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June 12, 2004

Open thread 24
Posted by Teresa at 10:32 PM *

O who will come and go with me—

Comments on Open thread 24:
#1 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 10:46 PM:

Words to live by?

ARTIST: Clarence E. Quick
TITLE: Come Go with Me
Lyrics and Chords

Ma href="">Come Go with Me

Dom dom dom dom dom, dom be dooby
Dom dom dom dom dom, dom be dooby
Dom dom dom dom dom, dom be dooby dom
Whoa whoa whoa whoa

/ G Em7 Am7 D7 / : / C7 G /

Love, love me darling, come and go with me
Please don't send me way beyond the sea
I need you darling so come go with me

Come come come come, come into my heart
Tell me darling we will never part
I need you darling so come go with me
Whoa whoa whoa whoa

... / C7 GG7 /

Yes I need you, yes I really need you
Please say you'll never leave me
Well, say you never, yes, you really never
You never give me a chance

/ C7 - - - / G - G7 - / 1st / D7 - - - /

Come come come come, come into my heart...


Love, love me darling, come and go with me...

Come on go with me
{Repeat to fade}

#2 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 10:56 PM:

... down by the river, down by the river with thee?

#3 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 11:03 PM:

...I am bound for the promised land.

#4 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 11:19 PM:

Come go with me to yonder valley where we once stood beneath the tree, where we once planned our life together. I can't forget; come go with me....

#5 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 11:19 PM:

...but I'm caught in traffic on the Kennedy.

Wait, wrong song. Sorry.

#6 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 11:21 PM:

Well, since it's an open thread...

I was somewhat surprised that Wired magizine profiled Alton Brown in the June issue. I'm a self-confessed food geek, and Mr. Brown is the food geek's food geek. I particularly enjoy his use of everyday objects to model the chemical reactions going on on our cooktops and in our ovens.

Given the Sharp Sauce thread, I figured that there may be some food geeks lurking around here who aren't already aware of the genius of Alton Brown and Good Eats. (No affiliation, etc, just a fan.)

#7 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 11:33 PM:

—and hug me like a brother?

#8 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 11:40 PM:

Here's a good one

Play "The Innsmouth Look," it's a wonderful love song.


#9 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2004, 11:49 PM:

I was recently taught how to make crepes. The first step is opening a web browser window and doing the appropriate search for "alton brown crepes". (The second step is, of course, following the instructions provided by the first step.)

#10 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 12:02 AM:

First thought was the refrain from The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, by Christopher "Kit" Marlowe - as seen in "Shakespeare in Love" :)

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hill and valley, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield ...

But that's "live", not "go" - more settling down rather than continuing on life's journey together. Perhaps they'll share their shoyu

#11 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 12:09 AM:

Brooks-- And here I thought crepes grew on vines. When the crepes ripen, the farmers fling them on the ground and stamp on them with bare feet. The results are poured into barrows and allowed to cement into twine.

#12 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 12:12 AM:

Which Food Network chef are you?

I, and all my friends who have tried it so far, are Alton Brown. I have good friends.

#13 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 12:33 AM:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree
(and if you're not allergic to bees or beans
you can come and go with me).

#14 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 12:51 AM:

My camp meeting background leads me to think it's:

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan's fair and happy land,
Where my possesions lie.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land
O who will come and go with me
I am bound for the promised land.

O the transporting rapt'rous scene
That rises to my sight;
Sweet fields arrayed in living green
And rivers of Delight.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land
O who will come and go with me
I am bound for the promised land.

There generous fruits that never fail
On trees immortal grow;
There rocks and hills and brooks and vales
With milk and honey flow.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land
O who will come and go with me
I am bound for the promised land.

Soon will the Lord my soul prepare
For joys beyond the skies,
Where never-ceasing pleasures roll,
And praises never die.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land
O who will come and go with me
I am bound for the promised land.

(the cats are ignoring my singing)

#15 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 12:52 AM:

The Del-Vikings do indeed rock...

#16 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 01:00 AM:

I think I'll just stop the watch right here, as this is as good a place to be brakeman as any....

(an allusive way of saying if I get to go along with all you folks, it doesn't really matter which direction we're going, as Mr. Bloch pointed out...)

#17 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 01:08 AM:

Which Food Network chef are you?

I, and all my friends who have tried it so far, are Alton Brown. I have good friends.

I am Morimoto. Yay.

(The only problem with the test is that it didn't mention curry.)


#18 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 01:30 AM:

That Hell-Bound Train has always been a favorite, Tom. And I think you would make a fine conductor here.

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 01:35 AM:

There's apparently a password-stealing virus going around on LiveJournal. Details here (among other places).

What happens: You see a post that reads "This is interesting" and a URL on someone's LiveJournal. You click on the URL.

This causes two things to happen: First, it posts a message that says "This is interesting" and a URL in your LiveJournal, and second, it installs a password-stealing trojan on your machine.

#20 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 01:38 AM:

Yaay, I'm Alton Brown. Which figures. Ask my family. I've often sprung new treatments, though sensible ones (Jim is a meat-a-tarian, Margene has her specific food dislikes...) on them just to get a feedback for something DIFFERENT (dinner way to often for my tastes consists of a piece of meat, a boxed side starch and a two-serving frozen box of vege for Margene and I). So far I've had more pluses than negatives. And I've set My Yahoo to give me an Epicurious recipe every day, which has proved fruitful too.

#21 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 01:41 AM:

Yeah, but who's running the dining car on That Hell Bound Train?

And aside from Devilled Eggs, Lobster fra Diavolo and Devil's Food Cake, what's on the menu? That's what I'd like to know...

#22 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 02:01 AM:

Balancing out the gourmet food discussion, a version of something I posted elsewhere:
* * *
I occasionally shop at the Grocery Outlet.

It's what friends and family call a "used food store" . . . a kind of rock-bottom place that specializes in obscure house brands, imports, and varieties of name-brand food that didn't make it in the marketplace.

Recently I bought a few items of what I think of as Low Food: Things that are damn odd, with strange, crude labels.

I'm not sure how I'm going to use this can of . . .


Yes, the can says "smoked sausage," but these are vienna sausages, the squishy meat cylinders that are the cheapest canned meat product you can buy that doesn't have a picture of a cat on it, or a dog in it.

(Poor Vienna! How did its name get attached to these extruded cylinders of floor sweepings from the Utility Grade Animal Protein Works? A more honest name would be Bum Chow.)

The ingredients include Beef Tripe, Pork Skins, Pork Spleens, Pork Stomachs and Smoke Flavoring. This is the kind of stuff that went into pet food before pet food became a boutique item.

And that kid . . . what kind of hellish poverty has he grown up in, to be so excited about that Service Suggestion of pan-species sausage? (I picture family dinners consisting of ramen noodles and dandelion leaves, and perhaps the occasional small egg when a twister scours the trailer park's trees of bird nests.)

I think this can will go into the rear of the pantry, or in the trunk of my car, for consumption in case of dire emergency. (Say, if Mount Hood blows its top, burying the area in caustic ash that takes weeks to dig out of.)

I *do* know what I'm going to do with this can of . . .


I toss these things, and a can of crab meat or minced clams, in clam chowder, turning it into a kind of seafood stew.

"Marvelous Broken Shrimp" kind of sounds like a string of words that might appear in a piece of spam to throw off mail filters.

Hmmm. Spam. Next time I should pick up a variety of Spam Luncheon Meat knock-offs.

#23 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 02:05 AM:

Devilled kidneys, with devils on horseback for nibblies

#24 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 02:12 AM:

I think the wine list has a range of Fumee Blancs.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 02:42 AM:

I can't read The Passionate Shepherd to His Love without hearing it in 1930's nightclub singer style from Richard III with Ian McKellen.

But my immediate reaction is:

I'm a man without conviction, I'm a man who doesn't know
How to sell a contradiction, you come and go, you come and go...

#26 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 02:45 AM:

James D. Macdonald: I am reasonably sure that this LJ worm which you mention does not install any such trojans. I clicked on a link for it (sadly, I have LJ friends who occasionally post bare links with no context), and had it attempted to install such a thing, I cannot imagine Opera would have failed to complain.

The exploit (according to a friend of mine who volunteers in LJ support) is a fairly simple matter of a Javascript redirect that then does a form-submit that mimics what happens when you click submit on the LJ "post new message" page, using the LJ cookie in your browser -- which can, of course, be sent to LJ's servers without raising any security flags. My friend further notes that the official word is that there were no actual security breaches involved in the matter, but in any case things have been corrected in the LJ posting process so as to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future.

#27 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 03:18 AM:

O who will come and go with me
Where the traffic backs up on the L.I.E.
Like a patient waiting for his main provider
Let us go, through certain half-deserted suites
And Hugo Loser fêtes
Post-program drops to unfamiliar beds
And sushi restaurants frying ebi heads
Halls that wind past authors wanting news
With the bar as their excuse
And ask about the cover and the edit
In the unforgiving minute
Let us go and say we didn’t.

#28 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 04:09 AM:

Weee. Alton Brown. Man's a total geek. All my best nonstandard technique comes from him.

Speaking of which, this week's blockbust came about largely because the person so entranced with the Riddick character from Pitch Black that he wrote fanfiction about him also happened to be the rising action star who played Riddick....

#29 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 04:12 AM:

Scary, Mike. I know that moment. It's the one where you're alone in the corridor with the fluorescent lights and the smell of the hotel carpeting, and it comes to you that the pick-me-up-now room service tray which since last night has been sitting outside the door five rooms down from yours appears to be exactly the same room service tray that's languished on the floor five rooms down from yours at the last three conventions you've attended. Downstairs, there's a Meet the Pros party.

#30 ::: qB ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 06:22 AM:

"I will arise and go
Where the pink flamingos grow"

The rather cryptic title of a print which hung in the house when I was a child. I always wondered whether it was a quotation but have never managed to trace it.

#31 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 07:54 AM:

Yay Alton Brown! I got major kudos from the husband when I gave him a copy of "I'm Just Here for the Food" and a probe thermometer for Christmas. I married the right man.

#32 ::: S.S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 09:02 AM:

...and I am born, and free, and dancing in the sun.

#33 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 10:04 AM:

Pommes de terre au diable, from The New Orleans Times-Picayune Creole Cook-book--basically fried potatoes dressed with spicy [preferably brown] mustard, with red pepper to your tolerance.

#34 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 11:08 AM:

Let us go then, you and me,
When the weekend is spread out for us to see
Like a roommate bombed out of his gourd under the table...
Oh, do not ask, "You said you were who?"
Let us go to the free luau.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of someone who mght be tall and share their enthusiasm for theater.

#35 ::: lisa ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 11:51 AM:

waaah. marilee gave me a shapenote song earworm. and i can't find an mp3 of that one to get rid of it, either.

#36 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 12:40 PM:

Teresa, I don't know if you've run this link before, but a friend gave it to me:

It connects to a wonderfully decorated map of England that features only genuine weird place names (of which there are many, present and past), produced in the Gloucestershire town of Birdslip.

#37 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 12:55 PM:

John M. Ford:

I love your occasional verse!

For the N'York-challenged, L.I.E. = Long Island Expressway. This is a useful acronym. A useless one is painfully heard on traffic reports that say "slow across the G.W. Bridge," because "G.W." has the same number of syllables as "George Washington," and because it leads us to imagine the state funeral for G.W. Bush in contrast to that of Ronald Reagan, who had Wormtongue's way with words...

I'd say that the G.W." versus "George Washington" issue is, not just syllable count (so important to us poets), but an issue of noncompressibility, which is key to Gregory Chaitin's algorithmic approach to randomness. But that makes little sense to the math-challenged. Although Chaitin has a new book, nicely reviewed on yersterday's slashdot. And tomorrow I give my second college-credit highly-illustrated lecture of Math Through Painting and Sculpture, with special emphasis on da Vinci (no code, please), Escher, and Islamic and Asian wallpaper patterns.

Last night I finally saw "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." By FAR the best of the 3 movies; scarier, more magical, better child-acting, better paced, finally giving the film franchise a fight for 3rd best Fantasy Film of all time, behind "Lord of the Rings" and "King Kong," and closing in on "Wizard of Oz." Your opinion?

#38 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 01:35 PM:

I was Alton Brown too.

JvP: Your night was spent better than mine. I went and saw the Chronicles of Riddick. The Necromongers looked like Donald Trump doing Goth. And sadly, we can't go see the next movie until my boyfriend gets off his arse and reads the third book.

#39 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 01:36 PM:

Er. Can't see the next Harry Potter movie. Not the next Riddick movie.

#40 ::: Shelly Rae Clift ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 01:45 PM:

Come and go with me to a bluegrass place where Bill Monroe plays...(you know it's bluegrass when they use the word, 'yonder'). But be warned, I carry a (plectrum) banjo and I know how to use it.

Come Go With Me

Come go with me to yonder valley
Where we once stood beneath the tree
Where we once planned our life together
I can't forget come go with me

Come let us live some moments over
Then maybe you won't want to leave
I love you then and will forever
I can't forget come go with me

I can't forget the flowers blooming
The rose that I pick for you
Time changed you but I'm not changing
I loved you then and I still do

Come go with me to yonder valley
Where on the largest of the trees
I'll carve your name to prove I love you
I can't forget come go with me

I love you then and I still do

#41 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 02:52 PM:

Was bumbling through the net today and I found this link. For those of you who have a somewhat high-profile in certain cities, it might be a good idea for you to sign-up with these folks. (Can't remember where I found the link...either dailykos or metafilter).

In other news, I started training for a half-marathon today by running for fifty minutes straight. I rule!

#42 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 04:06 PM:

Rossi Pasta of Marietta, Oh makes Capelli di Diavolo-like angel-hair pasta but HOT. They used to make black squid-ink flavored fettucine,too. Both were devilish looking, and the cdd could inflict punishment if eaten in excess.

#43 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 04:21 PM:

There are a number of cool things that can be done with squid-ink pasta (pasta nero), though, unlike red or green pasta, it tastes pretty much like the plain variety -- squid ink is a bit salty, but doesn't have a lot of actual flavor.

So the trick is to find a compatible color of sauce: white clam sauce is an obvious choice, or a really vivid red for the Goth look. And plate color is crucial.

Uh . . . well . . . yeah, of course I was Alton. Though I was kind of surprised, as my answers seemed to be all over the map, and as a cook, rather than a geek, I think I'm more like Vulfgang. And, er, I went out pricing commercial-style home deep fryers the other day, though I didn't actually buy one, and there are other Things With Plugs ahead of it in the queue.

Not far from where I live there is Kitchen Window, a cook's hardware store with a selection that blows Williams-Sonoma out of the saucier pan. Across the street there's a Penzey's Spices, and around the corner is Lund's gourmet supermarket. Many go there . . . few return unchanged.

#44 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 05:58 PM:

Lisa, I copied that from one of my shape note songbooks. :) I think I can at least find a midi...

Better, I found a shapenote picture!

JVP: Last night I watched the DVD of Magnolias. Netflix has it as a rising star but I thought it was amazingly boring. Then again, I got 7 inches done on the baby afghan I'm working on.

#45 ::: Sarah G. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 06:26 PM:

I was Morimoto, but I wish they had an option for Chin Kenichi. I love all the Iron Chefs in one way or another, but he's my favorite. How can you top the teddy bear of Szechuan cuisine?

Oh, and did no one else's brain see that lyric and immediately think:

"O, who will come and go with me,
To live in a pineapple under the sea!

Just me then? I was afraid of that.

#46 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 06:32 PM:

There has been much comment spam today. The links seem to go to Since Disney presumably doesn't spam blogs, it makes me wonder what the spammer gets out of it.

#47 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 08:13 PM:

In a matter that would seem to be of interest,

A state employee and longtime confidante of Gov. John G. Rowland [of Connecticut] solicited a $32,000 loan from the nonprofit foundation that supports the governor's residence so the governor's wife could publish a children's book, "Marvelous Max, the Mansion Mouse," according to documents released on Thursday by the House committee investigating whether to recommend impeaching Mr. Rowland.

The pitch to use funds from the conservancy was made on Aug. 28, 2002, in a letter from Jo McKenzie, a confidante of the Rowlands who runs the governor's residence, to Mr. Wilde. "Patty Rowland has written a wonderful manuscript,'' she wrote. But, she explained, "in order for us to continue to move forward with this project, we need to ask you and the conservancy a huge favor. We would like to borrow approximately $32,000 from the conservancy's account.''

The outfit that did the publishing is called Norfleet Press. I can find nothing about them other than a couple different addresses and phone nos. It would appear, though, that it's some sort of vanity press--and an expensive one. I think Vantage would have done it for a lot less. Anyone know anything more about them?

#48 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 08:31 PM:

For all your shape-note needs:

#49 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 09:53 PM:

waaah. marilee gave me a shapenote song earworm. and i can't find an mp3 of that one to get rid of it, either.

A misreading of the opening line started Chan "Cat Power" Marshall's version of "Sea of Love" ricocheting through my head, but that was a problem more easily remedied.

#50 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 10:56 PM:

Okay, how *do* you make hot red pasta?

A friend of mine has been trying repeatedly. His last attempt had two
tablespoons of dried aleppo flake, two eggs, and... however much flour
that takes... and the resulting pasta was not hot. Not when it was
cooked. (The raw pasta was pretty zingy.)

We were half-seriously considering throwing away the flour and making
pasta out of egg and cayenne. Only I don't think that works,

#51 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 11:22 PM:

Actually, if you make it with eggs and very little flour, you have canneloni (which are really more like crepes than pasta) and they're awfully good.

#52 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 11:30 PM:

I wonder if capsaicin (sp? one of the few words I know that I know I have never written out before, and therefore don't have good kinetic spelling knowledge of) is available separately. Surely someone here knows. That would make hot pasta easy to develop....

#53 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2004, 11:59 PM:

Tom: You can buy it in capsules at natural food stores.

#54 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 12:05 AM:

You can also buy it in liquid form in foodie stories (e.g., Williams-Sonoma). I've seen a brand called Pure Cap and there are probably others.

#55 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 12:08 AM:

Andrew, did you saute the flakes in oil? This is how you bring out the flavor.

#56 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 12:22 AM:

Tim, says all my books are public domain, which doesn't surprise me -- they're very fragile. Maybe I should buy new facsimiles for actual singing.

#57 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 12:30 AM:

Andrew - To second Marilee, I'd sautee the pepper flakes at a very low heat, and maybe grind some up and add to the hot oil at the very end.

Not too sure if I'd go for pure cap. Part of the joy of hot foods is the flavor of the peppers, not just the burn.

I'd also let the oil cool off before proceeding, and consider ditching all or part of an egg yolk to manage the fat level. (The egg yolk part is just a WAG. YMMV)

#58 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 12:35 AM:

I think you could sing the books without hard copies, Marilee, unless you have less memory than most here! (cheap joke, not intended as anything other than a mild poorfreading humor)

The capsaicin comment was about how to make the pasta hotter. If the flavor's good, added capsaicin seems a good method to increase the heat. I absolutely agree that flavor is the most important criterion for me, but some just want to see the beads on the brow.

#59 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 02:08 AM:

I was Morimoto, but I wish they had an option for Chin Kenichi.

Sarah, it's nice to know there's someone else like me out there. I was starting to feel like I was the only one, a Sushi wizard awash in a sea of James Altons...

And yes, I agree, Kenichi is very sexy.


#60 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 05:42 AM:

Was anyone else reminded of the opening to the "Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock"?

"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;"

Not the best fit, but that's what it reminded me of.

#61 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 06:41 AM:

Come and trip it as ye go
On the light fantastic toe.
--Johnny Milton, "L'allegro"

(No, I just like to quote it.)

#62 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 07:42 AM:

Yesterday we saw a preview for the movie "A Series of Unfortunate Events". My daughters and I disagree over the series, they like the books and I find them boring. Eldest daughter, 11, said that what she likes best about the books is that the villains are not stupid. Lots of young adult and children's books, she says, portray villains as one dimensional and lead readers to the false assumptions that being a victim is due to stupidity and smart people are never evil.

That the books made her think to that level somewhat redeem them to me.

#63 ::: Niall ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 08:07 AM:

The evils of the Shrub are about to be eclipsed forever. Ming the Merciless has just been elected to public office here in Ireland!

Today Roscommon County Council, tomorrow the Universe!

#64 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 08:44 AM:

My Good Friday evening meal is pasta nero with some minimal flavouring, like a quick grate of cheese & some pepper, a handful of herbs, or steamed greens & a squeeze of lemon juice.

Used to have a pair of octagonal oxblood plates it went rather well on, but the last one was broken in a move. It would go rather well with a red vegetable like capsicum or tomato in a white bowl. Haven't yet found anyone else interested in squid-ink dishes, so it's just for my own amusement.

Warning re capsaicin: Hope y'all know enough to be quite cautious with it - a strong irritant used in what you call "pepper spray" & we call capsicum spray. Don't touch it & then touch anything else, particularly your eyes, before wiping your fingers.

#65 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 08:51 AM:

Speaking of films based on sf or fantasy books, I noticed today that "I, Robot" will be starting here soon. I hadn't realised it was that far advanced.

Elijah Bailey & his world is one sfnal creation that's stayed with me despite the many years since I read those books. Has anyone heard about or seen the movie?

#66 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 09:24 AM:

Epacris, isn't Lije Bailey from the Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun? Or have the evil Hollywood pixies been munging different storylines together again?

#67 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 09:34 AM:

My understanding is that the movie I, Robot is not based on any Asimov stories whatsoever, but is an unrelated story that has had a superficial "three laws of robotics" treatment in order to be able to market it as related to the Asimov robot stories.

#68 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 09:42 AM:

I saw the trailer/preview for _I, Robot_. It features armies of killer robots whose eyes turn red when they attack, and many attack sequences, and someone saying how safe the things are, just as one leaps to attack.

There's a story that when the late Isaac Asimov saw the film of _2001_, he said "HAL's breaking First Law!" and his companion said "So smite him, Isaac." The preview made me wish for Isaac to smite them quite comprehensively.

I do not understand the urge to take the name of a classic work and paste it onto a completely different story.

#69 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 09:52 AM:

o who will come and go with me
to the university library
and delve amongst dusty tomes
the dog-eared pages of knowledge's home

hark! there beneath a cover that molts,
if indeed covers do molt,
awaits a vision of dissimilatory
arsenate reducing prokaryotes

so please forgive my metre and rhyme
I did not intend this poetic crime
it is only arsenophiles I seek
and will search in the library for at least two weeks

And good morning to all.

Or if you feel really adventurous and don't want to put effort into cooking something try this - make some teriyaki chicken, put that with some nachos (pepper jack cheese, serranos, pineapple salsa - guacamole and sour cream at your own risk but I don't think they'd work with this), now add mandarin oranges, heat, take out of oven, and splash a little soy sauce and some lime on there.
Finish off with some dark coffee and dark chocolate afterwards.

I know it sounds nuts, and it is lazy food, but it is really good to me at least, but then again, I am a student (see ramen haiku).

six for a dollar
malnutrition is on sale
my ramen noodles

#70 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 10:37 AM:

I saw this and thought it would make a nice particle for Making Light:

Songs to Wear Pants To plays the Exquisite Corpse game with books and CDs. Here's the MP3: False Impersonation.

Grab a half dozen books at random and write down the fifth sentence on page 23 from each. Now (with eyes closed), grab six CDs at random from your collection. Now compose a song using only these six sentences, where the music for each sentence is in the style of one of the CDs. (If the CD is a compilation or something, use track one.) Also, if you make this song, please list the books and corresponding CDs!



#71 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 10:57 AM:

I've seen the trailer for "I, Robot" and I think that everyone involved in the project should be imprisoned for life without parole. Why? Because I'm a staunch opponent of the death penalty, of course.

It not only has nothing to do with Asimov's stories (it uses several of the character names, that's about it - imagine a pretty, young Susan Calvin!) it is exactly the sort of tale the Good Doctor was crusading against. The robots go berserk and start killing everyone. Too bad they didn't kill the script doctors...

Don't give this your money. Let's hope it's a total flop (but of course that won't make them think presenting travesties of good books is a bad idea, just that "science fiction doesn't sell" - no one is better at ignoring reality than Hollywood).

#72 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 11:21 AM:

I read one suggestion of boycotting the opening week, because the problems with it are all related to how it is being marketed (who knows whether the story's actually any good?), and opening week figures are what is most important to marketing types.

#73 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 11:36 AM:

Oh, by the by, is everyone aware that SCTV Network/90 season 1 is now available on DVD? Apparently, it's been held up for years while they tried to secure music rights. Luckily, they got the rights to Evita, or we'd be denied the sheer comedic spectacle of Indira Ghandi and Slim Whitman singing "Don't Cry for Me, Rawalpindi."

Only 19 cents at Crazy Hy's Video Warehouse, 4653 Landsdown, in Melonville.

#74 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 11:43 AM:

It is an ancient Mariner,
    And he stoppeth one of three,
But I, I was the second man,
    So you'll hear no more from me.


#75 ::: Edward Liu ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 12:09 PM:

About capsaicin, lemme double the comment to handle with care. They call it PEPPER spray for a reason, and the cap-sprays are supposedly far more effective than mace. To paraphrase Alton, getting maced in the kitchen while making your dinner is DEFINTIELY not good eats.

On the other hand, I suppose there's some benefit to a combined condiment and personal protection device. Alton actually suggests non-powdered surgical gloves to handle hot peppers. Rub your eyes accidentally after cutting a habanero and you'll agree.

If you want a more unusual heat, seek out Sichuan peppercorn oil from your Friendly Neighborhood Chinese grocery store. As far as I know, it's legal in the U.S. (vs. the actual peppercorns) and provides mostly the same odd, numbing heat of good Sichuan food. Eating enough of the stuff triggers a pretty serious endorphin rush. I don't think it breaks down as quickly under heat as some of the other hot pepper flavorings, making it more likely to outlast the cooking process.

-- Ed

#76 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 12:12 PM:

I was hoping that the SCTV DVDs would start at the very beginning, with the 1/2 hour shows.

Channel 9 in New York used to show those at 11:00 pm Saturdays, right before Saturday Night Live. You just knew that the SNL writers watched, too, because sometimes they stole SCTV's gags. (Like the ad for a mysterious feminine hygiene product that came wrapped in brown paper and was required once each spring.)

In any case, I'm glad the DVDs are out. Remember the episode where a Soviet satellite hijacked the signal, or when cabbage aliens started borging people?

#77 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 12:24 PM:

As someone who had to leave the house when Debbie Notkin and I tried to make hot pepper oil by frying some peppers in a wok on a stove without adequate fume-hood:

I thought everyone knew that handling capsaicin with care was important....

#78 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 01:03 PM:


I'm not sure why they didn't start with the syndicated ones. Perhaps it's because the NBC shows have the bigger fan base? (Although the half-hour shows have the more dedicated fan base. I could tell stories about staying up 'til 2:00 AM, disconnecting the cable, and wrapping tinfoil around the aerial just to get a snowy picture of SCTV.) A couple of the fansites hinted that releasing future volumes is dependent on the sales for this one, so I'm encouraging everyone to buy. I want them all.

I've watched the first two episodes so far. I've heard some people opine that the show doesn't always age well. I find that things I found hilarious when I was 18 are mildly amusing to me now, but, for example, the Gerry Todd Show had me in convulsions yesterday, and I never much cared for it the first time.

If I had kids, I'd insist that they watch SCTV, the way my dad forced me to watch Ernie Kovacs when PBS re-ran his old kinescopes.

I remember when CCCP-TV stole their satellite signal. I also remember when SCTV was late with its licensing fees, and they had to temporarily replace the feed with the CBC. That was the one with the live curling broadcast, with three color commentators, each of whom was named Gordon.

[Obligatory Simpsons ref:]"Homer, stop remembering TV and get back to work!"

#79 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 01:15 PM:

Szechuan peppercorns illegal in the US? Boggle. I've had no trouble buying them over the years. So do I have something dangerous, something that should have been hard to get, a fake, or what?

Also, what are the sources on pepper spray being better than real teargas? That contradicts what I know; pepper spray was invented to get around legal restrictions on the good stuff.

#80 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 01:58 PM:

Teresa, you got a shortcut icon!

When did that happen? Verr-eh nice-uh.

#81 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 02:53 PM:

I noticed that, too... and agree with Skwid - looks triffically snazzy.

Anyone who knows how to make/insert one care to let me in on the trick? I've wanted one for my site for a while...

#82 ::: Sarah G. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 02:57 PM:

Alex, I know what you mean. Almost all of my friends appreciate Alton's geekery over the shiny-uniform showmanship of the Iron Chefs. I like Alton too, but Kenichi, Morimoto, Sakai, Michiba, and even Fukui-san! will always be ahead of him in my culinary affections. Oh, and Chairman Kaga too. Who else could make Liberace look underdressed?

As for "I, Robot".... *shudder.* It reminds me of something I read on Neil Gaiman's site about a script for Sandman that turned the Corinthian into Morpheus' twin brother, the Prince of Nightmares, while relegating Morpheus to the role of Prince of Good Dreams. The two spend the film battling it out superhero-style over the love of a woman.

No, really. That was the script. This sort of thing really makes me wish there were more Peter Jacksons around.

#83 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 02:59 PM:

I *did* heat the pepper in a tablespoon or so of oil, and it all went
into the pasta dough. Didn't seem to make a big difference.

I suspect the real answer is "make pasta, cook it, and then toss it
with the oil-and-pepper mixture". But the idea of red, deadly noodles
is aesthetically tempting.

#84 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 02:59 PM:

Jill, just google for Shortcut Icon...should be a snap.

"I, Robot" has all the potential to be this decade's "Starship Troopers." Yet another instance of some producer somewhere going "Hey...this script reminds me a lot of that Asimov stuff we bought the rights to a while back...let's change some character names on it and we'll be set!"

#85 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 03:02 PM:

And the _I Robot_ movie could be considered good mindless fun -- whose
title had several letters in common with a famous SF novel...

...Except that it's got the same plot, setting, and characters as so
many damn SF movies from the past ten years. Nearly twenty, I should
say. According to the trailer, it's ripping off everything from
_Robocop_ to _Aliens_.

Why bother.

#86 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 03:19 PM:

Umm . . . does Janet Asimov have money trouble, or perhaps is just too busy to keep a tab on licensed products?

"I, Robot" strikes me as the kind of movie that {name of author who knocks off lots of novelizations} would knock off a quicky novelization for, rather than the original book being reissued with a snazzy cover. So I don't think it would help the Asimov estate much.

#87 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 03:49 PM:

"Come and go, come and go with me, Thomas the Rhymer"

I wound up researching Szechuan peppercorns (Zanthoxylum piperitum) recently. They can no longer be imported into the U.S. because they're a host for a citrus canker. Bums me the heck out. My husband is hoarding our existing stock. See here for details.

#88 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 04:21 PM:

Stefan, there's a difference between selling film rights to a property and retaining any sort of creative control. While the alleged adaptation of "Damnation Alley" was in production, Roger told me that he'd heard of the hiring of a "cockroach wrangler," and decided he just wasn't interested in following the project any further. (I don't know if he ever saw the finished movie, though it probably would have just made him laugh.)

There -is- a practical reason for not letting an original creator have any say in the project, and as usual it involves money. The costs of preproduction and a script are so large (last time I looked, the WGA -minimum- for a feature script was about $50K) that even a "big" film sale is modest by comparison. If you give the artist a veto, you can't tell how much it will cost you to implement any changes. And (stop me if you've heard this one) many prose writers really don't know how film adaptation works; they want total literality, which is hardly ever practical, or fixate on particular dear-to-the-heart scenes that may be dysfunctional off the page, or, well, there are a lot of ways not to film a book.

Probably sounds like I'm arguing against creative ownership, and of course I'm not. But it's a devil's bargain at best. If you're insanely lucky, like Mike Mignola, you find a movie guy who loves the work for itself, makes you a full participant in the project, and does whatever he can to get it made right. If not, we all know what happens.

#89 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 04:28 PM:

Some particle fodder, here:

John Kerry's high school band actually cut a record.

Personally, from the samples I've heard, I'd recommend he not quit his day job...

#90 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 04:29 PM:

The description of the film "I, Robot" sounds to me like someone had seen one of my favourite Dr Who stories, Robots of Death, and removed all the elements from the Who script that actually made it a thoughtful story rather than an excuse for an effects-fest.

I will not be going to see it. Thanks for the warning. :)

#91 ::: Edward Liu ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 04:52 PM:


David Dyer-Bennet asks: "Also, what are the sources on pepper spray being better than real teargas? That contradicts what I know; pepper spray was invented to get around legal restrictions on the good stuff."

I remembered hearing this a few times during self-defense classes and on a karate mailing list I was subscribed to a few years ago. The first references I can find are in this article here and this one here. Mostly, they center on the fact that mace belongs to an older family of tear gas products which have fallen out of favor amongst law-enforcement types because they're ineffective against attackers under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and can take too long to affect an attacker.

Along the way:

This article on capsaicin, found while verifying whether I spelled it right. Apparently, pure cap crystals require full body suits to handle safely.

This list of Scoville Heat Units, the measure of how hot something is. A habanero pepper has a 100K - 350K Scoville rating, while police-grade pepper spray is rated at 5.3 million Scoville units. Frighteningly enough, there's one food product listed with a Scoville rating higher than that!

-- Ed

#92 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 05:16 PM:

I am reminded of what mike weber said when he noticed that a superstrength hot sauce he was using had warnings in case one got it one's skin: "Wait a minute--we don't eat poison ivy."

#93 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 05:30 PM:

Hey, wait - wouldn't this be the perfect recipe for paprika?

It might make the dough a little too pasty, but you could always add a quarter teaspoon of gluten.

#94 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 06:02 PM:

Today is Flag Day and I wore one of my Vietnam-era buttons (slightly rusted on the back) with a peace sign over a flag. I saved these for mementos, I never expected to need to wear them again.

#95 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 08:16 PM:

Skwid - thanks, I started to work on it, but my logo is very hard to reformulate in 16x16...

I have a designer friend who is working on it. If only I had professional help from the beginning (in more ways than one)!

#96 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 09:31 PM:

Skwid--Well, considering that John Kerry and his bandmates are emulating such rock'n'roll greats as Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith ("Guitar Boogie Shuffle"), Duane "Have Twangy Guitar, Will Travel" Eddy ("Because They're Young"), Eddie Cochran ("Summertime Blues"), Santo & Johnny ("Sleep Walk"), and the Fireballs ("Torquay"), I'd say that they come off pretty darn well. It certainly rocks harder than any other high school band I've heard. If the campaign hadn't already reissued it, I'd say it would be prime material for, say, the fine Strummin' Mental series of compilations, or Norton Records.

It surely beats the hell out of John Ashcroft's recorded works...

#97 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 09:44 PM:

And the Ventures! And the Wailers! Rock on, John!

Oh yeah, that I, Robot movie appears to have about as much to do with Dr. A. as the execrable Red Planet (classic bad line: Val Kilmer: "Fuck this planet!") did with Heinlein.

#98 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 10:27 PM:

To counter Mike and Teresa's gloom, I will recollect an essay by Joe Mayhew, in which he discovered that suite C-640 at the DC Sheraton was connected to all Memorial Days at once. I miss Disclave.... (Neat pastiche, though. Sometime I'll rediscover the full-length "Love Song of J. Alfred Techman" and put it where you can all be as appalled as I was.)

Marilee -- is that the version you learned at camp? It's the first Sacred Harp I ever heard, but I keep tripping over a 6/4 version when I go hunting (unless I use the index of first lines, which tells me there are seven settings of that text).

#99 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 10:38 PM:


This one matches both verse and chorus: The Promised Land, page 128 of the Sacred Harp. It's in 4/4, F# minor.

Drop me a line at walters at and I'll be happy to mail you a Xerox (hooray for the public domain!).

Or wait, here's a barely legible web image.

#100 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 11:19 PM:

John, I wish I could forget Damnation Alley, the movie. BUT i made the mistake of taking my lovely husband, FOR HIS FREAKING BIRTHDAY, to see it. And to add to the verisimiltude, we saw it in a downtown movie theater (now a boarded up hulk) that was infested with roaches (eeeeuw). He will not let me forget my 'good deed.' Alas

#101 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 11:41 PM:

The Rossi devil's hair has cayenne pepper and paprika among its ingredients. I am a half-Irish Midwesterner so what's HOT for me may be just moderately warm for others. It's orange.

#102 ::: yhl ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 12:12 AM:

Andy Perrin: Brooks-- And here I thought crepes grew on vines. When the crepes ripen, the farmers fling them on the ground and stamp on them with bare feet. The results are poured into barrows and allowed to cement into twine.

When I was little, I knew that rubber came (somehow) from rubber trees. So I figured that artificial rubber came from artificial rubber trees.

I was in, what, 4th grade? Yeah, so I was dumb.

#103 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 12:36 AM:

CHip, camp meeting, which is not a camp. My parents were fundamentalists and whenever some traveling preacher came through and set up a tent and held camp meeting, we'd go. Lots of singing, lots of hellfire and damnation, and lots of people going forward to repent. It was pretty interesting as spectacle.

That's one of the versions I have in Southern Harmony, which is a shape note book.

#104 ::: Rachel Brown ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 01:43 AM:

It so happens that I was talking today to someone who was involved in the dramatic rights to _I, Robot_. His original idea was to do a miniseries which would adapt the book pretty much as is, with each story getting an episode. But no one wanted to do that, and then the film people got involved, and then it was out of his hands, and now you have whatever travesty it is.

The trouble isn't that everyone in Hollywood is a moron with no respect for literature. It's that any project passes through many different hands, and when the music stops, the morons are often the last one holding it.

#105 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 02:05 AM:

I don't know what it is that children like about A Series of Unfortunate Events. It's almost certainly not the same thing I find addictive about them. They defy every Rule of Good Writing I ever learned in the course of my burdensome education. In MFA programs, the use of an exclamation point is a hanging offense, etc. I love the radiant shamelessness of the sentences in The Bad Beginning for the same reason The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite of the Harry Potter books--I read and reread that confrontation scene in the Shrieking Shack in which several of the characters not only indulge in exclamation points, but also in italics, and whole paragraphs of speaking in capital letters. I still don't write that way, but it's incredibly liberating to read prose that willfully purple.

Did anyone out there get exposed to Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children? Belloc was the Lemony Snicket and Edward Gorey of my mother's generation. I ask you, how many poets offer young readers spectacle of an exploding pony?

#106 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 02:22 AM:

Belloc, Nesbit and Lear -- he wasn't working alone or in a vacuum.

#107 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 07:53 AM:

Completely irrelevantly...

Coming to Fox this fall..

"My name is Leo Bloom - and the next 24 hours are going to be the most well documented of my life..."

#108 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 09:45 AM:

yhl said:
When I was little, I knew that rubber came (somehow) from rubber trees. So I figured that artificial rubber came from artificial rubber trees.

Perfectly logical, but the truth is that artificial rubber comes from the genocide of baby neoprenes.

#109 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 11:14 AM:

Andy, you owe me (or my company, rather) a new keyboard.


#110 ::: Emmet ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 12:05 PM:

My understanding of the situation with the I, Robot movie is that it was a late-in-the-game purchase of rights to a name, and sticking-on of the Three Laws, to a project which had got into trouble with its original name, viz. Hardwired; the logical supposition that suggests is that someone representing Walter Jon Williams objected to it, but I have no information on that.

#111 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 01:27 PM:

And surely Belloc, Nesbit, Lear, and Gorey knew of Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann's brain-shattering Struwwelpeter (aka Shock-Headed or Slovenly Peter), a series of 'merry stories and quaint pictures' for children. It was written in 1844, first appeared in English in 1848, and has to be seen to be believed. For instance, try The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb. Oh! Or The Story of Augustus Who Would Not Have Any Soup! Priceless.

The book was apparently a great favorite among children's works in England until a generation or two ago. To me, this explains a lot. Here's a wee history of the book (from the people who turned it into a musical [!]).

#112 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 02:22 PM:

I own several of the Science Fiction/Fantasy novels of Eric Temple Bell, although I can't count any as children's literature as such. There are plenty of children, however, who were inspired by his nonfiction, including John Forbes Nash ("A Beautiful Mind"). For more, see the thread "Eric Temple Bell: Math Prof., Sci-Fi author, Liar?" on my blog magicdragon2

I have recently acquired an archive of writings of the brilliant and controversial Eric Temple Bell, dating back to 1932. Based on Constance Reid's book (see blog), he seems to have led a triple life: Math Professor at Caltech, Science Fiction author, and perhaps compulsive liar. You can find out about his most famous discovery (Bell Numbers) at any major Math site, such as I shall be entering the debate on exactly what he did, when, as revised by my archives. It seems that he had his wife calculating recursive functions on some 1930-era mechanical computer. And it seems that he condemned String Theory decades before it was born!

#113 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 03:43 PM:

Heh. I was about to post a link to the story that is now the "It was special just to know him" Particle.

Further investigation, BTW, reveals that the Playmate was not directly involved in the killings, or even particularly the cult. She dated the guy, and dumped him as a loon, thus her use as a witness.

#114 ::: Niall ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 06:31 PM:

My father used to read us stories from Struwwelpeter. Which may explain a lot.

Little Johnny Head-in-Air sticks in my mind, and someone else who was burned to ashes (much to the distress of her cat) but nothing beats the image of the Great Long-Legged Scissor Man bursting in the door to amputate naughty little suck-a-thumb's offending digits.

#115 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 06:35 PM:

Andrew: Congratulations! You've uncovered something that scared the wits out of me at age 5. Damfino why I reacted to Augustus that way....

#116 ::: erik nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 10:04 PM:

I have received a virus that was disguised as an e-mail from Jonathan Vos Post. So something is snarfing up addresses here, I guess. In case it helps us to know this.

#117 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 10:24 PM:

Did anyone out there get exposed to Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children? Belloc was the Lemony Snicket and Edward Gorey of my mother's generation. I ask you, how many poets offer young readers spectacle of an exploding pony?

I have the Folio Society edition. :)

#118 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 10:36 PM:

Noted on BART today - an Air New Zealand ad for their new SFO to Auckland service captioned "Defectors Welcome".

Despite the tongue-in-cheek presentation, I'm sure that the copywriter knew exactly which nerves he was hitting.

#119 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 10:44 PM:

Aha! Found a link to a photo of the Air New Zealand ad. Enhanced, SF-style.

#120 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2004, 10:54 PM:

erik nelson:

you're probably right. I had an expert clean out my PC less than 2 months ago, and I've been very careful to ensure frequent scourings with the automatically latest updated virus checking, AND there's a firewall.

Today is my first day with the 2 Gigabyte Yahoo email (take that, Google Gmail!), and Yahoo is not utterly virus-free, but probably better than my old Earthlink account, or surely than the old Hotmail account.

So I agree. It look's snarfulent, snarfistic, snarfoidal, whatever...

#121 ::: Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 12:10 AM:

Jo Walton wrote, re the film called I, Robot:

"I do not understand the urge to take the name of a classic work and paste it onto a completely different story."

Alas, there's an irony here that may not have been appreciated. For taking the name of a classic work and pasting it onto a completely different story is exactly what Asimov did when he published a book titled I, Robot. This had been the title of a then well-known, today forgotten, story by Eando Binder.

#122 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 01:07 AM:

I was wandering through the deserted streets
of the now moribund "On the getting of agents"
thread when I got sidetracked by the discussion of
typefaces and their personalities - which reminded
me of a Flash piece done by a graphic artist
ex-workmate of mine:

There are "Not my type"s I through III as well.

btw - Teresa - when you reply to 'Mike' and
there's nobody signing themselves as Mike in the
thread, is that John M Ford, or is it an imaginary friend thing?

#123 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 01:55 AM:

I am in fact Teresa's imaginary friend.

And who would not be proud of that?

#124 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 07:29 AM:

Hey, T: how did you find that Amazon housewares thing? I'm continually baffled as to how you find the stuff you find, of course, but that one's a panic.

#125 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 08:34 AM:

Mike is indeed my imaginary friend. Creativity is an inexplicable thing, but wonderful.

Did I not credit the Amazon housewares thing? I must fix that. Patrick told me about it.

Ways I find things: 1. Distraction. Diffuse concentration. Good peripheral vision. I sort of trip over things while researching other things. Google is good for that. You type in [herrings "school of'], and it gives you nineteen herrings and a coelacanth. If you're as distractable as I am, you wander off to have a look at the coelacanth. 2. I'll be researching something else, and one of the sources I find will remind me of something else I've always wanted to know more about. This is sort of like the preceding item, but you supply your own coelacanth. 3. Somebody tells me about it. 4. Somebody tells me about something, but when I get there I find myself wandering into another part of the site where I find something else I like better. 5. A day or two after I put up a new post, I go to Technorati to see who's said what about it. I follow the links, and when I get to that weblog there's usually some other interesting stuff. 6. Sometimes I'll take some common turn of phrase and google on it to see what turns up. 7. Some sites, like Ray Girvan's Apothecary's Drawer, have links that are like falling down the rabbit's hole. 8. Miscellaneous other. 9. I'm not sure the foregoing isn't just seven different ways to say one thing, and one way to say another.

#126 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 12:03 PM:

Jonathon, don't feel too bad. The fact that a virus somewhere is faking your return address has no correlation with any infection your system may or may not have. I've received viruses with various return addresses I recognize as frequent posters here (and many more I don't recognize). I assume viruses are now harvesting addresses from the web (perhaps by scanning the infected machine's browser cache?) as well as address books and mail folders.

#127 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 12:20 PM:

The trouble isn't that everyone in Hollywood is a moron with no respect for literature. It's that any project passes through many different hands, and when the music stops, the morons are often the last one holding it.

Ah, Mob Art. Who was it who said that the intelligence of a mob is the intelligence of its stupidest member, divided by the headcount of the mob?

Sometimes I think all my friends are imaginary.

Sometimes (and this is incomparably worse) I think I'm someone else's imaginary friend. And that that person will grow up, or get therapy, or something, and I'll cease to exist.


#128 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 12:38 PM:

Saw the trailer for "I, Robot" for the first time (and probably not the last, given my moviegoing habits) last night. Though it appears to have some good SFX, it looks dreadfully clichéd, with "One Man" boldly across the screen (I don't remember it saying "In a Time When," but it might as well have.) The Lemony Snicket movie (for which there was also a trailer) actually looked kind of cool, even considering the fact it has Jim Carrey in multiple roles...

"The Stepford Wives," which is the movie I actually saw, was actually fairly bad, too, though it did have its amusing moments. Someone should make it mandatory that anyone who makes an SF film understand How Things Work...

#130 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 05:02 PM:

Interesting headline:

Truck hauling bees crashes in Montana: Dumps honey, sending bees on rampage

BOZEMAN, Montana (AP) -- A tractor-trailer overturned on a curve on a highway, spilling its load of hundreds of bee hives and unleashing some nine million angry honey bees.

How bad would it be to dump someone, if it had that result?

#131 ::: Kate "Nudge" Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2004, 08:24 PM:

Hi--we sent you and Patrick e-mail Monday night. If you haven't received it, let me know? Thanks.

(Also posted on P.'s open thread)

#132 ::: lisa ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 01:05 AM:

this should be an mp3 of "the promised land"--a little slower than i like to sing it, but a relief to that blasted earworm:

#133 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 01:15 AM:

Robert L, Carrey is actually a good actor when he has good direction: he can be breathtaking when not given too much room (same with Robin Williams, IMO: Williams is more likely to help the director figure out how to use him, but if given too much room will fall into chewing the scenery). And the Snicket books certainly seem to call for excess in adaptation, as they show a fair amount of excess in their cuteness (I like their approach, but haven't managed to finish more than one -- funny once, as Mycroft would say).

#134 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 02:29 AM:

Tom, I agree with you about Carrey--He's been in some truly revolting roles, but I liked him well enough in The Truman Show, Dumb and Dumber, and Eternal Sunshine... He and Williams are very talented but don't always make good choices.

#135 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 09:40 AM:

LNHammer, a NSFW warning would have been nice...

#136 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 10:40 AM:

"I'm sorry..." I think they overclaim what they can do, and it looks like it will lead to mild Thesauritosis, but I know people that this might help with simple writing problems (ESL, forex). It certainly won't upgrade your skills unless you're really bad with adjectives and adverbs. I shudder to think of people applying it to fiction.
Mostly they're just blowing [white] smoke up your butt.

#137 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 11:00 AM:

Uh ... I suppose it is — or isn't. Sorry about that. Wasn't thinking.


#138 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 11:05 AM:

BTW, O techgnomes, when I preview a comment, at the bottom of the displayed page, there's an error: MT::App::Comments=HASH(0x810abf0) Use of uninitialized value in sprintf at lib/MT/Template/ line 1187.

Doesn't seem to affect posting, but it may have other effects I'm not aware of.


#139 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 11:09 AM:

John Houghton, I agree with your post. On a completely unrelated note, have you read any Donaldson lately?

Bowl of cream? Why yess, I'd love one.

#141 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 12:06 PM:

A group from Berkeley (of course) is claiming that they have located and walked on the northernmost bit of land, or Ultima Thule. (Of course they were from Berkeley, where else would they be from?) The spot is a very small island just off the northern coast of Greenland, and may actually be a shortlived gravel spit.

Longfellow, Ultima Thule:

With favoring winds, o'er sunlit seas,
We sailed for the Hesperides,
The land where golden apples grow;
But that, ah! that was long ago.

How far, since then, the ocean streams
Have swept us from that land of dreams,
That land of fiction and of truth,
The lost Atlantis of our youth!

Whither, ah, whither? Are not these
The tempest-haunted Orcades,
Where sea-gulls scream, and breakers roar,
And wreck and sea-weed line the shore?

Ultima Thule! Utmost Isle!
Here in thy harbors for a while
We lower our sails; a while we rest
From the unending, endless quest.

#142 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 12:27 PM:

I took a look at White Smoke.

If I used it, I'd have even more adjectives and adverbs to pare out of my writing than I already do. (Jim MacDonald's advice elsewhere already has me hacking at adjectives right and left--I axed about twenty from a few pages of story last night. Dangerously, obviously, curiously, cheerfully, flatly went the way of all the earth.)

#143 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 01:04 PM:

Holy SHIT, Jean!

I almost fell out of my chair! That's the funniest thing I've read in...I don't know how long!

*wipes away tears*

#144 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 01:08 PM:

Also, my brain just farted, but I swear I saw a book titled "More Money Than Neil Cavuto" on the side ads. (I looked a little closer and saw that it was "More than Money" by Neil Cavuto.

#145 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 01:13 PM:

I particularly enjoyed this sentence from the WhiteSmoke front page:

WhiteSmoke understands the different meaning inferred by different prepositions (e.g.” I ran out of doors” and “I ran out of the door”).

The site looks fishy to me - I mean, aside from the fact that the product would require a huge advance in NLP technology in order to work as described.

#146 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 01:27 PM:

And no wonder it looks fishy - the "company" is a guy working out of his garage (OK, technically it's an office or a mail drop in Manhattan, but you know what I mean).

WhiteSmoke seems to have been available for some time as shareware - all the awards he lists appear to be "best shareware" sorts of things, which aren't exactly reliable. At least some of his "review" quotes are from press releases he sent out (e.g. the one in Crain's). Naughty, naughty.

#147 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 01:41 PM:

White Smoke - and mirrors.

#148 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 02:09 PM:

It's too bad about White Smoke. It seems to me that some stripped version of the idea ought to be doable, since (as PiscusFiche noted) the easiest way to improve writing is to remove unnecessary words. I visualize something like a combined thesaurus and spell check, in which you can select from different versions of your sentence.

Since they still can't make a useful grammar checker, I may be waiting a while.

#149 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 02:25 PM:

I think instead of "stripped" you mean "inverted," or something. As far as I can tell from the WhiteSmoke demo, it's designed to add words to your sentences, not identify unnecessary ones.

#150 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 03:24 PM:

I have a dimly remembered SF story I'm trying to identify, and I believe this might be the place.

I watched "Cube" last night (rating: "meh") and it reminded me of a story I read as a child, a juvenile/YA SF novella I probably ordered through Scholastic sometime in the mid-70s.

Premise: A small group of teens awaken to find themselves in some kind of endless indoor space that consists of nothing but interconnected stairways. That's all I can remember, except that I think I found the ending extremely disappointing, because I never read it again.

Basically, "Cube," but with stairs instead of cubes, teens/preteens, and no gore.

Any ideas?

#151 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 03:42 PM:

HP, it's William Sleater's House of Stairs. You left out the Pavlovian-conditioning angle, via the mysterious food machine at the heart of the House. It was that aspect that made the book memorable, as I recall. I read it somewhere in middle school as well, and remember enjoying the rather dark ending.

#152 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 04:22 PM:

Andrew, thanks. I vaguely remember the food machines, now, and the obnoxious girl.

I wonder, especially with voracious or precocious readers, if there isn't a significant timing factor at play in how we respond to books. Especially during adolescence, when your world is changing so rapidly, you really have to catch any given book at the moment you're most receptive to it, or it barely registers.

#153 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 04:52 PM:

Hmmm, I wonder if WhiteSmoke can parse the difference in, "Time flies like an arrow, but bar flies like a whiskey."

FWIW, the whole thing looks like an elaborate joke to me. (I didn't go past the top page.)

#154 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 05:18 PM:

Since this is an open link,
let me pass the word that TNH's "Slushkiller"
was posted this morning over on Metafilter.

#155 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 05:47 PM:

Dave Barry blogged The Polygamous Policemen of Utah.

#156 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 05:53 PM:

Christopher, you can't disappear. I invented you, and I have a very good memory.

#157 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 06:08 PM:

Did you watch the White Smoke Demo video? These people have no ear.

#158 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 06:33 PM:
WhiteSmoke™ is capable, for the first time, to overcome word ambiguity problems.

""? Ha, if they can't spot such errors I'm not sure I'd trust their programming with my precious purple prose, thank you very much.

#159 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 06:34 PM:
Did you watch the White Smoke Demo video? These people have no ear.
My impression is that the person in question (I haven't seen any evidence there's more than this one guy involved) does not have English as a native language.
#160 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 06:51 PM:

[Xopher] On a completely unrelated note, have you read any Donaldson lately?
Not in years. He did teach me about figuring out words from their roots or even their feel, since so many weren't in ANY of my dictionaries. I did get through his Thomas Convenant the Unbelievably Depressed. Has he learned to write in any other scale than B Downer Minor?

#161 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 07:33 PM:

John Houghton : I did get through his Thomas Convenant the Unbelievably Depressed. Has he learned to write in any other scale than B Downer Minor?

thank you, that almost caused water to come flying out my nose :)

#162 ::: Mary Tabasko ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 08:24 PM:

I tried to look at the White Smoke demo, but I just got a blank page. I did look at their User Guide and commend it to all.

It's a series of screen shots that illustrates how to "upgrade" (their word) the following sentence: I admire your work.

First, you choose the text to torment by "Stand[ing] with your mouse cursor on the desired text." (OK, when can I sit back down?)

The word admire is highlighted, and scrollable lists of modifiers and replacements are provided. The visible modifiers include "greatly", "incidentally", "naturally", and "scarcely". The replacement list includes "respect", "appreciate", "commend", and "applaud".

There's also a handy Accept All button which, presumably, yields I greatly, incidentally, naturally, and scarcely respect, appreciate, commend, and applaud your work. Definitely an upgrade! (And if all the choices in the scrollable lists are used, all the better.)

But further down, the lists change. At first, I thought it was the result of a scroll-down when the screen shot was taken. The modifiers now include "legal", "learned", "mysterious", and "papal"; the replacements include "account", "case history", "data", and "documentation."

I mysterious documentation your work. That can't possibly be what they mean! So I looked again, thinking that maybe now we were upgrading the word work. But no, the highlighted word is still admire, so I papal case history your work is apparently considered a reasonable "enrichment" (again, their word).

The instructions definitely sound like the work of a non-native speaker. To select my choice from a list, I must arise again, as I'm instructed to "stand inside the box with my mouse cursor and click on it". Or perhaps they have used the product to upgrade the original instructions.

#163 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 08:43 PM:

I suspect the native language is Chinese, largely because of the oddities with tense and propositions. White Smoke reminds me of the way plagiarizing students will sometimes attempt to use Microsoft Word's thesaurus by right-clicking a word and selecting a random term from the thesaurus.

The irony is that the odd words they frequently choose serve to draw attention to their plagiarism.

#164 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 09:02 PM:

Dang, would have loved to identify the Sleator!

He is to my mind one of the really great second-rank kid's SF/Fantasy writers. Nothing he's done is a complete wowzer. Everything he's done has flaws. And everything he's done has one or two moments, or concepts, that are so completely different from what I expected. Even when I'm most frustrated with him, I'll find something that keeps me going on. Not because I don't see the problem: because despite the problem he's got a good enough chance of surprising me without cheating that I'm willing to extend him the benefit of the doubt.

Robert Westall's another in the same camp. Neither one is always even competent IMO; but each hits a moment of "Wow, I didn't expect _that_" often enough (average once per book, I'd guess) to keep me reading. YMMV.

#165 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 10:26 PM:

Mary, the demo is similar to what you saw, although it does modify the sentence in a reasonable fashion - as I recall, "I admire your work" becomes "I greatly appreciate your effort," or something like that. (Note I do not say it made the sentence better.)

I suspect the native language is Chinese, largely because of the oddities with tense and propositions.

For what it's worth, the guy's name is Lilan Brener (or possibly Brenner), according to, whois, various shareware sites, and the press release he sent to Crain's.

#166 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2004, 11:59 PM:

One of my favorite kiddie books was also of a rather randomly violent bent; it was a richly illustrated re-telling of a folk story (at least I think was retold in that "folk tale" style) that involved a house cat who ate each member of a village one by one.

At the end, a huntsman comes to the rescue, apparently slicing the cat in two to free all the villagers. The last illustration was of the villagers holding hands and dancing joyously around the cat, none the worse for wear despite his new scar.

I could never figure out if the original tale was darker, and they decided to tack on a "happy ending", and if so, why the cat had still had a gruesome scar. All in all, a fascinatingly surreal little book involving bright colors, a cat, and no edificational "moral" of the story. Just my kind of book.

I just wish I remembered the title or the author - the only thing I remember about the author is that his/her name involved either an "O" with-a-slash-through-it, or an "a" with-a-little-circle- on-top, like unto a Nordic name. If I ever come across it at a used bookstore, I will pay whatever I have to, just so I can put next to my Nauga on the honored shelf of my childhood.

#167 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 12:21 AM:

WhiteSmoke™ is a sophisticated patented technology that understands text using artificial intelligence properties.

Yeah, but what if my text doesn't use "artificial intelligence properties"? That is to say, this is a sentence with a badly dangling participle. So why should I entrust my immortal, priceless babblings to Whitesmoke™'s tender care?

Also, i would put a comma between "sophisticated" and "patented."

#168 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 01:34 AM:

Where, if one was looking for realistic scenarios of what would happen if the world came to an end, where 'world coming to an end' means 'most human life is kaput', would one look? I'm not coming up with any intelligent enough sets of keywords to google it, and I'm not really sure where to start. I'm thinking of things like, how long would the power stay on, if unmanned? How long would phone lines continue to work? How long would sewer and water keep running?

Anybody know where to start looking?

#169 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 02:11 AM:

I haven't checked the Science Fiction Encyclopedia of Clute and Nicholls under "Apocalypse", but that's the first place I'd look, Catie.

Don't know that story, nerdycellist -- sorry!

I will be quoted in tomorrow's Seattle _Post Intelligencer_ as a "science fiction expert"; the author was one of the people who started out working out at Comic Relief, good people and (from this example) the kind of reporter that we want looking at SF events. I'll try to add the link, but if I fail look at the Seattle PI page for Friday.... She gave me the last word, so I may be biased.

#170 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 07:18 AM:

Catie - bOING bOING recently ran a piece about a novel ("The Earth Abides" - originally published in 1949) that dealt with the scenario you are talking about. Probably not the exact thing you're looking for, but here's the piece.

#171 ::: Niall ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 10:08 AM:

News to me (via Atrios, buried at the end of a New York Observer piece today, the 18th of June:

What’s more, the decades-old procedure for a quick response by the nation’s air defense had been changed in June of 2001. Now, instead of NORAD’s military commanders being able to issue the command to launch fighter jets, approval had to be sought from the civilian Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. This change is extremely significant, because Mr. Rumsfeld claims to have been "out of the loop" nearly the entire morning of 9/11. He isn’t on the record as having given any orders that morning. In fact, he didn’t even go to the White House situation room; he had to walk to the window of his office in the Pentagon to see that the country’s military headquarters was in flames.

Mr. Rumsfeld claimed at a previous commission hearing that protection against attack inside the homeland was not his responsibility. It was, he said, "a law-enforcement issue."

#172 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 10:32 AM:

Catie-- WRT the electricity part of your question, The Straight Dope made a pass at an answer recently.

#173 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 10:56 AM:

While we're identifying old children's SF:

I read a book while in middle school that I have been unable to find since (or, more accurately, been unable to identify sufficiently to start looking). It was in hardcover/library hardcover, and would have been published sometime before 1990, and probably sometime before 1988.

The protagonist was an early-teenage human girl who went on a summer vacation/student exchange with an alien race. They were fairly warlike (I don't remember if it was "they're more warlike than we are" or "we're allies and there's a war on"), and the summer excursion was almost like a JRTOC training camp. The aliens were larger and longer-armed than humans and had two, opposing, thumbs on each hand.

I remember certain scenes/scenarios that pointed these differences up. Longer armspan: They were using a rope with knotted handholds to go down a slope of loose dust/sand; the handholds were too widely spaced for Our Hero to use, so she 'surfed' down the surface of the hill instead [and got in mild trouble over it]. Two Thumbs: Their guns were designed so that the trigger and/or the safety involved buttons on opposite sides of the gun that had to be pressed simultaneously, one with each thumb. At some point, some emergency happened and Our Hero needed to fire one. I think she used two hands on a one-hand weapon to get all the buttons pressed, but I'm fuzzy on this. I do remember a certain amount of gentle ribbing from her cohorts about her being too small and insufficiently thumbed to use a gun like a "normal" person.

Please tell me this rings a bell for *someone*! I've been checking library indices of YA SF and confusing children's and YA librarians for *years* looking for this book.

#174 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 11:51 AM:

Christopher, you can't disappear. I invented you, and I have a very good memory.

Thanks for that reassurance, Teresa...I assume you also aren't going for intensive therapy to cure your hallucinations of my existence?

John Houghton, thanks from me too...why, I was almost prostrate upon my feet with laughter.

#175 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 12:42 PM:

Great literary review of
a film directed by Wolfgang Petersen

New York Review of Books
Volume 51, Number 11 · June 24, 2004

"A Little Iliad"
By Daniel Mendelsohn

Having seen, in one mock-epic day, "The Day After Tomorrow", "Shrek 2", and "Troy," I feel that Daniel Mendelsohn nailed it.

Now, if only Shrek 3 was set in the world of the Homeric epics. Or even if Homer Simpson replaced the cute but floundering Brad Pitt (whom I liked in "12 Monkeys"...

#176 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 01:49 PM:

You guys rock. Thank you!


#177 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 03:54 PM:

Betsey--if you're referring to the same book I'm thinking of, I've been looking for it for years as well--I believe it's called The Stolen Law, by an Ann someone. Unfortunately, I don't recall the last name. The two thumbs sounds pretty indicative, too, and there was also a cover-up of some sort involving the protagonist's mother?

#178 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 04:21 PM:

The Stolen Law is by Anne Mason, and is a sequel to The Dancing Meteorite. I'd mention that they are widely available used, but I don't want to lead you into temptation.

#179 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 04:28 PM:

Ooh! That title (those titles) sound really familiar. Thanks, Yoon and Dan!

#180 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 04:54 PM:

Well, we'll know soon. My local library system (although not my local library per se) has both The Dancing Meteorite and The Stolen Law in the catalog; I have placed holds on both of them (gotta love online library catalogs and services!) and will report back once I've read them.

#181 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 06:18 PM:

I'm halfway through Tunnel in the Sky and note that when the bad guys try to get Rob, the good guys heap the bad guys in a pile to humiliate them.

#182 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 06:52 PM:

NelC: ""? Ha, if they can't spot such errors I'm not sure I'd trust their programming with my precious purple prose, thank you very much.

It may be to their advantage to drive off any potential customer who would recognize what a lousy job their software does. But they are probably more stupid than crafty.

#183 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 07:25 PM:

Teresa, on May 21, in "Taking your own bad advice":

Oh. Right. "Hugged it like a brother." It's from a novel called Red Sky at Morning, in the episode about the dead horse.
Now someone who has a copy to hand is going to tell me I've misremembered it.

Thanks, Teresa. I owe you for pointing me at this good read. And you're not misremembering. From the Perennial Classics edition, pp. 52-53:

...When my chest hit the horse about midships it made a noise like an orange being squeezed, and the horse's ribs began a slow caving-in movement. I pushed myself away and my hand went through his skin, surprising me so I took a deep breath without meaning to.

Later, still pale and weak-kneed, I told Marcia and Steenie that they didn't need to help me walk and they let go of my arms and stood back.

"A real sport," Steenie said. "Just threw himself on that horse and hugged him like a brother."

"I didn't realize until now that we've been playing the game wrong all this time," Marcia said. "It doesn't mean a thing until you crawl right into the horse."

My only quibble with the relevance to Bush/Rumsfeld is that the latter's correspondence to a decomposing horse is not admidships.

#184 ::: Sarah G. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 07:49 PM:

random note - Wil Wheaton's publicizing an effort to send gmail invites to the troops here and it seems like a good way to give them more email storage space for pictures and video clips from home. If you have any extra gmail invites, it might worth checking out.

#185 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 08:00 PM:

Bible pals - they have verses inscribed on their bottoms.

Need more be said?

#186 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 08:28 PM:

- "Mike is indeed my imaginary friend."
- "Christopher, you can't disappear. I invented you, and I have a very good memory."
And here I thought you converted to Catholicism not Solipsism.
PiscusFiche - "...I swear I saw a book titled "More Money Than Neil Cavuto" ... " creative reading is a wonderful skill we develop as we grow up.

#187 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2004, 09:27 PM:

Instructions for making the classic tinfoil beanie (a la A. McC.) may be found here. The site is a spoof. The "testimonials" make good reading. My favorite is the squirrel.

An Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie (AFDB) is a type of headwear that can shield your brain from most electromagnetic psychotronic mind control carriers. AFDBs are inexpensive (even free if you don't mind scrounging for thrown-out aluminium foil) and can be constructed by anyone with at least the dexterity of a chimp (maybe bonobo). This cheap and unobtrusive form of mind control protection offers real security to the masses. Not only do they protect against incoming signals, but they also block most forms of brain scanning and mind reading, keeping the secrets in your head truly secret. AFDBs are safe and operate automatically. All you do is make it and wear it and you're good to go! Plus, AFDBs are stylish and comfortable.
#188 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2004, 11:10 AM:

Well, if we're trying to identify books, here's one I've been looking for for years:

It was a YA book, published not later than the mid-60's (I read it in grade school), with a young teenage boy as the main protagonist.

The boy is on a cross-country train ride, and wakes up in his sleeper car the next morning to find the train sitting still in the middle of... somewhere.

It appears to be somewhere in the Prairies, but this prairie has... magic. The main plot has the boy meeting a old, decrepit broken-down cowboy on an old, decrepit broken-down horse. The cowboy's Magic Belt Buckle has been stolen by the Evil Witch character, and the boy has to help the cowboy recover the belt buckle. (Once done, the cowboy's -- and the horse's -- youth and vigor are restored.)

But what's kept this book popping up in my mind occasionally over the years was that it also had a Mentor Wizard character. And the Wizard was actually the porter from the train, and (as they were called in those days) a Negro.

I think it was the first book I ever read that not only had a sympathetic black character, but a MAJOR sympathetic black character.

Anyone recognize this? I'd love to find a copy.

#189 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2004, 09:17 PM:

If you can't get to the "Going Underground" link in Particles due to bandwidth problems at the site, here's the Google cache of the page.

#190 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2004, 09:36 PM:

Here's an even better link for that same site.

#191 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2004, 10:08 PM:

We have (had? I haven't ridden the orange line in years) a train driver on the DC Metro orange line who would periodically give us the time during rush hour. He especially liked to give the time, the weather, and any other bit of commuter trivia, during stops in the normal service. Shortly after giving us the time (or other data), he would say in a high, gravelly voice, "Thank you, Mr. Train Driver!"

It would always cause the rest of us, the hoi polloi in the cars of his train, to make eye contact with one another and laugh. We loved him.

#192 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2004, 09:42 PM:

Speaking of the DC Metro, I was amazed recently to hear (on the Red Line) the stop for Judiciary Square actually announced correctly, instead of what I have come to anticipate eagerly: "Judiciarary Square."

#193 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 08:05 AM:

Onan is an unfortunate name for a company.

#194 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 09:39 AM:

I should know better than to open links like Onan while eating. I thought it was a joke for a second or two. After all,

Onan is a registered trademark of Cummins Inc.


#195 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 12:25 PM:


I think I know the book you are talking about and will try to remember to check my daughter's bookcase tonight and see if we have a copy. The cat eats a bunch of people from the village and eventually eats its owner, who luckily has her sewing basket with her . . . I also seem to remember that they all drink tea while inside the cat . . . .

I know I've read this, I just don't know if we still have it. My kid is 8 and has been giving away a lot of picture books.

#196 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 12:25 PM:

This picture, from the David Plowden archive, reminded me of this stunning pic of Tacoma Narrows, which should be better known as the work of art it is, IMHO.

(And JvP, before we even get into the matter, read this if you haven't already. 'twernt brought down by resonance— negative damping, more like.)

#197 ::: JeanOG ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 01:28 PM:



Andy, I had heard the resonance theory had been demolished, but I hadn't seen the actual article. Thanks.

#198 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 03:15 PM:

NPR's "Talk of the Nation" is covering blogs this hour, and a caller is talking about Making Light RIGHT NOW . . .

Sorry I missed the name.

Ah, "Karen."

#199 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 05:38 PM:

Bruce and Sara --

Yes it is an unfortunate name, and as you might expect, it is the name of the company's founder, David Onan.

By now, I am sure they know all the jokes, so asking if they have a hand crank option for one of their diesel generators (rimshot) is definitely out.

#200 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 05:57 PM:

Sara: Onan is an unfortunate name for a company.

I bet you could power a little factory with their stuff.

#201 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 07:11 PM:

Audio of the NPR show on blogging can be downloaded here:

That's "Karen from Arizona" and her comment starts at 6:40 in the clip (and then the panelist goes on to make light of her comment -- he's earlier said that blogs are narrowly focused and Karen has covered a lot of T's topics in refutation).

#202 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 11:36 PM:

NYT has a nifty article on origami with curved surfaces.

Apparently Dr. David Huffman, the guy who invented Huffman codes, hacked origami in his spare time. According to the article, he worked out nifty theorems on things like what the angles have to be to keep the paper from tearing when multiple folds meet at a point.

Wow! Honestly, first SpaceShipOne, and now curvilinear origami. What a day!

#203 ::: Michael Spence ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 03:20 AM:

The following gathered wool is falling into place in my mental closet on the same shelf as "we drive on the parkway and park in the driveway" and so forth . . .

Okay, let's see if I have this right: J. Michael is "Joe" and John M. is "Mike." [Straczynski and Ford, of course.]

I have no idea how this happened.

#204 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 11:13 AM:

Wow, Melissa, it would be amazing if you did remember the book. It sounds like the same one, and the substitution of Seamstress-with-scissors-and-thread for Woodsman-with-axe would explain why the cat is still pretty cheerful at the end. I guess it did have a moral; learn to sew and be prepared in any emergency. Looking back, I don't remember ever having to sew up my cat, Abishag. I did butter her once, but I don't think I picked that up from any picture book.

That "Little Factory" stuff cracks me up. My Mormon mom gets kind of huffy everytime someone brings it up. She claims it's not really a church thing, but since she claimed too that SWKimball never said it was better to be dead than raped (and then I pointed it out in one of her own books) she's not a reliable witness. I say the tone of it sure sounds like the Smug brand of Mormonism I grew up with.

#205 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 03:07 PM:

I'm sure there was a Particle a while ago about a woman who got a horrible disfiguring disease from medicinal silver. Someone on another site was recommending colloidal silver, and I want to link to it, but I can't find it. Anybody remember what the Particle was named?

#206 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 04:05 PM:

Xopher: You're not thinking of Stan Jones, the guy who was the Libertarian senatorial candidate from Montana in 2002? He has argyria, which he's gotten from drinking colloidal silver since 1999 due to fear of Y2K.

#207 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 04:11 PM:

Argyria! That was the disease. Not the politician, I hadn't heard about that. But thanks, now I can find some websites.

#208 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 10:12 PM:

Drinking colloidal silver in fear of Y2K?!?!?

Exactly what was the silver supposed to do? Or did he just want to put it in his body so nobody could take it from him? There are times when people do things that are so colossally stupid that it's hard to have much sympathy.

Argyria. Land of Silver. Where the natives argyre and argimble in the wabe.

The only silver-based med I’ve ever used is silvadine (sp) cream, used for topically for burns and dispensed with many warnings from both doc and pharmacist. Great stuff, if your kidneys and liver are in top shape and you don’t mind turning black in the light. And when you've got a second-degree sunburn (don't ask) you don't mind, believe me.

#209 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 11:58 PM:

Larry, I use a generic silver sulfadiazine every day. My kidneys and liver were already in bad shape (in fact, it was the second renal failure that required the use of silvadene) but it isn't making them worse. I don't turn black, either.

(Then again, recently Charlie Stross was astounded to learn I'm taking colchicine every other day without damage.)

#210 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2004, 01:32 AM:

Marilee - interesting. I'm just working from distant memory, but my doctor definitely did deliver a strong caution with the silvadene.

The cream (not me, just the cream) did turn black in the light, though. It was pretty amusing for all concerned, except me. I guess I embarrassed more easily as a teenager. Then again, a little embarrasment was nothing if it helped me sleep.

#211 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2004, 03:51 AM:

Larry: as I understood it, the colloidal silver was supposed to be antibiotic, so that when everything fell down and went boom and no-one made "other" antibiotics anymore, he would be safe. Or something like that.

#212 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2004, 10:24 AM:


My daughter remembers the book too, and thinks we gave it to the used book sale at school this year.


We've never had to sew up our cats, though veterinarians have. At a younger age, when she was the right height, my daughter used to hold the end of the cat's tail and let the animal lead her around the house. A furry leash, except the cat was the one doing all the steering (thanks to my oft-repeated mantra, "the tail is not a handle").

#213 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2004, 11:55 AM:

Marilee, the argyria can start years after you take the silver. I don't know if the form you're taking causes the problem, but it can be a long time after you stop. Heavy metals aren't excreted from the body, and it can take a long time for them to migrate to your skin.

A med student on the other site made an argument much more effective than anything I could have said: he cited a journal article about a man who took colloidal silver for about 4 weeks (I think) and then went into myoclonal status epilepticus. The ER stopped the seizure, but he remained in a persistent vegetative state until he died a few months later. (And yes, the colloidal silver was the cause of the seizure, the coma, and the death.)

#214 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2004, 12:57 PM:

Larry, mine doesn't see the light of day.

Xopher, I've been using it for 13 years now, topically, and the doctors know I use it (they refill it about once a month). We don't have any other alternatives that work as well for preventing pressure sores.

The one case of argyria with the topical SSD that I know of was someone who used 50gr a day.

#215 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2004, 01:06 PM:

The person in the science-fiction fantasy community who had bluish skin from silver that I know of was Evangeline Walton (no relation to Jo AFAIK), author of some quite good Welsh fantasies.

#216 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2004, 01:16 PM:

Marilee, I somehow missed the fact that you were using it topically. It makes sense that that would be different. The fact that a renal failure necessitated its use threw me, but your mention of pressure sores clarifies things some.

#217 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2004, 12:31 AM:

Xopher, SSD/silver sulfadiazine/Silvadene is a topical cream, usually used for burns. We found out in the second long hospitalization that it works with pressure sores, too.

The second renal failure went undiagnosed for nine months (long story) and we think I had about 300 pounds of water weight on by the time it was diagnosed. I had massive pitting edema -- the nurses would tuck me in with pillows so I wouldn't dent on the side rails -- and my fingers were like sausages and wouldn't bend.

When the doctor found a med to use experimentally, all the water rushed off, leaving a lot of stria (stretch marks) everywhere except my hands, feet, and face, and my hands and feet are permanently wrinkled as if they'd just been in water. I also have skin flaps -- think of love handles but just empty skin hanging over -- and they tend to get pressure sores. If I use a small amount of SSD every day, I only get one or two sores a week, and only have one get bad enough I have to see the doctor for debridement a couple times a year.

My TMI for today!

#218 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2004, 09:10 AM:

Back from the library. The Stolen Law came in, and it is the book I was looking for! As soon as I saw the cover I was sure, and then I sat in my car and read the first 10 pages or so (just to confirm! honest!) and it really is the book I've been looking for!

Thanks so much!

(I'm not usually so exclamation-point-happy, but I've been looking for this book for over a decade, and now I'm holding a copy! Glee! Joy!)

#219 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2004, 03:44 AM:

Okay, let's see if I have this right: J. Michael is "Joe" and John M. is "Mike."

True. Of course, the J. doesn't stand for "John" and the "M" doesn't stand for "Michael".

#220 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2004, 04:34 PM:

Y'all remember the whole commercial contest from last year, right?

Well...the Bush campaign has just released this incredibly-poor-production-value "web video" spot. This commercial consists mostly of clips from one of the ads submitted to which compared Bush to Hitler; one which I recall people deriding as being way over the top, but it still makes this ad seem like an Anti-Bush ad for 3/4 of its length, capped off by a weak and insulting Pro-Voters-Wearing-Blinders conclusion.

That's certainly my Moment of Zen for the day...

#221 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2004, 12:24 AM:

I was thinking the exact same thing, Skwid.

My husband showed it to me yesterday. I stared at him and said, "That was an ad for Bush? Really?"

"Now is not the time for . . ." Oh, what'd they call it? I know the word I want to use is dissension.

#222 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2004, 05:10 PM:

Alice -- tension, apprehension and dissension?

Tom -- AFAIK, Evangeline Walton is no relation of my ex-husband Ken. None of his family have ever emigrated to the US, or indeed, gone anywhere. They all still live within twenty miles of Walton Green.

P & T -- Technical query. I have upgraded to Netscape 7, for Linux, which crashes when I load long Making Light threads, meaning that I am now reverting to Netscape 4 to read them. This is almost certainly my fault... Netscape 4 also takes me to the end of the comment thread rather than the beginning, which may be a bug but which I had taken for useful functionality. However, Netscape 7 lets me see all the sidebars and ads.

And not-really a haiku:

I have washed one bowl
Six times today, mixing food.
Maybe I need two.

#223 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2004, 09:41 PM:

I have a LiveJournal now. Just thought you might like to know. Not much in it so far.

#224 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2004, 09:09 AM:

Xopher: And your LJ username is? (There's already a journal name Xopher; it looked too long-standing to be the one referred to here. And, frankly, it didn't sound like you and the personal details, such as they were, didn't seem to match.)

#225 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2004, 11:00 AM:

Betsey, it's Virtuous Heathen. There's a link from my previous comment if you click my name, but it's also My LiveJournal name is Xopher_VH. I toyed with the idea of calling it Virtual Heathen, but I'm actually a Heathen (and also a Pagan, which is slightly different) IRL, so that didn't quite seem appropriate.

#226 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2004, 01:03 PM:

Ah. I moused over your name, saw that the URL started with a address, and failed to pick up that it was a redirect to your LJ. Thank you for the more explicit direction. (I also friended you; hope you don't mind. If you do, let me know and I'll go away again. I'm Jerusha on LJ.)

#227 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Yay! Yay!

Supreme Court Affirms Detainees' Right to Use Courts

WASHINGTON, June 28 — The Supreme Court ruled today that people being held by the United States as enemy combatants can challenge their detention in American courts — the court's most important statement in decades on the balance between personal liberties and national security.
Link to article

I note that the Times didn't put the headline in all caps on the front page, like they ought to have IMHO. Instead, they are highlighting the transfer of sovereignty.

#228 ::: Bobbi Fox ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2004, 03:20 PM:

From the article:
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote that the campaign against terrorism notwithstanding, "a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens." [emphasis mine]

Note that Justice O'Connor is one of (two? three?) Justices who were rumored to have commented before the 2000 election that they were hoping for a Republican win, so they could retire.

#229 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2004, 05:41 PM:

And on a less weighty matter, we have the Porn Star or My Little Pony quiz. I got 3/12! Collect the whole set.

(From Dave Barry's blog.)

#231 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 03:16 PM:

Oh, I meant to add, I tripped over that while I was trying to find out if anybody had researched series that were like the Fibonacci numbers except that they started from two other 'seeds' than (0,1). And if they had, whether there was anything cool about them, or how they graphed next to the real McFibs. So if anybody knows, I'm asking!

"Come and trip it, as ye go
On the light fantastic toe."

#232 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 03:48 PM:
Oh, I meant to add, I tripped over that while I was trying to find out if anybody had researched series that were like the Fibonacci numbers except that they started from two other 'seeds' than (0,1). And if they had, whether there was anything cool about them, or how they graphed next to the real McFibs. So if anybody knows, I'm asking!

Yes, they have. I don't recall much about them, but I do know that I've read someone's (Martin Gardner's, probably) discussion of "Lucas numbers" somewhere, which I believe use (1,3) as a base (that being the next simplest distinct one).

#233 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 03:54 PM:

I played around with those in high school, Kip. I didn't get very far, as I got side-tracked into primality tests (yes, there is a link, though it's not obvious on the surface), but IIRC I didn't find anything particularly interesting beyond that, as you might expect, you do get a similar geometric curve, especially at higher numbers.


#234 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 03:56 PM:

X-post. I had thought I'd started on this from Hofstadter (via Gödel, Escher, Bach), but Gardner it may have been after all.


#235 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 03:59 PM:

It might just as easily have been Hofstadter as far as I can tell, I certainly read GEB often enough back in the day.

#236 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 04:12 PM:

The cool thing about Lucas numbers is that, much like Fibonaccis, they have a formula tying them back to phi, the golden ratio.

Whew, it's been a long time since I even thought about this stuff - twelfth grade, in fact. I don't remember what neat stuff Lucas numbers model, but I'm sure a quick google search would turn up a ton of material.

#237 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 04:40 PM:

Perhaps the literati that inhabit this site would enjoy this, or at least be pleasantly befuddled by it:

I heard about it from a colleague who claimed it reminded him of me. I'm not at all sure what that's supposed to mean, or which character I am.

#238 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 05:15 PM:

My recollection is that *any* sequence that uses the Fibonacci recursion relation f[n] = f[n-1] + f[n-2] and starts with two (distinct? non-negative?) integers will approach f[n] = phi * f[n-1] for large n, but I could be wrong. I'll have to think about this for a bit.

#239 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 05:39 PM:

That's right, and they don't have to be distinct or non-negative either. (The classic sequence starts with 1 and 1, so you can throw out distinct right there. I did some dicking around with a spreadsheet a number of years ago, and one or both of them being negative doesn't make a difference either.)

#240 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 09:04 PM:

Andy confirms Xopher:

f[n+2] - f[n+1] - f[n] = 0

Since it's a linear difference equation, you can assume the answer is in the form a^n, where "^" means "to the power of."

a^(n+2) - a^(n+1) - a^n = 0
Divide by a^n and get:
a^2 - a - 1 = 0,
which gives a = phi or (1-phi) by quadratic formula.

So all possible solutions to the difference equation are:
f[n] = c1*(phi^n) + c2*(1-phi)^n
where c1, c2 are constants that depend on how you start the sequence off.

Since (1-phi) = 0.618... is smaller than 1, the second term goes to 0 for large n, and you get:

f[n] = c1*phi^n = phi*(c1*phi^(n-1)) = phi*f[n-1]

#241 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 09:13 PM:

Whoops, 1-phi = -0.618...
It doesn't matter, since that term goes away anyhow.

#242 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 10:55 PM:

My mother spent a great deal of time on this type of sequence, but never published anything. Sigh. (She had a math PhD and was one of the early workers on machine translation of language, using the game of bridge as a model in the mid 1960s).

#243 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2004, 11:24 PM:

I once based a whole GURPS campaign around this idea. It was the mystical undercurrent to a geopolitical Celtic fantasy campaign.

#244 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2004, 01:07 AM:

Speaking of bridge, it turns out that Fibonacci numbers apply to bridge in a non-obvious way. In certain types of bidding sequences called "relays", the number of hand types that can be shown given increasing amounts of bidding space available goes in a Fibonacci sequence. Eric Rodwell and Jeff Meckstroth (one of the top pairs today) take note of this in their famously-complicated system.

#245 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2004, 07:35 AM:

Kip W: Fibonacci forgeries!

This reminds me of another forgery. Suppose you select n points on a circle and draw all segments between pairs of points. Be sure you select the points so that no three segments cross in a point. Then count the number of regions that the disc is divided into. This is a suprisingly good forgery for 2^n, but there's a good reason for that. I'll explain later if there's interest.

#246 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2004, 08:02 AM:

Kip W: Oh, I meant to add, I tripped over that while I was trying to find out if anybody had researched series that were like the Fibonacci numbers except that they started from two other 'seeds' than (0,1).

This has been investigated in some depth by Clark Kimberling. Take all such sequences that don't have a common divisor--each pair of relatively prime integers appears as adjacent terms in just one of the sequences. The Wythoff Array is one way of organizing them. I think there's another way involving a less vanilla geometry, but I can't get to those files at the moment.

#247 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2004, 09:52 AM:

Thanks, folks! After I couldn't think of a suitable search term (due to my relatively limited vocabulary in the area), I knew I could find people who would tell me quickly and in understandable terms. You are a prime bunch, and not in any common-denominator way.

#248 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2004, 01:52 PM:

re: Kazu the Book-Throwing Wonder Kid:

Methinks that child should be sicced on the Tor slushpile. Throw to the right: reject. Throw to the left: one of the grownups will actually take a look at the manuscript.

And, on another subject, like Xopher I have started my own blog, a revival of my old paper-and-ink perzine Undulant Fever

#249 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2004, 03:45 PM:

Unfortunately, throwing slush mss. merely complicates the problem.

If it did not, it would assuredly not be necessary to bring in relief pitchers.

#250 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2004, 04:00 PM:

Shhh! Little relief pitchers have big ears.

#251 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2004, 11:08 AM:

Andy Perrin:

Good work on answering the Lucas Numbers questions (more on which, below), while I was presenting or co-presenting 4 papers at an international conference at Carnegie Mellon University. We (my cousin and I) brought the controversial Peter Lynds from New Zealand and showcased his work in his first formal conference presentation ever. Lynds is the student who finally solved the 3 Zeno Paradoxes, and also proved Stephen Hawking wrong on some points such as Imaginary Time. John Wheeler, protege of Einstein and he who coined the term "Black Hole" says that Lynds has discovered something as brilliantly as Einstein. Honest: I do toot my own horn pretty loudly at times, but at this conference, I was tooting someone else's. Now, if only kiwis Peter Jackson and Peter Lynds collaborated...

Indeed, back to Lucas Numbers, as usually defined:

L(n) = L(n-1) + L(n-2)

where L(1)=1, L(2)=3

The sequence thus begins:


For a longer list, see:

The First 70 Lucas Numbers

His list stops at:
L(70) = 425730551631123

The only square numbers in the Lucas sequence are 1 and 4, as proved by John H. E. Cohn (Alfred 1964). The only triangular Lucas numbers are 1, 3, and 5778 (Ming 1991). The only Lucas cubic number is 1. The first few Lucas primes are L(n) = 3, 7, 11, 29, 47, 199, 521, 2207, 3571, ... (Sloane's A005479), corresponding to indices n = 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13, 16, 17, 19, 31, 37, 41, 47, 53, 61, 71, 79, 113, 313, 353, ... (Dubner and Keller 1999, Sloane's A001606).

You can find out much more at:

Lucas Numbers at MathWorld
which has a nice bibliography and mucho formulae

and amazingly more in the Fibonacci Quarterly, available at any big university library, which covers Fibonacci and Lucas Numbers and their generalizations, and some other cute polynomial integer sequences.

Some pretty connections between Lucas Numbers
L(n) and Fibonacci Numbers F(n) include:

L(n) = F(n-1) + F(n+1)

L(m+n) = (1/2)[5F(n)F(m)+ L(n)L(n)]

[L(n)]^2 = 5[F(n)]^2 + 4(-1)^n

See also:

Lucas factorizations from 2 to 10,000

Lucas himself was interesting. He was the same French astronomer and mathematician Edouard Anatole Lucas (1842-1891) who invented the Towers of Hanoi puzzle in 1883. He also asked the famous mathematical puzzle: A SQUARE PYRAMID OF CANNONBALLS can be rearranged flatly on the ground into a perfect square of cannonballs. How many balls do you have?

But that's probably enough Math for now [he said, preparing the Final Exam he'll give next Wednesday].

#252 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2004, 10:26 PM:

I've got a poser for you all.

A cat is trying to adopt me. It appears to be a stray. (Not wearing a collar, and I've asked most of the neighbors.) The cat is either full grown but small, or a teenager. It is light gray with white feet. The fur is very short, like felt. Every time I see it, it comes up to me and purrs at my ankles. I feel very uncomfortable when this happens, like I ought to be doing something. My building has a no-pets policy, which I'm thinking about defying. Any suggestions or advice?

#253 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2004, 11:29 PM:

Jonathan von Post asked:
Lucas himself was interesting. He was the same French astronomer and mathematician Edouard Anatole Lucas (1842-1891) who invented the Towers of Hanoi puzzle in 1883. He also asked the famous mathematical puzzle: A SQUARE PYRAMID OF CANNONBALLS can be rearranged flatly on the ground into a perfect square of cannonballs. How many balls do you have?
Two. But I don't see what that has to do with the puzzle...

#254 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2004, 11:45 PM:

Andy -- I would probably take the cat in temporarily and try to find it a different permanent home. A good way to find homes for pets you cannot keep is to post signs at veterinarians' offices.

Depending on how accessible your landlord is, you might want to discuss, in a very theoretical way, whether you might possibly be able to get special permission to keep a cat if you gave him or her a big fat security deposit. If your building's run by a company, this may or may not be possible.

It sounds like a really pretty cat. I hope everything works out for you two.

#255 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 12:15 AM:

Andy, if you haven't had a cat before, you may not want all the time spent on it. I'm not sure it's worth violating your lease to take it in. Put up a notice about it in the vet's office and the local animal control (ours lets you list lost animals), and hope someone wants it.

#256 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 12:28 AM:

Do vets euthanize? I'd rather let it live or die on it's own terms if I can't find an actual home for it, or give it one myself.

#257 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 12:28 AM:

John Houghton:

I did deliberately phrase the puzzle that way to be your (or someone's) straight man.

Andy Perrin:

I suggest that you ask your friends, and/or the friends of the person in whose home the cats is temporarily relocated (with its boxes of books and strange fruit and crack) if any of them have a severe cat allergy. Many do, and they suffer excruciatingly in anyplace a cat has resided even 2 years ago, as few people wash their cats once a month or spray 1% tannic acid on walls and rug and furniture and floor, which are the two main ways to denature the dander and/or bacteria and/or catspit protein that people are allergic to.

Similarly, if considering adoption or relocation of a stray dragon, determine what furnishings are flammable, and who is sworn to fight dragons, and who is a virgin.

#258 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 12:41 AM:

Just to reiterate: The cat is living outdoors now. I am the only person who might be allergic to it. But. I love cats, and I'm quite willing to put up with the odd sneeze now and then. The worrisome issue is whether I can care for it properly (including the lease problem).

#259 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 01:13 AM:

Hey, Lisa Spangenberg, are you any relation to the famous Moravian biographer of Count Zinzendorf?

#260 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 02:02 AM:


I'm not sure where you live, and the laws regarding "good samaritans" and the finding of stray pets do vary some from place to place, but in some states at least, you're required to make "reasonable effort" to find his owners. Personally I find the laws a bit silly, but there you go.

Outdoor cats can wander pretty extensively, and very few people collar their cats. So the lack of a collar and non-recognition from your neighbors doesn't indicate much. A visit to the vet (or the humane society) can tell you if he's been microchipped; usually chipped pets also have collars, but there's at least some possibility that yours is an exception.

In this case, if he's adopted you, and you want him, good on you both. If not, I'd try looking a little more widely to see if you can find his owners; the humane society, an ad in the paper, flyers in your neighborhood are all good ways to publicize. In my city there are several organizations that keep detailed and up-to-date databases of lost & found pets; there may be one in yours.

Vets will generally not euthanize a healthy animal. Shelters will say upfront whether they are "no-kill" or not. As far as living on its own terms--well, I have two cats, and they're strictly indoors, because the outdoor living on their own terms causes the death of scads of wild animals, many of which can't or won't be eaten by anything, and because I work in an emergency veterinary clinic and I see exactly what happens to outdoor animals. Indoor cats can be quite happy, I promise :). It's certainly your own decision, though.

No-kill shelters generally have a waiting list for adoption, but they should be able to tell you how long the wait is likely to be. Unfortunately, we're in the peak of kitten season, and all the irresponsible twerps who don't bother to desex their cats have loaded cities with thousands of unwanted kittens. This makes finding a home for your new friend more difficult, but it's not impossible.

good luck!

#261 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 01:50 PM:

Infectious disease trading cards from the CDC -- collect both sets!

#262 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 02:46 PM:

I was only partly right about the table of all Fibonacci sequences. The Wythoff Array actually lists all of them (not just the relatively prime ones). As the link points out, though, there are infinitely many such tables.

The other table I was thinking of is the inverse Wythoff array, which for each (x,y) gives the row of the Wythoff array that contains the sequence ... 2x-y, y-x, x, y, x+y, x+2y, .... The inverse Wythoff array has some fairly interesting geometrical structure that I don't think I can post here. Send e-mail if you want to know about it.

#263 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 04:40 PM:

Dan Hoey:

That's very cool. I have actually been studying the Wythoff Array, while trying to understand when numbers in those sequences are also other things, specifically certain Figurate Numbers. The inverse Wythoff array is new to me. I'd love to know more.

The following has nothing to do with Fibonacci, Wythoff, or the conference from which I've returned after presenting 3 papers and spending 48 hours in airports and planes as Dallas-Ft.Worth thundered and flooded.

In one of my background activities, I have been researching Pyramidal Numbers, and found several publishable things. For instance, when a pyramidal number with one base is equal to a pyramidal number of another base.

Today I uncovered 3 nice previously unknown facts:

For 32-Gonal Pyramidal Numbers

32Pyr(13) = 9Pyr(21) = 11011 (palindrome, same upside down base 10)

32Pyr(18) = Square(171) = Square(Triangular(18)) = 29241

For 33-Gonal Pyramidal Numbers

and the 8-dimensional Simplex Numbers as defined by Kim,

33Pyr(34) = 33Pyr(33Pyr(2)) = 8Simplex(14) = 203490

33Pyr(38) = 6Pyr(75) = 284050

I am still, 6 months into 2004, generating math results faster than I can submit them for publication. I'm at about 29 papers this half-year, several still being polished, many submitted, some being resubmitted, some not yet sent out the first time. I dare not violate Heinlein's Laws of writing success, of course.

But I did just submit a new Mathematical Fantasy short story: "War Between the Numbers" to F&SF.

What else are you up to?

#264 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2004, 10:13 PM:

Does anyone else think it's interesting that Andrew Marvell's poem, "To His Coy Mistress," inspired the titles of three 20th century speculative fiction works? Haldeman's World Enough, and Time, Le Guin's Vaster than Empires, and More Slow, and Peter Beagle's A Fine and Private Place.

I'm thinking of writing a novel called My Vegetable Love; it can't miss.

#265 ::: JM Kagan ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2004, 12:54 AM:

Andy Perrin,
I beg you to consider carefully.
All you've said is that the cat purrs about your ankles and somehow you've taken this to mean the cat wants to be adopted. ---No.
This means the cat thinks you're a friendly person, the cat likes your scent and the way you talk to it.
Had you said the cat was a) injured, b) pregnant, c) clearly starving (or very hungry), or even d) really grubby all the time...or had you said the cat had already attempted to *follow* you home to your apartment, I'd've given ways to deal with each situation.
Given what you've said---that the cat purrs about your ankles---all I can do is plead with you to pet the cat and enjoy its friendship. From all you've said, the cat has a home already. If you take it into your home or take it to the pound, some family is going to be heartbroken.
(Sounds to me like you need a cat. Well, then, take this one for a friend when you meet outside. If you need more cat than that, consider volunteering at your local shelter.)
Please don't take this cat from its family. We've had this happen to us and, while we understand that the people who kept ours in had the best of intentions, the cat was glad to escape back home to us and the rest of his family.
We did (only because of a fluke) find out where he'd been and we did talk to the people he'd been with. From then on, the cat happily commuted between our houses every day, purring about our ankles and theirs.
...You're just in love. Sounds like the cat loves you too. Don't mess it up by being grabby.

#266 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2004, 12:24 PM:

Janet: I am not a cat thief in the making, although I'd love to have a cat. This is a young cat running around all day and night next to a really busy street in the slums of West Philly. It is not wearing a collar. If it has an owner, then the owner deserves to lose it. That said, I intend to make an effort to paper the neighborhood and check for microchips. If that doesn't bring any results, then I'll see about making other arrangements for it.

#267 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2004, 02:14 PM:

Alex Cohen, reread LeGuin's story. It's about a vegetable love, ultimately. Of course, if your novel is about something quite different (example tastefully deleted here), it might not be an issue.

#268 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2004, 02:29 PM:

Xopher: the tender love between a man and a mandrake?

#269 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2004, 03:40 PM:

cd, I had in mind a woman and a cucumber, but yours works too.

#270 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2004, 10:06 AM:

Happy July 4, fellow Americans! (Hi there, everybody else.)

Hearing the Declaration of Independence read on the radio Friday morning, I noticed that several of the denunciations of George III (UK) can equally (or similarly) be applied to George II (US). You can attack, debate, or cheer (heh) my list here.

(Yes, I realize that Bush 43 isn't really the second George to hold the Presidency.)

#271 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2004, 04:18 PM:

Yes, Xopher, today is a day to remember what has made our country great in the past and to consider what we can do to make it great again. We still have good points we can work with. And no, I'm not running for office. I'm another who loves the country and despises the current government....

#272 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2004, 06:56 PM:

All drakes are men, at least if they quack. Among the flameburping variety, it depends on what they sit on. Eggs, they're women. Big piles of loot (baseball cards, Tucker stock, magic rings), they're guys.

#273 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2004, 07:55 PM:

Xopher wrote:

> Happy July 4, fellow Americans! (Hi there, everybody else.)

Also my baby daughter's birthday. Our secret plan is to take her to America when she's around six years old, and not tell her that the party's not really for her.

#274 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2004, 11:55 PM:

I recently saw the trailer for I, Robot.

Those of us who can quote the Three Laws of Robotics from memory won't be happy with this one, oh indeed no. The three laws are necessary components of the positronic brains -- the laws can't be removed or shut off.

(For those who can't remember 'em:

1 A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2 A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3 A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.)

This also reminds me of a limerick:

The robot detective, Daneel,
Has oft been mistaken for real.
A lass from Aurora
Who offered her flora
Learned all about case-hardened steel.

#275 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 12:24 AM:

There was a brief mention of I, Robot in today's WashPost Arts section. I'll just quote it:

" Sci-fi Web sites reveal that some Asimov fans are worried about the Alex Proyas movie "I, Robot." It is actually based on "Hardwired," a 1995 script by Jeff Vintar, which was then polished by Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman ("A Beautiful Mind") to incorporate elements of the nine Asimov short stories later acquired by 20th Century Fox.

"It was good executive thinking," says producer Laurence Mark. "Here was a script well on its way, and here was 'I, Robot' with literary cachet. Why not marry the two? Every screenplay with a robot in it since 1954 relies to some degree on Isaac Asimov and 'I, Robot.' " "

#276 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 03:53 AM:

I've been unwinding from the 8 papers that my coauthor/cousin/professor and I presented in 30 days at 2 scientific conferences, by attending Westercon 57, in Litchfield Park, near Phoenix, Arizona.

It's after midnight, and thus no longer the 4th of July. There was a heck of a nice fireworks display at the park across the road from this resort. White magnesium, green copper, red strontium. I watched it from the balcony of the Heinlein Society's suite. We watched the CD-ROM of the only available copy, once Ginny Heinlein's, of Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke being interviewed by Walter Cronkite just after the Apollo 11 moon walk. Inspiring!

Saturday we'd arrived, I'd phoned home, as my wife had gotten the flu or cold and could not come and go with me, and I'd given my first panel, on Space Ship 1 and the X-Prize.

Andrew, my 15-year-old, was deeply into the Gaming, after all the parties were over. I got us out of here perhaps 2:30 a.m., and followed the mapquest to the far side of Phoenix. The Motel 6 we found was NOT our Motel 6. $40 per night is MUCH cheaper than this Wig Wam Resort.

Seems they have one Motel 6 at 51st Street and one at 52nd Avenue, or vice versa, and there is also a 51st Road or whatever. We backtracked half an hour and checked into the right place somewhere in the 3 to 4 a.m. era,
rather sleepy.

A maid pounded on the door at 9:00, and didn't speak English. Night manager had neglected to report my desire to sleep until afternoon.

I got back to sleep, up before 2 p.m., showered,
signed paperwork at motel office, took long time
getting Andrew up.

Back to the Con -- it was 108 Farenheit in the shade.

Recorded a short syndicated radio broadcast, for later transmission, gave the 2nd panel (on future Mars projects, with a star-studded scientific cast, as there are 2 major planetary science entities in AZ), and got free breakfast/ lunch/ dinner at the Staff suite, which
gave food to ribbonned program participants.

Paid for our membership in Westercon 59, 2 years from now, as San Diego won the bid. Verified that we are on the registry for Westercon 58 (San Jose) and Worldcon in Glasgow 2005.

Nothing much to summarize. GOH C. J. Cherry had to cancel -- maybe flu also. Talked to people, drank Port and beer, listened, Andrew had fun. Con smaller than I expected, but run well. Nice resort, but I keep getting lost, as numbering system reflects history but is not any kind of logic in layout. Panels in convention building, but parties, gaming, anime and green room and so forth in little randomly scattered bungalow/suites.

Will take Andrew back to motel soon, sleep, get up, check out, back to con, give 3rd panel, tell 'em I can't do 4th, then drive 360 miles home.

Not a satisfactory con report -- I missed the masquerade, and can't comment on many other panels. Cowboy and Native American motif in resort, painting, sculpture, baskets, pottery. Right next to Indian School Road.

There was a lot of discussion on "I, Robot" and Asimov here. Purists griped that film of Bicentennial Man violated Laws twice in final scene. Mentions that Asimov liked to keep violence off-screen, keep conflict on ther plane of ideas, and preach that conflict can often be resolved rationally. But Hollywood thinks otherwise.

Much Bush-bashing here, even by formerly hard-line Republicans, eben by ex-military.

Not entirely on-topic, but vaguely 4th of July and Robotic. Bye for now. ZZZZzzzzz...

#277 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 05:01 AM:

I am reminded of a line from the ultimate AIP in-joke, "Hollywood Boulevard:"

"We're combining the story of 'Romeo and Juliet' with high-speed car action and a sincere plea for nuclear disarmament." (The movie in question is called "Atomic War Brides," and features Paul Bartel directing Godzilla to "express your true feelings for the heroine, while managing to step on as many people as possible.")

The game of combining two unfortunate companions into one screenplay ("Ill Met by Klieglight"*) could keep us busy for a long time. It's getting very late, so I'll only offer:

VIVA LOS ALAMOS: The best parts of "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" combined with rock 'n' roll! Elvis as Richard Feynman, and Horst Buchholz as Klaus Fuchs!

(Yes, I've seen "Infinity." More than once.)

Oh, and the script "Hardwired" had to get a different name because . . . well, I'm sure we all know.

*That -is- one word, and a trademark as well, not that it ever gets used that way.

#278 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 12:00 PM:

Since this is an open thread, it's probably the place to mention that the second encore at the Richard Thompson show in SF on the 3rd/4th of July (it lasted well after midnight) featured as the second encore RT and band (Danny Thompson, Pete Zorn and Dave Mattacks) with special guest Henry Kaiser (whose group was the superb opening act) acting as a backup band for unannounced guest Donovan.

Three songs -- "Season of the Witch", "Hurdy-Gurdy Man", and (of course) "Mellow Yellow".

Even stranger than that the last song of Henry's band set was the Andy Griffith Show theme song preceded by the Firefly theme song....

You hadda be there.

#279 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 01:00 PM:

John Ford wrote:
The game of combining two unfortunate companions into one screenplay ("Ill Met by Klieglight"*) could keep us busy for a long time.

Coming Soon, to a Website Near You:
A Daryl Zanuck Production

A group of blog readers storms the beaches of Normandy, and overwhelms the shoreline defenses with a frightening arsenal of wit.

I'll pass on trying to assign casting decisions here, as I need to dash out to the store, get more charcoal, and RIBS. lots of RIBS.

* No Todd James Pierces were harmed in the making of this thread.

#280 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 01:05 PM:

PARADISE LOST IN TRANSLATION: Unable to sleep after being cast down into Hell, Satan wanders the city of Pandaemonium with Eve, a young tourist, experimenting with the odd foods.

#281 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 03:52 PM:

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONINGS: Chancellor of England Sir Thomas More is tried for treason after opposing Parliament naming the King "Head of the Cuisine in England". Henry VIII wished to divorce his wife for making his favorite dishes taste "soapy" by adding cilantro.

#282 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 04:06 PM:


Did you catch Brian Kenney Fresno (the opening opening act)? He plays Warr guitar very well and is completely insane, two traits not often found together.

#283 ::: cd sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 05:54 PM:

Looks like an attack on a number of threads.

#284 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 06:04 PM:

Tim, I listed all the acts that played from when we got in at about 8:30; Fresno may well be opening at other venues, but didn't in SF.

#285 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 06:22 PM:

Somebody forgot to tell Fresno, then, 'cause he announced it on his mailing list--assuming I'm reading his message correctly, which is never certain with Brian. He said he was starting early, though (well, "startin erly," to be precise), so maybe you just missed him.

Here's a good sample, though. The part where he sings the Mexican restaurant menu is particularly fine.

Wish I'd made it to the show--I haven't seen RT with a band in ages.

#286 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 09:05 PM:

Well, we were there before the doors opened. It's possible he was playing as part of Henry's band.

#287 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2004, 11:59 PM:

The film I, Robot, is the work of defective robots....


Meanwhile, regarding Gag Order Gorge Bush and his Brigands' Brigade/Gag Order George's Jackals:

Catch it quick, it probably won't be accesible long between the Globe's policy of turning things to pay archive after a couple days, and Ashcroft's retroactively classifying every piece of adverse information indicating possible malfeasance on the part of the FBI etc....

#288 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 12:45 AM:

HamLet It Be:

The Beatles, after their box office boffo "Lord of the Ringos" (John Lennon as Gollum), try their eight hands at Shakespeare. With Pope John Paul, Wally George, Freddy Mercury as Mercutio. Yoko Ono memorably played by Courtney Love. Simon & Garfunkle as Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern. Mickey Rooney reprises his role as Puck.

#289 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 07:00 AM:

Who Let The Reservoir Dogs Out?

#290 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 07:58 AM:

Snow White and the Seven Samurai

#292 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 08:54 AM:

The Full Rashomonty: four witnesses tell different versions of what happened at a strip club.

#293 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 09:20 AM:

The Fabulous Baker Boys from Brazil: clones of Hitler take a piano show on the road. (Optionally: ... and get caught up in an Orwellian bureaucracy.)

#294 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 09:44 AM:

The Lord of the Ring of the Nibelungen.
Two epics, both alike in Sturm und Drang.
I don't think Liv Tyler has the pipes for the Brünnhilde role, though.

#295 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 11:35 AM:

James D. Macdonald: There actually exists a book with that title, by Tom Holt. (Verdict: Not too bad.)

#296 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 12:10 PM:

"It was good executive thinking," says producer Laurence Mark. "Here was a script well on its way, and here was 'I, Robot' with literary cachet. Why not marry the two? Every screenplay with a robot in it since 1954 relies to some degree on Isaac Asimov and 'I, Robot.'"

You can find this quote in AHD5 under the listing for 'scumbag'. Spit upon the name of Laurence Mark and all his unholy kindred!

#297 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 12:25 PM:

JvP: I never did run into you at WesterCon. (I missed the fireworks by attending a flintknapping demo.)


#298 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 04:53 PM:

Congratulations to our hostess for winning the coveted Wooden Rocket Award for Best Fan Site Home Page, one of the seventeen W.R.A. categories.

#299 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 05:14 PM:

Ditto on congrats to Teresa! That's a hypercompetitive award, already becoming a classic. Beating Bruce Sterling's site is no mean feat. Does the statuette measure 3 inches in length, and is it crewed by unicellular beings with partly human DNA?

My site is not quite in any category, as "The Ultimate Science Fiction Web Page" is so much broader in scope than any site for any particular author, film, publisher, or TV series. I'm glad NOT to be competing against Making Light!

I, Robot, Am a Camera
Serio-comedy remake of the 1955 film, adapted from the John Van Druten/Christopher Isherwood novel, that was the basis for "Cabaret." Stars Julie Harris, Laurence Harvey, and Will Smith as robot singers and writers in 1920s Berlin living a life of pleasure and ignoring the signs of encroaching tyranny. Co-stars Shelley Winters and Patrick McGoohan. 99 min. Director: Henry Cornelius and Jerry Cornelius;
Cast: Anton Diffring, Julie Harris, Laurence Harvey, Patrick McGoohan, Ron Randell, Shelley Winters, Will Smith, Harlan Ellison; uncredited scene with Governor Arnold Swartzenegger;
Rated: NR B&W
The original "I am a Camera" famously received the 2-word review: "No Leica."

As to another topic, Westercon 57 was slightly light on authors, as it did not include the Locus Awards event. Further, there is the upcoming CopperCon in the same greater Phoenix, which is specifically Literary.

#300 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 06:01 PM:

"The Beatles, after their box office boffo "Lord of the Ringos" (John Lennon as Gollum)..."

JVP, did you know the Beatles DID want to make a film of LotR?? As described in Mike Foster's article "Ringo and Samwise: Paradigms?", the casting would have been John as Gollum, Paul as Frodo, George as Gandalf, and Ringo as Sam. Scary to contemplate...

#301 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 06:02 PM:

A favorite in one of my old sig file collections was this alleged TV listing in a Marin County paper (reportedly the Marin Independent Journal):

THE WIZARD OF OZ: Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.

#302 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 06:05 PM:

Claude, I first saw that as someone's sig line. It's too clever, though, isn't it? I like to tell the description part to people and make them try to guess what movie it describes.

#303 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 06:48 PM:

I agree, Xopher, hence the use of "alleged". The Marin I-J once had a reputation for stuff like this, though. These days you're better off hitting the Cop Log in the Arcata Eye.

#304 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2004, 08:48 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft:

I'd read brief descriptions of this LOTR scheme in several of the books about The Beatles. Without yet following your link, I recall that the Fab Four did indeed own a film option for a year or so.

I once wrote a never-submitted verse play about the Beatles encountering the Three Stooges, all in pseudo-Shakespearean iambic pentameter. I've rarely spent time on any writing less likely to succeed. And that includes most of 700+ poems (of which at least 212 have been published).

Excerpt from:
The Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide: Authors: B

The Beatles: Hindu mythology recognizes that a single god can be fractionally
reincarnated in several people simultaneously. In one Vedic tale, a
god appears as 3 brothers, one of whom is 1/2 the god and the other 2
brothers are each 1/4. Well, I suspect that Orpheus was reincarnated
as 1/4 John Lennon [1940-1980], 1/4 George Harrison [1943-], 1/4 Ringo Starr
[1940-] and 1/4 Paul McCartney [1942-]; with maybe a smaller fraction
going to each of several 5th and 6th Beatles. The full complexity of
their lives, loves, and music could not have been invented by any
fantasy author, although Rock & Roll novels have proliferated in the
past 4 decades...

[sad: I need to update this with the death-year of George, Lead Guitarist of the World's #1 Rock Band Ever]

#305 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 09:54 AM:

I didn't include a link -- I don't think the article is available online. It first appeared in "Amon Hen", and was republished in the conference proceedings "Concerning Hobbits". I can send a photocopy if anyone wants it. Foster compares the plot of "Help!" to LotR...

#306 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 10:13 AM:

I think there's a section in a Delany novel (Nova, maybe?) where a future historian claims that the stories about the Beatles having their clothes torn off by screaming girls are simply diluted folkloric variations on the tale of Orpheus being torn apart by maenads (somewhat more hostile screaming females).

Since this is just the sort of claim people make to get master's degrees, I thought it was pretty funny.

#307 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 12:20 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft:

that's the sort of thing wherein the author should be offered a chance to post the article online...


I once visited Chip Delany while he was acting Chair of Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. There's a fine line between making clever jokes and being forced to cleverly chair a department of jokers...

My math trivia of the day (as discovered by Python programming), (with the "^" meaning raise to the power of):

Let Octh(n) = the nth Octahedral Number
= n(2n^2 + 1)/3

there are only two Octahedral Numbers which are squares of integers [original proof omitted here]:

Octh(1) = 1, and Octh(12) = 1156 = 34^2

But the closest Octahedral "near squares" up through Octh(30000) are:

Octh(69) = 219029 = 468^2 + 5

Octh(110) = 887370 = 942^2 + 6

Similarly, there is only one Octahedral Number which is a cube of integer [proof left to reader]:

Octh(1) = 1

However, as to near misses through Octh(20000):

Let Tet(n) = the nth Tetrahedral Number
= n(n+1)(n+2)/6


Octh(704) = 232609344 = 615^3 - 969
= 615^3 - Tet(17)


Octh(9334) + Octh(28) = 542140850914 + 14644
= 8154^3 - 6

Can anyone with serious number-crunching capacity find closer such near misses?

Okay, now I'll drive to Woodbury University and administer a Final Exam in Intermediate Algebra.

#308 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 01:21 PM:

JVP wrote:
Can anyone with serious number-crunching capacity find closer such near misses?

But, that'd take CPU cycles away from my antenna modeling projects!

Won't have spare CPU cycles until I finish building my AMD64 system this weekend.

#309 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 03:34 PM:

Xopher wrote: I think there's a section in a Delany novel (Nova, maybe?) where a future historian claims that the stories about the Beatles having their clothes torn off by screaming girls are simply diluted folkloric variations on the tale of Orpheus being torn apart by maenads (somewhat more hostile screaming females).

Since this is just the sort of claim people make to get master's degrees, I thought it was pretty funny.

*** Along the same lines, have I got an article for you!
It's going to be reprinted in my forthcoming anthology _Tolkien on Film_

#310 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 06:21 PM:

Can I just vent for a second? I was in a branch of our local library the other day, not the one we usually go to. I walked up to the circulation desk and asked where the new paperbacks were. The woman explained that there was no such thing as a "new paperback," since books always come out in hardcover first.

Stunned, I didn't think to be polite (this is a recurring problem of mine). "No they don't."

She smiled in a condescending way. "Yes, they do."

I fixed a probably not convincing smile on my face for long enough that I could walk away without being too rude.

#311 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 06:48 PM:

Xopher writes:
I think there's a section in a Delany novel (Nova, maybe?) where a future historian claims that the stories about the Beatles having their clothes torn off by screaming girls are simply diluted folkloric variations on the tale of Orpheus being torn apart by maenads (somewhat more hostile screaming females).

I don't know for sure, but I'd guess The Einstein Intersection, since the whole novel is, in a way, this sort of in-joke. Maybe I'll have to re-read it. Again.

#312 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 07:14 PM:

Alex -- you could always come back with a handful of paperback originals and challenge her to find evidence of prior hardcover publication.

I'm a bit surprised by that level of invincible ignorance; I've gotten the impression it isn't easy to get a job as a librarian -- but I suppose the qualifications don't always include certain kinds of real-world knowledge.

#313 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 08:14 PM:

If you could prove to that libararian that there are indeed first-edition paperbacks, she'd probably turn up her nose and note that *those* kind of books really aren't *books.*

#314 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 08:26 PM:

In defense of the librarian, libraries usually prefer the hardbound edition, if one exists, because it lasts longer. Also, not everyone who sits at the circulation desk is really a librarian. In fact, many local libraries fail to employ a single real librarian.

I just got back from my local library, where I was looking to put a hold on the first episode of Cosmos (which is both better produced and more pessimistic than I remembered it) and was surprised to discover that our real librarian (MLS and all) had never heard of it, or of Carl Sagan. I'd say she's in her mid 40's, and definitely American, so she would have had to have been under a pretty serious rock in about 1980 to not have noticed it. But, she was super-helpful as always...

#315 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 08:52 PM:

Alex Cohen:

From Philip K. Dick's point of view, it was a tragedy that EVERY novel of his was a paperback original, by publishers such as my father (at Macfadden-Bartel). He was never, in his lifetime, published first in hardcover. He longed to be reviewed in the New York Times, to have stories in the New Yorker, and so forth. Now Dick (along with Shakespeare and Homer) is the hottest name in Hollywood.

One should also distinguish between Mass Market paperbacks and Trade Paperbacks.

#316 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 09:57 PM:

In defense of librarians, let me point out that the person at the circ desk almost certainly was not one. In most places and cases in the US being a librarian means a masters degree from an ALA accredited institution. The person behind the desk was probably just a circ assisstant who'd been trained to operate the computers and that's about it. Don't ask people at the circ desk questions, unless it's about actually checking out a book. Ask the person at the reference desk; answering questions is what they are PAID TO DO.

This has been an unpaid and semi-hysterical announcemnt by a former librarian. I approved this message and I'm


#317 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 10:16 PM:

JVP: wrong again. From about the time of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE forward, _most_ of PKD's books were published as hardback originals. I could list 15 without even trying.

Small editions, mostly from Doubleday, often with SFBC versions available much more cheaply.

I'll defer to you around mathematics, but your knowledge of publishing leaves much to be desired.

#318 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 10:53 PM:

Tom Whitmore:

Ouch. I assume that you're right again. Perhaps I'm remembering from one of the bios of PKD something he griped about MUCH EARLIER in his career than The Man in the High Castle.

Or maybe I misunderstood the back-story to the PKD Award?

On another matter, are you willing to supply edification on the mechanics of local, regional, national, NASFIC, and Wordcons to the Chair of the series of International Conferences on Complex Systems, who are trying to be proactive in scaling up as their cons continue rapid growth, multitack-width, and cooperation with other international venues? They've asked for such an education, and you plus Ben Yallow leap to my mind as Doctors of Conrunning, Theoretical and Applied.

And it's still new to me, being deferred to around Mathematics. I felt so utterly humbled when I was an undergrad at Caltech taking mostly Grad courses in Math -- where every other person present was on the track towards PhD and professorship, and was highly unclear what track if any that I was on. Not counting the Physics, Astronomy, Philosophy, and English Lit I took.

There was a period (say 1969-1971) where I seemed to be majoring in Science Fiction, hacking, motorcycle accidents, self-publishing poetry, improvisational theatre, Go, Bridge, Hearts, commune living, romance, and fear of being shipped to Vietnam (as King so precisely nailed it in "Hearts in Atlantis").

#319 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 11:50 PM:

JvP: I felt so utterly humbled when I was an undergrad at Caltech taking mostly Grad courses in Math -- where every other person present was on the track towards PhD and professorship, and was highly unclear what track if any that I was on. Not counting the Physics, Astronomy, Philosophy, and English Lit I took.

You were on the polymath track!

#320 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2004, 11:56 PM:

I'm quite willing to share what I know with the ICCS folks. All they have to do is ask; my eddress is available here.

The backstory to the PKD award is that many of his books were paperback originals, at least in the US, and he's probably the best-known author for which that is true (in the SF field -- William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and others are better known in general).

Don't worry, I won't defer on your math if it sounds wrong to me. If I don't take the time to understand what you're saying, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

#321 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 12:18 AM:

If you are a European hotel trying to attract English-speaking customers, you might not want to say this:

When the incarnated knight Gotz welcomes the guests by fanfare sounds on the terrace with sappy words and drink from the beaker and afterwards leads you into the festivly decorated Gotzensaal (tin gods hall) or when musicians and jugglers become alive during the knight's meal, then the sober everyday-life is far away and you're "guests at Gotz".

Methinks this is an object lesson on the abuse of auto-translation services. (Side note: I wonder if they have Gotz's iron hand?)

#322 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 01:00 AM:

Alex, at our libraries, the people at the circulation desk are usually volunteers.

Larry, my local librarian friend said they buy paperbacks in things that they think will be read often because hardcovers don't last much longer than paperbacks and paperbacks are cheaper.

#323 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 02:12 AM:

Wilkommen, bienvenue, yo Duden, to Siebenseals Hostelry, wo der Götterstille machs for restful schlafing until der tenclocking oompahs von funplatzoutside. Strolling passionssplayers are to be delichting you mit der saga von Romeo und Brünnhilde. Chess sets in aller rooms. Squire service available four and twenty hours. Whether you are by here for a night or thirty years, destiny awaits you. And funs too, courselich.

Please not to be talking mit der witchen, sie is pure decoratives.

#324 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 02:42 AM:

You won't want to miss the "house baked rye pancake from the wooden oven according to old recipes and overdelivery from the castle archive, with 'a lot of good lard' ("vil gud Gruibenschmalz") with fine salt from the home salines, mixed with wild choice forest herbs."

Just follow the breadcrumbs.

#325 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 11:15 AM:

I have switched computers and am having trouble viewing comments on Making Light on IE on my new box. Mozilla shows them just fine, but IE cuts them off after a certain page length (which is corresponding to roughly three and a half comments--not useful). Any suggestions other than "use Mozilla?" Oddly, this is not a problem with any other website including Electrolite. I don't know what default settings the wretched thing may have come with, but it's messing with my reading!

(It's particularly suboptimal because something is screwy with the default fonts on Mozilla, so this is typing white on white for me, and I'm having to highlight to read my own words.)

#326 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 12:01 PM:

Mris, if I am not mistaken, this is a problem that can be fixed by hitting 'F11' twice.

#327 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 12:02 PM:

Oddly enough, Mris, the solution in IE is to press F11 twice. No, really.


#328 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 12:25 PM:

Andy Perrin:

as a follow-up to my congratulating you (1 July 2004) on your explanation of Lucas Numbers, and that the ratio of consecutive terms approaches Phi, the golden ration, let me add the following.

That the ratio of consecutive terms of the Fibonacci sequence approaches Phi was "first proved by Scottish mathematician Robert Simson in 1753 (Wells 1986, p. 62; Livio 2002, p. 101)."

Livio, M. The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number. New York: Broadway Books, 2002.

Wells, D. The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1986

These citations taken from the excellent page:

Eric W. Weisstein. "Golden Ratio."
From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.

Also, you punningly suggested that I was once "on the polymath track!"

My favorite herb was not poly-mountain, polyander, or any polydelphia.

My favorite girlfriend was not polyandrous.

If teachers were my rulers, then I was polyarchal.

I did study polyautography with Feynman.

The guitar was my polychord of choice.

It was a polychromatic era, a sort of day-glo Paisley.

I did have to check into the polyclinic now and then.

I could go on far too long, with the OED in my lap, so I'll stop here:

My religion might have been characterized as Polydaemonistic, especially when in Graduate School I was mentored by Oliver Selfridge, the father of Machine Perception, who invented Pandemonium as a computing architecture.

Now I'm thirsty from talking too much. Think I'll pour a glass of polywater...

#329 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 12:27 PM:

I'm seeing reports in another venue that teenagers and pre-teens were also interned (and tortured) at Abu Ghraib. _Der Spiegel_ has had stories on this, and there's a lot of concern in Norway. People age 15 and under can certainly use guns, but torturing kids in order to get parents to talk seems -- unworthy?

Damn. What this administration is doing to my image of the US. Not happy. I'd love it if this all turned out to not be true, but I continue to believe the worst of my government.

#330 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 12:47 PM:

Tom - there's also a video report (in German) from a regional newsmagazine. A downloadable RM file is available from Sadly, No! at

#331 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 01:28 PM:

How very strange are the ways of Microsoft. Thanks, Claude and LNHammer.

#332 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 01:39 PM:


About 6 months ago, I stayed at a Neapolitan hotel with a similarly colorful website--not so much a result of poor auto-translators as an obviously overenthusiastic student of English. Adjectives everywhere.

Sadly, I was just about to provide a link, but it looks like they've redone the website, with a much tamer English translation. Too bad. It was the thing that made me want to go there.

#333 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 01:42 PM:

Oops, scratch that. I found the pre-redesign site:

"The intimate atmosphere of the little sitting room, very friendly, is assured by the wood, greatly privileged in the furniture, from the leather of the sofas and from flowers... "

A fun place, if anyone has the need.

#334 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 01:44 PM:

Signs seen on the way home from PT yesterday:

In a store window: Best Jewelry "Value"

On an interstate overhead sign: Road work in 56.4MM

(Since it was near exit/mile 55, I figured they meant at 56.4 mile, rather than millimeters, but there was no road work there.)

#335 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 02:01 PM:

Marilee - or Mile Marker?

I can just picture some big goon in a hard hat lecturing you on the graphemics of case in English orthography... Still funny, though. And they probably should have written MM 56.4.

#336 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 03:20 PM:

Oh, TChem - that's fabulous.

"Bright, finished in particulars and well cured is the bar, where our guests are served breakfast, that can be offered directly in the room for those who prefer the warm of the sheets..."

The bar does sound like a nice cure. I am, however, rather fond of the warm of the sheets.

#337 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 03:30 PM:

I liked "Vesuvius, giving your stay an unforgettable taste" best. Just imagine, volcanic ash on your cornflakes, yum.

#338 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 04:54 PM:

Perfect, I always look forward to hours of absolute quite.

#339 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 05:19 PM:

Mary Kay wrote:
Ask the person at the reference desk; answering questions is what they are PAID TO DO.

This has been an unpaid and semi-hysterical announcemnt by a former librarian.

And seconded by a current, (under)paid reference librarian.

If your library is too underfunded to have a professional librarian staffing the reference desk, talk to the person in charge. Or if possible try a larger library.

#340 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 05:57 PM:

I love New Scientist. I learn things from it that people were not meant to know.

From Feedback (where else?), 3 July: The US House (as we all know, the American answer to the Royal Society and the Academie Française) has decided to endow a couple of science fellowships, one for an American and one for a Comm . . . er, Russian, toward the study of nuclear non-proliferation.

The Russian fellowship is named for Igor Kurchatov. The US one honors . . . wait for it . . . Edward Teller.

Somewhere, the Oppenheimer brothers are laughing their baryons off.

#341 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 06:23 PM:

John M. Ford:

That New Scientist snippet is rather grotesque and ironic, parallel to Henry Kissenger and Yasser Arafat winning Nobel Peace Prizes. My biases include being a student of a student of Oppie, although once having my mathematical Physics praised by Teller. Igor Kurchatov was worthy of the element name Kurchatovium. At least there's no Tellerium. Of course, there IS a Telluriumn, but that's another story.

"Elementary, My Dear Watson" -- the screenplay that ("based on a true story") at last explains how Sherlock Holmes helped Mendeleev discover the Periodic Table, and Bell invent the telephone, plus a gold-plated blue-plate special on the mysteries of IBM's leader, Thomas J. Watson.

Here are some results from the Mathematics research that I've been doing yesterday and today. These are "sporadic" solutions. I have a longer paper, several months in progress, that uses the theory of Elliptic Surfaces, to find four infinite sequences of "parametric" solutions to the question of whn an Octahedral Number is a Polygonal Number.

Where Octh(n) in the nth Octahedral Number,
Octh(n) = n (2n^2 + 1) / 3

I have proven (in the main paper):

The only Octahedral Numbers that are also Perfect Squares (i.e. squares of integers) are:

Octh(1) = Square(1) = 1
Octh(12) = Square(34) = 1156

In the work yesterday and today, I've pointed out that,
where P(n) in the nth Pentagonal Number,
P(n) = n (3n-1) / 2

Octh(1) = P(1) = 1

I’ve conjectured that this is the only Octahedral Pentagonal Number.

I've also shown,where H(n) is the nth Hexagonal Number,
H(n) = n (2n-1)


Octh(1) = H(1) = 1

Octh(2) = H(2) = 6

Octh(7) = H(11) = 231

I conjecture that these are the only Octahedral Hexagonal Numbers.

Further, where Hep(n) is the nth Heptagonal Number,
Hep(n) = n (5n-3) / 2


Octh(1) = Hep(1) = 1

Octh(92) = Hep(456) = 519156

I conjecture that these are the only Octahedral Heptagonal Numbers.

When O(n) is the nth Octagonal Number,
O(n) = n (3n-2)


Octh(1) = O(1) = 1

Octh(136) = O(748) = 1677016

I conjecture that these are the only Octahedral Octagonal Numbers.

and, finally, where Non(n) is the nth Nonagonal Number,
Non(n) = n (7n-5) / 2


Octh(1) = Non(1) = 1

Octh(47) = Non(141) = 69231

Octh(124) = Non(603) = 1271124

I conjecture that these three are the only Octahedral Nonagonal Numbers.

Most of the computations I've done, in Python, involve searches for "near misses" where the difference between Octahedral Numbers through about the 30,000th and Polygonal Numbers are as small as possible. Several nice examples, but that's enough for here, now.

#342 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 07:00 PM:

Back to the movies:

I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN: Howard Hawks long lost screwball horror classic. French Capt. Henri Rochard's (Cary Grant) attempt to board a troop ship with his American wife (Ann Sheridan) goes awry when he falls into the clutches of Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) seeking material to construct a mate for the Monster (Boris Karloff). (B&W, 110 min.)

#343 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 07:24 PM:

Edward Teller? Have moicy.

I liked this run-in with English idiom on TChem's site:

The calm and discreet atmosphere of a "common house" that distingueshes the Hotel, unique in its genre, is perceived on the entrance...
Thesauri are a snare for the unwary.

#344 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 07:26 PM:

The Bristol-born (1953), English director, and Co-founder of Aardman Animations, achieves new heights of Claymation, when Wallace, Gromit, Rocky the rooster (Mel Gibson), and Ginger the chicken (Julia Sawahla) rebel against the evil Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy, who are minions of Dark Lord Sauron.
Co-Executive Producers: Peter Jackson, Peter Lord, Lord Olivier, Lord Puttnam;
Directed by Del Lord, Jean-Claude Lord, Martin Lord, Pierre Lord, Cliff Lord;
Original Music by Lord Lloyd-Webber; Sound by Albert Edmund Lord III and Kim Lord; Visual Effects by Samuel Lord Black, Francois Lord, and Liz Lord. Also starring Lord Richard Attenborough, Lord Haden-Guest, Marjorie Lord, Jack Lord, Lord Tim Hudson; Screenplay by Lord Tim Hudson, Gabrielle Lord, Andy Lord, and Phil Lord; Adapted from Alfred Lord Tennyson and Lord Byron.

Rumored to be in preproduction:

Lord of the Flies II: The Natural. A Little League baseball team is shipwrecked on a desert island as World War III breaks out.

#345 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 07:40 PM:

TChem: Thanks. I like 'the warm of the sheets' too. Sometimes overly so on cold mornings.

JvP: I think people make too much of phi. It isn't nearly as special as people make out.

Example: I give you the Perrin-acci sequence! 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, ...

The Perrin-acci sequence can be generated by the following formula:

P[n] = 3*P[n-1] - 2*P[n-2], with P[1] = 1, P[2] = 2.

The ratio of adjacent terms always converges to the Platinum Ratio, P = 2.00000.... even for different choices of (positive) seeds. The Platinum Ratio has the following geometrical significance. If two perfect squares are placed one above the other, a rectangle will be formed in which the sides have the ratio P : 1.

The Platinum Ratio and the Perrin-acci Sequence play an important role in computer architecture. Memory sizes, hard drive space, and screen bit depths are all generally Perrin-acci numbers.

In pop culture, the Indigo Girls have dedicated a song to the Perrin-acci sequence. Janet Jackson comemorates P in this duet.

The Platinum Ratio is found everywhere in nature. People (usually) have P eyes, P ears, P arms, P legs, and P nostrils. Animals generally have some multiple of P legs.

I'm sure that you can think of many other examples of P, and the Perrin-acci numbers!

#346 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2004, 08:51 PM:

THE 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD WARRIOR: Manattan book lover Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) builds a quiet 20 year friendship by mail with London bookseller Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins). When she finally travels to London she finds the store empty and Doel dead in the collapse of civilization. Leather-clad and driving a V8 Interceptor, Hanff hunts down the Austrailian thugs responsible for Doel's death (Tim Burns, Vince Gil). (Color, 103 min.)

#347 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2004, 01:05 AM:

The windup . . . the pitch . . .

"We see it as 'Carrie' meets 'Mean Girls' with a food fight at the end."

"He's a funny drunk who wears armor."

"Hunky baseball player and crazy poet lady. Sequels are gonna be a problem, though."

"Zombies. Sondheim. This is the summer movie to end all summer movies."

"Stallone's the President, right? And J. Lo is this girl he knew, like, in French Indochina before the war -- did I mention he used to be Rambo? -- and they were, you know. And she comes back, only she's married to Ben Affleck, who's like, this guy, and she needs the football so she can nuke Hanoi and save Ben's worthless butt, right? And Sly's, like, should I nail her or Communism? And Britney's doing the love theme."

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