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May 5, 2008

Open thread 107
Posted by Teresa at 06:59 PM *

Hey, look—it’s an open thread that’s guaranteed to have all its comments.

Comments on Open thread 107:
#2 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:10 PM:

I kind of like the idea of Schrodinger's Thread. I expect it would make some very interesting socks, though.

#3 ::: Teresa Rogers ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:12 PM:

I guess it would and it wouldn't.

#4 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:14 PM:

Would the socks be in a box, or with a fox?

#5 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:22 PM:

An epic poem needs to be written about the events of this weekend.

#6 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:23 PM:

Jon Meltzer @5: But would this epic poem be in LOLcat?

#7 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:30 PM:


#8 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:32 PM:


#9 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:38 PM:

I finished Little Brother this weekend. To be precise, I bought it Saturday, read until my eyes blurred, woke up at 6:00, and read until I was done.

Here's my review.

And here is a story I didn't want to put on my semi-professional-ish blog.

In the spring of 2007, the library where I was working banned MySpace. There had been some gang activity, some graffiti and thefts, related to the fact that MySpace brought into the library some people who would not otherwise voluntarily visit a library. So maybe if we banned MySpace the Undesirables would stop showing up. Never mind that libraries are supposed to be about free speech.

This worked okay at some of the branch libraries, which had security officers. At my branch, though, we didn't have a security officer - and we also had, more than any other branch, the teens who didn't have computers at home. So they weren't just going to shrug and accept the loss of their social network. It took them about 20 seconds to find proxy servers, and more proxy servers. And it fell on me to kick them off.

Eventually I realized that I was on the side of the bad guys. And I wasn't just on the bad side - I was also on the losing side. It's not like you can ever block all the proxy servers there are. But I wasn't high enough on the totem pole to fight, I was barely experienced enough in my career to trust my own judgement, and when we had violent incidents or gang graffiti, I got scared. I started thinking, "If word gets around that this is the library where you can get on MySpace, it'll just get worse."

Eventually I had enough and I quit, and I now work at a library where people surf on MySpace to their hearts' content.

Since then, I never stopped to think about my complicity with a bad system, and what I might have done differently, until I read Little Brother.

#10 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:38 PM:

All its comment are belong to us.

It are on the way to reconstruction.

You have no chance of loss. Make your time.

#11 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:44 PM:

Yay! Most-favoritest online hangout is healthy again!

#12 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:46 PM:

Diatryma @2, I know the perfect designer for Schroedinger's socks: Cat Bordhi. Have you *seen* what she's done to sockitecture?

#13 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:47 PM:

The comment threads are slowly reappearing, like stars at dusk.

#14 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:50 PM:

Just finished reading the electronic, creative commons, version of Little Brother. When I started reading it, I figured I would by a copy later in order to repay Cory (and his editor, of course!). Now I want to buy a dozen copies, to leave wherever impressionable high schoolers may be found.

Things that struck me: I have rarely had the experience of enjoying a novel and recognizing it as propaganda at the same time. I'm curious whether this novel could be enjoyed by someone with more authoritarian politics. (It might be possible. For an example in the reverse direction, there's a scene in Xenocide where Valentine is trying to convince the mayor to impose curfews and martial law in order to prevent a riot, and I sympathized with her viewpoint completely.)

Little Brother does a really good job explaining why people who have "nothing" to hide still value their privacy. It also did a nice job showing the kind of mindset that is necessary to protect one's privacy.

The conventions of the children's book allow the author to directly give advice to the reader; I remember C.S. Lewis instructing me on how to clean a sword and whisper effectively. It is neat seeing this sort of interaction being used to give directions on hacking and activism. I think of the voice of this novel as the "corrupting older cousin".

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:11 PM:

I want to honour this new open thread
and thank Teresa for all that she's done
to get things going; it can't have been much fun
to learn that Making Light had fallen dead
and the whole fluorosphere waited in dread
to hear what happened. It was quite a run
but Abi did her bit, and bits were won
back from the pit to which they had been sped.
So thank you all who pitched in, thanks indeed
for your kind intervention. I'm most glad
since this blog serves to keep me fit and sane.
It's a good thing that you were here at need
or else a lot of us would have gone mad.
And that is not a good thing, you'd concede.

#16 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:15 PM:

Well, MY comment in this thread is missing!

Oh wait, here it is.

#17 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Rereading your famous post about Mary Sue got me thinking: Is there a non-fannish synonym for jossed or canonshafted? For those not into fanfic or fannish speculation, these adjectives mean "it fit the available information at the time, but later episodes/interviews/whatever proved it to be wrong." Some of my favorite fics have ended up jossed, but they're still enjoyable reading.

#18 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:28 PM:

Woo! Here's something non-disaster related: The top 100 comic book runs.

#19 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:30 PM:

Hurray and huzzah. Now all we need is a pun.

#20 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:58 PM:

Hey, there's all the other open threads, too, which I have just restored.

Also: just had a holy-crap moment when Firefox told me it couldn't find you. !! But this time it really was my local network, apparently (unlike the last time.) Having the server up on ssh at the time was very reassuring, of course...

#21 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Michael Roberts, you are the best.

#22 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:23 PM:

It's good to be home. Thank you all.

I had a gradually diminishing case of the shakes for about a day and a half after the "did we just lose two months or seven years of Making Light?" scare was resolved. That's why I was so tired by Sunday afternoon: I could barely sleep on Saturday night.

Abi and I are continuing to catalogue material. There's a lot of it.

I'm still very tired, but it's good to be home. Besides, I got three pounds of mammoth-tooth slices in the mail today, and who wouldn't be cheered up by that?

#23 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:38 PM:

"who wouldn't be cheered up by that?"

The mammoth?

#24 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:39 PM:

Mammoth tooth slices, Teresa? I'll bet they'd make excellent spindles... or at least, one of them would...

#25 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:44 PM:

I think my adrenals were depleted after the OSBP storm, so none left to react to ML's disappearance, but I recognize the can't-sleep shakes.

One of the first tools I turned to when it wouldn't load was something I found through a Sidelight or Particle: Down for everyone, or just me?

I'm very, very glad that it's back. I missed all of you.

#26 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:06 PM:

Emily H.:

I can sympathize -- it's perfectly reasonable to walk away from a job that's putting you in an untenable and/or dangerous position.

It might well have been possible to do something else -- if you'd been more experienced, better connected, etc. but in any case, such "The Boss Is Wrong" situations are always pretty hazardous (jobwise). You basically can't deal with the nastier ones at all, unless you're already ready to quit if you don't get satisfaction. That kind of undercuts your motivation to fix "their" problem!

#27 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:27 PM:

linkmeister @#23: haw!

#28 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:29 PM:

Jon Meltzer @ 13

Sheer poetry, sir, beautiful.

Making Light, et. al.

Welcome back and welcome home. 'Tis good our subjectively-long cyber-national nightmare is over.

And re: Little Brother, I teach English at a high school. I haven't been able to read it yet, but I bought a copy for me, a copy for my classroom free-read bookcase, and purchased and donated a copy to the school's library as well.

The things they need to learn ...

#29 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:29 PM:

It's so good to see ML back up. Many, many thanks to all the folks who are working to find all the pieces and put it back together again.

#30 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:55 PM:

I'm about halfway through Little Brother and I already know it's one of the books I'll be booktalking at the local middle school in June. I'd talk it up in the high school too, but the timing's bad, so they never find time to schedule me.

As for myspace, we've got a rather flimsy ban on it - if we notice the kids in the children's room on it we'll ask them to get off, since by myspace's terms of service, if they're old enough to be on it, they should be using the computers in the adult department (the dividing age is 14). Mind you, we're rather lax about getting them off and myspace is the only site we limit in that way.

We're just about to start a renovation which will give us computers in the YA room, and I am very much looking forward to not having that policy to deal with. Thankfully other than that, our library's policy is hands off unless what's on the screen bothers other patrons and no filters on the computers.

#31 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:56 PM:

I am very glad to see Making Light up again, and thanks to everyone's hard work getting it up. I have this vision of a mammoth that has fallen, and everyone has gathered round to get it on its feet again...

I have my comments from Google, I think. How can I get them to someone to work their magic, or do I need to?

#32 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 11:37 PM:

So happy to see ML back. Kudos to everyone who labored to recover the various bits and pieces.

I finished Little Brother over the weekend as well. No review, except to say that I enjoyed it and have a niece who might appreciate it.

I did have this little dialogue with my girlfriend on Sunday as we were walking through the park on one of the first sunny days in quite some time:

Me: I just finished the new Doctorow book. I really enjoyed it. Would you like to borrow it.

long pause
K: Oh, you mean Cory Doctorow. You had me confused because you don't read literary fiction, and I hadn't heard of any new E.L. Doctorow books.

Me: I don't read literary fiction? Have you ever looked at my bookshelves?

K: (clearly sensing that she almost started a fight) Oh. Sorry. I didn't mean it that way - I just meant that you read other things too. Thinking of which, I should make plans for us to have dinner with H... & C... since C said in his Livejournal that he liked some of the same SF authors as you do.

Me (mollified): Yeah, I'd like that.

#33 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Xopher (#16): Somewhen I needed to find something with [ctrl f] and set it to match case, so I was thinking my comment in restoration drama was gone.

When I decided to look for abi's comment behind it, I saw mine, and then the ticky-box which said, "match case"

#34 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:20 AM:

If you saved the page from Google in HTML form, you can email it to Patrick. Those were the last instructions I saw. (If there are newer instructions, e.g. if it should go straight to Michael Weholt, somebody please let us all know.)

#35 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:27 AM:

I am appealing to the hivemind, to seek the answer to a question seen on flickr.

Does anyone have any idea what sort of beastie this is? I've, sort of, narrowed it down from what morphology is visible, but that's a rough guess (and it turns out I was deceived, and it's not a marine beastie)

#36 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:28 AM:

Glad here is once again here.
Now if only the day lilies eaten by voles would also reappear.

#37 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:37 AM:

P.S. to my #34: ... to Michael Roberts, not Weholt. Where is my brain?

#38 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:45 AM:

Remember the Freezing in Grand Central Station prank?

It was used as a gimmick in an episode of one of the Law & Order shows last week. Robin Williams guest-starred as a charismatic anti-authoritarian creep who staged a freeze-in to cover a kidnapping. (Sort of.)

#39 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:45 AM:

You brain is probably hanging out with mine. I wish I knew where they were, it's likely fun.

#40 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:57 AM:

#35 Does anyone have any idea what sort of beastie this is?

It looks like a "red spider", which isn't a spider but a mite. "they were so tiny they looked like freckles..." sounds about right. When we're in North Wales in warm weather, huge numbers can usually be seen random-walking over white walls and window-sills (and other surfaces, but they show up best on white). As described here (scroll down for photo).

#41 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:03 AM:

Terry Karney @ #35:

It looks like some sort of mite. Yon beastie looks similar to this:

but is obviously not the same thing.

#42 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:04 AM:

Just finished the downloaded html of Little Brother.

It's somewhere between I hope this can't happen here, and I don't think it's likely that it would happen here, both much less strong conditions than I really care for. It feeds that little kernel of paranoia in my head that keeps planning for those excrement vs. air moving implement scenarios.

I have some quibbles, and I was really tempted to skim the tech exposition sections, but then again, I know a lot of that already, at least the bits that are grounded in reality.

The real problem that i have is just that dividing line between what's real and what's plausible, and what's not. Lots of SF has that nice clear dividing line of what the author has changed from our world. This doesn't. Not that that's really a problem with the book, mind you...

#43 ::: Mikael Vejdemo Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:39 AM:

Yesterday I saw the free downloads, grabbed the .txt and TeXed it. My LaTeX version (using memoir - for those who have seen it) is up for download at the remix page; and tweaking the layout options in the .tex file will give you really good layouts, and a bit of freedom in exactly what kind of layout you'd like to read.

Also - the resulting PDF from that tex-file will have hyperlinks activated to all the referenced websites.

Now to read the book too - the bits and pieces I read while marking the text up were Very Interesting, but I haven't gotten around to acquiring an easily readable copy yet.

#44 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:47 AM:

It doesn't look like the red spider mites I'm used to, as it's not flat bodied, and looks a little longer in the body, with more defined sectional structure, which is why I thought; at first, it was a gammaridean amphipod.

#45 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:55 AM:

I'm wondering (1) if anyone here has had recent experiences with moving a website(2) from an ancient 9-years-old platform to new, World Of Tomorrow technologies containing terms like "Drupal" and "CMS."

If yes, do you have one or two proverbial "what I know know about the process of upgrading I wish I knew at the start" ideas? Because I'm at the start, and I'm not quite sure where to start, from here. i.e. Where do you learn what's the first thing you should learn?

(and if you can point to actual people who know Drupal et. al, email me)

(1) knowing that the Fluorosphere has deep and varied experience which never ceases to amaze me.

(2) site now has articles, a daily newsletter, and a forum. The new version would add video (which can be useful), a small blog, and a wiki.

#46 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:55 AM:

Terry 35,

You can try popping over to What's That Bug and hunt through archives to see if it has come up there before. They remind of the freshly hatched spiders from under our deck last year.

#47 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:01 AM:

Jenny Islander #17: Is there a non-fannish synonym for jossed or canonshafted?

Rashomonified? Ok, I got nothin....

#48 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:02 AM:

Clifton Royston @37-- Where is my brain?

Hopefully not in a Google cache. Tried MSN? ;-)

JESR @36-- eaten by voles? Sounds like a fate to be wished on someone particularly awful.

#49 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:33 AM:

Terry @35,

I'd also say mite too. Doesn't have the legs and segments to be an amphipod, from what I can squint at that picture--the cephalothorax looks too smooth.

#50 ::: comelovesleep ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:56 AM:

#35 Does anyone have any idea what sort of beastie this is?

It's a moneyspider! I loved those little guys, when I lived in England. They're supposed to bring good fortune if you're sensible enough to not smash them.

As for what it *actually* is...can't help you, I'm afraid.

#51 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:11 AM:

I just nabbed the HTML file of Little Brother.

Some preliminary thoughts: since it was first mentioned I've been mulling over the fact that if I ever read YA fiction, I have to pretend that it's not talking about me, it's not for me, and it's not meant for me - it's written for an audience of one: That Kid Over There. If I apply any personal relevance to it whatsoever, I loathe it with the kind of hatred adults reserve for semicolons and people who run red lights.

The comments in the earlier thread, plus the cover copy and blurb quotes, didn't help the impression that this would be yet another of Those Books for the same audience of one: That Kid Over There. To be honest, my opinion of it sunk with every glowing review.

Turns out I was right. One paragraph in and the 'realistic teenage voice' that 'real kids will love!' made me want to punch Marcus in the face. Two paragraphs in and I settled for sneering 'you ignorant little snot, you think you're so clever' at the screen. I have never met one of us (even the ones who fell into the same ooh-I'm-so-cool egotrap Marcus firmly occupies) so idiotic that they would exercise the ability to make themselves quite so insufferable so quickly without getting a handle on who they were talking to first. Even in print. Seeing what so many of you think is an awesome teenage voice is so swell I can just feel my rude, arrogant, pretentious little heart bursting for joy.

(Three paragraphs in and I am scoffing. 'sucking chest wound of a human being'? A jailer? Really, Marcus? Your school has three vice-principals when most high schools in the USA now operate with only a principal and maybe a secretary because they can't afford one vice principal, and you're crying foul? Christ on a stick, Marcus, you're an idiot. Think. Use that much-vaunted brain of yours.)

Four paragraphs in and I'd say not to give this to any one of us with any kind of bullshit meter, because this pings mine big time. The title alone>pings it and combined with the first paragraph it's hilarious enough I'd almost file it under comedy if the coverage weren't so earnest. ('w1n5t0n', really?)

Yes, important things to say about the State of the American Nation, yes, I know, important things about security and authorities and scary people with tasers, yes, we know. That's my point here, and every one of us I know will agree with me.

The point here for me is that we live with not being taken seriously, with having our movements tracked and recorded by our parents and friends and schools every class and everywhere we go, we live with being told to shut up because we're not old enough or not wise enough to know what the Adults Are Thinking, we live with being told that we're not allowed to do this or that because it Might Hurt Us even though we know the risks are dammably low, we live with being under constant suspicion and being told to move on if we're doing nothing more than walking down the street, if we're laughing we're accused of plotting arson, if we're on a computer we must be doing something illegal, if we're doing nothing we're useless and if we try to do something we're not old or wise enough and we'll inevitably screw it up anyway so why bother teaching us, and so on. Every teenager I know can reel off a list of scary or creepy crap that's happened or been said to them because they were teenagers without even thinking about it.

The point is, welcome to our world. Welcome. Isn't it great? And here we have an adult writing as a teenager describing an adult world of ARGs and sucking chest wounds masquerading as people, and it just doesn't ring true. He's describing adult surveillance of the adult kind with adult outrage at being treated like a child, like a teenager, without acknowledging the fact that we already live with this crap, we get it from our parents and we get it from our schools and we get it from the cops and random passerby and we get it from each other and he is part of the problem.

The stuff Marcus is so arrogant about circumventing, the hey-look-at-me school of hacking, isn't the stuff we consider newsworthy or worth writing about, because it's what we live with. It's natural to us that we're suspicious of adults, that they aren't to be trusted without a lot of evidence saying we can. We don't go into detail about our roleplaying games in open forums or in public because doing that makes adults think we're doing something creepy and illegal. We don't think about the photo IDs or the cameras because they're always there anyway. We don't like it, sure, but they're there, and why screw with it and make it worse when we don't need to? People always watch us no matter how many or how few cameras there are, and we can't do anything about that. Those aren't anywhere near the list of priorities.

It just doesn't ring true, and it hasn't rung true in any discussion of it, in any review, even the cover copy itself, because it's not how it works for us. Marcus, in his tales of hacked laptops and screwing with gait recognition cams and all that, acts with the impunity of an adult, of the adult writing him. That is why Marcus is not believable, and I'm a few screens in and I already know this.

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. Being able to do something even if you shouldn't do it is an adult freedom, not a teenage one. The way Marcus goes about things in the climate he's living in (which isn't far off from a good proportion of US high schools, and even in my school which was pretty good about it otherwise the teachers took electronic rollcall every class and the school would SMS the parents' mobiles if a student was ever marked absent, plus a whole host of other security measures which didn't warrant even that much of our attention) isn't true to how we think, to the pressures we are actually under, to the rules we are forced to operate by.

All I can see happening is that this book is misunderstood by adults and loved by adults and all that conservative fearmongering backlash I've seen some comments here ask for will end up hurting us and pretty much only us. Hell, Little Brother will hurt us no matter what, whether it's banned or whether it's accepted in schools or whatever else might happen. The best result I think can I think of, in my opinion, would be for it to quietly flop.

Little Brother undermines itself by the fact of being what it is. It's a characteristic feature of YA fiction and it's particularly pernicious and offensive masquerading as something helpful and useful and oh-wow-it-lights-up cool. Given the subject, I don't see much way around that.

Yes, I can see the appeal of why it would seem to be such an awesome idea at root, and I can see why it would be so easy to think that Little Brother is its own answer to any and all objections at a distance. I personally care less about the awesome idea and more about the consequences of its execution, since I and the teenagers I know will be the ones dealing with them. We're still suffering from rules and suspicions left over from the effects of The Anarchist's Cookbook and that was published in the seventies, ffs.

No doubt I'll have more to say once I finish it. Who knows? My opinion might improve.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 06:16 AM:

Did anybody notice that Tor's latest newsletter printed OSC's 'forward' to his latest book? Next, someone will be towing(*) a line at the end of which will be a fish being chased by Schrödinger's Cat being chased by Pavlov's Dog.

(*) Not my best, Ronit, but, hey, it's very early here.

#53 ::: GoodnightJulia ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 06:46 AM:

De-lurking (and yay the site is back) to join in the praise for Little Brother.

DavidS @ 14: I was thinking about leaving copies around, too. Maybe BookCrossing?

Lindra @ 51: Maybe at 23 I'm effectively eons away from 17, but Marcus's voice didn't bother me. I heard the same criticisms about Rob Thurman's Nightlife, though, and although there were instances where I thought the voice was a little overdone, it didn't annoy me as much as it apparently annoyed some other readers. So I think your opinion is completely valid, but also that others, possibly even other teenagers, might not agree. I mean, I was a teen when I started watching Buffy, and though I recognized that the way they spoke wasn't the way I spoke, it didn't repel me.

I'm still trying to parse the rest of your comment, though. Is your main criticism (as far as believability goes) that a real teenager would never be able to get away with challenging "the system" the way Marcus does, would recognize that he wouldn't be able to and would never try? I'm open to discussion/debate over the book (if that's agreeable to our hosts, of course), but I want to make sure I understand your argument.

#54 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:35 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 38: If there is a more evil television franchise than Law and Order, I don't know what it would be. I've come to despise that show.

Lindra @ 51: I hear what you're saying about making things worse, though I don't agree with it. (I say this as someone who spent several hours in jail, illegally and without being charged, when I was seventeen for possessing a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook.) Your point about roll call occurred to me, too, but I could also imagine a system arrogant enough to skip that safeguard.

The infodumping is a bit heavy at times (which, as a technical person, I maybe find more obtrusive than someone to whom it's new, and maybe not). I think a reader otherwise taken with the narrative will apply Roger Penrose's suggestion to the reader's of The Emperor's New Mind to those bothered by the equations: Skip over it and keep going.

There's a point in your argument, though, which pains me to read:

Being able to do something even if you shouldn't do it is an adult freedom, not a teenage one.

Been a teenager (he said, from memories of the seventies) was precisely about taking those freedoms from those unwilling (often with good motivations, sometimes not) to allow them. That conflict is part of the process of maturation, and that you write so well and yet hold that retrograde belief yourself suggests to me that you are (forgive me) still a child, whatever your age.

#55 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:37 AM:

Lindra -- you may be right that your generation has a lot more crap to deal with, but the lack of civil liberties for teens is hardly a new problem. I'm 41 and it pissed me off, too. What you're describing is real, and today's world is arguably far more pernicious in its technique, but welcome, not just to your world, but to the world. Isn't it great? I've always thought that the real problem there is that many people attain intellectual adulthood early in life -- far earlier than our society is ready to grant them adulthood. In other societies, you can kill your bear and get down to the business of being a man, but not here and now.

As to having the freedom to do what's right even in the face of society's opposition -- no. Nobody has that freedom to do what they want, without society's opposition. Teens feel it more keenly, being more social animals to start with, but there's a reason nobody does jack about stopping the war, for instance, even though 70% of Americans think it was a bad idea. The vast majority of us find it impossible to thwart peer pressure.

In fact, I'd say the prime reason people are kicking up such a fuss about this book is a sense of, "Finally somebody's saying something about this crap." Cory's good at thwarting peer pressure (largely by selecting his peers wisely, which is the best any of us can do.) This book could be the literary equivalent of crayon on toilet paper and people would still recommend it to every teen they know.

I'll agree with your sentiment of Marcus' voice. It doesn't ring true to me, either -- but then, it does sound exactly like other YA fiction I've read. (I'm thinking Diane Duane and that Max Ride thing, and other stuff my daughter, now 13, has greatly enjoyed.) And so it's a good bet that most teens won't find it too off-putting. And if those teens find in it a tale of somebody who bucks the system, and that gets slipped under the radar, that's good for all of us. The more people who realize there's fascism a-brew, but that it's not inevitable, the better.

Cory Doctorow has this effect, I've noted. You either love him or hate him; most people seem to have a visceral reaction one way or the other. It's weird.

#56 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:49 AM:

By the way, I noticed Marcus makes the dreaded "Things have to get worse before they get better" argument. Knowing what Patrick has said of that argument, then seeing it in a book he edited, written by his friend, a book he says is one of those he's most proud of helping bring into the world, well, that kind of tickled me. It's an easy argument easily abused--here, valid in context.

#57 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:55 AM:

Goodnight Julia @ 53:

Ack! I was nervous and previewing a zillion times with too many different thoughts going on and apparently wrote all the sense out of it. Sorry about that.

Yeah, I stated the language thing a bit strongly. No doubt there are others my age who wouldn't (and didn't) find his voice irritating; I just haven't heard from them yet, but the possibility is there. I wasn't much affected by Buffy's language either, but I think my objection is more that Marcus' language strikes me as pompous and overconfident. It's so very 'I am awesome so I will namedrop everything awesome so you will understand how awesome it is and how awesome I am for knowing how awesome it is', especially in the beginning, and it was a struggle to read through it.

I'm sort of circling around my main point, here - bear with me, please?

I think Marcus' characterisation is inconsistent with that of a real teenager, and with Doctorow's goal, on several fronts. Marcus is very plainly a vehicle, and while some ideological vehicles can be good reads, I think the way he's set up undermines what he's trying to advocate.

It's a question of relevance. This is a book people want teenagers to read, to get them thinking critically about security and that, but Marcus is never in a position where he is learning any of this. He knows too much and his voice never (for me) stops being cocky to the point its offputting.

He gives advice on how to start learning and gives out springboards to start from on various topics but we don't see him learning anything himself other than getting a few 'oops, I overlooked that' moments (which aren't even internally consistent). He's a static character who is meant to be relevant to teenagers who might not even have a first clue about how to start with that kind of I HAS RIGHTS security beliefs/activism, and Marcus reads as someone who is already very, very indoctrinated into that school of thinking. To be honest, I don't think it reads as cool. It's not appealing. He sounds a little like a fanatic, all 'yeah yeah yeah this is how it is' while not bothering to spell out what it means to think that way. Blah blah Bill of Righs blah blah you can skip school blah blah blah... but what does it mean? Why should I think this way? It's served up as answering its own question and it doesn't at all.

I'm still noodling a little, sorry. I think it's written with characterisation and an ideology that are equally certain and sure and their sureness ends up working against each other. Both the message and the character are written to tell us that this is the better way of things as a matter of course, that we should of course care (and Marcus' interactions with his father are explictly written to show that his father is wrong) and while adults who are familiar with that school of thinking and Boing Boing, etc. are going to love it for falling smack in the middle of what they already know to be true, teenagers who are way too familiar with the powerlessness that comes with being a teenager are going to look at this and think 'no way can I do any of that'. It's a lot to take in when it's so directly at odds with a lot of what we're being told.

And the ones that are smart enough to understand it and not smart enough to understand that trying these things out can and will backfire without due caution are going to cause problems for for the rest, while the ones who already agree with it probably know all of it already and don't need it.

I get that the message is important. I agree that it is important. But as recruitment, it doesn't work. As an ideological manual, it doesn't work.

#58 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:11 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 54:

I don't know. On the one hand, there are places where it's probably not going to get much worse, if at all. On the other hand, I can see well-meaning parents and teachers making a situation worse where they teach it or talk about it, but there's nowhere for the teens in question to test things out and they come up hard against rules and regulations. Some teachers will make that allowance and some won't. I suppose I'll have to trust that there are those who do. I still worry, though.

Michael Roberts @ 55:

That was really arrogant of me to say, wasn't it? I'm sorry about that; I should have clarified to say that the problems of lack of civil liberties are everyone's problem, not just mine, no matter how it feels to me at the time of posting.

You're right about peer pressure.

I agree with the 'someone's finally saying something about it' sentiment, yes. My concern is more 'was Little Brother the wisest and the most useful way to say it'? which is comparative nitpicking, really.

He's a very visceral writer. It's difficult to take an objective standpoint, moreso than with other writers where one can at least scrub off some of the personal bits and think about it at a distance, but Doctorow scribbles his convictions right onto the page and that much belief, on topics which concern a hell of a lot of people and polarise people any way they're presented, packs an emotional wallop. That's my theory, in any case.

#59 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:19 AM:

Mods - can we have a "thoroughly spoiled" thread for Little Brother so people can discuss it freely?

#60 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:37 AM:

*pokes the MoveableType architecture*

Is it sealed? Is it safe?

#61 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:39 AM:

I second Mary Dell's recommendation. Sooner or later, I'm going to want to read _Little Brother_ without already knowing what happens in it....

#62 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:40 AM:

Mary Dell: good suggestion. Our thoroughly spoiled little brother now has a thread of his own.

#63 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:44 AM:

Yes. I rot-13'd the stuff I thought might be spoilerish, but temptation always beckons.

(Good temptation. Nice temptation. Good boy. Now behave.)

#64 ::: GoodnightJulia ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:49 AM:

Lindra @ 57: No problem. I think I mostly understood your original post, I just didn't want to make a wrong assumption and end up arguing a point you weren't actually making. If that makes sense. It's early in the morning.

Actually I agree with much of what you said, even though I liked the book.

And now I'll move over to the new thread before I say more.

#65 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:59 AM:

Sheesh. I wish as a teenager I could have expressed myself as well as Lindra does.

#66 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:06 AM:

I wish as a 41-year-old I could express myself as well as Lindra does. Lucky punk.

#67 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:07 AM:

John #54: I sometimes see bits of (I think) Law and Order in the gym, when the other TVs are showing golf and Larry King interviewing Mercury Militia types or professional wrestlers or whatever[1]. It's a pretty distorting filter in a lot of ways, but then all TV is that, and it's dismaying to see how often people build political rhetoric and ultimately policies and personal decisions on that distorted TV picture. For example, how many people keep a gun in the house to keep themselves safe from crime, but don't bother checking the smoke detector batteries? Or obsess about teaching their kids to stay away from strangers, but don't bother with swimming lessons? We get a lot of our weird risk ideas from TV shows like that one.

And my impression is that a realistic picture of serious crime isn't interesting and exotic, so much as depressing and dismal crap like a gang member killing some bystanders during a shootout over who gets to sell crack on a particular street corner, or some lady's drunken abusive boyfriend finally managing to kill her instead of just beating the hell out of her. But it's not all that much fun to watch obvious lowlifes get paraded around, or to watch clever prosecutors outthink high-school dropout crackheads and trick them into admitting guilt or something.

[1] Was Larry King always basically the TV version of _The National Enquirer_?

#68 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:26 AM:

Michael #65: These damned kids[1] today, expressing themselves in coherent written form like adults. Why, in my day, you had to spend several years recovering from bad high school instruction in writing before you could write like that.

Lindra #58: Can you think of examples of this kind of book that worked better for you? From your comments, you seem to find most or all YA stuff pretty annoying.

I rather liked Madeline L'Engle's books, including both the YA stuff and the adult stuff. I read most of them as an adult, though, so I'm not sure I'm reacting the way you would. (But I also wasn't looking for Improving Books for Young People, just books I'd enjoy reading.) House Like a Lotus is probably a bit outside the range you'd call YA (it deals with some moderately heavy stuff), but its protagonist is a smart moderately outcast 16 year old girl and it seemed to me to hold together pretty well. I also liked a lot of Heinlein's stuff which was supposedly written for juveniles, but which was actually often him slipping stuff past the prudes[2].

[1] Actually, I think she said she was 17-18, so not a kid, but "these young adults today" just doesn't have the same ring....

[2] IMO, he was a much better writer when narrowly constrained by juvenile book rules than when he could insert gratuitous sex scenes, open marriages, incest, etc., into his books.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:29 AM:


Why does San Francisco's Castro Theater always show stuff I'd love to see when I'm not visiting? It is a personal affront that, instead of showing The Black Hole and Moonraker the week of July 14, it will do so on May 17. And Tron and Brainstorm will be shown on July 4.


#70 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:42 AM:

Lindra @ 57: "I have never met one of us (even the ones who fell into the same ooh-I'm-so-cool egotrap Marcus firmly occupies) so idiotic that they would exercise the ability to make themselves quite so insufferable so quickly without getting a handle on who they were talking to first."

I haven't read Little Brother yet, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that, possibly, Marcus might develop a bit over the course of the book. He might be being deliberately set up as overconfident so as to make his inevitable takedown that much more painful, and the lessons learned all the more relevant.

(Also, I must say you clearly have excellent taste in friends, if you think that there are limits to teenage overconfidence and lack of self-awareness. Especially in the privacy of one's own head.)

"...teenagers who are way too familiar with the powerlessness that comes with being a teenager are going to look at this and think 'no way can I do any of that'."

Like how BtVS totally flopped because all the people watching it were like, "What, a cheerleader who fights evil and is superstrong? No way I can do any of that." Superpower fantasies are popular among the powerless precisely because they get to indulge in something outside of their daily experience.

#71 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:45 AM:

@Lindra #51, 57, 58:
From your comments, it sounds like you have not finished the book yet. Based on the quality and, well, emphaticness of your comments on what you have read to date, I am very much looking forward to your comments after you've finished the book!

@Michael Weholt and Michael Roberts #65-66: Me too, though I'm "only" 32 yet.

Moving over to the Spoiled thread so as not to mess it up for those who haven't finished it yet. (Lucky people they are! I want to read it for the first time again!)


#72 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:56 AM:

@Lindra #51, 57, 58:

Whoops! Sorry, I don't mean to imply that you will be the "Token Young Adult" whom I think "will speak for all YA's". I'm still not all that good at getting my brain to not automatically assign individual people to groups and consider them to be The Representative for their group. I'm recognizing that it happens, though, so hopefully I can learn to nip such things quickly so I can *think* before writing such things...

I still look forward to your commentary when you finish the book though.


#73 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:10 AM:

Lindra: OK, now you've got me thinking about the narrative voices of various young characters. I'm going to toss out a few books that comes to mind; for those which you've read, can you say which protagonists stack up as "realistic" for you?

Scott Westerfield's Midnighters trilogy. (Or his Uglies series -- I haven't gotten to reading it yet, but plenty others here have.)

Neil Gaiman's Coraline.

James Clemens' Shadowfall and .

John C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos series.

Terry Pratchett's Tiffany

Any of Heinlein's "juvies"

Almost anything by Doris Piserchia.

#74 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:14 AM:

Bah. the sequel to Shadowfall lost its name to the Naith; the title is Hinterland.

#75 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:18 AM:

Michael Roberts @55 - I don't hate Cory Doctorow; I just don't think he's a very good writer and I choose to spend my reading time on other things. Of course you don't hear from people who don't either love or hate his books - if people had to talk about all the things they didn't care about, they'd never get to do anything else.

For me, he falls into that category of "scifi authors with grand ideas, but lacking in story/chops". I mean, it's a general failing of the genre, and I know that when I pick up a genre book, but for some reason I find it especially irritating in contemporary authors. Maybe someone will remix "Little Brother" in essay form with the story bits taken out - I'd probably read it then.

#76 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Dave@40: And as also seen here, and elsewhere on that site :-)

#77 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:27 AM:

albatross @ 69:

I don't go looking for Improving Books For Young People either, but it's a popular sub-genre in YA fiction, along with What I Wish I Had Known At Your Age, and they frequently cross over. Neither are subgenres I'd recommend.

There is some good YA out there, though (she says). Off the top of my head, although most of the authors are Australian:

John Marsden's Tomorrow series; Laurie Anderson, Speak in particular; I've always been a fan of Judy Blume and would recommend most of her work; Lois Lowry's Anastasia series; Emily Rodda's Deltora Quest (yes, I know, but I loved it at fifteen); Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl; Ruth Park's Playing Beatie Bow, my copy of which I have adored to dogeared bits; Elizabeth Honey's 45 + 47 Stella Street and the sequel Fiddleback; Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn, which I hated when I was twelve and loved when I was sixteen, and others; Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy, the first (Sabriel) in particular; Andy Griffiths, particularly his Just! series (hilarious when I was ten, still hilarious when I was sixteen), Morris Gleitzman; Paul Jennings; Robin Klein, particularly The Listmaker although her others are good too; Cynthia Voight for Dicey's Song.

My first Heinlein was Sail Beyond The Sunset, and I've never read his juveniles - I seem to tend toward his later work.

heresiarch @ 70:

Yeah, those were my preliminary comments. I'm somewhere between halfway and two-thirds through and quite liking it, actually, even if I disagree on a lot of points. Your limb appears to be the correct one from what I'm reading.

(My friends frequently don't take the wise route. But they at least get a sense of how just how much trouble they're in if they do and start plotting out how to get out of it the moment they decide not to be polite for whichever reason. Their reasons aren't always sensible either. But there's at least a few seconds of thought somewhere in there.)

Superpower fantasies are popular among the powerless precisely because they get to indulge in something outside of their daily experience

Which is true, yes. However, Little Brother has aspects of being a superpower fantasy combined with urban realism. That's problematic when the driving point behind the superpower fantasy in question is 'this could be you'!

There's no way to learn how to be one girl in all the world with the power to stop evil, but there are ways to learn how to do all or a lot of the things Marcus does, which is my point exactly (or one of them, I have too many points): Little Brother is trying to combine a character who has many of the characteristics of a superhero with the idea that you can be a superhero too!, which defeats the idea of a superhero.

#78 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:39 AM:


Who's going? Four of us, at least. Will there be another ML gathering?

Susan -- how about the dance panel getting together for lunch Saturday?

#79 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:50 AM:

David Harmon @ 73:

This is where I put my shameface on and admit I haven't read any of those. (Yet. I'm taking down a list of the books mentioned and will get them from the local library.) Do you mind if I read them in the next few days and get back to you? Hopefully this thread will be active then, if you're still interested.

My favourite voices of any young character I've read so far are a tossup between Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park, Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein, and 45 + 47 Stella Street by Elizabeth Honey. All are Australian authors and I recommend them to the skies.

#80 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:50 AM:

#68 albatross: Why, in my day, you had to spend several years recovering from bad high school instruction in writing before you could write like that.

I don't know when your day was exactly, but it was certainly true in my day and I strongly suspect it's still true in this day.

As part of my graduate fellowship, I taught the equivalent of "Freshman English" for a few years and by far the most difficult part of it was getting many of my students to believe that the effusive praise their high school English teachers had heaped on them for being able to throw around Big Words was pretty horrifically misplaced.

Every once in a while you'd get a student who was either naturally gifted at expressing him-or-herself in a concise, straightforward manner, or who had a teacher who actually could teach writing to the idea instead of the teacher. What a delight that was.

#81 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:51 AM:

Cat Meadors @ 75... "scifi authors with grand ideas, but lacking in story/chops"

Most if not all of them?
I wouldn't say that.

#82 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:59 AM:

Dear Hosts-- may we also have a K'zoo thread?

I'm chairing the panel for Susan and Tracie (and a third who I'm sure we'll introduce to the joys of Making Light if she's not already here). Who else will we see?

#83 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:04 AM:

Lindra #77: I'll have to look for some of those (on the assumption that what you're describing are good books that are often marketed to young adults).

I thought To Sail Beyond the Sunset was very good in its non-SF descriptions the main character's life, the whole historical fiction of being a smart and practical freethinker living in that time and place. I liked it less and less as it incorporated more and more SF-ish elements, and didn't care for the ending at all. I kept thinking he must have started this as something like a memoir of his own upbringing and life, but mangled a bit to fit his previous stories/future history and his own weird worldview. The sense of living in small town Missouri or Kansas City in that time, being so different in your beliefs and worldview than the official, socially acceptable beliefs and worldview, that felt very real to me somehow.

#84 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:09 AM:

Lindra :

Little Brother is trying to combine a character who has many of the characteristics of a superhero with the idea that you can be a superhero too!, which defeats the idea of a superhero.

Aah. Yeah. Yeah, I see what you're getting at here.

But you don't have to be a Hacker Superhero to achieve something, given that teens are more likely to face the travails that Marcus goes up against in the opening pages (microwaving RFIDs, etc.) than what Marcus goes up against in the rest of the book.

As I related upthread, all it took to bring me down was a series of proxy servers. It took about 20 seconds to get through the block and could've been done by a trained monkey.

It doesn't take a superhero.

#85 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:14 AM:

*pops her head up, emotionally battered but functional*

Tracie & Sisuile, I just emailed about doing dinner Friday night for the dance panel. I'm coming in Friday afternoon, leaving Sunday morning. All Saturday meals also available, but would rather do the dance panel thing the night before if it works for peoples' schedules. I'll have a car, so we can go off-campus.

#86 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:27 AM:

Michael #80:

ISTM that the net is wonderful for learning how to write[1] in a readable, effective way, because you have good reasons to write a lot of text, and you get feedback and see the effects of what you wrote. And you can also watch how other people write, and how it works out for them. I think I learned much more about effective writing from a couple years chatting on Relay and irc and arguing politics and space policy and crypto on BITNET lists and Usenet than I did in any number of classes in high school and college.

"Everything I ever needed to know about writing I learned on Usenet. And ISTM U ppl should STFU, coz the lurkers are supportin' me in email."

[1] I'm just going to ignore the fact that in this company, I'm nowhere in the top 100 people to ask about how to learn to write effectively....

#87 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Lindra: Well, my own shameface is that I'm pretty weak in non-SF fiction! On the other hand, I need to visit the library anyway... ;-)

Brief orienting notes regarding my samples:

Scott Westerfield is the current Hot Name in YA SF, though Midnighters is more horror/fantasy than science fiction. I was struck by the vulnerability of the protagonists, and that sometimes they do learn the hard way.

Neil Gaiman's Coraline struck me as smart and brave, without being reckless or superhuman.

James Clemens' Shadowfall and Hinterland -- fantasy with some young protagonists, but they've been summarily thrown in the deep end along with the grown-ups.

John C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos series -- Possibly unfair, as the protagonists are manifestly not meant to be ordinary teenagers.

Terry Pratchett: Arguably the greatest living satirist of our time. The "Tiffany" books are a branch of his "Discworld" series, the branch starting with The Wee Free Men. The protagonist is smart and brave, but she's also frequently in over her head!

Heinlein's "juvies": His "can-do" teens became a stereotype, but they have their moments. Podkayne Of Mars breaks from his pattern in some significant ways.

Doris Piserchia: Long out of print, but I've been collecting her juveniles for a while. Her usual setup was an adolescent girl, abandoned or otherwise "wild", with some kind of world-hopping power, and/or an animal companion (sometimes one provides the other), careering through the multiverse like a misguided missile.

#88 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:43 AM:

#86 albatross: ISTM that the net is wonderful for learning how to write[1] in a readable, effective way...

I think, despite much fretty fretty punditry to the contrary, you are quite right.

Obviously there are a number of bad habits people can pick up (trollishness, e.g.), but I think if you're starting out with a relatively clear thinking mind wanting to express itself in good faith, there are plenty of Learning By Doing opportunities on the web and/or intertubes. Hell, I've certainly become a better writer from the experience. At least in my estimation, which may or may not count for much.

#89 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:46 AM:

In line with David Harmon #87's list:

Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge -- tough, smart girl avec goose named Saracen.

#90 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:57 AM:

Good to be home, indeed, Teresa. (The world must be back to rights, because somewhere in the world, there's still Bacon and Egg Soup....

#91 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:05 PM:

albatross @ 83:

(Yes, they're all good books in themselves, although the quality varies from excellent to worthwhile reading.)

It felt that way to me, too. There was quite a bit of small detail in there that sounded like they'd been taken from memory, or that he'd done some fairly close research. It's one of the strongest character backgrounds I've ever read out of Heinlein, and though I haven't read the juveniles I'd venture a guess those don't come close either. Mangled is about right, as well - it started off so well, good beginning, excellent character intimacy, and somewhere two-thirds in, it dropped into confused weirdness. It was almost as though he realised all of a sudden that it was too true to life and he had to push it away from reality somehow, and what better way to do that than introduce SF? Thing is, I liked Maureen. I really, really liked her. And then he went and wrote things and made it less about Maureen and more about Weirdness. I threw a full spoiled-child fit when I finished it the first time, stomping and all. It was so disappointing.

Emily H @ 84:

It doesn't take a superhero.
I think this is the crux of it: is that the impression people come away with? I'm leaning toward yes, while your stance suggests no.

David Harmon @ 87:

Ah, the wonders of libraries and the librarians who let us borrow their precious books when we ask nicely. Wee Free Men! I've always planned on getting around to reading that, but I end up rereading the City Guard branches instead and planning to become Vimes when I am a grownup.

Out of that lsit Doris Piserchia sounds the most intriguing. I'm curious about her rarity - would she be available at a fairly small library, or would she require the untold magics of interstate loan?

#92 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:09 PM:

At 17-18 (not very long ago, really), I was only picking up those YA novels from authors I loved in continuing series, and most of them are fantasy. SF/F voices usually don't bother me as condescending and didn't at that point, because I know they are generally writing for an even younger audience who won't catch it and can use the lessons.

I think part of the problem (and I know it's one for me) is that those of us who are bibliophiles and reasonably quick run for the adult sections of the library/bookstore as soon as we can. Thus, we get away from the "improving" YA literature as fast as possible except for in English class. Then when we get something like Little Brother, which is (SF) Literature with a Point from which We as Young Adults are Supposed to Draw Parallels by A Wise and Knowing Adult, it jars us. I got enough of that in English class, thank you, and still have a negative viceral reaction to that sort of Literature.

Little Brother seems to be a book to read because it has a point, not for the pleasure of reading it because the story is engaging, engrossing, and worth the joy. Thatis why I still read so much YA. I like Diane Duane's books because they're stories first and something that expands perspective second - In many ways, those were the first "urban fantasy" I had read and managed to make me think seriously about religion at a point when I needed to. If the book had had a point that it beat me over the head with, I wouldn't have liked them nearly as much, I think. However, I started reading them in 6th grade, and now my re-reads are tinged with the memory of all the other times I read them.

My current "buy if I see it" list has a lot of authors who flip back and forth across the YA/Adult boundary: Robin McKinley, Madeline L'Engle*, Tamora Pierce, Diane Duane, Ursula LeGuin, Diane Wynne Jones, etc. I will say that there are several YA authors that I can't read anymore for exactly the reasons you describe above - I'm technically an adult these days and I hate getting preached at. Though I think growth is something that these authors were striving for even through the preaching - the lessons that many of us learned by reading YA fantasy this generation have great value. The world is bigger than you think. Girls can be heroes, too. Heroism isn't just about beating people up, it's mostly about using your brain. Courage is a priceless comodity and is not the absence of fear. Magic is all very well, but it's what you do with or with out it that matters. Ask for help, stupid. Learn to trust. Love to learn. And something many of those authors pushed with all their hearts - a girl is not insignificant, she can have just as much an effect as any boy. She can be a hero, she can be a queen, a Rider, a Herald, a mercenary, a mage, a Knight, a scientist, a doctor, a vetrinarian, a teacher, a mother, a brain. It's the fruit of the fight - girls who read these books don't accept "Because you're a GIRL!!" as a valid reason that we can't be or do something. But the way many of these authors pushed that point home was by just having it be so. It wasn't a big deal in the books, why should it be so in the real world. However, you can see in some earlier books/older authors that the fight is still their central point. I don't read those anymore. I can't.

That may be what Doctorow is doing, that a new generation who has a new fight on their hands and the fight is the point, but you're right. It's preachy enough that I don't see my friends in many of the charecters. They're not real teens to me and so the point makes me cringe, as it becomes Another Piece of Literature I Should Read and Improve Myself Upon.

*I still am working on the goal I set at 10 - own everything of hers I can. Still working on the non-fiction.

#93 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Regarding YAs: Reviews in the July issue of you-know-what will be devoted to them, so I've been reading tons. Another notable Australian author is D.M. Cornish (trilogy which started with Foundling and now has sequel Lamplighter out). Though the vast appendices initially put me off, and only some of the pervasive "exotic word" definitions seem really useful, the writing itself is impressive: vivid, with a good ongoing story. Since it also comes with drawings by the author, it's a bit like the bastard son of Mervyn Peake. (I won't discuss it further, for fear of plagiarizing my own eventual column.)

And more goodies are coming soon, from people like Diana Wynne Jones.

#94 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:35 PM:

Lindra: First, you're amazing. You write very well. If you hadn't told us you were a teenager I'd never have guessed.

Second, I bet you read every bit as well as you write, or even better, and so I doubt there's any YA fiction that really works for you. I remember reading YA fiction after reading The Lord of the Rings in junior high, and rolling my eyes a lot. Tenth graders who read at the 10¹² grade level are not the target market for this book; tenth graders who read at tenth grade level are.

Third, FINISH THE BOOK. I found Marcus much more likeable by the end.

Fourth, there might be a bit of the "brick wall on stage" effect going on here. You know that one? If you build a brick wall with real bricks and mortar on stage, it will look fake from the 10th row. To make it look real, you have to put up a muslin frame and paint bricks onto it. If you transcribe teenage speech (anyone's, actually) exactly as it's spoken, it looks stupid and makes THEM look stupid, because written English is quite different from spoken English, to the point where some linguists have called it a separate dialect. Just a thought.

Fifth, Marcus is in California, and nobody I know talks like him (I live in New Jersey).

Sixth, Cory did get a couple of things wrong. There are a couple places where I could detect some Canadianisms creeping in.

#95 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:43 PM:

Serge @52, it makes it feel like home. Thank you for putting your best foot forward at that early hour.

#96 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:45 PM:

Sisuile @ 92:

Exactly. Yes, that was my problem with it, and my reaction was, as you said, way too visceral. In retrospect I posted too early while I was still experiencing that twinge of 'ugh, not again!'.

I ran for the adult section as fast as I could, too, but the thing is, I still read YA and I do in fact like YA as a whole at times despite how much I slam the genre. It's that so much of what's recommended are, well, the sorts of books taught in English classes With Important Points, and I've learnt to avoid them, but then you get something like Little Brother recommended all over the place and it is jarring, yes, because there's all this other awesome YA out there and there's this and in some ways it's almost orthogonal to what I've come to expect of quality YA fiction.

I often fall into the (bad) habit of barely thinking of quality YA as YA because the subgenres of Good Story and Good Characters are to some authors so separate from the subgenres of Listen Up, Kid and Moral Lesson that it's tedious and really very obvious, and the kind of YA that is brought up in discussions tends to fall into the latter two. Except in places where it doesn't, and then it does for one book or another, and -- I don't know about you -- I react with a kind of mild horror. ML is recommending what? etc.

The lessons are important, of course they are, and they need to be said. It's that the delivery methods are different as a spray can and a hammer, and once I've learnt that I hate being hit in the head with a hammer, or that the spray can stories are awesome for all the background graffiti that's taken as perfectly normal and pretties up the landscape to boot, I can't stand the hammer stories anymore because of the unsettling sense that they should be painting the wall, not putting holes in it, to stretch the simile too far.

This thread gives me the impression I really, really, really should read more Madeline L'Engle. Anywhere specific I should start?

#97 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:47 PM:

Ronit @ 95... You're welcome. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.

#98 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:49 PM:

Lindra 96: stretch the simile too far.

Yes, that simile was stretched to the point where it snapped and recoiled and put out its own eye, and may have injured other innocent similes who were just walking by at the time. My metaphor has now suffered a similar (npi) fate.

#99 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:49 PM:

Sisuile #92:

I can think of a bunch of good SF with young characters playing major roles without being superheroes, exactly. And yes, not needing to beat anyone up or get into a shootout or whatever. ISTM that a critical lesson of fiction at all ages/levels is that you're not some helpless pawn under the control of the bigger and richer and more powerful people. Even if you can't beat anyone up or buy anyone off, you've got a mind and eyes and hands and courage and beliefs, and you can take meaningful action. And you can take responsibility for making things better, or for making your own world better.

Gaiman and Pratchet had a wonderfully funny book called Good Omens, in which three of the important characters in the book were pretty young, and were not immobilized by this fact. Though one of them was kind of superheroey, in a Revelations sort of sense. (I'm not sure this book would be nearly as funny if you weren't raised with some minimal cultural familiarity with Protestant Christian millenialist ideas.)

Vinge's The Peace War has a main character who's about 15, and isn't a superhero, though he's way, way off on the far right end of the intelligence distribution, and has certainly had an interesting life. A bunch of his books feature pretty normal but bright kids maturing as the story progresses--A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep both have bits of this.

L Neil Smith's Pallas follows a non-superhuman guy from about age 15 to the point where he's a grandfather, but a lot of the core action that sets his life's path happens when he's very young.

Shulman's The Rainbow Cadenza> also follows a young, very talented but not at all superhuman woman as she matures and resolves her big plot/life difficulties.

All these characters solve their problems by thinking much more than by fighting, though there are small bits of fighting in each one. One thing that strikes me is that I don't think any of them are marketed as YA, partly because there are occasional sexual references. (By contrast, it seems like Card's Ender's Game is marketed as a YA title, which is sort of amazing, given how amazingly dark and horrible the story really is.)

#100 ::: Shay ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:53 PM:

So I've been wondering, are lurkers the dark matter in the fluorosphere?

(Prompted by finding someone on my LJ flist who also got an ARC of Little Brother from the Making Light offer. I didn't know she was a lurker, too.)

#101 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:55 PM:


... the subgenres of Good Story and Good Characters are to some authors so separate from the subgenres of Listen Up, Kid and Moral Lesson ...

[laughing too hard to continue reading] Oh, well said!

#102 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:01 PM:

Xopher @ 94:

First - I give ML and its commenters, including you, partial credit. Three (four?) years of lurking gave me a significant starting point.

Second - there is YA fiction that works for me, but it has to be YA fiction that sounds like me or my friends, or at least credits us with thought processes. Which is probably more of a tough call than it sounds ('of course they all think like I do!' ego-centrism, etc.).

Third - I'm glad to hear he was more likeable by the end, so I will try. I'm tempted to ask if I really truly have to, but he is already growing on me a little, so I won't.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth - you could be right about the brick wall, but probably not in the way you mean, exactly. Marcus speaks in complete sentences, and so do I and my friends and the people I know. He just doesn't speak in the sentence I'm accustomed to, sentences with commas and digressions and true tangents meandering back toward the original topic. The dialect is very different from mine, yes, because I'm not in the US or ever have been, but I'm used to that from other novels. There's a kind of authenticity to it, but it's the same fake-authentic they describe of the San Fran baths. I don't know, precisely. Hm. I'll have to think about this.

#103 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:01 PM:

Lindra #96:

I'd start with House Like a Lotus or Certain Women, just because those are my favorite of her books. The YA/juvenile books are quite good, but they're definitely written for younger readers, so a lot of what an adult worldview wants to see is a bit out of focus. Of those, Arm of the Starfish has a somewhat oddball SFish premise, but is a good read. Meet the Austins and A Ring of Endless Light are, IMO, very good. I didn't care much for her (I think) last novel, Troubling a Star--it just didn't seem to be as intricate and subtle and well put together as her earlier work. I really liked The Small Rain, which I think was her first novel. She wrote a sequel much, much later, which was good, but IMO not as good as the first book. The sequel was called A Severed Wasp.

One sideline that's interesting to me is that she's openly Christian, and that plays an important part in many of the stories, but it's hard to explain how far her writing is from what I think of as Christian polemical writing.

#104 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Xopher @94: 10¹² grade? I guess I'll have to put Little Brother aside until I'm post-human, and can spare a thousand billion iterations to read it.

#105 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:15 PM:

NelC: You misread me. I said they were NOT the target market for the book.

And there are plenty of people around who read at an effectively infinite grade level. I was paying Lindra a compliment.

#106 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:19 PM:

I can second Lindra's recommendation of John Marsden. I've just started the Tomorrow series, so can't say much about it, but So Much to Tell You is a lovely standalone story (non-SF, though). Winter is also nicely written and engaging, but considerably less satisfying.

Lindra, if you haven't read Le Guin's YA stuff - Earthsea & Gifts - you should give her a try. Also Charles De Lint, who writes mostly non-YA fantasy*, has some reasonably authentic-seeming teenage characters. At least, I get the idea that he remembers what it's like to be young.

*we never did collectively settle on a better term than "adult," I think

#107 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:29 PM:

Debbie, eaten by voles seems to be the fate of most of my perennials these days; I am planting annuals this summer and hoping that the voles go elsewhere, or that the least weasel I saw hunting the garden the other day makes an impression on their numbers.

The voles want the daylilies and the cattle want everything; I'm working outside in the drizzle today, when I get my loins properly girded, to reinforce the fence so that they can't get to the raspberries. This assumes they don't find some other place soft enough to push a post over and get on my side of the fence to slaughter daylilies, raspberries, roses and all while I'm in Montana and the house-sitter huddles inside afraid of the bovine menace.

#108 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Xopher @ 105: It is much appreciated and I thank you for it, and also those above who said nice things. I like having nice things said about me, obviously, but this thread has been wonderful for making the frantic whispers of 'oh please don't let me screw up and make them kick me out' dwindle away. You are all far less terrifying when I'm actually interacting with you. Funny how that works.

#110 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:42 PM:

Albatross @ 103

Her Christian non-fiction is just as well written and clear as her fiction, and just as far from the fundamentalist didactic right. It informs, coaxes, explains and is generally a lot of fun.

Lindra @ 108

You're certainly doing better than I did when I started here. ;)

Re: different phrasing - there are subtle differences in teenage phrasing within the States as well. I know my friends never used some of that phrasing so it jars me as well. The fact that we all took German and/or Latin which wove their way into our grammar and speech patterns has nothing to do with it, certainly. *grins* What is something that is glaringly different for you?

So, what are you going to study at university?

#111 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:50 PM:

OK, now that Little Brother is on my TBR list, I have a question (OK maybe two) for the Fount of All Knowledge.

I've been looking for books that make American History interesting. By "Interesting", I mean books that don't cover history like my various high school text books, all dates and battle diagrams, Good Guys and Bad Guys, and Righteous God-Like White Dudes doing what was best for the country with the occasional mention of a lady or Noble African- or Native- American. I like to read about why people did things, and in what historical and social context they were done. Amazon randomly recommended "A Voyage Long & Strange" and it looked fun, but then I read this review:

"While our public schools continue their relentless rewriting of history to fit the agenda of special interest groups (such as the criminal protection lobby's removal of firearms from image of Washington crossing the Delaware), it's good to come across a book based on open-minded research."

So I guess my first question is:

Really? Some lobby removed firearms from that painting of Washington crossing the Delaware*? Did they attack the painting with Wite-Out, or have the guns digitally replaced by walkie-talkies in textbooks? Somehow I find this hard to believe - like maybe it was an O'Reilly talking point and not an actual true fact. More Truthy than Truthful. But I have been wrong before - does anyone here know about a movement that succesfully removed firearms from either that painting or representations of the same.

And my next question:

If my instinct is right and no such thing was done to any painting, going by the bias of the reviewer, can I possibly enjoy a book that he enjoyed?

* and as far as I'm concerned, the less that painting gets reproduced at all the better; it's like Revolutionary War Thomas Kincaid.

#112 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:57 PM:

nerdy #111: I would love the perspective of people who've studied more history than I have[1], but I really loved the trilogy of The Discoverers, The Creators, and The Seekers. They somehow made me care about what came next in the story, which is the main thing that keeps me reading anything.

[1] This is a remarkably low bar.

#113 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:19 PM:

JESR, not too many ravenous voles here, but we do have slugs. The warm winter we had probably means we'll have more than ever -- oh, joy. They share my taste in many types of flowers, unfortunately (and literally).

I had a heck of a time getting violets established. Although they're quite common around here, slugs ate mine again and again. It was only after my neighbor gave me some extras from her garden which were already pretty large, that the slugs left them alone. Interestingly, they also don't go after the new ones that have seeded out.

#114 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:35 PM:

Lindra @#91: Out of that list Doris Piserchia sounds the most intriguing. I'm curious about her rarity - would she be available at a fairly small library, or would she require the untold magics of interstate loan?

Indeed, you might need to delve into the dark labyrinth of a used-book store! Barbara Gordon and I listed a bunch of her books here and here (respectively) last time Piserchia came up in discussion, and the dates ranged from 1974 to 1982.

#115 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:44 PM:

Serge @ 109:

When I'm interacting with fire-breathing dragons I always take my own advice and draw the line at dinosaur sodomy. The fire goes places, you know.

Sisuile @ 110:

The whole dialect is odd to me. The things that come to mind are more cultural. Like the name thing, for one. So many brand names, so many place names, as though he had a grid of every street in his head. I found it odd how the places were so specific when I'm used to things like 'I'm going to M.'s or 'Down up the river on the docks' or 'Couple blocks up thataway'. Not much in the way of specific geography at all. Also ethnicities -- here it's a heavy South Asian concentration, and I wondered where all the Asian names were in his circle of friends. I always wonder where they are, but it was especially striking this time. About the only character directly recognisable to me from my own experience was Van because she reminded me of my sister, and that only up to a point.

As for university, I've taken the year, possibly next year, for the treatment of my medical conditions to finish and to think on what I want to do. I know I would like to write professionally (romance novels, most likely) since I can't hold down A Real Job(tm) but I'm not good enough yet. I'm good, but not to the point where I'd be willing to have it in print with a name on it. There's also a measure in place here where we have a seven-year cap on our government university subsidies, which means that going into university before I know what I want to do is a really bad idea.

I had ambitions toward mathematics or information architecture or medical research specialising in why in hells a quarter of deaf people have 'cause unknown' marked on their records, but life happened.

I'm told it's never easy to reconcile delusions of grandeur with reality, but I'm finding it difficult. I want to change the world through the amber orbs of flame-haired beauties who kick arse! *laughs* Not really, but something like that.

Yourself? Got any university plans?

#116 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 02:58 PM:

David Harmon @ 114:

Oooh, secondhand bookstore! I never need an excuse to visit those. Thank you for digging up the links - her books sound truly fantastic. Don't get me wrong, they were interesting before and I have a bookpile, but jumping through interdimensional rings is a concept which has its own level on the scale of things demanding immediate attention. It's brilliant.

#117 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:11 PM:

Six Frigates, by Ian W. Toll. A history of the early US Navy, up until the end of the War of 1812.

And if the general nautical stuff appeals, just start reading Patrick O'Brien. There's something about his work which appeals to a lot of SF fans: his alien world just happens to be historical. And having the gallant hero spending half his time dodging debtors' prison, rather than the French, gives a book a different feel.

Remember, in this place sloths are debauched as a matter of course.

#118 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:14 PM:

Lindra @ 115
I think that particular dialect difference may be a urban/suburban/rural difference. Now that I live downtown in a gridded city, I keep that map in my head constantly and use it as a refrent for other people familiar with the town. However, when I've lived in non-grid areas (most of my life), we rarely used cross streets. It was all landmarks such as "I'm going up the hill to J.'s" or "around the corner from the grade school." Gridded places seem to be like that - All directions in Omaha, Nebraska can be and are given from 72nd and Dodge.

How is Australia on independant entrepeneurs? I know here in the States the gov. makes our tax lives interesting and insurance is a killer. And don't let this crowd hear you say that writing is not a Real Job. ;) But medical issues can be overcome if you own your own business and can get decent insurance, if it turns out that writing isn't the business for you. (I started university as a creative writing major. I left that once I figured out I was going to have to read Modern Upstanding Literature. Ugh). I will say that if you're going to be a writer or any type of small business person, take all the business classes that you can. Seriously. And think about a history track - there seem to be a lot of medievalists who end up writing fantasy for some reason. *grins* /end history pimpage But don't limit your options because of medical - there are some really surprising jobs out there that can accomidate weird schedules, issues, etc. If you want to continue this discussion off-ML, I can be reached most of the time at (one word) falling leaf arts @ gmail dot com or at the linked URL.

I finished university last year and am probably about to head back (gods willing and the creek don't rise) for higher degrees. Historical consulting isn't a Real Job either, but it requires three letters after my name.

#119 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:15 PM:

I've picked up Six Frigates every time I've gone into the bookstore for the last few months. Guess I've got to buy it now!

I'm having a bit of trouble with Patrick O'Brien, and I can't quite put my finger on it. I've started the first book in the Aubrey-Maturin series about three times and I can't quite get into it. I have been going through the Sharpe books like popcorn though, so maybe my tastes are just a little low-brow.

#120 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:15 PM:

I've picked up Six Frigates every time I've gone into the bookstore for the last few months. Guess I've got to buy it now!

I'm having a bit of trouble with Patrick O'Brien, and I can't quite put my finger on it. I've started the first book in the Aubrey-Maturin series about three times and I can't quite get into it. I have been going through the Sharpe books like popcorn though, so maybe my tastes are just a little low-brow.

#121 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:18 PM:

Me @ 118 Oops-- I think I may have come across as patronizing there. My apologies.

#122 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:20 PM:

I don't care how the young people talk these days, s'long as they stay offa my lawn!

#123 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 122:

But do the garden gnomes believe in the Oxford comma?

#124 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:36 PM:

For a fun history of WWII and the evolution of the OSS, try You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger by Roger Hall. It has the notability of being a book most-often stolen from the library from among those surveyed, and of being An Example of "We never want to see this again!" in CIA classes. It's a delightful romp and made me die laughing, even though it's modern history.

The Speckled Monster isn't about American history per se, but it is something that effected our history - the finding of the vaccine against smallpox in England. A really, really cool book. I read it in high school after hearing the author on NPR.

#125 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:39 PM:

Sisuile @ 118, 121:

Nah, no worries, you weren't patronising. I'm pretty rigid about being patronised and that wasn't it. I'll email you about the rest when I wake up.

Which three letters?

#126 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:47 PM:

I'm having a bit of trouble with Patrick O'Brien, and I can't quite put my finger on it. I've started the first book in the Aubrey-Maturin series about three times and I can't quite get into it.

O'Brian -- he used that spelling to distance himself from his brother Flann.

As I remember, I found the stories OK (speaking as a long-time Hornblower fan) but not terribly special until book three, HMS Surprise -- which had me fully hooked for the rest of the sequence.

#127 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:52 PM:

In some Italian places, they don't use either cross streets or landmarks, but rather campi. (Of course, your average campo is named after the church that sits in/by it, so there may be some landmarking going on after all.) And in Venice, I've agreed to meet natives on named bridges.

Can any native (or anyone who just goes there frequently) of London say how important a part the Tube Map plays in your direction-finding? I've spent a total of about three weeks there, and it turned out to be very important to me.

That said, I found Cory's/Marcus's navigational usages to be just what I, who lived in the Bay Area for 7-8 years and went up to The City at least once a month, still keep in my head. Part of it, of course, is that Marcus sees his city from a walker's perspective; I find I'm a lot more likely to keep track of streets as compared to landmarks when I'm walking or diving, and use/notice landmarks more when I'm a passenger.

#128 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 03:59 PM:

#127 joanne -- Wheras in Kalamazoo we navigate by what used to be there -- rather like Molly Ivins's Aunt Eula saying "Turn left where the green water tower used to be."

#129 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:02 PM:

nerdycellist #120, langford #126:

The usual advice in such cases is to stop reading #1 when you hit a wall (no, *not* the book!) and give #2 a try instead.

#130 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:07 PM:

rams #128:

I could do that here in Austin, but it would no longer be profitable/useful with anyone except my husband. (Although on Sunday I steered him to a Mexican restaurant by saying, "it's where XYZ used to be, back in the 70s.")

I had some horrible moments last weekend, when we decided to see for ourselves all the building going on west of campus. We kept going by new stuff and holes in the ground for which all I could come up with was, "I have no idea what used to be there." Or in what archaeological age it might have disappeared.

#131 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:07 PM:

ya talk,

hmm. i, like i imagine everyone here, "read above my grade level" in high school too, but i also liked ya all through high school & still do (although the ya i've read recently has been because it's by favourite authors: the pratchett tiffany books & sherman alexie's "diary of a part-time indian"). & for the record, high school was ten-is years ago for me. now i'm trying to think how my tastes/attitudes converged & differed from lindra's.

"authentic teen contemporary voice," or "talking like my friends & i talk" was never something i looked for. maybe it's less egotism, or maybe it's more: as a teen misanthrope, the last thing i wanted to do when i cracked open a book was spend more time with kids just like the kids at school. i do remember thinking judy blume captured speech really well, but it wasn't slang & idiom, it was where she put her ellipses. you could really hear the cadence.

(as a counterexample, one of the few really contemporary (at the time) series i read was "animorphs", which i pretty much hated because the characters *did* read like typical teens... not very smart, not very imaginative, & whose only references were pop culture of that exact year.)

maybe that's why i liked ya of a generation or so before mine: it was historical, & thus an escape. & i don't think i considered it at the time, but i felt the authors i liked best were writing for themselves, just like real literature, & not to impart a lesson. that might not really have been true, their characters were appealing enough that i just wanted to go hang out with them, rather than measuring them to see whether they reflected me or not. authors i'm thinking of like s.e. hinton, lois (as you mentioned) lowry, diana wynne jones, paula danziger....

when i read ya now, i still don't think "what would it be like as a teenager reading this?" cause when i get into a book, i can't be thinking outside it like that. "part-time indian" was just a sherman alexie book, "summerland" was just a michael chabon book, etc.

but the tiffany series... i feel pratchett dumbed it down from his discworld books, which was unnecessary of course, because the whole reason discworld got so popular was teens started reading it. so he did his usual discworld thing but added heavy-handed moralizing & repeated himself a lot to make sure you know where he's going with this. this sense has wrenched me out of all the tiffany books at least once. (i just keep picking them up because his characters & world & writing (mostly) are just so gosh-darn fun.)


So many brand names, so many place names, as though he had a grid of every street in his head. I found it odd how the places were so specific when I'm used to things like 'I'm going to M.'s or 'Down up the river on the docks' or 'Couple blocks up thataway'.

well, the brand names apparently is a real trend in american ya right now. i don't remember it from my youth, but we are given to believe that today's teenagers are such good little consumers that they demand upscale brands plastered all over their literature.

& it just might be jealousy, but it seems to me that americans are more inclined to call things by their corporate, focus-group approved proper names than british people. (i can still remember in college, hearing a peer refer to "valentine's week" with a straight face. ugh!)

Also ethnicities -- here it's a heavy South Asian concentration, and I wondered where all the Asian names were in his circle of friends.

that's funny. cause the book is set in the bay area, right? so there wouldn't be a lot of south asians necessarily, but there should be a lot of east asians (chinese, japanese, korean). i haven't read the book, but i am accustomed to movies & tv shows set in san francisco, that i just can't believe because everyone is white.

#132 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Lindra @115: As a thought, I've found the rec.arts.sf.composition newsgroup to be quite pleasant and helpful reading for learning what the professional writing life is like, and sort of general things about the craft. (Of course, it's also got its share of threads that drift into off-topic flamewars, as do most newsgroups with any traffic, and it seems rather high on those of late.) Might be a thing you'd find interesting, even if it is SF-oriented rather than romance-oriented.

#133 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:11 PM:

#54, #67:

When it isn't deeply squicky -- in which case I just stop watching -- I find L&O fascinating, in a horrible sort of way.

With the sensational "Ripped from the Headline" crap about implanted RFID chips, pharmaceuticals gone awry, reproductive technology, and sinister web sites, it looks more and more like a spin off of Max Headroom ("Twenty minutes into the future!")

#134 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:12 PM:

#126 Dave Langford: As I remember, I found the stories OK (speaking as a long-time Hornblower fan) but not terribly special until book three, HMS Surprise -- which had me fully hooked for the rest of the sequence.

This was my experience as well and, IIRC, is the Common Wisdom among O'Brian fans.

#135 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:12 PM:

Comig soon, "I Was a Teenage Misanthrope", starring miriam beetle.

#136 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:17 PM:

miriam @ 131

It was there, just not a big thing. Marcus doesn't seem to use ethnic origin for much except occasional physical description. (It didn't bother me at all.)
I had the impression that he lived in the city; his father went down the peninsula, and later he did, to talk to the Silicon Valley people.

#137 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:23 PM:

Lindra @ 125

Ph.D. For, Lo! I am a useless academic in a uterly obscure field! *grins*

#138 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:23 PM:

nerdycellist, the O'Brian books are not really any higher-brow than the Sharpe ones, it's just that the first one isn't very good, certainly not on the same plane as the following sixteen or so (the last two or three get weaker again).

Even if you really can't be bothered to finish Master and Commander, I'd recommend trying HMS Surprise from the library, by which O'Brian is up to speed, and the story has a good hook into the series.

#139 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:29 PM:

miriam @131: If my Bay-Area friends of east-Asian ethnicity are a statistically-relevant sample, they might explain the name issue; most of them don't have Asian first names.

#140 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 04:47 PM:

Lindra and Sisuile: I want to thank you for talking about your impressions here. I'm in my mid twenties, so a few steps farther from 'young adulthood, but close enough to have strong memories of my tastes at the time (and a pile of notebooks to refresh my memory). This conversation has utterly gripped my easily-influenced brain.

It makes me realize how much we all live in different worlds, and how that causes different things to resonate. The world of 'people you know' suffers from a lot of sample bias; it took me a long time to realize how utterly atypical my own teen experience was, and it definitely influenced how I react to books. Take my experience with one of the most popular tropes in YA SF and Fantasy: people feeling inconvenienced by their special abilities. Characters stand around and say "Oh angst! I have powers, oh woe is me, I just want to be normal." I've never really grasped that, not for an instant. And I know that it must be something that a lot of kids think and worry about, because it shows up all the time in YA literature. But no one I knew at the time felt that way, so the books all read false to me. Years later, I've just now made friends with a few people who hid their intelligence during high school to avoid being beaten up or ostracized. It was a revelation that let me understand a huge swath of literature.

Those 'hide your light under a bushel' characters read as strange even now, though less improbable. Whereas the cocky, know-everything guys who think their cool tricks, arcane knowledge, personal contacts, and 'leet hax' can fix everything are a dime a dozen in my world. True, I game online... and before I started gaming online I would have found that type as alien and weird-sounding as you seem to. Now I know a half-dozen 16-18 year olds who actively script and hack and circumvent and think they are god's gift to leet. It's all about drawing your samples from different cultures.

Take Judy Blume, mentioned above. To me, all the characters in Judy Blume books were... not people I could relate too. I read a lot of them, because they were there and I'd basically read whatever was put in front of me at that point, and because they were always on the summer reading lists. But I didn't like them. I think an issue was that a lot of the kids Blume wrote wanted to be normal, or to be popular, or to fit in somewhere in the common community of their school. This must have resonated with a lot of people - otherwise would those books be so beloved and so enduring? But I was coping with a different struggle, and needed a book that told me it was ok to realize you'd never be a part of the group, and that it was ok to stop trying to work in their world.

I did find those heroes in YA then, and I still read YA now. My favorite YA character of all time seems all-but-forgotten nowadays, which is sad. Richard Peck's Blossom Culp (The Ghost Belonged to Me, Ghosts I Have Been, etc) was just the right kind of clever, cynical outsider for me. Her books are partly about the realities of occult spiritualism and partially about class conflict in the 1910s, and both her background and her abilities make her an outsider. She feels this exclusion keenly, but it doesn't rule her actions. A close second would be Patricia Wrede's unstoppable Cimorene (Dealing with Dragons, etc), the very first 'girl who rescues herself, and everybody else' I encountered in a fantasy universe.

I think the Superhero question is also ultimately one of personal taste. For me, having the hero start out competent neatly solves one of my primary problems with current juvenile fiction: the impossible climb. It's present in all varieties of juvenile fiction, but it's most prominent in anime and manga: some newb learns about some trade/school/job/power that others have. And lo, he has *talent*. But he must learn... and through the course of the series he will go from being a newb to being the best in the world, surpassing people who have been in the 'biz' for much much longer than he has. This has always struck me wrong, and a story has to do a lot to overcome that premise. I'd much rather watch something like Slayers, Cowboy Beebop, Full Metal Panic or even, to some extent Ranma: where the characters start out with a strong skillset and use it to good effect, and their superiority isn't due to an inexplicable and inevitable rise from nothing, but rather the honing and improving of already established skills. I guess it's just not my mythic form. One person's favorite thing is another's turn-off.

I love the message: "You could do this, but it is going to be an awful lot of work, or require sacrifice of some kind. However, you could." I like the concession that the skills required to perform certain actions actually do take substantial investment of time and tedium, so it's more convenient to join the story after the protagonist already has them. But I can also understand how that statement could be discouraging - I just never looked at it that way before.

It gives me a lot to think about, both as a reader and a writer. I prefer a story where an already accomplished person must surmount a few barriers to become an exceptional one, making sacrifices along the way. Or a story where an already accomplished person learns that they do not know everything, and are out of their depth, and must adapt or ally with others quickly to survive and succeed. I suppose I didn't understand why they kept making stories where we start from scratch, or from very little, and work the entire way up.

I'm trying to keep a list of likely literary pitfalls in my head, and now I have a new one: how can I avoid the 'hammer to the head moral' phenomenon? I think there may be good ways to steer away, but no perfect ways. Perhaps no matter what you say, if you say it strongly enough some people will find it too blunt. I normally adore LeGuin, but I could not finish Always Coming Home, and I think it may be that 'surplus of point' reaction. And not to pick too much on Judy Blume, but I remember getting the same feeling when reading Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Strangely I didn't have that reaction at all while reading Narnia, while many others did. I'll have to wait to finish Little Brother to weigh in on that one, but so far it doesn't strike me that way.

#141 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:12 PM:

Dave Langford writes: O'Brian -- he used that spelling to distance himself from his brother Flann.

Flann's sequence of novels set in the Napoleonic wars is today sadly neglected:

The Third Midshipman: A murder thriller, a hilarious satire about an archetypal frigate's crew, a surrealistic vision of eternity, and a tender, brief, erotic story of the love between a man and his bow chaser.

The Hard Tack: While Captain ffoales is engaged in mysterious humanitarian work on behalf of women, onto his ship come two boys, growing up in the odour of rum and boiled puddings.

The Malta Archive: St. Augustine, Jonathan Swift and scientist Doctor De Selby compete for the favours of a lady, distill flawless whiskey in a week flat, and plan the downfall of the Corsican dictator all in the span of a single dog watch.

The Tar's Lament: Wildly funny, with a deep sense of dark evil, this tale of the lower-deck's revenge on their social and military superiors is a hard little gem of black humour.

#142 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:27 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale: Once I found out it wasn't aquatic I figured it for some sort of mite; just not any of those offered up here. It turns out to be (as best as can be guessed) a Balaustium Mite.

Our first inclination would have been to say you have Predatory Running Mites, but we just received a very thorough explanation. Here is some information just supplied to us by a real expert named Barry M. OConnor: "All of the mites in the photos you call by this name are species in the family Erythraeidae, genus Balaustium. I think you have these confused with species in the family Anystidae, genus Anystis. Both of these mites are relatively large (for mites!), red in color, and commonly occur in aggregations. Anystis are the very fast moving, predatory mites. Their body is almost circular in outline. They run in what appears to be a random fashion until they encounter small arthropod prey. These are harmless to people. Balaustium, on the other hand, are more elongate as seen in your photos, with a distinct gap between the 2nd and 3rd legs. Species of Erythraeidae have piercing mouthparts and are also predatory on small arthropods or eggs in their post-larval stages, but Balaustium are unusual in being pollen feeders. They can be found in large numbers in flowers, but are most often seen by people on flat surfaces where pollen falls. These mites have been reported to bite people, causing some irritation, although why they do this is uncertain since they're not parasitic."

The OP says that fits the behavior and circumstance of them being found.

As to why I was thinking the specific amphipod I mentioned this picture is the reason.

albatross: I read the L'Engle as a juvenile/YA. They worked for me, though truth be told some of that was on a religious level; though I didn't completely notice it. Being a Roman Catholic some of her tropes were the sort of thinking I was doing.

A Wrinkle in Time (which I re-read last August) still works. A Wind in the Door", not so much. I am hesitant to go back to "A Swiftly Tilting Planet".

re writing on the net: I know that I am better for it. Not the least of which is because... on the net I write. Feedback is nice, and it helps, but working is working. I know that I was trepidatious about diving into ML (hard as that may be for those who recall to believe; and yes Lindra, some of this is directed at you; I was 30ish when I started writing here), because the caliber of those in whose company I was writing is high.

I stil boggle at the quality of the writing, and am thrilled when I see a great piece of writing; which everyone usually manages to do sometime.

Now, if only I could fix my crappy typing.

nerdycellist: The phrase "criminal protection lobby" is the giveaway that the agenda is almost certainly driving the story. I'd guess the book sucks too.

What, specifically are you looking for? Survey books? Detailed coverage of a small chunk of time? Illustrative books of an era using a single person event? There's a lot of good stuff out there, but absent some idea of what you want, I'm not comfortable making a recommendation, though from the follow-up comments I have some things I can actually commend.

The Sharpe books are easy reading (though they have some howlers, and the latter portion falls apart for having a persistent villian; doesn't kill them, but it moves them down to more brain-candy.

Cornwell also wrote three books in the US civil War, and one on the Revolution (that one feels as though it ought to have at least one more; but so far, no).

For a good look at flying in WW2, Piece of Cake is really good (pre-war to Adler Tag).

Damn it, I wish I had my library someplace other than boxes.

"Wellington's Rifles" and "The Man who Broke Napoleon's Codes" (IIRC that latter title) both by the same author, are excellent. "Tommy" by Richard Holmes (and I'd love to get ahold of "Redcoat" by him). Anything by Lynne Macdonald on WW1. She went and did a lot of oral history, and then wrote (and wrote and wrote); but the best is probably her book on the Somme.

I liked the side by side biography of Custer and Crazy Horse by Steven Ambrose, but "The Men of Company K" is a better book on being in the American Line than Band of Brothers, but "Pegasus Bridge" is really good; being more focused than Band of Brothers.

The book which is tickling my mind is one any O'Brian fan should be possessed of, about Lord Cochrane (on who Aubrey was modelled). I think it's "Lord Cochrane, Seaman, Radical, Liberator: A Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald" by Christopher Lloyd, 1947.

If it's the book I recall, the description of the raid on the mutineers of the Surprise is worth it.

If you've ever read "84 Charing Cross Road" you might want to look at, "Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War" by Leo Marks.

#143 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:36 PM:

Lee @ 140

I’m between the two of you age-wise, and I’ve got a YA in the house (though she doesn’t read, to the despair of many). It’s not the l33t speak that’s bothered me in the small portion of Little Brother that I’ve had a chance to read, it’s the Attitude. At that age, I can tell you that I was the only person allowed to always be right. *grins* Though in my group of friends, it’s wasn’t a striving to be ‘normal’, but to be accepted in our own rights. The gamers and the geeks are the only people who would do that with a brainy girl who read fantasy and watched anime. It was the first time I fit in anywhere. I hate that feeling of living on the outside looking in, without any companionship – that may be where the trope of striving for ‘normalcy’ comes in. ‘Hide your light’ characters set my teeth on edge as well, because that ‘normalcy’ becomes the goal and the Man v. Self conflict in the movie/show/book. *rolls eyes* My opinion of those characters always was something on the order of, “If appreciate the gifts you were given, you don’t deserve them.” Though I will say that sometimes gifts are troublesome things, and I wish that mine or others wouldn’t be so demanding or determinedly inconvenient.*

Unfortunately, this is the world we’ve got, and many kids like their boundaries to define the confusing nature of it. These boundaries also define ‘normal’ and the perimeters outside of which people are ‘strange’. If you’re normal, you’re part of a group – people, especially teens, are social creatures and generally want to feel that they’ve got a community around them. My solution, and probably the solution of many people in these parts, was to join/create a community of weirdos, geeks, and other highly intelligent people who weren’t precisely normal. (see: Making Light, population of. *grins*) Listening to many of the people who sing the praises of ML, a common thread is feeling like they’ve found a community where they belong. In this group many feel mostly ‘normal’, or within the very loose boundaries set by the hosts, since we’re among other mostly like-minded people.

My favorite types of YA fiction are those that re-define “normal” to include a lot more, of people with special gifts or hard-won skills fighting for acceptance and community. I’m with you that the Judy Blume books aren’t up my alley, but things like Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series are exactly what I’m talking about. Probably a perspective thing; I am a really social creature who keeps fighting for that group IRL. While I like the “person with skills gets better” or “person with skills learns something new” a lot, they usually don’t resonate with me so much as the loaner or the outsider fighting for acceptance of who they are rather than changing to fit the mold. I see this with Cimorene (who is one of my favorite characters *ever*) and her endless knights as well.

*It is my experience that when Art, or Music, or Words or the other muse-driven gifts demand time, they’re usually at the worst possible moment, yes?

#144 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:42 PM:

Let me second Terry Karney's recommendation for "Between Silk and Cyanide" by Leo Marks. And if that interests you, for different angles on the same brief period of time -- and a perspective on the second world war that's very different from anything you'll run across in an American history book -- try "Alan Turing: the Enigma" by Andrew Hodges and "Most Secret War" by R. V. Jones.

#145 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 144... Ever seen Derek Jacobi as Turing in Breaking the Code?

#146 ::: Jeff Davis ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Kathryn @ 45: A fair chunk of my income over the past few months has come from moving an old website into Drupal. I am by no means an expert, but I have learned a few things. For example:

(1) Drupal is the Linux of content management systems. It's very flexible, but it has a steep learning curve. I was learning Drupal as I went along, and I spent a lot of time feeling frustrated before I got the hang of things. (You'll probably have an easier time of it than I did; the site I've been migrating is rather complicated.)

(2) The official handbooks do a decent job of covering the basics.

(3) Modules are your friends. They let you add all kinds of useful functionality to your site, including some really basic stuff like generating lists of content. There are a lot of modules out there, but it's worth spending some time finding out what's available and which ones are commonly used. You will definitely want to check out CCK and Views. There are also modules out there for doing newsletters and forums. (I suspect you'll want to use something other than Drupal for the wiki portion of your site.)

(4) If you get stuck on something, ask for help on the Drupal forums.

(5) If you find yourself moving beyond the basics, I highly recommend reading Pro Drupal Development by John K. VanDyk and Matt Westgate. Westgate's company, Lullabot, also has a website that contains a wealth of information for Drupal developers.

Feel free to email me if you have more questions. As I said, I'm not an expert, but I've been through what you're about to go through.

#147 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:56 PM:

Serge @145, that would be fiction on TV, wouldn't it?

I don't do fiction on TV. (It gives me that fingernails-on-blackboard feeling.)

#148 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:57 PM:

Terry -

For the most part, I am looking for "Detailed coverage of a small chunk of time" and "Illustrative books of an era using a single person event...". I will definitely check out "Between Silk & Cyanide".

I really enjoyed the HBO John Adams series, based on the McCollough bio, so I might pick up more of his books.

As for my original amazon rec, I looked at it last time I was at a bookstore and the backflap copy made it look interesting. Plus it wasn't from Regnery press. But considering Amazon's been recommending "Jesus wants you to be rich" type books based on my purchase of "John Donne: A Reformed Soul", maybe I'll wait until someone else says something nice about it before I try it. I remember the last time I bought a book based on random recommendation and it did not end well. At the point where Thomas Cahill posited that Immigration and non-English speaking were going to be the downfall of the US is about when I threw "How the Irish Saved Civilization" against the wall.

#149 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 06:01 PM:

Serge 145: I have. He was wonderful. Great stuff.

#150 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 06:01 PM:


If my Bay-Area friends of east-Asian ethnicity are a statistically-relevant sample, they might explain the name issue; most of them don't have Asian first names.

true. i didn't know if the book was the kind to mention people's last names or not.

#151 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Charlie 147: Is a play about a real person, pretty much keeping to the historical facts about them, and filling in the private moments with dialogue in keeping with their personality, if a bit more well-spoken, really fiction per se?

And I don't know about Serge, but I didn't see it on TV; I saw it live on Broadway.

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 06:11 PM:

Xopher @ 151... As for myself, I saw Breaking the Code on TV. Still was quite good. Should we mention that the Code broken by Turing here is not the Code that one expects?

#153 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 06:18 PM:

So, I was innocently reading that sidelight, and it said:

But when people are self-organizing, it requires a management skill that is much closer to facilitation. When you see the really good ones–a Linus Torvalds on the Linux project, or a Teresa Nielsen Hayden managing the comments on Boing Boing

(just in case anyone doesn't follow every sidelighted link)

Ms. Teresa, over here, Ms. INDUSTRY STANDARD!


#154 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:03 PM:

I saw it live on Broadway too! Great show, though of course I expect nothing less from Jacobi.

#155 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:12 PM:

Niall @ 153: She's so good, the Wikipedia link for Boing Boing in that article points to her, too.

#156 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:21 PM:

nerdycellist: So, now that I have a handle on the sort of book you want, what chunks of time are you looking to know about?

Me, I was OK with Cahill, until he went off on the Spartans, though I don't recall the passage you mention about the downfall of the US.

#157 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:21 PM:

nerdycellist @ 11: "I've been looking for books that make American History interesting."

The Age of Gold by H.W. Brands is my favorite. As you might expect, it's about the California Gold Rush, but he also touches on how the strike affected the national attitude and the Civil War, and other things that your high school history classes never got into.

The Devil In the White City by Erik Larson is also good, about the Chicago World's Fair and the serial killer who stalked it. That one was popular enough that you can find copies at used book stores without undue difficulty.

The Island at the Center of the World, by Russell Shorto, is fascinating because it's about Dutch Manhattan— based on documents that have only been translated in the last couple of decades. It also includes the true terms of the "sale" of the island— the local tribes weren't nearly so gullible as they've always been thought, since it seems to have been a lease rather than a sale, and part of the terms included on-demand hospitality.

You'll notice a trend with all of these books. They're all about a particular time and place, rather than being an overview. The more particular a subject is, the better the research tends to be... at least, if the researcher is any good at all. I remember one book that promised to be interesting and ended up being a "Who cares?" book. Except that it did give me the phrase "larboard foretopmast studding sail boom" to drop into a game.

Lindra: Damn, girl. Your writing has power. Keep doing it.

On To Sail Beyond the Sunset: I read it all the way through once. Since then I have been reading my personal version, which is to skip all of the non-historical chapters. It actually is quite readable in that format. (I skip Waterloo in Les Miserables for much the same reason.)

#158 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:21 PM:

I will third Terry's recommendation of Between Silk and Cyanide, which my dear then-to-someday-be-though-we-didn't-know-it-then wife gave me for Christmas some time ago, and second Charlie's recommendation of Alan Turing: The Enigma, a no-good-deed-goes-unpunished books that made me want to dig up some dead bastards and kill them again, and maybe again, just to make sure.

What a goddam waste war is--that's one small aspect of Between Silk and Cyanide--and what a goddam waste, period--that's Alan Turing: The Enigma.

Is Breaking the Code good as a play? I've neither seen it nor read it.

Serge @ 152: I saw the title on a poster at the university where I got my math degree and got it, but then, I'd angrily read Alan Turing: The Enigma not too much earlier.

Much anger from me today. I blame Cory Doctorow.

#159 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:27 PM:

John M. Barry is a wonderful narrative historian. The Great Influenza seemed a bit disappointing, but I think that's because Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America was so brilliant. That is simply one of the best books I've ever read. Louis Menard's The Metaphysical Club is fine reading and gave me new insight into the runup to the Civil War.

Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States hasn't been mentioned yet. Now it has. (When I got him to sign my copy, I took the issue of Analog where it was quoted to show him.)

#160 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:28 PM:

John M. Barry is a wonderful narrative historian. The Great Influenza seemed a bit disappointing, but I think that's because Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America was so brilliant. That is simply one of the best books I've ever read. Louis Menard's The Metaphysical Club is fine reading and gave me new insight into the runup to the Civil War.

Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States hasn't been mentioned yet. Now it has. (When I got him to sign my copy, I took the issue of Analog where it was quoted to show him.)

#161 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:30 PM:

Jeff Davis @146

Thanks- that's a helpful summary.

For today I'm working on the jargon, so that I can use the nouns and verbs correctly. i.e. to not be posting the equivalent of "experienced processor-editor wanted to oversee a high-serif paper to move courier from footnotes to layout. A4 helpful."

#162 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:36 PM:

Nerdycellist, I recommend Founding Mothers. It's a book on the economic roles of women in colonial and revolutionary America. Women were important economic producers at that time, and the book is full of specific anecdotes and concrete information.

#163 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:53 PM:

I found The World Rushed In by JS Holiday to be a remarkable account of the 1849 California gold rush. It's a collection of diary entries from one of the participants and letters from others, all tied together with narrative overview.

#164 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:00 PM:

Charlie Stross @#147:

I don't do fiction on TV. (It gives me that fingernails-on-blackboard feeling.)

By "fiction on TV" do you mean prose fiction adapted for TV, or fiction in the broader sense of "made-up stuff?"

#165 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:13 PM:

nerdycellist @#111, albatross @#112:

I haven't read Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the United States but his 3-volume Cartoon History of the Universe is excellent, so I'd guess the US one is, too.

I'm slowly working my way through Chicago: City of the Century, which is about Chicago in the 19th century. It's pretty good and I'm learning all about the birth of the grain market and railroads and whatnot. I'm reading slowly because I have poor concentration--it's not the book's fault.

I believe Daniel Boorstin has a book called The Americans, and as albatross notes, his book The Discoverers was excellent. So that's probably worth a peek.

Most of my history reading concerns private lives & sexuality, and American history isn't exactly fascinating when it comes to that stuff. But I did just pick up Sin in the Second City, about prostitution in olde-tyme Chicago.

Say, I like Sarah Vowell an awful lot. She's so fun to read I forget she's a historian. Assasination Vacation is awesome--it's about the Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley assasinations, and Vowell's travels to the various locations involved. And she has one coming out later this year that's about the pilgrims.

#166 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:22 PM:

I'd say that the 'net, specifically MakingLight has made me a better writer too, but especially, a better reader of nonfiction.

Reading editorials, news articles, popular press history texts - so much easier now that I've seen a dozen trolls disemvowelled. That being a critical reader stuff that they tried to teach in High School finally took, but in a most unexpected way.

#167 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:27 PM:

For a very very light and readable view of history, may I recommend The Cartoon History of the United States and The Cartoon History of the Universe?

The former is a great antidote for the "Deeds of Great Men" presentations of American history.

Mentioning the latter reminds me that a good chunk of the first volume involves a cartoon adaptation of Herodotus, so let me add Herodotus to the recommendations. First, it's pure entertainment value, second, it's our one source for what was actually going on with the Greeks and the Persians as warped in 300, and finally the yarns about how the Scythians get gold from gryphons' nests, et al. should serve as a handy reminder that no historian should be trusted much farther than you can throw him.

#168 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:45 PM:

nerdycellist: 1491, America Before Columbus.

#169 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:56 PM:

I read The Great Influenza by Barry, and liked it a lot. I was doing a presentation-- fifteen, twenty minutes-- for class on a pathogen, and chose the 1918 flu. I'll have to find his other books, now that I've been reminded that they exist.

I get along a lot better with YA now that I've realized that books do different things for me. You'd think I'd have figured that out sometime before grad school, but no. The commonalities among the YA I seek out seem to be the genre, because I was not interested in being a young adult in my own time and am not interested in being a young adult in this one either, and a combination of length and simplicity.

That last is problematic. It's not that I doubt that YA can be complex, but that I seek it out when complexity is not what I want. I have other books to give me complexity in morality and plot. But simplicity isn't exactly the word, and I apologize for making it do extra work. What I want is brain-shut-up-now, in book form. YA books as a group are similar to fantasy romances as a group. They are satisfying.

The thing is, I can't find very many grown-up books that do the same thing without being stupid about it. Fantasy romances come closest. But there are many books that I have read just to be reading something-- just to get the brain to shut up-- that were nowhere near as good as the YAs.

YA books have a particular combination of brain-shut-up-now and a lack of active frustrate-making, if I may depart from common English.

Besides, Tamora Pierce is nine kinds of awesome.

#170 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:07 PM:

Diatryma @ #169, if you want "brain-shut-up-now, in book form" you might try the Artemis Fowl books. They're both YA and hilarious.

#171 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:24 PM:

nerdycellist at #11:
I have a fun book called Tales of San Francisco.
(author and publisher escape me.)Chapters about various 19th century San Francisco people.

Grandfather Stories by Samuel Hopkins Adams
(about life near the Erie Canal when it was being constructed.)

The Family on Gramercy Park by Henry Noble MacCracken. (New York City in the 19th c.)

#172 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:45 PM:

nerdycellist @111:

Roughing It, by Mark Twain. The Old West of the Western movies is about as real as Middle Earth; this is what it was really like, by one of the most perceptive (and funniest!) writers in the English language.

If you like this one, you can try Innocents Abroad. Not so much American history, but the narrator's attitude is fascinating.

#173 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:47 PM:

Susan: How did the lunch thing go? You say "emotionally battered but functional"; may we assume that the news is at least not all bad?

Sisuile, #92: ...girls who read these books don't accept "Because you're a GIRL!!" as a valid reason that we can't be or do something. But the way many of these authors pushed that point home was by just having it be so. It wasn't a big deal in the books, why should it be so in the real world.

Marion Zimmer Bradley expressed this, in her submission guidelines for the Sword and Sorceress books, as "Grant your strong woman and go on from there." And you can really see the evolution of that approach over the 21 years from the first of those anthologies to the latest! (Lindra, if you like that sort of fantasy at all, you'd probably enjoy the series. They're not YA, but there's nothing in them that would raise a parent's eyebrows either.)

and @143: That experience of "finding a place where everyone else is more or less like you" is what got a lot of us older fen into SF fandom (or sometimes the SCA) in the first place. And even now, among my current circle of friends (who range from the late 20s to mid-50s in age) it seems like about once a month somebody will make an appreciative comment about how nice it is not to have to explain whatever the phrase or reference was that they just used and everybody Got It. (Typically, things like the Square-Cube Law or time dilation.)

Diatryma, #169: I think what you're talking about here is what I call "brain candy". Something sufficiently engaging to focus the attention, but not so complex as to make you work to read it.

#174 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:13 PM:

On American history books:

I recently finished Klondike Fever by Pierre Berton, about the Klondike gold rush of the 1890s. (Apparently there's a revised version out there called just Klondike, which I hadn't realized when I bought my copy.) It's beautifully written and drives home the sheer weirdness of human behavior under the spell of imagined wealth. Most of the book is taken up with the routes aspiring miners took to Alaska, simply because the journeys were so difficult, and so many travelers were unprepared, that they often took many months.

The Worst Hard Time is also very good, and about a place and time I think I really should have learned more about back in school.

#175 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:23 PM:

I expect to finish Little Brother tonight, so I'll save my review link for the LB Spoiled thread. But the WashPost mentioned it and quoted Cory in an article recently. (Anybody else think the triangle in the eye looks like AOL?)

As to Marcus' language, I was disheartened because it's an awful lot like I write in my LJ. I wrote well up until about four or five years ago and I'm not sure what happened. Probably something else with my brain. I'm getting better at puns and joke-retorts, though.

#176 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:26 PM:

Lee, I think Marion Zimmer Bradley used the phrase 'mature eleven-year-old' to describe some of what she was looking for-- stories that were written to an adult level, as opposed to children's books, but not Adult, so a reasonably mature teen or pre-teen could read it.

"Brain candy" isn't exactly what brain-shut-up-now is; it's more like if the candy is sour rather than chocolate and I have scurvy. I finished Dorothy Dunnett's fourth Lymond book and thought, Okay. Magic Study is out. I want that book. Can't find it. WHERE. Oh, look, Anne Bishop. This'll do. It's completely necessary at times.

#177 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:57 PM:

Lindra: Just got back from the library, where I picked up Marsden's Tomorrow, When The War Began.

Leah Miller: My favorite YA character of all time seems all-but-forgotten nowadays, which is sad. Richard Peck's Blossom Culp (The Ghost Belonged to Me, Ghosts I Have Been, etc)

Is one of those titles The Year of The Ghost? (Presumably the first, from the blurb.) I saw that, but didn't take it this time. (My browsing got cut short when they turned out the lights on me. ;-) )

Niall McAuley @#153: About time... she's been my "forum-wrangling" exemplar for a year or so.

Sisuile @#143: I hate that feeling of living on the outside looking in, without any companionship – that may be where the trope of striving for ‘normalcy’ comes in

Leah Miller @#140: Characters stand around and say "Oh angst! I have powers, oh woe is me, I just want to be normal." I've never really grasped that, not for an instant. ... I've just now made friends with a few people who hid their intelligence during high school ....

Besides the kids who are merely "intelligent", there's also those whose intelligence is... complicated. In my own case, I had a complex pattern of startling strengths and puzzling weaknesses -- and some of those weaknesses specifically affected my social capabilities. It was only about a year ago that I self-diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disability.... Part of processing that understanding, has been recognizing that there's simply no question of a magical normality -- because without the NLD, I wouldn't be the same person.

(Yeah, the recent recognition of the autistic spectrum will help with acceptance, but they're still going to be "different". For that matter, auties hardly account for all the "odd" kids.)

#178 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:05 PM:

David #177: Yeah, ISTM that as we classify more and more ways to fail to be normal, we're ultimately going to reach the point where some large fraction of people have some kind of label or even "disorder," just because that's how we're enumerating the complex patterns of strengths and weaknesses, interests and disinterests, that make up pretty much everybody.

#179 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:11 PM:

lightning #172: The Little House books also cover some apparently pretty real slice of frontier life.

It's interesting to me how thoroughly our default understanding of history is created by fiction. I'm sure this isn't all that new (anyone read Ivanhoe or watched a performance of Julius Caesar lately?), but it's still strange. And people absolutely do make political, social, and moral arguments on the basis of those worlds which were often made up explicitly to make a particular modern-day political or social point.

#180 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:16 PM:

Dumb open thread food question:

I have slowly gotten myself used to eating salads on a pretty regular basis. We pretty much always make a simple balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing. I've tried keeping the mixed dressing in the refrigerator, but it turns clumpy and kind-of disgusting looking. Can I just leave it out on the counter in a closed container? Or should I just keep it in the fridge and mix it back together when I'm ready to use it?

Also, any suggestions on simple dressings that might add a bit more variety? I want to emphasize simple, here, because we're just barely managing to cook anything that doesn't come pre-made and ready to microwave, at this point.

#181 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:32 PM:

albatross: If it's just oil and vinegar, leave it out.

The clumpy-clotted look is because the oil is solidifying from the cold (in the same way bacon fat melts in the pan, and then hardens). If you take it out a little before you want to use it, the clumpy look will go away, and the mixing will be easier.

To amend it... a little mustard, some "feathereed" herbs (take the herb into your palm, and vigorously rub it with the ball of your thumb, until it's a light powder, as with sage), a bit of cracked pepper.

You can try using different vinegars, or add some spices to the vinegar; or the oil (don't do that with garlic, you run the risk of botulism), or some juice from cutting the tomatoes for the salad.

For a lighter dressing use rice vinegar, no oil required. You can add a few drops of nam pla/nuoc mam, or worcestershire.

Use different sorts of olive oil, toss in a few drops of sesame oil.

That ought to get you started.

#182 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:35 PM:

albatross @180: I suppose there are examples of mixtures like that where the components can be safely left out but the result cannot, but I would seriously doubt that a simple balsamic-and-oil salad dressing is one of them.

Fancier dressings that involve egg yolk or such would presumably be a different matter, of course.

#183 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:35 PM:

I think it's the olive oil, which solidifies (sort of) in the fridge, in my experience. Take it out of the fridge and let it warm up, and the lumps should disappear. (Experiences with habanero oil ....)

#184 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:37 PM:

Lee @ 173:
Not too badly, overall. I took the girl to the Met and we wandered around the medieval exhibit making somewhat uncomfortable conversation about reliquaries and tapestries. Then we went to the Apple Store and I had her help pick me out some headphones for my MacBook [love my MacBook!!!] She isn't a spoiled brat or something off of "Gossip Girls", which is what I was most afraid of, but I didn't feel any instant connection either. Of course, we were both awkward and reserved and generally more willing to discuss the likelihood of the tooth really being Mary Magdalene's (not!) than anything remotely personal. We did talk about Shakespeare (they're reading the Dream in school), but I didn't get a very bookish sort of vibe from her.

The problem is that things were going well enough that I got cocky and decided I could survive lunch with the whole gang. That necessitated making polite conversation with their mother, who is such an idiot that I think I lost several I.Q. points just being near her. I am utterly astonished that my (far from stupid) father has spent 20+ years sitting across the dinner table from this bleached-blonde, Botoxed, and (yes) breast-implanted bimbo. I can see now why he worried about whether the twins would be smart or not; he's interbred with a Barbie doll. One of the "Math is hard!" kind. I spent a lot of time at lunch staring discreetly at her (perfectly smooth and utterly immobile) forehead. I don't think I've ever before seen what Botox does.

The conversation wavered around dangerously from politics (where I watched with fascination as my father shot down her conspiracy theories about Obama's lack of a lapel pin and Rev. Wright and agreed with me about the serious issues facing the country, even if we disagree on solutions) to religion (where I let my father take the fire for not having raised me correctly) to the very edge of insulting my mother, which might have caused a blowup had I not been peeling my jaw off the floor at the level of stupidity involved. I mean, teh stupid, it burns. I smiled sweetly and discussed things that happened in Texas when I was a child. (Yes, you bimbo, no matter what there are still 15 years of history here that you aren't part of.)

The boy is a typical hyper 13-year-old, as far as I can tell (he's ADHD and on drugs for it), kind of bratty, but probably no more so than the average teenage boy.

I felt sorry for both twins during the pre-lunch conversation and at lunch; they weren't included at all, though I tried periodically. I even tried to get them excused from what was obviously commanded presence when they were looking desperately bored by the political debate, but my father was quite firm: they should be interested in politics. Even I could hear the unsaid "....Susan was at that age!" Ouch. We were definitely playing the "Prodigal Daughter Returns" scenario, and we were going to be one big happy family no matter what. Gack.

Predictably, at lunch, the girl spoke hardly at all. The food arrangements disturbed me: the adults had sandwiches, the boy had chicken fingers and french fries, and the girl had a pork chop the size of a cigarette lighter and a salad. They've got on her a diet again/still, and while she has a bit of baby fat, I wouldn't call her overweight. Incipient eating disorder, I bet.

Anyway, the whole performance so delighted my father that he promptly started laying on the heavy bribes, which was at least as stressful as everything else. Does it make a difference if the blatant reward is for something I was doing anyway? A sort of ex-post-facto bribe? I didn't do it with such expectations, but now that I see what the rewards could be, can I continue to do this sort of thing without them being a factor in my decision-making? I've spent 15 years demonstrating my ability to walk away from bribes, but this was overwhelming. And accepting gifts from my father is the path to damnation, I know. I cannot become dependent on him, and I'm not sure I can accept anything at all without setting foot on a very slippery slope.

I clearly still have enough leverage to get more time alone with the girl - I'm working on getting a larger piece of time next time I'm in the city. I asked her if she wanted to get together again and she said she "liked hanging out" with me, but it's hard to tell if that was sincere or simply what she was supposed to say. I wish I'd gotten to see her bedroom and her bookshelf. I did notice her tiny little ankle tattoo, which I suspect is a secret, since after I noticed it she spent the rest of the conversation with her ankles pressed together.

So I was overwrought and slept not at all Sunday night when I got home then staggered around Monday like a zombie. I'm still processing madly and not sure I haven't made a major mistake in setting foot in this snakepit again.

(And all that was probably way more answer than you wanted, but I'm still pretty upset.)

#185 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:43 PM:


In a boing-boing thread I made a comment that the army isn't full of mindlessly violent sorts, and the the use of weapons is actually pretty solidly controlled; with behavioral training.

One of the responses was two words, "abu ghraib" .


(the other was trivially braindead; from the person I was talking to, being called a capitalist lackey and dupe no longer has any sting)

(n.b. I am not asking people to go over there and jump to my defense. I'm just having one of those, "I'm tired of this shit" moments)

#186 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Susan: if it helps, share (see above, my venting).

albatross: there is no dumb food question (well, Ok, the idea about the foie gras and asparagus sorbet... that's dumb, anything else, is ok).

#187 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:52 PM:

albatross #180: My absolute favorite thing to put on salads is balsamic vinegar and citron olive oil. It's a very simple change and it's shockingly, refreshingly delicious. If you like lemony things.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:07 AM:

Susan @ 184... I'm sorry that you had to go thru this.

#189 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:12 AM:

#172: I second the recommendation for Roughing It. A funny, fascinating, and eye-opening book. Clemens actually traveled in a stage coach, hob-nobbed with sociopathic frontier gangster types, mined for silver, and visited Salt Lake City when it wasn't part of the United States.

Life on the Mississippi is another good one, with a healthy dose of future-shock retrospective as the elderly Twain travels the river after it has been tamed and electric lights twinkle on the shore.

#190 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:15 AM:

Susan... It was a strange experience, visiting my own family up in Quebec in 2004, after a 9-year absence. Nothing bad happened. (The last time anything bad did was in 1993 when my brother and I almost came to blows.) They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. All it did was to confirm that I have nothing in common with my siblings beyond genetics. Never did. Never will. I much prefer the family I married into. (As for the trip, it wasn't a waste because I got to meet again with my friend Elisabeth.)

#191 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:48 AM:

Albatross @#180:
Sometimes I use hummus in salad dressings, thinned out with one liquid or another (water, oil, soy sauce...).

Balsamic vinegar is good in dressings too. And a dash of Worcestershire or A-1 sauce can add interest. (Can you tell I usually take the "dash of this, dib of that" approach?)

Susan: Sounds like things went pretty well with the girl, and as for lunch... well, sometimes "you" just need to be reminded why you don't usually do that! ;-) It sounds like you handled yourself pretty well, but even so, that sort of thing can take a while to recover from.

#192 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:49 AM:

Lake County, IN: count your !@#&(*! votes already!!!!

#193 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 01:28 AM:

#111 ::: nerdycellist

I've been looking for books that make American History interesting.

Every couple-three years I dig out and reread Kenneth Roberts, each time thinking they'll be less good than I remembered. They hold up.

#194 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 01:54 AM:

nerdycellist 120, Dave Langford 126, joann 129: I also was going to suggest skipping forward to book 3. The first book is by far the weakest.

#195 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:28 AM:

Newly rediscovered on some shelves in my loft: An Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco -- 1859 by Horace Greeley (yes, the "Go West young man" Greeley). That link goes to an online edition.

I'm not vouching for it; I just found it up there after about 10 years of inattention to those shelves. Nonetheless, I expect it to be of some interest when I get the rest of the dust off and look into it.

#196 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:39 AM:

I'd like to add some love for Doris Piserchia (particularly Earthchild) and further suggest Tanith Lee's Don't Bite The Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine, which I think share a certain sensibility with Piserchia, although I would be hard-pressed to define it.

#197 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:50 AM:

albatross, #178: At what point do we start to recognize that the suite of behaviors we describe as "normal" is actually fairly rare, in that very few people fail to have at least some traits which fall outside it? Is there a threshold below which abnormal-spectrum behavior is just handwaved away?

(Yes, this is rather like describing "literary fiction" as just another genre. People will go thru the most amazing mental contortions to avoid recognizing the glaringly obvious.)

and @180: For an interesting change from the basic oil-and-vinegar dressing, try oil-and-lemon-juice (or lime juice). If you can find something labeled "Greek salad flavoring" in the herbs & spices area of the grocery, add a little of that. (Penzey's sells a good Greek salad flavoring mix, if you have one in your area.) ISTR that this is called "ladolemona", but I could be wrong.

Susan, #184: That was way more answer than I expected, but not at all unwelcome. As Terry said, if venting here helps, do it. Also, you have a different flavor of Family Weirdness than I grew up with, but if you ever want a more private sympathetic ear who would be less emotionally involved than a close friend, feel free to e-mail me.

#198 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:24 AM:

Hey, Serge, among the books I found in my loft (see comment #195 above) was They Walked Like Men. Another Simak I'd forgotten I owned. I'm halfway through and I'm enjoying aliens taking the form of bowling balls and talking dogs.

#199 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:41 AM:

@Nerdycellist, again: The Spanish Lady is about the influenza epidemic of 1918. It is based on interviews with survivors, so it contains lots of tiny concrete stories of the flu's effects, combined with larger-scale descriptions of social reactions to the epidemic. It is global in scope, but that includes the U.S, and because of the wealth of specific detail it's the most informative thing I've read about that time.

#200 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:49 AM:

Thanks for the after-action report. I've been very curious how it went but not wanting to pry.

Was it Tolstoy who said that every unhappy family is unhappy in a different way? That's not the flavor of misery I grew up with, but I can see it burns, as you said. Feel free to vent; you write well enough to make it entertaining, though not light entertainment.

#201 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 04:40 AM:

Tim @ 196: Yeah, Tanith Lee! Her books are amazingly varied but the best ones are great. Both those you mentioned are good, but Volkhavaar is my favorite, an amazing book, an epic fairy tale. I like the Night's Master series, though (or because?) they're pretty pervy in places.

#202 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:15 AM:

Mary Dell @164: By "fiction on TV" do you mean prose fiction adapted for TV, or fiction in the broader sense of "made-up stuff?"

The latter. I can't stand TV SF series -- be they Star Trek, or Torchwood, or BSG, or any of the others -- or TV drama in general. Something about the general production and acting style that's used to cram drama onto the small screen irritates the hell out of me. The inanity of the world-building and plotting doesn't help, either. And the final straw is the incessant advertising spam intermissions. Upshot: I don't watch non-documentary TV these days. (I'm even developing a problem with News coverage due to the tendency to superimpose a narrative over everything.)

#203 ::: Charlie Stross spots Movable Type configuration whoopsie ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:16 AM:

Looks like the HTML 's' tag (strikethrough) tag has disappeared from the permitted tag list. (IIRC it was added a few months ago ...)

#204 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:40 AM:

Charlie Stross @#202:

So you're an old-fashioned TV-hater, but you grant a dispensation to one or two categories. I respect that. Myself, I love TV drama, but I love it partly because it's formulaic, and the cliches and set pieces give me a warm fuzzy feeling. It satisfies my need to believe that the world is governed by rules--rules like, if your office is home to both a pterodactyl and a cyberwoman, they must eventually fight each other.

#205 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:20 AM:

Mary Dell @ 204... I love it partly because it's formulaic, and the cliches and set pieces give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Kind of like when I watch Perry Mason. Sure, it's strange when, time after time, Hamilton Berger thinks that, this time, he will get the upper hand on Perry. I guess he's the Wile E. Coyote of the California Courts.

#206 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:22 AM:

Linkmeister @ 198.. Oh goodness. I had forgotten that Simak novel about the bowling-ball aliens.

#207 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 07:05 AM:

albatross @67: Was Larry King always basically the TV version of The National Enquirer?

No, he used to have a radio show.

#208 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 07:37 AM:


I've got some idea of the cost to you, but it sounds to me like you did a sterling job. I sure understand the temptation of the bribes, and I hope you can come up with a way to not get them on you.

#209 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 07:40 AM:

Washington Crossing the Delaware.

I haven't seen this painting the same way since I noticed just how many compositional elements point to, highlight, or emphasize George's crotch. Don't take my word for it, see for yourself. Father of our country indeed!

#210 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:25 AM:

Well, my family is a mess in a textbook sort of way - man gets successful, dumps college sweetheart for bimbo, his standard of living rises, hers (and the kids') falls, nasty court case, etc. Very standard modern family disaster, and I really can't complain unduly since it's not like we ended up in dire poverty and many families in that situation would have been much worse off. I do feel like I owe my mother an apology, though - she's been saying for years that Barbie Doll is an idiot, and I thought it was (understandable) resentment. But she's absolutely right. Apparently my father's standards for daughters and wives are completely different, which makes no sense to me at all.

As for my writing, it's hardly up to local standards; I believe the succinct description was something like "literate person who has no idea how to write". Hopefully I will improve with practice (apparently I do well with plumbing stories.)

#211 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:30 AM:

Besides, the theme from Perry Mason is the greatest TV theme song ever.

(Apologies to Radio Birdman and Jimi Hendrix.)

#212 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:33 AM:

Mark D., I assume you've heard this story?

#213 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:37 AM:

Susan #184: Your interaction with your father and gifts sounds painfully familiar. My mom and I can get along pretty well, so long as money is not involved at all. Once money, gifts, the remnants of the family farm, etc. get involved, things can go well, but they can also go south in an awful hurry. I would like to believe that this is all on her side: she was raised by someone with unhealthy attitudes about money and control, and these rubbed off on her. But then I realize that I was also raised by someone (her) with unhealthy attitudes about money and control, so it's probably a problem on both sides of the relationship.

#214 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:00 AM:

Charlie Stross #202: Interesting. Did you always find the spam commercials[1] this offensive? I've found that dealing with spammers and related scum online has clarified the whole matter of intrusive, cram-it-down-their-throats advertising for me. I used to find it mildly annoying but inoffensive. But being subjected to a constant barrage of spam, astroturf, pop-up windows which occasionally open despite trying to avoid them, flickering/annoying "look at me damnit" online ads, robocalls, IM spam, and loud unavoidable TV screens at gas pumps, at some point I got it. They're all the same species of parasite, just living in different environments. The intrusive, wont-take-no-for-an-answer sales pitch goes back at least as far as the door-to-door salesman getting his foot in the door, and surely further back than that. At some level, "Hi, I'm going to take 15 minutes from your life and try to sell you something" is no different from "Hi, I'm going to take a few seconds from your life to delete my h3rba1 v!@gra ad" or "Hi, I'm going to force you to sit through a sales pitch or three in the five minutes you're filling your tank with gas." or "Hi, I'm going to make you spend fifteen seconds figuring out that the official-looking envelope I've sent you contains, not a bill, but a sales pitch." (Similar realizations apply to the relationship between griefers and guys who maliciously cut you off in traffic.)

I used to look at a lot of this as "they're just trying to make a living," or "it's just how things are." Now I just see them as a kind of parasite, feeding on my attention, as concerned with my well being as a mosquito. Now, intrusive advertising p-sses me off. I've gotten to where I don't even try to be polite to telemarketers, where I just silently hang up on unsolicited callers who want some of my time (including pollsters), where I'll go to extra effort to avoid having any unwanted commercials crammed down my throat. I wonder if the experience of millions of people with spam, pop-up windows, and the rest will eventually lead the whole society to become this hostile to intrusive advertising. It sure seems like this would lead to a much nicer world to live in. Imagine if spamming people in snail-mail and spamming peoples' phones were as reputation-killing spamming their email, and so those things just became very rare. A large industry of parasites who live on stolen attention would die off, and the hosts (aka us) would be way better off.

[1] The tag is strike, not s.

#215 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:07 AM:

#209, Mark D. -

Hm. I don't agree. It looks to me like most of the elements point to Washington's head. His cape, the upper arm of the man holding the flag, and the oars of the two boatmen in the front all point directly to his head/shoulders. The two boatmen on the nearside below the flag have lines in their bodies/arms that point approximately to the widest red part of his cape, which leads you back to his head. The flagpole itself also leads to that wide red spot.

Other than his leg (which sort of has to lead to his crotch) and his sword (which could be arguably leading again to the cape), what do you see pointing at his crotch?

(I'm a bit disappointed - that would have really amused me!)

#216 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:10 AM:

Lee #197: Yeah, it seems like there are some mental disorders that are kind of discontinuous with normal mental states--like, if you're hearing voices, it's not a matter of how often or how loud that defines whether you're normal or not. On the other hand, there are other disorders that seem like they're more the extremes of the distributions. People sometimes talk about mental retardation in this sense--sometimes, there's a whole cluster of related symptoms and specific mental problems, other times, the person is just on the left end of the intelligence distribution. I gather those cases look rather different from one another. At some level, it seems like autism, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression might all be a bit like this. On one end of the distribution, it looks pretty normal: everyone's blue sometimes, most kids act up and can't hold still sometimes, etc. On the other end, there's pretty clearly a disorder: some people are truly, horribly miserable and nonfunctional from depression, some kids pretty much can't hold still without a constant threat of imminent violence keeping them in line, etc.

I'm sure this isn't a new observation (people always talk about the "autism spectrum," and I'm spouting off in an area where I have no inconvenient training or knowledge to contaminate my speculations with facts. But it does look this way to me.

#217 ::: Benedict Leigh ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:27 AM:

Albatross @ 216 I'd agree with you about the spectrum but I'm not sure that there are any really discontinuous states - it seems to me it's really all pretty much of a spectrum. Hearing voices is an example of a spectrum where the distribution isn't normal (mathmatically) but plenty of people (and I'm one of them) experience intrusive thoughts in way that some people ascribe to voices. The experience of an earworm seems to me towards the common end of the spectrum, whilst intrusive commentary on everything you're doing is towards the rare end of the spectrum. It is, however, still a spectrum.

#218 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:28 AM:

204:[TV drama] satisfies my need to believe that the world is governed by rules--rules like, if your office is home to both a pterodactyl and a cyberwoman, they must eventually fight each other.

Well, either that or they start off wisecracking at each other and finish up defeating the bad guy, getting the story and snogging on the balcony.


#219 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:37 AM:


Family can be so hard. [[empathizes]]

Is it possible to keep on doing what you are doing, and would do anyway, without accepting anything? That leaves a clear line for you, and makes it clear to everyone, including the youngster, that you are not being bribed into this, but doing what you want to do.

#220 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:38 AM:

Charlie Stross and albatross... Me, I take the approach that spam and TV ads aren't going away(*) and there's no point in my getting angry so I simply tune them out just like I avoid magazine ads. Telemarketers are another beast though, but I have an answering machine to filter them out.

(*) I wonder if the Ferenghi use spam?

#221 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:44 AM:

#220: One's first spam is a right of passage for the young Ferengi child.

#222 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:49 AM:

#185 Terry Karney: In a boing-boing thread I made a comment that the army isn't full of mindlessly violent sorts, and the the use of weapons is actually pretty solidly controlled; with behavioral training.

Did you watch the recent 10-part series on PBS, "Carrier"? Of course, I love Big Boats and also Sailors (in the platonic sense!) so I'm probably biased, but I thought it gave a really detailed and (seemed to me anyway) fair glimpse into the lives of military personnel. It's not by any means Blood & Guts 24/7.

I know (or think I know) you are/were Army, but thought you might appreciate the depiction of regular people doing military service, even if non-Army.

#223 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:53 AM:

Jon Meltzer... I wonder if the Ferenghi kids get extra points if the spam shows up in the middle of a holodeck session.

"Wait a minute. This was supposed to be Green Acres. What is that sehlat doing on top of my bull?"

#224 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:04 AM:


In addition to John Barry's book about the 1918-1919 flu epidemic, I can recommend his book about the Mississippi flood of 1927--Rising Tide.

Bernard DeVoto is an old warhorse and an opinionated one, and a modern reader will find things in his books that, at the very least, cause the eyebrows to quirk up--but when he is on a roll, and fascinated by his characters, he is excellent reading. Across the Wide Misssouri is about the fur trade, and its ending days; The Course of Empire is a look at European settlement of the North American continent (I found it more of a slog than his other books, I have to say), and Year of Decision, 1846 is about the beginnings of the Mexican War. (De Voto was Not Impressed by Frémont, and not shy about it, either.) As a more recent balance to Year of Decision John Eisenhower's So Far From God is worth a look. Other books about the western US I can recommend are Dee Brown's, particularly Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow (about the transcontinental railroad--see also Stephen Ambrose's Nothing Like It in the World), and The American West. Evan Connell's Son of the Morning Star takes a careful look at Custer. I don't recall if Ambrose's book on Lewis Calrk has been mentioned: Undaunted Courage; Alvin Josephy's Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes gives another angle on that story.

Bruce Catton's and Shelby Foote's series on the Civil War are both justly famous.

David McCullough's Path Between the Seas is about the building of the Panama Canal; his The Great Bridge is about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge; The Johnstown Flood is about Robber Barons behaving badly (partly on the advice of their lawyers), among other things. Walter Isaacson has a good recent biography of Benjamin Franklin, and Ron Chernow one of Alexander Hamilton. Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals is about Lincoln and his cabinet.

Allen Eckert's A Sorrow in Our Hearts is a biography of Tecumseh; he has several other books of interest, including Wilderness Empire, about the Iroquois Confederation, a biography of the Shawnee War Chief Blue Jacket, and The Frontiersmen, which is the first book in a series about the settlement of Kentucky and the Old Northwest Territory.

William C. Davis's The Pirates Lafitte is good; he has also written about the Texan War for Independence and the Civil War.

Francis Parkman is an even older historian than Bernard De Voto; he was, perhaps, the first great American historian, and his series about the contest between Britain and France for control of eastern North America was the first serious look at this topic. It's worth looking at, at least in pieces; I'm partial to Montcalm and Wolfe, even though Parkman is, as a historian, both very out of date and burdened by his own prejudices--a New England Yankee to the bone, he hated both everything French and everything Catholic with a visceral loathing which he didn't even think needed to stay off the page.*

I'll stop now, but it's an effort.

I imagine that all of these should be available through the public library, so you'll only have to buy the ones you decide you love so much you can't live without them.

*There's a line in the Daniel Day Lewis version of The Last of the Mohicans where a Bristish officer declares "...the French haven't the nature for war. Their Gallic laziness combines with their Latinate voluptuousness with the result that they would rather eat and make love with their faces than fight." Parkman would have deplored the language and agreed with the sentiments expressed. (Don't hold back, Serge; Parkman deserves whatever you can deliver!)

P4rkm4n R SRS c4t; w0rld R SRS pl4c3. 51lly n0t all0w3d! (Really, Mr. Parkman, if you can't handle a little gentle mockery, all in good fun, do you need to mix in the marketplace of ideas at all?)

#225 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:13 AM:

fidelio @ 224... (Don't hold back, Serge; Parkman deserves whatever you can deliver!)

"Fetchez la vache!"

As for 1992's Last of the Mohicans, my wife thought it was weird that I was siding with Montcalm. That may be because her ancestor Benedict Arnold got wounded in my hometown.

#226 ::: Charlie Stross spots Movable Type configuration whoopsie ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Albatross @214: my experience is exactly the same as yours -- spam sensitized me to advertising.

(Plus, is getting 10-15,000 spams a day routinely -- down from 20-30,000 at the point where I bit the bullet and sprang for a commercial spam filtering service. This is costing me real $MONEY to deal with, not just brains and time.)

#227 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Albatross @214: my experience is exactly the same as yours -- spam sensitized me to advertising.

(Plus, is getting 10-15,000 spams a day routinely -- down from 20-30,000 at the point where I bit the bullet and sprang for a commercial spam filtering service. This is costing me real $MONEY to deal with, not just brains and time.)

#228 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Well, I suppose this is applied history.

Are books longer these days? I knoe the paperbacks seem to be thicker, but that could just be different typesetting and fewer words to a page. A quick Google gives the minimum length for a novel under the Hugo rules as 40,000 words, while assorted author's blogs suggest 100,000 words is usual today.

Anyway, I was following a link on Wikipedia, and noticed that an 8-novel series, published in a year, was being considered as possibly multiple authors sharing a pen name. But I recall the pulp-style spy/crime novels of the Seventies being pretty short.

So is 8*40k from one author so improbable?

(Shall we agree that Lionel Fanthorpe is an extreme case?)

#229 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:38 AM:

Lindra @ 77: "There's no way to learn how to be one girl in all the world with the power to stop evil, but there are ways to learn how to do all or a lot of the things Marcus does, which is my point exactly (or one of them, I have too many points): Little Brother is trying to combine a character who has many of the characteristics of a superhero with the idea that you can be a superhero too!, which defeats the idea of a superhero."

I think this is exactly the attitude that Doctorow is challenging. Because superheroes are awesome--you can imagine being them, shattering all the stupid constraints that make your life miserable, making the world better with the sheer force of your own will. But at the same time, superheroes are really terrible, because they let you off the hook. After all, you aren't a superhero, so why even bother? Better to knuckle under, and not rock the boat. You'd just suffer worse, and nothing would change. Better to indulge your justice fantasies in your own head, and toe the line outside it.*

To be honest, your post @ 51 just oozes this mentality:

"The stuff Marcus is so arrogant about circumventing, the hey-look-at-me school of hacking, isn't the stuff we consider newsworthy or worth writing about, because it's what we live with. It's natural to us that we're suspicious of adults, that they aren't to be trusted without a lot of evidence saying we can.... We don't think about the photo IDs or the cameras because they're always there anyway. We don't like it, sure, but they're there, and why screw with it and make it worse when we don't need to? People always watch us no matter how many or how few cameras there are, and we can't do anything about that."

Once that mindset has been accepted, the idea that you ought to be challenging the system is simply insulting. It feels like some outsider, who has no idea what your life is like, is telling you "Just try harder! You could get treated better if you just put a little effort into it!" Which is patronizing as all hell, no question. What the hell do they know? They aren't in your shoes. They don't know how hard it is. Once you've given up, the idea that you might have made the wrong choice is an uncomfortable one to contemplate.

It might be true, though.

The history of progress isn't a story of enlightened elites handing down privileges out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. It is the story of the down-trodden demanding them. Nothing ever gets better because people kept their heads down. Obedience never won anybody freedom--just the illusion of it. Everyone who lives under injustice has to make a choice: to challenge the system and risk being destroyed themselves, or to just accept things the way they are. It's not an easy decision to make, and I don't think there's one right answer for every person and every situation.** But it sure is a lot easier to make if you pretend there's no choice at all.

Once superheroes become an opiate instead of an inspiration, superheroes have become part of the problem. If not being Marcus is an excuse for not even fighting, not even trying, then we're fucked. Because you're right--none of us are Marcus. There's no one there to save us. If we want saving, we're going to have to do it ourselves. So we need heroes like Marcus--not to lead us to safety, but to point us in the direction that we need to go.

*The particular set of indignities and insults that come with being a teenager are particularly prone to this. After all, wait another four, seven, ten years and you'll be free! (Or so they keep telling you.)

**Actually, that is one of the things that make Little Brother so great, the way Doctorow captured the ambiguity and tension between revolution and safety. It's a decision that Marcus struggles with a lot, and doesn't always come up with the same answer. Same with a lot of the other characters. Hmm. Maybe more on this in the Little Brother spoiler thread.

#230 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:41 AM:

Michael @ #222, I saw part of that series and liked it, but I don't know nuthin' 'bout no military, so I can't speak to how good a job they did.

The part where gur thl qvfnccrnerq bireobneq really got to me.

#231 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:45 AM:

Lee @ 173

I’m scadian and being dragged into fandom by my fiancé (notice the kicking and screaming?). That sense of belonging is *still* the main reason people join up, as far as I can tell. They understand my extra-long striped scarf in 70s colors...

Susan @ 184

Family can suck, but it sounds like the girl might end up in pretty good shape. If you need someone to process at, I’ll see you on Friday. Mike read me the wrong time off his flight info, so I can do dinner if we have it later…(6:30/7ish)

#232 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:53 AM:

Lindra @ 102: "I'm tempted to ask if I really truly have to,"

"If you don't, you can just forget about that slice of cheesecake young lady!"


#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:54 AM:

heresiarchoozing in regard to someone's post carries some negative connotation, but YMMV. As for superheroic opiates...

"Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only son."

#234 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Serge @ 220: Of course the Ferengi use spam! First of all, it's low overhead, so it costs nearly nothing to run your con -- er, ad, and there's suckers born every millisecond, so your cost-benefit ratio is great. Secondly, it's annoying, and certainly at least mildly unethical. What's not to (Ferengi) love? If you believe that they're just hard-nosed business-folks, well then -- I have this ocean beach front property in Northern Arizona that you can have for just millicreds. My grandmother barely used it, and we don't need it, so I can let it go for a song*. In fact, if you really like it, I can even let you get the beach house with it for just a little bit more. The house has been fully landscaped and has built-in lights along the walkway. That's what that glow is, in the picture. You will be serenaded to sleep by the howls of the protes- er, wolves.

*..and other minor charges, depending on state regulations, etc. etc. Taxes and title are separate. Additional fees may apply.

#235 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:04 AM:

Ginger @ 234... I can let it go for a song

I notice that con artists never say what the song is.

#236 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:12 AM:

Serge #225: Of course, you haven't heard of the Battle of Carlisle Bay in 1694, at which seven hundred Frenchmen were killed by two hundred and fifty Jamaican militia. Something to do with the rum, I suspect.

#237 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:14 AM:

heresiarch @ 232

You can keep the cheesecake. :) Will respond to your post at 229 in the spoiler thread.

#238 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:21 AM:

Benedict Leigh, 217, said:
I'd agree with you about the spectrum but I'm not sure that there are any really discontinuous states - it seems to me it's really all pretty much of a spectrum. Hearing voices is an example of a spectrum where the distribution isn't normal (mathmatically) but plenty of people (and I'm one of them) experience intrusive thoughts in way that some people ascribe to voices.

That is a really useful and accurate observation, about intrusive thoughts. I'll quibble on one thing: people who "hear voices" really are having the sensation of auditory input. Including mumbling, garbled speech, volume changes, and localization in space. These are all things that an internal monolog - even one gone horribly awry does not have. This is a pretty good example of a discontinuity: it's either perceptually internal or external.*

*interestingly, while auditory hallucinations are considered a quite serious breakage in one's psyche, visual hallucinations are considered pretty harmless, common, normal, and downright expected in cases of insomnia, frex.

#239 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:27 AM:

David Harmon (177): No, Year of the Ghost is something else (Diana Wynne Jones?). Also good, if it's the one I'm thinking of. The first Blossom Culp book is The Ghost Belonged to Me.

#240 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:32 AM:

The DWJ book is Time of the Ghost

#241 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:32 AM:

Dave @228: 320,000 words in one year from one author is perfectly do-able, although in the pre-wordprocessor age it was a bit harder -- lots of editing and copy-typing to do by hand. For a perspective on the output of the more prolific commercial writers of the day, see Charles Hamilton (author of the Billy Bunter books, among others, with an estimated lifetime output of 72-75 million words -- an order of magnitude higher than what you're asking for).

#242 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Charlie Stross, #226: I was already sensitized; I'd stopped watching television in the 1970s, and what a difference it made! Then there was The Experiment of the AM radio. Many moons ago, I had a car with only an AM radio. Now, this was NYC in the late 1970s and the best thing I could find to listen to on that damn thing was the bouncy dance music put out by one of the black stations. (I didn't then listen to classical music.) After a while, I realized I was humming the damn stuff, even the stuff with the most awful lyrics. I got an FM radio so fast.

But the experience has stayed with me. No-one is unaffected by advertising (or propaganda). Even if the stuff doesn't cost you anything more than momentary displeasure (a lot of moments these days, now that the FCC has been captured by the avertisers), it affects the management of the commercial stations, who after all are selling their audiences's time and attention. We are their product.

Advertising, though, is limited by the physical limitations of paper and broadcast media. Spam, on the other hand, is as limitless as the internet. If spam was simply outlawed, and processing transactions on behalf of spammers led to fines, there'd be almost no spam--the banks that are currently making money processing the transactions would refuse them, and the rest would follow. But the spammers have captured the legislative process and it will probably be a generation before the pols notice that they could make their little constituents happy by outlawing spam. It would also help if MS had not made such a business of marketing vulnerable systems. Even Apple has got on the bandwagon; the successful attacks on Macs are, I hear, largely via Apple's Safari browser, which is apparently even less secure than Internet Explorer.

#243 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:38 AM:

Clifton Royston: Yes, it was Tolstoy, the opening passage of Anna Karenina. Happy families are also all different in how they manage their bliss, but it's not exciting.

Michael Weholt: I like such programs. I've had the chance (over the course of some 16 years) to play with all but the Coast Guard. I like big boats. I may have to track that down.

I just get tired of having a subset of idiocy tossed out as the norm, and then having to both condemn it (while pointing out the problems aren't those of, "a few bad apples" and not systemic; even if institutional), any time I mention the Army.

It get more tiresome when the basic premise of the commenter who brings it up, is something I am actively agreeing with.

Makes me cranky.

#244 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:41 AM:

(And I agree that Time of the Ghost is really good, as are Witch Week and Charmed Life and pretty much everything by DWJ that I've ever read.)

#245 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:43 AM:

Lindra @ 237: "Will respond to your post at 229 in the spoiler thread."

Looking forward to it =)

#246 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:44 AM:

Mary Aileen... If there is such book as The Ghost Belonged to Me, is there also one titled The Soul Owner?

#247 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:49 AM:

234: In fact, if you really like it, I can even let you get the beach house with it for just a little bit more. The house has been fully landscaped and has built-in lights along the walkway. That's what that glow is, in the picture.

Hmm. Pardon me for being sceptical about that glow, but I got screwed like this once before by that Naismith guy. "Prime farmland," he said. "Middle of my family estates," he said.

#248 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:49 AM:

#230 Lila: Michael @ #222, I saw part of that series and liked it, but I don't know nuthin' 'bout no military, so I can't speak to how good a job they did.

I don't know nuthin' 'bout the military either, but the sense you got was that these sailors were giving us a pretty much no b.s. portrait of life aboard the Nimitz on a 7 month deployment to the Gulf.

The part where gur thl qvfnccrnerq bireobneq really got to me.

Yeah, that was sad. The part that *really* got me tearing up, though, was at the very end where the poor, lowly sailor got home and svanyyl ubbxrq hc jvgu uvf certanag tveysevraq naq fur qhzcrq uvz. Gung fprar jurer ur jnf pelvat jvgu uvf ohqql fnlvat "V tbg abguvat, V tbg abguvat" naq guerngravat gb dhvg "guvf fgvaxvat wbo"... ernyyl oebxr lbhe urneg.

Poor kid.

#249 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:55 AM:

Randolph @242, if I mention that the title of my next scheduled SF novel is 419 and it's set around 2020, that ought to tell you all you need to know ...

#250 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:06 PM:

Ugh, I'm really upset. A very good friend of mine, who's always been a feminist and fan of reproductive rights, is advocating forcing a young teenage girl in her family to get a contraceptive (depo) shot, because the girl had unprotected sex with her boyfriend.

So apparently my friend is only a fan of her own reproductive rights. Her reasoning is that the adults around this girl will have to bear the consequences if she gets pregnant, so they're entitled to make this choice for her.

This same friend is also, herself, unexpectedly pregnant, because of having unprotected sex with her now-husband. Had they not gotten married, her parents would, of course, have helped out with the cost of raising the baby. That's ok, though, because *she's* an adult.

I'm not saying this girl should be having unprotected sex...but neither should my friend, and she'd go ballistic if anyone suggested she should be required to do *anything* she didn't feel like doing.

Ugh. I anticipate a couple of extremely not-fun conversations in my immediate future.

#251 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:08 PM:

Lindra and Susan: no need to worry or self-deprecate about your writing skills. As noted above, I've been wading through a lot of YA novels lately, and I can only wish more of them were as eloquent as Lindra is in every post. As for that account of the family meeting, I'm allergic to most things dealing with modern messed-up families (I can't identify from experience, and the "literary" stories in my Mom's New Yorkers have put me off the fictional versions), but Susan's description kept me reading avidly.

If people like you two ever start writing for TV dramas, I might actually watch some!

#252 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:23 PM:

Susan, I have no idea of how likely your father would be to swallow it, but you might try taking the line that his money shouldn't figure in the piture, because your half-sister should be able to feel that you are spending time with her because you like doing that, and not because he's "paying" you to do so*, because it's better for her self-image. Since this has truth on its side, even if it's a concept that's entirely foreign to him, you can leave your own issues about gifts with string attached out of the discussion.

I'm glad Saturday went as well as it did, and isn't Botox scary? Now they say it can cross the blood-brain barrier, too.

*I think we can all see how an insecure adolescent could see it that way, right? it may be a hard idea for him to handle, but if there's a therapist in the picture, they'd be likely to see the point.

#253 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Mary Dell @ 250

Well, that's certainly unfortunate decision making on her part all the way around, no matter the stance on reproductive rights. As noted up-thread, teens don't take hypocracy well.

Good luck.

#254 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Dave Bell @ 228 -

But I recall the pulp-style spy/crime novels of the Seventies being pretty short.

I don't have any hard facts about it, but a lot of my paperbacks that I bought in the 60's and 70's were densely packed with small type. A Travis MgGee novel in the 60's would usually average 150 pages; recent reprints have widely spaced and larger type, and have gained over a hundred pages because of it.

#255 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:32 PM:

Mary Dell @#250, whoo! I don't envy you one bit. Good luck navigating that minefield!

#256 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:32 PM:

Charlie Stross, #419: d spmmrs d!

Serge, I did find a promo copy of the new Dan Dare. It looks really good!

Susan, I think DWJ is one of the most underrated authors of our time.

#257 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Brief loosing of frustration--

The Hunt Museum in Limerick, IR has one of the most amazing and varied collections that I have ever seen, and I've been in a *lot* of museums. I've been working with their website ever since my visit several years ago, usually frustrated because I can't ever get a response from their webminister or research-question person about dating or size or back pictures or anything. Still - these people were mid-century well known antiques dealers and this is the collection of things they decided they liked too much to sell.

Now, I've come up with an avenue of research that may have a k'zoo paper in it for next year and I know they have a statistically significant sample of what I'm looking at. However, this is the point when they completely rebuild the website, pulling the online collection down. As far as I can tell, they are the *only* museum to even care about the findings and accessories enough to post all 100 or so of their collection online. Or they were!

Grrr. Argh. Research - how did they do it all those years ago? ;)

#258 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Mary Dell @ 250:

Good luck from me, too. Sheesh. I don't suppose your friend can be convinced to downgrade the contraceptive shot to a Condom Talk impressing the importance of leaving the condom/no condom question alone until she's old enough to have the full range of contraceptives available to her?

Contrasting the condom talk as encouraging responsible decision-making about her body as opposed to the shot encouraging reliance on contraceptives as a failsafe might help your argument.

#259 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Randolph @ 256... I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. There are 5 issues out so far, but I have no idea if it's a limited series, or on-going.

#260 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:57 PM:

Mary Dell: I don't envy you that conversation. I was pleased to see that Kaiser has a large poster up about Plan B, in the examining room in gynocology.

#261 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Mary Dell #250: Your friend is apparently a little shaky on the concepts of both 'feminism' and 'rights'. Did anyone talk to teenage girl about sex and its consequences and the right way to go about things beforehand? Or was there just silence or stern Thou Shalt Nots?

#262 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 01:07 PM:

Cory Doctorow reminds me a bit of Brad Denton. If they haven't already, I bet they could write some pretty amazing collaborations.

#263 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 01:09 PM:

On the Particle link to Clay Shirky and his TNH namedrop: I went to a talk Clay gave in Boston a few weeks back, and in post-lecture conversation, the question of moderation came up, and I suggested TNH as the canonical example of the right kind of moderation. I don't know if he was already thinking that (he certainly knew TNH already), but perhaps I can take some small credit for putting the example in his head.

#265 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 01:48 PM:

Mark D #209, R.M.Koske #215:

This is a fairly normal treatment of heroic doings, using a not-entirely isoceles triangle as the thing that gives the painting "stability", a feature of many High Renaissance paintings that has persisted, particularly in so-called "history paintings" (see Jacques-Louis David, especially "Oath of the Horatii" and "Napoleon Crossing the St Bernard Pass").

What Mark is picking up on is a subsidiary triangle, inside the main one, with the crotch at the apex. But the main triangle is indeed the outer, larger one, apex at/near Washington's head, and with all sorts of stuff pointing to it. There are actually at least two more triangles in the picture (look carefully at each end of the boat), so it isn't entirely static.

That said, I am reminded of local folklore involving a statue of Washington on campus here; seen from certain angles, the scroll that he holds looks remarkably like a body part.

#266 ::: Charlie Stross spots Movable Type configuration whoopsie ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 01:56 PM:

We interrupt this open thread to announce that we have just completed the first draft of yet another bloody novel. Which did not come easy.

/me dies.

Can haz cheezburger naow, plz???

#267 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:03 PM:

Absolutely! Cheezburgers all around!

#268 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:12 PM:

#265, joann -

I *think* I can see the smaller triangles. There's sort of a vague one with the two nearest boatmen and Washington's crotch (?) and four and a half* of the men at the back of the boat also form a lumpy triangle. Are those what you're talking about?

This was a very interesting exercise, to really notice all the directional elements pointing at Washington.

And to come back to nerdycellist's original quote - photoshopping the guns out of this painting would be trivially easy as I can only find one.** Of course, it would also be even more silly than it seemed originally...because there's only one gun. (At least, I think that's a gun the fellow in the middle of the huddle in the back is cradling.)

*The upper body of the boatman in green isn't part of the triangle.

**A larger reproduction might reveal more guns, but I think that in most school textbooks, the image wouldn't be much larger than I'm seeing on-screen.

Oh, and congratulations, Charlie!

#269 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:12 PM:

And I've really got to fix the mangled name in these headers ...

#270 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:18 PM:

Mary Dell @ 250: My sympathies. Somewhere in one of those not-fun conversations you might want to tell her that Depo is potentially dangerous for teens as it can deplete bone mass, and during periods of bone growth that really doesn't sound like a good idea.

Charlie Stross @ 266: You can haz.

...I keep wanting to translate cat macros into Mandarin now that I have, roughly, a basic cat macro grasp on Mandarin. Like, "Do not want!" 不要, bu yao.

I know "you haz", 你有, ni you, but wasn't sure of "you can haz" until I looked it up just now, and found, via, that Nike has used the pun on their name to good effect. See, "you can" is "ni ke yi"...)

#271 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:25 PM:

Sisule @257:
Have you considered checking to see if the older version of the museum website is cached? Or tried the wayback machine?

I may be thinking about caches a bit too much...what I'm doing these evenings is cataloging all of the cache files that people sent us* so we can patch gaps.

* From this I am learning two things above all: we have a lot of people who comment here in a randomly selected 2-month period. And we have many wonderful community members who did a lot of work saving caches off, zipping them up, and sending them in. I am impressed and humbled.

#272 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:32 PM:

abi... Welcome back! And again, my many thanks to you and everybody else who brought ML back.

"Alive! It's alive!"

#273 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:51 PM:

Yay Abi! Muchly of cheering!!1111

There needs to be a Making Light medal for these kinds of things.

Also, reading upthread, Serge @223 is win.

And so is bed. Bed is definitely win. China time says 2:46. Class time is 7:50. Yugh. (In case anyone wonders what I'm doing posting punch-drunk and talking in intarweb-speak and mashed-up Mandarin, I just spent about six hours tossing together Business English finals -- brain-rotting material even when it isn't. Bu yao. Zai jian!)

#274 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:54 PM:

AJ Luxton... As Bruce Cohen in his Mandrake-the-Magician mode would say... Sleep!!!

#275 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:56 PM:

abi: See my note on the "What's still broken" thread; yesterday I found some caches of older threads with not-yet-restored older posts and sent it to PNH just minutes ago. Want me to send direct to you also? (Also see my post on various posters' histories I collected; let me know if any are useful.)

I'm pretty awed myself. My wife who's off on a trip heard about it from me on Monday and was completely boggled that the site had been largely restored via volunteer labor within just a few days.

Companies have completely failed over this kind of disaster, as I'm sure you realize.

#276 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:57 PM:

Lindra @#258

I don't suppose your friend can be convinced to downgrade the contraceptive shot to a Condom Talk

Fortunately my friend is not in a position to decide what happens, although she has quite a lot of influence, and would probably be the right person to deliver the condom talk if she wasn't pregnant herself. Hopefully that talk will get delivered by someone soon. I think the girl knows about condoms, but is acting out and indulging in deliberately risky behavior because of Stuff. Having big choices imposed upon her by adults is unlikely to help with that, I think.

Fragano Ledgister @#261:

Or was there just silence or stern Thou Shalt Nots?

Stern Thou Shalt Nots, lots of 'em. Those work, right?

A. J. Luxton @#270:

Somewhere in one of those not-fun conversations you might want to tell her that Depo is potentially dangerous for teens as it can deplete bone mass, and during periods of bone growth that really doesn't sound like a good idea.

Amen to that. I told her that Depo has side effects that are probably going to be more problematic for an adolescent, but I couldn't remember what the specific bad juju was until I looked it up later. She did listen to me with a fairly open mind, but she still thinks that a teenager shouldn't get to decide, blah blah blah. I pretty much said that on the one hand this is a troubled child, who needs to be helped and protected, and on the other hand this is a woman, whose rights are supposedly important to both of us.

Hopefully as my (newlywed) friend finds her bearings within this new family she'll chill out a little and be able to help the girl out by connecting with her, instead of trying to be the voice of authority.

#277 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:58 PM:

I am not really back, since I am doing the cataloging. Like thank you notes after a wedding, these trailing details take time.

I did want to say "well done" to Susan for making it through the Family Ordeal in possession of her wits, her integrity, and her freedom*. Like I said before, any one you walk away from counts as a win.

* Both in the sense of staying unbought and in the sense of not requiring arrest for the murder of a Barbie doll.

#278 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:00 PM:

Buuuuut.... the internet is so interesting.


#279 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:16 PM:

Abi @ 271 unfortunatly, google has already overwritten the version of two weeks ago.

Oh, and thank you muchly for your efforts to save everything!

#280 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:21 PM:

Dinner Friday @ 6:30 (we'll wait for you if necessary) for dance geekery. Drive efficiently from O'Hare!

That leaves me free for lunch and dinner Saturday, pending networking. I have made a post re. Kalamazoo on Rixo with an open comment thread should this require discussion, or should anyone just want to discuss anything Kalamazoo-related, since I am very lightly commented and cherish every one I get. I will later make a more professional post on Kickery as well, which should provide amusing contrast for the four or five people who read both blogs.

#281 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:22 PM:

Sisule @279:
Have you tried the wayback machine, then? That will have things 6 months old and older.

I am but a cog in the machine in the effort to save things. The only unique thing I did was to open a few threads on my blog and set Patrick and Teresa up with accounts there.

#282 ::: Benedict Leigh ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:25 PM:

don delny @ 238
It's certainly the experience of auditory input, and I wonder if it's the identification of an external cause that's the discontinuity, rather than the quality of the experience. The point about different value judgements of auditory vs visual hallucinations is really interesting and I'll have to think about it some more. I wonder if it's to do with the amount of (perceptually false) information in each medium. Language is seen as more important .

#283 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:30 PM:

I have no integrity or ethics, remember? I'm a mean, nasty person.

I have the remains of a beheaded Barbie doll hidden in my house right now.

#284 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:32 PM:

abi... By the way, when last Saturday did you and others realize that Something Was Wrong?

#285 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:40 PM:

Susan @ 283... I have the remains of a beheaded Barbie doll hidden in my house

...and Ken did it!

#286 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 03:45 PM:

Mary Dell: ISTM that the teenager has already declared that she DOES get to decide for herself by engaging in risky behavior despite the Thou Shalt Nots.

I'd be very wary of a Depo shot for ANYONE, given the side effects.

I'd think a visit to the GYN is non-negotiable for the teen, but that choice of method ought to be a matter for the girl and her doctor to figure out.

Remembering my own teen days, it was a lot easier to discuss such matters with a doctor than it was to discuss them with a parent.

#287 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Serge @ 285 -

...and Ken did it!

Those love triangles with GI Joe always end badly. Wait, maybe it was Midge.

#288 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 04:18 PM:

Steve C... Was Captain Action also involved? (I won't ask how he got his moniker.)

#290 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Debbie @ 289 -


Serge # 288 -

I don't know - the CSI:Mattel team is still working the scene.

#291 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 04:45 PM:

Steve C @ 290... CSI:Mattel should not forget to ask Matt Mason a few questions. Barbie was often quoted as calling Ken and Joe rather stiff, while Matt was quite pliable. But he and Barbie haven't been seen together for quite a while, starting rumors of a breakup. As for Gumby and Pokey...

#292 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 04:52 PM:

Once upon a time I used to dress up Ken
But now that I'm a woman I like...bigger men
And I don't need a Barbie doll to show me how
'Cause mama I'm a big girl now!

#293 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 04:54 PM:

Serge @ #291, tangentially, according to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me last Saturday, Shari Lewis used to order lamb chops at restaurants whenever she found them on the menu.

The horror!

#294 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 04:57 PM:

Mary Dell #276: Not in my experience, either as a teenager (way back in the palæolithic) or as a parent.

#295 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 04:58 PM:

#293, Linkmeister -

I *love* that. She just went up in my book.

#296 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:00 PM:

Susan #283: For the record, which iteration of Barbie was it?

#297 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:01 PM:

Serge #285: Using kendo?

#298 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:02 PM:

Clifton #275: Companies have completely failed over this kind of disaster, as I'm sure you realize.

Yeah, but they are (or should be) closed systems, without all sorts of random google caches that can be saved off by just anybody. I think the fact that we're open is how we lucked out.

#299 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:04 PM:

Um...circa 1991, black hair and (I think) green eyes? They looked so empty staring straight ahead as her little head rolled around separately. Any Barbie doll would have done to satisfy my nefarious urges; I just went and got what was available.

#300 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Susan #300: It sounds like a serious case of Barbicide to me. I didn't know they made black-haired (or should that be 'raven-haired'?) Barbies?

#301 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:10 PM:

Susan @ 299... Bruce Campbell revealed in his biography that he and his brothers, when they were kids, loved to aim a magnifying glass at their toy soldiers, turning them in tiny puddles of sizzling green plastic. Why am I not surprised?

#302 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:11 PM:

R.M.Koske #268:

Yes, those are the two. It's also interesting, now that I look yet again, that you can either see Washington and the guys behind him to our right as a triangle, or the two guys as one triangle and Washington as his own triangle. All the little interlocking tangrams, almost. Quite complex, really; given all that's going on compositionally, I think Mark is stretching his take just a little. (Out of shape, perhaps?)

(Don't get me started on the placement of the reds; I could natter on for quite a while and I'd be doing even more infodump to get there than Cory has got in LB. Not that his infodump is at all a bad thing.)

#303 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:12 PM:

W00t, Charlie, w00t! What's the associated one-liner?

#304 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:14 PM:

WRT Barbie -

Little Kathy goes to class, and during Show & Tell, she displays her Barbie doll. She says, "And this my Barbie doll. Barbie comes with GI Joe."

Teacher says, "Kathy, don't you mean she comes with Ken?"

"No, teacher. She fakes it with Ken."

#305 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:28 PM:

Fragano @ #300:
Oh, sure, they make different hair colors (and skin colors, for that matter). Wouldn't want any girls to feel left out because they don't look like Barbie. [/sarcasm]

#306 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:33 PM:

A. J. Luxton, 270,
...I keep wanting to translate cat macros into Mandarin now that I have, roughly, a basic cat macro grasp on Mandarin. Like, "Do not want!" 不要, bu yao.

That reminds me of the cat named Buuyo from Inuyasha. (Who serves the sam purpose in the series as R2D2 did in Star Wars, albeit, only for one episode.)

Given Rumiko Takahashi's predilection for multilingual puns, I wouldn't be surprised if that was a factor in Buyo's naming. (The poor thing is put upon by Inuyasha and pretty much everyone else, in the way slow, pudding-like cats tend to be.) My google-fu is inadequate to find the Kanji equivalent for the cat's name to compare. Perhaps you might have better luck.

Anyway, Mandarin cat macros?

#307 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:35 PM:

I remember reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle in the early 1990s about Barbie being given a new look that'd make her more realistic. Or supposedly less unrealistic. Which didn't keep the article's author from referring to the new Barbie as 'chunky'.

#308 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:39 PM:

Susan @305 -- Barbie also comes in collector's editions. I've seen her as Scarlett O'Hara from GWTW, Cleopatra (in the golden Isis costume/Liz Taylor) and in any number of "national dress" versions.

#309 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:42 PM:

Susan #305: Of course not, that would be so unfair. As long as they're all slim, large-breasted, and long-legged they can feel included.

#310 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:44 PM:

Benedict Leigh, 282,

don delny @ 238
The point about different value judgements of auditory vs visual hallucinations is really interesting and I'll have to think about it some more. I wonder if it's to do with the amount of (perceptually false) information in each medium. Language is seen as more important .

I've wondered about that a great deal myself. The folk-science explanation I've gotten from professionals who should know, is that auditory hallucinations require to the brain to actually produce language from scratch (instead of simulating, replaying memories, or repeating sounds in the environment). That would require the cooperation of some pretty high-up brain functions, since language production is very hard and very abstract , so the hypothesis is, if something that is supposed to be directly managed by your conscious awareness is going off and doing it's own thing, you have a very serious problem.

Meanwhile, we are in the habit of producing visual hallucinations every night, multiple times a night, which seems to involve something less than 'real' tactile experience, and something closer to day-to-day visualizing of stuff.

Anyway, that's all I really have to say on that, it's not really my area, so I'm totally lacking in further insight.

#311 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Mary Dell, in re your friend the mother-to-be, all I have to offer is one of my oblique strategies: when someone is making inexplicable statements that are phrased as generalities or are supposedly about other people, check and see whether they're actually talking about themselves.

I'm wondering about that in part because Depo doesn't answer all the objections to unprotected sex. Pregnancy is a temporary condition, and seldom fatal.


Anyone who wants to help catalogue saved caches of Making Light should feel free to speak up. It's more work than you'd think.


Terry, you should have dropped an eyeball on me.

Alex, thanks.

#312 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:01 PM:

Susan 305,
Fragano Ledgister, 309, et al

I was talking with a friend about the design constraints of Barbie dolls and the consensus seemed to be:

1. the doll needs to be big enough to make dressing it practical for small children AND so that standard kinds of cloth can be used to make the clothes.
This lets out modern GI Joes and Star Wars action figures: they are too small to be dressed in anything other than plastic.

2. the doll needs to be small enough to be grabbed effectively by small hands and light and weildy enough to be carried
This lets out previous iterations of baby dolls, many of which were pretty big.

Given 1 & 2, there's a limit to the kinds of proportions you can give the doll. Sadly, unrealistic proportions make for a* pretty good design solution if you also want to put clothes on the doll that are like grown-up clothes. (Even the bizzaro chest pyramid.)

*yes, a, one, single solution. There should be others. No, I am not defending Barbie as a cultural institution in any way.

#313 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:08 PM:

According to one of my friends, there was one edition of a very stylish club-going Ken who shipped with[*] a cock-ring pendant and a fetching earring. The toy designers had observed the ring pendant accessory on club-goers and had no idea that the rings in question were cock rings. (Sure they didn't...)

Those dolls sold out and became collectors' items very very fast, as they were abruptly discontinued once somebody informed Mattel management exactly how they were accessorizing Ken.

* Studiously avoiding the phrase "came with"...

Teresa, I'm sending you some email. This cache sorting should not be manual work, at all. Let me see if I can help out, as this kind of solution is where my talents are located.

#314 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:10 PM:


I could natter on for quite a while and I'd be doing even more infodump to get there than Cory has got in LB.

but it would be art history/criticism geekery! we hardly ever get that around here!

(that was a "do it!" vote.)

#315 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:15 PM:

don delny @ 310: That would imply that no one but the dreamer actually speaks in dreams. Which is...not entirely implausible. I'll try to remember to pay attention next time I notice I'm dreaming...

#316 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:18 PM:

And, a belated thanks to all who responded to my address harvesting question last open thread. Sounds like publishing does actually make a difference.

#317 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:20 PM:

I've been looking through a folder of old bits of fiction.

Most of it is blatantly pornographic.

Bur I think the best line in it is, "And then Dick Cheney had his heart attack".

No, it's not the conclusion of a porno scene. That isn't something I'd want to put any character through.

#318 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:24 PM:

albatross @#216 et seq.: Yes, as far as I can tell, every mental "disorder" and "disability" represents either the loss or exaggeration of a normal mental facility. These are often not the high level facilities we normally think of, like "imagination" or "judgment", but the low-level capacities underlying those, in some cases not well understood in their own right.

Autism in particular definitely shades straight down into "normal tendencies". My stepfather is a classic example -- clearly not diagnosible, but he's an engineer, with the characteristic mindset, plus bare shadings of some of the "autie" characteristics.

Both visual and auditory hallucinations are more common than most people realize -- it's just that most of the time, they're temporary episodes while overtired or in response to trauma. There are also people who have regular hallucinations, but who also have the social judgment to keep quiet about them, and usually to ignore or discount them.

Consider that social customs in general include standard routines for community verification ("Hey, do you see that?") and for negotiating over consensual reality ("you're overtired, go to bed", "dude are you stoned?", "It's a vision!", "not that again..."). Our social behavior has evolved to deal with cases where only one person in a group "saw something", and we're collectively pretty good at reality-testing such things. (Religion represents a couple of bugs in our strategy, but then there's always a tradeoff for difficult tasks.)

#319 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:28 PM:

Teresa: Oops. I never thought of it. Partly because it's so common, and partly because, well it didn't seem to rise to the level of so off-topic as to be worth it.

Maybe part of it is because it seems like a different sort of whining to to what I did here (and who else has amusing switches between the US/British from/to after different?).

I guess that what irks me, personally, didn't seem worth invoking the moderator, and I didn't want to seem to be using an outside relationship for special privilege.

I will try to think of the eyeball in future.

#320 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:37 PM:

Teresa @ 311... Terry, you should have dropped an eyeball on me.


#321 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:46 PM:

Earring Magic Ken.

#322 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:49 PM:

This article about the health benefits of having a fat butt is vaguely interesting, and is illustrated with a hilarious photo. Or at any rate, it's hilarious that they chose that particular photo to illustrate the article.

#323 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 06:51 PM:

Benedict, #217: I think you're talking about the phenomenon that I call the Goddamn Tapes. The nasty little voice in the back of the head that's always ready to tell you how worthless you are, how incompetent you are, what a fool you just made yourself look like, how you did the exact same thing in these other past situations, etc. etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

The reason I call it the Goddamn Tapes is that as far as I can tell, people don't have that voice naturally; they get it from dealing with other people who tell them stuff like that over and over again, until it gets internalized. The Tapes are the voices of your perfectionist parents, your tyrannical teachers, your bullying schoolmates, that abusive ex-boss -- anyone who routinely deals out verbal attacks, still living in the back of your head long after you may have gotten them out of your life.

Charlie, #226: One of the things that has changed as a result of spam is that now (at least in our house) the term gets applied to more than just e-mail. Telemarketers are "phone spam", junk mail is "postal spam", flyers on the porch are "door spam", and those cheap coroplast signs on metal step-stakes are "street spam".

And it's getting hard for me to watch Bones (the only TV show I'm currently following) on live broadcast because so many of the commercials are just STUPID AND IRRITATING. I'd rather wait a day and get it off the torrent instead, and then pick up the season DVDs when they're released.

Randolph, #242: I was thinking just the other day that the entire paradigm of broadcast TV has been seriously broken since the advent of the VCR. If the whole point is to sell advertising time, but much of the audience employs some mechanism (VCR and fast-forward, Tivo, torrents) that allows them to skip the advertising... well, the advertiser is clearly not getting what they pay for any more, are they? And the people who use those commercial-skipping mechanisms are precisely the cream of the audience -- those who are likely to have the most discretionary income to spend on whatever the commercial is advertising.

I was also thinking, in the wake of a particularly obnoxious commercial, how nice it would be if there were some kind of automatic feedback system to "vote up" or "vote down" a commercial while it's running. Yes, I was wishing that my TV shipped with a mouse. :-)

Charlie, #249: Seriously? That I'd buy in hardcover!

Mary Dell, #250: Ouch. My sympathies. Sitting down with the young woman (AND her boyfriend!) and trying to convince them that this is a good idea -- and that even if she gets the shot, they should still be using condoms anyhow! -- I can see, but not forcing her to do it.

Is she by any chance a casualty of "abstinence-only" sex ed? ... oh, never mind, I think you answered that.

"Acting out because of Stuff" -- oh, do I hear that! My own adolescent rebellion (which was wildly delayed even by the standards of the time; it didn't reach full flower until I was about 20) was strongly shaped by my parents' negativity about sex. Having sex and enjoying it was by far the worst thing I could do to them -- much worse than smoking, drinking, or doing drugs! In my own defense, (1) I did approach my doctor for the Pill... though not until I'd had unprotected sex once; and (2) this was pre-HIV, so at least I didn't have to worry about ending up dead.

Susan, #305: That's a fairly recent development -- as in, within the past 30 years or so. I still remember the days of the all-white, always-blond Barbie, when token attempts at diversity were made only by giving her friends of different ethnicities.

#324 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 07:04 PM:

miriam #314:

It's pretty geeky, all right. I wrote a dissertation that had a whole chapter (it seems like, at a remove of almost a decade) on non-pyramidal form, and how some artists used color to subvert pyramid form or work with/enhance the non-pyramidal stuff, to the point that one of my committee informed me after the defense that she now looked at paintings in a whole new way. (Ghu knows if any of it stuck.) The more I look at the Washington painting, the more I think something weird is going on, I'm not just sure what yet or why. Ping me here in a few days if you're still interested.

#325 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 07:15 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @#311:

If I didn't know the parties involved, I'd be inclined to wonder if the situation was being misrepresented, or invented out of whole cloth. In this case, alas, it's not. Custodial parent is forbidding sex, and won't discuss birth control, because without sex, birth control not necessary. If the girl gets pregnant, she will have to go live with someone else. Which she would probably prefer. So my friend is trying to avoid having a miserable, pregnant teenager turn up on her doorstep. Which is understandable, but she needs to adjust her focus.

#326 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 07:56 PM:

joann: Append me to the list of interested people.

Most of it's personal, but the professional interest is beause of the personal. As a photographer, how to build/see a picture matters.

And yes, I agree that something strange is going on in the picture.

Lee: re commercials: Yep. I don't know if it's me, or what, but I see a whole lot more commercials which are either stupid; or assume the customer is.

Add the one's aimed at those kids on my lawn and I get a bit tetchy.

#327 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:16 PM:

Mary Dell 325: Oh dear. That does make things more complicated.

Does Custodial Parent acknowledge that sex has already HAPPENED, despite the prohibition? Or is Custodial Parent in the dark, or in denial?

How old is Teenager, anyway? How old is Boyfriend? Is there a danger of a statuory rape charge if Custodial Parent is forced to acknowledge and gets their knickers in a twist over it?

If it seems like the best plan to keep Custodial Parent in the dark, maybe Pregnant Friend could take Teenager to Planned Parenthood -- sliding-scale services, and unless my Google-fu is failing me, it doesn't look like mandatory parental notification. And since she's already had unprotected sex, STD testing, and the HPV vaccine!

I'm assuming, given your description, that Teenager was enthusiastically willing and not feeling coerced by Boyfriend, but that might also be a useful discussion for Friend or perhaps Doctor to have with her.

It makes me wish we had Betan customs, with universal implants at menarche (ones without nasty Depo side effects and that stop your periods to boot!) and a cultural understanding that adolescents, thus protected, were then free to figure things out on their own. But since we don't, I'm in favor of maximizing both education AND safety for young women, with the hope of granting them maximum agency.

And... my daughter's twelve. I hope I'll be able to do right by her.

#328 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:22 PM:

#311 Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Anyone who wants to help catalogue saved caches of Making Light should feel free to speak up. It's more work than you'd think.

Send me a chunk. Or however you are doing it...

Note: I do best if I get a chunk I can finish and then take on the next chunk.

Rat-like, I'm pathetically addicted to small but frequent rewards.

#329 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:32 PM:

The person who commented "Abu Ghraib" to Terry's comments about ROE was actually one of the more thoughtful commenters on BB. She has a kind of "Omigod I didn't mean that" post right after Terry's reply. She's another one of those who you'd never know was a teenager if she didn't tell you so.

#330 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:42 PM:

On Washington Crossing the Delaware: I know he has to stand up for that composition, but whenever I see that picture I can't help thinking that someone in the boat is saying "for God's sake General, sit down, you're rocking the boat!"*

It's often risky to read to much of an author's beliefs into a novel, but I note this passage from Glasshouse:

Back inside, I try to watch some TV, but it's inane and slow, not to mention barely comprehensible. Bright blurry lights on a low-resolution screen with a curving screen, slow-moving and tedious, with plots that don't make sense because they rely on shared knowledge that I just don't have. I'm steeling myself to turn it off and face the boredom alone when the telephone rings.

(And I look forward to the newest Stross novel)

On putting Making Light back together:

Strangers have arrived in the market of memories, not in ones and twos, but by the hundreds. Searching for forgotten thoughts of Go Bags and Flu Packs, musings on Slush and Snow, stories of cute hamsters and frankly obscene dinosaurs. They offer the most extraordinary deals for mere scraps of political discussions, fragments of poetry and particles of an anlaysis of fanfic.

A thousand nights spent watching movies where the scientist's creation turns on them have changed hands this morning alone, and a thousand more in the afternoon. When asked why they give so much for the memory of mere words on the screen, they just laugh and make light of it.

(This is my thanks, and also my apology for being too busy to be of any use)

* And then they burst into song

#331 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:46 PM:

Susan, my situation's about a generation older than yours, but I can tell you that one of the reasons my father married my evil stepmother is because in our family he was the least-smart and in the new family he was the most-smart.

#332 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:49 PM:

Another point about auditory hallucinations: I gather it's fairly common for people to hear a voice just calling their name. Not "Vicki, avenge your dead grandmother" or "Vicki, you are chosen for a great mission," just "Vicki" in a vaguely vocative tone. And that makes sense in terms of the brain using already-existing audio memories, because one thing we've all heard a lot, in isolation, is our own names. I'm also told that as long as the voice doesn't give instructions or "information," it's not something to worry about.

#333 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:54 PM:

Xopher: I was trying to avoid various bits of social leakage. I suspect that the combination of posts (from the poser sort above that comment) and then to hers was part of it.

I handled it so-so (did pretty well there but ought to have looked elsewhere to vent; as I don't want to put Teresa in the position of appearing to have a conflict of interest.

And yes, she is, from my limited interactions, a pretty smart person; seems clued-in on how to talk, argue, and play on the net. I was pretty sure that the conversation wasn't going to become personally toxic; though part of that because I refuse to let it.

How I intend to make that case can be seen there.

And Skullhunter has proven himself as clueless as I told him he was.


#334 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:00 PM:

WRT auditory hallucinations, I often hear what sound like voices from vague noises like AC compressors cycling, particularly as I'm going to sleep. I think it's just part of the brain's way of imposing patterns on random input, much like we look at the scattered stars and see constellations, or see animals in cloud shapes.

#335 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:29 PM:

Joann, please geek as you will. The painting reminds me, on first glance in a while, of the figurehead of a ship more than anything.

Mary Dell, I knew a girl in college who loved sex, but refused to go on hormonal birth control because her mother might find out. The conversation was related secondhand, or I would have suggested faking extremely painful periods or irregularity. Birth control pills are useful for more than preventing pregnancy.

#336 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:39 PM:

Diatryma 335, when I was 15, I was already under the care of a pediatric GYN for polycystic ovarian syndrome. She wrote me a prescription for the Pill at my direct request, and, at my further request, did not disabuse my mother of the notion that it was simply a treatment strategy for the PCOS. She was great. When I asked her if she'd TELL my mom that it was for the PCOS, she said, "It's not my job to sort out your relationship with your mom. It IS my job to keep you from getting pregnant. I'll write the prescription, and it's up to you to what you say to her about it."

#337 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Flying penguins made me laugh hysterically.

I frantically needed cheering up when I found that video.

Just sayin'

#338 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:16 PM:

Rikibeth @#327: I daren't describe the situation in any more detail than I already have, but you're picturing exactly the sort of thing. There is no villain in the case, really--but more than enough stupidity and stubbornness to go around.

I'm certain you'll do fine by your daughter. One of the potential blessings of being an SF fan is being able to weigh all sorts of different ways of doing things, long before you actually encounter them in RL. Just don't make her get married in the nude ;)

from Diatryma @#335:

I was genuinely on the pill for hormonal reasons, but it was during a time in my life when I wasn't getting any love anyway, so the excuse was wasted. But I knew plenty of other women who took it "for cramps" so they wouldn't have to cop to being sexually active. I'd like to think times will eventually change so that this kind of silliness won't be necessary.

#339 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:28 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 133

Law and Order:SVU is a hypnotizing train wreck for me the few times I've gotten hooked into watching it lately. I started out watching on a regular basis, hoping they were really going to treat the subject of sexual crimes and victims with some respect and clarity. They did better than anyone else on television* for awhile, then they descended into bathos to show how horribly the job affects the cops who have to deal with the squick on a daily basis. I mean, come on, the female lead is a child of rape and uses her police contacts to track down her "father", planning to kill him? No new insights were left unharmed in the filming of that episode.

What did stop me from seeing it for a long time was that I got the feeling they were choosing their subjects for their exploitation value, titilating rather than showing, talking rather than doing. But recently I've seen a few episodes (thank the DVR for that), and noticed the interest in technology you mentioned. Unfortunately, the train went off the track there too, because, while they often get the words right, they rarely fit them together into coherent phrases, let alone sing them to the tune correctly.

My favorite example: an episode that should have been titled "This Horrible Second Life". This week's Guest Deviant is in a social virtual space whose name was some variant of "second Life". The Good Guys needed to track him down knowing only that he was logged-in looking for a victim. I can't remember exactly why they wanted to make him think it was later than it really was (the legal bafflegab was getting thick), but they decided that they needed to go to the central control room (!) for the site and make the virtual sun come up hours early. Looking at a monitor one of them says "There are more than 3 million people logged in now, how do we find him?" and the techie walks over to the wall and pulls up on the switch bar of a 100 amp circuit breaker, like the kind you find on the wall of a server room. And that's what turns on the sun. I missed most of the climactic scene because I was laughing too hard to see the screen.

* A faint damn if I ever wrote one.

#340 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:34 PM:

Susan @ 321, following Clifton @313, hee. I read Susan's amusing linked piece … er, amusing piece linked to by Susan, that is, and one bit leapt out. It's undated, but I assume was written during the (first?) Clinton administration. One sentence starts:
"In the waning years of our long national nightmare (aka the Reagan-Bush years)"
I wonder how Don Savage would describe the more recent Bush years?

#341 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:35 PM:

My first GYN visit, I asked about the possibility of going on the pill, even though I wasn't sexually active, and really didn't have any intention to be in the near future (although I was 19...). The doctor said it was against policy at that hospital to prescribe birth control if it wasn't "medically necessary" and asked if I was sure I wasn't having a very irregular cycle or bad cramping. Not willing to lie, I went without until later that year. Not surprisingly, the British NHS would rather give you the pill than pay the consequences, even (especially?) if you're only in the country as a student.

But then, I had a good enough relationship with my mom that I actually told her that I thought I was going to have sex, and discussed the reasons why I had chosen the person I had. Much easier decision to make without all the extra family drama attached.

#342 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 10:42 PM:

Mary Dell 338: ouch. Sadly, it's a subject where stupidity and stubbornness are all too common. I really hope things work out well for the young woman.

And I'd never MAKE my daughter get married in the nude, no matter how amusing it was when Deanna Troi's mother did it, but if she decided she WANTED to (depending on how her religious explorations settle out, it's a possibility), I guess I'd do my best to help her find a location where it could happen without anyone getting arrested.

#343 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:03 PM:

Bruce Cohen (StM), I saw that episode, well at least that part of it.


The original isn't terrible (though it's struggled since Jerry Orbach died), but even that has moments (usually when the legal reasoning falls apart; or things which aren't true are said. They routinely go off the rails when they use a military backdrop).

#344 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:08 PM:


my art school tended to emphasize the conceptual over the formal, (in both art history & studio art classes,) which i somewhat regret. now, even though i've got a degree in visual arts, i don't feel like i have more than an intuitive handle on colour or composition. & the only times i heard about triangles/golden sections were in textbooks or the one high school art history class i took.

& yeah, really, i'd love for you to change the way i see washington crossing the delaware, forever.

#345 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:20 PM:

Vicki @332: When dozing between classes in college, and a couple times recently, I've been awakened by what sounds like someone saying my name sharply and clapping their hands once--well, sort of like you'd do to wake someone up. I always wondered if it wasn't because I knew I had to be somewhere shortly. What's truly striking about it, is that for some reason, though I have a truly bad memory, I can remember each of those instances very clearly.

Steve C @334:
My window unit AC often sounds like the neighbors are having a party when I'm trying to go to sleep. Not rowdy or anything, just definite rhythmic rise and fall of several people in conversation. It bounces of the wall of the bedroom wall so it sounds like it's not coming from our side yard, which is where that window is.

#346 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:52 PM:

#339: I turn off SVU within ten minutes about 2/3rds of the time. Too tawdry, or painful, or cheap.

I like the clueless tech stuff. Partly because it can be funny, partly because -- as I suggested above -- there's something really fascinating about stuff like the Grand Central Freeze appearing in a police procedural. L&O is like the Police Gazette or Spicy Detective Stories of our day.

#347 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:08 AM:

Visual Anomalies:

Not a hallucination, but in that category, is a fascinating special effect my brain puts on under a specific circumstance.

I wake up from a really deep sleep to either a) take a leak, of b) shout at the dog to get off the balcony and stop barking at cats. I quickly stumble back to bed, without having had any real stimulus so I'm still half-asleep and really thick headed. When I close my eyes and settle back to sleep I see behind my lids . . . a really peculiar phenomena.

You know those simulations of a insect-eye-view you might see in a horror movie or science show? Lots of little almost-identical images?

This special effect is kind of like that. An irregular mosaic of dozens or scores of images filling up my behind-the-eyelids visual field. The images are not identical but are related. Like: Candy. Or: Limbs. Or: Chairs. All vivid and mobile and colorful, jostling slightly as though being displayed on small roughly oval LCDs held together in a rubber frame.

My theory: What I'm "seeing" is a sort of a video clip art collection used for categorization and identification. (As I understand things neurological, not actual images but bundles of attributes which are interpreted as images.) Normally it's only accessed subconsciously, but here the data is getting routed to a place where it's "visible."

Go figure.

#348 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:15 AM:

Vicki 332: I suppose I'm the only one here wicked enough to immediately think of sneaking up behind you at a con and whispering "Vicki, you are chosen for a great mission."

You are, you know.

#349 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:36 AM:

Xopher @ 348... "Vicki, you are chosen for a great mission."

Should you, or any member of your team, be captured, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge.

Good luck, Vicki.

#350 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:06 AM:

Serge @ #349, but then does Xopher self-destruct in ten seconds?

#351 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:21 AM:

Mary Dell 325, and other interested parties

There is a wonderful web site called Scarleteen(dot com) that covers teen and young adult sexuality and sex education issues. Even chapters on what adults can do to help guide the younger generation.

#352 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:37 AM:

A.J. Luxton @ 270: "...I keep wanting to translate cat macros into Mandarin now that I have, roughly, a basic cat macro grasp on Mandarin. Like, "Do not want!" 不要, bu yao."

But the problem with that is that 不要 is perfectly grammatical Chinese. It doesn't has the flavor of LOL at all. Maybe substitute in characters with the same sound but different meanings? (卧有个味到。)

Mary Dell @ 276: "I think the girl knows about condoms, but is acting out and indulging in deliberately risky behavior because of Stuff. Having big choices imposed upon her by adults is unlikely to help with that, I think."

Is it just because I recently finished Little Brother that the idea of trying to force a teenager to do, well, anything against their will seems inherently flawed? Their capacity to rebel far exceeds the adult's capacity to enforce, and it only increases.

@ 325: "Custodial parent is forbidding sex, and won't discuss birth control, because without sex, birth control not necessary. If the girl gets pregnant, she will have to go live with someone else. Which she would probably prefer. So my friend is trying to avoid having a miserable, pregnant teenager turn up on her doorstep. Which is understandable, but she needs to adjust her focus."

Sounds like the custodial parent needs a sharp smack upside the head with a good sturdy cluestick. (And did the idea of STDs ever cross Depo-advocate's mind? Sheesh.)

#353 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:57 AM:

It's worth remembering that not everybody tolerates the pill well. When my daughter started on them, she almost immediately fell into a really black depression; even after she discontinued them, it took her a while with antidepressants and CBT to pull herself back out to where she'd started.

Mary Dell, I think one of the possibilities that Teresa was alluding to is this:

If your friend is going slightly bonkers with advocating forced birth control for her teenage relative, while she herself is unexpectedly pregnant, her panic may be rooted in the thoroughly inexpressible and unacceptable thought of "But I'm not ready! I didn't want a baby right now and I can't deal with this myself and I wish I didn't have to have it!" (Especially if that thought is all tangled up with a lot of directly contradictory thoughts.) It doesn't make it right, but it may make it possible to think more charitably of her.

I always found facing the prospect of parenthood was pretty panic-inducing even when fully planned, let alone unplanned. (And I didn't even have to harbor the parasite in my body for nine months!)

#354 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:26 AM:

#203 Charlie on strikethrough: ML supports the "strike" tag though not the equivalent (on many platforms) "s" tag.

#355 ::: Benedict Leigh ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:40 AM:

Lee @ 323 Goddam tapes is it exactly. Internalised and unhelpful self criticism is a hard thing to make positive. I do know people who don't have that little voice of criticism in the back of their heads (I just can't imagine my self without them). I'm not sure they're always a bad thing - sometimes my awareness of my ability to fail (badly) has stopped me failing - not always though. When I first read Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)in my early teens it gave me a series of explanations and ways of thinking about these voices which (though probably factually false) was really helpful.

Vicki @ 332 and I think we're really cued to names - even something that sounds slightly like my name can grab my attention. The brain is watching for this sort of stuff. When I lived abroad for a while the pronunciation of my name was different and it took me a while to be as aware of the different pronunciation.

don delny @ 310 I find the neurology of auditory hallucinations really fascinating - there aren't many good explanations of what's actually happening. I used to work with Deaf people and some people who were native BSL speakers experienced "voices" (linguistic like experiences of an other communicating with them) when they spoke no English. These communicative hallucinations weren't visual (they didn't see people signing) and communicated things at a complexity above that of the persons grasp of English. I think this suggests that meaning is (somehow) separate from mode, and that many auditory hallucinations are hallucinations of meaning. I wonder if visual hallucinations (and the sort of thing that Steve C. is taking about @ 334) and somehow different. Maybe this is why we (culturally) treat visual and auditory hallucinations differently.

#315 ::: Ralph Giles @ 315 I can't remember who speaks in my dreams - I'll also have to pay attention next time I'm asleep. I do remember that when my sign was good and I'd been using it continually (to the exclusion of English) I'd remember dreaming in sign (but I'm not sure if I saw anyone sign - rather that the memory was in sign - if that makes any sense).

#356 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:27 AM:

About Law and Order: Can anyone point up one moment, ever, in any episode of any series in that franchise, where sexuality turned out to be anything other than bad?

The closest I can come up with is an episode of the main series in which a cop had to come to terms with having a gay child. Of course, the cop then got his gay child to help fink someone out.

(Yes, someone deserving--aren't they always?)

There's my greatest problem with it--it's as sex-negative as it's possible to be.

#357 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:24 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 356... Well, there was the episode where a homosexual man gets killed, not exactly because of his sexual orientation but because he and his significant other had adopted a child whose biological father couldn't bear the thought of the flesh of his flesh being raised by their kind. Does that count?

Another L&0 cue to the audience that something may not be right about someone, and may make that person a likely suspect, or a likely victim, is when an adult is a comics fan. I can't wait for an episode where the suspects are Edward Norton, Ben Affleck, Michael Clark Duncan and Jon Favreau.

#358 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:38 AM:

Linkmeister @ 350... I certainly hope not.

#359 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:42 AM:

Serge @ 357: Only to ten, Mudhead.

Despite myself, I enjoyed aspects (okay, the ending, which contained aspects of both vengeance and rare mercy on the prosecutor's part) of a recent episode involving a cult built around an imprisoned serial killer/artiste. God knows, I find people fascinated by serial killers to be a bit disturbing themselves, but I don't think they are accomplices waiting to happen.

("I woke up this morning and I fell out of bed
Trouble waiting to happen
The mailman brought me the Police Gazette
Trouble waiting to happen")

I also impressed my wife by calling most of the plot twists (as I remember it--she's here and can correct me) before they happened, and perhaps that was part of my enjoyment.

#360 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:50 AM:

don delny #312: My goodness!!

#361 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 07:05 AM:

In passing...

Steampunk makes the New York times. No mention of Girl Genius, yet...

#362 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 07:26 AM:

Speaking of steampunk, that's the first thing that occurred to me when my mad scientist inventive husband rolled this out last weekend.

#363 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 07:59 AM:

T.W. - thanks, I'll check that out.

#364 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:09 AM:

Debbie @ 362: A good article, but: "The curve is almost algorithmic"? Unless he means it's going up like global warming in the forty-third president's Powerpoint, that's a somewhat goofy thing to say.

#365 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:11 AM:

Mmmm...and a typo (it for in). I need to relax.

#366 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:32 AM:

Barbie comments, way after the conversation has left them behind. (I'm still catching up.)

#300, Fragano -

For a long while, if it wasn't the traditional blue-eyed blonde, then it wasn't Barbie. It was Midge or Miko or Brenda or something like that. They were friends of Barbie, part of the Barbie brand, but not Barbie herself because she was a particular character. I remember being quite impressed that the faces on the other dolls were different. They weren't just the same mold with different colors or different hair - they actually had different faces.

I think now that they're all just Barbie, though.

#307, Serge -

I think that is sort of why more realistic Barbie-replacements are doomed to fail. Because Barbie has such a tiny waist and such a long history, any doll that replaces her has to fit in her clothes or be rejected. Since the problem is the shape of her body, any replacement has been poorly accepted.

I had a Wonder Woman doll in the 70s. She was probably the right proportions compared to Barbie, height-wise. If you assume Barbie is somewhere in the 5'4" to 5'8" range, Wonder Woman was 6'2" to 6'6". But she had a realistic body. So even though I had a pile of Barbie clothes, Wonder Woman only had two outfits, and therefore wasn't worth playing with. (Yes, I realize that says something rather unfortunate about my childhood play, but it is truth that I'd rather have played dressup than super-heroes. Super-heroing required the generation of plot, which I couldn't do at the time.)

#367 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:43 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 359...

(Me) Does that count?
(You) Only to ten, Mudhead.

That reminds me of the graffiti I once saw in a theater's toilets. Something had been written on one wall about some ethnic group's people multiplying like rabbits. To which someone had added "So do bigots, and they can't add or subtract."

#368 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:46 AM:

Rikibeth @ 342... I'd never MAKE my daughter get married in the nude, no matter how amusing it was when Deanna Troi's mother did it

Say what?

Let me guess. Gene Roddenberry was still alive when that episode of ST-TNG was cooked up.

#369 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:54 AM:

R.M.Koske @ 366... I'd rather have played dressup than super-heroes

Guess what Kurt Busiek's latest issue of AstroCity was about?

Standalone story Her Dark Plastic Roots is about Beautie, one of the members of AstroCity's Honor Guard. Not only is she strong, but she can also fly. And she's a doll. Literally. A life-sized Barbie-like doll who doesn't know who or what she is, and who begins to wonder one day in a toy store displaying many action-figures based on her.

They don't think. There's nothing but air and the molded roots of their plastic hair behind those flat painted eyes. She knows that. But sometimes she wonders, nevertheless. If they feel like she does. Or if they know something. Something she can't quite--
#370 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:56 AM:

Serge @ 367: That's wonderful!

For no reason at all, it reminds me of my all-time favorite piece of men's room graffiti:

In one hand: "I fucked your mother."

Below in a neater hand: "Go home, dad. You're drunk."

#371 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:57 AM:

Debbie @ 362... What does it shoot? Concrete beams?

#372 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:07 AM:

#302, joann -

I too would be interested in some nattering about red (or color in general, for that matter.)

#323, Lee -

...those cheap coroplast signs on metal step-stakes are "street spam".
There was recently a hand-lettered sign out on a frequently spammed corner in my neighborhood with a phone number encouraging us to call to fight "spam on our streets."

And thanks for the word "coroplast." I needed that one.

I was also thinking, in the wake of a particularly obnoxious commercial, how nice it would be if there were some kind of automatic feedback system to "vote up" or "vote down" a commercial while it's running.

I *think* that Tivo can already do this. Not with the thumbs-up/thumbs-down buttons, but I think the Tivo company can see what you watch clearly enough to notice which commercials you actually watch as opposed to which you flash past, if they choose to use the technology. At least, they used to tell us what the most-watched scene in a series-finale season was, so I'd think the commercial thing wouldn't be difficult. (I try not to think about the privacy implications.)

#339, Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers)

The Second Life episode was CSI:New York, not L&O, but it was maddening either way.

#373 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:11 AM:

#311, Teresa

I can help catalog saved caches. (You won't get a response to an email until I get home tonight - can't check this address from work.)

#374 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:12 AM:

It's worth remembering that not everybody tolerates the pill well.

Amen to that--hormonal birth control makes me crazy. I tried NuvaRing, loved the convenience of it, but when the third month came and I was still weepy, bloated and irritable, I decided it wasn't worth it.

I am now on a very low-dose version of the Pill as treatment for PCOS, and it's working out OK, but it's made the emotional consequences of PMS rather more noticeable.

#375 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:18 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer #359: Why are you calling Serge Guyanese?

#376 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:19 AM:

R.M. Koske #366: Did they all have the same basic body shape?

#378 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:38 AM:

Is it just me, or does "Serge Guyanese" somehow sound like a tasty pasta dish?

#379 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:38 AM:

#376 - Fragano Ledgister -

Oh, yes. That part was the same mold with different colors of plastic. Otherwise they couldn't share clothes. Because it is realistic that a black woman, an asian woman, and three different caucasians would all be able to wear the same stuff, or want to. (I think I was ten when I noticed and was impressed by the faces. I'm not so impressed anymore.)

Although...if it were another doll, would we be complaining that they had the same bodies? Dolls' bodies in the same line are expected to be uniform so the dolls can share clothes. Would we care if the bodies they all have alike weren't so unrealistic? Is it possible to have a "realistic" adult female doll? To be truly realistic you'd have to have a variety in busts, hips, and heights at least, and the clothes-sharing that was my favorite part of the play is absolutely gone as soon as you do that.

#377, Serge -

I love paper dolls and have been trying to decide if I dare use the color printers at work to print those. I'm very, very tempted.

#380 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:41 AM:

R.M.Koske @ 379... C'mon. Do it. You know you wanna.

#381 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:45 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 378... Don't let that fool you. "Serge Guyanaise" may sound classy and delicious, but my culinary talents are a bit too close to those of the Swedish Chef on The Muppet Show. At least I've never tried to make donuts, and certainly never with a gun.

#382 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:52 AM:

R.M. Koske #379: I understand that the fun of playing with dolls involves dressing them up in a variety of outfits.

As I understand it, the issue is the transference of body image from the doll to the girl playing with the doll (i.e., that the girl conceives of the doll's shape as an ideal human shape and deprecates her own as a result). I've no idea (being male, after all) of the extent to which this is actually true.

#383 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:17 AM:

#382, Fragano -

Sorry, I didn't mean to pound you with the "but they're for dressing!" point. It's just my thought process on the subject (especially that second paragraph). I really think that replacing Barbie with anything more healthy for the self-image is doomed to fail on that one point alone, and it seems like most anti-Barbie discussions don't bother to mention it. I didn't mean to harp at you.

I don't really know how big of an issue the transference is either. I don't feel any, but I sort of lucked out in the genetic lottery towards the current standards, so I have few body issues that can be laid at Barbie's door. (Most of mine are blameable on magazine photos.) I might also feel the transference less than some Barbie-owners because I didn't make up stories or role-play with them, so my identification with them was very low.

#384 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:20 AM:

#380, Serge -

Of course I wanna. The question is, do I wanna print them more than I wanna not get caught? Because if I do one, I'll fail to do the other.

#385 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:24 AM:

Carrie @ 374
I tried NuvaRing, loved the convenience of it, but when the third month came and I was still weepy, bloated and irritable, I decided it wasn't worth it.

Exactly, but they tell me I shouldn't be on the patch any more, even though they still make it. So now I spend a week even more bitchy and with less patience, since my docs won't let me not be on some heavy form of therepy.

Mary Dell and others -
Something to think about with the Pill v. any of the other hormonal BC methods - college students very rarely have anything like a consistant morning routine which makes an every-day pill more of an issue. Also, if Custodial Parent doesn't think BC is appropriate, the weekly/monthly forms are a whole lot easier to hide.

I'm in a similar situation re my fiance's daughter, however for her, preventing her from having sex too young will be the issue (she's 10). And it's really, really hard not to be the Voice of Authority when he just...isn't and there should be one. Someday we may get to the point that we're more friends, but for now, boundary setting is *hard* and uncomfortable and liable to produce shouting matches. I can't imagine doing it when she is *any* older or with me pregnant. Your friend has my utmost sympathies.

#386 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @#311: I'm booked for the next couple of evenings, work-wise, but I'm going to be home on Saturday & Sunday and can work on cataloguing or whatever else would be helpful at that point.

#387 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:26 AM:

R.M.Koske @ 384... Of course, you could decide that you need to work late at night. Sayyyy... That's the perfect opening for an episode of Special Victim Unit, with Mariska Hargitay going undercover in the seedy world of grownups who love paper dolls.

#388 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:28 AM:

The idealization of Barbie-shape apparently worried my mother enough that I didn't have Barbie dolls as a child; I had toy horses and dinosaurs. When my friends brought their Barbies over, my dinosaurs kidnapped them. With the horses (I must have had ever Breyer model available) we acted out hilariously prophetic sexual politics: "I don't care if [friend's] horse is a stallion, my mare doesn't want to marry him!!! And she can run faster, nyah!"

I wasn't especially interested in doll clothes, but I felt the lack of long hair to style - the Barbie I wanted was the giant Barbie-head with stylable hair. I eventually grew my own, only to discover in dismay that it was hard to do fancy things to one's own hair.

#389 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:29 AM:

#387, Serge -

Why couldn't we have had this discussion on Tuesday morning? I was here *very* late that night, and anyone catching me probably wouldn't have cared.

And we all know that grownups that love paper dolls are just wrong and creeeepy. Sci-fi fans shun them.

#390 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Neil Wilcox @330: Thanks a lot! Radio Central Nervous System just cued up "Guys and Dolls" and "Your Rocking the Boat" and "I Got the Horse Right Here" are duking it out to be today's earworm...sigh.

#391 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:55 AM:

college students very rarely have anything like a consistant morning routine which makes an every-day pill more of an issue.

When I was on the Pill in college I took it at 10 pm, that being the time of say when I was most likely to be awake and near my purse. :)

I eventually grew my own, only to discover in dismay that it was hard to do fancy things to one's own hair.

Isn't that annoying? Best I can do is French braids.

#392 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:02 AM:

re #390:

I've got your worms right here
They're filling up your ear
and the songs are repeating until you're wear-
y of them
of them

#393 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:04 AM:

@ 388... the Barbie I wanted was the giant Barbie-head

...which you attached to a doll-sized Barbie's body?

#394 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:04 AM:

Sigh @390 -- "You're Rocking the Boat..."

Even with Preview I still make mistakes.

#395 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:08 AM:

R. M. Koske, #366 & #379: Yeah, that's a nasty "dusty deck" problem. Of course, it could have been avoided by sacrificing some "realism" in the first place! Of course, that clothes-swapping play isn't necessarily "realistic" in itself.

While I understand the complaints about Barbie's proportions, I don't necessarily agree with them.

I think of Barbie as a sort of three-dimensional cartoon (even before the animated versions appeared). The distinctive "grown-up" features are exaggerated for visibility on the doll's scale, just as faces and forms are caricatured for a cartoon, and the kids are perfectly well able to filter that out automatically. Blaming Barbie for girls' body-image issues is a classic example of scapegoating -- and indeed, magical thinking. (The racial issue is trickier, but that seems to be clearing up slowly.)

That said, it would be nice to have alternative body shapes in the lineup, including some honest representations of the kids themselves, and of older people. The trick is giving each of those enough wardrobe that the kids can accept the natural restrictions on interchange. "Oh, Donna can't fit into Margaret's dresses, but she can borrow her scarf and hat..."

#396 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:14 AM:

R.M. Koske #372:

I was reading somewhere (probably the NYT a couple days ago) about Tivo's prediction record with reference to "American Idol". Apparantly they took note of what segments viewers were replaying vs fast-forwarding the most. Some predictions worked, but the latest did not.

#397 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:17 AM:

I've got Hairspray so stuck in my head (Mama, I'm a big girl now!) that I'm about to buy tickets for the touring production that's coming through here next weekend. Sigh.

#398 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Is it just me, or does "Serge Guyanese" somehow sound like a tasty pasta dish?

Actually it sounds more like Corto Maltese's lesser-known cousin.

#399 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:40 AM:

#395, David Harmon -

I have wondered if there isn't some scapegoating going on, too, especially given my own feeling that what she looks like has nothing to do with me. (Your cartoon idea fits the way I thought of her as a child.) There are plenty of sources for girls to pick up body-image problems that have nothing to do with Barbie, and they're exposed to them for longer.

#400 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:41 AM:

ajay @ 398... Actually, my body proportions aren't that different from Corto's.

#401 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:42 AM:

heresiarch #352: The great problem with being a teenager is that you're not a kid anymore, but you're not quite an adult. And "teenager" encompasses ages from 13 to 19, which are quite different. Hearing that a 19 year old is sleeping with her boyfriend, I'm pretty unconcerned beyond the sort of natural "I hope you're making sure not to have kids you aren't ready for" sense. Hearing that, say, a 14 year old is sleeping with her boyfriend is completely different, IMO. It may or may not be possible to convince her to stop, but it's not a good thing.

Of course, you want her to be using contraceptives if she is sleeping with her boyfriend (a sexually active 14 year old is a bad thing, but a pregnant 14 year old is much worse, and an HIV positive 14 year old is pegged at "bad" on the good/bad meter).

I'll admit to being a bit baffled by the controversy about the HPV vaccine which you see some places. It's almost certainly true that your teenage girl would be better off not sleeping around. But it's hard to see why the penalty for this imprudent behavior ought to include maybe dying of ovarian cancer at age 40, perhaps leaving behind a husband and a couple kids for a little old-testament-style vengance heaped upon the later generations. (But then, there's a lot of resistance to vaccines out there, for various weird reasons.)

#402 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:43 AM:

#396 - joann -

It makes me wonder if there's not something stopping them from doing it with the commercials, if they can do that. Even with the gaps in the info your example shows, I'd think it would be something advertisers would want, because it is better than any other source they have. Is Tivo worried about a consumer backlash? Or is the technology just not robust enough for that? Because it seems to me that selling info on what commercials get watched would be an obvious and lucrative application of that ability.

#403 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Catching up --

Serge @371-- properly, it shouldn't be pointing up at all when it's running. It's a sieve for compost. We've always had to sieve ours, and it's literally backbreaking the way we'd been doing it. My husband first had the idea to somehow use the drum from our old dryer, then recently got the inspiration for attaching the mesh to the cement mixer.

Michael Roberts @378 -- now my subconscious is going to try and create a pasta recipe for "Serge Guyanese".

Susan @388-- ...I felt the lack of long hair to style - the Barbie I wanted was the giant Barbie-head with stylable hair. I eventually grew my own, only to discover in dismay that it was hard to do fancy things to one's own hair. Oh, me very much too! I blame my obsession with long hair on Penny Robinson / Angela Cartwright on Lost in Space.

And my mom was also concerned about the potentially warping effects of Barbie's...proportions on a 5-yo, so she didn't want me to have one. Luckily my aunt bought me one immediately. Heh. She was a healthily subversive influence all through my childhood. It's too bad she lived so far away.

#404 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:19 PM:

abatross, 401,
I'll admit to being a bit baffled by the controversy about the HPV vaccine which you see some places. It's almost certainly true that your teenage girl would be better off not sleeping around. But it's hard to see why the penalty for this imprudent behavior ought to include maybe dying of ovarian cancer at age 40

I think the problem with the HPV vaccine is that in order to be effective, you need to administer the first course well before they get exposed, so typically pre-teen.* Parents freak out at the idea of their children voluntarily engaging in sexual behavior (squick!).

A decent argument for HPV vaccine for such parents is to point out that not sexual behavior is voluntary, and the vaccine is another way to protect their child.

*Exposure to HPV can be well short of what a teen might consider 'sex'- it's in the same family as warts, but is still transmissible without visible sores, so relatively trivial sexual contact could do it. The prevalence in women is something like 44% in ages 20-24, and factoring in that there isn't a test for it for men**, it's easy to catch.

**you'd have to scrape cells off...ouch.

#405 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:19 PM:

[Sitting around grumblingly editing a friend's resume to remove all her excess humility; how exactly did I become the authority on resumes?]

I was so annoyed that by the time I got hair long enough to play with everyone was too grown up to want to play with my hair. Some opportunities come too late in life.

#406 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Benedict Leigh (et al): People talk in my dreams. There are also incidental sound (cars, guns, leaves in the wind). My first non-English dream was in sign language. What I recall most vividly from that dream was the oddity of the silence (that and it being the only dream I can recall in which I didn't have feet but just sort of floated around the world).

R.M. Koske: Is is possible to have a realistic adult female doll? Yes, but "RealDoll"s have different problems.

Re BC: (TMI warning for those who don't want to read; even vague, gynocologic info)

Maia has tried lots of varieties (lessee, depo... convenient, but she gained weight and decided the potential side effects weren't worth it. Diaphragm... a nuisance; and she has horrible periods. Awful mood swings. Nuvaring. I forget why she stopped that. The patch; awful allergic reaction to the gum). Right now she's using the Mirena IUD. Apart from having to go to PP to get it because Kaiser wouldn't install one to someone who hadn't had a kid yet, and some horrible (and I mean really bad) cramping; for a couple of days, she's been very happy with it.

We went to get it looked at on Tues, which was when I saw the Plan B poster at Kaiser, but in two and half-years there haven't been any unpleasant side effects and she's not had any periods.


heresiarch: The HPV thing infuriates me. One a rational level it's horrifying, but on an emotional level it gut-punches me.

Because a friend of mine died of ovarian cancer. No way to to know if it was HPV related (it was going on 20 years ago). She was 27.

#407 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Debbie @ 403... I blame my obsession with long hair on Penny Robinson / Angela Cartwright on Lost in Space

Irwin Allen does have a lot to answer for.

#408 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:44 PM:

R.M. Koske #383: I was going to say something about different kinds of role-playing toys, but then I saw Susan's post (to which I'll reply separately). Obviously, roles of certain kinds can be imposed (or rejected) on anything

#409 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:50 PM:

Susan #388: Hair is an issue all of its own. I recall that when I bought my first afro-pick (a wondrous thing of wood and wire), my father's immediate reaction was to hide it. His grounds were that I did not have the 'right' kind of hair for an afro. I, on the other hand, was envious of the gigantic curls a friend of mine had. His hair was teased out into a huge super-fro.

#410 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:52 PM:

If any of you haven't seen Andy Ihnatko's latest blog entry, you really, really should.

It begins with a summary on Vanity Publishing v. Self Publishing v. Traditional Publishing, and their respective merits or lack thereof, then transitions that flawlessly into what is wrong with Hilary Clinton's campaign right now. It's like he tailor-wrote it to the Making Light audience, which, considering I initially found him here, may even be the case!

#411 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:03 PM:

R. M. Koske, #366: "...any doll that replaces [Barbie] has to fit in her clothes or be rejected..."

A Barbie doll is a simplified human form that displays play clothes plausibly. A costumer and dollmaker friend is mine is fond of pointing out that realistic clothes require an unrealistic doll; the weave of the fabric can't be scaled the way the height of a doll can be. think there's a conclusion in here somewhere, but I'm not sure what it is.

#412 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Michael Roberts @378: "Serge Guyanese" sounds delicious, and not just because it's lunch time for me. I'm not sure what the base of the dish will be, but I do know this: it will have lots and lots of cheese(-y puns).

Perhaps a beef dish, so we can claim it's no bull. Lettuce begin...peas feel free to add another ingredient.

Serge, please don't stew over this, or feel crabby about it.

#413 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:06 PM:

Lori Coulson #390 - That's what I get whenever I see that picture.

Fortunately I've managed to replace it; I'm off to see Iron Man tonight and have been singing my own theme song to the tune of Goldfinger:

Iron Ma-an
He's the man, the man with the Midas touch
An iron touch
Such a cold finger
Beckons you
Into his den of gin
But don't go in!

#414 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:07 PM:

(delayed response on this while I continued to process)

albatross @ 213:
Once money, gifts, the remnants of the family farm, etc. get involved, things can go well, but they can also go south in an awful hurry. I would like to believe that this is all on her side: she was raised by someone with unhealthy attitudes about money and control, and these rubbed off on her. But then I realize that I was also raised by someone (her) with unhealthy attitudes about money and control, so it's probably a problem on both sides of the relationship.

Oh, same here. I have huge twitches about gifts if there's even a hint of quid pro quo involved. But my father is consciously manipulative that way; if nothing else, observing the divorce fight made that obvious. And watching my sister provided an excellent example of what happens when you think you can get the good stuff without the getting the badness.

But it's a complicated situation. I mean, I let him buy me dinner. But I let my mother buy me dinner, too. So it's not a "not one thing, ever" sort of line. Would I mind if he bought me theater tickets? Probably not. But we're talking a different level of spending here, and the income level difference complicates things.

Does it matter if the overt excuse for the present is my birthday (coming inconveniently soon)?

Does it matter if to him it's pocket change but to me it's huge? He isn't necessarily trying to overwhelm me with expensive stuff, he just doesn't register "expensive" at the same place I do. (Or he could be trying to overwhelm me. Always possible.)

Does it matter if it's something ephemeral (theater tickets? trip? really big trip?) instead of concrete? Would not having an object to look at and think "I'm a whore" help? Or would the memories themselves be tainted?

What if it was something I needed professionally? Is turning it down on principle insane?

Or would it be better if it was a pure frill that I wouldn't have ever missed if I didn't have/do it? Or something I suppose I ought to have but don't actually want or care about?

And how much weight should I give to the fact that this is, after all, my father. I wonder how much the accumulated interest over a quarter-century would be on unpaid child support? Can I deal coldly enough to consider that I'm entitled to some payback?

Nancy @ 219 & fidelio @ 252:
I don't think the girl would catch the bribery element. How much time do fish spend thinking about water? Her entire life has been lived like this. That's why it's amazing she's not a spoiled brat.

Also, fidelio:
isn't Botox scary? Now they say it can cross the blood-brain barrier, too.

That really might explain a lot!

Marilee @ 331:
The rest of my father's family makes him look like a model of mental health and intelligence. But watching how he speaks to Barbie Doll certainly clues me in about past history - my mother would never have put up with being patronized like that.

Anyway, what I probably ought to do is simply tell him straight out that I don't want him to buy me anything because I want to stand on my own. He might respect that. Briefly. This is unlikely to be something that is dealt with once - it will come up again. Regularly. He's every bit as stubborn as I am and not under my control - he's quite capable of taking the decision out of my hands by going ahead with a purchase. Actual presents may be harder to turn down than hypothetical ones - what do I do, throw it in his face in front of the kids?

And...I'm human. I'm tempted.

#415 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:11 PM:

I had long hair as a child AND two older sisters plus a mom. My scalp is as steel.

When I got to college I cut it to just below my shoulders and then went around baffling people by complaining about how short my hair was.

I didn't have Barbie as a child and never much felt the lack, honestly. But then I'm a cradle bibliophile and was delighted to get books at the age when most girls wanted the Barbies anyway. (Okay, I also loved stuffed animals. Nowadays I have cats and they're so much better.)

#416 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:23 PM:

Ginger @ 412.. I'll pretend I don't understand the shrimplications (on the Barbie?) of your culinary post.

#417 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:27 PM:

Ginger: I've bean waiting for the puns to start, and it's grape to finally have a theme for the inevitable vining of those plum thoughts through the conversation, with the subtleties then infusing the rest of the thread with quiet splendor.

I don't know if I can make less than a pear of plays on vegetables, the ideas won't legume my mind, and if I canteloupe with them now I will have to marry them to some other thread.

#418 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:33 PM:

Vanity campaign? Maybe, maybe not. A lot of people have backed her. But niche market, self-publishing equivalent, is not how you get into the White House.

#419 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:47 PM:

Susan #414:

I feel your pain. I've dealt with this over time with my mom. Some of the difficulty was resolved as I became a reasonably successful adult, so that gifts/money she was likely to offer fell into the "nice, but not necessary" category[1]. Because that makes it both easier to reject, and easier to accept. If you know you can't afford to say no to the gift, you know you also can't afford to say no to the strings. If you *can* afford to say no, then the strings are also optional--you can decide whether it's worth it, and it's even easier to do that when the strings are defined by the gift-giver retroactively ("How can you say no to me after all I've done for you?"). If they've just bought you a house, it's hard to come up with an answer to that question. If they've just bought you a nice new outfit, the answer is a lot easier.

It's like the difference between a casual romantic interest taking you to a nice dinner and movie (pleasant, but not a necessity) or paying your next semester's tuition. With the best will in the world, that second gift is going to involve some heavy implied strings, and it's going to be very hard to say no to them in any number of ways. And this is pretty much intuitive--if you overwhelm a potential romantic partner with your generosity early on, you're likely to chase her/him away, for just this reason, even if she/he never puts the issue into words. By contrast, even if they take you to a much more expensive dinner and movie than you could have afforded on your own, the dinner and movie are really, fundamentally different.

On the other hand, my mom managed the divorce settlement amazingly well. She got child support for my sister (I was already off at college, and living in my own apartment), and got an agreement that my dad would pay for our college tuition and living expenses, instead of any kind of alimony. Since he was pretty inclined to do this anyway, it wasn't a hard negotiation, and it led us both to graduate with a minimum of debt. Whenever I'm inclined to think badly of her in other areas, I remember that she took that emotionally laden down money negotiation, and handled it about as well as it could have been handled.

[1] This has become more complicated recently, because we're getting ready to probably buy a house. My mom might give us money to get, say, the yard fenced in or something, as a gift to her grandkids. Not necessary, nice to have, but with an opportunity to take an already rather overwhelming financial/emotional/family decision and crank up the drama a bit[2].

[2] I have the excessive family drama gene from my mom's side of the family, and the excessive denial of real problems gene from my dad's side. I probably create all kinds of excessive drama in my own marriage, but of course I don't really notice much it.

#420 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:48 PM:

It's around 40 years since G.I. Joe reached Britain as "Action Man", followed by several similarly-sized soldier figures from the Far East, using cruder articulation.

Camouflage doesn't have to look tailored.

The Uniforms were almost all US military, with a 1950s feel, maybe Korea. No M14 rifle. and no Thompson or M3 submachinegun, that I recall.

These days, G.I. Joe is a movie action hero, a plastic Vin Diesel, and if you want the soldiers you can get them, as serious collectors' replicas of historical soldiers.

They even have stubble and grime.

#421 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Dave #420:

I'm frightened to think of what the talking versions sound like. That might expand your childrens' vocabulary, but maybe not in the direction you had hoped....

#422 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:00 PM:

#406 Terry Karney: ... a friend of mine died of ovarian cancer. No way to to know if it was HPV related (it was going on 20 years ago). She was 27.

That's terrible about your friend. I'm very sorry to hear that, having lost a family member, myself, to cancer.

But just as a matter of general information, and though IANAMD, I believe the link between HPV and ovarian cancer is extremely tenuous at the moment, and may not exist at all. The strong link is between HPV and cervical cancer.

#423 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:11 PM:

Like Susan, I didn't get into barbies at first (though birthday parties eventually catch up with you.) I had My Little Ponies and Strawberry shortcake, and a few other human dolls who were in proportion with either Strawberry shortcake or Megan from My little ponies. These were always my favorites, even after the parade of barbies joined my playroom, gifts from clueless friends and relatives. But I had a weird offshoot of that experience...

@ Don Denly #312

I can call at least a moderate amount of bullshit on that design excuse. I know from about a decade of rigorous playtesting that skipper is infinitely more realistically proportioned, has plenty of clothes, is generally easier to dress than barbie, and breaks less frequently. She can wear and look good in any style of clothes a barbie can (though she doesn't fit all the clothes made for barbie), excepting high heels, AND she already has an existing library of clothes. More below.

@ Susan, Serge, R.M. Koske, David Harmon et al on Barbies:

When I finally did start playing with barbies, I was immediately more interested in Skipper and her friends. They had what I recognized as far more normal proportions, and their faces were more open and sincere. She also had a really good set of friends, and I had a blond, a redhead, a dirty-blond, and a brunette with curly dark hair (this was the only barbie I ever found with textured hair, she was very cool and important. Along with the redhead, she was the leader). I also had an african-american Skipper... it often struck me as amusing that Skipper and Barbie had a lot of friends of other races and hair colors, but they also always had black versions of themselves... instead of trying to differentiate these dolls as different 'characters' in the world. I'm not sure if that was a particular eccentricity of the 80s and 90s, though. Later, Disney made little mermaid dolls of Ariel and one of her sisters. Unlike the later Jasmine and Belle dolls, these were done up in the Skipper Template. Finally I bought a babysitter's club set also made to the Skipper specifications, to get even more diversity (I really wanted the asian girl in the skipper template, and the dolls were like five for $30 on sale.) At that point I could have cared less about the babysitter's club, I just wanted more skipper template girls with new faces and skin colors.

They did give Skipper a boyfriend, though I believe they only made a few versions of him. I only had one of him, as there was no additional variety to seek out. His name was Kevin, and instead of looking smirky and insincere like Ken he simply looked innocent and gobsmacked.

Clueless people still bought me conventional barbies, of course. So I ended up creating an elaborate fantasy world where the Barbies and Kens were evil overlords who would constantly kidnap poor Kevin, and then the Skippers would have to go and rescue him.

The african-american barbie I had and her ken had faces that looked much less evil and insincere than the blond, smirking normal Barbies and Kens. I also had a weird redheaded 50s rocker barbie who just looked like a trickster, so they weren't part of the Barbies' evil plan. I figured that since they were obviously older, they'd be the wise advice-giving people (Jasmine and Aladdin joined them shortly after... for some reason I was always very excited at getting barbies that 'looked different' from the other ones. My selection of dolls often hinged on 'which one looks the least like someone I already have').

In addition to all these, I had a barbie-style doll designed to be an adult female modeled with realistic female proportions. I kind of ignored her; partially because she didn't come with enough outfits, but mostly because she didn't have a very well-sculpted face. Expressiveness of the face was all-important to me, and having in-scale-proportion human faces on dolls that size isn't a good idea... all the features are too small to impart emotion. (Note: Skipper also has a larger head. More brain?)

While my big fantasy world is a significant tangent here, I guess that's what open threads are for. And I do hope it illustrates some key points:

Kids read more into their toys than you think. They study their toys to figure out how they relate. They watch cartoons and know facial expressions well... if you don't think every design detail of their toys has a profound effect on how they think about the world and how they choose to play, then it's been too long since you were a kid.

Girls would be perfectly happy with skipper-modeled dolls, or differntly modeled dolls of any size or variety - they would just have to be supported by a large number of accessories and a decently-sized world. I was often told how cool my collection of skippers were, and my friends played with them enthusiastically. In many cases they recognized their superiority, and I'd see mini-skipper-collections springing up in their barbie collections.

The games we play and roles we figure out as kids do influence us as time goes on. The first ten or so fantasy stories I wrote had tall, blond, statuesque villains, and all the heroes were shorter, younger girls with red or dark hair. There are a bunch of other story conventions I used for many years that I'm sure were heavily influenced by my old barbie-generated stories - stuff I was using as late as college. It has a strong influence, it cuts deep, and it lasts.

#424 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Susan #414--yeah, there are layers and layers and layer of pro-and-con-and you-can't-win-wither-way things to wrestle with. albatross has a useful insight there in 419, but that hardly sorts it all out.

I don't think the girl would catch the bribery element. How much time do fish spend thinking about water? Her entire life has been lived like this. That's why it's amazing she's not a spoiled brat. No, I meant as a reason to give him, depending on how things were offered to you. Because even if it would never dawn on her, he might see it as a reason to say no that wasn't all about him. Of course, given the likely extent of the issues he has with amour-propre and how he sees himself, he probably feels he is supposed to be showering largesse upon you all (since you're all supposed to be the adoring and attentive audience) and is trying to erase, in his own mind, issues like those years of missing child support. Because it wouldn't suit the script*, after all.

Good luck sorting this out, and keeping your sanity in the process.

*To a certain extent, we're all starring in the movies in our heads, and playing bit parts in others' movies at the same time, but if we're wise we know that the movies are just in our heads, and may not match reality, and that other people have them playing as well, with different scripts and stars. It sounds as if you father is determined to be everyone's auteur, and star in every picture in the multiplex, no matter what.

#425 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:32 PM:

For those that still be pondering contraceptives.
The new generation of IUDs are safe, effective, low maintenace and nearly invisible. I know a whole bunch of young women who have chosen them over the damn pill.

#426 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:36 PM:

Michael Weholt: Your right, and I was in a hurry, it was cervical cancer: I forgot which was tied to HPV. And it was fast, most of us only found out when she died. Oddly enough, her dying still screws with my head.

#427 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:40 PM:

I think I'm old -- I saw a commercial last night for the first season of Man from U.N.C.L.E. on DVD -- and it's being sold by Time-Life!

#428 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Susan: My cynical side says to milk the petty stuff (anything without strings, and anything "you were going to do anyway") for all it's worth. The dude's begging to be exploited!

That said, I do recognize the tensions and hazards involved. It can be a delicate dance.

#429 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:46 PM:

Lori, I saw one ad last weekend. It might actually be fun to watch that particular antique and see how well it may have aged.

#430 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:53 PM:

Sqwid @#410: I especially liked "the Bush family wasted its last remaining Cursed Monkey Paw wish on the Supreme Court decision". One can hope....

#431 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:00 PM:

Lee @323:

The reason I call it the Goddamn Tapes is that as far as I can tell, people don't have that voice naturally; they get it from dealing with other people who tell them stuff like that over and over again, until it gets internalized.

That hasn't been my experience, honestly; I've had them since I was a teenager, and while I'm not saying that my life was absolutely idyllic, I didn't have anyone abusing me verbally on a regular basis either. OTOH, I am prone to depression, so that may explain it.

I just wish I could find a way to turn the Goddamn Tapes off...

#432 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:07 PM:

T.W.: IUDs aren't a surefire good choice for everyone, either.

Same problem as the Pill of not protecting against disease, with the added issue that the "string" can form a conduit to bring organisms further into the reproductive tract.

Some practitioners are hesitant to fit one on a woman who's never had a child.

And, at least in my case, the Copper-T gave me near-constant spotting, which was absolutely wretched. Yes, I CAN have sex while I'm bleeding. No, I don't always WANT to. It definitely puts a damper on certain aspects of the proceedings.

This is why I keep saying the teen needs to have a good thorough conversation with a doctor!

#433 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:14 PM:

John @356: Is there any episode of L&O where anything leading to a murder is shown in a positive light? It's a show about murder and punishment, and sex must be there in the top 10 reasons for killing someone, along with money and, umm... can't think of any other reasons off the top of my head without sounding far-fetched.

#434 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:22 PM:

Dave Bell #420: It's around 40 years since G.I. Joe reached Britain as "Action Man"

Is that what David Bowie's talking about when he says "We got a message from the Action Man"?

#435 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:26 PM:

Some of us never grow out of wanting to play with hair. *grins*

I think part of the reason that I've gotten to be so good with my own is because I practiced a lot - all Mom could do were basic braids and I wanted something fancy. But I only got to braid my own hair until I got to college/SCA, at which point I could play with other people's hair. I'm still not as good with other people.

B.Durbin @ 415

My hair got cut "short" about a month ago. This means that my braid hits between the shoulder blades instead of on my lower back. It has been a very odd feeling.

And cats are just living stuffed animals. At least mine are.

TW @ 425

I *have* to have some of the hormones, unfortunatly. Talked to my doctor the last time I was in - I run short on some things and she can't monitor them as well. The thought of Depo or an IUD is lovely and not for me.

#436 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:36 PM:

Lee @323, and Jenn Roth @431

The Goddam Tapes... that's a really great phrase. I'm going to have to chime in with those who argue it may not be entirely sourced from external human interactions, though.

I was having a converstaion with a friend recently about the economy and the future of housing and jobs for our generation, and how we're likely going to be the first generation to be worse off than their parents. At the end I felt overwhelmed and said, half-jokingly:

"Bah! What happened? I was told that if I worked hard it was supposed to be easy and fun and incrementally better!"
And he replied, entirely earnestly "I was told that nothing would ever be easy or fun, and then I would die."

Which left me entirely flabbergasted for a few moments, and I'm still not sure what the appropriate reaction would have been. I don't think that my rather stumbling "...Really?" did anyone any favors, but it wasn't a complete disaster. The thing is, we're both pretty neurotic and we both have tapes even though we come from entirely different family cultures.

#437 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:40 PM:

Leah Miller (423): Was Skipper shorter than Barbie? The only doll of that type I had (rescued from a trash pile) was brown-haired, somewhat smaller than Barbie and not so thin. I didn't play with her much; I preferred my many-many stuffed animals and my Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.

#438 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:45 PM:

My sisters had great big baby (or maybe toddler) dolls. We stripped them, pulled their heads off, turned them upside down and used their legs for flight control on our imaginary spaceships.

#439 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:45 PM:

Fragano, R. M. Koske:

Ooo, don't get me started on dolls! As Fragano knows from my LJ, I like mine as creepy as possible. Having a nice wardrobe is important too!

For little girls, playing with fashion or "lady" dolls seems to be part of building an idea of what women are, so dolls that resemble us are helpful. (I was not allowed to play with barbies when I was little, because my mom didn't approve of the boobs*--so think twice before you ban barbies, you might create a monster**) Unfortunately, little girls themselves seem to choose dolls based on society's ideas about beauty, so every few years someone comes out with a full-figured doll or one with a normal face, and a few parents buy it, but these dolls get no love. At least there is a proliferation of skin & hair colors these days--Bratz, which John Scalzi rightly calls "l'il hos", have managed to turn diversity into a "collect them all!" marketing gimmick. Which is, I think, actually a good thing, because it does get a diverse group of l'il hos into the hands of girls, and maybe helps to slightly change kid's idea of what's pretty. (As long as their waists are about as big around as my pinky.)

For adults, dolls seem to be about expression of character or identity - whether in the sense of an imaginary companion, an embodiment of a fictional character, or an avatar of some aspect of oneself, or sometimes all three. Or expression of other things--It's hard for me to say for sure, since I'm looking at that obsession from the inside.

*not feminist, just prudish
**I've been an avid doll collector since age 23. Definitely my most embarrasing hobby, but I've learned to embrace it.

#440 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Toys, toys, toys... My favorite toys usually were pencils because I could pretend they were spaceships. That was the early 1960s, when spaceships could be needle-shaped. And no need for starships because there were Martians and Venusians next door.

#441 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Sisuile: That sucks. I understand that the Mirena has some hormones (and my last lover to use an IUD also had some hormones in hers), but if it's not the right stuff, it's not the right stuff.

#442 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:48 PM:

NelC @ 443: What I mean is, even when there's a mention of sex which is a red herring or incidental to the investigate, it's always something bad or worse.

I do take your point, but the CSI franchise manages to have a certain amount of sex-positivity sprinkled in among the gore. L&O has never, ever done that, to the best of my knowledge.

#443 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 03:51 PM:

Fragano @ #382:

"I've no idea (being male, after all) of the extent to which this is actually true."

Hmm. Well, similar issues do apply to boys with the unrealistic body types used for male action figures/superheroes, though not quite to the same extent (as there is more than one kind of idealized male figure). It is notable that cosmetic surgery for men is on an upswing, including procedures like calf implants, as well as the use of anabolic steroids and HGH for bodybuilding.

These aren't really *new* trends, but I haven't yet seen anyone tie this all together in the popular media.

#444 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Fragano, at #409: Even though I didn't have "good hair," I wasn't allowed to get mine cut until I was about fifteen or sixteen, and then only to chin-length. When I graduated from high school, I had it cut short enough to be able to wear it as a natural, but for graduation, I still had to have it relaxed. My parents were very perturbed when I brought an afro-pick home the next day, and started using that on my hair.

This comes to mind because I've been shaving my head (except for a short period) for seven years, and just had to clean and restyle two wigs*, and had to do so using a nail brush and an afro-pick, as the only other hair implements in the apartment are razor blades and moustache combs.

* Tomorrow is the Night of a Thousand Stevies (

#445 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:14 PM:


Oh I know nothing beats seeing the professional but I know from my own experiences and that of my peers at the time being forearmed with as much info on the options as possible helps for when you do get around to that discussion. Things tends to be more productive if one is not sitting there twiddling thumbs expecting the doctor to hold up the conversation.
Teens get fixated on options being only the big 3 and only those particular issues. Ideally the boyfriend should also be a part of the discussion and participate. In practical reality with teens you take on a harm reduction approach, most good for least battle.
Mind you as Canadians with socialized medicine we were less likely to get that moral lecturing patriarchy that American private practice gets hung up on.

That's unfortunate Sisuile. We all need more options. Men to need more options. I know the good
fellas want more than 3 nasty choices.

The most recent convert on the flist to IUD was because a perfectly healthy 25 year old non smoker had a damaging blood clot stroke cause by bcpills. If I had know the pill would cause thyroid problems in me, my sisters and several friends way back when, I would have gone down a different route.
I just love the politics of medicine. Underplay the risks of the big sellers and over play the risks of the rivals.

#446 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:14 PM:

I wasn't really a Barbie kid for a few reasons* - I remember it being very difficult for my chubby little hands to change Barbie's fashionable clothes, for one thing. I was also frustrated with Barbie's inability to stand on her own. The girls who played Barbies in my neighborhood seemed to have a lack of imagination as to what Barbie could or couldn't do. Setting up house, changing clothes and going out with Ken didn't seem terribly exciting to me. I wound up mostly role-playing Star Wars or CHiPs and such with non-Barbie players.

As far as Barbie's influence on girls' self-esteem, I think she's part of a greater culture of desirable female vapidity. I don't think she helps, but I'm not sure she hurts any more than pink kid sized kitchens or baby dolls.

* The main reason I didn't have Barbies was because we were poor. Treasured playthings in my house were second hand books and dress-up clothes. Thanks mom and dad!

#447 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:17 PM:

Velma @ 444... There are combs made just for moustaches?

#448 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:27 PM:

TW #445:

What sort of thyroid problems, if I may ask?

#449 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:28 PM:

#423 - Leah Miller -

You're the first person I've ever met who owned a Skipper doll. (It makes me wonder if there wasn't a boom in them after I was a bit too old, or if it was just a regional variation in stocking.) You definitely make an excellent case for her, though. If I'm ever tempted to gift a child with a Mattel doll, I think I'll try for a Skipper. It sounds like she has most of the advantages of a Barbie without most of the issues.

#427, Lori Coulson -

The MUNCLE fans I lurk near say the discs are very nice, with good extras. I'm tempted.

I never saw it first-run and the episodes I've seen have been quite enjoyable. So I'd say it holds up pretty well. I haven't seen many episodes and I'm not always a terribly critical viewer, though.

#450 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:38 PM:

I would play Barbies, but they were too similar, and so I never got to tell them apart. If I couldn't tell them apart, they couldn't be characters, which meant any plots they had were fairly vapid. I did have a Lady Lovely Locks doll, book, and sheet set, and I jokingly blame my long blonde hair on that.

My toys were My Little Ponies-- mostly girls, a couple boys, two babies, and one big fancy one who had to be the evil, petty queen because if there's one thing I knew from watching TV it's that beauty is never the good guy. Then Legos, which only faltered when I got so many characters I couldn't keep them straight.

Toys can be interchangeable or individuals. Mine had to be individuals because otherwise, how would I know who was doing what?

#451 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:42 PM:

#439, Mary Dell -

Beautiful creepy doll. I'm tempted to friend you on flickr, but I'm afraid doll-collecting is catching.

(Really. I think I could be converted to dollmaking/collecting fairly easily, and I really am trying to downsize my "stuff". They're incompatible activities, so I don't wanna get started with the dolls.)

#452 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:44 PM:

LOri and R.M.... Man from U.N.C.L.E. is available on DVD? Yay! By the way, who did you prefer? For me, it was Ilya.

#453 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:44 PM:

Serge: I saw the caps of pens as a sort of rocket powered space fighter.

Still do.

#454 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:47 PM:

I really did like my Barbies, but I probably used the most fantasy with my trolls. My mom made me a pattern to make dresses for them that involved one piece of cloth and two side seams, so that was totally doable for an early grade schooler. (Making clothes for Barbie? Not so much.) Lots of allowance money went for fancy remnants. Later, after reading books like "The Swiss Family Robinson", my trolls acted out similar adventures, and I made them caves and furniture and bows and arrows.

And before Polly Pocket and My Little Pony, there were.... Kiddles! Collect 'em all!

#455 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:49 PM:

@ Serge #447: Velma @ 444... There are combs made just for moustaches?

One came with my cordless beard trimmer - at least I think it is four moustaches as it appears to be way too small for a beard. I choose to use an ACE "Genuine Hard Rubber" pocket fine-tooth comb on my facial hair.

And to yank the hair subthread even further off track - anyone here have recommendations for a good heavy-duty metal-fence style beard trimmer? I'd prefer something "barber grade", and quieter is better so as not to wake the rest of the house in the morning. The little 1" wide cordless thing I have, though adequate, is noisy and the plastic fence/comb thing doesn't retain it's position well, causing occasional beard "divots". The battery is starting to go too, so it'll need replacement. A corded replacement probably wouldn't be bad, if it makes up for it by being solid, dependable and quiet. A fence/comb that *locks* in place well is very much desired.

My Dad would just say "shave it off", but I guess my skin got over-sensitized to shaving as I would get a rash even with one of those screen-style electric razors, so I switched to a lower-maintenance beard and have far fewer issues. Engineers can "get away with" a somewhat scruffy (nerf-herder?) appearance, but as I do work in a cube farm I haven't yet tried to grow it out long enough to braid, even though I would very much like to emulate the facial style Marco (bass, vocals) from the band Nightwish sports. (My wife would love it, too!)

/threadjack (wait, this is an open thread, which by definition can't be thread-jacked, or can it? I'm confused...)

#456 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:52 PM:

Serge, yes, there are mustache combs. Hercule Poiroit uses one.

#457 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:52 PM:

Just to note that while checking to see if there were ever any Girl from Uncle DVDs released (not, as it happens) I also checked on Season 2 of Eureka. Out on July 15!

Oh, and Serge, I originally preferred Napoleon, but watching a few reruns a few years back convinced me of the error of my ways.

#458 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:55 PM:

@me #455: One came with my cordless beard trimmer - at least I think it is four moustaches as it appears to be way too small for a beard.

D'oh! Homonyms are not my friend. That, obviously, should be "for" in that sentence.


#459 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 04:57 PM:

I had a middling selection of Barbies,and I loved the ballerina one, but I never got very elaborate with their stories -- well, except maybe the one that wasn't a Barbie, it was the Bionic Woman. The Kenner Star Wars figures got more play time, as did the dollhouse that my father built for me from a kit -- I saved my chore money and spent it on furniture, and made bedding, and hung lace curtains, and even needlepointed a little Oriental rug for the living room. I still have the dollhouse.

My daughter had about a MILLION Barbies, because it seemed like that was all anyone could think to give her. She didn't find them very interesting until she discovered Harry Potter in kindergarten, and saw the first movie, and acquired a couple of Barbie-sized Harry Potter dolls. Suddenly ALL the Barbies were recast as Potter characters. I remember asking my mother to PLEASE find one of the brown-skinned, brunette models, because Parvati Patel shouldn't be a platinum blonde.

I was also the bad one who let my daughter open and play with the "collector" "limited edition" ones. My thought was that if you give a child a toy, it's entirely unreasonable to expect them to keep it in a BOX. Millennium Princess Barbie got repurposed as Fleur Delacoeur, when the Pottermania hit -- daughter loved the blue velvet and silver dress, but said that one had a Mean Face.

#460 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:01 PM:

Last night as I was leaving the office, I stopped to chat with the night security guard (a college student). I told him about Little Brother (I'm telling everyone about Little Brother) and he told me about an interesting incident that happened recently.

He was on duty, and this guy came up to the security desk, flashed something or other in a wallet, and said "FBI. I'm going in."

The security guard said "What's your name please?"

"I'm not telling you my name! FBI!"

You can imagine the conversation that ensued, with the FBI guy doing the "You have to let me go where I want because I'm FBI, all the other buildings just let me right in, and I'm doing a confidential background check so I can't tell you anything" dance, and the guard coming back with "Other buildings may let you right in, but in THIS building you're not getting in unless we know your name and the name of the person you're going to see."

I suspect this may not be unrelated to the fact that this division of my company used to be in the World Trade Center. We like security here.

Eventually the guard had to call upstairs and have the head of security come down and back him up. The FBI guy eventually gave his name, which I'd love to give here but can't remember, and the name of the person he was there to see—then proceeded to give the name and social security number of the person he was investigating! So he behaved improperly both in concealing information our security had a right to know, and in revealing information they didn't (and didn't ask for).

You know, I didn't use to think of the FBI as the enemy in the security/privacy wars. I think that has more to do with my ignorance than any actual change.

#461 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:01 PM:

R. M. Koske @449: I got hooked the very first season (I was in the 4th grade then). Friday night was a treat, Honey West (I wanted Bruce the Ocelot) and Man from U.N.C.L.E. and later, after the 11 o'clock news, Chiller Theater.

Serge @452: Kuryakin, always. If you want to order use: The first season is on sale for $39.99 or you can get the whole shebang for $250...

No Girl from U.N.C.L.E., ...yet.

#462 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:16 PM:

Mary Aileen @437

(Yay, your comment has prompted me to go on a mini-research-binge). Yes, Skipper was shorter, flat-footed, and had a thicker waist and smaller hips and chest. Apparently pre-1979 she was marketed as the younger sister, probably pre-teen, while Francie occupied the older teen spot. After a while Francie (barbie's 'mod' cousin) was phased out, and Skipper was slowly 'aged up' to fill the older teen gap. That 80s-90s version has two molds, one that looks to be 13-15, and one that looks to be a bit older. I'm most familiar with those two molds, they had smallish breasts and a much thicker waist than barbie. Interestingly, it looks like almost all the dolls I had were from the 1988-1993 mold era, and the first skipper I was drawn to was the first one with the 'cartoonish' or 'anime-style' eyes of that period. Apparently in 1997 she officially 'turned 16,' which would have been just a bit after I got out of the game.

Sadly, it looks like in the past few years she's grown up a little bit further and gotten a few more updates, and isn't quite as rationally proportioned as she used to be. Still better than barbie, though.

Diatryma @450

Yes! Lady Lovely Locks was about an inch or so shorter than the Skippers of my era, so she was easily included as the younger member of the group when I was playing Barbies, but she was still small enough to ride the Ponies when that was our game. My friend had a Duchess RavenWaves we would incorporate as well. They were very cool because they lived in an established fantasy world where all the rulers seemed to be women and wore elaborate princess dresses, rather than vapid 80s fashion. Sadly, though they could wear some of the skipper outfits, they fell into the trap of a lot of nonstandard model dolls of the 80s, and faded from view.

I get the feeling that I lucked out with an era and set of matel dolls that were unique and could be told apart, and I was fortunate enough to often be able to pick out which one I wanted... primarily selecting the one who looked the most different from the ones I already had. I feel kind of spoiled by both the selection available and my actual collection, though I had an average number for my neighborhood at the time.

Mary Dell @439

Those are some mighty-fine dolls there, though I think they're more beautiful and cute than creepy (I absolutely adore the little devil girl sitting on the arm in the chaise picture). Then again, I've lived in japan and navigated the doll shops there, so my standards for 'creepy' are pretty high[1]. Yours are very cool, pretty, alien things, and don't make me think even remotely that I am going to begin having nightmares. They also make me want to get a ball-join doll, but I don't think I could really give her the kind of care-and-feeding she would deserve.

[1]For anyone who doesn't know, in Japan ball joint dolls are super popular, valuable, and have incredibly ghastly folklore and ghost stories related to them. I have a rather strong memory of a mostly naked, ashen-skinned doll with one red eye and one yellow and long, spindly, claw like fingers posed artfully in a display case in the 'ball joint doll' section of a hobby shop... two steps away from model cars and giant robots and happy shiny things.

#463 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:19 PM:

I never got to see the shows, but I read the books. Illya, all the way.

#464 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:29 PM:

albatross @ 419:
You've just given me an idea for the future. He could buy me clothes. He loves to buy clothes for women. (Maybe this is why he married a Barbie Doll?) And other than costumes, I am fairly indifferent to clothing and loathe shopping for it, so any possible gratitude I might feel would be balanced by the sheer negativity of the shopping experience - the fact that I am not shaped like his wife will cause endless struggles as I try to steer him towards clothes that actually allow for hips.

Unfortunately, I am currently carrying around 20 pounds of depression-related extra weight and would just as soon not spend much on clothing until I pull myself together enough to lose it. So this doesn't help with the immediate problem of his determination to buy me an expensive birthday gift, but it's very helpful in the long run - thanks!

There was nothing wrong with my mother's divorce settlement. It was the enforcement that was lacking - when my father just shrugged and refused to pay, who exactly was going to make him? Nowadays, maybe someone would. Back then, well, my mother fought the good fight in court for eight years before giving up.

Other things -

Faren @ 251:
I'm not being self-deprecating, I'm paraphrasing a description of my writing by a good judge of such things. Since I don't fancy myself a writer, I'm not unduly perturbed at being thought amateurish at it. The only thing I try to pay attention to lately is squashing my bad habit of wandering between past and present tense when writing about some of the dancing masters I've worked with so much that I feel like they're living acquaintances.

General discussion:
Wow, I'm slow. I just put the pieces together: birth control pills + over 35 might just explain why I had a blood clot last month. I suppose I ought to call my doctor about this, or drop the pills.

#465 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:40 PM:

Debbie @454

I got a huge windfall in the clothes-making department when I was around 10. My art teacher had received a gift of a bunch of random cloth scraps. It was a lot of what I now recognize as 'pattern edges,' the irregularly-shaped and largely unusable scraps you get after you cut out a pattern that are not nothing, but don't have any rational use to the clothing-maker. My art teacher had already taken out what she wanted and done a few projects, and I was sitting in the studio after class waiting to be picked up. She asked me if I wanted to look through the trash bag full of scraps, and take some home. I was ecstatic, and spent a good 20 minutes pulling out the scraps I thought were 'prettiest.' They were almost all stretchy lycra bathing-suit material, and had bathing-suit patterns - solid jewel tones, zebra stripes, flower and plant patterns.

Let me tell you... with lycra remnants making barbie clothes is in the reach of anyone. I had previously made some very clumsy attempts with old rags using a needle and thread, and just didn't have the knack. But with lycra, all it took was a few cuts for armholes and safety pin connections (or simply edges tied together), and voila: I could make tops, skirts, or evening gowns. So many of my dolls were constantly in strange, alien-looking toga-outfits, or sporty jungle ensembles. A lot of the time I designed 'with' the original irregular fabric without further cutting it down, creating stuff that was much cooler than anything I would have dreamed up if I had simply been given full-sized pieces of fabric. And that particular lycra didn't really fray, so things lasted.

#466 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Xopher, maybe if he'd used the line 'If you get hit by lightning after you leave, how will anyone know you were here?'

#467 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:51 PM:

R. M. Koske @#451:

you should flickr-friend me! I take pictures of other stuff too, although there are a lot of doll pics lately. I take a road trip every summer and go to conventions and stuff. Sometimes there are dolls at the conventions, but I can't be blamed for people selling dolls at the comicon. :)

Leah Miller #462:

My interest in normal, reasonably-priced dolls has mostly waned since I discovered BJD's, but the only Japanese one I have is vinyl, because their resin stuff is crazy expensive. The ones from Korea and China are a little less crazy in price. Um, relatively speaking. A lot of people are buying Bobobie brand dolls lately because of their price point...have a look at the aptly-named "junkyspot" store if you're tempted. The sprite is popular.

Crack is also popular. Proceed with caution.

(If like to look at dolls but want to save your cash for sensible things, search flickr for "BJD" and you'll find all sorts of lovely & bizarre stuff)

#468 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Susan, #388: I had a Barbie, but rarely played with her. The toy horses (not just Breyer, but acquisitions from all over) were much more versatile, and my best friend had her own horse collection. I'd bring some of mine to her house, or she'd bring some of hers to mine, and we'd sit there inventing stories with them for hours.

albatross, #401: For the kind of parent who would object to their daughter getting the HPV vaccine, the "dying of cancer" thing is exactly the point. That's a worthy punishment for women who engage in non-approved sex. The notion that even a properly-chaste virgin bride might pick up HPV from her not-so-chaste husband isn't even on the radar.

Susan, #414: My sympathies. My parents, fortunately, didn't have the kind of money that would have enabled them to play the "golden handcuffs" game, but I have no doubt that they would have tried it if they had. I'm also watching a friend of mine deal with that issue right now -- but she doesn't have your fortitude (or perhaps your experience), and hasn't yet reached the level of deciding that no amount of luxury is worth the emotional wringer her parents are putting her thru. From the outside, it's very noticeable that every single time something goes well for her, her parents create some drama to spoil it. I'm amazed that she doesn't have the emotional equivalent of whiplash syndrome by now.

Leah, #423: That's fascinating! I never got into story play with my Barbie, so it's really interesting to hear the viewpoint of someone who did.

I do have a few Barbies now, bought specifically as collector items. I have the ClassicTrek Barbie & Ken, the Addams Family Barbie & Ken, and the two Pagan Goddess Barbies (aka "Sun Barbie" and "Moon Barbie", but the pagan imagery is so unmistakable that it had to be deliberate). But I still follow my personal collector meme: I won't buy anything as a collector item unless it also appeals to me personally. This means it's unlikely that I'll get any more Barbies.

NelC, #433: The "classic trio" of motivations in the murder-mystery genre is Sex, Money, and Revenge. And it really is amazing how many different forms those three things can take.

Sisuile, #435: Have you ever considered getting involved with some of those people at RenFaires who do fancy braids for money? Your skills would improve very fast, and it seems like an ideal pastime for someone who enjoys playing with hair.

Serge, #453: Ilya, definitely! Not that I was ever as big a fan of U.N.C.L.E as I was of ClassicTrek or the Addams Family.

#469 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:13 PM:

Ilia Kuryakin rules, apparently and most deservedly! As for Lee's comment about U.N.C.L.E. and the Addams Family, it offers interesting crossover possibilities. Hmmm... With Morticia as the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. accompanied by her trusted sidekick Gomez, T.H.R.U.S.H. doesn't stand a chance.

#470 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:15 PM:

Lee #468:

Er, *is* there an Addams Family fandom? (All I remember is one tie-in book; naturally I bought it. Thisgs did not go so well when I tried to do a book report on it for an incredibly boring 7th-grade class.)

#471 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:26 PM:

Joann @ 470 -

Good grief - I think I read that Addams Family book. Was that the one with about 7 or 8 short stories, includine one where Gomez set about to cure various film monsters of their afflictions?

#472 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:27 PM:

Lee @ 468

I occastionally spell for one of them, but carpal tunnel means I've got a limited time I can work like that. It's usually about an hour. *grins* I can do other people's hair, but I am a lot better with my own. Possibly because I'm familiar with it's quirks, and I'm blessed with fine hair that has texture and will hold on it's own (I'm a redhead).

#473 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:29 PM:

Joann 448,

In my case goiter with cysts that appeared about a year after I started the pill. My blood work so far has been ok, scans ok, and my biopsies negative. BTW needle biopsy in the neck is most nerve racking.
But I need to always be tested just in case and I am high risk of later complications. A lot of the girls are either hyper or hypo thyroidism.
The hormone ecosystem is complex.
Just as there are well know issues with pregnancy & thyroid and menopause & thyroid, there are well know issues about taking the pill and thyroid meds at the same time, which I was never warned about when they tried to treat me with the flawed Synthroid drug in the hope it might trick my thyroid into shrinking. At that point reading lamb entrails would have been better. That's the sort of thing you change doctors over.

#474 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:40 PM:

Ah this might be better.

"Estrogen, a common ingredient in birth control pills, increase the blood level of Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG). Since TBG binds available thyroid hormone, a patient on birth control pills may have decreased levels of thyroid hormone."

Then your body tries to respond and compensate to the inbalance. I think it works out that if your body is sitting on the edge of issues the pill can trigger them into manifesting. It is more of a push over the line than a direct cause. But your won't know that till after the fact.

#475 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 06:52 PM:

TW #473, #474:

After I'd been on the pill for nine years, my thyroid turned all nodular and was just plain removed. Nobody ever made any connection between the two events, either 28 years ago or at any time since. Nor did anyone encourage me to get a second opinion or even any blood work at the time--just go in for a surgical biopsy which ended up taking quite a bit longer than that. I've been on synthroid ever since, and HRT for the last few years, but there have been no issues of that sort--instead, I'm in the middle of seeing whether I need to decrease my dose.

I decided many years ago that there was absolutely no point in staying pissed off about it, but every so often I change my mind for a little while. This seems to be one of those times.

#476 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 07:05 PM:

Sisuile: You're talking about the hormone patch, right? To cut a long story short, I believe they found last year that they were putting out much higher hormone levels than labeled, and had a concomitant increased risk of serious blood clots leading to strokes, etc. (The drug company seems to have intentionally concealed this in their FDA safety submissions.) I could see why your doctor might want you to use something else, even if you need the hormones, so he/she can better tell what actual doses you're getting.

#477 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 07:32 PM:


I think I would be less pissed if there wasn't the constant dismissal and denial of the possibility the pill or any other drug does more than is obvious. Women still get told that they are fussing over nothing and should just obey the experts.
Too many doctors don't know better they only go by what's on the product handout. Keeping up to date is tedious time consuming work especially where the most useful information is written by academics for fellow academics.

This is one of the up sides of the net in that now you can research the information for yourself. Downside is of course the crackpots also use the net to spread snake oil.

#478 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 07:39 PM:

Leah Miller (462): Thanks! That fits, so I'm pretty sure the doll I had was indeed a Skipper.* I'm trying to remember who made clothes for her, me or my mom. One of us must have, because she was naked when fished out of the trash pile. She only had about one outfit, though. My Raggedy Ann had a few more, at least some of them made by me. Mostly the dolls/stuffed animals acted out adventures, had elections and "family" feuds, went for rides on my collection of plastic horses, went to school, and other such activities.

*This would have been sometime in the early-to-mid 1970s.

#479 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 07:45 PM:

I know it's utterly childish, but this made me giggle and I wanted to share (I hope it's still up) : "Great Tits Cope Well With Warming."

#480 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:01 PM:

T.W. @477,

Look at the example of chemo brain. Only recently had it moved from "here dear, an anti-anxiety med should clear it all up" to "well, maybe there are short-term chemo effects." Now they've found the chemo damages neuronal stem cells.

#481 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:02 PM:

Terry Karney @ 243

The Carrier series is well worth watching; I've seen about half of it so far, and been really impressed with the level of competence and skill in the film making, both technical (photography, editing, sound* are all top-notch) and directorial**.

The film crew express no attitudes or opinions explicitly or implicitly, they just let the sailors and marines show their characters and talk about their lives and their feelings. Some of them are gung-ho, some are just trying to get through an enlistment that didn't turn out to be what they expected. I swear I've met all those people in one uniform or another.

It was especially interesting to me, as the last close friend I had in the Navy served on the carrier Enterprise in the Gulf of Tonkin in '67-'68. It's interesting to compare the film with the old stories I'd heard.

* Just imagine how hard it must be to get good sound while floating around in a 90,000 ton steel can carrying a bunch of very noisy turbine engines.
** I haven't been this impressed with a crew's ability to act like a completely transparent window on the subjects since the last Wiseman film I saw.

#482 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:03 PM:

What's the scale of that map of the Somme?

#483 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:16 PM:

From further up the file chain, it looks like the Somme burial map is 1:40,000. Go to Samples, from

#484 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Sisuile @ 118: I just bought Little Brother at 72nd and Dodge.

#485 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:35 PM:

Serge @ 368: "Cost of Living," April 20, 1992, so no. I love how five minutes with a search engine can settle trivia questions that would have driven me buggy in the past.

#486 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:55 PM:

About what I thought, figure each sq. is, roughly 100 yds across.

Ye gods and little fishes.

#487 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:59 PM:

Open thread venting:

OK, I think the random event generator is stuck rolling 1's. In the last week+, we had several expensive vehicle breakdowns, a divorce/restraining order for some married friends, a friend's dog who ended up at the vet for an emergency, and one of our cats died unexpectantly.

enough already.

I've got paper clip, where's the reset button?

#488 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:00 PM:

Allan @ 484

At the Borders?

A friend was reading Shadow Unit, the great project by Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull, etc. and found himself muttering "But you can't park on Dodge on that section! and you couldn't see the clocktower from there, there are too many trees in the way even in winter!" He then stopped, agast, having not lived in Omaha for 5 years.

#489 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:38 PM:

Rikibeth @ 485... Thanks. The internet has made many things easier, hasn't it?

#490 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:54 PM:

R.M. Koske, I had Skipper dolls too. I think they might have been my only dolls other than baby dolls. I don't remember if my mother had the idea that Barbie were designed for teens and Skipper for children, or if it was my own choice. I was pretty well outgrowing dolls by the late 1970s, so I never played with a Skipper whose proportions were more like Barbie's.

My mother was very into doll clothes. Sometimes she made clothes for my dolls, and sometimes she just adapted storebought doll clothes. I always had trouble with the little buttons, so she changed them for snaps or velcro when I was 5 or 6. When I was older, I learned to pop the heads on and off the dolls...that made it much easier to change their clothes.

#491 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:55 PM:

Rikibeth @ 485: Maybe yes, maybe no. The Great Bird died on October 24, 1991. I know he'd been in declining health, but it wouldn't shock me if that script were in development and Roddenberry approved.

Okay, it definitely wouldn't shock me if Roddenberry approved.

Star Trek ain't no Law & Order.

#492 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:56 PM:

Greg London @#487: Much sympathy about your kitty. Sympathy also about the other stuff, it's hard when life dogpiles you. I went through a phase like that a couple of years ago--the event generator eventually does reset itself (nice image, by the way; I'm absconding with it).

#493 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:00 PM:

Serge: it's also made it FAR too easy for me to track down pictures of my childhood playthings. I've been sitting here with an eBay tab open, running searches and showing the screen to my ten-years-younger roommate, going "See? I had this, and THIS, and this looked SO awesome in the ads, but it wasn't fun to play with at all, and..."

It's reassuring to know that I didn't throw away piles of money by trashing all of my Barbies in normal play. It wouldn't be very expensive to replace them if I wanted to.

The MEGO Star Trek Enterprise play set and all the figures would set me back further, of course. Malibu Barbie could wear Uhura's dress, although it was very short on her. It turned her into a pretty good Janice Rand!

#494 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:03 PM:

Rikibeth @ 485... a search engine can settle trivia questions that would have driven me buggy in the past

No kidding.

A couple of years ago, I was watching the Time Tunnel episode where Tony & Doug wind up near Krakatoa, and run into a scientist and his daughter. My wife kept saying that the woman looked familiar, then she exclaimed that it was Ellen Burstyn, but I said that I'd have noticed her name if it had been in the opening credits. We finally couldn't take it anymore so I went to to find who that Ellen Gillooly was. And she was Ellen Burstyn.

#495 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:38 PM:

Oh, Greg, I totally sympathize. No unexpected animal deaths here, but our car has just been labeled unfixable, my dad wrecked his motorcycle, requiring surgery on his leg, I managed to get the chain from the tire of the lawnmower caught on the mower deck, the radiator blew on our other car (that we'd just gotten working again (and is still pretty much a junker, with patched up exhaust), and the baby arrives in 7 weeks. I'm just hoping the turnaround arrives before he gets here, because otherwise the postpartum depression is going to be a real nightmare.

#496 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:41 PM:

And I didn't mean to play mine is worse than yours in that last post - just saying that personally, I've gotten to the point where it's reached comedic proportions, and I can't do anything but laugh about it. When I tipped over the strawberry pot and it broke into a zillion pieces, I just started to giggle. Because, you know, I really didn't need anything else just then. So good luck!

#497 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Re the YA suggestions: several I've enjoyed as an adult (they weren't published until I was in my mid-20's):

Kara Dalkey (Little Sister, The Heavenward Path)
Geraldine McCaughrean (Plundering Paradise, The Kite Rider)
Kenneth Oppel (Airborn, Skybreaker)

Mary Dell: I don't know whether this is one of the side effects others had in mind, but I know a couple women for whom Depo permanently borked their thyroid. The long-term consequences of that one aren't pretty. (Not that bone-mass changes are, of course).

I'd be tempted to give the "here are some things you can do that are (a) fun, (b) non-procreative, (c) safe, and (d) will get up your parents' noses even more than having unprotected sex will" talk instead, but that would be Wrong of Me. The Condoms Talk is a good idea, though.

#498 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:03 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden or Patrick Nielsen Hayden: Please read the email I sent this morning, if you have a second. (subject starts with P). Sorry to pester, but I'm guessing your email is a little over-full at the moment (much of it from me) and it concerns something (not restore-related) you may be interested in, she said vaguely. And sorry to make a production out of something that wasn't supposed to be...I plead stupidity.

#499 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:08 PM:

EClaire@496: I didn't mean to play mine is worse than yours in that last post

I took it as a fellow sufferer of an unlucky world showing they understand each other. Works for me.

Oh, and I keep poking that paper clip into any tiny hole I find. Knowing my luck, I'll end up causing a three day blackout for half the US.

#500 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Hum, speaking of dolls, it looks like Target carries these elves from Schleich*.

Which is pretty remarkable, because you've got gothy-looking elves riding anatomically correct** stallions for sale all across conservative middle America. (The quality of the modeling is light years beyond what I could get a hold of as a kid. It quite blows my mind what's commonly available today! I'm quite jealous.)

*bonus round: nifty flash-based illustration + book simulator on their site explaining the backstory of the assorted elves, etc.
**people who own horses might quibble, but the boys are no ken dolls.

#501 ::: delny (don) ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:12 PM:

housekeeping note: it turns out that my name, "don" is not a very helpful string to search for using control-f in Firefox.* I try to read every post, and reply whenever I can, so if I missed replying to someone in a conversation above, my apologies, I'll try to track down the dangling threads. (And I wouldn't mind if people called me "delny" instead.)

Oh wow, I made the 500th post!

*is there a way to force exact matches, instead of substring matches?

#502 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:18 PM:

I haven't kept up with the YA discussion, but if we're doing suggestions, I recently enjoyed Susan Cooper's King of Shadows. It's aimed a little younger than teens, but I liked it despite my well-past-teenage status. Time travel and Shakespeare.

#503 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:20 PM:

Susan, I liked that one too!

#504 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 11:27 PM:

delny: I feel your pain. If you use, "don d" it will limit itself to full iterations of your name (barring the odd convesations about Don Diego de la Garza y Navarro).

Now, if only names weren't left out of ctrl-f searches on boing-boing.

#505 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:14 AM:

Susan, #414, I must be non-human, I was never tempted. I knew the minute I took his bribe, he'd have won. I sent boxes from him back, unopened. My brother, on the other hand, always took bribes and then would get upset when Dad did something awful again, repeat.

(Our tornado warning just ended.)

Mary Dell, #439, that's quite a doll collection! Do you sell the ones you modify? I know people who would like them.

(Oops, it's back on.)

Greg London, #487, I'm so sorry to hear about your kitty.

(Now just the other end of the county.)

Barbies, I was never very interested in dolls, when I did play, I like to play adventure -- rocketship on those jungle gyms shaped like silos, or sailing down the Mississippi fighting Indians, etc. -- but I do have three memories that stick out about Barbies:

1. When I was seven, I was dusting the top of my parents' closet door and saw a Barbie and Ken up on the shelf. My dad, who would have hurt me if I hadn't dusted the top of the closet door, realized I'd seen the dolls and declared I wasn't having Christmas. They took those back to the Exchange and returned all the other presents people gave me. I didn't even want those dolls.

2. When I was 10 and we were spending summer with my mother's parents in Walla Walla, there was a next-door girl my age and most of the time we sang or wrote and acted plays or played games, but she did insist once on playing with Barbies. But our Barbies were naked and produced milk from their breasts to give to the Kens. Weird.

3. From when I was eight to 14, I made some money making custom Barbie clothes -- sewing or crocheting, as needed. I even made shoes. But then I found out I could make more money by making crocheted vests (very popular then) that took less time, so I did that.

#506 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:22 AM:

Greg London #487: Uygh. So sorry.

#507 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:33 AM:

Susan at 397:I've got Hairspray so stuck in my head

Well, wipe it off!

#508 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:46 AM:

Sorry to be late, but I have a question for the hivemind and don't want to wait till the next open thread...

I'm trying to remember the title or author of a short story I read in an SF anthology when I was a teenager, many years ago. The story was about this married couple who brought home some new alien plant (or possibly sculpture) as a conversation piece. The alien object feeds on positive emotions and grows beautiful and interesting shapes the more you feed it, but withers and dies in the presence of anger or sadness - but the stress of trying to stay constantly positive, happy and perky for the sake of the plant starts to drive the couple crazy, or at least gives them ulcers and similar symptoms from the strain.

Does it sound familiar to anyone?

#509 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:09 AM:

Leah Miller @465 -- wow, what a haul! If I had had access to Lycra, that might have attracted me to sewing Barbie clothes, too. Unfortunately, lack of good material and skillz kept me from it.

My mom, caving to the inevitable, started sewing a wardrobe for Barbie when she knew my aunt had bought one for me. Think about it. Long sleeves. Slacks. No stretchy fabric whatsoever (this even predated polyester.) She said all those small seams just about drove her crazy.

#510 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:25 AM:

cajunfj40 @ 458: "D'oh! Homonyms are not my friend. That, obviously, should be "for" in that sentence."

Well, I figured, 'cuz once you had four moustaches, that'd have to be at least a small beard.

delny (don) @ 501: "*is there a way to force exact matches, instead of substring matches?"

When I'm getting too many substring matches, I add a space after the word, and before it if necessary. F'rex, Find: " don "

#511 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:57 AM:

joann, #470: There's not an Addams Family fandom in the sense of Star Trek, where you've got media tie-ins and profic and the stars at media-cons and stuff like that. But there are definitely fans of the Addams Family, both the show and the original Charles Addams cartoons, and I fall into both of those categories. In my earlier comment, I was trying to think of another show besides ClassicTrek that I watched more of, and liked better than, U.N.C.L.E.

Mary Dell and Rikibeth: I think there's some confusion going on here between Beta Colony (Bujold) and Betazed (NextGen). Not that it's a critical issue, but it made me double-take.

Xopher, #460: I can just see that conversation happening on Bones, and it made me giggle!

Rikibeth, #493: Oh, yes. At least once a week I give profound thanks for either Google or IMDB.

Don, #500: Ooh, neat! I may have to go pick up a few of those. Great Yulegifts for gothy friends, not to mention one for myself...

#512 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:12 AM:

anyone here have recommendations for a good heavy-duty metal-fence style beard trimmer?

No, but I think I speak for all of us when I say we would really like to see a picture of that heavy-duty metal-fence style beard before you start trimming it.

#513 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:33 AM:

Rikibeth@493: Nowadays Barbie has her own Starfleet uniform.

#514 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:40 AM:

David @513: presumably when she's wearing it she's called Ensign Mary-Sue?

#515 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:02 AM:

Lee @ 511... I give profound thanks for either Google or IMDB

IMDB is how I found out that Judy Garland was half an inch short of being 5 feet tall.

When I was watching the original episode of The Champions on DVD, there was this mysterious old man who rescued the heroes, and who granted them superhuman capabilities, after their plane crashed in the Himalayas, with the Chinese Army on their trail, and he looked and sounded very familiar, but I couldn't figure out from where and it was driving me mad, mad I say, but IMDB took me away from the abyss of Insanity. The actor's name was Felix Aylmer, and he'd played Isaac of York in the 1950s Ivanhoe.

#516 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:09 AM:

Marilee @#505:

My modding is thus far limited to painting faces (badly...) but I'm thinking of sculpting a custom head if I get some time. I probably won't try to sell anything, though--I already have a side hustle selling CG objects for Poser, and I don't get enough time for that. Although if I learn how to make a custom head and how to cast it in resin, I'll probably end up putting some on ebay. That's a lot of ifs though!

Your dad sounds like a peach, good job not having killed him or anything.

#517 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:14 AM:

"You know a movie's heading nowhere fast when even its monkey doesn't make you laugh."
- Stephanie Zacharek about Speed Racer.

#518 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:16 AM:

Mary Dell @ 516... That's a lot of ifs though!

You're an SF person and an IT manager. Don't those two kinds of people live and thrive in a World of Ifs?

As for Marilee's dad, no kidding.

#519 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:22 AM:

Marilee @#505: Ow, that first "Barbie story" is just vicious... no wonder you learned not to trust you father and his gifts!

#520 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:55 AM:

Lee @511, Serge @515 -- This probably belongs on the Shirky thread, but the internet and IMDB have both changed how I view TV. TV in and of itself is becoming increasingly less interesting, so I surf more (much, much more), or at least multitask with knitting or a book or something. Now that I have a laptop in the living room, I can both be more sociable with the TV-watching members of the family, and also quickly find out about stuff that occurs to me while watching ("Is that a very young Shia Leboeuf in that episode of Stargate?" [no, it wasn't]).

#521 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:00 AM:

Having now seen Iron Man I can confidently state that the terrorist group Ten Rings is familiar with neither Norse myth nor the A-Team. Anyone who was would know better than to lock an engineering genius in a warhouse with all the equipment needed to convert a JCB into a cabbage flinging armoured vehicle in a cave and tell him to build weapons.

#522 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:12 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 521... I liked it when the bad guy realizes that Stark is building something other than that missile he demanded, and he tersely gives him 24 hours to get going or else. The 'or else' includes some TV surveillance from that point on, but by a schmuck who can't tell when what's being built still doesn't look like a missile. I guess lame world conquerors just can't find competent henchmen these days.

#523 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:13 AM:

Having made the mistake of searching on the Mattel Barbie collector site for the "pagan goddess" Barbies, I am now struck by a number of things:

* I want those dolls! It sucks that they aren't available anymore.
* I had no idea there were so many cool Barbies. I'm especially impressed by Navajo Princess Barbie, though perhaps I shouldn't be.
* Can the clothes on the especially elaborate Barbies be removed? Because it'd be awesome to be able to put Navajo Princess Barbie in Chinese New Year Barbie's dress, and vice versa...

#524 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:14 AM:

Debbie @ 520... We don't normally keep a laptop in the living-room, which means that we usually wait until the next commercial break before I go check on IMDB, unless it's a DVD, in which case we hit the 'pause' button.

#525 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:25 AM:

T.W., passim -- I just love the politics of medicine. Underplay the risks of the big sellers and over play the risks of the rivals.....The hormone ecosystem is complex. Just as there are well known issues with pregnancy & thyroid and menopause & thyroid...I think I would be less pissed if there wasn't the constant dismissal and denial of the possibility the pill or any other drug does more than is obvious. Women still get told that they are fussing over nothing and should just obey the experts.

Amen, amen, amen. Unfortunately a number of disorders caused by hormone imbalance* manifest as emotional-behavioral symptoms, which can make getting taken seriously by medical professionals difficult.

Added to that is the sheer money-making potential of disease. Take thyroid: regular check-ups, with the attendant tests and appointments, plus medicine for life. Germany seems to have a particularly high proportion of thyroid patients, and all the tests and meds must account for huge sums of money that could be much better spent elsewhere. I personally was enraged when I found out that my thyroid -- a whole organ, forgoshsakes! -- was incurably borked, but every physician I've ever dealt with is incredibly cavalier about it -- "Hey, it's treatable, what's the big deal?"**

*bcpills and thyroid, not coincidentally.
**Ironically, I've seen a TV spot here featuring Roger Moore as a spokesman for UNICEF urging people to donate money to the UN for iodized salt programs in developing countries. To, you know, prevent these kinds of problems.

#526 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:46 AM:

Carrie S @ 523... the "pagan goddess" Barbies (...) I had no idea there were so many cool Barbies

And here is an ad for the Goth Barbie and for Bondage Barbie.

#527 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:03 AM:

Serge @ 416, Terry @ 417: I know, it's a corny idea, but I find it amaizeing that food will bring us together. I camembert a time when it didn't, and that's no baloney. You can call me emmental patient, as I don't give edam. I pun for the halibut and I'm gouda it.

There. Now we've got enough cheese for our "Serge Guyanese". I'd like to thank you for making this pastable. Olive you all!

#528 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:05 AM:

Serge @#524:

we usually wait until the next commercial break before I go check on IMDB, unless it's a DVD, in which case we hit the 'pause' button.

Clearly what you need is a tivo and a blackberry. That way you can pause the show and look things up without having to get out of your chair.

At least, thats what hubby and I do...because we're total losers...

#529 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:09 AM:

Greg @ 487: My sympathies on your recent loss and Difficulties. I hope you managed to find the correct reset button without much ado.

#530 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:15 AM:

I'm intrigued by the various "Japanese" Barbies.

The first one (1985) is wearing a crimson kimono, suitable for a young matron, but with the long furisode sleeves of a teenage girl. Meanwhile her obi is down at old-lady level, and her hair is much more of a Western idea of how geisha wear their hair than any actual Japanese hairstyle.

The second edition (1996) is much more congruent in that her kimono is pink to go with the sleeves, but her obi isn't quite wide nor high enough for the outfit. But you can see her obi scarf, which the first one didn't even have, and she wears her hair long and loose. As I understand it, Barbie's canonical age is somewhere in her 20s, so she's way too old to be wearing the outfit, but at least the outfit itself suffers from only a few minor flaws.

The most recent version, the Happy New Year/Japan Barbies from this year are better yet: the kimono are white, with floral patterns, and the obi contrast nicely in both color and pattern (though the obi scarves have again vanished). The hairstyles are OK, if a bit "professional"; she's definitely a geisha rather than someone dressing up for an occasion. The biggest problem is that they're again putting an adult woman in an outfit suitable for a teenager; no one in her 20s would wear those sleeves!

I am also intrigued to note Thai, Sumatran and Malaysian Barbies alongside Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Indian Barbies.

#531 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:17 AM:

Ginger @ 527... we've got enough cheese for our "Serge Guyanese"

Why is it so easy to get cheese when I'm involved?

#532 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:21 AM:

Mary Dell @ 528... Clearly what you need is a tivo and a blackberry. That way you can pause the show and look things up without having to get out of your chair.

Another reminder that we live in an SF world.

#533 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:40 AM:


Mine was at least intelligent enough to suggest that taking the pill in the evening would maybe help with the 'morning sickness' side effect that I was getting. It did, but not so much that the effect disappeared before I stopped taking it (two years).

#534 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:46 AM:
Nu Image/Millennium Films told IGN that no deal is in place yet, but now Variety says that Nu Image/Millennium Films has acquired film rights to "Buck Rogers," and will develop a live-action feature about the venerable pilot who awakens in the 25th Century and battles evil.

IGN also reported that Sin City and The Spirit director Frank Miller was attached to helm the pic, but the company later told them "they are still mulling over director contenders."

Buck Rogers has enjoyed incarnations in books, comic strips, movies, radio and television, a run that began in the 1920s. That included a feature serial from Universal in 1939 that starred Buster Crabbe, and a short-lived NBC series that starred Gil Gerard.

Frank miller?
Oh, crap.

#535 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 11:33 AM:

Mary Dell #439: Your dolls are far beyond creepy.

#536 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 11:40 AM:

Michael R. Bernstein #443: I can believe that. G.I. Joe/Action Man, Superman, and so on would give the average boy a truly unrealistic idea of what the male body should be like.

#537 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 11:58 AM:

Velma #444: Having 'good' hair back in the 70s meant being under a lot of pressure from one's contemporaries to be 'blacker-than-thou' and a lot of expectation from one's father that one would not wear it in some 'radical' way.

The only thing I could have done worse than growing it out into an afro was growing locks -- that would have given him heart failure.

#538 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:05 PM:

There is nothing worse than the combination of having to grade finals and being unwell ('Yes,' said my doctor, 'this ear is angry.').

Anyway, here are a three gems from the pile:

Walzer’s preference for affirmative action programs in a modern society are imperative because they assist in institutionalizing those who were once disenfranchised.

He felt the way to do this was through non-violent ways. This to him was the most violent weapon a person could be equipped with.

You can build a house on top of a house or you cant half way tear down a fence and expect to build another on from that because you are still going to have some of the problems from the old fence that is going to keep the new fence from reaching it full potential.

#539 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:05 PM:

There's Addams Family fanfic at the Yuletide archive (always a good place to check if you're wondering, "Is there fanfic for that?"), but only for the movie.

#540 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:06 PM:

R.M. Koske -- I had Skippers, and I had Cricket, the little sister of the Tressy dolls of the 1960s (they had "growing hair" of the type where you pressed the button at the waist, and the hair lengthened, and you used a key to shorten it).

(My parents bought me a black Tressy for my fifth birthday, but they didn't make black Crickets, so they got me a white one. Given the coloring in my family, this seemed perfectly reasonable to me.)

The last Barbie I bought was the 1982 "Eskimo Barbie," because I liked her facial expression; there's another one from the 1990s, but it has a more standard Barbie smile.

#541 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:08 PM:

Serge #469: Shouldn't there be a Woman from A.U.N.T.?

#542 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:10 PM:

Thinking about Iron Man (which is great), one thing did occur - it was a bit rough on Jensen or whatever his name was, the other bloke in the cave. I mean, even if Stark's escape bid had gone according to plan, it would still have been Stark in the big iron suit and Jensen just running along behind him, unarmed and unprotected.

On the other hand, maybe Stark didn't have the time or the parts to build two Iron Man suits.

But he could have found another solution...

Iron Pantomime Horse!

Stark being the front legs, Jensen being the back legs! Lots of potential for comedy ("Mr Stark! What's happening, I can't see!" "Just keep in step, Jensen, or we'll fall over again!")

#543 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:28 PM:

New Buck Rogers?

Does this mean my dog's name is about to get less obscure? I hope they don't get an actress I hate to play "Ardala".

#544 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:28 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @#538: How do you actually mark such misbegotten sentences? That is, do you get to just scrawl "incoherent" in red pencil, or do you need to be more politic?

#545 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:33 PM:

'Yes,' said my doctor, 'this ear is angry.'

He continued, 'As is the whole head it's attached to. Been grading papers again, have we, Dr Ledgister?'

#546 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:34 PM:

Fragano @ 541... Shouldn't there be a Woman from A.U.N.T.?

Sure. And if they get Judi Densch to play the chief, she'll be called Auntie M. (Just not to her face.)

#547 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:41 PM:

nerdycellist @ 543... Your dog's name is Ardala? I like it. Does she have a companion called Killer Kane 9?

Anyway, the fact that Frank Miller may be involved fills me with dread. And catching the coming attraction for The Spirit hasn't calmed my fears. ("The City is his mother. And his lover." What's next? The Oedipus Wreck Company?)

#548 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:48 PM:

David Harmon #544: I circle misspellings and I scrawl a question mark in the margin. I may scrawl several question marks if the sentences are particularly incoherent and confusing.

It is not my job to write the essay for the student.

#549 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 12:58 PM:

'Yes,' said my doctor, 'this ear is angry.'

Reminds me of Julie Kavner/Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 2 telling Mr. P. not to forget his 'angry eyes.' Hope you're feeling better soon!

#550 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:01 PM:

Fragano #548:

I do hope you feel it is your job to agitate over at the English Department for something resembling an effective Freshman Comp course.

#551 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:15 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @#538:


He felt the way to do this was through non-violent ways. This to him was the most violent weapon a person could be equipped with.

...although a thesaurus might be a more effective weapon.

#552 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:17 PM:

Debbie #549: So do I. This is a lot of no fun. I'm glad ML is around to help keep me sane.

#553 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Serge -

Ardala's an only-pet, but if my roommate weren't allergic, we would have an orange stripey cat called Tiger Man.

#554 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:25 PM:

The Grand Rapids Wifi is much easier to deal with than the O'Hare Wifi. Just saying.

I am currently in love with this paragraph:

"We came to a point," said the pastoralist, "at which he compared my appearance to the south end of a northbound squajja. There was then no recourse but to the hassenge."

Even without knowing what pastoralists, squajja, or the hassenge were, all I could think was: well, naturally!

#555 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:25 PM:

joann #550: We have a two-semester composition sequence. One problem, and it is being addressed, is that there are not enough writing-heavy courses at the sophomore level to keep students in practice. Another concern is that our outgoing president closed the academic support centre -- for a year we had no place to send students with writing problems. Our president-in-waiting has restored it.

#556 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:29 PM:

Mary Dell #551: Depends on how hard you throw it, I suppose.

Goldman fought for equality among genders.

#557 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:47 PM:

Susan @ 554...

La DMC è la Dance Master Chart, la classifica di 40 posizioni di Musica da ballare, presentata da DJ Squajja chiumm.

No idea what that means either.
Do I look like a polyglot?

#558 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Ajay @ 542: Ironman is an example of What These People Need is a Honky. Oyceter, in the linked post, summarized the classic model as:

"White guy flees from his own culture for personal reasons (to set him up as different from those with white privilege). White guy meets natives. Natives educate white guy. White guy learns the way of natives, possibly also converting a native person who was originally doubtful of him, thereby proving white guy's worthiness. White guy fights for naties. White guy makes dramatic escape while the native guy dies, possibly trying to help the white guy. The movie then ends with a dramatic coda and captions that inform the audience that despite white guy's triumph, the Situation Remains Dire.

The key to all this is that the entire movie is about the white guy's personal growth and realization and that people of color serve only to further the white guy's epiphanies."

Ironman doesn't have the 'flees his own culture' part, and the hero fights for natives after the big escape instead of before, but those are minor artistic variations on the theme.

#559 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:56 PM:

There once was a coddle so molly
He spoke in a glot that was poly
His gaws were so gew
That his laps became dew
And he only ate pops that were lolly.

Not mine; James Thurber's, from _The 13 Clocks_. Rare for that particular memorized poem to be at all relevant, but this would be the place if ever it was... :)

#560 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Serger #522, ajay #542 -

Potential Iron Man spoiler: V ubcr gur rfpncr cyna jbhyq unir orra orggre vs gurl unqa'g svefg orra tvira gur 24 ubhe qrnqyvar, naq gura orra vagrehcgrq whfg orsber gur fhvg jnf cbjrerq hc.

Additional Lay of Volund* spoiler: I can't help imagining the henchman coming in and saying "Weyland Smith Hannibal Smith Tony Stark, guvf phaavat jrncba lbh'er ohvyqvat sbe hf vfa'g lbhe eriratr vf vg? Vg jba'g nyybj lbh gb syl njnl ba Fjna'f jvatf? Bxnl pneel ba."

* Although this has been out for at least 1100 years

#561 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:04 PM:

Serge (557): No, merely a bi-glot.

#562 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:04 PM:

Rozasharn @ 558... On the other hand, Ironman showed that, if you're in Afghanistan, you can have a big hole dug out of your chest and suffer no complications.

I was more bugged by the fact that Stark has this awesome generator, and he never thinks of saving his company by commercializing it. Then again, if he had thought of it, he wouldn't have had the chance of duking it with a giant robot on the streets of LA.

#563 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:13 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 561...

"I have nothing against bi-glots. Some of my best friends are bi-glots. I just think they shouldn't do it in public and risk scaring the horses."

#564 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Serge @ 562, there was a throwaway line about how the original reactor jnf gbb rkcrafvir gb or pbzzrepvnyyl ivnoyr; gur Fgnex snzvyl cnvq sbe vg bhg bs gurve sbeghar, 'gb xrrc gur uvccvrf bss gurve onpxf'. V svtherq gur arjre qrfvtaf, juvyr zber rssvpvrag, jrer fgvyy abg pbfg-rssrpgvir sbe nal aba-fhcreureb hfr. (rot-13d for extremely minor plot detail)

#565 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:19 PM:

Rozasharn @ 564... That's a possible interpretation, but it still bugs me when the audience has to fill in the blanks to rescue the story from itself. Anyway, I was far more bothered by the hole in the chest.

#566 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:21 PM:

By the way, people who are planning to go see Ironman might want to sit thru the lengthy end credits. There is a neat treat at the very end.

#567 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Rozasharn @#564:

(rot-13d for extremely minor plot detail)

Thank you! I'm trying to stay spoiler-free and this thread has become dangerous :)

#568 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:44 PM:

Roz #558: ISTM that this is a kind of cultural Mary Sue, with a huge number of common variants.

I have to admit that it was only a few years ago, reading Steve Barnes' weblog, that I even noticed the incredibly widespread phenomenon of black supporting characters who never got the girl and always died in a noble way saving the white guy's ass. And black leading characters not getting the girl though at least being allowed to independently kick ass and survive the experience. It's funny noticing your own blind spots.

#569 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:46 PM:

I haven't seen Iron Man yet, but I plan to, if only because Robert Downey with the longer hair and goatee is extremely scenic. And I love the "this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing" line from the trailer.

#570 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:52 PM:

Mary Dell @ 567... You are right. Go and see the movie. Me, I'm looking forward to Edward Norton's Hulk. And to Indiana Jones. And to HellBoy 2.

#571 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 02:54 PM:

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man. Downey's portrayal is first-rate, and I never got the feeling of him disappearing behind the CGI, as I did with the last Spider-Man movie.

I'm still waiting for a superhero called Irony Man. His superpower would be a dry witticism.

#572 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:02 PM:

Steve C @ 571... And IronyMan often dukes it out with supervillain SarcausticMan, whose power involves heated words of mockery.

#573 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:10 PM:

Lee #468:

For the kind of parent who would object to their daughter getting the HPV vaccine, the "dying of cancer" thing is exactly the point. That's a worthy punishment for women who engage in non-approved sex. The notion that even a properly-chaste virgin bride might pick up HPV from her not-so-chaste husband isn't even on the radar.

I know such people exist, but I'll admit, I have a hard time making myself believe there are many of them[1]. People saying "my daughter will never need this vaccine because she will remain chaste" is silly, but I can imagine a non-monstrous person saying it. Certainly, there are plenty of people refusing to get their kids vaccinated for other stuff with the idea that they're doing their kids a favor. (Because having mumps as a 20 year old is just so much fun....)

Is there any survey data on opposition to HPV vaccination? (I do wonder if some of the squick factor has to do with the age--around 12 or 13 IIRC--at which girls are supposed to get the vaccination.) I often have seen opposition to sex ed classes[3] and making birth control available to teenagers on the basis that it would make them more likely to have sex. I don't think I've ever seen anyone argue that those are bad things because kids who have unauthorized sex should get pregnant/get HIV. I'm sure there are some wackos who believe this, but I don't think I've ever met one.

[1] I recognize this may just be comfortable self-deception. After all, honor killing is widespread in some cultures. But I don't think I've ever met anyone who thought like this. My fundamentalist Christian uncle (whose comment, upon his son's conversion to Catholicism, was Mel Brooks worthy[2]) dealt with the divorce that ended his daughter's first marriage with what looked to me like a lot of compassion and support for her. And he also put himself to enormous trouble to help out when his daughter in law was dying of cancer, despite the religious differences there. This is surely selection bias, but when I think of a fundamentalist, he's the guy I think of--someone who has pretty intolerant ideas, but who is also willing to go to great lengths to do what he thinks is right.

[2] "At least he didn't become a Mormon."

[3] As opposed to the more plausible argument that there doesn't seem to be much evidence that any of the sex ed classes do any good.

#574 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:11 PM:

Earlier in the thread there was talk of internet SPAM and how it has affected our perceptions of advertising in general. This reminded me of something my brother and I noticed during the Ohio primary. We were driving around and noticed that the clusters of candidate lawn signs on street corners (not in private yards) contained many for Senator Clinton but none for Senator Obama. And being an Obama supporter, I was surprised to find that I was feeling happy about that. I had suddenly started to perceive political signs shoved into public grass as an incredible annoyance, rather than as something usual and acceptable. What confused me was that I found yard signs in private yards weren't annoying me. And then we drove through a major intersection with A Lot of Hillary supporters. They were wearing shirts and waving signs on every corner and being very vocal. And we both reacted to it as, "Damn pop-ups!". It was a very strange feeling, to have real life redefined by the internet in such a fashion. We've gotten so used to being able to x out of pop-ups and advertisements, that not being able to do so in real life has made us grumpy. And the reason the candidate signs in private lawns weren't annoying me was because my brain was equating yards with blogs, where personal advertisements are up to the proprietor. Ever since then I've been referring to billboards and such as "pop-ups". (Incidentally, even with all of the extra Hillary advertisements, our county went to Obama in the election).

#575 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:29 PM:

albatross @568 -- my kids noticed the raw deal people of color get on TV and in the movies at a surprisingly (to me) young age, like maybe 8. And it made them mad. Still does. The non-Caucasian characters were very often likable, and they were ticked off when Bad Things happened to them. I don't know whether living in a US-influenced but nevertheless different culture highlighted the differences for them, but I found it encouraging.

#576 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:37 PM:

Serge @ 572 -

And IronyMan often dukes it out with supervillain SarcausticMan, whose power involves heated words of mockery.

There is totally an SNL sketch somewhere here.

#577 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:41 PM:

Serge @ 531: Because the cows love you? You did indicate that you are a fan of the moo-vies.

Speaking of movies, albatross @ 568: have you seen the movie The Deep Blue Sea (1999)? It featured LL Cool J as a self-referential supporting character with the knowledge that the black supporting characters always died. It was one of the highlights of this movie, at least for me.

#578 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:48 PM:

Steve C @ 576...

"Ah, Logan. I'd like you to meet Ororo Monroe, also called Storm. This is Scott Summers, also called Cyclops. They saved your life. I believe you already know Dr. Jean Grey. You are in my School for the Gifted for Mutants. You'll be safe here from Magneto."

"What's a Magneto?"

"A very powerful mutant. He believes that a war is brewing between mutants and the rest of humanity. I've been following his activities for some time. The man who attacked you is an associate of his called Sabertooth."

"Sabertooth?... 'Storm'.... What do they call you? 'Wheels'? This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

#579 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:49 PM:

I don't think people who are opposed to giving their daughters the HPV vaccine necessarily are for women dying because they dared to have sex. I mean, sure, there are always nutters out there, but that strikes me as a very minority position.

On the other hand, I do believe that the hardcore abstinence-until-marriage advocates view the threat of STDs as a useful way to get people who don't subscribe to their religious beliefs about sex to nonetheless behave in the "right" way. At least, that's how it seems from my outsider POV.

I sometimes want to ask whether they'd be happy if all STDs were eradicated (and if 100% effective contraception were developed, but that's a whole other can of worms).

#580 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 03:51 PM:

Ginger @ 577... Go ahead. Milk it for all it's worth.
(Today's young people... No respect for their elders.)

#581 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:09 PM:

re 537: Curious. In the dead-center '70s in high school, all the black kids had some sort of afro. This being boarding school, parental pressure on sartorial eccentricity was nil, and at the time the only dress code standard on hair was "no facial". It's amusing to look at old yearbooks and see the progression from "where do you think crewcuts come from?" hair up to the early '60s and then see the hair trying to escape in the late '60s (really long on top, and short around the sides), and then simply explode in 1972 (the asst. headmaster who really ran the place having died). Black hair got big first though-- I guess "Bull" Cameron couldn't figure out how to measure it.

#582 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:12 PM:

albatross, #573: It is absolutely NOT TRUE that there is "no evidence that sex ed classes do any good"! A quick Google turned up these:

- Despite years of evaluation in this area, there is no evidence to date that abstinence-only education delays teenage sexual activity. Moreover, recent research shows that abstinence-only strategies may deter contraceptive use among sexually active teenagers, increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy and STDs.
- Evidence shows that comprehensive sexuality education programs that provide information about both abstinence and contraception can help delay the onset of sexual activity in teenagers, reduce their number of sexual partners and increase contraceptive use when they become sexually active. These findings were underscored in Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior, issued by former Surgeon General David Satcher in June 2001.

The growth in funding for abstinence education has also increased interest among academic researchers who study the effects of sex education programs on teen pregnancy and STD infection rates. One of the largest academic works on the subject, a group project led by Dr. Douglas Kirby, analyzed 250 individual studies that tracked the effects of sex education programs in the United States and Canada. While the research is not definitive, it does point towards some tentative conclusions. For that reason, Dr. Kirby titled his study Emerging Answers. The study concludes that while further research is necessary, there is good evidence that certain kinds of sex education programs can reduce teen pregnancy and STD infection rates, while other programs appeared to have no significant effects. Working with his co-authors, a group of researchers chosen to represent a diverse body of opinions (including conservative and liberal researchers), the study found ten characteristics of successful programs. Among those characteristics are a consistent, clear message about reducing risk; basic, accurate information about the risks of teen sexual activity and about ways of avoiding intercourse or using protective methods such as condoms; incorporate activities and behavioral goal-setting; last a sufficient amount of time; and involve teachers who are able to fulfill the program's goals.

... and my Google-fu is far weaker than that of most people around here. But there have been a significant number of studies showing that (1) comprehensive sex ed does indeed reduce the rate of both teen pregnancies and STDs, and (2) "abstinence-only" sex ed does neither, and may actually increase risky behavior among teenagers (unprotected anal intercourse, etc.) because they don't understand why those behaviors are risky.

Anyone who claims that there's no evidence in favor of sex education these days hasn't done their homework.

#583 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:16 PM:

Serge @580: I assure you that I remain udderly respectful of you.

#584 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:24 PM:

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"

"The interrupting cow."

"The interr-"


#585 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:24 PM:

Ginger @ 583... Trying to butter me up after the cream has been committed, eh?

By the way, I do love movies. What a surprise. Still, it could have been otherwise, considering that my oldest memory of seeing a movie was with my parents in an improvised drive-in and it scared the crap out of me even though all it showed was a car race.

#586 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:27 PM:

Fragano @ 537... Afros... One of my co-workers, who is Hindi, has in her office a recent photo of her hubby, also Hindi. He has the biggest afro I've seen since my college days.

#587 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:34 PM:

Jen #579, some of the STDs are incurable, and a few are fatal, so even if it isn't fully conscious, or said out loud, those people *are* wishing for lifelong suffering or death for the vile, hideous, unforgivable, crime of unauthorized sexual contact (even of your 'authorised' partner, like all those chaste wives in the old days with syphilis passing it on to their children, and now the same with AIDS).

#588 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:51 PM:

Serge #586: Hindi is a language not an ethnicity, bhai.

One of the biggest of afros was that of Hindu guru Sri Sai Baba who was definitely Indian.

#589 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 04:55 PM:

The biggest afro I've ever seen was on a white kid. Seriously huge. As in packaging his pics and wondering what had gone wrong with the background until we realized it was completely obscured by his hair.

He also had a most impressive last name. Dunkijacobsnolten. We had to create a whole new ID template to fit his name on there.

#590 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:05 PM:

Serge (585): My first movie was Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, when I was six. The villain absolutely terrified me. Also, I didn't understand movies. I was familiar with the (theme?) song, so I thought they'd just sing that a few times and it would be over. It was a rude awakening.

#591 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Lee #582:

Actually, I did my homework (literally) on this issue, but it was about 20 years ago, when I was in college. I recall reading a paper about this back then, which pointed out that there didn't seem to be any demonstrable benefit to sex ed classes. If I am remembering correctly, this was in a social psychology class that, to massively understate matters, was not taught with a right wing skew. But it's not a big shock that some progress has been made in this area in the last 20 years.

I read a bit of the introduction to the "Emerging Answers" report. I thought the list of ten requirements for successful programs was quite interesting. It's very encouraging to think we might actually know how to decrease teen pregnancy with sex ed classes of some kind. The URL for this was here.

Does anyone know if these results have held up well? This is so far outside my field that you could sell me BS and I'd buy it.

#592 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:17 PM:

Mez: My point is that, for the most part, they aren't sitting around twirling their moustaches and gloating about those dirty sluts getting what was coming to them. They just think that although it's terrible that people get STDs, it's even worse to promote anything (protected sex, vaccines) that would allow people to more freely have sex outside of the one-size-fits-all proper relationship model.

It's a different kind of evil. I'm not defending it one iota, but I do think it's helpful to understand one's opponents.

#593 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:17 PM:

C. Wingate #581:

In the 70s I lived in Jamaica, and the afro was as nothing compared to the evil that dreadlocks constituted. A threat to 'locks up' might have got me disinherited, or something. Of course, having dark-brown curly hair, rather than black and kinky hair made this a bit more difficult than I thought.

Moving to Jamaica led to the discovery that I had 'good' hair. I had no idea before that hair had moral qualities.

#594 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:18 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 590... That villain was creepy, and I saw the movie when I was much older. One movie that absolutely terrified me when I first saw was The Day The Earth Stood Still. I may have been 6 or less than 10, but I very vividly remember the night scene of Gort looking down to Patricia Neal, and its visor slowly opens and the beam comes on... At about the same age, I came upon Forbidden Planet. The scene that stuck the most in my mind was of Morbius's house being all dark, and trees outside are being knocked down by something unseen.

#595 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:20 PM:

Mez #587: So, are all the people who won't get their kids vaccinated for measles also hoping for their kids to get one of the nasty but rare complications from it? Or hoping for sick people in the community to be killed off by getting measles? Sometimes, people are fools because they're fools, not because they're devils.

#596 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:30 PM:

The beat goes on, and I feel beaten down. Herewith some more nuggets from the word mines:

Martin Luther King was born into a family which was well established in Atlanta and school was often forced upon him and his siblings.

The Whigs, to which Burke was a member of, called themselves friends of the people because they were advocates of freedoms and liberties for the middle and lower class citizens.

Guyanese activist and Marxist scholar Walter Rodney emerged from post-colonial colonial struggles throughout the mid 20th century.

It can become life of death situations.

#597 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:30 PM:

Serge (594): I saw it again in my teens and found it surprisingly mild. "I was scared of this? This is nothing." By then I'd read the book about six times, too, which undoubtedly made a difference.

#598 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:30 PM:

Fragano @ 593... I had no idea before that hair had moral qualities.

So implies "Cabin in the Sky", which features a black angel with short hair, and a black devil whose abundant mane is shaped into tiny horns. Not only that, but the devil has Lena Horne amongst his weapons of Tempation.

#599 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:36 PM:

Serge #598: Clearly, the devil has the better argument.

#600 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:36 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 596... Of course, by then, you're old enough to realize this is not real, and that you choose to accept that fictional reality for the duration of the story, out of which you can walk out any time you want.

#601 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:48 PM:

Lee @#468, albatross @#573: The folks I personally know who object to things like the HPV vaccine or the mention of the word "condom" aren't malicious, and they don't even think that "bad girls" deserve to be punished.* They are, however, very concerned about appearing to condone bad-girl behavior. They are also very concerned about their girls growing up too fast, so even someone "liberal" who is totally fine with a 16-year-old going on the pill will flip the hell out at the notion of her 13-year-old daughter even knowing about it.

Unfortunately this means that some parents feel horribly squicked at the notion of their 12-year-old having a cervix, and they certainly don't want to point it out to her, because she might get the idea to go try to do something with it.

Likewise if you want to prevent your boy from getting an STD, you'd have to tell him what an STD is, and the next thing you know he's out seeing what other neat tricks his heretofore-totally-unnoticed body part can do.

These are well-meaning people, I think, but they're people who think a class called "Reverence for Life and Family" is what 14-year-olds need instead of sex ed. At least, that's what it was called when I was in school.

*preached at & saved and stuff, definitely, which is punishment enough for some of us.

#602 ::: ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:51 PM:

@ ajay #512: No, but I think I speak for all of us when I say we would really like to see a picture of that heavy-duty metal-fence style beard before you start trimming it.

Thanks for the laugh! I'll dig around amongst the pix at home and see if there's a 3 or 4 week long pic. Hmm. Here's a relatively tame one, taken less than a week after the "trim for wedding": Link.

Oh, and I just realized I forgot something - Thanks to All for the work done to restore ML!

#603 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 05:55 PM:


Ghu, that was about the age that they gave us the lecture (at school) on the basics of human biology and What Was Going To Happen ... although some of us already knew. I don't remember anyone going out and having sex as a result of it, either, but then it was a time when people tended to wait until they were 16.

#604 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 06:00 PM:

aw crud, I did it again with the messed-up name box input...

Eh, both go to the same mailbox, and don't get checked very often, and most of what they get is spam anyway. There's also something screwy with the account that's causing me to be unable to send mail from that domain. If you've sent me mail in the past two months, and I have not replied, that's why. I've got one response sitting in a saved Notepad file, waiting for me to reboot that 'puter and decide to reply from my gmail account or somesuch.


#605 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 06:04 PM:

cajunfj40 & 602... Any objections to your visage being added to the Making Light and Faces exhibition? There are quite a few pilous chins over there.

#606 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 06:12 PM:

I am on the verge of an explosion of vituperation about Americans and their [multiply deleted expletives] politics.

Somebody has taken a video-clip, showing Adolf Hitler going off the rails in the Fuhrerbunker (Anthony Hopkins, I think), and replaced the subtitles with an extended rant as if by Hillary Clinton after the most recent Primaries.

It's not funny. There's not any real craft in it. And...

{Deep breath]

It's on YouTube if you want to find it. I've seen it pop up on two LiveHournals already. But Adolf [deleted] Hitler? Where can they go from here?

#607 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 06:28 PM:

Dave Bell @ 606... Listen to Hynkel's speech instead.

#608 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 06:38 PM:

Mary Dell: They are, however, very concerned about appearing to condone bad-girl behavior.

A multitude of evils are concealed within this phrase. When someone says "I won't condone that", the first question should be "meaning what, exactly?" The answers can be scary, if you draw them out long enough.

#609 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 06:42 PM:

#607: "Where can they go from here?"

I read a letter from some missionaries that that Baracks Osama feller kidnaps Christian babies so he can send them to be sacrificed in Iran's nuclear bomb reactors. My uncle's cousin emailed me about it, and he's a cop, so it must be true!

Also, he drives a hybrid, so he must be smug.

#610 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 06:47 PM:

P J Evans @#603:

it was a time when people tended to wait until they were 16.

Why, in my day, people waited until they were married! Um, yeah.

We had the puberty talk in 5th grade (back in, let's see, 1979), and they had different talks and booklets for boys and girls. At recess we all swapped booklets. That didn't include anything about sex, although the boys booklet did have something about nocturnal emission. And the girl's booklet had stuff about the really old-school pads (with belts! hee!) but not a word about tampons.

The high school "reverence" class, circa 1982, told us about the popular forms of VD (they weren't called STDs yet, and AIDS and herpes hadn't happend yet), about the ickyness of abortion, about the life-ruining effects of teen pregnancy, and about how "petting" before marriage was almost as big a sin as fornication, although our particular teacher conceded that it might be ok if you're engaged. Also that french kissing should be avoided since it tended to lead to Other Things. (it's a gateway kiss!).

Also, they said marriage is for procreation, so if you wouldn't "welcome" kids, you can't be married in the church. That is, if you're trying to not have *any* kids (even just using the rhythm method), no marriage for you. I asked, "what if you're infertile?" Answer: then it's ok to get married, because God can find a way. "really? what if you've had a hysterectomy?" Answer: Well, you know, theoretically, God can find a way. Me: "But he can't find a way around a birth control pill?" Answer: *exasperated sigh*

#611 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 06:58 PM:

Mary Dell @ 610... french kissing should be avoided

What do they have against kissing French-speaking people?
Oui, oui?
Non, non!

#612 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 07:03 PM:

"He coined the phrase, 'Make love, not war'. I cherished every one of his books, and I dearly wish he had written some more. And if you experienced even a little bit of the sixties, you would feel the same way, too."

"I *experienced* the sixties."

"No, I think you had two fifties and moved right into the seventies."

(from Field of Dreams)

#613 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 07:08 PM:

albatross, #591: Sorry if it sounded like I was yelling at you. I was jolted that you would refer to the argument that "there's no evidence it works" as being plausible, and that sent me into hot-button mode. However, my outrage is reserved for people who still make that argument seriously, today, without checking.

One large reason that this is such a hot-button issue for me is my conviction that the right-wing leadership is deliberately and callously using it as a lever to stay in power. "Abstinence-only" doesn't work, and is KNOWN not to work, and is therefore an ideologically-correct approach which is guaranteed not to solve the problem... which allows them to keep yelping away about it, which in turn keeps the Magic Money Machine working for them. (Not so incidentally, it also provides a convenient distraction from other things that they don't want the rank-and-file to notice they're doing.) They are using THEIR OWN SUPPORTERS' CHILDREN as pawns in their power game, and it makes me want to commit mayhem.

and @595: The cases of measles and HPV are only superficially comparable. Measles isn't spread by sexual contact, which means there's a whole suite of emotional baggage that just doesn't apply.

Mary Dell, #601: Sorry, that argument simply does not fly with me. Kids get all kinds of shots anyhow; are they even going to notice one more? Not to mention that if the parents think they MUST explain it, what's wrong with saying, "This vaccine can help prevent you from developing some kinds of cancer when you're older"? That's absolutely true (and the HPV vaccine does not in fact immunize against all forms of HPV, only several of the most common), and there's no need for mention of sexual contact at all.

#614 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 07:18 PM:

Albatross 595,

I remember a neighbour who objected to us girls getting rubella shots in elementary school. Because that took away the fear of having deformed babies so then we would all go out and get pregnant at 16. Serious asshat.
I got dirty looks from the school nurse for asking why the boys were not getting a shot. Darn my logic of pointing out the boys would spread the germs around if they didn't get the shot.

I see not much has changed over the years as to how far the bonks will reach to justify their stupidity.

#615 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 07:24 PM:

serge, way up there,

Frank miller?
Oh, crap.

you said it. i don't think i wanna see the spirit movie, even though it's hard to overstate what an effect eisner's work has had on me. like, i'd be afraid i'd see the spirit smacking ellen dolan (who is probably a stripper, now) around.


#616 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 07:39 PM:

miriam beetle @ 615... I loved Eisner's stuff too and the spirit of the Spirit doesn't seem to be found anywhere in that self-important coming attraction. No sense of fun. Heck, Tarantino would have been more appropriate.

#617 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 07:45 PM:

I need a couple of URL's that show McCain as the non-maverick, non-center-of-the-road, non-moderate, pointing to specific things he's said or done or voted for/against that reveal his far right views.

The less emotional the page, and the more it focuses on objective measures of what McCain did/said/voted/etc that reveal his political position, the better.

#618 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 07:48 PM:

Oh, and re: the rocket chair, nice. I'd love to get some flight time on a jet pack. Is it me, or does that spring suspension not actually cushion anything? Looks like the tripod at the bottom of the chair is fixed and the springs just let the chair tip front to back, side to side, but don't actually cushion up/down.

#619 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 07:48 PM:

Oh, and re: the rocket chair, nice. I'd love to get some flight time on a jet pack. Is it me, or does that spring suspension not actually cushion anything? Looks like the tripod at the bottom of the chair is fixed and the springs just let the chair tip front to back, side to side, but don't actually cushion up/down.

#620 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:14 PM:

McCain's Vote Smart page

From a rather less neutral source, Media Matters' Media Myths of McCain

#621 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:33 PM:

Mary Dell: Me: "But he can't find a way around a birth control pill?" Answer: *exasperated sigh*

LOL! Of course, that sigh, and the matching laugh, are classic squelching tactics.

#622 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:37 PM:

I continue to learn new things:

Rather than Burke being a supporter of liberty, Burke valued the perception of conservatism, and believed that this idea surfaced in the response of the Revolution.

Many modern political theorists tend to identify Marxism as form of struggle faced by racist individuals.

Dr. King was an advocate for economic injustice among all racial groups.

#623 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:53 PM:

Sisuile @ 488: No, Borders was out (or maybe misshelved). So I went to Barnes and Noble, and thus at 74th and Dodge the way that anyone outside Omaha would give directions.

#624 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 08:59 PM:

As a boy I joined my sister a few times in playing with her Barbie dolls. In one game the dolls had superpowers, but only while they were naked. IIRC they could wear accessories like scarves and belts and it still counted as naked.

#625 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:06 PM:

571 and 572--there was already Sarcastro on The Tick, although I believe he was still in training at the time.

#626 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:18 PM:

A dehoy who was terribly hobble,
Could only cast stones that were cobble,
And bats that were ding,
From a shot that was sling,
But he never hit links that were bobble.

Having had chicken pox at 17 1/2, the vaccination question was an easy one for me. And while chicken pox is bad for an adult, it's nothing like mumps.

Beware yourselves the moops.

#627 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:31 PM:

[we usually wait until the next commercial break before I go check on IMDB, unless it's a DVD, in which case we hit the 'pause' button.]

Clearly what you need is a tivo and a blackberry. That way you can pause the show and look things up without having to get out of your chair.

At least, thats what hubby and I do...because we're total losers...

No, you need MythTV* and a wireless keyboard, so you not only don't have to get up out of your chair, you don't have to look away from the screen when you pause the TV and pull up a 52'' high copy of Firefox**.

Yes, my TV has a command line. And a sysadmin. If that's lose, then lose is made of win.

* Open source Tivo, and darned spiffy. No commercials, able to speed up without chipmunking the sound, can be logged-into from anywhere with a ssh...

** before watching an episode of a series (recorded or DVD), we'll first go to fan websites to see if it's worth watching (because while 'what's the best episode' can be fought over, there is usually agreement on the worst episodes).

Amazing how good TV is when you edit out the bottom 10%-33% of shows.

#628 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 09:34 PM:

Mary Dell @528 for the above post.

#629 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:05 PM:

Jen@620, that was more awesome than a rocket pack*. Thanks.

(*) I still want to fly one someday, though.

#630 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:29 PM:

(Someday I will understand why the stuff I want to comment on invariably pops up on Shabbat... [boss doesn't have any truck with Shabbat, so I have to be online and reachable anyway and will have to change jobs for that to change. It's not anti-Semitism; it's complicated and not something I want to muse about in public even with some level of anonymization.])

(eep! This ended up much longer than I expected. Sorry....)

Jenny Island @17:
I can't think of any such terms... likely because history tends to remember only successful prophets.

Many, regarding the unrealistic Marcus:
sadly, I was often like that. But I got smacked down for being "different" enough that it (I think) didn't turn too much into swell-head. I hope. (That said, I still do that at times without the smackdowns. Which is probably unfortunate.)

Many, regarding YA books:
I read anything at that age. I blame my mom bouncing The Hobbit off of me at age 6, followed by The Fellowship of the Ring, and when I finished that, the Dune trilogy (which was still a trilogy at the time). Annoyed the heck out of my teacher in 4th grade when I ran off the end of their graduated reading level stuff without stopping.

Charlie Stross @203:
When I looked up the strikeout tag last time I needed it, it was <strike>, not <s>. Some web authoring platforms allow the latter as a convenient synonym, but it's not standard.

Susan @283:
Just as long as it wasn't Tefillin Barbie....

Steve C. @334:
I invariably imagine voices in white noise sources. At least once I've gotten up, half awake, to look around for who was talking.

Serge @393:
Great; now I'm imagining some cheesy SF flick where the Big Giant Head is a giant Barbie-head.

R. M. Koske @402:
I am under the impression TiVo is walking very carefully around the whole advertising thing, because they keep getting hammered over the issue of allowing people to skip the ads to begin with; so they're unlikely to offer anything which would remind anyone of it.

Lori Coulson @427:
Tell me about it; Time-Life has been doing that to me for the past 10 years. And I get the impression I'm not even that old relative to many people here. Feh.

Sisuile @435:
I'm planning to point some LJ-friends of mine at the hair subtopic, since they do indeed enjoy playing with hair (their own and others').

Xopher @460:
Post-J. Edgar Hoover, there's any question about what side the FBI is on?

Greg London @487:
Urgh. Here's to finding the Big Reset Button.

Marilee @505:
Your father sounds like a real winner. Yuck.

Jen B. @574:
Unfortunately, that story would sound better if I hadn't heard first person reports of Hillary supporters replacing Obama signs with Hillary signs (ergo, there may well have been Obama signs to replace).

Lee @582:
Interestingly, I (incorrectly) interpreted that claim as being about abstinence-only programs — those being the only sex ed programs I ever hear about any more.

Mez @587:
It's a pity those people don't consider the context behind "Let him who has not sinned..." — although if they did, their heads would probably explode.

Mary Dell @601:
The whole "growing up too fast" thing is especially ironic considering that until around the start of the 20th century it was not unusual for children to marry starting at age 12 or so; and this was certainly true for their Biblical idols (term used with malice aforethought). And I seem to recall a reference — possibly from the Little House series (but conceivably the TV series instead of the books) — to a 5-year-old being forced by circumstance to become the "man of the house".

#631 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:32 PM:

Serge and Mary Aileen, I had a movie like that. When I was six to eight we were stationed on Guam and there was a big free outdoor theatre (covered officers area) that showed movies on Friday and Saturday nights. We went, took snacks and umbrellas, and one night we saw Bridge on the River Kwai and I'd been afraid of it for many years. Then people started telling me that the part of it I was afraid of wasn't in the movie. I brought myself to watch it on Netflix and it's not. The movie is okay. So now I wonder what we watched about WWII where the Japanese made pyramids of American servicemen heads in the prison camp.

Lee, #613, apparently the aftereffects of the shot can be rather painful to some girls.

#632 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:37 PM:

I saw Iron Man courtesy of work today. Obligatory one-line joke review: "I liked the song better."

Actual review: it was a lot of fun when it remembered that it was supposed to be silly, which was most of the time.

Neil Willcox @ 413:

Iron Man, Iron Man
Does whatever an iron can
Presses shirts, any size
Sends them back Martinized
Yeah, yeah, there goes the Iron Man

#633 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:42 PM:

(Yep, he's not done yet! :)

Greg London @618 and 619:
Sorry, but I have to agree with Xiphias about personal flying vehicles.

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @627:

#634 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 11:05 PM:

In regard to 521 & 522, consider how, in Have Space Suit, Will Travel, gur Jbezsnprf znxr rknpgyl gur fnzr reebe jvgu Zbgure Guvat. Fbzrubj, Urvayrva pneevrf gung bss, rira gubhtu vg'f ncrpgnphyneyl uhoevfgvp ba gurve cnegf. (Vf vg n fcbvyre vs, va gur obbx, lbh'er bayl gbyq nobhg vg va ergebfcrpg? Orggre fnsr guna fbeel be fcbvyrq, V fhccbfr.)

#635 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 11:40 PM:

I circle misspellings and I scrawl a question mark in the margin. I may scrawl several question marks if the sentences are particularly incoherent and confusing.

Under similar circumstances, I used to write "awk" in the margin. I told the students that it was short for "awkward", but I lied. It was actually the noise that I made upon reading the sentence in question.

#636 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 11:49 PM:

I hear voices fairly often (several times a year) before falling asleep. They're often quite "loud," and credible in the sense that they sound like specific individual people (there's one guy with a deep voice who yells a lot), but unintelligible. Occasionally I get cool surreal phrases that I nick for my songs, but that seems to come via a different mechanism, i.e. I don't remember a "voice" saying it.

I've never not known they were a hallucination, but occasionally they're vivid enough to freak me out a bit, which I kind of enjoy.

#637 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 11:53 PM:

albatross @ 573: "I know such people exist, but I'll admit, I have a hard time making myself believe there are many of them[1]. People saying "my daughter will never need this vaccine because she will remain chaste" is silly, but I can imagine a non-monstrous person saying it."

I think it is the same sort of reasoning that goes into Draconian legal systems: given the difficulty of assuring punishment for misbehavior, maximizing the penalties will push the largest number of people to avoid the behavior in a simple cost-benefit analysis.* That STDs are their own enforcement mechanism is just a plus. It's pure game theory, really.

There's also a bit of reverse-causation going on: since STDs and unwanted pregnancy are really bad things that can result from sex, people shouldn't have sex. But some people reverse that, and start to believe that since people shouldn't have sex, people get STDs and unwanted pregnancies from having it. At that point, attempts to ameliorate the bad aspects of sex seems like an attempt to encourage people to do that Bad Thing That's Punished By God/Nature Itself.

*Ignoring all the data showing that human's ability to make rational decisions goes right out the window when horny.

@ 595: "So, are all the people who won't get their kids vaccinated for measles also hoping for their kids to get one of the nasty but rare complications from it? Or hoping for sick people in the community to be killed off by getting measles? Sometimes, people are fools because they're fools, not because they're devils."

In other words: stupid or evil? When you get right down to it though, I hardly even care. Either way, they are advocating for people to die. However the rationalizations may differ inside their heads, the real-world effects of their choices are the same: real people really die. Beside that reality, their rationalizations are less than wind.

#638 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:01 AM:

(omitting links this time: my previous two posts apparently got flagged as linkspam; so much for providing handy backreferences to the comments I'm replying to....)

"Advocating for people to die": I once seriously torqued off an anti-abortion activist in downtown Pittsburgh by throwing "What, so they can die in your stupid holy war?" in her teeth.

#639 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:08 AM:

lee @#613: Sorry, that argument simply does not fly with me. Kids get all kinds of shots anyhow; are they even going to notice one more?

It doesn't fly with me either - of course it's a dumb argument. But it's a long way from "I hope my daughter gets a disease and dies if she has sex," which your #468 says is what these parents want.

In order to shelter me from sin, my parents avoided educating me--and themselves--about various realities. Bad things subsequently happened to me: things that would not have happened if I'd been properly educated. But I guarantee you my parents would never want anything bad to happen to me; in fact, I'd bet my life that they were not motivated by a desire to punish potential wrongdoing. They believe in building the Kingdom of God on Earth (as do I); their version of the Kingdom of God is more or less asexual (mine is not). They have been absolutely crushed by seeing the ways, big and small that the real world has hurt their children, and by knowing that our sheltered childhoods have contributed to our vulnerability.

Some people think that ignorance is a form of protection, and that closing your eyes to reality an wishing the world was different will make it different. They're fools, but they're not necessarily less loving, or more vindictive, than people who keep their eyes open.

#640 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:14 AM:

#627: Ditto recommendation of a MythTV system. Mine is capturing Doctor Who as I write this.

RE Iron Man: Peter Billingsly, who played Ralphie on A Christmas Story, is an executive producer and has a bit part. Couldn't figure out who the character he played ("William") is.

#641 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:25 AM:

Bill Higgins posted about this on his blog a few days ago, so I thought I'd remind you of an earlier, slightly cruder adaptation of
Ironman. (Don't worry, Mary Dell, it's totally spoiler-free.)

#642 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:30 AM:

Marilee @ 630... It may well be that you had a very bad dream, when you went to sleep right after seeing the movie, a dream influenced by some things the adults talked about that had happened in real prisoner camps without noticing there was a kid taking in everything.

#643 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:30 AM:

Serge @#639:

I thought I'd remind you of an earlier, slightly cruder adaptation of Ironman. (Don't worry, Mary Dell, it's totally spoiler-free.)

The adaptation is totally spoiler-free? How very postmodern!

#644 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:33 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 627... you need MythTV* and a wireless keyboard, so you not only don't have to get up out of your chair, you don't have to look away from the screen when you pause the TV and pull up a 52'' high copy of Firefox

All that's missing is Theora and Bryce.

#645 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:43 AM:

I just came back from a meeting of the Albuquerque SF Society. It had been many years since I had attended, and I'm glad I did. The guest speaker was Ian Tregellis, who has stories in the new Wild Cards anthologies. He read the prologue of his trilogy, which is a Secret History of the 20th Century, with British warlocks duking it out with Nazi superpowered beings. It sounded really neat, and I think I managed to ask relatively non-embarassing questions. I'll have to wait until next year before Tor publishes it though. Oh, and the editor is one Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

#646 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:46 AM:

Mary Dell @ 641... I've heard that 1960s cartoon called many things, but post-modern never came up until now.

#647 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:49 AM:

Marilee, #630: And...? That's not snarky, it's serious; I'm not sure what your point is supposed to be, because there are a lot of shots that have painful aftereffects for some people. Smallpox vaccination used to be one of the worst offenders IIRC, with side effects ranging from redness and swelling near the injection site to mild fevers; this was not common enough to be a major concern, but not rare either.

Tim, #631: You just made me waste a perfectly good mouthful of iced tea.

Mary Dell, #637: I understand what you're saying. However, I still have a very hard time hearing "letting my daughter have this vaccine might encourage her to have unapproved sex" as anything but "I'd rather see my daughter dead of cancer than know she had sex against my rules." That may not be precisely fungible with viewing death as an appropriate punishment for unapproved sex, but it's damn close.

#648 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:59 AM:

Oh goodness. TCM is showing Reefer Madness at midnight, right after having 3 movies about the end of the world. (On the Beach is on right now.)

#649 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:04 AM:

Debra @633: My 11th grade English teacher used to draw shovels in the margin when we were "shoveling". They looked startlingly phallic, really.

#650 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:10 AM:

Lee @#645: Whereas I interpret it as "la la la la la I can't hear you! My girl won't need it la la la la." In functional terms, this means cancer happening to people who could have been protected from it, which is awful.

#651 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:12 AM:

About "Awk": It took me a couple of seconds every time I saw an "AWK" on one of my papers to remember it was an abbreviation for "Awkward", and not an onomatopoeic device. I'm glad to hear that my first guess may have been right.

Re: Birth Control and bizarre magical thinking - when I was growing up in the late 70's/early 80's there was a book out by noted Mormon "prophet" Spencer W. Kimball called "The Miracle of Forgiveness". Now I was too young to have wanted to read the book, but it must have been excerpted and referred to in many a Young Women's lesson, since by the time I was in high school I had internalized this concept:

"Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one's virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle."

I remember sitting in the back of the class confused and fuming when the teacher for the rape/self defense module of health suggested that if the attacker had a gun, we might consider that he could possibly kill us and that if the choice were raped and alive or dead - well, our loved ones would prefer we live. I knew it wasn't true - better dead than dishonored. I heard it in church.

I wasn't a stupid kid, but I was trying to be a "good girl". My parents had no idea what kind of garbage they were teaching the youth until I brought it up a couple of years ago. Mom apologized profusely. But I suspect there was a certain percentage that did (and possibly still do) believe that they'd rather have a dead kid than one who had had pre-marital sex.

#652 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:20 AM:

heresiarch @635: I remember David Friedman pointing out (in one of the interminable threads on rasfc) that even that simple cost-benefit analysis has some serious flaws. In particular, given someone who's already done one thing "wrong" (i.e., given someone in the population most likely to do whatever the "wrong" thing is), what's their cost-benefit analysis? His example was that, if shooting the witness to a murder doesn't get you anything more than the death penalty you're on the hook for, the cost-benefit analysis is pretty bad news for the witness.

Which is just to add to the point that maximizing the penalties is not generally a particularly good way of preventing behaviors.

Lee @645: I think it makes a little bit more sense (maybe) if you consider that these people are coming at it from the axiom that their daughter Will Not Have Sex. Thus, there isn't (in their minds) any actual danger whatsoever that she'll die of cancer from HPV.

Whether the fact that this means that what they're saying is closer to "I'd rather take the risk that my daughter might die of cancer than admit to myself that there's a possibility that she might have sex" makes them any more sympathetic is a different matter. My opinion, which is no doubt much easier for me to say because my children are as yet still entirely hypothetical, is that while I can appreciate the existence of such mental blocks, IMO when they became parents they signed up to Deal With that sort of unpleasant thoughts rather than hiding from them.

#653 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:20 AM:

And here I get a completely different meaning from "awk" unless I consciously think past it. Clearly I've been a geek for too long....

#654 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:39 AM:

Serge @ 616

Hmm ... I'm not looking forward to Tarentino's production of "A Contract with God". He'd probably retitle it "A Contract on God".

#655 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:41 AM:

Back to the Punic Wars:

I think we've got enough cheese for that dish, but we can never have enough Ginger.

#656 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:12 AM:

Terry Karney @ 243:

I like big boats and I cannot lie!
You other Fluoros can't deny
That when a ship sails in with an itty-bitty keel
And a flight deck in your face...

I thought the earworm of The Most Annoying Song Ever (Disney Division) was bad...but a Sir Mix-A-Lot earworm is worse.

Re: dolls...I had an early-mid 60s Barbie, redhead, ponytail variant, which I agreed to allow Mom to "trade in" for a discount on a first-generation (1967) Twist 'n Turn Barbie, brunette variant. Then, a few years later, came a Living Barbie, titian edition. (IIRC, she came in a rather cute ski ensemble...)

To keep the Barbies company, I also had a Tressy (who could share the Barbie clothes, which were infintely better-looking than those offered by the Tressy people) and a Jane West, which was produced "wearing" (i.e., was molded in hard vinyl to resemble) jeans and a denim shirt and came with all this stuff. Also a bay version of the horse in that pic, and a palomino foal.

Ye ghods...I haven't thought about this stuff in years.

Am unable to offer much in the way of YA reading suggestions, as my mom got me started on Reader's Digest books, both standard and "Best-Loved Books for Young Readers" sorts, at about 8, so I was happily immersed in The Haunting of Hill House, Lost Horizon, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Jane Eyre and the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe along with my Nancy Drews. Most of the SF/F YA books only came to my attention in high school or college, or even later.

Serge and Rikibeth, the Betazoids-get-married-naked thing was first mentioned in ST:TNG's first-season episode Haven, re: Deanna's arranged marriage to Wyatt Miller...but since that wedding never happened, Lwaxana'a wedding in Cost of Living was the first (only, I think) example shown on the series.

Ye ghods, again...

#657 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:17 AM:

Oh, and to add to the open-threadiness, is anyone here familiar with the Orphan Works Act (HR 5889 and S 2913)? The couple of websites on which I've seen it mentioned are of the opinion that it's a Very Bad Idea, but I haven't had time to research it thoroughly and decide if I should tell my congresscritters to oppose it...although the cursory look-see I've done leads me that direction...

#658 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 04:53 AM:

I've seen people getting worked up about the orphan works thing, and I think a lot of it is that few people realise just how few works of any age can earn money. Yes, there is the whole business of film and TV, but that usually is well-documented.

It looks as though the proposals will, apparently accidentally, bring back the whole business of having to register copyright to be sure of any protection in the USA. It might not do so in a way which falls foul of international treaties, WIPO or Berne, but after seeing who the original sponsors were, it's hard not to be suspicious.

Oh, and it looks as though it might be an attempt to privatise copyright registration as well. Lots of people might pay some corporation to put their names on a list, and the number of potentially orphan works which get exploited by corporate America remains at zero. If they're getting the pseudo-registration fees, why bother trying to use the works.

Looking at it from outside the USA, it feels bad. A mix of vanity copyright registration and lawful theft.

#659 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 05:00 AM:

Tim Walters #631 - (based loosely on whispered conversation during the film)

"Is Tony Stark being ironic?"
"No, I think he gets Pepper to do his shirts for him"

#660 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 05:09 AM:

Brooks Moses @ 650: "I remember David Friedman pointing out (in one of the interminable threads on rasfc) that even that simple cost-benefit analysis has some serious flaws."

Yep. It only actually works if the punishment is so unthinkably awful that no one would ever risk provoking it. Unfortunately, there's no punishment so scary that some idiot won't think they can avoid it.* Then you are stuck either doing that really, unspeakably awful thing (disown your child, kill every member of the offender's village, torture them to death, etc.) or be seen as weak and ineffective, at which point no one will respect you. It's a bad model.

*I could be wrong, but I think there's been some research showing that exceptionally dire punishments are sometimes less effective at dissuading potential offenders. The sheer direness gives them an air of unreality, meaning it's harder to imagine being tortured to death than being fined two hundred dollars. Everyone knows what two hundred bucks is worth, but few people know what torture is like.

#661 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 06:12 AM:

On the HPV thing: I wonder whether attitudes to vaccination would change, and if so how far and how fast, if it were to be discovered that HPV is implicated in prostate cancer.


#662 ::: Bob Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 06:45 AM:

Dave Bell @606: Anthony Hopkins? Anthony Hopkins? It's Bruno Ganz, from Downfall, the harrowing and brilliant film about the final days of the Third Reich. (Der Untergang, in German, sounds even better.) Yes, that's the fellow who fell to earth in Wings of Desire. Same guy.

Here's the scene with the original subtitles, which will give some idea of how hair-raising it actually is:

If you poke about on youtube for a while, you'll find that the HRC video is only the latest in a long line of re-imaginings of this scene. The first one I saw was about the New England Patriots. There is also, weirdly, a whole series of what seem to be plagiarizations, all revolving around Hitler losing his online poker or XBox or Playstation 3 account. Two cheers for our cognitive surplus, is my feeling.

I realize that humor is subjective, etc. etc., but the line "Everyone besides Carville, Wolfson, McAuliffe, and Bill -- get out" is just hilarious.

The HRC version is at

#663 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 07:42 AM:

Brooks Moses @ 650
heresiarch @635: I remember David Friedman pointing out (in one of the interminable threads on rasfc) that even that simple cost-benefit analysis has some serious flaws. In particular, given someone who's already done one thing "wrong" (i.e., given someone in the population most likely to do whatever the "wrong" thing is), what's their cost-benefit analysis? His example was that, if shooting the witness to a murder doesn't get you anything more than the death penalty you're on the hook for, the cost-benefit analysis is pretty bad news for the witness.

This brings to mind an ancient Chinese (?) comment on unduly harsh laws -

Two brothers were traveling from their village to a mustering point, to serve in the Army. As they traveled down the muddy road, slowly making their way in the torrential rainy season, one finally sits down on a rock, leans his spear up against it, and begins to eat. The other looks, aghast, at his brother - for they are not making good time at all, and the punishments for failing to show for muster are severe indeed. "Brother, whom I love more than life itself, what are you doing? We must travel far yet today before we can rest!"
The other brother looked up sadly at his brother. "Brother, whom I am more devoted to than any but my wife, I have decided to run away and join the bandits."
The first brother looked, again aghast, at his kindred. "Why, oh brother, would you tell me this? Why, oh brother, would you do such a thing?"
"Tell me, oh brother, what is the penalty for banditry, if one should be caught?" "Well, death, of course."
"Indeed so. And what, oh learned kindred of mine, is the penalty for not reporting for muster on time?" "It is also death, oh foolish brother of mine."
"Well... we are LATE."

#664 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 07:52 AM:

@Bruce Cohen (STM) #652;
If it were a movie adaptation of this I would see it in a heartbeat.

#665 ::: Bob Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 08:07 AM:

nerdycellist @ 11: "I've been looking for books that make American History interesting."

I'd start with novels. Here are some:

Thomas Berger, Little Big Man. A funny, horrifying, and historically accurate novelistic depiction of the destruction of the Indian world.

Brian Moore, Black Robe. Jesuits meet Algonkians. Algonkians win. This is a gripping depiction of a clash between two mindsets that are not only wildly alien from each other but also from our own, and it's about a period of American history (before the French and Indian War, back when the wild frontier was upstate New York) that we don't hear so much about these days. As a bonus, this novel might do for you what it did for me, which is to send you down the rabbit hole that is the work of Brian Moore, who's one of the more remarkable (and, surprisingly, financially successful) writers you've never heard of.

Willa Cather, My Antonia. This is an astoundingly great novel even if you're not interested in American history. If you are, you're doubly blessed, because its depiction of life on the prairie is outstanding as well.

Robert Lewis Taylor, The Travels of Jaime McPheeters. This is a wonderful picaresque novel about a boy who travels with his feckless father by wagon train to San Francisco. There's enough good stuff in this book that there was actually a TV series based on it. (I was going to get all biblical and say "when there were giants in the earth," but we'll get to that.) Among its many treasures is a long chapter describing the state of things in what was then called Deseret and what is now called Utah, in which Mormons come off as rather scarier than we think of them today. Also, pretty early on in the novel is one of the great oh-we're-so-fucked moments in American fiction. (It involves rabies.)

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or: The Evening Redness In The West. One of the best American novels of the last 30 years. Its depiction of psychopathic violence in Texas and Mexico after the Civil War is not inaccurate.

O.E. Rolvag, Giants in the Earth. Not quite as fun as the rest of these novels, since it's about the experience of Scandinavian immigrants settling North Dakota, which is to say of people suffering terribly and going insane. But it's certainly interesting.

Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose. As with My Antonia, this is the sort of book that people press on friends and say "you must read this."

Kate Chopin, The Awakening. Long a staple of women's-studies survey classes, and with good reason: it's a really good snapshot of the rather grim position of women in New Orleans society at the end of the 19th century.

Katherine Anne Porter, "Pale Horse, Pale Rider". A long short story, not a novel, and just about the only piece of writing I know of that describes what it felt like to live through the influenza pandemic in 1918. Like The Awakening, this is one of those pieces of writing that everyone has heard of but surprisingly few have read. It's astoundingly good.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin. It's a dreadfully melodramatic potboiler, but, you know, the pot does boil. Eliza's escape across the ice is something that everyone in America knew about in 1855, because this is a book that everyone in America read, or saw dramatized.

Not a novel:

Frank Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, Cheaper By The Dozen. It's very helpful, when you're reading the history of Frederick Taylor, scientific management, and the birth of management consulting, to have read this too. Frank Gilbreth Sr. and his wife Lillian were key figures in Frederick Taylor's operation. This is a hugely entertaining story of two otherwise very smart people who decided that having twelve children was a good idea. It's charming and nostalgic and very funny (one of my favorite bits of gross-out humor ever comes from this: "Two maggots were fighting in dead Ernest."). You don't have to do too much reading between the lines to imagine how deep the dysfunction in this family must have been. Oh, and see if you can guess (without looking it up) which child died, and when.

And a couple of actual histories that are worth a look:

Daniel Boorstin, The Americans. This is a three-volume cultural history of the first couple of centuries of American life. While it has its problems (a critical review of it was entitled "America the Homoegeneous"), it's entertaining, fabulously rich with detail, and masterfully written. One other caveat: Boorstin named names to HUAC.

Kenneth Stampp, The Peculiar Institution. Stampp (who's nearly 100 now) wrote this 50 years ago, and nobody's outdone him since. It's a terrific, detailed social history of slavery in the US. Everyone should read this. Maybe you will. (See also Stampp's And The War Came, a really good book about what happened in the last year before the Civil War. I'm obviously a huge Stampp fanboy; I took the last class he gave at Berkeley before he retired and man, even by the standards of the Berkeley history department, he was smart.)

Gunther Barth, City People. A cultural history of the American city. It is deceptively simple; it's the kind of book that you read, find mildly interesting, put away, and then realize a decade later that a surprising amount of what you know about your country comes from it.

#666 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 08:09 AM:

Oh my god...I was just looking at the Trollishness viewed as NPD sidelight, and reading the articles I realized that my father is pretty much a textbook case.
He's gotten really bad in recent years, to the point that no one in the family can even talk to him; the scary thing is, he's so naturally intelligent that my mother and I both think that some of his more disturbing behavior, while evidently the results of a serious mental disorder (paranoid delusions, violent mood swings), could very well be calculated manipulation--which of course could be linked to the NPD. Or they could be symptoms of serious clinical depression...Also connected to NPD.

This is really, really freaking me out.

#667 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 08:13 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 652... Oh, I'm not saying that Tarantino would be my ideal Eisner adapter, but he certainly would be better. He has a sense of humor. Meanwhile, I wonder what's going on with his hopes of making a Modesty Blaise movie.

#668 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 08:16 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 653... You're pushing it. Walk gingerly.

#669 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 08:28 AM:

OK, Serge, but where are they going to find a Hollywood actress short enough to play Modesty Blaise?

(I don't think I'm competent to comment on casting Willie Garvin, and the squeee factor is likely to be a trifle excessive. Though if somebody wants to YouTube a Bogart-Bacall version of Modestry Blaise...)

#670 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 08:28 AM:

Bob Rossney @663 -- I just copied, pasted and saved your entire comment. Thank you for that list! (And thanks to everyone else who's been making history and YA recommendations -- I've been noting those, too.)

#671 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:22 AM:

Dave Bell @ 667...

Would a 5'3" British actress whose father had one Indian parent and one Austrian parent do?

Sure, she's not a perfect physical fit, but, as was mentionned last year, when the subject of Modesty came up on ML, Peter O'Donnell himself would have loved seeing her played by Julie Christie, and Willie by Michael Caine.

#672 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Concerning books about American history, I recently finished Flapper (2006) by Joshua Zeitz. Among other things, the author shows the "flapper" (and the lesser-know male counterpart, the "sheik") as early forms of the lifestyles now widespread in Western culture. The book also shows some of the ironies inherent in non-conformist "movements", as many participants did not as much pick up the flapper lifestyle from their peer as from the media, which was also eager to point out what kind of accessoiries you should buy in order to enjoy the lifestyle. The book also argues that it took some effort by marketing to convince the emerging middle classes to become consumers. In short, change also makes you lose something, and Zeitz shows how a focus on a more individual lifestyle also means that there is more to lose for those that can't quite live up to it.

Another fascinating book that has already been mentioned is The Devil in the White City (2003), which focuses on two men, the architect Burnham of the Chicago World Fair, and the serial killer Holmes. A fascinating book not just because of the stories it tells but also because the realities of living in 1893 at once seem strange and familiar. Interestingly, I thought the serial killer would be more exciting, but the architect and the world fair turned out to be of more interest (but then, these days I tend to avoid mysteries if the blurb says something about serial killers...).

#673 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:34 AM:

#664: You're not alone. I suspect many of us have people like that in our families.

#674 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:37 AM:

I have almost all of the Warren aand Kitchen Sink runs of The Spirit (although not the Cerebus/Spirit team-up, which has to be even stranger than the Cerebus/TMNT team-up) which means I was delighted to see posters for a movie at SDCC last year. Then I saw that Frank Miller was the director. Then I saw the trailer.

Oh, god.

There is a wonderful essay about the character that calls Denny Colt "the only real middle-class crimefighter." I mean, he lives off the reward money, and the only arguable superpower he has is that the chemical dose that "killed" him may have had some sort of healing factor. He's not a dumb brick, but the chances of him saying purple prose like "my city screams" are slightly less than Patrick writing an essay praising the philosophy and artistry of Jack Chick.

(That reminda me--Patrick, I had three hours of sleep the night before your interview at the SFM. I enjoyed what I was awake enough to hear, and the reason I kept dodging into the next room at Vanguard was from embarrassment, not animus. I'm sorry.)

I think this is going to be bad. Beyond The Avengers bad. Maybe beyond Queen of Outer Space bad.

#675 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:42 AM:

For whites with big hair, check out the photo of Arthur C. Clarke, age 3, in the latest Locus with all the appreciations. Puts Shirley Temple to shame!

Serge, in #646 you mentioned the third "apocalypse" movie on TCM last night, but I watched the previous one, "The World, the Flesh, and the Devil" (1959), with Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens and (eventually) Mel Ferrer as the only people left in NYC after the Bomb. Though Harry was a little too perfect to be believable, the film addressed racial issues quite directly -- Inger's toss-off comment about being "free, white and 21" did get its come-uppance.

Though the ending was a bit Star-Trek-optimistic (*I* would have tried to find a way to shove Mel off a rooftop!), the shots of an echoing, empty New York were fascinating, the acting good, and the treatment of race more sophisticated than a lot of Sixties stuff.

As for Barbie (my attempted comment yesterday got eaten), I had one of the very first ones but it was really dull compared to my paper doll books, which had more clothes and somewhat more human expressions. After trying to change Barbie's expression with crayons, I gave up.

#676 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 11:00 AM:

Scott Taylor @#661: There's also the point that if punishments are too broad, selectively enforced, or just not well-targeted, they can degenerate into a "random hazard".

Current American practice with drug forfeitures are well into this territory, likewise the immigration laws.

#677 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 11:41 AM:

I know I'm coming in late to the conversation, but I want to add my 2 cents worth. (That saying came from the price of a stamp, I believe - which is going up to 42 cents Monday.)

About vaccines: there are a non-trivial number of people who do not want their kids vaccinated because they are afraid it will cause serious side effects. The link between thimosol (mercury compound) as a preservative used in vaccines, and autism is unproven, but some people worry about it. I have seen concern about the HPV vaccine that it is not well-tested, and may have been released because it will be a money-maker for the company, rather than proven safe and effective. Considering some of the scandals about drugs like Vioxx, if I were a parent, I would be worried, and I might not get a child vaccinated. Most people don't experience measles as anything more than few days illness, if they have it at all. Undetected HPV can cause cervical cancer, but yearly Pap smears can catch it before lesions become cancerous. It's not a simple issue.

On the other hand, I am ALL in favor of comprehensive sex ed, starting in 4th or 5th grade. We teach a lot of things in school kids don't use until later, because that's when we have their attention (sort of). So we need to teach them how to put on a condom at 12, even if they don't use the information until they are 16 or 18 or even later. Of course, I think we should also teach them things like how to balance a checkbook.

#678 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 11:51 AM:

Serge @ 666: (A most appropriate number...)

As the incomparable Mel Brooks says in every one of his movies:"Walk this way."

Before we break out in a rash of spicy puns, let me point out that cheese doesn't really go well with ginger. Call me fraiche, but the flavors just don't combine well.

Just skimming the topic here, I realize that there's some grilling going on, for which I toast you.

#679 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Serge--about 3" too short, but possible.

#680 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Magenta Griffith @675:
Don't get me started about Vioxx. One of the unintended-consequences results of that mess was the disappearance of ketoprofen (Orudis KT) from US pharmacy shelves out of fear of lawsuits; it's ibuprofen's big brother and one of the few painkillers that can knock out the headaches I sometimes get.

#681 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:05 PM:

Brooks Moses @650: I think it makes a little bit more sense (maybe) if you consider that these people are coming at it from the axiom that their daughter Will Not Have Sex. Thus, there isn't (in their minds) any actual danger whatsoever that she'll die of cancer from HPV.

Add this twist: the belief that their daughter Will Not Have Sex *if* they do all the right things to encourage her not to, but she will if they tacitly send the message that it's OK for her to, such as getting her the HPV vaccine or discussing protection. So, for people who buy into that logic, getting her the vaccine puts her at *more* risk (not necessarily from HPV itself, of course, but from all the other possible risks of sex).

Charlie @659: Well, not prostate cancer, but there is this: Virus Spread by Oral Sex Is Linked to Throat Cancer

#682 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:18 PM:

Ginger @ 676... there's some grilling going on, for which I toast you

Things are going from Goudas to bad.

Speaking of fromage, did you know that Tillamook, the West Coast's town famous for its cheesemaking, was a WW2 base for zeppelins patrolling the Pacific Ocean?

#683 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Magenta @ 675, geekosaur @ 678: Vioxx is a bad example to use in terms of public health issues. The drug is still "safe" to use, if you look at the number of people who benefited from it, versus the number of people who were adversely affected by it. However, public perception of it as "bad" drove the removal from the market, which meant that thousands of pain patients went back to suffering poorly controlled pain.

I was wondering what happened to Orudis, but I'm not surprised. (Odd trivia fact: that particular NSAID gives me almost instant nausea, so I never use it for myself. I use the injectable form for almost all my patients, though, as it's great for pain control.)

People don't realize how toxic aspirin is, and that's the gold standard against which all other NSAIDs are measured, with respect to analgesia and anti-inflammatory properties. If ASA (aspirin) were being developed for marketing now, it would never be allowed; it was "grandfathered" in based on its history of use.

Personally, I think Vioxx should still be in use, although it should be dispensed with warnings and a properly written patient consent form -- after all, that's what they do for Accutane and Thalidomide (both of which are teratogens).

#684 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:23 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 677... If you have the chance, try to watch episodes of last summer's TV series Burn Notice if it ever comes back in reruns. One doesn't notice how short Anwar is. My favorite scene is when she takes over the appartment of her boyfriend to make him a batch of plastique, and she does it as if she were preparing him a birthday cake.

#685 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:23 PM:

Serge @ 680: I blanched when I saw that -- it makes my blood curdle. Whey to go! Please, havarti and don't tell me any more scary stories about cheese.

#686 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Faren @ 673... You too would have liked Mel Ferrer meet an untimely demise?

"Darling, Mel had a terrible accident. He was hit by a bus when he crossed the street."

"That's terrible! Did the driver stop? Did... Wait a minute. We're the only people living in Manhattan."

I was away most of yesterday evening and wasn't able to watch The World, the Flesh and the Devil, but TCM had shown it not long ago. Sure, it's one of those clean apocalypses without any corpse lying around, but in a way it made things even more creepy because there were no traces left of Humanity. By the time I came back, On the Beach was at the point where the submarine enters the San Francisco Bay and that was chilling.

(Did you catch Five, the first of those 3 post-Apocalypse movies? It must have been 15 years since I first saw it, but I caught parts of it last night. It's a good little movie. Quiet. And hopeful.)

#687 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:42 PM:

heresiarch @658: That also reminds me of something I heard from a police officer in Virginia about recent mandatory sentencing laws for (IIRC) reckless driving. He said the police forces had sort of ended up getting in a position they didn't like, there -- because the penalties were in their opinion rather disproportionate for some of the lesser cases, they'd not been giving reckless driving tickets for those things any more. And so the statistics say that when the mandatory sentences went in, reckless driving infractions went down, and the politicians are all concluding that this was a great idea -- when what it really did was take away an option that the police could use to fairly peg people for doing dumb-but-not-incredibly-dumb things that didn't technically fall under another law.

#688 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:46 PM:

Debra Doyle #633: That's generally not the sound I'm likely to produce! The problem is that, for most of my students, what I teach is a speed bump on the way to their true objective -- generally law school -- so they have no desire to invest much time in learning. The result is the slapdash writing they produce at the last minute. Right now, for example, I'm reading a paper in which a young man has decided that Locke favours keeping 'in tack their lives, liberties and estates'.

#689 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 12:54 PM:

Ginger @681:
Hm, isn't thalidomide itself something of a bad example, because it was the S enantiomer that was causing problems, but modern production techniques don't create that enantiomer?

#690 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Ginger (681): People don't realize how toxic aspirin is

No kidding. My family just found out the hard way* that it can make heart failure worse.

*No proof that it's the culprit in this case, but the timing is suggestive.

#691 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:27 PM:

JimR: @#664: Take some deep breaths! It's scary when you find a potential diagnosis for a family member, but if you remind yourself that nothing has changed since yesterday and that you've already been dealing with it for ages, that can help a bit.

I've encountered NPD symptoms in a person who didn't have them all the time - only on the manic phase of his bipolar cycle. In the middle and in the milder reaches of the depressive phase he was capable of empathy, actually a pretty nice, caring person. When he got to the top end of the manic phase, though, there were paranoid delusions, NPD behavior, and psychosis. In dealing with someone who has bad manic phases* it can feel just like dealing with true NPD, but the mania is potentially manageable. So if your dad has bipolar disorder, he might have concurrent NPD, but he might not.

*or a substance addiction, sometimes

#692 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Greg London @ 626

Jetpacks are really cool*, but the best chance for an individual flight system is something like this: almost a personal helicopter, but not quite. It's a shame the vulture capitalists pulled the plug. I could see flying to work in this thing.

* I grew up watching the Rocketman series on TV

#693 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 01:53 PM:

geekosaur @687: Not really, as the later tests in rabbits showed that both enantiomers were teratogenic. It racemizes under physiologic conditions.

The truly interesting thing is, thalidomide is dangerous primarily in the early pregnancy and not throughout the entire pregnancy (as is Accutane), yet Accutane isn't dispensed under such strict conditions.

#694 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:02 PM:

I am currently forbidden to consume alcohol. That is a great pity. Here are a few reasons why I should:

Dr. Martin Luther King understood all of these notions and implemented aspects of each to effect change in the 19th century American system and to inspire the social ineptness of the world.

While other theorists fall short, John Stuart Mill, one of the first seemingly male feminists, assumes the role of expressing his passion for women’s equality.

After the slave trade, Africans were displaced all over the worlds, in different continents, cities, and communities.

Having a diverse family background, Fanon was not victim to homogenous culture at birth.

#695 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:06 PM:

Fragano @ #686: That's the scariest thing you've told us yet. They can't reason or write and they want to become lawyers? What do they think the practice of law involves?

#696 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:06 PM:

Bruce @690: I know this is going to sound curmudgeonly, but I really don't want to see cheap, effective personal aviation tech -- the proverbial "flying car" -- show up. At least, not until we've got really good end-to-end air traffic control, with an emphasis on the word "control" that goes a long way beyond some guy in a control room telling the pilot what they ought to be doing. Because? If cheap personal aviation shows up, there will be enormous commercial pressure and consumer demand to cut the licensing requirements for pilots to something approximating a car driver. And, whereas, if you screw up at the wheel of a car you maybe -- at worse -- run it off the road, if you do that to an aircraft you probably turn a chunk of the landscape below you into a smoking hole in the map. And I'd rather not live somewhere where testosterone-saturated sixteen year old boys with a six pack borrow their dad's aircar to show off their piloting skillz to their girlfriends over my roof ...

#697 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:09 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 688: It depends on the kind of heart failure. There are some recent papers on chronic heart failure in which they point out that some patients get worse, and it may be related to the inibition of prostaglandins, which in turn reduces renal function (and affects hemodynamics). For most patients with heart disease, there is a high risk of throwing a clot which can kill you quickly, and taking a low dose NSAID will reduce that risk, again in most patients. Prescribing medications in complex diseases becomes a dance of which odds are more likely to occur.

#698 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:14 PM:

Fragano @ 686, 692: Now you're scaring me. If these children want to become lawyers, how do they expect to pass law school without being able to write a coherent sentence? Or are they under the impression that they can purchase their term papers throughout law school?

That strange sound you hear is my mind, boggling.

#699 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:31 PM:

Ginger #696: They're under the impression that the real stuff they have to learn is in law school (or is the specific pre-law classes they take like constitutional law). I heard one student last year mutter under her breath that political theory was of no practical use (of course not, she's not a citizen of any country and has no responsibility for anything), and another dismissed comparative politics because she's never going to leave the United States so why should she be concerned about how other countries are run. Six essays over the course of a semester? That's too much work! They have jobs. I need to give them a break. Don't I know they have other classes?

#700 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:40 PM:

Bruce Cohen... I could see flying to work in this thing

Right. The roads are filled with morons who can barely negotiate driving a vehicle within a 2-dimension framework. Next, I'd have to worry about death from above, especially if the twit is also speaking on a cell phone.

#701 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Ginger @ 696... how do they expect to pass law school without being able to write a coherent sentence?

Doesn't Dubya have a law degree?

#702 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:44 PM:

Clifton Royston #693: Even the brightest and best make mistakes (the displacement of MLK into the 19th century was committed by a bright young man who should do well), and burning the midnight oil can produce monstrosities from anyone. Still, I worry a great deal about a generation that reads too little and thinks that getting a degree is a matter of making a deal because 'I need to graduate'.

Some of my students don't care about the material they're being taught. They don't really want to learn. They want the degree because the degree is the pathway to law school, a job that pays well, a cushy government job, or whatever other ambition they have. So they endure what I teach them, even though they think a lot of it is irrelevant to their lives as citizens or residents of the most powerful country on earth. I have a lot of students who want to learn, and who understand that I'm trying to get them to use their minds.

#703 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:45 PM:

de Mille's Samson and Delilah is on TCM. Weirdest sight in the movie: Angela Lansbury with long blonde hair and wearing a sexy outfit.

#704 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Fragano @ 697: Ah, much becomes clear. Entitlement freaks, the lot of them. We are cursed with a plague of those around the DC area, so they will -- sadly -- fit right in, once they finish law school. If they get in.

Serge @ 699: I think Shrub has an MBA. I went to high school with people like him, including the ones who got legacy admissions to places like Yale and Harvard. He might have had a brain once, but he's never used it -- and never needed to. He has People for that.

#705 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:49 PM:

Serge #699: Pas encore, Dubya has an MBA. A Mastery of Bullshit Answers, as they're properly called.

#706 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:51 PM:

#694: 'I really don't want to see cheap, effective personal aviation tech -- the proverbial "flying car" -- show up.'

Amen. My hackles go up every time some junior reporter assigned to fill a spot in the soft news section finds a press release from Moller Aviation and thinks he's gotten the scoop of the decade. ("Imagine running into a huge traffic jam on your way home from work. With the new Moller air car, due out next year, you'll be able to pull a handle and soar above the gridlock!")

In addition to the drunk teenager factor: Barring the development of upsidasium they'd be incredible energy hogs.

#707 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:55 PM:

Fragano @697 -- I feel your pain. (Actually, every time you post a term-paper excerpt, I get flashbacks.) Several semesters of TA'ing Intro Psych at an engineering school were veeery frustrating. Unfortunately, I've also experienced the converse, the "Why do we have to take this junk?" attitude of social sciences majors with reference to, say, intro. chemistry.

#708 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 02:57 PM:

Lee #613 and others:

I reread some of my posts on this, and I think I was being a bit snarkier than I intended to be, too.

Anyway, from looking at that document, it appears that there wasn't much evidence of success from these programs till this meta-analysis in 2000 or so, so maybe I'm only eight years out of date, not twenty. I *am* curious if those results have held up over time, but I haven't got time to do much digging on it right now. (And anyway, I don't really trust my own ability to distinguish quackery from solid science in a field I know so little about.)

#709 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Debbie #705: I can imagine. My first TA experience led me to an encounter with a literature major who was taking Latin American politics for some reason and who buttonholed me during the mid-term to ask for explanations regarding the questions on the exam. Her answers included the memorable 'Mexico is corporatist because there are many corporations' (the class was taught by one of the experts on the sociopolitical structure of Mexico under the PRI and how it got that way).*

*By great coincidence, I find myself teaching someone who had done a master's with her years ago right now.

#710 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:06 PM:

Magenta #675:

I keep thinking that the vaccination scare is one of those places where our widespread tolerance of lying and deception by public officials and "respectable" entities is biting us on the ass right now.

There are pretty much no consequences for lying in public by officials, for publishing misleading stuff, or even pure marketing/propoganda BS, on the same letterhead and with the same format as real research. (This is sometimes done by government agencies, universities, and industry.) Well-regarded media sources routinely don't bother to get even pretty basic details right in their stories, pretty commonly engage in obvious hatchet jobs, and often self-censor or skew their reporting to fit some political or social goals.

None of this has a consequence. Nobody loses their job, or the next election, or all their business (well, the newspapers are losing all their business, but I'm not sure dishonesty and incompetence and partisan hackery are the reasons). We expect politicians to lie, top level political appointees to lie (frex, judges who claim to have simply never considered the constitutional issues of Roe v Wade, or nominees for attorney general who just don't know what waterboarding entails), businessmen to lie, news media to lie. We expect to hear PR people spinning the latest scandal, so that "both sides of the story" inevitably means two PR guys with law degrees trying to confuse whatever issues are unfavorable to their clients. We expect to read news stories in which we try to factor in what has been left out (inconvenient facts that mess up the narrative the editor wanted, things that might offend advertisers or sources). We expect to see the same universities publish real research in some fields, and pretty much pure dressed up politial/social rhetoric with a side order of in-group jargon in others.

So, all kinds of respectable sources of information say some things about reality that are true: Widespread vaccination is an important part of keeping the whole country healthy because of herd immunity, and childhood diseases in general do a lot more harm than vaccines. Smoking is really, really, honest to God very bad for you. Industrial civilization is changing the composition of the atmosphere and the chemistry of the seas through excessive CO2 emissions (among other things), and this could lead to some really bad outcomes for us.

But then, the same voices spout all kinds of stuff that's either overtly wrong, deceptive, or a matter of opinion being sold as fact: Saddam Hussein has an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, and poses a serious threat to the United States. Corn-based ethanol is an important means of limiting our dependency on foreign oil and decreasing our greenhouse emissions. Marijuana is an addictive and dangerous drug that leads inevitably to a lifetime of hard drug use.

The result of this is that it's a lot easier to spread FUD[1] about the stuff that is true. And PR people, activists, charlatans, wackos, politicians, researchers, companies, etc., all freely do this. There would be whispering campaigns and grand conspiracy theories and people refusing good advice even without this widespread tolerance we have for lying and deception. But it wouldn't have so much potential to do damage, because sensible people who did know the facts of a lot of cases wouldn't be thinking, while listening to the conspiracy theory, of all the times that the "respectable" sources of information were using their respected position as a way to push their political views, propogandize for some (maybe good, maybe bad) ideology, campaign for funding for their research or subsidies for their business, etc.

The only way this is going to get better, IMO, is if we stop tolerating lying by our own side or for good causes. Way too many people who were offended as hell at the Clinton administrations' willingness to lie and deceive have been silent during the Bush administration, and a whole lot of people who have cried loudest at the Bush administration's deception and lying will go silent when the Obama adminstration takes control in 2009, and starts spinning and lying and deceiving. Way too many people squawk when they see big media functioning as propogandists against their side, but go silent when the propoganda is more to their liking.

[1] Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

#711 ::: cisko ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:11 PM:

I thought it might be worth posting here that the Indiana attorney general has filed suit against Airleaf (aka Bookman Marketing). Not much detail beyond that yet.

#712 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:17 PM:

Serge at 534: Buster Crabbe as Buck Rogers? I thought he played Flash Gordon.

If he played both, did he have a cross-branded identity crisis?

#713 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:21 PM:

Mary Aileen at 590:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

A lot of talent went into that movie and it's still bad.

I liked it as a kid though. However my favorite movie as a kid was Yellow Submarine which I saw maybe three times or more and didn't get tired of it.

#714 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:24 PM:

re: #s 699, 702, 703: A more detailed answer is that George W. Bush went to Harvard after being rejected by the University of Texas law school. (Yes, Harvard was his fallback school.)

Harvard later appears in his career when they invested in his failing oil company. If memory serves me right, this gave him the nest egg used to invest in the Rangers. This investment and some judicious abuse of eminent domain are what made Bush wealthy in his own right? Hm. Neither of those seem to apply.

I think this falls under "Them what has, gets."

#715 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:40 PM:

Fragano @707 -- my youth was misspent staying obsessively on track to take the 'right' courses and get the best grades to get into grad school yaddayadda. But probably the most -valuable- semester I spent was one in London sponsored by my university. Instead of a true exchange program, the school sent its profs to London, too (there is, or was, also a program in Florence). It was a whole term of electives!

Besides theatre and English lit, I also took a sociology course on comparative race relations. The US, UK, Brazil, and South Africa were considered WRT their historical and contemporary treatment of their populations' various ethnic groups. It was taught by a guy from Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. One of the best courses I had at university.

#716 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Does anyone have a date for when a wet-behind-the-ears subaltern came to be known as a "Rupert"?

#717 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 04:04 PM:

#705 Debbie, #707 Fragano:

I wonder whether it's possible to get students who care about the subject when it's a requirement to graduate in an unrelated field. I know I had a couple required accounting courses[1] in which I was probably as uninspired a student as those attempting to drive Fragano to drink against the advice of his doctor.

On one hand, you'd like to avoid making people take stuff they will find horribly boring and useless in their lives. On the other hand, you'd kinda like for people graduating from a real, live university to have had something approximating an education, which probably means something other than classes in exactly the trade they intend to go into upon graduation. And, as Fragano points out, along with being an engineer or lawyer or doctor or whatever, you're going to be a citizen, so maybe it'd be nice if you knew a bit of history, political philosophy, and economics. You'll also be a human being, maybe a parent, etc., so you might benefit from a bit of exposure to literature, art, philosophy, and music. And if you're going to live in this world, having some grasp of math, stat, and the hard sciences would be sensible.

[1] There are two ironies here. First, I've often found myself glad to have had those accounting courses, which opened a small window on a hugely important and mostly invisible part of how the world works. Second, I used to cut those boring required classes like accounting to go read, think about, or argue political philosophy.

#718 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 710... Crabbe played, not just Flash Gordon, but also Buck Rogers in 1939. By the way, the oldest memory I have of realizing I could read words was with the Buck Rogers strip, so he has a special part in my heart. You can well imagine how angry I was at the 1970s series and, if Miller winds up being involved, I'll have to be dragged to the theater.

#719 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 04:16 PM:

Fragano, #697, channeling his students: Don't I know they have other classes?

Don't they know *you* have other classes? Or, as one of my supervising professors once put it when some student asked her why the exams weren't back the next class after they were given, "Professors have lives, too."

Believe me, kidz, nobody makes up whacking huge exams and assigns multiple papers just because it's way fun and takes no effort to grade. (I must admit that the part I hated most about the process was making up the exams in the first place.)

#720 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 04:18 PM:

Dave Bell #714:

The only place I've ever encountered it is Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment. You mean it's actually in use in the wild?

#721 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 04:48 PM:

#655, Syd -

Regarding the Orphan works act, what I've read (which is probably too little to have an opinion, but I never let that stop me) is that it doesn't affect whether you must register to have a copyright. Copyright will work like copyright has worked - you have it as soon as the work is fixed, whether you register or not.

What might change if it passes is that instead of people only being allowed to use a work if they get permission, the Ophan Works Act would specify the limits of damages an artist can win are if the user of an ophaned work exercises due diligence in seeking the owner before assuming use.

In other words, it would make it less risky for someone to use a work that might be orphaned. But to gain the protections of the Orphaned Works Act if they've accidentally violated a copyright, the copyright violator would have to prove to a judge in court that they exercised due diligence, and then they still have to pay the artist damages/fees for the use of the work. Otherwise, they get the full "you stole someone's work" treatment.

Now, like I said, I haven't read much on it. I got my info from here. She has lots of links so you can go be more informed than I am.

#722 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 04:50 PM:

Dammit. I forgot to check the link when I previewed.

Try here for info on the Orphaned Works Act.

#723 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 05:02 PM:

Fragano Ledgister (692):
I am currently forbidden to consume alcohol. That is a great pity. Here are a few reasons why I should:...
I'll consume some alcohol tonight on your behalf, but I'm not sure that my describing the effect to you would help you. What's your poison?

Do you ever find out how well your mal-literate students do while in Law School? Do they not know that doing rapid research and writing bulletproof briefs on topics that they may not care about is what Law School, and the later practice of Law, is pretty much all about?

#724 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 05:27 PM:

John Houghton #721:

And to follow up on the question of how well Fragano's "mal-literate" students do in law school (and presumably in the legal world afterwards, assuming they last that long), what percentage of his law-school-applying students actually get in in the first place? Because the LSAT is designed to weed out that sort of thing, bigtime.

#725 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 05:43 PM:

Debbie #713: Now that's something I wish I'd had as an undergraduate! It sounds like a lot of fun.

Most of my undergraduate students are career-driven. They want to get to the business of making lots of money as soon as possible. The idea that the material they learn in the classroom has any relevance beyond getting them to that goal -- pffffffft! On the other hand, I do have students who understand that the purpose of education is to prepare them to understand the world, and to get them to use the stuff between their ears for that task. They're a joy to teach.

#726 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Joann @717: "Ruperts" and "Rogers" are standard slang in the British Army. The question is, when did this start ...

Apropos @715, @723: I suspect the root of the problem is that a degree is now the equivalent of what a high school diploma used to be -- a ticket to prove basic educational competence, required for any halfway-skilled or professional career. Consequently, lots of folks who don't have any aptitude for scholarship are nevertheless motivated to jump through the flaming hoops in order to claim the sheepskin they need to get the job.

At the same time, the jobs they're applying for are complex enough that it many cases they need the extra several years of schooling. Any engineering or biomedical career, for example, takes such a huge shed-load of learning that even though a degree is -- arguably -- the wrong form-factor to deliver it through, it's still going to take three to five years above and beyond high school graduation, and they're going to get very annoyed if you start telling them that they've studied for that long but what they've got isn't a real degree at all.

#727 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 05:54 PM:

albatross #715: To be fair a good number of students today are trying to balance school, work and family life, and not doing well at any of them. One of my colleagues has a constant parade of students at his door seeking help for a variety of problems. The best excuse for a late paper I've had this past year was that the student in question was delayed returning from his assignment with CNN because of the death of Benazir Bhutto.

#728 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 06:01 PM:

John Houghton #721: I don't. The ones who get into law school are the ones who do well, and those are not (usually)* the ones who mangle grammar, syntax and logic.

My poison? Normally, I have a glass of wine or a large beer. However, to quote a Trinidadian folk song:

Rum, I calling for rum,
She was made from Caroni cane,
She de bes' lady in Port o' Spain.
Sans humanité!

* I had to explain to a bright young lady a while back that being of Chinese descent and being Chinese were not the same thing -- she'd written that Machiavelli, unlike Han Feizi, was not of Chinese descent and didn't understand why I'd queried the statement.

#729 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Charlie Stross #724:

Then I presume you don't name your kid Rupert anymore if you think an Army career might be a possibility? (I won't touch the Roger angle; much too fraught.)

#730 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 06:33 PM:

On the AKICITF front, I'm due to spend some time in Kentucky (Lexington and Louisville) for the first time in almost 40 years. (I lived in Lexington in the fifties and sixties, as did my mother; she lived in Louisville and environs in the forties.) Anybody know of anything I really shouldn't miss, that's new since that time, and that wouldn't bore my arty, septuagenarian, ahistorical, un-techological mother? (In other words, no Louisville Slugger plant tours, horse parks, distillery tours, amusement parks, historical societies or houses, or days at the races. Does that leave *any*thing besides the art museum?)

#731 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 06:41 PM:

Charlie @724, there's also "Rodney", but that's definitely too late for what I want.

Rupert Bear dates back to 1920, and seems to be the standard admitted derivation.

#732 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 07:08 PM:

Fragano and others...

I wonder if today's students really are any worse than those of the days when we were students. Those who taught us may well have been shaking their heads just as much. They just didn't tell us, and we didn't notice because we were too busy wanting to be good students, and wanting to learn. Heck, I remember a few teachers who liked me because I did that, and many others here may have had similar experiences. If good students had been noticeably more frequent 30 years ago, would our teachers have noticed us?

Now, you kids get off my lawn!

#733 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 07:17 PM:

Dave Bell @729:

Yay Rupert Bear! I couldn't find a nice image on the web to link to, so I scanned this gem from my tiny collection. The full page is here.

Rupert is like a child version of Tintin, if Tintin had been a bear as a child. At least, the books I have from back in the late 60's had some of the same flavor as Tintin, which is probably why we liked them so much. There's even a story where he and a sailor friend get captured and taken to somewhere in the far east because of a whistling fish that a mysterious old man gives to Rupert. Nowadays he probably has adventures about traffic safety or somesuch.

#734 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 07:17 PM:

Dave Bell #729: Perhaps it has something to do with Rupert of Hentzau in Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda, which was written in 1898. The film was made in 1937.

#735 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 07:18 PM:

Fragano (726):

I don't think I can get away with rambling down the road drinking dark run from the bottle and leering at the girls I pass, so I'll have a Trinidad Rum Punch under the grape arbor. Cheers!

#736 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 07:18 PM:

@Serge #605: Any objections to your visage being added to the Making Light and Faces exhibition? There are quite a few pilous chins over there.

No objection, it's a decent pic, and I'd be honored to be in the distinguished company that is already present in your gallery.

(who hasn't read past #605 yet today...)

#737 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 07:22 PM:

Serge #730: That might be the case. I couldn't say for sure. I was educated in a system that was much more elitist than the one I work in, and we all seemed more eager to learn.

#738 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 08:34 PM:

Charlie #724: That has a bit to do with it, I suspect. I find very little joy of/in learning, even at the elite institutions across the way from mine when I get a chance to teach their students.

#739 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 08:40 PM:

Fragano @ 735... As for myself, I never went thru an elitist school system. (Heck, this was my school for Grades One thru Six.) What I had was a father who never had the opportunity of going beyond Grade Seven, and that's why he valued education, and that got passed on to me. If not to my siblings. He and I had a lot in common besides prominent conks.

#740 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 08:45 PM:

cajunfj40 @ 734... Your visage is now part of the Night Gallery... I mean, the Making Light and Faces Exhibition.

#741 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 09:04 PM:

I spent a few years as a tutor with the Open University. It was wonderful. All the students, regardless of ability, were motivated and interested: all were old enough that doing this particular course was a deliberate choice, and all were sacrificing time and money to be in my classroom. Best of all, never once did I hear the plaintive cry so familiar from traditional undergraduate tutorials: "Is this going to be in the exam?"

Seriously: If you want to teach people who want to learn, work for the OU.

#742 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Serge #737: My paternal grandfather died innocent of his letters. The educational system was structured to create an elite. The idea of universal secondary education arrived in my lifetime. I had to pass an examination to get into high school. My father told me that either I would pass the exam or I'd be working on a road crew the day the results came out. He seemed terribly earnest about that.

#743 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 09:52 PM:

Fragano @ 740... The educational system was structured to create an elite. The idea of universal secondary education arrived in my lifetime.

Same for where I'm from. That's why I'm glad I was born when I did, and not earlier. That's why I'm not a conservative. I grew up in a Time of Change, and benefitted from it.

#744 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:01 PM:

Lee, #645, Gardisil has a bit more than that. I've heard people say it's too much risk for their daughter.

Ginger, #681, I can't have NSAIDs because they killed my kidneys the first time. But I take poison (colchicine) every other day most of the time and sometimes every day.

Fragano, #691, the kid writing on MLK may have something -- have you see the socially inept statue for the memorial?

Ginger, #695, the neurologist and nephrologist had a long discussion about whether I would take aspirin and the neurologist won.

Serge, #701, have you seen Lansbury in Gaslight?

Ned Sublette's Cowboy Rumba arrived today and I just finished listening for the third time. Boy, is this great! I wish I had a pool so I could dance!

#745 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:31 PM:

Serge #741: I'm with you on that.

#746 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:33 PM:

Marilee #742: I don't think it's as bad as all that.

#747 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:43 PM:

Marilee @ 742... Would you believe that I never saw Gaslight except in pieces? That's why I didn't realize that Lansbury was in that one too. Remember her in Dorian Gray?

#748 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 10:48 PM:

I just finished watching Galactica's new season off, and my brain feels fried. I was planning to fry it some more tomorrow with a mini Doctor Who marathon, except that I just realized that isn't making those episodes available. Argh.

#749 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 11:06 PM:

Charles Stross @ #694:

Evil Rob had a most memorable birthday one year as the neighborhood where we were having the birthday gathering was entirely closed off due to the collision of two small aircraft. One had come down a block or so away from the coffee shop; they were pathetically glad to see us because even though there was a huge amount of foot traffic, nobody was coming in.

Two personal aircraft in an otherwise empty sky managed through sheer bad luck to come into contact. I think one of the planes actually had survivors but the other never had a chance. And those were experts. I can't imagine a sky full of amateurs.

No, wait, I can. That's why I agree with you.

(Oddly enough, it was just yesterday that I made the comment to Evil Rob that we're living in the future and I, for one, am glad we don't have flying cars. One of those coincidental factors.)

#750 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 11:26 PM:

B.Durbin @ 747... I, for one, am glad we don't have flying cars

...or rocket boots. I'd hate to see someone with weak knees trying to fly straight.

#751 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 02:00 AM:

#746: I've heard that unscrupulous, law-flaunting people download Doctor Who and Torchwood episodes via bittorrent. Pirate bastards.

#752 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 03:20 AM:

geekosaur @ 678

One of the unintended-consequences results of that mess was the disappearance of ketoprofen (Orudis KT) from US pharmacy shelves out of fear of lawsuits; it's ibuprofen's big brother and one of the few painkillers that can knock out the headaches I sometimes get.

Please tell me what your source for that information is. When I asked my primary care physician why ketoprofen went off the market, she told me that she'd heard it was because they couldn't get sufficient product differentiation for it so they just pulled it off the shelves. That was really bad for me; it was the best thing I ever found to deal with the back and leg pain from nerve damage, and the only over the counter medicine that ever had any effect on my migraines. Took me almost two years to find something that worked on the migraines, and it lasted a couple of years. I now have a new drug that works even better on the migraines, but it likely won't last either.

#753 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 03:21 AM:

Regarding the rocket chair, see this photo.

It hasn't yet flown, to the best of my knowledge.

Here is a good introduction to Ky Michaelson's vehicles. The rest of his site is well worth browsing.

Back in the Sixties, the Bell Aerosystems guys hauled a chair out of a conference room and attached the guts of a rocket belt to it. It flew just fine.

#754 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 03:43 AM:

Regarding flying cars, brief summary of my one-hour lecture:

Aircars often appear in science fiction, but working flying cars have been built several times starting in the 1930s. "Roadable aircraft" that convert from automobile to airplane have been tried. So have personal VTOLs. They have never gotten into production. In the 1950s Molt Taylor built four or five Aerocars, and sold some of them. He remains the most successful of all roadable-aircraft designers.

Aircars may really be a technology of the past, not of the future. A helicopter really does everything an aircar should do, but it's costly and maintenance-intensive.

I would add that there may be a niche for flying cars in numbers comparable to personal airplanes, operated by trained and licensed pilots. Charlie Stross argues in #694 that "If cheap personal aviation shows up, there will be enormous commercial pressure and consumer demand to cut the licensing requirements for pilots to something approximating a car driver." In the U.S., during the "general aviation" boom of the Forties and Fifties, I don't believe authorities yielded to this pressure much, so I'm not sure weakening of standards is inevitable.

#755 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 04:10 AM:

Another perspective on my "Doorman, Call Me an Aircar!" talk posted here.

I probably should convert the talk from slides to Powerpoint one of these days.

#756 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 07:25 AM:

B. Durbin @747: One of my jokes (inspired by a couple of true stories) is that I know people who have been in flying cars, and they don't want to do it again.

#757 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 07:33 AM:

Bill Higgins... I seem to remember that, in late 2006, you posted a photo of space cadet Bill Higgins wearing a rocket belt. Or did I imagine it?

As for the rocket chair... They're pretty neat, but they just wouldn't do for pulpish crimefighting.

"What is that noise from he sky?"
"Boss! It... It's the Chairman!"
(Cut! Let's do this again. Scene 17, take 2. Action!)
"What is that noise from the sky?"
"Boss! It... It's the Chairioteer!"

Now, where did I put that photo of Bill Campbell with Jennifer Connelly?

#758 ::: MIchael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:26 AM:

Mary Dell@731

Rupert was also an animated TV series in the 1990's. Used to run a lot on PBS stations in the U.S. Don't know how similar the TV series was to the older comics, but the title character does LOOK similar.

(There seems to be some indication that new Rupert animated shows are again being made.)

#759 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:45 AM:

Syd@655: anyone here familiar with the Orphan Works Act (HR 5889 and S 2913)

I'm not familiar with those particular acts. Orphan works seem less important to me than too-long copyright terms. It also seems to me that were copyright terms shortened to something like fixed-50, then a whole lot of problems with orphan works would probably be cut in half.

Reading someone else's link about it, it sounds like the current orphan works proposal is surrounded by a whole lot of FUD.

It's be nice if they did something about orphan works. I think it would be better if they did something about too-long terms. But they are somewhat different problems.

In the end, I find myself more and more endorsing this view.

#760 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:07 AM:

Fragano @ #740 et al: My mother's grandfather had to leave school in 8th grade to go to work. Having already gotten a good grounding in Latin at that point, he proceeded to teach himself to read Greek.

He owned the town newspaper for a while, was one of the founders of the Episcopal church there (in a predominantly Baptist/Methodist area) and in his old age he was president of the local school board.

Stefan @ #749, so far I've been strong enough to wait for the DVDs to come out. Not so for Avatar, but I do buy the DVDs as they become available--to make an honest woman of myself, as it were.

Bill Higgins @ #752, our local Target store has a helicopter-pilot customer who keeps landing illegally on a bit of waste ground adjacent to the parking lot, dashing in to make a purchase, and flying off again before the authorities can scold him.

#761 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Charlie@694: , if you screw up at the wheel of a car you maybe -- at worse -- run it off the road, if you do that to an aircraft you probably turn a chunk of the landscape below you into a smoking hole in the map.

Most private aircraft don't carry enough fuel or have enough mass to make smoking holes in the ground. Actually, most private aircraft will be lighter than a good many automobiles, and probably carry fuel comparable to a big SUV.

Oddly, I think the biggest cause of crashes in general aviation is... running out of gas.

As for flying the crowded skies via cheap aircars and public pressure to fly them, urgh. The airways could be fairly easily automated. It's the emergency procedures that can't be programmed into a computer, and that's what's really important.

I swear most (OK, maybe only a third) of my helicopter training was doing autorotations to deal with engine out problems. We'd be flying along in the pattern doing takeoffs/landings, and the instructor would cut power on me, and I'd have to glide it down. Or he'd put his foot on one pedal and say there is something wrong with the tail rotor and I would have to do a running landing, at speed, on skids.

Anway, I don't think you can automate that. You can automate the point-to-point travel when everything is working right. But you need intelligence, training, and judgement to deal with things when they go wrong. You'd need artificial intelligence. ANd if a company tried that, they'd probably want some sort of legislation to limit their liability where their machine failed to respond properly.

The other thing is I can't imagine aircars ever getting so cheap that they compete with wheeled cars. computer design and verification for life-critical avionics can take a decade or more. Even non-life-critical-but-mission-critical electronics can take many years. The assembly of aircraft has to follow fairly strict procedures so that it's always done the same way for each aircraft.

I just saw something on TV where Jay Leno had a turbine engine powered motorcycle. He got the engines from helicopters that would have to pull the engine after X number of hours because that's all the engines were certified to do for flying. So they couldn't be used for choppers anymore, so he put them in "choppers" as in motorcycles. Because, as you say, if you get an engine out on a bike, just pull over. I don't think that financial difference between aircraft and ground vehicles will ever change.

There would have to be some sort of breakthrough in material science so that airframes and engine blocks could be built extremely light and extremely durable and without a lot of fuss over being improperly assembled. And there'd have to be some sort of breakthrough with electronics to the point that maybe you have some sort of high performance, generic processor that has passed FAA certification, and all you need to do is download pre-configured software for your particular machine. Or maybe AI that can automatically reconfigure itself for your particular aircraft. And then liability laws would probably have to change so that manufacturers would be willing to put this stuff together and sell it to the general population with little training.

#762 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:25 AM:

me@759: I can't imagine aircars ever getting so cheap that they compete with wheeled cars.

Actually, I take that back. If cars start getting automated themselves, and if the highways start getting converted into smart highways, and if the cost of vehicles starts going up because its super electronics and super software require super expensive verification, then I can see the transition to aircars being more financially feasible.

I don't know if cars will ever start doing that, because of the same financial issues with automating life-or-death decisions into a computer. But if they did...

#763 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:32 AM:

Has anyone seen an update on the situation where the rescued kids from the Yearning for Zion cult were not allowed by social workers to have access to books?

#764 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:28 AM:

Serge (back at #684): I only saw the last few minutes of the movie Five, and had no idea what kind of thing I was watching since I'd never heard of it. I'll try to keep an eye out for some future showing.

Re air cars: handier on some other planet with lower gravity, as in the pulps? I still wouldn't want to be around any teenagers driving one!

#765 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:33 AM:

Greg London @ 759... The airways could be fairly easily automated.

I can imagine MicroSoft deciding that my aircar's O/S needs needs an upgrade while I'm 1000 feet up in the air and, once that's done, it says the system will reboot in 15-14-13-... seconds. Or, halfway thru the upgrade is when my Comcastic high-speed internet access crashes.

#766 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:54 AM:

"No, of course we can't throw that away," I said to the wife, hoping we had Cock Ring Ken in the house. So: What sort of Ken doll has a silver jump suit and a 45-to-33 record spindle adaptor stenciled on it?

If this is just Lame DJ Ken, I'm going to be very disappointed.

#767 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:56 AM:

Serge@763: MicroSoft deciding that my aircar's O/S

Microsoft will never do flight software. Ever.

I do remember talking to a airline pilot who flew the fly-by-wire airliner that I worked on. He said it had been pulled for maintenance/upgrades a couple times, but it worked pretty solidly as far as he knew.

Probably one of the biggest SF tropes that annoys me the most is life-critical software that can be upgraded over some wireless connection. Especially when hangars/maintenance crews are fairly commonplace.

(hackles go up)

hiss. phhhfftt! phhfftt!

#768 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 12:12 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @750:
The actual reference I found was to Actron's OTC variant being pulled; I still can't find reliable news archives for Rhône-Poulenc Rorer France (the US company of the same name was never closely tied to them, and is now owned by someone else; their US distribution is through Wyeth), so I assumed that Orudis KT disappearing at the same time was for the same reason.

Faren Miller @762:
Cf. Heinlein's "The Menace From Earth" (even though it was unpowered).

Also, since my original comment on this topic is presumably still waiting for a moderator to stop having a life [ :) ] — has been my opinion on personal flying vehicles for a long time.

#769 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Greg London #765: Microsoft will never do flight software. Ever.

Ummm, except for Microsoft Flight Simulator, which has been available for a couple of decades. heh.

#770 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Regarding HPV vaccination:

Not prostate. Penis. HPV causes cancer of the penis. This was mentioned in the early news coverage of the vaccine.

It's fairly rare, because male-genital-skin cells are not as vulnerable to viruses as female-genital-skinlike cells, but it does happen, and it's devastating to be one of the unlucky few.

Gardasil would have been recommended for everyone, but it only works on females. So the idea was that, if we vaccinate all girls before puberty, they won't catch the virus so they'll be safe. Men won't catch it from their female lovers, so they'll be pretty safe too, and it's the best we can do for them.

Somehow all of that got left out of the second and subsequent waves of news coverage.

#771 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Greg London @ 765... Ah, that was a joke. Sorry it came across as anything else.

#773 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Greg @765: if not flight software, then Microsoft certainly writes flight deck software: USS Ronald Reagan runs on software provided by Microsoft Federal Systems (and Honeywell).

And I was not happy to see, when helping a friend to the local A&E unit a few years ago, that all the patient biomonitors ran on Windows CE and the PCs around the unit were all Sony Vaios (ack, spit!) running Windows XP. I suspect someone quite large was violating the Windows EULA in using these machines in a medical emergency setting, but that's exactly what they were. In fact, part of the reason the NHS Program for IT has run into the sand is a certain insistence on doing everything on Windows ...

#774 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 01:28 PM:

Fragano way back at #692: Although badly worded, that first sentence could be read to mean that the system that Dr King was trying to change was a throwback to the 19th c.

Not that I envy you your task in any way.

#775 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 01:33 PM:

Rozasharn @ 768:

What I've heard is that they don't know whether Gardasil works in males because, in the reverse of many drug-testing protocols, they haven't tried it in males. Or, more precisely, hadn't as of the time they were applying for the initial approvals to market it: there's some ongoing research now. This is very different from "it doesn't work in males." A piece of the problem is that there is currently no test for HPV in males, or at least no routine one that is used in clinical practice.

In the meantime, at least one male friend of mine has gotten his GP to give him the immunizations, off-label (and at his own expense). Presumably if it were known not to work in males, she'd have told him no. (From what he's said, she's a very good doctor; if I lived anywhere near them, I'd probably have asked him for a referral to her practice, but 3000 miles is too far to travel for routine medical care.)

#776 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 02:17 PM:

Charlie@771: all the patient biomonitors ran on Windows

The lack of strong licensing or strong design/verification requirements for medical stuff continues to astound me. The FAA and the FDA certainly have different takes on the world.

But then I recall reading somewhere about some protocol, which was questionable at best, that was approved by the FDA for some terminal disease. The explanation given was, well, it didn't make people worse than they already were.

I guess the FAA figures most passengers are healthy, so they have different requirements?

Then I recently heard of a hospital that has a "dead baby clause" for its nurses union contract. (Hm, googling finds nothing for it though.) So, sometimes I wonder if we're on the same planet even.

#777 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 02:29 PM:

Lila #758: I admire people like that.

#778 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 02:53 PM:

Greg, the reason why the FAA and the FDA is different is that narcolepsy is more complicated than IFR.

#779 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 07:44 PM:

Jakob #772: Somehow, I don't think so. I suspect excessive haste on the part of the person writing the paper.

Consider this, from a paper written earlier in the semester (by a different student, I hasten to add): "For many years, Dr. King marched with his family and many faithful followers from city to city in the south, to court house to court house wanting a change. People sometimes fail to realize that, being persistent will win in a person’s favor sooner or later, and that is what he was."

#780 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Vicki #773:

Yeah, I'm curious what kind of vaccine would work on women, but not men. I'm pretty sure the immune mechanisms involved are the same for both sexes (You get exposed to the stuff on the surface of the virus in a way that causes your body to end up with a lot of memory T and B cells that will respond to that stuff when it turns up next time, and that also ends up with a certain level of antibody against that stuff all through your body.). Anyone know if there's some reason why there would be a difference? The only thing I can imagine is that it would have to do with your body responding differently to skin infections than to infections further inside the body, but I'm certainly no expert.

#781 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 08:10 PM:

Fragano #777: So that's why the civil rights stuggle took so long--they were all going on foot. If they'd taken a car or train between cities now and then, imagine how much faster progress would have been!

#782 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:15 PM:

Followup to the Grey Squirrel story:

The ultimate ethical meal: a grey squirrel

Caroline Davies | May 11

The Observer -
It tastes sweet, like a cross between lamb and duck. And it's selling as fast as butchers can get it

It's low in fat, low in food miles and completely free range. In fact, some claim that Sciurus carolinensis - the grey squirrel - is about as ethical a dish as it is possible to serve on a dinner plate.

The grey squirrel, the American cousin of Britain's endangered red variety, is flying off the shelves faster than hunters can shoot them, with game butchers struggling to keep up with demand. 'We put it on the shelf and it sells. It can be a dozen squirrels a day - and they all go,' said David Simpson, the director of Kingsley Village shopping centre in Fraddon, Cornwall, whose game counter began selling grey squirrel meat two months ago.

#783 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:52 PM:

Mary Dell and John Meltzer: Thank you for your replies. I think I was more caught off guard than anything; my father is a looming problem in my life, and suddenly a random article I encountered on the internet was describing his behavior in detail. Pretty unnerving.

I realize that he is probably suffering from a bipolar/depressive cycle disorder, but the recent manic behavior has been continuing for several years now, leading to my parents' very, very nasty divorce, and subsequent law enforcement intervention. And he will never, ever get help.

Ah well, c'est la vie, non?

#784 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:57 PM:

OK, now I know that the awful SciFi movies are intentional camp. I'm watching Never Cry Werewolf (OK, there's nothing else on). When the ditzy teenager gets disembowelled (with a b), she looks down at her bloody guts on the ground and says "Ewww!" before collapsing.

And when the police come and look at the other girl's room, they find a whole pile of werewolf videos. The top one is called (I swear I'm not making this up) The Werewolf's Bris.

I swear. They can NOT be serious. It's just impossible to do that sort of thing with a straight face.

#785 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:57 PM:

#780, Stefan Jones; That's a nice way to deal with the problem.
Squirrel is a decent meat, but you have to cook it carefully or it gets pretty tough. I wouldn't say it was "sweet", though of course gray squirrel might be different from the reds we usually ate. I doubt it, though.

I always preferred frog, myself.

#786 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:05 PM:

Particle-ular comments:
It's British Columbia's Sesquicentenary this year too! The TV ad for it (BC 150) is fun — on YouTube here — I have dreams of putting one of Tom Chudleigh's 'Free Spirit Spheres' (fleetingly visible around 30 sec in) up on a bush block somewhere.

Speaking of politics for grownups, I recommend a read through the 1938 short essay 'What I believe' by EM Forster, also called 'Two Cheers for Democracy', online at dspichtinger/ otexts/ believe.html and EM_Forster_What_I_Believe.htm

#787 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:08 PM:

#780 -- Vaquero's older Arkasas relatives ate squirrel (that they'd shot themselves) on a regular basis when they were growing up in the Depression.

I'm still working on finding a taste for rabbit, which I've not quite managed, despite having deliberately partaken of one of Portugal's traditional dishes featuring same, cooked in wine. It was good, but it tasted strange. What wimps we are when it comes to unfamiliar dishes, even people like me who would consider herself a sophisticated eater -- until reminding herself of this.

The squirrels that live in our general urban neighborhood are fat and sleek, even through the winters. People feed them so very very very well!

#788 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:11 PM:

Xopher @ 782: She was disembowelled with a b? It must've had big, long, ugly serifs.

#789 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:14 PM:

If my dad (who is 88) was still able to shoot a .22 with sufficient accuracy, he and my mom (90) would still be eating squirrel. It's not bad fried (but then, what isn't?), but stewed, it'

#790 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:36 PM:

#Xopher #782:
I'm watching Never Cry Werewolf (OK, there's nothing else on).

They must be doing a Wolf day. The one we watched part of was Eyes of the Wolf or Wolf Eyes or something like that. A blind man gets a wolf's eyes transplanted into him. Will he subsequently engage in wolflike behavior? Will the beautiful native american girl be the only one who can truly reach him? What unexpected twists may yet occur?

#791 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:59 PM:

(One quick glance at the TV listings later.)

Werewolf evening at least.

The eye-transplant movie is called "Hybrid." Robert Reed wrote a disturbing intelligent-wolf short story by that name, but I'm guessing that the only thing they have in common is the title.

#792 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:31 PM:

Serge, #745, oh Gaslight is great, and is what started Lansbury's career. After all, it's where the "being gaslighted" term comes from. Yes, The Picture of Dorian Gray was also early in her career! I haven't seen it in a while, though. I own Gaslight, although in VHS.

I'm with John. Fried squirrel is pretty good, but roasting & stewing is not so good. I like rabbit, too, not that I'm up to setting snares these days.

#793 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:48 PM:

Marilee @ 790... One of my co-workers once said to me about Lansbury that for the longest time he couldn't help associating her with The Manchurian Candidate.

#794 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:14 AM:

I still regret not eating guinea pig while in Peru. It was never on the menu for the restaurants we went to. Alpaca, yes, but not cuy. Means I'll have to go back someday and do it properly.

#795 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:35 AM:

Xopher @ 782: "disembowelled (with a b)"

That looks wrong to me now.

#796 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 01:52 AM:

I seem to have a knack for chiming in just as a thread is breathing its last, so I feel sort of safe to whine a little, and then flip-flop over to indignation and sorry confession without anyone staring at me.

I called my mother today for Mother's Day, and ended up talking to my older siblings,instead. The oldest one happily informed me that he had found an agent, and might have a publishing contract in the works.
My first reaction was to turn into the mean and miserly person I actually am, and hate him for doing it first. Inwardly. (He really is a very good writer when he's not trying to sound like a cross between Mark Twain and Jerry Mouse's Uncle Cactus.)
"That's awesome!" I say instead, and inquire as to which of his blog stories he's reworking, and what publishing house has been approached.
"Random House. If you'll start a blog, I'll be happy to give you a leg up--send you a few hundred readers."
Uh huh. "Erm, all right. You did Google your "agent" right? Tell me you Googled your agent."
"Well, no, but she's a regular at my site, and is an English professor. She has a website..."

Yeah. The Division of Random House she's talking about is Xlibris. I feel bad, and emailed the brother to make sure he knows it's a print-on-demand outfit, but just underneath the indignance and "oh hell no, she did not lie to my brother!" a tiny little voice said, "Ha."
I know. I can't help it.

#797 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 01:59 AM:

Ahem. Uncle Pecos. I apologize to any fans of Tom and Jerry who may be scratching their heads over the incorrect reference.

#798 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 05:33 AM:

780: I have a dinner date soon with two extremely efficient and capable friends who grow a lot of their own food - everything on the table will come from their allotment (small urban vegetable garden) including the meat, which will be squirrel. When the Collapse comes, I plan to swear fealty to them and live out the rest of my life as a skald.

#799 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:19 AM:

I've been away for a while, and likely to be intermittent, but I couldn't resist sharing this:

Speaking of Sen Clinton:

"Don't you think she looks tired?"

We now return you to your non Doctor Who universe.

#800 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:52 AM:

PZ Myers discovers vampire chicklit. 140 comments so far ...

#801 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 07:55 AM:

Perhaps gray squirrel would be suitable as an ingredient in the preparation of portable soup, wherein the meat is boiled until it is bereft of whatever meager virtue it might once have possessed.

#802 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 08:35 AM:

Dave@776: the reason why the FAA and the FDA is different is that narcolepsy is more complicated than IFR.

But any electronic medical imaging/treatment hardware isn't much more complicated than a fly-by-wire system for an airliner.

And while both can kill people if the software has a bug, medical electronics don't have a formal verification process to the degree that flight electronics do, as reflected by all the medical stuff that runs on Windows compared to zero flight stuff that runs on Windows.

#803 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 08:50 AM:

Just came across this video on Marc Andreessen's blog, and thought people here might enjoy it. It's Bill O'Reilly showing the relaxed attitude and grace under pressure which made him the who he is today...

#804 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 08:58 AM:

I suppose I could divert the current romance blogosphere flamefest by sending the Janes or the Smart Bitches a link to the PZ Myers post...

#805 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 09:04 AM:

Keith Olbermann for VP.

I'm just sayin'.

#806 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:21 AM:

heresiarch 793: Me too. That's why I specified, to prevent momentary misreadings and confusion.

#807 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Open Threadiness:
1) %?!%$#&!! Something's eaten a hole through most of the iris buds in my garden. They were so pretty last year, and I was really looking forward to them. Apparently something else was, too.

2) Cellulite Barbie. Possibly NSFW.

#808 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:25 PM:

More than 800 comments already?


Should I be all caught up before I do what I came to an open thread to do, which is to say, perform the happy jumping-up-and-down dance about there being Only Four Day Until Prince Caspian Is In Theaters !1!one!!! (boing boing boing boing boing) ?

I'm fairly certain those gryphons aren't entirely textual. But I think just about every movie could benefit from more CGI gryphons, don't you?

#809 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:26 PM:

In New Zealand, they have a problem with possums that's much like England's problem with gray squirrels, and have also hit on the solution recently described in this thread.

Some entrepreneurs have diversified into the meat of other feral marsupials; it's reported that wallaby pies, in particular, sell well at rugby matches, especially if it's Australia vs. New Zealand.

#810 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:37 PM:

I hope Open Thread 108 refers to that number's status as a sacred number in Hinduism ("the 108 Names of the Goddess," 108 beads on a mala, etc.) and to the fact that it's also a way cool number, being 2 squared times 3 cubed.

#811 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:43 PM:


Something like this?

#812 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 01:05 PM:

Nicole Leboeuf @ 806... every movie could benefit from more CGI gryphons

Even Bullwhip Griffin?

#813 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 01:08 PM:

P. J. Evans @809 -- apparently so. I just went out and looked more closely. Slime trails. Slugs can be so mean. Either they eat something to the ground, or -- even worse -- they take one bite out of something like a strawberry (or iris bud), just enough to ruin it, and move on.

Serge @810 -- probably especially Bullwhip Griffin!

#814 ::: Trip the Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Magenta Griffith @ 675:

It may go without saying among this crowd, but I don't see where anyone has explicitly mentioned it, so let me just say: Vaccines don't cause autism. If someone says they do, back away slowly while keeping a firm grip on your wallet.

Numerous people have written extensively about the studies on this, but the resource I have to hand is Respectful Insolence.

#815 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 01:39 PM:

808 reminds me that the Pundits counted paces covertly using rosaries (malas) from which eight beads had been removed, leaving an even hundred, which made the arithmetic easier.

The Pundits, as you all should know, were the covert operations division of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India during the 19th century, who would wander into bits of the Indian frontier country (where, of course, No White Man Could Set Foot - And Live!) and surreptitiously map it, using pace counting, sextants disguised as pilgrim's staffs, mercury poured into begging bowls as artificial horizons, and other cunning Victorian Q Division type tricks. If you were caught, of course, the Sirdar would deny all knowledge of your activities...

Satellites have taken a lot of the fun out of the intelligence business.

#816 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 01:51 PM:

Open-threadiness General Comment (slightly related to a topic under discussion): "side effects" is incorrect; the proper term for such drug-related issues is "unwanted effects". Some of them are benign, and others are "adverse effects". It's my impression that the medical field -- back in its more paternalistic days -- used "side effects" as a way of minimizing those unwanted effects into something "unimportant", with the implication that the patient was not to worry his/her pretty little head over them. Unwanted effects are the things the drugs do that aren't the reason for taking the drug; for example, aspirin's main effect is pain-killing. An unwanted effect is reduced platelet function, which leads to reduced clot formation. However, another unwanted effect is tinnitus. Neither of those is necessarily life-threatening, unless you have impaired platelet function to begin with.

"Side effects" are not the same as "side items", and physicians should do a better job of treating them with some respect.

#817 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Having seen a few commentaries on Kim, I have to say that some people can't see a view of the world which doesn't start behind their own noses.

#818 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 02:04 PM:

ajay #813: 'Adventitious aids' you mean. You've got to quote Hurree Babu when you speak of such things. (Along with mentioning 'Writing love letters to the Tsar.')

#819 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 02:20 PM:

The Pundits, as you all should know, were the covert operations division of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India during the 19th century, who would wander into bits of the Indian frontier country (where, of course, No White Man Could Set Foot - And Live!) and surreptitiously map it,

Did you get that bit of information from the same place I did (The Game), or are your literary tastes more highbrow than published Holmes fanfic? :)

#820 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Xopher: I guess I am not enough of an ML denizen: I was trying to figure out what the "b" represented by way of a weapon with which to slice somone open.

Constance: I've not had squirrel, but I've tried a lot of meats; lesee:

Beef, pork, veal, lamb, hogget (sheep, older than lamb, younger than mutton), goat, frog (not done well.... tasted as though one had made aspic of dirty pond-water), caribou, venison, bison, guinea pig (not bad, but greasy) rabbit (I like it), chicken, pheasant, duck, quail, goose, dove, pigeon, turkey, ostrich, snails, kangaroo (very good, rich sweet and succulent. It was a rack, not a thigh, but I'll wager a good daube of 'roo would be wonderful).

I like several organ meats (whoa, you just reminded me I was having a dream of strange foods; and the soup was lungs...), kidneys, heart, sweetbreads. I've had haggis (it was ok), and brains (not terrible, not exciting; something like a mild fish).

Liver is one of those things I like some ways, but not others. I've had some wonderful patés and terrines, but as anything but a forcemeat, it's vile and revolting.

Brillat-Savarin, during his sojourn in the US (he played violin, as I recall in an orchestra in Philadelphia), said he greatly enjoyed squirrel braised in madiera.

The Youtube is gone, CBS complained.

#821 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 02:31 PM:

Ginger @ 814 -

An unwanted effect is reduced platelet function, which leads to reduced clot formation

Unwanted affects can become desired as medical science advances - such as aspirin therapy to reduce the chance of heart attacks. And I think Viagra (tm) was originally being tested as a blood pressure medicine when the unwanted effect of erections became the desired effect. "Hey, doc, about this blood pressure medicine - well, guess what?"

#822 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 02:43 PM:

On the hard drive recovery - CNN's story said that they got the data back in part because it was stored in DOS file allocations.
(I'm impressed.)

And I went out last weekend, got an external hard drive, and backed up my files.

#823 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 02:56 PM:

On the teaching of sex ed:

I'm honestly not sure when I first had the "nuts and bolts, this is what your organs are" bit of sex ed. I know I was seeing anatomical diagrams of women with uteruses at or before the age of eight, possibly as young as six.[1] I also recall there being a series of books given out by our pediatricians, segmented by age groups (3-4. 5-7, 8-10, 11-13, etc) that went into increasing detail about the sexual organs, though my long-ago-shadowy-impression is that the act of sex itself was glossed over.

When I was eleven (probably a few months from twelve) I went to an intensive sex-ed course offered collaboratively by the local baptist, episcopalian, and congregationalist churches[2]. This program was offered about every three to four years, and my mom decided it was better to send me a tad early than to wait until the next one came around when I was fourteen or fifteen. It wasn't abstinence-only - far from it. We did the 'roll a condom over a wooden vaguely-penis-shaped thing,' we had people of different sexual orientations come in and talk with us, we had people with AIDS come and talk to us, etc. We talked about all the different kinds of STDs and pregnancy, and about all the different methods of birth control. The only abstinence-oriented thing was the emphasis that ALL of the protections we could possibly use could fail, and fail with a shocking frequency. Which is true, as you know if you've watched any pregnancy scare episode of TV.

Personally, I think that having all this education before I had any actual interest in sex helped sex be a lot less mysterious and appealing for me. I can't emphasize enough how much time in the next five years was spent rolling my eyes and correcting some very basic bad misconceptions about sex. Hell, recently I've had someone in their twenties claim to me that the rhythm method is "pretty effective when you do it right" because a friend's parents had used it for years and never had any unplanned kids. I decided not to argue, because she said this in the same breath that she said she was on birth control because she didn't think that that system was for her, but just damn.

All this sex ed made me want to have sex less, I think, because I knew about all the bad things that could happen. I may be an edge case in this, as I started actually wanting to have sex a fair bit later than other girls I knew... so my tendency towards asexuality may have been the reason that all that sex-ed left me bored and analytical about sex in general. But I really can't see that kind of education doing significant harm.

In general, I think this is the problem: no matter how sheltered your kids are[3], unless you teach them about basic anatomy and sexuality at a very young age, they are going to encounter sex as "unf unf, moan, gasp, shiny" before they encounter it as "routine biological process." I think you really want them to get the realities of the routine biological process in their heads before the unf. But the 'unf' is goddam everywhere: from commercials for body spray to family-oriented sit-coms to magazine ads.

[1] I remember some cutout anatomy book being printed on that heavy cardboard you give to toddlers, though it may well have been because the book featured layers you peeled off as you turned the pages (skin, muscles, blood vessels, organs, bones) and it was easier to have the die-cuts if it was printed on that kind of stock. Actually, I probably knew at least something about the anatomy component at five, when my brother was born.

[2]That all three protestant churches in my town could agree on a very open, non-abstinence-stressing sex ed course shows how unbelievably blue-state the town I grew up in was. Ah Southeastern CT.

[3]Unless you actually, you know, lock them in the house and screen all friend visits, reading material, media and external communication. And if you're going that far, you probably aren't listening anyway.

#824 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 03:01 PM:

Steve C. @ 819: Yes, they do. Still, those aren't side effects. ;-)

#825 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 03:55 PM:

FWIW, here's an article with rather more pictures of the doomed-but-recovered Columbia hard disk:

#826 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 05:14 PM:

#818 ::: Terry Karney:

From your list these are what I've not had:

[ hogget (sheep, older than lamb, younger than mutton), caribou, guinea pig kangaroo (very good, rich sweet and succulent. It was a rack, not a thigh, but I'll wager a good daube of 'roo would be wonderful). ]

I've had moose, though, and wild boar from both Louisiana and Quebec.

You dreamed of food.

My spouse dreamed that I was playing the marimba, and not playing it very well, but I was having a very good time doing it, and so he got into a fight with people who were making fun of my non-talent.

He told me this upon arising this a.m. and both of us laughed so hard and so long I had tears in my eyes.

The very idea of ME playing a marimba! And he, the professional musician / composer / performer fighting with people because they said I was bad! It just struck so funny, that he laughed along with me.

Love, C.

#827 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 05:15 PM:

Anyone know what this is about?

"NASA has scheduled a media teleconference Wednesday, May 14, at 1 p.m. EDT, to announce the discovery of an object in our Galaxy astronomers have been hunting for more than 50 years. This finding was made by combining data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with ground-based observations."

#828 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 05:25 PM:

Ethan @ 825 -

That's got my curiosity aroused as well. One of the members of my astronomy club has a bet that it's the discovery of a Population 3 star in the Milky Way. I'm betting on determining the source of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays as the central black hole. Dinner at Ft. Davis during the Texas Star Party is riding on it.

#829 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 05:34 PM:

ethan #825, my partner the astronomer says she hasn't heard anything, but the X-ray people she knows are travelling. It could be really big or it could just be trumped-up press-release-ese; they've "discovered" the black hole in the center of the galaxy about a dozen times by now. The contact person is the press-release person, not the actual scientist, so there's no help there.

#830 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 05:43 PM:

Steve @826, I don't think Pop III is terribly likely, just because X-rays wouldn't be a very promising detection mechanism. Anything left would be either a low-mass red dwarf that's lasted this long, or a very cool and metal-poor white dwarf. Not a lot of X-rays in either case.

Maybe a BH-BH (black hole / black hole) binary?

#831 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Dyson Sphere?

#832 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 12:48 AM:

Serge, #791, her performance in The Manchurian Candidate is really sharp. (The recent remake wasn't nearly as good.)

Debbie, #811, the only deliberately mean thing I saw my mother do was to go out early every morning and salt the slugs.

#833 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 01:34 AM:

Stefan Jones #129: That's most definitely my favorite of the theories. Not to say that the other ones wouldn't be cool, because they would, but, y'know, different orders of magnitude here.

#834 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 01:38 AM:

For slugs and snails the thing to get is Iron Phosphate. Harmless to the soil, safe for pets and water doesn't turn it useless.

The other stuff (Snarol, etc.) turn into muriatic acid, which is nasty for the plants, and not safe for kids/pets.

#835 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 01:43 AM:

Open threadiness: you can see me and my partner in the Houston Art Car Parade here (check out the wheels!), at 6:17 in.

Best birthday present I've ever had.

#836 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 01:44 AM:

Me #831: When I say 129, I of course mean 729.

#837 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 01:51 AM:

I live in an small four-plex apartment and I'm planning a vegetable garden with my neighbour. We've never grown vegetables before, but I've been having fun digging in the our plot to get it ready before the last frost date. I have noticed two things while taking out all of the old perennials: lots of snails and quite a number of white grubs. I'm not so worried about the ants or the pill bugs, I know that lots of worms is a good thing. Once we have the vegetables planted, do you think the grubs be a big problem? Now thanks to Terry I know what to use for the snails if they keep turning up.

#838 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 02:12 AM:


The ants will cause problems later, frequent cultivation will keep the numbers down. White grubs are an issue and will crunch their way through seedings rapidly. Till soil to expose them for the birds to feast on.
Pill bugs are harmless unless you have strawberries and you want centipedes around munching on a lot of pests.

#839 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 02:17 AM:

B. Loppe: What do the grubs look like? Some are bad, some are benign.

Fig Beetle grubs are bad, twice; as they eat roots, and the adults attack leaves.

Google on fig beetles, or japanese beetles, or June Bugs, or chafer bugs/beetles. They are all related, and look much the same (save for differences in size.

#840 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 02:40 AM:

T.W.: I figured the ants might become a problem later. It's good to know cultivating regularly will help, as that's one of the fun parts.
Terry, I don't think they're fig beetle larvae, but they could be any of the standard white grub set*: Japanese white grub, the June bug grub, or the chafer grub. They're that whitish body with yellow-orange head and legs and grey streaks to a grey bottom. When I crush them with a stone, lots of gross stuff comes out**. They're mostly smaller but I have run across a few that were much bigger.
I also found something that was small, kidney bean coloured, with a smooth cylindrical shell and no obvious head but one segmented, pointed end that waved about.

*I live in Southern Ontario, I think we get all three of these.
**Scientific testing shows that this is true for many crawly things.

#841 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 03:05 AM:

Terry @832 -- you're absolutely right about the iron-III-phosphate. It tends to need replenishing after a rain, though. We have a very good product with that over here. Just don't have any in the house at the moment.

Marilee @830 -- same story with my grandmother, the gentlest of women. She was also known to get businesslike with the sharp blade of a hoe.

Too bad that neither The Voice nor The Look have any effect.

#842 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:13 AM:

ethan @ 834: "Me #831: When I say 129, I of course mean 729."

Or possibly 829?

#843 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:15 AM:

B. Loppe re big white grubs: if they're Japanese beetle larvae, one environmentally-friendly solution is to plant four-o'clocks. Adult Japanese beetles eat them and die. This drastically reduced the beetle population that was attacking my roses. (Note: I disagree with the "pleasant fragrance" claim: they smell like soap to me, but the scent is not very powerful.)

#844 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:23 AM:

Naw, 729 is too cool a number to be mistaken for another:

3^6 = 9^3 = 27^2 and 9^3 = 12 ^3 - 10^3 + 1^3

#845 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:47 AM:

I set my alarm clock for 7:29 most mornings. It's a much better time to wake up than 7:30.

I find myself racking up the bad karma with fungus gnats. I have... okay, I didn't always have a cat, and I went kind of crazy with the houseplants. And I overwatered to the point where the gnats drowned, and that kept them a little under control. But then I stopped watering, hoping to stop the gnats, and they blossomed.
Little yellow sticky traps? Oh, they are gooood. I figure one more watering with peroxide to kill the larvae and I should be pretty much okay.

#846 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:54 AM:

Marilee @ 830... The recent remake wasn't nearly as good.

So I've heard. Then again, are modern remakes usually better? Louder. Flashier. Bigger. Better? One example that comes to mind is 3:10 to Yuma, which added lots of events to the original movie, but nothing to its story.

#847 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 09:30 AM:

816, 817: Thanks to Fragano for mentioning the Babuji. My main source is "The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia" by Peter Hopkirk, which is highly readable. And "Kim", of course.

One of Hopkirk's later books ("Setting the East Ablaze") includes the story of my father's own particular hero, the British covert-ops botanist Colonel Frederick W. Bailey, who managed to infiltrate the Cheka in Soviet Central Asia under cover as a Russian Bolshevik, only to be assigned to "find and kill the notorious British agent Bailey, believed to be operating in this area". He's written several - "On Secret Service East of Constantinople" covers intelligence operations during the Great War, "Foreign Devils on the Silk Road" deals with Aurel Stein and the other Silk Road explorers, and "The Quest for Kim".

#848 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 10:28 AM:

Tania got her grades.
We may from now on refer to her as Mistress Tania.

#849 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Kemplerer rosette?

#851 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 11:00 AM:

Serge: So to did Maia. Her comps will not need to be re-taken. Her coursework grades aren't in yet, but they don't matter; USC isn't going to fail someone who passed comps (not that there's any real doubt she got the requisite grades on the course, even with a serious case of, FIGMO (fuck it, got my orders), for the past month.

#853 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 11:13 AM:

Rats. Ignore that. I mean I'm being stalked!

#854 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Terry Karney @ 849... Congratulations to Maia too!

#855 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 11:46 AM:

When we were growing a small back veggie garden in Northern California, the fashionable remedy for snails was beer, set out in pie tins. Seemed to work; of course you didn't waste expensive stuff on them, just the stuff in the cans.

#857 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Xopher, it could be ever so much worse--you could be branded as the White Tornado, which sounds like a white-supremacist pro-wrestling persona.

#858 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 12:32 PM:

joann: beer attracts snails, all right -- from three yards over. Of course, on their way to the beer, they tend to snack on everything in their path. That's why I like things like iron phosphate or electric fences*. They kill/discourage what's already there instead of inviting more.

*My husband rigged up a nifty fence for a lettuce patch with some discarded circuit boards and a battery.

#859 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 12:32 PM:

heresiarch #840: Wow, I really should have just let it be, huh?

#860 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Xopher #851: *snork*.

At least it's not the robot! (Though I thought she had a thing for Indiana Jones....)

#861 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Has anybody else noticed the similaritites between Mister Clean and Lothar, even in the way they dress?

#862 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 01:50 PM:

My plans for a garden may have been cut short. Today, while digging, a duck flew out of the greenery past me, and poking around I discovered a nest with a whole bunch of eggs.

#863 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 02:45 PM:

#860: So, you can leave them alone, eat them, or raise the ducklings to be the core of a new army of darkness.

#864 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 02:59 PM:

Per the PNH sidelight Saving kids from psychiatrists I note that NPR has a 2-part series about gender identity in kids that mentions Zucker on "one side" of the argument and another therapist on "the other side" of the argument. ("scare quotes" because the issue is, of course, ever so much more complicated than just two sides...)

I'd list the link to the NPR story here, but NPR is blocked at work. Well written stories, and focused on three young male children who identify as female. One is under Zucker's care, one is under a different therapist's care, and the third's parents are considering a puberty-delaying treatment to give the kid/parents more time to figure out "this identity thing".

Worth reading. I suggested the link for Part 1 to Boing Boing a few nights ago, but they get tons of submissions I'm sure. (plus, if they e-mailed me about it, I haven't checked those accounts recently...)

Tough question when it is a 2-6 yo kid. Worth noting, however, that the kid in Part 1 who is *not* getting Zucker-type treatment appears very happy and popular... I have no clue what I'd do in a similar situation.


#865 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 03:03 PM:

B.Loppe @#860: Way cool! Got pictures?

#866 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 03:14 PM:

Joann @728 - I have a second-hand recommendation to pass along, Gratz Park. Gratz Park is historical, but it's also supposed to be charming. If you're interested in bookshopping (and who isn't) try Joseph-Beth booksellers.

The main advice I got is to ask around when you get there; things have changed a lot in the past several decades.

#867 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 03:33 PM:

B.Loppe @ 860 -
My plans for a garden may have been cut short. Today, while digging, a duck flew out of the greenery past me, and poking around I discovered a nest with a whole bunch of eggs.


My garden plans are both restricted and enabled by the fact that I'm an apartment dweller - on the one hand, I'm limited in space available. On the other hand, I'm suspecting I will have substantially less problems with critters, weeds, etc. since the garden is... umm... well, I suppose you could call a number of pots and window boxes on a wire shelving unit to be "terraced", couldn't you? ;-)

(Tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli so far - carrots, cucumbers, radishes and various herbs to follow when I get some more containers and potting soil. Alas, I suspect potatoes, corn, etc. are all far and away beyond my cultivatorial spaces, let alone usable amounts of wheat or rice. Still, every little bit of Liberty Garden helps, in these times...).

#868 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 03:42 PM:

FungiFromYoggoth #864:

I spent the happiest hours of my young life right next to Gratz Park; the old Carnegie Library was on the south quarter of the park block. I used to love speculating about what was behind the walls of the houses backing up on the park that weren't the Hunt-Morgan House, which we must have taken three field trips to.

Yes, I'd meant to hit Joseph-Beth, since it's large, independent, new since my time, and appears to be quite the phenomenon.

#869 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 04:14 PM:

Re ducks: They are walking death to snails and slugs. They are swimming death to water hyacinths.

#870 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 04:42 PM:

Back from Kalamazoo.


Beating head against Canario. Bad Canario. No Canario Biscuit.

#871 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 04:50 PM:

Xopher #850/851: It could be worse, you could be visualised in a cape.

#872 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 06:20 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer @ 784

It must've had big, long, ugly serifs.

They do a lot of tearing, and create a real mess. I prefer Excalibur Sans, myself.

#873 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Scott Taylor #865 Alas, I suspect potatoes ... are all far and away beyond my cultivatorial spaces...

A couple of years ago my parents grew pink fir apple potatoes in 3 very large flower pots* on the patio. It seemed fairly successful, if the fact that we ate them at nearly every meal for two weeks in August says anything.

While looking at the British Potato Council website, I now see that 2008 is the international year of the potato.

* There was no need to label them, but if there had been my Mum would have undoubtedly stuck something saying "Pots" on them.

#874 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:28 PM:

There is a trick for growing potatoes in old tires.

Take a tire, fill it with dirt and potatoes. When the leaves start to trail into the center, add a new tire, and do the same.

You can stack 4-5 before it gets to hard manage.

The yield is pretty good.

#875 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 10:01 PM:


That is all.

#876 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 10:43 PM:

"So over the last few days both the lovely and brilliant wife and myself reread 'Waldo', one of Heinlein's most wonderful and important stories, and she raised the question of whether the Other World in that was a conscious influence on Asimov when he wrote The Gods Themselves, a perfectly reasonable supposition for which I'd love to be told of evidence," he hinted.

(My own pet theory that Kaleidoscope Century critiques Friday? I'll get right on that.)

#877 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 10:58 PM:

Re: HPV in males. It seems that it's been implicated in oral cancer in men, likely transmitted by oral sex. I guess, if you were fundamentalist, you could still object to giving boys HPV shots on the grounds that good, god-fearing men don't engage in such heathen practices and so don't need vaccination....

#878 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 11:28 PM:

Terry Karney, I am completely failing to visualize that stack of tires. Is the tire full of dirt in the sense that it's a kind of round planter, or is it filled with a donut of dirt?
Some of the problem is undoubtedly that I don't really know much about potatoes.

#879 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 11:31 PM:

Yaaaay, Tania! Yaaaay, Maia!

#880 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Diatryma: The tire istself is filled with dirt, the center (wherein the wheel would be) is open.

#881 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:26 AM:

I've read that same trick, and also had the same trouble visualizing it. I've got potatoes planted in my mini garden, and I've heard that the yield increases if you pile dirt around the plant as it starts to pop up, but how exactly do I do that? Pile it on top of the leaves? Bunch the leaves up and pile more dirt around the base, with a tuft of leaves out the top?

#882 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:45 AM:

Mounding potatoes tricks them into sending out more tuber forming root system from the now buried stem area. You just need to cover the stems in dirt. How you mound varies from just piling dirt around to making some kind of surround containing wall and fill in a bit at a time. Wire mesh/chicken wire works well if you are using chunky compost mulch then you get side shoots out the holes.

#883 ::: Jules Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:32 AM:

Pink fir apple potatoes do very well in large flower pots, going by my experience a few years back. I started them in a layer of compost at the bottom of the pot, and topped up the compost every so often as the plants grew.

#884 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:21 AM:

cajunfj40, the strong impression I get about Zucker is that he's pushing a very hard-line gender image.

I mean, doesn't the guy know any farmer's daughters?

And why shouldn't guys dress a bit flashy?

Just a little gold braid makes a big difference, and look at those hats.

Though maybe you can take the gold braid a little too far.

But why do people thinks gold braid and fancy hats and horses are a girly thing?

Of course, anyone who plays around with guns is a bit crazy.

#885 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:37 AM:

Speaking of snails, there's a fairly disturbing TV commercial making the rounds selling snail slime cosmetic gel. (shudder)

I suppose it's not the worst thing people have used to try for smooth skin, though....

#886 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:11 AM:

Susan @ 868... Beating head against Canario. Bad Canario. No Canario Biscuit.

That sounds like a line from a feathered version of Romeo and Juliet.

#887 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:24 AM:

Dave @ #882, the McDonald's banner in your third link came as a bit of a shock.

#888 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:26 AM:

I'm trying to fit dance sequences measuring 4 or 8 bars into a 13-bar piece of music with predictably unpleasant results.

#889 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:48 AM:

Neil Wilcox @ 872 -
A couple of years ago my parents grew pink fir apple potatoes in 3 very large flower pots* on the patio. It seemed fairly successful, if the fact that we ate them at nearly every meal for two weeks in August says anything.

Hmm - that might be possible (although I'll have to find some potatoes that grow well in my clime, and are fairly multi-role), but I'm already looking at using up most of the space I can devote to Growing Stuff on my racks - maybe I can get a couple of really large pots and set them up in the space between trees that they don't really mow in front of one of my windows, or something.

(Unfortunately, my apartment complex was recently taken over by a new management company, and they're kinda hard-assed about "public spaces", much to almost everyone's chagrin - including the office and maintenance folks for the complex).

#891 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 09:08 AM:

Susan @ 886...4 or 8 bars into a 13-bar piece of music with predictably unpleasant results

"Ah!" Susan exclaimed as she stormed off. "I've been thrown out of better bars than this!"

#892 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 09:21 AM:

@Dave Bell #882: cajunfj40 [#862], the strong impression I get about Zucker is that he's pushing a very hard-line gender image.

That's similar to the impression I get, and the story paints his methods as being in the majority. Bummer.

Can't check the links at work, maybe later.


#893 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 09:51 AM:

I find Zucker absolutely terrifying. Just saying.

I have never been thrown out of a bar! I only started going into bars very recently in my sedate 30s! Throwing out a bar or two of this music would improve my life, but I don't think I'm supposed to do that.

I am trying to decide if my canario work will be enhanced if I try to do it sitting outdoors while listening to music at the Indiana Jones Festival this weekend or if I will become distracted either by (non-16thc) music or melancholia. I'm sort of charmed by how excited New Haven is getting about a Movie! Filmed! Here! I suppose larger cities are more blase about this sort of thing, but larger cities can't have their entire downtowns made into movie sets.

And, um, I admit I spent some time last night trying to pause the latest trailer at a point where I could see if that was really the street I thought it was...

#894 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 10:01 AM:

#883, Earl Cooley III,
Te most disturbing thing about that, it was used as a practical joke on Penn and Teller's Bullshit years ago. I think is was in the second season...

#895 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:14 AM:

Dave Bell: Thanks for the YouTube. The contest was incredible, the riding put the contest to shame.

#896 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:17 AM:

Susan @ 891: I suspect that if you hang around Serge long enough, you will. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. ;-)

#897 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:27 AM:

Ginger @ 894... today'skidsnorespectgrumblemuttermutter

#898 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Susan's problem seems to be the opposite, she doesn't want to hang out in those bars.

#899 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:36 AM:

Actually, hanging out in bars might solve my problems either way. I could pause on bar 13 every time and just hang out instead of dancing. Or I could go to bars and drink and presumably be less upset by the fact that my dance doesn't match my music. (Of course, me + bar + drinking => stupid behavior, so maybe not the wisest course of action.) Given that I can waltz superbly while somewhat drunk, it might take a lot of drinking to stop being upset about a 13b musical strain. It's just wrong. And Negri doesn't help - his is 17b! Dudes, prime numbers, not good for step correlation!

#900 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:41 AM:

There's a name,

"Waltzes while drunk"

#901 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:51 AM:

And my undisciplined brain keeps getting saltarello (which I do not need to work on this week) in my canario (which I desperately do).

I blame Sisuile.

#902 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:53 AM:

Terry Karney @ 898 -
There's a name,

"Waltzes while drunk"

Probably better than the alternative, "Drinks while Waltzing" -

"Damnit, Walksh-Always-Right, I said No Dipsh While The Martini Glassh Is Full!"

#903 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:16 PM:

"Friends don't let friends waltz drunk."

#904 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:17 PM:

And my undisciplined brain keeps getting saltarello (which I do not need to work on this week) in my canario (which I desperately do).

"May I help you to another dish of canario, Doctor?"
"No, no, Jack, I shall not; the Admiral's cook will insist on serving it with far too much saltarello, and I am quite inflamed. But a little more burgundy would be most welcome."

#905 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:34 PM:

Susan 886: I'm trying to fit dance sequences measuring 4 or 8 bars into a 13-bar piece of music with predictably unpleasant results.

I don't understand the problem. In addition to your idea at 897, and assuming the 13-bar piece of music is played over and over, you just start the first dance sequence over from the beginning, and go through again, with the relationship to the music shifted by a bar. Of course it would take 13 repetitions to get back around to the beginning...unless you use 3 identical 4s, in which case it only takes 4. This would be very difficult to dance, but fascinating to watch.

Why, yes, I am a minimalist. Why do you ask?

_____899: Wow, I was just listening to Dead Can Dance's album Passage in Time over the weekend...which is actually my only reference to a saltarello. No significance, just an interesting coincidence.

Actually, I have another idea for your canario: Have everyone play dead during the last bar. Then you could title it (wait for it) Mine Canario.

*runs away*

#906 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:38 PM:

James Bond will be back in Canario Royale.

#907 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:44 PM:

..and I'll be waiting here in the dark, for the canario to drop dead.

#908 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:52 PM:

Ginger 905: HAH! Beat ya!

#909 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:57 PM:

Susan #897: So, this makes me wonder if there's some optimally impossible-to-dance-to music which can be constructed, maybe using patterns of prime numbers or one of those never-repeating-but-very-structured sequences.

#910 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Dave Bell @ 882: Of course hyu needs a nize hat.

#911 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 01:06 PM:

*iz ded*

#912 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 01:06 PM:

I sent a desperate missive off to my musical collaborator asking how acceptable it would be to split it into strains of 8b and 5b. He suggested getting a coalmineo for my canario, whereupon I announced my desire to feed my canario to my felinii, who were just ecstatic last night that I spent hours sitting still muttering and scribbling while they climbed and lay all over me.

In theory, the idea of announcing a class on a dance form will prompt me to figure out the reconstruction in a timely manner. This time I may have overreached.

Yes, just going round and round 13x would work in theory, but in practice, it isn't nice - the music clearly has a "do the jump here!" bit on bar 13. There just aren't enough jumps, or jumps in the right places. And breaking movement sequences across the strain is at a minimum very unusual in dance of this era. The cadenze in the dance and music need to match up. I like the idea of hanging out better. It's like the 15thc fantasmata.

I think that DCD piece is actually a danceable saltarello, by the way. Figuring out what to dance to it is the issue I am trying not to think about this week.

"Friends don't let friends waltz drunk."

Actually, a good friend once helped me waltz drunk for the express purpose of literally waltzing in circles around Evil Ex #2 and his wife, Wallpaper Girl. Showed him what he was missing and made WG look bad by comparison, heh.

The good friend is dead now, unfortunately. I could use his input on this bleeping canario.

#913 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 01:20 PM:

albatross @907 -- So, this makes me wonder if there's some optimally impossible-to-dance-to music which can be constructed, maybe using patterns of prime numbers or one of those never-repeating-but-very-structured sequences.

On the other side of the coin, Slow Fox has always seemed to me an impossible-to-dance set of movements, very possibly constructed using patterns of prime numbers, consisting of never-repeating-but-very-structured sequences.

#914 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 01:31 PM:

#908, y -

Today's Girl Genius was one of the many that prompt me to excitedly try* to recap the most recent happenings** to anyone nearby. Because he's in disguise in that hat.

*And fail.

**Which ends up being a lot more than I expect, because it all interlocks so nicely.

#915 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 01:32 PM:

In ye olden daze, when the waltz was a shocking new introduction, it was claimed that all that whirling and twirling made the young girls drunk.

As if there isn't a great deal of whirling and twirling in all those contradanses and quadrilles ....

Merce Cunningham has generally choregraphed his work to be danced along side the composer's(s') work, not dance TO the music. Just sayin'. :)

Love, C.

#916 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 01:37 PM:

#907 - albatross -

My first thought on reading your question was the 5/4-6/8 piece we played in college once. A measure of 5/4 time alternating with a measure of 6/8 time. It was pretty challenging to play.

Then I thought about it and realized you could probably come up with something that took eight beats* and work it out okay.

*Eight beats because 1/8 was equal to half of a 1/4. So you had five beats, then a pattern of six that took the same time as three beats, but felt completely different.

#917 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 01:54 PM:

As if there isn't a great deal of whirling and twirling in all those contradanses and quadrilles ....

There isn't, actually.

General, on potentially/deliberately hard-to-dance-to music:

I can waltz in 2/4, 6/8, 5/4, 7/4, 9/4, and of course 3/4. 5/4 is technically alternating bars of 3/4 and 2/4. The trick for the dancer is knowing what to expect, either by knowing the pattern of repetition or knowing the particular tune. Would something that deliberately had no pattern be fun to dance to? I'm thinking not so much. But impossible? Probably not if the dancer was able to work with the piece in advance.

Simple combinations of prime-number-length strains are not an inherent problem if there's a pattern the dancer can latch onto.

(I am now meditating on Negri and his 17b piece and liking it much better. I may have to be unfaithful to Caroso in the short term.)

#919 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 02:05 PM:

#916, that was even more anticlimactic than I expected, given that it was neither a discovery nor a new object. Ah, press releases in times of vicious budget competition.

#920 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Susan: I didn't know Negri had time to write music. I thought he was too busy running ImpSec. Live and learn.

#921 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 02:26 PM:

R.M.Koske @ 912... Because he's in disguise in that hat

Oh, that's why the huge hat displays Gil's full name in huge letters. It's the Purloined Letter tactic.

#922 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 02:28 PM:

Well, down in the French Caribbean last summer, at the quadrille exhibition, I saw lots of whirling and twirling.

Love, C.

#923 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 02:46 PM:

In his previous incarnation, he was all about love and tassels and fioretti and stuff. His description of the canario is cryptic enough to be an ImpSec exercise, though.

Unless you did a spot of time travel, you were probably watching modern people dance modern quadrilles, which have evolved over time to have significant stylistic differences from historical ones, just as music, clothing, art, architecture, etc. did. Projecting backwards from modern dances to ones from 200 years ago is only slightly more useful than studying your bra to figure out how corsets were made.

#924 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 02:48 PM:

Debbie #916: Oh, well that's disappointing. I'd been hoping that the NASA revelation would have something to do with the Vatican's announcement yesterday that it's OK for Catholics to believe in aliens. Because, y'know, it makes perfect sense that NASA would find evidence of alien life in the galaxy and immediately go to the Vatican to make sure that the theology was sorted out before they announced it.

Supernovas are cool, too, I guess.

#925 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 02:55 PM:

Sundry & various:

1) Politics -- I'm tired of cock and ball management

2) music -- what about accidental notes in bars?

3) Sunday I finally saw some pollinating insects in my yard--there's been a severe dearth of them, and I would like my fruit nad nut trees to get pollinated (pears, apples, a Chinese chestnut that gets pollinated from Amercan chestnuts which are around somewhere, a volunteer nectarine which I should have moved years ago. Blossoms on a former mystery tree by the top of the driveway indicate it's some type of apple treey, whether the fruit is crabapple or not remains to be seen. (I stuck a tree seed or pit there many months ago, and did not record what it was).

#926 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:00 PM:


I just heard Ron Paul arguing with Michael Krasny (I think that's who the interviewer was) about abortion and a woman's right to choose. He stated that permitting women the right to choose under Rowe v. Wade means that women may kill their babies up to the moment of birth. Krasny pointed out that the SC test is "viability" of the fetus. Paul countered with "late term abortions." Krasny said "life of the mother." Paul said, Well, they allow psychiatric issues to be considered, and after all, that's not really legitimate, because "Maybe she's just nervous."

At this point I turned off the radio.

Excuse me while I just get sick in the corner over here. This is a man who knows nothing about pregnancy or what might make a woman seek an abortion. Nervous. F****cking Ron Paul.

#927 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:08 PM:

Lizzy, I don't have a clue how he could be that dim, since Wiki indicates he's married and has 5 kids. After the third one, you'd think his wife might have been making suggestions.

#928 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:19 PM:

Libertarianism: freedom for men and enslavement for women. Discuss.

#929 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:28 PM:

#919, Serge -

I think I want to make that hat for DragonCon. I could get one of those little fan-driven fake fire thingys and everything. This is a new* and disturbing idea, but it would probably be cheaper and less involved than the Fullmetal Alchemist military uniform that has been the subject of much dreaming.

...and it would even go a long way toward being a Jaegermonster costume, something else I've toyed with.


*Less than five minutes old, at this point.

#930 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:35 PM:

The Promenade in Pictures at an Exhibition is in 11, though most people have to count the beats to notice this.

#931 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:48 PM:

R.M.Koske @ 927... Me, I'd want to dress up as Othar. For one thing, he's got that visor thingie that'd allow me to wear my glasses with any risk of falling off the stage.

#932 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:49 PM:

The (really) scary thing about Ron Paul is that he's got an air (even an aura) of legitimacy (even expertise) because he trained as an Ob/Gyn.

#933 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:56 PM:

#929, Serge -

Othar would be wicked fun to do, simply because of who he is. Cheerful insanity is fun. (That's why I like the Jaegers.) I think Othar might be one of the simplest characters costume-wise, too. Other than the visor, aren't most of his clothes pretty tame?

#934 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:57 PM:

#930, Terry Karney -

"Trained as" but never practiced? Makes me wonder how or why he didn't go further. (And a heartfelt "thank heavens" for that, too.)

#935 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:59 PM:

ethan @922, supernovae are very cool. NASA's hype kinda ruined it, though. (Government spin, crossing threads.)

#936 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:59 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 861: Army of Darkness. Definitely ducklings are the way to go there.

David Harmon @ 863: pictures here. I was worried I'd scared mumma duck off but she was back this morning. Hope the eggs are okay.

#937 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:09 PM:

R.M.Koske @ 931...

Cheerful insanity? I can do that.
I heard that.

#938 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:34 PM:

R. M. Koske: I don't know that he never practised, but even if he's kept his board certification current, he's not been practising since much later than his failed run for president in 1980.

#939 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:47 PM:

Susan #926: John Stuart Mill: Why 'libertarians' won't read him? Discuss...

Emma Goldman: Why 'libertarians' have never heard of her? Discuss...

History? What's that?

I find Ron Paul's attitude bloody flaming insane. What if she's nervous? I bet he thinks a psychiatric condition is 'all in the head' too!

#940 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:09 PM:

Are we agreeing or disagreeing? Everything I know about Goldman suggests that she was in favor of reproductive rights. I admit to not knowing Mills' position on the subject off the top of my head. I have a hard time taking today's Libertarians seriously when they simultaneously want to ban abortion - how un-libertarian can one get, denying a woman's right to her own body? (Same with "conservatives"; I can imagine few things less conservative than the desire for the government to meddle with my body.) Like other sorts of uber-capitalists, their idea of freedom seems to be something only for the gender- and/or class-privileged.

#941 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:12 PM:

Susan #938: We're agreeing. Mill was for both maximising individual liberty (as long as it did not affect others) and for equal rights for women. And, Goldman, as you point out, was a feminist (and for women's control over their bodies).

#942 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:35 PM:

R. M. Koske #932: "Trained as" but never practiced?

He's said to have delivered at least 4000 babies.

#943 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:46 PM:

Terry, you're kidding, right?

We're not going to have the discussion about male OB/GYNs. We're not. No. No. (Not with you men in the room, anyway...)

#944 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:53 PM:

R.M.Koske @ 93.

Cheerful insanity

My favorite D&D character back in the day was a Chaotic Good half-orc fighter cleric who went into battle waving a huge mace (19/00 strength) and screaming "Whatever!" (5 intelligence, lost that saving throw every time).

#945 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:58 PM:

Susan @ 910: was the friend who helped in the Waltzing Drunk episode Patri?

#946 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:10 PM:

Oh, good.

Yes. Sigh. At an Arisia ball several years ago.

I have in desperation looked at someone else's supposed reconstruction of the same canario to see what they did with the music. Easy solution: they're using some other piece of music. That doesn't help me, though I am coming to the cautious conclusion that the music must be Messed With, which is normally verboten for me.

#947 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:15 PM:

acto Wikipedia (which gives refs, don't know how good they are) he kept his practice going until the 1996 congressional race. No comment as to whether being female trumps being an OB/GYN.

#948 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:20 PM:

And now I have a canario earworm:


#949 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:11 PM:

Cool, we can restart the abortion flamewar, the libertarianism flamewar, and the feminism/gender privilege flamewar all at the same time. I'll go make popcorn![1] But isn't there some way we can work in evolution vs creationism? You know, just to round things out?

[1] For the big fangy monsters.

#950 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:12 PM:

Susan @ 926: Libertarianism: Only distantly related to Ron Paul. I can't think of anything more to discuss.

Fragano @937: If Emma Goldman can't dance to your 13-bar martial hymn, she doesn't want to be part of your revolution.

#951 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:24 PM:


But, you see, the name is misspelled...

So obviously no one will connect him with GILGAMESH Wulfenbach...

#952 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:10 AM:

Earl Cooley III @883:
Given perfume made from ambergris, anything is believable.

albatross @907:
I know several pieces that switch time signature in unfortunate ways (for a dancer, at least). I was tempted to name them but am not sure if I want any dancers' cranial explosions on my conscience.... (One's basic rhythm is in 5, the other in 7; but both switch around a lot.)

Fragano Ledgister @937:
From creeps like him we got the term "hysteria". Urgh.

#953 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:29 AM:

The bass player for my old band wrote a tune that went 3/4 + 6/8 + 3/4 + 5/8 + 3/4 + 6/8 + 6/8 + 2/4 at a very fast tempo.

And the reason I was just able to type that is because, fifteen years later, the rhythm is still drilled into my head...

And then there's Ivo Papasov and U Totem.

#954 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:40 AM:

Gah! there was a woman wearing a noxious mix of ambergris and patchouli today.

A rank and shambling horror came to mind.

#955 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:47 AM:

impossible-to-dance-to music made me think of Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk" --or however it's spelled.

For incredibly free motion, there's nothing like a flock of swifts chasing bugs in the early evening. Saw one for the first time after it rained here on Tuesday, and it was amazing!

(Sorry not to move to the new Thread, but the topic was in this one.)

#956 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:21 AM:

geekosaur 950: The dancers for the premiere of The Rite of Spring were very upset by the way they had to learn it...they had to count, you see, and they'd been used to just sort of feeling along with a melody.

#957 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:08 PM:

But isn't there some way we can work in evolution vs creationism?

Well, we all know that the god of the creationists disapproves of abortion and feminism. Not sure where he stands on libertarianism.

Sigh. The same arguments over and over. Plus ça change . . .

#958 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:09 PM:

Faren -- the concert band I play in did Frank Ticheli's Nitro recently. The euphonium player I sit next to and I decided that the first part was a flock of finches taking off, and the break was the baby who couldn't quite fly yet. We never did figure out what the middle section was.

#959 ::: RichM ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Hooray for Mars Phoenix, which just landed and is transmitting to Earth from the Martian North Polar region!

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