:

"I have seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the Shoulder of Orion..."
- Melania Trump

People have been having a field day, regarding Melania Trump's speech. The above was one of my favorites.

#874 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 11:47 AM:

praisegod barebones @866: So, if you live outside of Turkey and are wondering what the point of Twitter might be, there's your answer.

Well, that, and the Juno orbital insertion. :-)

And cat memes.

#875 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 11:51 AM:

I think that the people making fun of Mrs. Trump for delivering a speech that her professional speech-writer handed to her are lacking in charity.

From all available accounts, she has negative interest in being First Lady*, but I'd bet the house that there's no way for her to get out of her marriage that doesn't involve ending up with at best exactly what she had going into it. She signed up to be a rich guy's trophy wife for a few years** and has been thrust into a position she doesn't want and isn't prepared for. Trusting that her hired people will avoid steering her wrong is a reasonable way to go. Why the hell was she supposed to realize it was a ripoff of Michelle Obama's speech? I wouldn't have, and I'll bet I paid more attention to that election than Melania did.

The person we should be mocking is the staffer who decided not only to plagiarize a speech but to do so in the most blatant and likely-to-be-discovered way possible. And Donald Trump, for having such a staffer on payroll.

*: A sentiment for which I have considerable sympathy; it's a sucky gig.

**: About which I say, with absolutely no sarcasm, it's nice work if you can get it...and stomach The Donald, possibly more difficult.

#876 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 12:04 PM:

Happy Moon Day!

#877 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 12:23 PM:

Carrie S... I guess I tend to lack in charity when it comes to anything or anyone associated with Trump, or with any Republican who wants to be President.

#878 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 12:26 PM:

Xopher @871: It fascinates me that the Ynnpls/Twitter exchange is an almost note-perfect example of Teresa's outline of the cannonical troll's reaction to being moderated.

Carrie S. @875: the staffer who decided not only to plagiarize a speech but to do so in the most blatant and likely-to-be-discovered way possible

One is moved to speculate as to said staffer's actual, true agenda.

#879 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 12:28 PM:

Serge: Well, to be fair, where Trump & al are concerned, there's not a lot of clarity to lack.

#880 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 12:30 PM:

Also, happy 40th anniversary of Viking 1's landing on Mars!

#881 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 12:32 PM:

Jacque... Yeah...

#882 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 02:59 PM:

I've said elsewhere, and I repeat, I am very uncomfortable with the defense that "She bears no responsibility for the words coming out of her mouth."

Whether she rewrote a speech, or whether some professional gave it to her and she just lipsynched it, she said those words. I think of the two main lines of defense as "Zoolander" and "Henry II" and I'm not really happy with either one of those.

Interestingly, the Trump campaign's actual defense is "Look at that terrible Hillary Clinton, bringing up uncomfortable facts!" (The Clinton campaign's view is, I believe, "Look at all the other terrible things people said on that stage. We have a bigger problem here.")

If someone has a clear and specific proof that Melania Trump is essentially a hostage, I am willing to reconsider my position.

#883 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 04:24 PM:


I'm about to disconnect this wheezy old computer and hook up my super shiny new one. I'll see y'all...when I see you. Heh.

#884 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 05:02 PM:

Jenny Islander (883): Watch out for circling sharks!

#885 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 06:26 PM:

Jacque 878: It fascinates me that the Ynnpls/Twitter exchange is an almost note-perfect example of Teresa's outline of the cannonical troll's reaction to being moderated.

I guess I expected it would be. After all, Teresa's generally right.

One is moved to speculate as to said staffer's actual, true agenda.

Especially since she also included a pretty unsubtle Rickroll.

#886 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 06:29 PM:

Xopher: "OMG, we've got a mole!" Heh. :-)

#887 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 07:49 PM:


It actually appears fairly likely right now that the "staffer" was Melania.

The current account from the Trump camp comes from Meredith McIver, an in-house staff writer for the Trump Organization (who is also the ghostwriter for several of Trump's books):

"Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches. This was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama. No harm was meant."

("she" refers to Melania in the above passage)

(The quote is from a statement released today from Meredith McIver, reproduced on the site in an article in the tpmlivewire section.)

#888 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 10:59 PM:

HLN: Local woman does not actually swap out her PC tower this evening due to unexpectedly having to take her car to the shop. Luckily the matter was resolved quickly, but it's too hot and too late in the evening to deal with little cables in the back of a tower now.

#889 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2016, 11:02 PM:

Yes, and we should read that statement in the light of our prior experience with the Trump campaign's level of veracity.

#890 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 04:57 AM:

I have just become aware of the playlist from G.E. Smith's band at the Republican National Convention, and it is a masterpiece. Whether or not the covers are any good is moot. The irony is what's important here.

David Bowie - Station to Station
Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire
Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA
The Who - Eminence Front
Rush - Limelight

After he played at the 2012 convention Smith said he isn't a Republican; he's just a gig musician doing a job. This year's song choices seem like they have to be on purpose, but still carefully calculated to remain in the realm of plausible deniability.

I've spent the last hour or so uncontrollably giggling while I double-checked the lyrics.

#891 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 10:36 AM:

praisegod barebones@866: Thank you for checking in, here and elsewhere.

The lamb recipe looks like exactly the kind of thing we would make and love; I'm marking that for later. We've also been cooking lamb recently, trying various pie recipes (about which I made some observations elsewhere) inspired by the PieMinister cookbook, which remains our go-to meat pie book.

Speaking of which, we recently did another cookbook purge. We do this every few years, and it always surprises me how many beloved cookbooks land in the "we've never actually cooked from this, and probably never will" category. And, along the way, there are the rediscoveries of cookbooks with wonderful recipes that we've neglected for a while. Hmmm, what to make next...

#892 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 12:36 PM:

There's some suspicion that "Meredith McIver" may not actually exist.

#893 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 01:31 PM:

Further recipe notes for Cassy B @867, PJ Evans @868 Dotless I@891:

I used a fairly shallow glass dish: the vegetables more or less filled it, and the lamb leg sat on top. I guess the cooking method is somewhere between roasting and steaming (whereas in the Etli Rezene recipe where the vegetables go on top, it's probably more like braising.)

I peeled the foil back to look inside, but I'm sure a more confident cook could have seen through the glass. As for the amount of water - I guess the best I can do is 'a sufficient quantity': we ended up with it coming half way up the vegetables by the end of cooking, but less would have been fine.

190 was meant to be a Celsius temperature. I guess that's 375F, if my arithmetic is quite correct.

In other news, despite the fairly scary travel restrictions for academics in Turkey, it looks as though foreign staff will be permitted to take their annual leave, and travel abroad to do so. So I should get to go to Wales in a few weeks time.

(Academic conferences and exchange programs remain forbidden for everyone, however, which is a nuisance, but not life-threatening.)

#894 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 02:06 PM:

Thanks, praisegod barebones! I'd guessed that 190 was in C, but it's good to have it confirmed (I'll bet it would take a LONG time to cook at 190F (88 C) <grin> )

#895 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 04:23 PM:

I'm afraid that when I see Trump describing himself as "humble", I am strongly reminded of Wilbur the pig. Unfair to the pig, of course.

#896 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 04:56 PM:

In Oaklandish local news, the restaurant "Breads of India", site of several gatherings of light, has been gone for a year or so, and has now been replaced by "Annapurna", a Nepali/Indian restaurant. (The Berkeley "Breads of India" is still there.)

#897 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 05:25 PM:

Cassy B @894: I'd misread/misremembered PJ Evans @868 as saying 390, so thought that she'd seen 190 and thought 'that must be a misprint'. I now see she'd done the same Maths as me.

#898 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 06:08 PM:

It's fast math - 212 + 180 - 18.
(Or 100 + 100 - 10)

#899 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2016, 07:10 PM:


I'm assuming that the Trump camp would not give Melania MORE responsibility for the plagiarism than she deserves, so the fact that they're linking her to it at all almost certainly means that she played a major part (and likely even the main part) in putting that passage in the speech.

#900 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 03:02 AM:

P J Evans @ 898

My usual short cut is '10 is 50; and every 10 after that is 18'; but using it quickly requires good recall of an 18-times table
(which is probably not uncommon among people who like numbers.)

#901 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 08:05 AM:

Not just "10 is 18" but, more usefully, "5 is 9". 5C is maybe a bit big, still, but it's small enough to tell you something. And if I wanted a better conversion, with the very local variations there can be from wind and humidity, converting 28C to 50 + (3x9) + (3x2) would put me within a degree. doubling the last little bit.

All that is partly farming, partly science. The thermometers used by weather stations are standard, and that's useful, but we're not thermometers.

#902 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 09:13 AM:

My symmetric method of choice is to note that (F+40)*5 = (C+40)*9, so I just add 40, times 9 divide by 5 (or vice versa), subtract 40.

Or, yeah, just memorize some good waypoints:

10C is 50F,
35C is 95F
Δ5C is Δ9F

#903 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 09:24 AM:

The mnemonic I have is imprecise and of no help with cooking, but useful for knowing whether to wear a jacket or not.

Thirty's hot
Twenty's nice
Ten is chilly
Zero's ice

#904 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 10:20 AM:

My Canadian husband uses the approximation "Double everything and add thirty".

#905 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 10:55 AM:

Open fannish question regarding the new SFWA rules for game writers. (Apparently I just qualified for SFWA membership, which was a startling discovery for a Thursday.)

On Twitter, Brian Moriarty mentioned that he, Steve Meretzky, and Dave Lebling all joined SFWA back in the 80s, when they were all working for Infocom. But then SFWA changed their eligibility rules to exclude game writers. (Possibly with Greg Costikyan arguing for exclusion.)

Anyone remember what the argument or the issue was? If there's a secret pool of scanned SFWA bulletins from the 80s, I can't find it.

#906 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 02:13 PM:

My preferred, and mathematically-exact, conversion from degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit is: double the value, subtract 1/10 of the result, and add 32. Use minor rounding as necessary in the process.

#907 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 04:50 PM:

I also use Joel's method.

#908 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 05:15 PM:

I've just been accused of being lesbophobic. This was upsetting until I realized that my accuser includes "being insufficiently transphobic" as one of the ways one can be lesbophobic.

I'm really not concerned about it.

#909 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 05:19 PM:

Joel @906, David @907, is there a similarly easy-to-calculate and accurate conversion method from F to C? Division by 9 not being particularly easy for me to do in my head.

#910 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 05:29 PM:

Xopher, I'm not entirely sure what your interlocuter means. Not being afraid of trans people is somehow a sign you don't like lesbians? But I have friends who lesbians and friends who are trans. Who am I supposed to be afraid of? <puzzled>

#911 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 05:51 PM:

It's difficult to be mathematically exact going the other direction. Going C to F, you have a 9 in the numerator and a 5 in the denominator, which is reasonably easy to handle in base 10, but with F to C it's the other way around, which isn't. If you do "subtract 32, cut in half, then add back 10% of that" you won't be exact, but you'll be pretty close for most temperatures you'll find outside.

In the range of temperatures used for baking/cooking, it happens that the 32 degree offset in the zeroes is close to the offset in the fractions, so you can approximate as simply "F == 2*C". I.e., 175 C is close to 350 F.

#912 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 06:27 PM:

Trump: "As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology."

That's solidly in line with that horrible new-ish Coke commercial, so-called "Brotherly Love". (Several clips of Big Kid pushing Little Kid around. Then three medium-sized bullies torment Little Kid by grabbing his Coke. Big Kid appears, grabs the Coke, chases away the medium kids, gives the Coke back to Little Kid... and then jogs it while Little Kid is drinking, so he ends up with a faceful of Coke.) "You can't bully my little brother. That's MY job!"

#913 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 09:20 PM:

Cassy B @910:

I'm a lesbian with trans friends, lesbian friends, and friends who fall into both of those categories. But I suspect "not being transphobic" trumps all else as far as TERFs are concerned, and they'd consider my lack of transphobia to be internalized homophobia, or internalized sexism, or something.

#914 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 09:56 PM:

I read "phobic" in this context as aversion, disgust, or hatred rather than fear.

#915 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 10:39 PM:

lorax @ 913: can you unpack "TERF"? I've run into hints (e.g., Wiscon program-item description) that some people take their lesbianism sufficiently politically to consider M-to-F transes as dangerous fakes (cultural appropriators? trying to get the advantages without the pain??), but never heard it directly. (Not surprising; at Wiscon I went mostly to the fiction discussions.)

#916 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 11:01 PM:

estelendur @909, David @911:

If you do "subtract 32, cut in half, then add back 10% of that" you won't be exact, but you'll be pretty close for most temperatures you'll find outside.

To make it exact, you have to add an infinite series; or take it to your required level of precision. Add back 10%, and 1%, and 0.1%, and ... .

Dividing by 9 ≡ multiplying by 0.1111 ... .

#917 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2016, 11:09 PM:

"TERF" means "trans-exclusionary radical feminist", a person who thinks that a) men can't fully participate in feminism thanks to being men and b) that trans women are not 'real' women in some important way that means they still qualify for that lack.

#918 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2016, 04:15 AM:

CHip, #915: I'm rather fond of the Urban Dictionary definition (paraphrased): "Radical feminists who believe that the 'biology is destiny' argument is horrible when used by men against them, but just fine when used by them against trans women."

#919 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2016, 07:17 AM:

Xopher @908: "being insufficiently transphobic" as one of the ways one can be lesbophobic.

Yeah, I saw that. "Your tolerance is causing me erasure!"

It's at that point I stop even trying to have a conversation.

#920 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2016, 07:19 AM:

Cassy B. @910: Who am I supposed to be afraid of? <puzzled>

"Everyone of whom I don't approve!" nearly as I can work out.

#921 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2016, 09:02 AM:

Bruce H @914: That's universally what it means in all the bigotry-names, though occasional dictionary-thumping trolls try to derail based on the "common, everyday definition" of that wordpart.

There are plenty of words in English that have shifted far from their etymological roots and now mean something quite different.

Trust me, other words getting away from the "-phobic" particle have been tried, but none of them get traction in the non-activist world.

#922 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2016, 10:29 AM:

Elliott Mason @921

I agree with you. I was responding to Cassy B's question. My reading is that Xopher's interlocutor was not suggesting that being supportive of lesbians requires being afraid of trans women but that it does require being averse to, disgusted by, or hating trans women.

#923 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2016, 06:05 PM:

CHip @ 915: . . . M-to-F transes . . . trying to get the advantages without the pain.
If anyone (no-one here, I imagine) thinks M–F transition is "without pain", they should have a chat with Roz Kaveney sometime. Not over lunch, though.

#924 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2016, 08:10 PM:

Terry Hunt @923: It's a fair characterization of part of the TERF thesis, though: that trans women are "really" men pulling a conscious Klinger. But whereas Klinger wanted out of the army, TERFs feel that trans women want to "infiltrate" female spaces for prurient or greedy reasons -- in effect claiming femininity without "having to" have been treated as unequivocally female from birth, with all the societal hangups and nastinesses that entails.

Plus of course they're nasty biological essentialists spouting nonsense like "XX == female!!" and the like.

#925 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2016, 09:24 PM:

Cassy 910: I don't think you need to be afraid of anyone, least of all me.

Joel 912: I really hate that commercial. And I note that the shitgibbon didn't promise to protect us from violence and oppression of a hateful domestic ideology.

Bruce 914: Of course. The term 'homophobia' was coined as an attempt to be understanding of people who are, in fact, bigots. Now it's the term we use to mean prejudice against LGB people. The term 'transphobia' is formed by analogy to the modern meaning.

People who act like it only means "fear" are falling into the etymology trap. Some aren't so much falling into it so much as diving into it and wearing it as a mask. That's why, for example, the asshole I call See Johnny Write can say things like "I'm not homophobic. I just want to kill all homosexuals" or words to that effect. He's a lying sack of shit, of course.

Lee 918: I love that! Hadn't heard that before.

Jacque 919: I hear you. But we were having fun, and I got an "honorary trans" ticket out of it. That TERF told me I was part of the "transcult," and I gorged myself on ally cookies.

Elliott 921: Well said. My favorite response is to say "well, then, you can't call anything manufactured unless it's made by hand, right?"

Ibid., 924: Because, of course, being a trans woman is completely without pain or oppression. Everyone treats trans women as if they were cis women, except that they get to keep male privilege.

Also, you know that beautiful bridge on the East River? It happens to be for sale.

#926 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 09:33 AM:

Xopher #925: There's also the point that much (not all) of the hate and despite in play are coming out of repressed fear, though not necessarily of the immediate target. Consider that classic line that "a homophobe is afraid someone might treat him like he treats women".

#928 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 10:01 AM:

Thanks, all, for the explanations and unpacking. I hereby declare TERFism remarkable stupid, hateful, and wrong. (Like anyone cares what I declare, but, hey, it's the principle of the thing.) Do they think that empathy is a zero-sum game? Do they honestly think that trans folk, whether m-f or f-m, have it EASIER than everyone else? How is raising your chance of being beaten up or murdered by a very large factor "privilege"? It's... <groping for the appropriate word>... fuggheaded.

Yes, I know you all knew this already, but I was rather blindsided by the concept of TERFism and it's left me in a state of incoherent outrage. Thank you guys again for the explanation.

And, Xopher, thanks for the reassurance that I don't need to fear you; I'll cheerfully stand you a drink, even though I don't drink, myself. <grin>

#929 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 12:14 PM:

Cooking thoughts needed:

I took home, from a company meeting on Friday, about three cups of a dense, wonderfully tasty spinach / eggplant dip.

It screams "pasta sauce" to me, but I'm not sure how to implement it.

Mix with heavy cream to thin it out?

Water it down, add cooked rotini, mozzerella on top, bake?

Mix with roccotta and stuff it in shells? (Never did stuffed shells and I'd have to buy them.)

#930 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 01:27 PM:

Stefan, if you want to make stuffed shells, you can approximate them with lasagna noodles. Cook the noodles until pliable, fish them out with tongs, cut them in half, wrap them around filling, then put them in a baking dish to finish cooking. Possibly with a little tomato sauce.

#931 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 02:12 PM:

Stefan Jones @929: The stuffed shells sound good. Or something involving pasta sheets with the filling rolled up. It sounds like the dip would work nicely as a pizza topping.

My home cooking at present involves reacting steel wool with bleach to get powdered ferric oxide, to be dissolved in hydrochloric acid to get the ferric chloride I need for copper-plating stainless steel (@476). An unexpected byproduct is permanganate; the rich purple colour is distinctive. I wouldn't have thought that bleach could oxidize manganese to permanganate, but the reaction is known -- the W'pedia entry on sodium permanganate mentions it.

I was surprised when I heard Queen's "We Are the Champions" played at the RNC. As in, "Hang on, wasn't that by Queen, and wasn't wossname, Freddy Mercury, flamboyantly gay? How the hell did *they* get permission to play that?" Turns out that the RNC *didn't* get permission, and other artists have also been complaining about the same thing. [*eye roll*] Why am I not surprised that the RNC skipped that little step?

#932 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 05:00 PM:

Joel @931: The RNC didn't skip any little steps required to legally use the song. I'm sure the venue is properly paying their negotiated fees with whatever licensing company is acting as an agent for Queen. It would be inconceivable for a major sporting venue to not have permission to play "We Are The Champions", but it's also very likely that that permission is a blanket permission which includes Beck's "Loser". Unless Queen's contract with the licensing agent excludes the use of their work in a political context, the use was legal.

That doesn't make the choice any less stupid. But this is also the same campaign folks who played "You Can't Always Get What You Want" on repeat before announcing the VP pick, so what should we expect?

#933 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 05:04 PM:

David Harmon @926: Consider that classic line that "a homophobe is afraid someone might treat him like he treats women" I worked that one out a long time ago - it seemed blindingly obvious based on observation nearly 30 years ago, yet when I said this, it was obviously a new thought to many people.

#934 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 05:07 PM:

Cassy B @928: I have some empathy with TERFs.

Note: I don’t AGREE with them in any aspect or detail! But I know, to some degree, how they came to the things they believe, and they calcified there because of great pain and oppression.

The source-stream of feminism that also produced “all sex a woman has with a man is rape, because the underlying power dynamic can NEVER be sufficiently removed as to lead to meaningful consent” (in parallel with, say, teacher/student relationships), produced TERFs, because they went so deep down into affirming womyn, finding life-giving female nature energy, re-inhabiting their vulvas and investing them with value and distinction, and thinking very thoroughly about the relationship between menstruation (treated uniformly as dirty and disgusting by patriarchies) with fertility and life-giving and bloody birth goddesses and power over life and death.

That’s a heady stew of consciousness-raising, and without their decades of hard work I couldn’t arrive at the conclusions I do, in my morals and my feminism. I honor that work, and the pain and attacks they underwent while doing the work.

But just as John Paul II went from being a fire-breathing radical to a fairly reactionary fossil in the course of his lifetime without ever changing most of his views one iota, some of these honored foremothers got so-far-and-no-farther stuck in their radicalism, their feminist work. They found their answers and their ground upon which to stand, and since their own particular detailed goals have not yet been achieved, they think the battle lines have not moved further on.

They wanted to destroy harsh, oppressive gender binaries in a very particular way: burning them to the ground and living WITHOUT any gender roles or acknowledged difference at all except the practical underlying life-giver/sperm-maker biology.

You can see why, from that standpoint, women with penises affirming they ARE women might come off as deeply offensive.

They’re WRONG, but I see where their pain comes from to fuel their attacks. Their theories are fine theories … but they’re not allowing further facts and observation to inform their future reasoning.

#935 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 05:16 PM:

Stefan @929: Stuffed pasta shells are my party dish and, while fiddly, are very easy to do while simultaneously really impressing people (hence "party dish"). A couple of tricks:
First, make sure to coat the bottom of the the baking dish with the sauce*. It doesn't need to be a lot, just a couple of spoonsful.
Second, when filling the pasta shells, use one hand to squeeze them end to end so that they gape open, and use the other hand to spoon in the filling. Set yourself up so that the filling is on one side and the (boiled-until-soft, then cooled) shells are on the other side, with your dish in the middle. Do not switch hands. Doing so will result in very messy hands and no clean appendage to operate the taps on the sink with, with the result that you'll then have to wash the taps.

It might be fiddly, but it sounds less fiddly than the lasagne noodle workaround (still delicious, but more leaky, surely?).

When buying pasta shells, they're often on the top shelf and hard to spot. This is because grocery stores are jerks. Or possibly because most people want spaghetti and macaroni, so it makes sense to put them in the easily-found location. ;)

*This might be obvious, but it was not obvious to 20-year-old Em who was having people to dinner. Pizza ensued. Thus began a long series of dinner-party disasters that included Accidentally-Upside-Down Cake and Chocolate-Orange-Stabwound Cake. Fortunately I choose my dinner party guests in such a way that these things are hilarious rather than humiliating.

#936 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 07:50 PM:

AKICIML: If I own a Kindle Fire, and I know of a book on (for example) Project Gutenberg that comes as a free Kindle download, how do I get it? Do I have to look for it in the Amazon Kindle Store? Can I go to Project Gutenberg on that Kindle Fire? I have no idea how these things work.

#937 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 08:25 PM:

Your Kindle device should have an email address associated with it. You can find out what it is by going to your Amazon account, logging in, and finding "Manage My Content and Devices". One way of loading documents onto your Kindle is to email them to that address. This works with any .mobi file, and even with PDF's. (Amazon automatically does a conversion.) So you should be able to download the .mobi file from Project Gutenberg to your desktop device, and then email it.

#938 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 09:00 PM:

This isn't for me. I am asking for somebody who has Kindle Fire and occasionally gets a little time on a mobile phone that has Internet. And no money.

It's an obstructive parent thing. Parent doesn't want child to learn enough to get a GED and leave.

#939 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 09:19 PM:

Honestly, I don't even know how smart phones work! I have a weensy flip phone myself. Can you save a big file onto a smart phone and then email it to a Kindle Fire? Or send it to some kind of cloud computing service and then point the Kindle Fire at that?

#940 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 09:19 PM:

It should be possible to download it from Gutenberg to any computer from which it can be sent to the Kindle. Or even downloaded to a thumbdrive for later mailing to the Kindle. (I have a Kobo with a USB-to-miniUSB connection, so I don't have to do the email bit - but it can do wireless.)

#941 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 09:52 PM:

I think I'm having an autism-ism. By "any computer" do you mean "even a smart phone?" Because this kid literally has a cheapie Kindle Fire, with every penny controlled by the caregiver, and then occasional access to their parent's smart phone when the parent isn't looking. Plus occasional piggybacking on open Wifi. And that's it.

#942 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 10:23 PM:

Does this belong here, or on the Laurie Penny thread? It's George Lakoff on family systems, linguistic tricks and Donald Trump. George is a very smart man, and his Strict Father/Nurturant Mother distinction between conservatives and liberals is a really powerful metaphor: and in this (long!) article he talks about how Trump uses Strict Father approaches. And the media won't call him on this. An important subquote: "Most real political discourse makes use of unconscious thought, which shapes conscious thought via unconscious framing and commonplace conceptual metaphors. It is crucial, for the history of the country and the world, as well as the planet, that all of this be made public."

The whole article is well worth a read.

#943 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 10:29 PM:

Smartphones I don't know about, and not a lot about Kindles, although my sister has both. (Above my pay grade.) But if the kid has someone who can send the stuff to the Kindle for hir, it should be possible to do the transfer without parent being involved/aware.

#944 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 10:31 PM:

instructions for downloading to Kindle:,2817,2484180,00.asp

#945 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2016, 11:05 PM:

David 926: Exactly. See Johnny Write isn't afraid of us (he says), he's just a hate-filled evil piece of shit. The term was developed in order not to accuse people of being hate-filled evil pieces of shit.

We're past that now.

Consider that classic line that "a homophobe is afraid someone might treat him like he treats women".

This is a useful line. I've used it to tell teenage girls never to date homophobic boys.

Cassy 928: I think your perspective on TERFism is commendable.

I'll cheerfully stand you a drink, even though I don't drink, myself. <grin>

I don't drink either. We'll have lemonade or limeade or ginger ale or ginger beer or something. And get all giggly, I shouldn't wonder!

Joel 931: Why am I not surprised that the RNC skipped that little step?

"Republicans think they own everything anyway," said Matt Groening, when he found out that a Republican candidate had used Bart Simpson in campaign ads without permission.

#946 ::: Stav ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 03:17 AM:

Jenny Islander @936:

The kid can find out the "send to kindle" email on the device itself. I have an e-ink kindle, not a Fire, but it should be similar to this: settings -> device options -> personalize your kindle.

Once this email address is known, anyone can send books (in .mobi or .pdf formats) to the device. For example, you can go to project Gutenberg on your computer, download a book as a .mobi file, then send an email to that address with the book as attached file. It should also be possible for the kid to do it on the smartphone: download file to the smartphone, email with attached file to the kindle, then delete file and sent email from the phone to cover their tracks.

Note, however, that all files sent to kindle this way will appear on the list on documents in the amazon account page which the parent is able to access if they are tech-savvy enough and if they have a reason to be suspicious. The only way to have the book appear only on the device and nowhere else is to transfer the file from a physically connected computer, and I don't think it would work with a smartphone.

#947 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 05:39 AM:

Jenny @836, this is looking dangerous territory, maybe "Kindergarten Rules" rather than "Moscow Rules" but some answers look a bit dodgy.

At least a Kindle Fire is as much a general-purpose tablet as an ebook reader, even without paying the monthly Amazon Prime theme. But there are several models, including a rather heavily locked-down kids model. The "Fire for Kids" control software is included with all models

You can use an OTG adapter to make a tablet/smartphone look like a standard USB socket, but not all can do this. There are also dual-connector USB RAM sticks.

I am not sure that this is an option for current Amazon Fire models. Amazon sold an adapter lead for the previous generation, but not for this one.

Apart from the HD6 model, they can all take micro-SDXC cards of up to 128 GB. It is possible to get cheap adapters to use the cards as USB sticks.

I am not 100% certain, but it is very likely that a file-manager app would have to be added to a tablet/smartphone to transfer data to a Kindle Fire. Even if you removed that app afterwards, there would be traces left, including an entry on the server.

From here, it looks as though the alleged parent has made a pretty good choice for being awkward to the point of abusiveness. "Fire for Kids" looks like one of those tools that does a good job, but might not get well-used by some people. If that's running, that blocks off most of the work-arounds. But it might depend on Amazon's DRM, and so a DRM-free ebook might not be locked.

#948 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 10:23 AM:

When I went to feed the dog this morning I noticed that my Windows system -- which I generally start up ever two or weeks -- was on.

Investigation of the logs showed it had been set to start automatically around 4 am, run things, and shut down. This has been going on the last two mornings, since I last used it.

Is this a hack? Or does Windows start up your computer to do things behind your back?

#949 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 11:19 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #948 -

History will record that's how Skynet got started.

I'd bet that there's some Windows configuration that's not really powering it off, but leaving it in some kind of hibernate mode.

#950 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 12:24 PM:

Buddha Buck @932: Huh. I didn't know that mechanical licensing included things like political rallies, and I'm a bit surprised to hear it. In my defense, a number of professional musicians also seem to be unaware of it.

It still seems more than a bit offensive and wrong-headed to use music for such despite the composer/performer's prior explicit request.

#951 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 12:40 PM:

Joel Polowin @950: It's not the political rally that holds the license, it's the actual physical building (convention center or arena) that the rally rents that has the license to play the music over their sound system.

#952 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 12:55 PM:

It's not mechanical licensing, the stuff that allows people to make covers of recorded works, it's public performance licensing, the stuff that allows your local restaurant, bar, or sports arena to play music over their PA system.

A lot of music was played at the event, and chances are that the RNC payed BMI a bunch of money ($0.07/attendee, in 2000 dollars, minimum) for the right to play any and all works that BMI has in their catalog, including "We Are The Champions".

Queen gave permission to BMI to license the song under those terms, and BMI gave permission to the RNC to play anything they had, including Queen's song.

Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stones, and the many other stars who have publicly complained about politicians using their music probably do know it. They are saying "RNC didn't ask permission from us", not "RNC illegally played our music, and owes us royalties".

Their message isn't one of copyright violation, but rather of distancing themselves from the candidate and wishing to not be seen as endorsing the candidate who "didn't ask permission". ASCAP recommends asking permission specifically to avoid this sort of hassle, despite it not being a legal requirement.

Similarly, the vast number of parody covers by Weird Al Yankovic are likely legal due to parody being covered by "fair use", and his label likely willing to pay compulsory licensing fees. But he asks permission to avoid any problems, both legal and PR. Even then, occasionally mistakes are made (both ways; he's had artists say "my agent said yes?!?" and artists say "my agent said no?!?").

Since when is it surprising that Trump is offensive and wrong-headed?

#953 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 01:00 PM:

Lori @951:

That's what I thought too, but BMI seems to feel differently. If the convention center rents out the space, the convention has to pay the fees. See their FAQ at

Still the license is a blanket license for all BMI works.

I would assume ASCAP is the same.

#954 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 05:50 PM:

Xopher @925: But we were having fun

Oh. Okay then. *nevermind* /latella.

I have a terrible time tracking meta-levels on Twitter. Especially when I'm tired.

#955 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 06:21 PM:

Ahem. If people were interested there could be activity back on the Steven Universe spoiler thread. Given that there are new eps, and all.

If you've only started watching recently, welcome to the Lucky 10,000! And also, we tend to rot13 fairly aggressively over there, so you won't have to get spoiled about anything as you read the threads.

#956 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2016, 10:12 PM:

More Steven Universe episodes this week! At least five.

The three of last week's that I've seen (I'm not a binger) have been character-builders and fairly mellow. Kind of a relief when you're also watching "Stranger Things."

Or, you know, the news.

#957 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2016, 12:07 AM:

This is what I ended up making with the left over artichoke and spinach dip:

Sauteed red and yellow peppers (and some wilty celery), a ladle of pasta water, rotini.

Could have used some more seasoning, but I'll add that as I warm up the batches.

#959 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2016, 01:16 PM:

Unrelated to anything else, ran across this today and thought it was interesting:

The “Getting Them Ready” Myth: "Let’s stop “getting them ready” for the Paleolithic era."

#960 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2016, 06:50 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 948:

Depending on the version of Windows and the particular settings, it can start up early in the morning, check for and install updates, and then shut down. This is normal behavior for Windows 10, and can be changed in the control panel under, I believe, "Updates". Given how difficult it has been to get people to install security updates, and how annoying the update process has been in the past, I think this is a reasonable design decision. Opinions may vary.

#961 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2016, 12:34 AM:

@KeithS: I've since learned this to be the case. But no one has gotten around to telling Microsoft support; the people on the chat line were sure that this was malware.

#962 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2016, 12:39 AM:

At some point MS sent out an update that 'fixed' the system (even Win7) so that if you have third-party security software, Windows won't show update notices, regardless of your settings in the control panel. And that makes their complaints about people not updating look really hinky.

I installed the GWX control panel and got my update notices back.

#963 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2016, 09:32 PM:

HLN: Local woman's partner has undergone an ultrasonic lithotripsy, the purpose of which was to pulverize the remaining kidney stone before it either broke loose or grew large enough to cause other problems.

"We really, really wanted this done before leaving for Worldcon," local woman is quoted as saying. "After the way the first stone messed up our trip back from Sasquan, not to mention the next 3 months, we didn't want to risk it happening a second time."

Local woman's partner is showing no unexpected side effects and does not need pain medication, although the prescription was filled "just in case". Hopes are high that the fragments will pass without further incident.

#964 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2016, 10:37 PM:

I have defeated Windows 10 and its annoying update habit by not having enough space on my hard drive to hold the update. (The hard drive was 3/4 full when the machine was brand new; most of that was Windows 10.) This laptop is a piece of cheap dreck, which was all I could afford when my MacBook finally died during my last semester of grad school, when I was unemployed.

As *soon* as I catch up on my student loan payments, I am buying another MacBook.

#965 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2016, 01:06 AM:

What's that game where you give an accurate but misleading description of a movie, and people try to guess what movie it is? I've got one.

A man discovers his wife has betrayed him, so he punches her unconscious and leaves for a distant location. She tracks him down and begs him to return to her, so he murders her. Later he and his new girlfriend kill numerous people, including the leader of the local community.

#966 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2016, 08:07 AM:


"Total Recall"

#967 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2016, 01:02 PM:

Michael 966: Got it in one!

#968 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2016, 03:30 PM:

DAMMIT, 2016!

(Jerry Doyle, aka Garibaldi, dead at 60.)

#969 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2016, 10:28 PM:

Em@935 Re: "Chocolate-Orange-Stabwound Cake"
Ah, yes. There was the party where I brought two containers of sauerkraut, one with pork and one which had been vegetarian until the lid cracked as I was handling it, leaving the kraut slightly humanitarian.

#970 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2016, 10:31 PM:

Lee @ #968 -

I know - far too young. It's starting to feel like there's a curse on B5 actors.

#971 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 12:06 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 969: Reminded me of the family gathering where a cook emerged from the kitchen with one hand wrapped in a paper towel and said, "Two things: the fruit salad isn't vegetarian, and Jeff is going to drive me to the ER."

#972 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 03:31 AM:

AKICIML: There's a magazine, Woman's World, that is a perfect distillation of what used to be called hen dope. That is, it is directed at the presumed lowest common denominator of middle-class or lower-middle-class American womanhood. There are money-saving tips for people who think that $300 is a lot. Recipes. Cake decorating. A different Greatest Diet Ever in every weekly issue. Heartwarming true stories. Work-from-home opportunities. Contests with a fancy blender or $1,000 as a prize. Pages of health advice, some self-contradictory. It's very pretty, brightly colored, and relentlessly cheerful, and each issue costs less than $2.

Is there an equivalent for men?

#973 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 04:46 AM:

Yargh. Resetting auto-fill.

#974 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 04:46 AM:

Yargh. Resetting auto-fill.

#975 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 04:48 AM:

Steve C. @970: Starting to—? JMS has been venting about that for ten years at least.

#976 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 06:49 AM:

Jenny Islander @972, re a men's equivalent to Woman's World. Popular Mechanics, maybe?

#977 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 06:57 AM:

Jenny Islander #972: Depends how you look at it... either there's no real equivalent, or lots and lots of them -- arguably, most of the glossies that aren't specifically targeted at women.

But where the "hen dope" rags focus on the "usual prescribed" interests for women, the various "man-dope" mags are targeted to individual interests and activities that are deemed "manly"; including but not limited to cars, motorcycles, guns and weapons, athletics, games, politics, travel, and especially sex.

That is... there are some magazines specifically targeted to men (Playboy, FHM/For Him Magazine, and Esquire come to mind offhand), but traditionally any special-interest magazine that wasn't targeted to women was presumed to be targeted to men, and prominently featured training in "how to be a manly man and deal properly with women".

A fair number of those mags have improved over the years as the cultural tides and winds shift, but there's still plenty in the traditional mode.

#978 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 09:41 AM:


Oh dear! Fortunately, that's not what happened with the cake. What happened with that cake was that I was having some friends over for a board game night at my folks' house, which I was looking after while they were on holiday. My mother's kitchen is much larger and better-equipped than mine was (at the time, I lived in a college dorm), so I thought hey, I'm gonna make a CAKE.

I had never made a cake by myself before.

The cake mix worked wonderfully, and I made icing as I remembered doing it with my mother: icing sugar, margarine, bit of milk, mix with electric mixer. I added in some orange extract, because I love the taste of orange with chocolate, and I'd made a chocolate cake, and having flavoured icing struck me as FANCY. I was going to be FANCY. I'd bought WINE, for crying out loud, this was a board-game party for FANCY ADULTS.

The icing, in the bowl, was the perfect consistency. And delicious too! The cake had come beautifully out of the cake pans. I put the bottom layer onto the round plate my mother always used for just this type of thing, iced it, and stuck the top layer on.

The top layer commenced to slide off. Icing began to puddle in the plate. Toothpicks. That was what I needed, right? I'd seen someone use them once when the cake wasn't even. The icing running down the sides of the cake didn't seem normal. I picked up the plate to take it to where the toothpicks were (so that I could keep the top layer in place manually), and then the phone rang.

My folks' place was a little out of the way, and at least one of my guests had never been there before, so I was concerned that they were lost, and leapt to answer it, still holding the plate, still periodically prodding the top layer back into place.

I answered the phone. It was one of my friends. I cradled the phone between my head and shoulder. I tried to give them directions. The top layer of the cake slid inexorably floorwards, and my mother had moved the toothpicks.

I did what anyone in a kitchen would have done. I grabbed the easiest knife to hand, in this case the big vegetable-chopping knife from the knife block on the counter, raised it high, and, snarling "and then it's the last house on the right, next to the woods, easy!", brought it down into the top layer of the cake, pinning the two layers firmly together.

I iced the top layer around the knife, which I didn't want to remove in case further disaster occurred, added a little red food colouring to pool around it, and served it to my friends as "chocolate-orange-stabwound cake". It was delicious.

It turns out you have to let a cake cool before you ice it.

#979 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 09:41 AM:


Oh dear! Fortunately, that's not what happened with the cake. What happened with that cake was that I was having some friends over for a board game night at my folks' house, which I was looking after while they were on holiday. My mother's kitchen is much larger and better-equipped than mine was (at the time, I lived in a college dorm), so I thought hey, I'm gonna make a CAKE.

I had never made a cake by myself before.

The cake mix worked wonderfully, and I made icing as I remembered doing it with my mother: icing sugar, margarine, bit of milk, mix with electric mixer. I added in some orange extract, because I love the taste of orange with chocolate, and I'd made a chocolate cake, and having flavoured icing struck me as FANCY. I was going to be FANCY. I'd bought WINE, for crying out loud, this was a board-game party for FANCY ADULTS.

The icing, in the bowl, was the perfect consistency. And delicious too! The cake had come beautifully out of the cake pans. I put the bottom layer onto the round plate my mother always used for just this type of thing, iced it, and stuck the top layer on.

The top layer commenced to slide off. Icing began to puddle in the plate. Toothpicks. That was what I needed, right? I'd seen someone use them once when the cake wasn't even. The icing running down the sides of the cake didn't seem normal. I picked up the plate to take it to where the toothpicks were (so that I could keep the top layer in place manually), and then the phone rang.

My folks' place was a little out of the way, and at least one of my guests had never been there before, so I was concerned that they were lost, and leapt to answer it, still holding the plate, still periodically prodding the top layer back into place.

I answered the phone. It was one of my friends. I cradled the phone between my head and shoulder. I tried to give them directions. The top layer of the cake slid inexorably floorwards, and my mother had moved the toothpicks.

I did what anyone in a kitchen would have done. I grabbed the easiest knife to hand, in this case the big vegetable-chopping knife from the knife block on the counter, raised it high, and, snarling "and then it's the last house on the right, next to the woods, easy!", brought it down into the top layer of the cake, pinning the two layers firmly together.

I iced the top layer around the knife, which I didn't want to remove in case further disaster occurred, added a little red food colouring to pool around it, and served it to my friends as "chocolate-orange-stabwound cake". It was delicious.

It turns out you have to let a cake cool before you ice it.

#980 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 10:01 AM:

Em, no fair, I'm giggling inappropriately at work....

#981 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 10:08 AM:

Sheesh fracking damnit.

A week after losing one college friend to complications-from-surgery to deal with a diabetic infection, two months or so after losing another to cancer, another college friend announced his daughter has cancer, again.

2016, just . . . just fuck off.

#982 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 10:14 AM:

Highly Local Parenting Frustration:

It is Crazy Hair/Crazy Hat day at summer camp today.

My kid saw a girl with "cupcake buns" at her grade school last year on a similarly themed day. She wants them.

Ok, fine. Basic recipe: Make ponytails. Pull ponytails through a cupcake paper each. Coil ponytail into bun. Attach "cherry" to top by some method. Optionally: spray on confetti hairspray for "sprinkles", or an undercoat color for "icing".

My kid's hair rooting pattern takes after me (lots and lots of hairs densely packed), but her hair TEXTURE is her dad's: fine silky half-limp strands (half-limp because his and mine averaged and mine are almost wiry).

This means, alas, that two ponytails pulled up to the top of her head and coiled into buns don't come anywhere near being big enough to visually "fill" a cupcake paper.

I did figure out a way to reinforce them so they won't pull off, and I stacked three to make it more opaque. But they're little wads only coming out about half as fat as would make the papers look properly convincing as cupcakes.

I tried several methods to "snug" the paper in against the filling, but none of them make it look cupcakey; more like a rosette.

Have run out of time to eff with it. Added tiny balloons for "cherries" because I could make them stay on bobby pins for fastening.

Made kid choose between the best unsatisfactory tightening option and floppin open. She chose the latter. But she keeps mentioning that it's not nearly as good as it COULD be.

And I HAPPEN TO AGREE WITH HER. In a Platonic ideal world where I'd playtested it ahead of time and worked up some accessories and aids, it could be really neat. It would also take about six hours, all told, and I did this in twenty minutes. For twenty minutes it's fucking amazing.

But I really, really need her to quit kicking my artbrain in the same space it's already unhappy about. :-/

#983 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 10:14 AM:

Just to add to the list of men's interests which have magazines, there's bodybuilding.

#984 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 10:29 AM:

Along the lines of the Esther Diamond NYC cop show "Crime and Punishment", my stereotypical manly-mag used to be "Cars & Ammo."

#985 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 11:22 AM:

Time for a bit of good news, then. It's New Kitty Time here, with a three-year-old 8-lb female, dark grey shorthair. Thing is, for a shelter cat, she looks exactly like all the identifying charts for a Korat, which is a to say the least kind of rare cat originating in Thailand. And despite having been labeled formerly feral, complete with clipped ear, she behaves like an ordinary affectionate cat. We've called her Jenny.

Weird how these things work out. I thought I was looking for a large floofy tortie or calico, and what stole my heart was a tiny solid grey creature.

#986 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 11:48 AM:

joann, give tiny-gray-cat a scritch for me!

#987 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 12:26 PM:

Em, that's quite a story.

Joann, Korats look like interesting cats.

One of my wife's online friends is adopting what I can only describe as a fennec cat, so there are many pictures of a tiny face with giant ears infecting her fb feed.

#988 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 12:39 PM:

Re: cats -- A cat who's been coming around occasionally for about 7 years is now coming in regularly. He's "owned" by a local cat-rescuer, who we know -- and the cat is just spending a lot more time on our back porch. The three rescues from a herd in CA have no problem with him; the other cat we take care of that belongs to a neighbor is almost oblivious; and the tabby that's lived here since she was a kitten is getting clingy and demanding. Jenny sounds like a lovely cat, joann! May she bring you interesting stories.

#989 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 12:39 PM:

Regarding magazines tailored to men, one exemplar was TRUE magazine ("Every word is true!"). Lots of stories about hunting, fishing, real-life adventure, cars, and so forth. My dad had a subscription. It quietly died in the 70's.

#990 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 01:19 PM:

Stefan Jones (981): Sympathies

#991 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 02:01 PM:

David H., #977: I don't remember the name of it, but I once encountered a men's magazine at a hairdresser's salon which was the exact male equivalent of Cosmopolitan. I picked it up out of curiosity, scanned the index and some of the ads, and thought, "Wow, this is designed to get men to hate themselves as much as women are supposed to hate themselves!" It even had an article on "Are Your Sexual Skills Up To Par?" Clearly targeted to straight men in the 25-45 age range.

Joann, #985: Congratulations! May you and she have many happy years together. Our Grey Mouser, in his prime, could easily have been mistaken for a purebred Russian Blue -- he had the coat type, the conformation, and the green eyes -- but he's 100% mutt. With age, he's lost some of the resemblance.

#992 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 02:19 PM:

I'm having a hard time thinking of magazines that are actually generically targeted at men in the same way that Cosmo is targeted at women. Maxim, maybe?

#993 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 02:32 PM:

Maxim. GQ. ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Men's Health and Men's Fitness. Men's Journal tries to have some outdoorsy content and thinkpieces, less sex tips than Cosmo. FHM is British in origin and considerably ... more blatant than GQ or Maxim about being on the same spectrum as Penthouse.

Dian Hanson has apparently done a run of books for Taschen about the history of the men's magazine in western culture and now I find myself intrigued.

#994 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 03:45 PM:

'Classic rock' music magazines such as Mojo feel as though they're pretty squarely aimed at men, and specifically at middle-aged men who have a bit of spare cash to spread around—at least, that feels like the advertising demographic they're trying to hook. Trying to pitch a new magazine just aimed at generic Men would presumably not work at all with the advertisers.

There's a UK Christian magazine for men called Sorted ("Launched in November 2007, Sorted has been voted the world’s most wholesome men’s magazine") which seems aimed at university-educated evangelicals. There's an issue online here. The construction of it feels... subtractive, in the sense that they seem to have taken a smuttier magazine and removed the smut, and not entirely filled up the space with evangelical concerns. There are no objectified women in it. There are hardly any non-objectified women either. It's very much full of men. As I understand it women comprehensively outnumber men in UK evangelical circles; perhaps such a magazine is felt to be necessary. Coming from the RC side of things I find it interesting as a window into a culture I don't know much about.

Buying a tub of margarine the other day, I remembered how the brand 'Flora' used to have the slightly ridiculous slogan 'The Margarine For Men'. This had all gone over my head at the time, but looking back at the early-80s adverts it's pretty obvious that the slogan was aimed at women (presumed to be the food-buyers) trying to pick something healthier than butter (so it was thought—opinion seems to have rather changed recently) for their husbands.

#995 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 03:48 PM:

I should also note that almost everything we've mentioned is aimed solely at white men. They have some Black readers, but a minority.

The Ebony/Jet constellation of magazines presumably have male lines actually aiming at Black men, but I'm not familiar with them. (Ebony is roughly Cosmo/Vogue, with Jet filling a "Time"-like demographic)

#996 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 03:58 PM:

I haven't picked up Cosmo recently, but occasionally I'll find a Vogue or similar lying around. The last one I looked at started with over 40 pages of advertising before the beginning of the 3-page table of contents -- which began on page 44 and ended on page 66 (page numbers estimates), the rest of the space padded out with more advertising.

That sort of editorial content to advertising ratio seems typical of women's magazines, but I haven't noticed it that bad in any of the men-oriented magazines suggested as counterparts.

#997 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 04:57 PM:

Lee #991: Are you thinking of Gentleman's Quarterly/GQ? That's one I forgot about in my examples, but yeah AIR it leans more toward the clothes-porn and appearance themes.

Buddha Buck #996: Which is one of the reasons that Ms. magazine made such a point of not accepting advertisements.

#998 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 07:38 PM:

albatross, #992: It was several years ago that I saw the magazine, and I have no recollection at all of what it was. It wasn't either Esquire or GQ, because those are names I recognize and I would have remembered if it had been one of them. I suppose it could have been Maxim, since that name is totally unfamiliar to me. But the overall feel of it was absolutely like Cosmo -- lots of fashion and personal-grooming ads, an advice column, "personal improvement" articles like the one I mentioned; it really was designed to hook men into the same self-hating paradigm that womens' magazines promote.

#999 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 08:22 PM:

Em at #978 and #979, your story was worth reading twice.

#1000 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 08:38 PM:

And 2016 claims another: Richard Thompson, local cartoonist and creator of "Cul de Sac"

#1001 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 09:54 PM:

Carrie S. / Lee: thanks for the clarification.

Elliot Mason @ 921: There are plenty of words in English that have shifted far from their etymological roots and now mean something quite different. There's a Poul Anderson story on this theme, ending with a quote (IIRC, Charles II to Christopher Wren) calling a work "awful" and "terrible" and meaning both as compliments.

David Harmon @ 927: I am not seeing how it would be possible to copy a crossword from NYT to Useless, whose recent crosswords have struck me as increasingly trivial where I usually can't finish even the Monday NYT puzzle. But it seems like he found some easy themes to lift? Or perhaps made the surrounding clues so easy that the themes fill in?

Jenny Islander @ 972: That is, it is directed at the presumed lowest common denominator of middle-class or lower-middle-class American womanhood. There are money-saving tips for people who think that $300 is a lot. $300 for what? There are very few things that I would spend $300 on, and I routinely juggle schedules to save much less.

em @ 978: great improvising -- and you got a good story out of it too!

#1002 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 11:19 PM:

$300 is a lot for a haircut. Not a lot for a car.

"Save $300 a year", perhaps?

#1003 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 11:36 PM:

What I came here to ask: If the United States has something (like a problem) is it "the United States' problem" or "the United States's problem"?

#1004 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2016, 11:57 PM:

I'm not sure if I've read an issue of TRUE. I almost certainly haven't read two of them. And yet, I have a great fondness for the Men's Magazine because they got so many great cartoons out of Virgil Partch, as well as a lot of other 50s cartoonists. More than ESQUIRE, they were the precursor to the great cartoon days of PLAYBOY (a lot of which is excruciating now, but they had a terrific cartoon editor for years, Michelle Urry, I believe, and even the T&A cartoons could be pretty good).

Wow. Lot of posts!
Some parts of the 50s are unbearably arch and coy with the humor, but that's not a problem the TRUE cartoons have, and I have a good half dozen or more of them in paperback, each one a little time sink all by itself. VIP's own collections feel like extensions of the TRUE collections, cleansed and purified of the non-Partch elements.

The cartoonist, by the way, was not only seriously bent in the head, he was also well-respected and industrious as all getout. His newspaper strip, BIG GEORGE!, continued to run for more than a year after his death, because he was so far ahead on it. Every week, I'd look, and he was still there!

He did some layout work for Disney. I think the cartoon where his style pops right out is about Donald Duck being a gumshoe. It's a riot to see his particular tiki stylization of humanity acting in a Disney cartoon!

#1005 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 12:22 AM:

Sandy 1003: The first. 'United States' is plural in form, so use plural punctuation. So if all the teams have a problem, it's the teams' problem.

#1006 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 12:33 AM:

CHip @1001: The Anderson story was called "A Tragedy of Errors", and if memory serves me right the phrase was "awful, pompous, and artificial"...which nowadays needs translation to "awe-inspiring, stately, and ingenious". (And there was a time when that first might have been "awesome", but that word too has shifted in use, within living memory.)

#1007 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 01:03 AM:

Xopher @1005 But there isn't a singular form of that -- you'd never say "The United State". If there isn't a singular, is it a plural, or is the S part of the proper noun, even if it was originally a plural etymologically?

#1008 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 01:50 AM:

Kip W @1004: Virgil Partch was also strongly connected to the LASFS in the late 40s/early 50s. Ry Bradbury inscribed a copy of the first of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES to Virgil -- I was sure it wasn't to Finlay, because in 1950 Virgil Finlay was a Big Name and Bradbury wasn't. Partch was my best guess as to who it was inscribed to -- and a major Bradbury bibliographer agreed with me.

#1009 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 01:54 AM:

@Sandy B. no. 1002: Yes, I should have been more specific. The type of reader who thinks $300 per year is a lot. (raises hand)

#1010 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 02:09 AM:

Further on Woman's World: The standard lineup is:

*On the Cover: A diet, a dessert that the diet doesn't allow, and assorted other headlines.

*Some kind of special feature covering multiple pages. This week it's "Reverse Hair Loss."

*"Be Informed," featuring a collecting trend, things to watch/read/etc., and a fraud alert or suggestion for bargain hunters.

*"Look Your Best," a double-pager with fashion trends. Always slimming.

*"Feel Terrific," more health advice.

*"Express Your Creativity & Love," featuring decorating ideas, glue gun crafts, a kids' craft page, a party planning idea, cocktails, and recipes.

*"Relax & Have Fun," featuring cartoons, a horoscope, puzzles, a travel spread with a local drink/dessert, etc.

*"Feel Inspired," including nice sayings for every day, a story about angels, a story about an everyday hero, and a short-short romance.

*"Meet Inspiring People," feel-good stories about everyday heroes and random acts of kindness.

#1011 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 03:05 AM:

Sandy, Xopher:

Readers' Digest used to have a column called something like "Life in These United States," which I remember finding a little weird as a kid. I think that's an old construction, not one you see often anymore.

If we think of the country's name as a plural, then we'd say "The United States have X" rather than "The United States has X," right?

#1012 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 03:50 AM:

Sandy, Xopher, albatross: Charlie Pierce regularly uses 'these United States', but I thought it had died out from non-ironic use. However, the Google tells me that Obama has used it a few times and that someone writing for the Atlantic thought this was Deeply Significant.

#1013 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 03:54 AM:

David Goldfarb #1006. I think it was amusing, awful, and artificial

#1014 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 06:48 AM:

I've read that before the Civil War, it was "the United States are", and after the Civil War, it was "the United States is."

#1015 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 09:04 AM:

I had a mild shock around the time of my surprise kidney stone last year. As part of the followup, I found myself in a waiting room, so I looked in on the Reader's Digest. It felt light when I picked it up. There are fewer pages than ever. The amazing thing is that they have managed to dumb it down even more than the last time I looked closely at it, decades before. Not much left for them, I think. It'll be down to one laminated color page with some photos on it that you point at and grunt. It could come out four times a month, and they can call it "My Weekly Non-Reader."

They still have all the named features, though ("Life in These United States," "Laughter, the Best Medicine," "Humor in Uniform," and various other ways of stacking little anecdotes).

#1016 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 10:22 AM:

Kip W@1015:Is the Reader's Digest still digest-size? (Can't remember the last time I saw an actual digest-size magazine on a newsagent's rack—the sturdily old-fashioned DC Thomson women's periodical The People's Friend used to be, but I think it moved to A4 about 10 years ago.)

#1017 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 10:33 AM:

Kip's description of the shrinking Reader's Digest reminds me of the shrinkage, and increasingly dumbification, of Parade magazine.

This publication is a substitute for your local newspaper having its own Sunday magazine supplement. It has always been a trivial, low-brow thing, with celebrity news and an uplifting celebrity profile, recipes for quickie dinners and baked desserts, and health advice. The one vaguely substantial article they run each year is a survey of salaries; what people in various professions make.

Over the last few years Parade has shrunk to maybe twelve pages, most of them adverts aimed at the elderly (walk-in tubs, alert pendants). I flip through it out of perverse curiosity; it takes me perhaps two minutes.

#1018 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 10:39 AM:

(To answer my own question—I'm clearly not as good at Googling as I used to be—apparently RD still is digest-size. And mentioning DC Thomson should have reminded me that Commando retains the format. No doubt commercial wisdom now advises strongly against launching anything small enough on the shelf to get lost among competitors.)

#1019 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 11:02 AM:

Before the Civil War, "United States" was used with plural verbs. Since then, at least in the US, it's had singular verbs.

#1020 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 11:33 AM:

albatross, #1011: It still does. The phrasing never struck me as odd, but I think I'm a little older than you are, so I may have encountered it eisewhere.

Xopher, if this is WRT something you're writing, I would suggest re-wording it to avoid the issue.

Steve w/b, 1018: I'm pretty sure that my grocery has a couple of other digest-sized items at the checkout magazine rack, but I want to say they're all things like crossword-puzzle books. If I remember, I'll take a closer look the next time I go in.

#1021 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 12:00 PM:

Lee (1020): I've seen some digest-sized recipe mags in the supermarket racks, as well.

#1022 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 12:01 PM:

Sandy, #1003, with both "the United States' problem" and "the United States's problem," you have a singular noun ending in s. It's the same problem as "James' shoes" or "James's shoes." You can use either, but the important thing is to be consistent (not just for both shoes, but for every use of James, every use of the United States, and across all the different singular nouns ending in s. This is why style sheets were invented.)

The question of whether the "United States" should be singular or plural doesn't usually come up when you're placing the apostrophe. It comes up when you ask if it should be "How should the United States solve its problems?" or "How should the United States solve their problems?" If you're talking about the federal government, or the country as a whole, after the civil war, it's almost always singular. Most of the exceptions are when you're talking about states disagreeing with each other.

#1023 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 12:20 PM:

I kind-of wonder how much longer magazines will exist in print form, since both tablet apps and web pages do the same basic job better. But I'm not much of a magazine reader (note how many mens' magazines I couldn't think of, compared to Elliot), so maybe I'm missing the appeal of the glossy paper magazines.

#1024 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 01:00 PM:

I think we will have the less expensive mass market magazines for quite a while, especially the "women's magazines". You can't tear a recipe out of a ebook and put it on the fridge to consult while you are cooking.

#1025 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 01:02 PM:

Just about all magazines have shrunk. I had heard that when a magazine has fewer than 80 pages, it's a sign it's on its way out. Advertising is being redistributed to internet avenues.

Around 2000, I can remember an issue of Atlantic Monthly having well over 150 pages. Not nearly so much anymore.

#1026 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 01:41 PM:

Lee@1020: I'd forgotten about puzzle books, which I suppose are optimized for 'need to be able to pull out of/put back into a pocket or handbag at short notice'. Whereas with a glossy magazine full of expensive advertising, an ideal use case from the ad-sales point of view might be that it gets left on a waiting-room table and seen by as many people as possible?

Language Log has discussed the history of singular/plural 'United States' a few times: see here for an interesting Google Ngram.

#1027 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 02:47 PM:

When I was in grade school, my dad took (among others) True, Argosy, Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. I enjoyed looking through the two latter, the two former not so much. I remember the VIP and Rodriguez cartoons.

Our family had subscriptions to at least a dozen magazines, including the dread dentists' office Highlights (my dad was a surgeon so I suppose he got hit up at the office). Time, Life, National Geographic, Smithsonian...

I had Calling All Girls, which apparently was an answer to Boys Life. There was one aimed at younger kids for my sister. The characters in the stories were real for me; my mother was confused by my telling her of one set around a girl called "Aines". She finally had me show it to her. Agnes. There was an ongoing series set around a mouse detective who name was two kinds of cheese: (something) Stilton.

My parents' wedding party clubbed together and got them a lifetime subscription to Reader's Digest. This was right after WWII and was considered to have cost the earth. Last I knew my mom was still getting it.

My folks had two coffee-table-sized volumes of cartoons from The New Yorker, so when my grandmother asked what I wanted for my birthday when I was around ten or eleven I asked for a subscription to that. She was bemused but got it for me anyway, and it opened a window comparable to what the internet did decades later.

#1028 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 03:14 PM:

I am not sure what specific sizes were used in the past, but whatever the old "Imperial" paper sizes were eventually moved to metric equivalents in the UK. Just about everything now is A4 size, and that is at much the same place in the landscape as US Letter and foolscap. I don't know the measurements of The Peoples Friend, but that is its territory. And Digest size brings up an image of something in the territory of a paperback book.

It's not the same, but it's the territory, something that is read more like a book than a magazine. And The Peoples Friend is, in its content, maybe more in line with the US pre-digest fiction magazines, physically more like the pulps than The Readers Digest. One thing that leads to is a multi-column layout.

#1029 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 04:23 PM:

Stefan Jones #1017: Not just the mass-market magazines. I was very annoyed a few years ago when all my science magazines slid down a rung. Discover became worthless to me, while Scientific American got a lot less detailed and more glossy.¹ I later picked up Science News, which is closer to where SciAm used to be.

¹ I'm still wondering about some of the pseudoscience ads in SciAm, but I'm not sure of those came in with the dumbification or not.

#1030 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 06:18 PM:

Albatross - re magazines - I'm thinking they'll be around fine for another 5 to 10 years at least. The user experience on tablets etc just isn't quite up to it, and of course not everyone has a tablet/ pocket computer/ heads up spectacles.

What struck me in the last year was when I went to the USA, San Jose specifically, supermarkets had perhaps one or two examples of a magazine of a specific type (celebrity gossip for example) and so took up maybe 12 feet of shelving.
Meanwhile, here in the UK, even in parts of the country where you might expect lower purchases of magazines, there is two or three times the area of them for sale, with 4 or 5 examples in the main categories and many niche ones catered for as well. (Do we need 3 or 4 photography magazines? Or two hillwalking ones?)

Then in France a couple of weeks ago, the supermarche and other similar shops had tonnes of magazines, more than here. Even a tobcaconist/ corner shop sort of place, in Orleans, had a wheen o' magazines, including 5 or 6 popular science ones aimed at different ages/ levels, and the usual crosswords through gossip through cars, and what a lot of car magazines. The variety was amazing.

So obviously how long magazines stay popular will depend on a few things, like the country, but I wouldn't write them off just yet. If anything they'll get killed by the profit demands of the media corporations, like has happened to newspapers, which were on the slide in the UK several years before the internet was in any position to threaten them.

#1031 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 09:03 PM:

SciAm dumbed down the first time around 1992, when they changed owners. If they've dumbed down again, they really must be bad.

#1032 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 11:18 PM:

SciAm may have dumbed down the first time around 1992, but for me the final straw was the new-management redesign of 2001.

At the time, I was still reading SciAm, but mainly for some of the long-running columns: The Amateur Scientist, Computer Recreations (the successor of Hoffstadters Metamagical Themas and Gardner's Mathematical Games), Philip Morrison's monthly column, etc. The articles were still reasonable, but not as good as in my youth.

In March, 2001, they ran the final column for ALL of the long-running columns, and replaced them with...nothing. Bigger pictures, more articles that weren't as good, etc. That was the final straw for me, and I haven't really looked at it since.

On the other hand, I have read some of the really early issues of SciAm (they were available at my college library, when I still cared about the magazine), and it was originally very much like Popular Science/Mechanics is today. At some time in their first 75 years of existing or so, they significantly smartened up.

#1033 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 11:25 PM:

They had to have smartened up before the early 1960s, which was when I first saw it (the neighbor across the street got it; he was a bacteriologist). The cover paintings were really excellent, also.

#1034 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2016, 11:47 PM:

So when are we getting Open Thread 213?

#1035 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 12:46 AM:

One my undergrad college papers was about the evolution of Scientific American. I read through more than a hundred years of it. Started out as what we'd call a newspaper, with adverts and business news. Became more magazine like, with substantial articles and news, in the late 1800s.

(FASCINATING stuff, like feisty letters during the Civil War, and TWO manifestations of a investment-scam invention, a "cold steam engine.")

It evolved into a tepid, Popular Science type magazine after the turn of the century. More industry and tech than science. I remember a braggy article about American poison gas production after WWI.

But BOY OH BOY, a massive re-design and smartening up after the war. The re-imagined magazine is recognizeably the one I remember in the 60s and 70s, in graphic design and depth of content.

#1036 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 02:55 AM:

joann @985: I thought I was looking for a large floofy tortie or calico, and what stole my heart was a tiny solid grey creature.

Sorta like (the inverse of) my dear Mr. Fuzzy Logan.

I had (I think) three females, wasn't really looking to take on more, certainly not a male, whom I'd have to house separately or get neutered, and for damn sure not a longhair.

Well, my downstairs neighbor bangs on my door of a Saturday afternoon, to tell me that there's a guinea pig for sale at our complex's community yard sale. ::sigh:: (Restraint was never my strong suit.) Went over. Hm. "Can I hold him?" They didn't want to let me. I pointed out that I could hardly be expected to pay for him if I couldn't hold him first, so they agreed.

He settled right into my shoulder like he'd lived there all his life. ::sigh:: "How much?"

They'd named him (not unreasonably) "Puffy." Well, I couldn't let that stand. So I named him after the neighbor kid who helped me carry his cage home. (He did wind up getting neutered, but he was so happy when the girls finally let him come live in their cage, I think it was worth it, and I think he would have agreed.)

Best relationship I've ever had with any male.

#1037 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 03:22 AM:

Most magazines will die when waterproof, shatterproof, user-friendly, full-color tablets with 24 hour active battery life that weigh no more than a 100 page magazine are the same price as 3-4 print magazines (like the future equivalent of $8-15).

Right now the sticking points are weight, durability, and user-friendliness. I've seen older good Kindle Fire models for $15-20, but those are clearance prices and again - not waterproof. And significantly heavier.

Durability is important in general. I'm highlighting waterproofness because that's the leading cause of phone death and the use-case that most often has me reaching for paper rather than electronics. If I'm reading in the bath or going traveling in a place where I'm likely to get rained on, electronics are a major liability. If a $5 magazine or used paperback gets a bit damp, it'll still be readable. Even if it gets SOAKED that's just $5 lost not $35 or $150.

Battery life is important, too. I mentioned 12-24 hours of active use, but idle/unused power is important too. You need to be able to pick up a tablet that has sat unused for 3-5 days and have it show you the last page viewed in under three seconds & retain a decent amount of its remaining charge.

I'd put this theoretical tablet in that vague "10-50 years from now" range. These features are all things we're getting close to solving individually, but we're not all that close to putting them together into one neat cheap package. And apple - so long our best hope for user experience design - has been moving the wrong direction in the last few years.

It will be hilariously tragic if solvable ux problems are the final hurdle.

#1038 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 03:53 AM:

Stefan Jones @1017: Kip's description of the shrinking Reader's Digest reminds me of the shrinkage, and increasingly dumbification, of Parade magazine.

Scientific American, anyone? I let my subscription lapse a few years ago. It seemed to me that, in addition to being much thinner (not in itself a bad thing, as I had trouble getting through the whole magazine), but an increasing percentage of the articles were topic surveys written by staff writers, not articles by the scientists themselves. I think what finally pushed me over the edge was when an article used several 1000-most-common words in place of the correct technical term (which wasn't even all that obscure)—which didn't even convey the correct meaning.

#1039 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 04:10 AM:

Hah. And, of course, I hadn't read to the bottom of the thread.

One wonders if the post-war improvement in SciAm was a direct response to the Cold War's Johnny vs Ivan. The '92 dumbination correlates interestingly with the fall of the Soviet Union, too. (Although I would more likely lay that at the feet of the systematic dismantling of the public school system. Though there's nothing to say both couldn't be at play.)

#1040 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 04:55 AM:

Buddha Buck #1032: SciAm may have dumbed down the first time around 1992, but for me the final straw was the new-management redesign of 2001.

Sigh, my sense of "a few years ago" seems to have undergone some inflation of its own. I could swear they had yet another nerfing more recently, at least as far as their textual editing and writing level. But yeah, I miss Mathematical Recreations and its successors, not to mention Amateur Scientist. Now we get lightweight clumns like Shermer's "Skeptic" and Mirsky's "Anti-Gravity".

Stefan Jones #1035: One [of] my undergrad college papers was about the evolution of Scientific American. I read through more than a hundred years of it.

Yow. They do claim to be the longest-continuously-published magazine in the US, so changing with the times clearly has something going for it... but my middle school had a butload of back issues, in those big old binding books. I read their original article on the Theory of Relativity in there, equations and all.

Now they're apparently afraid to use equations in articles. And sometimes a bit of terminology will get an aside "defining" it for a grade-schooler without Google... but they're inconsistent even within an article about what level of terms they expect the reader to know.

#1041 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 05:01 AM:

Spelling: Gotta learn not to hit "post" before 5AM. Back to bed, I think.

#1042 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 09:08 AM:

For your pre-dumbing Scientific American enjoyment, here's the archives from 1845 to 1909 over at archive dot org. My personal favorite is on page 227 of April 11, 1891, which I first saw (just the illustration) in Charles Addams's macabre little scrapbook, Dear Dead Days, a book that gave me enjoyment and some nightmarish brainworms. By "ish," I mean they weren't actual nightmares, but that they somehow stayed in my head and resurfaced as squalid, dull, and somewhat squeamy images in a claustrophobic dream I still recall slightly.

So anyway, possible triggers in the above link (not right at the link, you have to go to page 227 of a particular issue, so I figured most people weren't already there): dead body, electroplating, and WTFery.

#1043 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 09:43 AM:

The use of units is inconsistent, I would like to have seen more about energy costs, and it might have passed over the politics too lightly, but this doesn't seem like an astonishingly awful article.

#1044 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 10:24 AM:

Kip W@1042: thanks for the SA link, that'll clearly be a huge timesink for me in the near future.

A German-language near-equivalent: Dingler's Polytechnic Journal, which ran from 1820 to 1931. Click on a volume and you get the links to DFG-Viewer/Goobi.Presentation/PDF (Faksimile) on the right, which give you page images (be warned that the PDFs are hundreds of MB in size). I can barely read German but, particularly in the volumes from the early 20th century, the typography and illustrations are absolutely beautiful, especially the ads. It's sobering to think just how much effort it was to make a magazine look as good as this in the hot-metal days.

#1045 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 10:41 AM:

Ten years ago, I wanted a regular science infusion but remembered that Scientific American had gone soft. I poked around and decided that American Scientist was a good replacement. So I read that for a while and was satisfied.

After a couple of years, my schedule was such that the surprise arrival of new reading material provoked resentment rather than joy. So I let that subscription lapse. But a quick look at the web site leads me to guess that they're still good.

#1046 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 11:24 AM:

Thanks to all who have wished Jenny well. It's going to be an interesting voyage; she's definitely on the inquisitive side, and we're going to have to be a little more careful about how we stack/lean/pile things. This morning, she has finally taken official cognizance of my desk, something the last incumbent never got round to in seven years. I can report that it's ... interesting ... when she lies on your free-standing trackpad. And I'm really not sure about this fascination with my coffee cup. But she purrs so nicely while she's doing whatever.

#1047 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 12:29 PM:

Nancy @1043:

I still subscribe to the SciAm RSS feed, much as I subscribe to Wired or Ars Technica's RSS feeds, so I have that article open in another tab myself.

I am struck, however, by the first line in the article: From Ensia (find the original story here); reprinted with permission.

It isn't original reporting, and the quality of the article reflects more on the writers and editorial staff at Ensia, not those at SciAm (except for the editors who decided to include it).

And I don't know if the article appears in the print edition.

#1048 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 02:24 PM:

I got a subscription to SA sometime around 1979 as a prize for doing well in the University of Waterloo's annual "Sir Isaac Newton" physics contest for high-school students. Continued to subscribe until... well, probably around 1994. The magazine was thinner; it was full of typographical clutter such as quotations from the article stuck in the middle of the page in a big brightly-coloured font. The articles were simpler. But the last straw was the errors -- in each issue there was some basic mistake that a competent science-knowledgeable editor should have caught. The one I remember was a hydroelectric dam whose power output was described in kilowatt-hours (i.e. energy, not power). This was, for me, a ferocious irritant, and it implied that the rest of the content wasn't trustworthy.

#1050 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 11:03 PM:

This thread will be used for storing . . . ahhhh, I'm out of ideas.

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