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December 5, 2016

Open thread 215
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 11:02 AM * 792 comments

Nine years ago.

It was Pakjesavond, my first here in the Netherlands. That’s the night before the feast of St Nicholas, and it’s when good little Dutch children get their Giftmas presents. Since we were going to be celebrating Christmas in Scotland, we didn’t do much for it—just a present and a chocolate letter each for the kids.

I can still remember both presents, and the sick terrible dread that somehow they weren’t enough, that the kids wouldn’t be pleased. It wasn’t really about the Barbie puzzle or the marble maze, of course.

It was a terrible time for us. My SAD was all but out of control. We were living in a rented house with black slate floors, which seemed to suck all the light out the world. Martin was miserable. Alex was wretched. Fiona broke a finger and swallowed a battery. We wondered whether we’d made a terrible mistake coming here. We had to choose soon whether to sell the Edinburgh house and buy something in this strange and difficult country, or go back with our tails between our legs.

It was time for a new Open Thread. I wrote and mailed off a piece of abject homesickness after everyone else had slunk off to bed. I wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere but there in that chilly dark space, typing at that cheap laminate desk in a house full of other people’s stuff and no bookshelves, the oven too small and high, the coffee machine whose coffee I couldn’t love. I was listening to Lowlands by Gillian Welch, and half-laughing, half-crying at the literal meaning of the word “Netherlands”.

And then Patrick contacted me on IM and told me he thought I was a good writer and did I want to post that piece on Making Light myself? And I did, and at the tail end of that thread we started talking about familial dysfunction. And spring came eventually. We bought the oak-floored house we live in now, changed jobs, got the kids settled into the school system. Obama was elected twice; puppets and puppies came and went. There was poetry and politics. People we loved died or blew up or drifted off. New people came, became beloved.

It’s been, on balance, a wonderful nine years. We’ve been in a number of dark places along the way, and we’re certainly in one now. I don’t know if, or how, we get out of this, but I know that we’re more likely to do it together than apart.

I’m glad to be here. Happy Pakjesavond, happy anniversary, happy Open Thread.

Comments on Open thread 215:
#1 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:37 AM:

And I 'm so glad you're still here.

Happy Pakjesavond,

#2 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:42 AM:

I, for one, am glad you're still here. You help make the world, on balance, a good place, Abi.

Gelukkige Pakjesavond!

#3 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:45 AM:

Me too.
(me three?)

#4 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:56 AM:

obGhost: Ditto.

(How is "Pakjesavond" pronounced?)

#5 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:59 AM:


A pakje is a small package (-je marks the diminutive, though the Dutch use it for fond diminutives as well as genuinely small things). And avond is evening.

#6 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 12:04 PM:

I'm glad you're still here.

I'm glad this community is here, and I'm glad we're here for each other.

#7 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 12:14 PM:


#8 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 12:16 PM:

(Not original with me, but a nice rebuke to the "War on Christmas" crowd.)

#9 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 12:43 PM:

abi, I'm very glad you're here.

#10 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 12:56 PM:

An unusual work of 16th-century bookbinding: Six books, one binding.

#11 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 02:30 PM:

abi @5: Thanks. Sometimes Dutch "j" just confuses.

Theophylact @7: And this year, Hanukkah's first full day coincides with Christmas. *Rubs hands together with unholy glee and hand cream*

#12 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 02:44 PM:

The "J" occurs in three contexts in Dutch.

The first is as a semivowel, as in pakje or januari. Then it's pronounced as a "y".

The second is as part of the vowel ij, which is called the lange i. It's a long I, the way that aa is a long a, etc.*

The third is as a consonant proper in a very small number of loan-words such as jam, which is pronounced "zhem".

* there is some complexity about long vowels - a, e, o and u can be positionally long, where the spelling doesn't explicitly indicate that they are (basically, the vowel only appears once, but in a syllable that doesn't end in a consonant; this means it's automatically long and Dutch speakers will read it as such without the repetition). I doesn't work that way; if it's long it's always written ij, or rarely and alternatively y.

Note that if a lange ij is capitalized, both letters are capitalized: IJsselmeer. And then there's the river IJ.

#13 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 02:45 PM:

I suspect, rereading that comment, that I have not made anything clearer about Dutch orthography or pronunciation.

#14 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 03:05 PM:

jam, which is pronounced "zhem"

I understood this bit.

#15 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 03:16 PM:

Actually, I appreciated the bit about "ij". Now I understand why I've seen IJ both capitalized in the front of words....

#16 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 03:42 PM:


Note that if a lange ij is capitalized, both letters are capitalized: IJsselmeer.

Interesting; a quick search indicates the Guardian gets this right more often than not, but the BBC doesn't.

(I've occasionally had to sort long lists of surnames from all over Europe, containing pretty much all of the accented forms of Roman characters, into alphabetical order. There is just no way of doing this in a way that will keep everyone happy. I think I usually, shamefacedly, ordered the accented characters as though they were the unaccented base characters. Ars longa, vita brevis.)

#17 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 04:06 PM:

So. Dutch vowels.

Dutch makes a strong distinction between long and short vowels. To a Dutch speaker they are not the same letter. There are minimal pairs. You can't make puns across vowel-length boundaries. (I've tried. People just look at you.)

All five vowels have long/short versions: a/aa, e/ee, i/ij, o/oo, u/uu. However, apart from i/ij, these are not always explicitly spelled out, because of a quirk in Dutch orthography.

You see, Dutch divides syllables into "open" ones (which end in a vowel) and "closed" ones (which end in a consonant). Open syllables are naturally long; closed ones are naturally short.†

You can make a closed syllable long by explicitly saying it is long, that is, by doubling the vowel. Let's take the verb "to go", gaan. Closed syllable in the infinitive, so the long vowel is explicitly shown. If I want to say "I go", it's ik ga. That's pronounced "ik gaa", but no one needs to see that second a because the syllable is open.

You can't shorten an open syllable. But you can double consonants to close off a syllable that would otherwise become open.

The verb rennen means "to run". See that doubled n in the middle? The stem of the verb is ren (ik ren). To turn the stem into the infinitive (or the plural; they're the same), you would normally add -en. But if you do that you get *renen, which lengthens that first e. And you don't want that. Thus the doubled n, so the first syllable closes: ren/nen.

Super fun example: the minimal pair of man/moon: man/maan. You make both of them plural by adding -en, but you have to preserve vowel length. So:

man+en=mannen to close the syllable and preserve the short vowel.
maan+en=manen You don't need that second a since the syllable opened up (because the first n glommed onto the second syllable).

It's hard to explain. It's hard to learn. Kids struggle with it for a year or so when they learn to spell. But once it's in the brain, it's easy to do.
† What this does to their pronunciation of a language like Latin, where positional vowel length is not a thing, and where there can be minimal pairs by vowel length between words spelled the same (līber/lĭber)...well, it makes the baby Quintillain cry.

#18 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 04:14 PM:

Steve with a book @16:

I've occasionally had to sort long lists of surnames from all over Europe, containing pretty much all of the accented forms of Roman characters, into alphabetical order. There is just no way of doing this in a way that will keep everyone happy.

No, you really can't, even with the unaccented forms only. Not when Spanish wants to treat ll as a separate letter from l and rr as separate from r.

And not when the Dutch and the Belgians will alphabetize exactly the same name in different ways. Dutch, you see, alphabetizes surnames without tussenvoegsels (van, den, der, de, etc). Belgium, however, uses the whole surname including tussenvoegsels. So my former colleague Daniël van de Burgt was a B in the Netherlands, but a V in Belgium.

And that leaves aside the old-school Scottish custom of putting all the Macs, Mcs, and M''s in a group ahead of the other M's.

(Yes, I did work in library search software for a time, and learned a lot about names.)

#19 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 04:40 PM:

I am much glad for Abi, and for learning more about orthography. I'm a bit sad that it looks like I will not get to accidentally live in the Netherlands; I'd have to make that happen on purpose, which has its own hazards. But that's also me cargo-culting Abiness, which Abiness itself warns against.

#20 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 04:44 PM:

abi @12,13:

It explains why I'd want to pronounce Edsger Dijkstra's name as "di-ykstra", treating the "j" as a "y"-sound -- and why that's wrong.

Are other open-vowels written at the front of sentences capitalized as well? e.g., would a word begin with AAxxx or OOxxx in the same way it would begin with IJxxx?

#21 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 04:54 PM:

Diatryma @19:

You'll always be a much better Diatryma than I could ever hope to be, you know.

Buddha Buck @20:

"Edsger Dijkstra" is best pronounced "EDsghher DIEkstra", where the ghh is basically the Scottish "ch" from "loch". (Unless you're a Southerner; see the conversation here with my better half, whose accent is from the south of the Netherlands). And smile when you say DIE because it makes the lange ij sound right.

And IJ is the only long vowel that's double-capitalized. The planet we're on here is de Aarde.

#22 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 05:42 PM:

David Goldfarb @214/1030: I find myself suspecting that you want to know if there are any more stories like that one. No, there aren't.

How very preceptive of you. :-) Yes, that was exactly what prompted my anxiety. I've consistently heard such good things about Sandman, but horror. Okay, "Dream Countrym," ho!

Now, off to read @0....

#23 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 06:07 PM:

Jacque @22:

It's been said that there is one issue per collected volume which is hard, like that one, but my recollection is that of all the issues in the whole series, issue #6 is exceptional. I've told people that if they can make it past issue #6, then the rest of the series is easy.

It's been years since I've read the whole thing. I ought to do it again.

#24 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 06:14 PM:

And then of course there's me, who obtained a new lady-pig* who's coat color somewhat resembles an ermine in summer coat, or a least weasel, but neither of which species name makes for a very good pet name, so I went with Marten (as in pine marten, which looks nothing like aforementioned lady-pig). This, in turn, evoked Saint Marten.** To add a wee flourish, I added an extra a, (evoking Dutch and therefore abi) to produce "Maarten."

I pronounce it like abi's spouse's name. I now wonder if it might more accurately*** be pronounced "mare-tin"?

Hey, it's a challenge to see how many languages I can mangle simultaneously!

* Seen here with Mr. Donkey.

** Appropriately born in Peru.

*** Okay, okay, you can stop snickering. It's a pet name, okay?

#25 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 07:40 PM:

I think I was in Germany, and we spent a lot of time on IM. I was both having a grand time, and a bit adrift, because time wasn't behaving. Someone went through the barracks that night and slipped a kinder egg into everyone's boots.

I'm glad we're still here too.

#26 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 08:06 PM:

abi: re 13. You have helped me immensely. I had some idea but nothing codified. I will now make much better mispronunciations.

#27 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 08:11 PM:

abi: re Mc/Mac: That's how I was taught to organise the card catalogue when I was studying basic Library Science, they preceded the Ms (elective class, in high school).

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 09:32 PM:

Netflix is carrying, in the USA at least, a documentary about Steampunk called "Vintage Tomorrows."

I really enjoyed it. It is star-studded, and doesn't hold back from critiques, e.g., the colonialist baggage of the Victorian age.

Also . . . inspiring? Yes.

#29 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 09:37 PM:

abi@0: Thank you. It's been a very full, and, on balance, wonderful set of years for us as well. It's helpful, right now, to remember that.

D. Potter@11: Back in September it struck me that "Gaudete" means roughly the same thing as "Hava nagila". Maybe it's a good year for that observation.

#30 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 09:59 PM:

Steve with a book #16: Been there, done that at the bookstore. We do the 'mac' thing, but other pronomials like "de" or "von" may or may not be counted. (Hello Cervantes!) And we've got a couple of "go see" labels for Hispanic authors with binomial surnames.

Jacque #22: The best way I've heard it phrased is that for most of that first volume, Gaiman was casting around for how the series should work, and then in "The Sound Of Her Wings", he "finds his voice'. I concur that the rest has frequent dark themes and nasty episodes, but nothing as sadistic as #6.

#31 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 10:21 PM:

Also in the first volume Gaiman was really being overly influenced by Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing. If you read the first two volumes of that, and then the first volume of Sandman, you could be forgiven for thinking of Sandman as "Swamp Thing lite". That too gets better fairly quickly as the series progresses.

#32 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 10:36 PM:

Gaiman gets close to being that difficult in the issue of A DOLL'S HOUSE set at the "cereal convention." The violence is more implied than shown, but I found it more horrific for that. Lots of trigger warnings in that set for child abuse and rape. Still incredibly well done, and worth reading, but very triggery.

On a different note: The problem with "one-size-fits-all medicine, as experienced by a doctor, former editor of JAMA, who got the wrong type of physical therapy because it was the standard approach. From Lizzy Lynn via Karen and Facebook.

#33 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:36 PM:

In addition to the feast of St. Nicholas, tomorrow is my sister Mimi's birthday, this year her 60th.

#34 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:45 PM:

Happy Anniversary, Abi!

#35 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2016, 11:52 PM:

I well remember you writing about the battery incident. Thank you abi, for your contributions.

#36 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 03:13 AM:

Stefan Jones @28
Thanks for the pointer to Vintage Tomorrows, very enjoyable (and available on Netflix NZ).

#37 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 04:45 AM:

From what I can see, Icelandic does the same long/short vowel thing so it feels pretty intuitive to me.

#38 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 04:56 AM:

Jacque @24:

The aa (as in the Dutch name Maartin, or the word for moon) isn't like "mare". That's actually closer to ee (so the Dutch word meer, more, is halfway between "mare" and "mere").

Aa is better done by saying "ah" while smiling to flatten the sound and push it further back in the mouth, then just saying it a little longer to emphasize that it's a long vowel. Think about Boston while you do so.

#39 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 09:01 AM:

Icelandic does the same long/short vowel thing

Japanese makes a strong distinction as well, though the vowel length is always explicitly represented when written in syllabic form.

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 09:55 AM:

Congrats on nine years, Abi!

#41 ::: Priscilla King ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 10:59 AM:

Happy anniversary, Abi Sutherland, and thank you for explaining Pakjesavond.

#42 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 12:59 PM:

Happy feast of St. Nicholas!

Nicholas is the patron saint of many types of people, including the obvious children, brides, and paupers, but he is also the patron saint of thieves, murderers, prostitutes, embalmers, barrel makers, and pirates.

In light of the whole "punching Arius at the Council of Nicea" legend, it's surprising that he is not the patron saint of pugilists.

#43 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 02:04 PM:

I am grateful and glad that you are there, and this space is here for us partly because of you.

#44 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 02:23 PM:

abi @38: Think about Boston while you do so.

Or maybe New Zealand. :-) (I've noticed some interesting similarities between Boston & Anzac accents.)

#45 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 05:18 PM:

Happy Pakjesavond! I'm glad you stayed (and grew to be happy there) for I greatly enjoyed reading your portrait of the Netherlands.

#46 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2016, 10:14 PM:

I am, indeed, grateful for the making of light -- today I found myself using the phrases "If you do/can do nothing else, bear witness", and "the street finds its own uses", both of which represent a mere fraction of the output of fascinating discussions herein.

#47 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2016, 01:03 AM:

Advent calendar with multiple flavors of crisps for Patrick and also a gif of a hamster eating them for Teresa.

#48 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2016, 09:11 AM:

Happy ML-anniversary, abi!

#49 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2016, 09:41 AM:

Back in September it struck me that "Gaudete" means roughly the same thing as "Hava nagila".

Or, in the London Yiddish dialect, hava banana.

#50 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2016, 06:01 PM:

#1 What Now? an anna November 13, 2016, 02:14 PM:

Artists: We need a Flag 2.0.

Like this?

I was illustrating My America Includes Everybody, and look what I found...

Did you hear that VP-elect pence's neighbors have put up rainbow flags?

#51 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2016, 09:37 PM:


Things children say: "the reason Wile Coyote's plans don't work is that he's had too many traumatic brain injuries. Every time he sees stars, that's a traumatic brain injury--so he's had lots and he doesn't think right anymore."

(This is an 8-year-old, who has read Jim Macdonald's post on traumatic brain injuries--so thank you Jim!)

#52 ::: Bob ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 06:57 AM:

Happy anniversary as well. Sometimes the thing are called to do is just hanging on, and others notice.

#53 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 07:22 AM:

For fans of the Expanse novels... James SA Corey's "Babylon's Ashes" came out this week.

(The series's 3rd novel was the first time I've been tuckerized, where my character, a security guy on a military ship, winds up getting a bullet to the head.)

#54 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 12:52 PM:

Thanks abi.

I hope one day my path in learning Italian takes me on a path like the one you've had learning Dutch.

#55 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 03:34 PM:

Apollo 11 astronaut John Glenn just died.

#56 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 03:40 PM:

Older than he probably expected to reach. And he deserves a really really great sendoff.

But I'd like to return all of 2016 for a refund or a replacement. Including the bits we haven't yet gotten to.

#57 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 03:43 PM:

Not an Apollo 11 astronaut, but the first American in orbit, the oldest of the original Mercury 7 astronaut crew, a former Senator, and a lot of other important things.

#58 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 03:49 PM:

Cassy -- Glenn was never an Apollo astronaut, but one of the first Seven during the Mercury-Gemini phase.

He was the first American to orbit the earth, served in the US Senate, and at age 77, flew on the Shuttle (Discovery?).

#59 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 04:09 PM:

BBC journalist John Simpson writes in one of his books—I think it must be Days From A Different World, the one about his childhood—how some daft rhyme he learned as a kid will occasionally force itself into his mind 'like an Internet popup'. This happens to me when I hear Hava Nagila: I immediately think of the 'Come do the hora now' English lyric to Hava Nagila that the BBC Radio schools' singalong programme Singing Together taught us. (We were exposed to Singing Together on ancient reel-to-reel tapes. Low-tech ed-tech.) I hear the music and cannot not think of those non-canonical lyrics.

#60 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 04:13 PM:

<headdesk> Somehow I conflated Glenn with Aldrin in my head. Profuse apologies. I knew better.

#61 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 04:29 PM:


#62 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 04:44 PM:

Cassy B @60 -- we all make misteaks.

#63 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 05:34 PM:

My headcanon has Glenn greeted on the Other Side by all the astronauts there already, and flybys by Challenger and Columbia (who fly because they want to, without engines).

#64 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 05:43 PM:

Greg Lake as well.

#65 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 07:41 PM:

59 ::: Steve with a book @59: My mental popup for Hava Nagila is a little chant some of my mom's naturalist friends came up with about the Pacific chorus frog (the one you hear in the background of most Hollywood movies trying to show "generic frog" -- regardless of where they're set).

Its scientific name is currently Pseudacris regilla, but when I was a kid it was considered to be part of the genus Hyla.

Therefore, "Hyla regilla, hyla regilla, hyla regilla, Bufo and Rana ..." was what we chanted.

(Bufo used to be the genus assigned to the American Toad, and Rana was at that time on waaaaay too many frogs -- what is known in the phylogeny trade as "a dumpster genus")

I can't remember what-all Latinate names we put into the bridgey bit where the tune changes and it gets faster, but it was anurans all the way down. :->

#66 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2016, 08:38 PM:

Oh, is that what they're officially known as now? I first met them as "Pacific tree frogs", and have never noticed that they particularly preferred trees - ours seemed to like the floor under the piano, when it got out of the terrarium. But cute froggies.

#67 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 07:12 AM:

PJ Evans @ 63... I like that image.

#68 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 12:12 PM:

#63: Of course.

#69 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 12:52 PM:

I have no idea if this is viewable if you don't have a Facebook account, but (a tiny subset of) my chorus and I performed live on WGN radio this morning, and one of the hosts took a Facebook Live video of a tiny bit of it.

(still one more night of our winter show, the evening of Dec 13, if you're Chicago-local; blip me on gmail via 2ells2tees for details)

#70 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 02:46 PM:

Open-threadiness: FANAC has gotten the first panel up from the Baycon audio archives I got out of Pacifica, and it's a killer bunch of oldpharts talking about the pulp days: Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamson, E. Hoffman Price, Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber, with Alva Rogers moderating. They're all dead now, more's the pity -- but they were not young 50 years ago. The video's available here. Lots of credit to Joe Siclari, Edie Stern, Mark Olson and others in the FANAC crew for taking this ball and running with it. More panels to come, including Harry Harrison talking about working for EC Comics....

#71 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 03:55 PM:

Elliott Mason@69: nice! And visible outside Facebook to me at least.

Perhaps most of you will have seen this elsenet by now anyway, but here's a nice Polish ad, in English (and about learning English). Brief instance of NSFW language.

I've been fascinated by languages for years but find myself incapable of putting the sustained effort in. The result is that I have shelves full of fascinating textbooks for dozens of languages that I will clearly never seriously attempt. It's so much easier to muck around on the web in the evenings instead; easier and also prophylactic against the embarrassment of discovering that one might suck at language-learning even after a lot of effort.

I have, from time to time, thought about moving to northern Europe. I've usually thought this in the aftermath of a terrible UK electoral disaster. This year's terrible UK electoral disaster of course means that it might become somewhat more difficult to do so rather soon. There's talk of some sort of associate EU citizenship for UK nationals but at the moment it's just talk. It's always instructive to read first-hand accounts from people who've actually done it, as I think there's a tendency here to construct a fantasy image of what Liberal Northern Europe is like, based on half-remembered anecdotes and memories of repeats of Van der Valk. Literally impossible to tell whether uprooting oneself like that would make one happier; and again, it's easier just not to try.

#72 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 05:59 PM:

Thank you, Abi, for all that you have contributed to ML, and to the world.

I am so glad that we had the wonderful Obama years together. The memory of them will help us with the grim resistance ahead.

It was like a visit from the future, a better future, and we thought we were there already, not knowing how much of the country insists on living in the past.

But it will be okay. We outnumber them, and the future is ours.

Who chose her? The majority.
Who chose him? The KGB.
Who chose her? The USA.
Who chose him? The KKK.

I'm with the majority of the USA, not the KGB and the KKK.

#73 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 06:27 PM:

Hava Nagila
Hava Nagila
Hava Nagila
Have two, they're small

#74 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 08:09 PM:

I'm quite convinced that Ed Harris's performance of John Glenn in THE RIGHT STUFF is the closest we'll ever get to Kim Kinnison on the big screen.

#75 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 11:07 PM:

Anyone else having trouble getting to It's been inaccessible to me (connection timed out) for several hours now.

#76 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2016, 11:10 PM:

It's down, Jim.

#77 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 12:10 AM:

To me also, Cassy, as of maybe half an hour ago.

#78 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 12:24 AM:

I listened to part of an old interview with Glenn, and feel all the more bereft.

#79 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 01:50 AM:

Posting because I think somebody here will understand: It has been impossible to buy summer savory locally for years. I can't afford a special order and the climate is wrong for growing it. But since Albertson's bought Safeway, they've retooled the entire store, done a grand reopening, and put summer savory back on the shelves. There was a BOGO deal, so I got two bottles and opened one right in the store to let my kids smell it. "Oh," said one of them, "this is what you used to put in your beef stew!" And she was right. You never forget that scent. It's the quintessence of homemade beef stew and chicken pot pie and bread dressing. You can kind of approximate it with thyme or sage and marjoram, but you're never going to get really close.

And I can buy it again! I am actually looking forward to cooking from scratch! I had lost the joy when we started having to do it all the time.

#80 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 02:19 AM:

Re File770, a couple of other forum sites I visit are also down, so perhaps a hosting company is off-line.

#81 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 02:25 AM:

I can't get to File 770, or to

#82 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 05:20 AM:

File770 is back up, at least from Germany.

#83 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 03:59 PM:

Anne Sheller #33: Your sister is the Caribbeanist/Sociologist Mimi Sheller?

#84 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 10:08 PM:

HLN: Area woman went in for eye exam, was found to have seriously high blood pressure, and now has a 30-day supply of nifedipine ER and the phone number for a local cardiology group. Further hilarity will ensue.

#85 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 01:36 AM:

Patti Smith performed A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall to accept Dylan's Nobel Prize. A beautiful version.

#86 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 03:19 AM:

Fragano - no, and the odds are that your Mimi Sheller is not related (to any traceable degree) to my family. My father changed his surname from Smeller to Sheller before marrying my mother. Also, my sister Mimi goes by the surname of the man she was married to, even though they long since divorced. Thanks for asking, though.

#87 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 10:31 AM:

P J Evans @84, sorry to hear that. Hope it's reasonably easily controlled.

#88 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 11:57 AM:

Well, the nifedipine is helping a lot. And the doctor I had seen for other stuff wants to see me before I do the cardiologist stuff.
I feel better today, though. It's interesting (for some value of "interesting") to find out what HBP feels like.

#89 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 01:43 PM:

P.J.Evans on HBP. Do look out for side effects with certain BP medications, This moose was put on a thiazide diuretic (amongst other things) and it completely removed the ability to concentrate.

After reading about the possible effects elsenet it was dropped for a while (had no effect on BP due to the moose tea consumption anyway) and I was no longer "walking around in a fog".

#90 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 03:48 PM:

PJ Evans; Cadbury Moose.

As the distinguished Moose says: side-effects are the thing. Thiazide diuretics are a good thing to try first, based on the accumulated randomised-trial evidence (as my colleagues and I wrote), but there's five or six different classes with different side-effects. They all work better than having high blood pressure, and they're all or nearly all available as generics now.

In a OMG THAT'S YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE??!! situation, the argument for nifedipine is that it works in, like, an hour. The thiazides take weeks for the full effect.

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 05:10 PM:

At the doctor's office, they used a form that acted in less than 20 minutes. But I will be talking with another doctor at the first chance I get, because I'd like to know WTF is going on.

#92 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 05:45 PM:

Anne Sheller #86: Thanks. For a moment I wondered if the Small World Department had struck again.

#93 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 05:48 PM:

One of the best things about giving blood regularly* is that I can keep an eye on blood pressure and restingish pulse pretty easily. When I was doing aikido, my restingish pulse was twenty bpm lower than when I wasn't. One of the worst things is that the blood center is now required to weigh me every time, and I do not need that, no I do not, even when weighed in kilograms that don't quite mean weight to me... because I'm at an easily-converted kilogram number. I can usually beat the tech to the right poundage.

*I give at the hospital blood center via apheresis, which is the machine that separates your blood into its components and then gives you back the parts they don't want that day. It takes longer, but often works better for women because the screening numbers are a little more relaxed. Someday I'll badger a clerk into giving me my complete records for the last decade so I can convert it to Red Cross-style gallons given.

#94 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 06:20 PM:

Speaking of giving blood regularly, does anyone know what progress has been made in the US to opening up donations to gay men?

Last I heard, about a year ago, the plan was change from "never" to "don't have sex with men for a year", but it would take some time for the rules to be changed and the procedures updated. I've not seen any announcement that it's been fixed.

#95 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 07:49 PM:

Open thready comic relief: here is an all-dachshund flyball team.

Be sure to watch the outtakes at the end.

Also, if you like dogs and don't mind noise, try watching flyball live sometime. I grin for days afterwards.

#96 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 08:24 PM:

Jenny Islander@79: Lately I've been reduced to generic "savory". I don't know the fine points here at all well (sounds like you know more); I read that "summer" is an annual and "winter" is a perennial and a little bitter, and it sounds like maybe summer is generally preferred (Wikipedia).

Anyway -- it's a major ingredient in the turkey stuffing, and religious devotion to the right turkey stuffing is why I started cooking turkeys at family gatherings back in the 1980s. So, I'm definitely sympathetic to savory availability issues! Unfortunately the chains you mention don't exist here (grocery store chains seem to be startlingly resistant to going national).

#97 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 09:44 PM:

Lila #95: That is cute! Just FYI, your link has a "current time" field, and goes to the end of the video. (Mind your menus! ;-) )

#98 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 10:16 PM:

Well, that's not fun. My body doesn't seem to like the extended-release version. So I will be going to the regular doctor tomorrow, or as soon as they can fit me in. (Why not deal with it today? It's Los Angeles, and emergency rooms are scarce in my area, therefore extra busy.)

#99 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 02:37 AM:

David D-B, #96: grocery store chains seem to be startlingly resistant to going national

Or, sometimes, they hide it. Kroger and Ralph's, for example, are the same store under different names in different parts of the country. You might check the Albertsons website and see if they have a subsidiary chain in your area.

#100 ::: Nonyme ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 08:06 AM:

Fry's is also owned by Kroger's.

#101 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 08:14 AM:

Noted, Dave, thanks.

#102 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 09:36 AM:

Kroger's also owns The PacNW Fred Meyer chain, which I like very much.

I preferred Safeway to Albertson's. Bummed that they were absorbed.

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 10:55 AM:

Bleh. Turns out that even peanut butter, even in a sealed jar (plastic, to be fair), will pick up that nasty, all-aggregate-flavorings-in-the-cabinet staleness, if you leave it long enough. Bleh. Plyuch. See also: feh.

Time to get new peanut butter, I guess. And maybe put it in the freezer...?

#104 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 11:02 AM:

One thing to be aware of when taking the thiazide diuretics is their effect on potassium. I've been on them for years (along with other BP meds), and a few months ago an episode of chest pain led to an ER trip. While being held overnight for observation, they found my potassium level was 2.9. Normal range is from 3.5 to 5.5.

EKG found nothing. Low potassium levels can lead to tachycardia and other heart rhythm problems.

So I boosted my intake of potassium enriched foods. Potatoes, beans, orange juice and bananas are all good for that, and better for you than supplements.

Another excellent source is low sodium V8 - 900 mg in an 8 oz. serving.

I also take a beta blocker. One interesting effect of that was that it pretty much eliminated the benign tremor I had had most of my life. (That was never debilitating - just a barely perceptible tremor when extending my hands).

#105 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 11:53 AM:

Bananas, potatoes, and orange juice: check. (It's even an excuse for fries.) I eat bananas. I also have potassium tablets - it's muscle cramp in my case.

That reminds me that I should take a banana with me if I can get in to the doctor this morning.

#106 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 12:59 PM:

So we had a bit of an adventure here last week. I was at the computer and Mom lets the dogs back in and realizes the smallest, our long-haired Chihuahua, Honey is not with the others...

Honey has a real gift for getting out of the backyard, so we thought she'd gone walkabout. But...she usually comes when she's called. No joy.

So I went out in the backyard two separate times, yelling (and getting more panicked by the moment) when I had the good sense to shut up and listen. And I heard a soft whimper and tracked the noise to the backyard goldfish pond.

There was Honey, clinging to the side of the pond! I yelled for Mom, ran for the pond, and grabbed Honey and lifted her out. She was cold, but still fairly alert so I got her back into the house and into the kitchen sink to rinse her off and ran lukewarm water to try to bring her body temp back up.

It took us over an hour to get her temp back to normal. We moved her into the bathroom with the space heater going, and a heating pad set low for her to lie down on.

She was a quiet little dog for most of the rest of the day, but by Friday morning she positively danced every time one of us spoke to her. Mom says her name should have been, "Oh Be Joyful."

She's been getting lots of cuddles and attention. I'm still mentally shuddering over how long it took me to realize she was in the pond...

#107 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 01:04 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 106... Joy!

#108 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 01:37 PM:

Lee@99: The Albertson's site (which needs the Safeway site unblocked to run!) finds no stores within 100 miles of my location.

#109 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 03:08 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @108
Wikipedia has a list of chains owned by Albertsons. It's possible that some of those would also have the inventory changes that Jenny Islander mentioned.

#110 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 03:16 PM:

Safeway here in MD has summer savory.

#111 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 04:38 PM:

shadowsong@109: none of those have any presence here.

We're probably a weird market, because the main stores here, and the ones from the past now defunct, were all locally run. Right now it's Cub Foods for affordable food, Lunds&Byerlies (were separate, merged and using the merged name), and Kowalski's, the new upscale push-in. Older ones, mostly gone, were Rainbow and Super Valu and Red Owl.

Lunds&Byerlies we used to take visitors to to show off.

#112 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 05:14 PM:

So, it's that time of year again when I run out of ideas. The trouble with kids who read a lot is that you run out of things to suggest to read, or give to them as gifts. (This is a good problem, as problems with kids go). UrsulaV is good, but ... we've already got them all. (also, a sub problem is that you start reading a series to your kid, and then he gets tired of the 2-3 chapters a night and the book ends up in his room and you're wondering why the fairies want spoons and you find yourself sneaking into their room to take their books when they're not looking. And a further problem is that they start buying them on their kindle, which inconveniently has a passcode on it so it's rather harder to sneak it out of their room and read it. But. reader problems. also, they take my books too. Calvin and Hobbes is a favorite, esp. with the 7 yr old who has taken his large stuffed tiger to school. )

I need recommendations. They're 7, 10 and 12, and all read several years above typical. There are lots of series about dragons on the shelf -- Eragon, Wings of Fire, Tolkien, HP. There are lighter weight kids things like N story Treehouse and Diary of a Wimpy kid. There's the Percy Jackson. Some Terry Pratchett. 2 Humble Bundles of Make books. Alex Ryder books. What do you get a kid who seems to have read it all?

#113 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 05:26 PM:

Eric #112: Have you tried anything by Diana Wynne Jones?

#114 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 05:53 PM:

Eric @ #112, for the younger, Patricia Wrede's Dealing with Dragons and its sequels, and E. Nesbit's works; for the older ones, Robin McKinley's The Outlaws of Sherwood or The Door in the Hedge (some of her stuff, e.g. Deerskin, is way too grim for young kids).

The 12-year-old might like the Bordertown series.

#115 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 05:58 PM:

Also it's probably time to give the 12 year old The Last Unicorn, by Peter Beagle; start Diane Duane's Young Wizards series from the beginning; Cooper's The Dark is Rising (and its subsequent books, but that one is one I'm about to re-read for the season); Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea; and I can put in a good word for Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. Some of these are likely to engender discussion.

And for the younger ones: Pinkwater! More Pinkwater!

#116 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:01 PM:

Hearty second for The Dark is Rising, including the seasonal recommendation!

#117 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:02 PM:

Also: not SFFnal, but I also recommend Harriet the Spy (Louise Fitzhugh) and the Tillerman Chronicles (Cynthia Voigt).

#118 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:02 PM:

Oh, and Tove Jansson's Moomin books. Readable at almost any age (and the short story collection is good for those who want a full story each night).

There's a good mix of Peter Dickinson waiting for them to be a little older, but The Iron Lion, Hepzibah, and a few others should be good for starting now. If you're in a Christian household, City of Gold is stories from the Bible told as they might have been by contemporary storytellers, and absolutely fascinating. Non-Christians will enjoy it more when they're older and actually have some idea of the cultural contexts involved.

Can you tell I miss being in the bookstore business?

#119 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:22 PM:

DDB @ 111 Actually, Cub is owned by Supervalu, which in turns owns Albertsons and a bunch of others. You might want to peruse the Wikipedia article:

Supposedly there are now a couple of Hy-Vees out in distant suburbs. And there is Aldi, German owned, limited stock but very cheap. Bring your own bags or pay for one. I go to the one on Lake Street, across from the YWCA where I exercise.

#120 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:27 PM:

Lori Coulson @106: Yikes. I'm really really glad you found her in time! Scary!

I had a juvenile guinea pig go missing. Finally realized I had to start searching unlikely places, and spotted a shadow wedged underneath a plant pot that had juuuust enough space. Absolutely unresponsive when I reached in and found her by touch. "Oh, damn," I thought. Levered the pot up to get the body out and, pshew! she was gone like a shot. Whew!

#121 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:28 PM:

Fragano: Eldest has read some of Chrestomanci lately, we think. Dark Lord of Derkholm looks interesting.

Pinkwater is fun, but odd. I remember the bears (Larry?) with bongos and blueberry juice from his younger kids stuff.

Wizard of Earthsea is on the shelf, and I gave eldest Dark is Rising a year or two ago. I'll look at Young Wizards and The Last Unicorn. The oldest two really liked the Leviathan series, to the point of role playing walker drivers when they're riding in the car. I'll have to look at Uglies.

The Moomin books are .. hard to read for me. I stepped in as the designated reader for one of them and was lost for the first half or so.

The others -- well, I've got a bunch of tabs open.

#122 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:30 PM:

If the 12 year old likes historical fiction, try Eloise Jarvis McGraw's "Mara, Daughter of the Nile," Marguerite D'Angeli's "The Door in the Wall," and anything by Rosemary Sutcliff.

For animal lovers, Bambi or Florian by Felix Salten, The Abandoned or Thomasina by Paul Gallico, and anything by Marguerite Henry.

#123 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:31 PM:

For kids, I go with Tamora Pierce recommendations in general. But you may also be pleased with the results if you give the kids bookstore cash and ask them to recommend you something. If the store is good enough, you'll probably come up with something none of us would recommend because none of us know about it-- I almost always recommend the books I read at that age, and that's only as useful as twenty years ago can be.

Oh, and Zahn's Dragon and Thief, which is SF.

#124 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:38 PM:

eric @ 121:

Dark Lord of Derkholm is fun. It plays around with plenty of fantasy tropes, but you don't need to be steeped in them to enjoy it. The associated Tough Guide to Fantasyland does require that experience, though.

Le Guin's Annals of the Western Shore trilogy is also excellent.

#125 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:43 PM:

The Green Knowe books by L.M. Boston are great. (And still in print; I just checked.)

The younger kids in particular might like the Freddy the Pig books, by Walter R. Brooks. Some of those are in print, too.

Has the seven-year-old read the Ruth Stiles Gannet dragon books? There's an omnibus volume with all three of them available: My Father's Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon, and The Dragons of Blueland.

The oldest might be ready for some Thurber; My Life and Hard Times is still in print.

/closes tab

#126 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:59 PM:

The mention of BAMBI prompts me to note that the first English translation of that book was done by Whittaker Chambers. Oddly enough, his Wikipedia bio does not mention this -- but I'm sitting here with the first edition, and he's credited as the translator. Which, since it was published in 1928, predates all of the scandal about him.

#127 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 07:34 PM:

I just got my 11-year-old niece copies of Thurber's Dogs and a Turhune book (Lad, IIRC). There was a third book, but now I forget what it was.

#128 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 08:26 PM:

Dave Harmon (127): If she's a dog lover, Jim Kjelgaard's Big Red or Irish Red would be good.

#129 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 10:28 PM:

Open Threadiness: Found an unexpected reference to Brother Guy here. How will (some of) Earth's major religions be likely to react to the discovery of (intelligent) alien life?

#130 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 10:53 PM:

Your 12 year old Percy Jackson reader might enjoy the Anne Ursu trilogy that starts with "The Shadow Thief."

#131 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 11:14 PM:

More recent as an author: Anne Nesbet, who's working in the same vein as E. Nesbit and Edward Eager (more so than John Bellairs, who went for the horror version of that). Nesbet's first book, THE CABINET OF EARTHS (2012), is closest to that subgenre (and a really good read!). Her most recent, THE WRINKLED CROWN (2015), is one of the best "mix science and magic" books for mid-grade readers that I've run across. I want to read her next book! (Reviews of Nesbet's books are collected on her web page here.)

And that reminds me to mention THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH (Norton Juster) and all of Edward Eager, but especially HALF MAGIC. Older, still wonderful.

#132 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 11:42 PM:

Not SFnal, but at about that age I loved The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Second the nomination for The Phantom Tollbooth.

#133 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:02 AM:

Taking plagiarism to a whole new level: a peer reviewer rejected a paper, then published it as his own. And the journal he works for, while roundly condemning the action, has refused to name the thief. I'm not even sure they've said he won't be reviewing for them any more. Something hinky is going on here.

#134 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:09 AM:

Eric@112: Diane Duane's "Young Wizard" books seem to fit your needs. There are even quite a few of them.

The older end might be ready for David Weber's Honor Harrington books, maybe.

Also, since the golden age of SF is in fact 12, what about Doc Smith?

#135 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:46 AM:

Speaking of dogs, and animals in general, I remember reading, and re-reading, and re-re-reading (etc.) the James Herriot books when I was that age. Probably got lost in some move or other. I should do something about that.

#136 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 01:21 AM:

The Herriots are definite good fun -- as are the Gerald Durrell animal-collecting books, which are probably much less politically correct than I recognized when I read them. But they're amazing and fun anyway.

It was about that age that I read all the T. Lobsang Rampa twaddle. I can not in good conscience recommend them, but they captivated me at that age. And reading is good, right?

Don't forget Kipling, even though he's out of fashion. The JUST SO STORIES never get old (though again, some of the politics might have to be explained).

#137 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 05:32 AM:

#133 ::: Lee

So the journal is willing to damage its own reputation to protect one of its reviewers.

#138 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 08:03 AM:

Lee @#133, reading Retraction Watch is a good cure for faith in the research community, but that one shocked even me.

#139 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 08:41 AM:

Eric @ #112: especially for the eldest, I recommend "Growing Up Weightless", by John M. Ford, formerly of and beloved by this parish. Especially if they have any familiarity at all with LARPing or are interested in hypothetical moon colonies.

Digging into my childhood (because older less-known-now series are a goldmine for this), Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series ( ) may well be beloved by all of them. An interesting time capsule period piece of between-the-wars England, plus a lot of sailing and camping info and children making their own fun and having adventures that are only half imaginary. Publication order recommended. Skip Missee Lee for its unfortunate period-typical racism; I've never read Peter Duck, it may have the same problem. Will spark discussions of the history, the differences in culture between then and now, and so on.

Bluegrass Champion, by Dorothy Lyons, is a wonderful story of a girl determined to hit her goal making sometimes-bad decisions and learning from them. Also horses. So much horses. Appropriate at least for the middle and older, possibly the younger. Includes a horse with the amazing name "Harlequin Hullabaloo." Contains lots of exposition about dressage. Might lead into enjoying watching videos of real-life events of same.

Similarly, most of the horse books illustrated by Wesley Dennis are winners (plus the art is AMAZEBALLS. Guy could draw a horse like whoa). The Misty of Chincoteague series was a perennial bestseller for a reason. King of the Wind has a mute protagonist who is constantly treated with the casual racism and ablism that was typical of the era, but the book strongly disagrees with this treatment and we get to see the protagonist constantly undercutting it.

There was once a book (The Girl who Fell Through Time?) about a girl named Paramecia from the post-ecological-crisis future accidentally travelling back to the Dust Bowl, having the reality of living with little technology, species extermination, and casual destruction of ecology brought to her attention. She learns things and comes back to her own time with hope of bringing her own world back to life. That sounds sappy but it wasn't. Google is failing me because there's an anime it keeps turning up that isn't that book.

E.L. Konigsburg may be another good source, though some of her books get really strange. "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler" is really good for all those ages, though, especially as a read-aloud. Though you're going to want to swipe it.

I haven't read any of these, but it's an interesting list:

#140 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 08:43 AM:


I read it over and over and over and over. Recommendation strongly thirded and fifteenth, for readaloud especially.

#141 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 09:15 AM:

Horse books! Jane Smiley has a set of horse books for middle-graders and they're great.

At the Center for the Book open house last week, there was a piece of calligraphy taken from King of the Wind. I took a picture and showed it to Angela, who burst out laughing when she realized what it was. Horse books (and art made of excerpts, and calligraphy) are part of our personal culture.

#142 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 09:31 AM:

Bruce Coville, Jane Yolan, other Dorothy Lyons books about horses, some Mark Twain, The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett, Walter Farley for horses (but no girls). Um, what do others think about the Megan Whalen Turner books about the thief, Eugenides?

#143 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 10:09 AM:

What about Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles series? There were also a couple picture books for younger kids set in the same world.

#144 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 11:08 AM:

eric (112): No one has mentioned Ursula Vernon's kids books yet. They're probably best for the 7-year-old, although the 10-year-old would probably enjoy them, too. Titles: the Dragonbreath series, Nurk, and Castle Hangnail. Also the Hamster Princess series--there's lots of action; Harriet is more interested in killing monsters and rescuing people than in princess-ing--if he can get past the purple and the glitter.

Elliott Mason (139): Thank you for Bluegrass Champion! I remember Harlequin Hullabaloo very well, but had no idea of title or author.

#145 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 11:50 AM:

Mary Aileen, the initial post said that all the Ursula Vernon books had already been devoured. That said, it's still good to mention for others contemplating their own holiday shopping. (My niece is getting the third Hamster Princess novel, Ratpunzel...)

#146 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:01 PM:

Lee @ #129 -

The article about alien intelligences makes the same assumption that most do - that we are capable of recognizing intelligent life, and that it would even be interested in us and capable of communications.

Cetaceans are undoubtedly intelligent to a certain degree, but we don't really have meaningful conversations. And they share our planet.

My suspicion is that there are a multitude of forms intelligence could take, and that evolution doesn't randomly guarantee that it would be in a social, technological, abstracting, language-using form that is both curious and driven to explore.

It was an interesting read, nonetheless.

#147 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:12 PM:

Eric @112:

I have an 11 year old; reads above her grade-level, and here are some of her current favorite reads:

Rejected Princesses (Jason Hogarth) - comes with a warning that subject matter may be too dark for your preference.
The Pirate Queen by Alan Gold
The Warriors series (which you probably have)
Maze Runner + sequels
Miss Perigrine's + sequels
Hunger Games
Anything by Seanan McGuire (again, caution on the subject matter)
The Touchstone Trilogy by Holst (space ninjas on another planet!)
The Lumberjanes (graphic novel)
Captain Marvel, Thor, other graphic novels
The Martian
Sister's Grimm
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making - Valente (can skew younger)
Uprooted - Novak
The Luna Chronicles
(Wizard of Oz series was popular a couple of years ago as were the Little House on the Prairie -- now they get a raised eyebrow for being dated)

Those are what I remember off the top of my head; I can check her shelves when I get home. Also, she reads Wattpad constantly which helps keep her in reading material.

#148 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:13 PM:

Cassy B. (145): Huh. I had gone back and reread the original request and still missed the Vernon reference. Oh, well. As you say, maybe someone else can make use of the recommendation.

#149 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 01:33 PM:

Mary Aileen@144: Speaking of the ages for the Hamster Princess books, I mentioned last year that my octogenarian father had gotten hooked on Harriet the Invincible; over Thanksgiving this year I had the pleasure of handing him Of Mice and Magic and Ratpunzel, which he immediately sat down to read. I sent Ursula Vernon a fan letter saying, basically, "don't think too narrowly about your target age range."

#150 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 02:19 PM:

Elliott Mason @140: One of my favorites. For something with a similar flavor, try Nacar, the White Deer (which is back in print!) by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino.

And for the pre-teen mystery lover:

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg. Who wouldn't want to run away to a museum?

#151 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 02:19 PM:

Elliott Mason @140: One of my favorites. For something with a similar flavor, try Nacar, the White Deer (which is back in print!) by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino.

And for the pre-teen mystery lover:

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg. Who wouldn't want to run away to a museum?

#152 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 02:35 PM:

Ah, the dread server error -- my apologies!

#153 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 02:44 PM:

dotless ı (149): Oh, definitely! I almost mentioned that in my original recommendation. I read and loved Harriet the Invincible when it came out and promptly recommended it to a friend for herself and her (then-) eight-year old.

#154 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 03:46 PM:

eric @ 112: If they're not already reading The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, I'd recommend that--it's smart, fun, and funny. There are several trade paperbacks, starting with Volume 1: Squirrel Power. School Library Journal says it's for grades 5-8 (10-13 years old), but I like it a lot and I'm 41.

Also--are they reading/have they read the Bone series by Jeff Smith? It's phenomenal, also good for all ages.

#155 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 04:01 PM:

Has anyone suggested Bruce Coville's Rod Allbright books yet? (I didn't see them, but that doesn't mean they're not there, I'm champion at missing things.)

#156 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 06:54 PM:

Seconding the Bone recommendation.

#157 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 07:20 PM:

This is a small but perfectly formed service to the world in the way of correct identification. I doubled over laughing, on a day when laughter has been short.

#158 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 07:39 PM:

A lot of good book recommendations up above. For folks not familiar with the Ruth Stiles Gannet dragon books, the first one is in the public domain in the US, and my wife Mary put up an online edition.

If you like that, you may want to seek out the later books (and/or buy this one in print).

Also, you can find free audio readings (most of them by the author) of many of Daniel Pinkwater's books on his website. I quite like many of his books, though his off-the-wall style means that I love some of them and am "meh" about some of the others-- and I suspect some people love the ones I'm "meh" about and vice versa. Good starters, in my opinion, include the "Snarkout Boys" titles (in part a takeoff on the "meddling kids solve mysteries" genre, for middle grades), "Rainy Morning" (a gently absurd picture book, for younger readers), and "Young Adult Novel" (an explicitly Dada story, for somewhat older readers).

#159 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 08:10 PM:

The first of Gannett's dragon books--My Father's Dragon--is also on Project Gutenberg.

#160 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 09:31 PM:

Lazyweb: Do any artist friends have particular recommendations on a good reasonably priced drawing tablet for Windows PC? My son has asked for one for his holiday present.

(I've already asked this on FB and got one answer, but a second opinion would be helpful.)

#161 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 09:54 PM:

Apropos of nothing: Funny internet captions, via Twitter. With bonus critters.

#162 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 09:54 PM:

Clifton @ 160:

Especially for a basic starter tablet, the Wacom Intuos line is good. You can pick the Intuos Draw up in Best Buy, Staples, or the like for about $80 plus tax. Yes, there are other tablet manufacturers out there, but the Intuos Draw is what I use for my horrible scratchings, and all my artist friends use Wacom tablets of one variety or another.

#163 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 09:55 PM:

Em, seeing your pixels here reminds me to thank you again for suggesting those bath-toy octopi for my infant nephew; I'm going to order them for a Christmas present. I'm sure he'll love them.

#164 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 10:59 PM:

Cassy, you're so welcome :)

#165 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 09:20 AM:

HLN, Weird Dream Division: I dreamed last night that I was in college, signing up for a class on ear infections*. Why there should be an entire college class just on ear infections, I don't know, but it had two sections. That's not actually the weird part. The weird part is that the class wasn't really just on ear infections, it also taught Korean.

Knowing how to speak Korean is apparently very important in dealing with ear infections--who knew?

*Yes, I'm currently having problems with my ears; afaik they're not infected, just clogged.

#166 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 09:37 AM:

144 ::: Mary Aileen @144: My grandfather, who spent a LOT of time in used bookstores, had sort of a hit or miss ability to pick books I would be interested in. After I found Misty and Alec's Black, he decided any book about horses or with horse in the title that didn't look far too old for me was fair game.

I read them all.

I found a few I really liked a lot. And, well, I read a lot of horse books. Most of them at least had biologically-accurate information. :-> (See also: how I read My Friend Flicka at an age when its gory disturbing bits were ... a little intense)

Many of them are not googlable today, but Harlequin Hullabaloo makes that one easier. :->

Hard Luck Horse, by Fern Brown, is another of the moderate keepers: the horse has some behavioral issues that then turn out to be interesting for the plot, but not demonized, and girls Learn A Lesson. Also it's at a Western riding stable, not English, so there's barrel racing instead of hurdles and dressage. Nice change.

#167 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 09:52 AM:

In re book reccs, we're currently reading a-chapter-per-night to my kid The Boarded-Up House, by Augusta Huiell Seaman.

This was another of my grandfather's random used-book acquisitions; I've never seen another copy. Googling just now shows me there are sequels.

It was written in 1915; the copy I have is the 1921 edition. That is a hundred years ago from present. And the Plucky Girls in the story are discovering secrets about a story 40-60 years before their own time, that happened in their town.

Do some quick math about what was happening 60 years before 1915. Go ahead. I'll wait.


It's fascinating as a time capsule for many reasons, including:

-- how many of the tropes of Kids Having Adventures are identical between it and books written this year

-- differences in copyediting and book layout style mean, for example, that would not is shortened "would n't" with a space in it. So is "I 'm" and "can 't". This amazes me.

-- standard everyday vocabulary has shifted somewhat. It's perfectly understandable to my kid, except that some language we now view as kind of highfalutin' was perfectly natural in the mouths of these (admittedly QUITE well-off) tween girls back then.

-- the way an author of 1915 views, and expects tweens to view, the events of 50-60 years prior is fascinating

-- technology is both identical and very different. As I said above about tropes, this could totally be a Ramona-and-Beezus book, except that the girls have to save up pocket-money to buy candles to light the Spooky Mysterious Secret Place they're exploring. They play tennis and go canoeing, but also have many other realities and commonplaces that seem strange to us today.

It's an interesting thing to be read-alouding to 7yo at bedtime, because we can pause and talk about things, and also the time capsule bits keep John and me interested and sharing our own discussion at levels the kid doesn't have the life experience to engage with yet.

Could certainly serve as a jumping-off point for lots of neat conversations and research. Not recommended as a single uncritical source on either of its two time periods.

#168 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 09:56 AM:

I am reminded of another house-themed-story book I read over and over around 9 or 10: The House at Old Vine, by Norah Lofts.

The stories all take place in the house over hundreds of years, and manage to serve as a little bit of a crib sheet to some interesting parts of English history thereby. The draining of the Fens, the hidden priests, the rise and fall of the wool industry, the beginnings of boarding school culture.

I found it interesting. Parts may well be too intense for a younger kid, but the 12yo might like it a lot. Nothing explicitly sexual; some callous disregard for human life, occasionally leading to off-screen (but horripilating to imagine) deaths.

#169 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 11:55 AM:

*waves to Dave Harmon from a few posts upstairs* :)

#170 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 01:41 PM:

Well, that's a relief. This morning on my way to work, I noticed that a formerly vacant storefront is being taken over by something called Human First. That sounded kind of ominous--anti-alien? or maybe aggressively not caring about animals/the environment?--but it turns out to be a social services organization. Whew!

#171 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 02:36 PM:

Bruce Baugh #169: Whoops, that'll show me for juggling a dozen tabs at a time. ;-)

#172 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 03:21 PM:

I was given the Herriot books when I was 13 and still own the much-loved copies. (Good enough glue that they've held together.) James Schmitz books haven't been mentioned yet, and never discount the value of classic children's books—I own just about all of the in-print Lucy Maude Montgomery, which includes at least half a dozen short story collections.

#173 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 03:33 PM:

This is a sidetrack, but I've wondered whether there's at least one disertation's worth of fiction about inherited houses.

#174 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 04:02 PM:

While we're on to animal books, as a kid I particularly loved the book 'Ring of Bright Water' by a man who kept otters, including the experiences which converted him to opposing the trade in wild animals. (Wikipedia says the author was Gavin Maxwell, and that it was wildly popular.)

#175 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 04:15 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @173: more than one dissertation's worth if you add in haunted houses, which are often inherited, sometimes with a clause that one has to stay in them to get the inheritance. That subgenre is probably worth a dissertation in itself. It's handled differently in mystery and gothic fantasy, for example, and that contrast is a starting point for expounding on both those genres and their expectations for the reader.

#176 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 04:49 PM:

Reporting back on the summer savory: My stew tastes like stew again and all is well with the world.

#177 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 05:06 PM:

I am fascinated by books that are no longer contemporary, or that used to be mildly historical but are assumed to have been contemporary, especially if I didn't realize when I read them as a kid that they aren't set today. The entirety of Marguerite Henry except the explicitly historical ones, for example, or Homecoming and Dicey's Song, or Julie of the Wolves. Anne of Green Gables to a lesser extent. Flicka and Gentle Ben, definitely. Oh, and the Boxcar Children.

Basically, I didn't notice details as a kid, and I assumed that the world was as it is in books to some extent. It led to some weird understandings of what was likely or expected.

#178 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 05:21 PM:

Clifton @174: I remember reading the Reader's Digest Condensed version of Ring of Bright Water when I was a kid. Later on I read the sequel, title unremembered; parts of it were, shall we say, at least PG-13 if not higher. Not a kid's book.

#179 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 06:41 PM:

Mary Alieen @144: Ursula Vernon is well loved here:

Middle kid, (Gru in that tweet) got Harriet last Christmas. He looked at it, gave me a look of "Pink? Sparkles?" but was totally excited when the author was pointed out to him. He has now bought the next two on his kindle, with his money.

I'm in the middle of reading Hangnail to the little one. (Danny in the pic). But middle kid absconded with it to read before bed tonight, so no reading ahead for me. I keep reading Majordomo as Carson from Downton and Edward as Major from Faulty Towers.

Elliott @139 -- We've had all of the Swallows and Amazons from the library at one time or another, and several in the permanent collection. Peter Duck is pretty good, no major suck fairy. We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea is a funny and terrifying one as well.

cyllan @ 147: Oh boy is Little House dated. The racial attitudes there are straight out of quite a long time ago. The thing that interests me about it is that it's roughly contemporaneous with the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. And that all of the adventures are just one more misstep away from doom. But you don't really pick up on that as a kid.

#180 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 07:06 PM:

pfusand@142: Oh, that's funny. I didn't remember anybody mentioning Jane Yolen in the book rec thread, and searched the page for it -- didn't find it -- and then my eye noticed it there on the page right where I was sitting, but slightly misspelled so the search didn't hit. Jane has written for pretty much the full range of ages. Not necessarily the same book for all three!

I think maybe Bujold hits the high end of that range, depending on the individuals. I mean, Miles in full-forward-momentum mode? How not? And he starts out pretty young, too.

Elliott Mason@139: Oh, of course, yes, definitely Growing Up Weightless. Disaffected adolescents, viewed sympathetically and by each other, little romance, no gore; what's not to like? (I love it as an adult, too.)

#181 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 07:10 PM:

Oh again -- James White? At Sector 12 General, Doctors and nurses of multiple species working on yet more species, sometimes with inadequate information! A certain amount of the datedness is swept under the species barriers, too.

#182 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 07:39 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @181
When I read it for the first time just recently, the aliens weren't enough to distract me from the astonishingly blatant sexism. So... YMMV but keep an eye out for the Suck Fairy.

#183 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 08:26 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @181 and shadowsong @182 I reread the series recently and found the sexism noticeable but tolerable, especially since it lessened as the series continued. For me it was counterbalanced by the high level of respect and goodwill across species. So YMMV.

Pfusand @142 I love the Megan Whalen Turner books but I encountered them as an adult. The first one is certainly okay for the older end of the range. The others get darker.

#184 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 09:06 PM:

A thoughtful person put all of the episodes of "The Box of Delights" on YouTube.

A bet a lot of you could use this right now:

(The theme music, full version over the end credits, always lifts my spirits.)

#185 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 11:19 PM:

Also, I remembered what the third book I gave my niece was: It was from one of Madeleine L'Engle's other children's series. (Note that she has also done a fair number of adult books, which probably aren't appropriate for the younger set.)

#186 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 12:40 AM:

Ring of Bright Water is the first book I ever read where I noticed the prose as a separate thing from the story. I was maybe 13 - 15, certainly before I finished high school.

#187 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 01:31 AM:

It's been a long time since I read The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat, but I remember it as wonderful fun, and I think it would be great for kids of all ages.

Never Cry Wolf is a truly great book but the younger kids might want to wait until they are teenagers. If is a beautiful and sometimes very funny story, but it is also very sad, and a cry of protest.

#188 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 03:03 AM:

Hey, was it here that somebody commiserated with me about not being able to find that fic in which Cap uses the power of social media to get Bucky to accept help after the Helicarriers go down? The one where Bucky's just trying to hide and survive his own scrambled brain, but people keep giving him Steve's phone number? I found it! "Count the Cost" by katydidmischief.

#189 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 06:21 AM:

Sorry about the burst of spam in several threads. Our Akismet subscription accidentally expired. I've re-upped and deleted the spam.

#190 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 06:26 AM:

Just want to say a general thank you to the people tending the backend today - all those spam messages, gone!

Crazy(but happy! THANK YOU!!)Soph

PS I see Patrick's been attending to it, as I've been composing this message.

#191 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 08:22 AM:

#179 ::: eric @179: I was Not Permitted to read Castle Hangnail aloud to the kid at bedtimes when Daddy was not available. Because I don't do the voices right.

In our rendition, Majordomo was somewhat Igorish, Serenissima had a lot of hissing, Cook was a grumpy babushka-esque half-Eastern-European accent (mostly cribbed from the dialogue-caused accent for "strong like bear" neighbor lady in A Dirty Job), Angus spoke in John's ordinary voice, Pins had a highish squeaky voice, not precisely to prissy but close, and the goldfish sounded glum and terrified all at once, in a register somewhat higher than John's usual. The armor had the plummiest, stock-characterest starched stiff-upper-lip British accent possible, like halfway between The Brigadier in Doctor Who and Sergeant Major Walking Up And Down The Square in Monty Python.

Swallows and Amazons: I got them in random order, so it sort of threw me that some of them might be imaginary stories that the kids are making up, while some of them are meant to be fairly "real". My favorite is Picts and Martyrs, for a lot of reasons.

It was only as an adult that I realized that the "Wild West" fiction setting covers about five years in the latter couple decades of the 1800s (so, y'know, Sherlock Holmes -- which sort of makes A Study in Scarlet reasonable), "Prairie Times" is thoroughly industrial and citified, Brooklyn Bridge as you said, and "Colonial Settlement" was actually not only in the early Industrial Revolution, but tied strongly to the Napoleonic Wars (and also "Regency") towards the end. Also that the "primordial wilderness" so beloved of James Fenimore Cooper was ... upstate New York. Wasn't expecting THAT at all.

#192 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 08:27 AM:

In case anyone hasn't seen it, the Scandinavian electronics retailer Elgiganten has just put out a holiday commercial that brings me to tears, in a good way.

When a father doesn't know what to do about his daughter's transition, and she's terrified and uncomfortable about the Big Family Event, he "lets the gift speak" the way the commercial's slogan suggests people should.

So good. And the story is told exclusively through cinematography and silent acting. A really great FILM as well as, well, emotional for me personally.

#193 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 08:41 AM:

Elliott @192, thank you. The ad is beautiful, and I didn't realise how much I needed to see something like that.

(I am not out to my parents, and have avoided going home for Christmas this year largely for that reason.)

#194 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 10:00 AM:

Craft (Alchemy) @193: Oh. Oh, sweetie.

All the hugs, if you're a hug-liking kind of person. I know those feels, though I am incredibly lucky in my situation, as a trans person.

#195 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 11:02 AM:

Craft (Alchemy), <hugs> if welcome. Do you have friends to spend Christmas with? Friends are the family that you get to choose...

#196 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 11:12 AM:

Elliott Mason @191: In our rendition....

MP3! MP3!!

I don't do the voices right.

I totally relate. I bought an audio book of one of the Callahan's books, not realizing it wasn't read by Spider. I think I lasted two paragraphs, and summarily deleted the rest.

& @192: I tweeted it. <3

#197 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 11:18 AM:

Re: the Scandinavian commercial... I can't quite figure out what the gift is... (other than extremely welcome and apparently affirming, of course). Anyone know what she got for Christmas? Just curious...

That said, it did bring tears to my eye.

#198 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 11:27 AM:

Cassy B. @197, It's a (fairly nice brand) mini curling iron for her hair.

Craft (Alchemy): I imagine that's a really rough place to be in. Internet hugs, if they're welcome.

#199 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 11:39 AM:

TomB (187): I second The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. It would be a read-aloud for younger kids, but well within range for medium-sized to older ones. Sterling North's Rascal is also good.

On the horse book subthread, I adored Ralph Moody's Come on, Seabiscuit as a horse-loving preteen. It always annoyed me that it was shelved in nonfiction, because it read just like the other horse stories I was devouring at that age, some of which were also about real horses (Man O'War, the first Morgan horse, etc.).

#200 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 12:01 PM:

Em, thanks! Here is where I admit that despite having hair down to my waist I've never actually owned a curling iron. (Or makeup, for that matter, other than a brief period in high school when I tried and failed to fit in.) So that's probably why I didn't recognize the packaging....

#201 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 12:25 PM:

Re: books for young people - When I was a kid, I really enjoyed Astrid Lindgren. Everyone knows of Pippi Longstocking, but I'd also recommend The Six Bullerby Children (published in the US as The Children of Noisy Village).

#202 ::: obscured on purpose ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 12:31 PM:

Elliott @192: I hadn't seen that commercial, and really needed to. Thank you. I got all sniffly watching it. It's really well done.

Craft (Alchemy) @193: Strength to you, and may you have good people around you who love and accept and celebrate and respect you.

I'm not going to visit my parents on Christmas either. It's not about my gender stuff; we haven't even gotten that far yet because they already hate my queerness. They have told me that "we don't think of you as that kind of person," and made it clear that they don't want their denial challenged.

(If any of the mods figure out who I am, please do not link this up with other incarnations of me on this site. I mourn that this feels necessary to ask in the current political climate. If you don't know who I am, just figure I could be anybody, and be good to all of us. Thanks.)

#203 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 01:46 PM:

Re Sherlock Holmes and the Wild West (Elliott @ 191): If you haven't run across Steve Hockensmith's "Holmes on the Range" series, they're worth a look. Or a listen; the audiobook renditions by William Dufris (who also did Old Man's War!) are terrific. Sherlock Holmes is not a character in the stories, but is a real person in the world of the books, and the idol of one of the cowboy/detective protagonists.

They'd be suitable for a kid in the 10-and-up range.

#204 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 01:54 PM:

Elliott/Cassy B/Em/obscured: Thank you. Internet hugs very welcome.

I feel like I should add I'm not in a bad place. I'm out to my friends, and will be spending the holiday season with my (lovely, supportive) partner, eating, snoozing and playing Mass Effect. I'm on good terms with my family generally and visit pretty regularly; family things are not per se a problem.

The thing is, I have a huge extended family (24 people came to last year's bash) and what got me last Christmas was the background chatter. Because there were always six conversations happening at once, everyone's catching up with everyone else and comparing presents, and it meant that I was constantly overhearing random mentions of myself in the third person, and the background drone of she and sister and granddaughter, cumulatively, got to me really badly. (I had not anticipated this as a potential problem, because I don't go to big chatty parties often. Also, even if I had thought of it, I think I would still have been blindsided by how bad it felt.) I couldn't face doing that again this year, especially as my partner wouldn't have been able to come with me because of work.

The other thing is, my parents are wonderful and progressive people and I'm like 90% sure that coming out to them will be totally fine. But it *feels* categorically impossible, in that way that things sometimes do when anxiety is in the way - like I'm being asked to fly. I had the same thing when contemplating coming out to my friends circle, which is made of wonderful people and indeed had other trans members already. Couldn't do it. I ended up asking my partner to inform people for me, and (surprise) it was totally fine. But he doesn't know my family massively well, and I can't really ask him to talk to my parents.

obscured on purpose, I am so sorry. I hope you also have a good holiday with people who love and affirm you as you are.

#205 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 02:23 PM:

Cassy B. @200: why I didn't recognize the packaging

I saw tubes/cylinders and so parsed it as mascara or some other cosmetic product.

Craft (Alchemy) @193: [female pronouns]

Yes, I can see where that would get very wearing, very quickly.

obscured on purpose @202: please do not link this up with other incarnations of me

Respecting nym boundaries is totally a Thing on this site, a practice for which I have been grateful more than once.

made it clear that they don't want their denial challenged

I mentally cast a stink-eye in their direction, and wish them some growing-up-ness. Feh.

#206 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 02:31 PM:

Love is the most human of things. To be denied it by friends and family is, in a way, to have our humanity denied. May that never happen to those who read these words.

#207 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 03:09 PM:

Craft and obscured, superwarm Xopher hugs coming your way if, and to the extent that, they're welcome!

#208 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 05:11 PM:

As I look through these, and still try to narrow down choices -- I remember a couple we've liked that haven't been mentioned.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp -- Kathi Appelt. Feels like old southern story telling. Fun story.

The Giggler Treatment -- Roddy Doyle. It's basically a story about stepping in dog poo. But it's a hoot to read. Especially good as a gift to make other parents read it.

#209 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 06:24 PM:

Jacque @196: Similarly, when the kid was a baby and we were reading "Is Your Mama a Llama?" aloud to her, we found ourselves, in our sleep deprivation, slipping into the Spanish pronunciation of Llama every time it's said, but also pronouncing the various proper names throughout differently than in "standard English".

For example, in this couplet:

"Is your mama a Llama?" I asked my friend Clyde.
"No, she is not," is how Clyde replied.

We have to say Clyde as, as it were, "cloyed," and replied then has to rhyme with it.

Also, Llyn shows up at the end (who is a llama -- spoiler warning -- and so is his mama), we have to say that in my best back-of-novel-glossary Welsh approximation of the "ll' consonant there. It turns out that the name of the protagonist of the book is Lloyd. Which we also say that Welshish way.

#210 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 06:28 PM:

In re THE ELECTRONICS COMMERCIAL: it's (well-) actually a straightening iron, which works like a curling iron only not. Same mechanics, but two flat-on-the-inside pincher fingers, and you start at the top of a strand and pull down it smoothly.

I don't expect anyone to get this, especially if you're watching on a small screen. "Curling iron" is close enough to give meaning, as is "mascara". Really, what it is, is femmy grooming supplies, and that's the entire point of the commercial. You could rotoscope in any of a variety of other products the store carries and it would be equivalent. :->

#211 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 08:24 PM:

And in further HLN: saw my more usual doctor, was fanged (multiple times; the butterfly wasn't working), and now have a statin prescription because LDL and triglycerides were up further than they should be (I hadn't gone in fasting, so the numbers are not entirely reliable), as well as a different calcium-channel blocker and a thiazide (to which I haven't yet reacted badly).

#212 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 12:08 AM:

Craft (Alchemy) and obscured: Hearing, witnessing, hoping for both of you a safe and pleasant holiday.

Jacque, #205: So did I. Maybe if I had watched it a second time I would have gotten it, but I don't think it matters. What matters is that it was recognizably a "girly" present.

#213 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 01:54 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ #175: I sometimes wonder whether the large number of childless distant relatives in ghost stories is part of a genre-wide queer subtext, or just a mechanism for the protagonists to inherit properties they can then discover to be haunted.

#214 ::: weatherglass ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 02:12 AM:

On books for kids: I second the recommendations of My Father's Dragon and Valente's Fairyland books. To them I'll add:

The Enormous Egg, Oliver Butterworth. One of my absolute favorites as a kid. Possibly best for the younger end of your set, though the humor makes it readable by older kids as well. A boy in New Hampshire's chicken lays the enormous egg of the title, which eventually hatches a triceratops. It's tremendous fun, and gently satirical without being mean. It's from 1956, and I haven't read it recently enough to swear the suck fairy hasn't visited, but I have read it when old enough to pick up on things, like the parody of the McCarthy hearings, which went over my head at ten.*

I loved the Oz books as a kid, though rereading some of them recently has made the weird, patchy nature of them much more apparent than it was to me then. I'll just note that Eltanin Press has been putting out really nice electronic editions of them which include all the original illustrations, which are half the delight. (And they're inexpensive; $0.99-1.99 on Amazon.)

Beyond the Pawpaw Trees, by Palmer Brown. A very odd childhood favorite, in which a girl goes to visit her aunt, who lives on an mirage in the desert. Back in print, finally, after years spent scouring used bookstores for extra copies to give away! There's an inferior sequel as well. Huh, it's from 1954. I never realized it was that old, actually.

Jaclyn Moriarty's books for your older kids; they're generally about teenagers and their concerns, and usually written in epistolary format. Start with Feeling Sorry for Celia (not SF) or A Corner of White (fantasy), which are good places to start her two series. Avoid The Spellbook of Listen Taylor, which is an oddball entry from Moriarty about middle-aged infidelity; save The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie until a couple others by her have been read and enjoyed (it's excellent, but I wouldn't have read past my initial annoyance with the viewpoint character unless I already trusted the author). Also note that the American editions have totally different titles than the Australian ones.

Jessica Day George's Castle Glower books, starting with Tuesdays at the Castle, are a great deal of fun. Magic castle! Which rearranges itself at whim! Youngest princess who's trying to make an atlas of it! This may appeal to the Ursula Vernon fans.

Winsor McCay's classic Little Nemo strips. They're erratically available in print; I can recommend this compilation.

Intricately illustrated books fascinated me around those ages; I'm fond of Mike Wilk's Annotated Ultimate Alphabet, Kit William's 1980's adult puzzle books Masquerade and Untitled [Bee Book] and Graeme Base's kid-aimed puzzle The Eleventh Hour.

*There are congressional hearings to decide if a triceratops is un-American.

#215 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 03:32 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 192: Thank you for sharing that. The acting is superb, and it's amazing on two levels: the 'in-story' active support from her (grand?)father; and the 'meta' of transness, and family supportiveness of their trans daughter, being normalized and made visible in an ad.

And I'll join in offering 'Net hugs to Craft (Alchemy) and obscured on purpose, and any other trans folks of this parish who could use them. (There seem to be quite a few of us here!)

#216 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Defender of Nyms ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 03:55 AM:

obscured on purpose

All is well here among the gnomes; yours is hardly the only secret we keep, even from ourselves.

I hope that you have a family of choice to spend the holidays with. I hope they are kinder to you than you ever dreamed your blood family could be.

#217 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 06:56 AM:

@ #214 weatherglass

But how did the boy fit into the chicken, and why does New Hampshire have one anyway – state mascot? :-)

#218 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 08:07 AM:

weatherglass @ #214, Little Nemo is also available here. (Click to enlarge.)

#219 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 08:49 AM:

Oh! For intricate illustrations, there's The Brownies, Their Book (and further adventures in other volumes) by Palmer Cox. It's in verse. IIRC not all the brownies are white.

#220 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 09:56 AM:

Sarah E @ 213

I suspect it's a either/both answer to your question.

Whether it was acknowledged or not, homosexual people existed throughout history and some chose not to fake hetero-normality. Instead, they chose singlehood, rather than coupledom. It could also have been something as simple/normal as not wanting to get married (for reasons), but still having an interest in other people's children even if you want none of your own.

Which would have lead to some concern in others. (Hell, it leads to some concern these days. I had someone tell me to my face that if you're not married --and possibly reproducing-- by 25, there's something wrong with you. I was in my 30's at the time and single.) Why did this childless, unmarried person take an interest in a child/young adult? It's the core of all horror for a certain percentage of the populace.

I've come to the conclusion that trope is nothing more than cultural assumptions applied to a narrative format. The fact that the "distant relative" gives you a house/estate/money/etc has taken on a "fairy godperson" glow, rather than a horror gleam in some genres of fiction says something. It also supports your hypothesis.

#221 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 12:12 PM:

I'll throw in some other theories about inherited houses (many of which are haunted). I still think inherited houses could be its own topic.

Anyway, the inherited house with a curse is a wish fulfillment/fear fulfillment fantasy. You got this tremendous gift for no particular reason, but there's a catch.

Someplace (probably an internet quiz, a source which could be considered to be of utterly unreliable quality) I saw a mention that a house is a Jungian symbol for one's body. Well, inheriting a house is something like getting a body. Who knows what it will include? I suppose inheriting a house is also analogous to being in a universe and having a life.

I believe that ghosts are always about memory, the past, and human connection. That might be a little strong. Sometimes the ghost isn't from *your* past, so you might need to make a connection with it. Sometimes ghosts are mere recordings, though I think this is rare. It might be more common for a ghost to seem to be a recording, but part of the story is breaking the repetition so the ghost can be a person.

#222 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 12:21 PM:

Sarah E. @213, Victoria @220: interesting ideas, and I think you're on to something! Nothing to add right at the moment other than enjoying your thoughts.

#223 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 01:27 PM:

There's a Quiller-Couch, iirc, that reverses the "inheriting a haunted house" trope -- it begins with the protagonist remarking that people often wonder why his uncle/older cousin left the estate to him and not some closer relative, and then goes on to explain about how he helped him deal with a ghost.

#224 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 01:48 PM:

Sarah E #213: In the 20th century, it may also be relevant that a lot of those books were written and set in England. As I understand it, WW2 in particular killed off a lot of England's male population, resulting in a generation that was remarkably heavy in "spinster aunts". And I suspect, also in now-childless folks who might well leave their houses to their closest surviving relatives.

Nancy Lebovitz #221: That also sheds an interesting light on the "Summer in Orcus" plot, specifically the relationship between Summer and Glorious.

#225 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 02:15 PM:

I'm now thinking about the echoes between inherited house stories and "got an organ donation from someone we will never know/who is dead" stories.

#226 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 02:16 PM:

I also greatly enjoyed The Enormous Egg (and now that I think about it, it has resonances with King of the Wind, plotwise).

It's kind of period-typical sexist in the way his sister and mother are portrayed, which I found a little uncomfortable the last time I read it, but better than many of its day.

#227 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 04:33 PM:

Dave Harmon (224): I think you're on to something there. Nitpick: It was WWI, not WWII, that killed such a huge percentage of Britain's young men. (Not that WWII didn't kill a bunch more a generation later.)

#228 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 05:58 PM:

Completely hypothetical situation, AKiCiML:

If I own a Cuisinart pan with the hard-anodized non stick coating, and it got heated, empty, for about half an hour until things smelled funny, is the pan still safe to cook on, poison-wise?

#229 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 06:03 PM:

In Patrick's Sidelight, Bruce Schneier mentions EPIC. Could somebody please unpack the acronym for me? It is insufficiently distinctive for Google to be of any use.

#230 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 06:22 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #225:

And in some of those, the inherited organ turns out to be haunted, too.

#231 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 06:26 PM:

Jacque @ #229:

I tried googling it in conjunction with the other acronyms Bruce Schneier mentioned in the same sentence, and it turns out to be the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

#232 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 07:17 PM:

Ported over from File 770:

Anyway, the reason I'm dropping in is because the Feminist Fantasy page on TV Tropes could use some contributions. I have contributed to the Literature section (recently added Alpennia and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms) but more, and better-written, entries would be very welcome.

Feminist Fantasy is a misnomer (but discussions couldn't settle on anything better); it includes SF as well as fantasy, and more importantly, what it means rather than feminism in general is stories that have a woman as main character who is the active center of the story, whose deeds and choices carry the story. She doesn't have to be an Action Girl. Many strongly feminist books don't fit the bill because the main character has little control.

The Literature section is in chronological order so you can see that such stories were thin on the ground until the 1980s (God Stalk was one of the first of the rising wave). Happily, we’ve been spoiled for choices in the last decade or two, at least relatively speaking– so I'm looking for suggestions to make the latest updates selective! In the new millennium, who are your very favorite complex, human women in SFF, main characters the author gives plenty of agency to?

It doesn't have to be a work that already has its own page on TV Tropes (needless to say, creating such a page would be excellent). Please add an entry to the Feminist Fantasy page (with a description of the main character and how she's active in the story) or just a suggestion here. Thanks much!

I'm sure people here can come up with some ideas. :-)

#233 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 08:11 PM:

Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to log in at tvtropes. They think I already have an account and password recovery isn't working. Neither is logging in with facebook.

They don't have James H. Schmitz, Greer Gilman, or Jo Walton.

#234 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 08:14 PM:

More thoughts on inherited houses and hauntings:

Inheritances, houses or otherwise, often come with a lot of psychological strings attached from the deceased. "I'm leaving you this, but I expect you to...." That's a very real kind of ghost. (I heard about one case of this quite recently, rather close to home.)

Even when no strings were intentionally attached, houses and their contents commonly reflect very strongly their owner's personality and character. That's a kind of ghost too. As we continue to (still) sort through my mother's collections and possessions and try to figure out what to do with them, her personality is a strong presence without any ghost.

#235 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 08:39 PM:

On animal books for kids: something I've never read but probably should is Olga da Polga. Three guesses why people recommend it to me.

Elliott Mason @210 & Lee @212: What matters is that it was recognizably a "girly" present.

Yes, that's exactly what I got from it.

Nancy Lebovitz @221: a house is a Jungian symbol for one's body.

Tangentially, in the last number of years, I've had a recurring dream where I find myself staying in / owning a house that, upon exploration, turns out to be really big, with lots of large empty rooms and other spaces, all free to do with whatever I want.

Just lately, I've noticed that these tend to happen at the beinning of my (three day) weekends, and I'm now speculating that it's about time. "I've got three whole days free! How shall I spend them?"

Paul A. @231: Ah, thank you!

#236 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 08:58 PM:

Kid book reccs: Joan M. Lexau's "Striped Ice Cream."

It's an everyday black family (I think in New York?) dealing with some economic stress meaning that an upcoming birthday celebration maybe won't be as special as the kid expects it to be every year. The children band together to help out and make their stressed mom's life easier, surprising her and learning stuff.

Suitable for anyone who can enjoy the Fudge books.

(Author is black, so it's not Some White Person writing a book about a black family)

#237 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 09:07 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 228: Assuming it's any of the nonstick coatings (and not, for instance, like the set of pans my wife and I used to use, which were anodized on the outside, but hard stainless on the inside), I'd assume that it's utterly shot. I know the canonical nonstick coatings (e.g., real Teflon) degrade rapidly after 450F, but those will also stink to high Heaven if they get burned up like that. I'd say assume it's dead, unfortunately.

#238 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 09:56 PM:

My understanding of 'anodized aluminum' is that it mostly means 'colored' rather than 'chemical'. But I could be wrong here.

I sometimes have house dreams, Jacque. The best house dreams, and the most frustrating, are the ones where I find more house, and it's just the right part of more house-- the porch, and the chairs, and the extra space that I haven't been using this whole time. I have memories of a dream that I thought was real in which there was a door to a different room, so I guess I've been having these dreams a while. Or at least I had one when I was little, then skipped straight to grad school.

Inheritance-with-strings is a good way to make plot happen when no one has a reason to do X. Cherie Priest's The Family Plot has the haunted house, but they stay there for actual reasons that most people don't have. Sort of like a marriage of convenience, which these days is less 'to release my inheritance from my guardians' and more 'college money, give me it'.

#239 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 10:57 PM:

Elliott Mason #228 : The hard anodized aluminum is probably just fine. But if the fluoropolymer non-stick coating on the inside looks discolored or feels rough, I would not cook with it. Fluoropolymers are inert and extremely safe, but if they are overheated (500°F), the breakdown products are nasty.

#240 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 11:59 PM:

Things I particularly liked at a younger age (and which may not constitute a recommendation for These Young People of Today) include Edward Eager's books (starting with Half Magic and then Seven Day Magic and proceeding from there), the Three Investigators series (the ones written by Robert Arthur: can't vouch for others), and The Mad Scientists Club by Bertrand Brinley.

Distryma @93
Last time I gave blood, in November, the question was still phrased to inquire whether I had ever had sex with a male, and if there was any mitigating date there at all, it was 1977. I've never answered this in the positive, but I'll guess that they continue to regard this as disqualifying in their infinite wisdom.

#241 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 03:25 AM:

How Gerbils Could Save You From Winter SAD Depression
Ok, it's actually how they'll be useful for research into SAD. Apparently normal lab rats aren't very useful for it because they're nocturnal, so the researchers decided to try testing with the fat sand rat, which is an Israeli desert gerbil that's diurnal. They've been testing various medications to help them be less depressed, some help, bright light in the morning still does more for them.

#242 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 05:22 AM:

Jacque @229:

<whispers>it wasn't Patrick's Sidelight</whispers>

#243 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 10:17 AM:

TomB @239: It was dark to start with, so I don't know about "discolored". It was never shiny-smooth before, because black nonstick, but it doesn't seem particularly rough now ....

I don't mind so much if it's no longer nonstick, just if it's poison.

#244 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 10:23 AM:

Abi, thank you for this thread. I've been feeling rather helpless since the Brexit vote, and worrying about what both that and the level of support for Trump in the recent US election said about society and values.

I've also had a lot of major/ongoing stressors in my life recently (cat illness, work stressors, not being able to run due to injury, therefore both stress and removal of my main method of stress relief). Stressors stack, and my ability to cope with minor stressors (being cut up in traffic while on my bicycle, for example) has gone down - they have been affecting me much more than they should and I've been unable to simply shrug them off.

I've always liked the 'pay it forward' method of responding to someone helping you. So I've decided to put a twist on that. From now on, I am going to do my bit to increase the net amount of civility in the world, as follows: for every time someone is thoughtlessly discourteous to me, I am going to commit a random act of kindness for someone else - let someone out of a side street, stop to let someone to cross the road, or whatever - the kind of thing I do anyway, but might not if I'm in a hurry, then this will be an extra impetus to do it.

#245 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 10:26 AM:

As of Thursday, and subject to me misremembering the exact phrasing because I have the questions half-memorized, the blood screening question was... drat, I can't remember how it began, but basically, in the last year, have I, as a female, had sex with a male who has had sex with another male in the last year. It's a big serious-business university hospital which has just rolled out an iPad screening tool in the past few months, so I figure they're pretty current on regulations. Weighing me every single time bugs me, but if the FDA thinks I'm lying... well, it's data. And at some point I'll move far enough away from round and easily-converted numbers that I can't do the unit switch in my head.

One of the best part of school breaks is that I can give blood in the morning rather than trying and failing to get afternoon, and ending up with evening. As long as the blood center has time, I'm usually good for a triple platelet, and yes I am bragging like whoa. But if I start at five-thirty or so, odds are good they don't have time to handle anything going wrong from me getting chilly.

Also, this next school break means I can finally cash in my free-cookie coupons at the upstairs cafe that closes before I get there in the evening. All the cookies! All the cookies for me!

#246 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 10:26 AM:

[Oops - wrong thread! That was meant for the "Taking it back" thread - the perils of having more than one thread open and composing the post in a Notepad document!]

#247 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 10:34 AM:

House dreams:

A few years back I dreamed that my siblings and I inherited . . . an apartment building. An upscale 50s building in Queens, part of a complex of like buildings with THEIR OWN SUBWAY STOP IN THE BASEMENT and we had a penthouse suite with a fireplace in a sunken living room.

I described this on a gaming forum, and noted that A) this was a real come-down from dreams about wandering the galaxy in my own starship with a she-vargr sidekick and B) inheriting NYC real estate was probably less likely than getting a starship and wandering the galaxy in my own starship with a she-vargr sidekick.

#248 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 03:51 PM:

Book recommendation : fairest, by Gail Carson Levine. Feels like a fairy tale in the same way hat how's moving castle does.

About a girl with an extraordinary voice, nd political intrigue.

#249 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 01:28 AM:

Open Road Media is putting a shitload of their backlist up on Kindle for free until the 21st. There's a LOT of classic SF in there, although I find myself not going hog-wild because I think my tastes have changed a lot since many of them were written. But I did grab all 3 books of Ru Emerson's "Tales of Nedao"; I don't think it will have had much of a visit from the Suck Fairy. And some Andre Norton and Jane Yolen, and a Barbara Hambly that I've always been curious about but not enough to buy. Still looking -- there's 70 pages' worth of SF alone.

#250 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 02:16 AM:

Correction: the free SF stops around page 34 -- apparently the link is sorted by price. But I also found ALL of Jane Dentinger's theatrical mysteries for free in the Cosy Mystery section, which is a SCORE.

#251 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 04:47 AM:

Mary Aileen etc @227
The WWI impact was especially bad on the sons of big landowners - the survival rate of junior officers in a war of attrition were as bad as you would expect. In WW2, the bomber offensive did the same number on those with technical aptitude.

#252 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 09:37 AM:

Last night, saw a commercial for Wal-Mart, calling the chain the go-to place for Rogue One Star Wars toys.

It showed a kid happily playing fighter pilot in a home-made X-Wing cockpit.

Said kid was a girl.

OK, it's a commercial for a monopolistic store chain plugging toys, but . . . this made me so happy.

#253 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 10:03 AM:

Saw Rogue One.

Non-surprise: This is about the rebel crew that retrieves the Death Star plans, just prior to the events of the original 1977 Star Wars movie.

Short version: It's the bee's knees. Pretty relentless pace, with battles and escapes. It's probably the most grown-up Star Wars movie, with deaths a plenty and just one comedy relief character.

The cast is mostly unknowns, at least to me. They did a cracking good job. Interesting characters too; the rebels are a diverse lot. Bhodi Rook, a imperial defector, is mistrusted by many of the characters and spends a chunk of the movie in a daze, but turns out to be real hero, resourceful and skilled.

There are a few "resurrected" characters in this; digital recreations of characters from the 1977 movie. You might well consider this sacrilege, but it is effective and I think of it more as a tribute. Also, essential in tying the two films together.

The absolutely funnest thing about the experience: Parents asking their boys and girls what they thought of it. Despite some really grim stuff, those kids were STOKED.

#254 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 10:32 AM:

Also saw Rogue One last night, and agree with Stefan: it's the most impressive SW since A New Hope, which will always trump the rest because it was so groundbreaking when it came out (and yes, I did see it on the original run).

I thought the moral positions of many of the characters were realistically ambiguous, given the context, and while the plot seemed a little choppy on first viewing (perhaps only because it moves so quickly), it's trancended by the relentlessly impressive spectacle and superb SFX. I'll be recommending it to my Father (78, ex-military), who really likes splodey stuff.

#255 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 11:00 AM:

I haven't seen it yet, but it is darkly amusing me the number of alt-righters who are angry about it for equating the US with the Empire.


In their view, the slam-dunk obvious "tells" that it's filthy liberal country-hating propaganda are:

* The empire blew up "an obvious Afghanistan-surrogate". It's obviously Afghanistan 'cause it's (anti-spoiler rot13 just in case) tbg n xvaq bs qrfreg ubyl pvgl naq gurer jrer fznfurq fgnghrf
* The movie absolutely deifies and portrays positively an "obvious" an exact transposition of Bin Laden, namely (name rot13'd) Fnj Treeren

I'm pretty sure neither of those are well-grounded assertions, and I haven't even SEEN it. But they keep drilling on them and how that means OBVIOUSLY the filmmakers are saying the US is the EMPIRE, who are the BAD GUYS, so it's propaganda by US-hating liberals.


#256 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 12:30 PM:

And between the deaths of WW I and WW II the Spanish flu killed a lot of people who missed battlefields, etc.

In the backstory of the Miss Fisher mysteries, her family were starvation poor until her father unexpectedly was the remaining heir to a peerage (and wealth) due to battlefield and epidemic deaths.

#257 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 01:49 PM:

#255: They're idiots.

Let them boycott it if they want; the diversity of the cast would probably make the whine more anyway.

#258 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 09:29 PM:

Zsa Zsa Gabor has gone. How old was she? (Her first marriage was in 1938, I believe.)

#259 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 09:46 PM:

The Intertubes are saying she was 99, born on the same day of the year as my brother but in 1917.

#260 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 11:06 PM:

#238 Diatryma: I have house dreams like that too. Quite a few set in my childhood home where it has suddenly acquired an attic, a basement, or an extra door, and quite a few set at my college, either the administration building (1888 build) or the mansion that is used as a retreat house, and which actually has servant stairs threading through it. I swear that between those and the childhood visits to the Winchester house, I really have some good fodder for interesting houses.

Oddly enough, one of the dreams I had involved a particular view of the stage (theatre attached to the Ad, former gym) from above that I saw replicated many years later at a school we were photographing at. I'd never been on a spotlight balcony before, pretty cool view.

#261 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 06:19 AM:

Saw Rogue One last night and thought it was superb. It's not of a kind with the other seven; personally, I'm very glad (partly speaking as erstwhile Star Wars fanficcer here) that Disney have grasped that SW is a whole universe, with lots of room for other kinds of stories outside the central mythic arc. (generic spoilers) Gung fnvq, V jnf rkcrpgvat fbzrguvat zber urvfg-l; V qvq abg rkcrpg gung gurve svefg qrivngvba sebz gur znva frdhrapr jbhyq or ... jryy, n jne svyz, naq n tbbq bar, jvgu gur zbeny zrffvarff, cbyvgvpny punetr naq ba-fperra obql pbhag gung tbrf jvgu gur greevgbel.

And excellent to see a racially diverse band of ragtag heroes, too. Excellent main cast.

#262 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 08:09 AM:

Craft @261: I'm due to see it Thursday.

I, too, am glad that Disney/Lucasfilm has decided to explore outside the central mythic arc. They've been doing so for a long time off the big screen, with the EU novels, the games, the comics, the animated TV series, etc, but not on the big screen yet.

Of interest is that they've billed this not as "Episode 3.5" or "Star Wars: Rogue One", but as "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story". So even in the marketing they are subtly emphasizing that "this is different".

#263 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Roguish About Spoilers ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 08:32 AM:

I've opened a Rogue One spoiler thread if folks want a place to discuss it in the clear.

#264 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:13 AM:

For anyone needing a little lightness in their Monday, here's a set of nine superhero (and others) snowflake patterns for those with good scissors skills and a need to make someone smile.

#265 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:46 AM:

Apropos to Clarentine @#264, some neat superhero stuff. Thanks to @jenphalian over on Twitter for mentioning these:

Kids were a bit bewildered at the near-total lack of action, they aren't used to the "make your TV a fireplace" thing.

#266 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 12:28 PM:

abi @242: Wull, uh, wull, it was at the top of a list, and it was, uh, below the Sidelights head, and, uh...not my fault there was stuff in between, right? Uh....


I have mentioned that my perceptions often only tenuously connect with consensus reality, haven't I?

::more red-face::


#267 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 03:11 PM:

It's being reported from Naples that San Gennaro's blood didn't liquefy this year.
The last three times this happened, most recent first: earthquake, cholera epidemic, Nazis.

#268 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 03:29 PM:

I finally got to see the latest Star Trek movie. Wow, that was fun! I loved the wacky space opera stuff on one hand (giant green space hand *snicker*) and the nitty gritty tech stuff on the other, like Uhura revealing the SPOILER by expertly doing her actual job. And the visuals of starships in warp are gorgeous.

Also, "classical music" made me smile. I can see the solemn papers written about the period in Earth history when urban dwellers felt so overwhelmed by the constant acceleration of technological change and infonoise that they felt compelled to outshout it.

Also also, I want to know more about the crewmember aboard the SPOILER who apparently used up their entire personal item allotment for a SPOILER. On a deep-space mission.

#269 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 05:47 PM:

Jenny Islander@268: In case you missed it, there was a spoiler thread a few months ago. And yes, there was a lot to like.

#270 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 06:32 PM:

@no. 269: Thanks!

Sooooooooo I just read spoilers for Passengers due to a hot tip and boy am I glad I did. I am not going to see that thing. No. Nope nope nope. This is me getting on my Nopetopus and riding in the other direction.

Thl jnxrf hc sebz pelbfyrrc ba n ybat-unhy fcnpr iblntr naq nggrzcgf gb pbcr jvgu orvat gur bayl crefba njnxr. Vg qbrfa'g tb jryy. Fb ur jnxrf fbzrobql ryfr hc. Uvf pevgrevn: Vf fur chegl naq qb V jnaan qb ure? Ur yvrf, gubhtu, vafvfgvat gung fur jbxr hc ol nppvqrag whfg yvxr uvz, naq trgf ure gb unir frk jvgu uvz. Gura fur svaqf bhg gung ur onfvpnyyl qrenvyrq ure ragver yvsr orpnhfr fur'f uvf glcr, naq fgbcf univat frk jvgu uvz. Naq gura ur unenffrf ure sebz bar raq bs gur fuvc gb gur bgure, naq fur tvirf hc naq unf frk jvgu uvz fbzr zber. Naq guvf vf nccneragyl gerngrq yvxr n unccl raqvat.

Hell, no, I won't go.

#271 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 07:32 PM:

For those of you inclined to listening to Christmas music, I thought you might not have heard this particular version of "O Come O Come Emmanuel", by Newfoundland band Hey Rosetta!. I've been listening to it all day and thought I'd share it.

#272 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:03 PM:


On top of today's national news (which has me depressed enough, tyvm), came home tonight to discover Donkey had suddenly lost the use of his back legs.

Not a huge surprise, considering his age (his 8th birthday comes up in Feb). But I was hoping...I was hoping it would be a while. Or go differently.

I'm...not doing well.

#273 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:35 PM:

Jacque (272): *hugs* if you want 'em

#274 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:37 PM:

Jacque, <hugs> if welcome. That utterly sucks.

#275 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 11:07 PM:

Mary Aileen & Cassy B. Yes, hugs welcome, thank you very much. (I'm trying not to think about what I'm going to do when I can't get Donkey-hugs anymore.)

Gave Donkey some Metacam, and now he's quadrapeding again, so that's good news. Also suggestive maybe of what his issue is.

Twittered for a bit, to get a input from outside of my head, and ran across this: 451 podcast "Here we go" (via Twitter). No earth-shaking insights, just, "Yes, this where we are, and a lot of people are freaking out; it's not just you." What I needed to hear.

Had dinner (took some to get myself to a point where I could think about it). So: state much improved.

(It's really hard, when I get hit with one of those, to believe from the inside that this is not How Things Will Be Forever Now On. ::rolls eyes::)

Now: time to go feed der peegs and get myself cleaned and to bed!

#276 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 12:58 AM:

Jenny @ 270: YUUUUCKK.

#277 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 02:41 AM:

Jenny, #270: Yeah. It's currently sitting at 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I don't look to see that climbing much if at all.

Now, the interesting thing will be to see whether the dudebros latch onto it and try to talk it up. You'd think so, since it appears to be right down their alley; but apparently there's not much actual plot there, so that might be a downcheck even for them.

#278 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 07:47 AM:

Jenny @ #270, they might as well have named it "Rape Culture". It's not getting any of my money, for sure.

#279 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 09:20 AM:

I am amidst writing what my ex-Catholic brain insists on calling an order of service for an atheist-friendly, earth-science-heavy Yule liturgy still full of meaning and power.

Because I'm Pagan and my husband is strong-theory atheist, but our daughter is beginning to be hungry for ritual. She understands strongly that we are Not-Christian, but the only public rituals obvious to her are Christian ones. So we're trying to instantiate family traditions that accord with my sense of the numinous world while not giving Daddy screaming meemies over theistic involvement.

If this sounds like the kind of thing you would enjoy spectating upon, gmail me via the identity 2ells2tees and I'll be happy to loop you into my discussion tree. :->

#280 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 11:53 AM:

I have, in my own casual way, decided that the Winter Solstice (tomorrow!) is a good time to celebrate the fourteen billion whatever-eth anniversary of the Big Bang. After all, I have a 1/365.2476 chance of being right, and those are pretty good odds at this distance.

#281 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 12:01 PM:

Elliott @279: That sounds very interesting indeed. I've been struggling with my allergy to Christianity and yearning for ritual and the resolution path I might be taking is Judaism... but I continue to wonder if it is possible to do Something Else and have my hindbrain find it satisfying.

#282 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 02:42 PM:

me @266, re: abi @242:

...And I realized that I failed to get an actual apology in there.

I'm sorry. I was sloppy in my attribution of Bruce Schneier's very interesting article linked from abi's Parhelia .

#283 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 05:52 PM:

Elliott @ 279 and estelendur @ 281.

Some Unitarian churches do solstice rituals, which may or may not be non-theistic. Or do you want to write your own? I can look through books and suggest titles that might be helpful about writing riutals.

#284 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 08:39 PM:

Some stupid asshole has posted racist and Islamophobic comments on Eric Raymond's blog under the name "Xopher Halftongue." I've put a comment in the thread saying that I'm the real one, but I don't really want to stick around and see what happens because the commmentariat there...skew rather to the right of where I'm comfortable, is the sweetest I can put it.

I guess I appeared on someone's radar, and they're trying to discredit me. I can't imagine why else someone would do this.

#285 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 08:51 PM:

Xopher: how horrible. Virtual cups of tea and hugs, if welcome. In any case, support and sympathy.

#286 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 09:30 PM:

Xopher @284, that's awful. Sympathies.

#287 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 10:29 PM:

I guess if someone's pretending to be you, you have Arrived?

On solstice celebrations: a writer I like has done 'what I learned since the last equinox or solstice' posts in the past, and I like that idea.

#288 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 03:06 AM:

There have been no further posts by or about the fake Xopher. I don't know whether Eric took action or the imposter bailed out independently.

#289 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 05:40 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 279

If you are looking for resources that are non-theistic, I'm nearly certain Rivka (from Respectful of Otters) had written and posted one for UU's, on the blog about children and homeschooling that disappeared with its hosting provider. (Sorry, I'm blanking on the name.)

#290 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 09:38 AM:

Elliott @ 279 - email sent!

#291 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 10:47 AM:

As I walked from the bus stop to work, I could see the first smudge of pink on the eastern horizon. The many lights on the Legislature grounds were still bright. The sun will rise at 8:48, and the temperature is forecast for +2 C.

I don't post much here, but I'm still reading. I wish the best of the season to you all.

#292 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 10:51 AM:

So I didn't actually say in my previous post: Solstice! Yay! It may be dark and cold for a couple more months, but I comfort myself that the days are getting longer.

#293 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 11:07 AM:

My favorite piece of poetry for Yule, and one my coven recites every year, is Susan Cooper's "The Shortest Day" You can find it here (among other places)

(wasn't sure about copyright restrictions if I posted the whole thing)

#294 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 12:28 PM:

#293: I listened to that yesterday, on "The Christmas Revels" album.

Which of course is on YouTube:

And a few spots down, this wonderful slide-show accompaniment of Lord of the Dance.

#295 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 12:52 PM:

Stefan, #294: I must have had a different listing from yours. A few spots down on mine was What if English Were 100% Germanic?, a brief discussion of the Anglish school of linguistics. So of course I looked at it, just out of curiosity, and found that it included a Poul Anderson reference -- so I thought other people here might be interested.

#296 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 01:57 PM:

@Lee: Thanks! I'm an old Anderson fan so that is of interest.

The side-bar suggestions / playlist must be custom generated.

#297 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 03:06 PM:

Does anyone remember the name of the company which makes custom antique cloth? As I recall, it's one word-- something that suggests luxery-- but google isn't quite up to a search term like that.

#298 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 03:47 PM:

Xopher 284:

There has been some jackass doing something liek this on Marginal Revolution--using common posters' nyms to post something offensive to derail conversations.

Our communications tools are fragile, and their defense is either a cost-center to be optimized away or a labor of love by volunteers. This is a huge problem, because there have been increasingly organized and professional efforts to disrupt online communities as part of political and/or PR campaigns, over time.

Very much like hacking and virus-writing, those disruption efforts started out as things being done by hobbyists and lone nutcases and small-time crooks (often spammers). Even those guys were enough to cause most internet commenting systems to die under their weight, because moderating comments costs the time of someone skilled and trusted. But over time, those disruption efforts have become more and more professional, used by corporate PR operations and political campaigns and governments.

I believe some pretty smart people are working on revitalizing Less Wrong, and a big part of their thinking is how to get comment threads that work, with useful moderation tools that don't require vast inputs of human moderator effort. I don't know whether that will work, but I think this is one of the more important practical problems we need to solve, as a society. And like many other such problems, all the funding is on the side of the bad guys. (Honestly, it sometimes feels like the way the internet is defended is sort like that old joke about the Air Force having to run bake sales to raise enough money to buy a couple fighter jets.)

#299 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 04:39 PM:

There was a troll doing that at Slacktivist. Still shows up, occasionally, despite having been banned. Their purpose in life seems to be posting offensive material where it will be seen, and getting others in trouble for it. (They're not good at imitating others, just at stealing the nyms.)

#300 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 04:41 PM:

On damaging communication tools, a simple example from twitter cropped up today. An American activist found that this account:
tweeted something silly to her. Turns out to mostly be a bot account, targeted at the gullible. There is of course a big overlap between the right wing noise machine and various sorts of fraud, and this sort of account manages both of those, and to overwhelm people's attention.

#301 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 05:18 PM:

There were people trying to shitpost under regular users' nyms here during the invasion of Vox Day's tiresome crowd. Unfortunately*, without the right email addresses, those posts didn't link to the right commenting histories, and were really easy to zap. Even before we nailed the source IP address.

* for negative values of unfortunately

#302 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 05:21 PM:

2016 Art of Building competition finalists.

That fabulous photo of the Flatiron Building in the blizzard is the 4th one down.

#303 ::: Lila seeks gnome re email ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 06:56 PM:

Idumea or other admin, my domain email (which I've been using here for many years) is borked and I would like to switch to a different email. How do I do that?

#304 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 07:52 PM:

So: Solstice. One can see a visual pair of mountains from downtown. By this I mean that they aren't actually close together, but in profile they look like mirror twins. On the Winter Solstice, one can see the sun roll down the inner slope of the southern twin and appear to roll up the inner slope of the northern twin before setting. The clouds have broken up and I do believe it is going to happen.

I also asked the local public radio station to play "Solus Na Madann" (sp.?) tomorrow at approximately local sunrise.

#305 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 08:59 PM:

Lila (303): The usual method is to make a pair of posts:

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

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

This ties them together if someone wants to track back later.

#306 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 10:17 PM:

Thank you Lila, OtterB, Diatryma, Nancy, albatross, P J, and Idumea.

Idumea, Eric appears to have no interest in taking action, or at any rate in saying so, or contacting me, even though he has my email.

#307 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 10:27 PM:

This . . .

Try Everything, Guitar Cover

{Listens. Feels better about cosmos.}

#310 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 11:41 PM:

nancy at 297- do you mean
I've handled their cloth; it's very nice indeed.

#311 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 02:24 AM:

#310 ::: gaukler

Thank you very much! That's it.

#312 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 10:35 AM:

Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads @301: Not infrequently am I deeply grateful for the curation received by the comments on this site.

Lee @302 That photo puts me in mind of the prow of an oncoming ocean liner. The first photo evokes for me what the interior view of a Cray 1 would look like, from the point of view of the elves.

#313 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 04:01 PM:


Just scolded a coworker who was self-medicating with his son's leftover(!) antibiotics for a cold(!!). "Why? What's the problem?"

#314 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 04:31 PM:

Mary Aileen @305:
Thanks for explaining. Perfect.

Lila @308 & 309:
I went and played with the linky-making in the back end, because Reasons.

Jacque @312:
You're welcome. :-)

#315 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 05:16 PM:

I am deeply grateful for the curation of this garden. It makes it one of the most pleasant places on the 'net.

My world is about to change in a way that I had not expected a year ago. More details when I can say some definite things.

#316 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 05:37 PM:

I had mentioned a new flag I made (at #50). Don't know if anyone looked at it, but I would like to ask for a little feedback.

It is an image of a rainbow flag, using a gradient rainbow, and over that, white stars and stripes.

I made it while illustrating "My America includes everybody. To me, this image says that without words. It's more of a digital image than a fabric one - even digital printing does not necessarily do gradients perfectly.

I don't mind offending bigots, racists etc., though I'd rather not get them rabid enough to beat me up. But I don't want to offend any of the veterans who went to Standing Rock, for instance.

Some comment from reasonable people who care very much for the flag would be welcome.

You should be able to see it at the link with my name.

#317 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 05:55 PM:

Is anyone interested in trying for a Gathering of Light at GAFilk?

#318 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 05:58 PM:

Xopher @284: Sympathies for that. How annoying.

#319 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 09:40 PM:

MinaW at #316 (and #50). The gradient is not how I would do it, but if anyone flies it, more power to them.

#320 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 01:49 AM:

MinaW @316: I like it. My only catch is that the rainbow motif usually (IME) specifically references the QUILTBAG community. There are so very many axes of oppression that the only image I can think of that might be comprehensive is this one, but even that one is hemisphere-centric. Maybe map satellite imagery onto this projection?

That would be my flag.

#321 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 04:18 PM:

Lee #317: That's a maybe.

#322 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 04:25 PM:

A definite maybe or a conditional maybe? ITWSBT

<runs away>

#323 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 08:14 PM:

Lee: maybe from me too.

#324 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 10:05 AM:

This may have been posted in the Rogue One spoiler thread, but since I haven't seen that movie yet, I've been avoiding the thread.

Carrie Fisher had a heart attack yesterday while flying; the plane was 15 minutes from landing. There was an EMT on board who did CPR, and they rushed her to the hospital. She's in intensive care.

Damn you, 2016! You don't get Princess & General Leia, too!

#325 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 04:27 PM:


I had looked at your flag and liked it when you first posted it, but never got around to commenting on it. So please accept this favorable comment now!

I might not do it quite that way, but then I didn't make any such thing and you did, so kudos to you.

#326 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 06:02 PM:

MinaW, I didn't check out your flag earlier, but I like it a lot.

The bright colors and the rippling flag make it pleasant and impossible to ignore.

#327 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 08:12 PM:

Underappreciated victims of punctuation.

“Can’t you read the signs? Fill in the form before you get into line”

“What do you mean, you don’t have a family name”

“Angels don’t have families. Well, I suppose that makes sense. Mark 12:25 and so on. You couldn’t just put ‘Angel’?”

“So it’s a job description. The Queen does it — you don’t think Regina is her real family name?”

“No, Sir, I don’t think she fills in her own immigration forms”

“Occupation.. . You’re not a journalist, are you?”

“You’re sure? There’s special forms for journalists.”

“Making announcements? I thought that was the Metatron”

“Less immanent. Ok, well that seems to be every.. wait, didn’t you finish filling out your given name”

“It’s not a very angelic name. Don’t they all end in ‘el’?”

“Given more recently. So a name change? Legal?”

“We don’t usually accept ‘According to the laws of God and Nature’, but in your case I suppose we have to make an exception. So you’re an ‘Ark Angel”

“No sir, I haven’t been within smiting range of the persons in question”

“Yes, sir. I won’t make that joke again.”

#328 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 08:51 PM:

Happy Hanukkah if appropriate!

Merry Christmas if appropriate!

#329 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 10:43 PM:

May the holiday of your choice bring you what you most need this year. And may you have the wisdom to recognize it -- that's what I usually lack!

#330 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 11:32 PM:

Update: Eric Raymond has banned the fake me for impersonating the real me (that is, me). He was very clear that the fake me's anti-Semitic ranting was nauseating, but not the cause of the ban, since he has a "no-censorship" policy (or maybe that would be a no-"censorship" policy) on his blog.

At any rate, this bit of online harassment is over.

#331 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 01:07 AM:

Merry Christmas from snowy Ankara!

#332 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 02:06 AM:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the gray and damp southern edge of Ohio!

#333 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 05:37 AM:

Merry Christmas from the Amsterdam area. Overcast but not snowy or even very chilly.

#334 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 07:41 AM:

Merry Christmas from Dublin. It's windy, warm, and drizzly. We are in the calm before we meet up with the rest of the extended family for dinner.

#335 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 08:08 AM:

Xopher @330: I love the tendency a certain kind of white man has to view statements like "Keep a civil tongue in your head or go somewhere else" to be censorship.

If a group protects the rights of bullies to attack their victims, you are stating clearly that you think the contributions of less powerful people are worthless.

See also "congoing fandom can keep its eminent abusers, OR it can welcome diversity, but it can't do both."

If some people are dangerous and violent towards others, you can't keep everybody. But you can decide who you want to lose.

#336 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 08:19 AM:

Merry Christmas from Athens, GA, where it's going to get up to 72 degrees today and we need all the comfort and joy we can get. You folks are a major source of both, and I thank you all.

#338 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 10:14 AM:

Merry Christmas from the northwest San Fernando Valley, where it's currently in the low 40s (F) outside (and not windy)!

#339 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 10:59 AM:

Merry Christmas from Atlanta where, as Lila says, it's going to get up to 72F today, under cloudy skies. Hyperlocally, the festivities have been slightly delayed, as the senior members of the household went to church--today being Sunday. We'll open presents after lunch. (We can get away with this schedule, as there is no one around under 50 this year.)

#340 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 11:07 AM:

I called my brother yesterday, figuring it would be a better day for talking for more than three minutes. He said they have a house full of people, and as his older daughter is present, I'm assuming her husband and kids are also there. (They live near Atlanta - he teaches at Emory. And I'd bet they'd like to be in California or Oregon instead.)

#341 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 11:16 AM:

P J Evans (340): We got calls yesterday from my brother and my uncle, presumably for the same reason. Hopefully no one will call this afternoon while we're opening presents.

#342 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 01:32 PM:

Checking in from Austin, where it's allegedly the warmest Christmas morning ever, 74 at 11 am. C-- and I are both convinced it got up to 80 or so back in 1977, but nobody else seems to remember it that way.

We opened presents an hour or two earlier than usual for no particular reason, assisted by Spinning Jenny Cat, who couldn't decide whether depackaged bows were toys or not. (Just as well; she is hell on mouse tails, separating them from their bodies with astonishing efficiency.)

Usually we run the fireplace, but this time we've got a digital Yule log, provided by the Norwegian Slow TV bunch as found on N*tfl*x. The captions are all about an extremely strange-sounding Norwegian arms race involving the stacking of firewood.

#343 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 02:04 PM:

Apparently there are a number of cable "yule logs" that have various Christmas music. Someone at last night's family party found one with kittens playing under a Christmas tree.

More popular than the Darth Vader Yule Log, at least.

#344 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 03:23 PM:

I read that the original Channel 11 yule log film loop, used for the first years of the tradition, was found.

I had great fun describing that tradition when i first moved out west.

#345 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 05:50 PM:

Merry Christmas from Boulder, where the temperature is just above freezing and the wind is gusting up to 90 MPH.

#346 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 07:05 PM:

Elliott 335: With you on all that. Not planning to become a regular at that blog. They're not going to get anyone like me commenting there with that policy.

#347 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 07:52 PM:

Merry Happy from somewhat sunny (earlier, anyway) New Jersey, cold though it is!

#348 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 10:58 PM:

Merry Christmas from Calgary, where it is very cold (-23C/-9F right now), looks like a seasonal greeting card due to some eight or ten inches of snow that fell Friday and yesterday, but was clear and sunny earlier. (We're due to get a chinook before dawn, though, so tomorrow will be considerably less cold.)

#349 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 11:49 PM:

Elliot, #335: Exactly. And Eric Raymond has just made it clear where he stands on that point: on his blog, bullies and haters are privileged over their targets.

And another FOAD to 2016: George Michael, 53, dies of heart attack.

#350 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 09:09 AM:

The webcomic Sinfest seems to share our opinion of 2016: start here, skip past a couple of days of fluff from another storyline, then his usual end-of-year arc gets... even darker than usual.

#351 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 01:01 PM:

I haven't been following Sinfest for a while, but one minor win for the year (or whatever) is that I really like the art deco style.

#352 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 02:43 PM:

Lead back to Making Light by Abi's postings in Parhelion. Reminded strongly how much I love you guys, and need to hang out here again. Some sad things to report in my next comment, then on to more cheerful things.

And if you haven't seen it yet, check out the pinned tweet at the top of my Twitter timeline, @Spkr2Managers. It's the 1st verse of my Modern Major General 1 finger salute to Trump. I actually finished most of the first act of The Pedants of Punditry before the election, when I ran out of steam. Maybe more later.

#353 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 02:51 PM:

My sister, my host for the week, is scrambling to get my niece ready for a semester in London, on relatively short notice.

Wondering how prevelant thrift shops are, for purposes of buying grotty housewares for her six month stay.

#354 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 03:19 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) @352:
Bruce! Missed you! Awaiting update with warmth and good thoughts.

Stefan Jones @353:
Wondering how prevelant thrift shops are, for purposes of buying grotty housewares for her six month stay.

Charity shops are ubiquitous. It's a workable plan.

#355 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 03:28 PM:

The sad news, which I can finally write about. I hope you won't mind a detailed post about this; it helps me to write it down. Our last dog¹ died weekend before last. Spencer was a Rat Terrier, a typical specimen of the breed. if you've ever met one, you know that Ratties are direct descendants of Loki's favorite dog: they're tricksters, with a low sense of humor, and a massive amount of stubbornness and independence. He was a rescue; we got him from the Humane Society when he was 7, along with a Lhasa Apso named Jemma, who passed away a couple of years ago.

We had Spencer for 7 ½ years, he was 14 when he died, which isn't bad for a Rattie. Although he was abused as a puppy, and never bonded to us the way a puppy would have, he settled in and even became affectionate over the years, though he was never obedient. I guess that was too much to expect from his mischievous nature.

A few days before his death Spencer developed a limp on one foreleg; our vet gave us some NSAID (essentially ibuprofen) to try. That Saturday the limp was getting worse, so we went to the vet and got some cortisone. By that afternoon, Spencer could not move any of his legs; the vet clinic was still open, so we took him in again, rather than have to take him to the emergency clinic. One of the vets at our clinic had taught neurology in the past, his diagnosis was a lesion or tumor on the base of the brain, which was almost certainly inoperable. Spencer wasn't in pain, but his active life was certainly over, and he was upset and frightened by his paralysis. Our only real option was to put him down.

Since then we haven't yet had the will to put all of Spencer's things away; his food bowl and the packages of treats by the carport door remind us of him. But the house feels emptier, and my days are less full; I no longer have the drive to the dog park on Council Crest² to look forward to every morning.

Remembering Spencer isn't really painful anymore; now it's more wistful, nostalgic. The sadness comes when I remember he really is our last dog; we've had dogs for almost all the time we've been married; 46 years now. That's going to take some more time to get used to.

1. Last both in the sense of most recent, and in the sense of final. Eva and I are old enough, and infirm enough that we don't think we can provide another dog with the level of activity and care that a dog needs.

2. The highest point in Portland, with views of 4 mountains, and a local family of hawks and the occasional eagle. Also humming birds.

#356 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 03:35 PM:

Bruce @ 355

Witnessed. I thank you for committing this to the electrons here. And I'm very sorry for your loss.

Crazy(and unable to address the pain you have deciding on no longer keeping a dog, when having one was so good for you)Soph

#357 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 03:39 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) @355:

I'm sorry for your loss. Spencer sounds like a wonderful, intriguing character to have had in your life.

#358 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 03:41 PM:

Condolences, Bruce. It's never easy.

#359 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 04:19 PM:

Definite condolences, Bruce; I can't imagine how we'd live without our cats. And it's still painful when we lose them.

#360 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 04:45 PM:

Bruce, my condolences.

#361 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 04:55 PM:

crazysoph, abi, Mary Aileen, thank you. There are a couple of pictures of Spencer at the bottom of this page.

#362 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 05:00 PM:

And thanks to everyone else for your thoughts.

#363 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 05:01 PM:

And thanks to everyone else for your thoughts.

#364 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 05:40 PM:

@bruce: Got the bare fact on Twitter. Full story explains why it was so hard to get that out.

At the risk of Helpy, I know people who just visit the Hondo dog park in Hillsboro.

#365 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 07:35 PM:

I saw a request for books set in Polynesia, preferably by Polynesians, and I remembered a book I hadn't thought about for a long time-- no author or title, though.

There was one I read when I was a kid (in other words, published before 1965, maybe before 1962) about a Polynesian boy. He had a sled with wooden runners for riding on a grass track or possibly down a grassy hill, and I think the high point of the book was a leap on the sled. There were feather cloaks and some mention of manioc/poi.

I haven't thought about the book for a long time. I might be able to track it down.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

#366 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 08:22 PM:

Bruce Cohen #355: Witnessing, and condolences.

#367 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 10:56 PM:

Boxing Night movie with my sister, nieces, & B-I-L was the wonderful, dark and funny City of Lost Children, with a shockingly young Ron Perlman as a Russian (perhaps) ex-whaler rescuing his lost foundling brother from a dream-stealing mad scientist.

If you can find this steam-punky masterpiece, I highly recommend it. (warnings: A couple of awful murders, kids in peril, clones, ticks, subtitles.)

#368 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 12:29 AM:

Bruce, my condolences on your loss. You are mourning not only your pet, but the end of a stage of your life, and that's going to increase the pain by a factor that is probably exponential rather than linear.

#369 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 11:21 AM:

Bruce, my condolences on your loss as well. This time last year, I still had one dog, and now I have none. I'm considering adopting elderly dogs, as they are often overlooked for adoption, but I'm not sure I want to have any more dogs after 20+ years. (Note: I still have plenty of cats, young and with lots of energy. We appreciate them.)

#370 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 12:50 PM:

Bruce, witnessing, condolences...

We know when we make them part of our family that they will take a piece of our hearts with them -- but someday gentle humorous memory will patch the hole.

#371 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 12:50 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) @352: I ... need to hang out here again.

Yes, you do! :-)

@ 355: Deepest sympathies. That's a hard decision to make, but you did what it sounds like was right for him.

It sounds like you gave Spencer the good home that he needed, and respected his needs and personality, for the last half of his life.

As for that last one, yeah, that's a toughie. I'm down to two guinea pigs: Donkey & Maarten. It would surprise me exceedingly if I still have Donkey six months from now. And then comes The Decision. I haven't really bonded with Maarten the way I have with others, partly because my attention is focused on making Donkey as happy as I can figure out how while I've still got him. Once he's gone: keep Maarten and get her a pal and re-up? Or find her a new home and finish having guinea pigs?

It's a hard choice, particularly given how much of my life is centered around them.

@ 361: Spencer asleep in bed made me LOL.

#372 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 12:55 PM:

Richard Adams has passed away.

#373 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 12:58 PM:

Carrie Fisher also has passed away.

#374 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 01:27 PM:

I'm really seriously rooting for Giant Meteor now.

#375 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 01:30 PM:

Damn, damn, damn -- just when I've almost made peace with some of this freaking year it flings another couple of grenades.

#376 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 01:41 PM:

Dick Cheney is still alive.

#377 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 02:36 PM:

In fairness, we can't really blame 2016 for Richard Adams. He was 96 years old, and El-ahrairah came for him....

But Carrie Fisher? 2016, that's all on you. If ever a year was one of the embleer hrair...

When I'd heard a bystander report that she didn't breath for 15 minutes, I knew her odds were terrible... but I'd hoped the bystander was wrong.


#378 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 02:47 PM:

I have spent the last 15 minutes tweeting blasphemous imprecations against 2016.

#379 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 03:21 PM:

Even though since the news of the heart attack, I was halfway expecting it, Ms. Fisher's passing hurt.

Unfortunately, I don't think 2017 (and the years ahead) are going to be any easier. The icons of the Boomers are approaching dangerous waters.

#380 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 04:58 PM:

Casey B. @ 377

Yes, I was also hoping against hope, that the report of the bystander had included a large amount of hyperbole and exaggeration.

But when no changes were reported after...

Crazy(and wanting to scream obscenities where the ML crowd can hear them, but not to discomfort you, so I'll refrain,... for now, anyway)Soph

#381 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 05:58 PM:

My sister and I finally went to see Rogue One this afternoon. We returned home to be greeted by the news about Carrie Fisher. It's not surprising, but it is saddening; I had been hoping she'd be okay.

#382 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 06:09 PM:

I saw a pale cream squirrel today, crossing the road in front of my parents' house in suburban Atlanta. The back was a little darker, brownish instead of gray (I think; the light was pretty dim). First time I've seen that color.

#383 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 06:45 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers)@355: Welcome back!

Sympathies on reaching the point of needing to give up dogs. Doing the responsible thing is often annoying; but doing the wrong thing can hurt you and others really really deeply (if you're a decent human being; I guess, for some, it's really not a problem).

Huh; it is utterly transparently clear that I'm casually assuming you are decent human beings there, right? It's supposed to be, but even still after a week this cold seems to have my brain on standby.

#384 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 08:12 PM:

Tribute thread about Richard Adams, has links to more.

#385 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 08:36 PM:

HLN and a request for advice:

Local Area Woman finds herself puzzled by a thing she's never had to think about. How does one go about finding a good accountant? Taxes this year are going to be...interesting, and I'd like a professional to offer advice and recommendations on how best to process. Ideally, I'd like this before April. But I don't even know where to start looking. I'm in the Atlanta area if anyone has a personal recommendation, but even general hints on what to look for would be appreciated.

#386 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 08:55 PM:

I asked a friend who was a member of a local Chamber of Commerce, who recommended a accountant/tax person to me. Still going to that person - we can do most of it electronically, although I actually like going in and talking to them.

#387 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 09:09 PM:

cyllan @385: if you have a friend who has their taxes done by an accountant (small business people often do, for example), ask them about it. And since different states have very different local tax laws (if yours has a state or local income tax, this becomes very important) finding someone who's local to you is really useful. Also ask at your local library. They probably have some good sources on call.

#388 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 09:47 PM:

Nancy Leibovitz @365

I remember that book! Sledding was reserved for chiefs, and the protagonist was a peasant. His mother had a royal feather cloak, that she used to save his life. I don't remember the title, however.

#389 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 10:27 PM:

cyllan, #385: You might try looking on Yelp, or any other such review website. Bear in mind, if you do, that people are much more likely to post a negative review than a positive one; and also that in a client-provider relationship, the problem may not be as much with the provider as the client says it is. :-)

#390 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 10:35 PM:

I'm visiting family in Delaware, and while I've known my cat Spot wasn't going to be around much longer than her current 20 years, the texts we're getting from the pet sitter haven't been encouraging. She's arthritic, kidneys have been failing for a couple of years, and is on various drugs which we can usually feed her by hiding them in pill-pocket treats. The cat sitter's been having even more trouble getting her to take the treats than usual, and reports she hasn't been eating much. She's got a heated bed, but the last month since we've had the heat on she's mostly been hanging out next to the baseboard heater, which she usually does in the winters anyway. Assuming she's still alive by next week, we'll probably take her for a prednisone shot (they tend to help her more than the pill versions), but I'm not optimistic.

She's probably not our last cat, but she's almost certainly our last kitten (my wife originally found her as a feral kitten in a parking lot, and she's outlived the other cats we've had.) If we can find a pair of older cats that need a home after she's gone, we'll probably do that. (There were a pair we met early in the year I'd have loved to have adopted, but they were big energetic 10-year-olds who needed to eat less, and she's little and needs to eat more of anything she can.)

#391 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 10:48 PM:

Meanwhile, we've gotten to meet a few new semi-family-members - my sister's BF of the last year or two, and his kids, and my nephew (who lives in Boston and does music stuff) has a new girlfriend he met there when she was doing a show, who inconveniently for him lives in Delaware and in addition to doing music is teaching at the high school my siblings and I went to :-) Her occasional music partner had a bar band gig last night, so we got to go hear him and another guitarist, and she joined him to sing some Bowie, Janis, and Led Zep tunes. Good folks. (Now if only my family members could figure out how to live in the same part of the country as the people they're in love with, but they'll all work that sort of thing out eventually.)

#392 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 11:01 PM:

cyllan@385: recommendations from friends have been one of the best routest for us. We needed specifically somebody familiar with self-employment and publishing, which isn't that common, though.

#393 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 11:21 PM:

Catching up with the "What now?" thread from a tenday ago, on extra civility. We had dinner at the local burrito place, and since it was the first time my sister's BF's kids, who are teen/twentyish were meeting us, we were shaking hands, "Hi, I'm Bill", "Hi, I'm Justin", and the 50ish woman who's just come in the door reached over and said "Hi, I'm [Jane]", while her teenage kid is cringing in the way that teenage kids do when their parents embarrass them, so we all met each other, going on as if we were friends who'd known each other forever, largely instigated by the 20ish kid. Made sure to say bye to them as we left as well. The BF's got good kids.

#394 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 09:14 AM:

AKICIML. I need career/adulting advice from someone with experience in the world of academic/professional conferences.

Back in the fall, while employed as a researcher at [public university], I submitted an abstract to a conference on the other side of the country, based on the research I'd done for my Master's in Public Health. (No co-author; it's just me.)

In November, I resigned from that position because the holder of the grant under which I was working [not an employee of the university] insisted I represent my findings in a deceptive and fraudulent way. Because this project is considered "program improvement" rather than research, the IRB is not involved.

A couple weeks ago, my abstract was accepted for a poster presentation.

Not only do I no longer have the travel funding that would have paid my way to the conference, I don't even have a job. Unemployed non-students are not one of the groups to whom the conference offers financial aid.

Should I withdraw the abstract? If I do, I lose what may be my only academic publication credential ever. If I don't, I do a disservice to the people who are expecting me to stand by my poster and explain it to passersby.

I would say "Fuck 2016", but I brought this on myself.

(Incidentally, the research abstract is NOT about the project from which I resigned, but another, ongoing pilot project run by Medicare.)

#395 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 09:37 AM:

Lila @394, a couple of thoughts.

First, in addition to the conference itself, do you know of any mentoring organizations related to the topic? A group with a goal of supporting women in research, for example, might be able to help with travel funds.

Second, if you can't find a way to get to the conference, do you know anyone else who is going who might be able to present your poster for you? They don't have to be able to talk about the project (although that would be great) but if they can put it up and have a stack of handouts with more information / the full paper / whatever, then the poster would still have been presented at the conference and you would still have the publication credential. Conferences obviously like people to attend, but Life Happens and substitutes are not uncommon.

#396 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 09:42 AM:

OtterB: thanks!

I don't know of any appropriate mentoring organizations (the ones I know either aim at current students or at people working for public health departments), but I do know someone who is going to the conference and could at least take the poster and pin it up--but can't stand by it because she has her own stuff to do. I should probably contact the conference and ask if that's acceptable.

#397 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 10:20 AM:

Lila @ 394, 396: A few thoughts - it's certainly worth looking into the conference's policy on absent presenters and presenter substitution - i'd expect it to be on their website, probably somewhere deep in "guidelines for presenters" or something like that. From what you've said, sending your poster with your friend seems like about the best solution available to you. It gets your results in front of the audience that you wanted to present them to, and it doesn't make you hunt for funding to try to attend the conference (although I'd suggest a beverage-of-choice for the friend when they're back).

Along those lines, you might want to think about how you'll have your poster printed. Most universities try to keep as much of this in-house as they possibly can, and having a poster printed by Fedex/Kinko's is awesomely expensive (ask me how I know). Another thought - which is surprisingly inexpensive if you do it in advance - is to have it printed on fabric (I used Spoonflower for a conference six months ago, and was very happy with it; a poster that was 36" x 54" or so was about $30 - turnaround time is a couple weeks, so that's worth bearing in mind).

#398 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 10:54 AM:

Tweets composed after hearing about Carrie Fisher:

#2016: Choke on a flaming balrog shlong you buboe-sprouting armpit of a year.

#2016 Fall asleep over a substandard plate of chow mein and get chopsticks through your eyes and into your brain you rabid skunk of a year.

#2016: Drown in bloody green pus from exploding tongue-boils you counterfeit winning Powerball ticket of a year.

#2016: Slide on ice and into the whirling turbine of the neighbor's snow-blower you stuck-together bowl of hard candy of a year.

#2016: Gargle on glass shards from a hobo's pee-bottle you burning dumpster of shat-up Huggies of a year.

#399 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 11:21 AM:

cyllan @385: How does one go about finding a good accountant?

I've had excellent luck finding good professionals by asking other professionals with whom I work for recommendations. I found my dentist on a rec from my optometrist, frex.

Bill Stewart @390: Healing and hopeful thoughts winging kitty-ward.

& @393: "Hi, I'm [Jane]"

It's probably really wrong to enjoy kids cringing at parents being embarrassing. :-)=

#400 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 11:35 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers): Nice to see you here again. Sympathies on both doggie decisions, even if you know the decision is right in both cases.

Bill Stewart @390: Sympathies re. Spot. That's hard. Good luck for further pharmacological assistance. Our cat (who is only 12) has developed chronic kidney disease and the last couple of months it's been a constant battle to get her/keep her eating - and particularly eating the food that's not going to further damage what kidney function remains. Low-dose mirtazapine (1 mg) ever 3-4 days appears to be working for her at the moment (it removes nausea AND it's an appetite stimulant - normally the dose is 2-3 times what I'm presently using)).

#401 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 11:56 AM:

Benjamin: Thanks! I actually already have a copy of the poster printed, so that at least is not another cause of anxiety.

#402 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 02:26 PM:

In memoriam of Ms. Fisher, I need to append the single sentence she particularly requested be included in every obituary written by a friend or someone who cared about her.

"She died drowning in moonlight, strangled by her own bra."

#403 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 03:21 PM:

Lila, #394: First, you did NOT "bring this on yourself". You have acted with integrity, and that is never a fault.

Second, this looks like it might be a good candidate for a GoFundMe campaign. You only need enough to cover your expenses, probably less than $2,000; if 100 people were to kick in $20 each, you'd make your goal. I'd be willing to throw in that much, and I'm sure other people here would as well.

#404 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 03:36 PM:


While this may be either too late or (we hope) something you already knew, some advice from my wife, who has presented several posters at various conferences.

Do not, for the sake of all you hold sacred, compose the poster at A4 or the like and then blow it up for printing. Compose it at the size it will be printed. Your readers will thank you, and the printers will thank you.

J Homes.

#405 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 04:51 PM:

J Homes, thanks. Luckily my professors taught us how to compose posters at the correct scale in PowerPoint; the university's print shop is also very good about helping you get it right the first time.

#406 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 04:55 PM:

Lee: that's a kind thought, but I wouldn't feel comfortable asking for money from friends & strangers for something that is basically an indulgence. If I had a medical problem or was facing eviction or something, that would be different.

I have put out feelers to family to see if anyone's got excess frequent flyer miles or anything. We'll see.

(And of course, I might secure employment between now and conference registration deadline....)

#407 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 05:10 PM:

Lila at 401: That's great to hear that you've already got the poster! Conference posters are something I've got lots of experience with, since I printed most of my graduate lab's posters between 2012-2015. This is what happens when one owns a 24" banner printer, and one likes Projects (and Scientific Arts and Crafts, because a normal conference poster in the field my wife and I work in is 3' high and 6' long).

#408 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 05:24 PM:

I'm not sure if it's hopeful or fearful, but I was thinking that the intro to Bablylon 5's fourth season fit my attitude toward the next year or two pretty well. There's plenty of darkness, but also hope for something better at the end of the road.

#409 ::: albatross would like to speak with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 05:25 PM:

Wrong thread. Arghh!

#410 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 05:48 PM:

Repost in the correct thread, albatross, and I'll make this whole conversation never have happened.

#411 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 06:02 PM:

The moving finger writes... but that was before the gnomes occupied their steel and glass tower,

#412 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 07:39 PM:

My toddler has been talking nonstop for the last four hours. Since his conversation consists of a few words repeated in infinite loops, this is starting to get a bit annoying.

#413 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 10:47 PM:

re 412: When our oldest was two we drove back from Boskone at the Tara Framingham, with him repeating, desperately, "mine castle pwease!" all the way across Connecticut, through NYC, and into NJ. The only thing that saved our sanity was that the planes at Newark Airport distracted him.

#414 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 08:41 AM:

Update on my conference conundrum:

Put out the word to family & friends. Have received offer of plane tickets from relative with lots of frequent flyer miles, and learned of cousins-in-law who reside in SF and are known to house travelers.

Looks like I might get to go after all!

#415 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 09:28 AM:

Lila, I am so happy to hear that!

(It's amazing how often "networking" is the answer. And I speak as someone who's not that good at it, myself....)

We'll want to hear how the presentation goes, of course!

#416 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 12:16 PM:

dcb @400: Good luck with your kitty -- and mirtazepine is a wonderful addition to our pharmacopeia! I used it for my cat while he was battling cancer/chemo-related anorexia. It saved his life in the early days of the battle, which allowed us more than a year of extra time with him. I wish we'd had this drug back when I was in private practice, because intravenous diazepam only worked for a short period of time, and there wasn't much else to use.

#417 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 03:52 PM:

abi: I've reposted in the right thread. Thanks!

#418 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 04:07 PM:

dcb@400 Thank you.

Bill Stewart @390 Sympathies to you and Spot. Responsibility for another life is hard, but it's the price of having these friends in our lives. I can't imagine not having them, though.

#419 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 05:52 PM:

Ginger @416: Yes, mirtazepine is great. I remember the days of a needleful of diazepam IV - great to get a cat eating again post-op, but less useful for repeated use. It's making a huge difference to Freya, now I've realised that yes it's probably nausea making her picky about food (she was happily eating a food, then going off it, then eating something else, then going off that, then eating it if it was liquidised, then not, then...) She's even started eating some hard food again, which will help once we're back at work after the festive period and needing to leave food for during the day (we have two timed feeders, which we will use, but I'm not sure how much the pouch food will dry out in those and become inedible).

Lila @414: I hope the arrangements for flights etc. do work out and you get to the conference.

I still have the first poster I presented at a scientific conference - printed A4 sheets of paper, plus smaller strips of paper, photos and paper arrows pointing to the photos, all carefully glued onto a large (A1-ish) sheet of dark blue paper. That was in 1995.

It was also the conference where I first properly met Jack Cohen - it's a small world.

#420 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 06:09 PM:

albatross, I think at this point I'm just going to leave it. Too much like gaslighting to remove it after it's been up for the better part of a day; it's different when it's just a few minutes.

#421 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 06:32 PM:

Albatross @408
The scene I've been thinking of is

This one

Only with the orange haired one and his sidekick in place of the Vorlon and the Shadow-creature

#422 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 10:21 PM:

I've been reading thru this year's Yuletide fanfics, and have gotten to the Imperial Radch group. One of them includes part of the lyrics to "My mother says it all goes around."

And now I've got the earworm.

#423 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 09:27 AM:

TFW you are reading through the archives and you think Digger will keep on going but then you see "End of Chapter 5" and realize you've been speeding through it despite your best efforts. Damn.

#424 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 01:40 PM:

AKiCiML: I'm trying to set up a Patreon.

It looks like I can EITHER have piecework rewards OR "give me x per month and you get a Thing" rewards.

Is there a way to have both subscribers and one-off purchases?

#425 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 02:19 PM:

Changes afoot at LiveJournal -- if you have an LJ, it's best to be aware and consider making some decisions.

#426 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 03:04 PM:

How not to respond to a rewrite request.

Content warning: abusive and anti-Semitic language. Also links to the full correspondence (which I did not have the guts to look at), and to other reports of this author doing similar things elsewhere.

#427 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 03:12 PM:

Thanks, Sumana. I've just moved my LJ account over to Dreamwidth (which they make very easy!).

#428 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 03:26 PM:

(incidentally, my username on Dreamwidth is "unhappytriad")

#429 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 04:27 PM:

Open-threadiness: I just finished watching Passengers. The trailers don't do it justice. There are some whoppers, most notably explosions in space going "boom," but the middle is thoroughly SFnal. I recommend it.

#430 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 05:09 PM:

Content Warning for Passengers: a strongly nonconsensual situation is pitched as romantic.

Specifically, and avoiding specific spoilers as much as I can, the man we are meant to sympathize with and think is a good guy continues pursuing his romantic object after multiple "no"s and at great length, up to and past the point of stalking.

This may cause real problems for some viewers who come upon it unexpectedly.

#431 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 06:24 PM:

I've seen that noted in nearly every comment about that movie. Apparently it's hitting a lot of people in the wrong way.

#432 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 07:40 PM:

Actually, it sounds like it's hitting a lot of people the right way: just not the way the creators may have expected or intended.

Possibly, if there are enough voices saying "It would have been a good movie except..." it will decrease the chances of the next project loading on the same tropes with quite so heavy a trowel.

The term clue-by-four comes to mind.

#433 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 08:51 PM:

A lot of what I've heard of movie-studio execs is to the effect that they think the audience for SF is males between 12 and 30. (Which explains a lot of the decisions.)

#434 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 09:48 PM:

Count me as another longtime LJ-user who's finally decided to go to the Grey Havens Dreamwidth. I've had a mirror account there for a few years, but I'm trying to get in the habit of posting from/doing my flist reading there. I'm moon_custafer in both places.

#435 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2016, 11:23 PM:

Sumana, #425: MetaFilter appears to be down hard at the moment. I wonder if it's Russian hackers.

Anyone who wants to find me on DreamWidth, I'm stardreamer there. I've been using it to post from for quite a while now, and while I still crosspost to LJ, I now treat LJ and DW as different entities rather than one being a mirror for the other.

#436 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 04:02 AM:

Elliott Mason @424

Unfortunately, Patreon isn't set up for that. It is, as you say, either piecework or monthly payments, but not both. When I wrote to their support email about the question, they suggested having one account for each. That seemed like more hassle than I wanted to deal with. (I went with monthly.)

#437 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 11:54 AM:

Well...smeg. Looks like another vestige of my earlier life is headed down the memory hole. I originally got an LJ account just so I could read other people's posts; I think it was several years before I actually made a post in my own journal. But I was getting into a project that kind of requires a very simple interface with no beepy flashy twirly things eating up bandwidth or making old computers hiccup. I'll have to go look at Dreamwidth.

#438 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 12:26 PM:

Dreamwidth will bulk-import LJ content.

#439 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 04:44 PM:

Yeah, I just imported my LJ into Dreamwidth the other day. I was surprised at how easy it was. DW has an automated tool; just enter the LJ info, hit the button, then sit back and let it do its magic. I think it took less than half an hour for mine.

#440 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 05:38 PM:

Furthermore, if you want to maintain a presence on LJ, DW makes it trivially easy to crosspost. I have some friends on LJ who have not moved to DW, or who have only placeholder accounts there, so I've been doing the crossposting thing for years; I re-import comments about once a quarter, to keep everything in one place and make sure I don't lose LJ-side comments if something goes kablooey over there.

#441 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 07:22 PM:

Happy New Year to those across the pond.

And just to be sure, Happy New Year to those on the East Coast.

I'm in snowy Salt Lake City on a very long layover, but not long enough to send out a greeting when 11:59 pm hits EST.

SLC has free WiFi. Thank you, Salt Lake City Airport.

#442 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 07:25 PM:

Classical guitar cover for "Try Everything." Not the one posted uptopic. Amazing how well this works:

#443 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 09:36 PM:

2016: right to the end
William Christopher ("Father Mulcahy").

#444 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 02:10 AM:


Oh, no -- Eternal rest grant unto him, and may perpetual light shine upon him...

#445 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 02:34 AM:

Happy new year, all! May the new year live up to your hopes, and not down to your fears.

#446 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 03:28 AM:

May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.

Here's to 2017 -- may it be a better year in spite of everything.

#447 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 03:34 AM:

Back in Oregon. House intact. Got back from final grocery trip of 2016 to see the ball drop.

Happy New Year.

#448 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 12:52 PM:

This is a bit of a random post, perhaps to make up for having not been around much in the last half year? Something about my online reading schedule has made following Making Light conversations difficult for me, and I've been getting online community needs met in some other places (though places where many of you are also present, in various combinations). As perhaps a bit of an apology for that, I wanted to share some brief excerpts from one of my current projects.

My great great grandfather, Abiel Teple LaForge, wrote extensive diaries and letters during his time serving in the Union army during the American Civil War. (Also during his post-war years, but I haven't gotten to those yet.) My mother transcribed this material and self-published a very limited set of hard copies for the family and a few genealogical research libraries that might be interested. And about a decade ago I decided to format the material for web publication. This project got bogged down because my mother's approach to word processing involved things like manually inserting hyphenation and not entirely trusting automated word-wrap functions, so the amount of processing the project required led me to drop it at a barely-started point.

Recently when I was casting around for a new serial project for my blog, I picked it up again, with the added feature that in addition to processing the original transcription, I'm producing an edited and annotated version that is more easily readable. (At the moment, the original goes on my website while the edited version goes on my blog, but eventually they'll be more integrated.)

In working through Abiel's diaries in such detail, I'm once again reminded of how remarkable they remarkable he must have been. He joined up with a New York Volunteer regiment at age 19 and, after about a year's service was sidelined with dysentery and ended up spending over a year at a convalescent camp near Washington DC where he rapidly became a trusted clerk and aide to the Major in charge. In the section of the diaries that I'm currently processing (1864) he has just returned to active duty with a promotion.

What strikes me is the eloquence and dry humor with which he records the everyday horrors, burdens, and courage of the war. (The pacifist in me often winces at the way he praises reckless self-sacrificing patriotism, but his words ring so true for what went on in people's minds.)

Here are a couple of bits that stuck in my mind recently:

Writing to his sister about a month after returning to active duty, he bemoans the lack of any letters from home, despite his regular weekly correspondence: "If I do not get an answer to this I will send another if I live to the end of the week." Given the casualties he records in passing, that "if I live" was nothing more than plain fact.

When that letter arrives, and his sister asks about various features of his new position, including the amount of command responsibility he seems to have, he responds: "I am in command of the company because the captain was captured on May 6th at the battle of the Wilderness. The 1st Lieutenant went home on a furlough last March and forgot to return. The 2nd Lieutenant was killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor June 1st, so I am not only in command but also the only officer in the company. My Company properly is "F", being however that there was already two officers present with that company, I was placed in command of co "I"."

But life isn't all battle and hardships. One of my favorite passages occurred when he was convalescing the year before and wrote home in thanks for a food "care package" that included roast chickens that "so firmly were they convinced that it was their duty under any circumstances to carry out the principles of their existance that they had laid one dozen hard boiled eggs in their transit from Andover to Camp Convalescent. What a model of unflinching determination to perform duty under any circumstances is this? And set us by a chicken too!"

I'll leave the quotations at that--there are too many more "good bits" to even begin. The project is reminding me of the humanity, the hardships, the humor, and the hope that people have always shown in their everyday lives. Abiel faced entirely different challenges than I do today, but I hope that he will inspire me to show the same.

#449 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 12:57 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @448: I've been deeply enjoying those letter and diary transcripts you've been putting up! It reminds me of when I first read Cicero's letters: that intense sense of basic human connection across the years, coupled with the occasional jarring reminder of a vast difference in cultural assumptions. Fewer of the latter than with Cicero, of course.

And I'm deeply interested in the way the bureaucracy of the military works (or fails to work) with the additional complication of very slow and easily lost/corrupted data transfer, compared to modern times. Like the bit in which Abiel gets the run-around because he's supposed to get a sign-off from his original posting (platoon? group?) before he can move to another one, but they're all currently in a Confederate prison, which makes that a rather tricky thing to acquire.

#450 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 01:11 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @448: I felt much the same way when I read a Revolutionary War diary (of Obediah Wetherell) which my father was sent by one of his cousins. I have no idea how he was related to us, and the diary is now in the collection of the Huntington in Pasadena -- but the simple humanity of it (the long sequence of entries that consisted of "No rum today", for example) made me start being interested in history again, after some traumatic experiences with bad high-school teachers.

#451 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 01:54 PM:

I did something similar with the journal and letters of a great-granduncle and the letters of his younger brother, my great-grandfather, in an Illinois regiment. I was posting them by date, so I now have (a) a machine-usable (b) date-ordered set of entries and letters. It was helped by having a (badly) typed transcription of the journals and most of that set of letters - the handwriting is quite difficult.

There was a lot of stuff about fresh fruits (whenever they could get them), and about packages and letters from home. The journal entries - one volume got lost, sometime before the transcription was done, in the 1930s - got longer and more interesting as time went on.

(I'm still croggled by one entry in late 1864, where, in writing about the harassment by guerrillas, the phrase "bug out for Atlanta" is used.)

#452 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 02:30 PM:

P.J. Evans @ 451

Yes, there's a lot of comments about any dietary supplements to the hardtack and whatever else is standard rations. Though in the current month's entries, much of that "supplement" involves involuntary donations by the southern farmers through whose lands they're moving. Also gleaning of wild berries and such while on the march.

#453 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 02:38 PM:

I've been enjoying these videos by Jon Townsend (of the period equipment supplier company Jas. Townsend and Son), aimed at re-enactors and history buffs, and based on original sources. Mainly cooking, but also has info about marching, camping, equipment, etc.

#454 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 02:38 PM:

I got the impression that they marched on strong sweet coffee, hardtack, cornmeal mush, and salt pork. (And sometimes just the coffee. That seems to have been really popular.)
Lots of foraging, yes - although the wild stuff was welcome. (Marching through Georgia. And the Carolinas. And into Virginia, after the surrender.)

#455 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 06:13 PM:

HRJ: I got a good chuckle out of those chickens.

#456 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 09:24 PM:

A friend sent my dog a new toy. I knew it was going to be a squeeky plush monkey. I didn't know it would be bigger than many dogs:

#457 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:45 AM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

#458 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 12:10 PM:

Rolled out of bed at 5:20 am on my usual work weekday schedule. Walked the dog, cleaned and dressed, ate. Got in my 1/2 hour pre-commute nap.

Got to the office.

Empty, except for a few contractors on support duty.

Federal holiday. Nhghhhhaaah.

#459 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 03:40 PM:

Following Serge #457: Happy birthday, PNH!

#460 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 03:43 PM:

Natal Felicitations, PNH!

#461 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 04:12 PM:

Happy Birthday PNH!

There's a bag of "Cosmopolitan Flavoured" crisps here somewhere, help yourself. (Or not, as the case may be - they do not taste of glossy magazine according to our sacrificial taster.)

#462 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 04:20 PM:

Cadbury Moose, but do they taste of international city streets? (I'd expect asphalt, cobblestone, and dung....)

#463 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 04:26 PM:

Happy Birthday, PNH!

#464 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 04:48 PM:

Happy Birthday Patrick!

#465 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 05:17 PM:

Late to the party, but happy birthday, Patrick!

#466 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 06:32 PM:

Just a heads up. If you are on LiveJournal cancel your account immediately. The servers have been moved from the US to the Russian Federation, therefore all accounts are subject to compromise.

#467 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 06:51 PM:

I've run into something rather curious. The novel MARS CROSSING by Geoffrey Landis, published (or rather, re-published) in Dec 2016, is available as a mass market paperback, but not in electronic form. That seems like a strange thing to do in today's market.

Anyone know why this was done?

#468 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 07:49 PM:


* * *
I used my unexpected day off to, among other things, finally use the food grinder attachment for my KitchenAid. I re-ground some frozen meat sauce that was too coarse.

Now in a "dang, what other gadgets can I attach to this mixer?" mood.

#469 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 08:30 PM:

I'm not panicking about LJ-- I don't put anything seriously private there. I have my parallel DW account.

#470 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 08:37 PM:

There's a vegetable mill like a mechanized version of the one my Nonna used to make sauce from tomatoes and peppers for home canning. (And my Mom used to make applesauce.)
Also a sausage stuffer add-on for the meat grinder you already have.
And an ice-cream maker.
And a pasta maker.

Having used manual vegetable mills and pasta makers, I highly recommend the Kitchenaid ones: those are both tasks that need at least 3 or 4 hands for the manual versions, and the automation is REALLY helpful.

The ice-cream maker is fine if you are not seriously into making homemade ice-creams and sorbets.

I own the sausage stuffer but haven't used it (Alton Brown likes it, for what that is worth.)

#471 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 08:42 PM:

Re LJ, I saw something elseNet that does appear to be a valid concern, and that's giving them your credit-card information. If you want to keep your LJ and you don't have a permanent account, you might want to consider dropping back to a free account.

Requesting a reality check. I just saw something on a friend's blog that... well, you read it and decide.

Until you saw the musical Hamilton, You probably got the impression that the founding fathers all got along and always knew exactly what they were doing.

The person who wrote that isn't as old as I am, but I wouldn't have thought they were too young to have heard of 1776. Am I just having an Old Phart moment here, or is there a reason to be annoyed?

#472 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:01 PM:

The person who wrote that isn't as old as I am, but I wouldn't have thought they were too young to have heard of 1776. Am I just having an Old Phart moment here, or is there a reason to be annoyed?

The stage musical came out in 1969 and the movie in 1972. The film wasn't particularly celebrated; it doesn't seem to have won any major awards.

The average person in our society is 37 years old. That means they were born around 1980 and probably doesn't remember anything before 1985.

It seems perfectly reasonable to me that someone might not be aware of a fairly obscure work from well before their time.

#473 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:02 PM:

#470: Thanks!

I'm picturing an optional screen you can set up around the sausage attachment, to protect the sensibilities of people who don't want to see how sausage is made.

#474 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:08 PM:

I know someone whose July 4 tradition is to watch 1776. I have managed this once, and only because I had something to read, because wow, that musical is extremely not to my taste. And I had at least heard of it (born 1984). I got it mixed up with Damn Yankees, which has nothing to do with the Revolution at all, but all I ever saw was the sign, so.

Not quite as bad as when a chorus teacher of a certain age stopped the pianist from plunking through a song, saying, "Everyone knows 'You'll Never Walk Alone'!" That musical predates both my parents.

#475 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:11 PM:

Lee (471): If I drop back to a free LJ account, that means ads, right? I got on LJ early enough that, when they started up the ads for the free accounts, I was grandfathered in to an ad-free version. Then I upgraded to a paid account. I've been thinking about downgrading to the free one again, but the thought of the ads is giving me pause.

#476 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:14 PM:

Lee @471:

I am migrating to DW, mostly in solidarity to those who are concerned about their freedoms. As Nancy says, I don't have anything on there I consider really private (I had to tell a friend in college when DejaNews came about that he might not want to admit to any more felonies on UseNET, so I've always played by the "front page of the NYT rule for online postings"). But the CC info may be enough for me to cancel my paid account. I'm not using any of the extra features.

I took US Government in high school in 1987, the 200th anniversary of the Constitutional Convention. As such, it was heavily covered in school, and I learned that the "Founding Fathers" were not in agreement. But by then, 1776 had opened on Broadway 18 years earlier, and the movie was also 15 years old. I'm not sure when I heard about it, nor when I saw it, but it wasn't a common thing. And if I had heard of it, but not seen it, I'm uncertain if I would have understood the message that the founding fathers didn't all get along.

Given that "Original intent" and what the "founding fathers" meant when they formed the Constitution is a common argument these days, I find it helpful to remember and point out that the "founding fathers" were hundreds of people spread across the country in legislatures and delegations from 13 states as diverse as Georgia and Massachusetts, and that they argued in Statehouses and newspapers for nearly 2 years before ratifying the thing, with the implicit promise it would be changed immediately thereafter. I find it helpful to remember that the 2nd amendment is a "compromise" where they essentially took half of one State's proposal (a collectivist-based, militia-based right), and half of another State's proposal (an individual-based right), mushed them together, passed it out of committee, out of Congress, and sent it to the States for ratification without explaining what the result was supposed to mean. Any argument of "The founding fathers wanted X" is rubbish, since some wanted X, some wanted Y, some didn't care, and just wanted to get out of Philadelphia to go home.

#477 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:14 PM:

I'm not sure of the attachments that my mother had for her mixer. I know there's a food-mill one, and I think that might be different from the one for grating (we used it for the zucchini for zucchini bread). I won't swear to the sausage attachment, but I know it exists.

FWIW, my mother's is from the mid to late 60s, and more recent parts don't always fit (bowl covers, especially). It's a K5A, so fairly large.

#478 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:27 PM:

I wonder if a thread devoted to a Universal Basic Income discussion might be called for.

#479 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:57 PM:

Just finished The OA on Netflix. I'm annoyed. "Vg jnf nyy n cerzbavgvba" vf bayl znetvanyyl yrff veevgngvat guna "vg jnf nyy n qernz." Which is a damn shame, because it was shaping up to be really good. >:-\

#480 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 02:51 PM:

Stefan Jones @478:

I'm up for one, if anyone else is -- I think it's going to be the only way to go if TPTB want the USA to continue to specialize in consumerism.

#481 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 03:27 PM:

@#458 Stefan Jones
I've been known to do that deliberately, in order to complete long/intricate/boring tasks without the normal workday interruptions from colleagues.

#482 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 03:57 PM:

AKICIML: Say that somebody buys a brand-new, big and fancy pickup truck. It's a beaut. But they die when it's still nearly new and in great shape, and their heir, for Reasons related to Issues, parks the thing in an unheated but weatherproof garage and leaves it there for 15 years. Then they die, and their heir finds it. What, if anything, can they do with it besides call the junker?

#483 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 04:02 PM:

Jenny: Call the local vintage car club?

#484 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 04:42 PM:

If it's been inside, it will be in reasonably good condition, and it's probable someone will be interested in it. ((It certainly isn't going to be a piece-o-junk, as it would have been if stored outside.)

#485 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 06:01 PM:

I would be wary of trying to run the engine on something that had been stood that long. Seals and hoses can have deteriorated. They might have kept the oil and water in place while the engine and transmission was static. Likewise the tires, they can be fragile.

Vehicles last longer these days, so 15 years old isn't so special. It's not really vintage, but it does have some extra value for being little used.

#486 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 06:11 PM:

So now there's a discussion thread for Universal Basic Income.

Writing it revealed how very clueless I am about it. I apologize for that.

#487 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 06:26 PM:

Jenny: I second what Dave Bell said about the engine, plus the risk of rodents getting into the interior and chewing the wiring. Oh, and the battery is almost certainly dead.

If the truck is in an area where roads are salted during the winter, but the truck wasn't driven during the winter and has no rust on the frame and/or lower body, that can potentially make it more desirable, even if it doesn't run. (A mechanically inclined purchaser can swap in a running engine from a rusted donor vehicle.)

The best place to sell would be Craigslist. Even (sometimes especially) if it doesn't run. Be honest and detailed about the condition. Include pictures - some 3/4 views and interior shots.

If you or someone of your close acquaintance is mechanically inclined, you could change the oil, drain the gas tank and put in fresh gas, and put in a new battery, and see if it will run under its own power. If no one in your circle has the ability or time, don't worry about it and list it as non-running.

Also, if someone of your acquaintance hangs out on any car enthusiast forums, you could ask if they'll post a link to your Craigslist ad.

#488 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 06:33 PM:

Jenny Islander @482: First, figure out what your goal with the truck is -- use it? Sell it? Give it to your local NPR station? If it's the last of those -- give it to them and let them do the due diligence towards getting it running again. If you're planning it use it -- do what makes you comfortable. Selling -- somewhere in between, as you have an obligation to be honest with the buyer but you don't have to tell them what you don't know.

Get several opinions once you've decided what you're doing (as you're starting to do here). If you have a mechanic that you trust for your own car, ask them who (locally) they'd trust for the pickup. Then ask them and the local dealer for the manufacturer of the pickup. Dave Bell's cautions seem good ones to me. The gasoline has probably also deteriorated; so look to drain and replace all fluids before running it (this step may be unnecessary, but it strikes me as prudent).

If you don't have a mechanic you trust, ask your friends if they have one. Look on YELP at their ratings.

#489 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 09:29 PM:

Jenny @482: The best bet for getting it in a runnable condition without too much work (but perhaps $$$) on your part is to have it transported on a flat-bed to a competent mechanic. It's probable that all the lubricants have gotten sludgy, and forcing the parts to move, even by towing it down the road, may cause damage. A good mechanic will know how to deal with changing out all the fluids safely.

All the fluids -- oil, power steering, brake, transmission, gas, wiper, etc -- should be changed because of age-related breakdown.

The battery will be dead, and probably not rechargeable at this point. Luckily, the main thing they make new batteries from is old batteries, so it's very recyclable.

All the rubber -- tires, seals, belts, hoses -- should be replaced for the same reason.

But beyond the fluids, the rubber, the batteries, there's not much that will be harmed by just sitting there. I doubt there would be much rust in the cooling system, but that might be worth checking out.

The hard time will be starting it up for the first time after replacing all that. It may well be a case of starting the engine, running it for 5 minutes, then doing another oil change to get rid of all the gunk that came free once it was running, hot, and with fresh lube.

#490 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2017, 07:36 AM:

A fifteen year old truck may not be worth anything.

In 2016 I gave away a 1999 car to one of those services that sells old cars and gives the money to charity. They sold it to a scrapper for something like $75. Apparently there just isn't a market for cars that old, even in good condition. I guess people are willing to USE a car that is 15 years old if they already have it, but they wouldn't BUY one.

#491 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2017, 12:54 PM:

There are on-line services such as Kelly Blue Book that will take information about the make, model, year, location, and specific details about condition, accessories, etc. and give estimated "fair market value". They offer both "trade-in" (what a dealer might buy it for) and "private-party" (what you might get selling it directly) prices. There's no guarantee you'd actually get those prices, but at least they give you a rough idea of what it might be worth.

It's probably worth going through the process twice, once for the truck as-is (probably "poor" condition), and again for what it would be worth if fully restored to "excellent" condition. Then you can compare the difference to your mechanic's estimate to get it operational again.

I recently did this with a 16 year old car with 200K miles, to discover that my mechanic's estimate to overhaul the transmission was roughly equal to the private-party value of the car, so instead I traded it in at the dealership for a couple hundred dollars towards a replacement.

#492 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2017, 01:58 PM:

re 472: 1776 got noms for Oscar cinematography and GG best musical.

#493 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2017, 04:31 PM:

Jenny Islander @#482:
AKICIML: Say that somebody buys a brand-new, big and fancy pickup truck. It's a beaut. But they die when it's still nearly new and in great shape, and their heir, for Reasons related to Issues, parks the thing in an unheated but weatherproof garage and leaves it there for 15 years. Then they die, and their heir finds it. What, if anything, can they do with it besides call the junker?

Lots of folks have already chimed in, my contributions are somewhat duplicative.

15 year weatherproof storage of a "nearly new" truck, call it a 16-20 year old truck. That's a 1996-2000. I just bought a 2000 Ford Explorer last month (really, truly! Good find, too!), and was looking as far back as 1992, so people still do buy them.

If the heir is not mechanically inclined and has no interest in keeping the truck, selling it "as is, where is" is likely the best course of action. Note: whatever method you use to sell it or scrap it, make sure you have the title or at least fill out the appropriate paperwork with the state to say "this vehicle with vin XYZ is no longer mine" so you don't get dinged for parking tickets or abandonment charges or similar. Having the title is best, but it costs some $ and time to get a duplicate title if it is missing.

Best bet: ask around among the family and close friends to see if anyone is looking to buy a *new* or late-model used car from one of those dealers that is advertising a minimum $750-$2k trade-in value for "anything that rolls" (Push! Pull! Drag your old car in! is the one going on here). Sell it to them for 1$ and buyer pays to get the title transferred cleanly and then they can trade it in - towed straight from final resting place to the dealer.

Second best: toss it up on Craigslist as a "mechanics special" or "for parts" for the going rate for non-running trucks of that style and age. Call around the local auto salvage yards to get a scrap price, so you can set a floor. They'll probably have a few prices: you bring it in, they tow it in, and with or without title options for both. It's a great parts vehicle. With a clean title, it ought to sell relatively easily. If it has no rust it'd sell for at least $500 here in Minnesota, Land of Salted Roads and Rusty Trucks. Be honest about the condition - check for musty smells, rodent-eaten wiring, etc. as mentioned by others. "Bring a trailer".

Feel free to have fun with the ad - people get a kick out of interesting Craigslist ads. "Barn Find", "Time Capsule", etc. are fun descriptors.

Third best (or if it doesn't sell): tax writeoff donation as mentioned before, with one of those places that will come pick it up. Pick a "value" using the Craigslist method for non-running trucks.

If you want to maximize profit but are not interested in tinkering with it to get it to run, part it out. List it on Craigslist and sell it off piece by piece. People will want bumpers, trim bits, door handles, fenders, that sort of thing. Scrap or sell on to a salvage yard whatever's leftover.

If mechanically inclined, it may be a fun project to tinker on for a while to see if it will roll again. If interested, I can give a run-down on what to do to wake "Rip Van Vehicle" from their long sleep, with the proviso that I've only done so to carbureted vehicles so any of my advice related to fuel systems will be "extrapolated". #1 issue: don't crank it until you've lubed the engine! It's been sitting long enough that the oil will have drained off of the surfaces that need it, so it will need some extra attention before trying to turn it over, and this involves removing valve covers, distributor, spark plugs, etc. I'll leave it at that unless you or anyone else is interested in a how-to. The more detail you can give on the vehicle, the more detailed I can be in my response.

#494 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2017, 05:32 PM:

@cajunf40 no. 493: It isn't my truck, but I'll pass all this on. My last question is, does waking up Rip Van Vehicles typically require an engine hoist or any lifter bigger than a jack?

#495 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2017, 06:01 PM:

#494 ::: Jenny Islander@#493:
@cajunf40 no. 493: It isn't my truck, but I'll pass all this on. My last question is, does waking up Rip Van Vehicles typically require an engine hoist or any lifter bigger than a jack?

For a "let's see if we can get this thing going" try, no. A jack is plenty. The rest is hand tools and two-person lifting of awkward shapes like gas tanks. If the engine is not internally corroded (and sometimes even then!) you can probably get it going without yanking it out of the truck. It will likely leak, though. Possibly a lot. More details available on request. :-)

#496 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2017, 06:20 PM:

At this point I think I'm going to point them at a mechanic, or at any rate at somebody else in meatspace who is not me. I was mainly concerned that they not let sentiment blind them to the difficulties involved. Thanks a lot!

#497 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2017, 06:23 PM:

We are in a somewhat similar situation, the difference being that my F-I-L's Jeep has not been totally neglected, so it isn't going to require a total fluid transplant to get it back here. It's all a question of how far it is from running. For a modern vehicle (post-1980s) which hasn't been out of the barn I would say, yes, oil and fluids change and fresh gas, and a battery, and it'll probably run. I'm not as concerned as others are about the rubber and seals, but if you do the fluids you'll find out fast enough how good those are, . If it'll run, and it's low mileage, it may not be worth much in dollars but there is surely someone out there who can put it to work. Based on the values Kelly is giving us, a time-capsule pickup of that age is probably worth more than a grand, maybe as much as $2K.

#498 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2017, 08:12 PM:

Pro Tip: Never, ever, ever agree to be an Area Head for an area you've never worked in as a subordinate.

I'm sure someone told me that at some point, but I had to learn it the hard way.

#499 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2017, 10:01 PM:

Scientists have found a fossil tomatillo fruit in South America that's more than 50 million years old.

#500 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2017, 10:49 PM:

The "Hidden Figures" movie is really, really good! Heroic mathematicians! Gentle but nuanced social messages! Genuine tension around historical events even when I know exactly how they came out! Fortran!

I'm really glad I saw it, and there are a whole bunch of people I want to sit down in front of it with.

#501 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2017, 11:22 PM:

#500: I'm looking forward to it. Glad to hear it was well done.

The space program has a lot of complexities and strangeness to it that the standard narrative doesn't get at.

#502 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2017, 12:41 AM:

The trailer for Hidden Figures brought tears to my eyes. Not quite sure why, unless it's family connections (my mother having been a mathematician and my father a rocket scientist) -- and they didn't have the racial issue to deal with. Glad to hear the rec for the whole movie.

#503 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2017, 09:30 AM:

Jenny Islander @#496:
At this point I think I'm going to point them at a mechanic, or at any rate at somebody else in meatspace who is not me. I was mainly concerned that they not let sentiment blind them to the difficulties involved. Thanks a lot!

Glad to be of help! Good plan to help prevent sentiment-blindness. Other than lubrication issues with the engine (things you gotta do to keep from destroying it if it is otherwise good, just because it sat), the biggest difficulty (assuming no missing/chewed/eaten wiring) in starting a modern fuel-injected engine will be whatever happened within the high-pressure fuel system over those 15 years. Might just require cranking a while to clear the bad gas, might require cleaning, might require replacing corroded injectors/fuel pump. Roll of the dice at this point. I can't give much more specific advice without knowing what year/make/model. Tell them good luck for me!

C. Wingate @#497:
We are in a somewhat similar situation, the difference being that my F-I-L's Jeep has not been totally neglected, so it isn't going to require a total fluid transplant to get it back here. It's all a question of how far it is from running. For a modern vehicle (post-1980s) which hasn't been out of the barn I would say, yes, oil and fluids change and fresh gas, and a battery, and it'll probably run. I'm not as concerned as others are about the rubber and seals, but if you do the fluids you'll find out fast enough how good those are, . If it'll run, and it's low mileage, it may not be worth much in dollars but there is surely someone out there who can put it to work. Based on the values Kelly is giving us, a time-capsule pickup of that age is probably worth more than a grand, maybe as much as $2K.

From my experience, getting a non-modern vehicle that has been sitting started is actually easier. Fewer things to check/replace, and you can bypass the entire fuel system with a length of rubber hose and a gravity-feed fuel can. Getting it driveable is about the same effort as a more modern vehicle, with the proviso that parts may be harder to find if it is a rare vehicle.

As for a "time-capsule pickup" - I agree that it will be worth a decent amount if running. My main concern with seals is the shaft seals, like front main, rear main, transmission input/output, axle seals, etc. Sitting a long time slightly off-center they'll stiffen up. Started with no fluid film between them and the shaft, they can scuff, too. Hence, leaks. Otherwise, 15 year old hoses can still work fine - they have not been baked by a hot engine for that time, and there's plenty of 15 year old vehicles driving around with original hoses, radiators, etc. under the hood.

On your F-I-L's Jeep - what year/make/type? There are so many Jeep enthusiasts around, you could probably find a local 4x4 club to the area where it is now to help out. Provide food and drink, and have a "resurrection party". We vehicle enthusiasts love a good challenge. :-) Going out to an old Jeep with a reasonably stocked toolbox, a gas can, and a nearby parts store, with the goal of driving it home sounds like a fun adventure! Loads of stories in the 4x4 mags of "how to buy a $1000 4x4" with tales of getting it going in the driveway of the seller - much to the seller's surprise - and driving it away. Higher mileage vehicles take a lot of the pressure off - you expect things will be broken, and the value isn't too high, so if you break something worse than it was when you started you aren't much worse off.

#504 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2017, 11:26 AM:

OT technology idiocy:

I noticed that our Tivo censors its closed captioning subtitles. When it finds an objectionable string, it replaces it with X's. This leads to such silliness as when a line of dialogue in an episode of Perry Mason refers to an airplane's XXXXpit.

#505 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2017, 02:22 PM:

Steve C #504: A plane's Australian beer pit? I presume the plane's from Scunthorpe.

#506 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2017, 03:43 PM:

Open threadiness: today I became one of the lucky 10,000 regarding the book "Mrs. Miniver" by Jan Struther. I had never heard of it before (nor of the movies, radio show, etc.).

I am finding it delightful. Struther has a felicity of phrase that warms my heart.

I picked the book up when I saw it at Goodwill, my curiosity aroused by its appearance among books many decades its junior. I'm glad I did.

#507 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2017, 03:55 PM: may be of interest (the introduction in particular had lots of stuff I didn't know).

#508 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2017, 05:57 PM:

Thank you, HelenS!

#509 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 06:19 AM:

So hey, first snowfall¹ of the winter here in Charlottesville, VA. Actually started last night, but overnight it built from a sprinkle to an inch or so.

¹ I've seen occasional snowflakes in the air over the last couple of weeks or so, but nothing stuck.

#510 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 12:44 PM:

Something SFnal from my great-great-granfather's diaries

August 4, 1864, Headquarters I Company, 106th New York Volunteers, near Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

"Looking up to the throne of him who rules the universe, we behold a magnificent heaven thickly studded with bright sparkling specks, which we are told by astronimers are inhabited like our world. Doubtless they are but it can not be proved for we are unable (though we often desire to) to soar through intrvening space and visit those celestial planets, and thus solve the mistery with which they are now surrounded. ... Orders came at 2 A.M. to be ready to move at day light, we were up and breakfasted, and the whole Division was packed up ready to move."

(I thought I'd include the final bit for context.)

#511 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 12:49 PM:

Do first drafts ever get published? The author sends in his or her first version of an article or novel, and it's sent on through the pipeline with no editorial changes at all. Does that ever happen in professional publishing?

#512 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 12:55 PM:

Johan Larson @511 -- yes. It does happen. Probably not very often. There are a lot of different types of "professional publishing" -- in some, it's quite common, actually. Often it's not a good idea, too.

What form of publishing are you concerned about?

#513 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 01:26 PM:

Heather Rose Jones: When you have a reasonable amount online, please do share the link. Your double-great-grandfather sounds like an interesting read.

#514 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 04:39 PM:

Let me add my thumbs up for HIDDEN FIGURES. It's a really well-made film, and an intriguing peephole into a bygone age.

They managed to pull in some big names, too: Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons (from "Big Bang Theory.")

#515 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 04:52 PM:

Johan Larson @514:

I'm struck by the observation that for a movie about the hidden contributions of black women in the space race, none of the big names you cite are black, and only one is a woman.

That seems like an intriguing peephole into the current age.

#516 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 05:51 PM:

@Johan Larson no. 511: For a whole series of published first drafts, see Left Behind et seq. by LaHaye and Jenkins.

#517 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 06:03 PM:

#515: The movie is set at NASA in the early sixties. They could hardly avoid having a number of roles for white men.

It seems a bit odd that the actresses cast for the three principal roles aren't more famous. Only one of them (Octavia Spencer, who is an honest-to-God Oscar winner) might be called a major figure. You'd think these roles would have major black actresses lining up around the block. Are there so very few famous black actresses? Or did the director hire for something other than star power?

#518 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 06:05 PM:

514, 515: Especially since one of the leads is Janelle Monae, who is a bestselling singer and performance artist, and a central figure of a group of avant-garde explorationists akin to the one that Andy Warhol gathered around himself.

Only they're all Black, so most white Americans have no idea at all.

Just about the only one of Ms. Monae's songs to hit mainstream pop radio:

#519 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 06:09 PM:

Janelle Monae is also creating a lot of science fiction in the form of songs. Like this one.

#520 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 06:29 PM:

Johan Larson @517: It's telling that you don't think Janelle Monae and Taraji P. Henderson are major stars.

I've already covered Ms. Monae on previous rocks. Ms. Henderson has an extensive filmography ( ) as a producer and actor, most recently at the hearts of the TV series "Person of Interest" and "Empire", both of which were significant commercial successes.

She's performed on stage at the Oscars (as a singer for one of the nominated songs, in 2006).

But there are so few Black actors of any gender allowed to take lead (or even second-billing) parts in major Hollywood movies that I bet most white film fans couldn't list more than 6, off the top of their heads.

This is not because the Black world of cinema and TV is lacking powerhouse emotional volcano stars. It's just that white moviemakers refuse to hire them.

#521 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 06:59 PM:

I saw Hidden Figures last week and adored it. Despite the fact that it was released in my market at the end of the year so it could be considered for the Oscars (it better be considered...) this was most definitely NOT a "broccoli" movie ("... just watch it - it'll be good for you!"). I am planning on seeing it again in the next week or so. I found when discussing this with my older, midwestern relatives, that the only description that made them remember the trailers for the film were "that Kevin Costner movie". I have no idea if the trailers and ads they got were different than in my market, or whether their bias somehow erased "you know, that movie with the African American ladies at NASA" and they only noticed the famous white dude. *sigh*

This was a great film regardless, but it reminded me that at this point there's no point in my watching another movie about say, the space race or WWII unless you're going to tell a story haven't seen. So many fascinating people with breathtaking stories and we only ever hear about the white males. Over and over again.

#522 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 08:14 PM:

B. Durbin @ 513

The un-massaged transcriptions (i.e., my mother's transcription) as far as I've gotten are here:

My more heavily edited, cleaned up, and annotated version is going up on my blog here:

#523 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 08:21 PM:

I just saw Hidden Figures this afternoon and add my voice to the recommendations. It didn't pull many punches about casual racism. I guess maybe you could call it "pulling punches" that the three central characters all overcame that racism to achieve impressive careers. But it would have been an entirely different movie it if had been the story of not overcoming. And it's biography, so it's not feel-good invention, though I'm curious to know if John Glenn really was as open-minded as he's portrayed to be.

#524 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 08:27 PM:

Heather @ #510:

Rather John Carter of Mars-ish.

#525 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 08:43 PM:

@Sarah E no. 524: Now there's a movie I wish had had a sequel. A human culture that appears to have roots in India in conflict with a native species that refuses, as an act of resistance, to use any technology they can't build for themselves with their impoverished infrastructure? Women in positions of power, and nobody appears to give a flip? Mysterious figures, Big Dumb Objects, and fantastic landscapes? I loved it.

#526 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 08:49 PM:

I think our civilization would have a small but significantly different take on things if the stars were as visible to us every clear night as they were to Heather's G-G-GF.

#527 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 09:27 PM:

Heather @523 - De and I were both skeptical about the benevolent white folks, JG included. When we came home to look it up, the incident late in the film (trying not to spoil) was actually completely true. Not sure about the meet & greet near the beginning, but I was certain that other bit was an invention. I think I'm going to be adding the book to my TBR pile.

#528 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 09:48 PM:

Janelle Monáe is a genius, and is assembling an amazing collection of artists around her. The following is one of the best 5-minute films about dystopia, race-relations, magic, dancing, and resistance that I know of.

Resistance. I didn't come here to talk about Janelle Monáe.

I came here to say: I am totally flummoxed by the knowledge that the US presidential election was hacked by Russia, and that they have now installed their chosen puppet.

I don't know what to do with this knowledge. I don't know how to react. I go about my day. I cooked some meals.

But all the time, the klaxons are blaring in my head. And there's no one to report it to. There's no sheriff who is going to ride to the rescue. I don't know what to do.

#529 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 10:11 PM:

#538: Take comfort in the fact that a lot of people, on the right and left, will now be watching every tug of that puppet's strings. He has pissed off a lot of people who might have been enablers and allies. He is pissing off more of them with every inane tweet.

Also, this:

I spent an hour this morning at the local Democratic party office, brainstorming with folks about writing letters to the editor and our reps and senators. The members of the group had three letters published in the last week.

OTOH, cooking is never a bad idea. My, I did a lot of cooking last month:

#530 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 10:13 PM:

Tom Whitmore@502: I had the same reaction, probably for similar reasons, and there are similar scenes in the movie that also brought tears to my eyes. One at the end was so similar to a story I grew up with that it struck home in ways the director probably wasn't planning.

nerdycellist@521: If it was a difference in the trailers, I'm tempted to say that whatever gets people into the theaters is good. I thought the movie itself kept the leads in the foreground.

Heather Rose Jones@523: I wondered about Glenn as well, but, as nerdycellist says, one of the most striking incidents was apparently real.

One thing I really liked in the movie was how it consistently, and mostly quietly, conveyed the privilege—especially in the "ability to be unaware of things" sense—of pretty much all the white characters.

I need to read the book now. One detail that came up in some articles I've seen since then is that no one really knows how many different women worked in that role. They were considered mostly interchangable, and generally only worked at the job for a few years, and there apparently weren't any comprehensive records.

#531 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2017, 01:55 AM:

HLN: Local cat is very appreciative of light-cave his pets create for him out of curtains and a sunny window in the morning. However, when he returns to it in mid-afternoon, it is malfunctioning and his pets will not comply with his repeated request to put the sunbeams back where they belong.

#532 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 05:15 AM:

Hugo nominations are open. I've had my email and entered a first batch of thoughts.

#533 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 05:53 AM:

HLN: The chinook came to Boulder just after midnight this morning. The temperature rose from 32F to 55F in a little over an hour. With winds gusting to 79MPH, area man dreamed that first his house and then his body were being eroded by windblown sand. Area man is grateful that high winds and low temperatures rarely coincide at this location.

#534 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 09:50 AM:

dotless ı @ 500 et al.:

Good to know! The boyfriend and I have been looking forward to seeing Hidden Figures.

Steve C. @ 504:

Ah, yes, the clbuttic mistake.

In university in one of the classrooms, we watched a video that had some closed captioning censorship issues. Only instead of "XXXX" it substituted what it considered to be a clean synonym. And instead of replacing only the 'offensive' part of the word, it replaced the whole word. Which lead to puzzlement when the presenter was talking about such-and-such butte, and the caption read "such-and-such tail".

Later on, I discovered that there was a closed captioning device in the loop, and it had a switch with three positions: on, off, and censored. No prizes for guessing what position I found the switch in.

I don't remember if I turned it off, or if I left it alone to provide joy to future users of the room.

#535 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 11:53 AM:

I totally saw Hidden Figures on the strength of the premise and OMG JANELLE MONAE IS IN A MOVIE! I thought the white actors seemed familiar - I recognized Jim Parsons, but it wasn't till the credits rolled at the end that I realized two of them had been played by Dunst and Costner. I also thought the guy who played Katherine's love interest looked familiar but couldn't place him -- now I see he was Mahershala Ali who played Remy Danton in House of Cards. But I did say OMG IT'S HARDISON FROM LEVERAGE (internally) when I saw Aldis Hodge! I had not known Hodge would be in this movie and it made me happy every time I saw him.

According to Wikipedia, two other actresses also considered for lead roles were Oprah Winfrey & Viola Davis.

I saw it with friends, two of whom are (like me) programmers, so there are some visuals and bits of dialogue that made us squee in particular.

#536 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 11:55 AM:

That damn stack of Fortran punchcards gave me flashbacks!

#537 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 12:24 PM:

I'm already squeeing, saw the trailer some time ago, but I'll have to wait till February to see Hidden Figures this side of the pond.

#538 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 01:12 PM:

Keith S #534:

I had the interesting experience years back, watching Die Hard II on TBS, of seeing the closed captioning (and the sound) have Bruce Willis declaim "Yippie-kie-ai Mr Factor!" What Max Factor had to do with anything was not made clear.

#539 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 03:53 PM:

AKICIML: I bought a tin of Danish Butter Cookies, emptied it of its original contents in the standard fashion, and I am refilling it with its more traditional long-term contents (sewing kit) to give to my Makerspace.

The Fiskars 8" scissors I bought don't fit, and don't fit well enough to tell me that any other replacement scissors will also not fit.

So... do the scissors typically go elsewhere, and not in the cookie tin? If they can go into the tin, I'd like to put them there, as otherwise scissors are likely to be misplaced or misused in the Makerspace.

Did I get the wrong size cookie tin? If so, where can I get the right size?

Is there a reasonable alternative to the 8" scissors? I am eyeing the bandage shears I have at home, thinking they might fit. Untraditional, but will it work?

#540 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 09:46 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 539: It may ne just me, but all my sewing kits have contained smaller scissors than 8".

My own AKICIML: I know a number of us have described the lights used for treatment and prevention of SAD. My wife (still get a frisson of emotion when I use those words) would like to find such a light for alleviating her apparently seasonal depressed moods. Can I humbly request the information here again?

#541 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 10:54 PM:

Open threadiness: George Takei, on the Book of Face, proposes a new nickname for the only president-elect we have:


#542 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 11:12 PM:

I'm sort of burned out on nicknames for political foes these days, but I don't mind an appropriate title: Thief Executive.

#543 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 11:29 PM:

The Harangue-Outan.

#544 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 03:30 AM:

Bruce H. @533: And then around 10pm this evening, there was wind with accompanying rain squall. "Dude, January!?" At least it's warm enough that elderly Mr. Donkey can go back in with Ms. Maarten. Much following around and nuzzling of butt fur was had.

#545 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 03:36 AM:

Lila @541: TWITLER.

Oh (to coin a phrase) my!

That is highly apt, on so very many levels....

#546 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 04:08 AM:

Buddha Buck @ #539:

For my own sewing kit, I use a rectangular "hobby box" as storage. It's substantially longer than the scissors, but I need to put them in slightly tilted to accommodate the width. Other than scissors, it's got a pin cushion with a few sewing needles, a bunch of pins, several bobbins of thread, of different colours (white, black, a medium grey, a brown and a green), with more, unused, bobbins elsewhere.

I must say that I don't have "sewing kit" and "cookie tin" as strong associations in my mind, is that something US-specific?

#547 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 04:57 AM:

For what it's worth, my sewing kit scissors are five inches from nose to tail, according to the measurement I just took.

(They're not specifically designed for sewing, if it matters; they're school scissors I held onto because I didn't stop being left-handed when I left school.)

#548 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 07:23 AM:

From my working life, a headline that appeared in a biotech newsletter:

"FDA grants orphan status to Alexion's PNH drug"

#549 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 09:44 AM:

Lila... Kip W... I refer to him as Tronald Dump.

#550 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 10:29 AM:

I don't feel it adds anything to the discussion to mention Shillary, Obummer, McLame, or Drumph. I don't like argumentum ad nominim when it's aimed at candidates I like, so I prefer to avoid it towards candidates I don't like. So I call him "Trump" or "Donald Trump".

#551 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 10:39 AM:

"He Who Shall Be Nameless" (HWSBN) is another option.
Elseweb, I use "sh*tgibbon" - because it fits the behavior.

#552 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 10:44 AM:

Maximum President The Donald.

#553 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 10:56 AM:

Buddha Buck
For names, I use "Trump," and "Donald Trump," as you do, and for the same reason. As I said, it's a title.

#554 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 12:02 PM:

Buddha Buck:

Yeah, same here.

Calling the other side nasty names has the unpleasant side effect that everyone on the other side tunes you out, even the ones who might have been willing to hear you out if you wanted to talk about specific policies that weren't going well or didn't make sense.

Worse, dragging the political debate down to the level of schoolyard insults is fighting Trump on his own ground, where he's the strongest.

#555 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 12:22 PM:

I'm part of the use actual name camp.

#556 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 01:40 PM:

Agreeing on using actual names/titles.

I am working on catching myself when I say "The Donald".

#557 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 02:02 PM:

I prefer to avoid both the insults and the actual name. For now, "the president-elect" will suffice, and soon, it will be "the current president".

May his name be forgotten.

#558 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 02:45 PM:

Ginger, #540: SAD therapy lights tend to be pricey. A potential solution to try before investing in one: replace the light bulbs in the areas where your wife spends the most time with daylight CFL or LED bulbs. You don't want "warm white" which mimics incandescent, or "cool white" which mimics regular fluorescent -- look for packaging that says "daylight" specifically.

Buddha Buck, #550: I agree. That which we did not like when it was done to a president or candidate we favored, we should not do to one we don't favor. Hillel's Rule, and all that.

#559 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 02:47 PM:

And the ohnosecond! I just remembered seeing a formulation I found appropriate and unobjectionable elseNet: "Melania's husband".

#560 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 04:00 PM:

How about Molly Ivin's appellation for Reagan: "The only president we have"?

#561 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 04:01 PM:

grr. Ivins's.

#562 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 04:18 PM:

Has anyone read Appiah's The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen?

I keep trying to get into the book (which included the end of duelling, the end of foot-binding, abolishionism, and efforts to prevent honor killings), but have so far only watched a video.

The argument is that it's necessary to lower the status of a behavior to get rid of it-- mere arguments from cost, kindness, and/or religion don't do the job. And that regard for one's reputation and one's group's reputation isn't a weakness, it's a basic tool for how people live with each other. (I *think* I'm doing the argument justice.)

I'm interested in how you do the status-lowering thing without getting so much blowback that you end up not changing the behavior. And, of course, whether (when?) insults are effective.

#563 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 04:25 PM:

I, too, am part of the actual names camp. I gather, by the way, that Donald Trump is not fond of his first name, if that helps anyone wanting to vex him without lowering the tone of the conversation.

Ginger @540:

People's mileage varies about what helps. I find that what really really helps me is not daylight or full spectrum, but the one part of the light spectrum that is diminished in the winter: blue light. I use it to "blue up" my ambient light.

(I used to use a large white-light lightbox, but one January I had to go to New Hampshire on business and couldn't exactly bring the suitcase-sized thing with me. So I got a blue-light box off of Amazon on the hopes that it would help just a little bit, and was floored at how much better I felt than I had at home. So I switched.)

Specialist blue light boxes are expensive here, though that one from Amazon wasn't. So I make my own. I made an Instructable on how I did it, if you have an Altoids tin and minimal soldering skills and want to try for yourself. (This is only my experience, I'm not a medical professional, use at your own risk, objects in mirror may be closer than they appear, etc.) Though there are lots of ornamental blue LED strips for computers that would work as well.

If blue light works for your wife (yay wife!), she shouldn't use it too early in the morning or too late at night or it'll mess with her sleep patterns. And it's not for staring at so much as just for adding blue light to her ambient mix.

#564 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 04:30 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #562 -

One behavior that's definitely had its status lowered is cigarette smoking. Most cigarette smokers are now regarded as déclassé. It should be largely gone within the next 30 or 40 years, I think.

#565 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 05:35 PM:

Perhaps the name "Donald Trump" is truly sufficient:

Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him

(CNN)Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.
#566 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 05:40 PM:

Steve C. #564 - the interesting question is surely whether nicotine addiction survives, given the ease of vaping and the apparent lack of side effects, apart from nicotine being a poison of course.

#567 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 05:44 PM:

abi @ 563... I gather, by the way, that Donald Trump is not fond of his first name, if that helps anyone wanting to vex him without lowering the tone of the conversation.

In that case, I'll very happily use his True Name.
Hmmmm... His middle name is John.
Would calling him The John be ok?

#568 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 05:57 PM:

Imagined Tweets:

"They told me she was eighteen!"
"Hunting peasants is legal in Russia!"
"Eating a live baby panda is a cherished Kremlin tradition and it would have been rude of me to refuse."

#569 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 06:13 PM:


(I haven't read the book, I'm just responding to your comment.)

I think it's true that social disapproval and (in the US, at least, linking behaviors with social class) is effective at pushing some ideas and behaviors out of polite society and making them less common. Smoking and overt racism are two examples that have been pretty big successes.

One downside is that this kind of technique probably works exactly as well for suppressing good ideas/behaviors as bad ones. I don't see any reason to think it inherently leads to improvements. When the people at the top of media and culture are right, it will lead to social pressure to be (or at least appear) better; when they're wrong, it will lead to social pressure to be (or at least appear) worse.

I suspect this is generally true of persuasion techniques--most of the really effective ways to influence people have little to do with whether you're trying to convince them of true or false things.

#570 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 06:33 PM:

JoAnn's sometimes has OttLites on sale, which are full spectrum craft lights intended to show undistorted colors for needlework, etc. My main reading lamp is an OttLite floor lamp, and I have a couple of small ones that live in my luggage for business trips. Combined with the amount of time I spend looking at computer screens (which are said to be blue enough to contribute to insomnia) the OttLites are helpful.

#571 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 07:37 PM:

re previous discussion of Agile: first, "post-Agile" is apparently A Thing. Well, a rebellion, at any rate.

Second, in reading up on this stuff I came across another thing called pair programming, which for someone like me sounds a development process which some French existentialist came up with: "L'enfer: c'est l'autre developpeur!!"

#572 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 08:07 PM:

guthrie, #566: Vaping fluid is entirely untested and unregulated. You have no idea what's in the stuff you're putting into your lungs. What we're gearing up for here is going to be a capsule recreation of the period before the establishment of the FDA. Remember that it took a couple of decades before anyone even suspected the link between cigarette smoke and lung cancer.

#573 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 08:48 PM:

They're investigating it now - there's some evidence that higher temperatures are a bigger problem than was first thought, particularly with the solvents in use.
There also have been several instances of the hardware overheating and causing fires.

#574 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 09:06 PM:

#564 ::: Steve C. @564, Nancy Lebovitz @562, in re smoking:

A friend of mine is an English teacher at a school for emotionally-troubled teens and those with other challenges, like being deaf; many of them also come from economically precarious families. She sometimes shows her class movies, encouraging them to talk back to the screen and pausing often for discussion of issues raised and themes noticed.

She played some film for them recently and was surprised to find that they were most shocked at the fact that EVERYONE in the movie smoked. "Eew" seemed to be the consensus, with one student even saying with revulsion, "Wow, they're smoking at the DINNER table! That's filthy!" She was waiting for discussion of its 1930s-era tropes and customs and clothing, but no -- it was the smoking that floored them.

Just one datapoint.

In re vaping, I don't buy that "no secondary exposure" stuff. My sister took it up, and was only doing it on the back porch, and it still stank like a jacket does after you've been clubbing in it. I had to air it out extensively before it quit reeking of tobacco smoke.

#575 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2017, 10:30 PM:

abi @ 563... Regarding my comment @ 567... My apologies.

#576 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 12:38 AM:


I use a model called Day-Light Sky, from Uplift Technologies. I think it wasn't too expensive but I wasn't too sure because it was a present from my wife. I think it's this model on Amazon, around $175:

And yes, I do think it helps my moods in winter, particularly when I can get myself in front of it fairly early in the morning, like around 6:00 am or earlier. I try to combine it with meditation, which I know also helps, by doing my morning meditation in front of the light. Your wife probably doesn't meditate, but it's still good just to have it on for a half hour or so while drinking morning coffee, eating breakfast, vegging out on the computer, or whatever.

(And I'm glad too that you get to say "your wife." Love is good. Many more happy years to you both.)

#577 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 12:40 AM:

HLN: Area woman, upon discovering the art of Michele Gordigiani, is heard to utter, "How did he do that? How did he even do that with paint?"

#578 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 12:57 AM:

KeithS 534: Ah, yes, the clbuttic mistake.

People just don't buttess their search strings carefully. They should be inspected to ensure that they pbutt muster before being deployed. Instead some poor lad or lbutt has to go clean up all the mistakes. It's a mbuttive problem.

Elliott 574:

She played some film for them recently and was surprised to find that they were most shocked at the fact that EVERYONE in the movie smoked. "Eew" seemed to be the consensus, with one student even saying with revulsion, "Wow, they're smoking at the DINNER table! That's filthy!" She was waiting for discussion of its 1930s-era tropes and customs and clothing, but no -- it was the smoking that floored them.

Wow. That's wonderful. I remember saying back in 1987 or so that I wanted to live long enough to see a world where if you tell a bunch of Junior High students that people used to smoke right in restaurants while other people were eating, they'll go "ewwww!"

Close enough.

#579 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 01:28 AM:

Seriously, I thought it was a staged cosplay of a painting because the subject looked like she was about to get up and walk out of the frame. But I checked it out--no, he just painted people like beautifully lit and 21st-century-crisp-and-deep digital photos.

#580 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 03:18 AM:

Vaping seems to be one of those everything-is-untested activities that suddenly gets very popular.

Yes, there's the chemistry, and the effects of heat on the solvents.

Then there is the basic safety of the vaping devices.

And last is the batteries they use. Many seem to use the 18650 Li-Ion rechargeable cell. I haven't checked US Postal Regulations on rechargeable Li-Ion, but they are surrounded by rules in the UK, and even more for air freight.

Amazon is looking more respectable. eBay is mostly lies from the retailers, both for separate cells and those built into equiment such as "power banks". And if you buy one from a "UK" supplier, the cell arrives by Air Mail from China, without any of the labelling required by the regulations.

I saw one powerbank labelled with a capacity of 100000 mAh, which is more than most car batteries. It's a physical impossibility. And eBay don't care.

The air freight regulations expect some info to confirm the manufacturer had good QA procedures as well as more general package labelling. These cells don't even get an honest customs declaration.

You'll be lucky to get 5% of the advertised battery capacity, and that market looks as if it might be driven by vaping. The adverts talk about the high-current that's possible. If they delivered it, they'd be flat within the minute.

If they don't catch fire first...

#581 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 09:11 AM:

Oh, thanks! I've got one "daylight" type of bulb ("plant grow light") and I've ordered some blue LED lights to try the instructions from abi. After that, if we still need more, I'll keep my eyes peeled for the light suggested by Clifton -- sometimes there's sales even for electronics. (I have a nice pair of Italian headphones that showed up for dirt cheap one night. That'll be my backup plan.)

I would not have expected so much positive emotion from a simple word like "wife", but it's true, and it's wonderful. It also contains a release from fear and worry; I can relax on a very deep level because we are all legal and stuff. As the kids say. Amazing!

#582 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 09:18 AM:

Dave B., #580: My partner has an entire long rant about the lies in the advertising for Li-ion batteries even on Amazon. Basically, don't believe anything anyone tells you about battery life. Even otherwise-reputable brand names are probably getting their batteries made in China.

#583 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 09:35 AM:

I suspect part of the push for vaping is that smoking is so bad for you that even sucking a weird heated mix of solvents and nicotine and flavors into your lungs looks like a better deal. And similarly, even a few weird unpleasant smells endured by your friends and family are probably better than the all-permeating smell of cigarette smoke, which gets into *everything*, and makes a lot of people sick.

#584 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 10:35 AM:

I have some friends who vape, but they were all former cigarette smokers. I heard that there were some "hobby vapers" who have never smoked, but I don't know what the percentage is.

I've been reading Gary Taubes' book The Case Against Sugar, and one of the things I've learned is that tobacco for cigarettes is sugar-cured. This has the effect of making the smoke more acidic. Cigar and pipe smoke isn't sugar-cured, and remains alkaline, which irritates the throat and lungs. Acidic smoke is much easier to pull deeply into the lungs, and therefore provides a more intense nicotine hit.

Sugar provided the means to hook hundreds of millions of smokers. I was one (finally quit about 20 years ago).

Interesting book. Taubes lays out his case in detail. Worth reading, IMO.

#585 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 01:43 PM: is publishing Ruthanna Emrys's Winter Tide in April. I posted on MetaFilter about it, with the title "the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth..." -- and then a commenter said they'd misread that as "the people of Smashmouth", so now the comments have Lovecraft Smashmouth filk, so if that's the sort of thing you might enjoy, head on over.

#586 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 03:05 PM:

Lee @572: Vaping fluid is entirely untested and unregulated. You have no idea what's in the stuff you're putting into your lungs.

I finally figured out that the reason my world smells like rubber cement these days is because of all the vapers. They seem to have the idea, "Hey! It's not smoke. It's okay!" Fortunately, the trend seems to be to lump vaping in with smoking restrictions, but I've still gotten lip for objecting to be subjected to it. :-\ And while it's not as bad as cigarette smoke, it still makes me sick to my stomach.

#587 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 03:39 PM:

The other thing is, they have to add stuff to cigarette tobacco so it will burn faster - cigar and pipe tobacco isn't treated that way.
I've also read that the curing process, in a dark warm humid environment, is another source of things that are bad for you.
Sugar is the least of the things I'd worry about, if I were a smoker.

#588 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 03:39 PM:

Part of the thing about vaping as well, I think, is to escape from under the disapproval of smoking while still, well, smoking.

#589 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 04:25 PM:

Ingvar @ #546:

Cookie tins are easily repurposed as storage for sewing supplies, and I suspect that Royal Dansk Butter Cookies are the only brand commonly available in North America that still routinely come in a tin.

One thing that amused me last year was coming across several "you know you're [ethnicity] when..." memes, and *all* of them mentioned the childhood disappointment of opening a tin of cookies and finding sewing supplies. Apparently everyone's grandmother keeps them there, but everyone thinks it's unique to their community.

#590 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 07:23 PM:

Creepy stalker kicked out of Evercon. (h/t File 770)

Summary: One of the vendors at Evercon was making unwanted sexual comments to several of the female artists, eventually focusing in on one in particular. She reported him, he was thrown out, he went on a social media rampage (which included a claim that she had agreed to spend 3 nights at his place), tried to get back in and was escorted out by the cops, and has now been perma-banned. The con appears to have done everything right, and that dude is setting off more red flags than a Communist Party parade.

#591 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 08:06 PM:

My first (probably not my last) big NO to someone in a smoffish capacity: No, your signs cannot be delivered to you before setup starts. The materials to put them together won't even be delivered by then, and we won't have staff on-site that early.

So no. No. No.

It's scary, but it feels good.

#592 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 08:34 PM:

Sarah E @589:

The "Everyone's grandmother keeps them there, but everyone thinks it's unique to their community" aspect is one reason why I felt here would be a good place to ask.

#593 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 10:10 PM:

My mother keeps buttons in a similarly sized tin*, but the rest of her sewing supplies are tidily in a drawer in her sewing machine cabinet.

*I think it's plain, but I could be misremembering. Definitely not a butter-cookie tin, though.

#594 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 12:35 AM:

@Lee no. 590: So what did he think he would get by that lie? Did he think that lot of people would tell her that she couldn't change her mind and had to have sex with him? Or did he think that everybody would just look the other way while he strongarmed his "hookup" out of the building?


#595 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 06:44 AM:

Mary Aileen #593: I have seen generically-decorated (and plain metal) tins in craft and gift stores. These days (at least?), popcorn can also be had in similar tins, which are often generically decorated.

My Boss got a giant tin of butter-cookies at work for Christmas; since we usually keep cookies out for the customers... well, it's lasted most of two weeks so far.

#596 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 07:57 AM:

My grandmother had two whole stacks of Royal Dansk tins, with different small sets of related tools/supplies in them (one was the "repair" sewing kit, with spare generic buttons and the like). They were labeled with writing on masking tape, but only one one side.

My grandfather really liked Royal Dansk, and enjoyed being enabled (but only at Christmas and his birthday).

#597 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 10:54 AM:

My grandmother patented the concept of keeping non-cookie items in a tin plainly intended for cookies. All your grandmothers will be getting a letter from my attorney's grandmother. Basically, they can keep doing it for a consideration, giving appropriate credit to protect Grandma's trademarks.

#598 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 11:33 AM:

Dave Harmon (595): I've seen those generic tins, too. But my mother has had her button tin for a very long time*, and I can't see her buying one just for that purpose. Someone probably gave it to her with something-or-other** in it, and she repurposed it afterwards.

*longer than I can remember, which means more than 45 years, and probably more than 50
**maybe even cookies! probably homemade

#599 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 01:54 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #562: I've read the book. In fact, I assigned it once as a reading in a graduate political theory class. The basic argument is that certain behaviours become morally stigmatised as declassé and shameful. If duelling is no longer a means by which gentlemen settle affairs of honour, but reather the brawling of louts, then it is a shameful matter and must cease. If footbinding is seen not as a means of setting off aristocratic women from the mob but as a behaviour that shames the Chinese in the eyes of the world, then it must be ended, &c.

#600 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 03:05 PM:

Jenny, #594: From the way it sounded, I'm not sure he thought of it as a lie. I think he talked himself into believing it -- the kind of flexible reality that we talk about a lot over on the DFD threads. The other possibility is that he's a full-on narcissist and just says whatever seems most likely to benefit him at the moment, with no relationship to anything he said before. Either way, he needs to not be let into any other con anytime soon, or somebody's going to get hurt.

#601 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 04:24 PM:

Just popping in to say I still lurk. My energy for interactive conversation is still not high, though I have finished both chemotherapy and radiation and all my tests are normal (though followup mammogram won't happen for a while). I'm starting a clinical trial for a new application of a drug currently given to women completing treatment for metastatic cancer, to see if it helps women with early cancer too. I don't know if I'll be control or experimental.

I also don't know what happens to the experiment if a large number of us lose our coverage & can't take the regular drug this one's supposed to be in addition to.

Anyways. Thank you guys for continuing the conversation. I'll try to contribute some as I put the heavy stuff farther behind me.

#602 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 04:31 PM:

That PHN particle on "Lessons from Memphis" is really, really good.

As is the next cartoon down the page, on being black in a white world.

I think the only good news is that the alarming percentage of people who approved of this abomination enough to vote for him is already dwindling as people get swift buyers' remorse.

The scales are going to fall from the eyes of many Trump voters as they realize that Trump played them for suckers.

I will take some malicious pleasure in watching them be undeceived. But I'll also keep it private, and be ready to accept their help in fighting Trump, once they realize he must be fought.

#603 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 04:49 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer (601): Congratulations on finishing the chemo and radiation, and best wishes for all being well in future.

I hear you on lack of energy for interactive conversation. I had to stop reading ML for a few months while I was given chemo (years ago), because I couldn't keep up, and trying was stressing me out too badly. Take it easy on yourself, and pick up the threads as you have the spoons. We'll be here.

#604 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 05:10 PM:

Reality being what it is, a certain Hugo-nominated author has novelized the latest major political scandal.

#605 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 05:13 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer #601: I hope your road to recovery is swift and easy from here on.

#606 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 05:22 PM:

Wishing you the best, Lucy!

#607 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 05:27 PM:

Oldster @602
Thanks for pointing out "Lessons from Memphis". It helps bring into focus what has been haunting me. Didn't I already live through this once? I'm just old enough to remember all the struggles of the Civil Rights movement, though too young to have done much to help. I know my parents gave money, and wrote letters.

And now, we have to go through it all over again.

Civil Rights. Health Care rights for women. (it's not just abortion, it seems to be birth control and general possession of one's own body.) Queer Rights. Hell, there are heirs of the Republicans who hated Roosevelt and the New Deal, 80 years ago, and want to turn back the clock a century. They want to get rid of Social Security. Or at least go back half a century and get rid of Medicare.

How many times will we have to fight these fights? That's why I am depressed. (And writing emails, and signing petitions, and giving what money I can.)

#608 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 05:43 PM:

Magenta: I agree. Like the environment, civil rights is a realm in which there can be no permanent victories--but there can be permanent losses.

#609 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 05:59 PM:

Lucy, I'm wishing you the best!

#610 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 06:06 PM:

Joe Biden's tears on being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom were extraordinarily touching.

#611 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 08:14 PM:

HLN: Local man is heading to Arisia tomorrow. Decided to try taking Amtrak to Boston rather than flying in. Will still be flying back, because of timing. Ironically, based on current forecasts, local man will actually be avoiding wintry precipitation by spending weekend in Boston.

#612 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 08:39 PM:

HLN: local woman was out to dentist today (1-hour one-way trip - on freeways) and saw a sign in a construction zone: "Wet Concrete". Was amused, as it was raining at the time, and the concrete was certainly wet, though not the way the sign intended.

#613 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 07:03 AM:

Lucy @601, wishing you the best.

Subthread on behaviors that become less common when they become considered shameful - there's been a shift in that direction for DUI. When I was first driving some 40 years ago, we knew we shouldn't do it but there was more of a "ha, ha, I got away with it" attitude in some kids. When my daughter was in high school there was a clear "this is not okay" feeling. Some people still do, of course, but the arc is bending in the correct direction.

#614 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 10:15 AM:

Lee @600: When you think everyone else understands you don't have to explain - I'm sorry I didn't make it yesterday, I had a family emergency - you needn't actually state that the family emergency was more important than the coffee date. But my (unpleasant) guess is that the benefit of the lie, had it been believed, would have been to recast his harrassment as reasonable. If the woman he was speaking to had agreed to go home and have sex with him already, then the sexual commentary would be appropriate, and the offence for which he was being ejected would disappear.
If she was going to go home with you, it's not harrassment, that's the argument and why he thought it was a defence.

#615 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 10:43 AM:

@590 and various: Well, the good thing about that write-up from NerdAndTie is that now a great many conrunners are aware of this person's behavior. And I suspect that his reported behavior at Evercon will be taken into consideration when he attempts to buy memberships or dealer tables or hanging space in art shows.

Which brings us back to the perennial problem; there's no clearinghouse for listings of bad actors at conventions. Should there be? Who would administer it? A person? A panel? A jury? Could you contest your inclusion? (Would you even know you were on it?) Would it be like the "No Fly List" that you could never get off of? But at the same time, should serial abusers be given a pass because nobody knows about them...? The current ad hoc SMOFs-talking-to-other-SMOFs system is not very effective, or efficient, nor is it transparent, but at least it stops some nastiness so I suppose it's better than nothing....

I guess if it were easy to solve, it would already have been solved. But it does feel like we should be able to manage something better than what we have now.

#616 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 11:21 AM:

So in the Minecraft world there is, or used to be (I'm out of date) a shared blocklist. A group of online servers decided to pool their blocks, and if you were blocked by one of them, you were blocked by all of them.

This works partly because (a) there are a lot of servers that don't subscribe to the blocklist, (b) geography is not a factor*, so the switching effort is low, and (c) you can always buy another Minecraft license to get a brand-new unblocked ID, if you want a fresh start.

But it might be interesting to have groups of allied conventions that share blocklists: if you're banned at Con A, Cons B, C, and D won't have you either. Cons X, Y, and Z don't subscribe to the blocklist, so go to them. (And their attendees know what they're getting when they go.)

Or would this fragment the community further? I don't know.
* latency aside

#617 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 12:06 PM:

People are (I think rightly) scared of lawsuits if they set up that kind of blocklist for conventions. Even if the lawsuit is thrown out, it's expensive for the person/group being sued: and most fan-run conventions have very shallow pockets.

Our society has real problems dealing with libel and slander; it's not all bad, but the good and the bad are both seriously amplified by the fast communication possibilities of the Internet. The question of "How many reasonable people is it okay to exclude to get rid of bad actors?" is a real one, because any such list is likely to catch some people that you or I would think okay, and not exclude some people that I find creepy.

I think we will manage something better than we have now, Cassy B. @615 -- but it's an evolutionary process that will get it for us, and we're likely to go through some bad versions before we get to a good one.

#618 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 12:48 PM:

We have a round of this discussion every time a major con harassment event hits the nerdly news. And so far nobody has managed to come up with an official solution that looks even reasonably practical over more than a local/regional area.

I suspect that a number of cons maintain their own persona-non-grata lists, and that this guy will be added to a bunch of them after this incident.

Very aptly, my partner just informed me that this story has hit a couple of closed Facebook groups that have a lot of con-runners in them, and that they have been starting to keep an unofficial list of People To Keep An Eye On, either as troublemakers who may need to be banned or who have already crossed that line. So there are things being done, organically.

#619 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 01:34 PM:

Tom and Lee:

[This is a digression with only a little to do with the case at hand.]

There's an interesting aspect of this story about the creepy guy at the con that has to do with easy communications and storage, and that's a lot broader than just SF cons. We're in the process of transitioning to a society where nothing public about you is ever forgotten, and it's fairly easy to look up. It's pretty-much a given that if you apply for a job above the burger-flipping level, your prospective employers are going to Google you. The old line about "this is going into your permanent record" seems like it applies in reality, more and more.

That has good and bad aspects. Someone who is a serial predator will have a harder time, if people can look him up when he comes into town and see that lots of other people have had problems with him. Someone who makes all the female guests at the con uncomfortable will find himself unwelcome there. But also, people who've done bad things and want to put it behind them and do better, they're probably going to have a lot of problems. And people who've been falsely accused will also have problems, because the record may look just as convincing for them as for the guilty. And this is rational--if all I know about you is that you robbed a liquor store ten years ago, you're surely more likely to rob me than someone without that history, so why would I hire you, or rent to you?

Being excluded from a bunch of cons, that would be painful for a lot of people, but it's not the end of the world. But you can imagine a situation where most every door slams in your face as soon as your identity is known--you're not welcome at the job, in the school, or in the neighborhood. This is especially true for people with criminal records or bankruptcy or really embarrassing public scandals or on sex-offender lists.

There's a tradeoff here, between protecting bystanders, punishing the guilty, and allowing rehabilitation. I don't know what the *right* tradeoff is, but I suspect that the easy-to-reach tradeoff, given technology, will be one that puts all the weight on protecting bystanders by putting the Mark of Cain on a certain subset of people, and excluding them from normal life. As technology gets better, this will become easier to do, more frictionless. I wonder if there will be businesses that do this--like a club where you can only join if you don't have a felony record, or an amusement park that refuses entry to anyone with a criminal record involving sex crimes with children. Or maybe they already exist.

It's not that this future is entirely bad--in fact, it may be better in a lot of ways. But it also looks to be a future where there's not much forgiveness in the system, and where there's also not much tolerance for having gotten ground up in the gears of the justice system.

#621 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 02:14 PM:

William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist has died. I expect heads will turn on reading this.

#622 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 03:22 PM:

albatross @619: Not that much of a digression from the point I was trying to make!

I've been accused of having one motive in an interaction where I had a completely different one. I have an acquaintance who is registered as a sex offender who is up front about it and one of the most reliable people I know - caught in a strict interpretation of a law. There are a lot of people who will get caught in such lists because of differences in interpretation. Are we willing to accept losing them because of the bad apples (that definitely exist -- I am not denying their existence in any way!) we'll catch? And I've seen what you're talking about with someone who did bad things when much younger, and has changed and makes a sincere effort not to now. When he's been honest about his history, it's made some people uncomfortable with him. Should he be shunned now?

There's a serious difference between what we do as individuals and what we do as a society. And it's worth remembering that each one of us has almost undoubtedly been seen as a bad person by someone in our community. When and how we take that "bad person" label and turn it into a defining characteristic of the person -- that's a major focus of some sociologists (see Howard Becker's "Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance" for some well-written discussion), and a really knotty problem.

And the communication speed and permanence of the Internet indeed makes this more problematic.

#623 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 03:31 PM:

One more bit, remembered as I think about it -- in a slightly different context this morning, Karen remarked to me "It's impossible to negotiate by press release." The Internet makes it much easier to send a press release than to negotiate -- and this is a part of the problem.

#624 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 03:32 PM:

Fragano @ 621: I see what you did there. ;)

#625 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 03:33 PM:

re 613: Alcohol is a very complex case. Public drunkenness was always ridiculed, but at the same time drinking as a mark of adulthood has great power in the USA. My most recent go-'round with this is not promising: two years ago, the recently consecrated suffragan bishop of Maryland (Episcopal) mowed down a bicyclist while quite blotto. This of course could not be swept under the rug, even if anyone had cared to try. It came out, though, that there was an earlier incident back in her home diocese (Easton, that is, the Eastern Shore of Maryland) where she had been stopped and the officer had cut sobriety testing short because they were afraid she was going to hurt herself. How this played out in the Search Process can be read here; in the end it added up to some serious enabling, but there's really no way that anybody along the way would have said or really even thought that there was anything acceptable about driving drunk or really even being drunk in public.

#626 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 03:34 PM:

I think there is never going to be a good balance in how to manage the "Did a bad thing long ago, changed, is much better now" crowd and the "Did a bad thing long ago, continues to do bad things, got a lot better at hiding it and gaslighting people who try to call them on it" crowd, especially with the variations in between. I don't say this to be quelling, by any means; but I do think that a person's individual/anecdotal encounters with the former and the latter are likely to color what they feel is fair.

I don't personally know many people who did terrible things once and then reformed; I know several people who have been hurt by those who always somehow slip out of any long-term consequences for having done terrible things time and again, and then point to the lack of record as proof that any reports are one-off instances that should be discounted as aberrations.

I suppose that's why one has things like the statutes of limitations, and so forth. I don't know. It's a tricky enough problem to deal with that I don't believe there is a solution, just various ways of dealing that have different trade-offs.

#627 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 05:34 PM:

albatross, #619: Up until quite recently, the algorithm has always, ALWAYS been slanted to favor the bad actors. I'm... I won't say "comfortable with", but I will say "not dismayed by" the possibility of it tipping in the other direction for a while before a true balance point is reached. Particularly if it results in the kind of social changes that make people more mindful of how they treat other people lest it catch up with them down the road.

#628 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 05:57 PM:

Statute of limitations aren't supposed to give the benefit of the doubt to folks to transgressed long in the past; they are supposed to account for the difficulty in prosecution as time goes by. That's why some crimes don't have statutes of limitations -- they are considered heinous that it's always worth attempting prosecution.

But here, I think the key to avoiding the "did a bad thing long ago, continues to do bad things, got better at hiding it" is to think of someone who did a bad thing long ago as on probation, and to work to take away the environment that allows the malfeasor to hide the bad things. Things like not tolerate broken stairs, publicize and enforce no harassment policies so that victims will know they will be believed, pay attention to who other cons blacklist, and why, etc.

I haven't been to a con in years, but everything I've heard suggests that it's getting better. Not perfect, but better. Missing stairs are being identified, word is getting around, and bad behavior is being tolerated less. There's more noise, but that's a good thing right now.

#629 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2017, 07:12 PM:

It depends partly on the kind of bad thing they did. I know more than one person who has long ago gotten off drugs and therefore is no longer a petty thief. I trust them around my valuables now -- but I still wouldn't tell them if I had, say, any prescription painkillers around. (There are of course also ex-addicts who are still petty thieves or worse, but I try not to deal with such.)

#630 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 02:22 AM:

Lucy Kemnitzer @601
Glad to hear you're doing well. I hope you get your full energy back as quickly as possible.

#631 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 02:28 AM:

I have read the hypothesis that as background information becomes available for more people, and as more of those people have been teenagers during the background-information-period, the 'did a dumb thing while seventeen' blot on the permanent record will diminish in seriousness. It does require that those doing the screening have similar records of their youthful hijinks, though. Or so it seems to me.

In local and pseudonymous news, I am bragging to absolutely everyone about one of my students, who pulled the bus cord at the right stop three times (first time it's happened!) and got better at answering the phone, and printed the tags for her T-shirts independently, including changing the prices from the defaults. It has been a very, very good day for me.

#632 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 05:55 AM:

Diatryma: You know, dealing with phones can be hard. Phone difficulty can be compounded by processing issues, and the absence of non-verbal cues.

I consider myself reasonably competent in that realm, not least because my mother actually sat me down and schooled me in the skill-set.

But during a desperate time back in '07, I got a job in a call center. (One of those minimum-wage phone-solicitation concerns that will hire basically anybody with a pulse who can type 35 words a minute. I was really desperate; I find the prospect approximately as attractive* as flipping hamburgers.)

Information coming in on four verbal channels: the badly laid-out call record/script on the crappy green-on-black, '70s-vintage monitor, and three auditory—the incoming voice of the callee, my response, and the kibitzing of the trainer sitting behind me.

Auditory/verbal is by far my weakest modality (I'm all Visual/Kinesthetic, all the time. Even my primary verbal access is visual.)

Halfway through the second day of training, my brain basically plasma-arched and shut down. I had to get up and go outside to climb down off my freakout. Went back in to give it another try, and instantly started smelling ozone again. I wasn't in the least encouraged by the fact that the other trainee was picking this stuff up about as fast as the trainer was dishing it out. I concluded that I was simply incapable of doing this job***—or at least, attempting to do it would likely cause me serious injury.

I give them my sincere regrets (I was sorry to have wasted their time and I was desperate for the cash.) and quit.

I went home, crawled into bed, and basically huddled there in a fetal position for the rest of the day. I smelled like I had just come down off of a high fever.

* Although answering phones and dealing with the public is part of my current gig, and rather to my surprise, I've discovered that I quite enjoy it.** Aside from the occassional asshole, of course. But even they can be entertaining, in a perverse sort of way.

** Well, once I'd outlasted the critical micromanaging supervisor I'd started out under.

*** A rare experience for me: I commonly run across skills that I'm not sufficiently interested/motivated to pick up, or will never have a realistic opportunity. But I'm pretty confident that I can (at least eventually) acquire any skill I set my mind to. Not this one. Boy, howdy, not this one.

#633 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 10:46 AM:

Oh, yeah, phones are hard (says the person who finally called a pair of senators yesterday.) In Aaron Burr's case (the student), it's compounded by... well, being one of my students*. She's very friendly and verbal, but will almost always wait to be helped at first. We got her into the routine of saying her name, saying she couldn't understand what I was saying, actually answering the phone when it rang rather than answering it and putting it away, and other such things. Victory!

And seriously, the bus thing. We've been working on that for months.

*I work in special ed. I don't always know the specifics about my students.

#634 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 10:57 AM:

Oh yeah. I have to nerve myself to make calls to people I know. I'd rather do emails....

(It isn't my imagination that I've been getting more telemarketers since Labor Day. Some of them are flat out lying to me - and there's one script I've heard used three times already, where the woman who "calls" blames the delay on "a problem with my husband". I can hear the transfer in their system, there's a particular noise it makes.)

#635 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 11:14 AM:

I'm currently dealing with my first smart phone and having a hard time accessing its various functions quickly or sometimes at all. There's definitely a lack of feedback problem.

I'll be exploring the phone further when I'm not at Arisia. Is anyone else here?

As for the permanent record in general, check out The New Jim Crow for the devastating effects of felony convictions being taken too seriously.

#636 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 12:07 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz, I feel your pain; I just got my first smartphone less than a year ago. (I had a dumbphone with a $10/month contract that was grandfathered over from the stone age of cellphones, so I was naturally reluctant to get a more expensive phone even if it was better.)

I'm lucky in that I have a couple of patient coworkers, who, when I walk into their offices and say, "Um, I have a dumb question -- I know there's a flashlight on here somewhere....?" they're happy to answer. And manage not to be patronizing, which is a huge plus.

#637 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 02:08 PM:

We've owned smartphones for a while, and I can't really imagine my day-to-day life without one now. However, it's interesting that for all the things they can do, they're mediocre at one task - making and receiving phone calls.

Voice quality in nothing to speak off, dropouts are frequent, and depending on how crowded the airwaves are (a cell tower has limits on the number of calls it can handle) missed calls are annoyingly frequent.

POTS (Plain old telephone service) was quite limited, but you could depend on it to actually get through most of the time.

(I will say this - thank god for texting)

#638 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 02:09 PM:

Throwing in a random link of cool: 1960s Teacher Put Pop Songs Into Latin.

He actually seems to have had a decent sense of meter, which makes a huge difference when forcing another language into a song.

#639 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 03:43 PM:

My cat Spot died early this morning at the vet. She was about 20 years old, and was originally a feral kitten my wife found in a parking lot. Never much of a people cat; she preferred to hang out with the other cats in the household before she outlived them all.

She had been declining for a couple of years and spending most of her time sleeping in front of the heater. She hadn't been eating much the last week or two, and we brought her in yesterday to see if changing her meds could help; the vet gave her fluids and warmed her up, so she was probably more comfortable, but she didn't make it. We're both sadder than I was expecting, but she's had a long life and we've known she didn't have a long time left.

#640 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 04:10 PM:

Bill @ 639: I'm sorry.

#641 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 04:20 PM:

Condolences, Bill.

#642 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 05:55 PM:

Sorry to hear the news, Bill. 20 years is quite a respectable age.

#643 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 07:22 PM:

Condolences, Bill.

#644 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 07:33 PM:

I really enjoyed "Hidden Figures."

Well done, timely, necessary.

A friend noted that John Glenn really did ask Katherine Johnson to re-check the figures, but he didn't know her by name.

#645 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 08:10 PM:

Bill, #639: My condolences on your loss. 20 years is a good long run for a cat, but it's still hard to deal with. BTW, we have a Spot as well.

#646 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 08:39 PM:

Very sorry to hear that Bill. Sounds like you gave her a good long life after her rocky start.

#647 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 08:49 PM:

Bill@639: I'm sorry for your loss.

Nancy Lebovitz@635: I almost missed your mention of Arisia. We were around today, but may not make it tomorrow, and Monday is still up in the air.

#648 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 09:54 PM:

Steve C. @637
I bought a smart phone a few years ago because I desperately needed a way to keep my calendar and notes with me at all times. I have ADD, and without a single place to keep all my stuff, and something to remind me of when it happens, I miss appointments, forget tasks, and generally screw things up.

But then I started getting more apps. I have half a dozen physical calculators now gathering dust because apps have replaced all of them: scientific calculator app, programmable calculator app, graphing calculator app, unit conversion calculato app, physical constants calculator app ... and the phone is my notebook, alarm clock, star chart, music player, book shelf, google search, dictionary, thesaurus, rhyming dictionary ... I keep it clipped to my belt all day long so I can get to it quickly at all times.

#649 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 10:11 PM:

Diatryma @633: And seriously, the bus thing. We've been working on that for months.

Hey! Victories are victories, often all the sweeter for being hard-won!

P J Evans @634: I have to nerve myself to make calls to people I know.

Heh. Knock on wood, I don't recall this having been something I've struggled with, although I do find that it's a steeper effort than it used to be, probably because my active social circle is much smaller these days, and tends to be more readily emailable. Don't have anything like the appetite for long phone conversations that I used to.

Thinking about it, despite my mother's training (which was on outgoing calls), I didn't get a grip on answering phones in a professional capacity until after I discovered the inside of my head. After I made that breakthrough, the difference in the experience was like night and day. Before: the mental experience of dealing with incoming calls in an office was like being confronted on the street, turning around to figure out what to do, and slamming into a brick wall. After, it was more like answering from the front window of a quiet and well-ordered office, with lots of workspace and resources, all ready to hand. (And the opportunity for that to happen required NLP training to lay down the conceptual framework.)

more telemarketers

Interestingly, I've noticed a change in the marketing (tele- and otherwise) landscape change since the election: I've seen a definite uptick in evangelical outreach.

Steve C. @637: Voice quality in nothing to speak off

This is a big reason that, on the very rare occasions when I fire up my little dumb-phone, I vastly prefer texting to voice; see previous re auditory processing issues.

I actually need to get my cell running again so that I can make lawmaker calls during the work week not from my work phone, from someplace where coworkers can't overhear. (From past experience, long lapses in use mean that they have to send me a new SIM card.)

Bill Stewart @639: Spot

Oh dear! Deepest condolences. Sounds like a long life well lived, though, FWIW.

Lee @645: we have a Spot as well.

Heh! Looks like a spot which has a cat on it. :-)

#650 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2017, 11:49 PM:

Bill @ 639: I'm sorry to hear about Spot. He sounds like an excellent cat, with excellent humans.

Re: phones and call centres, there are those of you who've heard me rant about them in person before. I spent a great deal of time working in inbound call centres, in which customers called me, and it's definitely one of those things you're either able to do or not. People tended to either stay there for years or quit two weeks after training ended, and it was possible to get a medical note for unemployment just by saying "I worked at (one of the city's two call centres)". I managed it by virtue of a lot of theatre experience and practice in retreating into very chipper politeness when people get angry with me.

HLN: Local woman is finishing up her grad school applications, is on the verge of just giving up on her personal statements and writing in "plz let me lern. Am gud lurner."

#651 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 06:57 AM:

Fragano @ 604

When consulting that link (for research purposes only, honest) I noticed the disclaimer 'this title is not currently available'. Which makes me wonder whether it exists at all (and if so, what explains its non-availability.)

#652 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 08:09 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz@635

I'm here at Arisia.

#653 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 10:39 AM:

I just invented a useful and very silly thing:

A few weeks ago, I spotted something very similar to this at Whole Foods. It was right after the election, so I was in more of a survivalist mindset than usual. And besides which, it was cute and clever, so on impulse I bought it.

Lovely little device, especially useful when I want to putter around the house at night, but don't want the usual bright room lighting.* 'Cept that it has the usual problem with most hand-lanters: the glare of the lamp itself makes it hard to see anything else.

I quickly figured out that if I set it up on something high, this alleviated that problem. But then, when I to carry it from room to room, we're back to being blinded while it's in my hand.

Then I had a BFO**: I pulled out the bandana I use to keep my ears warm when I go outside, folded it down to a narrower band, looped it through the lantern's handle, and strapped it to the top of my head!

Worked perfectly!*** (I could actually see a brighter version of this being a total replacement for room lighting. Voilà! Total off-grid area lighting!)

Now all they need to do is come up with one that has the color temperature of incandescent, for a cozier feel.

* I'd love to have one live in my bedroom, but there's no source of direct sunlight, so I'd have to carry it back and forth, which kind of defeats the purpose.

** Blinding Flash of the Obvious

*** Well, except for Maarten freaking out about that strange, bright thing floating around the room. Whatever it is, it's obviously predatory!

#654 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 11:57 AM:

"Nancy Lebovitz, I feel your pain; I just got my first smartphone less than a year ago. (I had a dumbphone with a $10/month contract that was grandfathered over from the stone age of cellphones, so I was naturally reluctant to get a more expensive phone even if it was better.)"

I'm still on a "dumb" flip-phone, but the rest of my family has upgraded to smartphones and we're not paying much more than that per line. (Specifically, we went with unlocked Moto-G Android phones on Tracfone's pay-as-you-go plan. The phones were less than $200 each, and we can still use the $20/90 days cards, which now buy more minutes, texts, and data that I get on my flip phone-- or we can go for online "cards" with lots more minutes, texts and data for $25/60 days, or buy extra data at $10/GB if desired.) You can also buy lower-end Android phones that are locked to Tracfone for as little as $30, but we liked the quality and flexibility of the ones we got.

I'll probably upgrade as well once my flip phone breaks or I get tired of it, but if anyone else has been holding off on smartphones due to the expense, it's not that expensive if you don't use a lot of data and shop around. (There are other companies that provide cheap smartphone service, most of them piggybacking on the major networks, that may work better for some folks, which you can find on various price comparison websites. The main tradeoff on ours, besides needing to keep non-WiFi data usage low, is that the plan doesn't let us send texts to non-US numbers, or use the phones at all traveling outside the US unless we swap in a local SIM card-- something you need an unlocked phone to do successfully.)

#655 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 12:10 PM:

One thing smartphones are really good for is mansplainers. A couple of months ago I was having a conversation in which one of my male techie friends insisted that I could not possibly have a Square chipreader that plugged into the headphone jack on my phone because the tech would not support such a thing. I pulled out my phone, Googled "Square chipreader", went to Images, found the one I'm using (at Micro Center, no less!), and presented him the page without comment. The expression on his face was very satisfying.

The ironic part of this is that my phone does not support the detached Bluetooth Square chipreader! But it runs the plug-in one (which also has a swiper slot) just fine.

#656 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 12:13 PM:

I've been using a flip phone locked to Tracfone; for $5 and about $100 / year it has been fine for me. After learning that Tracfone sells refurbed Androids and data cards I *might* upgrade. But I feel a smartphone will trap me into ubiquitous-online-availability obsessive behavior.

#657 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 12:24 PM:

I have a dumb phone, and I'm grandfathered in on a pay-as-you-go plan that charges per call and per text. This means I pay about $40 per 1.5-2mo, which is much, MUCH less than any existing plan for ordinary modern phones.

Mine isn't a flip, it slides open to show a keyboard. I love it, because mostly I use it for texting (or receiving calls from people returning mine). Unfortunately, it is getting old and creaky. The power/hang up button no longer works, which is deeply inconvenient in a lot of ways.

Does anyone know where I could buy a phone in moderately good condition that IS NOT a smartphone and has a keyboard?

I do not not not not want to have a smartphone. I have two app platforms (an iPod that's actually an older iPhone with no plan or SIM in it, and an android tablet). I find the interface for actually GETTING PHONE CALLS on them clunky, annoying, and verging on broken every time I've borrowed a friend's -- my face keeps interfering, I don't know how to get to the "please type in a sixteen digit number" functionality without hanging up on someone, and more than half the time I try to ANSWER a call I also hang up on them.

I want a phone that's a phone, a PDA that's a PDA, and a not-quite-laptop for my bigger screen needs.

I am not supposed to want this.

#658 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 12:30 PM:

Prices are different in the UK but the bottom end of the smartphone ranges are about £12 more than a new dumbphone. Whether that smartphone is useful, I am not sure. I would want a memory card slot, and dual-sim would be nice. GPS makes sure you have an accurate clock, but you get accurate timing from the phone network anyway.

I reckon the big thing these days is making sure you keep your phone charged. My brother has a bad habit of keeping his phone off, rather than on stand-by. And now he has lost the thing and can't ring it to hear the ringtone.

#659 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 12:51 PM:

@Elliott Mason no. 657: I'm with you.

Also, my old flip phone didn't break FOREVAH if I dropped it. The battery usually shot across the room and I had to go find it and pop it in, but the phone worked fine. My new flip phone appears to be just as durable. I didn't have to buy a special case for it or anything.

People text me, but I reply by email at my desk because I cannot master the text interface well enough to produce a legible message. My calendar is large and made of paper, my work device is a tablet my company sent me, I stim with a necklace that doesn't cost me money to use, and if I want something to read I can stick a paperback book in my coat pocket. I even have a tiny radio/music player combo that fits into the pocket of my jeans, and comfortable headphones to go with it.

I get that smartphones are very useful for some people, but not for me!

#660 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 12:51 PM:

When I was about 20, I worked at an answering service for a while (I know: not the same thing), and got through it with training and theatrical chops and working on the legibility of my hand. There were good times, dull times, and bad times, and there was the time a client called up and said I'd gotten someone killed.

Some medical guy I didn't even recognize said that my failure to relay a vital message had resulted in a patient's death.

I went pale and sort of sick and they let me stumble home, where I tried to deal with the size of what I had done all by myself. Isolated as I was, I went to my typewriter and turned out a page to send to AZAPA. I didn't call anybody: couldn't think of anyone to call, and nobody was ever home anyway.

A little while later, I got a call from my supervisor. She had gone through all the records and found that the call I was supposed to pass on had been vague, devoid of detail, and carried no message of urgency whatever. I had tried to pass it on, and gotten no answer at the number given. This medical jerk had screwed up at his own end of the thing, and (like in the book and movie of M*A*S*H) passed the blame on to me, with self-righteous anger. I was absolved.

I kept working at the service, and might have stayed for quite a while, but a place I had applied at sometime before I got on there called me out of the blue and offered more money and more regular shifts.

I apparently threw out the ditto master with my pained musings on it. It never ran in the apa. I've since wished I could get a look at it again, to read it from the other side. Not that I want to relive that day.

#661 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 12:54 PM:

I like Elliot's thinking. My cheap flip phone seems a more natural fit to mouth and ear than a flat brick. But its text/data functionality is mediocre. (Which I see as a side-benefit.)

I have a really nice MP3 player that works splendidly as an mp3 player. I can work the little controls with a hand inserted through coat and sweater into its usual home in my shirt pocket. (I bought what I thought was a replacement model, but the interface was "off" and it came with a nearly useless camera. I gave it to an ailing friend during a hospital stay; he thought it was the bee's knees. He didn't leave the hospital; I hope it gave him distraction and joy.)

I have a tablet for apps that is big enough to read a book on but small enough to take on trips.

#662 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 01:10 PM:

I hear you. I have enough trouble with a dumb cellphone: all I want to do is to make phone calls. I don't need a camera, I don't need text messaging (especially when it isn't intuitive how to read or delete the things) and if it has a manual that's more than 3 pages, it's too effing complicated.
Small, lightweight, and inexpensive to use: those matter to me.

#663 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 01:20 PM:

Bluetooth Handset is the search term y'all are looking for. Apparently with tablets/phones getting bigger, this has become a more widespread complaint. Article with product reviews: here

#664 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 02:24 PM:

My cellphone is emergency and travel only. I turn it on maybe once a month on average. I got a smartphone after Sandy, when I realized that having an alternate way to get online in an emergency* was a good thing. Being able to text more easily is also a plus. (Not that I text much, but for a couple of weeks after Sandy, it was the only way to reach people because so many cell towers were out of commission that calls weren't getting through.) It's the most basic model available, with a rather small screen. But it's still pay-as-you-go; I spend $11/year topping it up. Data use would use up the time a lot faster and cost more, either as expensive minutes, or as a 7-day or 30-day plan if my other internet access goes out again.

I miss my flip phone. For actually making calls, it's far superior. I thought about putting my SIM card back in that one, and just keeping the smartphone in my emergency kit. But then I got stuck in the hospital overnight with nothing to read but the ebooks on my phone. So I'll stick with the smartphone.

Someday I will probably get a bigger phone and an actual data/phone plan, so that I can have the internet in my pocket. But not this year, and probably not next year either. In the mean time, I never know how to answer when people ask if I have a smartphone. I usually just say "No"; it's technically incorrect, but "yes" implies that I'm ready to use it for internet and email and that's even less right.

*especially an extended emergency like the aftermath of Sandy, when I didn't have internet at home for months.

#665 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 05:08 PM:

Open-threadiness: I've been reading through the last several months of short stories published on (I discovered there was an RSS feed, and my feed reader gives me the last however-many when I first subscribe to something).

Is it A Thing for short stories to end abruptly and without fully resolving? I find this happening in the majority of the ones I've read so far. Is this new or do I just not read enough short stories? I find it unsatisfying, which is unfortunate, because I do like short (science/fantasy) fiction as a general phenomenon.

#666 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2017, 05:25 PM:

Michael I, I'd like to catch up with you.

Best method is probably email or facebook.

#667 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 07:04 AM:

Bah, diverticulitis again. (3rd time in less than a year). :-( Waiting on the doctors' office to open up....

#668 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 07:46 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz@666

You can email me at: mmikeda (at) erols (dot) com

#669 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 01:45 PM:

The New York Times interviewed Obama about his reading. (There's a transcript of the full interview, too.)

This stood out for me:

Even books initially picked up as escape reading like the Hugo Award-winning apocalyptic sci-fi epic "The Three-Body Problem" by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, he said, could unexpectedly put things in perspective: "The scope of it was immense. So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty — not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade!"

#670 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 02:19 PM:

P J Evans, #669: That sounds very familiar. I am convinced that one of the reasons I'm now being drawn to SF with heavy political themes, such as The Goblin Emperor and the Ancillary books, is that it's a form of escapism to read about someone else's political problems with some confidence that they'll work out in the end.

#671 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 02:51 PM:

#669: Thank you, Evan.

Obama won't be president after Friday, but he is still going to be a leader.

#672 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 04:07 PM:

Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan just died.

#673 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 05:21 PM:

I went to that launch, Cassy B. One of the most spectacular things I've ever seen. Sad to see him go.

#674 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 07:59 PM:

RIP Gene Cernan.

May he someday no longer be the last human to walk on the moon.

#675 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 09:26 PM:

Elliot sums things up well.

Moon walker >> Skywalker.

#676 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 09:30 PM:

Very Excited!!

I have made plans to go to DC for the Women's March this Saturday!

There will be five of us siblings, four men and my sister, all pretty old now, but still ambulatory and game.

I'd suggest a meet-up, but I think the scene is going to be pretty chaotic.

Has Jim Macdonald ever offered advice about "what to bring to a demonstration"?

I am sure that most of it is common sense. Cell phone and charger. Water. Rain coat. Extra cash. And so on.

But perhaps JM has some more developed ideas to share.

Slate posted a copy of MLK's instructions to the bus protestors.

They were required to carry with them at all times a preternatural sense of dignity, courtesy, and forbearance. And the confidence that they were right.

#677 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 09:51 PM:

oldster, we probably won't meet, but I'm going too!

#678 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 10:37 PM:

I wrote a reel! Five days ago, I was about to have breakfast, and a tune was forming in my head, and I decided instead of eating just then, I'd chase down the tune. I wrote it in a small music notebook (one measure per line), then copied it over more tightly, so it would fit on a page. Then that was too small, so I copied it one more time onto a letter-sized sheet of staff paper I'd printed out for a class. I edited it a couple of times since then.

Tonight I took it in with me to the Monday evening Irish jam on campus, and waited until there were about the same number of people remaining as I had brought copies, and we played it a couple of times, and I got feedback (positive!) and it will be introduced to the group at large next week.

In other good news, I got an A and an A- in my music classes. Neither one is for a grade: I'm auditing one class, and simply sitting in on the other. Nonetheless, the grade shows that I'm getting this stuff—the first theory class, and a parallel aural training class. The new semester started today (holiday and all (the school closed after the class was over)), so I'm off for another exciting time.

#679 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2017, 10:41 PM:

Best of luck and success for the DC marchers.

Unignorable public signs of disapproval are a sure way to shame and discomfort Trump, who is sorely in need of both.

He will mock you as "disgusting" and "sad," but I'm pretty sure that is projection.

I'll be going to the sister-protest in Portland.

Some downloadable PDF signs:

I'm thinking of printing up this by Patrick Farley:

Maybe something about Tax Returns on the other side.

#680 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 12:03 AM:

oldster @676: The most likely difficulty that you'd run into there that you can carry something for is tear gas (and it's not very likely). Having a couple of handkerchiefs (useful in lots of other situations!) and a bottle of water is a low-cost preparation with the added benefit that you can drink the water if you start feeling dry.

Sensible shoes: shoes that you feel comfortable walking a few miles in. That varies from person to person.

Extra cash: maybe a little bit, but mostly cards will do that these days. Too much cash makes you a target.


Make sure you have a piece of paper with an emergency contact number for someone not in the protest. This will be useful in lots of situations -- and paper, unlike cell phones, is unlikely to get stolen or broken.

Any meds you know you'll need sometime during the day.

MLK's instructions are good, too; and one other elementary precaution: don't leave the site alone. Make sure you're in a group of at least two. Groups are less likely to be attacked.

All of this comes from years of doing the SF Pride Parade. We never had to deal with tear gas, but the other items were all absolutely useful.

#681 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 12:10 AM:

Oh yes -- if you have a cell phone, it's great for taking pictures of you and your friends. There are also apps (I think one is called CA Justice) that will send a copy of any video you happen to record of an Incident to a branch of the ACLU, so you'll have an offsite backup of it. May you never need it. Google around to find what works on your phone.

#682 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 12:31 AM:

I wonder if there will be any livestreams of the march?

#683 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 12:33 AM:

It's a shame they probably won't let you anywhere near the inauguration. (I heard a while ago they'd made the DC mall off-limits to protesters.)

It'd be really something to have him stand up, put his hand on the Bible, and have everyone in the crowd turn their backs on him.

(And I can't help but wonder what will happen in that fuzzy little mind of his around the oath of office...?)

#684 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 12:35 AM:

Me @683: Oh yeah, that was addressed to those going to the DC March.

#685 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 03:50 AM:

Another installment in Jenny Islander's Ongoing Curmudgeonly Rant About Pop Music, contra "Guys My Age" by Hey Violet:

I haven't seen my ex since we broke up
She left me a note that said "Grow up."
Lipstick on the mirror, had to clean it up
Before my landlord went and sent my rent up
Now I heard she's goin' clubbin'
And I really hope she's havin' fun
Dammit, if she'd ever asked me
Would've put it on my card and gone

Words mean things, so get up and tell me
So get up and tell me, get, get up and tell me
Words mean things, so get up and tell me
Don't expect me to read your mind
Words mean things, so use them and tell me
So use them and tell me, so use them and tell me
Words mean things, so get up and tell me,
Don't expect me to read your mind

I thought she always wanted me to go down
Though she liked my friends, hey they still come around
Share a little herb, too poor to leave the house
Ain't nobody hoggin' all the blankets now
She wrote, "Good luck with the next one"
Like my heart was a revolving door.
Never did give me a reason
So I'm always gonna ask for more.

Words mean things, so get up and tell me
So get up and tell me, get, get up and tell me
Words mean things, so get up and tell me
Don't expect me to read your mind
Words mean things, so use them and tell me
So use them and tell me, so use them and tell me
Words mean things, so get up and tell me,
Don't expect me to read your mind

Never doing that again (thought I had a, thought I had a, had a friend)
Never doing that again (thought I had a, thought I had a, had a friend)

Words mean things, so get up and tell me
So get up and tell me, get, get up and tell me
Words mean things, so get up and tell me
Don't expect me to read your mind
Words mean things, so use them and tell me
So use them and tell me, so use them and tell me
Words mean things, so get up and tell me,
Don't expect me to read your mind

#686 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 09:51 AM:

I couldn't go to the March for Women's Lives in 1989*. I had two friends going. They were going by bus, and since we were all in Massachusetts, that meant leaving the night before. So I bought two canteens, filled them with apple juice, made two lunches (tuna salad sandwich, and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies in the classic brown paper bag), and delivered the packages to the buses.

I know this was the right thing to do. One laughed and said, "How did you know? I remembered everything except lunch." The other one, who told me then that she didn't like apple juice, was effusive in her thanks for the apple juice *after* the march.

Beware: On the way back, one of the buses broke down. They could not get a replacement; ALL the buses in New England had gone to the March. The other buses in the group had to share the stranded riders, so some people rode back standing up.

* I was able to help make the "Women of Note" banner though.

#687 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 10:35 AM:

An activist friend of mine who lives and works in the DC area has posted some tips for people who will be attending the March. She knows whereof she speaks.

#688 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 10:51 AM:

Can computers be racist?

Answer: Yes, because computer-learning algorithms and AIs work from the data they're given, and that data itself is often biased and discriminatory. Example given: if a company uses a learning algorithm to filter the most promising applicants from a pool of resumes, but the HR people who use the algorithm only hire younger applicants, the algorithm will learn to reject older applicants before a human ever sees the resume. Presto, age discrimination!


#689 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 12:27 PM:

My wife and I are local to DC, and will be marching. Most likely we'll be in the Jamie Raskin contingent (he's our new Congressman), so if anyone needs help after the march, aim for Raskin and come to Silver Spring. He's sponsoring a rally and buses to the march; we're planning to take Metro with two of our friends.I had already paid for two bus tickets, one of which has been promised to a neighbor's friend.

You can email me at the address used here; I'll have my smartphone with me. Depending on the weather, we may or may not be wearing the knit hats that my mother made (one pink, one pink and black).

Remember not to bring backpacks or large purses unless they're clear; small bags will be allowed. A water bottle should be fine. Most of the rain is expected on Friday (Inauguration Day); Saturday should be clearing and warmer.

Expect Metro to be very crowded and slow. I've been to the Fourth of July celebrations on the Mall, and that's what this is going to be like. We're all in this together though!

#690 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 12:30 PM:

Also, How to Protest Safely. Old, but still mostly useful -- notice, however, that it advises backpacks and Ginger says they won't be allowed.

#691 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 02:17 PM:


To my mind, one of the biggest problems with official-decision-by-algorithm is that the algorithms and data are often secret, either for intellectual property reasons, or to avoid people gaming the algorithms. The result is that any problems in the algorithm are very hard to find or discuss in public, because the public isn't allowed to know how the algorithm works. This is a great way of preventing any oversight.

These algorithms are used in sentencing criminals and making probation decisions. It is absolutely nuts that they can be secret.

#692 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 02:51 PM:

Who in this parish is knitting pussy hats? Lila -- do you have one?

And on another note, Kip W, I'd love to hear (or see the dots / abc) for your reel.

#693 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 03:21 PM:

I am not into the pussy hat thing, sorry. Getting on a bus and marching, yes.

#694 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 04:03 PM:

Tracie, thanks for asking! The reel is here, at my flickr page. It's also viewable at New Pals, because sometimes flickr turns into some kind of angry watchdog.

When repeating the B section, use the two-note pickup in the 'second ending' measure. There's always some detail that gets away.

#695 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 04:58 PM:

Crap. CT scan came back; not diverticulitis, appendicitis... off to the ER.

#696 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 05:00 PM:

Eeek! Good luck, Dave!

#697 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 05:00 PM:

Bill Higgins... a bit few days late, but Happy Birthday!

#698 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 05:04 PM:

Dave... my best wishes

#699 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 05:09 PM:

Dave, my best wishes also. Emergency rooms are a necessary evil, but sheesh, who wants to have to go to one?

And let me also amplify those birthday wishes to my favorite beam jockey. It's been too long since I saw him at a con, that's for sure.

#700 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 05:44 PM:

Dave H., #695: Yikes! Hope everything goes well!

#701 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 05:49 PM:

@Dave: Wow! Glad they caught it. Heal fast.

Remember to ask for your appendix so you can leave it under your pillow. I'm not sure what the vestigial organ fairy pays these days, but it can't hurt.

#702 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 06:09 PM:

Dave @#695

Wishing you a successful result and a speedy recovery.

#703 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 06:21 PM:

Ouch, Dave, have a swift and uneventful recovery!

Bill, happy birthday, and thanks again for the tour of Fermilab!

#704 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 06:24 PM:

Dave Harmon (695): Ouch! Glad they caught it. Wishing you quick healing.

#705 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 06:29 PM:

Dave Harmon, ouch, sending good thoughts your way.

#706 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 07:00 PM:


Yikes! Good luck!

#707 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 07:13 PM:

albatross @691:

With the advent of computer learning, it's even worse than that. The algorithm isn't merely secret; no human knows how it works.

#708 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 09:24 PM:

Thanks for the good wishes, probably operating within the hour. Not a happy camper, but looking forward to having this fixed.

#709 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 09:32 PM:

David Harmon@708: May it go as well, and as quickly, as possible.

#710 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 10:52 PM:

688 "Can computers be racist?"

Twitterbots learnign from the language they are exposed to

#711 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 06:32 AM:

Awake in a recovery room in the general hospital. Found out my my ER room number was 42.

Lucid but tired., family's here-- sister and mom for now, they're taking shift of a sort. Some pain, but nothing like before the operation.

#712 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 07:44 AM:

As someone who had his first organ removal earlier this year: Yay for less pain !

#713 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 07:45 AM:

David Harmon@711

Glad to hear you he operation went well. Hope the pain goes away soon.

#714 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 07:45 AM:

David Harmon@711

Glad to hear you he operation went well. Hope the pain goes away soon.

#715 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 08:15 AM:

David Harmon
Well done. Now, for the rest of the job: hurting less and less and getting on with whatever you were doing when stupid pain got in the way.

#716 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 08:50 AM:

David Harmon @711, wishing you a swift recovery.

#717 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 09:04 AM:

I'm on hat number six or so, and the local yarn store-- the center of my community here-- has a donation bin for people to put yarn into. They've gotten seventy hats as of Saturday, and that was before I put my three in, including one custom-made to accommodate a bus organizer's topknot.

I'm going to make myself one in blue once I'm past the deadline for the buses. The current yarn is violently, wonderfully deep pink, and I am sad I cannot keep it.

Mostly I knit while reading, whether at home or editorial work, then seam them up in batches. I had forgotten how much I like simple knitting-- there are portions in the shawl I'm working on that are stockinette, and those reminded me some.

#718 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 09:55 AM:

Dave Harmon: Glad you are feeling better! We all hope you keep on healing nicely.

#719 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 09:58 AM:

@Dave: Glad you are through the snippage and have family at hand. Wishing you a swift recovery.

#720 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 10:00 AM:

I am in the uneasy but alas common state of relief and angry fear that comes with medical treatment.

I'm very, very glad my daughter doesn't have a broken foot.

But I'm sorry, in retrospect, that I went to the immediate care clinic, and didn't give it 3-4 hours to sit and see if it progressed to horrible bruising, pain upon minor pressure, and so on. Because about 20min after they took the x-ray (and 20min before the doctor came in to discuss it; ahh well) she was much more chipper and actually standing on it briefly.

No idea how much it's going to cost. Nobody can tell us until it's percolated through the insurance, which means it's going to hang fire for about 8mo until they bother to get back to us, at which point we must immediately pay whatever they say we have to.

#721 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 10:47 AM:

Dave Harmon: sending wishes for a quick recovery.

Elliot Mason @ 720 -

Good luck with that. And if the bills when they come seem inordinate, complain. Bother them. Tell them you want to negotiate. They would rather get some money than take a dead loss. Consider the bill like it was suggested retail price.

#722 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 11:30 AM:

And I did not intend for my #721 to sound so imperious. Jeez, I think I need more coffee.Or less.

#723 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 12:27 PM:

I am so glad your daughter's going to be ok, Elliott Mason.

The lack of price transparency in healthcare in the US is an outrage (along with all the other concomitant outrages regarding US healthcare). I just did a bit of consulting for a company that is aiming to address that -- developers can use their API to make applications that inquire about whether a particular drug or procedure is covered under a particular health care plan, whether a provider is in-network, average prices for various procedures in various geographic areas, and so on. Going from paper/fax claim processing to using actual computrons is going to save time (and ought to save money, but who knows whether insurance companies will have any incentive to pass those savings on to us). PokitDok is getting more prototype applications up and running and I cannot wait. The day I can ask my phone "how much will this set of treatments cost?" and get an upper and lower bound will be such a win over the current system.

#724 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 12:36 PM:

Sumana @723: ZocDoc already does some of it (though they've changed up their site recently and I can't figure out how to get some of the functions I used to depend on, like searching for a doctor by name when I already know who I want).

You can input your insurance and do a search by specialty, and it will show you only doctors that are in-network for you if you check that box.

They're actually more accurate than my own insurance company's internal provider search about phone numbers and who's accepting patients (though the insurance page doesn't skip providers who are covered. It does list a bunch of fictive records that are no longer valid, so whee ...)

#725 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 01:10 PM:

My goodness! I go out for a needle biopsy (cyst on mammogram) and come back to find some of my fellow denizens on ML are having even hairier health expeditions.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Dave Harmon, and Elliot, may the insurance hassle prove not to be one, commiserations on the litle one's injury.

Best part of my day yesterday, the doctor who did the biopsy could be a stand-in for Robert Downey, Jr.. Upon meeting him I exclaimed, "Wow, a Tony Stark clone!" (His nurses broke up.) He said, "Who is Tony Stark?" and I replied "Iron Man?" and got a big happy grin.

The fellow had a sure hand with the local, I barely even felt a pinch. The biopsy procedure was a little startling, he warned me that the sampler would make a popping noise as it acquired the necessary tissue.

All in all, much pleasanter than I was expecting, and I should get the results in a few days.

#726 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 01:59 PM:

Yay. Looks like I'm out of here in a couple of hours. Two weeks with no lifting more than 10 pounds, then 4 weeks with no lifting more than 50. Which means two weeks off bookstore work, then a month of finding someone else to deal with heavy crates.

Elliott; yep, healthcare has long been a "confuseoply", preventing competition by not allowing people to effective compare prices. Emergency services are worst, as they often have legal protections against challenge as well as their basic context of "do you want treatment or not?"

#727 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 05:57 PM:

David Harmon: very glad it was diagnosed and removed! Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Elliot Mason @720: glad that your daughter is okay; sympathies for the cost/uncertainty.

Lori Coulson @725: Glad the procedure went well. Good luck for a good result.

#728 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 06:09 PM:

It must have been a slow week at the pathology lab, my doctor called today to check on me and to tell me the cyst was totally benign!

So happy dance here, and thanks, dcb!

#729 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 06:31 PM:

Good news, Lori!

* * *

The piles of played-out snow and slick, rutted ice that have becrusted the Portland area are finally melting away. Bad news: Seven solid days of gloom and rain are forecast. I really, really would have liked Friday to have at least been a nice weather day, so I could go for a walk to avoid News without getting drenched.

#730 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 07:05 PM:

Stefan Jones #701: Remember to ask for your appendix so you can leave it under your pillow. I'm not sure what the vestigial organ fairy pays these days, but it can't hurt.

That line got a few giggles from hospital staff.

So, I'm home, still hurting a bit but much better than 24 hours ago. It feels like rather longer than that... in fact, it feels, apparently, like 3.5 days. When Mom picked me up for the trip to the the ER, I'd been trying to defrost some of her soup to grab something before the trip, and it was taking too long. So I stashed the half-defrosted soup in the fridge and grabbed some Jello instead. When I came back, my sister kindly stocked me up with various food. In the process, I remembered the soup, and my initial thought was "wait, it's been there three and a half days, is it still going to be good?" Very precise... if not very accurate.

#731 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 07:16 PM:

@Dave: After I sent that post I found myself worrying that that particular line might be a bit too irreverent for the circumstances. I'm glad it was welcome & also appreciated by the staff.

#732 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 07:42 PM:

Farm/field/fence query!

Fields around here (plowed fields that have crops) have these fences some times of the year—as near as I can recall, it's when there are no crops showing—that don't enclose a perimeter, and they look like animals would treat them more as a suggestion, even if there were animals in the fields.

I've been assuming them to be snow fences. They are temporary and probably get rolled up when not in use. They have narrow slats (look like wood, redwood sort of color) closely spaced, set at an angle.

Are they snow fences? Are they there to guide the melt one day? I've also seen an orange plastic temporary fence, but it was out in front of a school or church or something, and might have nothing to do with the other sort.

#733 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 07:48 PM:

Kip, that type of fence around here is to stop snow from blowing drifts into highways. Also seen them used for sand.

#734 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 08:30 PM:

Lori Coulson #728: Yay, congratulations!

So, the recap (mild TMI warnings, especially in the notes): Sunday evening, Mom had invited a friend and me to dinner. I started having nasty cramps (or so I thought). When the chills kicked in, things looked familiar, and when I left that evening, I emailed my doctor with "the diverticulitis is back". The next morning (having slept through most of the intervening time), I called the UVA Hospital's desk to get an appointment, and there was a slot open that afternoon.¹ I called my Mom for a lift, and off we went. The doctor listened, poked and prodded, said "Hmm, third time in less than six months? We didn't do a CT scan the second time, but I think we should do one for this". So, same time next day (Tuesday, I had to call off work, not that I was in any shape to work) I got my abdomen imaged That evening, they called my doctor back saying "nope, not diverticulitis, this looks like his appendix". My doctor duly called me and said "get thee to the Emergency Room" [OK, I paraphrase ;-)] I called Mom, started throwing stuff in my pack², and off we went.

So, even with my doc getting me on the list for surgery, we spent a few hours in the ER. I did get a room and bed (room 42) , with a parade of nurses, doctors and affiliated sorts coming by. Plenty of time to spread the word among family and friends before I got sent up to Surgery. Along the way, my sister volunteered to spell Mom and my stepfather while I was actually in surgery, and stayed for a while after.

The surgery did indeed go well; after I woke up in considerably less pain, they kept me around for most of the day to be sure I was able to eat³ and to get my remaining pain under control. In due course they turfed me out of there, and here I am at home. It would almost have been cozy if not for the "sick as a dog and in serious pain" thing.... My family came through big-time, the UVA hospital system did splendidly, and our Age of Miracles showed its stuff again.

A side note: According to one of the doctors looking over my case, it turns out that my since-redacted appendix was not in the usual position. Instead of being tucked to one side, it was central, next to my bladder. No wonder I'd been having trouble getting urine out while I was sick (that trouble vanished cold after the operation), but I do wonder if it had something to do with my lifelong bashful kidney. Time will tell. It may well have meant that without the prior diverticulitis suggesting further investigation, my almost-symmetrical pain response in left and right lower-abdominal quadrants might not have tipped off the doc. That Would Have Been Bad.

¹ This is not usual in these precincts; While the doctor didn't respond to my letter, I assume he cleared some space. It pays to send messages ahead.

² The pajamas and snacks didn't get used. What I really should have put in was a spare pair of underwear. Even without acute diverticulitis, a low-fiber mostly-fluids diet meant for it, will take its toll.

³ The hospital food was actually quite good... but it occurs to me that for dinner tonight, I practically lunged for the two spiciest dishes my sister had left me....

#735 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 08:51 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens
Thanks! They do seem to be set up parallel to roadways, now that you've said that.

#736 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 10:32 PM:

Praisegod Barebones #651: It existed when I created the link. Chuck Tingle has written yet another "Slammed in the Butt" story. Calling it a novel might be an exaggeration. It's only 35 pages long.

#737 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 12:18 AM:

A new template for the plums. After enjoying this comment in a MetaFilter thread, scroll up and read the whole thing.

#738 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 03:18 AM:

Lori Coulson @728: Yay! That's great news.

David Harmon @734: fascinating about the time thing. Also very interesting to hear the medical stuff and be reminded that anatomy books should be considered as guides, but actual bodies don't always follow the rules. Good doctor to follow up on his feeling that there could be something more going on here.

#739 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 05:11 AM:

I went to my GP on Monday and asked for - and received - a referral to the gender identity clinic at Charing Cross. The hormone tests were sent off for yesterday and will probably take about a week to produce results, and the referral will go once the results come in. And then it's sit on the waiting list and start the pathway and if all goes well I might get top surgery as soon as eighteen months from now.
I'm undecided on testosterone at this present time - I am very attached to my voice (singing, but also speaking) and using it artistically and I don't feel ready to put it down yet. Not when I'm unlikely to be able to pick up a deepened voice of similar quality. But chest correction - how's your schedule, Mr Surgeon, when can you fit me in?

#740 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 06:37 AM:

duckbunny @ #739:


#741 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 07:13 AM:

duckbunny @739, congratulations, and may your wait be short and your doctors clueful.

I've been on the waiting list at my own GIC since last May and am anticipating being on it a while yet, given the pressure on the service in the North. Oddly, I didn't have to get a hormone test for the referral, though I did have to see someone from CMHT. I wonder why the difference?

I have pretty much exactly your thoughts in re T and surgery. I would love for my speaking voice to drop somewhat, but my singing voice is important to me.

#742 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 07:58 AM:

Congratulations, duckbunny!

#743 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 09:49 AM:

Best wishes to people going under/coming back from the knife. I hope the recovery is swift and uneventful.

Stefan Jones @ 701:

Remember to ask for your appendix so you can leave it under your pillow. I'm not sure what the vestigial organ fairy pays these days, but it can't hurt.

When my boyfriend eventually gets his uterus removed, he wants it mounted as a trophy with the plaque "my first kill". I don't know if they can bronze it or plasticize it, or what the options even are (that is if the hospital even lets people keep things like that in the first place). Things in jars of formalin tend to get cloudy and gross, though, so that's not an option.

duckbunny @ 739:


#744 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 10:47 AM:

Lila #693: I understand not everyone is into the hats. Do you need a ride to the bus? (I've lost your email.)You can reach me at strongerthantea at the mail that is g.

#745 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 11:23 AM:

KeithS: I don't know if they can bronze it or plasticize it

Maybe Plastination?

#747 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 02:21 PM:

Keith S. -- would he accept a knitted effigy?

#748 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 03:32 PM:

I was wondering why the 'i lik the bred' meme going around on Tumblr (again) recently was so pleasing to me, and making me feel so happy every time I saw it. And then I realized that it was--among other things--because it's a meme where you really need to filk some poetry to riff on it properly, or at least filk poetry analysis/critique, depending on your angle. Thus, it reminds me fondly of this place.

My favorite one yet is the variation with calf and cat.

#749 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2017, 07:49 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @365: The book you're looking for is most likely Umi: The Hawaiian Boy Who Became King. I don't think the author is Polynesian, however; his name is Robert Lee Eskridge.

I haven't read it in a few years, but it hits all your points.

#750 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 11:17 AM:

#749 ::: Quill

Thank you. It seems to be a rather rare book, but I can read it (not borrow it) at the Philadelphia library.

#751 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 12:24 PM:

Very sad news. Larry Smith has died. He didn't go to Chattacon -- Sally was there with a helper -- and they got the call last night. He had a heart attack, the EMTs got him to the hospital, but he died before they could get him into surgery. Sally is on her way home. I don't know if she packed up the booth or if her helper is going to run it solo.

#752 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 01:26 PM:

Very sorry to hear that, Lee. He stepped in at a critical time for me in terms of ConJose, and I liked and respected him. Fandom is a little darker today.

#753 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 01:35 PM:


Larry looked alright at Arisia. Very sorry to hear he's gone.

#754 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 02:35 PM:

duckbunny @739:

\o/ !!!!!!!

I am now nearly 9 months on T, and was a trained first soprano to start with.

I am also a VERY cheap date when it comes to hormones, apparently, because I got slam-fast all kinds of symptoms that for some guys take 6mo to develop.

Because of this, within a few weeks, my voice felt weird -- it felt like I'd overdone it, if you know what I mean: the sensation that says, "Take it easy for a couple of days." Do not do this. That sensation is what it feels like if your vocal folds are swollen enough to feel overfull in your larynx.

Testosterone therapy makes your vocal folds retain water (not kidding), so they swell up. Apparently it takes about two years for the swelling to go down, but DO NOT WAIT THAT LONG to work on singing, because it'll stiffen and you won't have much range. My discussions with a trans male recording artist confirm that it takes about two years to know your instrument isn't going to pull some weird sneaky bullshit behind your back (and even then, more work will strengthen the voice, change tone and timbre, and extend range).

I went to sessions with a vocal coach and highly recommend it. There are all kinds of technique details that I'd never even considered that make all the difference in my singing. In two months I went from '6 notes of creaky cracking that nothing can be done about' to 'can sing pretty well in a 3-octave range, with three notes around middle C that i have to sing with very careful technique'.

I'm a mezzo AND a baritone. And my bottom is still going down.

It's kind of cool, actually. But I have a whole new slate of technique to remember to always use ... decades after I quit even THINKING about technique most of the time. So boo hoo now I need to work at it. :->

(it boils down to "get everything down there opened as far as it'll go, and most of the time raise the back of your palate too")

Would love to talk if you want more chatting or hand-holding or whatever. My gmail is 2ells2tees.

#755 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 09:32 PM:


For those on Twitter: if you've unfollowed @ POTUS & @ FLOTUS, doublecheck your follows. Not only was I set to follow (even though I explicitly unfollowed last night), but I discovered that @POTUS44 was set to BLOCK. (WTF, Twitter?)

#756 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 09:53 PM:

"And my bottom is still going down."

I hear you! I'm getting older too.

#757 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 10:07 PM:

"And my bottom is still going down."

I hear you. I'm getting older too.

#758 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 10:08 PM:

I checked repeatedly to be sure that hadn't actually posted. I even closed the window and opened a new one. I am blameless! Blameless, I tell you!

#759 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 10:54 PM:

All my bottoms go down. That's what I like about them.

#760 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2017, 11:54 PM:

I'm very sorry to hear about Larry Smith. From where I'm sitting, I can see about six different books which I purchased from him; his stock was always interesting to go through, and I never knew what I'd find. The second convention I saw him at, I remembered him from the first one and knew I'd find something good at his table. I hope the people who loved him have what (and who) they need to support them in their grief.

#761 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 12:00 AM:

Sad about Larry Smith. He's a loss.

Before that I was glum about today's events.

And before that I was sad about the death a couple of days ago of Colo. She was the first gorilla born in captivity, and at the time of her death, the oldest known gorilla in the world. Her 60th birthday was just under a month ago. Both her life and her descendants may be critical to the survival of her species.

#762 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 01:41 AM:

Just saw "Hidden Figures" and everyone is right. Go see it!

#763 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 12:27 PM:

This is a fabulous winter for California, but it's coming with a lot of issues. I was walking to pick up my kids from school the other day and spoke with a neighbor. He pointed to a coast redwood in someone's backyard (they top out at about 70 feet here) and mentioned that up until the big winds a couple of days ago, there had been two.

Somebody had the roofers out in the rain...

#764 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 05:58 PM:

I saw Hidden Figures and it was even better than I thought it would be. I liked the subtle things. Aldis Hodge was superb. He played a minor character, but everything he did spoke volumes. The interchanges between Kirsten Dunst and Octavia Spencer were so calm and polite, but they were an epic running battle between two extremely intelligent women. Even the special effects were great.

Now, thanks to Elliott Mason, I've been watching Janelle Monáe videos. As a geeky person who grew up on classical music, I'm unaware of a lot of popular culture. But that makes it even more fun when I find out about a wonderful talent like Ms. Monáe.

#765 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 09:28 PM:

The DC March was sublime. Such joy, such spirit, such anger, such confidence.

The US is waking up to the fact that a foreign power installed a puppet in the People's House. A Russian puppet who is an admitted sexual predator, racist, fascist demagogue, with several personality disorders.

We will not tolerate it. Somehow or another, we will eject this foreign body, this pathogen of evil, from our body politic, and then rebuild our immune system.

So the country is waking up, and today was a good first day.

#766 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 09:57 PM:

Here is my Flickr set of the Portland Womens' March:

I'm in shots 2 & 3.

It was . . . packed. Jam packed. My co-workers and & couldn't get anywhere near the rally / speech site. We and tens of thousands of others stood on the street in pouring rain, admiring the amazing variety of angry, hilarious, defiant signs.

The March got going a half an hour late, perhaps because the police had to adjust the traffic arrangements. Because instead of the predicted 20,000 people SEVENTY THOUSAND, by fire department estimate, showed up.

The Trump spokes clown is blustering about the inauguration crowd size, but they're not fooling anyone.

We have to follow up with solid action. The Indivisible folks are already working with MoveOn to do training. Here is their on-line guide:

#767 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 09:58 PM:

Second favorite chant:


First favorite chant:


#768 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 10:14 PM:

I tagged along with a bunch of college kids at one point who were chanting,

"He's orange. He's gross.
He lost the popular vote."

#769 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 10:26 PM:

The March got going a half an hour late, perhaps because the police had to adjust the traffic arrangements. Because instead of the predicted 20,000 people SEVENTY THOUSAND, by fire department estimate, showed up.

I don't know how many were expected at the march in downtown L.A., but the crowd was at least 500K (police estimate) and maybe 750K.
The transit system was completely overloaded. But it was a nice (if chilly) day.

#770 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2017, 11:29 PM:

Drone footage of Portland's march:

@PJEvans: The overhead view of LA's March was . . . astonishing.

#771 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2017, 12:53 AM:

They were expecting 80K....

#772 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2017, 12:55 AM:

They were expecting 80K....

(The dreaded 500 error strikes)

#773 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2017, 10:34 AM:

Open threadiness. Book recommendation, nonfiction rather than genre, especially for those who like choral or classical music but enjoyable by all.

Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family, by Daniel Bergner.

Ryan Speedo Green, raised in poverty in southeast Virginia, once in a high security juvenile correction facility, eventually a black man singing opera in the mostly-white world of the Met. It's a story of his own resilience and determination, and of the people - especially teachers - who believed in him.

#774 ::: Dicentra rubra ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2017, 02:07 PM:

So according to an interview with the baker who made Trump's inaugural cake, the inaugural team insisted it be a replica of Obama's cake...with one exception. Trump's cake was styrofoam except for a 3 inch slice of real cake at the bottom.

Symbolism left to the reader.

#775 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2017, 03:29 PM:

I was somewhat stunned to read about Larry Smith's death. (Which I read on the way to the Boston march, which was stunning in its own unrelated way.)

I've been buying books from Larry for half my life and most of my fannish life. I have now finished reading the last book that I bought from his hands.

Lūgeat emptor.

#776 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2017, 09:15 PM:

Dunno how many of you will have heard about the shooting outside the Milo Yiannopoulos event at the University of Washington the other night. The following news release giving context includes a link to a fundraiser for the victim's medical bills.

#777 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 01:18 AM:

URL didn't post (or I forgot it):

#778 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 04:23 AM:

Elliott @754: I am very relieved to hear that. I had some vocal training in my late teens, but that was ten years ago and I haven't been in regular performance for a good long while. I've rusted. Finding a new teacher (I'd return to the same one if I could, but she's passed away) is a good solid practical step, and there must be someone around here who has experience with young men nervous about losing their trebles.
I can reach the A below middle C. On a good day, the A flat. I would like my bottom to go down.
I'll drop you an email.

#779 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 11:41 AM:

Jacque @ 745: That should work if they let him keep it.

Sarah E @ 747: No, but he did think it was hilarious and cute.

Hidden Figures was wonderful. I appreciated the multilayered aspect of the story, from the large, overarching events and themes, all the way down to the subtle and not-so-subtle personal interplay. All the race and gender interactions seemed to me to be spot on, and not just the obvious ones.

For Hugo purposes, debating whether I should nominate it for best dramatic presentation long form, or best related.

#780 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 04:37 PM:

KeithS @ 779... Go for it. After all, "The Right Stuff" was one of the finalists in 1984.

By the way, the character of Katherine Johnson appeared in a recent episode of "Timeless" about Apollo XI taking a drastic turn away from the events we are familiar with.

#781 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 05:26 PM:

Hey! I can breathe! Yay! (Fighting whatever crud is going around.)

#782 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 05:43 PM:

@781, Yay for breathing! You don't realize how important it is until.. you can't. <wry> I had bronchitis for almost six months, a few years ago... and I still find myself NOTICING that I can breathe, and paranoid every time someone wears too much perfume near me and my breath takes a hitch.

#783 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 06:13 PM:

I had bronchitis twice in less than six months, way back, and I think breathing is wonderful - even if that second time did permanent damage. (Perfumes, yes, and cigarette (but usually not pipe or cigar) smoke, will set off the asthma.)

#784 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 06:15 PM:

#782 ::: Cassy B

Non-traumatically, when I saw an undersea monster movie called The Abyss, I suddenly realized I was in a large space full of air.

#785 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 06:17 PM:

In re Hidden Figures and Hugos:

The nominating community needs to come to a consensus, soon, about which category to nominate it in, because nominations in the two categories don't concatenate to cause success.

We need to not split the vote.

If The Right Stuff qualified for Best Dramatic, I say we put Hidden Figures there too.

#786 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 06:25 PM:

Elliott, #785: My primary point of indecision is that I expect Arrival to run away with the long-form dramatic presentation award this year. If Hidden Figures is eligible in another category, perhaps it would be better to put it there instead.

OTOH, if Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff went into Best Dramatic, then probably Hidden Figures should as well.

I'm still waffling.

#787 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 06:43 PM:

Lee@786: Also worth considering that the winner of 1970's "Best Dramatic Presentation" Hugo was the (presumably completely nonfictional) TV coverage of Apollo XI. If that was appropriate for the category, it seems like Hidden Figures definitely should be.

#788 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 06:56 PM:

I found and lost (and then found and lost again, IIRC) a short Lord of the Rings fanfic in which Gríma Wormtongue gets the Peggy Sue plot device, that is, he wakes up in his own past, in his younger body, with all the knowledge of his future. He's called something else--I tried Fell-Handed and Fey, but got nothing--because he throws himself recklessly into battle in defense of the White Lady of Rohan and against orcs. Has anybody else read this?

#789 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 09:30 PM:

If the entirety of the Best Dramatic category goes to woman-centered films I would be entirely ok with that.

Arrival, Hidden Figures, Ghostbusters (because tell me it's not going to be nominated), what else?

#790 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 10:00 PM:

Rogue One is definitely another contender. And I'm sure there are lots more: isn't Zootopia last year? Checking -- yes, March 2016. 2016 is likely to go down as a blockbuster year for SF/F films.

#791 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 10:43 PM:

I thought that if a work gets nominated in more than one Hugo category, the committee decides which category it ends up in and (presumably) that gets all the nominations.


#792 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2017, 11:50 PM:

It varies by committee (one of the concerns with Worldcon being run by a different group each year). The (usually fairly independent) Hugo Award Subcommittee makes its own calls. There's a mechanism for moving nominations between categories, but it's a judgment call. It's better to concentrate the nominations in a single category as much as possible.

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