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May 14, 2008

Open thread 108
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:45 PM *

Quoth Xopher, when willed to speak where what is willed may or may not be:

108 is the sacred number of Hinduism. A Hindu mala is a string of 108 beads (usually with a flag bead, not used in counting) for counting recitations of a mantra; Hindu deities have 108 names; the dance of Shiva Nataraja contains 108 poses. The number is also significant in Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, and Shinto.

Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth for 1 hour, 48 minutes: that’s 108 minutes to you and me. I doubt he was doing Japa though, because that would mean each name was a whole minute long! Besides, he was busy.

108 is two squared times three cubed. 108° is the interior measurement of the angles in a regular pentagon. The only regular convex polyhedron with pentagonal faces is the dodecahedron, which has twelve of them. Twelve is also a factor of 108, and a significant number in its own right; twelve Olympian gods, twelve Apostles, twelve hours on an analog clock. 108 hours is about 4.5 days.

Here’s Shakespeare’s Sonnet 108:

What’s in the brain that ink may character
Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit?
What’s new to speak, what new to register,
That may express my love or thy dear merit?
Nothing sweet boy; but yet, like prayers divine,
I must, each day say o’er the very same,
Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
Even as when first I hallow’d thy fair name.
So that eternal love in love’s fresh case
Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
But makes antiquity for aye his page,
Finding the first conceit of love there bred
Where time and outward form would show it dead.

Thank you, Xopher.

Comments on Open thread 108:
#1 ::: Aaron Bergman ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 03:54 PM:

4 + 8 + 15 + 16 + 23 + 42 = 108

#2 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:16 PM:

You're welcome.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:20 PM:


#4 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:21 PM:

This reminds me that I still want to read the 14th century Chinese epic The Water Margin, all about 108 reincarnated demon heroes called The Stars of Destiny. I wonder how an epic can effectively be about 108 people. I'm very fond of the bits of the story I know, and I enjoy the Suikoden games based roughly around the conceit.

I became aware of the number 108 during the Japanese New Year, when they ring the temple bells 108 times at midnight, enumerating either the sins of the world or the earthly desires, depending on who you ask and who is translating.

#5 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:32 PM:

For so many things, we thank you Xopher.

(and I am getting strange error messages Got an error: Bad ObjectDriver config: Connection error: Too many connections)

#6 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:39 PM:

I just find multiples of nine beautiful in their own right.

All thanks, too, to Xopher.

#7 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:42 PM:

3^3 * 2^2 = 108. Nifty little number, that.

Somebody come up with interesting discourse that will run to 500 replies. The Dude is due any day now, and in practice that means lots of boredom. Espeically as he may well come late.

Though looking at the forecast, he may as well come in the next few days as we're supposed to have 100º temperatures, thank you very much. What's the good of avoiding being pregnant in the summer if the summer comes to you?

(This is what as known as "late pregnancy snarkiness." Tired, not sleeping well, weigh too bloody much, mouth tastes like cabbage crawled in and died, oh yes, this is the bit that's supposed to make us grateful for the pain that ends it.)

#8 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:45 PM:

"And so my will was moved by that Love which moves the sun and the other stars."

How many of you got all the way to the end?

#9 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:49 PM:

Anyone who has not been where B Durbin is right now: imagine having a Christmas turkey strapped to your front while you suffer the effects of a hangover. You are allowed to imagine taking painkillers for the headache, but you still have the dragging feeling all the time. And the huge extra weight and bulk.

Got that?

Great, now hold still while I kick you right in the small of the back to induce backache.

Now you know what she's feeling.

#10 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:54 PM:

abi: Having a sympathetic flashback?

#11 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:57 PM:

Terry: I suspect a number of us are. Hang in there, B. Durbin!

#12 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 04:59 PM:

Terry @10:
Sympathetic in all senses of the word. It's a difficult time, physically.

And yes, I can almost see the jigsaw puzzle I was doing in January of 2004, of the Hagia Sofia in 1980's Istanbul.

#13 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:02 PM:


#14 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Ooh, weirdness. SciFi is showing Fahrenheit 451, and they just showed the scene where the Book Lady is burned with her books. As the flamethrower is turned on her, she recites, "nine times eleven is ninety-nine, nine times twelve is one hundred and eight..."

#15 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:16 PM:

B. Durbin, I don't know about interesting discourse, but I've been wondering
< lazyweb>
what would it be like, should the US (or world) slip into the Great Depression II? I mean, qualitatively like, what will it feel like? I've been poor before, but would it be like everyone being poor? Does it feel like the difference between rich and poor gets smaller, or does it feel bigger? Do many people freak out and commit suicide, or is that just newspaper-selling hype? Is making your own ketchup a hardship, or just a cognitive shock when you realize you can't afford it anymore?

I'm asking all this, because I know where to go to get doom and gloom financial scenarios, and stockpile rice and guns coping strategies, but you (plural) seem to be my best hope for insight on what people actually do, and how they actually think in chronic problem situations.

Should I skip describing the doom and gloom scenarios that make me want to ask the question?

#16 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:31 PM:

don 15: Please skip them. We can find them if we need them. And we don't.

#17 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:42 PM:

The dodecahedron was the basis of a Rubik's Cube-like puzzle, called the Megaminx. There is also a 4-dimensional analogue of the dodecahedron, called the "120-cell" -- and someone just released a program to let you play with the 4D Megaminx.

#18 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:46 PM:
This reminds me that I still want to read the 14th century Chinese epic The Water Margin, all about 108 reincarnated demon heroes called The Stars of Destiny. I wonder how an epic can effectively be about 108 people. I'm very fond of the bits of the story I know, and I enjoy the Suikoden games based roughly around the conceit.

I've only read bits of The Water Margin myself, but based on other experience I'd venture to guess that a lot of those 108 heroes will show up for a few scenes, then leave, without necessarily having any subplots involving them wrapped up.

#19 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:47 PM:

I share don@15's interest.

I know a few people who seem to be planning for a post-oil future of bucolic subsistence farms, which seems not entirely correct--cities have been economically useful before we started burning fossil fuels so I expect they'll continue to be useful after. But of course as a city-dweller with a brown thumb I have a vested interest in believing that.

Is there a macroeconomist in the house?

#20 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:49 PM:

Nine is the number of my orisha = santo.

Important number in my life.

Love, C.

#21 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Dan @ 18

The (probably) full-length translations I was looking at earlier today run four volumes each - lots of space for that many characters. (It shows up as The Water Margin or as The Three Kingdoms.)

#22 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:01 PM:

The Water Margin/Outlaws of the Marsh has a very interesting structure. The story will follow one character for a while until he intersects with another, then goes off following the second character until he meets another, and so on, eventually looping back around to meet up with the earlier ones. It's quite effective, although it does drag a bit toward the end of the book.

The last time I read it I found myself laughing uncontrollably at the "Flowery Monk" passages. This book also contains the episode from which the Golden Lotus/Jin Ping Mei is spun off, which is another topic entirely.

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:10 PM:

Another version: Outlaws of the Marsh

#24 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:26 PM:

Are margin and marsh, indeed, the same word?

Just like verge is actually a strip of grass on the edge of something.

"It was there on the marge of Lake LaBarge,
I cremated Sam McGee"
says a poem by Robert W. Service

#25 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:28 PM:

Dammit, Jim, I'm an English techer, not a mathematician! 10-8-6-4-2 is the best I can do ...

On the other hands, friends:

I held my tongue the last time, being from New England, even if I wouldn't know football from Martian gaen-gai, but does anyone else think Arlen Specter's obsession with the Patriot's video taping scandal is a little nuts?

I mean, c'mon, three questions:

1) Is the filming of team signals and possible subsequent destruction of these tapes really more important and more deserving than, say, I don't know, the filming of the waterboarding and "possible" torture of US "detainees" and subsequent destruction of those tapes?

2) He's going to open an independent investigation because this scandal is equivalent to steroid use? So he's saying ALL teams, or at least many, have been doing it, and he wants to catch and punish all of them?

3) What is the deal here? Does it seem to anyone else like he maybe bet heavy on his team and lost, and now wants to get even or something?

#26 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:39 PM:

*waves* at Seth Gordon, 19, who asked,
Is there a macroeconomist in the house?

Now, this is Making Light, so I'm assuming that any minute someone will chime in with...

I am the very model of a modern macro-economist,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the sheiks of commerce, and I quote the shares historical
From Marathon to Standard Oil, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse!
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse!

#27 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:45 PM:

B. Durbin - You're scaring me. I'm still 6 weeks out, and while I am already experiencing waking every time I need to roll over because somehow I can't do that in my sleep anymore, the mouth that tastes like dead cabbage is a symptom I've not heard of before. (Yes, this is my first, why do you ask?)

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:01 PM:

What would really suck about a Great Depression II is that in 2040 our grandkids would have to suffer through ten seasons of The Waltons: Generation Y.

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:03 PM:

EClaire @ 27... the mouth that tastes like dead cabbage


#30 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:13 PM:

abi @ 9 : Don't forget that the Thanksgiving turkey is also KICKING you at random intervals, sometimes hard enough to bruise ribs.

And there's a bocce ball resting on your bladder.

There is a reason I only have the one daughter.

#31 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:27 PM:

pedantic peasant #25: What kind of, ahem, techer are you?

#32 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:37 PM:

Fragano @ 31

One who just completed a graduate class whose major papers all coincided with the reporting dates for classroom grades at work.

A side effect of which is apparently poor typing and partial blindness.

#33 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Addressing what it would feel like if everyone around me were also poor... well. Isn't that what fiction is for?

Of course, I'm thinking of children's literature right now, and while some books managed to give a fairly vivid picture of what daily life was like in the Great Depression, I'm not sure that those sources are going to help. The people in those books have an almost unrecognizable outlook, even though they're the age of my eldest uncles, or my grandparents.

For one thing, so many of them are actively religious. Most of the people around me are NOT, and the ones who are don't reflect the uncritical acceptance of religious frameworks that the people in the books do. That's a HUGE change.

And of course the Net. Even if I'm no longer able to afford access at my house, there's the public library, and cafes with wifi where, if I can afford a cup of coffee, I can get online, as long as this laptop keeps working. It's not the same experience as everyone sitting around the radio.

Travel might get harder.

Food -- so far I haven't been as heavily affected by rising food prices as some people I know. Cooking mostly vegetarian has insulated me. And I know how to cook even more economically than I do now.

Backyard container gardens might happen. I'm not very good at them, but I could read up and try to do better.

The CSA membership is DEFINITELY happening next season.

I hope not to be significantly unemployed -- I'm a baker, and it's my guess that while people will cut BACK on their luxury foods, there are still going to be people who buy a morning scone, and people will still have weddings, even if they're smaller.

I don't know. I really don't.

#34 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:43 PM:

Abi, I just bought a bunch of bookbinding supplies. I may make a mess of it, but you make it sound like so much fun.

Hmm - I can't relate that back to 108 in any way; I didn't spend quite that much. But I'm posting it anyway because I'm really excited!

#35 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:54 PM:

RE Great Depression II, I'm getting the same whiff of Fear for Sale that I sensed leading up to Y2K, and a few years ago when a Bird Flu pandemic was just around the corner, and a few years before that when an Ebola breakout was bound to happen.

Yes, we could be in for tough times, but they're not a) inevitable, b) inevitably worst case, and almost certainly not c) best addressed by stocking up on rice and guns.

Me, I've been buying lots of nonperishable food lately, as coupons and sales allow . . . to bring to the food bank.

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 07:57 PM:

pedantic peasant #32: Happens to all of us at some time or other. I just had to deal with a bad case of 'I didn't plagiarise, I just turned in the wrong paper'* to which my only response was to hang up the phone (having explained that I'd turned in the paperwork on the case to the appropriate dean and there was nothing I could do to recall it) after saying for the third time that I resented being told blatant lies.

*Lifted straight off the Stanford Philosophy web page on Aristotle. Google is a technology unknown to those over thirty, it seems.

#37 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:02 PM:

Rikibeth #33: I take it by CSA you do not mean the Caribbean Studies Association.

My parents lived through the Depression (my father was ten in 1929, my mother, one) and its aftermath (Spain in the 1940s, especially after World War II was even worse off than during the the Depression). Penny pinching was first nature to them, and the stories of hardship they told were heartrending (granted, the stories my father told were of growing up in a British colony in the West Indies, so they were about endemic poverty made even worse by the Great Depression).

#38 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:04 PM:

Fragano @ 36


The English department in my school is having a debate over appropriateness and accessability of Cliff and related Notes.

In the middle of this I have three students in mid-level classes turn in what are supposed to be analytical research papers, using on-line Spark Notes as a critical source.

On the plus side (sort of) at least they did cite them correctly ....

#39 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:08 PM:

I grew up in a world filled with people for whom the Depression was the most real thing still in their lives, no matter how old they were / are / became, no matter World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, etc.

I was brought up to live as though we were in the Depression. It never let my older relatives go, any more than my mother ever was able to let it go either, despite her being of another generation.

These are people who stayed where they were, in the communities they were in -- this was mostly rural -- and were still there. And yes, religion was a very large part of it.

This is why I never have fit in anywhere except Cuba. I was brought up in a culture and perspective that the rest of the nation had moved beyond even a generation or two before I was born.

Love, C.

#40 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:13 PM:

pedantic peasant #38: Because copying is the same thing as thinking, of course... The worst case I've heard of was one at another institution where a student thought he'd be clever, and found what he thought was an obscure journal and copied almost a whole article for a term paper. He forgot to notice that the author of the article was the instructor of the course. What made it worse, said the instructor to me, was that he (the instructor that is) no longer took the position he had held when he wrote the article.

#41 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:40 PM:

Fragano #37: Community Supported Agriculture. I've belonged to a CSA farm before, and I've enjoyed it -- I didn't sign up in time this year.

#42 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:45 PM:

My parents were born in the Depression; my wife's parents grew up during the Depression. It hit them in different ways-- in my side of the family, the economic downturn did in the family business; in my wife's family, the big hit was the Dust Bowl drought on their farm, where literally no rain fell for years at a time.

It had a big influence on the way our families managed their affairs, and a fair bit of that ethic was passed on to us. So we both have a natural tendency to want to save for harder times, to avoid unnecessary debt (and to pay off any debt we do incur as fast as we can), to limit our consumption, and to invest heavily in education for our kids. There are certainly countervailing tendencies on both our parts, but we still tend to be on the frugal side of the median in most areas.

So far, in part thanks to those practices, and in part thanks to fairly stable employment situations, we haven't been hit hard directly by the current economic turmoil. Though if stagflation settles in, as we've been seeing signs for in the short term at least, that'll hurt us along with everyone else. We remember the 1970s too.

One thing that's a bit chilling to us is that we're also seeing a replay of the Depression-era climate in some regions. My wife's mom reports that since last July, they've had less than 1.5 inches of rain on their farm (in Saskatchewan, not in an irrigated area). I really hope we don't see a repeat of that part of the 1930s as well.

#43 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 09:00 PM:
The (probably) full-length translations I was looking at earlier today run four volumes each - lots of space for that many characters. (It shows up as The Water Margin or as The Three Kingdoms.)

Translations of Romance of the Three Kingdoms run to four volumes as well, but it has the structure (or lack of it) that I described. The Water Margin probably does not follow history even as closely as Romance (which is not too closely), which would help give it more structure.

#44 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 09:18 PM:

EClaire: I have a lot of friends who have had kids in the last two years, and only one other of them reports the strange taste syndrome. (I had been having difficulties with that the whole pregnancy, so if your mouth tastes fine, I wouldn't worry.)

Actually, I had one friend who couldn't brush her teeth for several months because the smell of toothpaste made her gag. Hmm.

And I hadn't realized until you pointed it out— I don't have a backache. Yay! (And I am laughing about the turkey idea, because it really does throw your balance off like that.)

On the whole "What would a Depression feel like?"— have you been poor? Or at least felt as though you're stuck in a situation? I would imagine a lot of people would feel that way, and have a low-level malaise.

However, if you have since managed to pull yourself out of that situation, and have developed better skills, I think you'd have a better mental outlook from the get-go. "I can fix this" is a better headspace than "I'm stuck." After all, I can look at my parents and realize that they both grew up in straitened circumstances, and that they did better by us kids, and if (for example) my mother could put up with oatmeal for breakfast day in and day out (and sometimes for other meals as well), I can bloody well figure out something to do.

(Yes, I've been poor, still getting out of the financial hole we dug at that point, BUT I was still in a better position than my parents. Worst came to worst, we could always count on them to feed us!)

#45 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 09:31 PM:

Re: Great Depression II.

I don't believe in it; there's no evidence that there'll be a crash that huge. Remember that part of the problem in the US economy during the Greate Depression was that the rest of the world (well, large parts of Europe, anyway) had already fallen into the toilet.* The world economy isn't as monolithic now as the Western economy was then.

Not to say we aren't going to have a lovely little recession here in the US. All the spin doctors are busy telling us things aren't as bad as we all feared, but they're not admitting that there are a couple of other shoes yet to drop, including about 2 million home foreclosures this year.

I can answer one of the questions about the Depression: the gap between rich and poor became greater. I know this because I once lived in a cottage on the estate of the man who supplied concrete for the construction of the Empire State Building, which was completed during the Depression. That estate was built using the profits of the sale; it's a bunch of acres on a hill just outside of Peekskill, N.Y. There'a a large main house, a carriage house, and the cottage, as well as garages, gardening sheds, etc. For several years the owner employed an artist who lived onsite to decorate the place; the garages and sheds for instance have pastoral scenes made of carved lead sheets applied to the doors and walls.

This at a time when the workers who were building the Empire State Building were working frantically for low wages to keep from joining their friends in the bread lines.

* "Anybody want a wheelbarrow full of Reichmarks?"
"Nah, tissues are better for blowing your nose."

#46 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 09:57 PM:

Indeed, one of my contingency plans if the economy really tanks is to go Into Service, because there will certainly still be people who could use a live-in cook-housekeeper, and could afford to pay one who's willing to work for room, board, and a nominal weekly stipend.

#47 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 10:09 PM:

B. Durbin - oh good. Generally I think I've had it fairly easy throughout this whole experience, but that sounded so revolting that I was terrified that there were sneaky side effects waiting just around the corner. I'll stick to my 6 months of dizzy spells due to low blood pressure, thanks. Much easier to deal with.

#48 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 10:11 PM:

In the introduction, Xopher said:
"108° is the interior measurement of the angles in a regular pentagon." My partner Martin would like to point out that 108 degrees is the interior measurement of *one* angle of a regular pentagon.

Also, Craig @ 17 said:
"There is also a 4-dimensional analogue of the dodecahedron, called the "120-cell"
This kind of depends on how you define "4-dimensional analogue". Martin says there are 6 regular hyper-solids; he wonders how many of them have pentagonal symmetry.

From me, on all this Depression talk. Don't worry, they'll just put a bunch of Prozac in the water and everyone will be just fine.

On a more serious note, my Dad grew up during the Depression, and he taught me a lot about surviving on meager resources. I suspect those of us who can remember such knowledge, either from personal experience or transmission from elders, will have a lot to contribute to the ongoing discussion. For example, there is a reason some of us stockpile; that's how people used to get through the year. You grew food in the summer and bartered in the fall, and it lasted until the following fall.

#49 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 10:15 PM:

Can I just say, I finally ordered my copy of Gene Wolfe's (and Lisa Snellings-Clark's) Strange Birds, and I am all a-twitter waiting for it?

#50 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 10:23 PM:

My father grew up on a farm (and later a dairy) during the Depression, and my mother's parents also had enough land for a small farm, although her father worked in the post office. One of my mother's aunts was the main source of income in her family; her husband lost his job and ended up a school janitor, but they had nearly an acre on which they raised vegetables and also ducks and chickens, selling the eggs (and maybe some of the birds) for additional money.

I suspect this had something to do with my father planting fruit trees everywhere we lived, and gardens in most of them.

#51 ::: joyjoy ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 10:25 PM:

There are 108 stitches in a baseball.

Re: Depression II: Already people in urban and suburban places are putting in what gardens they can for herbs & veg, raising chicken if zoning allows. Gas prices have already forced some small businesses in my hometown to close - furniture movers & a floral delivery business.

But I really think it would just encourage people to get creative, figure things out with their immediate community about how to share and barter.

Heck, maybe board games and Twister would come back as entertainment. Live music in the backyard.

I mean, Argentina went through a huge economic meltdown and - as an entire country - adopted a small-business barter system for an economy.

#52 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 10:35 PM:

A garden in the backyard is one of the ways my parents managed to feed five kids. Salad all summer long. (I really LIKE salad.) The pity is that California decided about 30 years ago that a .15 acre lot is good, and they've been shrinking ever since. It's kind of hard to get a good garden going if you literally have no backyard because a previous owner decided they wanted a strip of patio.

#53 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 10:44 PM:

This may deserve its own posting -- don't want to hijack this thread -- but Barbara Bauer's legal snitfit against Wikipedia is getting some publicity, as the Wikimedia Foundation has apparently recently filed a motion to dismiss. This, of course, has served to further publicize the claims she finds so libelous, which strikes me as somewhat self-defeating.

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:01 PM:

Magenta 48: I meant the interior measurement of EACH of the angles in a regular pentagon.

#55 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:12 PM:

Rikibeth, #33, I was in Vienna (VA) yesterday* and stopped at a bakery where I usually love their stuff and there was one cinnamon roll and it didn't taste very good. They only had about half their regular items out, and instead of a display case, had made a series of chairs and tables for a "cafe."

Stefan, #35, our food bank was robbed! I just gave them money, they can buy directly from the manufacturers for less than I can buy from the store.

*Shiva has had trouble with his teeth for about a month and I was referred last week to a dental vet in Vienna and got an appointment yesterday. We were there seven hours (although I did go out to lunch and do a bit of shopping as long as I was that far in) and all his teeth are out. I have pain syringes to just squeeze into his mouth. He's drooling like crazy and is really mad at me. When Giorgio (RIP) got all his teeth out, he bounced right back. Shiva is moving slower.

#56 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:58 PM:

#42: "It had a big influence on the way our families managed their affairs, and a fair bit of that ethic was passed on to us."

Same here. My parents, born in '34 and '36, weren't big spenders when I was growing up, and I'm not now.

#55: Robbed the food bank? Cripes!

I write checks for food bank / second harvest / heifer project at the end of the year, but I buy and donate food often because the bargain hunting is a sort of game. Sublimated compulsive shopping, maybe? A couple of weeks back I bought ten boxes of Cheerios for under $.50 each. They're in my car now, waiting for a chance to run by the donation center. I budget for it and it does good.

#57 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:07 AM:

#51: "Heck, maybe board games and Twister would come back as entertainment. Live music in the backyard."

One of my publishers claimed to love recessions because sales went up for games.

Along similar lines, I have hopes that a recession won't hurt my employers' line of work, supplying technology to cable companies. People who have some money will swap pricey travel for at-home movies and web surfing.

Live music . . . that would be cool. My aunt and her husband host house concerts. Jazz, mostly. Guests bring $10 and some finger food.

#58 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:14 AM:

Donations to food banks can also be a part of your emergency preparation kit.

This works well if you find it difficult to organize extra foods to rotate in and out of your own pantry. (Tracking how much you have, having to replace bits and pieces of the emergency kit every week or two.)

Instead, buy long-lasting foods for donation, wait a few months, and then drop them off. Buy a new set just before donating the earlier set. Doing this means you have emergency foods at all times, but only have to think about it two or three times a year.

#59 ::: BNDowell ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:21 AM:

I remember the Great Depression well, and I can tell you that activities such as movies we're less frequent indulgences, and they cost much less than they do now. A dime would get you in the door and you brought a piece of Fleer's Double Bubble gum (1 cent) with you. (If you were six or seven) You could buy popcorn for a nickel or dime, I can't remember because I never could afford it. You could get a hamburger and a malt for 25 cents. Pork chops were four for a dollar, and our total grocery bill for a week was about $4 for a family of eight. Many people in our town did truck farming, and in the summer you really lived on fresh vegetables. So learn to garden and to mend clothing. I know that everyone is stocking up on rice, but don't forget pinto beans and large quantities of wheat flour.

#60 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:12 AM:

Rikibeth @ 33: "Travel might get harder."

It will definitely get harder, won't it? If there is a GDII, there won't be droves of Okies heading to California--they won't be able to afford the gas.

#61 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:38 AM:

#60: They'll have to brew corn into ethanol along the way.

#62 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:39 AM:

B. Durbin @7:
Why not? Endless summer would appear to be on the way; then again, for some of us it's been September for over two decades....

abi @9:
Well, exceprt the klick is coming from the other side. Often literally. (Why yes, my sister and various nieces have complained a fair bit about their pregancies; why do you ask?)

Seth Gordon @19:
In such a scenario, the cities will survive, perhaps a bit shrunken. The suburbs, on the other hand, are toast: they will revert to farmland. (I grew up in a suburb which was still making that jump.)

Rikibeth @33:
CSA will be happening this year unless I land a job offer in .nz first. (How serious I am about that depends on my mood.)

And, aside to Fragano: "community supported agriculture", often called "farmshare". I was headed that way anyway, as I'm gradually dropping all the preprocessed crap from my diet and making more stuff from scratch; veggies from the local supermarket are expensive in small quantities and don't last long. And aren't local, when shipping costs are likely to increase considerably.

My own concession to stocking up: edamame. Otherwise, I've decided stocking up is the wrong answer: being able to grow it myself, or to do something I can barter(*) for others' produce, is better. It'll take time for that to ramp up, but I don't think any expected collapse will happen that quickly (unless our dear Emperor and his handlers find new ways to continue their economic rape far beyond any sane limit. If so, the dollar will already be completely worthless in the international market by then, so we have a benchmark.)

(*) the question being what a sysadmin on the wrong side of 40 can come up with in that area. I may have to fall back on stamina and become a laborer.

#63 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:34 AM:

re cities, farms and depressions: The city predates oil/fossile fuels. The present model (sprawly places, with large commuting distances) however, is less feasible. Contraction would be likely to occur.

I was pondering how to build a milpas and how to design it for maximal water efficiency (I live in Los Angeles). I think, with some bentonite, and a carefully designed cistern, I can recycle the water (which would otherwise just leach away), but it would be a lot of work.

On the other hand, with a good system like that, an acre can probably support four people; so long as one has the seed to get it going the first year.

Maia has inheirited traits from her mother; which are traits she got from her parents. They were in their early marriage in the Depression (one of the amusements is that Jake bought Lorraine a platinum ring, and she got pitying looks from people who assumed that Jake hadn't been able to afford gold, and bought silver).

That was with Jake not out of work (he was a machinist). To their dying days they were terribly tight with money; even though they had two pensions and lot of Chevron stock.

#64 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 03:35 AM:

Sarah @34:
Abi, I just bought a bunch of bookbinding supplies. I may make a mess of it, but you make it sound like so much fun.

Oooh! What did you buy?

It is fun, though houseguests, Dutch studies, the Gooey Kablooey, work and getting our rented house ready to return to its owners* has kept me from binding for a month or so now.

I presume you've seen my instructional/confessional site, the Bookweb? It details, among other things, pretty much everything I did wrong in the first few years of binding (in the gallery section). So if you do make a mess, at least you know you're not alone!

Keep us posted how it goes, and feel free to email me if you have any questions.

#65 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 03:44 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 61: "They'll have to brew corn into ethanol along the way."

Hard to do when you can't afford the corn either.

Now if they could make ethanol from cellulose--different picture. Suddenly kudzu by the roadside is your best friend.

#66 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:47 AM:

"CSA membership is happening next year", "I spent time working on a CSA farm and quite enjoyed it" - such phrases cause brainshear for those of us who read CSA as "Confederate States of America". I doubt things will get quite that bad...

#68 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 06:49 AM:

It is now possible to get CGI models of the Democratic Party fronr runners.

I reckon it's about time to be extra wary of press photographs.

#69 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 07:00 AM:

Macroeconomics used to be a hobby of mine back in the '80s... Hey, SOMETHING had to balance out the excitement of D&D... Let's see how wrong I can get it...

Election year politics will keep the economy from tanking too bad no matter what oil prices do... Even if the Fed has to lop another 1/4 point off the Prime. At least until Christmas...

If the election doesn't bring some positive news about ending the war, consumer confidence will trash the Christmas glut-fest and in Spring '09 we'll see some significant rise in unemployment. When McCain wins in November (and Oh Dear God, Please Let Me Be MORE Wrong About Politics Than The Economy!!!), the war jitters will get really nasty, and the retail industry will give a loud fart, roll over and lapse into a coma that won't end until Summer...

Gas is NOT going down this year or next, so suck it up. There will be minor relief around election time when Bush cuts loose some of the Strategic Reserve to boost confidence (and steal votes), but the fall switch-over to home heating oil production will kill any price-drop... Expect $4.50 a gallon by this time next season, just before Memorial Day. The Chinese are willing to pay $175 a barrel for oil, so the moderate cutbacks we accomplish this year won't affect price enough to stop the price spiral...

If you still drive a Tahoe, invest in a case of Astroglide and bend over... Your safeword will be, "Fill 'Er Up!" although I submit that the choice may not be a wise one...

We still need several really Bad Things to happen to get so far as Great Depression II, and it will take a couple years for all the necessary shit to roll down hill, so it won't get that bad until at least 2010, and probably not then. I agree with the earlier comment that world-wide conditions are not bad enough to spark/sustain a true Depression... Don't look for significant growth until '11, minimum...

Now everyone, please kindly remember to forget I said all this unless it comes true, in which case you all have to send me a dollar...

#70 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 07:38 AM:

More scariness on gender identity "cures" from Zucker and others, right down to how it's the mother's fault if her son is effeminate.

#71 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 07:56 AM:

A German trend researcher, Horst Opaschowski, proposed "Ten Commandments for the 21st Century" (and here)*, among which were:

"-- Only buy things you really want. Make your personal well-being the main criterium for buying something.
-- Earn your quality of life. Support yourself -- both through work and good works. 'There is no good, except the good one does.'
-- Foster intensive family ties and encourage children to develop long-lasting relationships.
-- Weave yourself a reliable social network, so that you have friends and neighbors to stand by you all your life.
-- Help others, so that you can be in a position to obtain and accept help."

One could discuss the particulars of each item, and I kind of channel Marcus Aurelius reading this, but I was struck by the emphasis on encouraging people to live socially; i.e.,
with and for one another. With or without another Great Depression, it seems to me that a lot of issues that we already have can be ameliorated through people helping each other at a grass-roots level: elder care, education, saving energy, nutrition... and that the grass-roots networks could/should be promoted.

btw, I've been wondering, what's the state of food-coops in the US these days?

*My translation. Couldn't find another one.

#72 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 08:16 AM:

Well, it appears at least one business is booming in this economy. Making Light spammers ...

#73 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 08:32 AM:

Ajay #66: That was how I parsed it, too. Probably the result of too much Turtledove reading. Helpful hint: If a guy named Featherston wants to tell you the truth, it's time to get the hell out of the country. Trust me on this, especially if you're black.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 08:47 AM:

About the state of the economy and how it could get worse...

Princess Leia: Put that thing away, you're gonna get us all killed!

Han Solo: Absolutely, Your Worship. Look, I had everything under control until you led us down here! Now it's not going to take them long to figure out what happened to us.

Princess Leia: It could be worse.

[Garbage creature growls]

Han Solo: It's worse.

#75 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 08:48 AM:

Terry #63: Yeah, suburbs and exurbs seem like they're very dependent on cheap gas, just because they're built so that it's a massive pain in the a-- to walk anywhere. You don't know how grateful I am that we didn't buy a house 40+ miles away from my work a few years back, when the bubble made decent houses closer in very expensive. (Instead, we kept renting and wondered if I needed to look for a job someplace easier to live.)

Now, it's important to keep this in perspective. Gas prices have more than doubled since 2000, and this has caused some big problems. But it's not like either suburbs or exurbs have gone away. Instead, their inhabitants (esp. exurbs' inhabitants) just have a lot less disposable income to spend. Even if gas hits $10/gallon, it's not like the exurbs would instantly wither and die, though they might eventually do that. (More likely, the house prices will collapse, and over time, there will be a migration of people who can work remotely most of the time into these very nice, cheap houses 60 miles from the city, replacing people who are being clobbered by the gas prices to commute into work every day.)

By contrast, when the jobs go away, the neighborhoods really can die, but I'd expect exurbs to be rather less susceptible to this than most other neighborhoods, because all the people living there usually don't work for the same company or industry. (That's regional, of course.)

Over time, I expect that people with homes in the exurbs will adjust as best they can--buy a good efficient commuter car, carpool, flex their schedule or work from home if possible, find train or bus routes that get them some or all the way to work. Those all have costs, and not all are workable for everyone (if you're a pediatrician or a factory worker, you aren't going to be able to telecommute; if you live way out in the sticks, there's probably not a nearby bus route or train station), but there is some flexibility. From where I live, I could take a bus to work every day, at the cost of about an extra hour of my day.

Has anyone started doing a social networking kind of site for finding carpool partners? This would be really useful.

#76 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 09:11 AM:

It's kind of hard to get a good garden going if you literally have no backyard because a previous owner decided they wanted a strip of patio.

My courtyard is about 8x10, which is large enough to get a respectable veggie patch in (with a few raised beds for the irises)...except it's a courtyard.

I guess I could rip up the concrete, though I'm a little wary of what might be in that dirt; my neighborhood used to be one of Pittsburgh's factory strips, and in fact there's a rather large one not four blocks away that's being torn down. Anyone know how you go about testing soil for bad chemicals?

#77 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 09:26 AM:

PJ @ #21--

Um, you do realize that The Water Margin AKA The Outlaws of the Marsh and Romance of the Three Kingdoms are two different novels, about two entirely different things? Because your post doesn't suggest that.

Both novels have had bits of them made into movies, and the whole things have been made into Chinese television series*, which the determined can probably trace down for themselves without my help. I was intrigued to see that Amazon has a Water Margin mah jong set available.

*As has The Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the other great traditional Chinese novels. It must be a real pain to do an adaptation of such complex books that every single person watching knows something about. Consider what we are like about movies-from-books and multiply to get a billion or so, each person with an opinion of their own.

There are two movies based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms coming out this year, one of which (Red Cliff, directed by John Woo) is supposed to be out just in time for the Olympics.

#78 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 09:38 AM:

Magenta@48: There is one convex regular 4D polytope built out of dodecahedra. It is the only one with pentagonal faces. There is another convex regular 4D polytope with the same symmetry group; just like the icosahedron has the same symmetry group as the dodecahedron.

The convex regular 4D polytopes are: the 5-cell (4-simplex, hyper-tetrahedron [snrk], self-dual), the 8-cell (tesseract, hypercube), the 16-cell (dual to the tesseract, tetrahedral cells), the 24-cell (sort of like a hyper-octahedron, octahedral cells, self-dual), the 120-cell above, and the 600-cell (sort of like a hyper-icosahedron, tetrahedral cells, dual to the 120-cell).

What's even more interesting are the non-convex regular 4D polytopes -- like star polygons in 2D, and stellated polyhedra in 3D. There are a bunch of them with the same symmetry group as the 120-cell, and some have dodecahedral cells.

#79 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Is a manual food processor worth the 25 bucks I'd pay for it? Or should I hold out for a food mill, because I'm trying to cook more soups? I can't find the latter in any of the neighbourhood stores I've tried (I've avoided Walmart). I figure that manual appliances are a better investment than electric ones, although they can be murder on the upper extremities.

#80 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:43 AM:

fidelio: thanks, I was wondering - that's one thing that is absolutely not clear on the bookstore sites.

Looks like I might want both ....

#81 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:44 AM:

Sajia, try second-hand stores and such--I have a decent food mill I picked up for about five dollars at one several years ago--simple construction, breaks down easily for cleaning. It's just like the one my mother had for years and years and years, which, now that I look about online a bit, seems to be a Foley.

If a slow search through second-hand stores seems tedious, Google shows several online sources, including Target and Lehman's. OXO makes one; so does Sunbeam. Prices run from about $20 on up.

Beware of Williams-Sonoma; it will look lovely, and when you compare prices your self-respect will suffer if you paid theirs.

I Sajia, try second-hand stores and such--I have a decent food mill I picked up for about five dollars at one several years ago--simple construction, breaks down easily for cleaning. It's just like the one my mother had for years and years and years, which, now that I look about online a bit, seems to be a Foley.

If a slow search through second-hand stores seems tedious, Google shows several online sources, including Target and Lehman's. OXO makes one; so does Sunbeam. Prices run from about $20 on up.

Beware of Williams-Sonoma; it will look lovely, and when you compare prices your self-respect will suffer if you paid theirs.


#82 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:47 AM:


That was supposed to end up

I love my food mill. It deals with things blenders and food processors can't do anything about, like seeds and peelings and stringy fibers. It runs entirely on renewable power sources, too, but if you're making a really large batch of applesauce or jam or tomato sauce, you'll want rest breaks.

#83 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:48 AM:

Oh, you do, PJ, you do.

#84 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:07 AM:

Depends on the mill. I have one, Maia's mother doesn't (but has a cereal mill) and we have a fruit juicer in the house (what it does for tomatoes... juices lbs in minutes, seeds and skins left behind).

#85 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:21 AM:

PJ @ #80:

My standard warning here: don't get the Brewitt-Taylor translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I haven't read the other one that is readily available, but I have to assume the translator has a better ear for English prose than Brewitt-Taylor. (About accuracy I can say nothing, as I don't read Chinese.)

#86 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:24 AM:

I've seen juicers like that, Terry, and they are amazing. The typical general food processor or blender, though, while good and useful tools, have some limits, which a pan-style food mill (as opposed to the sausage grinder sort) compensates for wonderfully.

Of course, a pan-style food mill has limits as well--it won't chop, slice, mix or knead, and as the last Good Bits are forced through, it can be very hard to turn the crank.

#87 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:28 AM:

susan @70 -- the shade of Bruno Bettelheim rears its ugly head. When I was an undergraduate, his theory of the origins of autism -- Mom's fault! -- was widely accepted. Now of course, we know that autism is a very complex biochemical and/or neurostructural disorder. The same is true of schizophrenia. And new information is coming out All. The. Time! on possible biological bases of "behavioral" disorders such as OCD. That's why I find Zucker's quote from the recent NPR interview particularly disturbing:

The therapists supporting a child's transition early, I have characterized them in a half serious way as liberal essentialists. On the surface, the approach comes across as very humanistic, liberal, accepting, tolerant of diversity. But I think the hidden assumption is that they believe the child's cross-gender identity is entirely caused by biological factors. That's why I call them essentialists. Liberals have always been critical of biological reductionism, but here they embrace it. I think that conceptual approach is astonishingly naive and simplistic, and I think it's wrong.

#88 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:30 AM:

Dan @ 85

Some of the reviewers were recommending the Moss translation. (One of the other versions is by Shapiro. I believe that's Outlaws.)
See, that's one reason why I love this place: other people know more about obscure stuff than I do.

(What had me looking at this yesterday was a catalog from a (remainder?) bookseller. So I went looking to learn more about it and here we are ....)

#89 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:06 PM:

From a quick glance at the first pages of the Moss Roberts translation, it looks to be more readable than the Brewitt-Taylor translation.

Brewitt-Taylor went for a sort of faux-archaic feel, with stilted dialogue. (This may partly be due to the fact that he did this in the 1920s, as I recall.) While it might read better than Roberts' more prosaic translation for a bit, I found it rather wearying at length. Not to mention that his ear is not the best. Probably not everyone would find it jarring to have Cao Cao use the phrase "gang aft agley," but I do.

#90 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Carrie S. @76: Don't rip up the pavement -- container gardening would be the way to go.

There are several lovely container garden systems available, I can personally recommend Earthbox (I'm growing alpine strawberries in one). We've got a new planter for tomatos -- the tomato plant goes in upside down, and you can plant other plants in the top (Plow & Hearth or Gardener's Supply catalogs). I'll report back on how well it works.

Rikibeth @33: We bought a half share in a local produce farm, and they had an open house last week. They've planted peas, beans, tomatos, strawberry, bok choy, and cabbage so far. They'll be delivering to our local farm market every Saturday starting May 24th.

#91 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:11 PM:

I think people should be free to choose the gender they wish to live, or the gender they wish to engage in affectionate and sexual relations with, regardless of what is in their genes. It's like with the race thing; I don't care whether or not I share common ancestry with Ann Coulter, she still has an obligation either way to treat me with respect, just as I have an obligation as a moral being to refrain from giving her the punch in the face she thoroughly deserves.
I mean, we're sf/fantasy/horror fans, we're used in fiction to the idea of having sex and friendship with beings who by no stretch of science can be said to have common ancestry with us or fit into human patriarchal gender roles.
We treat others decently because we are capable of moral decisions, not because science, scholarship or religion decreed so.

#92 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:15 PM:

One of the local gardening experts who loves to container garden has also grown veggies in straw bales. I'll see if I can find more info on it...

Re: GDII - For years I've been stockpiling cross-stitch charts and kitting up some of them. I was doing it for my retirement, and because the cost of supplies has constantly increased. I store them in one of the cedar chests.

Between my embroidery, books, and DVDs, I should be able to keep myself entertained...

#93 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:26 PM:

#88--PJ, which bookseller/catalog was this? Inquiring minds need to know because they suffer from the pleasant delusion they need more books...

#94 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:28 PM:

Sajia --

Much as it would be preferable otherwise, we're all stuck having common ancestry with Ann Coulter.

On the general issue of depressions --

Depressions are a side effect of running the economy as a machine for concentrating and preserving wealth. They're noticeable since 1850 mostly because there was this brief period of running the economy to promote the general welfare for the depression to contrast against.

My suspicion is that the US economy is not so much going to tank as fatally unravel; there will almost certainly be a new one, after, but predicting which one that will be strikes me as impossible. (Many forces attempting to remove the government's ability to regulate and to maximize immediate profit, few forces attempting to assert the value of regulation and to assure reliable profit over future time; that makes it likely that the economy in question won't survive.)

The two things I think are missing from the prior list of suggestions are tools and political action.

Critical tools should have backups and backups of the backups; if this isn't possible (the critical tool is a major capital investment like a milling machine, say) make sure you've got an on-hand stock of spares for anything you would expect to replace. For a writer, this means a couple years of printer ink or toner are a good thing to have on hand; for a home canner, that means having lots of little rubber sealing rings, and so on.

Tools for things you might need to start doing are another good candidate here; I got a 'every bike tool you'll need' pre-packaged toolbox from MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op) and while I don't by any means know how to use all of them I at least have all of them, and I might be very pleased at that in the future.

Anything that eases muscle powered transport—wheelbarrows, carts, bike paniers or trailers—is probably a good idea to have around, and to practise with now, while alternatives might be obtained. I don't expect the Toronto transit system to die unless things get very bad indeed, but I do expect (since I do this already) to have to use it to carry heavy and awkward things.

Political action, well, the primary question in a depression is the survival of government on the basis of the consent of the governed. That's doing really quite badly at the moment, and unless it is doing well, things do not improve for the the majority of the population. So insisting on the consent of the governed part and the general welfare part and the mechanism to secure general prosperity part in whatever way you can—there is no optimal way to do this; the essential things are the community with everyone else so insisting and insisting—is proably the best single thing anyone can do to respond to a depression.

#95 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Debbie #87: Yeah, I remember my mom (who was a special ed teacher) commenting that the theories she got in school on causes of various mental illnesses implied that a lot of major problems (schizophrenia in particular, I think) were the result of horrible, cruel parenting. And that she and all her colleagues pretty much believed that, and thought very badly of people with schizophrenic kids for many years, all based on what she later came to see was BS.

One really important lesson from this kind of thing is how important it is for scientists to make it clear how certain they really are about stuff. Though it seems like there's a strong tendency to speak in maximally authoritative tones to justify research funding and policy prescriptions, and to strengthen the case against academic rivals/alternative schools of thought/etc.

One of my favorite unintentionally funny examples of this was Steve Pinker's pretty good book The Blank Slate. He spends a fair bit of that book pointing out places where psychologists in the past made blanket authoritative statements that were full of sh-t about all kinds of things, based on their models and ideology. He then spends a fair bit of the last quarter of the book making blanket authoritative statements about all kinds of things, based on his models and ideology. There appear to be no recognition of the irony there....

#96 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Here's info on straw bale gardening, and it has additional links as well:

Straw Bale Gardening

#97 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:49 PM:

I thought the Earthbox mentioned by Lori Coulson at 90 looked interesting. The 40.00+ price tag was less interesting. I would love to try container gardening, but know myself well enough to know that I might not follow through after obtaining the materials. I have now found instructions to make a similar container oneself. Very tempting...

#98 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:49 PM:

fidelio @ 93

The book was from UC Press; they have a two-volume (full) and a one-volume (abridged) version (both translated by Roberts).
The reviews were at Amazon (although I also looked at Powell's). (Amazon is selling Outlaws of the Marsh (5 vol) with the Roberts translation (4 vol) as a package deal. Um, $108.90 ... there's that number again.)
The catalog was Labyrinth, whose books are mostly from university presses.

I first ran across this in an anthology called Hero Tales from Many Lands (Alice Hazeltine), where it was the story called 'The Empty City'. (I recommend this anthology. The title is not an exaggeration.)

#99 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:00 PM:

#98--Thanks! Because I need more sources for mine own particular kind of crack.

#100 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:04 PM:

The best translator of Romance of the Three Kingdoms that I've run into is Moss Roberts. He has both a full translation out, and a very readable one-volume condensed version that covers the major subplots.

Ear for English? Oh yes, he has that. My husband says he also preserves nuances from the Chinese original text very well. I'd quote -- but my copies are still stashed in a moving carton.

#101 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:05 PM:

I was out working at my CSA yesterday, putting plants in the ground (we can work off part of our share). I also picked up a few veggies to go in the garden that the other half is working on - he gets to be in charge of growing foodstuffs while I do the herb garden. I'm doing a 'raised' bed psedo-medieval herb garden and concentrating on putting in herbs that I use constantly or ones that I use in cooking research*. While he and I are not self-sufficient, we are seriously working on cutting down on the amount we have to buy by canning, cooking, and bartering. It's a challenge, certainly, and I find myself calling one grandmother frequently and wishing the other still was capable of helping (my father's mother taught food preservation at CUNY in the 40s. I should pull out the recipe boxes when I'm home next...I could use some of them, I think.)

However, the USPS is our aid in barter. I have 12 bottles of sekanjabin (mint, raspberry, and blueberry) sitting in my basement, much more mint in the ground, some carboys of mead started, and a website full of jewelry. Shall we start the trading? ;)

*speaking of which, I've got fennel in this year. Suggestions of what to use it in/with would be appreciated.

#102 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:20 PM:

Edward Oleander at #69
Macroeconomics used to be a hobby of mine back in the '80s... Hey, SOMETHING had to balance out the excitement of D&D...

well, aren't they sort of the same thing at times? You are pretending that obscure mathematical things in books are a realistic model of things, and often you are doing it for a bunch of people who feel they are entitled to have everything.

#103 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:22 PM:

This just in .... the CA state supreme court has ruled that statutes banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional!

#104 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:29 PM:

Erik, you could DEFINITELY be on to something there! Lucky I wasn't drinking anything as I read that... Thanks!

#105 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Lori Coulson @90 -- We've got a new planter for tomatos -- the tomato plant goes in upside down, and you can plant other plants in the top.

I bet that will work pretty well. I've had good results growing cherry tomatoes as hanging plants, and had wanted to mention it earlier as a space-saving idea for balcony gardeners. Tomatoes are actually vines and want to creep, not stand up anyway.

albatross @95 -- I so agree about the humility. And that particularly impressed me about Diane Ehrensenf, the other interviewee in the NPR piece. She specifically addressed the need to be humble and careful about gender diagnoses.

As a therapist, at some point you have to make decisions and take actions, and there are pressures from many sides. But when and why is important. One of my practicum supervisors drove us all nuts with his 'hypothesis testing model.' We had to brainstorm EVERY POSSIBLE cause of the presenting problem (child/family clinic), then test those hypotheses and rule things out. We wanted to TREAT, the parents put a lot of pressure on us to DO SOMETHING, but Dr. W. stuck to his guns. Learned a heck of a lot from him. (Re: Pinker -- Heh. Why be humble when you're sure you're RIGHT??)

Sisuile @ 101 -- fennel seeds or bulbs? I've got a great recipe for Fennel Paysanne, which is probably actually reasonably old.

#106 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:42 PM:

I've seen juicers like that, Terry, and they are amazing. The typical general food processor or blender, though, while good and useful tools, have some limits, which a pan-style food mill (as opposed to the sausage grinder sort) compensates for wonderfully.

If I had to have one and one only, it'd be a blender. But I am very fond of soup and doing pureed soup in a blender is the easiest way to do it.

A food mill is next on the essential list, since it makes a *whole* bunch of things (like pumpkin pie) doable. I don't even want to *think* about what fun processing pumpkin pie filling from scratch would be without a food mill. Also, it makes good baby food.

A food processor is best at things I'm already very good at doing manually, and it isn't much faster than I am for my usual batch sizes. But... I've put in a good 15 years learning to chop quickly and efficiently, mix bread dough and the like. For someone who doesn't have the time or inclination to learn the physical skills, a food processor is a godsend. And for large batch cooking (more than 6 adults), the food processor outpaces me and the cleaning tax is no longer more trouble than it's worth.

Tools for things you might need to start doing are another good candidate here; I got a 'every bike tool you'll need' pre-packaged toolbox from MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op) and while I don't by any means know how to use all of them I at least have all of them, and I might be very pleased at that in the future.

Tools and instructions on how to use them are always a good idea. A bike repair book is less necessary these days since many bike mechanics have put up instructions for all sorts of tasks... but a hard copy backup is often useful.

#107 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:49 PM:

"The Water Margin" got onto TV in the UK, in the late 70's. Many of the cast names, and some of the locations, look Japanese to me, but IMDB has it down as a Chinese production.

#108 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:50 PM:

I push the button every 108 minutes....

#109 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:53 PM:

Debbie @105: I've mentally christened the planter "Babylon" -- You fill the base with sand or water, put the support pillars in and place the planter box on top of the pillars.

Then you take your tomato plants and place them in the holes in the bottom of the box, so they're hanging upside down and add soil. We're planting bell peppers, herbs and marigolds in the top...

We'll be putting that together next weekend -- we just reached our frost-free date, and past experience has taught us not to set out tomato plants before Memorial Day. (Our CSA farm has set some of their tomatos out, but they've got them under row covers.)

#110 ::: Noelle ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Thoughts on the last few weeks of pregnancy. My favourite memories are of losing my balance at a farmers market and starting to run forward. Unfortunately, my belly threw me way off balance and I started to charge a sweater stand. I just couldn't pull myself upright and stop. The guy at the sweater stand looked terrified and my husband was standing behind me open mouthed. I remember thinking something along the lines of: "I'm carrying a carton of eggs right now, I have to stop." I pulled myself upright at the last minute. I don't know who was more relieved.

Regarding the Great Depression II. I grew up rural and poor and my Mother grew up on the proverbial dirt farm. I canned, made jam, baked bread and helped my Mother with the garden from as early as I can remember. She supported four kids on her own after my father left, with two jobs. But that huge garden made a big difference.

I think what people would experience in this case is mainly much more work, of all types. But I don't honestly think we would replicate the 1930's. If a depression did occur I think it would have a very different feel and flavour. It might be better to look at a city like Mexico city to see what we would encounter.

#111 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:09 PM:

#107 Dave Bell--IIRC, the 1970s was a joint Japanese-Chinese project; the Chinese did another television series based on The Water Margin in the late 1990s.

#112 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:12 PM:

P J Evans (103):
This just in .... the CA state supreme court has ruled that statutes banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional!
You beat by two minutes for the announcement, so I went and looked at the decision
, it is remanded back to the appellate court for the actual action, I'm not sure how long that takes.

48 States to go*!

*Plus other US entities with self rule.

#113 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Speaking of herbs, we have a huge clump of tarragon growing in a pot; it's doing far better than we thought it would (it's almost as happy as the rosemary in the front yard), and we just don't know what to do with so much of it. Are there recipes that use a lot of tarragon, or that we might like so much we'll make them all the time?

#114 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:20 PM:

Eric #102: So, we seem to have missed our saving throw against cost-push inflation, but made the save against financial system collapse, at least for the time being. Though I have to say, I'm not too crazy about the addition of the Oil Dictator NPCs, even though it probably is good for game balance.

General Question: Does anyone have a good link for how much people can adjust their lives based on energy prices at fairly low cost? I'm sure there will be diminishing returns at some point, but it sure seems like a family with two SUVs in the garage and an 120 mile round trip, 5-day-a-week commute has a lot of savings available. Frex, if you changed cars and went from 20 MPG to 30 MPG, you'd save 10 gallons per week[1][2]. If you carpooled or flexed out your schedule so you were only driving in half the days, you'd save another 10 gallons per week.

Similarly, stuff like planning trips to the store a bit can decrease your gasoline usage some, though I'm not sure how much. Insulation, lowering the thermostat, turning off lights, all that stuff surely helps, but I'm curious how much of the slack it can take up?

I think it's a mistake to assume that a big recession is going to be uniform. Some industries and some regions are likely to take a bigger hit than others, because all the specific parts going into the recession hit different places differently. For example, a lot of homeowners in bubble-affected places like Montgomery County, Maryland got clobbered by the fall of their house prices, often after they'd taken out second mortgages for good or bad reasons. There are a lot of bank-owned properties around here. This didn't hit mid-Missouri nearly so hard, because they didn't have the massive rise in housing prices that led to people taking out huge mortgages on them. On the other hand, a meltdown of farming will affect mid-Missouri in ways that the DC area will barely notice. And all kinds of stuff works like this--a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigration, a tradewar with China, or a major shift in government spending on social programs[3] will have radically different effects in mid-Missouri, the DC area, and the Pacific Northwest.

I think something similarly non-uniform is happening with respect to inflation right now. Around here, housing prices have dropped, but fuel has gotten more expensive. One effect of this is that the tradeoff between bigger houses far away and smaller houses nearer to work has shifted, in a way you'd never expect by just thinking in terms of inflation.

[1] This is the kind of change you could make while saving money, as you switch from an Odyssey to a Civic. (You can get another 10 MPG or so switching to a more expensive and complicated hybrid, and probably another 10-15 MPG by switching to an efficient motorcycle. But you're getting into the more serious/painful tradeoffs there.)

[2] At $4/gallon, that's about $2000 per year.

[3] Any or all of these would be unsurprising results of a major recession.

#115 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:20 PM:

If my canario would work out to multiples of 12 (like, say, 108) life would be much better. I just sent my non-12 version off to my musician and he sent it back telling me I have to be making major errors and to restart from scratch. What I sent him was the fourth time I had restarted from scratch. Sigh.

#116 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:27 PM:

Here's my favorite recipe using tarragon, and it ties in nicely with the discussion of depression-era technologies, while being good and quick for two-career lifestyles.

Chicken Breasts Tarragon

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, pepper, paprika
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 cup celery -- sliced
1/4 cup carrot -- sliced
1/4 cup onion -- sliced
1/4 cup white Worcestershire sauce*
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Heat 4 qt pressure cooker, add oil, and brown chicken on both sides. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Add tarragon, vegetables, Worchestershire sauce, and wine. Close cover securely. Place regulator on vent pipe and cook 3 minutes with regulator rocking slowly. Cool cooker at once (run water over it in the sink). Remove chicken and keep warm. Combine cornstarch and water and stir into sauce; heat till thickened, stirring constantly. Serve over steamed riced cauliflower to keep the carb count low, or over rice if you aren't a low-carber.

*Plain old Worchestershire works fine -- just doesn't look as pretty.

#117 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:31 PM:

#114 albatross--switching to a vehicle with better mileage has its risks--dealers are starting to refuse to take SUVs as trade-ins because they can't get rid of them. Switching houses, if you own the property, may have some of the same problems.

Currently, because of parking problems, Tennessee state employess in the Nashville area get free buses passes (good only for going to and from work) from the state. Despite the incentive offered by this, many people who could conveniently take the bus continue to do drive--some because they haven't ever imagined themselves as using public transportation; others because they feel that their lives "require" that they have a car handy in case of emergencies*. Still others are having trouble trading off, in their minds, the money saved versus the extra time a public transportation commute often takes. I see some who ride some days and drive others. As the cost of gas gets higher and higher, though, I can see more converts.

*Sometimes they do. Sometimes it's just because they cannot envision other options, because they've never had to.

#118 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:33 PM:

There's always the recipe my mother dubbed "Carrie's Favorite Chicken", which went:

Take 4 chicken breasts (I prefer the skinless boneless kind, YMMV) and brown them by whatever method you prefer. Remove them from the pan but do not drain it! In the pan, make a gravy with 1 cup chicken broth, a "glop" or two of spicy brown mustard, the juice of a lemon, 2 tablespoons of tarragon, and enough flour to thicken. Put the chicken back in, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, turning the chicken occasionally.

It's very nice over rice.

#119 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:38 PM:

#45 -- Bruce Cohen

[ I know this because I once lived in a cottage on the estate of the man who supplied concrete for the construction of the Empire State Building, which was completed during the Depression. That estate was built using the profits of the sale; it's a bunch of acres on a hill just outside of Peekskill, N.Y. ]

This fits perfectly as one way to answer the question someone in this asked, "What does a Depression feel like?"

Marion C Cooper, write the script for King Kong in an office from where he could see the Empire State Building going up.

The scenes that first introduce us to the character of Ann Darrow in King Kong are a sequence of what it was like in the cities, at least (the Depression played out differently in the rural areas). People were HUNGRY. Lots of people were HUNGRY. All the time.

The Depression is the ambience of King Kong. It would have been a very different film if it wasn't that era.

Love, C.

#120 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:55 PM:

Carrie @118, that's a lot like a pork chop recipe I used to make a lot -- brown the pork chops on one side, then turn over, cover, and cook about 7 minutes till done. Remove, then add a bit of mustard, some tarragon, salt and pepper, and about a half cup of yogurt to the pan juices to make a sauce to pour over them.

My mind is not on work today...

#121 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Janet: Interesting; I wouldn't have thought to use yogurt for the sour. My thoughts there tend to go for citrus or vinegar.

#122 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:59 PM:

Re trying out transportation alternatives, it's worth mentioning that tomorrow, May 16, has been designated Bike to Work Day by the League of American Bicylists. (A San Francisco group is observing it today).

I'm a bit far out from work, and usually take the train, but if the weather's nice I might try the two-wheel commute tomorrow. I wonder how many other cyclists I'll see en route.

#123 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 03:12 PM:

Fennel goes very well with chicken. Sometimes it's listed in the recipes as anise. (Drove me nuts the first time I looked for it in the store.)

My primary job went and moved to a location about 40 miles from my apartment. They offered me discounts on public transit until I showed them how it would take more than three hours going each way. I'm sorry, six hours getting to and from work is not a good tradeoff.

The good news is that with my pregnancy, they actually figured out a way for me to telecommute. I think they would have put it off forever otherwise. (I'll still have to go in once a week, but that would be the day for the Dude to be with his grandparents, who literally live just off the route I'd take.)

We don't live too far from Evil Rob's work but there isn't a safe way for him to bike there. (Multi-lane freeway ramps and pre-dawn darkness are not a good combo, especially given driver behavior around here.) If we were able to rent a place on the other side of the freeway that would be an option. After summer, unfortunately, because his Nordic heritage really shines through sometimes and heatstroke isn't a good way to save money. ;D

#124 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 03:12 PM:

PJ @ #98:

Be careful with that UC unabridged edition - I'm pretty sure last time it was discussed (on one of Kate Nepveu's sites) it was determined that it was actually a THREE-volume set, of which they were only selling the first two.

#125 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 03:15 PM:

Dan, that one is the translation I was warned against getting.

#126 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 03:18 PM:

Well, then I'm confused, because I thought everyone had recommended the Moss Roberts translation, and the UC two-volume set is by him.

I found the discussion I was thinking of - it was planned as a three-volume set, but they never published the third volume.

#127 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Re Depression, energy savings, etc.

My parents married in 1937. They knew all about frugality. Eat lower on the food chain (beans & rice vs. meat); reuse stuff; buy large sizes of nonperishable things; cook double batches of things to save time and energy (especially things baked in the oven); do things for yourself rather than pay someone else to do them; etc., etc.

One of the biggest things you can do to save energy is line-dry some of your clothes, especially heavy stuff like jeans and towels. Even if you can only get one of those over-the-bathtub clotheslines and partially dry things that way, you will save a noticeable amount of electricity. Similarly, most washing machines will now do a good job on most clothes with cold water; I almost never resort to warm or hot water wash, and I always rinse everything in cold.

#128 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 03:37 PM:

OOH! Forgot to mention that many electrical utility companies will do a free energy audit of your house, meaning someone comes out and gives you specific advice (caulk this crack, replace that appliance) to increase energy-efficiency. Here in Georgia, the Forestry Commission will come to your house for free to assess the health of your trees; the county extension service is a huge free resource on all kinds of consumer issues like food prep and gardening. Take advantage of stuff like this!

#129 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Well, well, well ... This just in:

Lori Drew (remember her?) has been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers without permission for her part in the suicide of Megan Meier.

#130 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:03 PM:

Tracie @ 129:
I have mixed feelings about this. It looks to me like they are doing it on the basis of the interstate commerce clause, which I think is a real can of worms when applied to things internet. The argument seems to be that since MySpace is based in California, using it from another state is in act of interstate commerce, and using an alias on it makes one vulnerable to federal charges. I don't much care for the implications of that with regard to net-anonymity and aliases.

On the other hand, Lori Drew is pond scum.

#132 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:19 PM:

abi, #9: I have a very good imagination. That's one of the reasons I don't have kids.

y, #22: Ghod(dess) help me, I'm now seeing everything in terms of art cars! I'll bet there could be a very good one based on The Water Margins.

John Mark, #42: My parents were both Depression-era children as well (both born in 1920), and as you and Constance say, it leaves a mark that never fades. I'm different; I understand frugality and "saving for a rainy day," but without the obsessive-compulsive nature about it that they had. One of the ways it manifested regularly was that after I had moved out on my own, no matter what I spent my money on, it was always the wrong thing.

ajay, #66: Yeah. That caused a momentary *blink* reaction!

Carrie, #76: Sounds like container gardening would be the best way for you to go. No need to tear up the concrete, and no worries about soil quality.

Sajia, #91: We treat others decently because we are capable of moral decisions, not because science, scholarship or religion decreed so.

Those are words which deserve to be carved into marble and inlaid with gold.

albatross, #114: One alternative I've been seriously thinking about is getting a small motor-scooter for local errand-running. Save the car for when I have to go across town, and I could go further and carry more with a scooter than I can with the bike.

fidelio, #117: When I lived in Nashville and worked downtown, you'd better believe I took the bus back and forth! No parking hassles, and someone else got to deal with the rush-hour traffic, while I got a chance to read or unwind. I only drove on days when I was heading out somewhere directly after work. The problem with Nashville's public transportation system, though, is that it only works well for people who work standard business hours downtown. For anyone else, taking the bus either adds hours to your commute time or is not even an option. At my last downtown job, I had to tell them that I needed a day's notice (or a ride home) if they wanted me to stay late, because the last bus that went closer than 3 miles to my house left downtown at 5:15.

#133 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:35 PM:

When talking about miles per gallon, I always have to remember that the USA'ian gallon is smaller than the UK one. Here, my car does about 46mpg(1), which corresponds to 38.3 USA'ian gallons.
Suddenly the SUV comparisons don't look quite so wonderful as they did a few minutes ago.

As for depressions, if we did get one in the UK, there would be millions out of work, and some malnourishment and starvation. The dole would help somewhat, but few people have access to the kind of land that can be used to grow food. But then we went through our own kind of depression in the 80's...

Apparently my grandfather and his brother started working for the bank back in the 1930's partly because you got a pension! and they still had the example of their grandparents who had lived out their short retirement in poverty in a small hovel in Musselburgh I think.

(1) its a diesel ford mondeo estate, 2 litre engine. My previous car was a 1.8 litre Vauxhall cavalier, which did maybe 36mpg imperial mpg.

#134 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:45 PM:

Bruce @ 113

We really like this one for pork chops in a creamy champagne sauce:,,FOOD_9936_105234,00.html

Careful, though, because the cream curdles easily if you aren't really, really careful.

#135 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:46 PM:

Maybe all the comparisons should be in km/liter?

#136 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:48 PM:

Lee @ #132--service to the peripheries has improved somewhat--and the idea of a bus service that goes around, for places like Old Hickory Boulevard, rather than strictly in and out, has begun to creep into the general consciousness of the MTA. There's even commuter service out towards parts of Rutherford County and (deeply contested by some) to Williamson County, and light rail that goes off toward Wilson County. They have bus racks on the fronts of buses, even.

But a lot of people haven't managed to make the mental transition yet, which is the hard part. As a society, we're trained to love our cars, and to depend on them first, and other forms of transportation as a second best.

#137 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:52 PM:

In the last month or two, a lot more people have been riding the trains around LA. As in: suddenly we're close to SRO, instead of having empty seats.

#138 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Tarragon, mustard powder and lemongrass powder are among my most used flavorings -- with the variety of onions and shallots and garlic, of course. And wine or lemon and lime juice. Plus a variety of chilis and molidos and hot sauces. Curry mixture. Etc.

The things one does when on a non-sodium or low sodium diet!

I'm getting ready to think about making dinner ....

Love, C

#139 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Our city has decided that a "hub" system is the way to go— for "convenience", of course. This means that all major bus routes go in towards the center, instead of along the major thoroughfares.

In practice, this means that the eight miles in between our apartment and Evil Rob's workplace are not serviced by one route that goes along the major thoroughfare. Instead, it it served by a route that goes most of the way, turns north, goes just as far to the community college, and then another route heads south and finally crosses the freeway. Instead of a reasonable 20 to 40 minute route, Evil Rob would be looking at close to two hours, because it's more "convenient."

Convenient for whom, I wonder.

(It's also a little frustrating to know that because the city has incorporated recently, plans to extend the light rail further south were put on hold. It would be REALLY nice to have a light rail line that went from this city center to the larger city center, becasue there's a lot of nice things there that I'd visit if I didn't have to deal with parking.)

#140 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:07 PM:

P J Evans #135- yes, that would be easiest, its just my car trip counter thingy is set at mpg and I need to do the calculations.

#141 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:16 PM:

guthrie at 140

Did someone say calculations?

#142 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:24 PM:

I don't see mpg/ litre per 100km there.
I did however pick up a small program from work called "COnvert" made by Joshua F Madison. It does just about everything you need, from temperature through to torque, volume, computer stuff, pressure etc.
I'm sure it must be out there on the internet somewhere.

#143 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:29 PM:

The illustrated ACME catalog. It's just what you need when in futile pursuit of a roadrunner (fastus birdus).

#144 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:36 PM:

fidelio, #136: Not to mention the perception of taking buses as "something only poor black people do". I still remember being told the "unofficial" expansion of MARTA, the bus system in Atlanta. No, I'm not going to repeat it here; I have more class than the person who told it to me.

#145 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:37 PM:


A grid system for bus lines isn't much better. You end up having to changes buses a lot more than you want. LA has the worst of both: a grid system with downtown as the main hub, and outlying subsidiary ones that you probably need to change buses to access. The trains I ride are straight-up spoke-and-hub, with one line that's outlying-to-outlying (on a major traffic path, so it makes sense).

#146 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Lee #144: I've heard it. MARTA is also a rail system, by the way.

#147 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 06:59 PM:

tarragon vinegar.

2 cups of leaves and stalks washed.
3 cups of boiling white vinegar
1 quart canning jar with lid
1 vinegar bottle (or any tall, narrow container with a cork.
1 funnel
1 strainer

Put the tarragon in the canning jar and cover with the boiling vinegar. Cover tightly and put on a shelf for 30 days. Remove the tarragon, using a strainer for the small bits.

Optional: place fresh, whole stalks in the vinegar bottle. Reheat the vinegar and pour over fresh leaves. Let sit 1 week before using.

Good with salads, rice, and random vegetables.

#148 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 06:59 PM:

The magic of music:

In my job I'm blessed with a door I can shut when the environment gets too distracting, but today the distraction was all me--I'd been in a rage since yesterday because of irritating situations in the office, and I wasn't able to concentrate.

Half an hour of listening to uppity music* on my Ipod while I work has cleared that right up--I love my job again, consolodating 1200 rows of data into 800 rows is nifty and fun instead of maddening, and my co-workers are menschen instead of morons. Also it made my incipient migraine go away. I'd forgotten how quickly and thoroughly music can center me and remind me of who I really am.

*mainly a mix of Nine Inch Nails, Eminem, Smashing Pumpkins, and (blush) Tom Jones

#149 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 07:08 PM:

"There is no persuasive basis for applying to statutes that classify persons on the basis of the suspect classification of sexual orientation a standard less rigorous than that applied to statutes that classify on the basis of the suspect classifications of gender, race, or religion. Because sexual orientation, like gender, race, or religion, is a characteristic that frequently has been the basis for biased and improperly stereotypical treatment and that generally bears no relation to an individual’s ability to perform or contribute to society, it is appropriate for courts to evaluate with great care and with considerable skepticism any statute that embodies such a classification."

From the California Supreme Court decision striking down the ban on same-sex marriage.


/Lizzy does the happy dance, metaphorically, anyway. It's way too hot out here to dance.../

#150 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 07:25 PM:

Mary Dell @ #148, "(blush) Tom Jones"

No underwear was thrown in the writing of this post.

#151 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 07:37 PM:

#150: That's unusual.

#152 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 07:41 PM:

Whoa, whoa, whoa . . .

#154 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Jon Meltzer #151: Why? Why? Why?

#155 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 08:02 PM:

Fragano @ 146: And a darn good one, too--maybe not as good as BART or the DC Metro, but good.

I think the reason racists focused on the bus system is because those buses could go anywhere--DOWN YOUR STREET, WHERE ANYONE COULD PULL THE CORD AND JUMP OFF--while the trains stay on the tracks (we hope).

As for myself, I would've been happier not to walk that block, block and a half to the bus stop, and downright thrilled not to have to walk up to Dresden on Sundays and holidays.

#156 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 08:10 PM:

#154: It's new?

#157 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 08:55 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer #155: And then stand at the bus stop waiting for the next bus with your television in hand?

#158 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 09:05 PM:

Lee @144:
The bus route serving my part of town has for several years gotten its greatest usage from a white, upper middle class Republican enclave. Go figure.

Mary Dell @148:
You too, huh? NIN, Rage Against The Machine, Korn, Saul Williams, Rammstein, MDFMK, The Offspring, and recently added Apocalyptica. Rather than be angry, I let my music be angry for me.

#159 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Fragano @ 157: At least having bus service kept me from having to steal a car, too.

#160 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 09:12 PM:

PJ @ #145: We lived in Denver for a number of years and were happy with the transit there. In fact, it tends to be rated very highly in the country in terms of just plain getting you there. "Spoke and hub" is a good description— AND they hadn't gotten the light rail down 25 and 225 at that point, so I bet it's even better now.

The only problem they had from our perspective was a lack of buses to Park Meadows— a bus driver told me that Highlands Ranch had lobbied against it. Well, it was back in place by the time we left.

A lot of people don't like light rail, and I understand why. Denver's had a few features that really worked, including the fact that it went to all of their stadiums. Now that's a good idea. Park out at the edge of the city, take the train in... and of course, there's always plenty of late trains on game night.

I guess the only real way to design transit logically is to see where people live and where they go and build it like that. Major thoroughfares are there for a reason, so use them. But if everybody works in one area, get the buses there.

#161 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 09:13 PM:

The US Attorney's office in Los Angeles has just announced (today) in the MySpace bullying case. I haven't got any details, but one piece of the indictment was "conspiracy". I think they are using stalking laws to get a charge.

#162 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:12 PM:

The bus that goes past my house, which I usually use to get home, is having the oddest schedule change next week: instead of leaving the downtown hub at 5:15, it's going to start leaving at 5:00. Exactly when everyone gets off work, leaving no time to get to the stop. And the next bus on that route doesn't come until 6:00. I suspect some transit planners will be scratching their heads over how empty it is, all of a sudden.

Luckily I live in an unsprawling college town, so there are a couple of routes that will let me off within four or five blocks of where I need to be.

#163 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:30 PM:

geekosaur @#158: my faves are mellower (Peter Gabriel, Dave Matthews, Tori Amos...yeah, I'm old), but that's the beauty of an MP3 player--any mood I want to invoke is literally at my fingertip. And I like a little bit of everything...even Opera, if you count Gilbert & Sullivan.

#164 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:31 PM:

In England they calculate mileage in miles per liter.

There was an article in the sports section that said how many stone Mike Tyson weighed and then converted that directly into metric.

#165 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:50 PM:

Lizzy L #149: Wow. Is that as big a deal as it looks like? Won't this end up with about 15% of the US population living in states where same-sex marriage is recognized?

It seems to me that this is likely to become a major political issue, since gay marriage is explicitly forbidden by many states' laws, and yet there will be two large states issuing marriage certificates. I'm having a hard time seeing imported gay couples getting official recognition in Utah or even Missouri without a big political battle.


#166 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Rage Against The Machine. Anger, Yay!

Also, WhiteZombie, AstroCreep 2000.

On a totally different musical take, may I recommend the somewhat "new" band called the "Black Keys"? They're a garage/classic rock band. THeir songs tend to be either driving-energy or sort of a creepy/spooky.

Also, saw "Iron Man" finally. I give it a 7.5 out of 10. Just enough to make the "full evening price" grade, i.e. if you pay full evening price, you'd probably feel like you got your money's worth.

Greg London's totally capitalistic movie grading system:
arbitrary numeric scale of 1 to 10 -> how much money is it worth paying to see
7.5-10 -> Evening price
5.0-7.5 -> matinee
2.5-5.0 -> rental
0-2.5 -> Free on cable.

If it isn't worth free on cable, it isn't worth watching at all.

#167 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:21 PM:

Fidelio: I am old, and set in my ways. I am barely cognizant that we have a food processor. I use the mill (rotary), and the knives, and the blender.

Sisuile: It's a great soup ingredient (as a base, extender, or grace note: The first two are with the stalks/base, the last with the filigree, and added at the last minute). The seeds are a critical ingredient in the making of "italian" sausage.

If you want recipes... well the trick with the base is to chop it, boil it in the stock, puree it (food mill/processor) and blend it back in. It's very tasty in a potato-leek soup (with either a vegetable, or a chicken stock).

By itself, it makes a great cream soup (any place celeriac is used, fennel may be), finished with a twist of black pepper and a drizzle of truffle oil.

P J: I heard that as I got to my social event. I was tickled pink.

Bruce Cohen (StM) Tarragon: I make baked/roasted chicken with tarragon.

The best way to get the skin is to put it into a dutch oven (in the oven, or with coals/fire). If you do that, line the bottom with foil, and put the bird onto a round cooling rack; above a pie tin. This will catch the drippings.

Chop a goodly quantity of tarragon, and some onions/shallots (use as much of the greens as you like; should you have them).

Stuff the mix into the cavity and, with a little butter, into the space between the flesh and skin (this will render more of the fat, and crisp the skin better; it's part of the secret to peking duck).Toss in a healthy splash of a dry white wine (I like a sauvignon blanc).

Roast in a high oven (425), until done (if you use the oven in the oven; get the oven to max, and soak the cast-iron for at least 30 minutes).

The skin will be crisp, the meat moist, and the drippings are practically a sauce in their own right

The tarragon, BTW is a recurrent perrenial. It will die back to the root in the winter. Break the twigs at ground level and they won't be in the way when the plant returns. Once established it will survive for 10-15 years.

B. Durbin: Anise is different, but the seeds are often subsituted, one for the other. Anise is more licoricy.

Maia and I, and her family; are screwed come a depression. We were in grave risk of having to pay a penalty in the
energy piracy. There was talk of penalizing houses which didn't cut energy use by 10 percent.

We didn't have it to cut. No AC, lights off when not in use, clothes on the line, gas and solar water heater. Apart from swapping out the electric range for gas (we used a wood stove to heat the house in the winter, and a fire in the living room; though it has a fan driven heat exchanger), we there was no way we could kill off ten percent (though I suppose we could have traded in losing the chickens to the varmints by turning off the electric fence to the hen-house entrance).

#168 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:25 PM:

I forgot: Maia is having a bash; to celebrate her graduation, and as a farewell (prior to her 3 month internship).

Anyone who wants to come (3 p.m. Saturday, to sometime Sunday morning) is welcome.

Drop me a line (hit the view all button) and I'll send details. (those outside the L.A. area will have to do more planning, crash space is available; your own bedroll is probably a good idea).

Food, drink, games, talk, horses, and other amusements will be provided; spontaneous music may break out.

#169 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:29 PM:

albatross, it's not done yet. The fundies (and among them some of my fellow Catholics, sigh...) are trying to pass a Constitutional amendment which would essentially allow discrimination in case of marriage law. If it doesn't pass, and keeps on not passing every time they bring it up until they give up, then yeah, this is a very big deal. By the way, Ahnold our governor has stated that he does not and will not support such an amendment.

#170 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 90: I just waited too long to buy a half share in my local CSA for this year. They were sold out by the time I remembered to look. They are awesome -- they have even supplied edamame in the past. And the garlic scapes early in the season are SO good.

So, farmer's market this year, pony up early for share next year.

#171 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:09 AM:

Mary Dell @163:
Oh, that's just my "angry" set. I have a bit of just about everything, and playlists by style and by mood, plus a "balanced" playlist to compensate for the fact that I have more classical than everything else combined; it picks stuff randomly to create a playlist balanced between all the genres.

Greg London @166:
The Black Keys' "Strange Times" gets a lot of airplay, but I have yet to hear anything else from them so I'm withholding judgement as yet.

I'm also not generally inclined to add too much stuff to my collection any more unless it's really good or I can get it by paying the artist directly; I refuse to rip off the artists, and prefer not to feed the RIAA. (Radiohead got a rather hefty "tip" from me last year....)

#172 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:16 AM:

Lizzy L @169: The thing that I find very deeply bewildering about the process of amending the California constitution is that it requires merely a simple majority of voters, once it's on the ballot.

How is it possible that an enlightened modern democratic government can amend its constitution, for crying out loud, with just barely more than half of the voters voting for the amendment? This goes in the face of everything that I understood about how constitutions are supposed to work!

(Well, okay, I suppose I can make up reasonable arguments for it, but still -- it just feels entirely wrong.)

#173 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:17 AM:

albatross, #75, this is the carpool page for the DC area.

#174 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:28 AM:

Terry @ #168 - Congrats to Maia! I graduated on Sunday, and I am so relieved to be done with grad school.

I made my own schmaltz a few weeks back. That was interesting and fun.

I'm glad to be back. I've missed y'all while focusing on finishing up with school.

#175 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:31 AM:

Mary Dell #148: To each his or her own, but the one you blushed about is, to me, the least embarrassing.

For angry music, recently I've been turning to This Heat's Deceit, 50FOOTWAVE (Kristin Hersh's current band), Theoretical Girls, Iggy & the Stooges (always), and, for individual songs on repeat, Yoko Ono's "Why" and Björk's "Declare Independence".

#176 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:47 AM:

Lizzy: And this is an election year ploy.

Prop 22 was four years ago...

The happy thing is a consitutional ammendment take 66 percent, and just maybe the youth vote Obama has been collecting will turn out to oppose the idea of legalising discrimination.

For some more happy thoughts, read the opinion of the case appealed to cause this ruling. It was written by a conservative justice.

I wrote it up, I'll see if I can google the post.

#177 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:51 AM:

Brooks Moses: 50 +1? Crap. I thought it was 2/3rds.

Christ, harder to raise a tax than amend the constitution, as you say, that's nuts.

And now I'm worried. Prop 22 (the law just struck down, and reversed; in spades) passed something like 55-45.

#178 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:17 AM:

Mary Dell, #163: Tori Amos...yeah, I'm old

Tori Amos wasn't born when I was acquiring my favorites! In fact, I don't think I know anything by her at all; I more or less stopped listening to current pop sometime in the 80s. The artists I like who postdate that were picked up from other sources, usually friends.

#179 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:23 AM:

Mary Dell, geekosaur, ethan, et al.

Don't forget Nazareth's classic Hair of the Dog.

#180 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:52 AM:

Here's something odd but cool: Muto, an ambiguous animation painted on public walls

#181 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:54 AM:

Terry @177: Everything I can find online implies (rather clearly, in some cases, but still implication) that it's a simple majority. I'd be glad if it turned out I was reading things wrong; I don't think so, but independent definitive verification would be nice regardless....

One of the pages I found was a note about one of the potential reasons that the court might vote the other way (it was posted pre-decision), noting that there was a lot of strength to the argument that the vote on Prop. 22 would likely have been the same had it been for a constitutional amendment rather than simply to create legislation, and so the court should treat it as if it had been to amend the constitution. Thankfully, the court rejected that argument!

I hope that the intervening eight years (Prop. 22 was in 2000, not 2004) have been sufficient to change the minds of at least 5% of California voters. I wouldn't be surprised; for one thing, at least 5% of California voters were too young to vote eight years ago, just to start with.

#182 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 03:27 AM:

Greg @166:
I like that system. The Hub's movie grading scale is not money-based, but I would still commend to you the use of 0 as "Give me those two hours of my life back, you bastard!" Sometimes even free isn't cheap enough.

Terry @168:
Sounds like a fantastic party. Raise a glass to absent friends, will you? There's a lot of us here that would love to be able to come.

And congratulations to Maia!

We all have MP3 players or plug into our computers, because we're open plan. It's been Zoe Keating and Barenaked Ladies in alternation for a week now, punctuated by "Skullcrusher Mountain" by Jonathan Coulton (for no reason in particular). Last week it was Baroque music by the St Petersburg (Russia) Brass Quintet.

The colleague across from me is a skinhead and a nodder/occasional snarler to his heavy metal. It's funny when the rhythm of my music matches his.

#183 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 03:34 AM:

Marilee @173 re Albatross @75 re: gas prices

One thing that heartens me is what could be coming up in carpooling tools.

I went to a transit camp recently*, and saw presentations on carpooling software. While the particular one I saw in detail is set up for carpooling within individual companies**, many of the ideas scale***.

* an unconference (attendees create sessions) on all things transit.

** people accumulate points for each 'individual car ride' avoided, and points = tickets for prizes.

*** but since I can't find an immediate link, I'll have to write more later.

#184 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 03:51 AM:

So, who'll be at Denvention?

I ask because I've been able to get a room in the party hotel. Not a suite, but we can have people by*.

We should and will have a Making Light gathering at Denvention, and I'll volunteer the room as a gathering space during one of the party nights (not Hugo night).

* Not necessarily the whole 400 we had at LACon, but some. (If you do have a suite and need a me.)

#185 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 03:54 AM:

Debbie @ 87: "[quoting Zucker]The therapists supporting a child's transition early, I have characterized them in a half serious way as liberal essentialists. On the surface, the approach comes across as very humanistic, liberal, accepting, tolerant of diversity. But I think the hidden assumption is that they believe the child's cross-gender identity is entirely caused by biological factors. That's why I call them essentialists. Liberals have always been critical of biological reductionism, but here they embrace it. I think that conceptual approach is astonishingly naive and simplistic, and I think it's wrong."

He is wrong, but in an interesting way. He's quite right about the essentialism--one of the more interesting posts I've ever read on Mixing Memory was on the subject of attitudes towards homosexuality: the research showed pretty definitively that people who support gay rights tend to view homosexuality as involuntary, and those who oppose them generally see it as a choice.* But he's wrong to characterize that understanding as reliant on biological factors. For example, I see people's favorite color as being involuntary, in that you can't choose not to like green more than red--it's just the way you are. However, I don't think color preference in determined by genetics.

I think the liberal position really at stake here is the one about trusting people to make the best decisions about their own happiness.

*Thus their fears of gay "recruitment," I suppose.

albatross @ 114: "General Question: Does anyone have a good link for how much people can adjust their lives based on energy prices at fairly low cost?"

A real-world case study happened just recently in Juneau--an avalanche knocked out the city's hydroelectric power plant, and the city was forced to switch to diesel power. Consequently, power prices increased by 400-500%, and consumption was cut back by almost a third. Which is pretty amazing, really.


#186 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 05:01 AM:

ERik #164- miles per litre? Not that I've ever come across. Is this a joke?
All that I remember seeing in adverts is litres per 100km and miles per gallon

#187 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 05:41 AM:

Greg London's totally capitalistic movie grading system:
arbitrary numeric scale of 1 to 10 -> how much money is it worth paying to see
7.5-10 -> Evening price
5.0-7.5 -> matinee
2.5-5.0 -> rental
0-2.5 -> Free on cable.

I'd add on another level at the bottom: 0-1 -> watch on aircraft. If you're at home, you have more options - go out, read a good book, listen to music, whatever. If you're trapped in a big metal pipe, with six hours still to go before you reach LAX, and you've read your book already, and your neighbour can't speak any recognisable Indo-European tongue... then your standards drop a little, and you end up watching (blush) "Alien v. Predator".

#188 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 06:00 AM:

The recent record that's obsessing me is "Separation Sunday" by The Hold Steady. It is a brilliant seventies rock album that functions as a critique of the early Springsteen "teenage nation" songs.

I wrote a friend and said, "I've gone from 'Exile on Main Street' to 'Life's Rich Pageant' and I badly need something else." This and The Drive-By Truckers (also brilliant) were what he recommended.

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 06:23 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 184...

I will be at Denvention.
Want some help?

#190 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 06:28 AM:

Tania @ 174... I've missed y'all while focusing on finishing up with school

Some people have no sense of the right priorities.

#192 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:11 AM:

I will be at Denvention, and have a room somewhere or other.

This reminds me that if I carry through my masquerade plan I will need about fifteen more people to go on stage with. Serge, foolish man, has already volunteered. Anyone else want to play? Most people would only need to wear black and stroll slowly across the stage carrying a sign.

#193 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:17 AM:

I've been alternating listening to sevillanas for dancing, melancholy songs for depression, survival songs (S.J. Tucker, Stan Rogers), and reconciliation songs which are depressing in their own right ("You Can't Stop the Beat" from the Hairspray stage soundtrack.)

Hairspray has been so stuck in my head that I have been sleepily working my way through the movie versions all week and with luck will see the stage version again tonight (important, to clear my head from the wreck they made of the recent movie). There's a certain temptation to write a comparative essay.

#194 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:17 AM:

ajay @187 -- now, now. No need to blush or be embarrassed. The first thing I grab in a doctor's waiting room is the glitziest papparazzi rag I can find.

#195 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:18 AM:

geekosaur@171: The Black Keys' "Strange Times" gets a lot of airplay, but I have yet to hear anything else from them

Oh, cool. Glad to hear they're getting airplay. I haven't listened to a radio for more than a few minutes here and there for many years now. I subscribe to rhapsody, which lets me listen to pretty much anything I want for 8 bucks a month. Rhapsody pretty much has everything except for a couple major artists (led zeppelin, ac/dc, beatles), and you'll run into a song that is listed as "30 second sample". But otherwise, you can listen to just about any song you want for a flat fee of around 8/month.

I've listend to a couple of Black Keys albums, and they're all good. Good enough that I bought tickets to see them live, in concert.

The "Attack and Release" album is pretty much all good. About half the songs qualify as my "favorites", including "Strange Times", "I Got Mine", "So He Won't Break", "Oceans and Streams", "Psychotic Girl".

That album has two songs that have completely different feels to them (one slow and dreamy, the other kickin butt high energy) that have the exact same lyrics. ("Remember When", side A and B) And they're both "right". When I noticed that, they pretty much had me on technical skill alone. Not to mention each song evokes a strong emotion. And they're lyrics are good.

#196 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:19 AM:

I wonder if I can make the argument that if a school's webpage is still showing the "current" class taught as 1998 I can make the argument that they should give a day of grace on their deadline for abstracts for a conference, since I was too tired to pull together anything coherent last night.

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:20 AM:

Susan @ 192... if I carry through my masquerade plan I will need about fifteen more people to go on stage with. Serge, foolish man, has already volunteered

That's me, Serge, fou et volontaire.

#198 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:38 AM:

abi@182: 0 as "Give me those two hours of my life back, you bastard!"

0 would probably be "give me my two hours back".
-2.5 would add "you bastard".

aja@187: 0-1 -> watch on aircraft.

0-2.5 would mean that the time watching the movie is, to varying degrees, worth what entertainment you got out of the movie. This assumes that you have other alternatives on how to spend your time and can freely choose one over the other.

Aircraft are more like game theory strategic moves where they enforce certain chunks of lost time and limited selections of viewing material. And like any strategic move, it changes your answers. i.e. face a firing squad, or, watch "Gigli"?

#199 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:40 AM:

The Hold Steady.

They're from Brooklyn. They've got a free gig there June 29th, Patrick and Teresa. They covered "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window" as though they were Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. They...

I am a recovering music reviewer. I will stop now.

#200 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:08 AM:

Aircraft are more like game theory strategic moves where they enforce certain chunks of lost time and limited selections of viewing material. And like any strategic move, it changes your answers. i.e. face a firing squad, or, watch "Gigli"?

My answer to that choice will depend on whether or not I am offered a blindfold.

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:23 AM:

What rating would you give to the Bourne-out-of-my-skull movies? Whoever made those movies never heard of the difference between action and movement.

#202 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:24 AM:

Re: bus service -

I just recently discovered that taking the bus to work might be feasible for me. The last time I looked at the online route maps, it looked like I'd have to take two separate buses and about forty-five minutes to get to a stop half a mile or so from my destination. One of those two buses ran once an hour, so if I missed that bus, it would be faster to walk the two miles from the connection to my destination. This is for a five-mile commute.

When I quit laughing hysterically, I decided it wasn't worth it.

Now the routes have changed and one bus will drop me practically on the doorstep at work without any connections. I'm still looking into it. As short as my commute is, I think it is unlikely that the bus will save me money, and exceedingly unlikely that it will save me time. I'd be riding the bus for the sole purpose of conservation. That's an excellent reason, and I think I'm willing, but I'm having just enough trouble figuring out the details that I'm still reluctant. I haven't, for example, discovered how much a bus trip costs. I don't know if the buses take cash or if I must buy a transit card. I'm also not sure which direction the bus needs to be going when I get on it.

I need to take some time and poke the website some more, I guess.

#203 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:30 AM:

Terry @167/168-we have a food processor. There's a lot of dust on it for some reason.

And three cheers for Maia! I hope the internship goes well, and the time passes quickly.

I suspect in terms of energy use reduction, you all would need to look into solar roofing or a family windmill, assuming codes would permit the latter.

#204 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:30 AM:

Serge @ 201: I enjoyed watching the second Bourne movie on an airplane. Not having headphones helped.

#205 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:38 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 204... No earphones? That means you missed the wonderful soundtrack.

#207 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 09:48 AM:

202: I'd be inclined to cycle a five-mile commute, unless topography, meteorology or physiology make it impractical... certainly faster than a bus, and possibly, depending on traffic, faster than a car as well.

#208 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 10:22 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer #159: Only hybrids, of course.

#209 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 10:43 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale (184): I'll be there! I'm looking forward to meeting some fellow Fluorospherians.

Susan (192): I'm in.

#211 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 10:54 AM:

Fragano, I believe you mean here:

Compared to modern poetry, I don't see whats so bad about him, although some of the sentence endings clunk a bit.
(You can tell I don't read poetry)

#212 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:08 AM:

Buses? Prescott AZ (and "the tri-city area") ain't got no stinkin' buses! Makes me glad I work from home -- and my G.P. doctor, a grocery store, plus a mailing place and bank are all within a half-hour's walk, even at *my* trudge. With all that plus wildlife and scenery, I'll try not to complain (much).

As for music, I'm another old fart. Just online-ordered the latest CDs by Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello.

#213 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:19 AM:

You know how people say "Life stinks* and then you die"?

I've decided they're optimists. Life stinks, and then you somehow manage to not die, because your $#%&@% evolutionary programming (and in my case, my oath) keep you scrabbling to survive, even though you have no chance of ever reproducing or doing anything that might possibly be worth the downside, and life keeps on stinking, and besides that, you age.

Translation: I'm having a bad day, at the end of a string of bad days which were punctuated only by having dinner with some old friends I don't see nearly often enough, and by the good news about Little Brother. It's the boyfriend thing again. Ignore this please, I just needed to rant and not have someone tell me it serves me right or that I should have known.

#214 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:27 AM:

It does not serve you right. And while maybe you "should have known", if your trust/belief was misplaced that's more the fault of the one you trusted than of your willingness to trust.

Mary Aileen:
Cool! Thirteen people to go. Is the email address on your linked webpage the best way to reach you?

#215 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:37 AM:

#207, ajay -

I'd be inclined to cycle a five-mile commute also, but I'm terrified of the traffic. People cycle on my commute routinely, but I don't have the cajones for it. (Is that physiology stopping me? *grin*)

It's disappointing, because I know that I'd really enjoy a cycling commute, and you're right, it would be much faster than the bus.

#216 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:41 AM:

#213, Xopher -

*hugs* Hope your day improves.

#217 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Xopher @ 213... What Susan said to you.

#218 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:44 AM:

R. M. Koske @ 202: In North America, if you (a) own a car and (b) don't work/live somewhere parking is actually expensive, then taking the bus is rarely cheaper and only faster if there are bus lanes. Most fare systems seems to break even at 5-7 round trips a week.

Not that you shouldn't do it, but that's a large part of why "buses are for poor people" here. Or, you know, the other way around.

#219 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:50 AM:

Greg @ 198: "face a firing squad, or, watch "Gigli"?"

This is where volume control* comes in handy, and an active imagination. Why watch a crappy movie when you can make up your own story?

When I started downloading books to my PDA I realized that I never had to worry again about being trapped with nothing to do.

*Volume control, also known as "hearing aids", are very useful for certain types of situations. Like people you really don't want to listen to, and movies you really don't want to watch, and for sleeping through thunderstorms ("again?"). ;-)

#220 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:51 AM:

Xopher--see 214, 216 and 217--yeah, really. What part of your brain did this idea that you deserve to have suckiness get stuck into, and can we get it out without resoting to surgery?

There are situations and people that stink, and they don't always come with labels on them. Sometimes when they do have labels, the labels are misleading.

#221 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:53 AM:

Okay, open thread question: Does anyone have suggestions for managing lots of books and a dust allergy?

I've just been re-tested again for allergies, and once again, what I'm allergic to has shifted. The doctors tell me it looks like I've got a mild dust mite allergy, and upon reflection, that jives with my experiences. Unfortunately, I'm terrible at keeping things dusted -- really, I'm horrible -- and I have four massive bookcases. I'm not willing to live without my books.

Does anyone have suggestions for keeping them minimally dusty? My normal dust-removal procedure is dusting with a damp rag, which won't work at all, or dusting with a yellow rag*, which works cosmetically but doesn't seem like it's going to work as a remove-all-dust solution. And feather dusters just move more dust into the air. Would running a lambswool duster over the tops of the books every week help, or is there some other option?

*Treated rag. Works great on wood surfaces, but not so much on paper.

#222 ::: Mary AIleen ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:54 AM:

Xopher(213): What Susan said.

Susan (214): Yes, that address is fine. (I don't put my main address anywhere publically accessible, to minimize spam. So far, it seems to be working.)

#223 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:05 PM:

guthrie @ 211: Wrong comparison. Put him up against Byron and you'll see the problem.

#224 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:20 PM:

I'm getting a bicycle. It's been at least 4 decades since I've been on a bike, but I just can't justify the 1 mile car ride, all on level ground and in good weather, to the bank, the post office, church, the library, etc. A rack will allow me to carry stuff. A friend has offered a loaner -- a 20 year old folding bike in good condition -- and if it feels like I can ride it, I'll take it. I've investigated new bikes but at my budget they cost too much. However, there's a good used bicycle store in Berkeley (natch) and when the temperature drops below 90, I'm driving (insert ironical grin here) to it, to see what they have.

Our local water district has just instituted water rationing. It's good.

#225 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:21 PM:

#164, #186: litres per 100km and miles per (UK) gallon are the usually quoted figures, but with petrol being sold by the litre and road distances still measured in miles, miles per litre makes a certain amount of sense.
I've actually never seen or heard it used though.

#226 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Xopher @213:

I'm sorry it's been a sucky time for you. I wish there were anything anyone could say during these dark times, but sometimes what you need is not words but silence.

Not to get to personal, but how's your spiritual life? Maybe some time adoring the universe would set whatever inside you that's wrong back into the right pattern, so that you can live with everything around you better.

It's not about life sucking; life sucks for everyone from time to time. It's about how you can cope with life sucking. You sound like you need to renew your soul.


#227 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:32 PM:

I just got back from my after-lunch walk, and I have to share the two cool things I saw:

A blue damselfly of some kind. What's that bug? says that damselflies light with their wings closed, dragonflies with their wings open. Therefore this was a damselfly, but I can't identify it any more positively than that.

It looked a lot like this one,this one, but with more blue on the thorax and the tip of the tail, and less on the bits in between. And the blue was much more intense, like this.

Very cool, and worth mentioning to acquaintances if not post-worthy. But five steps later I saw the snake.

I don't have any visuals on this one, because it was just a plain little green snake of some kind. What was mention-worthy was where it was resting. It had threaded itself through the links of the chainlink fence, and was woven in it about ten inches off the ground, resting there. It had about eight inches of the body and head free, and was waving its head slightly as it scented the air. It was the motion that caught my eye.

I may have to start taking my camera on my walks.

#228 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:32 PM:

I just read Patrick's "Ten Best Beer Names Ever" sidelight. Not only do the names rock, but I've had one or two of the beers and can say with certainty that they also rock. In fact, I think I've got a bottle of Unibroue's La Fin Du Monde in my fridge right now. Come on, beer-thirty! ;-)

#229 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:34 PM:

Re Devention:

I will not be there, unsurprisingly. But if there is a party, and anyone has a laptop with Skype and a webcam, and the time zones work out*, we could make it a partly virtual party...

We'll see.

* And dates, because staying up late or getting up early means I can't be going to work the next day.

#230 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:35 PM:

One of my fondest memories of student film-society days was a well-attended screening late one night where the sound died and the movie kept rolling. It was near the end, where you had multiple groups of people trying to find/chase/get away from something or somebody.

The audience was silent for about 10 seconds, then some murmuring started, and then someone called out "screech!" as a car rounded a corner on-screen. A little while later, someone else called out some silly-and-barely-plausible line for a character that appeared on the screen. There followed a wonderful few minutes of the audience collaboratively making up and performing their own soundtrack, to increasingly loud giggles.

(The movie's plot was one of those implausible-if-you-stop-to-think rides anyway, so part of the fun was just making it even more out-there.)

Eventually the projectionist stopped the film to try to fix the sound, to widespread boos.

I now don't remember what the actual film was, or how it turned out, but I fondly recall those few minutes.

#231 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:35 PM:

#218, Ralph Giles -

Yup, that's what I'm thinking is going to be the case here. My route is what Atlanta traffic reporters call "surface streets" (non-interstate roads) and there are no bus lanes on those, so I definitely don't expect it to be faster or even as fast. I still haven't discovered the price of a one-way fare*, but I'm not planning on doing the math for cost. I'd get to read on the way to work (but the trip will take longer) and that's about the only advantage to me.

*I've found prices for month-long passes and such, but not single trips.

#232 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Xopher #213: I hope you have some better days soon.

#233 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:39 PM:

Kathryn, #184: It looks like we're going to be there after all. There was a point when it was uncertain, but concom disorganization seems to have worked in our favor for once. I'll bring the buttons!

Debbie, #194: My preferred waiting room material is moderately interesting brain-dead stuff that I can put down immediately and not miss. People, Cosmo, GQ, US, anything along those lines. I call it "brain candy".

R.M. Koske, #202: For a commute of only 5 miles, I'd be sorely tempted to see if biking it was a feasible solution. (Sometimes it's not, for reasons unrelated to distance.) And, after seeing your response -- is there any alternate route that would take you over less-traveled streets? Sometimes it's worth going a bit out of your way to be riding mostly in residential areas.

Xopher, #213: Sympathies. And virtual hugs, if that would help. And no, it emphatically do NOT serve you right! Honestly, some people's children.

And some open-thread rejoicing: Alan Ralsky has been indicted!

Who's Alan Ralsky, you ask? He's the creep responsible for something like 90% of the non-Nigerian spam in your inbox. He's been running a huge spam-and-hacker operation for at least a decade, has openly bragged about it (in a major metropolitan newspaper, no less!), and has generally been an outstanding exemplar of the "laws are for the little people" mentality for a very long time. And it looks as though he may rat out his entire script-kiddie network to save his sleazy ass from some jail time. Hallelujah!

#234 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:50 PM:

#233, Lee -

The problem that I have is leaving my apartment complex. If I turn left, I'm on a "residential" street that I'm afraid to bike on. That whole road is a shoulderless, curvy no passing zone, but that didn't stop someone from passing me on it on Tuesday*. We had a discussion about it a few open threads ago (and I really don't mean to keep harping on it, sorry!) and someone said that if I'm afraid to walk on the road, I shouldn't bike it. I'm afraid to walk that road. This is doubly annoying because my grocery store is a mile away if I take that road, but I drive there anyway.

If I turn right, I'm almost immediately on a five-lane road right at the intersection with an Interstate highway. I've thought about going that way anyway, because although it is the long way around, I might be able to find a route that will get me to work by staying on the sidewalks.

Oh, hey. There used to be a gap in the fence around the complex at the back that let out onto a different road. It's not passible by car, but it might be bicycle-worthy if they didn't close it up when they built the latest batch of condos. Hm.

*I was doing thirty miles an hour, five under the limit. Obviously that's unacceptable and passing is allowed in cases of "the driver slowing you down is a moron."

#235 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 12:53 PM:

R.M. Koske #231: For information on bus service go to (for services other than MARTA: MARTA's one-way fare (now a disposable card) is $1.75.

#236 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:02 PM:

RMK @231: Are you using MARTA? According to

the fare for a single ride is $1.75 cash. Transfers seem to require either paying a new fare, or using a "BreezeCard" or "BreezeTicket" that lets you keep riding on connecting lines for up to 3 hours on the initial fare.

The Breezethingys cost money to buy, and from the description, it sounds like they use RFIDs. Fans of M1k3y may find it advisable to pay cash for the 50-cent arphid tickets, instead of the $5 arphid cards, and dispose of them regularly. (I suspect that killing the arphid outright, as described in _Little Brother_, would just zero out the value of the card/ticket.) For those who don't mind being tracked over multiple trips, the Breeze*s can be reloaded with more money for future fares, though there are limitations on the reloadability of the tickets that don't apply to the cards.

#237 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:07 PM:

Thanks everyone; the encouraging words and virtual hugs are appreciated. I should clarify, though, that the "you should have known" attitude (no one's been so rude as to actually say it) is not about how I trusted where I shouldn't have (though I may have done that), but that I should have known that a relationship with someone like him (quite a bit younger; troubled past (victim, not perp); variety of physical and mental health problems arising from same) could not possibly work out.

You know, like making your book available for free download absolutely guarantees it won't ever be a bestseller, right?

I took a chance, to be sure. I was gambling for a HUGE prize though, and I still think he's a true treasure—just not one I can have. And it wasn't for any of the above reasons: people on his side opposed our relationship, for some of those reasons, and for homophobic and/or sexist prejudice (for example, they told him that if he wanted to date a woman my age they'd have no problem with that); they may actually have gone so far as to threaten to do violence against me if he didn't dump me (it's not clear, because he won't tell me the details).

Maybe I'll go back to writing that story about the kid who, though surrounded by aggressively carnivorous monsters, has a less horrific life than he had when surrounded by humans. Even misery has to be good for something, right?

#238 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:09 PM:

#235, Fragano and #236, John Mark Ockerbloom -

I've been looking at the CCT (Cobb County) website. Some of my questions are going to take sitting down with the route map, timetable, and google maps and aligning what I know with their reference points, which are non-road things I don't recognize.* I'm beginning to suspect the single-trip cost just isn't on the website, but I haven't combed through it well enough to be sure. The buses do take one dollar bills but don't make change, so I'm guessing it is in the same price range as MARTA. I'm comfortable with that uncertainty. It's the route mysteries that are bugging me now, and I feel like they're fairly solvable, if I take the time.

*"East-West Connector and Brookwood" is a stop on the timetable. But there isn't a road called Brookwood. "Cumberland and Cobb Drive" is another stop, but there are multiple Cumberland roads and a Cumberland mall. To my knowledge, none of them intersect with Cobb Drive on the route the map shows. One of the timetable stops is "Kroger Plaza" but I don't know what road it is on. To increase the difficulty of the puzzle, the landmarks on the route map are completely different.

#239 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:14 PM:

abi @ 229... I will not be there, unsurprisingly.

Bah humbug.

#240 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Wait, one mystery down! There is a Brookwood Drive, and it meets the East-West Connector. Google maps just can't find it in the "search for an intersection" format. Progress!

#241 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:19 PM:

G.Jules #221:

Best long-term solution is to put well-fitting glass doors on the fronts of the bookcases. After a one-time thorough dusting right afterwards, you should be set. (The books stored in the glass-fronted cases flanking the faux fireplace of my last house were *much* less dusty than the vast majority that lived elsewhere in the World's Second-Dustiest House.)

#242 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:20 PM:

#221--G. Jules--I have had good results using the Swiffer dusters; they do trap the dust as they work, instead of spreading it around. Upgrading your air filters, if you haven't already, is worth a shot, too, and I have friends who swear by air purifiers for cutting down the amount of dust, along with everything else.

Good luck with the War on Dust--I've had good results with allergy shots, but even if you have some benefit from them, cutting down on the allergens in your environemnt is always good.

#243 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:21 PM:

RMK @ 238: According to , the CCT fare is $1.50 for local bus lines, and $3 for express; transfers free (except for local-to-express), and you can also transfer to and from MARTA without paying extra.

The local ("fixed") and express lines are listed at

(Note: I am nowhere near Atlanta, and have not ridden the system there, though I'm a frequent rider of transit at home and on trips. Take the word of a local rider over mine.)

#244 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:26 PM:

#243 - John Mark Ockerbloom -

*wipes egg off face* Thanks!

I have no idea why I couldn't find that. It could be more obvious, but I think it might take flashing lights and sound effects to do it.

(Thanks, too, for not adding, "you idiot" to your post. I know you were tempted!)

#245 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:42 PM:

G. Jules @ 221: If you don't want to do the door thing, I've found size-segregating books and adjusting the shelves so there's only a fingerwidth of space between the books and the next shelf helps confine the dust to just the bit of shelf in front of the spines. That's much easier to dust or vacuum and/or minimizes the build-up one is ignoring.

Of course, you have to have a good fraction of segregable books, and be willing to use them. We do that for packing efficiency anyway, but it does make finding things a challenge sometimes...

#246 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:44 PM:

On the 10 Best Beer Names link in the Sidelights:

Descendents of the original family have revived the Griesedieck Brothers brewing company of St. Louis. Say the name slowly and listen. Yes, there's a reason they changed the name to Falstaff.

#247 ::: Mary Aileen notes old, undeleted spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:48 PM:

While you're cleaning up the new infestation, here's a bit of old spam that never got deleted.

#248 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 01:58 PM:

#202, RE convoluted bus routes:

That's my situation almost exactly, but my commute is only 3.5 miles. Probably very bikeable.

RE dust and allergies: I'm suffering terribly from the pollen this year. I just bought a air purifier. I run it full blast in my bedroom starting in the early evening, then turn it down to low until I hit the hay. It seems to be helping.

I'm also vacuuming every nook and cranny and corner I can. I figure whatever dust escapes from the Hoover bag will be taken care of by the air purifier.

Another technique: I dust off CD cases, books, & etc. by wiping them off on the carpet. Then I vacuum the carpet.

#249 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:01 PM:

I'm amused by how the spammers perform an inadvertant public service - I'd not seen the post in #247, and now I have more good fiction to read.

#250 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:03 PM:

#237 -- Xopher, it's no hyperbole to say that you're one of the most interesting people Mel and I have run across in the Fluorosphere. That this should have not worked out for the two of you because of pressure from his family and "friends" is just too close to Shakespearian for words... In a way, I feel as bad for the Puppy as for you, since he will not likely find a partner like you again... Don't EVER beat yourself up for taking the gamble... It was one you both deserved to win...


...and doubled from Mel...

#251 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:09 PM:

Kathryn and Susan - I'll be at Denvention, and would love to meet up, visit, and help out. A masquerade - how fun!

#252 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:22 PM:

Edward 250: Thanks. Huge massive thanks, and the same to Mel. Thank you.

#253 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:22 PM:

I'll be at Denvention, and I look good in black.

I'm looking for people to share a room with, so anyone in the same situation, please drop me a line (walters @ my domain)...

#254 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:26 PM:

Xopher, I keep trying to come with something that isn't trite or sounds like a song lyric that an adolescent would pen. So imagine I said something thoughtful and full of insight lauding your bravery to take chances on relationships, reminding you of the way you enrich everyone you interact with because you are you, and offering you hugs.

For verisimilitude, imagine me also saying "Wasabi Frosting? For real?"

#255 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:28 PM:

Tania, I don't have to imagine you saying it, because you did.

The wasabi buttercream was a failure, but in a non-obvious way. For some reason it was too SWEET, which was not at all what I was expecting.

#256 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:29 PM:

I meant to say " did, and thanks."

#257 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Kathryn, Serge, everyone else:

I'll be at Denvention. Hubby and I are staying at the Grand Hyatt rather than commuting every day between Boulder and Denver. I offer my time, my hands, and our car to any party-making endeavors that need them.

(I made the same offer when the possibility of a VPX reunion raised its head. I suspect anything Viable Paradise related will end up dovetailing with anything Making Light related.)

Looking forward to meeting everyone, and to introducing my local, meat-space friends to my favorite online crowd!

#258 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:40 PM:

Bicycles are wonderful.

I loved riding bicycle, and did until the vertebrae in my neck and lumbar-sacral region were damaged, and I have periods when I can't get around at all. I don't dare take the chance of another bike accident. Dayem!

Fortunately we live in Manhattan and I can take the subway and / or walk.

Though walking is very dangerous since everybody rides their bicycles on the sidewalks and I've nearly been knocked over many times by one. It's going to happen, inevitably, and I'll probably never be able to walk again after that.


Love, C.

#259 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Xopher, adding my well-wishes to the others here. Looking forward to seeing you, too, at WorldCon (I will remember to bring my pitch pipe!)

#260 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:42 PM:

#221 - G. Jules - I was told I had a mild allergy to dust mites when what I actually had was dermagraphism - basically, my histamines were going nuts, and whenever I scratched myself, or even rubbed skin too hard (like after a shower) I would get big red welts. It's called dermagraphism because you can basically write on yourself in welts. Anyway, the result of this was that when I got tested for allergies, I came up as allergic to whatever they had scratched the hardest when applying the allergens. I don't suppose it particularly changed the treatment much - I still had to take antihistamines, but at least I didn't wear myself out trying to eliminate dust in a house that leaks like a sieve.

None of this may apply to you at all (it sounds like your allergist has a better idea of what's going on than mine did), but I thought I would throw it out there in case it rang any bells for anyone else.

#261 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 03:10 PM:

G. Jules : If you have the means to upgrade your heating & air conditioning, I'd look into local companies. Unfortunately, the only one I know of that does allergy-reduction services is local to the Sacramento area, but now I know they exist.

It works like this: A representative comes out and does an inspection of your system and asks you about your allergies. Then they clean and seal your ductwork and install their products (the local folk use an electronic filtration system— no filters to change out). The end result is that you not only get something that is more efficient but that is tailored to your allergy profile.

Of course, even just getting your system inspected, cleaned, and re-sealed is apt to do you good. And I agree about the cabinet doors. Do you have an Ikea nearby?

Denvention: I will be there, with Evil Rob and the Dude. And— just so you know— we did time this pregnancy very specifically with an eye to attending WorldCon.

Because we're big geeks.

#262 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 03:11 PM:

Xopher: It's hard to admit that sometimes, you can't help the ones that need helping. Good luck to both of you on your paths, separate or together.

#263 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 03:21 PM:

Xopher, your post at 237 makes me want to grab a baseball bat, get myself to NYC, and beat people for you. I won't because a) you wouldn't approve, b)I wouldn't do something like that, c)considering my height, weight, & strength, this is a laughable thought.

I detest stupid people, and homophobes are being stupid.

Also, what Edward Oleander said in 250.

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 04:14 PM:

Nicole @ 257... Be seeing you then. I'm at the Hyatt Regency. It's the one that's supposed to be connected to the con center.

#265 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 04:15 PM:

B.Durbin @ 261... we did time this pregnancy very specifically with an eye to attending WorldCon

You know, it just occurred to me that my parents must have conceived me right after the Three Wise Men came and went. In 1955. Not in the Year Zero.

#266 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Serge @ 265... I goofed. I'd really have been conceived at about the time of the 13th anniversary of the Day of Infamy.

#267 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Thanks, all -- excellent advice. I'm not looking forward to the cleaning, but it's good to have a plan of action.

The nice thing is that the allergy doesn't seem all that severe, which means I don't feel like I need to turn my apartment into BubbleWorld. Thank goodness. (Honestly, at this point, just getting my act together and dusting regularly will be a 1000% improvement.)

EClaire @ 260: That's really interesting. I don't think that's the case here -- I didn't react at all on the scratch test to anything but the histamine. The dust mite reaction was on the intradermal (I think? The one with needles, anyway). Moreover, a mild dust allergy makes sense given my symptoms. But it's definitely interesting.

Thus far I'm feeling really good about this allergist. She's checking on a few things my regular doctor never mentioned, and she's shifted me from the don't-work-for-me steroid nasal sprays to Astelin. Fingers crossed.

B. Durbin @261: I'm in pretty good shape apartment-wise -- I've got radiators, not forced hot air, and hard wood floors rather than carpets. (I chose the apartment with allergies in mind.) The radiators could stand to be washed, though.

#268 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 04:42 PM:

Tania: come join my masquerade krewe! We will be, um, astronomical!

Tim: if you look so good in black (like my Macbook!) that you want to wear it on stage in front of a couple thousand people, I still need another twelve or so for the masquerade entry...

(Anyone who wants to be in my masquerade mob: do me a favor, and email me at the linked address. I don't want to miss anyone!)

#269 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 04:44 PM:


Hardwood can be worse for dust mite allergy. Carpet traps allergens in it's fibers which means they are not drifting around the room like tumbleweeds. It's a toss up depending on what you use the room for and how often. I focus on keeping one critical room super clean and the rest meh, and that for me is the bedroom since I spend a good chunk of time in there trying to sleep with congestion. Bedding is also the dust mite nesting ground.

#270 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 04:49 PM:

My general approach to dust is not to disturb it. It doesn't seem to cause me any problems just lying there. (Yes, I'm allergic.) Cleaning stirs it all up and makes me stuffy and sneezy.

I got a ticket for Hairspray tonight to complete my trifecta, whee! I'll be so high in the balcony I'll practically be dangling from the lighting truss.

#271 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 05:38 PM:

Xopher, I'm so sorry.

I have to believe, for myself, that it's never wrong to hope, to dare, or to love--even when it doesn't go well it doesn't mean it was the wrong thing to do. But it's important too, to forgive ourselves for the ones we cannot save.

#273 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:39 PM:

Greg London @:
Satellite radio, actually; I stopped listening to broadcast radio some years back due to (1) more commercials than music (2) "let's see, Clear Channel owns how many of our stations?". And streaming Internet radio doesn't work so well when you're in transit. (My earlier-mentioned lack of desire to feed the RIAA means my music player is relatively anemic; variety is a good thing.)

#274 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:43 PM:

Sometime ago, there was a discussion in here of Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" fame. He was justifiably ripped a new one for some stupid misogynist remark or something. I stood up for him a little bit, got a little baked for it, not too bad, nothing I couldn't take, but my general point was despite his many, many flaws, Matthews is a guy in the media that could do the Demos a lot of good. Despite his many flaws, he paints a picture of himself as a genuine "regular guy", as opposed to bone-head phony "regular guys" like Limbaugh and O'Reilly, and he's basically sick to god-damned death of the Republicans and what they've been doing to this country and what they're trying to do to the Demo nominees (Obama, in particular, I admit).

In support of my earlier argument, I recommend watching a remarkable exchange I witnessed while watching "Hardball" last night. If you want to see a right-wing radio host finally get creamed by an MSM guy for knowing the talking points but not the facts, cruise over to Crooks & Liars and have a look at this amazing clip.

It would be hilarious if it wasn't so effing sick. But this is precisely the thing I was talking about. This is precisely what we need more of from the MSM. Guys like Matthews, at least in this context, need to be encouraged.

#275 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:46 PM:

I'm torn between laughter and tears...a troll popped up at the Dress a Day blog and has since worked hirself into the full belief that all of the commenters on the blog are paid shills supporting the main purpose of the blog, which is "clearly is the sale of fabric, patterns, magazines, sewing machines, and other items related to sewing."

Zhe apparently believes that there is a sewing cabal out there that controls all of the information about sewing on the internet.

I'm laughing because, dear heaven. A vast sewing conspiracy. (And most of the people modeling clothes on the sewing sites are actually men in drag, in case you hadn't noticed.)

On the other hand, someone really, really needs to get some help.

#276 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:51 PM:

R.M.Koske @ 275... I'm torn between laughter and tears...

...but not in stitches?

#277 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:53 PM:

It ripped me right up.

#278 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Darn, now our eeeevil plan will unravel.

#279 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:01 PM:

G. Jules @ #221

My understanding of dust mites was that they lived on skin flakes and the like, so they're more likely to be found in bedding and carpets, not on the dust on books -- but I've been wrong before.

I really love the Swiffer dusters, because they grab the dust and it doesn't float around. There are the flat ones, which are really meant to be used on the floor, but are great for smooth surfaces. And then there are the fluffy ones that are sold as dusters. I think some of the microfiber cloths are supposed to do the same thing, but I haven't tried them yet.

#280 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:13 PM:

Michael at 274: I saw it and you are right, it was terrific. Good for Matthews. More, please.

However, it doesn't make up for the last 7 years groveling to the Republicans, nor does it balance out his remarks about Hillary Clinton.

But I did enjoy watching it.

#281 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:13 PM:

A consipiracy, cut from whole cloth? Sheer folly. But I'm am biased.

#282 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:15 PM:

You people are warped.

#283 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Michael at 274:

I saw it as well, and have passed it around.

The Congressman Robert Wexler with Spiegelman on MSNBC is worth watching too.

And Conyers says that if Rove doesn't comply with his supoena, he will have him arrested.

And Biden called that speaking appearance in the Israel Parliment 'bullshit,' publicly.

Tipping point?

Love, C.

#284 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 08:57 PM:

Heh. It seems the onset of the Northern Spring gets the fauna feelin' frisky — SFW. [/open thread]

#285 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:10 PM:

Xopher, #213, I hope your days get better.

G. Jules, #221, hire a book duster.

#286 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:29 PM:

Xopher, add my well-wishes and hugs to the bunch you've already gotten. I have nothing insightful to say; just remember we're here to listen and sympathize when/if you want it.

#287 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Thanks again everyone. It's helping to know that you...are thinking good thoughts for me. Thank you all.

#288 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:46 PM:

Serge@201: What rating would you give to the Bourne-out-of-my-skull movies? Whoever made those movies never heard of the difference between action and movement.

I haven't watched any of them. The previews didn't appeal to me.

"FantasticFour, Rise of the Silver Surfer", is probably around a "1 out of 10". I recently watched it for free on cable (for the first time) and was slightly embarrased to have lost that time. And I kept apologizing to my wife afterwards for having talked her into us watching it together.

#289 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:46 PM:

From the annals of corrupting the elderly:

My mother called to enthuse about the Phillip Pullman books (Lyra's Oxford, Once Upon a Time in the North) I sent as a birthday present. Bwah-hah-hah!

I'm hoping she can get my rather mundane older sister to read the Dark Materials trilogy.

#290 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Speaking of music, for those interested, you can get some Creative Commons licensed music at You can listen to stuff for free and buy what you like if you like.

I've been poking around there now for a couple years, and have a few favorites:

Processor is some angry electronica.

Hands upon black earth is earthy goodness.

Lizzy has a great voice and good music.

Cargo Cult is good electronica.

Artemis has spooky good vocals.

jag is old school blues.

The Bots is... weird and funny.

#291 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:52 PM:

Speaking of music, for those interested, you can get some Creative Commons licensed music at You can listen to stuff for free and buy what you like if you like.

I've been poking around there now for a couple years, and have a few favorites:

Processor is some angry electronica.

Hands upon black earth is earthy goodness.

Lizzy has a great voice and good music.

Cargo Cult is good electronica.

Artemis has spooky good vocals.

jag is old school blues.

(trying with six this time)

#292 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 11:53 PM:

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval.

Lies! I just sent in a post with exactly 7 links and it got held for review. So I tried 6 links and no dice.

Can someone flush the queue?

#293 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:11 AM:

Xopher@237: I should have known that a relationship with someone like him ... could not possibly work out.

Xopher, I'm so sorry you've been going through all this. And of course you couldn't know. That's the problem with relationships: you can't control the other half of the equation. All you can really do is bring your personal committment to a relationship and have faith. No one can "know" if their particular relationship is going to work out, if their particular marriage is going to last till death do us part, because no one who is single has any idea what it takes to make a relationship last a lifetime. My wife and I have been going for a few years now, and I still don't know what I'm doing a lot of the time. All anyone can do is bring their committment to the relationship and bring their hope that it works out. No one ever really "knows". Every relationship I've ever been in, except for my current one, has failed. THat's pretty much true for everyone on the planet. So, what does anyone know, really?

So, please don't beat yourself up for not knowing. You don't deserve it. You brought yourself to a relationship, you brought your committment, and you brought your faith that it could work. That's all anyone can hope to do.

#294 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:36 AM:

A virtual fan lounge worked very well at Corflu Silver recently.

#295 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:46 AM:

Xopher #213 & others; Just joining in with the different supportive posts.

Also, I've had quite a few times of feeling very much that way since things in my life started to go seriously awry (well, if you can say that of a life), either from 1999 or the very big 'watch that step, it's a doozy' of 2002. It's taken a lot of help from society & people close to me to merely survive, and even find some good times.

A line our much-missed Mike included in '110 stories' is one of the pieces of writing that's helped too: “You live, is how you learn that you can cope.”

#296 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:10 AM:

RM Koske #202, re bus journeying. I've been a lifelong public transport person on trains, buses, and ferries (I miss using those, it was often very lovely indeed, and I treasure memories from it).

Advantages include, for those who like it, peoplewatching; where possible reading, writing or doing craftwork; alternatively paying proper attention to music or audiobooks on some kind of portable private personal player, even including kinds of meditation (when driving or riding you need to keep alert elsewhere); watching the outside world (usually my favourite).

Greg #290, yup, the limit at the moment is around 4 links. It's been that way for me for some months now.

Re the Depression generation: my parents were born pre-1920s and were seriously affected by both The Depression and World War II. This included developing (enabling?) a propensity to hoard, which was unfortunately passed on to me (see several discussions on the syndrome previously in ML). I'm struggling to free myself from the disabling burden of 'stuff', while still feeling that we'll go back to times when such collections will be useful again.

#297 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:21 AM:

Well, I posted something about free (CC licensed) music over at magnatune dot com. After going there regularly, over the last couple of years, I found a number of albums that I really like.

Processor angry techno music.

Hands Upon Black Earth is some earthy goodness.

Falling You has some spooky good female vocals.

#298 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:26 AM:

Lizzy is all around good.

Cargo cult is good.

Burning Babylon is funky, technoid, sampling stuff.

#299 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:38 AM:

Artemis is another good one.

And The Bots is what Weird Al Yankovick might sound like if he'd been born 20? years later.

Anyway, it's hard to beat the price (free). And while magnatune has a bunch of music, you have to wade through a lot to get to the good stuff. Of course, folks might not agree with my tastes, so there's that problem. But I wanted to point out some of my favorites.

I was also curious as to how many people had already heard of magnatune, and for how many people this is new information. Has everyone heard of this already?

#300 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 02:05 AM:

My PVR just finished recording this week's episode of Battlestar Galactica.

The show has gotten rather intense lately.

Do I watch it on a bright, sunny day, or a gloomy crappy one?

Either way, I've reserved an episode of Doctor Who to watch afterwards.

#301 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 02:09 AM:

Xopher: When you first announced the breakup, you seemed to say that the precipitating factor was your boyfriend coming down with cancer.

That's not a thing "you should have known". That's not him being the wrong person, it's just a notoriously unpredictable misfortune, which has burdened other relationships past breaking-point.

If you could have known, you should be making a fortune as a diagnostician.

#302 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 03:09 AM:

fidelio: Actually, her folks have solar on the roofs now; the meter runs backwards, pretty much all the time.

R.M. Koske: Where do you live (that makes a difference in my guessing at the snake)

Summer Storms re beer: I've had 1, and 10. 10 was ok, nothing to write home about, but I did bring back a six-pack, because I neededd to share.

Xopher: As Lee said, urges to travel long distances and perform (apparently) random acts of extreme violence, came to mind. There's nothing I can say which hasn't been said, so assume I repeated it all (but with better turns of phrase).

#303 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 03:29 AM:

I'll not be at Denvention (though I am really hoping to make it to Anticipation next year). However, will any other Fluorospherians be at WisCon next week?

#304 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 03:50 AM:

I poke my head up from the river of end-of-term work...

Xopher, #213, sympathies.

...and the river rolls on, or is that rushes...

#305 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 03:52 AM:

Top Ten Beer Names: I surprised they missed Arrogant Bastard Ale. It's the most fun I've ever had reading a beer bottle.

#306 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 05:54 AM:

Re the beer names sidelight... last night I was drinking Vicar's Ruin, which I think ought to qualify. :)

#307 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 06:06 AM:

#298 Stefan Jones: My PVR just finished recording this week's episode of Battlestar Galactica.... Do I watch it on a bright, sunny day, or a gloomy crappy one?

Quite a bit of plot advancement, this episode. I've found the story a bit in need of that lately.

Plus, there is one of the great episode ending moments in a series full of great episode ending moments.

I find story advancement invigorating, so I would say watch it whenever you feel like it. It's not undark, though.

#308 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 07:17 AM:

Greg London @88... I kept apologizing to my wife afterwards for having talked her into us watching it together.

Did she actually forgive you?

I'm not sure what I hated the most about Rise of the Silver Smurfer - that the Fantastic Four are supposed to be Earth's mightiest heroes even though they never actually save the Earth, as that's done by someone else, or that the movie never showed Galactus.

#309 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 07:38 AM:

I think that, after what happened on her recent flight back home, Susan has come to realize that air travel has less to do with the way Hugo Gernsback envisionned it and more with the Airplane movies.

4:50 p.m.: One of my fellow passengers points out that the departure board says the next flight to Hartford is at B3, not B7. (...) 5:20 p.m.: Back at gate B7, which feels sort of like home at this point. (...) 6:15 p.m.: I find an actual seat at B7 (...) 9:05 p.m.: They announce that we must all move to gate B8. The entire crowd, now including over one hundred hopeful standby passengers, relocates. (...) 9:15 p.m.: They announce that we must move from gate B8 to gate B9. We all pile into B9 with a giant crowd of people trying to go to LaGuardia. They announce that the LaGuardia flight will now be leaving from B7.

In the middle of all this, Susan apparently gave an Oscar-winning performance as a crying, helpless, extremely lovable kitten and tried to project the aura of some sort of New England naif overwhelmed by the pressure of the big city airport.

#310 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 08:51 AM:

#295, 296, 297, Greg London -

Ooh, music recommendations! Yay! A little warning about the autoplay would have been nice, but the first track of Falling You works startlingly well against the first track of Hands Upon Black Earth. *grins*

#300, Terry Karney -
I'm in Georgia, slightly northwest of Atlanta.

#311 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 09:11 AM:

R.M.@308: A little warning about the autoplay would have been nice,

Oh, sorry. It's one of the annoying things about the website. I haven't figured out a way to have it not autoplay like that. The other annoying thing is they rearrange chunks of the website every year or so. The autoplay was something they added maybe two years ago. I guess you just get used to it after a while.

#312 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 09:12 AM:

Kayjahoh at 301:

I came here to post that very question! I will be at WisCon, and would be interested in saying hi. We'll be arriving Wed. night and leaving Tues. morning.


My sympathies as well.

#313 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 09:13 AM:

Serge@306: Did she actually forgive you?

I think she said something about me going to see "Sex and the City" with her as pennance.

#314 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 09:35 AM:

#274: I saw that video after it was recommended on a couple of blogs and was deeply depressed. It's not that I'm incapable of feeling joy at the exposure of a public idiot, but... Jesus. I don't get cable, my reception is bad, and I think of my TV as a viewscreen hooked up to my DVD player, so I've seen hardly any television news or commentary in the last decade. Is this what passes for debate now? Incoherent boobs shouting over each other? They sounded like a pair of very drunk students in a shoving match outside a bar at 2:00 AM. They didn't talk; they spat words, fast and loud with no regard for tone or sense... like they thought someone was coming to shut them up, and they wouldn't get another chance to speak ever again. Just like the crazy people in apocalyptic and/or dystopian SF movies who shout out warnings and get bundled off by security. The thought that this was one of the better moments in TV discourse makes me want to lie down and cry.

The only real difference between Matthews and the idiot--and the reason the idiot got smacked down--was that the idiot didn't even seem to care whether he was coherent. He used words for emotional impact with no interest in their meaning. He talked like the aliens in the Star Trek episode "Darmok," who spoke entirely in allusions to folktales. (And has anyone else made this point before, anywhere? It suddenly sounds familiar to me.) That episode didn't make much sense to me for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest was that I never understood how they made it into space. Their language communicated broad metaphorical situations but no real information. Sometimes it seems like that's where political discourse is going: collections of emotional keywords chosen to make the listener feel happy, or proud, or angry, or frightened, arranged in batches that only look like sentences.

#315 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 09:38 AM:

Re beer names:

The best one I came across recently (in a restaurant in Washington, D.C., about a year ago) was Rogue Dead Guy Ale.[*]

Some of the other beers listed at have good names as well -- e.g., Old Crustacean, Hoppy Froggy IPA, and Jittery Frog (made with coffee beans).

[*] Which, alas, is properly parsed as "Dead Guy Ale, from the Rogue brewery", rather than my initial interpretation: "Ale from a Rogue Dead Guy". I liked the idea that there were a few rogue dead people out there, busy making ale instead of decomposing quietly.

#316 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 09:56 AM:

Michael@274, nice clip. "What did Chamberlain do in 1938?" is a good question to pose hawks who call anything short of invasion to be "appeasement".

Sort of like "What is the second law of thermodynamics?" is a good question to pose to Intelligent Design folks who think life is too complex to be based on natural chemistry.

#317 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 10:04 AM:

Wesley: Sadly, yes. Maia and I were listening to one of the better pieces of that family o f show (left, right and center) on the radio.

I kept getting pissed off at the republican (sorry, Conservative) shill (see, there I go doing some of it) as he tried to place memes (re marriage, we can't have someone married in one sate, and then unmarried, and then married again as they drive down I-95, we need a federal solution: to which I said, "we have one (insert profane comments on his nature and ancestry), it's called "full faith and fucking credit you moron. If it weren't for DOMA this aspect of the issue wouldn't be a question."

Then he lied about "appeasement" and did some more injecting of vicious little barbs (Obama's feelings are easy to hurt, etc.).

I knew it was going to be like that, as soon as they announced David Frum (who is selling the idea the Republicans need to spiff up the sales pitch to be a bit more elecatble: it's not that they've screwed the pooch for seven years (and grown really corrupt in the longer period they held power) it's that they are misunderstood; or something.

The keynote speaker at Maia's graduation (the "satellite" one, fot the School of Occupational Science; not the one for everyone, which had Norman Lear, and some guy from Disney (the former decent; and brief, the latter long winded and banal; both of whom followed the worst piece of public speaking I've heard in years, maudlin, trite, clichéd bathetic and filled with every piece of cheap, clapbook, rhetorical device from "effective public speaking" you can imagine ["let me tell you a story about a child, I'll call him Timmy, from which I learned...] including a pointless insertion of USC cheerleading. It was awful. One of Maia's instructors had to sit through it, and she hated it too; so it wasn't just that I wanted Cicero and and got Ian Grant, but I'm on a ranting digression; back to the story) said one of the things he wanted to see was more people getting involved.

This was a common enough sort of theme (though he was somewhat more specific; he wanted them to get involved in OT, and in the political aspects of it; which is something I've been telling Maia's class they need to do, because I can see some changes coming, which are going to be less than ideal, but I digress again).

He started with a reference to the decision on marriage (I think he's gay, certainly his references to his partner implied that, I don't know many women named Clayton; and he's in his eighties), praising it and made a related point later that only 16 percent of college students voted in the 2004 election.

He also poointed out 95 percent of the NRA voted (which two numbers were about equal).

I may start working on getting younger vtoters registered; even with Arni saying he's against a costitutional amendment, it's going to be a rough campaign to defeat it (the last vote was 59-41).

Which, as I look at the California Constitution, is a simple majority of the electors to change.

What were they thinking?

#318 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 10:08 AM:

Xopher, my sympathies as well. "Better to have loved and lost" is not just a trite saying. You had the courage to risk failure, and without that, you can't have success. This wasn't it, unfortunately, and it sucks. IMHO, the general pervasive anti-gay attitude of our culture makes it so much harder on relationships. Most of my het friends are paired off, far fewer of my GLBT ones are in long-term relationships. It's a shame.

Kayjayoh @301 and Juli Thompson @310

I will be at Wiscon as well. Maybe we need a ML get-together. I think at least one or two others who post here will be in attendance.

#319 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 10:36 AM:

No Wiscon for me, but Balticon. Anyone else?

This summer: possibly Readercon, definitely Denvention, possibly Farthingcon.

#320 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:03 AM:

Greg London @290:
My mega-comment from the last Open Thread is still in limbo. At least I've learned to break them up. (And, it's passing odd that links to the current document count. Mrrr? Way to make threading more difficult.)
...and @297:
It sounds vaguely familiar, but I'm pretty sure I have never visited it. I may have assumed it was like instead of CC-licensed.

Wesley @312:
I'm afraid the level of political discourse has been in a tailspin pretty much since politicians realized the import of television. (Usually considered to be the 1960 general election, because Nixon clips from the time show little cognizance of "how to look good on TV". One could argue the wrong lesson got internalized....)

#321 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:11 AM:

open thread tangent, the Wall Street Journal spotlights as being AstroTurf.

And I kept imagining Teresa putting down her WSJ, peering over her spectacles, and saying something like "I was dissing AstroTurf before dissing AstroTurf was cool".

#322 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Xopher: my sympathies. I wish I had something more insightful to say. I wish it could have worked out for you, and for the boy.

G. Jules: if you want to try washable reusable microfiber dusting cloths instead of disposable Swiffers, Target carries them, and I highly recommend buying them in the automotive section, instead of the kitchen goods section. They are much cheaper there (a package of five for the cost of a single kitchen cloth) and work just as well.

I have also had very good results from a homeopathic allergy preparation called BioAllers Mold/Yeast/Dust Formula. I used to work in a fairly moldy basement area, and in damp weather the mold count would go up and I'd get into work and start sneezing. I'd take a dose of this stuff, the sneezing would stop, and I could work my full shift without trouble. The product may be inert and the placebo effect responsible for whatever I experienced, but it's also only about $10 for a bottle of the stuff, which for me is a worthwhile amount of money to spend on a functioning placebo. The Tree Pollen formula works better for me than any of the antihistamines that followed Seldane's withdrawal.

#323 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:31 AM:

One of the advantages to having a kid is getting the cartoons running on Sunday morning. So, is the new Spiderman cartoon as good as it seemed this morning? (Origin of the Lizard, then Spidey's new suit.)

#324 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:44 AM:

#312 Wesley: (view all by): I don't get cable, my reception is bad, and I think of my TV as a viewscreen hooked up to my DVD player, so I've seen hardly any television news or commentary in the last decade. Is this what passes for debate now?

That guy was particularly loud and oppressive which, of course, made his exposure as historically ignorant all the sweeter, but beyond that... I have to wonder what Golden Age of Political Debate we're harking back to here. I've been politically active and aware all of my adult life and I don't recall any such age. Oh, sure, there are certain programs you can tune into that nobody watches that have reasonable people talking in reasonable tones of voice. But by and large the vast majority of political debate in this country, probably elsewhere, now and in the past, has been brimful of people urgently pressing their prejudices and stupidities and ignorances on each other.

They did okay with the Federalist Papers. After that, it's been pretty much downhill.

I don't approve of this revoltin' state of affairs of course. It's just that I don't recall any Golden Age of Debate -- bathing the political landscape in the warming sunshine of enlightenment -- for which I might pine.

#325 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:47 AM:

Michael Weholt #322: What about this? Similar kind of gasbag destruction, done much more watchably, about far more substantial things.

#326 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:49 AM:

OK, I have another problem, and this one just needs an answer. It's kind of a Google-fu challenge.

My candy book, which I do NOT recommend to anyone taking up chocolate-making as a hobby, requires some equipment that's just too expensive, like sugar refractometers. Fortunately you can substitute for that and measure another (less accurate but close enough for candy) way. I may spring for a guitar cutter at some point...but please note that that price is just for the base. The cutting frames (the part with the actual wires on them) cost extra.

However, when this bozo requires equipment that doesn't EXIST, that's a whole other level of bad. Several of his recipes call for a 12"X12"X½" or a 12"X12"X¼" confectionery frame. The trouble is, all the ones I can find (one example, and not even the right kind) are closer to 14X14, which means his recipes won't fill them correctly (making chocolates that are too flat, and since for some recipes (like the two-layered candies with mango on the bottom and habanero (yes, habanero ganache) on the top) they're supposed to stack, that also won't work). I don't really want to adjust the recipe, because his batches are quite big enough already!

I can't just use a pan, because the slab is supposed to be square when you take away the frame (which comes apart in four separate bars of metal), and because frex ganache is supposed to cool on a stone slab, and crystallize overnight.

Can anyone find me a place to buy such things? The kind of confectionery frames that are solid metal bars, heavy enough not to get shoved aside when pouring heavy viscous liquid right next to them, food-grade stainless or something, in the right size, or close to the right size?

I'm hoping that it's just my inadequate Google-fu, and not that they really don't exist.

#327 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:01 PM:

If the frame comes as four separate 14-inch bars, you can place them on the slab to form any square or rectangle smaller than that. (Each one sticks out on one side, forming... not a swastika, but that's the closest shape that has a one-word name. Maybe this won't be broken by formatting:)

. |___
. | |
. ___|
. |

Unless the bars are supposed to lock together at the ends, in which case I don't know.

#328 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:10 PM:

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any that come as separate bars, either. I do know what you mean, though.

I had the impression they were supposed to fasten together at the ends, but the pictures in the book don't actually show that. Maybe all I need is four metal bars.

#329 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:12 PM:

Juli Thompson @310 and Magenta Griffith @216

Excellent. (I live in town, so I'll be there the whole weekend and then some.)

As I mentioned to some other folk, definitely take a bit of time on Saturday morning to leave the hotel and head about one block south, as the Dane County Farmers Market will be in full swing until 2.

#330 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:23 PM:

#323 ethan: Michael Weholt #322: What about this? Similar kind of gasbag destruction, done much more watchably, about far more substantial things.

Ah, "Firing Line"...

And also in that YouTube batch is the famous clip from the 1968 convention coverage of Gore Vidal calling Buckley a crypto-Nazi and Buckley calling Vidal a queer and threatening to smash him in the face.

(wistfully) Those were the days...

#331 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:25 PM:

heresiarch @ 303

My son gave me an Arrogant Bastard beer glass a few years back; I can't take it out without repeating the slogan, "You're not worthy". Not sure who I'm talking to when I say that; maybe it's all the fans of watery megabrand beer. Or the horses who produce Millers.

Whether Hair of the Dog is worth a few hundred dollars a bottle is debatable, but that bottle of their brew Fred was certainly worth the $5 or $6 I paid for it last time I bought one. It's not something you can drink often, way too complex to take lightly, so it's well worth it.

#332 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Breaking: Senator Edward Kennedy appears to have had a stroke. Details on your news service of choice.

#333 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:36 PM:

When did the Saturday morning cartoons get good again?

The new Tom and Jerry cartoons are really funny, and the one that was just over about the kid and his twin redheaded genius sisters* was pretty good, too, as was the Quest one.

Mostly I've seen the "battle" comics, which leave me cold, but the new funny stuff is funny!

*more royalties for the Heinlein Trust?

#334 ::: JCarson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:40 PM:

@326 Xopher - From what I can find, the ones that come as separate bars are called caramel rulers: Like these

I now know way more about candy making than I did 15 minutes ago - thanks!

#335 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:45 PM:

I for one welcome our new caramel overlords

#336 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 12:59 PM:

Xopher #324: My candy book

Can you contact the author or publisher of your candy book for technical support? Could we get the name of the book and the author, or would that be too big of a google-fu hint? It may be possible, if they can't be contacted, to make a reasonable attempt at researching the author's sources.

#337 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:06 PM:

I just finished watching Martian Child. I wouldn't say that I loved it, but I liked it. I wonder what David Gerrold thought of it.

#338 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:14 PM:

CARAMEL RULERS!!!! He keeps calling them "confectionery frames," which are actually little thin things you use for petit-fours, or however you spell that. THANK YOU, JCarson. Googling for the right thing got me to a place in Manhattan I can walk into and buy them! (They don't appear to have a website, but there was an article in the Times.

Earl 334:

Greweling, Peter P. Chocolates and Confections (Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner), Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2007.
Two interesting facts: the copyright is held by the CIA,* and I hadn't noticed it was published right here in Hoboken...not only that, in the building next to the one I work in! So how come I had to go to the ass-end of Brooklyn to get it? Funny world.

By the way, the recipes are seriously delicious, and if you want to know exactly what makes chocolate tempered or not, and how Maillard browning works, it's great. It's also copiously illustrated with beautiful pictures of chocolates, though somewhat skimpy on the side of actually showing what you're supposed to do. And the pictures have nothing to give them scale, so if you don't know what a "No. 7" tip is, you can't figure out which of the things you actually have to use.

Like I said, not a book for amateurs at all. I bought it foolishly, and I've made SOME of the recipes.

*No, the Culinary Institute of America. Too bad, otherwise it would explain the coded language he uses.

#339 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:29 PM:

Michael Weholt: I don't know that the Federalist Papers were the last gasp of serious public political conversation; I seem to recall that a couple of fellows named Lincoln and Douglas kept crowds spellbound for hours of debate, in the out of doors.

I know (because I studied mass-com, and it was course material) the networks used to let candidates talk for three-five minutes in the evening broadcast of clips. That started getting shortened, and the messages started getting really weak, to the point that some are now all slogan, no substance (the change you deserve).

#340 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:37 PM:

Teresa @ another thread: The fictional family that haunts my imagination is Hansel and Gretel. It doesn't really matter whether it's their mother or stepmother who pressures the father to abandon them, or whether their (step)mother dies or repents when the children return. What I wonder about is the awkward conversation as they sit around their fireside afterward, and in the years to come. How do you talk your way past issues like "You took us into the wilderness, intending that we should die"?

There's another fairy tale, called "The Two Brothers", which also has a father persuaded by an unpleasant relative to abandon his children in the wilderness. In this story, however, instead of finding their way back to the man who abandoned them, they are found by another man who becomes a much better father to them. The first time I heard the story, I expected the original father and the unpleasant relative to reappear, but they're not so much as mentioned again; which is, perhaps, the least they deserve.

#341 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:38 PM:

Paul 338: May it be ever thus with abusive* and neglectful* parents.

*to that extreme degree

#342 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 01:58 PM:

A while back at church, the director of religious education was talking to the kids at the front of the church, and was telling the story of Hansel and Gretel.

There was a point he wanted to make, and he asked, "So what's the moral of this story?"

From out in the sanctuary, one of my neighbors said, "Don't trust your stepmother!"

I'm pretty sure that's not the point he intended.

#344 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 02:27 PM:

#337 Terry Karney: I don't know that the Federalist Papers were the last gasp of serious public political conversation; I seem to recall that a couple of fellows named Lincoln and Douglas kept crowds spellbound for hours of debate, in the out of doors.

Sure there are great moments in American Political Debate. I certainly don't deny that. But I'm talking about a Golden Age of Debate. I don't think there was one. There were the L/D Debates, the Chautauquas, the Federalist Papers, and more, but those don't mark an age.

From the beginning, political rags have been spreading the worst sort of calumny, mongering fears and prejudices, proponents of one viewpoint have been slandering their opponents.

I'm just saying I don't recall and age when we were Above All That. I think for the most part, most people have always had to survive under a Leaden rather than a Golden Age.

I don't like it. I think we should struggle against it. But I don't think things are any worse today than they've ever been. In fact, in some ways we're better off.

#345 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @341: Wrong link?

#346 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 02:56 PM:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt motivated and inspired, as well as mobilized, the nation, to deep with the economic catastrophe of the Depression, and then get into and fight World War II.

He's generally been considered a good speaker. As is his wife.

Love, C.

#347 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Bruce @343: Yeah; I'm thinking the right link is this one:

#348 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 03:04 PM:

John, #340: There's a similar exchange in a DS9 episode. Bashir tells Garak the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," and says that the point is not to lie. Garak says that to him, the point is obviously, "Never tell the same lie twice."

To me, this brings up a related point: be careful in your choice of illustrative metaphors, lest your target take away a lesson you didn't intend!

#349 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 03:09 PM:

Er, geekosaur @343, I mean, and associatively Bruce @341....

The context, for those not following the latest in computer security news, is that Debian -- the Linux distribution favored by most of my sysadmin acquaintances, and generally considered Quite Good Indeed -- did something really boneheaded in the version of OpenSSL (a security library at the base of SSH and a number of other things) that they ship in their distribution. They commented out a line of code that was causing problems with their diagnostic tool -- and apparently, for good measure, commented out an identical line slightly later in the code as well.

It turns out that the slightly later line (a) was critical for making security keys properly random, and (b) would not cause any problems with the diagnostic tool anyway.

This is exactly like what it sounds like, if you imagine physical keys. It's like one of the major lockmakers for the world messed up the randomness-generator for their key-cutters, and instead of producing completely unique keys, started producing ones that fit one of a small number of patterns. With the OpenSSL keys, that was a few tens of thousands -- but, with a computer, you can try all those pretty quickly.

This went unnoticed for two years.

And now there is rather a flurry of stuff going around as people discover that their keys aren't actually secure, and in some cases a fair bit of financial cost for replacing them.

There is also a quite predictable flurry of blog storm-and-noise going on about it, especially in comment threads, as people attempt proof-by-being-louder-than-everything-else that the group they feel partisan to is completely blameless in this fiasco....

Anyhow, what I thought was a good commentary on some of the lessons to be learned from the situation is this blog post, from one of the OpenSSL authors. Avoid the comment threads, though, unless you're into the "everything louder than everything else" scene.

#350 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 03:09 PM:

Xopher, I was in the supermarket this morning, calculator in hand, figuring out which jelly-roll pan was the area-equivalent of 12x16". (Yes, I could use three 8" square pans.) Turns out that the 11x17" is the same area. When did they change all the standard sizes for something else?

(Chocolate crispies: 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate, 1/2 cup each of butter, sifted flour, and chopped nuts, 1 cup sugar, 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla. Melt the choc, add everything else and beat well, spread in the pan(s), bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Mark while warm, break apart when cool.)

#351 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 03:10 PM:

#322: It wasn't so much the content that alarmed me--I recently read Nancy Isenberg's biography of Aaron Burr, and the mudslinging she dug up was positively Rovian. (She makes a pretty good case that, although Burr was no angel and made a lot of mistakes, his bad reputation is as much as anything the result of character assassination.) But at least they were coherent. What bothered me was the tone, which like I said sounded more like an altercation between two severely alcohol-impaired binge drinkers.

It occurs to me now that the sneering, abusive tone reminded me of the bullying I went through back in my teens. That's why my reaction was as much primal revulsion as distaste--I was having a subconscious flashback to high school!

#338: For appalling dysfunctional fairy tale families, you can't beat "The Juniper Tree". It's sort of the Grimm version of a Coen Brothers movie--I'm thinking, here, of the mothers childishly incompetent yet temporarily successful plan to cover up her impulsive murder--and has always amazed and appalled me.

#352 ::: JCarson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 04:01 PM:

Xopher - glad to help, and being able to actually go physically buy them is definitely better than waiting on shipping (and you're sure to get the right things...).

Re: the debate/soundbite conversation - I'm actually really interested in how youtube has changed my information during this election. Even four years ago, I was just getting the soundbites that the evening news or CNN picked out to talk about - now, if I hear something out of context and wonder what the rest of the speech was, I can often go to youtube and get the full twenty minutes (or five, or whatever). It's making for some real conversations at work, rather than all of us knowing the same 5-second clip. One person brings up the soundbite of the moment, and others of us can counter with the full context and something closer to firsthand knowledge.

#353 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 04:52 PM:

Wesley @#349: "The Juniper Tree" has the smell of damaged mythology about it. I know it's Germanic, but it makes me think of some of the odder Welsh and Irish tales.

#354 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 05:31 PM:

219, 230 re "build your own" movie soundtracks.

If you can find it, watch the movie Hercules Returns, which is based on exactly that premise. Severely taste-challenged (and Australian, which makes it worse), but very funny (for "I liked Clerks" values of funny).

#355 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 06:22 PM:

David 351,

I recall reading a version about a daughter reborn as a swallow and there was a second verse to the song after the revenge. Father choked on the chain and mother crushed at the door by the mill stone dropped form the roof and brother set free.

#356 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 07:22 PM:

#351: The site I linked to has other versions of the story from Austria, England, Scotland, and Romania. I think the Scottish version was the first one I encountered, but I remember the Grimm version best because of the mother's particularly bizarre behavior.

#357 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 07:51 PM:

geekosaur and Brooks Moses

Yes, thanks, that was the wrong link; my copying and my pasting must have gotten out of sync. But I wasn't commenting on the security issues (though I will be sure to flatter the next Gentoo installation I come across); I just thought the remark about Ubuntu being the same as Windows Vista was rather cutting.

#358 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 10:06 PM:

Susan @ 317: Balticon is a possibility, as I am not on call that weekend. My partner and son will be camping with the Scouts, so I will be looking for Things To Do. The only issue I'll have is a need to be home at certain times to give my diabetic cat his insulin. We can try to work something out.

#359 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Hey, Greg... let me know when you find that reset button, ok? I just got a call that my dad was involved in a "fender bender" that managed to do a number on the transmission of his Chevy Silverado (motto: Bigger. Not always better, sometimes just less fuel efficient.) Anyway, although I remain struck by the absurdity of it all, I could really use a shot at rebooting that random event generator.

#360 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:40 PM:

Peter Erwin @ 313: "The best one I came across recently (in a restaurant in Washington, D.C., about a year ago) was Rogue Dead Guy Ale."

Word is that the Dead Guy Ale label glows in the dark.

John A. Arkansawyer @ 331: "and the one that was just over about the kid and his twin redheaded genius sisters* was pretty good, too (*more royalties for the Heinlein Trust?)"

Ugh. The idea of Heinleinian genius twin sisters as a kid's show seems just a tad inappropriate, doesn't it?

Michael Weholt @ 342: "I don't like it. I think we should struggle against it. But I don't think things are any worse today than they've ever been. In fact, in some ways we're better off."

So what you're trying to say is that you think we should look forward towards a better era, instead of back towards some Edenic Golden Age? What, are you some kind of crazy sci-fi utopianist? Next you're going to try telling me that vaccines have improved the quality of our lives or something crazy like that!

#361 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:55 PM:

#351: Oral transmission is surprisingly efficient sometimes. By the time the Grimm brothers got around, there'd been what? four centuries since the Black Death and the subsequent opening up of travel? So you get Rapunzel, which seems to have been originally Italian, Sleeping Beauty, which was written for the French court (I think), and Cinderella, which everybody claims (there's even versions out of China.)

I recently acquired a Complete Grimm's (with some pretty hokey illustrations from the mid 20th century), and you know what struck me? Lousing. Everybody, from princes to the Devil himself, spends some time with his head in somebody's lap, getting (de)loused.

For some reason, that hasn't made it into any retellings I've seen...

#362 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2008, 11:56 PM:

Wesley #312 and many others:

I only made it through about 3 minutes of the screaming heads video linked above. The stupid, it burns. But pretending that putting clowns like the screaming guy on TV has anything to do with serious discussion of issues is as crazy as treating your cancer with a magic potion you ordered off some website.

I think the problem is, most of us have full, complicated lives. Kids, bills, personal crises and tragedies, health issues, time constraints, that sort of thing. And honestly understanding what to do in any serious policy arena is really hard work. A lot of it is boring, and a lot is seriously time-consuming. Arguments that are honestly going to have much value in making good decisions are going to be hard for anyone who's not either an expert or at least a seriously informed amateur to follow.

That stuff is too hard, too time consuming, too depressing. But ideologically-driven screaming matches, those are entertaining. They make you feel like you're seeing important issues debated. It's the same phenomenon as 24 hour headline news--the goal is to make you feel like you're being informed. But this stuff is like junk food that's been relabeled as "fat free"--you can con yourself for a bit, but it's still junk food.

You wouldn't decide what to do about your leaking roof using the kind of techniques we use to decide issues of national importance. (Gee, let's get three clowns with no idea what a roof even is together and have them yell at each other.)

#363 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 12:00 AM:

Xopher and Greg: What the other gazillion people said, in two successive inverse pile-ons. I'm sorry things suck today, and hope they suck less tomorrow[1].

[1] This might also make a fine political slogan.

#364 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 12:20 AM:

Thanks to Lori Coulson and Jen B., I now have two home-made self-contained gardening bins on the balcony/porch of my 3rd-floor apartment unit. Actually, the process was more like this: First the thread here got me thinking, "It's really about time I did the balcony garden thing," and then a trip to the farmer's market today had me going, "I've just bought seeds and Colorado's gardening season is short short short I must plant NAO!"

So I immediately went into Taurus-cusp-of-Aries mode. As in, "I have just suffered an Attack Of Whim, and I will now follow through methodically from start to finish Right Now This Second." The rest of the afternoon involved several bike trips to and from local hardware stores, some of which I actually visited twice before giving up on finding a pond bucket; a stop at the local Asian market for two cans of Cafe Du Monde coffee (because New Orleans chicory coffee counts as international?) which would immediately go into freezer bags as the cans were repurposed; and several hours spent with hand saw and electric drill (boy that gets heavy after awhile).

Et voila. Two bins waiting to be sown with Stuff in the morning.

(And now I am soaking in the tub and drinking a scotch and going ahhhhhh.)

Apparently my next-door neighbor's mother is a master gardener. And she's visiting right now. She saw me lugging my Rubbermaids and potting mix bags inside and said, "Did you know you can make a great self-watering container out of those?" and I said "OMG yes that's EXACTLY what I'm doing can I pick your brains now? BRAAAAINS!"

So. I left the tarp/lid out of the equation, since we're past "last frost" as of May 15. I saved the cut-off bits of bin for emergency frost protection as suggested at the end of page (the link Jen provides). And I stuck a bendy straw through the overflow hole to make sure water could get out even if soil seeped between the reservoir cover and the outer bin.

There will be corn and squash and beans and cucumber and bell peppers and okra. If Mother Nature is kind and I don't manage to kill everything through overcrowding. I know you can push it a little, but I have a tendency to try to grow five different things in a 5-gallon bucket. Perhaps a little restraint is needed.

(The 5-gallon buckets are full of gifted herb starts that I'm hoping not to kill this year. The cats rilly rilly like grazing on the catnip. They have an inexplicable tendency to get bored with the catnip and move on to the chives. Dammit.)

Rereading Lori's posts, I am now having thoughts of hanging planters with tomatoes vining out the bottom and strawberries coursing out the top.

This thread also got me thinking Community Supported Agriculture. The booth I bought the seeds at was Abbondanza Organic Seed and Produce, which apparently still has some half-shares waiting to be claimed for this season. My husband and I will be discussing whether we can consume a half-share. I expect I'll convince us that we can.

...Because, y'know, everyone really needed to know how I spent my day. Right? :-P

#365 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 12:49 AM:

More on beers: I keep seeing Monty Python's Holy Grail at the local supermarket, and failing to pick it up. (My beer consumption is way down -- to several per year -- since being diagnosed Type II diabetic.) The label is awesome, however, so I am now resolved to get some to try.

#366 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 02:45 AM:

#360 albatross: But pretending that putting clowns like the screaming guy on TV has anything to do with serious discussion of issues is as crazy as treating your cancer with a magic potion you ordered off some website.

Anybody in here doing that? Show of hands? Nope, guess not.

I think everybody in here agrees that particular clip is not a high point in the History of Rhetoric. However, we have to ask ourselves... if any of those hard-working people with full lives you describe happened to see that exchange, would they be more likely or less likely to fall for the Bush-McCain "appeasement" talking point?

It may be shameful that we are reduced to a consideration like that in our political history, but it has to be said that if more people in the media had made the effort to press for even that much clarification from the Bush Administration and its mouthpieces of a factual point, we might not be in that crap-hole war in Iraq at the moment.

I think everybody in here would like to see a higher level of political debate on T.V. Short of that pipe dream, I, personally, will take what we can get as long as it knocks down the trumped up talking points that nudge hard-working people with full lives toward supporting idiots who get us into useless wars.

#367 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 04:19 AM:

Well, it's happened (I was expecting it) the comment spammers have figured out that people like me prevent anon comments from automatically posting.

So I've been getting tests (much like the weird spam of late (nonsense name, pointless comments). So far no links, but the "accounts" they come from are junk.

#368 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 05:24 AM:

Damn, I think I need sleep. I meant to say that the spamming was on Lj.

#369 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 07:25 AM:

Xopher: Making Light needs to have a "buy them a drink" comment click function. Somewhere in Internet 3.141592etcetcetc, perhaps...

Bruce Adelsohn @ 363: Perhaps you could buy the assorted beers you've been wanting to try and get some friends over to drink them, bring a little paper sampling cup and let people pour you tastes. This is roughly what one of my partners does when she wants to try desserts (not diabetic, but has a form of hypoglycemia with fairly alarming reactions to sugar in quantity) -- rather, it's habit enough that when she mentions being interested in a dessert, the general reaction in our family/social circle is for one of us to buy it and give her a fragment...

(I shouldn't really be on the internet now and am still technically in a few weeks' wrist break, but this is self-limiting as I'm going to be on a train in two hours.

#370 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 08:01 AM:

#362, Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little -

I may not need to know how you spent your day, but hearing that you were active and creative and happy with more of the same (plus fresh veggies!) to come definitely improved my morning.

#371 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 08:20 AM:

hereisarch @ 358:

Ugh. The idea of Heinleinian genius twin sisters as a kid's show seems just a tad inappropriate, doesn't it?

I'm pretty sure I'm the one who made the connection, not the people who created the cartoon. (For some reason, I've also had the Fugs' "Dirty Old Man" in my head this week. Thank goodness I don't have a copy, as I don't think I could resist having it on at the workplace. Inflicting those early Springsteen tracks and late Miles Davis jams on people is bad enough.)

#372 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 08:59 AM:

B. Durbin @#359: True! I'd forgotten how late the Grimm work was, compared to ongoing developments. I usually think of their work as "German corpus", but indeed, by their time the area had played crossroads-of-Europe a couple times already.

Now I'm wondering which (Celtic and/or Germanic) god/dess was encoded by the central tree. Looking at the different versions, the tree species varies freely, in one case becoming "a large stone by the door" (which I'd bet is the textual relic of an house altar).

And that central theme of jealousy, murder, cannibalism, and rebirth as a bird -- that just shrieks of a lost myth, (and likely a seasonal sacrifice). Pity I don't have the depth of knowledge to ID the connections offhand.

Also, I suspect most of a prologue story has been elided, where the first mother and her already-magical firstborn got properly introduced.

#373 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 10:37 AM:

You might already know this, but catnip is also useful for insomnia, although the website I just checked out recommends against its use by pregnant and lactating women.
I'd like to build one of those container gardens, but unfortunately I don't have a saw or drill, and I don't do enough handy work to make the purchase worth it. I do have the knife from my toolbox, but from Lori's description it sounds it might not be sharp enough. Any tips?

#374 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 10:43 AM:

Sajia -- you could borrow or rent tools, if you already know how to use them. Saving that, you might barter something for a handy friend's time and expertise.

#375 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 11:21 AM:

B. Durbin @ 359 - Delousing was disguised / translated as 'combing' in many later retellings of the fairytales. (I'm working on a retelling of a Grimm tale, and got all excited when I was able to work in a sleep by delousing scene).

Oh, and to a previous thread on squirrels - there's a 1946 children's book by Richard Church, A Squirrel Called Rufus, a story about the war between native red squirrels and invasive greys in an English forest.

#376 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 11:26 AM:

Mez @ #284:

That's wonderful.

#377 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 11:36 AM:

Just to note: Sister Rosetta Tharpe is Sidelighted twice in a row. I'm guessing a posting hiccup.

#378 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 11:38 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ #340:

A famous French writer declared (tongue, I am convinced, firmly in cheek) that the moral of "Cinderella" was, obviously, that no matter how beautiful, intelligent, or otherwise well-endowed a young woman might be, she could get nowhere in society without the right godparents.

#379 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 11:44 AM:

Terry, #366: Are these spams coming in on recent posts, or on old ones? I currently have my account set not to notify me by e-mail when someone comments to a post, but I might need to change that if spammers are hitting old posts. OTOH, I also have my account set not to be seen by search-bots, which might counteract that...

#380 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 11:48 AM:

Serge @ #335: I wonder what David Gerrold thought of it.

According to his blog, he liked it a lot. (I'd link to the entry, but apparently something just ate his web site.)

#381 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 12:54 PM:

Sajia Kabir #371:

What, exactly, am I supposed to do with the catnip? Snuggle up with Sophie's favorite KittyHooch mouse? I can't smell catnip at all, except as something that dried up in the spice cabinet about three generations ago.

#382 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 01:23 PM:

Lee: It's been mixed. Usually when spammers hit me it's to older posts (that's the style of comment spammers,they hope the ancient comments will be left alone, "who reads old threads?").

Some posts get hit more then others, mostly as a function of topic (the piece I did on a poker game is the most spammed of my posts), but I don't want to turn of noticfication (not least because I have built a way of work around not having to go an look at my blog to keep up with it, and because sometimes people who have freshly found it go back and write interesting things in long dormant threads).

But I could ignore the spam; because it was screened. Now some of it gets through, and I have to delete it.

#383 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 01:57 PM:

#373 ::: Barbara Gordon
"Delousing was disguised / translated as 'combing' in many later retellings of the fairytales."

Oooh! So in the older versions of Snow White, where the evil mother/stepmother figure comes by three times, she offers to comb Snow White's hair...

Nice fine comb with poison...

#384 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Well, I have a catnip plant, although strangely enough, no cats, so I steep a few leaves in steaming water for a few minutes. The friend who gave me the plant and the tip about its sedative effects told me it works even better in conjunction with some chamomile.

#385 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 02:49 PM:

Oops. Meant to add, you drink the catnip-infused water as a herbal tisane, which is how it does its work.
While googling I saw that it was used in early modern times to "induce menstruation". Is that an euphemism for abortion, or is it simply a remedy for irregular menstruation (which can be annoying even if you're not sexually active)?

#386 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 04:06 PM:

Paul@338, quoting Teresa @ another thread: How do you talk your way past issues like "You took us into the wilderness, intending that we should die"?

Here's a copy of my card.

#387 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Oh, did I mention after announcing possession of a paperclip and my hunt for the reset button, that my brakes went from working fine on Wednesday, to vibrating a bit and should fix it before I ruin to rotors on Thursday, to good god what's that grinding noise coming from my car even when I'm not braking on Friday?

The mechanic informed me I needed new pads, rotors, and calipers in the front and new back brakes as well. a thousand bucks. I needed the car the next day, so I told him to fix it, and just charged up my credit card debt to pay for it.

After I hung up, I realized that Hal was onto my plan to reboot him and he wasn't going to go without a fight.

The little weasel.

#388 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 04:21 PM:

Sajia #383:

I was afraid of that. I don't generally do well with herbal teas, and certainly not just before I go to bed; it's a guarantee that I'll be up at 4:30, rather than a 50/50 chance otherwise, which would just restart the not sleeping all over again.

#389 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 05:15 PM:

Greg London @ 385
After I hung up, I realized that Hal was onto my plan to reboot him and he wasn't going to go without a fight.

The little weasel.

You shouldn't anthropomorphize computers.

They hate that.

#390 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Greg 385,

We went through that not long ago when some one, cough -husband-cough, assumed the noise was gravel trapped under the brakes and not the squeal tabs and hey the noise did end so that means the gravel got flung loose after a couple of weeks, right. Only of course to find ourselves coming down from a ski hill with no brakes and taking hairpin turns at 80km/hr. Never want to do that again. The sound of metal calipers grinding against the wheel drum with the smell of burning hydraulics is memorable. But we not only lived we stayed in our lane. Amazing what you can do with power steering good reflexes and not being too attached to your transmission.
Expensive repairs.

#391 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 06:40 PM:

I just watched a CNN video "news" clip billed as "Grizzly victim: he's eating my brain!"

The shame.

#392 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 07:48 PM:

Sajia Kabir #371 --

Catnip is also soothing to the bladder that is irritated or sore from a urinary infection.

Love, C.

#393 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 07:52 PM:

Administered via brewing catnip tea and drinking it, I should have added, just in case.

I went through a period some years ago of an endless urinary infection that baffled the doctors.

I turned to 'folk' remedies, which worked.

The cats that lived with me at the time got very interested in my tea brewing.

Love, C.

#394 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 08:11 PM:

Scott Taylor @ 387

You shouldn't anthropomorphize computers.

They hate that.

Well, to be fair, they would never do it to us.

#395 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 08:15 PM:

Terry, #380: Damn. Looks like I'm going to have to change my settings at least for a while, to figure out if they're hitting my older posts. I don't allow anonymous comments, which is just a harder form of your "screen anonymous" -- but if they're now making throwaway accounts, that won't work any more.

Greg, #385: Ouch. I had that happen to a car once, and you're right -- it happens fast, in my case from one stoplight to the next. I'm amazed that you didn't hear the warning rumble, though; I thought most brakes these days had the squeal tabs. (My incident was some 30 years ago, and either my brakes didn't have them or I didn't have enough knowledge to recognize the warning.)

#396 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 09:07 PM:

Insert explitive here.

Fifty-eight years ago, at the outbreak of the Korean War, South Korean authorities secretively executed, usually without legal process, tens of thousands of southern leftists and others rightly or wrongly identified as sympathizers.

#397 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 10:37 PM:

B Durbin @ 381 - you bet! And the Giant with the Three Golden Hairs, whose grandmother pulls out the hairs while she's 'combing' him, too.

In the book on Montaillou by Leroi-Ladurie (sp?) there's a mention of professional 'lousing women' in the 1200s who went from house to house, kind of like Avon Ladies or manicurists. If I ever need a new SCA persona ...

Okay, I better get back to revising said retelling.

#398 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 10:39 PM:

Elsewhere, I have been a very bad boy. You'll need to read toward the bottom of the comments to see how.

#399 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 01:40 AM:

R. M. Koske: Aw! Glad to have been of service. I always feel like I should report back after haring off and doing whatever it is the Making Light gave me the inspiration to do.

Sajia: I discovered last night that just a plain old pocket-knife with a stab-and-withdraw-downwards motion saws through Rubbermaid bins like butter. These are the classic blue "roughnecks", not the clear "revelations," now. Since I had a hand saw and not a jigsaw, I had to do quite a bit of cutting with the pocket-knife. The holes for the watering tube and the soil-wick were made that way. Also the middles of the sides after my hand saw got as far down the corner as it could.

Also, I've seen smaller-scale recommendations for making similar containers out of 5-gallon buckets, which involves turning the lid, once reduced somewhat in diameter, into the reservoir cover, and sticking old panty-hose through the drainage holes for a wick. This would most certainly require saw and drill, though, as the buckets are made of a hardier plastic.

On catnip: I've also heard the tisane is good for indigestion.

#400 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 01:52 AM:

Xopher, #336, Wiley is where former SFBC editor (and occasional ML commenter) Andy Wheeler works now.

Paul A., #338, we just didn't go back. I became emancipated and then my brother's guardian. We managed fine without them.

joann, #386, I don't know if this will work for you, but a bit of cheese always helps me go to sleep (have to share with the cats).

#401 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 01:55 AM:

Google and ye shall receive:

On making a self-contained 5-gallon bucket garden

Instead of cutting the rim off the lid, one puts one bucket inside the other and makes holes for drainage and aeration in a similar fashion. These instructions' $11 cost is a lot more plausible than the $10 estimate on the 18-gallon Rubbermaid version, too.

#402 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 06:38 AM:

Paul A @ 378... Thanks for letting me know. The movie sometimes felt choppy, but it also seemed quite heartfelt.

#403 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 08:01 AM:

In Sunday's Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller's "Devil in a Pantsuit, or the Demonization of Hillary Clinton" offers a literary look at political language:

Revealed in the coverage of Clinton's campaign is the persistence of an ancient and distasteful cultural theme: the powerful, ambitious woman as cackling fiend, as fantastically terrifying ghoul threatening civilization. And because this creature (or "she-devil," as MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews called Clinton) is not human, the only solution is to kill it. Not just derail its career—obliterate it. Smash it to smithereens. Vaporize it. Leave not a trace of the foul beast behind.

Hence the appalling preponderance of violent, death-infused imagery in conversations about Clinton, smuggled into otherwise ordinary political discourse like a knife taped on the bottom of a cake plate: On CNN, pundit Alex Castellanos said democrats must realize that "it's time to take the family dog to the vet." Matthews' MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann expressed the hope that "somebody will take her into a room—and only he comes out." CNN's Jack Cafferty gleefully floated the specter of Clinton being run over by a flatbed truck. A recent Tribune editorial compared Clinton to a euthanized Kentucky Derby contender.[...]

Meanwhile, analogies between Clinton and that flat-eyed, metallic, multimovie franchise character "Terminator" are copious to the point of cliche. You may or may not like Clinton—or any other female candidate. You may or may not agree with their policies. But is it really necessary to order a hit? Isn't it enough just to vote for somebody else?

This is not simply sexism or racism. Those prejudices are familiar, if still repugnant, and leaders as strong as Clinton and her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, have faced them many times. This, though, is something different and more sinister, because it is not just a commentator's opinion about a person's fitness or unfitness for public office. It is not about using colorful, vivid language in order to wish that a person might or might not continue a campaign. It is an unprecedented public call—albeit metaphorically, but still violently and persistently—for a person's death.

In their landmark book of literary criticism "The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination" (1979), Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar were among the first to spotlight this noxious theme, this isolation and ridicule of powerful women by labeling them crazy, hysterical, perverse, monstrous. To challenge male domination—of the world, or just of oneself—was to be risk being marginalized, ostracized, locked away like Rochester's wife in "Jane Eyre" (1847), the fate that gave the book its title. In real life, behavior that strayed from the polite, demure norm expected of women in the 19th Century was rewarded with psychiatric evaluations and often, imprisonment and death.

#404 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 09:09 AM:

Scott Taylor @ 387... You shouldn't anthropomorphize computers.

When you do, they decide they want to wear sexy outfits.

#405 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Michael #364: Fair enough. ISTM that an awful lot of what passes for serious political debate in the US is little better than this crap--like the embarrassing Obama/Clinton debate where the questioners spent half the debate asking stuff that would have made for a good SNL skit, or the common pattern of having a "serious news show" in which you invite deeply ignorant screaming heads to pretend to have a debate about something. This is poison being offered as antidote, to quote Auntie Ayn.

I understand that it matters. Indeed, as far as I can tell, goofy crap like how you dress and how your hair looks has a bigger impact on getting elected than your ideas or background, and when most people consider your ideas, they're really considering your slogans and image, not anything you have really thought through in depth. So I hope the good guys[1] do all that stuff effectively enough to get elected.

And I'm glad this particular screaming idiot on the side of the crazies got slapped down. But this kind of debate has nothing to do with discussing real issues. Tomorrow, a thoughtful and intelligent person making good points will be slapped down just as efficiently[2], because this format of show rewards something other than careful thought and deep understanding.

[1] In this case, that means the smarmy but not batsh-t nuts guys.

[2] Think of the classic evolution vs. creation debates, in which a scientist with all the facts behind him debates a preacher with great rhetorical skills. Cases where the scientist wins are a win for the good guys, but they don't tell you much--a skilled debater whose points about evolution are all wrong can win just as well as a Dawkins, because winning that kind of debate isn't really very strongly related to being right.

#406 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 10:49 AM:

and from way back up there:

If I have all the numbers crunched correctly, 40 miles per US gallon is equivalent to 5.9 liters/100km. YMMV.

#407 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 11:38 AM:

Bill, #401: I don't disagree with the writer's point -- but realistically, it's only one short step beyond what's been aimed at both Clintons since 1992. It's been painfully obvious for years that the anti-Clinton brigade wouldn't be happy with Bill just out of office; they wanted him destroyed -- financially and personally. They wanted to gloat as he died in misery and grinding poverty, alone and unremarked save for their everlasting hatred. The only difference between that and what's going on here is that the imagery has gotten more overt.

Also, note the recurring use of the passive voice in the calls for her death. Never mind that if she's killed, somebody has to kill her; we'll just talk about the victim, not the perp, and no one will remember that there's an ACTION involved here.

#408 ::: Nancy C. Mittens points up at the spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 01:41 PM:

Saija at 383,

The phrase is probably both.

#409 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 01:55 PM:

OK, sorry, not caught up, not going to get caught up: the weeds are after me, and they've brought reinforcements.

However, after carefully checking the Sidelights, I'd like to draw your attention to this morning's "In Character" on NPR, wherein Jamie Tarabey talks about how the Slayer saved her soul in Baghdad.

#410 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 02:09 PM:

Apologies to Saija for implying she is spam.

#411 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 03:12 PM:

Nancy 408: "Spam is made out of peopllllllle!!!!"

#412 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 05:02 PM:

Woo, woo! Got my worldcon airline tickets. NOT through O'Hare. In Tuesday night (late), out Sunday afternoon.

#413 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 05:26 PM:

Man, this thread got good while I wasn't looking.

Xopher - please accept my condolences.

Wesley @312 - I made that point, once, but that's OK, it's a good point and you go ahead and make it again.

G. Jules @221 - dust mites eat skin. Wash your bedding every night, if possible, or hang it in the sunlight, if possible (UV kills the little bastards, too.) You're not actually allergic to the mites, by the way, but their droppings -- if they're dead, no more droppings.

If at all possible, remove carpeting from your bedroom and bathroom. Wash towels frequently. If you live in a humid climate, try dehumidifying; they die at about 40% humidity. Also, filters work wonders; clean them often.

Swiffers are good for hardwood or tile floors and if you keep everything off the floor, Swiffering only takes a couple of minutes. There's a lot of hair down there; hair has skin on it; skin has mites on it.

The dust on your books is probably not a problem, but to a certain extent, *all* indoor dust where humans live contains hair and skin, so get as much off the books as you can, and be sure the books are well-aired so there's no chance of mold.

Air your house out periodically. I don't know of any scientific basis for that, but it always seems to help our son (he's the allergic one in the family.)

Move to Puerto Rico's south coast, if possible. Oh -- sorry, you probably only wanted advice that normal people can follow. Sorry.

John A. Arkansawyer @331: Johnny Test. My son loves it. We didn't have cable for a year, but since we can't afford to travel this summer, we're splurging (I'm sure we'll regret it.) But the toons are good these days, some of them. The new Transformers, for instance -- my kids and I saw one episode, and we all looked at each other and goggled that they'd apparently hired some writers who can write. Go figure!

Here's an ethical question for the Making Light Brain Trust (tm): We all know that there is a great deal of forum spam out there on neglected forums. Some of these forums are hacked, even. I've had a very little luck in contacting the occasional forum owner with an offer of free help cleaning up and moderating -- but usually, if the forum is abandoned, I get no answer.

Here's the ethical conundrum: if I get no answer in such a case, how ethical is it to hack that forum in order to start moderating it? How ethical is it not to do so? (This is something which just occurred to me today, actually -- the sum total of my "hacking experience" is fighting off hacking attempts and cleaning up the results of same, on, oh, four separate occasions over the last fifteen years.)


#414 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 05:54 PM:

JESR: I know a number of people who got caught up in Buffy while they were in Iraq.

Lets just say that some escapism (esp. stuff where the bad is obvious, and the complexities resolvable) is a needful thing.

#415 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 06:13 PM:

Terry Karney, you know what happened when I read your post? I remembered that one of the actions the Save Farscape people took was to send DVD sets to Morale Centers in Iraq and Afganistan, and then it hit me how very long ago that was: that fan campaign won, and the miniseries produced, and aired, and passed into memory, and we're still sending people into those countries.

The Browncoats still send "Firefly" and "Serenity;" I hear the latest fan campaign is donating the direct-to-dvd SG-1 miniseries (hoping to build demand for a third and fourth dvd series). I just hope "Dollhouse" runs long enough for it to be another in that too-numerous line.

#416 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 07:15 PM:

#407 ::: JESR

Ginmar wrote extensively of how important Buffy was to her over there, and how she introduced Buffy to a lot of her (male) officers, and they too were taken.

Love, C.

#417 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 07:55 PM:

Michael Roberts @411:
I'm pretty firmly of the opinion that an unethical action performed for a "good" reason tends to rebound against the do-er and/or whoever is supposed to benefit. (You can call this karma, or how G-d created the universe, or whatever.) In any case, I recommend against.

#418 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 07:58 PM:

Open thread sort of comment, because it struck me as funny...

An article in the newspaper giving conservation tips suggested not printing out ATM receipts to save paper.

Let me repeat that: the newspaper said I should conserve paper by not printing out ATM receipts.

#419 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 08:25 PM:

JESR: May your series be long enough, and none there to receive it.

#420 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 09:05 PM:

I liked this: Peter Alway dissects an entry in one of his well-regarded books of historical rockets intended for scale modelers. These titles were classic examples of self-publishing for a niche audience.

Some time back, oh, let's say 50 years ago, some governent agency made a rocket. Being a rocket, it looked zoomy. And so it appeals to rocket geeks. I was keeping an eye out for drawings and photos of obscure rockets from the mid-80's until, oh, say, four years ago. Essentially I was working on multiple simultaneous scavenger hunts.

(That last sentence is a lovely summary of scholarly endeavor, if you ask me.)


At the end of 1955, Atlantic Research persuaded the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the Bureau of Ordnance to fund the Arcon sounding rocket, along with a larger version called the Iris.

(Why does anyone care? Because all the hardcore rocketeers know the Iris rocket. Why? Because G Harry Stine (also known as Lee Correy to you SF buffs) published scale plans for the Iris when he was starting the hobby of model rocketry. It had a pretty checkerboard paint job. It was apparently totally useless as a research rocket, but everyone in the subculture knows it, if not from its inglorious history, from models of it.)

Read the rest for interesting insights into the problems of researching, drawing, and describing obscure vehicles for an audience of nitpickers.

More background on Peter's literary career here.

#421 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 09:06 PM:

Michael Roberts @#411: I'm with geekosaur on this one... even well-intentioned hacking of other people's systems is dubious.

Check out Bruce Schneier's takedowns of a similar but even more ambitious idea -- benevolent worms to defend against botnet worms, and/or spread patches.

#422 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 09:16 PM:

#411: Often when I have a potentially interesting thought, a little voice in the back of my head tries to tell me it can't be my thought, but must be some smarter person's thought that I heard somewhere and that has floated back to the surface.

It's sort of comforting that it's actually happened. It means I'm not entirely crazy.

#423 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 09:40 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 411:

Thanks for the 411 on Johnny Test! What else is really good?

As for the fora, it may be ethical but I think it's unwise. Consider the example made of...well, his web page no longer notes it, so I won't mention it here. But I gave to his defense fund. 'Nuff said.

#424 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 10:16 PM:

Well, as it happens, I agree. I'm just not 100% sure why.

If my neighbor has a bunch of old tires in his yard, spawning dengüe mosquitoes (or West Nile, for a less lethal example, or malaria if you want to get nasty), and he refuses to do anything about it ...

No, wait, if the abandoned property next door fits that bill, then is it ethical to break the lock and remove the stagnant water? Or is it ethical to throw up your hands, and say, whelp, property rights make that illegal?

(Yes, I know, you get in touch with the county trustee, or the city, or whoever, but ... you see my point.)

Seems to me that the difference on the Internet is (1) you can't die from spam, (2) there's no county trustee, and (3) everybody thinks hackers are worse than terrorists for some reason beyond me.

I've decided to get more serious about tracking down delinquent owners. This is akin to closing all the open relays back in the 90's, I suppose. Not that that effort stopped spam, of course. Not even close. But it was a pleasantly quixotic venture at the time.

#425 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 10:28 PM:

Maybe it's because you have a sense of proportion, maybe it's because you respect the rule of law, maybe it's because you don't want to risk trying usufruct (usufruction? usufrucation?) in reverse.

#426 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 10:31 PM:

Gah, I hate it when I think of things to say after I've already posted.

David @419: as I recall, the concept of the worm (or virus) was originally in the context of patch distribution. A cool idea. Dangerous in implementation.

John @421: damfino, we've only had TV again for about two weeks, and the kids mostly hang on the shows they already know. Ed, Edd, and Eddie is one I'm particularly partial to, except Cartoon Network way overplays it. (My favorite episode was one in which the characters realized they had hard lines on their edges, unraveled them, and ended up disrupting the fabric of spacetime itself. Fantastic!)

I've always had a soft spot for Spongebob, but (1) he's not new and (2) apparently he's about as hip now as Captain Kangaroo. Jimmy Neutron never fails to make me laugh, but again: not new.

Teen Titans was a fave, three years ago, but is now dead. (My daughter, then 10, actually sewed and wore a Raven cloak for about three months.) Johnny Phantom is good. But Johnny Test is the only new one I can really say I like. Most of the rest is pretty stupid.

I really want to like Nickelodeon's Barnyard Whatevers -- wanted to like the movie, too -- mostly because the cows look like Far Side cows. But unfortunately, it remains largely unfunny, as far as the one-and-a-half eps I've seen indicate. The TV version seems marginally better than the movie, but still generally falls flat if you ask me.

The best thing on TV is still either Most Extreme or Mythbusters. Or possibly How It's Made.

#427 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 11:15 PM:

It's the spammers who are usufructating. I would be disusufructuating them. That would make me a disusufructuationist.

I can keep this up all night.

#428 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 11:15 PM:

how ethical is it to hack that forum in order to start moderating it?

Yeah, that "use a virus to install anti virus software" idea doesn't work well in reality. Unintended consequences and all that.

the characters realized they had hard lines on their edges, unraveled them, and ended up disrupting the fabric of spacetime itself.

Wow. That's a lot more advanced than I got from any of their previews and advertisements. I might have to see if I can catch an episode of theirs.

But then, I like spongebob just because I don't have to think. I didn't say my reasoning made sense.

Jimmy Neutron can be funny sometimes.

I like Johnny Bravo about half the time. And the other half, he annoys the hell out of me.

Oh, and Robot Chicken and Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law, but those are not for kids.

#429 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 11:22 PM:

#418: Peter is a great guy and friend of the hobby.

A model of the IRIS in a 1967 model rocket catalog. Yes, it does look quite zoomy.

On the topic of self-published wonders, Jack Hagerty's Spaceship Handbook does for imaginary spaceships what Peter's Rockets of the World does for the real ones.

#430 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 11:40 PM:

@351 and thereabouts -- re the Juniper tree (sorry, I read these long threads slowly, if at all) -- that story's weird enough to be Hungarian. We've got a couple of CDs of Hungarian folktales (my wife is Hungarian, and we strive for biculturalism, or, er, triculturalism now that we live in Puerto Rico) and I kid you not, those things are the weirdest things you'll ever see outside of Mayan mythology. They're full of people getting killed and possessing things in the environment and turning into birds and deer and stuff, and revenge, and devils, and Turks. The kids love'em.

There was one where the little princess goes out hunting berries with her older sisters (maybe stepsisters), but finds more than they do, so they kill her and stuff the body into a hollow tree. Then a poor guy comes along and finds a violin in the tree, and wouldn't you know it, the girl's spirit is haunting the violin. When he plays it, the spirit comes out and everybody's bowled over by its beauty.

So of course he goes on the road and makes a lot of money playing the violin, and finally comes to the princess's kingdom, where the king and queen are still mourning. (He pulls up to the gate in a wagon full of gold, violin in hand, but still has no shoes. Because it's a cartoon.)

He plays for the king and queen, who realize that the violin is haunted by their daughter, and they banish the older sisters (and brick them up in a room, mwuhaha, as I recall, or that might be another story on the same CD -- at any rate, it's clear that Hungarian children are not the tender snowflakes that American children are considered nowadays.) And then the little princess returns to life, and they live happily ever after!

Except for the bricked-up sisters, anyway.

Watching those for the first time is mind-expanding. They're on YouTube, mostly -- search on "Magyar népmesék". You don't need the dialog to grok most of them, and the animation is truly beautiful. Oh, hey, for instance, here's the very one I was talking about. I love this century.

Oh, I see my memory already cleaned this one up a bit. They stuff the body into the violin of an old blind man, and throw the violin into the hollow tree. Of course! The narrative is so much clearer now!

#431 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2008, 11:59 PM:

Greg @426 - I don't actually like the virus parallel, as it's not the same thing. A virus is automated and you can't control it once it's out of the box. Sorceror's Broom and all that -- which is not the same thing as hacking a forum to clean it up. I'm not saying the latter is ethical, and definitely not saying vigilanteism is smart even if you can make an ethical case for it -- but it's not the same thing.

In re Ed, Edd, and Eddie -- they don't advertise what you and I consider the best features, because we're not their target audience. But I find their writing truly awesome. I could name half a dozen things like that; I highly recommend watching some of it. My son eats it up, but I think he's more attracted to the goofy characters and hitting each other with fish than the more abstract humor that has me agog. My wife just considers it stupid and violent, but after the Magyar népmesék I don't listen to her on that, ha.

I love Rolf, the token foreigner, for instance. In one double-length episode, there is an outbreak of cupids, and Rolf's culture has traditional ways of combating them, thus allowing normalcy to be restored before the end of the episode. (Rolf is also the only person on the show who works; he keeps livestock in the backyard and is always doing vaguely agricultural tasks like digging trenches and fermenting things.) And it's all like that. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's my favorite toon on the tube, but it's right up there.

Johnny Bravo -- I love that guy, but I don't actually see much of that show (it's not really played much any more, is it? Not on our CN, anyway.) Cow and Chicken was an older one I loved for a while, but it didn't survive long. This was kind of the first Cartoon Network year, as I recall; we were in Hungary and the satellite service had Cartoon Network. I watched it incessantly while working. Or "working", as the case may have been. This would have been the summer of 1995, perhaps. So -- hardly new stuff.

I didn't know they were making new Tom and Jerry -- and sure didn't know it was any good, so maybe I'll have to check a TV Guide or something. Assuming they still have those.

#432 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 12:03 AM:

Micheal 428,

The Bonny Swans is in the same theme vein.
Sister drowns her,over a guy, and she comes back as a swan that a passing bard turns into a harp then she plays in the great hall to accuse her sister before the court and family.

#433 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 12:06 AM:

More YouTube!

The reason my wife thinks Ed, Edd, and Eddie is violent is that this stuff is actually what she grew up on. I love these!

#434 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 12:17 AM:

Holy crap... ever see the documentary film Deliver Us From Evil? It was on Sundance Channel tonight.

It's wrenching.

And meanwhile, I see from the Catholic News Agency that Cardinal Roger Mahony -- a primary villain in the aforementioned documentary and one of the many villains in the Catholic Church relating to the sexual abuse of children by the clergy -- has barred a retired Australian auxiliary bishop from speaking in the diocese of Los Angeles:

In 2007 Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, the retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney, published a book titled “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus.” Bishop Robinson argued in his book that because the Church refuses to reexamine Catholic teachings on extramarital sex, women priests, homosexuality, and papal power, the Church is not serious about responding to clerical sexual abuse but is only “managing” it.
But I did learn one heartening thing from watching the documentary: There are people like Father Tom Doyle in this world.

If the Catholic Church had any spiritual balls left, it would've made Father Tom the Pope instead of Ratslinger.

#435 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 01:37 AM:

Lee @ 405: "I don't disagree with the writer's point -- but realistically, it's only one short step beyond what's been aimed at both Clintons since 1992. It's been painfully obvious for years that the anti-Clinton brigade wouldn't be happy with Bill just out of office; they wanted him destroyed -- financially and personally."

But not dead, right? They wanted him alive, to suffer. The man must be unmanned, his might broken and his works ruined, and he must live to know the shame of it. Different archetype, I guess.

Whenever I read about the weird obsessions of the media class, I always wonder--why do they fall into these weird, Jungian analyses so easily? I guess it's because making the news into Stories is their job: rendering the messy, complicated reality into a form intuitively obvious to anyone at a moment's glance is their life's work. Nevermind if it accurate, nevermind if doing so is good for our country, nevermind if that is actually what people want, because that is what they think people want. That is what they think sells, and so that is what they aim for. Ironic, isn't it? In their attempts to pander to the lowest common denominator, they become it.

#436 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 01:59 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 424

as I recall, the concept of the worm (or virus) was originally in the context of patch distribution. A cool idea. Dangerous in implementation.

Unless I'm mistaken, the original worm was let loose on the herd of Altos and Dorados at Xerox Parc. It ran memory tests (and maybe other diagnostics) on the computers in their idle cycles. Given that there was no such thing as the internet, and the LAN they were running was the only Ethernet in the world at the time, it was probably safe. Given that the kernel of the network code was downloaded microcode, it was probably unsafe in a very short time.

#437 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 06:39 AM:

Bruce, I was just browsing through Zittrains book "The future of the internet" and it says:

"The software—now commonly thought of as the first Internet worm—was
traced to a twenty-three-year-old Cornell University graduate student named
Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. He had launched it by infecting a machine at MIT
from his terminal in Ithaca, New York.4 The worm identified other nearby
computers on the Internet by rifling through various electronic address books
found on the MIT machine.5 Its purpose was simple: to transmit a copy of itself
to the machines, where it would there run alongside existing software—
and repeat the cycle.6"

in 1988.

#438 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 06:45 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 425: Oh, look. Johnnie learned a new word, and now Michael is showing him how to use it properly. How nice.

and @ 424: I was adapted to the idea that the Cartoon Network ran good stuff--I dig Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends--but what shocked me was finding good cartoons on Saturday morning.

#440 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 08:15 AM:

guthrie @ 435

The PARC worms were runnimg sometime in the mid to late '70s, I think. The paper that described the PARC worm research (I"d forgotten about the graphic worm, and some of the others) was published in 1982. It's one of my favorite technical papers because it begins with a quote from John Brunner's "The Shockwave Riders", and cites that and the Blob as inspirations for their work.

#441 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 08:57 AM:

John, you should be very care-having in assumptuizing the propercacity of any of my usufructuative verbilogisms.

#442 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 08:58 AM:

Also: shyeeah, I forgot Foster's Home. That one is basically my favorite cartoon, but we haven't had TV again long enough for me to get re-hooked.

#443 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 09:01 AM:

guthrie #435: Yep. The Morris worm was a big deal, but it wasn't remotely the first self-propogating badness anyone invented. Frex, the Brain virus was a pretty big deal (at least if you worked in a computer lab on campus at the time!), and that was (according to Wikipedia the infallible) in 1986. I know there were earlier viruses, worms, and trojans.

I am pretty sure the Morris worm was part of the inspiration for the Blight in _A Fire Upon the Deep_ and the related usenet responses ("We recognize that this will entail the destruction of whole solar systems...."), though it would be fun to ask Vernor Vinge.

As an odd sideline, Morris' dad was a fairly well-known NSA computer security expert, one who definitely breaks the mold of NSA guys in public speaking. (Though it's been several years since I saw him speak, and I don't even know if he's still alive.)

#444 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 09:05 AM:

Ha! I wasn't sure of the relative timing, but according to Wikipedia, the Christmas Tree trojan/worm thingy hit before the Morris worm. That was pretty crude (you had to receive the file and then type the program name to run it, and then it drew a Christmas tree and mailed itself to everyone in your names file), but it caused a fair bit of pain and suffering in computer centers.

#445 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 09:23 AM:

Michael@429: Johnny Bravo -- I love that guy, but I don't actually see much of that show (it's not really played much any more, is it?

Not sure. I do see it on the TV once in a while when I'm flipping channels.

Oh mama.

#446 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 09:26 AM:

Found on the LJ of Kathryn from Sunnyvale...
George Takei is finally allowed to get married.

#447 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 10:12 AM:

When you say "Morris worm" I can't help but picture dancers. I blame Terry Pratchett.

#448 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 10:51 AM:


And isn't it amazing how they do all the steps despite having no arms or legs?

#449 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 10:56 AM:

Bruce- Ha! Guess you can tell I don't know much about this. The old timers should get as much of the reality of the history of the computer revolution nailed down as possible, before it all becomes 2nd and 3rd and fourth hand and fades comlpetely into myth.

#450 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 11:33 AM:

This afternoon was spent filling in a hole left from digging out a tree root. The space was about two and a half feet deep by 5 feet wide. Not for the first time, I was struck by the sense that the number of wheelbarrows of dirt needed to fill up a hole increases, the closer the hole (apparently) comes to being filled. For now, I'm calling this Farmat's Morast Theorem.

#451 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 11:49 AM:

I'm definitely late to this party, but I thought Susan @70, Debbie @87 and heresiarch @185 (and our gracious hostess as well) might find this post about Zucker and Blanchard interesting.

#452 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 11:50 AM:

D'oh! That'd be our gracious host, not hostess...

#453 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 01:16 PM:

protected static -- excellent article, thanks for the link.

#454 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 01:55 PM:

Debbie -- my pleasure. Glad you enjoyed it.

#455 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 02:02 PM:

#429: Wait, Cow and Chicken was real?

Thank you. I was beginning to wonder if I'd just imagined it all.

Me, I'm waiting for the new season of The Venture Brothers.

#456 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 05:17 PM:

I've just stumbled on the perfect Tor theme song. Somehow in my love for all things Jazz Butcher, I'd never picked up his/their "cult of the basement" album. And thus, I'd never stumbled on the glorious song 'My Zeppelin', which is the ideal mad scientist/alt-universe sing-along:

Have you ever really wanted something?
Ever really wanted it so bad?
Well, I have always really wanted something..
I wanted a zeppelin!

Now I've got one and I'm in it
Up above the U.S.A.
Where the food is all so cheap
But now I reckon they can keep it
When I start those engines up and float away

I'm riding in my zeppelin
Over Germany...
It's the only talk in town
Since that bloody wall came down
And there's not a single trace of irony

Now I'm riding in my zeppelin
Over Mexico...
Where Tequila's not expensive
And the weapons are extensive
And you can buy yourself a gun to-go

Steffi Graf Zeppelin dream - Now we're so distant
Steffi Graf Zeppelin dream - Now we're not there
Steffi Graf Zeppelin team - Now we're so distant
Steffi Graf Zeppelin bream - Now we're not there

(And then we crashed.)

#457 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 05:18 PM:

If we should measure just how far to glide
through the soft air and where to come right down
upon the soft warm surface, you'd not drown
any of your fears in the long slow tide
nor let us wait for motions to collide.
We'd have to find our own ways to renown,
of that there is no doubt; and yet the crown
of all our seeking here is joy not pride.
So much of time is found within the place
where each of us holds back the force and sense
that we have stored up since our time of birth.
Not one plain mark should show up on each face
nor are we able to make vain pretence.

#458 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 05:28 PM:

Serge @ 444: Yay!

And I continue my streak of being in places when same-sex marriage is made legal. Well, "streak" meaning that I was in Boston both the day the vote was taken, and the day same-sex marriages started being performed (I got uncharacteristically teary upon hearing an account of one couple who eloped from New York via Chinatown bus). And I was in California last week, too.

Now if only my presence would lead to the same effect in my home state. Looks like not. *sigh*

#459 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 06:23 PM:

I have to say I am pleased with my state (as I was when Newsom made the move which led to this, and when the Calif. court made the ruling this was appealing).

Not perfectly (or the question of an amendment wouldn't have been present already) pleased, but hey, one step at a time.

#460 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 07:07 PM:

Caroline @ 456... Already I hear the sound of heterosexual marriages crashing and collapsing as George's kind is allowed to marry too. Eeeek.

#461 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 08:15 PM:

I was thrilled at worldcon in Japan last year to have a chance to thank George Takei for his wonderful anti-homophobic-jerk ad.

#462 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 08:38 PM:

Michael Roberts @422:
One of the things I'm worried about is if someone does take offense, you could find yourself on the wrong end of a precedent-setting ruling which will (if past experience is any indication) make a great many obviously acceptable actions illegal or at least gray areas.

(Judges often seem to lose common sense in the face of computer stuff; I can well imagine, for example, a ruling which means that if you give someone you trust an administrative password and they use it, they could be arrested. Or worse, someone in our "can't trust those commoners" government figures an "anti-terrorism" angle to the ruling.)

#463 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 09:09 PM:

I was reading Perez v Sharp, the California Supreme Court case in 1948 that stopped the state's ban on interracial marriages.

It isn't too long, and is worth reading...60 years ago and another country altogether. (The dissent alone. oy.)

In their world, "Separate but Equal" *is* the permissible law of the land. It is fine for a state to create a law school just for blacks (to keep them out of the established school), or for a train company to substitute one train car (for blacks) for another (whites only).

And yet they found...

"A holding that such segregation does not impair the right of an individual to ride on trains or to enjoy a legal education is clearly inapplicable to the right of an individual to marry. Since the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one's choice, a segregation statute for marriage necessarily impairs the right to marry."

"A member of any of these races may find himself barred by law from marrying the person of his choice and that person to him may be irreplaceable. Human beings are bereft of worth and dignity by a doctrine that would make them as interchangeable as trains."

At Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, the Rev. Cecil Williams has been officiating at same-sex weddings for 40 years, although the state didn't accept these church weddings*. George Takai and his Brad have been together 21 years.

*So if the state were to get out of the "marriage" business, reserving "marriage" for churches (as I've seen in pro-DOMA arguments) then aren't they married?

In any argument about same-sex marriages, it's good to remember that
1. Thousands of same-sex married couples already exist in the US (although they're trapped in MA because their marriages are annulled/ dissolved/ stripped away if they move out to a DOMA state).
2. Those thousands of married couples have children. Those children's families are legally annulled/ dissolved/ stripped away if the family moves out of MA to DOMA states. That's. just. vicious.
3. If church weddings are what makes a marriage, thousands+ of additional same-sex married couples exist in the US outside of MA.

#464 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 09:56 PM:

Kathryn @451: Those aren't real churches!

#465 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2008, 11:57 PM:

B. Durbin waaay back at #139:

Auckland (New Zealand) where I live has a similar system. AFAIK, historically, it (the 'hub') was to funnel suburban dwellers into the CBD where a majority worked. These days, while a goodly chunk of people still work in town, the city is large & spread over a wide enough area that people now work all over.

If you want to get into the town-centre, public transport works relatively well but cross-town travel is painful. In recent years, cross-town bus routes have been introduced. But the historical lack of cross-town options have propelled people toward driving their cars to get around town and trying to get people to change their habits is *hard*. Although the increasing price of oil has had the side benefit of making public transport more attractive.

And don't get me started about *our* light rail.

#466 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 12:39 AM:

The Australian Capital Territory, which tried before & was batted back by the Federal Govt, has apparently succeeded under the new government – ACT recognises same sex couples. Unfortunately they were pressured into including a residential requirement, so couples can't simply travel there to 'get legal'.

Here's an edited part of my earlier comment from an previous thread discussing the issue:

I've said for some while that the 'civil' and 'spiritual' sides of marriage should be quite specifically and clearly separated, with the civil part engaging all the legal superstructure and available to all humans (pace First Contact), and the religious — Hindu, Hippy, Holy Roller, whichever — being an optional extra which may have deep personal & community meaning to those involved, but doesn't affect citizenship, superannuation, tax status, welfare rights, hospital visiting, etc.

So far, all [weddings] I've been to have [hidden away,] blurred and passed over the civil, legal section. There should be a standard short, simple, obligatorally (sp?) public part which has to be done as part of the larger ceremony and which 'seals' the legal obligations and responsibilities of the couple and the government.

#467 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 01:00 AM:

Re: the worst recipe ever particle:

Am I to understand that shark have uremic acid and cyanic acid for blood? A double, extendable jaw? And a life cycle that starts with an egg, a larvae that attaches itself to a human's face and inserts another egg in the human's stomach, that egg develops into a tadpole that shoots out the host's chest cavity (Oh no, not again), then scurries about on dry land until it nearly instantly transforms into its final stage of roving killing machine?

Also, the recipe says it is for "rotten" shark. If it calls for burying the meat in the ground for 3 months, I don't think the word rotten deserves to be in quotes.

Wasn't there another particle a long time ago about someone who collected instances of useless quotes? Should send them a note.

#468 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 01:49 AM:
The black cloud of bees looks ominous, but they are "harmless" at this time because they're so focused on finding a home, Fischer said.

Harmless, that is, unless you manage to drive into a swarm at freeway speeds, which I've managed to do twice. Not only do instantly render your windshield near-opaque, but when you pull over to clean it, there are plenty of live bees left to add excitement to the proceedings.

#469 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 02:00 AM:

On that shark particle:

I know I'd read about that it is. I recommend Fierce Food: The Intrepid Diner's Guide to the Unusual, Exotic, and Downright Bizarre. She covers 70 odd foods from around the world, each one getting about 3 pages of detailed descriptions, history, preparation, taste.

She has description keys/glyphs by each one (Spiny, Revolting, Messy, 'Eating may cause pain/disease/death', requires special equipment, requires special technique, incredibly smelly, has eyes, aphrodisiac, 'tastes like chicken').

The foods include Armadillo, 'Big ass ant,' 'Giant Waterbug,' Ortolan, san-nakji,and Surstromming (go ahead. Look those latter two up. mmmm.)

hákarl- the shark- is merely Revolting.

I've had about 15 of these foods, and am not likely to increase the number much. Although the new death-free fugu is tempting. Pointlessly tempting.

#470 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 02:32 AM:

I've had shark many times--the butcher shop near my old place carried it. It's a bit like swordfish, certainly not revolting at all (if you don't bury it in the ground for three months, that is).

#471 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 02:40 AM:

I remember watching a TV interview in which Björk claimed that the preparation of hákarl involved pissing onto the shark pieces before covering the hole.

#472 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 02:41 AM:


As you know, Bob, people in much of the world eat fresh shark meat just fine. In fact, the shark population worldwide is under serious pressure due to overfishing.

I wrote most of a long response about how weird it was that the hakarl articles stated that shark meat contains uremic acid - I think there's no such thing; perhaps they mean uric acid? - and/or cyanide and is deadly poisonous unless given this treatment. The article Teresa linked says "Fresh shark meat is said to have caused people to vomit blood" which seems nonsensical.

Then I noticed that there's a specific type of shark referenced in hakarl, the Greenland shark, about which Wikipedia (for what it's worth) states: "The flesh of a Greenland shark is poisonous when fresh. This is due to the presence of the toxin trimethylamine oxide, which, upon digestion, breaks down into trimethylamine, producing effects similar to extreme drunkenness. Occasionally, sled dogs that end up eating the flesh are unable to stand up due to the neurotoxins." Huh. Whaddya know.

#473 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 03:10 AM:

Clifton @470, Tim @468 re: me@467,

I've had shark too, although it's been off my list for conservation and mercury reasons.

Change my phrase to:
hákarl- the shark recipe of the Particle- is merely Revolting.

As compared to san-nakji, which is both revolting and can kill you (Although a very quick search doesn't immediately find examples of death from san-nakji).

#474 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 03:24 AM:

On further reflection, it seems to be another case of the food equivalent of Rule 34 - "No matter how poisonous something is, somebody somewhere in the world will have found a way to eat it - and like it!"

A canonical example is cassava, a staple diet in much of the tropic world, even though it contains cyanide compounds which can kill or severely poison you if you don't cook it sufficiently. Despite this, it tastes OK, and it's one of the easiest to cultivate sources of starch, and that's turned it into a nearly world-wide staple of the poor.

Fortunately the same can not be said for Greenland shark.

#475 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 03:39 AM:

Kathryn: Have you had Surstromming? I have a friend who's mother makes some, every year. Just the descrption of the finished product was enough to inform me I didn't want to be near it.

Lutefisk is for wimps.

#476 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 04:09 AM:

I'm Icelandic, I've been around the rotten shark (hakarl just means shark in Icelandic). I've never had the guts to eat it though.

It basically smells and supposedly tastes a bit like the strongest blue cheese you can ever imagine. It's usually cut into dice sized bits and eaten with toothpicks. You're really careful not to touch it or have it fall on your clothes because the smell will never come out and you'll have to throw that piece of clothing away.

I've been told it smells worse than it tastes but I'm not willing to risk it.

There are people who like it but most people I know who've eaten it did it in the spirit of Fear Factor and with some macho posturing.

Oh and Gordon Ramsey tried to eat it in one of his tv shows and had to get a bucket to spit it out. It was really funny.

Voila found a clip: Ramsey failing to eat shark

#477 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 04:41 AM:

Terry @473,
No, and not on the list. I've had toxicology and microbiology, and those cans... gutted, fermented, tinned, then stored until the can bulges. Illegal to bring into the US and on airplanes in Europe, because if the cans explode, that smell won't be forgotten.

On the other hand, Someone on the internet Found it Tasty. Durian, for all its smell, is fine. And my north-Slavic heritage has certainly given me a taste for small oily fishes. Fermented for months fishes, though? hmmmm.

Would be an interesting LJ quiz-- copy out the 70 food items and see how many you've had or might want to try. I counted about 15 that I've had.

#478 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 05:21 AM:

#475, Continued

Of those foods, the ones I have the least problems with are any in the "Arthropod? Onna stick?"category. If you can eat shrimp on a skewer, the rest are just like land-based shrimp (+/- 200 million years).

I don't eat octopus, because of the time when one of the TA's in invertebrate zoology brought one of her lab's octopus by.

It would sit in a water-filled plastic storage box on the lab bench, a few tentacles hooked over the edge, and watch us. If we looked at it, it looked back. If we all looked away, it would quickly climb out and glide around the table, touching things and picking them up with intent*. As soon as someone turned around, it would zip back into the bucket and again just hang out, watching.

Why this led me to skip the octopus for food, but not others, I don't know**. But it did.
* It didn't understand hand-mirrors.

** not because I haven't faced foods I'm about to eat...

#479 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 05:59 AM:

If you like to watch the skies, don't forget that the next 3 days (starting on the 21st-23rd) make up the 'International Space Station Marathon,' visible in North America and Europe.

The ISS is very much 2 dimensional and angled in binoculars, and it is even 1D--a line--to the naked eye. Only 4 pixels by 1 (to me) but it is no longer just a point.

It'll be in constant sunlight, so for us it'll have more than the usual number of passes, many quite bright.

For visible passes time and locations, Heavens Above is normally the best site, but they've been down. Spaceweather has a tool that gives details (but not the nice skymap of the track). Look your location up--any passes with better than -1 magnitude is fine, and at or better than -2 is wonderful.

#480 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 07:07 AM:

re 461: Making ontological claims about marriage leads into the morass that is the Wikipedia article, which at present begins, "Marriage is a personal union between individuals." Yeah, that really clears things up.

There are some who want to go to the European model, where all weddings are conducted by the state and the church does no more than bless them. One can construct a Christian model of marriage in which homosexual marriages are "real", but immoral. One's theological mileage always varies, of course.

The family remark, however, strikes me as a bit over the top. Some legal recognition of family relationships would be lost, to be sure, but then American law takes a fairly constricted view family relationships.

#481 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 07:39 AM:

Could anything be worse than surstromming? I give you casu marzu, which is a Sardinian cheese which comes complete with the live maggots that have been living in and feasting on it. Here's an excerpt from Yaroslav Trofimov's WSJ article (via Apocalypse Fiction Magazine) on the putrid phenomenon:

The cheese itself tastes rotten. Enzymes produced by the maggots cause the cheese to ferment and its fats to decompose. The result is a viscous, pungent goo that burns the tongue and can affect other parts of the body. One neophyte experienced a strange crawling sensation on his skin that lasted for days. And some of the wiggling worms jump straight toward the eyes with ballistic precision. To protect the eyes, some Sardinians recommend holding a hand over the sandwich.

#482 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 09:58 AM:

Serge @458 -- As my mother said when Massachusetts started performing same-sex marriages: "Well, your father and I have been happily married for 26 years, but gosh, now that gay people can get married I guess it's all over."

(My parents have now been happily married for 30 years, existence of gay marriage and all. Funny how that works.)

#483 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Caroline @ 480... Funny, isn't it, especially considering the matrimonial track record of the Defenders of Traditional Marriage?

#484 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 10:40 AM:

476: what an unnerving story. I somehow assumed that octopods would stay in water...

Apropos of George Takei, the Economist had a nice obituary of Mildred Loving -

To protect the eyes, some Sardinians recommend holding a hand over the sandwich.
...and saying "no, for god's sake, don't eat that!"

#485 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Footnote to Clifford Royston, way back up at #454: Jazz Butcher sound like tennis fans, since Steffi Graf was Germany's most celebrated female player. (Then she went and married Andre Agassi, and they settled down and had kids who *might* grow up to be superstars of the game.)

#486 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 11:10 AM:

Headline found on Comcast's site:

Lost parrot tells vet his address

How did the parrot know where the vet lives?

#487 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 11:50 AM:

476: what an unnerving story. I somehow assumed that octopods would stay in water

Apparently they can hold their breath? Or possibly they get enough oxygen through their skin to operate outside of water for short periods.

Octopi are on the "too smart to eat" side of the line* for me--fortunately, I didn't like the texture even before I found out how smart they are, so I have little to feel guilty about.

* Other such: cetaceans, primates, elephants, corvids, parrots and their relatives... Most of these I've never had an opportunity to eat, which is good.

#488 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 12:04 PM:

Clifton @472 - in re cassava, it's not just for poor people any more; check the Gerber's aisle. (Tapioca is processed cassava.)

They fry it down here in PR (they call it "yuca"); it's a pleasant alternative to potatoes, but not quite as good as potatoes. For a root that's better than potatoes, go with yautía. I love yautía, and I'm not that easy to impress when it comes to potato substitutes.

#490 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 12:14 PM:

regarding #487, I am a little concerned that 4 year old knows about Cthulu. There must be some interesting bedtime stories going about. Cthulu for kiddies anyone?
As a counter to the soul sucking evil that is Cthulu, I present my friends bedtime stories for his son:

Of course he might not like me sicking a bunch of making light people onto his LJ, but hey, its a public entry.

#491 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Faren: I thought the ending lyrics were more likely to arise from word association football.

#492 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 12:52 PM:

A technique out a living much used in the practice makes perfect of psychoanalysister and brother?

#493 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 01:48 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 476

I understand your feelings about octopi; it does sometimes seem as if when you look at them, something looks back. Although Jack Cohen, the British reproductive biologist, used to think so too, but now believes that none of the cephalopods have any sense of self.

On the other hand, graduates students in marine biology have to eat, and it's traditional in biology to choose as your research animal a species that you can either eat, ride, or make clothes from. One guy I knew became a master tanner while getting his PhD in physiology; his thesis was on the sheep renal system.

#494 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 02:02 PM:

@ 488... I am a little concerned that 4 year old knows about Cthulhu

This is the Foglio Family. I once overheard mom tell her older child that meal bugs are not bugs you eat as part of your meal. When I later mentionned that to her, she expressed great surprise at ever saying that, and that she expected she'd have told him that meal bugs are bugs you can eat.

#495 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 02:13 PM:

C. Wingate @478
The family remark, however, strikes me as a bit over the top. Some legal recognition of family relationships would be lost, to be sure, but then American law takes a fairly constricted view family relationships.

Over the top? When the stability of legal rights of a family changes at the state border, I think it is a problem.

Some hypothetical situations--does something change if A & B are gay vs straight couples?

1. A and B are married. A has a child C from a previous marriage. Can B adopt C without A losing their parenting rights for C?

2. A and B are married. B becomes pregnant with child D. When D is born, is A legally their parent?(1)

3. Same as 2., and A has a child. When D is born, are C and D siblings? Legally?

4. Same as 1. Soon after the wedding, B is injured and in the hospital. Does child C have a right to visit B?

These are areas where straight biological or blended families generally have nothing to worry about--nothing to think about, in some cases. Of course a child can visit their parent in the hospital... in Massachusetts.

Not necessarily so in other states, especially DOMA states. There, child C's relationship with B? B might be the child's guardian, at best. The child becomes the minor child of B's roommate, with all the rights that would ensure.

A child shouldn't have to worry that their family can't move out-of-state without losing significant legal protections.(2)

25% of gay couples have children.
(1) look up which states have/don't have"Second parent adoption rules" and what it means in states that don't allow it

(2) Back before Lovings v Virginia, states didn't have to recognize interracial marriages from other states, and some states really didn't (full faith and credit? Nope). Must have been fun for their kids. If I said that "Those children's families were legally annulled/ dissolved/ stripped away" would that have been over the top?

#496 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Ginger and anyone else who might be at Balticon - the program schedule is (finally!) up so I know my own schedule, which is heavy on the Regency-oriented stuff but should make it easy to find me. I'm coming in very late Friday night and probably leaving fairly early Monday to avoid holiday traffic as much as possible.

#497 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 04:04 PM:

I made up a Cthulhu Halloween costume for my niece when she was two.

Green poncho with tentacles on the front and little wings on the back, green hat with eyes and a beak. Her dad loved it, but she didn't get to wear it.

Maybe this year (she'll be three this yesr) it'll happen. I'm trying to keep out of the fairy princess mode.

#498 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Tania @ 495... I'm trying to keep out of the fairy princess mode

A gibbering 3-year-old horror will definitely be different.

#499 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 05:29 PM:

3 year olds are excellent at gibbering. It's a prime gibbering age.

Come to think of it, many of them are also excellent at driving adults past the boundaries of sanity and into gibbering madness. Hmmmm...

#500 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 05:44 PM:


The vacuum cleaner I inherited from my grandmother, who died 25 years ago, is apparently not economical to repair. I think four years of vacuuming up dog hair pushed it over the edge.

Interestingly, the likely replacement model uses the same type of bag. I think the only part of my 1983 vintage computer that would still be useful is the AC power cord.

#501 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 08:03 PM:

On the recent recommendation of several commenters I picked up a copy of Orson Scott Card's anthology "Maps In a Mirror" from the library because it contained one or two short stories which I took to be interesting.

Unfortunately I didn't write down the names of the stories, and this thing has about 100 pieces in its 670 pages. I've done a search of the site for "orson scott card" but not found anything within the past two weeks or so which pertains to short fiction.

Little help here? Anybody got a memory of that conversation (probably in an Open Thread, but who knows)?

#502 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 08:13 PM:

Serge @ 481

So you're saying the Defenders of the Faith are un-Faithful?

#503 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 08:22 PM:

YOMA Whole New Laptop!

I can just here the innocent tone in your voice as you asked that question, and I've never met you in RL. Great comic acting is more than just body language.

#504 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 08:35 PM:

ajay @ 482:

I read an anecdote about a lab where fish kept disappearing from some of the fishtanks at night. They finally set out a surveillance camera and discovered that their octopus was pushing up the lid on its tank, squeezing out underneath the lid, crawling along the shelf to pick out a nice midnight snack from the other tanks, and then crawling back to its own tank, lifting the lid and getting back inside. They put either a heavy weight or a latch on the lid.

#505 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 09:02 PM:

Juli Thompson and Magenta Griffith

I was helping with stickering and sorting name badges and stuff tonight. Whenever I ran across one belonging to someone I know (or even "know") I kind of smiled.


#506 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 09:13 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 500... I wouldn't know that, but some appear never to have heard about the dangers associated with glass-walled domiciles.

#507 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 09:38 PM:

Xopher @490: A technique out a living much used in the practice makes perfect of psychoanalysister and brother?

Okay, I'm having trouble even parsing that. "Practice makes perfect" was a chunk I could get, but clues, please?

#508 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 10:06 PM:

I'm not sure if there is a current topic here, but this article, about a nasal spray that makes people trust others, gives me the screaming heebiejeebies.
A "trust drug"? "Involved in sex"? No, can't see any possibility of misuse there...

#509 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 10:16 PM:

C. Wingate @ 478:
"Some legal recognition of family relationships would be lost, to be sure, but then American law takes a fairly constricted view family relationships.

I beg to differ. Why should any family relationships be lost, simply because people crossed a state line? How could entrenched bigotry become its own justification? How could anyone support that, knowing that many families would suffer from such discrimination and disruption?

I am a lesbian, in a long-term committed relationship (13 years now), and we live in a second-parent adoption state, so our son is ours. Clearly this state has a more modern and less restricted view of "family relationships", and it has not fallen apart. The entire court system has not collapsed under the weight of social fabric tearing asunder, heterosexual marriages breaking violently under the strain, or the total failure of today's society. All we have done is publicly define ourselves as a family unit, for the legal protection of our son.

There is no such protection for my partner; when I die, my social security benefits do not go to her as my spouse, but to my son. My insurance does not cover her, but I can add my son. Health care proxies? Power of Attorney? We had to add those specifically (and expensively) through our lawyer. Why should I be forced to repetitively document every step, every set of privileges that heterosexual "marriages" take for granted? Why should my son suddenly become not-my-son because we crossed a state line? Why should someone's bigoted opinions make a difference in my life?

I'm not religious, and I don't give a damn what other people profess to believe, because it makes no difference to my life. Yet other people in their righteousness seem to feel superior to me, and refuse to allow me to gain even the smallest acknowledgment of legal rights.

As my elected representative, Jamie Raskin, said in Annapolis last year, "We don't put our hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold the bible." It is the law that shapes our lives, and when it does not allow for full and equal sharing, then it must be changed. I should not have to point out that before Loving v Virginia, it was illegal for inter-racial couples to marry. I should not have to point out that it was once clearly and obviously the duty of white people to own black people, entrenched in the law and supported by biblical verses.

I find this sort of thought -- relying upon old tropes and hidden hatreds -- to be extremely disturbing. Separate is not equal. Restricting us from sharing in the same privileges that Britney Spears and Kevin Federline enjoyed is nothing more than defining us as second-class citizens, and that should be seen only as shameful.

#510 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 10:32 PM:

#506 ::: JimR
"I'm not sure if there is a current topic here, but this article, about a nasal spray that makes people trust others, gives me the screaming heebiejeebies."

Maybe that symptom will go away if you take some of the nasal spray.

#511 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 10:45 PM:

Rob Rusick @ #505:

A technique out a living much used in the practice makes perfect of psychoanalysister and brother?

A technique out a living much used in the practice makes perfect of psychoanalysister and brother?

#512 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 10:50 PM:

Susan @ 494: I'm checking with an old friend of mine to see if she wants to go as well. Once I hear from her, I'll know when I'm likely to be there.

#513 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 10:55 PM:

#419 ::: David Harmon

"benevolent worms to defend against botnet worms, and/or spread patches."

This would not make sense to someone who understands the word bot in its older meaning of a worm that infests the noses of sheep.

#514 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 11:05 PM:

Erik @ 511: I've gotten over that little misperception. Oh, and bot flies infest other species too. There's even an episode of "Tales from the ER" in which a human being is divested of a bot fly larva from her scalp.

I think I'd rather deal with computer 'bots instead.

#515 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 11:05 PM:

re 493: Hidden behind all your cases is the more basic problem that once biology is cut out of the picture, the relationships all become a matter of whatever someone says they are anyway. One needn't appeal to homosexuality to get situations where one gets "families" where the members aren't related to each other.

And the obvious corollary is that family law, as it now stands, doesn't deal well with any kind of irregularity. But the flip side is that families exist whether the law says they do or not. America law, after all, hardly notices the existence of extended family, but we all notice them. I think a case can be made for doing away with the current situation where family rights are essentially made a reward for getting married. But that doesn't mean that "non-traditional" families do not now exist.

#516 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 11:19 PM:

Ginger @ 507... May I draw your attention to the other person's apparent perception that there are state-conducted marriages, or marriages based on a Christian model? That leaves out quite a few people, and might indicate a flawed way of thinking.

#517 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Add to me @ 348

You want to use either greased or non-stick pans for the chocolate crispies, because they will try to stick.

The texture and appearance are nothing like brownies, but they're definitely flat. Like a quarter-inch thick. Crunchy chocolate!

(I also melted the butter with the chocolate. Mixes more easily that way.)

#518 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2008, 11:52 PM:

JimR, #506: Egad. The only potential argument in its favor is that it's harder to administer nasal spray to someone without their knowledge. But as soon as this stuff gets made into pill form, we have a new rape drug.

#519 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 12:07 AM:

C Wingate #513: I'm not sure how fundamental biology is to the questions of (say) getting to visit you in the hospital or receive social security benefits on your behalf. My wife and I are presumably no more closely biologically related than Ginger and her partner. It seems like this is more about building support for common arrangements into law.

I do wonder how different family law will end up looking, when it includes same-sex couples. It seems like alimony, child support, and domestic violence all look quite different when the partners are the same sex.

#520 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 12:09 AM:

Lee #516: A trust drug has many applications, rape only one of the less imaginative ones. A few years from now, you may really want to turn down the free coffee at the car dealership....

#521 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 12:33 AM:

JimR @506 and later: The interesting thing about this, to me, is how it's involved in sex; specifically, that it's a result, not a causative factor. Having sex causes a person to be in a more trusting state.

This helps explain a vast number of stupid decisions down through the ages, I think.

#523 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 01:31 AM:

Carrie S., #435, today I yelled out the open sliding doors "Crows! There's plenty of seed for everybody! Stop fighting!" They stopped and looked at me and went back to fighting. Just who do they think provides the seed and the porch they're fighting on?

#524 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 02:22 AM:

Marilee, call 'em by name and see if that gets 'em to stop.

Hekyll and Jekyll, right?

#525 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 03:04 AM:

Albatross @517, Ginger @507,

Identical biological connections in a family are treated very differently if the couple is gay or straight.

No answers had been given to either my most general of hypotheticals, or your specific and detailed personal situation. I think Serge is correct.

#526 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 03:26 AM:

Ginger: Bots... yuck. We have horses, and yeah, bots are bad.

Linkmeister: Hekyll and Jekyll were, IIRC, magpies.

Brooks Moses: Oxycotin is some really potent stuff. It's (so it seems) one of the primary factors in maternal bonding (being one of the chemicals the body uses to regulate milk; the things one learns working the dairy unit of the LA County Fair).

#527 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:39 AM:

Marilee @ 521

Just who do they think provides the seed and the porch they're fighting on?

Why should the crows care? It's too late for you to take them back.


Call 'em by the names of the crows in Dumbo; the only one I remember is Jim Crow. And that little racial reference reminds me of the industry rumor that the only reason Dumbo was ever released was that Walt had gotten heavily involved in other projects and wasn't giving it his usual micromanagement. Most progressive movie he never made.

#528 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 05:12 AM:

Terry Karney @ 524... yeah, bots are bad

Are they all?

#529 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:34 AM:

512: in Carl Zimmer's "Parasite Rex" there is a description of a case of botfly larva infestation of STOP READING THIS NOW I AM SERIOUS YOU WILL REGRET READING THE NEXT WORDS IN HEAVEN'S NAME SAVE YOURSELF IT IS TOO LATE FOR ME EVEN NOW I FEEL THE GRIP OF HORROR TIGHTEN ON MY MIND a child's brain. With a photograph.

#530 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:45 AM:

Bruce Cohen @525: Re: Dumbo: I recall reading that it had been produced when much of the studio was out on strike. Supposedly, the clowns (in the scene where Dumbo is incorporated into the clown act) were caricatures of some of the strike leaders.

#531 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 07:30 AM:

Ajay....why? WHY?


#532 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 08:24 AM:

529: dude, you were warned.

#533 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:11 AM:

"Botfly" is a word to conjure up some science fiction writing... Also, bots infecting your sheep's noses -- seems kind of edge-of-Singularity, doesn't it?

#534 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:27 AM:

Neat bit heard this morning on NPR, about a sort of communal, self-organized, non-top-down arrangement that might interest those of us who are interested in things like that:

(It's the slugging article.)

#535 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:28 AM:

Neat bit heard this morning on NPR, about a sort of communal, self-organized, non-top-down arrangement that might interest those of us who are interested in things like that:

(It's the slugging article.)

#536 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:33 AM:

oops. Sorry. Stupid leechblock.

#537 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:49 AM:

re 517: Well, that's the point: the plan is to keep the law the same, so that changing the legal definition of marriage automatically gives these "privileges" to homosexual couples. It doesn't do a thing for all those other "non-traditional" (depending upon your tradition, of course) families who would still lack all these "rights".

And the thing is that most of us don't spend all our time in hospitals or fighting all these crises. Yes, it's a problem when they do occur, and it seems to me that we would be served better with a social weapon less clumsy than the law in handling them. As long as the law is the main regulator of crisis situations, there's going to be a significant proportion that are going to go badly. But when Family is something you do on a day-to-day basis, the law isn't constantly poking its head in the door and prying people apart.

#538 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:56 AM:

If one isn't plagued by the fruits of one's imagination, Parasite Rex is a wonderful book.

If one is... avoid it like the very plague.

#539 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:19 AM:


I'm trying to nerve myself to sign up for a dance camp I've never been to, doing a dance form I am the merest beginner at, with 100+ total strangers. Their application form looks like something the IRS created and requires references and a sort of dance CV.

It would be good for my dancing - I'd get a very solid foundation in an mostly new (to me) dance form; nothing like immersion to jump my skill level several notches. It would probably be fun once I met a few people and got over my terror of Mobs! Of! Strangers! I would learn a ton. I would probably lose at least five pounds. It's cheaper by $200 than the dance camp I usually go to, where I'm enough of an expert to be somewhat bored part of the time, but which is full of people I know and for the most part like and have danced with for years. It has world-class teachers I rarely have access to. It's within a fairly easy drive.

And I'm sitting here staring in irrational terror at the application form...

#540 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Some of you know about this site already. Now all of you do.

*rubs hands gleefully*

#541 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Terry @ #536:
I am so plagued by my imagination that I still suffer irrational fears of bees and ants induced by childhood exposure to The Swarm (book) and (blush) Empire of the Ants (one of the stupidest big-bug B movies ever). I think I should avoid it.

(Okay, the bee fear is not totally irrational - I have a bee sting allergy which has not yet gone anaphylactic, but I'm under orders to avoid getting stung since reactions tend to escalate with repeated exposure.)

#542 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:26 AM:

Susan @ 537... And I'm sitting here staring in irrational terror at the application form...

Today, Monsieur Lovecraft will teach you the Tentacle...

#543 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Serge @540 -
Today, Monsieur Lovecraft will teach you the Tentacle...


Too much anime. That just sounds so feeellthy. Like an Ann Rocquelairesque novel crossed with Urotskidoji, or something...

#544 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:42 AM:

C Wingate #535:

I think I see your point here, but I also think that the social side of this has often already developed, and the legal side is lagging. Many of the people speaking up in favor of gay marriage are explicitly living in long-term, committed same-sex relationships. They're doing much of the social side of this. Many employers recognize those partners in terms of retirement and health benefits and such[1]. But they don't have the legal recognition of those relationships, which can become important when things go south--when someone dies or gets sick, when the couple splits up and child custody or financial arrangements need to be worked out, etc.

Now, it's not possible to get the law to track every meaningful family relationship--as you said above, the law is a very blunt instrument for this sort of thing. But in this case, it seems like there is a large set of long-term stable gay couples, some sizeable fraction with children, for whom extending the legal institution of marriage makes a lot of sense. Those couples exist, and will continue to exist regardless of whether they are allowed to legally marry. The only question is how the law will handle things when one of the partners dies, or gets sick, or leaves, or when the couple wants to buy property together, or when a kid gets sick while the legally-recognized parent is out of town. ISTM that we have a 90%+ appropriate set of laws and routines for handling those situations sitting on the shelf, and that we can apply it here with minimal cost. I expect the law will have to evolve a bit to handle same-sex couples and issues like child custody or alimony, but that's well within the competence of the law.

This won't deal with all the areas in which family law can't keep up with reality. But it will make family law track noticeably closer to the reality of what families look like. This also won't deal with all the social conventions which haven't developed yet in many places. Again, that's not something the law can do. But the part we can do at low cost, with low apparent probability of problems, we ought to do.

[1] This is an example of markets responding to reality better than governments, IMO. Contrast this with some states that attempt to forbid this kind of recognition.

#545 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Serge #540: I'm visualizing one of those foot-position-dance-step charts on the floor, with really *huge* numbers of steps and positions. ("Okay, now step back with your even numbered tentacles, then step right with tentacles numbered 0 and 2 modulo 4. Then, kick with prime numbered tentacles, and....")

#546 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:54 AM:

Paranoia strikes deep.

A friend thinks his internet usage is being monitored at work (his in particular, not everyone's) and asked me if I knew how he could tell. I don't know, and I don't seem to be able to determine what information is reliable out there in internet-land. Any sites y'all might recommend?

#547 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 11:17 AM:

538 "graph jam" site

reminds me of:

Didn't David Byrne once write a book making fun of Power Point and sell it for some ridiculous price like hundreds of dollars apiece?

#548 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 11:56 AM:

And I'm sitting here staring in irrational terror at the application form...

And we're sitting here staring in encouraging hope at your words on the screen.

#549 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 12:05 PM:

I was hoping people would say encouraging things, actually. :) I really shouldn't panic at the thought of going someplace new dancewise; it's irrational.

#550 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Family is something you do on a day-to-day basis, the law isn't constantly poking its head in the door and prying people apart.

That's where it goes wrong. Family is the daily stuff -- groceries, homework, soccer games, church -- and you have an expectation that you will not be adversely affected by law that doesn't explicitly exclude you. Yet, it does. Besides the laws that do exclude me (thank you, DOMA), there are all the laws that don't, and yet people feel free to exclude us from basic everyday social, societal, legal and ethical considerations. If we drive across a state line, our family relationship is suddenly dissolved and we cannot rely upon anyone to honor it.

Now add to that the loud voices of people who are determined to exclude us deliberately, for whatever reason they can come up with, and you'll possibly understand that I will not sit quietly while my civil rights are eroded, state by state. If I can get married in Massachusetts -- or Canada! -- then it must be honored in every state in this union. Otherwise our "union" is a fraud, and it becomes every state for itself.

#551 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Susan, of course you should go, so you can tell the rest of us all about it! What dance form is this, anyway? If it's anything like the dance classes I've been to, it won't be a mob of people: they will arrange themselves on the floor in a neat grid to follow the teacher, and you will fit right in.

Off the dance floor, try carrying a piece of knitting [or other manifestation of a popular activity]. That gives you an easy way to meet people.

#552 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 12:42 PM:

I'm trying to nerve myself to sign up for a dance camp I've never been to, doing a dance form I am the merest beginner at, with 100+ total strangers.

Insert "movie boot camp" cliche here...

"You're a danger to yourself and to anyone you waltz with, Mitchell!"

#553 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 01:10 PM:

Susan @ 547... I was hoping people would say encouraging things

Isn't that what we were doing, in a roundabout kind of way? You can dance, Susan. You can learn. Why would it be different for that class?

#554 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 01:22 PM:

C. Wingate @ 535: OK, I think I see what you're actually trying to say here - your earlier posts had seemed to me to express something quite different.

It seems to me now that you're really saying that allowing two people of the same sex to marry, so that their marriage between acknowledged as part of the existing legal framework, addresses a lot of problems without tearing up the legal framework and starting fresh. At the same time, it does not address the broader problem of any family relationships which don't arise from a marriage of any two people. Is that right?

You're also noting that the legal problems of not being married aren't usually a crisis day to day, but they can become one in extreme circumstances.

I think there are two important points you fail to recognize or consider though.

The first is that absolutely every relationship must face at least one very serious crisis - because everyone dies. That is our human lot. Failing to provide any social and legal tools to deal with the consequences of death makes it far worse for the survivors. I believe we have a collective obligation to provide that to families such as Ginger's.

Of course, nearly all of us go through a lot more than that. I've got excellent health, on the whole, and I've been in the hospital more than once. Then there are legal troubles of various forms, which have been known to afflict teenagers and their parents. And last, even serious long-term relationships break up, often after having kids, and so society has provided some special legal tools for dealing with that in the context of a marriage. "Give no thought to the morrow" may be great spiritual advice, but it's lousy social planning advice. I'll leave it at that.

The second is simply that a huge proportion of "non-traditional" families, other than gay couples and their families, arise from two-person relationships and their aftermath - for instance, a lot of non-traditional families are simply "blended families" with kids from two previous marriages/divorces - and they can marry, and their are all sorts of ways the existing legal marriage framework helps them with that. Some other non-traditional relationships consist of couples who choose not to marry for personal or philosophical reasons, which makes the point of granting them the right to marry moot. It is indeed specifically gay couples who bear most of the burden of being denied the right to marry.

The only group I can think of who are currently denied the right to marry, other than gay couples, are people in voluntary polyamorous relationships. That's a very small group in comparison; that doesn't make it just, but it suggests that denying gay couples their rights until it's sorted out how society would deal with them is the wrong approach. (They can also choose to marry as a subset of their relationship, to get partial legal benefit, and I know some who have.)

Last - I've spoken of a right to marry. People in our society do see it as a right - these days you'd be shocked if told that you could not legally marry someone because of their religion or race. The law has consistently agreed for a very long time, in striking down anti-miscegenation laws among others. If it is a right, it is unconscionable to deny it to some of our people. I hope you'll agree if you think on this for a while with an open heart.

#555 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 01:26 PM:

Susan, you can panic if you want to*, and it's your divine right to be as irrational as you can be.

But do go!

Forget reports from the dance camp -- I want reports from filling out this complicated application form, a la Fragano's grading. If it helps you get through the application, so much the better. ;-)

*Men at Work earworm. Sorry.

#556 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 01:29 PM:

I'm rather enjoying this blog's take on the gay marriage issue, well just about all issues really.
Yes in all the rational discussions don't you just get these deep set urges to slap the hell out of the idiots and just tell them they are stupid.

"Over the next few years, Americans will see like never before that married gay people won't do anything to society except make gay people happier. At which point the right's true motivation - to make gay people unhappy out of bigotry and spite, will be nearly impossible to hide behind coded language and pretty rhetoric."

I want to hug this, squeeze it and call it George.

#557 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Ooops the proper linking is,

#558 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 02:04 PM:

Ginger #548: What I can say is that things do change for the better. My parents' marriage (in England over 52 years ago) was illegal in the state where I live now, as mine would have been at the time. It would also have been disapproved of by most Americans, and certainly did not meet with majority public approval in the Britain of that time. And yet the earth moved. You're entitled to a family on the same terms I am, and your son is entitled to parents without some jackass saying 'but he won't have a proper identity because only heterosexual parents (with a solid male father-figure) can provide that' regardless of whether those parents are decent human beings or the Fritzls of Amstetten.

#559 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 02:33 PM:

BTW, apologies for the various ungrammatical blips, misspellings, and whatnot in my above post.

I hope they are obvious as arising from trying to write an impassioned yet logical essay while on my first cup of coffee, and trying to get my son ready to go to school and myself ready to leave for work.

#560 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Drive-by Corrector:

Cassava needs leached to be edible, not "cooked for a long time;" it contains cyanides, which are extremely inconvenient to eat.

Leaching toxic compounds is a common subsistence tactic; pre-contact Californians got something like 90% of their calories from acorns, which must be ground and leached to rid them of tannic acid- also inconvenient, although more slowly than cyanide, slowly cooking the liver instead of binding to hemoglobin and quickly depriving the body of oxygen.

Also: the relationship of "family" to biology is at all times and in all places tenuous and imprecise. A life-long association of one man and one woman and their children is a recent and rare ideal, and one which has been honored more in the breach even in our time and place. Death of a spouse, of both parents, birth of children to mothers not old enough or healthy enough to raise them, fostering of adolescents, as well as de facto polyamory and single-sex households with children born to the adults or adopted by both or either... things happen, and people gather together to share, in the interest of comfort and survival.

#561 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Karl Rove subpoenaed!

No comment from Rove, but he did cackle, rub his hands together, and pull a big lever labeled "UNLEASH DARK FORCES."

#562 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 03:05 PM:

Well, I signed up for it. I requested a private cabin so I have somewhere to go to preserve my sanity. (Most people are in big dorm-style cabins.) Of course, now I find out if I get in or get wait-listed, which would be a funny ending to all my angsting.

The dance style in question is Lindy hop.

I'm not particularly intimidated by dance classes; I've taken a few in my life. It's partly a social thing (I hate groups of strangers and am terribly shy in such groups) and partly the intimidation factor of an application form that asks for various types of experience for which I have to keep filling in "none". It's also just a step way outside my comfort zone (going from expert to beginner, whee!) which is good for me but also a little scary. I don't mind doing this for the odd class here and there (and do), but going off to camp and doing it for six straight days with no breaks in a group of strangers is a lot scarier. The only people I'm going to know are two of the instructors who probably don't remember me at all from one class four years ago.

But I must remember: the proper approach to a hangup is to dive right in and experience it. On the scale of Scary Things it's probably easier than a ferris wheel.

#563 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 03:25 PM:

Ronit: Men without hats (and a great video).

Susan: Be of stout heart. You can dance. You can learn. You can face crowds. Next year they will be less forbidding; this year you will be less bored.

On balance, face the form.

I said was yelling at David Frum on the radio the other day (what, are you surprised... no, it doesn't change any of the inanity, but it's good for my mental health; better would be not hearing him, but sometimes it's the way it goes) because he was saying we needed to amend the constitution; because these question weren't the sorts of thing we could afford to have be state to state issues.

Which they wouldn't be if Clinton hadn't signed DOMA. Seems to me DOMA ought to be unconstitutional, but I'd hate to test it with this court (whice thinks stare decisis is a stern look), establishing a precedent a later court would be unwilling to revisit.

I do expect to see gay marriage in my lifetime, but call me greedy, I want to see it in the lifetime of all my friends.

#564 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 03:43 PM:

Terry Karney @ 561... I want to see it in the lifetime of all my friends

"These things can't be rushed."
"Why?" I ask.

#565 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:11 PM:


A Texas court ruled that members of the FLDS church are free to take their kids home. I wonder if they'll celebrate with a round of underage marriages. After the kids bags are searched for books and other contraband.

#566 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:15 PM:


There is a difference between sweet and bitter cassava. Both contain cyanide compounds (not simple (CN)-) but the former can be made safe by thorough cooking; bitter cassava requires more extensive processing such as leaching. Per the Australian Food Standards Board:

How do I make raw or unprocessed cassava safe to eat?

Sweet cassava can be made safe to eat by first peeling and slicing the cassava and then cooking it thoroughly either by baking, boiling or roasting. Frozen cassava and frozen peeled cassava should also be prepared in this way.

(So nyaah, I'm a brat. And as I may not have said, I've eaten enough cassava when I was in Tonga to be fairly sure what's involved in normal prep.)

#567 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:25 PM:

Serge @ #562,

"Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why'? I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not'?" Robert Kennedy made this quotation famous during his 1968 Presidential campaign.

#568 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:32 PM:

Fragano @ 556: I've seen society change quite drastically in the past 35 years -- I do remember the Stonewall Riots -- and in particular the past 15 years. I am optimistic that we will continue to progress towards marriage for all, and that no one need worry about their particular "family status" when travelling or even just going about their daily lives. We need our own "Loving v Virginia".

DOMA reared its ugly head when I wanted to put my partner on my health plan -- as a Federal employee, I cannot do it. I don't blame just Bill Clinton for it; it couldn't have gone to him without the support of Congress at that time. Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis (from memory, so I may have messed up some endings).

I love how people try to use "biology" to support untenable and unethical behavior. It doesn't work when my son claims he "couldn't do it" with respect to his chores or his homework, and I certainly won't accept it as an excuse for any sort of discrimination. Life is full of all sorts of interesting combinations; let's not be afraid to live (and let live).

#569 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:35 PM:

Susan at 560: congratulations! And that's an extra $200 you can now spend on other dance stuff.

#570 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:36 PM:

Ginger: IIRC, the majority wasn't enough to overide a veto, ergo the final responsibility/blame rests with Clinton.

I'm not going to forgive him his mistakes, just because he was unjustly hounded on other matters.

#571 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:43 PM:

Linkmeister @ 565... Yeah. After I posted that, I realized that the response should have been "Why not?"

#572 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:56 PM:

Tracie @ #544:

If all the company's Web traffic goes through a corporate proxy server, then it can be (and probably is) logged. There is no way your friend will be able to tell if the admins and/or management are specifically interested in the log entries referring to him.

If the company archives all email, then that email can be retrieved. Again, your friend will not be able to tell if such retrieval has taken place.

#573 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 04:59 PM:

Stefan @ 563:
I don't much care for the FLDS, but Texas overreached in this instance. I think it's a dangerous to have the government deciding what religions are or are not inherently abusive, or prone to situations which make abuse likely - one could make the same arguments about any number of mainstream religions. And I think it's terrifying to have the government reclassify adult women as minors and force them into state custody.

#574 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 05:23 PM:

Susan: Where did you see that adults were being reclassified as minors? I hadn't seen that in any of the reports on the FLDS.

#575 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 05:43 PM:

How closely have you been following the case? Here's one blurb on the 22-year-old. (Her husband is 24.) The 27-year-old is mentioned in this article as one of the six "girls" acknowledged this week to be adults (along with two others last week, one of whom was the 22-year-old, I think.)

The standard for removing children from a home is supposed to be "imminent danger", and I don't see that that existed in the overwhelming majority of these cases, unless you consider religious brainwashing an imminent danger. (I'm willing to entertain that argument if you're willing to extend it to mainstream religions as well.)

Make no mistake, I think that marrying off teenagers to 40(plus)-year-olds is nasty, though I don't have anything against polygamy as a concept and don't find their beliefs unusually nutty in the context of religion in general. But I think that the idea that the state can decide that a driver's license and birth certificate are inadequate proof of age, declare a woman a minor, and force her into state custody is pretty scary too.

#576 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 05:54 PM:

Susan, at the time, they couldn't get even names out of some of them, never mind ages.
The FLDS also has a history of marrying off girls as young as 14 or 15, even though that's illegal in most states.
Add to that, that all the ladies are wearing the same styles of clothes in the same limited set of colors, and have basically identical hairstyles, and I can see there'd be real problems sorting the minors from the barely-adults from the younger 20-somethings.
(I have to say that the FLDS is seriously creepy. They remend me of some of the Victorian pr0n that gets reprinted from time to time.)

#577 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 05:54 PM:

I really want my same-sex couple friends to be able to get married -- those who want to, that is. Not everybody wants to be married, and not everybody should be. The number one reason I want my same-sex couple friends who want to marry to be married is because I've met their families, and almost all of my / our same-sex couple friends have one side of the family that is crazy fundie a@@hats, who WILL treat the surviving member of the couple, if it is her / him, very badly, no matter how they have tried to surround themselves with legal documents crafted for access and inheritance -- not to mention guardianship of child or children.

The opposition to expanding marriage beyond this particular benchmark, in my own mind, is that group marriage nowhere has worked to the benefit of women's and children's rights anywhere in the world, in any history.

I have no faith in this nation making that different, if one man is allowed to have a legal marriage with any number of women. And polyamry doesn't seem to make that any different, according to the women I know who have gone there, and left, broken-hearted. At least, they were able to leave. So I see it as a constriction of women's civil rights and existence within the legal system.

However, if I am wrong about this, and anyone can point to a place where this is not so, I will be most pleased to be enlightened.

Love, C.

#578 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 05:59 PM:

No, I hadn't been following it at all in the last week or two. You're right, that's utterly outrageous. (And any time you hear a state official say something like "Well, the exact numbers aren't important" it's a bad sign for the legitimacy of their case.)

#579 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:12 PM:

It seems to me that giving a birth certificate and a driver's license ought to be sufficient to establish identity and age. A 27-year-old is not exactly a borderline case. The clothing seems to have a surprising color range, well beyond pastels (black dresses have appeared this week - goth FLDS?) and there are at least three distinct dress styles; the hairstyles vary quite a bit if you look at them. I'm still trying to figure out if they back-comb or rat their hair to get that look. (I use a rat, myself.) Yes, they may have been deliberately obfuscating their identities, but I'm getting a little reluctant to take Texas CPS's word on anything.

Marriage at 14 was legal in Texas until a couple of years ago. I think it's now legal at 16. Texas was not unduly troubled by married teenagers until FLDS moved in. I think if there were any under-16s in imminent danger of being married off, the state would be correct in stepping in. But I'm having trouble working out the imminent danger to, say, a three-year-old of either sex.

It's not an easy issue, since I think the religion is nutty and its being taught to children is brainwashing. But I'm very twitchy about having the government make that decision. Where does it stop? There are quite a few religions I don't approve of and think are nutty; if I worked for CPS, could I remove all children being raised in them?

#580 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Susan and PJ: David Friedman has been discussing quite a few of the details of this case on his blog lately.

The FLDS church is probably just as creepy and unpleasant as it sounds, but if there really wasn't underage marriage/sex/pregnancy going on, then they're just another group with weird beliefs who are being hassled for them, partly by taking their kids away. That creeps me out, and I'm straight, white, and Christian. ISTM that the further out from normal you are, the more creepy that gets.

#581 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:15 PM:

I have a only-partly-tongue-in-cheek theory as to why Republicans oppose gay marriage. It goes like this:
Everybody knows married people don't have sex. And that married parents have even less sex. So, in the interest of keeping gay sex the vibrant and inducing-envy-in-straights entity it is, rich closeted Republicans are selflessly opposing the imposition of bourgeois institutions upon a vibrant and transgressive subculture.

#582 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:19 PM:

P J: But "I find them creepy" is not supposed to be the standard for state intervention in either families or religious groups. (If that is an adequate standard, put me in charge and all the ***hole parents in fundie churches will never know what hit 'em.)

#583 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:26 PM:

You might try looking around you in fandom, for starters, where you will find any number of poly situations, many of which are of decades in duration. Or check out alt.polyamory. Or get to know the myriad poly persons on Making Light. Sure, not all poly relationships end happily, but plenty of monos split up painfully and unpleasantly too - should we also ban monogamous marriage? And is it really better to have no legal protection (alimony, child support, property rights, etc.) when a relationship breaks up?

Also: polyamory is not the same thing as polygamy. Polygamy (multiple marriage) is not exclusively one man/multiple women; it works the other way too. The assumption that it doesn't is sexist. (The term you want is polygyny, as opposed to polyandry.) Do you feel it's unjust for a woman to have several husbands? What if having three spouses enables a household to have one stay-at-home parent while the other two support the family financially? Do you think the state should step in to force one spouse out of the home and the stay-at-home parent into the workforce? How exactly is that protective or beneficial?

#584 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:26 PM:

Susan, I don't think these ladies have either birth certs or driver's licenses. All the stuff I've read on this group indicates that the women stay in the compounds and tend the kids and the houses. (I'll grant that this could easily be incomplete or inaccurate information.)
They were, in other places, allowed to run their own administrative offices (including coroner), which means that those records may not be entirely reliable. Texas wasn't quite as easy with that stuff, I hear.

With the young kids, I think they were worried about what might happen if someone decided to start shooting. (Remember that Waco is in Texas.)

#585 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:38 PM:

Sajia @ 579... Selfless Republicans?

#586 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:46 PM:

I don't think these ladies have either birth certs or driver's licenses.

I think that making this statement means you haven't even read the article I linked to, and possibly not even my post. If you don't find the current agreement of:

the woman
her lawyer
the Texas courts
Texas CPS
the local media

that these documents exist, what can I possibly say to convince you?

Yes, I've seen David's posts on raseff on the topic. But I've been following the case myself.

#587 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:46 PM:

P.J. A lot (perhaps most) have birth certs, and SS numbers, so they can collect benefits and "bleed the beast" (or whatever the phrase is).

#588 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 06:53 PM:

I'd just like to say that if you're going to order chocolate in bulk, you could do far worse than Chocoley. They have the best-tasting sugarfree chocolate I've ever had, but the real reason I want to laud them is their service.

I ordered a five-pound bag of their sugar-free couverture chocolate on Friday at about 4:05 PM. Please note that they're in the same timezone I am, and they say that any orders made after 4:00 will be shipped the next business day. Within minutes of finalizing my order, I got a call from a young woman who asked if it would be OK to ship my order Monday, because if she shipped it Friday it would sit in a UPS truck all weekend!

I told her that was what I expected when I ordered it, and that if I'd thought of it I'd've waited until after 4:00 to order it on purpose instead of by accident.

Yesterday I got the package, exactly as expected, except that it was a little heavier, about 8 pounds. When I opened it I discovered why: they'd packed it with two cold-gel packs! It was still cold to the touch. Last time I ordered from them (both of the previous times, I should say) I ordered in winter, so they didn't do that.

With all the bad companies around, it's nice to find one that really acts like they care about their product, and about the condition it's in when you get it.

#589 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Clifton Royston, that's what I get for mostly knowing New World subsistence systems. And for posting on three hours of sleep.

#590 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 07:57 PM:

JESR: Since cassava originated in the Americas, I assume that as its cultivation was spread around the world, people elsewhere sensibly decided to plant and grow the less-likely-to-kill-you varieties. (Which slightly undermines my original choice of it as an example, but oh well.)

#591 ::: Trip the Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 08:10 PM:

Greg London @ #465:

I don't know about sharks, but moray eels have the extensible inner jaws.

#592 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 08:39 PM:

JESR #587: Sweet cassava is prepared in Jamaica exactly as Clifton described in Tonga. Bitter cassava's preparation is a bit more complex than leaching, since the root must be pounded dry as well as making sure that all fluid is leached out. Sweet cassava is, to my mind, much tastier than white potato.

#593 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 08:53 PM:

Tracie @ 544:

I've worn the network security hat at times. If the corporation puts a network sniffer and packet-logger on their network, they could monitor his usage individually and in detail, or everyone's usage, and there would be essentially no way for him to tell. With a sufficiently sophisticated installation (e.g. a passive network tap onto a mirrored switch port) even a computer and network security expert might be unable to tell whether he was being monitored without inspecting every meter of network cable between him and the outbound router and auditing the configuration of every router, switch, or hub his packets might pass through.

He might be able to detect that he is monitored, only if the implementers are incompetent and he happens to get lucky and stumble on evidence. He won't be able to tell the difference between unmonitored and a well-implemented monitoring setup, until he gets called onto the carpet.

Best advice: if he is at all suspicious, use the work network and email address only for officially sanctioned work and try to remain squeaky clean. (Says I, typing away on Making Light at the office.)

#594 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 08:53 PM:

Okay, I'll assume y'all know a lot more about it than I do.
(I still think Waco was part of the reason for the over-reaction. There was so much screaming after that about the women and children, if you remember, and how they weren't allowed to leave before it went to wherever.)

I also plead potluck lunch and too many calories.

#595 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:05 PM:

#581 ::: Susan

Stalking much?

#596 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:15 PM:

From the AP:
SAN FRANCISCO - A conservative legal group asked the California Supreme Court on Thursday to put off finalization of its decision legalizing same-sex marriage until voters got a chance to weigh in.

The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund wants the ruling stayed until November, when voters will probably encounter a ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage. That amendment would overturn the justices' ruling.

In court papers submitted late Thursday, the group warned that the state would suffer "great public harm and mischief" if it began allowing same-sex marriages on June 16, when the court's decision would ordinarily become final.

I'm trying to figure out just exactly what kind of 'great public harm and mischief' they're expecting.

#597 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:18 PM:

Is that supposed to be an answer? 'Cause it doesn't make any sense.

#598 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:24 PM:

It's those wedding cakes. Sugar highs. Lots of mischief potential there. And champagne - tons of bubbles, frothing madly, corks popping, those little flutes. You could do yourself an injury!

#599 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:32 PM:

Susan, that sounds like fun! What is it with 'conservatives', that they hate fun?

(Oh, yes: had four requests for the chocolate crispie recipe. Came home with about six, out of six dozen I took in. That was with twenty people. Next time I think I'll have to start several days earlier and make four batches instead of two.)

#600 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:34 PM:

Terry @ 568: Oh, I agree -- that's why I said I wouldn't blame only Clinton for DOMA. They all played a part in that shameful bit of legislation.

#601 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:09 PM:

Serge @ 514: Indeed. For some, the world is perceived as absolutes, while the rest of us see shades of grey. Life is a messy proposition, and biologists are only too familiar with all the ways that life has of exceeding "boundaries" and expectations (like an octopus escaping its aquarium to catch fish for dinner). The law may say one thing, and be interpreted one way -- but there are times when the dominant paradigm is subverted or shifted, and the interpretation of the law must change -- or the law becomes irrelevant. Once a law is perceived as irrelevant, then other laws will also be ignored or dismissed, and then all anarchy will break loose. So, it's actually in all our best interests to allow gays and lesbians to marry, or else the world as we know it will end.

Or not.

Octopi may not be self-aware, but elephants are. ;-)

#602 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:47 PM:

And polyamry doesn't seem to make that any different, according to the women I know who have gone there, and left, broken-hearted. At least, they were able to leave. So I see it as a constriction of women's civil rights and existence within the legal system.

However, if I am wrong about this, and anyone can point to a place where this is not so, I will be most pleased to be enlightened.

Will my life suffice as one piece of evidence? I am pretty darned sure my civil rights and existence have not been constricted by polyamory, nor have I "left, brokenhearted."

I know a fair number of other women who would say similar things. How many years of data would you like?

(And I am suddenly remembering Mike giving an impassioned speech once, when I was talking with him about someone I fancied and might want to do something about; the gist of the speech was that he didn't want me to do anything that even vaguely smacked of "asking his permission," because that was antithetical to my autonomy and so forth. It was a lovely speech. I told him so, and then said, "Well, actually, I just wanted to find out beforehand if you thought that me being involved with so-and-so would give you the wiggins or something." He always was totally fierce on the subject of autonomy, though.)

I miss my Mike. Our Mike, I should say, because he was definitely Our Mike hereabouts. Juan misses him too, a lot.

Anyhow, what's your objection to polyamory? I mean, is it something that me saying anything is going to be helpful with, or is it the kind of ideological thing that one (or ten, or a hundred) individual stories in the US/Canada/UK/Australia won't really be relevant to? (I don't mean that how I'm afraid it sounds, but darned if I can get it to come out better now, so I'm going to risk saying it that way, and hope that it comes across as frank, which is how I mean it, rather than as unpleasant or something.)

#603 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 10:48 PM:

And polyamry doesn't seem to make that any different, according to the women I know who have gone there, and left, broken-hearted. At least, they were able to leave. So I see it as a constriction of women's civil rights and existence within the legal system.

However, if I am wrong about this, and anyone can point to a place where this is not so, I will be most pleased to be enlightened.

Will my life suffice as one piece of evidence? I am pretty darned sure my civil rights and existence have not been constricted by polyamory, nor have I "left, brokenhearted."

I know a fair number of other women who would say similar things. How many years of data would you like?

(And I am suddenly remembering Mike giving an impassioned speech once, when I was talking with him about someone I fancied and might want to do something about; the gist of the speech was that he didn't want me to do anything that even vaguely smacked of "asking his permission," because that was antithetical to my autonomy and so forth. It was a lovely speech. I told him so, and then said, "Well, actually, I just wanted to find out beforehand if you thought that me being involved with so-and-so would give you the wiggins or something." He always was totally fierce on the subject of autonomy, though.)

I miss my Mike. Our Mike, I should say, because he was definitely Our Mike hereabouts. Juan misses him too, a lot.

Anyhow, what's your objection to polyamory? I mean, is it something that me saying anything is going to be helpful with, or is it the kind of ideological thing that one (or ten, or a hundred) individual stories in the US/Canada/UK/Australia won't really be relevant to? (I don't mean that how I'm afraid it sounds, but darned if I can get it to come out better now, so I'm going to risk saying it that way, and hope that it comes across as frank, which is how I mean it, rather than as unpleasant or something.)

#604 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 11:09 PM:

Very bad news: via Tom Smith's LJ, Robert Asprin is dead. Details, when available, will be here.

#605 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 11:55 PM:

A few further details, via the con-dealers network. Bob was at Marcon; he complained of feeling tired and went back to his room for a nap. Some little while later, the concom sent someone to wake him and he was dead.

FWIW, I think that if he'd been given a choice, it would have been to go painlessly, surrounded by people he knew and loved. All my sympathy to
his family and friends.

#606 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:05 AM:

I'm trying to figure out just exactly what kind of 'great public harm and mischief' they're expecting.

PJ, when you find out, let me know. I've been wondering that too. Presumably they are concerned about the great public harm and mischief that occurred in Massachusetts after gay marriage was made legal there.

Uh, what was that again...?

#607 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:46 AM:


I feel for the friend's niece Filker Tom wanted to introduce to him. I missed meeting Zealazny by a similar margin.


Lux aeternum, &c.

#608 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 01:21 AM:

P J #594
Lizzy #604

Harrumph. There was lots and lots of rain here a year ago. The Merrimack flooded and damaged 50 house. Some other houses were damaged by other rivers. The damage in the states with anti-same gender marriage laws, was MUCH worse....

Drought in the Southeast? Not here....
Tornadoes? Nope.
Wildfires? Nope.
Employment? There's actually some hiring going on in various sectors, not employment drops... (that was brutal early this decade, but not now, the economy stopped sputtering when the rules changed!)

#609 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 01:24 AM:


Gee, does that mean the fires shouldn't be as bad and we might get decent snowpacks for a few years?

(Not holding my breath on those, you understand.)

#610 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 01:34 AM:

Albatross, #578, "...if there really wasn't underage marriage/sex/pregnancy going on..."

Does enslaving adult women count? The accounts, both from outsiders who have known members of these groups, and from people who have left, are not by and large positive, and there are plenty of horrible things that can be done to children other than beating and rape. Denying education counts as child abuse, for instance.

David Friedman will happily defend just about any conservative authoritarian group, all the while claiming he is defending freedom. He makes wonderful arguments, but I think he protests too much.

#611 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 02:44 AM:

From my experience, it is my firm belief that David Friedman is one of the politicised idiots who wrecked RASFF. I don't trust him to be able to provide evidence for any of his claims.

#612 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 03:09 AM:

Dave, #609: actually, he usually has evidence--he is more-or-less a law professor--, but, like his more famous father, he needs to pay it overtime to get it to do all the work.

#613 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 03:11 AM:

You may recall how it was reported that Amazon was trying to force PoD books sold through them to be printed by their own PoD operation.

The latest news is that they've been hit with an anti-trust lawsuit.

#614 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 03:21 AM:

P J Evans @592:

I still think Waco was part of the reason for the over-reaction. There was so much screaming after that about the women and children, if you remember, and how they weren't allowed to leave before it went to wherever.

The other ghost that haunts this encounter is Short Creek; not failure by fire but failure by public opinion. I suspect many of the far-reaching statements by the Texas officials were designed to head off a replay of the "tearing babies from their mothers' arms" narrative. I don't think that kind of speculation* was a good strategy, although it is certainly in fashion in politics (viz Iraq).

Personally, I think that the entire group needs to be brought into civil society, with civil oversight. It's a community that would benefit from independent checks on the actions of the public officials (judges and law enforcement in particular), or perhaps rotating uninvolved ones in. The kids (and adults, for that matter) must be given access to escape routes, so that those who want to leave can do so.

Maybe the court will order that kind of long term supervision, since kids not at risk now will be in a few years. But Texas social services is overstretched as it is, and any justification for such a move may be sullied by the circumstances of the raid.

* being charitable here

#615 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 03:22 AM:

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the FLDS children are to be returned to their parents. It's hard to be sure from this distance, but I'd guess that, effectively, abuse of children by authoritarian religious groups is now legal in Texas.

#616 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:05 AM:

AFAIK, Texas is the only US state which has twice rebelled against the legitimate government in order to maintain slavery.

#617 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:25 AM:

In much happier news, it appears that Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the UN, has persuaded the military junta of Myanmar to accept aid.

#618 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:57 AM:

abi @ 612:
It's not that I disagree with what you say needs to be done, and I think it's an even bigger problem in their home area where they actually seem to have governmental control of a couple of towns straddling state borders than it is in Texas.

But how exactly does one implement any changes in a way that does not become the government deciding what is a legitimate religion or not? Most people here, including myself, would probably agree that what they're teaching their children (or failing to teach their children) is repulsive, but how do you draw a qualitative line between FLDS and more mainstream religions? How do you prevent the abusive implementation of their beliefs without criminalizing the beliefs themselves? Outlawing polygamy doesn't prevent "spiritual marriages" and I don't think it should. (Nor do I think polygamy should be outlawed at all; leaving it outside the law enables this sort of abuse.) It needs to be something less subjective than "well, we think they're a wacko cult," since in the U.S. we have the constitutional freedom to be part of wacko cults if we want to and people have different definitions of what constitutes wacko. On a practical and constitutional level, how exactly does this work in a case like the Texas ranch?

As I said originally, I think Texas way overreached here, and it's probably going to be harder to do anything useful now than it would have been before.

#619 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 06:12 AM:

Thanks for chiming in. You and Mike were certainly among the people on ML that I had in mind, but I didn't feel I ought to cite specific examples. (My rough count, without thinking too hard, is eighteen posters on ML that I know for certain are poly. I'm sure that number is low.)

My civil rights and existence are curtailed by the lack of acceptance and legal recognition for poly relationships. And on broken hearts - would I still be with ---- if it hadn't been for the pressures on the relationship caused by the need for secrecy because of the fear of losing her child? Being hidden away and having to pretend in public hurts.

#621 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 08:41 AM:

Trip@589: moray eels have the extensible inner jaws.

holy crap. I didn't know that one. That's amazingly superfreaky.

#622 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 08:56 AM:

I have no faith in this nation making that different, if one man is allowed to have a legal marriage with any number of women.

But it's OK if one woman is allowed to marry any number of men, or does that just Never Happen in your universe?

Polygyny=one man, any number of women
Polyandry=one woman, any number of men
Polygamy=any number of people of any sex or gender
Polyamory=any number of people, may be married or not.

So I see [polyamory/polygamy] as a constriction of women's civil rights and existence within the legal system....if I am wrong about this, and anyone can point to a place where this is not so, I will be most pleased to be enlightened.

I can think of three examples of long-enduring polyamorous and polygamous relationships off the top of my head--how long do they have to last to count as successful, and are the partners allowed to fight occasionally? My best-observed example, one man and two women, has been going on for at least 10 years and none of the partners show any sign of being dissatisfied.

How much do you hang around in fandom, the SCA, and Ren Faires? I ask because those are the three subcultures I have the most experience with, and in all of them the revelation that a given person is in a poly relationship (or into something kinky) is generally met with, "Oh? Neat. Now, as I was saying..." It's not a big deal, and folks don't usually assume that a relationship is doomed merely because it's unconventional.

#624 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:10 AM:

Lizzy L @ 604... when you find out, let me know. I've been wondering that too.

That's what it's about.

Employers have to extend their workers's benefits to heterosexuals who don't even slave away for them. And we want them to expand that expense to homosexual workers, or to heterosexuals with more than one partner? What's next? They'll have to pay the vet bill for some guy's dog, as Rick Santorum would probably say.

#625 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:13 AM:

Randolph #608:

Re the FLDS cult:

I think that for putting people in jail and taking custody of their kids, the only thing that counts is whether they've actually violated written laws. Not whether they're creepy or weird or undesirable, else no weird family gets to keep their kids. There are gay and poly and wiccan families with kids right now, all over the country, largely because the authorities can't (or at least aren't supposed to) take your kids away for being offensively different from the neighbors[1]. That needs to continue.

If they broke written laws, then the people who did that should face the legal consequences. If the kids were being abused or neglected in the definition given in the laws, then the kids should be taken away for their own well-being. If there's some concern about that, then the state ideally should (consistent with the laws) try to maintain some oversight over the kids.

If people are free to leave, but leaving involves losing touch with their families and communities and religion, I agree that's pretty nasty. But I can't see how to fix that with the law, without much nastier effects further down the road. If they're enslaving women in the sense that they're teaching them evil doctrines of a moral duty to submit to men, that isn't and mustn't become illegal. If they're literally enslaving women (I've never heard any claim of this) in the sense of keeping them in the compound by force, then that's violating the written law, and the people doing it can and should be arrested and sent to prison for it.

A big part of freedom is letting people be weird--letting them choose a different lifestyle than you would choose, letting them teach their kids stuff you'd never imagine teaching your kids, letting them make decisions in all aspects of life that you find nutty or downright creepy. There need to be a few bounds set by the law, especially where kids are involved. But overwhelmingly, it needs to be okay to be weird. Not okay in the sense that your neighbors will like you--that's beyond the power of the law to fix--but okay in the sense that you won't get your kids taken away, be thrown in jail on trumped up charges, and have a local-government-driven media campaign set up to smear you while you're in there. Okay in the sense that if someone burns down your house, the police will investigate instead of telling you that maybe you should just find another town to live in.

Re David Friedman:

Are we reading the same guy's stuff? I've read his weblog for awhile now, and read posts and his webpage and some of his books for many years. I don't recall seeing any particular support for authoritarians. He's certainly not been a big supporter of the post 9/11 security and surveillance nastiness.

[1] That doesn't mean it never happens, but keeping precedent against taking the kids away when they're not being abused or neglected is a very good thing.

#626 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:19 AM:

Susan@616: But how exactly does one implement any changes in a way that does not become the government deciding what is a legitimate religion or not?

A quick perusal of the wikipedia article for FLDS shows a whole bunch of stuff labeled "citation needed", so I don't know if any of it is accurate, but it lists a number of things which have nothing to do with religious persecution.

2004, 20 men were excommunicated and stripped of their wives and children, who would be reassigned to other men. 2005, eight men of the church were indicted for sexual contact with minors. 2005, Brent Jeffs filed charges that he was sexually molested as a child by members of his family. 2005, a number of "lost boys" say they were kicked out to reduce the competition among males for wives. 2006, the FBI named Warren Jeffs to their Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on charges of sexual misconduct with minors. He was found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape.

Now, I don't know if the rape conviction was rigged because of the man's religious beliefs or not. But assuming "not", what I see is a bunch of problems that are taking place in a hermetically sealed, authoritive, religious environment. And I wouldn't hold it against the police if they thought that there was a systematic problem going on in there.

The men who were kicked out and had their kids reassigned to other church members? That sounds like the legal rights of the fathers were broken, and the best interests of the children was decided by a religious organization. There have been cases of children there making accusations of sexual abuse. The "lost boys" thing seems to point to the notion that the children are second class citizens. And there's a couple of legal convictions for rape.

I don't know what's really been going on there. And it's possible all of this is some sort of religious persecution by the government against some of its citizens. But it also seems that its quite possible that this is not about persecuting someone's religion or deciding which religions are legitimate.

#627 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:21 AM:

Carrie S. #620:

I'll point out one (IMO important) distinction, here. Poly relationships are fairly rare, quite diverse, and raise a bunch of new and hard questions with respect to family law. So even though I would like to see polyfolk have some kind of legal recognition/support for their relationships, I don't know quite how to do that. By contrast, same-sex couples look like existing family law could mostly be applied to them with few changes or areas of bad fit. So I think getting legal recognition of gay marriage is something we could do, which would probably work pretty well. I'm much less confident that we could get family law as currently implemented to apply intelligently to poly relationships.

Just MHO. I'm not remotely a lawyer or legal scholar, and I'm grossly ignorant of all kinds of subtleties of family law, so maybe I'm missing something here. But ISTM that it's a heck of a lot easier to sensibly handle gay marriage than poly marriage in law.

#628 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:28 AM:

I know any Holmes fans will want to see this, but I keep thinking that Terry Gilliam would have a world of fun with the illustrations...

#629 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:33 AM:

albatross @ 625:
I think one place to start might be, what happens if one is allowed to simply marry a third person with all the same obligations/responsibilities/rights as the first two people share? What problems does this create other than the need to redesign some forms with more than two lines?

(Yes, this is simplistic. But I don't know what the "hard questions" people worry about are.)

#630 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:35 AM:

Poly relationships are fairly rare, quite diverse, and raise a bunch of new and hard questions with respect to family law....By contrast, same-sex couples look like existing family law could mostly be applied to them with few changes or areas of bad fit. So I think getting legal recognition of gay marriage is something we could do, which would probably work pretty well. I'm much less confident that we could get family law as currently implemented to apply intelligently to poly relationships.

Sure, but I was replying to Constance, who was talking about poly stuff, not gay marriage.

Is it funny or bad or both that it occurs to me that gay marriage might make it a little easier for poly relationships to be recognized...and that that's precisely one of the arguments idiots use against gay marriage?

#631 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:36 AM:

Presumably they are concerned about the great public harm and mischief that occurred in Massachusetts after gay marriage was made legal there.

Well, Filene's Basement closed. Must have been because they couldn't make any more money on their annual bridal gown sale, since the institution of heterosexual marriage here has been irreparably damaged. And they didn't think to go into the tux market.

#632 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:41 AM:

What problems does this create other than the need to redesign some forms with more than two lines?

There's the "making medical decisions" issue, deciding which spouse gets to do it. But since we already have a similar problem with children and parents, I doubt it's unsurmountable. And...well, that's actually pretty much all I've got.

Oh, inheritance: which spouse gets unsplittable assets when the third dies? Again, though, not such a huge deal.

#633 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:58 AM:

Greg @ 624:
2004, 20 men were excommunicated and stripped of their wives and children, who would be reassigned to other men. 2005, eight men of the church were indicted for sexual contact with minors. 2005, Brent Jeffs filed charges that he was sexually molested as a child by members of his family. 2005, a number of "lost boys" say they were kicked out to reduce the competition among males for wives. 2006, the FBI named Warren Jeffs to their Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on charges of sexual misconduct with minors. He was found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape.

I think most of this other than excommunication could be covered under existing law:

- "stripped of their wives and children". Okay, sue in family court for custody and/or visitation. I suspect the courts would side with the father in this case on the grounds of wacko-cult membership by the mother. If an adult woman wants to leave to stay with her husband and the FLDS prevents her from doing so, it's kidnapping or unlawful restraint or somesuch.

- sexual contact with minors: plenty of laws about this, and it sounds like they were applied. I'm pretty sure FLDS doctrine doesn't actually support molesting male children.

- kicked out: child abandonment. Sue the parents. And that's perfect justification for taking those kids into foster care.

- Jeffs: the law worked to some degree, though it's interesting that the case involved a 19-year-old husband/rapist.

The problem is preemptively assuming all this will happen to every child in the FLDS. That's how I think Texas CPS overreached.

Let's try this for a comparison:
- many children have been molested by Catholic priests
- in some dioceses, there appears to have been a long-term conspiracy by the hierarchy to protect these priests from the law, cover up the abuse, and place them where they have the opportunity to continue their predation
- arguably, the doctrine of celibacy for priests is a contributing factor

Would it then be appropriate to remove all Catholic children from their parents, shut Catholic schools, etc., on the grounds that some number of Catholic children will in the future be molested by priests? And what if the government is populated by Hagee-like Christian fundamentalists, who deride Catholic doctrine, consider the Catholic church to be a wacko cult, and feel that teaching Catholicism to children is brainwashing them and training them to accept abuse?

I don't know that I want the government to be making those calls. In the FLDS case, I happen to agree that they're wacko cultists with nasty sexual/marital practices. But what happens when they come after some other non-mainstream religion that I consider perfectly harmless? (I think paganism with a poly element would be a top candidate for this sort of governmental interference, and poly is certainly a risk factor for having children taken away.)

#634 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:05 AM:

Susan @ 616

FLDS is an interesting example of a mixture of 1) real religio-poltical-legal problems embedded in 2) a dense matrix of puritan intolerance on the part of the surroundimg community, covered with 3) a thin candy shell of sense-of-entitlement on all sides.

In 1) there are real and troubling questions about just what constitutes legitimate local autonomy, versus control of local government by one social group for its own advantage, and as a means of removing oversight of acts that would be considered illegal elsewhere. Insularity can be a defense against discrimination, and often is; it can also be a way to ensure that you get to behave in ways that cause real injury to your neighbors without having to suffer the legal or social consequences. How do draw that line, and who enforces it? Note: precisely that same question applies to the towns whose governments are appendages of FLDS, and to the government of the state of Texas.

2) Texas' actions in this case are suspect because it's very difficult to tell if the justifications they give are really based on law and on the knowledge and/or reasonable suspicion of harm coming to citizens of the state, or to a righteous indignation against a lifestyle that's repugnant to the law-enforcement officers involved. Are motivations important? Surely; they're guides, not always reliable ones to be sure, to understanding purposes and goals. The end result that someone wants to achieve will often tell you how consonant their actions will be wrt their role and ostensible obligetions and responsibilities within a community.

3) Entitlement allows, often demands, the transgression of legal, social, and personal boundaries. Some situations can only be resolved (usually imperfectly at best, disastrously is more common) by transgression; ultimately, and paradoxically, force is the final instrument of prevention of injury and other consequences of the transgression of others. A sense of entitlement distorts one's view of what transgressions may be necessary* to stabilizea situations and reduce or prevent harm. leading to more transgression than is needed, and resulting in unwanted consequences for everyone.

It's a bit of a moral quagmire, because there doesn't seem to be a lot of real goodwill or tolerance on anybody's part in this situation. And that's an interesting word, "tolerance". In engineering it means how much slop there is in a situation; how far different from specification a part can be while still allowing the overall system to function correctly, with other parts fulfilling their own functions unhindered. Tolerance is not a bad thing in engineering; insisting that all parts be held to unrealistically close specifications has been the ruin of may otherwise good designs

* "desirable"? Nope. THe "lesser evil" isn't desirable, just less undesirable.

#635 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:07 AM:

Carrie @ 630:
As you say, we already deal with medical decision-making with (for example) multiple children. You'd want to have medical powers of attorney, but those are practical for people other than polys as well - think about the Schiavo case. You could have people fill them out with the marriage license.

Unsplittable things are dealt with all the time in divorces: either the two parties come to an agreement about who gets it, or they sell the asset and split the money. The law should be able to handle the situation.

The anti-same-sex-marriage people have been fulminating about how it will lead to polygamy for years. I hope they're right.

#636 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:12 AM:

Jon #629

Filene's Basement in Boston "closed" because the conglomerate ownership of Filene's (Filene's and Filene's Basement having gotten a conglomerate divorce years ago despite the original Filene's Basement store in Boston staying physically in the basement of the Filene's store)decided to exterminate the Filene's brand name in New England and relabel the stores it wasn't closing into (projectile vomit) more steekeen New York noxious dybbuk Macy stores, having already exterminated the Jordan Marsh chain by mutating them into noxious New York pest-plant Macy's.... wherever there wasn't a Macy's and there was a Filene's in New England, the Filene's got turned into a Macy's. Wherever there had been both a Jordan Marsh-turned-Macy's and a Filene's, the Filene's got closed down (perhaps in few places if the Filene's facility was a "better" the Macy's moved there and the store closed was the one that had had the Macy name on it, but generally...).

Filene's Basement stores stayed open, not being part of the conglomerate that killed eradicated al the Filene's as opposed to Filene's Basement stores in New England.

The original Filene's Basement store in Boston, however,-had- to move, because the building it was in got sold and the new owner was gutting it, to completely change the interior and the purposing of the building. So, Filene's Basement in Boston relocated... the bridal run continues.

#637 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:13 AM:

poly is certainly a risk factor for having children taken away

So is paganism. Lemme see if I can find that, my google-fu is weak. There was a case about four years ago, the man sued for custody on the grounds that his ex-wife was still a practicing Wiccan (he had been, too, but apparently his decision to stop was part of what led to their divorce) and he didn't want the children "subjected" to it.

The judge agreed with him.

#638 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:21 AM:

Bruce @ 632:
I think the Texas ranch is a somewhat different problem from the one they have on the Utah/Arizona border, where (as I understand it) the entire local government is effectively run by the FLDS. In Texas, self-evidently, the FLDS doesn't run the government and the government seems quite willing to be there to support anyone making a complaint. In those border towns (Hildale/Colorado City), there is no outside recourse at all other than the state governments, which finally seem to be making tentative stabs at reining in the FLDS with the Jeffs prosecution and the work they are doing with devolving property to private ownership (see here).

#639 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:24 AM:

Exactly. And try googling April Divilbliss sometime.

#640 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:27 AM:

I have finally sat down and watched Fritz Lang's Woman in the Moon.

Oh. my.

If you have not already seen it, you should*. Do not expect it to go as quickly as modern films, remember that in silent movies it's a mistake to let your attention stray from the screen, and rejoice in a heroine who does not lose her head at critical moments of danger.

The rocket-launching sequence alone...then there's Oskar Fischinger's animations.

Steampunks and rocket-nerds, bow before your ancestral inspirations!

There are some lines that would not be out of place in a Heterodyne Boys show: "Don't force me to take stronger measures, Mr. Helius. Choose the lesser of two evils--me!"

Put. It. On. Your. Queueueueueueueue.

*The version I got through Netflix has newly-translated title cards (with one small typographical error they're probably still kicking themselves over), and is made from a nice, crisp print. It's also 170 minutes long, so keep the remote handy as you may need a snack to keep your strength up.

#641 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Serge @ 621: There you go. Precisely my point.

Did you hear that the new version of Andromeda Strain has an openly gay character? I'll have to watch it.

#642 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Ginger @ 639... I didn't know that. I notice though that the women all seem to be beautiful and young. Nobody like Kate Reid is allowed in this day and age, I guess.

#643 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:41 AM:

One of the more insidious policies of the FLDS is the suppression of literacy. If literacy were to be considered a civil right, perhaps they could be prosecuted on that basis.

#644 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Paula @629: Yes, I know the story. My grandfather was a floor manager for Jordan Marsh back in the 1920s. What he would have thought of the boarded-up storefronts in Downtown Crossing now ...

And, no one I know expects the old Filene's Basement store to be back in anything like its previous form. It's going to be another sterile suburban yuppie store like all the rest of the chain's sterile suburban yuppie stores. I noticed that the new building will be "One Franklin" - can't have that "urban" Washington and Summer Street address ...

#645 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:43 AM:

Serge @ 640: At least there's more than one woman, and they're not forced to wear birth-control glasses. Rick Schroeder plays the gay military man, according to the article on AfterElton.

#646 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Earl @ 641:
Don't states which permit home-schooling generally have some sort of minimum-basic-skills mandate as to what the kids have to learn and some sort of testing mechanism?

That seems like a good approach.

#647 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:55 AM:

Ginger @ 643... Birth-control glasses? Heheheh...

Well, we shall see. I rather liked the original movie. I hope that, by expanding the story to a miniseries, they won't wreck the whole thing. I wonder if it too will begin in New Mexico.

#648 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:56 AM:

633: I should imagine that the problems would be:

a) spousal benefits. In a poly group of, say, Jill, three other women, and three men, who gets to share Jill's employer-provided health care? If all of them do, that's quite a cost for Jill's employer;
b) divorce; if Jill lives with one of her husbands but not with the other two, or any of her wives, are they all treated equally for the purposes of, say, alimony?
c) taxation; are you risking a massive financial disparity in terms of tax allowances between poly groups and two-person marriages?
d) custody; are the children considered the offspring of the entire marriage group, or simply of their genetic parents? If the former, does this raise the possibility of, post-divorce, the children ending up with neither of their genetic parents? (Do we care?)

#649 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:03 AM:

on point d, the anti-same-sex-amrriage side in this week's LA Times columnist-debate was saying that kids should have contact with their biological parents, because that saves the state money in the long run and 'studies have shown' etc.
I guess he never heard of those warehouses called orphanages, and has missed out on foster, step, and adopted parents, none of which are inventions of the 20th century.

#650 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:17 AM:

a) spousal benefits. In a poly group of, say, Jill, three other women, and three men, who gets to share Jill's employer-provided health care? If all of them do, that's quite a cost for Jill's employer;

I got nothing there. Perhaps one person can provide for one other person, who must be one of the people s/he's married to.

b) divorce; if Jill lives with one of her husbands but not with the other two, or any of her wives, are they all treated equally for the purposes of, say, alimony?

I'd say, if there's going to be any money paid, it should be however much Jill was contributing and paid to the remaining family as a whole (or split into equal payments to all the remaining spouses, if there's no way to just give it to "the family".)

c) taxation; are you risking a massive financial disparity in terms of tax allowances between poly groups and two-person marriages?

That one's easy, I should think. As I understand it, the way it works now is that married people get to count their combined incomes as one, yes? And this often ends up with them paying less tax than they would if they each paid individually--that is, one marriage making $100k pays less tax than two people each making $50k. What's to stop that same principle from working no matter how many folks are part of the one? But I'd have to work out examples to be sure, and I don't know enough about taxes.

d) custody; are the children considered the offspring of the entire marriage group, or simply of their genetic parents? If the former, does this raise the possibility of, post-divorce, the children ending up with neither of their genetic parents? (Do we care?)

Perhaps the genetic parents get final say in decisions and custody in divorce, but all members of the group can make health-care decisions and so forth?

#651 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:21 AM:

Nice questions. Let me give them a shot:
a) spousal benefits. Approach 1: as with children. One of my co-workers has five of them. I have none. All five of theirs get covered anyway. Approach 2: set a dependent-limit, to include children and spouses, of no more than N. Approach 3: get a rational health-care system in this country and avoid the whole issue.

b) I think you may possibly be overestimating the number of people who'd want to actually marry legally and whether people who don't live together would want to marry (are there many monos who marry legally but don't live together?) I suspect more typical numbers would be 3-4 people married, possibly with nonmarital outside involvements as well. But in any case, yes, I think living arrangements would make a difference in any alimony/support decisions. If five live-out spouses are supporting the household of three live-in spouses financially, that should be taken into account. If Jill runs a hedge fund and supports all of them, then when she runs away with her hot young secretary and gets a seven-way divorce, she should have to support them in whatever way is typical in divorce cases. My sense is that lifetime alimony is getting to be a thing of the past, though, and it's more likely to be a brief "until they get on their feet" sort of thing.

c) tax allowances. I've always filed singly so I'm not an expert on the permutations of U.S. tax law, but the same discrepancies exist already with households with multiple dependents, filing singly, vs. jointly, "head of household" (whatever that means) and so forth. I think it would simplify things for every adult to have to file individually. If not, then whatever advantages or disadvantages accrue to marital status (I've heard it both as a marriage bonus and marriage penalty, depending on income level and income discrepancy) could be divided proportionately or via some sort of formula (N% per spouse). I feel sadly certain the IRS can come up with a way to do this and a nice new Schedule for it.

d) custody. possible approaches: 1. children are the offspring of the entire marital group. 2. children are the offspring of their genetic mother and father. 3. children are the offspring of whichever spouses are listed at birth as parents. Note that (1) provides an excellent reason why Jill might have only two spouses and four really good friends.

Unaddressed in all of this is the exact nature of a legal poly marriage. Does it mean joining a marriage-entity, or does each individual pair-bond have to be established separately? Are Jill's husband and wife each married only to Jill or are they married to each other as well? In the latter case, the bond would survive Jill's death (or Jill running away with her hot secretary); in the former case, not. Those would be different legal situations.

#652 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:45 AM:

fidelio #638: Put. It. On. Your. Queueueueueueueue.

I went to go do just that, only to discover that it's already there. Because of your reminder, though, it's moved very far up in the queueueueue. Thanks!

#653 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:47 AM:

Susan: Children. Division of property in divorce. Who has the POA in event of medical emergency. Who has the right to pull the plug on extreme measures (Terry Schiavo, not between spouse and paretns, but between spouses).

In a complete dissolution, who pays alimony to whom.

How shall custody be determined for children?

How do pass through inheiritances work (and that'll be an interesting subspecialty of trust and probate law, with some very creative accounting)?

What about survivor's benefits.

What are the exemptions for taxes? Who is, "head of household"? Who gets to claim exemptions on the taxes?

Those are all questions which don't have simple answers now, with only one relationship in question (each partner to the other), start upping the maths, and it gets harder.

From two to three is bad enough; what of four?

How about sposual benefits? If there are two working partners, do the employers split the cost? Does the non-working spouse get to choose which employer they prefer to have pay?

What if only one employer provides benefits, do both (all three, four?) get to ride along? Who pays for the children's coverage? Will paternity tests be required to prove that the child on the plan is biologically the child of the parent claiming they are dependant?

It's an array of ramifications. Not insoluble, but I suspect not conducive to easy resolution as a class, and needing more ad hoc solutions; which the law is bad at doing.

#654 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:49 AM:

For those who hadn't heard...

D.C. area fan Paul Parsons died of a heart attack while driving in Pennsylvania on Sunday May 18. Paul was a lead organizer of Unicon, a Maryland convention held in the 1970s and 80s, managed programming at the 2003 World Fantasy Con, and was central in the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which has been meeting for over thirty years. He is survived by his wife, Aly Parsons, also an active fan.

Paul struck me as one of the wisest fans I know, and he read and retained more written SF than anyone.

There will be a memorial gathering at Balticon at 10AM Saturday (tomorrow) in the Garden Room.

#655 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:54 AM:

#638 ::: fidelio :::

Fritz Lang's Woman in the Moon.

I looked up the Wikipedia article and it says he made a film in later years called Moonfleet. I was imagining amazing things until I looked it up and saw that it was not an SF film but a story about an orphan who grew up in a town called Moonfleet.

#657 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Susan @ 644 asked: Don't states which permit home-schooling generally have some sort of minimum-basic-skills mandate as to what the kids have to learn and some sort of testing mechanism?

State laws vary widely to say the least. We homeschooled from kindergaten on (and she turned out quite well, thnx, with a full National Merit Scholarship and a 4.0 her freshman year). In Tennessee, where we started, the child had to take a basic skills test every two years at the local public school -- but you could get out of it if you associated yourself with a church school. (Which we did, because our local district was full of incompetents who didn't even know the regulations about testing home-schoolers and loused it up the first time.) In Oklahoma, where we finished up, there is basically NO regulation. Acquaintences of ours simply kept their older kids home to babysit the younger ones, didn't teach them a thing, and called it homeschooling. (At least two of the kids have gone on to get GEDs on their own after leaving home, thank goodness.) If we had returned to Pennsylvania, however, I recall there was a somewhat intrusive system of assessments, lesson plans, and home visits involved. All things considered, if it had been done right, the Tennessee system struck me as a decent compromise between state interests and parental independence, though unfortunately still open to the possibility of abuse.

In Texas, it seems as wide-open as Oklahoma, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association site (pretty right-leaning, but a good source on legal issues). Home schools are considered private schools and must have a written curriculum covering a minimum set of subjects, but that's about it -- no testing, not method of registration or enforcement. There's an unfortunate little "religious freedom" addendum that might give the FLDSers a way to defend NOT teaching reading by saying it's against their beliefs. (Texas law here: )

#658 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Susan: re marriage penalties/benefits: As I understand it, a married couple, in which both work, pays a higher marginal rate than they would if they weren't married.

A married couple in which only one works, pays a slightly lesser marginal rate (because the non-working spouse is dependant, with an allowance).

So that rule would still, probably, apply, but the penalties for being married would probably be greater for the poly-relationship.

#659 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:41 PM:

Linkmeister @ #522: Hekyll and Jekyll, right?

Heckle and Jeckle, actually.

This would normally be too picky to bother mentioning, even for me, but it's an excuse to mention National Lampoon's Book of Sequels, which also includes various spin-offs and a section on comic-book adaptations of classic novels.

Such as The Strange Case of Dr Jeckle and Mr Heckle, the horrifying story of a mild-mannered magpie who discovers a potion that transforms him into - wait for it - another almost identical magpie!

#660 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:42 PM:

I apologize, but I'm going to have to drop the (very interesting) discussions here for a few days - I have to head out for Balticon soon, must get day job work done in the meantime, and am not sure how connected I will be over the weekend.

#661 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:47 PM:

Susan @ #644: here are Georgia's homeschooling rules. Note especially that in order to teach your own child you need only a high school diploma; and that although you must give the child standardized tests, you don't have to show the results to anybody.

(c) Parents or guardians may teach their children at home in a home study program which meets the following requirements:

(1) The parent, parents, or guardian must submit within 30 days after the establishment of a home study program and by September 1 annually thereafter a declaration of intent to utilize a home study program to the superintendent of schools of the local school district in which the home study program is located;

(2) The declaration shall include a list of the names and ages of the students who are enrolled in the home study program, the address where the home study program is located, and a statement of the 12 month period that is to be considered the school year for that home study program. Enrollment records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary enrollment information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child, pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction, or for verification of attendance by the Department of Public Safety for the purposes set forth in subsection (a.1) of Code Section 40-5-22;

(3) Parents or guardians may teach only their own children in the home study program, provided the teaching parent or guardian possesses at least a high school diploma or a general educational development diploma, but the parents or guardians may employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or a general educational development diploma to teach such children;

(4) The home study program shall provide a basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

(5) The home study program must provide instruction each 12 months to home study students equivalent to 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours unless the child is physically unable to comply with the rule provided for in this paragraph;

(6) Attendance records for the home study program shall be kept and shall be submitted at the end of each month to the school superintendent of the local school district in which the home study program is located. Attendance records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary attendance information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child, pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction, or for verification of attendance by the Department of Public Safety for the purposes set forth in subsection (a.1) of Code Section 40-5-22;

(7) Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests to evaluate their educational progress at least every three years beginning at the end of the third grade and records of such tests and scores shall be retained but shall not be required to be submitted to public educational authorities; and

(8) The home study program instructor shall write an annual progress assessment report which shall include the instructor's individualized assessment of the student's academic progress in each of the subject areas specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection, and such progress reports shall be retained by the parent, parents, or guardian of children in the home study program for a period of at least three years.

(d) Any person who operates a private school without complying with the requirements of subsection (b) of this Code section or any person who operates a home study program without complying with the requirements of subsection (c) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $100.00.

(e) The State Board of Education shall devise, adopt, and make available to local school superintendents, who shall in turn make available to administrators of private schools and parents or guardians with children in home study programs, such printed forms and procedures as may be reasonably necessary to carry out efficiently the reporting provisions of this Code section, but such printed forms and procedures shall not be inconsistent with or exceed the requirements of this Code section.

#662 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:49 PM:

Have fun, Susan!

#663 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:52 PM:

Michael Roberts @ #531: "Botfly" is a word to conjure up some science fiction writing...

Well, I've seen a horse fly,[1] I've seen a dragon fly,[2] I've seen a house fly,[3] but I ain't never seen no bot fly.[4]

[1] Clash of the Titans, Fantasia, etc.
[2] Shrek 2, most recently, although there's some better stuff lurking in my queueueue.
[3] Read about it, anyway: in Clifford Simak's The Werewolf Principle.
[4] I've seen a droid fly, but we don't talk about that.

#664 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:53 PM:

Susan @ 658... A safe trip, Susan, and an enjoyable weekend.

#665 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 12:58 PM:

644, 655: I can chime in with Maryland, in summary: you file an application with the school system, which approves it (ours was approved immediately). Every six months we had to present ourselves at the office for a school system official to review his work (not all, just a representative sample) and our logs. We had the legal option of getting him into the state exams through the local school, but he wasn't in the grades that were scheduled for those exams.

We homeschooled him for two years: we did a repeat of first grade and we taught him second grade. We returned him to the elementary school in third grade, and he's still going to public school now (sixth grade).

We learned that the required studies take up about 2 hours a day, and the rest was then devoted to social activities (i.e., day care).

On another -- completely unrelated to any topic on this open thread -- let me just say that cat abscesses haven't gotten any nicer in the past 30 years. However, having a mellow cat makes the job so much easier. I should also publicly thank my partner for holding him on her lap, despite her intense dislike of exudates and bodily fluids not her own. (File this under Things To Do On Your Day Off.)

#666 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 01:00 PM:

Paul A @ 657... Then a series of mysterious and horrible deaths are investigated by Deputy Dawg.

#667 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Ginger @ 663... let me just say that cat abscesses haven't gotten any nicer in the past 30 years

Eeeeewwww... You just reminded of that X-files episode that my wife and I call the superzit episode.

#668 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 01:15 PM:

Terry #656

The laws don't distinguish between single living on one's own, and unmarried but part of a communal household. It makes a huge difference regarding things like expenses, transportation, running errands, backup for medical testing and emergencies, etc.

Then, too, there is the graduated income tax consideration--that's what makes one of the big differences.

"Fair" depends on the eyes, perceptions, and values of the perceptor.... note that "family rate" or "household rate" for the vast majority of things for membership ranging from horticultural societies to museum memberhips tend to be e.g. $80 household" versus "one person $60." Truly single = GOUGED, for almost everything, while the partnered sorts give the pious bleating "I am so ENVIOUS of your freedom...." yeah, sure, the freedom to have to figure out how the hell to arrange logistics for things like "it is time for you to have a colonoscopy, you need to have someone ELSE take you home" in places where even taxi service, let alone mass transit, is a bad joke. And during my long unpleasant bouts of being out of work due to el stinko economy, seeing all the cut rates for retirees on often (not always, but it was more than being out of work without any pension....) fat pensions and for students and in-first-few-years-of-work-force types, while there were NO such accommodations for the unemployed, ticked me off massively.

I have a coworker with six kids and I think a stay at home wife. I am REALLY furious about "baby bounties" that reward people for reproducing, regardless of their capability as parents. Encouraging people to have kids without demanding they be -responsible- for providing an environment for the kids to thrive in.... the law often demands better that people treat their PETS better than their children!

#669 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 01:29 PM:

"I think that for putting people in jail and taking custody of their kids, the only thing that counts is whether they've actually violated written laws."

I think the FLDS group in Texas probably has. My impression from a distance is that they've gotten a pass from the Third Circuit because they are a related to an influential, nominally Christian group--if they had been pagans or Muslims the court probably would not have returned the children. I agree that closed social units generally are a tough rights problem, but I think it's one that's important to deal with, because they cause so much harm. Holding people incommunicado is clearly illegal, and a great deal of how the FLDS treats its women and children approaches that. Also, keeping children in a situation where visible abuse is sanctioned is itself abuse.

I know David from Usenet. Up until 9/11 and the Bush administration he always had an excuse for the neo-cons and he defended the Iraqi war. Basically, the man had to be hit with a clue-by-four before he'd admit to being wrong about right-wing authoritarian groups, whereas he was (and probably still is) convinced that left-wing groups are necessarily authoritarian.

#670 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 01:38 PM:

Ginger #663: It strikes me that homeschooling inherently has a higher variance than regular schooling. On one side, I know various people who have homeschooled, and have done a good job. I also know of one family who "homeschooled" their daughter as a form of free babysitting for her younger siblings, which is deeply slimy. I suspect this might just be a price we pay for some level of diversity, though it's possible to at least test homeschooled kids to make sure they're not falling terribly behind their classmates.

#671 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 01:49 PM:

Serge @ 665: Yes, I think I know the very episode you mean. Let's not go there.

albatross @ 668: Oh, I agree. The quality of homeschooling depends on (1) the family and (2) the school system oversight. It's not an easy task, and we were glad to send him back to public school -- on the other hand, he needed a break from the sheer badness of some teachers, and an appropriate approach to his behaviors. He's not an easy kid to handle. ;-)

#672 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 02:20 PM:

#638: The film's technical guru, Hermann Oberth, had a nervous breakdown while working on a publicity-stunt rocket for the film. He managed to live until 1989 . . . long enough to see probes fly past Jupiter and Saturn.

#673 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 02:39 PM:

fidelio @ 638

Wow! I haven't seen it, and I didn't know that Fischinger did the animations. Wow again! I'll definitely put that on my list.

Anyone who is a fan of abstract animation should see Fischinger's "sausage" animations. He took colored clay, rolled out strips and tubes of it in various colors, and wrapped them together into a long sausage. Then he thin-sliced disks from the sausage (using a meat-slicer IIRC) and photographed each disk as a separate frame in the order they were cut from the sausage. Looked like a fly-through of a sequence of MRI images.

#674 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Randolph # 667:

Funny, I think just the opposite.

Why do you think they're regarded as Christian? I think they were raided in large part because they're Mormon - which most Christian sects view as emphatically not Christian and some Christians view as practically devil-worshippers. I don't care for Mormonism nor for "plygs" in particular, but I think the group got an unusual level of scrutiny and public denunciation specifically because of being Mormons.

To be specific, I don't think they would have received the same treatment had it been, say, a small town on a private ranch in Texas where everyone belongs to the local Southern Baptist or Pentecostal church, even if rest of the factors were similar: everyone home-schools, other religions are emphatically unwelcome, the girls are getting married off at 16, there are rumors of sexual abuse, and the preacher tells everyone in the town just who they should ostracize and/or kick out of their family. I think in that case, the Texas government and public would have just said "sounds like a nice little town." If sexual abuse claims were made, they'd at most have investigated and brought charges against specific families, not raided en masse and scooped up every single woman and child. Can you think of any case where that happened to members of a mainstream Christian sect, even where there was pervasive SA going on in a community?

The isolation parts of the FLDS lifestyle are disturbing and appalling, as are the rumors about ongoing sexual abuse - but if it is indeed true that some of the women presented identification at the outset showing themselves to be adults, and the Texas CPS has been lying about which women were minors, then I want to start scrutinizing the other claims about them a little more closely. There seems to be some good circumstantial evidence that the original call which claimed to be from a teenager at FLDS being sexually abused, in fact came from a woman in Colorado who has been convicted of hoax calls there where she claimed to be a child in distress. Absent that, was there any evidence of anything bad and unlawful? I'm not clear.

#675 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:01 PM:

Ginger @ 669... Let's not go there.

And miss all the pus-ibilities?

#676 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Serge @ 673: Oh, the path-ibilities are lesion. Rot else could I say? If I didn't respond, you'd smear my name and people would patiently tell me "urine trouble now!". It's crystal clear to me from your feverish attempts to draw me out.

Let no one tell you to cut it out; that's a surgeon's job. Pathologists are (1) always right and (2) the last ones to the patient.

#677 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:26 PM:

Serge and Ginger -- it's as pimple as this: you're determined to squeeze every possible pun out of this.

#678 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:33 PM:

Ginger @ 674... Ichorrectly assume at a g'lance that I made your blood boil.

#679 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:37 PM:

Debbie @ 675... Are you asking us to de-cyst?

#680 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:44 PM:

Wen will this end?

#681 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:46 PM:

Serge & Ginger:

So much time of our time taken, with such noisy fuss,
such shocking indiscretion, and such horrid puns,
about the feline abscess and the noisome pus;
just both of you be grateful there's no passing bus.

We have to take the whole thing as some sort of plus
or else we'd spank the both of of you firmly on your buns.
So much of our time taken, with such noisy fuss,
such shocking indiscretion, and such horrid puns.

#682 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:48 PM:

Debbie, and drain it to the dregs, with the boiling over of every little tinpot possibility of threading a new punishment on the rest of us, until we are rendered insensible, and our teeth are drawn.

Those who resist will be needled without mercy, bi-opsysition to the wordplay they shall paint targets on themselves, and the septic morass will be directed at them, hoping to suction them into the fray.

#683 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:49 PM:

I feel drained.

#684 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:55 PM:

Serge @ 677: That was rather cryptic. Perhaps she couldn't stomach our expressions and would like to stanch the flow.

#685 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:56 PM:

Am I late to this little fester-val?

#686 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 04:59 PM:

Uh-oh, Fragano has committed poetry upon us. This is a very serious case indeed! We must quarantine the lot of you to prevent infection from spreading. It's an outbreak of punitis, which is similar to pox.

The only treatment for punitis is to wait for Lance-a-lot to arrive. Arthur any questions?

#687 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:01 PM:

I'm sure we can still squeeze some ooze out of this thread.

#688 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:03 PM:

Serge @685, I think we've flushed them all out.

#689 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:03 PM:

Serge @685, I think we've flushed them all out.

#690 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:04 PM:

That double post was entirely un-intentional, and I'm washing my hands of the whole thing.

#691 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:05 PM:

Serge @675Are you asking us to de-cyst?

Acne no questions, I'll tell thee no styes.

#692 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Easy come, easy goo.

#693 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:11 PM:

No puns here, but I am about to throw up.

#694 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:12 PM:

"...the rumors about ongoing sexual abuse..."

They aren't rumors; there have been many documented instances, as well as practices which, while perhaps legal, are questionable. It's a setup that lends itself to abuse, which of course is the motivation for it.

#695 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:14 PM:

ethan... Reading your post about our punning ease, I don't know if I should feel blister cursed.

#696 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:18 PM:

miriam beetle (and others who might be interested)... It looks like there's a new Tank Girl comic-book out.

#697 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:19 PM:

Susan@631: many children have been molested by Catholic priests ... Would it then be appropriate to remove all Catholic children from
their parents

If a child accused a catholic priest of molestation, his parent wouldn't have to worry about gettting kicked out of their homes by the church elders in an effort to silence them. Because odds are the church elders aren't their landlords.

There is a level of intertangling relationships in FLDS that make the FLDS situation a different problem than the catholic church abuse situation. There is a level of cultishness among FLDS members, a lack of sepration between church and individual, a lack of power for individuals, that raises concerns for me. It reminds me of the "corporate" towns from way back. If you want to work for someone who has a corporate town, you live on their land, in a home they built, you buy food and clothes in stores they run, and you live by their rules. If you don't do your job and if you don't live by their rules, you not only lose your job, but the roof over your head, and anything else you might have established for yourself. That is not healthy. It changes the game theory such that you basically become a hostage of the company. Try fighting for a labor union in a comopany town.

In the case of FLDS, the individual becomes a hostage of the FLDS, and objecting to FLDS even on minor grounds, can have major negative repercussions on the individual. Individuals become complicit on minor issues because objecting has major costs.

In the case of abuse by catholic priests, I wouldn't be concerned about systematic coverup among the parents because they're not worried about losing everything they own. In the case of FLDS, I think it is a legitimate concern. I don't know if that's what happened, but it's a different enough situation that I don't think you can compare the two.

#698 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:30 PM:

A friend of mine is a solicitor who specialises in family law, which is to say he handles divorces and related issues. In the UK you can only marry one person at a time. However the law recognises that in other countries this is not always the case. So if a family group consisting of a man with several wives* and their children moved to (or visited) this country, their marriage(s) would be valid. If they became permanant residents and then one or more of them decided to divorce then all these issues beingdiscussed would come up.

I don't know if this has ever actually happened, but my friend tells me there are guidelines for dealing with this situation (for example usually there are only two interested parties to keep informed in a divorce; in this situation there might be more, even if they aren't directly involved in the divorce). It could be a real mess, but not one that would grind the process to a halt.

* the most likely permutation

#699 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 05:35 PM:

The seven deadly punsters,
Those ghastly little saps,
Oh no dear blog
They were not made for thee.
The seven deadly punsters
Were made for other blogs
Where poems and the wordplay none shall see.

Fragano, he'll start it off,
Read his postings and you just may have to cough.
And Serge, he'll jump in next,
And you'll be sorry that you read the text!

See Ginger, a noble spice,
It's not the photons that will get you it's the price,
Terry's more subtle, but he'll get you too,
Stefan will wreck where your trek.
While Debbie comes up with more words that stew
albatross will hang around your neck!

You'll never find a punster who runs from Making Light,
Or making more appalling rotten puns,
Let others write prose stodgy
We shall write in verse,
We will not let you leave here
With groans not getting worse,
And all those seven deadly punsters,
Among the sights of Making Light,
The puns dis-burse!

#700 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 06:28 PM:

Briefly back on the topic of FLDS:

There are many things that the child protection agencies can do short of removing children from their families (indeed, the court pointed this out in is ruling.)

What I would love to see is for lowgrade, long-term supervision to begin. Each child in the compound assigned a caseworker, whose phone number they are given. Each caseworker spends an hour or so alone with the child every three months.

The early years are spent getting the child to trust them. Then, when the pressure starts to marry, there is someone outside the family to turn to. And a quarterly visiting schedule means that no underage pregnancies, for instance, go unnoticed and un-queried. For boys, the single point of contact approach gives them someone to turn to if they're pushed out into the outside world, either temporarily or permanently.

It's allied with one of the arguments against unsupervised homeschooling that I find most persuasive: access to outside adults gives children balance, a witness, and a means of escape.

(Even in less fraught situations, I think that kids should have non-parental adult friends, to bounce things off of that they can't bring up with their parents. Grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, teachers and family friends are all ideal candidates.)

#701 ::: Trip the Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 06:47 PM:

Greg London @ 619:

And did you know that tuna, although technically poikilothermic, have special organs to keep their brains warm no matter how cold the water gets?

Biology is SO WEIRD.

#702 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 06:52 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 697... The seven deadly punsters will be back in the WW2 drama The Puns Are Never Gone, also starring Gregory Peck and Irene Pappas.

#703 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 07:07 PM:

Serge @700: ..and then, in a remake of the Dirty Dozen, we'll star in the Scrofulous Seven.

#704 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 07:19 PM:

Serge: You took my pun, I almost posted it anyway, but fortunately I recalled that one should never rush a man.

Paula Lieberman: That's one of my favorite recitatives (perhaps from playing Mordred in High School)

#705 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Terry Karney @ 702... You should have done it anyway, thus proving that great minds think alike. Or something.

#706 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 08:00 PM:

Ginger @ 701... My agent just called and Hollywood wants me to start in The Last Pun of Krypton. ("You'll believe a pan can fry!")

#707 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 08:03 PM:

Susan @631:
You mention that you think the celibacy vow is significant in the case of priests molesting underage boys. It's a rather obvious link, certainly... but it turns out that similar things are happening (and being covered up) in the Orthodox Jewish community — where rabbis are expected (and often required) to be married.

#708 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 08:20 PM:

geekosaur: and a lot of it in various protestant churches.

I think it's a function of power, and of the sense of inspiration which the serious devotion to religion causes. The urges are given in to, because God loves one, and so their must be something good about it.

That's just my mind looking for reason though, it's completely unsupported by study, and has no real bearing on how I feel about religion (or the religious) in general.

#709 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 08:27 PM:

Serge @ 704: That's super! If you do well, then you and I and Fragano and Terry will no doubt become the next superhero sensations -- The Puntastic Four!

#710 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:01 PM:

Susan, #631: "Would it then be appropriate to remove all Catholic children from their parents, shut Catholic schools, etc., on the grounds that some number of Catholic children will in the future be molested by priests?"

IIRC, in Mexico, after the Revolution, the lands of the Church were confiscated, and severe restrictions were placed on the Church's right to control the social lives of its monastic orders. I don't remember too many details. What little I know of the role of the Church in Mexican history, however, is sufficient to make me suspect this was, if anything, not sufficient. This touches on a different question, however: how do the political leaders of a society respond to a major institution which has been corrupt for a very long time?

abi, #698: that sounds very sensible, but I suspect that, even before this raid, the Church elders would never have agreed.

Anyhow, puns have become much more interesting to me at the moment...

#711 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:02 PM:

Ginger @ 707... Do I get to be the Punnin' Torch?

#712 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:42 PM:

Serge @709: I'm Rapunzel, the Wick-ed Watch of the Wine.

#713 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:48 PM:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel fix up my hare...

#714 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 09:52 PM:

Serge @665: Eeeeewwww... You just reminded of that X-files episode that my wife and I call the superzit episode.

The 2nd gakkiest (that can't possibly be a word) episode, IMO. The worst: the 'Andy Griffith' episode.

#715 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:05 PM:

My favorite X-files episode was José Cheung's 'From Outer Space', where the foul-mouthed sherriff go to literally call someone a blankhole, and where we're told that Scully's hair was red, but too red to be human.

#716 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:10 PM:

My favorite X-Files is still the very first one I saw, quite by accident as I surfed the channels and froze in complete and utter fascination: "Ice".

I was hooked in a millisecond, and I didn't know anyone's names.

#717 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:22 PM:

You folks gotta check out Falling for Rapunzel:

"Enchamry, Enchamry, guebj qbja lbhe unve!"
Fur gubhtug ur fnvq, "Lbhe haqrejrne."

Enchamry! That's a pretty nice rot-13 for Rapunzel. If only it were spelled Rapunezl...

#718 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:38 PM:

Ginger @ 714... You do know about the X-files movie that's coming out in July, right?

#719 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 10:40 PM:

Serge @ 716: Yes, I do. I'm not sure how excited I should be, though. I've moved's a new phase in my life. I don't think Zoe would like it if I saw Dana again....

#720 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:07 PM:

Fragano's gone bun-y there, putting up his hare-brained comment...

#721 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:18 PM:

Paula Lieberman #718: Are you accusing me of rabbiting?

#722 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:26 PM:

Paula @ 718: He's not gone rabbit, has he? We'll have to put him down...

#723 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:32 PM:

Ginger #720: Such a biting remark.

#724 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:43 PM:

Fragano, do you mean that shot of you in a raft on a river in Great Britain, you mean, the really cheesey on the Welsh rapids?

#725 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:49 PM:

Or, perhaps you (w)rapped it away....

#726 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2008, 11:58 PM:

Ginger @ 717... I know what you mean. Still, it may turn out to be entertaining on its own terms. As for myself, the July movie I'm really looking forward to is HellBoy 2 who has quite a down-to-earth attitude toward lovecraftian horrors. ("You woke up the baby!")

#727 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 12:30 AM:

Terry@706: Given what certain of our elected representatives have been known to get up to with the congressional pages, my guess is that religious conviction isn't a necessary requirement for such behavior . . . any combination of authority, opportunity, and inclination will probably do.

#728 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 12:55 AM:

I wasn't going to write any more about this, but I had two more thoughts that I think are worth sharing; they are very black.

Albatross, #623, "If people are free to leave..."

It occurs to me that institutionalized rape--which is reported, though the reports may not be correct--is a form of torture. The question comes up: if someone is broken through torture, or other psychological manipulation, are they free? And I suppose the answer is no. A horrible thought. But if a reliable psychological diagnosis can be made, it provides a way to evaluate closed communities that can be used without regard to the ideas involved. As to whether the children have been abused; if the girls see their sisters forced into marriages, and know that this is also the likely course of their lives, I say that is an abusive situation.

It's been very nice, but I have to scream now.

#729 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 02:11 AM:

Serge, #622, some employers no longer extend health benefits to any spouses. (much less dogs)

albatross, #623, did you know the FLDS ejects young teenage boys without anything but the clothes on their backs so they can't take girls the older men want? That's illegal.

Susan, #644, it varies widely by state. Some states simply require parents to use an approved curriculum.

Ginger, #663, or under a very busy day. He just cleaned his chin himself by washing his paw and rubbing it under his chin, but he's due for meds now and then another hot compress.

#730 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 02:19 AM:

Randolph #726: Bleah, that is a black thought. I suppose if the brainwashing is sufficiently effective, you really do end up loving Big Brother or whatever.

I think we're just bumping up against a messy real-world problem, here, which comes in two parts:

a. Sometimes, people want stuff that's pretty obviously not good for them. The battered wife declines to press charges and goes back home to await another beating, the drug addict goes back to heroin, the fat guy orders another Big Mac.

b. People make their decisions, not only as rational actors weighing each choice, but also as social actors who can be and often are influenced by all kinds of good and bad and neutral things. Some people are really susceptible to this kind of influence, and groups of such people often reach scary levels of craziness. At the far end of this lies Jonestown.

While dealing with those, we have the problem that most people are likely to make better decisions for themselves than strangers in Congress or in a courtroom will. Make the bar too low for intervening in peoples' choices about their private lives, and we'll all lose a tremendous amount of freedom.

What was that Heinlein quote? "Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." But if Mrs. Grundy can "deprogram you" for your own good, or take your kids away, you're never going to have that kind of freedom.

#731 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 07:55 AM:

Thirty-five years ago today, the first known use of leet-speak occurred in Doonesbury! Get it while you can--that link won't work tomorrow.

#732 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 07:56 AM:

Thirty-five years ago today, the first known use of leet-speak occurred in Doonesbury!

Get it while you can--that link won't work tomorrow.

#733 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 10:22 AM:

Marilee @ 727: Sounds like your cat is getting better too! My cat isn't the world's greatest groomer, so I've been washing him up a bit this morning.

The most impressive abscess rupture I ever saw was in this male cat who lived with his mother. He'd had a bout of megacolon so their owner was worried when he stopped eating suddenly. I came in Sunday morning to give him some meds, and I had his back to me. When I went to open his mouth (to put in the pill), I suddenly saw a spewing of reddish yellowish liquid, which I at first interpreted as projectile vomit. Bloody vomit would be terrifying to deal with, but the cat was calm. I quickly realized I'd just lanced an abscess under his chin (down onto the neck), and was able to allay the owner's fears. He'd probably gotten in a little tussle with Ma Cat and had a small cut in the skin which turned into a major abscess that prevented him from tucking his chin down.

I'll never forget that sight and my first reaction.

#734 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 10:53 AM:

My mad home veterinary skillz once got kitty pus on a signed Peter Max poster.

#735 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 11:38 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer @ 732: Ouch. Was your poster ok afterwards?

Don't get me started on exudates and such. Veterinarians can gross out anybody. A good friend of mine is an OB-GYN, and I stopped her with an explanation of palpating ovaries in cows. ;-)

#736 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 11:51 AM:

Paula Lieberman #722: Oh, no. I was at the time trying to warm a pine tree with coney fur.

#737 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 11:54 AM:

Ginger @ 733: It wasn't my poster, it already wasn't in the best of shape or it wouldn't've been where it could've gotten splattered, and it was more of a splat than a splash anyway, so yeah, it survived.

#738 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Fragano @ 734: Were you pining for the fjords?

John A Arkansawyer @ 735: Phew.

#739 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Debra Doyle #725: It's the problem of the man who promised to turn over a new leaf and started at the bottom of the page, I suspect.

#740 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 12:22 PM:

Ginger: I recall having to purge an abcessed throat in one of our guinea pigs (it was nasty, hard center and lots of goo).

It was, however, your comment about vets; Maia got her BS in Large Animal Science; I used to work for a veterinary practice; which did exotics (and went to an ag school; where I studied journalism). When we were in San Luis Obispo we had people over for dinner once a week.

For some little while we had some engineering students (mostly male, all trying to be macho for the large animal students, all female). One night the conversation got as conversations get, and the books came out.

As you can imagine the boys got more than a little green around the gills as we went into, blood curdling detail, all the oddities in the reproductive systems (hell, just the things they do so some bulls won't be able to breed was enough to make a couple push back from the table).

Good times.

Re Doonesbury: Ow... the strip about sabbaticals made me feel old. It's hard to believe it's been 25 years since the first one. I recall that; because it was painful. It took him awhile to get back on his game. But I can recall the sense of it, and the me I am recalling was so damned young

#741 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 12:27 PM:

Terry @ 738: ;-) That's a real bull session, eh? Your story reminded me of seeing Beefmaster bulls that had injured themselves. The one major problem with that breed was the pendulous prepuce; it was too easy for them to step on it. Nasty injuries. No wonder those bulls tend to be mean.

#742 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Ginger #736: I could barely afford to pine.

#743 ::: anthony ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 01:35 PM:

This seems like a good place to start, and it is an open thread. I have read some SF but the only fantasy i have read is some Gaiman (Sandman, American Gods, Anasi Boys, Smoke and Mirror), the His Dark Materials trilogy, Harry Potter, CS Lewis and the Hobbit. I liked some of Gaiman, loved the Dark Materials, was mostly bored by Potter, hate Lewis deeply, and the Hobbit's politics and aesthetics were difficult for me to swallow. As part of my general goal to be a well read human being and to read widely w/i genre fiction, I want to read some fantasy. Robert Jordan and their ilk make me really nervous, for a a variety of reasons, including time commitment, concerns about the quality of writing. Making Light readers have steered me right before--where would people recommend for reading fantasy or even about fantasy?

#744 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 01:48 PM:

Anthony @ 741: Get The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford, Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber, and Briar Rose by Jane Yolen for starters.

#745 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 02:07 PM:

Fragano @ 740: I don't mean to needle you about a sensitive topic -- and I hope it all turned out fir the best.

#746 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 02:11 PM:


There are hundreds if not thousands of great books; alas, anything I suggest will be necessarily random even from among the books I love.

From what you've read and liked so far, if you want to be completely bowled over, try The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick. That's one of the books I reread every few years. He doesn't do at all the usual things with fantasy.

John Arkansawyer's suggestions are excellent; I would add Lieber's Conjure Wife instead or as well as Our Lady ... To me, the former was stunning, the latter was merely good.

For slightly more conventional (but still fantastic and thought-provoking) fantasy, maybe Barbara Hambly's The Ladies of Mandrigyn and Dragonbane. (Each is part of a loose series, but each is the best of said series and stands alone.)

De mortuis nil nisi bonum, but skipping The Wheel of Time series will indeed give you more time to read truly outstanding boooks.

#747 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 02:15 PM:

anthony @ 741... Try a few issues of Realms of Fantasy. Don't pay attention to the ads - there is no correlation between them and the fiction.

#748 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 02:57 PM:

anthony @ 741... I'd also recommend Patricia McKillip. I haven't read her recent stuff, but I enjoyed her older books.

#749 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 04:49 PM:

#741: I would recommend Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart, to anyone. The two sequels aren't quite as all-conquering amazing but are still fun.

Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke are two great novels dealing with folkloric fairyland-type material. If you only have time for one, read the Mirrlees.

Jeff Van Der Meer's Ambergris books and China Mieville's Bas-Lag series are worth checking out for less traditional, more urban fantasy worlds. Some people find Mieville's books require a strong stomach; they're within my personal tolerance levels, but may or may not work for you.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is collectively one of the greatest modern works of comic fiction (that's "comic" as in "funny," not as in "graphic novels") in the English language. The best of the series have real emotional depth and serious ideas underneath. The earliest volumes are a bit weak; I'd recommend starting somewhere in the middle.

It also might be good to take a look at a couple of best-of-the-year anthologies to get a broad look at the genre and exposure to a range of writers. The series edited by Ellen Datlow/Gavin Grant/Kelly Link and David G. Hartwell/Kathryn Cramer are both good.

#750 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 06:11 PM:


I'm sorry to say this to you two, but what took you so long? It's pretty plain to plenty of other people; start with Teresa's post here about this issue.
Perhaps it's because you don't see yourselves as people who'd be the victims in that set-up that it's taken so long to get past the legalistic aspects of that set-up.
The problem with the FLDS and places like Colorado City is not that they are trying to pursue a way of life outside the American mainstream but that many of those participating are not only not offered any other alternatives, but are unaware of a world where those other alternatives exist and are kept from finding out about them and from taking advantage of them.

#751 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 06:53 PM:

fidelio @748:
Perhaps it's because you don't see yourselves as people who'd be the victims in that set-up that it's taken so long to get past the legalistic aspects of that set-up.

I think you're being pretty harsh there.

There are many reasons that not everyone thinks through every implication of every situation in the news. I don't, but not for lack of empathy; I simply haven't the time or the energy to do so. These guys just have, to the sickening heart of the matter, and you are going to kick them in the shins for it?

There's something in this story to freak pretty much everyone out: intrusive government, freaky religion, abuse of women, abandonment of children, underage sex, and many layers of aggressive social control. The closer you look, the worse it gets, and there is no clear solution. It's...oh, I can't think of a single word. Upsetting, infuriating, depressing, dreadful.

But emotive matters like these are the ones where we must tread carefully within our own community. Turning that anger on people who have done nothing more than think aloud doesn't help anyone. There are plenty of legitimate targets for anger here, but albatross and Randolph are not—in my opinion—among them.

#752 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 07:00 PM:

What abi just said.

Come to that, Texas CPS should be forwarded abi's previous suggestion in this thread of what she would do (in brief, mandatory monthly social worker visits for every kid growing up there.) I am pretty sure that would be entirely within the power of CPS to order, and I expect if that were appealed a court would approve it.

#753 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 07:39 PM:

In the environments where the FDLS controls the local goverment, they also control the hospitals. There are apparently indications that they're using antidepressants and commitment to mental health facilities as compliance tools.

On another subject, I endorse the recommendation of Bridge of Birds and Lud-in-the-Mist, and you can download the latter as etext.

From the blurb of your author reactions, I believe you would enjoy Steven Brust's books. You could start with the Vlad Taltos series, or with The Phoenix Guards if you wanted to feed your inner D'Artagnan.

#754 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 09:15 PM:

I take your point, abi, and Clifton's as well, and I should say that I'm not angry with Randolph or albatross, who are decent human beings and not notably lacking in basic empathy. You're quite right, the posts I was responding to showed they'd worked their way around to noticing the institutional nature of the problem.

However, the only justification the legal authorities have claimed for intervening in Texas, and the reason Warren Jeffs is now in prison, is the systematic (and systemic, even)sexual coercion of minors, overwhelmingly female ones. How do you lose sight of that, or overlook it for long enough that it's a sudden revelation? The Texas raid has been in the news for over a month now, and the FLDS social system has been an issue for longer than that; Teresa's "Something New in Short Creek" post is four years old.

I'll stop now and go hang the shovel up; I hope the hole's not too deep to plant the tomatoes in it in the morning.

#755 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 09:19 PM:

The new Indiana Jones movie gets a 7.0 on the greglondon scale. A good matinee. Slightly disappointing if you paid full evening price.

#756 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 09:24 PM:

Well, just remember that deep holes are a plus with tomatoes: you only need four leaves sticking out of the ground because the rest of the stem will put out roots.

#757 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2008, 10:04 PM:

Ginger, #731, fortunately, I'm not afraid of weird body fluids, but the abscess has stopped draining and it's tight. I asked the dental vet twice about antibiotics after the surgery to take all Shiva's teeth out, and he said both times, no. But it's hard to believe this abscess isn't related.

#758 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 12:12 AM:

With regard to the FLDS situation: the difficulty, as I see it, lies in coming up with a set of tools and responses for dealing with the problem that could not someday be, with less justification but greater malice, turned against other groups whose lifestyles and practices deviate from the general. (That’s the trouble with the law as a remedy; it’s a knife that anyone can pick up and sharpen.)

So far as I can tell, the only way to achieve even partially successful results would seem to be to concentrate on actions and practices which are both plainly and provably illegal, to avoid overhastiness and all manner of grandstanding, and to make certain every step along the way is i-dotted, t-crossed, and bullet-proof. Given the system’s inherent potential for abuse, I’m not inclined to cut the law any slack for good intentions.

#759 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 12:31 AM:

Greg #753: I liked some parts of it. The fcnprfuvc at the end was beautiful though the nyvraf were not; the CGI was mostly ugly and stupid but the ants kicked ass; Harrison Ford was great and Shia LeBoeuf, as always, was unbearable. And Cate Blanchett's hairdo and hilarious fake accent and generally everything about her character temporarily cured my homosexuality. Unless it can't be considered cured if I'm still talking about hairdos.

#760 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 02:46 AM:

(Yikes. Apologies for the monster FLDS post.)

albatross @ 623: “A big part of freedom is letting people be weird--letting them choose a different lifestyle than you would choose, letting them teach their kids stuff you'd never imagine teaching your kids, letting them make decisions in all aspects of life that you find nutty or downright creepy.”

The freedom to be weird comes up against a hard wall once that weirdness starts to involve telling other people how to act. Your freedom to do what you want does not include the freedom to make other people do what they want. This is a bright line test that cuts across squick or social discomfort at other people’s choices. The FLDS has violated this maxim, and protest how they may, it doesn’t change the fact that their entire social order is designed to deny their daughters and sons the right to decide the path of their own lives—indeed, designed to deny them the knowledge that such independence might actually be possible.

Susan @ 631: “I don't know that I want the government to be making those calls. In the FLDS case, I happen to agree that they're wacko cultists with nasty sexual/marital practices. But what happens when they come after some other non-mainstream religion that I consider perfectly harmless?”

The argument you seem to be making is that there’s no distinction that can be reliably made between the FLDS and, say, a group of polyamorous Wiccans. I disagree. The test is quite simple, and can be summed up in a simple question: Are the people engaging in this practice choosing to do so freely? In the case of the FLDS, that answer is no. In the case of the polyamorous group, the answer is yes—and if it isn’t, then I fully support coming down on them just as hard.

The FLDS deny their children even the knowledge of the choice. Their goal is quite explicitly to create a community that is completely and utterly isolated from main-stream society, in which there is no choice but to do as you are told. They systematically cut off escape routes and alternatives; members are isolated from any other options geographically, financially, psychologically and socially. These characteristics go far beyond mere “weirdness” or “outside of the mainstream.” They are in fact, objectively different than voluntarily joining a Wiccan group-marriage. Condemning one does not imply condemning the other.

Earl Cooley III @ 641 “One of the more insidious policies of the FLDS is the suppression of literacy. If literacy were to be considered a civil right, perhaps they could be prosecuted on that basis.”

In my mind, it all comes down to education. If people are educated, they know their options. If they’re educated, they can make intelligent, informed decisions. If they are only ever taught one thing, how can anything they do be said to be free?

abi @ 698 “What I would love to see is for lowgrade, long-term supervision to begin. Each child in the compound assigned a caseworker, whose phone number they are given. Each caseworker spends an hour or so alone with the child every three months.”

That seems exactly right. The kids don’t have any options, no outlet for anything other than complete obedience. Give them a path out. If they choose not to take it—well, at least they had the choice.

Marilee @ 727: “did you know the FLDS ejects young teenage boys without anything but the clothes on their backs so they can't take girls the older men want? That's illegal.”

Thanks. I was wondering when someone was going to bring that up. The child rape is only half of it: the other half of it is that half their male children disappear—either killed or driven off—before they reach their majority. Isn't child murder and neglect considered pretty bad too?

#761 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 02:50 AM:

Abi, thank you for your support. Fidelio, my point was somewhat different: I think it likely that in such a closed, hostile environment, some of these women have broken in the way torture victims break. I believe it likely that, even if aware of alternatives, many are sufficiently traumatized that they would not pursue them. While I was vaguely aware of this, closer study made it much more real and horrific. Now, this is not a new idea: it seems to me an application of decades-old feminist theory. But here is something that might be new: it just might be possible to establish an objective standard by which to evaluate the effects of such a community on its members, sidestepping entirely the content of the community's beliefs. There is a great deal of research on psychological trauma that this point; it might find application here. Debra, does this perhaps address your concerns? As to another of your concerns, it appears from my distance there has been provable illegality, and that the Texas Third Court of Appeals (not the Federal Third Circuit as I previously posted) would prefer not to see it addressed.

#762 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:14 AM:

Greg London @ 753... I saw Indiana Jones last night. I paid full price, but still I enjoyed it. I loved seeing Karen Allen, and Shia Labouef surprised me in that I never found myself wanting him to fall into a pit filled with hungry crocs. Yes, Ray Winstone(*) wasn't utilized as well as he could have. My wife hated it and, being a writer, proceeded to point to to me (after the movie was over) everything that was wrong in the story structure, in what had been in the other movies but was missing here. The works. Still, I liked it. It was an old-fashioned adventure. And George Lucas could have messed it up way worse. Probably didn't because Spielberg and Ford had a say in the final results.

(*) He's getting a lot of work these days, and who else recognized him from the Michael Praed Robin Hood?

#763 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:51 AM:

Marilee @ 755: Whenever a health professional declines to prescribe antibiotics, you can certainly ask for an explanation, and you can get a second opinion. I'm a little surprised that the dentist didn't prescribe any antibiotic, as in the human side they're insisting on it for patients with certain risk factors, but I don't know what he/she was looking at.

Your regular vet may be able to help you with the dentist, and you can always email me.

#764 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:07 AM:

Ginger, something I've always wondered: is there a reason cats get abscesses so much more often than other animals? I've owned four cats (out of nine) that have gotten an abscess at some point in their lives; this seems excessive.

#765 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:47 AM:

Randolph@759: Stipulating, before I even begin (because in discussions like this, it's all too often a quick leap from "I have certain serious misgivings about how the law has dealt with these people" to "You're in favor of what these people have been accused of doing"), that the FLDS and their practices are sufficiently weird and creepy and oppressive that they ought to be curtailed to the greatest extent that the law allows:

But here is something that might be new: it just might be possible to establish an objective standard by which to evaluate the effects of such a community on its members, sidestepping entirely the content of the community's beliefs.

If this is to be done, and subsequently used in other cases as a basis for intervention -- especially intervention on such a sweeping scale -- then I would prefer to see the precedent argued out thoroughly and nailed down hard in court before, not after, it’s used for the first time as a justification.

It’s tempting to believe that because we, personally, are good people whose beliefs (or unbeliefs) are non-abusive and non-coercive, nobody in authority is ever going to decide that those same beliefs (or unbeliefs) are sufficiently deviant and hurtful to merit the full intervention of the law. Given the weird and creepy and oppressive people who have been known to attain positions of authority in this and other societies, I prefer not to yield to that temptation. Among other things, this means that I want to see our laws and regulations crafted in such a manner that, if bad people are the ones in a position to apply them, they will not do harm instead of good.

#766 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:50 AM:

Heresiarch #758 "Your freedom to do what you want does not include the freedom to make other people do what they want."

Would you mind unpacking this rather Rousseauan statemen?

#767 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:52 AM:

Ginger #743: You don't have to be so casuarina about that.

#768 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:55 AM:

Ok, so I got some spam this morning which I know used an addy harvested from here. When I looked at the details (BTW, does anyone know how to make gmail show headers; all I got was some address line info, which was no real help in tracking down), it said:

Mike H
to "Making Light: Notebook"
date Sat, May 24, 2008 at 12:20 PM
subject Sales Manager #1137/ Houston , Texas

So I suspect they sent it to a lot of people they got from mining the list.

I've already mocked them, but I'd like to do more.

#769 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 11:04 AM:

Fragano: I think there was a lost negation there:

"Your freedom to do what you want, does not include the freedom make other people not do what they want."

At least that was how I parsed out when I got confused last night.

#770 ::: anthony ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 11:34 AM:

Two things:

1) About the FLDS: I think that both churches have a (understandable)wariness about the state, coming all the way from how Smith was treated in Kirkland and Navouu. In the midst of protestant mainstreaming the LDS has tried to forget that, but the FLDS never has had reason to. From my reading, I think the line between quiet religious community, prone to collective order, but not really dangerous moved when Jeff's became involved. He seems to be the impetuous to almost all of the more dangerous elements, from the clothes to the hospitals to the lost boys to the sexual exploitation of teenagers, to Arizona's relationship with BC, all of it went squirrelly post Jeffs. Which leads to the question, of how Jeff's managed to weasel his way in there--and the new issue of Dialouge makes the argument that there was a set pattern for people to exploit from the 1940s onward, which makes a defense of the FLDS more difficult. these
two entries about the problem on the v. good, but orthodox LDS group blog, By Common Consent, provide some useful context.

2) About the recommendations. I appreciate them immensely. Just a data point or two. Firstly, I tried to get through Johnathon Strange, because it struck me as right up my alley. I found it oddly officious, technocratic, and dull. I think that might be its point, but I could not get past 100 pages or so. About Terry Prachett, I know that he has a rep as a great comic novelist, so I might be stepping on some toes, but I found the work to be repetitive and twee. I knew where the jokes were going, miles before they got there. But I have printed off the books I have not read, and taken them to the library. May even report back.

#771 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 11:51 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 764: "Would you mind unpacking this rather Rousseauan statemen?"

Ah. Terry more or less has the right of it. I meant to say "Your freedom to do what you want does not include the freedom to make other people do what you want."

#772 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 11:55 AM:

Serge #760: Ray Winstone(*) wasn't utilized as well as he could have.

Speaking of people in that movie not being utilized as well as they could have been...poor John Hurt, right? I mean, why bother?

#773 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 12:14 PM:

Fragano, #764: I read that as a braino; my interpretation of what was intended was, "Your freedom to do what you want does not include the freedom make other people do what you want." I think this interpretation and Terry's have about equal probability of being correct.

#774 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Very much enjoying the film of "The Call of Cthulhu" (made in 2005 as a silent film with intertitles!) and Scott Lynch's "Locke Lamora" books; the latter definitely comparable to China Mieville but with more wit and a better general attitude towards life...

#775 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 12:32 PM:

heresiarch: That interpretaion is, more or less, what I got.

I'd have written it something like the version you added, but couldn't get there without a rewrite; so I looked for the easiest error inside the sentence I had.

re ecologies: Chalker's "Midnight at the Well of Souls" has some. There's a lot of other stuff which some parent's might not want to expose young people to (esp. in the first book, which has some unpleasant exploitation; including sexual, and some viciously structured poetic justice; some of which might count as "petty god" sort of stuff). I was about 14 (maybe 15) when I read it, but I read all sorts of stuff at that age, I can't say that any of the ideas were new to me.

The later books aren't as possessed of that (it being three stand alone stories, in five volumes), but absent the first I think one is in a bit of bind for the set up on the second, and the third is probably 3/4rs gibberish in the blow off, so it's hard to reccomend without the first book (which is the tightest).

#776 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 12:56 PM:

ethan @ 770... I did wonder about what John Hurt was doing there. He did a good job with what he had to do, but why was he there? True, he has a grocery bill, just like the rest of us.

#777 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Heresiarch #769 (also Terry #767 & Lee #771): That makes it perfectly clear. Thanks. I was confused by the idea of forcing people to do what they want (cf. Rousseau's general will that forces one to be free).

#778 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 02:03 PM:

ajay #772: I love that Call of Cthulhu movie. And it's funny that you should mention it today, because I was just thinking about how I liked it very much, much more than the local (to me, that is) movie Beyond the Dunwich Horror I had the misfortune of seeing last night. Call was Lovecraft; Beyond didn't even manage to rise to the level of Lovecrafty.

#779 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 02:54 PM:

Reposted from yesterday, May 24, 2008 - it took me a little while to get permission from the author 'cause I had to share:

Today is THE DAY. If you've been waiting for it, or promising to do something when and if this happens, take note!

For the last 100 or so minutes, CNN has been carrying live video from a stormchaser helicopter in Garfield County, OK that has been following a wall cloud out of which 4 or 5 tornadoes have dropped, live on CNN. Still on. The critical event was around 14:45 CDT, when the first or second twister did the most significant damage to human
structures: it took out a hog farm. There was a great deal of airborne debris visible, and while the video was not clear enough to be absolutely certain of the nature or absolute scale of the many similarly-sized vaguely cylindrical objects being sucked up into the sky from the shredding barn, the best guess is that they were (of course):
flying pigs...

(When first reported the building was just described as a "barn" but they later spoke to someone local who described it as a hog farm, and
it sure looks like one.)

Bill Cole

#780 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 03:01 PM:

The "Atlas Shrugged Trilogy" particle is hilarious.

#781 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 03:20 PM:

#778: Coming soon: the "early life of John Galt" prequel trilogy, written by Allan Greenspan and Kevin Anderson.

#782 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 03:23 PM:

#777: Shouldn't that have been posted in the Pink Floyd thread?

#783 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 04:51 PM:

There's two problems with the FLDS business.

First, the example of "satanic ritual abuse". We have seen what happens when the child-care social workers get stuck on an idea. They have almost unrestricted power, so as to prevent a child being harmed, and yet can do the most stupid things imaginable.

Second, despite all the problems of proving identity and age within the FLDS community, there are some pretty unambiguous signs that something is wrong. There's a normal population of younger boys and girls, and then most of the boys vanish without trace.

I think we're seing a combination of slipshod investigation, a fixation on the abuse of female minors, and social-woorker arrogance. They act as though they're beyond the law.

#784 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 04:51 PM:

#779: Don't. Give. Them. Ideas.

#785 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 05:41 PM:

Re Indiana Jones: I think "big dumb fun" about sums it up. The plot was completely ridiculous, but the actors looked like they were having fun; I thought Shia LeBeouf acquitted himself well; it was great to see Karen Allen back; and I would give Cate Blanchett an extra 5 bucks if she'd say "Boris! Is moose and squirrel!" so I could make it my ringtone.

#786 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 07:24 PM:

Carrie @ 762: Cats tend to heal rapidly from small cuts, so it seals in the infection. The main part of treating an abscess in cats is keeping the drainage open.

Sometimes going too fast is not good, after all. ;-)

#787 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 07:25 PM:

Lila @ 783... And we got some good coming attractions, for once. There was HellBoy 2. And I must confess I am actually tempted to see Get Smart.

#788 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 07:56 PM:

The Mars Lander has landed!

#789 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 07:58 PM:


The Phoenix Lander has touched down safely on the surface of Mars. Listening to the feed from mission control, it sounded like a flawless maneuver.

#790 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:05 PM:


#791 ::: RichM ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:08 PM:

Here's the Mars Phoenix Twitter feed.

#792 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:11 PM:

Fragano @ 765: I wooden want this to get ugli.

#793 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:14 PM:

At this point, still awaiting the deployment of solar panels, and about 90 minutes to the first image. It looks like the landing was flawless; almost textbook. The lander is only .25 degrees from being perfectly level, so it's nice flat area they landed on.

#794 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:28 PM:

Ginger #790: You fear I might pomelo? I'm very large and you'd be in my shaddock, true, but I'm a peaceful sort.

#795 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:30 PM:

Re Phoenix: pat greene, if you're reading this thread, tell your husband I said WOOHOOOOO!!!

#796 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:30 PM:

I'm wondering what the Martians will say to this intrusion on their sacred North Pohl....

#797 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:31 PM:

Fragano @92: I think we are both peachful folk, so lettuce not give a fig for convention, and apple ourselves to this bottle of rum.

#798 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Lots of cheering and hugging in the control room. God bless CNN for taking time to cover this live and in detail.

In sadder news, Ernest Stuhlinger, among the last of von Braun's rocketmen, has died.

#799 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:36 PM:

Debra, #763: I agree. I was thinking in terms of two solutions: a long-term one involving research and new law, that would be based on reliably identifying communities that have turned toxic, and a short-term one that can be applied to the current case. Based on the history of the FLDS, I have trouble believing there is no case to be made here; I suspect that the judges of the appellate court have made a poor decision;"They are taking away our children" is the complaint of every abusive family when brought to book. I hope, though, I am wrong; if I am right, that group will likely punish the women and children, and future violence against them also seems very likely.

I caught one of the early CNN interviews of people involved with the Texas groups at the gym a few weeks ago; the the video is here (spam included). It was an astonishing, horrible thing. If you watch it, pay attention to the chosen FLDS representative: a woman named Kathleen. I have never seen such rigidly hostile affect in a mentally healthy person, even a very stressed and angry one. And then they interviewed someone who left the FLDS and, well, if you have a strong stomach, and a willingness to hear of betrayal and child abuse, watch the thing.

#800 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:37 PM:

Ginger #795: As I'm in Georgia, I'm certainly more peachful than you, ma'am. Orange you in that most happy of states, Merryland? What brand of rum are you thinking of? In St Kitts they drink Cavalier, I seem to recall.

#801 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:45 PM:

Since it doesn't seem to have been mentioned over here yet, John Scalzi notes that Robert Asprin has died. (It's announced at Myth Adventures , but the notice doesn't seem to have a URL of its own.)

#802 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:52 PM:

anthony #741

What are some other books you've liked and why (any types of books....) and what are things you don't like in books (and what sorts of things do you like--or rather, what characteristics do you like?

I don't have enough of a sense of what your tastes are to make recommendations for and recommendations agains.

#804 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 08:57 PM:

Fragano @ 798: Alas, the rum I met in St. Kitts was the Rothschild company version, CSR, which is apparently no longer made (since the Baron's death in 1999). I left the island in 1989, and haven't had any chance to go back.

We mainly drank homemade beer that one of my classmates brewed. The rest of the time we were too busy studying to do much drinking. ;-)

I really don't miss the sugar cane trains, or the centipedes.

#805 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Mel's blanking on a word, so of course I am as well...

Meaning about the same as Consequentialism, or using a lofty goal to justify somewhat morally shady actions...

Kittehs luvs haz Opin Thredz... Eny thotz?

#806 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 09:18 PM:

Serge #801: That extreme, eh?

#807 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 09:19 PM:

Open Threadiness, to prevent posting any more on the Darwin Fish thread:

Chocolate. Purchasing quality chocolate is as easy as (1) Teuscher (in New York City), (2) Harry and David (mail order and now some stores; nearly addictive chocolate-covered dried fruit = good for you and good, or (3) Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (online or some stores).

You can do better than (hiss spit) Godiva, but YMMV.

#808 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 09:23 PM:

Ginger, #761, thanks! The dental vet had a big ego and I wonder if he thought his work was so perfect Shiva couldn't get infected. We see him again Friday and I will be having polite words with him.

Terry #767, I thought it was "Your freedom to do what you want does not include the freedom to make other people do what you want."

Serge, On the Town is on TCM right now.

#809 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 09:27 PM:

Ginger #802: Cavalier ( is Antiguan, and popular in much of the eastern Caribbean. Not a bad light-bodied rum.

A Barbadian friend of mine used to insist that Velvet Falernum ( is the perfect evening drink.

I, on the other hand, am sipping some Appleton V/X.

#810 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 09:29 PM:

Marilee... Right. It's Sinatra Night. Bummer that I missed some of it. Well, I do have the DVD.

#811 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 09:31 PM:

Fragano @ 804... That was a rather extreme reaction on the part of the Martians. Tat'll teach us to welcome them to California.

#812 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 09:47 PM:


I've met Rocky Mountain's candy apples (chocolate over caramel over a very tasty apple). Some of the variations come really close to sugar overload; it's a treat you need to share with friends.

The place my brother goes is Candy Factory of Davis, in the 900 block of 3rd downtown. Better than Godiva, too.

#813 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:02 PM:

Serge #809: Of course, we could retaliate by sending them Tom Cruise. Or would that be a violation of the laws of war?

#814 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:11 PM:

The Libertarians have chosen Bob Barr to be their sacrificial lamb standard-bearer. This makes what has already been an interesting campaign season even more interesting.

#815 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:12 PM:

Marilee @ 806: Hm. I hope your polite words fill him with a desire to do better. ;-)

Fragano @ 807: Thanks! I shall look for Appleton and Cavalier the next time I go to the liquor store.

Serge, Fragano @ 811: Not the Cruise Missile!

#816 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:21 PM:

Ginger #813: Appleton has more body and more bite than most rums. If you can find El Dorado from Guyana which is made using the same method, it makes a good mixer (but is not that good straight -- I find it a bit too watery).

#817 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:43 PM:

Fragano @814: Noted, with thanks.

#818 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:54 PM:

Update on the Phoenix lander: Solar panels appear to be fully deployed, and photos here:

This looks like rather different terrain than anything I recall seeing in the rover pictures (which isn't surprising, really, given that this is at least theoretically over ice).

#819 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 10:55 PM:

BTW, I'm going to avoid this thread for another day. I think the FLDS discussion is important, but I'm feeling like I'm mucking about in toxic waste.

#820 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 11:03 PM:

Was John Galt's compound funded by the RAND corporation or did he do it with his own supply of Kruggerands?

#821 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 11:11 PM:

I like the full-proof Pussers (Blue Label, not red, which is watered). One of the Mt. Gays (I think Mt. Gay Barbados but I have to see the label) is wonderful, the other is swill; passed through some wild animal's necrotic kidneys before bottling.

#822 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2008, 11:19 PM:

Terry #766

I hope the "mine" has a cave-in and traps them behind bars....

I want "Canned Spam" rewritten, majorly.

#823 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 01:31 AM:

Laugh-In's Dick Martin dead at 86.

Now I'm going to be waiting for the third shoe to drop...

#824 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 05:58 AM:

#821: Goodnight, Dick.

#825 ::: anthony ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 06:45 AM:

anthony #741

What are some other books you've liked and why (any types of books....) and what are things you don't like in books (and what sorts of things do you like--or rather, what characteristics do you like?

what i like in fiction:
Pulp from Post World War II (esp. Noir, esp. the Ripley Novels, but also kitsch porn titles, spy fiction, etc)
New Wave SF (esp. Tiptree, Delaney, Disch)
Novels of manners written by women in the middle half of this century (Muriel Spark, Carole Shields, Atwood's Robber Bride, Elizabeth Taylor, Hilary Mantel, Penepole Fitzgerald,etc)
The weird, uncanny. I like the WTF moment, that moves into allegory. (Marrianne Engel's Bear is a good example of this)
Formally Deconstructed/Experimental Fiction,
Blank or heavily ironic work.

what i like in non fiction
Microhistory (Christopher Hill,Alain Corbin)
Diaries and Memoirs,
Popular culture esp. of the American West, Religious History of American New Religious Movements
Sacramental Theology
Esoteric and Occult studies,
Urban Studies (esp. in its realtion to sub/urban and exurban devolpments in the new west),
Conceptual, Language Based, Photographic, and Interventionist Visual Arts of thge 70s.
I tend to read about the subject, rather then the subject itself.

what i like in poetry
Anne Sexton
Geoffery Hill,
Frank O'Hara (my favourite poet, and the one i have done the most work on; Ashberry is the only one I don't like in that school)
John Clare
Ishmael Reed
Roman Satirists, Greek Pornographers, Underground folk poetry, Childe Ballads, Blues Lyrics, Caroligians.

I loved the most recent translation of the psalms (Alters),
I would prefer interesting writing to world building or narrative and really interested in the formal qaulities of language.
My favourite bit of Sandman is the cat story in the third volume, My favourite Moore is League, and Jess Nevin's work on the annotations might be my favourite peice on it. My favorite new speculative fiction in the last few years has been Fowler's Black Glass, Danielewski's House of Leaves, and Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town Someone Leaves Town.

It is my interest in the occult and the gothic that makes we wonder about Fantasy.

#826 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 07:21 AM:

A Barbadian friend of mine used to insist that Velvet Falernum ( is the perfect evening drink.

As explained in that famous scene in Conan the Barbadian:

Mongol General: Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women while sipping Velvet Falernum under a palm tree, watching the sun slip beneath the waves.

#827 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 09:05 AM:

anthony @ 825: Based on your likes, I'm going to add the title I originally suppressed: One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes. It's metafictional fantasy which I wasn't sure you had the fantasy knowledge to appreciate, but if you like metafiction anyway, that might not matter. It's also a bit longer than the three I mentioned, which are all fairly short.

#828 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 11:27 AM:

I don't read much fantasy, so I don't really have any recommendations (unless no one's mentioned Brust's Agyar yet, in which case I recommend that), but I want to give a big dreamy sigh for Muriel Spark. She's my favorite person ever in the whole wide world and all its history.

#829 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 11:37 AM:

#823: Based on your preference for the uncanny and "the WTF moment, that moves into allegory" I'm additionally going to suggest Kelly Link. Her first book has been released as a free download, so you can try her work online. Other good books of this type include Charles Finney's The Circus of Dr. Lao and Robert Irwin's The Arabian Nightmare.

You also might try old ghost stories, in particular the work of M. R. James.

Moving further afield, if you want uncanny you might also want to check out the comics of Jim Woodring.

#830 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 11:40 AM:

I don't read all the much fantasy, but in addition to John's recommendation of One for the Morning Glory, I'd also put in a word for The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, both by Greg Bear. They've also been slightly revised and included in one volume, Songs of Earth and Power.

#831 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 12:10 PM:

Oh, and Wesley's Kelly Link tip reminded me of Ray Vukcevich. Read Ray Vukcevich.

#832 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 12:12 PM:

"Formal qualities of language": John Crowley, Little, Big.
"Weird, uncanny": Robert Aickman and the aforementioned Kelly Link.

#833 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 12:15 PM:

This seems like a good place to inform you of a mondegreen montage video:

"The literary canon, nerd culture, politics, and heavy metal collide! Join Odysseus, Wesley Crusher, Aleister Crowley, and three Marx brothers (Harpo, Groucho, and Karl) on a romp through revisionist history, to the misheard lyrics of 'Wishmaster' by Nightwish."

It's great.

#834 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 01:51 PM:

Terry Karney #819: I've never tried Pusser's, I find the bottle looks much too gimmicky. I've never heard BV Islanders swear by it either.

Most Barbadians I've known prefer Cockspur to Mount Gay.

#835 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 01:54 PM:

Neil Willcox #824: Sea eggs (sea urchins to those of us who are not Bajans) should be involved in some way.

#836 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 02:11 PM:

Fragano: It's really rich rum; big, and somewhat treacly. Not for everyone, and not the best mixer (it's assertive), but it makes a very good grog, and a swell punch.

#837 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 02:30 PM:

OK, so I spent yesterday digging ditches and had some time to think about Indiana Jones. I'm exercising my 3-day grace period to potentially lower the rating to 6.0 (still a matinee, but so-so). I came up with some major plot problems that just won't go away. But I might have missed something, so maybe someone who really got all the details can explain some of the fundamentals of the movie for me:

Gur nyvra fxhyy jnf sbhaq ol Bk jurer gur pbadhvfgnqbe obqvrf jrer ohevrq. Nccneragyl, gur pbadhvfgnqbef sbhaq gur fxhyy va gur pvephyne punzore ebbz, erzbirq bar, naq zrnag gb gnxr vg onpx gb fcnva. Ohg gura bar bs gurz ybbxrq vagb vgf rlrf, jrag penml, gurl sbhtug nzbatfg gurzfryirf, naq gurl nyy tbg xvyyrq.

Fb, zl dhrfgvba vf, jul jrer gur nyvra va gur pvephyne punzore va fxryrgba sbez? Gurl boivbhfyl unir zber grpuabybtl guna gur pbadhvfgnqbef, fb gur pbadhvfgnqbef qvqa'g chg gurz gurer. Fbzrgvzr, cebonoyl n ybat gvzr ntb, gur nyvraf nffhzrq fxryrgny sbez va gur pvephyne punzore. Ohg jura gur ynfg fxhyy jnf erghearq, gur nyvra pnzr nyvir, naq yrsg rnegu. Jul jbhyq gurl ibyhagnevyl nffhzr fxryrgny sbez vs gurl jrer fvzcyl tbvat gb yrnir jura gurl ernavzngrq?

Nyfb, ubj qvq gur pbadhvfgnqbef fgrny gur fxhyy va gur svefg cynpr vs gur fxhyy jnf arrqrq gb bcra gur qbbe vagb gur ynfg punzore? Vaqv chg gur fxhyy ol gur qbbe, n ohapu bs bar-jnl ybpxf cbccrq bcra, naq gurl nyy jrag va gb frr gur fxryrgbaf. Ubj'q gur pbadhvfgnqbef trg va naq erfrg nyy gur ybpxf?

Ynfgyl, jul qvq gur nyvra, jura vg jnf svanyyl ernavzngrq, xvyy gur ehffvna jbzna? Gurl jrer gelvat gb fyrrc sbe n srj gubhfnaq lrnef naq fur jbxr gurz hc? Gurl gubhtug fur jnf gelvat gb fgrny gurve fcnpr fuvc? Vs gur nyvraf pnzr naq tnir gur angvirf nyy fbegf bs nqinaprq grpuabybtl, bar pbhyq nffhzr gurl ner sevraqyl nyvraf. Ohg gura gurl xvyy gur jbzna jub jbxr gurz hc? Be vs gurl jrer rivy nyvraf jub glenaavmrq uhznaf, qvqa'g Vaqvr oevat vg onpx gb yvsr fb gung vg pbhyq tb gb nabgure cynarg naq glenaavmr nabgure enpr?

Nyfb, hcba shegure ersyrpgvba gur zbivr trgf n ahzore bs jne unaqjnivhz cbvagf sbe "yrguny ehor tbyqoret znpuvarf", juvpu tbg naablvat ng fbzr cbvag, V whfg pbhyqa'g svther bhg jul ng gur gvzr.

#838 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 04:23 PM:

Since there's no Memorial Day post, I thought I'd just offer this:


Dad says "I'll get it," but
When he walks into the living room,
He just sits down. He doesn't talk
For an hour.

Mom takes one look through
The picture window by the door,
And just presses her hands
Over her mouth, tears streaming.

Older sister is the first
To be able to answer the door.
She invites the two Marines
In their blue dress uniforms
To come in and sit down.
"Would you like coffee?" she asks.
"No, thank you, Miss," they reply.
She goes off to make it.

Teenage brother walks in and back out.
He shuts his door. Later a hole
In his pillowcase, another
In the wallboard (his bandaged hand)
Stand silent witness.

Baby brother alone knows nothing.
He loves the dress uniforms.
His eyes shine. After a while,
Mother, unable to stand it,
Carries him into another room.

I am home. I am not in that
Long box on that plane, to be met
By an honor guard. I am here
In their hearts, in their tears,
In the blood that flows from
My brother's hand. I am home.

#839 ::: JHomes ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 04:49 PM:

Greg London @ 835.

The answer to one of your questions is that the Russian woman was not careful what she asked for, and she got it, with drastic consequences that were probably not intentional.

I thought that made more sense than much of the rest of it.


#840 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 04:52 PM:

Xopher @836:

Now you've made me go all sniffly. Well done.

#841 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 05:38 PM:

Xopher @ 836... My metaphorical hat off to you.

#842 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 06:50 PM:


Given what you've just listed as your interests, run do not walk to the nearest used book store and get The Iron Dragon's Daughter; I think it is exactly up your alley. (Should be coming back in print soon, it looks like? He's also got a new book out called The Dragons of Babel which sounds like it falls in the same universe.) Given your taste for Noir, I think I'd add China Mieville's The Scar; you might like his Perdido Street Station too, although it is too much a downer for most people.

John Crowley's Little, Big is much lighter in tone, but a great fantasy book and a great novel, on the interplay between fantasy and the real world. (If you never read his science-fictional Engine Summer, it might suit you even better.) I think Crowley is one of the contemporary writers people will still be reading in a century or two.

If you get really into Crowley, you may want to tackle his non-fantasy Aegypt tetralogy which is a multi-decade musing (from the "real world" side) dancing about the impulse to fantasy and the drive to believe in Magick. (It incorporates within it substantial extracts of one of the characters' novel of historical fantasy centering on Giordano Bruno and John Dee.) That sounds like it would be perfectly up your alley, between the meta-fictional aspects and occult history.

Oh! Pretty much everything written by Tim Powers (e.g. Last Call, Declare) and much of James Blaylock (e.g. The Paper Grail.) I second the Kelly Link recommendation as well, but I wish she wrote novels as well as short stories.

#843 ::: Terry see cracked spam everywhere but ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 07:02 PM:

Nominal military, Who's running in NH, Amsterdam and Dream Quest

#844 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 07:05 PM:

I have to say that jon t (in the Darwin Fish thread) has been educational. Not in his posts (which are mere contradiction, not argument), but in the things he's done for those who were paying attention.

My understandings of some of my religious issues has deepened, Greg has seen some interesting Turing questions and folks have been talking chocolate.

He provided the lemons.

#845 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 07:37 PM:

A bit old style but a reasonably good and quick read in fantasy is The King of Elfland's Daughter, Lord Dunsany 1924. A fairy tale for grown ups and an ancestor of high fantasy.

#846 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 08:22 PM:

Terry Karney @ 842... his posts (which are mere contradiction, not argument)

"No they're not."

#847 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 08:57 PM:

Terry: Greg has seen some interesting Turing questions

Yeah, I looked up the turing test on wikipedia. Turing described the test in a paper thus:

a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each of which try to appear human; if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine is said to pass the test.

And it seems to me that the test has a massive flaw in that if the human subject is, for example, someone who believes in a literal interpretation of Genesis, and the computer program were designed to act as a creationist-bot, I'm pretty sure we have the technology now to pass that test.

My guess is Alan assumed the human subject was someone like himself. But I don't know if his paper specifies any requirements for the human subject. One could probably set up a creationist-bot that posts to some generic blog (not specifically creationist or evolutionist, because the repetitiveness would probably be discovered too quickly) that happens to have a creationist or evolutionist thread in it, and my guess is it would be possible for the bot to carry on a conversation for days, possibly weeks, without the regulars on the blog to realize they're not talking to another human. They might dismiss the bot as a troll, but I think it would be possible that people would assume the poster is a human, not a bot, for the entire conversation.

Good grief, I almost want to try this. Code up my own little creationist-bot in perl, set it up on a cron job, point it at a blog, and see what happens. It's just... too evil... for me to actually let it run loose. I could almost imagine creationists getting ahold of the code and using it to automate their arugments with scientists everywhere.

Probably what's needed is some form of tests that would identify a creationist-bot when it starts posting to a blog. A voight-kompff test to detect replicants, creationist-bots, and other non-humans. Who knows, maybe creationists already have a creationist-bot program, and we're losing the meme-arms race. We might already need to close the bot-gap.

We live in strange, strange times...

#848 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 08:59 PM:

Xopher @ 836: That's beautiful.

#849 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 09:06 PM:

Greg #845: I wonder how much the Turing test amounts to a measure of how similar the things communicating are. Could a human with a sufficiently alien and bizarre worldview and background reliably pass? How about a human with some serious mental problem?

#850 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 09:12 PM:

albatross, I think Alan's test points to our current limitation of defining intelligence: We have to define it in terms of another intelligence. And we have to have a third intelligence administer the test. Our current understanding of intelligence is a completely subjective understanding.

I don't know if it's possible to define intelligence objectively, but we're clearly not there.

#851 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 09:17 PM:

abi, Serge, Ginger: thank you.

I listened to some interviews this morning with the guy who had the unenviable job of being one of the Marines at the door. The grief that came through, third hand and over the radio, was enough to make me need to write that. Thanks for reading it.

#852 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 10:02 PM:

#831 ::: Sumana Harihareswara
"This seems like a good place to inform you of a mondegreen montage video"

That is exactly the sort of thing that the obscure French author Raymond Roussel did and had published by a vanity press.

#853 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 10:11 PM:

Well, I totally teared up, Xopher. I think you may owe us all some chocolates. It was really beautiful, and I hate to think how many people had to get that visit today, while I was enjoying my barbecue and visit with friends.

#854 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 10:43 PM:

Xopher #@836: Lovely. Thank you.

#855 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 11:23 PM:

Wonderful job, Xopher.

#856 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 11:26 PM:

Thank you all. EClaire, I'm thinking maybe I'll ship some chocolates ahead to WorldCon.

#857 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Oh, Xopher, that was beautiful. I'm crying. But then every program I've seen today on wars and Memorial Day I get weepy.

It does not help that three weeks ago I met some Dawn Patrol friends from Wichita and we went to the Liberty Memorial WWI museum. I had to stop and just let myself recover several times, the enormity of the loss was just so brave and stupid and sad. They've got lots of benches, I imagine they are ready for thoughtful visitors.

I do highly recommend that museum now, it is not that expensive -- $10 if you want to also ride up the memorial tower and look out, $8 if not, there are 36 steps after you get off the elevator BUT they're short steps. The signs where you buy tickets say warning, 45 steps! but it is 36, And the view is breathtaking.

#858 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 12:29 AM:

Xopher @849: I've heard various police officers say that one of the parts of the job they dislike most is going to inform the family of people who've met sudden unexpected deaths.

I don't know which would be worse for the family & friends; having it come over you completely unexpectedly; or as something long-dreaded.

I was wondering why the Memorial Day date was chosen. It sounds a little like Anzac Day, but that's also like Veterans' Day and Armistice/Remembrance Day. Wikipedia seems to imply that the original 'decoration day' and similar commemorations were maybe around about the anniversary of the end of the American Civil War, then fixed at May 30 because it wasn't an anniversary of any battle, later moved to the nearest long weekend.

Our start of winter is traditionally the June long weekend, coming up soon. Formerly Cracker Night, that part's really gone downhill since the banning of nearly all private use of fireworks. It's officially Queen's Birthday or Commonwealth (formerly Empire) Day, and republicans occasionally call for scrapping it, but it's our only winter holiday, and I reckon every society with seasons needs at least one. (Between April 25th, Anzac Day and the October long weekend, aka Labour Day, it's all there is.)

#859 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 12:30 AM:

I don't do Memorial Day anymore. If I have a duty; well that's different, but the mix of jingoism, schmaltz and emotion are just too much for me (no fault to you Xopher, that was a fine effort, I might even like it).

#860 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 01:50 AM:

Xopher, that was very moving; thank you.

Terry, it's not fair that the hucksters get to muck up something that really does have meaning. I'm very sorry it's been spoiled for you; but I think I understand why you feel that way.

I don't know which would be worse for the family & friends; having it come over you completely unexpectedly; or as something long-dreaded.

My guess is that it's not often completely unexpected. Most people whose loved ones have dangerous occupations have the dread of the phone call or the knock on the door in the backs of their minds. The horrible part is that sometimes finally getting the call is almost a relief, because the waiting is over; and that's a really bad kind of survivor guilt, thinking that you betrayed someone right at the moment of their death.

#861 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 02:10 AM:

Epacris @ #856, from this page at the US Vets Affairs site:

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans - the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) - established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared it should be May 30. It is believed the date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

I wondered about the origins and looked it up for a post back on May 30, 2005.

#862 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 02:15 AM:

I usually don't "celebrate" Memorial Day beyond a few moments of remembrance; especially I don't like to watch or listen to stories on the news. I get to hear a lot of stories about soldiers fallen in Iraq and Aghanistan these days; I wish it could stay confined to one day, but it won't.

Today I accidentally ambushed myself. I spent the morning at work, trying to make up a couple of days I've had to take off, and two more I have to take off in the next week; when I got home I was very tired because I'm still getting over a nasty cold that accounted for one of those days, so Eva and I spent some time watching programs that had accumulated on the DVR. One of them was a movie called "Event" with Parker Posey, which I assumed would be an interesting bit of independent film.

No, it was the most wrenching drama I've ever seen about AIDS. As intense as it was, there was no melodrama or bathos whatever, and it did not cheat on the effect on the characters at any time, nor try to make the characters more noble or heroic because they were being played with by the gods.* And at one point late in the movie, which takes place in NYC in the second half of 2001, there is a lap dissolve of the southern skyline of Manhattan between early September and late September, in which it looks like the Twin Towers just fade away. That and some flags hung out of windows in the next scene are the only direct or indirect mention of 8/11 in the movie; the result took me by surprise and left me crying. And then the end of the movie, which goes far beyond the death of the character which drives the plot left me gasping and crying at the same time.

Sometimes you can't get away from the emotions want to or not.

* "As flies to little boys".

#863 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 02:17 AM:

Terry @ #857, I can't watch the Washington DC Memorial Day Concert that PBS televises for similar reasons. To my mind it's devolved into something which resembles a Republican National Committee event, including providing a venue for second-or-third tier singers trying to make their way up. (Maybe that's because "I'm Proud to be an American" is a song I connect solely with the RNC and lousy talent.)

Seems to me Ossie Davis used to host it, and I liked it fine then, but since he died it's gotten very jingoistic.

#864 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 03:14 AM:

Over on LiveJournal, Jette Goldie wrote a piece on the greying of fandom. In essence, her argument is that for kids today there's nothing special about sci-fi. It's all over the place. It's normal. It's the blockbuster movie. It's the TV show everybody in the office talks about. It's Harry Potter and Indiana Jones and stacks of Manga in the public library.

But since when has fandom been about sci-fi?

Look at this place. Look at what you do at a convention. Sci-fi is the gateway drug for an escape mechanism. Maybe I see it more through living in rural England, with the inescapable small-town feeling that her mom knows my mom. It's not that people don'r know me at a convention, but they're not going to rat on me to the Vicar back home.

OK, so we also have examples of how that sense of escape can go wrong, such as in the history of Boston-area conventions. Partly, that might be a reaction ro a puritan streak in American life, with a lack of opportunity. There's nothing good about binge-drinking, but in the UK you don't have to go to a convention.

So what can replace sci-fi? What can tease out the interesting people from the sqeeing masses?

Beats me.

#865 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 03:40 AM:

Bruce Cohen (StM): Forgive me if this sounds flip, but I hope you don't understand.

The huckster's had damaged it for me a long time ago. It's the war which killed it. In time, I'll recover, but right now it's too fresh, and the celebrations (as a holiday, not as one of individual thoght and reflection) too cheap.

#866 ::: Dylan O'Donnell ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 05:28 AM:

Terry Karney @766:
(BTW, does anyone know how to make gmail show headers; all I got was some address line info, which was no real help in tracking down)

It's well-hidden, but what you're looking for is "Show Original" in the arrow dropdown next to the "Reply" button.

#867 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 05:46 AM:

Greg #845, I doubt the Creationist meme argument is being lost online by us. They seem to have restreated to their Churches and mvoie nights and suchlike.
So much so that on the PAndas thumb board, one of the regulars has asked where he can find some more stupid comments by ID'ers because it keeps him amused, and they seem to be posting less:;act=ST;f=14;t=5592

As for your creationist bot, all it needs to be able to do is find Creationist talking points on the web, and recycle them into slightly different language. Thats all most of them do in the first place.

#868 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 06:40 AM:

Xopher #836: Very well said.

#869 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 06:53 AM:

Fragano #833 - My Aunt was stationed in Barbados when she was in the RAF, but that was around the time I was born. Other than all the caribbean* cliches mixed up in my mind, I only recall flying fish from her stories and a bottle of hot pepper sauce that we didn't finish until I was 9.

I've never had sea urchin, but I can assure people that it would be very tasty with a touch of hot pepper sauce.

* Or caribbeanbeanbeanbean as it would be in another thread.

#870 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 06:55 AM:

Terry Karney @ 863... I hope you'll 'come' back soon.

#871 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 07:04 AM:

Xopher #836: Very well said.

#872 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 07:08 AM:

Neil Willcox #867: Most things are improved with hot pepper sauce, I find.

#873 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 07:19 AM:

Fragano @ 870... Most things are improved with hot pepper sauce

Part One of The Andromeda Strain could have used some hot pepper sauce last night. Or Kate Reid's alabaster body.

#874 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 07:21 AM:

Well done, Xopher. I had tears in my eyes.

#875 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 07:33 AM:

Serge #871: I found the book boring when I read it back in the seventies. I've never seen the film.

#876 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 08:48 AM:

Dave #862: This makes me think of that exchange in Firefly. Roughly from memory (nothing gets spoiled):

Wash: "That's like something out of science fiction."

Zoey: "Honey, you live on a spaceship."

Wash: "So?"

As a society, we've gotten kind of blasé about all kinds of technological marvels--which is just what characters in SF routinely do.

"What? You're going to Tokyo next week for a convention? Will you have high-speed internet? Okay, e-mail me your itinerary and schedule at the convention, and if we need you for that meeting, we'll videoconference you in. I'll be out the rest of this week--I'm getting angioplasty done tomorrow. But I ought to be back next week."

#877 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 08:52 AM:

Xopher #836:

I liked that a lot.

#878 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 09:00 AM:

Dave Bell @ 862... they're not going to rat on me to the Vicar back home

Heck, the Vicar of Dibley would probably go to a con herself, if only because of her assistant's trekkie boyfriend.

#879 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 09:37 AM:

Terry Karney @ 863

I didn't read that as flip at all, but cocerned, and I thank you for the thought. As I wrote upthread, though, I'm having a similar reaction these days; perhaps not as strong. It's easier to deal with the emotions that come out of remembrance of fallen comrades when you don't have to hear about the newly fallen every day.

#880 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 11:06 AM:

Bruce: I think what bothers me is (and this has been part of it for longer than I've been in the army), I don't believe them. It's all done because it has to be. Memorial Day (and Nov. 11) are days they have to make some show of "patriotic interest."

But the sales have more honesty (though the advertising is awful, I hated that some car companies Presidents' Day sale [with the attendant pomp of a campaign year) went until two weeks after the holiday).

It's just words; they don't care. Add that to the jingoism, and use that to ice the cake of the rest of it; well it's not something I can swallow right now.

I'm not, in a general way, bitter about things, but the two military holidays we have are; presently, unpalatable, in their public observance.

#881 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 11:07 AM:

Just hit a link to a page which had only this on it.

(((((1+4+1)*4)+1)*4)+1)*4 = ?

I was amused.

#882 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 12:04 PM:

Terry Karney @ #879:

And now I am also amused. Thank you for sharing that.

#883 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 12:45 PM:

Greg @845 - I, too, feel that siren call. In all my dealings with spam, I just can't help avoid feeling that eventually, spam will have to evolve to be undistinguishable from actual contribution to ongoing discussion. At which point, it will be contributing, and we will have reached the Singularity.

I figure, by despamming every channel of communication I can, I'm immanentizing the Eschaton in my own way.

Writing a creationist-bot just sounds soooo very juicy. BTW: I recall seeing a job posting on some programming site a couple of years ago which was something along those lines, but the guy was looking only for Christian programmers to work with. So I didn't apply. (I think of that as evolution in action, too.) In his case, he wanted code to help him participate in multiple IM discussions at once, with stock responses on call. It was a neat idea, and one I found generally applicable.

Oh, that stuff makes my fingers tingle.

#884 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 12:53 PM:

Thanks again everyone. It's funny how that just took hold of me.

#885 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 01:13 PM:

A friend of mine suspects that some dating chatrooms may contain bots. (What would you call them? Date-bots? Love-bots?)

#886 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 01:37 PM:

Xopher, Terry, and crowd: You may be interested in Dave Bonta's Poem for Display In a Veterans' Memorial Park..

#887 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 02:40 PM:

David: I was. I liked it, especially the part about the pigeons.

#888 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 03:09 PM:

David: That was great, I happened to enjoy the "written from the prison of a bad conscience," and the comments.

#889 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 03:44 PM:

Greg London, way up there, about the never-a-hair-out-of-place Irina Spalko:

V qba'g guvax gurl jrer rivy nyvraf -- zber yvxryl gurl ybbxrq vagb ure zvaq/fbhy naq qva'g yvxr jung gurl fnj. Nsgre nyy, fur jnf "Fgnyva'f snve-unverq tvey," nf fbzrbar fnvq rneyvre va gur svyz. Naq fur jnf cebonoyl vapncnoyr bs orvat "gur cravgrag zna" Vaql unq gb or va Ynfg Pehfnqr.

Bu, naq n yvggyr gbhpu gung unq zr ebyyvat va gur nvfyrf -- qvq nalbar ryfr abgvpr gung bar bs gur cvaf ba Zhgg'f wnpxrg jnf n Angvbany Ubabe Fbpvrgl cva? V unir bar nobhg gung ivagntr gung orybatrq gb zl zbz, cnffrq ba gb zr jura V wbvarq.

And Xopher, may I add to the chorus of appreciation? Very touching.

#890 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 04:52 PM:

anthony #823

Various of the suggestions made by others, also:

- The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford (usually referred to a "Mike Ford" on making Light, who alas is departed of this plane of existence) (fantasy)

- The Patricia Wrede/Caroline Stevermer collaborations (usually to be found in the YA section) (fantasy) and Caroline Stevemer's solo novels

- Lois McMaster Bujold's novels(the most recent have been fantasy, but also her SF).

#891 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 05:13 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft #887: Bs pbhefr, vs gur nyvraf ernyyl jrer n uvir-zvaq, nf qernzl Vevan fnvq, gurl'q cebonoyl unir cerggl fvtavsvpnagyl qvssrerag vqrnf bs jung "tbbq" naq "rivy" ner guna jr qb, naq qrsvavgryl va gur oynpx-naq-juvgr jbeyq bs Vaqvnan Wbarf jbhyq cebonoyl svaq zber gb yvxr va n Pbzzhavfg guna va n ohapu bs serrqbz-ybiva' Nzrevpnaf. Fb V fgvyy fnl vg qbrfa'g znxr nal frafr ng nyy, naq bayl unccrarq orpnhfr vg zveebef gur raqvatf bs gur bgure zbivrf.

#892 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 06:28 PM:

Greg #848: Yeah, I gather that the way we can test intelligence of humans is pretty much pure brute force and ignorance (here are some tests that all correlate with one another; when we combine them, we get this index score that correlates with a bunch of measurable stuff like school and work performance). And for testing the intelligence of animals, I'm not sure what we can manage--anyone know? I know some animals make and use simple tools (like a sharp stick to get tasty bugs out of a log), and that some nonhuman primates have been taught to use simple language. And I guess all kinds of animal training has been done since there's been civilization....

#893 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 06:43 PM:

Janet@887: re: Indiana Jones

uz, V thrff zvaq-ernqvat nyvraf frrvat ure rivyarff zvtug rkcynva jul gur nyvraf xvyyrq ure. Ohg vg zrnaf gur zbfg nqinaprq nyvra yvsr sbezf gur jbeyq unf rire frra fhccbeg pncvgny chavfuzrag. V thrff orvat noyr gb ernq zvaqf zrna ab snyfr cbfvgvirf, naq gurl ner nqinaprq, naq nyvra, fb jub xabjf.

V fgvyy qba'g haqrefgnaq jul gur nyvraf jrer va fxryrgny sbez va gur svefg cynpr. Gurl pnzr gb rnegu gubhfnaqf bs lrnef ntb gb tvir hf nqinaprq grpuabybtl, gura ng fbzr cbvag, engure guna tb ba gb nabgure cynarg, gurl ghea gurzfryirf vagb fxryrgbaf sbe n srj gubhfnaq lrnef, jnvgvat sbe... jung? Naq jura gurl ner njbxra ol fbzr crfxl uhznaf, gurl xvyy nyy gur onq thlf sbe Vaqvnan (yrguny ehor tbyqoret znpuvar), naq gura whfg yrnir? Gung'f n uryy bs n ybat gvzr gb jnvg whfg gb xvyy n pbhcyr bs pbzzvrf.

V pna'g svther bhg jul gurl'q fgvyy or unatvat nebhaq.

Nf sne nf gur ovg gung znqr zr tebna, uvf anzr vf Urael Wbarf, We. Uvf avpxanzr "Vaqvnan" pbzrf sebz gur snzvyl qbt. Naq gur fba ur arire zrg unccraf gb cvpx gur avpxanzr "Zhgg"?

Arire zvaq gung fhpu n anzr onfvpnyyl xvyyrq nal cbffvovyvgl bs univat gur Vaqvnan Wbarf senapuvfr pbagvahvat ba jvgu Fuvn YrObrss nf gur arj ureb. V zrna, gur gvgyrf jbhyq whfg fhpx: "Zhgg Wbarf naq gur Erory Jvgubhg n Pnhfr!" naq fb ba.

#894 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 06:46 PM:

Open thread tangent:

this story is about a year old, talking about running out of certain elements in the periodic table. and I was wondering if anyone with better chemistry background than me could chime in.

#895 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 07:30 PM:

Ah, those FLDS folks. They just love their children and never want to let them go:

Warren Jeffs cradling a 14 year old and giving her a big old smooch.


#896 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 07:46 PM:

Would a spoilerific thread for Indy IV be appropriate at this point? I, myself, won't be seeing it until Saturday night.

#897 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 09:30 PM:

re Indiana Jones:
Vf vg cbffvoyr gung bar bs gur nyvraf unq vgf urnq ybccrq bss juvyr vg jnf fgvyy syrful? Naq gung gur bguref jrag fxryrgny hagvy nyy gur fho-cebprffbef bs gur uvir zvaq pbhyq or erpbaarpgrq? Gb or ubarfg, V'z abg fher ubj gung jbhyq svg va jvgu gur pbadhvfgnqbe cneg bs gur fgbelyvar. V yvxrq gur zbivr, ohg V xvaq bs jvfu vg unqa'g vaibyirq nyvraf.

#898 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 10:58 PM:

B@895, re: Indiana Jones

> Vf vg cbffvoyr gung bar bs gur nyvraf unq
> vgf urnq ybccrq bss juvyr vg jnf fgvyy syrful?

V jbaqrerq gung, ohg V unir n uneq gvzr oryvrivat gurfr fhcre nyvraf jvgu gurve grpuabybtl gung pna ynl qbeznag sbe gubhfnaqf bs lrnef naq whzc gb yvtug fcrrq ng n zbzragf abgvpr, jbhyq or fb ihyarenoyr gung xvyyvat bar jbhyq xvyy be xabpx bhg gurz nyy. Fbeg bs znxrf gur ragver enpr ihyarenoyr gb rira gur fznyyrfg nggnpx vs gung'f ubj gur uvir zvaq jbexf. Vs gur njnl grnz tbrf pngngbavp nf fbba nf n fvatyr erq-fuveg trgf xvyyrq, V guvax V'q erqrfvta gur jnl zl njnl grnzf shapgvba. Znlor unir fbzr onpxhcf be fbzrguvat.

#899 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2008, 11:12 PM:

I really need root access on this server.
My root partition's borked and now I'm starving.
Sudo, I tell you, make for me a sandwich.

The most restrictive of all ACLs
Prevents me from compiling a hoagie.
I really need root access on this server.

My swap space melts like Stanley's troops at Bosworth.
I can't hack RAID on Pixy Stix and Malmsey.
Sudo, you hear me, make for me a sandwich.

Despite that little incident on Tuesday
(I think I might have eaten all of /etc)
I really need root access on this server.

Six more accounts were compromised by lunchtime.
...I wonder where my ssh key is?
Sudo, fer chrissake, make for me a sandwich.

I'm sure I had real work to do this evening.
(All due respect to Dorothy, Mike, and Randall.)
My kingdom for root access on this server.
Sudo, barada, niktolp, *oy*, a *sandwich*.

#900 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 12:59 AM:

Holy crap, Andrew, #897 may just be the ultimate Making Light comment.

#901 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 01:44 AM:

Oh, man, I just watched a couple episodes of a show called "Samantha Who", and it was fricken hilarious. I don't watch a lot of TV, so maybe if you watch a lot of TV, you'll find it old hat. But my sides hurt after watching it.

#902 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 10:06 AM:

From the movie Watchmen... 1940's Minutemen...

#903 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 10:25 AM:
Zachary Quinto, who takes over the role of Spock in J.J. Abrams' upcoming Star Trek film, told SCI FI Wire that the rebooted version honors the original television series that spawned the franchise.

"It was done with real heart and real respect and a real effort to honor the origins of this franchise, while at the same time sort of re-imagining those origins," Quinto said in an interview. "People have been enormously supportive of me playing this role and of our making this movie. We're all really excited about it."

So it IS a reboot.

#904 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 10:28 AM:

Debbie @#883: We've had bots that could pass limited-context Turing tests for a while now (I recall one named "Jennifer" that was written for MUDs a few years ago). I would be completely unsurprised to find "mash-bots" in dating or telesex forums....

#905 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 10:57 AM:

Serge @900: That picture is very cool from the standpoint of "It looks like they're doing Watchmen right!", but something about it is bugging me from a purely visual perspective. It doesn't look authentically 1940s, and I can't figure out why.

Terry, you're a photographer, any ideas? Anyone else who's good at that kind of thing? I don't know enough about photography to be able to work out why it looks wrong.

#906 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 11:04 AM:

Carrie S @ 903... Maybe the photo is too crisp and sharp? One thing is sure. The outfits look as dorky as anything from the old Batman serials. The dorkiest has got to be the Nite Owl's.

#907 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 11:11 AM:

Avram #898:

And any comment on your comment would be superfluous.

(Very well. I contain multitudes. And superfluity.)

#908 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 12:01 PM:

Andrew Plotkin #897: A-bloody-mazing.

#909 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 12:41 PM:

Avram#898, joann#905, Fragano#906 -- thank you.

After I'd written it, I was trying to figure out what it *was*. Decided that "villanelle fanfic" is the best term. Well, "fanfic" is not quite right, but "fanpoesy" is confusing.

#910 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 12:42 PM:

897: "go make me" rather than "make for me", perhaps?

Otherwise dashed good.

(Is niktolp some *nix pun I'm missing?)

#911 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 12:49 PM:

ajay #908:

Try reversing it. Then look at the author.

#912 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 12:50 PM:

Ajay #908: Read 'niktolp' backward and then look at the author's name.

#913 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 12:54 PM:

Klaatu Barada Plotkin?

#914 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 01:43 PM:

OK, I'll make a stab at analysing that photo.

First, the overall tone is a bit off. It doesn't look like a silver print, and if the silver had been replaced by something else, such as silver sulphide, I doubt you'd get the limited contrast range. That sort of toning process just seems wrong for the 1940s, anyway.

Secomd. you have two clusters of strong light sources in the frame, but no sign of lens flare of other reflections. They didn't have coated lens elements, and the image just looks too clean.

Third, the main lighting looks to be a single bright source above the camera. This is plausible for the period: some sort of camera with a flashbulb and reflector. But the way the light falls off with distance doesn't feel right, and shadows I would expect just aren't there. Look at the lower left corner. They're a good way in front of those door-like things, and hence the wall. But no visible shadow at all? Also, I'd expect more change in the brightness of the floor.

Another thing: while it's hard to tell from the image resolution, the depth of field looks pretty good. You need a lot of light to do that with the film speeds available at the time.

Without knowing what the natural colours should be, it's hard to saw whether or not the colour response of the film is right. Even today, black-and-white films are more sensitive to blue light: the point about panchromatic film was that it could see red light. So you used filters to block blue light (and reduced your effective film speed).

Apart from lipstick, what else in the scene is red? I'm not sure that it's dark enough.

Now, it might be a contact print, but it doesn't feel competent for a print done on an enlarger. Somebody seems to have picked the wrong contrast grade to get a good final image.

And I've handled much older photographs. It's not hard to take a scanned image and make better of what's left. This picture had the detail. but nobody has bothered to sort out the brightness and contrast.

#915 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 01:43 PM:

I think we need a bit of technical shorthand for "reverse", ala rot-13.

#916 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 02:02 PM:

Greg @ 835, and the various other Indiana Jones commenters:

I've had a lot of practice at the "Why the hell did they {implausible thing}?" game, given that I have a very curious and persistent younger brother. I spent most of my childhood coming up with plausible and internally-consistent explanations for weird things in movies, both for fun and to shut him up. This one took me a few hours of stewing, but I think i have a good solution that I hope addresses just about everything brought up in the thread so far.

N ybg bs guvf uvatrf ba gur snpg gung gur nyvraf jrer nepunrbybtvfgf, nf Vaql fnvq.

Gur nyvraf' 'bhgre obqvrf' (syrful ovgf, yvxr sebz gur Nern 51 obql) va guvf jbeyq ynfg n yvzvgrq nzbhag bs gvzr, ohg gur pbafpvbhfarff va gurve pelfgny fxryrgbaf ynfgf sberire. Rvgure gurl pnzr urer cynaavat gb fcraq n yvggyr juvyr rkcybevat naq gura n srj uhaqerq lrnef grnpuvat (zhpu yvxr Vaql uvzfrys), be gurl jrer fb vagrerfgrq ol uhznavgl gurl qrpvqrq gb fgnl ybatre naq grnpu, qrfcvgr gur snpg gung gurve syrfu obqvrf jbhyq jrne bhg orsber gurl jrer qbar, naq gurl'q or yrsg jvgu gur yvzvgrq zbovyvgl bs gur fxryrgbaf. Rvgure jnl, bapr gurl pbhyq gryy gurve syrfu obqvrf jrer jrnevat bhg gurl unq gur grzcyr ohvyg, naq frg gurzfryirf hc fb gurl pbhyq pbzsbegnoyl erznva gurer naq grnpu sbe n juvyr. Gurl jrer fgvyy yvatrevat, grnpuvat gur angvirf, jura gur fxhyy jnf fgbyra ol gur pbadhvfgnqbef. Gur angvirf pyrnarq hc oruvaq gur guvrirf, rvgure nezvat be erfrggvat gur gencf, ohg gurl pbhyqa'g svaq gur fgbyra fxhyy. (V'q vzntvar gur bgure fxhyyf ergnvarq yvzvgrq pbzzhavpngvba novyvgvrf, fvzvyne gb gung bs gur fgbyra fxhyy, juvyr fgvyy ba gurve crqrfgnyf, naq pbhyq tvir fvzcyr vafgehpgvbaf gb gur ybpnyf jub jrer nggharq gb urne gurz).

Rvgure gurl pbhyqa'g yrnir jvgubhg gurve ybfg cnegare, be gurl pubfr abg gb - jung'f n srj uhaqerq lrnef nfyrrc sbe vzzbegny cna-qvzrafvbany orvatf? {guvf arkg ovg vf haarprffnel, naq n ovg bs n fgergpu, ohg V svtherq V'q vapyhqr vg} Gurl gehfgrq gung n sryybj nepunrbybtvfg (urapr gur fxhyy fcrnxvat zber fgebatyl gb Vaql naq Bk) jbhyq riraghnyyl svaq gur fxhyy naq erghea vg. V'z thrffvat gung gurl pna npg vaqrcraqragyl jura gurl unir gurve syrfu obqvrf, ohg jura gurl ner bayl gurve fxryrgbaf gurl erdhver gur argjbex sbe gurve yvzvgrq zbovyvgl naq bcrengvba (ibyhagnel qbeznapl fvapr gurl xarj gurl pbhyqa'g qb nalguvat hagvy ur tbg onpx vf nyfb n cbffvovyvgl).

Abj gung gurl unir gurve sevraq/cnegl zrzore onpx, gurl pna yrnir. Nf sbe jul gurl'q qb vg evtug njnl, jryy - onpx va gur qnl gurl'q gehfgrq uhznavgl (be ng yrnfg gur ybpnyf) rabhtu gb erznva va gurve zber ihyarenoyr fxryrgny sbezf naq grnpu. Ohg abj gung bar bs gurz unf orra fgbyra sbe n srj uhaqerq lrnef, gurl zvtug qrpvqr vg'f jvfr gb ABG erznva va gurve ihyarenoyr fxryrgny sbezf naq jnvg gb or fgbyra ntnva. Guhf, gurl cnpx hc naq tb ubzr. V'ir unq guvf vzchyfr zlfrys, nsgre n cnegvphyneyl onq qnl fbzrjurer: "Jr ner TBVAT. UBZR. ABJ. V'yy or va gur pne. V'z qevivat njnl va gra zvahgrf, jurgure lbh'er va gurer be abg."

Nf sbe jung unccrarq gb gur Fbivrg Ynql, V'z tbvat gb unir gb fnl "Gbgny crefcrpgvir ibegrk." Fur jnagrq gb 'xabj rirelguvat.' Gur uhzna oenva/obql pna'g pbagnva gur gbgny xabjyrqtr bs na vzzbegny, vagreqvzrafvbany uvir zvaq... guhf rkcybfvbaf. Juvyr gur nyvraf znl abg or rivy, gurl znl nyfb abg frr n cnegvphyne inyhr/hainyhr va qrngu, naq guvax gung gurer jnf ab unez va tvivat ure rknpgyl jung fur nfxrq sbe... zhpu yvxr gur Fpvragvfg jub chg uvf jvsr vagb gur gbgny crefcrpgvir ibegrk.

Gur bar guvat gung fgvyy obguref ZR vf jul gurfr nyvra nepunrbybtvfgf jbhyq yrg gurve ragver pbyyrpgvba or gbgnyyl qrfgeblrq nf gurl yrsg (nyy gubfr negvsnpgf! gurl orybat va n zhfrhz!). Gurl zhfg unir nccerpvngrq gung gurve pbyyrpgvba jbhyq or inyhnoyr gb bguref. V ernyyl jbhyq unir cersreerq gurl rvgure 1. gnxr vg be 2. yrnir vg oruvaq, ohg fnsryl ohevrq. Bs pbhefr V'z nyjnlf gur crefba jub jvaprf ng zbivrf jurer gurl unir svtugf va zhfrhzf jurer gurl guebj napvrag pebpxrel, be pne punfrf jurer gurl 'penfu' veercynprnoyr, ivagntr pnef. Gur BAYL fbyhgvba V pna erzbgryl trg oruvaq vf gung fhpu n uhtr svaq, ybpngrq va Fbhgu Nzrevpn enaqbzyl, jbhyq or rivqrapr bs gurve rkvfgrapr – juvpu gurl’er gelvat gb nibvq. Fgvyy, vg ohtf gur PENC bhggn zr.

#917 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 02:05 PM:

David @ 92: Well, Julia was an early MUD bot that ran on TinyMUD starting in 1990. She was designed by Michael Mauldin, and her conversation logic was largely along the lines of Eliza (that is, a repertoire of canned responses to various patterns, with a bit of name interpolation and simple memory.) The code included a fair number of macros to deal with the pickup lines that some of the newbie male players would try on folks with a female handle.

Here's a link to a section of a paper that includes a set of logged interchanges in which a clueless undergrad (named "Barry" in the log) spends several days trying to pick up Julia, apparently without realizing she was a bot:

As the author of the paper notes, "Frankly, it's not entirely clear to me whether Julia passed a Turing test here or Barry failed one."

(One of Julia's other skills, by the way, was following room-to-room links in the MUD, and building a map from it that helped people find things they requested. Michael would later apply this same idea to following links on the Web to build Lycos, which as far as I know was the first commercially successful web search engine.)

#918 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 02:14 PM:

What's wrong with the "photo,"?

Lots, if it's trying to look period.

The hue is wrong. In the 40s that sort of sepia toning wasn't done. More, the actual quality of the tone looks like a print which was underfixed and is fading.

The posing isn't right. Most glaring is the female 2nd from right, she would never be reversed like that (the photographer would have found other ways to showcase her bust). Some of the facial expressions are wrong too,

We forget that we have a very different view of photography now, and it affects our sensibilities when posing. The Adam West smile (3rd from left) wouldn't happen, nor would the smirk (5th from left). Both of those expressions might show up in a candid, never in a portrait. The same is true for the vamping on the left.

The worst part (and I'll lay dollars to donuts this was a digitial print) is the contrasts. Thats what makes the aware observer fall out of the illusion. The lights in the background shouldn't fade, they ought to be hot spots. The matador outfit on the left, and the excutioner's mask on the right ought to be blocked up to almost total black. The curve here is almost flat (a smooth line rising from left to right), and it should have a slow toe (rising from the left), with a sharp increase, and then a slightly slower shoulder (levelling off on the right) and shortly run flat at the top (Example on page 4 of this .pdf, though the curve is reversed, because this is a reversal/positive film: it's motion picture film, of the sort used in WW2).

The faces ought to be brighter, and the shadows darker. The subtle distinctions in shades ought to be less distinct (because this an indoor shot, and the light is going to be red-shifted, which means there is less blue. Films of the time, while panographic, were still a little less than responsive in the shorter wavelengths (and lenses didn't have so many elements, which means the different colors of light would be in slightly different focall planes, affecting edge sharpness... and which they used accutance films; but I digress [and I want my Tech-Pan back; damn your eyes Kodak])

And they could have fixed all of it (save the poses) with a small investment in shooting it on a sheet of 4x5 film. To go a little cheaper, $20 to shoot a roll of Plux-X, or Tri-x.

#919 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 02:27 PM:

All I know is, I wanna meet the guy in the Mothman costume.

#920 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @897:

Well done indeed.

#921 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 03:01 PM:

108. The number of times I have attempted to install the network card on my SO's laptop and failed miserably.

I need a drink. Or he needs a better laptop and/or card. Or possibly both.

#922 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 03:12 PM:

Dear lord, laptops. My ever-toasty HP Pavillion cooked its hard drive nicely crispy on Monday. The Hub has been doing recovery action ever since. He's my hero.

Partners who work on their beloveds' laptops are a special division of saints, and deserve much chocolate.

#923 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 03:17 PM:

abi @ 920... Got any recommendation for laptops? My wife also has an HP Pavilion, and it's been acting strangely for some time. That's why I take daily backups of her writing while I wait for the smoke to start coming out.

#924 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 03:39 PM:

I'd actually love to replace the laptop I've been working on... it's a Compaq Presario 2100 of somewhat uncertain vintage (purchased used at least 2 years ago) and the card just suddenly stopped working a while ago... I've only gotten partial results reinstalling it since, and the same with another card on the same laptop. It's weird in that it installs, yet doesn't install, if that makes any sense.

But for right now, we can't afford a new laptop... and I don't want Vista anyway.

#925 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Neil Gaiman's blog has Patrick answering a question about how to become an editor.

#926 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 04:17 PM:

Summer Storm @ 922... I don't want Vista anyway

Goodness yes. I'd better put that on top of my list of things to look for and, should it be there, I'll bravely run away.

#927 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 04:56 PM:

Sadly, as of July of this year, Vista is what will be on all Windows computers, (I think) without exception. Shortly after that point, new copies of XP will disappear from store shelves, as the current plan is to discontinue it completely.

All of which squicks me, to say the least.

#928 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:01 PM:

Xopher, #917: Yeah, I was just thinking that it's really nice to see a guy with his bare-up-to-there legs and shiny-fabric crotch on display for once! That's so common in female superhero costumes of any era, but rarely seen on men. (Robin doesn't really count; he was an adolescent, and when he grew up, he went to the full-coverage Nightwing persona.)

#929 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:13 PM:

Summer 925: That's why I'm going Mac for my next computer. Vista is just flat-out unacceptable, and I will not use it.

#930 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:25 PM:

Xopher, unfortunately, barring a Lotto win, a new Mac is completely out of the question wrt finances.

#931 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:25 PM:

I had occasion to buy a couple of new laptops last month, and I had good luck with Dell. Their hardware quality has fallen, and they're getting slapped around for the decline in their support, but from what I can determine they're the least bad major PC outlet. (Note: this is not an argument against buying a Mac.)

If you tell Dell that you're a small business rather than a human being, you get access to pre-installed Windows XP and a lower tier of laptops, the Vostro. I picked up a Vostro 1000 and a Vostro 1500, and they're both fine computers that do everything asked of them for less than $600 or $750, respectively.

Here's a link to some XP Dell laptops (though apparently not the Vostro). If you want to get fancy, there's a $10 option where Dell will partition your drive in half, but also create a little boot partition for you. This made an Ubuntu dual boot really easy for me to set up.

Summer 925: It seems that the people who sell computers are not going along with Microsoft's plan. You should be able to buy or downgrade to XP for the next few years, at least until Windows: The Final Dimension.

#932 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:32 PM:

FungiFromYuggoth, I hope you're right. Otherwise, we'll probably find ourselves looking for a used Mac laptop, and hoping that we don't wind up buying somebody else's problem child.

And before anyone suggests it, I've tried Linux and not only am I apparently not sufficiently savvy to handle software installations, etc. in it, but it also does not run certain programs that we, unfortunately, use with some regularity. I wish it were otherwise, as I would love to stick to open source software even unto the level of my operating system, but thus far I haven't been able to make that work.

#933 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:39 PM:

Summer 928: I'm not planning to buy one anytime soon, but I can see that that's a different story than not being able to buy one ever.

#934 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:48 PM:

FungiFromYuggoth @ 929... If you tell Dell that you're a small business rather than a human being...

Are writers small businesses or human beings?

#935 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Problem is, we're likely to need to replace this old laptop far sooner than we're going to be able to afford to do so. With me going back to in a degree program that's writing-intensive, the two of us sharing one computer isn't really feasible. Yet I can't really justify spending half a semester's tuition money on a new computer when I'm basically on the hook for my own educational costs (no, I'm not going into debt for my education, so there's no student loan to take it out of).

Being unable to afford something until about three years from now when you're likely to need it two years sooner than that certainly FEELS enough like "never" as to make little difference.

#936 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:54 PM:

Gah, what happened to the word "school" in my phrase "back to school" above???


#937 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 05:59 PM:

Serge @ 932: Are writers small businesses or human beings?

I would speculate that the successful ones are small businesses who hopefully retain their humanity. Like all self-employment, you are your own brand.

As far as Dell is concerned, you're a small business if you click the 'Small and Medium Businesses' link and enter a company name when you register. They don't ask for a DUNS number or anything to differentiate real company from sole proprietorship from guy who just wants XP.

I don't think Dell cares who buys what computer, as long as they get paid and Microsoft doesn't give them grief for letting too many 'home users' escape Vista-free.

(Full disclosure: I've bought enough Dells recently, mostly through work, that they sent me a free laptop backpack, a game, and a Starbucks card. Woo. I gave the latter two away to co-workers.)

#938 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 06:05 PM:

Fungi @ 935... Thanks for all the tips. My wife is a professional writer, and is quite human, but if Dell doesn't look too closely...

#939 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 06:13 PM:


You might look into getting a used machine from someone who's buying a new one. They're usually in decent shape (especially if it's under three years old). Maybe even at a garage sale ....
The best part of technophiles is that they replace their hardware frequently, and we can get the stuff they're getting rid of.

#940 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 06:29 PM:

PJ, used is what I'm thinking we'll be getting. It's just that I'm leery of going that route... but if that's what I have to do, so be it.

#941 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 06:40 PM:


I did it that way one time. I'm still using parts of that one - it lasted several years after I bought it. Ask at your local computer store, too; they might have one available.

#942 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 06:43 PM:

Not a problem; I was in the same boat and complained to someone who suggested the small-business path to me. Ducking Vista is worth a bit of effort.

Summer Storms - No fear, regarding Linux. I use it as my primary computing environment, but I have access to Windows computers to run BookCollector and iTunes and games. Also, I fear I may be a big ol' geek.

I'd second PJ Evans's suggestion, and suggest maybe expanding your horizons past laptops, if's feasible. Laptops are handy and portable, but you can typically get a comparable desktop for about half the price. Laptops also tend to get beaten up more, while the main risks to desktops seem to be power surges and cat hair.

A lot of places make it difficult to recycle old computers, so if you put the word out you might be able to get something at a price to be worth the used-computer risk.

To find new computers and parts on the low end of the price scale, I like PriceWatch. I just bought an Ascendtech system for a Linux desktop (can you tell I've spent the last month upgrading computers?) and the bang/buck/quality ratio made me happy. They have a $230 desktop (inc. shipping) that might work for you. No monitor, but I bet if you ask around you could find someone with an old CRT in their attic.

#943 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 06:48 PM:

Fungi, #929: You should be able to buy or downgrade upgrade to XP for the next few years

FTFY. ;-)

Summer, #933: How current does your machine have to be? If you don't need the latest-and-greatest, there's always the possibility of picking up something cheap (but perfectly functional) on Craigslist from somebody who's just bought a new toy. We find that running about 2 generations behind state-of-the-art is every bit as good and a helluva lot cheaper as a rule.

#944 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 06:49 PM:

Summer Storms: Do not forget that Apple has student discounts. These knock the cheapest MacBooks, which are very reasonable systems, down to $1000*, the same range as all but the cheapest Windows laptops. If you can't afford that extra $300, so be it; but it might end up worth it in time not spent reinstalling network drivers, etc.

* Actually $999, but I find that sort of pricing scheme personally offensive and have trained myself to instantly round up before considering or comparing values.

#945 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 06:52 PM:

Xopher... I'm a little late to the party, but I too was moved by your post... For some reason this really made me think about how freaking YOUNG most of these kids are who doing the dying...

#946 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 06:53 PM:

Fungi, #940: You can find CRT monitors, perfectly functional, going begging on Craigslist Free. They are considered boat anchors at this point, and there are very few takers for them. We've put out a couple for Heavy Trash pickup, and even the scavengers didn't take them.

#947 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 07:03 PM:

I bought a Vostro 1000 last winter from Dell's Small Business line. I was worried that it wouldn't work, but it went very smoothly. IIRC, the only place I had to give a business name was in the credit card information, and they said in so many words that if you're using a personal card, just put your name in the business name field.

#948 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 07:05 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom #915:

I had the impression that what I'd heard about was a somewhat later and more advanced version, but the thread of memory is pretty frayed. Whether or not that's so, it's interesting to hear about how these things developed. And yeah, even Eliza could utterly convince a minority of people. (I've always wondered exactly what the cognitive or psychological weakness was, there.)

#949 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 07:37 PM:


Gur nyvraf ner cebhq tenqhngrf bs gur Trbetr J Ohfu fpubby bs fgengrtvp cynaavat... :-)

#950 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 07:54 PM:

FungiFromYuggoth @ 940: Not a problem; I was in the same boat and complained to someone who suggested the s
No fear, regarding Linux. I use it as my primary computing environment, but I have access to Windows computers to run BookCollector and iTunes and games. Also, I fear I may be a big ol' geek.

Well, the problem is that my fiance is less computer-savvy than I am, and I had it on his machine for a while (the one I'm having trouble with) and he couldn't handle it. Meanwhile, I didn't have time or patience to learn to handle it well, and on top of that, it wouldn't run various programs he uses. I also run some of them, and we tend not to share computers; he has his and I have mine, set up to do different things according to our personal pursuits and priorities.

So, until I fully understand and can tweak Linux as well as I can XP, *and* Linux-compatible versions of those other programs become available, I'm afraid that Linux won't really be able to function as a main computing environment for either of us.

And the primary reasons we use laptops are space considerations and portability. Our apartment is somewhat cramped and there's really no room for a desktop computer... we used to have one but decided a couple of years ago that we really needed that part of the dining room back. We also tend to find ourselves using our computers someplace other than home. If we ever get a desktop computer again, it's likely to be as a backup for the laptops, in case one should be out for repair for a time, so that the affected person can still have something to use. (And we'll be living in a larger space by then, too.)

Lee, 941: It doesn't have to be the latest, but my reason for preferring something new is because this used one we have has given us all sorts of trouble, while our other - a new Gateway purchased about a year and a half ago - runs well. I'm willing to buy used as opposed to spending big bucks, but I'm going to have to be relatively sure that it will work reasonably well.

Cliff, 942: $1000 is still more than I can justify spending. I have roughly two years left in school and have to pay for it, I drive a car made in 1994 that I have to keep running, and somehow we also need to pay for our own modest wedding in 2009.

Yeah, you could say things are tight.

Meanwhile, anybody have ideas about possible reasons why a Presario 2100 might be acting funky wrt a wireless card?

#951 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Serge@109: Are writers small businesses or human beings?

I think they're more accurately "non profit organizations"


#952 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 08:09 PM:

Leah@914, that would explain it. I'm not at all convinced that the writers had it figured out that way. I don't think they had it figured out at all. But that's impossible to know.

I think I'll leave it at a 6.0. A decent matinee.

#953 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 08:13 PM:

Greg London @ 949... I must mention that one to my wife. She certainbly won't disagree. I certainly don't.

#954 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 08:24 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom #915: Hah -- having now read through the article you linked, the one I heard about probably was related, because I knew the author (and a couple of the people he mentioned) through the "bandykin" crowd, and I surely heard it from someone in that group! (IIRC, the list itself had long since shattered by 1990, but I was still on decent terms with most of the crowd.)

The version I'd heard about actually pretended to be a student in one of the "soft" majors, but that would be a straightforward adaptation. And I still think I heard about it later than 1990, so probably a more advanced version.

#955 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Summer Storms @ 948 - I figured that you had a reason for restricting your search to laptops, so may a slightly battered laptop find its way to your apartment.

Regarding wireless - in my limited experience, the best advice I've found was by someone who asserted:
1) The wireless specs are more fluid than you'd expect
2) Different manufacturers implement the spec differently
3) It's a miracle wireless newtorking every works
4) If your wireless card isn't finding your local network, try updating your drivers or the wireless point's firmware
5) When you find something that works, stop updating drivers

As you know, Bob, driver updating is a dark path that can open up many dark places. Be prepared to back out when things get wiggy, and try to stick with drivers provided through Compaq for the laptop itself.

#956 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 08:55 PM:

Summer Storms @948,

Do you have any friends/family who are experienced Ebay users?

I recently bought a slightly used laptop--all the quality, someone else took the depreciation--from Ebay. However, I had an experienced helper who could recognize auctions that were happy and legit vs. odd and weird*.

Second the recommendations to look around for people who've just bought a laptop. After a month or two of testing the new one, the old one becomes a brick**.

* All the standard things one should watch for--sellers who've sold 5 small toys, and they now have one for expensive audio equipment, etc. (I also have low activity on Ebay, so I myself wouldn't look like the best buyer for a larger-budget item.)

** my old one has a 5 inch stack of papers and whatnots on top, I just noticed. Since I'm not 100% sure I have everything off there, I'm letting it sit, as I'm sure many people do (especially after seeing that it'd get maybe $90 on Ebay).

#957 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 09:17 PM:

FFY, 953: That's a great list.

Actually, I wish the drivers would work, but so far what's happened is that I've intalled them, and then the machine tells me the install needs to be done. Yep, the installation I just did that just told me it was complete. That's with an old wireless card for which the mfr. is out of business and no newer drivers are being made. And the newer 2wire card I have left over from when I used to use a different ISP (it came with their equipment) won't install at all, or else installs but then its own software insists that the card isn't present even when it is in the slot... nevertheless Window acknowledges its presence (I get a "bing" and am informed that new hardware has been found and that I should install drivers for it... after I have already done so).

#958 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 09:47 PM:

@955 - Oog. Hm.

Plan A) Remove the card, uninstall, shutdown (hard power down), restart, reinstall.

Plan B) Move the driver files (if you can find them) into a temporary folder, reboot, and reinstall. (Have a rescue CD handy in case the drivers are structural, but they shouldn't be.) The theory is that this way you aren't installing over top of the existing files, in case something's wonky with that bit of the hard drive. It may just be voodoo.

Plan C) By the way, does the wireless card work in the other laptop? Any other laptop?

Plan D) As plan A, but go into the registry and delete keys that seem related to the drivers before rebooting.

Plan E) Drink.

#959 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 10:03 PM:

Summer Storms: When I got to Walter Reed my laptop wouldn't connect to the net. It took a reinstall of the OS to fix. Apparently I'd acquired some odd virus, or hiccup, or something.

It was a pressario

#960 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 10:08 PM:

Summer Storms
I hope you're right. Otherwise, we'll probably find ourselves looking for a used Mac laptop, and hoping that we don't wind up buying somebody else's problem child.

I won't say that this is never a problem - every company has lemons - but I've been very, very pleased by the quality, fit, finish and construction of Mac laptops for years and years. I'm currently driving a Mac Powerbook (G4 12" 1.33ghz) which is about 4 years old, and the only problem I've had with it so far is a dead HD (which died shortly after I bought it, while it was still under AppleCare). And it was purchased used off of eBay, although from a local (so I could inspect it and walk away from the deal if it sucked).

Some things to look for -

1 - check for specs and possible pricing - my opinion is that Everymac is usually highballing their prices by 2-3 hundred dollars, at least for person-to-person sales, but they have a solid database on hardware specs, dates and times, etc.. Their highballing is absolutely true for pre-Intel machines, but in general, lots of folks highball the sale price on the pre-Intels - when I can get a Macbook refurb from Apple for $950, I am sure as hell not interested in a three-generation back iBook for $675.

2- look for a machine that still has some Applecare warranty left on it - 4 months to a year or so. This helps ensure that you're getting a machine you won't outgrow too quickly, and means that if something jacks up, you've got a safety net at the nearest Apple Store (always take your machine to the Apple Store if you have one in the area, in preference to calling it in). This isn't, imho, vital, but it is handy, and can be a clincher on a deal.

3 - If it looks too good to be true - it is, especially on eBay, craigslist, etc. Macbooks are common targets for the "oh, well, I just moved to the UK, and I have it here, but I can send it to you, but could you do this little thing with Western Union for me..." stings. Craigslist is great for machines, however, because you can go and look at it (in a public place, with friends), before you turn over cash, etc.

4 - watch out for machines that are way out of spec - the more work that's been done on the machine (especially complex work, as opposed to just upgrading RAM, etc.) the more likely the seller is to be inflexible on the price, and the more likely it is that they'll turn out to be a ham-handed choom who let flies get into the data center - or forgot a couple of screws putting the chassis back together. Maxed-out RAM is good, but a singled GB will do for now, and you can upgrade the RAM yourself as you need it.

5 - you don't care about all the licenses they have to go with it - you've got (or will get) your own. Most of the time, it's pirated (or they're just leaving stuff on the HD and installing it on their new machine as well). If you don't get license cards, and media, it sux, walk away, or negotiate a lower price, because you don't have the licenses - they do, and you're a pirate, if an inadvertent one.

Besides, the first thing you're going to do when you get home with it is burn the HD to the ground, with military-grade data erase/rewrite/erase cycles, and then build it up again from scratch, right?

6 - check and see if you have any friends who work for Apple. They have discount programs for their employees, and a "friends and family" program that gives them a number of lesser discounts to hand out/use for presents, etc. They are encouraged to use them every year, and the schema is pretty generous, so Apple employees are often very willing to use their discounts (15 - 25%) for folks they know even remotely.

#961 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 10:13 PM:

Fungi, 956:

A) Done. Lost count of how many times. *sigh*

B) Done. This actually is all being done over a fresh install of WinXP Pro. (Terry, this speaks to your post as well. My problem isn't a lack of connectivity, it's actually a lack of my machine even admitting that I have a card there and drivers installed. I'd be happy if I could get to the point where I just couldn't connect, as I've fixed stuff like that before.)

C) I haven't tried, because at the rate I'm going, I've been afraid to try installing it on my own laptop, lest I screw it up somehow. Mine actually has a built in wireless transmitter, so it doesn't need the card, though it does have a slot where I could test it. But I don't dare, because I want to retain the ability to have mine work wirelessly (though I suppose if I did screw it up, I could always do a restore, as mine has its restore disks, whereas the Compaq came without any). Note that the wireless cards I'm working with are both aftermarket - neither came with either laptop.

D) Should I need to do that after a disk wipe and fresh operating system install? I'm always a bit afraid to much about in the registry if I can avoid it.

E) And now you know why I drink!

#962 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 10:31 PM:

If you've done all that, and it still doesn't work, it's something fundamental in the driver, laptop, card, or laptop/card combination. You can try your google fu on your specific laptop and card models, but I'd recommend just taking the card out and replacing it. Hitting the USB card with a hammer is optional, but wear eye protection.

I haven't used them, but USB wireless adapters look cool. I'd check the amazon reviews before buying them; the first $15 one I saw there has triggered lots of hate.

#963 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 10:52 PM:

That first 'USB' should be 'PCMCIA'.

#964 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 11:16 PM:

Scott Taylor, are you at all familiar with They've got what look to be some good deals on G4's...

Fungi, I mentally translated that bit about the USB. What's odd is that I'm having this trouble with not one, but TWO cards from different manufacturers. Could there be something wrong within the slot that the card gets inserted into?

And yes, I gave some thought to going USB, but there are three problems, as I see it: 1) the sole USB port on this machine is not high-speed, 2) it's in a devilishly difficult-to-access spot if one is also using the power cord (let alone an easily-damaged location if one is not exceedingly careful when setting the machine down on, say, a coffee table) and 3) there is, after all, only one. So that's probably a no-go.

#965 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2008, 11:56 PM:

A PCMCIA to USB card would seem to address most of those problems (though you'd still need to be careful putting it down). If that card doesn't work, then the laptop's card slot is probably hosed, which means that without wired ethernet you're the proud owner of a word processor.

If the card does work, then you can try wireless USB. Each step would probably run you $20, but wouldn't be terribly useful if recycled into a more modern laptop.

#966 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 12:11 AM:

I can't really use the USB slot full-time like that, because of the power supply cord being in the way, and also because then I couldn't use any other USB item while online (frex, I tend to transfer things between the two laptops using a thumb drive, and it's also how we connect the computer to the printer if something needs to be printed).

I'm thinking of having a local repair place take a look at the guts inside the card slot... I'm assuming there's some sort of connector in there, perhaps (I hope) as a unit that can be replaced? Or am I way off-base here?

#967 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 12:20 AM:

There should be some kind of connector inside the card slot; I had, sort of still have, a Toshiba laptop with PCMCIA slots - it's pre-USB, so it's really antique, for a laptop. I wouldn't presume to advise beyond that, since it really needs a hardware guru.

#968 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 12:38 AM:

Summer: Thanks for being tactful about your response. After posting that, I thought "Wait, what am I saying?" It's taken us a long time to end up where that amount of money is an outlay we can afford to just make when we need to.

Anyway, if you've freshly reinstalled XP (and applied SP2 and all updates before SP3, I assume?) then I would think you've likely got a hardware problem. If the two different wireless cards are having a problem, it is indeed possible it's the slot or the slot drivers. PCMCIA has always seemed a bit wonky to me; for one thing, the standard went through two versions, and 3 or 4 slot types, but I'd hope everything you're dealing with is the latest version. Is there only a single PCMCIA slot in the problem machine, so no choice about where to try it?

Actually, hmmm... it is possible that the problem is with the motherboard/chipset drivers for the PCMCIA slot itself. This would show up in the Windows Device Manager as a nonworking PCMCIA Host Bridge or something like that. Have you tried going into the Device Manager and looking for any devices with yellow or red status flags by them? That could account for all sorts of weird behavior with the installed adapter and its drivers, because their drivers might sometimes see it and sometimes not. If that is the problem, you could probably find drivers for the laptop's chipset on the manufacturer's website.

#969 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 02:19 AM:


I knew you weren't really familiar with my life, so don't worry. $1000 is a lot to some people, and not so much to others. It's all a matter of one's circumstances, and I expect ours to improve over time. For that matter, about three years ago it would have been a different story, too.

On to the details of the laptop: yes, it's a fresh XP Pro install, with all Service Packs up to SP3, and the machine only has that one PCMCIA slot. Device Manager isn't currently showing anything with a yellow or red status flag, though that's only true since I once again uninstalled the card drivers. Earlier, there was a yellow status flag in the Network Adapter section, for the Ethernet controller itself (the card I'd tried to install... and note, these cards USED to work in this computer up until a few months ago, when they began to act up and then stopped working; this was months before I reinstalled XP and even a few weeks before my abortive adventure with Ubuntu Linux, in which I was also never able to get the cards working as I couldn't even figure out how to begin). PCMCIA Adapters section looks fine in Device Manager.

By the way, in case it helps, the two cards I'm talking about are:

1) a 54M WLAN CardBus Adapter for 802.11g apparently made by the now-defunct Blitzz Tech, FCC ID N89-WE603H, and

2) a 2Wire 802.11g PC Card Wireless Adapter originally supplied by a tech from an ISP we no longer use, FCC ID M4Y-XG-300.

At this point, I'm seriously beginning to think it may in fact be a hardware issue with the machine itself. My guy is, shall we say, a bit "forceful" with inanimate objects when they are less than what he considers properly obedient, and so I would not rule out a bent connector or something inside the slot. I bought the laptop secondhand at a local computer repair shop for $400 about 3 years ago or so, and I suppose I can take it there to have it looked at. Doing that and then perhaps trying a new card might resolve the problem. Until then, we'll just have to continue using it wired. I'd like to get it working wirelessly before too much longer, however, as we do like to take them out onto the front porch in the evenings when the weather is nice and enjoy a breeze as we surf or check email.

#970 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 02:23 AM:

Oh, and IIRC, there were also another couple of yellow flags in Device Manager before I uninstalled the drivers, too. I wish I'd thought back then to jot down what they were, but it was hours before I'd even thought to consult the Fluorosphere.

#971 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 02:32 AM:

Summer, if you only have a single USB port and want to plug in assorted things, it might work to get a USB hub which, sort of like a multi-outlet power board for electrical power, gives you multiple slots from one. I don't know how expensive they are in your area, but you might find one useful enough to invest in.

#972 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 02:42 AM:

I've seen them, but then again, we're right back to the USB port being crowded by the power cord, thanks to Compaq's decidedly stupid design for this model. Either he'd have to have a hub dangling by a cord out of the single port - an idea I suspect will go over like the proverbial lead balloon - or he'd have to unplug the power cord and run on battery power whenever he wanted to use the internet, and this machine doesn't have a very long battery life.

#973 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 03:32 AM:

Summer @ #970, here's a small hub from Amazon which has about a foot-long cord. Also take note of the USB extension cables in the "customers also bought" section below the tech details. Looks like you could get both hub and cable for $20 plus S&H. That might get you around Compaq's lousy design.

#974 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 05:55 AM:

Summer Storms - by PCMCIA to USB card I mean one of these. A card that uses your PCMCIA slot and provides extra USB 2.0 slots in a handier place.

Not that it'll help if it's the slot that's the sole problem, rather than a card/laptop/driver issue.

#975 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 07:19 AM:

Summer Storms @962 -
Scott Taylor, are you at all familiar with They've got what look to be some good deals on G4's...

MacofAllTrades is actually a perfect example of what I'm talking about - Doing a quick check on ebay, 17" G4 Powerbooks are running around 500 (very low end) to 700 (mid-range) with a high around 900 for the reasonable auctions for basically stock equipment (this is completed auctions). The highest one I saw that didn't throw my "this is a money-laundering scam" sensors into screaming meemies was around $1100.

Now, prices from a retailer are going to be higher than private sales - they have storefronts and warehouses, and the like, and you're generally getting at least a 90 day "this isn't going to release the blue magic smoke as soon as you get it" warranty on it. So I don't mind a couple of hundred bucks of difference. But you're looking at somewhere between 4 and 6 hundred dollars of difference in cost between a private/ebay sale, and MacOfAllTrades.

There's also the simple utility factor. Apple hasn't produced a G4 laptop in over 2 years now (The dual-layer Superdrive units that were the last gasp of the Powerbook line). There are things that G4s Just Will Never Do (like run Parallels, or Bootcamp). This does not mean they are unusable (I use one right now - and not a last-generation unit, either), but between spending 700 on a G4, or 800 on a Macbook - I'd buy the Macbook, unless I needed a new laptop NOWNOWNOW and only had 700 in hand, and couldn't borrow a hundred from a friend.

Which is something to keep in mind when looking at machines, or pricing them out - G4s are still eminently usable systems, but they are limited in some respects, and will get moreso as time goes on.

#976 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 04:41 PM:

Linkmeister: Nothing with cords is going to solve the problem. Most of the time he uses the laptop on his actual lap. Sitting on the couch, or in a patio chair, or some similar position. Having an extra cord dangle out of it with a wireless unit dangling out of that is only going to lead to obscene language sooner or later, probably sooner. If this were a desktop model, or were largely used on a table or desk, it might be different, but that's just not his style. Thanks, though... if I ever do have a need for something like that, it's good to know I can get it at a good price.

Fungi: I'm afraid the same goes for having several inches worth of extra stuff sticking out of one side. One good whack against the wooden arm of the couch, accidental though it might be, would probably be enough to break something, leading to the aforementioned obscene language. Only in this case, it would probably come from both of us, as I'd be the one having to fix something again. Of course, if the PCMCIA slot is working correctly, we won't need to use it as a bridge to a USB wireless unit - we'll just be using a PCMCIA wireless card directly.

Scott: $500 or so will likely be our upper limit of affordability, when we're ready to buy something, especially if we're buying used. Heck, my Gateway laptop cost just over $600 new, and was only purchased out of desperation to get something that would prove reliable for my writing and the anticipation of returning to school and wanting to take a laptop to class for notes. (My handwriting is horrible enough that I sometimes can't read it myself.) The good news, however, is that my guy really only uses a computer for internet access and for writing, so he really doesn't need top-of-the-line equipment, just something reliable enough and fast enough to keep him from feeling like the guy driving a 1983 Yugo in the express lane of I-271 at rush hour. ;-)

#977 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2008, 11:09 PM:

Summer Storms @925:
As mentioned earlier, the major computer vendors are bucking Microsoft as to XP. I am told that Microsoft has in fact relented and XP will remain available; and the recent release of XP SP3 would appear to support that. Apparently a great many large customers have told Microsoft to shove Vista into inconvenient orifices.

I-271? Don't miss that commute at all; made it daily for 10 years, I-90 from Mentor to I-271 in Wickliffe to Beachwood.

#978 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Summer Storms:

This may not suit your purpose at all, but I was wondering if you had considered something like an EEE PC? These stripped down mini computers are bare-bones web and word processing devices that run on an accessible and simple linux-based OS and are supposedly low-maintenance. They seem to go for about 300-$500 brand new. The only downside is that they are very small, and not terribly powerful. Googling will find you a decent crop of reviews.

I discovered them when I was doing One Laptop Per Child research, with the idea that this was meant as a retail 'answer' to the "produce the cheapest, simplest laptop possible that still has full functionality" challenge. They were originally going to cost about $200, but it ended up being more like 3-400. When it came out I thought "huh, that's interesting," and then promptly forgot until I saw this recent xkcd comic featuring a... rather unique use for a tiny, cheap laptop.

#979 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2008, 06:22 PM:

Summer: "Oh, and IIRC, there were also another couple of yellow flags in Device Manager before I uninstalled the drivers, too. I wish I'd thought back then to jot down what they were, but it was hours before I'd even thought to consult the Fluorosphere."

That might make it worth trying again, to see what those are. They might mean that at some point just prior to your recent go-round with these cards the system started assigning the PCMCIA slot and the cards plugged into it some kind of resource, such as an IRQ or memory address, which was already in use by some other driver, and which the drivers don't know how to share. That will give both of them fits. (Many PC BIOSes seem inclined to reassign critical system resources like this almost randomly from time to time. A maxim: "Plug 'n Play doesn't.")

If it shows you a conflict on looking into it in more depth, and if you can tell what the conflict is, and if your laptop lets you get into the BIOS screens, you might be able to manually reassign the PCMCIA a different non-conflicting resource, or disable the conflicting device if it's not something you actually need. That's a lot of ifs, but it might point the way to getting the PCMCIA and wireless cards working again.

#980 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2008, 08:32 PM:

geekosaur: I used to live in Wickliffe.

Go figure, the world is small.

#981 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2008, 05:08 AM:

ethan @ #889: Bs pbhefr, vs gur nyvraf ernyyl jrer n uvir-zvaq, nf qernzl Vevan fnvq, gurl'q cebonoyl unir cerggl fvtavsvpnagyl qvssrerag vqrnf bs jung "tbbq" naq "rivy" ner guna jr qb, naq qrsvavgryl va gur oynpx-naq-juvgr jbeyq bs Vaqvnan Wbarf jbhyq cebonoyl svaq zber gb yvxr va n Pbzzhavfg guna va n oha