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July 23, 2008

Open thread 112
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:50 PM *

112 is the Europe-wide emergency telephone number, supplanting or supplementing (in the case of the UK, which still uses 999 as well) earlier emergency numbers. It is also the worldwide emergency number from GSM mobile phones, redirecting to the local emergency number depending on location.

(Of course, there may be other problems once you reach the emergency services number, but that is out of the scope of this discussion.)

Universal public emergency services of are surprisingly recent in the history of urban living. According to Wikipedia, the first organized municipal fire brigade was established in Edinburgh in 1824. Sir Robert Peel is credited with establishing the Metropolitan Police in London in 1829. And although the history of the ambulance is much more gradual, civilian emergency medicine and transport seems to have been an innovation of the 1800’s.

Regular readers of this blog are of course aware that Jim Macdonald is an emergency medical technician. I, for one, would like to take this numerically convenient moment to thank him for what he does in that role, both online and in the all too real world. Jim, you rock.

It’s also appropriate to remind everyone reading this that the emergency number, and the services it reaches, are there for a reason. Call them at need, and let the vehicles by if someone else has done so.

Comments on Open thread 112:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Curiously (and I'd love to know the reason why), when Jamaica had its phone system taken over by the Continental Telephone Company in the 1960s, they introduced a standard emergency number: 119. Why they made it the inverse of 911 I do not know. I heard rumours when I arrived on the island that the company had associations with certain ethnically-connected, ahem, social associations in the US. But rumours should not be given credence, should they?

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:42 PM:

According to Wikipedia, the first organized municipal fire brigade was established in Edinburgh in 1824.

Dare I ask what if anything Conservapedia has to say about that very subject?

#3 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:44 PM:

Serge #2: For maximum annoyance to Herr Direktor Schlafly, his pet project is best referred to as Conservapaedia, or even better Conservapædia.

#4 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 05:50 PM:

I still have my DocWagon card just in case they really open franchises someday.

#5 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Two getting-out-of-the-way-of-ambulance stories:

1) Walking through downtown Baltimore, I hear sirens. An ambulance is working its way down a busy street, with a few drivers making half-hearted attempts to clear a path. I am irritated at the lack of effort. "Wow," says my friend visiting from Brooklyn, "cars are actually getting out of its way."

2) I'm taking I-95 into the city; the very long exit ramp is a two-lane parking lot, the product of having the Inner Harbor and the baseball stadium both at the end of it. An ambulance comes up behind us, because the same exit is for Shock Trauma. No way, I'm thinking. But...everybody -- and I mean everybody -- in the right lane pulls over so they're half on the right shoulder and half in the right lane. I was in the left lane, and we all pull over so we're half in the right lane and half in the left lane. The ambulance comes by half on the left shoulder and half in the left lane, and makes slow but steady progress all the way down. I am amazed at seeing well over a hundred cars participate in this effort to get someone to the hospital. I don't know that I'll ever see its like again.

#6 ::: deathbird ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:30 PM:

I'm glad that here in Australia, people generally do make an effort to get out of the way of emergency vehicles - at least in Melbourne and Canberra, where I've lived for extended enough periods to notice the pattern.

And if you are ever in the land of Oz and need help, our emergency services number is 000.

#7 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:32 PM:

Since it came up in the intro:

EMTs, etc. ARE wonderful people. My husband recently had to call 911 on my behalf. (My communication ability at the time pretty much consisted of HrghAARRGH!) They were at my house in 5 minutes-and this was at around 4AM!

So thank you, you wonderful people.

#8 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:40 PM:

In the DC suburbs, most cars move quickly right and let emergency vehicles go by -- we always have a few [censored] schmucks who then tailgate the ambulance/fire truck to get ahead of traffic.

As a former firefighter (in my misspent yout', as we say), and daughter of still-active firefighters, I salute all emergency workers around the world. Thanks to your hard work, dedication, and tendency to run towards problems, thousands of lives are saved everyday. I raise my bottle of Hook & Ladder beer to you!

#9 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:41 PM:

Two people have told me that you can tell which kind of Dutch emergency vehicle is sounding its siren by counting the notes.

2 notes = brand·weer (fire brigade)
3 notes = po·li·tie
4 notes = am·bu·lan·tie

I have since seen a police car singing the fire engine song, but it's a nice piece of urban myth.

#10 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:42 PM:

Been waiting for a new Open Thread to post this:

Fixing the world on $2/day.

"There's this belief that in order to stop poverty, we have to find ways to get people to stop being farmers," she says. "What we need to do is find ways to stop them from being poor farmers."

#11 ::: wintermute ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 06:43 PM:

In Britain, 911 will also connect you to the emergency services. When I was a child, that would take you to recorded cricket scores, but apparently that was confusing for American tourists.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 07:43 PM:

Melissa Mead @ 7... My communication ability at the time pretty much consisted of HrghAARRGH!

Isn't HrghAARRGH where the Holy Grail is supposed to be kept?

#13 ::: arwel ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Serge @ 12: I thought that was the CamAARRGH...

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:00 PM:

arwel #13: Wild horses must have dragged that one out of you.

#15 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:02 PM:

Abi posted: 112 is the Europe-wide emergency telephone number

And, if anybody isn't aware of it - 112 (and 911 actually) can be keyed in on any mobile phone without opening the keypad lock. And you can call it even if you can't connect to "your" network - and even if you don't have a SIM card in at all. (I presume the phone will have to search up a network though).

This means that if you really need to you can borrow a phone, any phone, even though you don't know the user interface for that particular type, punch in 112, and reach emergency services.

(Of course, this also means your phone may call 112 by being jostled in your pocket, but that's just a minor downside.)

#16 ::: Christopher Kastensmidt ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:06 PM:

Don't post here much, but I'm in full agreement that Jim rocks. :)

#17 ::: J. Random Scribbler ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:15 PM:

In late May my wife was thrown from a horse into a steel fence. Even though this was way out in the boonies, the local ambulance service was there in just a few minutes. Since her injury didn't seem life-threatening at first, the EMTs just C-spined and backboarded her as a precaution and drove off at normal highway speed with me following in the car; halfway to the hospital they suddenly flipped on the siren and sped up to 80mph. That was a scary moment, but I was glad to see other cars actually getting out of the way. Out here in Oregon, people are usually pretty good about that.

Once I got to the hospital (not being willing to drive 80 on an unfamiliar road and possibly make the ambulance come back for a second trip) I discovered that she had a broken pelvis, and that her blood pressure had suddenly taken a sharp drop halfway to the hospital.

Those EMTs saved my wife's life, so I raise a glass to them and all emergency workers everywhere. May you always have what you need to do your jobs, and the respect you deserve!

#18 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:20 PM:

Re: #12
And now I can't remember how to get there! Darn painkillers. ;)

#19 ::: nathan ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:20 PM:

In the early 90's I was working on a movie in Duluth, MN, so I had a cell phone with a Duluth Area Code. We did the last week of the movie in Northern Maine and there was no reason to change phones.

One night, very late, I stopped for gas at a convenience store on a lonely highway. I pumped my gas and then went inside to pay. There was nobody in the store and one of the aisles had a bunch of merchandise on the floor. I thought something might be up, so I left money on the counter, went outside and dialed 911 on my cell. I couldn't figure out why the 911 operator couldn't figure out where this convenience store was, when finally I realized I was talking to Duluth 911. (Apparently at the time, you were connected by the area code of the phone, not by proximity to a cell tower.)

When we realized what was going on, she put me on hold and then connected me to a Maine State Trooper Barracks. I still have no idea what had actually happened though.

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:21 PM:

arwel @ 13... I thought that was the CamAARRGH...

I must heard of the place from someone who speaks with a French accent.
Quick! Fetchez la vache!

#21 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:32 PM:

If you are in the US* and have a cellphone, it's good to program in the local fire and police numbers--emergency and nonemergency--for the cities in which you spend the most time.

Because sometimes cellphone 911 can have a wait time, and if you know you specifically need a particular department (you see a crime in progress, say), you can call them directly.

* or other places where this could be relevant

#22 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:32 PM:

In reference to the 100 niche search engines particle, here's one that's not on the list: ohnorobot searches transcribed web comics. It's what xkcd uses for its search feature.

#23 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Agatha Heterodyne and the Voice of the Castle has finally gotten from the distributor's shipping dock to at least one of the distributees.

#24 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:43 PM:

There's the bell ringing system that reaches back some centuries in Europe.

Those bell towers were not only to call the community to worship in the local church / cathedral.

Bell ringing, which has been preserved, at least in England, was also signals. Those seemingly funny names given to different rhythms, came from somewhere. Sme of them meant fire disaster! Some signaled flood disaster imminent. And so on.

The church itself was the central gathering place for safety and from which to make sorties to rescue, from which planning to mitigate and so on.

There's a marvelous faded BBC Peter Wimsey from the early 70's that makes this all clear too.

As well as Robin McKinnley, who does do bell ringing these days, and blogs about it.

Love, C.

#25 ::: Matthew F. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:56 PM:

+++It’s also appropriate to remind everyone reading this that the emergency number, and the services it reaches, are there for a reason. Call them at need, and let the vehicles by if someone else has done so.+++

Just in the last couple of days there's been a bit of a media flap in Australia about "triple-0 taxis". Apparently pensioners, who don't get billed for their ambulance rides, are calling in with chest pains and so forth, riding the ambulance in to the hospital, then telling the paramedics they feel much better now and popping out the door to get their groceries at the shopping district just over the road from the hospital.

I know I should Disapprove of this (assuming it's a genuine problem and not just one or two incidents combined with a slow day at Murdoch Towers), but I couldn't help just a little chuckle when I read the story.

#26 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 09:58 PM:

Yay! New Open Thread!

I've had a couple ambulance rides in my time. It's not just the competence of the crews I'm grateful for, but above and beyond that, emergency workers are so calming. One can believe they could fix anything, including the godawful mess I've apparently made of my person, just from the way they move and talk.

#27 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:04 PM:

Constance @ 24:

Oh yes, The Nine Tailors. I love that book; haven't actually seen the video version though.

#28 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:26 PM:

Constance@24: I haven't seen the 70's version, but I recall a later version (late 1980's?) which got real bellringers for the necessary scenes.

#29 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:40 PM:

Debbie #959 in the previous OT:
People seem to be comforted by labels, including diagnoses.

At least part of being comforted is being able to name the enemy. Identifying the problem (provided it is a correct diagnosis) is the first step toward a remedy. There are few things worse than being unwell, yet all the tests keep coming back negative.

abi: Congratulations!

Dave Bell: My sympathies & best wishes on sorting out your mother's medical problems.

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:40 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 23... I received my copy two weeks ago. And I long ago acquired my very own Trilobite Pin.

#31 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:46 PM:

Of course, then there's the fake paramedic who got caught working in our town last month.

#32 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 10:54 PM:

OK, so I'm having an IM conversation with a friend, and he's watching The Tudors on TV and enjoying it (yeah, I know, I told him so). He sez

i love how the cardinal is so ruthless
So I'm thinking of Cardinal Richelieu from The Three Musketeers and I sez
Cardinals always are.
So then I figure I'd better say something about how Cardinals in fiction are what I meant, and how they wouldn't be appearing in the story at all if not to be wicked bad guys, but then I decide heck with it. I sez
That's why they wear the blood of their victims won't show.
And red hats so you can't see where their brains have been taken out and replaced with eldritch creatures of no earthly origin.
And one—only one!—of them wears white. This is because his brain has been removed and NOT replaced. No, for he walks and talks by the power of the Elder Gods themselves, and only Great Cthulhu knows his mind—for it is Cthulhu's own mind! Scream in horror, puny humans! Cthulhu fhtagn!
Hmm. Maybe you hadda be there.

#33 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:04 PM:

The dear wife just gave me a Delany moment:

So she's over there scorching her lap working on a massive tome, and she said to me, "I'm beginning to covet that thing we gave mom for her birthday this weekend" (a laptop pad with a built-in fan).

So I say, "Why covet? You've got the keys to their house."

"And I know the security code," she added.

Then I frowned. "You know, it'd cost more to drive there to steal it than it would--"

"--to go buy one," she finished.

"That's kind of sad," I said. "It's like the ending to 'Time Considered As A Helix Of Semi-Precious Stones."

Oh, it's a laugh a minute at our house!

#34 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:11 PM:

deathbird at #6 writes:

> And if you are ever in the land of Oz and need help, our emergency services number is 000.

And threadpropriately enough, 112 will get you emergency services on a mobile, regardless of whether the phone has run out of credit or is SIM locked etc.

#36 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:34 PM:

Xopher @ 32, there's a very simple explanation for watching "The Tudors" and enjoying it, and it can be summed up thusly:

Jonathan Rhys Meyers with his shirt off.

sadly, the rest of it got on my nerves enough that I didn't finish watching what was available on DVD from Netflix.

#37 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 11:58 PM:

Did anyone else take a couple minutes to realize Rikibeth wasn't talking about the guy from Indiana Jones, LotR, etc? I'm sitting there thinking "I know it takes all types, but seriously, him? With his shirt off??"

#38 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:09 AM:

Where I live, everyone always pulls over for the ambulance. It's the people who don't pull over for funeral processions that irriate me.

#39 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:57 AM:

Rikibeth, wouldn't you be better served by watching Certain Scenes from Velvet Goldmine and Match Point?

#40 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:05 AM:

Jeffrey Smith @ 5

I was in your #2 scenario a few weeks ago. Sitting on the onramp to eastbound 26 in Hillsboro, OR, with the ramp signals on (some days, possibly those whose dates divided by φ are mutually prime with the Euler number of Chtulhu's N-dimensional non-convex hull, which is to say, might as well be random, the ramp signals stay on much later, and I get caught in the ramp on the way home from work). The ramp is about 40 vehicles long, and was packed clear out onto the approach from the road that crosses the freeway just behind the ramp.

I was in the righthand lane about a third of the way in, when I heard a siren and looked in my mirror to see an ambulance trying to get onto the freeway. Everybody in the right lane pulled into the right shoulder and those in the left lane pulled onto the left shoulder, and the ambulance moved down the center of the ramp at about 5 mph average, with the cars behind it pulling back into the lanes neatly and without anyone trying to bump up a spot or two. Looked just like a zipper in operation.

#41 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:40 AM:

I had an ambulance behind me a few weeks ago. It was two lanes on our side and people were dividing left and right onto shoulders. I was in the left lane and could just pull ahead into a left-turn lane, except the motorcyclist behind me buzzed to my immediate left (car in front of us) and I was stuck further out into the lane than I'd planned or liked. The ambulance blew their horn (maybe because they were passing through an intersection), but I kept thinking "they can't see the motorcycle!"

I haven't had to call the ambulance here in a few years now (used to be once a year, on average), but they usually came with two ambulances and I'd tell them, "I'm large, but I'm not divisible!"

#42 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:49 AM:

Joel Polowin, #23, what, did they tell us this was out and my ad-blind eyes missed it? Spending more money, I am.

Serge, #30, I have Krosp and chibi Agatha pins, but I like the look of the winged trilobite.

#43 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 02:14 AM:

I just got a copy of The Ghost Map from the library, and as Jim Macdonald said in his review at that link, it's fascinating. It makes me want to go find Peter Ackroyd's London: The Biography on my shelves to see what he said about the epidemic.

#44 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 04:23 AM:

Soon Lee @29 -- oh, absolutely! I've just been involved in cases where there was a lot of pressure to attach a label, which ended up getting in the way of the process of finding useful interventions. And especially in behavioral areas, there are no cut and dried solutions attached to diagnoses.

#45 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 04:51 AM:

I've only once needed the ambulance called on my behalf (I was four, it involved about two litres of boiling ater and a spillage, 'nuff said) but have called emergency numbers on the behalf of others a few times.

Once was a car that flipped over the nose end.

Once was a man, sleeping on the street, with his trousers pulled down, in -15°C. The kind people at the emergency services assured me that an ambulance had been dispatched some 10 minutes ago and should be there momentarily (no, there was no ambulance centre any where near, it truly was far from anything else, as it were) and while I was on the phone to them, could I check that he was breathing. He was.

Once I called because I was having water coming down from upstairs and my neighbour was not responding to knocks nor (indeed) had any lights lit. The kind firemen arrived and turned the feed to their washing machine off.

And once, memorably, a sauna burned down, on New Year's Eve. When the fire brigade arrived, the caleld around to other nearby services, because the building was past saving, it was surprisingly quiet for NYE and they wanted all the other firefighters to come out and play.

#46 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:03 AM:

Good news and bad news.

My mother is OK at the hospital, not wonderful but no need for panic. We'll have more info in a couple of hours, after the Consultant (=senior doctor) has seen her.

Bad news: I'm thinking of buying a ukulele.

#47 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:19 AM:

46: I can't help feeling those might be connected. "You're buying a ukulele? Aaarrgh..."(collapses on floor)

9 Two people have told me that you can tell which kind of Dutch emergency vehicle is sounding its siren by counting the notes.

Can't look it up at the moment, but it's on YouTube: the English comedian Bill Bailey improvising a French folk song from the four-tone siren of French ambulances...

#49 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:57 AM:

Dave Bell - best wishes for your mother, but I'm now imagining you sitting in a hospital waiting room, playing this song.

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:33 AM:

Lance Weber @ 37... I never thought of the wrong Rhys shirtless. Until now. Thanks a lot.

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:35 AM:

Marilee @ 42... Didn't the the winged trilobite first show up in the 'imaginary' tale about the Weasel Queen?

#52 ::: wintermute ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:49 AM:


#53 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 08:45 AM:

Dave Bell--

You do know that Jeeves left Bertie for a while when Bertie became smitten by the dulcet tones of the banjolele...

and Xopher, @32.

All cardinals *are* evil.

#54 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 08:51 AM:

I wish I could find on YouTube that Monty Python skit where Michael Palin is Cardinal Richelieu who participates in a talent show by singing one of Mireille Matthieu's hits.

#55 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 08:59 AM:


#32 and #33 are wonderful. Thanks for sharing them, I needed a lift.

#46, Dave Bell -

If a ukulele is the bad news, then I'm quite pleased.* My best wishes for continuing good news about your mother.

*I've never seen a ukulele in person. That might be influencing my reaction.

#56 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:26 AM:

Sarah S @ 53

Are you an anti-ordinal bigot as well?

#57 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:33 AM:

Serge @ 51: I gather that adding wings to one's coat of arms / sigil may be an indication that one has joined the "Baron's Peace". I've seen some references to this floating around, but I don't know if it's canonical.

#58 ::: Pete Darby ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:39 AM:


"And did you persecute the Hugenots?"
"I did that small thing..."

#59 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:45 AM:

wintermute @11: Not just American tourists, also this expat German, who, under the 'fluence of the movies, wasn't sure about the British emergency number until she read abi's fine thread opener just now.

112 used to be reserved for fire brigade emergency calls, back at home. Wikipedia says it still is. And at the same time the Eurpean emergency number for EVERYTING. Is that odd? Won't that be confusing?

#60 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Bruce Cohen @56

I'd second that assumption, but first I must go forth and take the fifth.

#61 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:34 AM:

The most interesting thing about 112 is that it's the opening of the Fibonacci series.

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:44 AM:

Pete Darby @ 58... "I have no enemies but the enemies of France."

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:55 AM:

James 61: The most interesting thing about 112 is that it's the opening of the Fibonacci series.

It's a sequence, actually, but who's counting?

*flees, pelted by rotten fruit*

#64 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:07 AM:

Xopher @63

Since it's the Fibonacci series, shouldn't you be getting pelted with pinecones instead?

#65 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:15 AM:

#61, Jim MacDonald.
Yes, that's what I was thinking. For some reason, I often incorporate elements of the Fibonacci sequence in my passwords.
It's been stuck in my mind since I was a little tyke watching Square One on PBS on the tiny black-and-white in my room after school.
To Cogitate and To Serve!

#66 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:32 AM:

Open threadiness:

About 15 years ago I read a story in OMNI. The premise was, past-life regression was possible and reasonably easy, and one of the manifestations of this was in acting: if you wanted to play Juliet, one of your past lives had to have lived in Renaissance Italy. Macbeth required a past life in ancient Scotland. Etc.

So they want to do a play about Joan of Arc, and there's a famous actress whose past life was a French peasant during the Hundred Years' War slated to play the lead--until a girl shows up who was Joan of Arc. So they cast her instead, and change all sorts of things about the play, essentially rewriting it wholesale, based on how she says things happened. And she sucks, because whether she was Joan or not, she can't act.

I remember neither the name nor the author of the story, but I'd like to read it again.


#67 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:49 AM:

Bill Bailey claims that French ambulances are actually playing a tune but everyone thinks it just a four note figure because of the speed of the vehicle. His performance of the full version (with lyrics) is on youtube.

#68 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:24 PM:

38: It's the people who don't pull over for funeral processions that irriate me.

Well, it's not like he's going to get any less dead...

#69 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Sarah S @ #64, how about pineapples?

#70 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Sarah S @ #64, how about pineapples?

#71 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Ken #67:

The Doppler effect should cause the 4-note sequence to change for different observers, too. It will be shifted up or down when it's moving toward/away, and will give more interesting variations when it passes you going fast. (And the speed will matter, too, for how much the tone changes.)

I wonder if you could make an interesting tune just from limited number of tones (sirens, horns, etc.) plus plausible-speed Doppler effect sounds....

#72 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Fragano #1:

Wikipedia lists 119 as being common in Asia, as well as Jamaica.

It also gives an explanation for why New Zealand had 111 instead of 999 as its emergency number, having to do with their phones reversing the numbering of the rotary pulse dials, so that 9 gave one pulse, and 1 gave 9 pulses. Apparently, by defining their emergency number as 111, they could use the British equipment designed for intercepting 999 calls and routing them to the emergency operator.

I wonder if the same thing might have happened in Jamaica and Asia, with reusing equipment designed for 911 in the US. Do you remember anything about rotary/pulse dial phones from Jamaica?

#73 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:47 PM:

Carries S. @ 66:

"With the Original Cast" by Nancy Kress, I think it is.

#74 ::: Zed Lopez ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:50 PM:

I did a ride-along with a Berkeley cop a while ago. I asked him about people getting out of the way of emergency vehicles. My perspective, as a pedestrian, bicyclist, and driver here was that people were pretty good about it. His perspective (as someone for whom it was a routine workday event) was that people were terrible.

I'd like to echo Kathryn from Sunnyvale's advice for cellphone users in the U.S.: look up the emergency services direct-dial phone numbers for the municipalities you frequent and program them in your cellphone. I have 'em all prefixed 911 so they're together at the top of the list. Otherwise, in most places, you'll be waiting to get to the top of the state police's 911 queue and then talking to someone who doesn't know the names of local roads. (A friend noted that anyone looking in my cellphone would conclude I'm a narc, but I can live with that.)

#75 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 12:53 PM:

Carrie S. at 66:

I remember the story, but no more detail than you've given. Interesting premise.

#76 ::: Jan Vaněk jr. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:07 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #3: I am all for annoying Herr Direktor, but was not aware how the diphthong/ligature works to that effect; does he find them isufficiently all-American, or what?

#77 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:16 PM:

I find it utterly cool that successive terms of the Fibonacci sequence can be used to convert miles into kilometers. (The ratio of miles to kilometers being very close to the Golden Mean.)

#78 ::: Zed Lopez ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:22 PM:

Carrie S. @ 66: About 15 years ago I read a story in OMNI. The premise was, past-life regression was possible...

I'm pretty sure this is With the Original Cast by Nancy Kress.

#79 ::: Zed Lopez ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:23 PM:

Or, what James Moar @ 73 said. Doh.

#80 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:30 PM:

albatross #72: They were bog-standard rotary-dial phones as far as I can recall. You may well be right. I've no idea. It could be that Continental had a deal on cheap equipment.

Jamaica, along with most other Caribbean countries is integrated into the Bell system now.

#81 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:34 PM:

Jan Vanĕk, Jr #76: Conservapædia considers British usages and orthography un-American, therefore using them is one way of winding Mr Schlafly up.

Apparently, the use of International English spelling on Wikipedia was a sign of anti-American bias.

#82 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:47 PM:

re: Marilee @ #42 and Serge @ #30

I received my winged trilobite pin yesterday (and my copy of Voice of the Castle, too). The pin is very nice, you should get one! Haven't read VotC yet, but I don't think I'll be disappointed.

#83 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:53 PM:

Lila @70

A pineapple?! Where?

Oh, phew. Thought my number was up on that one!

#84 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:57 PM:

For the benefit of those who expressed an interest in the "That voice in your head? It's not me. -God" T-shirt: it's in print. We'll have it on the tables this weekend at Conestoga, and at Denvention.

#85 ::: AlyxL ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 01:58 PM:

Serge @ 50 I'm reminded of the much younger friend who professed herself bewildered by my drooling over Sean Bean. Not only did she think he was unattractive, but he wasn't funny either. After some time, it emerged that she thought I meant Mr Bean. Now I am haunted by images of Rowan Atkinson as Boromir.

Also, on the subject of emergency calls for non-emergencies, this story came out as part of a UK campaign to prevent them. The tone of the responding policeman's voice is completely indescribable.

#86 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 02:13 PM:

73, 78: Thanks! I think that's it.

#87 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 02:19 PM:

Hey Kids! Build Your Own Ukelele! Amuse your friends! Confound your enemies! Earn big $ putting on shows for your neighbors!

#88 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 02:59 PM:

AlyxL @ 85: Blackadder: The Lord of the Whinge. Rowan Atkinson as Frodo, Tony Robinson as Samwise, Hugh Laurie as Aragorn...

#89 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 03:05 PM:

Hugh Laurie would be better as Gandalf.

Though it's possible I'm projection from House here.

Miranda Richardson as Galadriel?

#90 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 03:06 PM:

Baldrick as Sam.

#91 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 03:07 PM:

Steven Fry as Gandalf.

#92 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 03:10 PM:

AlyxL @ 85... Confusing Sean Bean with Mr.Bean? Ouch. Could have been worse. She could have thought you were refering to Orson Bean.

#93 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 03:12 PM:

Er, projecting from House.

Also, clearly Gabrielle Glaister must play Eowyn.

But who should Stephen Fry play?

#94 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 03:24 PM:

Lord of the Whinge. YESYESYESYESYESYES!!!! Especially Tony Robinson/Baldrick and Miranda Richardson/Galadriel.

I am eternally grateful that Rowan Atkinson* wasn't cast as Voldemort.

*AlyxL @85, I feel your pain.

#95 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 03:34 PM:

albatross #71: I wonder if you could make an interesting tune just from limited number of tones (sirens, horns, etc.) plus plausible-speed Doppler effect sounds....

I've actually been working on something quite like that for a few days now. I haven't gotten the technique down yet, and I don't know if it'll go anywhere, but I really like the idea.

I also would really like to record people driving by me listening to various different kinds of music really loud and make something out of that, but I don't know how feasible that idea is, particularly with my very limited recording capabilities.

#96 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 03:52 PM:

I once wrote (for electronic values of the term) a piece which used only four notes (counting all octaves of e.g. A as one "note" for this purpose). It was minimalist, of course, but it did have a section at the end with a charming lumbering kind of quality. I called that part "March of the Dinosaurs."

Unfortunately, like many of my early pieces it exists only in the proprietary format of a software system that is now obsolete (wouldn't run on a modern computer OS even if I could get a copy) and unsupported. That is, it's lost forever.

#97 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 04:20 PM:

Growing up in Germany I was taught that 110 was the number for the police and 112 the number for the fire fighters (and also ambulances), but each could also dispatch the other, which I'd always found rather messy, having always been a geek. Wikipedia tells me that nowadays 112 is for all these things, but apparently 110 still works for the old folks who hate progress and/or Italian mathematicians.

#98 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 04:23 PM:

#26 Glinda #28 Chip

Part of what makes these these very early 70's Wimseys so interesting is that every scene pulsates with historical local color that mostly disappeared during the late 70's and the Thatcher and post-Thatcher eras.

One senses that outside of London there was less change from the between wars era until the middle 70's, than in many places. But after that, the acceleration kicked in, throttle wide-open and hasn't stopped, there or anywhere else, for that matter.

So the historic, local detail wasn't so much consciously chosen, as it was what it was, and that was what was available. This section of BBC was still very young, and didn't have the budgets that it achieved for its classics and drama series that it achieved in its funding heydays -- the Campion series for instance, cost an average of 1.5 million per episode. It's hard to see anything more lavish than a Campion series. You do see all that budget spent onscreen.

From what I understand budgets have been cut now, considerably.

Love, C.

#99 ::: JHomes ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 04:32 PM:

albatross @ 72.

It also gives an explanation for why New Zealand had 111 instead of 999 as its emergency number, having to do with their phones reversing the numbering of the rotary pulse dials, so that 9 gave one pulse, and 1 gave 9 pulses. Apparently, by defining their emergency number as 111, they could use the British equipment designed for intercepting 999 calls and routing them to the emergency operator.

The part about the reversed dial is true.
We were told that the point of using 999 in Britain and 111 here was that having a lot of pulses in the digits reduced the risk that equipment glitches or flashhook jiggles could generate a spurious call (possibly without the "caller" being aware of it) which could tie up a line and an operator, and possibly have emergency services sent to investigate.


#100 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:04 PM:

Stefan @87,

Interesting. Especially the manuals.

Yeah, I think I could assemble a ukulele kit.

#101 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:20 PM:

I'm pretty sure I've said this on a previous thread, but 999 and 112 work in the USA, and 911 works in the UK and the rest of Europe, 999 works in Europe - most modern systems have the several most common emergency numbers set up to work, so that the confused tourist/visitor can still reach the emergency services if needed, even if they can't remember what country they are in...

#102 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:26 PM:

Debbie #94: There is a certain faction that would like Rowan Williamson cast as Voldemort.

#103 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:35 PM:

On the BBC tonight, John Barrowman explored the science around being gay.

The evidence for gayness being something you're born with is very strong.

But there doesn't seem to be any single cause. Nobody has found a gene, not are there any clear signs of a single factor of the enviroment in the womb.

I anticipate the usual suspects to shortly begin frothing at the mouth.

#104 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:46 PM:

Random open thread reference (from Emergent Chaos):

FISA Overview posted on Daily Kos.

I've read through it briefly, but not in as much detail as it deserves.

#105 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:51 PM:

Dave 103: I certainly hope no one finds a way to test for it in utero. Watch right-wing loonies become pro-choice (at least for themselves).

Worse: sometimes keeping the secret is the only protection gay kids have. They don't come out until they're free of their psycho-loonie parentals. Imagine if the parents knew from day one?

I need to stop thinking about this. It's so horrible that it's literally making me sick.

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 05:58 PM:

Click here to feel old.

#107 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:07 PM:

WRT testing for sexual orientation - I think this century will see choosing that as just one of an array of choices for an unborn child. Along with potential intelligence, musculature, hair color, texture, etc., personality traits will also make it into the menu. To be sure, genes aren't destiny, but once the tools become available, would-be parents are going to use them.

It's going to be an interesting 100 years or so.

#108 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:08 PM:

Dave Bell #46: Glad to hear about your mom doing better, and my condolences about getting a ukulele.

and #103:

ISTR that there was pretty good evidence from twin studies that at least male homosexuality had a noticeable genetic component. (It's a lot easier to see evidence of that than to figure out the mechanism!)

Of course, the only way to approach questions like that is to separate any moral or political questions from the empirical ones. People who want to justify treating gays badly will find support for doing so in any set of facts or theories. (There's no question that being black is genetic, and no question that conversion to a new religion is voluntary. But there are plenty of people willing to hate you for either or both of these.) Similarly, the moral status of homosexuality tells you nothing about whether it's partly or wholly genetic.

#109 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:20 PM:

albatross @ 71

Well, there's the opening sequence of 'St Louis Blues', which is clearly Dopplering train horns.

#110 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:22 PM:

xopher@96: Westminster Quarters?

(Also, while we're momentarily clanged by the subject of handbells, listen to Fantasy on Hyfrydol for a 'wow' moment.)

#111 ::: Robert W Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:25 PM:

Had quite a celebration with other people from my agency and others earlier this week. They finally caught Radovan Karadzic. For those who may not remember, he was the president of the Bosnian Serbs and one of the prime movers of some of the worst war crimes since WWII. Now all we need to do is catch Ratko Mladic...

#112 ::: Hank Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 06:55 PM:

Oooh! Shiny!!

#113 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 07:09 PM:

Completely, Totally, 100%, Hypothetical Moral Dilemma

One's friends find a stray cat. Friends talk one into taking stray cat home as friends have dog that would pulverize cat. All no kill shelters in one's area are full. One has cat vaccinated and neutered. One's friends do not put up found cat postings they promised to. One becomes very stressed out sharing one's small apartment with another living being. None of one's acquaintances wish for a kitty. Would I one be a horrible human being if one "accidentally" left one's door open? The door a certain stray cat keeps trying to escape through? The door said cat has been meowing at for the past 5 minutes?

#114 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 07:15 PM:

#113, could one put up found cat postings? Has one checked lost cat postings? (My boyfriend brought a cat home once that turned out to be owned by the guy a few houses down, and we had no idea until we saw the lost cat poster, at which point we promptly returned the cat.)

Is the cat likely to be hurt or killed if one lets it outside? Any large busy roads, coyotes, et cetera?

#115 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 07:24 PM:

It was found about 4 blocks away. The friends who found it were supposed to put up posters over a week ago (I don't have a printer). Found out today they didn't put them up because they didn't want to deal with an owner who might be mad their pet got neutered. Sigh. I told them to put up the posters and contact me. I posted Found ads on Craigslist today and looked at the Lost ads. No luck so far. He had no collar, wasn't micro chipped, and wasn't fixed, so I think he may just be one of the many outdoor strays around here who are in fairly good shape due to food being left out for them, but not actually "owned". 25 mph streets with 35 mph close by, no known coyotes. But there will of course be other cats, dogs in yards, etc. And he is still meowing at the door. Of course, the neutering doesn't actually happen until tomorrow, so he ain't getting out today, no way, no how.

#116 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 07:37 PM:

Given a choice between letting the kitten go free and going to a *non*-no-kill shelter, do the latter.

Loose kittens can get hit by cars, or preyed on by dogs or coyotes. Turning a kitten loose is *illegal*.

Better to risk a painless death than getting torn up or flattened.

#117 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 08:09 PM:

Stefan at 116:

The local Humane Society actually runs a Trap Neuter Release program, so I'm not sure that he might not actually end up back outdoors anyway if I took him in. As well, I grew up around Outdoor Only cats. It is very hard for me to wrap my mind around putting down a perfectly healthy cat.

I'm not really planning on opening the door and letting whatever happens, happen. I'm just not sure I would be able to convince myself to run after him if he manages to get past me and make a run for it.

#118 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 08:43 PM:

Jen B., I also grew up with semi-outdoor cats, so leaving the door open seems perfectly reasonable to me. After all, the cat is free to come back?

We feel terrible keeping our cat indoors, mostly because we live in an apartment building and we don't trust the other humans to treat him with respect. He in particular is so much more alive when he's outside, meeting other cats, chasing things! Not having to deal with fleas as much is small compensation.

I gather though that the indoor/outdoor cat debate is common flamewar fuel. I guess it's just safe and pampered life vs. being locked away inside palace walls: two ways of looking at the same situation.

#119 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 09:50 PM:

Ralph Giles,

I just thought to myself, "Self... Google". Right away I found a messageboard about how many people in the community I currently live in have outdoor cats and it is practically unheard of for neighbors to call the Humane Society for pickups. I think all the healthy looking "strays" I've been seeing are actually pets. (This kitty was found in a nearby neighborhood across a four lane road that does not have the same visible presence of happy cats.) I think I'll just have him microchipped so if I ever do lose my patience and not run after him he can be scanned and returned if he doesn't come back for food on his own. I'm just going to have to keep fostering him until I find someone. Or until I run away myself.

As for the outdoor/indoor flamewar, I keep having it with myself. "He wants out, I should let him out." "No! There are pterodactyls out there!" "He sounds so sad, though. And he just pooped on the floor." "The pterodactyls have machine guns!"

#120 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:08 PM:

My take on the subject is that it depends on the cat. We once ended up with a cat who *needed* to be outdoors— his original owner lived on a busy street. And of the cats I own now, one is clearly an indoor-only type. The other gets leash time and usually lasts only a few minutes. Both love balcony time, though.

#121 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:32 PM:

The only argument for me is statistical: cats with regular access to the outdoors don't live as long as indoor cats.

#122 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:59 PM:

I worried too much about my indoor/outdoor cat when she stayed out all night, so when I grew up and moved away, and got cats of my own, they all grew up indoors. For me, the equation boils down to "I'd rather pick up poop I'd rather not worry all night long". Instead of bad dreams, my sleep is disturbed by cats wanting attention, or kicking me. Or, rarely, sleeping next to my face and passing gas.

#123 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:24 PM:

re 110: I was going to link to a really cool video of that, but it's been taken down. Darn.

#124 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:42 PM:

Put up signs. Somewhere out there, someone wants a cat. Maybe even that one.

#125 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 11:57 PM:

We have kept indoor-only cats for 20 years... Back in '91 while living in a mostly rural area, we trapped a cat that was outside in -25F weather. He didn't like being turned into an indoor cat, but thrived overall with our other seven kittehs. Six months later we found the owner (he found us). We gave him the now-neutered cat back with his promise not to let him back out.

He was outside our window the next night.

We didn't trap him again. Within weeks he disappeared, and we assumed he was hit by a car. I've always felt a little bad I didn't carry thru on my threat to the owner to trap him a second time and keep him.

Any cats we ever adopt will be indoors only. Nuff said...

#126 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:01 AM:

#96 - Xopher - We have friends with friends that have preserved damn near every computer ever produced. They even have access to some old IBM and Control Data mainframes from the early '70's... What format do you need? I'll do some checking for you...

#127 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:06 AM:

Serge, #51, I don't remember. But I like winged pins. (Not angels!)

Zed Lopez, #74, I live in a small city just outside an urban area and have never had trouble getting either the emergency or non-emergency operators on the first ring. However, they insist on addresses, which can be difficult. I had a situation where firefighters missed the place because they had an address instead of a description. I was at a Pizza Hut in a shopping center (only Pizza Hut in town) and an elderly woman became unconscious. I called 911 and checked her breathing and pulse -- they were both light and thready, but okay -- and told 911 that we were at the Pizza Hut in Wellington Station. The operator insisted on an address, which I got from a waitress standing fearfully by. So in a couple of minutes, the ambulance passes directly next to the Pizza Hut and goes out of the shopping center. I called 911 back (same operator, we are a small city) and told her that the ambulance had just gone by, to tell them to turn the corner and come back in the next entrance, which they did. As soon as they're in, the elderly woman became conscious and refused to go to the ER. I asked one of the guys why they missed it the first time through and he said "You should have just said it was the Pizza Hut" and I explained that I had. Hmph.

Dawno, #82, I ordered my winged trilobite last night, along with Voice of the Castle.

Lee, #84, do you have one that has:


centered? I know someone who wants one.

Jen B. outdoor cats can learn to be indoor cats. Shiva insisted on moving in with us and then was surprised he wasn't going outside anymore. He's mostly gotten over it. What's the problem sharing with the cat? He hasn't learned to use the litterbox? He likes to sleep places you don't want him to? He walks on shelves and makes things fall? We can probably give you ideas on making that easier.

#128 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:07 AM:

Hey all you p-r-o-fessionals out there... Eddie is totally confused by his search on the intrawebs and looking for one clear site that can explain copyright law to a noob writing a non-commercial, non-fiction work (new version of old role-playing game) that wants to quote other rule books that are 10 to 25 years out-of-print... Any suggestions? Danke!

#129 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:08 AM:

Jen B., kittens often have accidents anyway, but the chance of poop on the floor will be reduced if you clean the litterbox every time he uses it. Some cats, especially if they've been outdoor cats, are too fastidious to use a dirty litterbox.

That's what I had to do to persuade my formerly-outdoor kitty to use a litterbox. Since I'm not home all the time, it works out to two litterboxes for the one cat, and I clean both of them once a day.

Good luck finding the owner.

#130 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:12 AM:

Heh. Top 10 most scientifically inacurate movies, ever.

They really didn't like "day after tomorrow": "This movie is to climate science as Frankenstein is to heart transplant surgery."

#131 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:23 AM:

Edward, #125, in Virginia, stealing a cat is a felony, which is why although I was the one who made friends with Smudge* (who Animal Control couldn't catch), he had to go through the shelter before I could keep him. His people had scared him to pieces -- he'd never been vaccinated or neutered, he had cigarette scars on him, and he continued to be afraid of everybody but me. He turned out to have a heart murmur and the veterinary cardiologist told me he wouldn't have lasted to the end of the year outdoors. He was with us for three years, on daily atenolol, which was longer than otherwise. Like all my long-gone cats, I miss him.

*I named him for the mark on his nose, which turned out to be a rare infection. It eventually went away.

#132 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:26 AM:

Ed: explain copyright law to a noob writing a non-commercial, non-fiction work (new version of old role-playing game) that wants to quote other rule books that are 10 to 25 years out-of-print

How long it's been out of print doesn't matter. What matters is whether or not copyright has expired and the work has entered the public domain. The only point where it is "out of print" will matter is if it's so out of print that not even the publisher has the rights to it anymore to bother filing a lawsuit if they feel like you've infringed their copyright.

If the work is still in copyright (and I'd guess it is, given terms last over six hundred years*) then the only way you can quote from it is if you can use it in a way that qualifies as "Fair Use".

Unfortunately, I've yet to find a good website that gives a good rundown on fair use. Part of the problem is that you can't really define fair use in a purely objective way. You can't say "cut and paste 100 words or fewer is OK, 101 words or more is not OK".

If you can, you'll be better off taking the idea within the rule book that you like, boiling it down into some general principle or general rule, and then re-animating it using your own words, your own expression.

They can't copyright the ideas, they can only copyright the expression. Just don't hone too close to all the ideas, or they still might decide they can sue.

If you can't do that, and you really need to quote the book, then you'll just have to start reading up on Fair Use.

(*) give or take

#133 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:44 AM:

All but one of my cats (over the last thirty-five years I have lived with nine cats) have been indoor-outdoor cats, including the ones I have now. Two of those nine were killed by cars, which is one of the things that can happen to cats who like to cross streets. :-(

One was attacked by a pit bull. He survived and is still with me. He's a ginger short-hair, neutered male, nine years old, he weighs eighteen pounds, he's polydactylic, and yes, he still goes out the cat door whenever he wants to, though not as frequently as he used to... The one who was an indoor cat was semi-feral, blind and mildly retarded. He didn't particularly want to go outside.

#134 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:45 AM:

Edward Oleander @128:
Normally I just direct people to EFF's FAQ on IP for Bloggers, particularly the fair use section.

In your case however, it's important to know that games have some very interesting copyright limitations so you may actually need some real legal advice from an attorney with experience in these specifics.

This is actually pretty timely since I expect we'll be learning a lot more about copyright for games as Hasbro continues to throw it's weight around and cases like Scrabulous and 4th Edition D&D third party publishers start to land in court.

U.S. Copyright
The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.

Some material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game, or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container, may be registrable.

#135 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:53 AM:

#128 Edward Oleander: How about going to and posting a thread titled "[Creeks and Crawdads] Trying to find Martin Costa"? Fill in the blank with the appropriate title and author, of course. RPGing is a pretty small hobby, and there are lots of connections to anyone... Then you email the dude and ask him who has the rights, and ask the rightsholder.

I mention Costa because I was playing in a Creeks and Crawdads (pub. 1986) zombie game at a Bay Area gaming convention in 2007, I think, and it was pretty full with 8 players or so, when two normal-looking guys show up and ask the GM, "Hey, do you think we could get in?" and he's like, "I dunno, it's pretty full," and the shorter of the guys says, "The thing is, though, I wrote the game..." Much glee. Costa: "I always wanted to do that!"

#136 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:59 AM:

Jen: As for the outdoor/indoor flamewar, I keep having it with myself.

It's hard. On the farm, all cats were barn cats. But sometimes we'd go into the barn and one cat would stop showing up. If you do let them out, you should make sure they are vaccinated against feline leukemia. Stray cats might have it, and it'll wipe out an entire barn full of cats like nothing.

All our cats are indoor cats. We have one that is a fricken houdini and has gotten out twice. Both times, he came back after a week, screaming his head off, skinny as a rail.

The neighbor has an outdoor cat. let it out for years. Just didn't come home one night.

"The pterodactyls have machine guns!"

And they're synchronized to fire between the propeller blades, which is the freaky part.

Oh, you mentioned Craig's list. I haven't looked for a while, but they used to have a warning about giving pets away for free. People will pick them up, sometimes bring their kid along to look more legit, and then sell the animal to some testing facility or whatever. So, something to be aware of.

A long while ago, had a couple of rabbits that needed homes, and we found a 4H club (?) that had one-a-month meetings for rabbit owning 4H members. No, we weren't 4h members, but we called the organizer, asked if we could bring them up and find someoen to adopt, they said sure. we drove an hour and a half, spent a couple hours, and after the meeting, found two families, one for each rabbit. And the kids weren't so young that we had to worry about them dropping the rabbits or whatever.

Having the animal right there in the flesh can sometimes get people to adopt more than some text ad with a still photo on craigs list.

#137 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:13 AM:

Greg #130:

Surely, these are high-profile movies with specific bits (many, sometimes) of bad science. Most SF or SF-ish movies have science that's pure BS, much worse than Jurassic Park's one big (unlikely) premise. I thought their complaint about The Matrix was fair (and it hit you across the face when the scene happened in the movie--a sort of incongruous "WTF?" moment), but only if you didn't assume (as I ultimately did) that *everything* was happening inside the simulation, including the "real world" scenes with silly physics and Agent Smith and all that.

My wife and I were talking the other day about what movies are pretty good depictions of science--both being reasonably accurate about known science, and also getting the sense of how science and technology work right.

The best example we could come up with was _Apollo 13_. It's been a long time since I saw it, but I think _2001_ would also fit pretty well. I thought the movie _Contact_ did a reasonable job, though with an SFish premise and some random odd stuff in there, but again, it's been several years since I've watched it, so maybe I'm forgetting all kinds of goof-ups.

#138 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:40 AM:

albatross: Surely, these are high-profile movies with...

Yeah, I think they're actually the worst science of all "mainstream" or "popular" movies, not of all movies ever.

their complaint about The Matrix was fair

So, the idea I came up with, was that the Matrix was actually something the humans enforced on themselves to keep the species alive after the atmosphere was set on fire and all other life on the planet died.

And then something went wrong with the programming. Maybe the machines had to be sentient, and decided they didn't want to wake the humans up.

Or maybe some people woke up, thought the machines were the enemy, attacked the machines, and the machine artificial intelligence had programming directives like "keep humans alive", but couldnt' deal with humans from zion killing humans in the matrix. and so went all Hal-2000 on them.

The whole "electricity from your brain to power the machines" thing didn't make sense. But "keep you in the matrix to keep the human species alive until we can clean the atmosphere enough that you can come back and live in the real world", that, at least, had some sort of logical basis to it.

Just throw in some bad programming, mutually exclusive directives, to explain the agents, and there you go.

#139 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:53 AM:

It's official: the new X-Files movie would have been an OK episode, or if it had been less than six years since the last we saw of the show would have been a fairly decent movie addition. As it is, it was kind of sad. I saw it at a free sneak preview and enjoyed myself OK, but if I had paid, I would have felt cheated slightly.

Amanda Peet and Xzibit were the stupidest pair of FBI special agents ever portrayed in fiction.

#140 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 04:59 AM:

94: Rik Mayall (Flasheart) as Strider. "It's... me! Hurrah!" And, therefore, Adrian Edmondson as Saruman: "Gandalf... responsible for the deaths of some of my finest (and blondest) Uruks."

#141 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 06:12 AM:

Serge@51: The first place we see a winged trilobite is through a time window.

Joel Polowin@57: We haven't had a fully canonical explanation for the wings. We've seen versions of the House Sturmvoraus sigil with and without it, and Phil Foglio has said that the version without is the older one. I happen to think that Sturmvoraus added the wings when they became Wulfenbach vassals; but we don't know for certain.

Picked up my copy of Voice of the Castle today. I note with some displeasure that they didn't fix the inconsistent spelling of Carson von Mekkhan/Mekken's name; I note with some amusement that this time out, they haven't committed themselves to a title for the next volume.

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 07:20 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 141... Thanks for the reminder. I wonder if this means that there really is a Weasel Queen whose minions are 7-foot-tall flesh-eating rabbits.

#143 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 07:21 AM:

ethan @ 139... Bummer.

#144 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 09:30 AM:

We can't have Jennifer Saunders as Galadriel? Oh, all right then.

We've always had indoor cats, but only one was a fanatic about it - she'd occasionally wander outside, look really confused about the great big room with the blue ceiling and really bright light, and hightail it back inside.

And it's not like movies are really accurate about anything, not just sci/tech. What was the movie that had the guy jumping out of a White House window into an alley? And all those girls who suddenly realize that their best friend is really a better match for them than the bad-boy types they've been dating all this time? (Or all the stalkers who just know that she's the right girl for them, if only they don't give up until she comes to her senses?)

#145 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 09:30 AM:

Serge @ 142

I wonder if this means that there really is a Weasel Queen whose minions are 7-foot-tall flesh-eating rabbits.

Do you mean, that she exists as a real part of graphic story made up by an inventive artist? I'd say she and her minions are at least as real as the Easter Bunny, and possibly as real as the Tooth Fairy. And they could probably have lunch with Travis McGee (and stick him for the bill).

#146 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 09:34 AM:

Marilee: The problem with the cat is that he is in my apartment. I am very, very, very uncomfortable with sharing my living space. He's really well behaved. But he exists.

Rozasharn: He's only pooped on the floor once: while I was cleaning the litter box. That's a good idea for the 2nd box. I just have no idea where to put it. I suppose I could just switch them out.

I'm fairly doubtful about finding the owner (if there ever was a proper owner). All the shelters around here are full from people abandoning their pets after foreclosures. When I went to drop the cat off today for his neutering it turned out almost everyone there was like me: didn't want a pet, was looking for someone to take it, but there just aren't any takers right now. One woman had a cat in to get spayed whose kittens she'd had fixed the week before. That cat showed up with its identification: and she still has to keep it because the owners purposely abandoned her after losing their home. For the past few month the local shelters have also been dealing with a case of animal hoarding. Hopefully the friends who were supposed to print up the Found Cat notices 11 days ago finally did so after my angry phone call last night. (I have no printer and they live in the neighborhood he was found. And were the ones who called me to take him.)

Greg: I listed the cats on Craigslist as "Found" rather than as "Free". I left off some distinguishing features so only the real owner should be able to convince me. But thanks for the warning, I hadn't thought of animal testing. ::shudder::

A pterodactyl with propellers? Preposterous! Who ever heard of such a... oh.

Thanks for the input everyone. I think I'm going to try him out as indoor/outdoor. Maybe if I have my space totally to myself for part of the time, I won't be so stressed out sharing it the rest of the time.

#147 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 09:38 AM:

Greg @ 136: Testing facilities cannot use animals without pedigrees, or a clear history of production. It is against the law. USDA-certified dealers may sell animals to testing facilities, but those animals are tracked from the day they are born, and are produced by those specific programs for research.

Secondly, testing facilities do not want animals of random origin. It introduces too much variability into the research. Research animals come from fairly homogenous background.

Finally, the vast majority of research (98-99% of all animals) is still done with mice and rats, with zebrafish a growing part of this sector. The remaining 1-2% includes all other species used in research (rabbits, other rodents, dogs, cats, cows, goats, pigs, ferrets, other fish species, and monkeys).

Despite the tendency of animal rights groups to focus on Fido and Fluffy, the research that we do does not depend on stolen pets. One thing to think about: the research which benefits humans also benefits animals. Today we give dogs and cats the same heart medicines, perform kidney transplants, treat cats and dogs for cancer, do orthopedic surgeries, replace cataractous lenses, test vaccines, and more.

#148 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 09:50 AM:

Jefferson, our oldest cat, sometimes wanders outside, but, once he realizes what he's done, he cowers by the door in terror waiting for us to realize where the idiot has gone. Agatha, our youngest cat, actively tries to escape. Last time she did, I chased her all over the backyard and was able to catch her only because she got distracted by birds. ("Shiny!") Her being imprisoned has led her to sink into a depression. Literally.

#149 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 09:57 AM:

Serge @ 148: None of my cats have fallen into any sort of depression, but when someone escapes outside, they definitely show signs of agoraphobia ("there's nothing up there!"). Luckily for me, they all run right back inside where it's safe.

I've found that the best way to catch a cat is to not chase her, which is counter-intuitive at the moment of escape. I used to catch my indoor/outdoor cat by digging random holes in the front yard until she showed up to see what I was doing. I even caught a horse with this technique, although not in the front yard.

#150 ::: Jen B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 10:15 AM:

Ginger: My parent's cats have always been 100% outdoor cats. Only once has one of them gone into the house. She ran all the way around the first floor and right back out the door, looking as though she'd just been to the Most Terrifying Place Ever. "It is all closed in! There's no sky! Humans are crazy!"

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 10:26 AM:

Ginger @ 149... You caught a horse by digging a hole?

"Flicka! What are you doing down there?"

As for not chasing cats... That's what I wound up doing a few weeks ago when Agatha ran out at 4am. Darkness and the backyard's many bushes made searching for her a futile task. I did try to find her. I wound up turning on the porch light. Two hours later, with dawn peeking, I couldn't stand it and walked all the way to the top of the backyard. No Agatha. Of course, when I came back down, she was waiting for me on the back porch. After a bit of her half-heartedly running away, I finally was able to get her back in.

Agatha, Cat Genius indeed.

#152 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 10:33 AM:

A pterodactyl with two bodies conjoined to one pair of wings is a double-dactyl. A pterodactyl with multiple conjoined bodies is a polydactyl.

A gryphon with multiple heads that can detach in mid-flight is a MIRV gryphon.

#153 ::: Andy Wilton ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 10:37 AM:

Greg London @136:
"The pterodactyls have machine guns!"
And they're synchronized to fire between the propeller blades, which is the freaky part.

Funny you should say that, because the pterodactyls-with-machine-guns that immediately popped into my head... well, let's just say that synchronization wasn't actually an issue for them. (And I hate to come off like some kind of petty chauvinist, but nobody designs weird aircraft quite like the British do*.)

*Okay, did. (sighs nostalgically...)

#154 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Serge @ 151

Considering how many humans I've known to keep digging when they find themselves in a hole, it's not surprising a horse would do it.

#155 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:06 AM:

Serge @ 151: Not quite: I pretended to dig a hole. The horse stopped running around the large paddock and sauntered over to see what I was doing, so I turned my back to him. He came closer. I moved away. He came even closer, and I put his lead rope on, then gave him the sweet feed I'd been hiding. Just like catching a cat*. Actually, that same cat used to get out of the basement and disappear into the house. The way to catch her was to close the doors and leave my bedroom door just slightly ajar. Within five minutes she'd push her way through rather triumphantly.

Jen B @ 150: I'm sure that cat had a severe bout of claustrophobia. I've seen that happen with cats that pushed through a cat door and then realized that the Wrong Human was looking at them. It ran frantically through the basement, but there's only one door. Rather than chase the cat, I opened the door and stepped away from the house. A few seconds later the feline missile could be seen exiting and departing at high speed.

*For values of cat that include "calm" and "smart". The freaked out fraidy-cats have to be caught by other means, which usually results in someone** bleeding all over the draperies, while someone else (coughfelinecough) pees all over those same draperies. No names will be mentioned, to spare the dignity of the (BT) cat that might have been involved.

**That would usually refer to me, since I am the default "catcher of animals and animal-related things".

#156 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:14 AM:

Edward Oleander @ 128 -- here are a few sites I point people to for copyright. For whether something is likely to be under copyright or not, try the American Library Association's "Digital Copyright Slider" at For Fair Use, I find the University of Minnesota Copyright Decision Map helpful: A good place to pose questions is the ALA's Copyright Advisory Network: We handle all sorts of copyright questions, not just the library-related ones.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:27 AM:

Ginger @ 155... Ye shall be known henceforth as the catcher of animals and animal-related things.

#158 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:44 AM:

Does that mean Ginger can get the cat toys out from under my fridge?

#159 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:45 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 154... Considering how many humans I've known to keep digging when they find themselves in a hole, it's not surprising a horse would do it.

...especially if Mister Ed notices that Flicka is down there.

#160 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Spam from

#161 ::: Mary Aileen spells spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:05 PM:

Not that I can read it.

#162 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:06 PM:

Hello all! I've moved and so far I've discovered only one broken thing. (Of course, I can't unpack the most fragile gewgaws until I've figured out where to put them. So you may be hearing howls of desolation when I get there.) My house is nice and big, but the storage space is laid out very oddly and will require some fiddling to get everything put away properly. I'll be back as soon as I may--I miss you all terribly!

#163 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:15 PM:


I'd like to request a defenestration, please.
Those are truly - something or other.

#164 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:23 PM:

Ginger, welcome to the club. I'm catcher of animals in my house. Including squirrels (have-a-hart trap) and the limo service that requires.

But thank someone it has not occurred to the latest batches of cats to climb the curtains.

#165 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:26 PM:

On catching escapee cats:

Some years ago, I accidentally trained my cats to go sit on the hearth and wait while I prepared their dinner. I wanted them out from under my ankles, so I started pointing/herding/tossing them (as the case warranted) in the direction of the hearth, where their dishes of food would be brought to them. Eventually I saw the potential here and started introducing the command words "Sit" and "Stay."

Some time after this process was firmly entrenched, I had to take the Null-bit to the vet. Null is the one who's agoraphobic - on the drive from Oregon to Colorado, I'd take both cats out on a leash at gas stops; Uno* would calmly take care of business on the grass, but Null would howl desperately, climb up my leg, and crawl inside my jacket. His head got kind of stuck halfway down the sleeve. It was pathetic. Attempts to train him further in the mystery of leash, harness, and going walkies result in so much vocal panic on his part that the neighbors ask me if I'm trying to kill him.

So, I park the car, gather up Null-kitty in my arms, and attempt to convey him inside the four walls where he's safe. Null goes into full-bore crazy mode. "I just survived the vet! They poked and prodded me and I only just escaped with my life! AND NOW SOMEONE HAS REMOVED THE CEILING! HELP! I MIGHT FALL INTO THE SUN!" He squirms out of my arms and makes a break for it down the block

(Note to self: carrier and/or leash-and-harness next time.)

So I ran after him down the block to the next building over. He headed around a corner. I caught up while he was deciding what to do next. I yelled, "Null, sit!"

Whaddaya know. He sat.

Of course, he stood up again immediately, but that moment of habitual obedience gave me the time I needed to get within grabbing range.

Sometimes friends or family come over and they are darn-near offended at the whole "OK kids, go wait for dinner" routine. "You've trained them! You're treating them like dogs!" Oh horrors. I respond by telling them this anecdote. Generally they concede that a trained Null-bit, however dog-like, is better than an escaped Null getting squashed by a car or machine-gunned by pterodactyls.

*Yes, they're binary. This is what happens when geek marries geek and the geeks adopt kittens.

#166 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:35 PM:

Nicole @ 165... I accidentally trained my cats to go sit on the hearth and wait while I prepared their dinner

Cue to Cat Stevens's Teaser and the Fire Cat...

#167 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:37 PM:

TexAnne @ 162... Did Hugh Jackman and the videotape of paberback hero survive?

Welcome back!

#168 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 12:55 PM:

#165, Nicole -

I like that story! And I think any cries of "you've trained them!" from me would be astonishment, not censure.

I do think that accidental training is the easiest kind to give a cat, unfortunately. We accidentally trained the cat not to jump on the bed once. We did this by not being in our established places when he jumped up. He landed on my legs and I yelped in startlement, so he sensibly ran away and thereafter avoided the bed. We mostly managed to re-train him that the bed was okay, but he's far less available for bedtime cuddles than he used to be, and really only jumps up if he's called now.

TexAnne! Welcome back, however sporadic it is.

#169 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:10 PM:

Re: animals in holes, or not

John McPhee writes of a guy who catches cattle by lying down in the field and extending one leg straight up. The cows, overcome by curiosity, amble over.

Friends have a cat who dashes madly outside at any opportunity. She then becomes confused, falls over, and rolls gently side to side until they come scoop her up.

#152 ::: Erik Nelson
..some of the best wordplay recently, and the competition is stiff

TexAnne - welcome back! Been doing any knitting in your copious spare time?

The World's Biggest Sock is in Denver. Unfortunately, it's just an attempt at a Guinness listing. OTOH, how cool that the conditioned response is now, wow, I'll go do that, what is our effort benefiting?

#170 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:22 PM:

While I was off at college, my mother accidentally trained one of our indoor/outdoor cats to scratch the carpet when he wanted out. Then, of course, she complained that he'd started scratching the carpet all the time....*sigh*

Once I was taking care of him again, it was easy to get him un-trained; partly this is because he actually listened to me when I told him "No!", but mostly it's because I paid attention when he asked to go out in less obtrusive ways, and opened the door like a good pet human.

This same cat was effectively raised by one of our indoor cats, even though they're not related, and after a while any time she succeeded in sneaking out of the house he'd go keep an eye on her until we could get her back in--even if he'd just come inside himself.

#171 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:45 PM:

Can anyone point me to the Particle leading to the sinful apple dumplings made with crescent rolls and Mountain Dew? I just poked around for about 10 minutes with google site searches and paging back through the Particle archives searching for appl and then sin. I probably missed running the correct find on the correct month page.

#172 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Carol @ #169, Tony Hillerman had a cattle rustler in one of his books who used a similar technique.

My friend Tom, who is both an animal control officer and a dog rescuer, catches runaway dogs by sitting down on the curb with his back to the dog and eating pork rinds.

Welcome back, TexAnne!

#173 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:56 PM:



They're at Pioneer Woman Cooks:

(I also like her chicken spaghetti and her mystery rolls.)

#174 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 01:58 PM:

ethan@ 39, "Match Point" is on the Netflix queueueue, and while "Velvet Goldmine" gets watched Rather Frequently around here, the trouble is that THE ENDING IS ALWAYS THE SAME.

And Hollywood had better get around to making the Swordspoint movie PRONTO. JRM has already aged out of the Alec role, and won't be suited for Michael Godwin much longer either, and what if Bob Anderson DIES before he can do the fight choreography?

#175 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 02:00 PM:

R.M. @ 158: As it so happens, I do have some surplused* laparoscopic instruments that come in handy for that sort of thing, but most of the time I just move the fridge out, sweep up the dust, hair, and collected toys, and push the fridge back.

Nicole @ 165: Well-done! I've trained all my cats to stay away from the front door when I'm coming through -- that way I avoid anyone making a mad dash for outside. However, Kedgie and I have trained each other regarding the proper dispensing of milk for her.

Eric @ 152: I'm afraid you've committed syndactyly.

*Back in my younger days, we ran workshops for the Urologists (continuing education) and they use their instruments for one procedure only, so I collected the discarded clean instruments and play- er, practiced with them.

#176 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 02:05 PM:

Serge @ 157: Thank yew, thank yew verra much.

Paula Helm Murray @ 164: Well, I should explain that the drapery-climbing occurred under special circumstances, namely she was the last cat to be boxed for transport to the new house. My mistake. She was totally freaked out by all the cat-catching and -boxing, and wanted No Part Of It. My partner had never seen a cat freak out, and was nearly freaking out herself. While I bled, I calmly requested that she open the cat carrier so I could put the bundle of shrieking peeing pooping kicking and biting cat fur in. Need I mention that the cat was mad at me for weeks after?

#177 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 02:17 PM:

Ginger @ 176... My partner had never seen a cat freak out

She should watch the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, specifically near the end, when the volcano lair of evil Blofeld is under attack by the good guys. His cat is definitely freaking out, and trying to escape from his clutches, even if it means clawing all flesh away from actor Donald Pleasance.

#178 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 02:18 PM:

On a political openthready note, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake got a few seconds of an interview on NPR's Morning Edition this morning, talking about Blue America and the left/right coalition that's going after senators who supported the new FISA bill. Appropriately enough, the coalition is called "Strange Bedfellows". Kinky.

#179 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 02:48 PM:

I tried to leash train both our cats, and had actually gotten some headway (mostly by carrying the cat some distance from home and walking them back.) Then one day I had the tortie (Nimuë, known as Mui) on a leash when somebody turned on a hissing, spitting hose.

Suddenly I was at one end of a bouncing, spitting, whirl of action.

I caught her— she bit me, and she has never harmed be before or since— and hid under a parked car. The leash was still trailing out, so Evil Rob (who had seen the whole incident, laughing hysterically) went inside, got a leather coat, and extracted her. He had to hold her for a good half hour before she'd allow us to peel her off the jacket.

She's not much cottoned to the outside since, and that includes three moves through seven states— Western states, to boot.

I still wish somebody'd been videotaping.

#180 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 03:08 PM:

The ukulele is red.

#181 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 03:16 PM:

Hi TexAnne!

Welcome back. We saved you a seat by the fire.

#182 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Right now she'd probably prefer a seat by the air conditioner.

#183 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 03:46 PM:

As for FISA, I think many people are just suffering from outrage fatigue over the issue. Still, there's hope for August 8th.

#184 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Jen B. @146: )All the shelters around here are full from people abandoning their pets after foreclosures.

There was a segment on NPR about that trend a week or two ago... as difficult as that situation is, it beats some of the alternatives.

Some people think that instead of leaving their pets at a shelter to risk euthanization, the animals would be better off being a.) "liberated" into a nearby park, wildlife area, or just general neighborhood; or b.) left inside the house in hopes that the familiar surroundings might comfort them somehow.

Even the likely outcomes of "liberation" (death by car, starvation, exposure or predator) seem relatively merciful to being oublietted inside an empty house. The animal control expert being interviewed said that in the latter case, usually by the time the pets were found, they were either so frantic that their behavior had become unadoptable (claustrophobia/abandonment issues, ingrained habit of digging/scratching at the doors and windows in an attempt to get out), or they had starved to death (often with futile scraps of carpet, wallboard etc. left in their stomachs because they'd had nothing else to eat).

#185 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 04:54 PM:

Constance #98- the impression I get, from not watching TV and reading newspapers and stuff, is that the BBC has been sliced, diced, managed, mismanaged, consultanted and sold off so much that morale is almost non-existent and budgets don't exist anymore for proper programs.

Regarding places changing through the decades, i recall towns in the Scottish and english borders which in the 80's still looked 30 or 40 years behind the times. They'll be completely changed now, of course, but back in the 80's the 70's had still to reach them.

A while ago I was driving along a road in edinburgh, when an ambulance came up behind me, but the car behind me just didn't seem to notice this large white thing with flashing blue lights and siren behind it for several seconds. I (of course) had noticed it earlier, but the driver behind me seemed like a rabbit in headlights, and didn't move for ages.

Edinburgh also has a moderately good municipal fire service museum, with pumps and tenders going back a century. I visited it in doors open day, they have some steam powered ones, up to a Land rover fire engine. It was interesting examining the old ladders made out of thick wooden laminates. They were in use up to the 70's or so, then they repleaced them with the Aluminium ones. But the basic pump tender design seems not to have changed since the 70's or so.

#186 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 05:15 PM:

Auto review of the year:
BMW X6: About as useful as a laminated pizza
Put down your drink before you read it!

#187 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 05:21 PM:

Open threadery:

For those who want their classic science fiction combined with classical music there's this event on Sunday morning (note to Lee, it involves David Tennant).

#188 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 05:40 PM:

So if I were to mention that I found this site about driving an Airstream trailer from Cape Town to Cairo in the company of a bunch of other crazy people, and accidentally showed it to my family, and they all started planning how we were going to manage it -- would everybody here think that was a stupid thing to do, a cool thing to do, or both?

Because I think, whether it's cool or stupid, it's looking like we might actually do it.

#189 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 05:55 PM:

The Wall Street Journal was certainly due for a fall after being purchased by Rupert Murdoch. But I never imagined they'd sink this low:

What Bush and Batman Have in Common


July 25, 2008; Page A15

A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a "W."

There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society -- in which people sometimes make the wrong choices -- and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

"fortitude and moral courage", forsooth! Me think me wound up in Bizarro World.

No, wait. It's only another Murdoch yellow rag.


#190 ::: Jennifer Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 06:37 PM:

I've been really enjoying getting to read about everyone's adventures with cats. There's a parrot in the corner who wants to know why I keep laughing.

I have two cats, myself, both of them feral kitties that I taught to live indoors. Maggie, my little dilute tortie, got outside once, by accident. Of course, she immediately decided that she liked the free life much better, and to cat hell with what I wanted for her.

I, missing her terribly, removed entirely the screen from the window she'd squirmed her way out, and proceeded to spend every spare moment for two weeks camped by that window, feeding endless plates of sardines and tuna to the feral colony and every stray for several blocks in any direction. Sardines have a very penetrating scent, and will attract cats from quite a ways away, as well as imparting a delectable aroma to ones apartment.

Eventually, Maggie came to investigate. It took a combination of sardines, her favorite wet food, and a string dangled through the window for her to play with to get her to agree to come up onto the windowsill. She sniffed my hand, and the light of recognition dawned in her eyes. "Oh, you're the mommy human with the clever paws. Right."

And then she walked in, over the table by the window and rubbed her face on mine.

I closed the window, and to welcome her home, gave her a bath.

She's never left since, and those few trips outdoors, she's always come back when called. Seems she likes endless food, clean water, and all the scratches she can get. And really, who can blame her?

*Yes, I've taught both my kitties to come when called, and to take baths without ripping me to shreds. I can also trim their claws with no fuss. Both born feral, grew up feral, but now they live with me. It's a little known fact that I speak cat.

#191 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 06:39 PM:

Bruce @ #189, Roy Edroso is all over that. Be sure to click the "brighter bulbs" link, too; it takes you to World-O'-Crap, which has even more calumny to heap on that mess.

#192 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 06:59 PM:

Our two kitties (adopted at nine weeks old from a shelter) are indoor cats. That way I don't have to lie awake at night worrying whether they've been run over (their mother was), and (as a good conservationist) I don't feel guilty about havoc being wreaked on the local wildlife.

They do get to go out in the garden on harnesses, to graze.

Nicole @ 165 Well done. I've been working on training our cats to come when called ("Treat!") since the thread which discussed catching your cat in the "get-out-the-house-NOW" emergency situation.

#193 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 07:13 PM:

#188, Michael Roberts -

Possibly both, but definitely cool. I'm sure that for good or ill, it will be unforgettable.

#194 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 07:15 PM:

Erm, #193 is supposed to sound more positive than it does. I'm too brainfogged to be original so I'll just be cliched. It sounds like the adventure of a lifetime.

#195 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 10:25 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 188: should be a blast!

Julie L @ 184: People actually abandoned their pets inside a shut-up house? What do they imagine they're doing, aside from racking up their coals in hell?

On cats, indoor/outdoor: some friends of ours harness-trained their two Burmese cats, then to give them outdoor time would leash (long retractable leashes) them to gallon milk jugs partially filled with sand in their back yard. The cats could haul the jug anchors about easily enough, but were prevented from running off entirely. So far as I know, it hasn't hurt them at all.

#196 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 10:51 PM:

Michael @ 188: You say crazy like it's a bad thing ;) Of course, my dad drove from Peking to Paris last summer, so I may not be entirely objective on such road trips.

Re: Kitties!

Our kitties' mom is my sister-in-law's cat. She started feeding a local stray, and when she realized it was pregnant, she figured she'd better make the adoption official for the sake of the kittens. We ended up with Linus and Lucy, and SIL kept momma cat. The other two kittens were supposed to be adopted by other friends, but when said friends couldn't follow through, they went to the local no-kill shelter as soon as they had space.

#197 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2008, 11:40 PM:

P J Evans @ #186:

"Looks like a fish. Moves like a fish. Steers like a cow."

#198 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 12:28 AM:

Jen @ 119:

Annie (my current rescue-kitty) went from nearly 10 years as indoor-outdoor to the last two years as indoor only. She's not always OK with that, but: there are coyotes here, and people lose cats to them. Wish she'd understand when I *tell* her that, though. *wry*

#199 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 03:32 AM:

So, exactly 336 hours from now the Making Light Party at Denvention will be ongoing*, having started about 332 or so hours from now.

We will will have dinosaurs: perhaps even shiny dinosaurs. We will have numinous luminous Fluorospherians. Eating light? Certainly. Eating chocolate? of course. Special appearance by Abi, through the magic of nets.

If you're going to Denvention and think you might be dropping by that Friday evening, please leave a note here on Serge's LJ (you can comment w/out a LJ account), so that neither too much or too little mammoth is ordered. You can also email me directly.

# Friday the 8th,
# Starting about 9:30pm--but the real-true start will be when the masquerade is done: many MLers will be in the audience or on stage (and that's a priority and a must-see, especially if you haven't been to a Worldcon masquerade before),

# ending when it ends--maybe a bit earlier than that, we'll see.

# in the party hotel, #7 on the map. That's 3 1/2 blocks from the C.C.= where the Masquerade will be held--in a 5000 seat auditorium--so everyone can go and see the Masquerade.

# Room number to be announced / LJ'd / twittered / IM'd / posted here Wednesday, after arrival in Denver.

While it isn't a closed party, it won't be openly promoted on-site. Cryptically promoted--yes. Lightbulbs are a clue. Also, there'll be note for "Making Light" on the people-note-connections board thingy.

More information to come.

Special request from me for anyone driving to Denver from the SFBA--if you have a little extra cargo space, I've got some party supplies that would be better driven than flown if possible (new baggage limits and all that).

* maybe winding down a bit exactly then from now.

#200 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 11:36 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale (#119): Perhaps the message should be on the voodoo message board (assuming there is one) under "Flor O. Spherian"?

Aside: Font lovers (which I suspect most Fluorospherians are) will probably enjoy this video (SFW, has audio, put down your drinks first).

#201 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Julie L@ 184: Evil Rob sayeth, and I quote: "People suck."

Go hug your pets.

#202 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 01:17 PM:

THANX YOO, Greg, Lance, Madeline and Janet!!!

I kan now has bettr cluze thn mai randahm intranets poking hads prohduces! Blessings of Ceiling Cat upon thees!!!

AD&D shall live again!

#203 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 01:46 PM:

pericat @195, B. Durbin @201, or anyone else who can bear it: the "Fresh Air" segment about "foreclosure pets" is archived here.

And while I was Googling around for that, I also found an even worse news story from New Jersey about when foreclosure happens to someone who was already an animal hoarder.

#204 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 02:22 PM:

Cat stories:

All our cats are indoors only. The most recent adoptee, Rikkus, was, we think, one of the "foreclosure cats" mentioned uptopic. He'd been seen around the neighborhood for several years, occasionally harassing our neighbor Anne's cats thru the glass patio door. Earlier this year, it was noticed that his coat was getting matted and he was losing weight. Apparently, his owners left him behind when they moved, and he wasn't that successful at the feral life. (He had a microchip, it turned out, but it was from the shelter in Seattle where he'd been adopted ten years ago, and the owner listed in their records was out of date.) So he ended up being assimilated ("Resistance is futile!") into our household.

There was also the case of Jack-A-Dandy, the kitten born to Cassie (the "rescue cat" before Rikkus, another apparent case of an unwanted cat simply being dumped on the street), who was also the World's Cutest One-Eyed Kitten. Adopted him out to an acquaintance, things went well for several months, then he dashed out an open door, across the yard and into the street, where he was -- literally -- blindsided by a car.

(That sounds sad, and it was, but it turned out to be a good thing for Jack-A-Dandy. Several months afterward, the boyfriend of the acquaintance who'd adopted Jack broke up with her and moved out. This precipitated a psychotic breakdown in the acquaintance, and to punish the boyfriend for breaking up with her... she murdered the other half-dozen cats they'd had together. I don't want to share any of the details I learned about what happened to the cats, but it wasn't painless and it wasn't quick; I still get a sick feeling in my stomach thinking about it. It's just... someone seems and acts normal, and suddenly... you find there's a monster inside that person, capable of hideous, depraved cruelty. So, Jack-A-Dandy was actually the lucky one of the cats, to die as quickly and relatively painlessly as he did.)(Yes, the acquaintance was arrested. I didn't follow the case after that, so I don't know whether she ended up in prison or in a mental hospital.)

#205 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 03:46 PM:

Linkmeister #191: Thanks. It's good to see folks who can write better than me going at it.

On a related topic, though, here's a wonderful video in which folks are asked to say whether various quotes are by Batman (Adam West version) or Bush (via). I'm particularly fond of the guy with the magazines.

#206 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 03:56 PM:

Re the original post, Japan had city neighborhood fire brigades as early as the mid 1600s. Dense cities built mostly of wood, paper, and straw, you figure it out.

#207 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 06:15 PM:

re: #187

Oh, I wish that was in the US! It sounds fantastic!

#208 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 08:08 PM:

Melissa Mead #207: Thanks to the magic of the Internet it will available to you on the BBC iPlayer: for seven days after the broadcast on BBC Radio 3:

#209 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 08:19 PM:

I hope that this doesn't get anywhere. But if it does, I might ask all Americans I know to wright in, say, John Larroquette on their ballots.

#210 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 08:30 PM:

If he actually chose Veneman (or any other more-conservative-than-him person, even a Democrat) for VP, there are a lot of people who would vote third-party or stay home. Anyone who thinks it wouldn't hurt is not well-connected with the party base.

#211 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 08:36 PM:

PJ @ 210, See, I think that's a problem for both parties. They each think of their bases as sure things. I'm sure there's internal discussion when moves like this are considered, and somebody pipes up with the following: "Who else are they gonna vote for?"

I'm sure that's largely an assumption with merit; after all, I'm not gonna vote for John McCain no matter how reprehensible Obama's actions become. But I might stay home on Election Day, or just not select a candidate in the Presidential race that day. They really should have that in the back of their minds.

#212 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 08:43 PM:

Re: #208

#213 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 08:47 PM:

While dropping off a sack of dog crap this afternoon, I spotted this by the dumpsters:

There were three more stacks half as high as those.

Turned out to be braille books. Dozens of them.

Only, really lame braille books; reams and reams and reams of Jehova's Witnesses literature:

#214 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 09:32 PM:

Christopher, #200, and the hero is the font I have as default online!

Baby moose in sprinkler!

#215 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 09:35 PM:

I really like Digby's posts. Sometimes she makes litle mistakes. Sometimes I make little mistakes.

In her post about the Obama campaign being rogered by the Pentagon, in re his trip/non-trip to Landstsuhl, she said it was an AF Base. So I decided to make a clarifying point (it's an army hospital, it was the third stop in my trip back to the States in 2003).

That too was a mistake, the commenter, Skeptic... not nice.

In fact, one of the most egregious examples of the right-wing stereotype of the troop-hating lefty.

I think I'm going to go have a drink now.

#216 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 09:39 PM:

Linkmeister, I think Obama's (better) people know that. That's one reason I think this is being floated by people outside the campaign.
However, I wouldn't bet that there aren't some people inside the campaign who think that 'bipartisanship' and 'healing the country' are more important than actually winning. (There's screaming over at Daily Kos, for example, that Veneman is a bad idea.)

#217 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 10:08 PM:

Aww, Terry, dammit. I'm sorry that happened to you.

Watch the baby moose video.

Long-distance hugs for you if you want them.

#218 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 11:28 PM:

Well, I have the cherry cordials' shells made, the brandied cherries in, and the brandy-thinned fondant (with invertase) poured. Now it remains to be seen whether I thinned the fondant so much that I can't pour chocolate on top of it, in which case I have to start all over.

That would suck.

OTOH, I've realized that the party isn't until Friday, so the invertase has until then to work its magic. So I have a little time to fix screwups.

#219 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2008, 11:47 PM:

Terry Karney @ 215... All of what RM Koske said @ 217. And hopefully this will cheer you up a bit.

#220 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 12:03 AM:

To all who are sending me best wishes and hugs...

Yes it sucks (I recall from the last time a commenter at Digby caused me to complain, and your support means a lot; even when I'm not; exactly, petitioning for it), but one does get used to it; mostly.

But as I tried to say there (and no, for my mental health I have no intention to go back), it's stupid. I don't care how much one might think that sort of thing, it's very bad tactics.

When it pisses someone like me (who is on that idjit's side) to the point I won't read what he has to say, it's shooting yourself in the head; jus to prove a point.

#221 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 02:28 AM:

Serge @151:
"What's that, Lassie? Flicka fell into the well?"
(I blame too many battered/deep-fried beet slices, and the time.)

#222 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 03:15 AM:

Terry, "Skeptic" strikes me as more incoherently angry than anything else. I'm sorry you got attacked. Not fair. He's also a living example of why to deal with your own anger, before criticizing anyone else's.

On the subject I was came here to mention, Castle Island Company (which I think is mostly Ed Grenaa) has an amazing page on rapid prototyping and computer controlled fabrication. Anyone interested in this subject who hasn't seen it, check it out.

#223 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 06:56 AM:

geekosaur @ 121...

That reminds me of the cartoon that showed someone stuck to a train track, and the big-choo-choo is getting closer, and the person tells Lassie to get help and she does - on a therapist's couch.

#224 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 07:00 AM:

Speaking of kitties... Here is a photo of mine. Notice the photo's title.

#225 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 09:19 AM:

Greg @ 130:

In their discussion of Jurassic Park, there's this little gem:
"The problem is that it would be almost impossible to clone the dinosaurs based on DNA pulled from the guts of a 25 million-year-old mosquito."

Yes, indeed. Especially given that dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago.

(Now, my impression is that Crichton actually did get the dating of his amber correct -- though Spielberg moved the amber mine scene to the Dominican Republic, where the oldest amber is post-dinosaur -- but there are any number of other problems. Like, why fill in the "missing" dinosaur DNA with frog DNA? Heck, human DNA would be a closer match. But then you've have to have a story about human-dinosaur hybrids... which might be kind of cool in a completely silly way...)

I am pleased to see that they included The Core, which Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics called "the worst physics movie we've ever viewed."

#226 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Peter #225:

Yeah, I thought Jurassic Park took their one SFish premise (which may very well be as impossible as sentient computers, which is to say, nobody knows how to do it now, but there's not any known physical law forbidding it, as with (say) FTL travel) and then mostly tried to play by the rules of known reality after that.

This seems very different from those blow up the asteroid one day from Earth, thus saving mankind movies, which themselves were at least somewhat less nutty than the more common sprinkling of technobabble onto implausibilities or deus-ex-machina new tech invented on the spot to resolve the Star Trek episode's problem, and then forgotten forever more.

#227 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Constance @ 98: The Campion series must have been during a momentary bulge, or maybe Auntie were willing to spend more money on historicals; the TV versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981) and Neverwhere (1996) were both painfully cheap. There's a certain irony in the Beeb dropping a lot of money on Campion after cheaping it on Wimsey; Campion is commonly considered to have begun as a parody of Wimsey.

Dave Bell @ 180: So long as you stay on \your/ side of the pond....

guthrie@185 (& prev) re unchanging towns: our 1995 guidebook pointed to a trail of interesting sites south of Oban; the iron smelter (built because shipping ore from the lake district made sense before coal became major) was interesting to us geeks, but we were both floored by a tiny community in which people had lived in ~medieval conditions (e.g., animals in the other half of a house) until 1964.

Bruce A @ 189: Being a Murdoch rag, they left out lines like -"[I won't kill the Joker because] I don't want to become that which I hate."- (Hardly surprising; asking even the pre-Murdoch WSJ to have a conscience was a little like asking a T rex to consider vegetarianism.)

#228 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 11:44 AM:

PJ Evans @ #186: "This thing feels like a neutron star with a steering wheel." Ouch.

Bruce @ #205, that's hysterical, especially as I found myself going, "It must be Batman; it's too coherent for Bush."

Terry: Skeptic has a screw loose. Eventually his/her head will fall off. Until then the less attention paid, the better. Thank you for your service, your compassion, your commitment to justice, and your civility.

#229 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 02:28 PM:

#225 ::: Peter Erwin
[...] I am pleased to see that they included The Core, which Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics called "the worst physics movie we've ever viewed."

(paragraph 10]:
Keyes ends up sulking in a bar with his friend Serge.

Understandable that one seeking comfort would head for a bar and hang out with Serge. But, Serge, what's in it for you? Was it worth it?

#230 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 03:34 PM:

CHip@227: The Campion series must have been during a momentary bulge, or maybe Auntie were willing to spend more money on historicals; the TV versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981) and Neverwhere (1996) were both painfully cheap.

Note that both of these programs were produced to be shown on BBC2, which traditionally has lower budget, less mass-market-appealing shows than the primary BBC1 channel.

I can't find any reference to whether Campion was a BBC1 or 2 production, but I seem to recall it was first shown on BBC1 (as an early-evening Saturday program, IIRC -- that is, the slot that traditionally attracts the biggest budget).

#231 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 03:48 PM:

CHip @ 227... Neverwhere's low budget is what I liked about it. It allowed the viewer to see Gaiman's imagination, without dazzle getting in the way. But YMMV.

#232 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 03:49 PM:

A reminder that the third season of Eureka begins this coming Tuesday night. Yay!

#233 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 04:30 PM:

CHip, #227: I've read that initially British broadcasters saw TV shows as similar to taped stage plays, where by contrast American studios saw them as little films. Which at least partly explains the staginess of a lot of old-school BBC programming. (Through the 1960s, some programs were taped as though they were being broadcast live, simply because the videotape they used was such a pain in the neck to edit.) It also may explain something about the BBC's view of television as an inherently ephemeral medium, which (combined with a lack of archive space) led to their junking lots of archived programs they thought no one would ever want to see again.

On the commentary track on the Neverwhere DVD, Gaiman says the original plan was to give the series a film-look treatment to make it look slicker. (This is how the new Doctor Who is done, although they don't give it the imitation film grain sometimes used with this process in the past. The result is something that looks interestingly like a cross between video and film. You can see what the raw video looks like on the deleted scenes in the third season box set, which apparently were never treated.)

#234 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 04:34 PM:

Kitty stories:

Several years ago, when I was in my first apartment as a grown-up, and had recently acquired a stray kitten as a roommate, I returned home from my long day at work (I taught at a boarding school and teachers stayed late one day a week for residential duty) to find a note on my dining room table from the police. It seems my apartment building neighbors had made a noise complaint that day...odd, since it was just me and Mica (kitten), and I had been at work for 14 hours.

I called the police station and while I was on hold I wandered the small apartment to see if anything was amiss. My TV and stereo were both unplugged. When I got through, I was told that my TV had been blasting, and I hadn't responded to knocks, so the manager had let the police in and they had unplugged. I explained that I had been at work all day, and there was no explanation other than that perhaps my kitten had stepped on the remote controls.

Epilogue: The next day Mica had been scheduled to be altered, so I was going in to work late. It was about 8 am, and there was a pounding on my door. Two officers were there, and with the immediate attitude like I was a hardened criminal that had pulled over a fast one by blasting my TV and not even being present. I explained my theory re: kitten, and apologized, and promised I would keep the remote controls in a drawer from now on. They left with a "See that you do," and a suspicious look.

Mica also had a tendency to dip the underside of his rather furry, longhaired tail in a lit candle on the dining room table. I'm lucky I never got the fire department called on me because of him either.

We lost Mica to feline leukemia (probably latent, since he was never an outdoor cat after I adopted him) 5 years ago, and our second-eldest cat has never been the same since.

#235 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 04:59 PM:

kouredios @ 212... Yesterday, I found that the many Skeptical Inquirer issues that'd normally reside on the top shelf by my laptop were now on my laptop, along with a few issues of the Annals of Improbable Research. I suspect Agatha the Cat Genius although I can't prove it.

#236 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 05:09 PM:

Wesley 233: Except sometimes the actors were still stage acting on US TV. Look at The Honeymooners for as long as you can stand it; they project like they're on stage.

#237 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 05:10 PM:

Serge @235: She's likely trying to send you a message--that she's in a general state of dubiety, sounds like.

#238 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 05:14 PM:

kouredios @ #237, "in a general state of dubiety"

This would be different from a cat's normal attitude? Every one I've ever lived with was a skeptic to its core.

#239 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 05:18 PM:

Linkmeister @238: True enough. For some reason, though, Agatha seems to want Serge to be certain about her skepticism. Heh.

#240 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 05:20 PM:

kouredios... Or maybe Agatha was trying to unlock my laptop without a password, but all she achieved was to put it to sleep. As for myself, I came out of sleep at 3:50am today and Agatha made sure that I'd stay that way.

#241 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 05:26 PM:

Chip #227- I think you mean Bonawe, which is to the East of Oban ( I only visited it for the first time last year, in the rain). Lovely basic simple technology, yet still the ultimate result of several hundred years of fiddling about with things.

But that people were still living like that in 1964 is a surprise- I thought it had died out by WW2.

#242 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 05:30 PM:

This week's New York Times Magazine has a short interview with Doris Lessing, which includes this interchange:

Interviewer: For the last two decades, most of your fiction has veered toward science fiction, which has disappointed literary critics like Harold Bloom.

Lessing: I can’t be bothered with Bloom. A lot of people think some of my best writing is in science fiction, and they are just as significant as bloody Bloom.

#243 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 05:45 PM:

I am ever-so-slowly catching up. Sorta. Anyway--thank you for the good wishes, everyone! I'm not settled at all, but I can see it on the horizon. Argh, the books, they multiplied in the movers' van!

And abi, 9: it's true (or was true) in France, too. You get police/fire sirens that go, "Tiens bon, tiens bon" (hang on, hang on) and ambulances that go, "T'es foutu! T'es foutu!" (you're fucked up! you're fucked up!). I think these days they're switching to American sirens, which is hideously disappointing.

#244 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 05:59 PM:

I realized I've kinda dropped out of sight here for a while. If anyone cares, I'm just having a mix of realtime interrupts (like fixing Mom's computer -- eventually had to order a WinXP CD and reinstall) and discovering Crossfire, which I'm finding quite addictive.

#245 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 06:25 PM:

Jamaica, and other anglophone West Indian territories, got their telephone service from Cable & Wireless (still do, in many cases) via a cable from Halifax, Nova Scotia, integrated in the eastern Canadian system, up to some point in the 1960s when the North American Numbering Plan was introduced. (You want end of the empire?) Because of the integration with Canada, the Caribbean networks had to be numbered in the same namespace (telephone numbers had routing content at the time).

#246 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 07:32 PM:

Xopher @ 236

Look at The Honeymooners for as long as you can stand it

Oh, man, some one else who doesn't think that show is the pinnacle of Western Civilization! I've always hated the dialog and the scripts in general; they were clearly written by middle class fratboys who thought working class people were some sort of pond scum. Aside from the fact that the single most common theme in the show was a celebration of spousal abuse.

In fact, the only good thing about it was that it gave Art Carney's career a leg up. Would have been nice if it had done the same for Audrey Meadows.

#247 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 07:47 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 246... I grew up on Father Knows Best and on The Donna Reed Show. It's no wonder I was a confused child.

#248 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 08:47 PM:

Bruce 246: I can see both sides of the spousal abuse issue. On the one side, Ralph does make it a casual threat in virtually every episode. On the other, Alice never (in any of the episodes I've ever seen) shows any fear of Ralph at all. She gets angry and yells at him, but when he prophesies a lunar future for her she never, ever takes him the least bit seriously. She just looks at him with eyes full of "yeah, right."

And as far as I know (though of course I haven't watched the entire canon, since I find it insulting, degrading, and tedious, not to mention being a kind of comedy (embarrassment comedy) that I detest) he never so much as lifted a hand to her in credible threat, let alone laid one on her in anger. Similarly, Archie Bunker never laid a hand on Edith (though she slapped him one time), though in that case you'd have to call his behavior toward her verbally abusive IF not for the fact that it never affected her in any way.

#249 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 10:51 PM:

It's too late to remind those in the EDTzone, but the season premiere of "Mad Men" is tonight.

It also looks like they're repeating the run of "Breaking Bad" starting tonight.

#250 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 11:23 PM:

Denvention... looks highly unlikely that I will be there. There are two releases, one of them a major upgrade (the other a specific version for a specific customer) due out from work in mid to late August, and I'm one of the verification testers....

Labor Day Weekend is a MUCH better time for Worldcons, for me....

#251 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 11:35 PM:

Wow, Terry, I just saw your comment at Digby's and -- while it was a great comment, as always -- expecting Skeptic not to be a jerk was probably pretty naive. Skeptic seems to have been in full rant; nothing would have blunted that, especially not a cogent post with an actual alternative view. (Actually, I could only get as far as "poor, poor, poor Terry" and blaming you for Iraqi WMDs before closing the window. Ugh.)

Digby's comment section is pretty out of control, if you ask me. Manageably small, but not what it used to be when I still read her comments -- way way way more heat than light, if that one's any indication.

Her posts, of course, are reliably and regularly wonderful.

#252 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2008, 11:48 PM:

**Help Dealing with Approaching Senility:**

So I was reading Lois McMaster Bujold's account of her struggle trying to write a book that was *both* full fantasy and full romance. She was describing how in her latest supernovel she was attempting to do three things.

(1) To do a "new world" rather than an "old world" fantasy:

>: TSK began as a project to give myself pleasure in writing again at a time when I felt very dry.... I was doing several literary experiments at once.... [First,] playing with landscapes and social-scapes that were distinctly New World, not recycled European medievaloid...

(2) To do an anti-Manichean fantasy:

>[T]o see what would happen if I gave my characters a real grown-up problem to grapple with, one that defied easy, cathartic solutions like cutting off some bad guy’s head or toppling the Dark Tower du Jour...

(3) But most of all to do a fantasy that was also a romance, or perhaps a romance that was also a fantasy:

>But foremost I wanted to see what would happen when I tried to make a romance the central plot of a fantasy novel... after all, I’d had romantic sub-plots in both my fantasy and my SF books before, and wasn’t it just a matter of shifting the proportions a bit?...

And it did not work:

>[W]ow was that ever a learning experience, not only about what makes a romance story work, but, more unexpectedly, uncovering many of the hidden springs and assumptions that make fantasy work. It turns out to be a much harder blending that I’d thought.... The two forms have different focal planes. In a romance in the modern genre sense, which may be described as the story of a courtship from first meeting to final commitment, the focus is personal; nothing in the tale (such as the impending end of the world, ferex) can therefore be presented as more important.... [I]t has been borne in upon me how intensely political most F&SF plots in fact are. Political and only political activity (of which war/military is a huge sub-set) is regarded as “important” enough to make the protagonists interesting to the readers in these genres.... [A]ttempts to make the tale about something, anything else – artistic endeavor, for instance – are regularly tried by writers, and as regularly die the grim death in the marketplace. (Granted The Wind in the Willows or The Last Unicorn will live forever, but marginalized as children’s fiction.) I have come to believe that if romances are fantasies of love, and mysteries are fantasies of justice, F&SF are fantasies of political agency. (Of which the stereotypical “male teen power fantasy” is again merely an especially gaudy and visible subset)...

And that made me think that I wanted to reread something Teresa Nielsen Hayden had written about the role of cliche in genre fiction--something about how you turn it upside down and all of a sudden you are no longer falling victim to cliche but instead simply punching the time clock, and it's just the semi-obligatory scene set at Almack's that belongs in a regency romance...

But I cannot find this anywhere here, or elsewhere on the internet, no matter how I cast my google net.

Did I imagine this? Did I dream this? Does anybody else remember seeing this?

And after I find this I am going to go reread Hilzoy's famous and unfortunate:

female : romance :: male : *Hustler* centerfold

(If only she'd said "male: Botticelli's 'Nascita di Venere'" instead!...

#253 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 12:10 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 250... I hope you'll make it to Denver. It's really annoying when work gets in the way. I was looking forward to attending a local con called Bubonicon. Of course, can you guess which weekend my manager chose for me to oversee our backup server's exercise?

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 12:15 AM:

Brad DeLong @ 252... I wanted to see what would happen when I tried to make a romance the central plot of a fantasy novel...

I must tell my wife about your post because writing fantasy novels where romance is the central plot is what she does for a living.

#255 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 01:18 AM:

Brad DeLong @ #252, where did you read that? Got link?

#256 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 01:45 AM:

Oh drat, Stefan Jones @ 249, I meant to make a post on my own blog mentioning that repeats of BREAKING BAD were starting tonight.

(Funniest series ever made about terminal cancer and drug dealing.) (And it has characters faced with horrifying moral choices, too.)

#257 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 01:54 AM:


#258 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 02:38 AM:

Gracias, Professor.

#259 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 09:49 AM:

Would someone mind explaining today's xkcd strip to me?

#260 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 10:14 AM:

Serge @259 - here's what I read in it: The guy in the hat meets a guy in TWO hats. And the sheer awesome power of two hats pushes away the guy in one hat.

(This is my take on it, based on a friend who has a large collection of hats)

#261 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 10:28 AM:

I don't think the guy in the hat is being pushed back; I think he's backing away.

Also, the defining characteristic of the guy with two hats may not be "awesomeness", Neil's friend notwithstanding. The guy in the hat is a recurring character at XKCD, and has been generally established as a person you don't want to mess with. My take is that the strip shows the guy in the hat seeing the guy with two hats, and realising that here is somebody who is to him as he is to nearly everybody else.

#262 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 10:29 AM:

I took it as "overwhelmed, backing away slowly, can't even come up with a comment" rather than a literal "pushed away".

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Neil, Paul, Joel... Thanks. I wasn't too far off the mark then.

#264 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 11:44 AM:

not to mention being a kind of comedy (embarrassment comedy) that I detest

So glad I'm not the only one. I do not get the popularity of embarrassment comedy.

playing with landscapes and social-scapes that were distinctly New World, not recycled European medievaloid...

I was just rereading the first two books of that series, and found myself noting precisely that quality--alligators and skunks and raccoons rather than foxes and wolves and badgers, and the Lakewalkers sound distinctly Native American in color and build. Very New World, I thought.

#265 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 12:06 PM:

This is totally off-topic... ah. Good. Open Thread.

I just read on TPM that Monica Goodling (ex-Justice Department) used to ask prospective lawyers who wanted to work in the Justice Department the following question: "What is it about George Bush that makes you want to serve him?"

Evidently this woman could not distinguish George Bush from Jesus Christ. IANAL, so I don't know if her questions broke the law, and I'm willing to bet real money that even if they did, she'll never do time. But we are allowed to hoot loudly and point, right? *Hoots, points, considers throwing feces, decides not to...*

#266 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Michael Roberts: Oof. I'm sorry you read any of that, I didn't (not past what I saw when I posted). I have no naïvté about people like Skeptic: nor yet, sadly, about Digby's comment threads.

The last time I leaned on ML for support in this sort of situation was for a different poster in one of her comment threads. In some ways I think made my comment here because of the long discussion of moderation in the Yog's laws post (and it might have been better made in that thread).

People like Skeptic exist, and short of abusing myself by going in and waging war (which war, no matter the outcome, I will lose, because the close association with that sort of directed hatred is bad for the soul, or I will quit the field and the spewer of said toxic sludge will claim the victory of holding the field) there is nothing I can about them.

So Skeptic wasn't my target, and I did a drive-by; knowing full well I would be the target of more self serving "wit" and pointless objectifying libels.

I am amused, but not surprised, to find out that is exactly what came to pass.

#267 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 12:15 PM:

re Monica Goodling: I didn't get the Jesus Christ reference. It sounded to me like a question about fealty.

What bothers me is that she was asking lawyers for the DoJ, to serve the man, not the law; nor The Nation, but George Bush.

Creepier, IMO, because that way lies autocracy.

#268 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 12:20 PM:

She can't be fired, unfortunately, but she can lose her license to practice law. However, it also looks like she was violating at least one law that may still apply, even though she has left the Justice Dept.

#269 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 12:33 PM:

A non-toxic local blog posted excerpts from the Republican Rules of Order (or would that be Rule of Order? As opposed to Rule of Law, that is). I decided to apply for a job. Wish me luck!

#270 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 12:44 PM:

Another slight delurk, in blind faith that by doing so I won't infect y'all with whatever low-grade infectious prevision of Hell it is that I've caught this time:

Eureka's US season premiere is tomorrow night at what I've begun to think of as "eight o'clock, nine for those of us unfortunate enough to live outside of the Central Time Zone."

For this, and for the realization that the Summer of Stupid is nearly half-way over, I give appropriate thanks.

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 12:47 PM:

JESR @ 270... I know where I'm going to be tomorrow night. By the way, did you catch their ad made to be like a musical, with Deputy Jo and others doing kicks in a chorus line?

#272 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 01:10 PM:

Serge, said musical amuse bouche has been one of the few-and-far-between moments of relief from sheer ickiness this past week. That and the live action version of the xkcd reworking of the Discovery Channel boom di yada ad, and the hummingbirds visiting Crocosmia "Lucifer" outside the patio slider.

#273 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 01:29 PM:

Terry at 267, I heard that overtone too, but "serve him" is a locution which I associate with Christian evangelicals and/or fundamentalists. If she had said "serve in his administration" that would have been entirely unremarkable.

Sensitive, me? Why do you ask?

#274 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 01:31 PM:

JESR @ 272... To hopefully further alleviate the ickiness, I have right here an entry in my blog that provides links to the Discovery ad, to xkcd's strip, to the latter's musical version. And to a Doctor Who spoof of the Discovery ad.

#275 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 01:37 PM:

Apparently the guy who shot up a Unitarian church in Tennessee yesterday was angry at liberals.

Because he couldn't get a job and his food stamp allowance was cut back.

#276 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 02:07 PM:

Terry @266 -- I haven't read Digby's comments for maybe a year or two, ever since she first attracted the attention of trolls. I just can't read it -- my blood pressure won't allow me.

Skeptic (by my reading on that thread) isn't a troll, just a habitual flamer with a really poisonous attitude, ready to take on the world, starting with anybody foolish enough to post there. Your post was gasoline on the fire, I figure -- but I'm really not kidding that after reading Skeptic's previous rantage, then your post, I literally just read ten words into Skeptic's immediate response and then closed the window. Because life is too short. Others had already been trying to engage; Skeptic was having none of it, and I can read those signs a mile off (just as long as I'm not the one involved -- and if I'd read further, I would have been involved.)

You were smart to leave it. And it was good of you to make the points you did. Don't feel bad about it.

On the other point -- is there really a difference between Jesus Christ and fealty? Isn't the entire point of the Christian establishment the undershoring of European-style authority? (In the same way that the Koran talks about being the slave of God, I suppose, the Bible talks about the King of Kings.) Damned recidivist nonsense (by which I don't mean Christianity, I mean this nyeh-kultoorny confusion of Christianity with the American state). I think it's time to secede.

#277 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 02:09 PM:

Lizzy L @273:

Goodling is the twit who testified before Congress that she "swore an oath to President Bush..."

The oath she's talking about has nothing to do with Dubya, it similar to the one the Prez swears on Inauguration Day, and the oath refers to the Constitution.

Every Federal employee takes it when they're hired.

#278 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 02:16 PM:

Christ. My dad lives in Oak Ridge, and he used to spend time at that Church. No one he knows well was in the list of casualties.

What a mess.

#279 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 02:16 PM:

Serge #253:

I had something like that start to rear its ugly head a few years back, and pointed out to the proposer that ArmadilloCon was my one annual spree, already paid, and I'd be quite willing to do whatever it was anytime but that. Accommodations were made, and everyone was happy.

#280 ::: Joel Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 02:32 PM:

My former mother-in-law attends that church. I attended the opening of a photography exhibit there. I know several people who attend, including a friend and an art professor, a specialist in academic hoaxes, I once interviewed.

I'm going to have to attend some services there. Someone like that gunman doesn't get to win.

#281 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 03:07 PM:

Nicole@#165: I've always wanted to get a Corgie and name it "Null." I've never found anyone else who thought that was a particularly good idea, sadly.

#282 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 03:24 PM:

joann @ 279... The worst such case of bad-timing I ever had was in September 2000, when they rescheduled a big computer simulation to happen on the very weekend when my wife and I were getting ready to move to another state. Oh, and it was my birthday too. Bleh.

#283 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 03:29 PM:

Stefan at 275, because liberals are running the country and have been for the last seven and a half years... Lori at 277, I'd forgotten that, but yes, of course. That twit.

#284 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 03:37 PM:

Skwid: either I'm missing a joke or you just like Corgies.

*googles "null corgi"*

*clicks on the did-you-mean*

OK, I now know THAT it's a joke, but I still can't figure out what a corgi is. Core graphical interface maybe?

#285 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 05:53 PM:

It's only punny in German.

#286 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 06:31 PM:

Ein is made of win, but I still don't get the joke. (Null is less than one?)

#287 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 06:42 PM:

Skwid @ 285... It's only punny in German.

Hulk smash punny human.

#288 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 08:07 PM:

Some people can't even jump it right. Warning: don't read this with liquid in your mouth. When you get to the paragraph beginning "Alas..." you will expel it.

#289 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 09:04 PM:

Some amusement may be had with this Cadbury chocolate advert that's made Phil Collins cool (again).

#290 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Serge #259: Would someone mind explaining today's xkcd strip to me?

The transcription reads:

{{The Black Hat Man is Walking}}
{{The Black Hat Man stops in front of another Man with two Black Hats.}}
{{After two panels, The Original Black Hat Man steps backward, shuddering slightly.}}
#291 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 02:06 AM:

Those of you who haven't seen it yet might be interested in Orson Scott Card's latest screed about homosexuality:

I haven't read most of the books he's written in the past 15 years because I refuse to give money to someone whose views I find so detestable. And, no, I've never accepted religion as excusing these sorts of views and I never will. Why more people don't treat him as a pariah remains a mystery to me.

#292 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:09 AM:

Rob @ #291, In that Card article I particularly admire this bit of erudition: "In another column I will talk seriously and candidly about the state of scientific research on the causes of homosexuality, and the reasons why homosexuality persists..."

If I could get up the energy I'd be tempted to mail him substituting "heterosexuality" for each instance of "homosexuality" and ask for elaboration. Do you suppose his neck would bulge?

#293 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:22 AM:

Marilee, #127: No, that one is from Offworld Designs, and can be ordered from their website. I nearly fell over laughing the first time I saw it, and bought it immediately!

B. Durbin, #179: That reminds me of the story of Hei Yu -- another one of those "Well, it's funny now" situations.

Fragano, #187: The thought is appreciated, but we were on the road over the weekend. OTOH, after Worldcon I might be able to get my partner to find it on the torrents...

Xopher, #248: I have the same mixed reaction to Andy Capp. Yes, in many ways it's a depiction of an unhealthy relationship; no, I don't see it as celebrating spouse abuse because it's bloody damn clear that Flo not only holds her own, but wins about half the time (probably because she does hard manual labor and is in much better physical condition than he is). I end up thinking of it in much the same way that I think of my parents' marriage: it's not a way that I would ever want to live, but it does seem to make them happy.

Carrie, #264: Count me for three. I know a lot of other people who feel that way as well -- mostly people who were walking targets in junior high and/or high school. In my case, it's partly that and partly that I don't like assholes and therefore also don't like watching (or reading about) them as main characters with whom I'm supposed to sympathize. I can deal with an asshole main character if I'm not being asked to sympathize with him, but writers who can pull that off successfully are very rare.

Open Thread glee: One of my partner's T-shirt designs is mentioned in Pharyngula!

#294 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 06:41 AM:

Paul A @261 - Maybe awesome is the wrong word. My friend who likes hats is a lawyer, and some time ago I wrote a spoof memo, which I claimed was from him:

I note that in court, 9 times out of 10 the best dressed lawyer wins. Starting today I will be wearing a 4-piece suit.

The 4th piece is a hat.

This amused him immensely.

#295 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 06:46 AM:

Lee #293: It's available on the BBC web site until Saturday.

#296 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 07:05 AM:

Regarding embarrassment humor: After thought, reading and discussion, I've come to the conclusion that there are at least three different processes in the brain that all trigger the same reward mechanism. (Steven Pinker touches on all of them in How the Mind Works, but it seems to me that he fails to distinguish them adequately.)

The same comedian, the same joke or sketch, can appeal to all three mechanisms, separately or together, in different proportions...and in fact usually do. And people are wired to respond to them in different ways.

I wonder if brain imaging studies have been done on the topic? If I'm right about this, there ought to be detectable differences in brain activity between someone laughing at "The Three Stooges" and someone laughing at "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" or Steven Wright.

#297 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 07:45 AM:

Any one else seen this? I received two emails (same time and date) with subject National Do Not Call Registry - Your Registration Is Confirmed. Inside:

Your phone number with the last four digits 3848 was most recently registered in the National Do Not Call Registry on January 23, 2006. Most telemarketers will be required to stop calling you 31 days from your registration date.

Visit to do any of these things:
-- to renew your registration
-- to file a complaint

Print this email and keep it for your records.

Please do not reply to this message as it is from an unattended mailbox. Any replies to this email will not be responded to or forwarded. This service is used for outgoing emails only and cannot respond to inquiries.

The other one is identical, except it says Your phone number with the last four digits 7099.

Neither match my phone number, and I did not register with the National Do Not Call Registry. The sender is It came to me on my gmail account.

If it is an evil plot, I can't see what purpose is served registering me on phone numbers I don't have. It is also not encouraging that it claims I registered more than two years ago, and they're only just now getting around to the confirmation.

#298 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 07:54 AM:

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is online for free again -- albeit with "limited commercial interruption" -- at Hulu. There's a choice of watching the original three episodes or one full-length version.

It does work for international viewers.

#299 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 08:25 AM:

#293, Lee -

Is embarrassment comedy usually humor where you're supposed to sympathize with assholes? The only embarrassment humor I can think of right now is Fraser, where his assholishness is certainly arguable, though I never felt like he was one to an unsympathetic degree. (That show was frustrating - I could sometimes watch it, and loved it when I did, but most of the time I found it agonizing.) I can't call any other embarrassment comedies to mind at the moment.

Or did I misunderstand your point?

#298, Carol Witt -


Em. Ahem. I mean, "Hey, great that it is continuing to be a commercial success." Yeah. That.

#300 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 10:06 AM:

Rob Hansen #291: Holy crap, I think he's actually advocating revolution because the government doesn't force everyone to fit his model of male-female relationships.

#301 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 10:16 AM:

I always thought embarassment humor was the kind where you're laughing uncomfortably because the character (lead or otherwise) is being portrayed so horribly, or is having something so awful happen to them, that you're embarassed for them.

I don't like it. And I kind of don't trust people who do, but I am a delicate flower about that sort of thing. ("Funny Video" shows? Ugh. DO NOT WANT.)

#302 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 10:17 AM:

TexAnne@286: Oh, so you're one of those people...

Rob@297: You are being spammed and/or (probably) phished. Your concern is exactly the response they wish to engender, followed by some other action. Is there no other e-mail or URL in the spam? Does the URL you have here actually point via HTML to a different website in the e-mail you received (you can tell by hovering your cursor over the link, don't click on it, though...)?

The date is the most obvious indicator that this is not a legitimate e-mail from donotcall, though...why would they be mailing you about a number registered over two years ago?

#303 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 10:38 AM:

re 297: Acto the FTC page, if the notices were truly sent from the donotcall site, you don't need to do anything if the phone numbers given aren't yours.

#304 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 10:48 AM:

Right click and hit 'properties': it should give you the URL in a form you can copy and paste.

I'll bet that the DNC registry has a page for reporting phishing (the IRS does); you want the hidden URL and the header information when you forward the spam.

#305 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 10:56 AM:

Earl Cooley @ 290... Humph. You didn't explain that strip. You described its elements. (Yes, I am a computer programmer. Why do you ask?)

#306 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 10:59 AM:


At the risk of offense to some, in so many ways he sounds like pretty much all the Mormons I've ever known on homosexuality.

They are swell people, and I love several of them dearly, and they are completely daft on the subject (some to the point I have a hard time reconciling my continued affection to their stated beliefs).

I particularly like the part where he says we need to have society make sure wives are seen as property, to the man can feel comfy in the kids being his, and goes on to say the insitution is in deadly peril from, "A vast number of unmarried men and women [who] have such contempt for marriage that they share bed and home without asking for any formal recognition by society.

In an era when birth control and abortion make childbearing completely optional, the number of out-of-wedlock births shows the contempt that many women have for marriage.

Yet most of these single mothers still demand that the man they chose not to marry before having sex with him provide financial support for them and their children -- while denying the man any of the rights and protections of marriage.

God forbid the man should actually have to support his kid; just because the bitch wouldn't grant him the "rights" of marriage.

But the opening points out, in part, why Orson want's to make "Marriage" his "Peculiar Institution": he doesn't believe in minority rights.

These judges are making new law without any democratic process; in fact, their decisions are striking down laws enacted by majority vote.

Well, fuck 'im. He is probably still pissed at laws allowing people to kill Mormons, well if he really believes a bigger group of people making a law give it weight, and makes it something the courts can't address, he's got no right to pissed.

Shooting Mormons was legal, and therefore unassailable. Suck it up and accept your proper place in the world.

#307 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 11:34 AM:

Serge #305: Humph. You didn't explain that strip. You described its elements. (Yes, I am a computer programmer. Why do you ask?)

I have committed acts of computer programming myself, from time to time. Just think of it as an art interpretation exercise, now that you know that the Black Hat Man is backing away and shuddering. Motivations. Why would he do that? Does he think that his hat might end up in the stranger's hat collection, making the newcomer Three Black Hat Man and leaving him desolate as No Black Hat Man?

Or, you can take the technical support path to enlightenment and either read the xkcd forum thread on that topic, or, in existential desperation, attempt to contact Randall Munroe and ask "Why? why??"

#308 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 11:37 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 307... ask "Why? why??"

That way lies madness.

#309 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 12:13 PM:

306: I found this part especially funny:

Marriage is older than government. Its meaning is universal: It is the permanent or semipermanent bond between a man and a woman, establishing responsibilities between the couple and any children that ensue....Wives need to have the whole society agree that when they marry, their husband is off limits to all other females. All of his protection and earning power will be devoted to her and her children, and will not be divided with other women and their children...Marriage, to be worth preserving, needs to mean not just something, but everything. Faithful sexual monogamy, persistence until death, male protection and providence for wife and children, female loyalty to children and husband, and parental discretion in child-rearing.

Sorry, is that a defence of monogamous marriage as an eternal, universal and unchangeable state, written by a Mormon? Oh, boy.

#310 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 12:49 PM:

#309, ajay

I'm not gonna go read the thing, but what strikes me from this quote is that he says it is "permanent or semipermanent," but it should persist until death.

Zombies and vampires don't have to be faithful to their spouses, I suppose?

#311 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 01:02 PM:

R.M.Koske @ 310... Zombie unions fall apart too easily. Vampires have no stake in making things last.

#312 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Rob Hansen #291: Holy crap, I think he's actually advocating revolution because the government doesn't force everyone to fit his model of male-female relationships

Yep, that's how I read it, too. Incidentally, this piece has also been noticed by the gay press:

#313 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 01:06 PM:

#311, Serge -

Vampires have no stake in making things last.

Once a vampire stays out past dawn, the marriage is over anyway.

#314 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 01:13 PM:

I've had to call an ambulance for myself I don't know how many times, several times for severe haemoptysis, & once for a severe nosebleed that led to a minor car accident (that one was a few days after I'd gotten out of the hospital after sinus surgery). And several times I've called 911 for somebody else. One evening during DragonCon a few years ago I was walking back to my car and saw a man passed out on the floor of the parking deck; probably just drunk, but I thought it safest to call someone. Another time I saw a car pulled over on the shoulder of I-85 with its hazard lights on and pulled over to see if I could help; there was an Asian couple in the front seats and a small child in the back. The woman was crying hysterically; when I asked if they needed me to call 911 for them (cell phones weren't ubiquitous at the time), she said yes, & the man said no; I walked back to my car, called 911, & waited till cops showed up before I drove off. Another time I pulled over on Ga. 316 where there was a car with copious amounts of smoke coming from under its hood, and several people standing around talking frantically about what to do about it, in Spanish; I loaned them my cellphone, and I'm not sure who they called, but cops showed up a few minutes later to help.

I think the first time I ever had occasion to call 911 was when my grandfather died. I was pretty sure he was already dead, & the paramedics confirmed it at a glance when they showed up.

The times I've ridden in an ambulance, I think they only needed the siren once or twice; on most of those occasions the traffic was light.

#315 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 01:22 PM:

Sadly it's been noticed. I don't know how much Orson's columns are read, but it will just serve to bolster his credibility.

After all, he's not a homophobe, he just thinks it's a moral imperative to oppress them (and anyone who doesn't think as he thinks on male/female relations).

He's not scared of them... he just hates them; not the same at all.

#316 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 01:39 PM:

Terry Karney @ 315...

"Have you ever tried... not being a mutant?"

#317 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 02:02 PM:

Open Threadiness (Linkmeister, read this!) -

Uncle Ted (Senator Stevens, R AK) has been indicted.

1)We thought it would be after the election

2)We thought Don Young would be first, as all things considered, he's a bigger slimeball.

I've said it before, I'm not the biggest Uncle Ted fan, but in a state that votes R consistently, he's a pro-choice, pro-public broadcasting guy. Great Invisible Pink Unicorn please let this help Begich get elected.

#318 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 02:10 PM:

It would be nice if OC wrote a screed about evils of old guys marrying several or many underage girls and getting them pregnant. That's all part of his religion too, though -- cough cough cough -- no longer 'officially' sanctioned.

I've scratched my several heads over this many a time and I still cannot find any relationship between same sex relationships, with or without children, and the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, er, whichever empire of your choice.

Love, C.

#319 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 02:25 PM:

Serge: can't help it... I's a mutant to the bone.

More to the point, Card says homosexuality is genetic (though he seems to see it as a defect) and that's immaterial... because it offends his sense of order.

But he thinks the Sith are the good guys, so...

#320 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 02:35 PM:

R.M. Koske, #299: I was thinking more about humiliation comedy, which I guess is a subset of embarrassment comedy. When the target is being specifically set up for humiliation and the audience is supposed to laugh, then yes, you're being asked to sympathize with assholes. I can't comment about Frasier because I never watched it.

Gilbert and Sullivan, or Shakespeare's comedies, might be more like what was being referred to as embarrassment comedy. I can deal with those.

#321 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Aaah! Like Fear Factor or whatever. No, I can't take those at all.

I think I might be able to watch some of a more Candid Camera type of program. I seem to recall an episode of that show where a vending machine started to talk to someone. This was of course before technology made such things normal. I can't remember if there claimed to be a person trapped in the machine or something else, but I tended to feel that the humor was less in embarrassing the person than in the fact that people (humanity) are just funny. I only remember the one skit, so I don't know whether I could take that show as a whole or not. I kind of doubt it, and I certainly wouldn't expect to like any kind of remake.

The difference for me is in whether the setup is innately intended to encourage someone to make a fool of themselves. Somehow I can see coming out of a surprise encounter with a talking vending machine with dignity, where I can't see a dignified response to being set up to be scared silly.

#322 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Earthquake, in Pasadena. Long... 15 seconds or more. Moderate here. No idea about damage at point of greatest force.

#323 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 02:50 PM:

Was any of the implicit/explicit pro-polygamy stuff in the Old Testament revoked or made obsolete by anything in the New Testament? I'm often amused/bemused by the people who demand a return to what they refer to as "traditional marriage", usually while metaphorically pointing to a Bible.

#324 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:04 PM:

In the open-threadedness spirit, here's a house listing I found on Reddit:

Check out the seventh photo. Woof!

House for sale

#325 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:05 PM:

Terry @322:
Beeb says 5.8, 32 miles in an unstated direction from LA, city shaken but not stirred. No reported casualties.

Take care and watch out for aftershocks.

#326 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:10 PM:

#324, Steve C. -

He's big, but he's a sweetie! Wouldn't hurt a fly, really. He's especially fond of the dog-phobic.

#327 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:11 PM:

I'm on the 7th floor of a 33 story office building near Universal Studios (the park and studio), and we felt it. There was some rolling and shaking, but I determined that ducking my crappy-cube-wall-attached desk would probably not protect me. Nothing fell out of the the cabinets, but you could hear a low rumble. Hoping Hollywood didn't get shaken any harder, or if so, that my dog was not sleeping near my bookcase.

Beats the crap out of having to dig the car out of snow banks every year.

#328 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Just as point of clarification. My comment about killing Mormons is in relation to Missouri having had an order of extermination against Mormons.

It's one of the things the LDS like to point out to show how persecuted they are.

The details are a trifle less clear than it looks on it's face; but that's not quite relevant to the issues here.

1838: The Mormons are settled in Missouri, this leads to various hostilities (and at least one schism in the Church).

The hostilities end up in armed conflict (The Mormon War in Missouri). One of the things which happens is an Edict of Extermination, which made it legal to kill, or drive out, Mormons.

It's probable it was never meant to be a blanket condemnation, but the order stayed on the books in Missouri until 1976.

So, by assent (even if passive) of the majority, being Mormon in Missouri was; even if honored in the breach, a potenitally capital offense.

#329 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:35 PM:

5.8, a couple-three miles southwest of Chino Hills.
Was really fun in a highrise in downtown LA (I want instant-acting Dramamine), but nothing seems to have cracked or fallen down. All the real shaking seems have been in La Puente and Walnut to Corona, judging by the maps so far. (We're inside the 0.1g ground motion contour; those areas are over 0.2g).

My former boss lives in Chino Hills.

#330 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:37 PM:

#324: Shouldn't he be red?

#331 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:40 PM:

Clifton @330:
Shouldn't he be red?

I think so, but my kids actually watched the TV series.

#332 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Follow up: According to CalTech/USGS (whom, per my comments at Lj I scooped), it was 5.8, Chino Hills (29 miles ESE of downtown). About 15 seconds, in two obvious waves.

Nothing here "walked". It seems to have been what I think of a "rolling" instead of "bouncing" quake.

Cell service dropped for about 20 minutes, and the CalTech server was hard to get into... I presume because of so many people trying to get on to see what happened.

#333 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:46 PM:

USGS is giving a moment magnitude of 5.4, depth 14km. Moderate size. They use moment magnitude for comparing earthquakes to each other; it makes comparing deep and shallow earthquakes easier.

#334 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:50 PM:

Joel @323 While there are some sects that read the New Testament as compatible with polygamy (such as the LDS church once did, and some more obscure groups do today), most see the teachings of Jesus and Paul in the New Testament ruling out polygamy.

For example, Jesus takes a harder line on divorce in the Gospels than the Jewish law did, going so far as to describe marrying another after a divorce (with some possible limited exceptions) as committing adultery. But if that's adultery, the reasoning goes, so would marrying someone else *without* getting divorced first.

The Epistles also have a few passages indicating the wrongness of particular cases of polygamy. Romans 7:3 says that a woman marrying another man while her husband lives commits adultery, and passages in Timothy and Titus cite being a "husband of one wife" as one of the ways a church leader should be "above reproach".

Several parts of the New Testament also link marriage theologically to the union of Christ and the Church, which many interpret to mean that the union between husband and wife, like that between Christ and church, should be exclusive.

#335 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:50 PM:

Clifton @ 330: Yes. Yes, he should -- but we'll allow for color variation in "golden retrievers*" and call him a big dog.

*Who can range from reddish-gold to bright blond in color. Our previous dog was a yellow lab x golden retriever mix, and he was of the reddish-gold variety (until he grew old, and became a greyish-yellow-reddish).

#336 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:54 PM:

Tania @ #317, Thanks! Josh Marshall at TPM is all over it, as you can imagine.

I was reading a Dodgers blog's comments when the earthquake happened. Blasé doesn't cover it.

"Hey. An earthquake."

#337 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 03:56 PM:

Going back to my fears of gluten in tea bags, someone on a gluten board pointed out something I wish I'd thought of: a water-soluble glue is not suitable for closing tea bags, because they'd open again in hot water. (The poster even calls it an urban legend.)


#338 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 04:16 PM:

R.M. Koske: oops, I meant to point that out when you broght it up.

Sola's former SO is celiac, so lots of these things are stuff we've dealt with (he's really sensitive, so what chickens eat matters to him. I have my doubts that gluten from cattle feed gets into milk, but given the nature of avian systems, it can contaminate eggs).

#339 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 04:42 PM:

ajay 309: Actually Mormons believe in a special kind of marriage (done only in the temple and not revealed to gentiles) that lasts beyond death and is eternal. Remember that they discarded polygamy (except for fringie nutbars) a long time back, so they don't have to reconcile that. I'm not sure whether there was ever a time when you could have an eternal marriage of many wives to one husband.

#340 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 04:59 PM:

Xopher -

The mormons have practiced eternal polygamy since they existed. The process is this: a mormon couple is found worthy enough for a temple marriage, which involves "being sealed" to your spouse. This ceremony supposedly enables the couple to remain married through Time and All Eternity(tm). It is also the only way a woman can be connected to the Priesthood, a pre-requisite to entrance into the Celestial Kingdom. Often when a wife dies, or is divorced, her husband can be married and then sealed to another woman. The same is not true of women; if your husband dies and you are still sealed to him, you may not be sealed to another man. I was taught (my tenure as a mormon lasted from birth to about 1992)that there would of course be polygamy in heaven. To make it more palatable to the young women in my day, they used the logic that women are far more righteous than men, so God created plural (spiritual) marriage. (that God was somehow unable to just let women hold the priesthood was probably only considered by future apostates like myself.) Also, that while we may find it kind of weird right now, when we got to heaven, all would be revealed, and we'd be cool with it.

I understand that they're not terribly keen on teaching these tenets anymore, but like every other offensively wacky doctrine (white and delightsome!) they just stop talking about it, first to outsiders, then to members, until people forget.

#341 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 05:11 PM:

Speaking of cats, a friend of mine has a labor dispute with his.

#342 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 05:18 PM:

#338, Terry -

He has to worry about the chicken feed? That's gotta be *hard*.

A lot of stuff wasn't on my radar until recently because I wasn't sensitive to it until January of this year. (Envelope glue and cross-contact in fried foods, for example.) Now I'm slowly finding new things that bother me and knocking them out one at a time. I'd prefer to be getting less sensitive, not more, but I'm still very fortunate.

#339, Xopher -
Oh, so "til death" is the semipermanent version. Wow.

#343 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 05:39 PM:

skwid @ 285

That pun would be difficult to grasp even in German: The language has very complicated declension rules and "Ein" will not readily be understood as "one": Even if "one house" is "ein Haus", the numeral alone is "Eins" (especially when contrasted with zero; ones and zeroes is "Einsen und Nullen")

But OTOH, "Ein" is common for the "on" position of any electrical switch. The direct contrast, off, would be Aus. Which, incidentally, is something dogs are often used to hearing, since a sharp "Aus!" is a common way of telling a dog to stop its current activity.

Sorry for the Besserwisserei. A term, BTW, that would deserve a reputation as "a concept only the Germans have a term for" even more than Schadenfreude.

#344 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 05:39 PM:

R.M. Koske: Chickens oviducts are the same as their cloaca, so glutenous feed might contaminate the eggs.

As I said, I don't think gluten can get into milk, but he does. Chickens are easy. You can keep a couple, and feed them greens and non-gluten feeds (corn, rape, millet, sunflower seeds, etc.). A good feedstore will have bulk seed, or make a mix to order.

For milk... well his family kept goats, but mostly he doesn't use it, because he can't be sure it's been fed nothing but grass.

#345 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 06:02 PM:

Sorry, that was clumsy. Chickens' oviducts share the cloaca for laying eggs, the commonality of passage allows for contamination.

#346 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 06:07 PM:

Jörg 343: Vielen Dank für das Wort! (I hope I did that right. My German's pathetic.) I was in need of some unholy delight today!

#347 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 06:48 PM:


Memo to self: not everything written by Teresa Nielsen Hayden can be found by typing a few words that appear in the piece and "" into the Google search box...

Such a restriction misses, among other things, Subterranean #4: Special SF Cliche Issue Edited by John Scalzi.

Here is what I was looking for:

"In short stories, the cliché is the story itself: Adam
and Eve crash their spaceship on a planet that turns out
to be Earth. A deal with the Devil goes wrong. Humans
use wacky behavior to thwart a hugely powerful alien
invasion. A trinket purchased at an odd little curio shop
has unexpected powers. The ultimate supercomputer
decides it’s God. A guy gets his heart broken when it
turns out that the beautiful vampire/alien/robot/
virtual/clone/elf woman was only pretending to love
him. And so forth and so on: a score of stories that get
retold far oftener than anyone wants to hear them....

"This is not to say that there’s nothing to choose
between a well-made plot and a botch.... Plots are
important... what gives the
reader an incentive to read all of the pages in order. But
while an original plot is a wonderful thing, in a lot of
cases it’s not strictly necessary.

"Storytelling is an assertion of causality: This is how
the world works. You have to strip a narrative down
almost to the bare bones for its greatest pleasure to con-
sist of seeing how the story comes out. That’s the terri-
tory of jokes, fairy tales, and short stories.

"In longer works, the greater pleasure is seeing how
the book makes its way from here to there, from its
interesting beginning to its satisfactory if perhaps unsur-
prising end. You already know the detective is going to
figure out which guest at the cocktail party murdered
Edna Furbelow in the linen closet of her sumptuous Park
Avenue apartment. The bickering couple forced to keep
company with each other while having some mild
adventures will infallibly fall in love no later than the
second-to-last chapter. And the earnest young person
born under mysterious signs and portents will inherit the
Charm Bracelet of Doom, defeat the Dark One, and
bring peace and plenty to The Land—five or six books
from now.

"Clichés are only clichés if they bother us. When
we’re expecting something new and interesting in the
way of a narrative mechanism, but instead get the same
old same old, it feels like a cliché. If a novel employs a
narrative maneuver that’s just as well-used, but we aren’t
expecting novelty—hey looka, it’s yet another Regency
Romance that has a scene set at Almack’s—then it’s
not a problem. A book that starts from a bog-standard
plot but uses it with inventiveness and grace will read
fairly well—which means the bog-standard plot doesn’t
bother us, and therefore isn’t really a cliché.

"What does bother us are worn-out devices for setting
things up or moving the story along. Mark Twain nailed
James Fenimore Cooper for his habitual use of them....

"One twig is a fine device. A twig or two per book is
excusable if there’s enough other stuff happening; even
a battered old prop can look okay if it goes past you fast
enough. Too many twigs become irritating, and are there-
fore a cliché..."

#348 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 07:07 PM:

TexAnne @346
No, actually it is flawless.

#349 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 07:13 PM:

Brad DeLong @ 347... the earnest young person born under mysterious signs and portents will inherit the Charm Bracelet of Doom, defeat the Dark One, and bring peace and plenty to The Land

Conan the Barbarian will be back in Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Ernest".

#350 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 10:10 PM:

"By Crom, Lady Windemere, a man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies."

#351 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 10:21 PM:

Everybody now, clap your hands, clap your hands: earthquake vagina

#352 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2008, 11:16 PM:

As far as polygamy goes, I think Twain had it right about a man not being able to serve two mistresses.

However, there is an Old Testament tradition that deserves a resurgence: handmaidens. I think I've almost sold my wife on the idea, too. The last time we talked about it she said: "So, those Friday nights when you stumble in at 4am from gaming, I could make my handmaiden put up with the aftermath of you drinking beer and eating junk food for the last 12 hours?"

#353 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 12:06 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 351

"So, did the earth move for you?"

#354 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 12:34 AM:

Lee, #293, thanks! I passed that on.

#355 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 12:43 AM:

Brad, #347:
"Oh, spare me your stories of Adam and Eve who ascend from the shelter to breed;
And boring old stories of war and its glories are stories I'd rather not read.
Robotic rebels, and vampires with AIDS, and spirits who never can rest;
Deals with the Devil -- I'd make one myself to get this stuff off of my desk!"

(I think this is by Joe Haldeman, though the only person I've ever heard singing it is Juanita Coulson. I have no idea of the title, and some of the lyrics are folk-process because my mind had blank spots.)

#356 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 12:49 AM:

Serge @ 259 et. al.
In reference to the XKCD strip in question, am I the only one who thought "Ah, fear of a black hat is automatically trumped by fear of two black hats!"?
the film in question.
Though I may be utterly wrong...

#357 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 04:04 AM:

Open threadiness:

Folks have been asking where they might find their jetpacks? Maybe right here.

#358 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 04:06 AM:

I think Mr. Two Black Hats is a potentially dangerous hat predator who wears his trophies.

#359 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 04:16 AM:

Open thread recommendation: deranged Italian music film from the 70s. (N.B.: contains breasts)

#360 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 04:43 AM:

Cat Meadors @ 301: You're not alone. There are some ostensibly harmless traits in a person that will make me, at the very least, ill at ease around them when they're evincing them (and at worst will make me not trust them with my unprotected psyche), and one of those is enjoying others' discomfort overmuch. Which is what embarrassment and humiliation humor invite audiences to do. A skilled writer can make me enjoy watching the bad guy get his comeuppance, but it's got to be more than just "This guy's bad! So he deserves it! Enjoy his suffering!"

You can imagine how I resisted Heinlein's character's epiphany of "Oh, I get it! Humor is other people's pain!"

I also got tagged as "having no sense of humor" growing up, because I didn't laugh at things like... oh, the story of my aunt as a little girl running to open the farmyard gate for the car to pass through, and panicking at being unable to get down because it swung out over a deep mud puddle, and all the adults present laughing too hard to help her at first. The mental picture of that last bit made me cry my eyes out. I was 11 and in the hospital when my grandmother told me this story. She thought to distract me from my sorry surroundings, and I think my reaction struck her as ungrateful. At the very least it tried her patience. "I could understand you crying because you're in the hospital," she told me, "but, look, no one got hurt, and the story is funny! You're supposed to laugh, not cry!"

Recently, a friend introduced me to Scrubs, which, depending on how much the episode relies on embarrassment and humiliation humor, I either enjoy or watch with deep discomfort. Right now, the episodes airing on Comedy Central are getting uncomfortable for me. It doesn't help that this friend shortly afterward introduced me to DVDs of House, which I like very much, but is an entirely different mood of hospital drama. Watching House makes me subsequently less inclined to laugh at doctors acting like Seinfeld characters while on the job.

Null says hi, and glad y'all enjoyed the story. Actually, what he says is, "Huh?" because he has relentlessly lived down to his name, or else because my husband was exceedingly astute in naming him. Among the incidents that show off his stunning capacity for intellect are the night he fell off the TV in his sleep, the various times when he forgets to put his tongue back, the evening he begged for and ate chili cashews until he barfed, and the day he chased his tail and caught it and ran screaming from the room because SOMETHING BIT HIM!

Hmm. That would be me enjoying his discomfort. I'm not sure how to reconcile that with the above examination of my inability to appreciate embarrassment humor. I guess it's different when the embarrassee is a cat? Maybe because I'm not sure he actually feels embarrassment? (Oh, I know that most cats can, but trust me, Null is not the sort to sit there all dignified and go "I meant to do that." We think he's missing his sense of dignity altogether. We think he may actually be a puppy with retractable claws.)

#361 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 06:32 AM:

Ted Stevens indicted for massive corruption...

And, in line with my Don't Trust Those Aircrew Blighters Further Than You Can Throw Them thesis, I note that he was awarded the DFC for flying transport aircraft over the Hump in the Second World War. Another one for the list...

#362 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 06:40 AM:

JimR @ 356... It appears, from the first answers to my question, that it was a case of hat envy. Or does xkcd like hip hop?

#363 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 08:23 AM:

I have trouble watching humiliation comedy, too. In fact, I'm uncomfortable watching any character being humiliated in anything. If I'm watching a movie and it looks like a character is about to make an ass of him/herself, I hit fast forward.

The odd thing is that there are exceptions. Peanuts, for example, is funny, even though the strip is one long series of disappointments for Charlie Brown, and (although I don't remember where to find the quote) Charles Schulz once said he believed humor stems from pain. The difference may be empathy; Peanuts doesn't encourage readers to just laugh at Charlie Brown, but to look at the world through a Charlie Brownish lens.

On a different note, it may be that one of the reasons I find Homer Simpson to be one of the funniest characters ever is that, like Nicole LeBoeuf-Little's cat, he's too serenely, obliviously dense to feel anything but shallow and transitory embarrassment.

#364 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 09:50 AM:

Nicole @ 360 - my cat once chased her tail so hard that she fell over dizzy. (You could almost see the cartoon bluebirds circling her head - it was fantastic.) She used to wrestle with it all the time, but biting it would just make her angrier, so she'd bite harder until one of us broke up the fight. And this is our smart cat.

(She's also the one we thought was a great mouser, until we realized that it was the little one that actually caught the mice - she'd just jump her and swipe the mouse at the last moment, bearing it to my husband with dearest affection.)

Humiliation comedy: I wouldn't watch the first season of The Office, because all the clips made it look like exactly the sort of show I hate. (I really didn't want to cringe at Michael Scott for half an hour a week.) Turns out I was wrong on that one, but it is a fine line.

I'm trying to sort out the laughing at silly cats thing. I think it also has to do with what humiliation's all about - it's a social thing. If you pick your nose and nobody sees, it's not embarassing. If you pick your nose in your car, and I'm sitting next to you at the stoplight, I'll feel embarassed for you (and want to honk and hold up my "YOUR CAR DOES NOT MAKE YOU INVISIBLE" sign, but that's just me.) We don't get embarassed for entities that don't feel embarassed. And I think that has something to do with adults laughing at kids - we don't think they "should" feel a certain way (like in danger when swung out over a big puddle), so we don't see the harm in laughing at the situation. Of course, kids feel what they feel, and it's not the same when you're the one who's stuck.

I try really hard not to do that, and not to let other people do it to my kid (you'd be amazed at how far some adults will go in teasing a child, or at least I was), but now I wonder if I'm doing her a disservice; I always protected her from scary movies, and now that she's old enough to watch them, she's hypersensitive to the eensiest slightly-spooky thing*. Am I working on making her a social neurotic now? On the other hand, the kid has no social fears, so even if I am screwing up, it's probably not in a way that's actually going to make a difference. (She got on stage the other day! And sang a song! In front of a whole restaurant full of people! I practically hyperventillated with stage terror for her, but that's ok because I was just in the audience so she couldn't see.)

*For any other parents who've done the same thing - The Muppet Movie has no scary parts.** Work up from there.

**You may have to explain what a "movie theater" is, though.

#366 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 10:05 AM:

Cat Meadors @ 364... I think that has something to do with adults laughing at kids

I've been told by my sisters-in-law and by others that I'm good with kids. That may be because, while I'm not a kid anymore(1), I remember quite well what it's like to be one. Last year, when I went to the Bay Area, I met my 6-year-old nephew. He was happy to see me(2), but, when I told him that our youngest dog liked to eat shoes, it became obvious that he thought I was making fun of him because dogs can't eat shoes - can they? He was taking me literally. I knelt before him and explained that I had meant that my dog liked to chew on shoes, and I told him that I'd never ever make fun of him.

(1) Really, I'm not.
(2) How many adults would have been willing to pick him up and carry him around so that he could pretend he was Superman flying?

#367 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 10:10 AM:

Wesley (363): I have trouble watching humiliation comedy, too. In fact, I'm uncomfortable watching any character being humiliated in anything.

Oh, me, too!

Cat Meadors (364): Social embarrassment. Yes, exactly. It makes my skin crawl to watch, whether it's supposed to be humor or not.

#368 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 10:22 AM:

Wesley #363:

My contrast point for this is MASH's use of Frank Burns vs Charles Winchester. Humiliating Frank was an every-episode affair, and most of his characterization went into making him unlikeable enough that the audience would enjoy seeing him mistreated. Winchester was sometimes bested by Hawkeye and BJ, but never stopped *knowing* he was superior, and so the back and forth with them had a completely different tone. More like banter between equals with a bit of bite to it, less like the popular kids in high school picking on the unpopular kids while being too important to the football team to be called on it.

#369 ::: David Hodson ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 10:33 AM:

R.M.Koske @ 310: I think his main point is that marriage is for mummies.

#370 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 10:35 AM:

albatross @ 368... the popular kids in high school picking on the unpopular kids

"It's okay, who would want to make a total stranger look like a fool?"
- Clark Kent to Lois Lane in 1978's Superman

#371 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 11:07 AM:

Add me to the list of those who find fictional embarrassment too painful to watch. This shuts me out of most sitcoms. Even watching Malvolio get his richly deserved comeuppance in Twelfth Night hurts.

(And the "Hi, Zuko here..." speech in Avatar makes me cringe, though it is both funny and appropriate.)

I wonder if social isolation/awkwardness has anything to do with this trait? The only context in which I feel like "one of us" is my own family, and only to a limited extent there.

Tangent: I think "Cringeworthy" would be a great name for a fictional butler.

#372 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Wow, thank you everyone! I've been called humorless and a stick-in-the-mud and worse for not liking embarrassment/humiliation comedy. (Recently someone told me I had no "connection to human beings" because I hadn't seen City Slickers, which I thought was rather extreme.)

Now I know that a whole lot of people I like and respect feel the same way. I no longer will entertain the notion that it might really be something wrong with ME!

And that bit of Stranger in a Strange Land is what got me started thinking about humor being based on others' pain. I distinguish between Wit (which tends toward wordplay and incongruity) and Yuks (which is composed of making fun of stupid or foolish people, or of smearing unpleasant substances on them etc.).

Like the Wit. Hate the Yuks.

#373 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 12:11 PM:

Xopher @ 372... I wonder if it makes me unconnected to humankind for never having watched Seinfeld, except for the bits that were forced upon me during the holidays because my in-laws HAD to have the TV on to that show?

#374 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 12:39 PM:

Open Thread Rant:

We have spent two weeks since our move trying to get phone service at our new house. Each time I call the next person on the list to be cajoled, begged, bribed, or threatened (if only this would work) into doing their job, I spend about an hour navigating voice mail, sitting on hold, getting randomly disconnected, talking to the wrong person who offers to send me to the right person, listening to repetitive elevator music while waiting for someone to answer the phone, etc., before being screwed around with for a couple hours, promised a solution real-soon-now, and finally being informed that somehow, they just can't help.

We finally gave up on our old phone company (who couldn't transfer service to the new house, because it had FIOS but not copper to it) and the Verizon clownshow (who promised us service last Friday, but then did nothing, and after much tech support wait time, informed my wife that they had no record of our existence). We're trying to set up service through Comcast[1], which did eventually show up and get our cable and internet working a few days after we moved in. I am told, now, that it will likely be at least another two weeks or so before we're able to get phone service at our new house, due to the difficulties of transferring our phone number. (I can call the company that has our old number, I can call the company that we're trying to get to provide service, but somehow, them talking to one another is simply too difficult.)

Now, I understand that in, say, Afghanistan, it is expected to take a month to get local phone service. Seeing as it's a war zone and dirt poor besides, this isn't a huge shock. But why in God's name does it take a month to get phone service in the middle of endless, heavily-wired suburban sprawl? If we didn't have cellphones, we'd be completely screwed right now. We have (cable-based) high speed internet, for God's sake. Just not phone service. That would be Too Hard.

I am tempted by the idea that I should just get a 4-phone cellphone plan, put two of the phones strategically inside the house, and be done with it. But this is, of course, a bluff. Because God knows I wouldn't dare monkey with the one part of our communications with the outside world that currently *works*.

Perhaps in six months, the Albanian Telephone Directorate will send word by messenger that soon, a wire will be stretched to our house, and a few months later, a mostly-sober technician will be by to hook up the phone. But I won't bet on it.

[1] Just as an aside, when your customer service is so lousy that the local cable monopoly looks good by comparison, this might be a hint that you aren't doing a great job. Is there something about providing telephone service that imposes a mix of rude incompetence and love of impassible voice-mail menus on the providers?

#375 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 01:13 PM:

Serge (373): I'll see your No Seinfeld and raise you No Friends (except once when I was visiting friends (heh) who insisted on watching it).

#376 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 01:17 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 375... Oh, I was quite happy being without Friends. There must be something inhuman about us.

#377 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Serge #373:

Yeah, I can't stand Seinfeld, and can just barely stomach Friends. I don't think worse of people who like them, but they're Not My Cup of Tea.

Life's too short to spend it on art of any kind that you don't like, whether unfunny comedies, Important Books that you find boring and pretentious, art that's too abstract to understand, music that doesn't sound good to your ear, etc. Ten lifetimes wouldn't be enough to listen to all the good music, read all the good books and stories, study all the interesting stuff, spend serious time paying attention to all the good art, etc.

#378 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 01:29 PM:

albatross @ 377... Hear, hear!

#379 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 01:44 PM:

Seinfeld left me with my usual reaction to any kind of drama or fiction without any characters I could sympathize with even slightly...or even characters I didn't want to shove under a bus. I felt the same way about Perdido Street Station. I was repelled, which is not a way of being entertained, not for me.

Friends is just patently ridiculous. Those apartments don't exist in NYC, for one thing, or if they do people who work in coffee shops can't afford them. They don't dress, talk, or act like New Yorkers. All of them need therapy but none of them get it (not that I've ever heard).

And all of the characters are embarrassed, all the time, for absolutely no reason.

Mind you, IANAFF, and have only seen a couple of eps by force. Me no likey.

#380 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 01:59 PM:

Is there something about providing telephone service that imposes a mix of rude incompetence and love of impassible voice-mail menus on the providers?

"We don't care. We don't have to. (snort) We're the Phone Company!" -- Lily Tomlin

#381 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:01 PM:

Jörg@343, thanks, that's good info. The idea, though, is that "Ein" in Cowboy Bebop is some sort of biological data storage device. If the zeroes in binary code would be referred to in German as "Aus," then that would clearly be a better knowledge of German is extremely limited.

Serge@366, I find it depressing that your second footnote isn't inverted in meaning. Why *wouldn't* they, aside from physical inability?

As far as Friends and Seinfeld go, I find the former completely unrewarding to the point of incomprehension of its appeal, and the latter mostly boring. Seinfeld has its merits, they're just too few and far between to make watching it worth the effort.

#382 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:05 PM:

albatross, you might get some sympathetic reinforcement from Chad's Verizon Saga.

I've had pretty much flawless service from them, but I'm beginning to think I got lucky.

#383 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:06 PM:

Albatross, have you met GetHuman?

(I believe it was here that I learned about it, a couple of years ago. Really helpful when you're trying to get past the unhelpful phone menus.)

#384 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:15 PM:

I've never seen Seinfeld, Friends, The Office, or The Honeymooners. I have seen M.A.S.H., though.

albatross @ 377: Life's too short to spend it on art of any kind that you don't like

I prefer Theodore Sturgeon's maxim: "I'll try anything twice, to see if I can acquire the taste." I don't take "anything" literally (I doubt he did either), but I can definitely state that my life would be poorer if I filled it with only those things that I liked the first time.

#385 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:17 PM:

albatross @374:

I share your pain. It's a global phenomenon, sadly.

When we moved to the Netherlands, we found that all of the cable and telephone companies had toll-free phone numbers that could not be reached from outside the country. We only got to speak to anyone because one of the ISP's (with a non toll-free number) was owned by KPN, the major phone company, and the guy at the ISP did an internal call transfer.

Moving to the new house meant that we could at least make the phone calls. Sadly, that just exposed the next layer of incompetence, which has included shipping the set top box to the new house a month before our move-in date, giving us the wrong cable package, and switching off the wrong cable package for several days till they could connect us to the right one.


#386 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Xopher, #372: No, it's nothing wrong with you. I submit that it's a symptom of something badly broken in our society as a whole, and that it's part of the suite of attitudes that make bullying a socially-acceptable behavior.

albatross, #374: Do any of your local media outlets have an ombudsman program? (The one in Nashville was run by Channel 2 and called "2 On Your Side".) This is exactly the sort of thing they love to get their teeth into, because it makes them look good at the expense of a competitor.

And @ #377: I'm condensing that last paragraph down into a button format!

#387 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:27 PM:

Skwid @ 381... On the other hand, that makes me stand out as a cool uncle. Even my less-than-2-year-old nephew likes me. It must mean something that he kept bringing books for me to read to him, with him sitting in my lap of course.

#388 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Seinfeld used to give me nightmares - the real, wake-up-screaming kind. It was bizarre. My tinfoil hat theory is that Seinfeld was actually an experiment in mass mind control and my brainwaves were just tuned incorrectly to be affected by it. (It would explain why it was so popular...)

But really, I just asked my husband to stop watching it. He asked me to give up scratch-offs. It was a fair trade.

Albatross @374 - I gave up Verizon in favor of Comcast too, and boy, that's saying something. (I don't even have cable!) But it is very much like the difference between getting hit in the head with a hammer once and getting hit in the head with a hammer twice. Good luck.

#389 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 02:47 PM:

377/386: My shorthand for albatross's last paragraph is "Life's too short to read bad* books**."

*where "bad" = "I don't enjoy it"
**applies to all artforms

#390 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 03:52 PM:

Lee @ 386

I submit that it's a symptom of something badly broken in our society as a whole, and that it's part of the suite of attitudes that make bullying a socially-acceptable behavior.

Heated agreement. Not that it's anything new; one (maybe the most important) reason why I react so badly to humiliation and embarrassment humor is that I was badly bullied as a young child, and that was a while ago. Still, I think it's worse now in schools.

Shorter (buttonworthy) albatross: "So much good art, so little time."

#391 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 04:04 PM:


How old is your daughter? We're raising our son with much the same parenting style, and at 6 he's suddenly starting to branch out into trying more movies and being less timorous.

There was a long period a couple years back where he wouldn't even watch Thomas the Tank Engine videos he hadn't seen before, because of a part in one where the train went around a curve too fast and the passengers were thrown off into bushes and trees. That was terrifying at the time, and for a long while he refused to watch anything he hadn't already seen. Now he's become a bit more adventurous in his choices.

#392 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 04:49 PM:

Skwid @ 381
It is at least possible. I dimly remember that the whole binary system in electric/electronic devices was explained in basic school as the two possible states of "on" or "off", Ein or Aus.

#393 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 04:57 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 389:

But "bad" != "I don't enjoy it." If I saw your slogan on a button, I'd assume the wearer was exhorting me to drop the pulp and pick up the classics--probably not what you intend.

I've been trying to figure out what bugs me about albatross' credo. Here's the best explanation I've come up with:

I tried to read Ulysses twice, and failed both times. Now it could be that Ulysses is a load of dingo's kidneys, that the people who claim to love it and celebrate it every Bloomsday are just pretending, that Joyce's having written some of the best short stories in the English language is just coincidence, etc. Or it could be that I just haven't learned how to read Ulysses yet. The latter strikes me as far more likely.

Under the "life's too short" program, I would just shrug and move on. But I think it might be worth the effort to learn how to read Ulysses. It might not, and it might not even be possible for me--but how will I ever know if I don't try?

Obviously, it's a question of triage--there are a vast number of books I haven't learned how to like, so I need to make some sort of guess as to which ones would repay the effort, which may very well be wrong and lead to wasted time. But the alternative would be to stick to stuff that I already know how to read, which, for whatever reason, wouldn't satisfy me.

#394 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 05:01 PM:

albatross #374:

Have you considered going cell-only, or do you use the phone company for your net access?

#395 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 05:19 PM:

Tim Walters (393): Your reading of my slogan *is* the most obvious one. Which is why I felt the need to footnote it. Nevertheless, it's how I phrase my willingness to put down a book I'm not enjoying. For button purposes, I like Bruce Cohen's rephrasing at 390.

#396 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 05:32 PM:

I found some Seinfeld episodes to be very well written, although I do have the same problem that several others have already mentioned, that is, that the characters are all so unlikeable. I had a bit of a soft spot for Kramer, but as a friend of mine said, he is after all already at the stage were you should be offered some kind of special care...

One problem I have with some forms of comedy that I sometimes feel sorry for the more embarrassing characters. As a child, I often got sad watching Fawlty Towers. Of course, as an adult I see that a lot of Basil's troubles are of his own making (maybe it was a childish sympathy with being unable to command indifferent surroundings, I don't know). It is the same thing with Mr Bean and the boss in (the British original, I haven't seen the American show) The Office, I know that they somtimes have it coming, but I still feel a bit sorry for them.

But maybe I'm in a small minority here. And this does not mean that I can't see how spot on for example the Office often is.

#397 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Tim Walters: It may not be binary. They may love Ulysses (or Farewell to Arms, or any other book people acclaim).

It may be, for you, it sucks. There is no way for you to learn how to read it; because the things which make it great don't work for you.

Or, to reach back to the classics, Gustibus non est disputandum, as the French would say, Chacun a son goût.

In plain English, One man's meat is another man's poison.

#398 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 05:42 PM:

Terry @ 397: Sure, that's why I said "it might not even be possible for me." My point is that there's insufficient evidence for that conclusion. It took me three tries to read Gravity's Rainbow, but the third time I couldn't put it down.

Mary Aileen @ 395: For button purposes, I like Bruce Cohen's rephrasing at 390.

I don't see it as being any different from yours.

One could say "don't read it if you don't enjoy it."

#399 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 05:54 PM:

This may be one of the Top Ten stories to ever appear in The Onion:

Al Gore Places Infant Son in Rocket to Escape Dying Planet

#400 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 05:58 PM:

Terry Karney @ 397... Another translation would be 'Des goûts et des couleurs on ne discute pas', which means 'Tastes and colors are not to be discussed'.

#401 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 06:12 PM:

My version is "life's too short for bad beer." Or "cheese," when speaking to teetotallers.

The most useful phrase I've heard recently is, "It does not speak to my condition." Which acknowledges the facts that (primo) your condition is not the same as mine, and (secundo) mine will change.

#402 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 06:24 PM:

TexAnne @ 401... Life is too short for any cheese?

#403 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 06:29 PM:

I watched Seinfeld faithfully during its initial run and enjoyed most of the episodes. The reruns get tiresome with repeated viewing, but there are occasional great episodes.

One show that I enjoyed during its initial run but that I can hardly stand now is "Everybody Loves Raymond." Not because it is bad, but because it can get painfully real. There's one episode where a half-ass contractor friend of Raymond's totally botches up buying a replacement kitchen range. It closely echoed something that happened to my parents, involving a kitchen floor and a guy who hung out at the local bar.

#404 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 06:38 PM:

Serge, 402: No, bad cheese. (Bad cheese, no biscuit. Uh, cracker. Oh, never mind.)

#405 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 06:59 PM:

TexAnne @ 404... Heheheh.

#406 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 08:04 PM:

Serge @400 Another translation would be 'Des goûts et des couleurs on ne discute pas', which means 'Tastes and colors are not to be discussed'.

I don't know - some good beer, some good cheese, a few friends, a discussion on tastes and colours - sounds like a pretty good evening. You may disagree of course :)

#407 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 08:04 PM:

FWI (and we know just how debased our U.S. currency is) here's what I think about books like Ulysses:

I really and honestly think they are brilliant and wonderful works, by just about any criteria I come up with.

I also don't much care to read them, silently, to myself, by myself.

These are the kinds of works that blossom in reading aloud, serially, among friends. I've participated in repeated readings of Ulysses and quite a few other Great Works this way, including Renaissance plays, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and so on.

Reading with a friend or several, taking your time, laughing, discussing. about what you're reading, especially works like this which are so very oral and aural in their delights, is pleasure not like any other.

These works are composed as 'social' works in the first place -- meant for rooms of people, to be recited or performed. Joyce composed Ulysses over many years, bringing in just about everyone who happened to get within his considerable orbit, in one way or another. He certainly read it to people over and over during the process.

And that kind of pleasure too, isn't for every one.

Love, C.

#408 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 08:48 PM:

#407, Constance -

What a lovely idea. I tend to think that, like hosting a gaming night,* it's a lovely idea that I'll never implement, but it is a really lovely idea all the same. Maybe I'll surprise myself one day.

*I'm too passive (or something) to host get-togethers where we do anything other than sit and eat and talk. And I rarely host those.

#409 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 09:13 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 406... True, but there are some subjects where disagreement may cause the death of friendships. As for beer, I could tell the difference between a lager and a root beer, but that's about it.

#410 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 10:50 PM:


The most useful phrase I've heard recently is, "It does not speak to my condition."

when i'm forced to explain why, for example, i am not into a new band that my husband's into, i say "it says nothing to me about my life," as in the smiths song.* i like it because it is both self-mocking & kind of deeply true. but it probably wouldn't be appropriate to say to people who don't know me well enough.

*i actually don't know whether the song is smiths or morrissey. cause they say only a bit to me about my life.

#411 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2008, 11:06 PM:

Tim @ 384: I'll try something twice if I was just unimpressed the first time. If I disliked it, I'm less likely to--how unlikely depends both on how strong the dislike was, and on how varied the "something" is. For example, I tried risotto once, and didn't care for it at all. Several years later, I tried it somewhere different, and this I liked. I may well try risotto at a third or fourth place, after the second experience. Had two completely unconnected restaurants, both otherwise good, produced risotto I disliked, I probably wouldn't have tried a third.

#412 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:56 AM:

Tim, #393: Reframing your argument in a different medium: I don't like alcohol. There are a lot of people who do like alcohol, and who spend a great deal of time discussing the finer points of different types of alcohol, and as far as I'm concerned it's all horse piss. Now, it could be that (as I have all too often been told) I just don't know how to drink alcohol, or haven't tried the right alcohol, and that by putting in a lot of time and effort, I might learn to enjoy alcohol too. And if I did that, then I'd understand what all those other people are talking about, and that would surely be a positive thing.

BUT... to me, the potential benefit I might get from that understanding is simply not worth the unpleasantness involved in reaching it. Same/same with art (literary or otherwise); some of it is worth spending the effort to learn to appreciate, and some isn't. And the issue of which art is worth the effort and which not is entirely subjective. I won't tell you that you shouldn't bother to continue trying to read Ulysses, but you don't get to tell me that I'm doing something wrong by putting it aside and moving on either.

#413 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 01:02 AM:

Just one post tonight and no reading -- I had a busy few days and napped too late to stay online and not stay up all night. I'll catch up tomorrow.

I finished the necklace for the first donor from the Live Long and Marry fannish movement on LJ. I wish I'd thought to make that for myself!

#414 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 01:18 AM:


The teenage foster kid just referred to us, albeit obliquely, as parents. (She described to her new ringtone of Beethoven's Fifth, for when we call, as "the parent tone".)

Whoah. Would never have thought that would happen.

#415 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 01:23 AM:

Constance #407: These are the kinds of works that blossom in reading aloud, serially, among friends.

The Eye of Argon, by Jim Theis

(for varying values of "blossom")

#416 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 02:14 AM:

It's been very illuminating reading all the discussion about the lack of enjoyment to be had from humiliation humour. I thought for years there was something wrong with me because that kind of thing just leaves me cold, even shuddering a bit. Like Bruce Cohen, above, I suffered terrible bullying as a kid, and I find now, in my mid-40s, I'm very sensitive to anything that reminds me of it, even a little. The "Funniest Video" type shows just make me wince and feel terrible for the poor bastards shown having some awful thing happen to them. Even with all the added sound-effects and "wacky" music cues, it's still not funny, not even a bit.

Re Seinfeld and Friends: I have watched lots of both these shows, and found I preferred Seinfeld, even though that show is about these awful people. It came as quite a shock to me when I first realised that not only were they unlikable, but that they were *meant* to be unlikable. (Unlike Friends, where clearly the viewer was supposed to love all of them.) That struck me as shocking at the time.

Or maybe I just need to get out more. :)

#417 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 03:05 AM:

Clifton @ #414, that's kind of, well, nice.

#418 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 03:27 AM:

Tim Walters #384 (and #393): As usual, I agree--there are many things I disliked the first time that I ended up liking on the second try--or third, or fourth... Still, no matter how many times I try, no one will ever convince me that Blade fracking Runner is worth watching. Yeesh.

Re: Seinfeld, I love it, almost unreasonably. And I can't explain why, but one feature of a lot of stories I truly love is a complete lack of any character I can identify with or even like. That's one of the reasons I love film noir so much (that, and because it's so darned pretty).

miriam #410: It's The Smiths. "Panic". The Smiths say an awful lot to me about my life, mostly because they're mopey AND hilarious.

#419 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 04:16 AM:

Lee @ 412: And the issue of which art is worth the effort and which not is entirely subjective.

Taste is entirely subjective, certainly. But if someone reads, say, Byzantium Endures and doesn't get that Pyat is an unreliable narrator, then they're reading it wrong, which means that working on that would have some non-subjective benefit.

That doesn't make what you're saying wrong, because how much our hypothetical reader should care that they're reading it wrong is again subjective. I could be a better table-tennis player if I did some drills, but since I just play in the office for fun, I don't bother. There's nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with reading just for fun in a similar way (or saving one's rigorous effort for an entirely different reading project). It's all good.

I won't tell you that you shouldn't bother to continue trying to read Ulysses, but you don't get to tell me that I'm doing something wrong by putting it aside and moving on either.

I don't think I said anything like that. If so, I certainly didn't mean to.

#420 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 04:22 AM:

Constance @ 407: It never occurred to me that difficult material would benefit from being read aloud, but now that you mention it it seems obvious. Thanks for the clue!

I've done group Snark readings, but nothing more substantial.

#421 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 04:34 AM:

To something much earlier said
Way back in the past that I read
I am trying to link…
Or perhaps, do you think,
This ought to be on t’other thread?

Down in North Somerset way
They all know what makes a man gay.
For cider on beer
Do make ’un quite queer.
John Barrowman, what do you say?


In West Country folklore it’s clear
That cider on beer makes you queer.
But my taste for male pork, sir,
Was formed in South Yorkshire.
John Barrowman? Really, my dear!

#422 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 04:42 AM:

ethan @ 418: As usual, I agree--there are many things I disliked the first time that I ended up liking on the second try--or third, or fourth...

Seafood and beer were the big ones for me--I disliked both (to the point of disgust in the former case) until well into adulthood, but in both cases ended up in situations where (a) I wanted to like it enough to keep trying it, (b) found an example mild enough to sneak by my aversion, and (c) was able to move on to the less mild forms from that starting point.

Again, I'm not saying this is what people should do. Just mentioning what worked for me.

#423 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 06:03 AM:

Xopher@372: Your "wit" and "yuks" are two of the three kinds of humor that I think are different brain mechanisms. The third is "togetherness" -- i.e., "I'm part of the in-group!" This is what drives references and in-jokes. If you can come up with a one-syllable tag for that, I'd be obliged to you.

#424 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 06:03 AM:

Taste is entirely subjective, certainly. But if someone reads, say, Byzantium Endures and doesn't get that Pyat is an unreliable narrator, then they're reading it wrong, which means that working on that would have some non-subjective benefit.

Really? Why are they wrong? Why isn't it possible to read Pyat as a truth telling narrator from (say) another world?

#425 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 09:24 AM:

#414, Clifton -

Congratulations. That says most excellent things about you.

#426 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 09:25 AM:

#424, Keir -

I'm not familiar with the work in question, but wouldn't a truth-telling narrator who doesn't understand what is going on be unreliable?

#427 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 09:51 AM:

I've started taking all narrators as unreliable until proved otherwise. This has nothing at all to do with the fact that my favorite writers are Brust and E. Bear.

#428 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 10:59 AM:

David@423, how about "Heh?"

#429 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 11:01 AM:

Clifton 414: Congratulations! That's great. And that particular choice shows that she has wit as well. Also, I agree with R.M. at 425 that it says good things about you.

Earl 415: I'd say more "bloom" as in 'offshore algae bloom kills thousands of fish'.

ethan 418: Wow. Opposite kinds of tastes here. Love Blade Runner, which strikes me as an SF film noir...have you ever seen it as originally released, with the voiceover narration? I liked that better, actually (though I know the hardcore BR fans will come for me with pitchforks and torches for saying so).

Tangent: I wish I'd first seen Dark City a. without the opening narration and b. expecting a film noir. It would have been a much better movie that way.

Tykewriter 421: Probably belongs in the Amphibrach thread, but me likey! (I can has John Barrowman? I can has just taste?)

David 423: I'd call that a subtype of wit. Sometimes it's used for group identity confirmation, and sometimes to find members of your same group. If I say "I have come to wound the autumnal city" and someone on the plane next Tuesday says "Aha!" I know I've found another fan. If I sing "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet" to the tune of "Dona Nobis Pacem" and someone joins right in before I even get to 'dolor', I know that they're familiar with both the round AND publishing (or computer interface design).

But perhaps I'm classifying it as wit because it's one of my favorite kinds of humor. I don't think so, though: it depends on the listeners' knowledge as well as the speaker's, is frequently based on wordplay, and usually flies right past those who don't get it, rather than just making them think "what a jerk"—all of which are characteristics of wit. Sexual innuendo is another kind of wit; crude sexual jokes go under yuks.

OTOH, if your buddy Jake is called "Pantless" because of the time back in college that he lost his pants and had to walk home from the gravel pit with his jacket pulled WAY DOWN, that's yuks, even though it's in-group humor. I guess I think in-group humor cuts across my categories but can be classified into them; the "togetherness" label sounds good, but ISTM that it covers different things that are wit or yuks, rather than being different from either.

#430 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 11:38 AM:

Re: Dark City. I walked in on my friends watching Dark City about 5 minutes into the film and was told nothing more then "We're watching Dark City. You'll probably like it." I think that was the best possible way to see that film.

#431 ::: Mary Aileen reports old undeleted...something ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Several old, rude dribblings starting here.

#432 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 11:46 AM:

Serge @ 429 -
ethan 418: Wow. Opposite kinds of tastes here. Love Blade Runner, which strikes me as an SF film noir...have you ever seen it as originally released, with the voiceover narration? I liked that better, actually (though I know the hardcore BR fans will come for me with pitchforks and torches for saying so).

Not this hardcore Blade Runner fan...

#433 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 11:57 AM:

I wish I could see the original Dark City again, the choppy and dreamlike version. It was a much better movie than the "director's cut", which is the only version I can find these days. (Also, Han shot first, and you kids need to get offa my lawn.)

#434 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:12 PM:

Tim, #419: No, you didn't; apparently my brain skated over the last paragraph of your post when I read it the first time. Sorry for the misplaced testiness -- we actually seem to be in violent agreement. :-)

And @ #422: That's more or less how I developed a taste for salsa and other spicy foods. The salsa that I was first able to eat successfully... well, now I could probably drink it by the glassful!

#435 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:17 PM:

Amusements in overlap.

This piece at BB Law Prof and Lawyer Agree (which says something I've been saying for more than 20 years [and when did that become something which related to things I did as an adult?]) was sent to me by my father.

For some reason, I'd never have expected him to know from BB; thought it falls in the sort of thing he'd like.

#436 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Constance/R.M. Koske: We used to have "reading and eating" parties. They are great fun. I recall wandering the shelves at one (they travelled) and pulling down a book of poems; from which I read, comically, "The Raven."

I don't know what came over me, but the room was in stitches, which was the idea. We did pieces of plays, and snippets of who can recall what.

There was a chunk of time (they were living in Los Angeles) that Emma Bull and Will Shetterly had a regular one of these.

They are great fun.

#437 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:26 PM:

Keir @ 424: Really? Why are they wrong? Why isn't it possible to read Pyat as a truth telling narrator from (say) another world?

Specifically, because he says he's from our world. So he can't be both of those things.

Generally, and more importantly: because it would make the book completely pointless and silly. For any book there's an infinite number of undisprovable readings, but just as with theories of the world, undisprovability is not enough. What's wanted is insight and understanding, and if one's reading keeps making one pile rationalizations on top rather than resolving things that were previously unclear, it's not a very good reading (unless, of course, the book is hopelessly muddled).

I guess I should add a caveat that one's goal needn't be understanding the work. If it's more fun for a reader to make up weird theories, they should follow their bliss.

#438 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:27 PM:

It may just be the soda I'm drinking*, but this:

from which I read, comically, "The Raven."

makes me feel quite fond of you right now, Terry.

*Caffeine affects my brand of mild depression and relieves it, so I'm most likely to love humanity and particular examples of it when I'm well-caffeinated.

#439 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Xopher #429: The fact that Blade Runner is an SF noir is one of the reasons that it actually made me angry when I saw it--I didn't just dislike it, I got personally mad at it because I should have loved it. Instead I found it bland, and I also don't really believe that the concepts people claim are in it are actually in it.

But I know I'm in the vast (vast, vast, vast) minority here, and I'm sure there's something I'm missing. Maybe I should try again. I haven't seen the version with the voiceover, and now I'm thinking I should try that one, because I often do prefer things die-hard fans dislike.

Oh, and when I'm in the mood to overlook its cheesier elements, I love Dark City. I haven't seen the director's cut, but if, like TexAnne says at #433, it removes some of the choppiness and dreamlike quality, then I don't want to see it.

#440 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:40 PM:

ethan, in that case, you must stay FAR away from the director's cut. They explain why the city is where it is, and the beach...well, just trust me, the new version is neither choppy, nor dreamlike, nor good.

#441 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:49 PM:

ethan... I find myself prefering Blade Runner with the voiceover. But I prefer the ending of the director's cut.

#442 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:52 PM:

This has started popping up on my friendslist: Transcriptase, the new online publication formed as a response to the William Sanders debacle.

#443 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Jen 442: What a clever name! I like that a lot.

#444 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 01:04 PM:

TexAnne #440: Eeeewwwwww!

#445 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 01:08 PM:

Lee @ 434: Sorry for the misplaced testiness

No worries.

I'm in between on Blade Runner--I enjoy it in many ways, but it has some pretty serious flaws. The main problem for me is that the androids are superhuman. Not only does this make it hard to believe you need an empathy test to detect them, but it's wrong thematically--the whole point is or should be the indistinguishability of the natural and the artificial.

I feel like Blade Runner takes Dick's ideas, picks them up, says "ooh, shiny," and puts them down again, without really engaging with them.

I also don't like the way it occasionally uses vintage clothing and sets to say OMGZ WE ARE SO NOIR NOW. And I could definitely live without the gratuitous face-slapping.

Dark City I really like, and it validated one of my movie-finding techniques: "Not only does Mick LaSalle not like it, but he says the plot is incoherent! It must be awesome!" I haven't seen the director's cut, and it sounds like I shouldn't.

#446 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 03:41 PM:


I often do prefer things die-hard fans dislike.

oh, yeah? then i am less afraid to tell you, die-hard fan of the smiths that you are, what i hear when i hear "panic". (that looks like a place to hear the song, but i am almost as scared of internet music as i am of internet video, so i didn't check. if not, it should be pretty easy to find with the group & song title.)

#447 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 03:53 PM:

Tim Walters @ 445... Not only does Mick LaSalle not like it, but he says the plot is incoherent! It must be awesome!"

Lasalle is the critic who said ofX-men 2:
"This movie celebrates the death of humanity."

I hope for his sake that he never gets a visit from a master of magnetism who likes wearing dorky helmets.

#448 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 05:12 PM:

Idle observation, eminently suitable for an open thread:

Popcorn can, in my experience, be classed into two basic morphologies. Some are nearly perfect spheroids, while others have little bits trailing down, encasing the shell of the original kernel. I tend to think of the first ones as "brains" and the second ones as "jellyfish". Jellyfish are by far the more common.

So at the cinema tonight (Amsterdam Arena, Indiana Jones and the the Legend of the Crystal Skull), I looked into my bucket of popcorn and saw almost all brains. And I can't figure out why. Possible answers, as discussed with the Hub:

  • A difference in materials, such as a slightly different breed of corn, with kernel coatings that are a tiny bit less rigid, and thus don't stick down when the kernel is popped.

  • A different popping process: hot air popping rather than oil and a hot pan, perhaps, though this supposes that all the popcorn I have eaten in the UK and the US is done differently than what I had tonight

  • Some post-popping effect, such as the agitation of a bag of pre-popped corn causing the brains and jellyfish to separate into vertical layers. The presumption then is that I just happened to get a box from the brain layer

Does anyone have any ideas? Speculation? Amusing if implausible conspiracy theories?

Or am I just hopelessly weird for imposing a taxonomy on popcorn?

#449 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 05:27 PM:

abi #448:

Weird, yes. Hopelessly so, not at all!

#450 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 05:37 PM:

I've never seen Dark City, so I shall need to check it out. I do think Blade Runner is a perfect SF film. Or just a perfect film. Or plainly to my taste?

As for reading aloud in company, back in the days when things were far more relaxed in our part of town we used to do a seasonal celebration reading of Sir Gawain at the Ear Inn that week between Christmas and New Year's. The group read alternately in Middle English and Tolkien's translation. There were musicians. Parts were sung. It was a popular seasonal event. Of course most of the attendees were colleague-friends who lived locally, just as we did, and the bar-restaurant's staff and owners, who were also living there and friends and colleagues. It was fun, it was musical, it was seasonal.

Then everything got more rich and hectic and the artists moved away and even the Ear Inn sold itself to more upscale owners and all that stopped.

Vaquero and I have read Sir Gawain to each other though, some years, at Christmas time. It's a magical experience. If you're in the mood for that. Not every year is like that. The holidays in foreign cities are marvelous, as are those with friends.

Love, C.

#451 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Abi, I read about popcorn in When Do Fish Sleep?, by David Feldman. As best I remember, the round, compact version is usually called mushroom popcorn. The tentacly version is butterfly popcorn. Different breeds of popcorn tend to produce one or the other type, so it's easy to select kernels for their popped shape.

People generally prefer eating butterfly popcorn. Retailers of already-popped corn generally prefer to sell mushroom popcorn, because it doesn't break to small pathetic bits by the time the customer is ready to eat. So popcorn kernels for home popping are generally butterfly, but mail-order popcorn assortments are generally mushroom. Apparently movie popcorn is mushroom too.

#452 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 06:01 PM:

abi 448: I think it's a case of the "big pieces come to the top" effect. If you agitate a container with nonfrictionless sides, the larger pieces tend to end up on the top, even if they're heavier than the smaller pieces. This is partly because when you shake a container of objects, random-sized holes open up between them, and the smaller ones have a better chance of falling into a hole (on the way down) than the larger ones.

I understand that the friction on the sides of the container is relevant too, but I never understood how. Something to do with turning things over IIRC.

The popcorn jellyfish may not have a larger actual volume than the brains, but they have bits sticking out that make them effectively larger in terms of falling into a hole. And popcorn in a movie theatre IS agitated, for a related reason: the unpopped kernels, which few customers want, fall to the bottom of the warmer and through the grate into a catch tray. That same agitation lets more brains end up on the bottom.

There's also the fact that any hybrids (part brain, part jellyfish) can have their protrusions broken off in the agitation process, and become brains; but brains cannot become jellyfish. Thus the longer the popcorn has been sitting there, the higher the proportion of brains will be found in an average serving.

#453 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 06:04 PM:

451 Rozasharn: Or that. Yeah. LOLAM.

But when I worked in a movie theatre back in the 70s, we definitely had a preponderance of butterfly popcorn...fewer kernels per bucket means higher profits, measured against the wastage caused when bits break pathetically...I dunno.

#454 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 06:04 PM:

miriam #446: Don't worry, I love the Puppini Sisters. They do a mean "Wuthering Heights", too. Have you ever heard of The Apple Sisters? They're an awesome sketch comedy trio whose conceit is that they're a Andrews Sisters-style singing group with a radio show in the '40s. But that doesn't even begin to describe them. I saw them at the last SketchFest NYC (which I was able to attend through the gracious intervention of a benefactor), and I was leaning forward, sitting on the edge of my seat, the whole time they were performing. Even when there was a slow moment, they were a joy to watch because they were so full of creative energy. Brilliant.

abi #448: I don't know, but you did just make me want popcorn, real bad.

#455 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 06:13 PM:


oh, good! yeah, i really love the whole album, except for "jeepers creepers" (& the thing that offends me is that awe-inspiring eyes would be described as "little." it's a love song to a beady-eyed sweetheart?) & "i will survive" which does not, cough, take the cake.

their other album is half covers & half their own stuff, & is, sadly, about half-good (in my opinion). although i never thought i could love "crazy in love" like i do now.

they got me thinking that i really should try to get some andrews sisters albums (it doesn't hurt that i am a jew booster). & i will look out for tha apple sisters now, thanks!

#456 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 06:18 PM:

abi @ 448, I read this sentence Some post-popping effect, such as the agitation of a bag of pre-popped corn causing the brains and jellyfish to separate into vertical layers. before I read any of the rest of your post, and boggled at the mental image. Popcorn with what and what?

Then I read the beginning.

Sometimes my habit of non-sequential reading gets me in trouble. I only ever notice that I'm doing it when things like this happen.

(I agree with Xopher's assessment.)

#457 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 06:21 PM:

#448, abi -

Weird, but in the way we like. I think most of the fluorosphere has probably participated in, if not initiated, a similar conversation.

#458 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 06:24 PM:

#453 - Xopher -

You are not alone, sir. I had a post all set with much the same theory and just happened to check for new posts on preview. (My explanation for why she doesn't see the effect at home is that there is less stirring of popcorn at home. You make it, dispense it all into bowls immediately and then eat.)

#459 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 07:36 PM:

And now for something completely different:

I am now officially annoyed that Hugo Awards. The Best Professional Editor (Long Form) category should be set up like the Artist category and require the nominees to have a couple books they edited listed by their names. Because I suspect that the vast majority of voters have no clue who edited most books in a given year.

For example; I'm fairly knowledgable about SF. And I can't figure out what books Beth Meachem edited last year. I *deliberately went looking* online and I can't find out.

I know PNH edited the Scalzi and Hartwell edited ROLLBACK, but that's only because those two novels were nominated for BEST NOVEL so I went to Amazon and looked at the copyright page.

But if a voter wants to make an informed decision how is he or she supposed to do so? So far I know exactly one book edited by two of the people nominated. I had hoped that Patrick edited AXIS as that would have made things easy, but it looks as though Teresa edited that one. (I'd vote for you if I could, Teresa!).


#460 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 07:37 PM:

At the. I am now officially annoyed at the Hugo Awards. Oh well.

#461 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 08:20 PM:

Random musical moment -

My husband found a musician on YouTube who is pretty cool with an amazing instrument.

He calls himself That 1 Guy, and he has a homebrew electronic instrument that lets him be a one-man band.

I'm terrible at describing musical genres, but his background includes progressive jazz, and his piece called "Butt Machine" has a bit of a rap sound. I love the red-haired dancer in the video. (Warning, I do not hear lyrics clearly without a great deal of effort. There's nothing obviously offensive in this one, but I can't say it is 100% clean.) One of the YouTube videos also includes some very nice string playing that segues into what I'd call funk.

He's interesting to watch because he uses (apparently) on-the fly sampling and multiple percussionist's foot-pedals to control his "Magic Pipe" instrument, which looks a bit like the pre-rinse faucets in a commercial kitchen.

There's lots more on YouTube, but here's one last live recording that I liked, too.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

#462 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 09:17 PM:

For the allergic hamster lover:

Japanese Robotic Hamster

I mean, wow! The name says it all: it's Japanese, it's robotic, and it's a hamster!!!!

#463 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 09:59 PM:

Cat Meadors @364:

I found a certain scene near the end of _The Muppet Movie_ *extremely* scary when I was about eight or nine. My recollection is vague, but I think there was some kind of helmet thingy that fried people's brains...?

Tim Walters @393:

Sometimes when I bounce off a book I'll just put it in the trade-in box to take to the used bookstore. Other times -- if a book has been strongly enough recommended, or if I feel like maybe I'm just not in the right frame to appreciate it -- I'll put it back on the shelf and give it another try a year or more later. Right now both _Ulysses_ and _Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand_ are waiting for another try (it would be my third or fourth attempt at the latter; I love the prologue and enjoy the first couple of chapters, then there's a long passage in the middle that I can't get through, or couldn't the last couple of times I read it). That's proven a good strategy in the past; among the books I've bounced off of the first time and enjoyed greatly when I tried them again a long while later are _The Lord of the Rings_ and _The Worm Ouroboros_.

David Bilek @459:

You can use the SF Editors wiki to look up editors and what books they've edited. For instance, here are books edited by PNH, 2006 to 2009.

#464 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 10:08 PM:

Warning: a little more poking around revealed that the SF editors wiki page for TNH has been a steady target of wikispam for several days. If you look at the recent changes log all the changes in the last three days are spam on the Teresa Nielsen Hayden page, except for the edit I just made reverting to the last good version. But as persistent as this spammer (or more probably spam script) is, I don't expect my fix to last for long.

I'm not sure what the point of such a spam script is, since it keeps writing over the results of its previous attacks with a completely different advertisement every few hours.

#465 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 10:10 PM:

I didn't find the brain-frying helmet so scary, but the part where Kermit makes his impassioned speech and then Doc Hopper says "Shoot him?"

I was ten, I think. I guess scary hits on different levels then.

#466 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 10:49 PM:

Don@461, I want!

a) I would not feel totally guilty if my hunter-kitty got at it (which she might not, if it does not demonstrate much independent motion) ; b) no cage/cleaning, etc.

i wish they'd make a robo-budgie, though (for most of the same reasons). I would so love to have another bird but cannot afford one big enough to scare the cats. Plus a parrot would outlive me.

#467 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 10:54 PM:

Waaaaa I was in Preview and hit an unknown button and my post disappeared. I'll put in what I remember without comment numbers:

Clifton, that's great that she called you parents!

abi, it's the type of popcorn. I buy mine here and currently have Savannah Gold and Red River Valley. I'll try a couple more types next time.

And when a zoo had a cat-2 hurricane approaching, they herded the flamingos into the mens room for safety.

#468 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2008, 10:59 PM:

R.M. 458: Maybe, but the last time I disagreed with Rozasharn it turned out she knew what she was talking about, whereas I was talking through my ass. So I'm a little hesitant to get all categorical!

#469 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 12:08 AM:

anyone want to see my best birthday present this year? (caution: contains cartoons.*)

*say that five times fast.**
**when i was little, i thought "five times" was a measurement of the speed you were supposed to say it, i.e. five times faster than "fast."

#470 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 12:21 AM:

Jim, #462: I do that too, sometimes. If I can't quite decide whether I like a book or not, or if it's by an author I usually like but this one seems disappointing, I've learned that putting it aside for a while (at least 6 months, generally more) and then reading it again will clarify my opinion. Sometimes I find that I like the book better the second time through; other times it crystallizes my decision to put it into the cull pile. I think John Barnes is the only author about whom I've had both reactions (about different books, of course).

#471 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 12:24 AM:

Psst! For those to whom this will mean something... billmon's back!

#472 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 12:50 AM:

abi @ 448

mmmmmmm ... brains

#473 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 01:04 AM:

miriam: I was going through the slideshow going "Wow, what a great present, and look at all these comic greats" and then OMG! You have a page from my friend Deb! (Deb Aoki) Small small world.

#474 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Tim Walters @ 445

I feel like Blade Runner takes Dick's ideas, picks them up, says "ooh, shiny," and puts them down again, without really engaging with them.

It's not that it doesn't engage them, it's that they don't appear at all. Blade Runner has almost nothing to do with Philip K. Dick, and in fact, the themes about androids versus humans are exactly reversed from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Dick uses the androids as symbols of everything artificial and unhuman in the world he describes; Ridley Scott talks (very eloquently, in the climactic scene on the roof between Deckard and Roy, I think) about humans' inhumanity to everything non-human, in the form of the Replicants.

As for the ending, it's not so much that I don't like the voiceover (I don't; it's a cheat) as that the first time I saw the movie, in the original cut, I heard Gaff's last line, "You don't know how long she'll live; no one does!" followed by a hard cut to black, and, before the voiceover started I said to myself, "Holy crap, self, that was a great ending." But the voiceover undoes that.

And re Dark City: sounds like I don't want to see the director's cut either. I like the movie as I first saw it, and like the DVD I have: it's pace and mood exactly match its tone and lighting and editing; in fact the only thing I'd like to change, is Kieffer Sutherland's performance, which is downright embarrassing. But I still get goosebumps remembering that line, "Shut it down! Shut it all down!"

#475 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 01:36 AM:


You have a page from my friend Deb! (Deb Aoki) Small small world.

small world indeed. even smaller archipelago, i guess. we've been fans of deb's since she had the booth opposite us at stumptown (portland) comics fest two years ago.

#476 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 01:52 AM:

Clifton @ 414

Hey, congratulations! I think that proves that you guys have done a good job fostering her. I hope it's just the first such sign.

#477 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:09 AM:

Is it creepy that when I'm lost in thought (happens a lot) lately, I notice that I'm muttering "et lux perpetua luceat eis" under my breath, over and over?

Well, it's creeping me out, and I wish I would quit it.

#478 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:30 AM:

Xopher @476:
Depends. Singing or speaking? If singing, what arrangement?

#479 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 03:15 AM:

Way cool, miriam.

#480 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 03:58 AM:

Jim Henry @462, David Bilek @459: unfortunately, there's not really any useful information about Beth Meacham on there. I'm not sure, but I'd guess at least one of her recent projects was Mike Brotherton's latest novel -- I know she edited his first, at least.

#481 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 04:35 AM:

Bruce: actually the line's better than you remember it - "It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?"
Unless they changed it for the director's cut?

#482 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 04:41 AM:

Xopher @ 476... It's like that 1970s song "Can't get it out of my head", but in Latin?

#483 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 08:08 AM:

Xopher, 476: If you think it's creepy, then it's creepy. OTOH there are worse things for your subconscious to be doing than asking the Light to shine upon others, after all.

#484 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 08:42 AM:

Whoops! Avedon's website at The Sideshow seems to have gone p/o/o/f/walkabout -- anyone know if this is just a temporary glitch, or what?

#485 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 08:45 AM:

Avedon's other weblog doesn't say what's up.

#486 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 09:28 AM:

I add my voice to the chorus of dismay about the reported 'Dark City' director's cut. And a 'hear, hear' about the best way of seeing the film being minus the explanatory voiceover at the beginning. (I had heard that the explanatory voiceover was one of those the-studio-thinks-the-audience-is-stupid things, but if the director's cut adds *more* Explanation, maybe the studio's innocent for once.)

"Sleep now."

#487 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 09:34 AM:

ajay @ 480

No, I think you're right, and it's just senility creeping up me.* And that is a much better line. Made my hair stand on end that first time I heard it, which is why the voiceover just doesn't cut it for me.

* With another gallon of coffee, I might attempt a parody of Bonnie Raitt's That's Just Love Creeping Up on You, but right now, the neurons are running in circles, going "Baaaah", and I can't get them to do anything.

#488 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 09:36 AM:

Xopher @ 476

Or are you chanting the words with a Voice of Power™? And chanting for effect, or just ranging?

#489 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 10:22 AM:

Caroline @ 456: Haven't you ever had popcorn with brains and jellyfish? The stinging jellyfish are the best, kind of like a hot sauce on your popcorn.

The brains taste like licorice to me, so you can have mine.

#490 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Ginger @ 488, if brains are licorice-flavored, I'll have to pass them off too. (That also means I can never become a zombie, unless some people have red-licorice brains.)

#491 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 12:04 PM:

The latest New York Times Magazine has an article on trolling.

From a passage near the end:

If we can't prosecute the trolling out of online anonymity, might there be some way to mitigate it with technology? One solution that has proved effective is "disemvoweling" - having message-board administrators remove the vowels from trollish comments, which gives trolls the visibility they crave while muddying their message.

#492 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 12:19 PM:

don@461: Is it a friend to children everywhere?

#493 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 01:17 PM:

miriam #468:

Your husband is *full* of win. O lucky woman!

#494 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 01:22 PM:

Avedon's weblog is back up now, complete with an explanation about why someone ordered it to be taken down.

Fortunately, I'd been warned about Dark City before I saw it and told now to turn the sound on until I saw a man in a bath.

#495 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 01:25 PM:

Warning to folks flying in from not-America (probably too late for Gencon and Worldcon attendees - this was just made officially public today, although it's been policy for some time, and talked about extensively in the IT community) -

Department of Homeland Security states it may indefinitely detain electronic devices - including laptops, portable hard drives, thumb drives, and the like - at the border.

A copy of the official policy is here.

Something to keep in mind while traveling - if it looks suspicious, it's possible that they will treat it as such at the border. Leave anything you can't afford to lose - data or system - at home, folks.

The policies state that officers may "detain" laptops "for a reasonable period of time" to "review and analyze information." This may take place "absent individualized suspicion."

The policies cover "any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form," including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover "all papers and other written documentation," including books, pamphlets and "written materials commonly referred to as 'pocket trash' or 'pocket litter.' "

Reasonable measures must be taken to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material, the policies say, but there is no specific mention of the handling of personal data such as medical and financial records.

When a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information, any copies of the data must be destroyed. Copies sent to non-federal entities must be returned to DHS. But the documents specify that there is no limitation on authorities keeping written notes or reports about the materials.

#496 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 01:31 PM:

abi 477: Some of each. When I sing, sometimes it's the tenor part from Mozart's setting, but then I start to improvise. Yesterday there were a lot of machines making big dissonant chords, so it was kind of atonal and creepy. More often it's kind of Renaissance-y.

TexAnne, good point. Comforting, even, but see below.

Bruce 487: It's just running in background. But sometimes what runs in background in my head is the Voice, and I should figure out what it means. Right now what should be running in my head as music is 'hi cursi navis stellis Inceptis'. But that's another story.

Scott 494: It's like a slow boil. My claws are already red; how can I not be dead?

There will be red tusks at Bhurtpore if this goes on.

#497 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 01:48 PM:

Jules: Thanks! Beth Meacham did edit SPIDER STAR by Mike Brotherton. That's the first one I've been able to find.

The SF EDITORS site lists the books edited in 2007 by PNH, Lou Anders, and David Hartwell but not Beth Meacham or Ginjer Buchanan so it's 60% of the way there.

I humbly submit that as the driving force behind splitting the Best Editor Hugo, Patrick may wish to make sure the site lists what books were edited by what nominee since 3 of the 5 nominees are Tor editors.

#498 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:06 PM:

Open Threadiness: We're in the process of starting our son on some medication and we were sent a list of psychiatrists that our pediatricians know. One of the checked names was too good not to pass on:

Dr. Brain.

Despite our amusement, we'll start with someone else and then work our way to the reknowned brain doctor, Dr. Brain.

Do his patients send cards to him, saying "Thinking of you"?

Has someone taken photos of him at a party, having imbibed a bit much, and posted them as "This is your Brain on drugs"?

Inquiring minds wish to know.

#499 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Ginger, 497: You only need to worry if the rest of his name is "Neil O'Heret."

#500 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:17 PM:

@ 494: Good God. And here I was this morning congratulating myself for not living in China.

#501 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:32 PM:

Handedness is *weird*.

I'm a lefty who is pretty functional with my right hand, and nearly ambidextrous with a computer. Up until today, my work setup consisted of a PC with the mouse on the right, used right handed and a Mac with the mouse on the left, used left-handed. I just moved to a cubicle that is the mirror-image of the other one, and because of the lengths of the cables, I've switched sides. The PC is now on my left and the Mac on the right. The PC is fine, but the Mac feels bizarre on that side. I have a constant sensation that something is wrong while I'm using the mouse.

#502 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:33 PM:

Ginger - as long as his first initials aren't N. O., they should be fine.

Otherwise... well, the Snark is a Boojum, and I'd consider calling for the Irregulars... Dorsai or otherwise.

(obscure Heinlein references, at your request...) :-D

#503 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:36 PM:

... only to find that TexAnne has beat me to it....

(Well done!)

#504 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:43 PM:

Diary title over at Daily Kos:
Mars has water, still needs women.

#505 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 02:54 PM:

TexAnne, Scott Taylor: GMTA, I see. Or do you share a Brain?

Fear not, this doctor's initals are LA. He must be French, or even French-Canadian, because who else would have La Brain?

La brain, c'est moi! Apres-moi la brain. (and other fine French sayings.)

#506 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 03:18 PM:

@503: Yeah, well. I'm staying put till they get oxygen.

#507 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 04:25 PM:

Ginger @ 497: the reknowned brain doctor, Dr. Brain.

Were you alluding to the famous brain scholar Dr. Brain, Lord Brain, the editor of Brain?

#508 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 04:47 PM:

Clifton @ 506: Alas, no. I was referring to the other Dr. Brain -- if I ever meet him, I will ask if he's related. Nice that both of them ended up in some branch of medicine directly working with brains.

#509 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 05:08 PM:


I do QA work. Hardware and software. Working hard on a release.

I lent a lab system to a cow orker to do a set of tests. Simulated repair procedures. It was returned . . . well, the Ethernet cables were mixed around, so the connection used to do administrative check-ups was hooked to the network used for video streaming. Took a fair while to figure out that.

Then one of the Ethernet cards didn't show up. The link lights are up. I scan the bus for it over and over.

Finally I look inside. Card is plugged into the bus at an angle, so it's getting power (thus the link lights) but the whole "I'm an Ethernet card, enumerate me!" thing isn't possible.

Now I have to wait an hour, maybe more, for the RAID to reconstruct itself.

Is it Friday yet?

#510 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 06:34 PM:

Stefan Jones@508

I lent a lab system to a cow orker

There's the problem. Cattle are notoriously unreliable employees. So are orcs for that matter...

#511 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 06:58 PM:


Something to keep in mind while traveling - if it looks suspicious, it's possible that they will treat it as such at the border. Leave anything you can't afford to lose - data or system - at home, folks.

Nice suggestion, unless the sole reason for your overseas travel is to gather the data.

My partner's on her way back from a visit to the Magellan Observatory in Chile. Five nights of astronomical data uses up a lot of space on a hard drive, and the connection back to her home institution is slow and unreliable enough (ironically, it's the Pasadena end, not the Chile end, that's the problem) that sneakernet is by far the best way of getting the data home, or at least it was before the TSA decided they could arbitrarily confiscate the only existing copy of data for any length of time, for no reason. At least nobody's dissertation is riding on it.

#512 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 07:51 PM:

Last night, a front row seat at Cirque du Soleil's Dralion. Beauty in motion, poetry in movement, with a liberal admixture of comedy. Feats of skill, endurance and grace that you'd never have thought possible. Clowns that don't wear the typical clown makeup. A show that parodies itself with hilarious effect during its closing stages. Live band, two singers, the music complementing the acts so perfectly that you're drawn completely into the Cirque world for two and a half hours. Total immersion.

I'm sure the free-flowing champagne that was allowed to be brought into the performance didn't have any influence on my reaction to the show. Not one whit.


#513 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 08:11 PM:

miriam beetle @ 468... Very belatedly, a happy birthday to you.

#514 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 08:17 PM:

miriam, #468, what a great present!

Scott, #494, and that includes US citizens re-entering the country, too.

lorax, #510, ship it back?

#515 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 08:21 PM:

miriam beetle

Oh, dear, I didn't know about it; maybe if I'm loud it will make up for the lateness: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

When was it? This month, as the 0 readers on my blog are aware, is the peak of birthday season, almost everybody in my immediate family has a birthday between June 1 and Aug. 4, so it sounds like you're in the season too.

#516 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 08:59 PM:

#513, that's the only solution that presents itself, yes; hand-carry laptop, ship the portable external hard drive she carries as a backup, and hope that one of them makes it through.

Unfortunately "on her way back" in this case should be read as "is currently airborne" so it's too late for this time.

#517 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 09:07 PM:

bruce, joann, marilee, serge, bruce (speakerToMatojuice),


my birthday's july 28th, & yeah, i have half a dozen friends i could name offhand with birthdays within a week of mine. hmm. what happens nine lunar months before late july every year?...

#518 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 09:20 PM:

R.M. Koske @500: It sure is. When I was a kid, my best friend had learnt sign, at least the alphabet, somewhere, and offered to teach me. She's right-handed. I'm right-handed, I'm pretty sure. Anyway, she put up her right hand and started making letters. I put up my left and mirrored her. The weird part is, it was some years before I realised I didn't know the alphabet on my right hand. At the time, it seemed absolutely correct.

More and more (re #494) it seems the best way to cross the border is on the ground. And the best way to get your stuff across is via FedEx.

TSA is making me tired. I'd like to go back home again once in a while, see my rellies, spend a little money, get some decent TexMex... It's been years, and they keep on like this, it's gonna be more years.

#521 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 10:03 PM:

miriam beetle @ 516, it's odd, because growing up I knew very few people with birthdays anywhere near mine (tomorrow), and tended to feel rather lonely. (It didn't help that my birthday wasn't during the school year, so it was harder to get parties together.) All of my friends were born in spring or fall. In later years, I've met a few more people born in late July, but still only a couple born in August.

#522 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 10:15 PM:


growing up I knew very few people with birthdays anywhere near mine (tomorrow), and tended to feel rather lonely. (It didn't help that my birthday wasn't during the school year, so it was harder to get parties together.) All of my friends were born in spring or fall.

yes to all of the above, especially how jealous i got when someone else got to bring cupcakes for the class & get all fussed over on their during-school-term birthdays (i wasn't sad that my birthday parties were more sparsely attended; i clued in early on that i don't like crowds, or hosting parties for people whom i don't really like).

i met all these co-birthday-season friends post high school. maybe there is something to astrology. or maybe it's just random.*

*you wanna know what's random? the first girl i met who shared my birthday also shared my first & middle names.

#523 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2008, 11:56 PM:

Miriam @ 468 -
Best. Present. Evar.

Ginger @ 504 -
TexAnne, Scott Taylor: GMTA, I see. Or do you share a Brain?

Umm.... not to the best of my knowledge. At least, I don't think I'm a Zombie working at a fast food joint in Hell*... (although, you know, there've been days when it might have been a better career path).

And, well, if Txanne is sharing my brane... I'm sorrry, it's rather cluttered in here. And can I use it this weekend? I have logistical werk to do....

*(Obligatory image to make Andrew Plotkin twitch - Morrolan, in a deadpan tone, pointing over shoulder, saying "Look. A Monkey.") :-D

#524 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 12:20 AM:

"Give Me the Brain" is a fantastic game. Easily one of the funniest card games I've ever played.

#525 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 12:23 AM:

Caroline, #520: My partner and I both have birthday traumas of some degree. Mine is relatively mild, consisting only of my parents refusing to let me have a birthday party (except once, for my 10th, and it was strictly limited in the number of guests I could invite and the activities we could have).*

My partner has the absolute worst kind of birthday to have: during Christmas week, but not on Christmas. If your birthday is on Christmas, you can celebrate your half-birthday instead and nobody blinks. But if you're not on the actual day, you don't have that excuse, and you still have all the disadvantages of everybody being either out of town or busy with family stuff. The one time his parents tried to have a party for him, they ended up inviting children-of-friends-of-friends who he didn't even know! He grew up equating birthdays with being miserable and forgotten, and it's still like pulling teeth to even get him to let me take him out for a birthday dinner.

* Actually, I had worse trauma about my graduation party -- to which they dictated that I could invite no more than six friends, because that was the maximum number of people who could sit (in chairs) in one room in our house at the same time. Their idea of "party" was... a bit strange.

#526 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 01:08 AM:

#516 ::: miriam: Thanksgiving?

(with a sister, wife, and son having birthdays in late july...)

#527 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 07:38 AM:

Understandably the threat of confiscating laptops and electronic storage media is the most worrying part of this new policy for most people, but this part bothers me more:

They also cover "all papers and other written documentation," including books, pamphlets and "written materials commonly referred to as 'pocket trash' or 'pocket litter.' "

I keep my diary in a constructed language of my own, in spiral-bound notebooks. I've travelled with said notebooks to Worldcons and Esperanto conventions and linguistics conferences without problems, but I suspect I'd better bring a blank notebook to next year's Montreal Worldcon, and write nothing in it during the con except in English, if I don't want it confiscated on return on general suspicion of unamericanness.

(On the other hand, I've occasionally had fantasies about my diaries being lost and separated from their context, and then rediscovered and puzzled over as the new Voynich Manuscript decades or centuries hence. Maybe a notebook stashed in a TSA warehouse for a while and rediscovered after the TSA is finally abolished as an affront to mankind would be a good candidate for that scenario. :)

#528 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 11:09 AM:

Jim #527 and others:

This looks like just one more scene in the endless TSA/DHS clownshow. These guys won't be satisfied until nobody is willing to travel by airplane anymore (and so the airlines are idle, but still subsidized) or to cross the US border for anything less than an absolute necessity. I wonder how long it will be before we see the same power asserted for domestic air travel, too.

Make a backup copy of your data before you travel, obviously (that's sensible anyway, since freelance thieves are more likely to snatch your laptop than the room-temperature-IQ brigade at TSA). If you have data you need to send, there will surely be some way to get it across a border electronically. (What's the maximum allowed space for a gmail account?)

I wish I had any faith at all that electing Obama would reverse direction away from a police state. But I don't, to be honest.

#529 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 11:13 AM:

[Catching up after a horrendous work week]

Great to know I'm not alone in finding most "sit coms" excruciating to watch and non-funny. I can enjoy MASH, and oldies like "To the Manor Born" but have problems even sitting through a full episode of Fawlty Towers. If the whole point is to laugh at people in situations which I, if on the receiving end, would find excruciatingly embarrassing - just not funny (to me).

#530 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 11:37 AM:

dcb @ 529... Much as I loved John Cleese, I couldn't stand watching Fawlty Towers, pretty much for the reason you mentionned. Seeing people getting deeper and deeper into trouble isn't particularly funny, especially when they're good guys.

It always struck me as interesting that, at the end of Huckleberry Finn, when con-man King Louis finally is caught, tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail, Mark Twain has Huck, who had been on the receiving end of the King's tricks, wind up feeling sorry for the man.

#531 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 11:41 AM:

Lee @ 525, my boyfriend has the Christmas birthday problem (his is January 4). He is also a twin. Kind of a double whammy, there. His parents were good about it, but the rest of the family wasn't always. Neither of us is a huge birthday person but we do always take each other out for a nice dinner.

That is an ....interesting concept of party. It makes me want to throw a blowout party for you just to make up for it! With a giant bouncy castle and elephant rides.

#532 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 11:41 AM:

Birthdays... Where I come from, in Québec, there was never much of a tradition toward parties. In my family, my mom would bake a cake, my parents would give me a present, all part of the regular supper, and that was it. I don't think it was just our family that did things that way. Mind you, I much prefer the anglophone approach.

#533 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 12:21 PM:

R. M. Koske @ 501

When I got my first PC, I decided very early to put the mouse on the left, on the basis that since I was faster at typing with my right than my left hand, for editing it would make sense to use the mouse in my left hand to move around the page, and then my right hand for the typing.

Keeping the mouse on the left has been confusing people about my handedness for many years now!

#534 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 12:28 PM:

dcb, 533: And I mouse with my right so I can type and do keyboard shortcuts with my left. The last time I tried mousing with my left hand, I felt like I was trying to write with my right hand! Now that I have a touchpad, I still "mouse" with my right hand. (If I were talking about language-learning, I'd say the error had fossilized.)

#535 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 12:42 PM:

albatross @528, What's the maximum allowed space for a gmail account?

Gmail currently tells me "You are currently using 581 MB (8%) of your 6986 MB." I've been routinely backing stuff up by emailing zip files to myself; I suspect those backups are at least half of that 581 MB.

#536 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 01:34 PM:

Jim Henry @527


#537 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 01:34 PM:

On the Bible and monogamy:
actually, one of the key references is Gen 2:24 (note singular).

In re social embarrassment/embarrassment "comedy":
add my voice to those who has far too often wondered if his not "getting it" meant something was wrong with him. (Although one incident in high school was a strong argument against; I made an observation about the school we (marching band) were at, which was all too obviously situated too near a sewage treatment plant (whose brilliant idea was that??), and the "OMG he actually told a joke!" reaction was more distasteful than the smell.)

Cat Meadors @388:
Archangel Network?

Tim Walters @422:
It took me almost 20 years to try pizza and eggplant parmigiana a second time; for years, the smell of both made me nauseous, because the first time I'd eaten each of them I had happened to be coming down with something.

Xopher @452:
I think the side-friction thing is that it helps hold pieces in place, which both opens gaps for smaller pieces to fall through and counters inertia holding the larger ones in place (thus an effective lifting effect for the larger pieces which are lower in the mixture).

#538 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 01:42 PM:

dcb@ 533 (and RM and TexAnne): I mouse and type with either hand, although I've left my mouse mainly on the right hand side. I'm ambidextrous, so I have no preference for mouse side. My dad is also ambidextrous and prefers his mouse on the left side, although he writes with his right hand.

Re: border crossings: I vote for ground travel. When we drove to Montreal in March, we crossed the border without any issues. I've flown to Montreal before, and air travel is just more and more of a hassle every year. In fact, I've got a national meeting coming up in Indianapolis this fall, and if I go, I'm taking the train. I'm done with airplanes unless it's a charter flight (or I finally make good on my promise to learn how to fly my own).

#539 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 03:04 PM:

534 ::: TexAnne @ 534

Interesting; I'm fine using the mouse on the right - I do switch around when I'm doing lots of editing, to give both hands a change. I loath the touchpad, but use the trackpoint mainly with my right forefinger - so that doesn't translate from the mouse, for me.

Ginger @ 538
But it's fun messing with people's heads, when I have the mouse on the "wrong" side.

#540 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 03:05 PM:

albatross, #528: Is it just me, or is this starting to look a lot like the "isolation" tactic often practiced by abusive parents and partners? The object, of course, being to prevent the target from encountering any person or environment that might provide a reality check...

Caroline, #531: Don't worry -- I've been making up for it myself for 30 years! My first Halloween party on my own had some 50-odd guests in a 1-bedroom apartment; there were 5 different main loci of conversation (living room, kitchen, hallway, bedroom, porch) and people stood around or perched on the edges of the furniture or sat on the floor, and a good time was had by all. And this was the 21st year for my annual Chocolate Decadence party, which generally isn't quite that large but still features a much more casual attitude than my parents would ever have considered.

#541 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 03:40 PM:

I mouse (and trackpad, my primary computer is a laptop) mostly with the right hand, because a lot of the useful command keys (cut, copy, paste, quit, new tab) on a qwerty keyboard are on the left hand, so I can point and click right, and cut and paste left, then move on to another place and repeat, without shifting hands.

But Eva mouses left (she's left-handed), so I have to shift over when I use her computer.

#542 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Serge @ 224

Cute kitties! Mine also like high up places, especially the highest bookcase in my library. I have to keep one central bookcase half-height so the cats can jump onto that one and then onto the taller ones (I have three parallel sets of back-to-back bookcases in the middle of the room, and more cases on the walls).

#543 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 05:16 PM:

dbc@ 539: It is fun -- and now that you've reminded me, I'll have to rearrange my desk at work. I have two computers, with two keyboards, and two mice, so if I put one mouse on the 'left', I'll be able to use it with either hand, depending on which monitor I face. Then I'll be able to laugh at the IT person when she comes around to "fix" my machine again.

#544 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 06:21 PM:

just a flyby:
Lee @#540

albatross, #528: Is it just me, or is this starting to look a lot like the "isolation" tactic often practiced by abusive parents and partners? The object, of course, being to prevent the target from encountering any person or environment that might provide a reality check...

That's exactly what it is. A major concern for any tyranny is not just keeping people from actually leaving, but keeping them from finding out that there are places where people aren't subject to such abuses. This applies on both the personal and political levels. And I've been saying for years now that the TSA abuses are intended from the top, to cut down on both internal travel within the US, and external travel to and from other countries.

#545 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 06:40 PM:

dcb @ 542... Thanks. That spot in the bathroom is the only elevated one where Jefferson, the older one, ever jumps - which is a good thing considering his corpulence. Meanwhile, still-kitten Agatha recently jumped to the top of one bookshelf unit and must have found some wonderful toy to wrestle with up there, if one is to judge from everything that fell down onto my laptop, sending it into sleep mode.

#546 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 07:51 PM:

Lee @ 540 "Chocolate Decadence Party"? I'd vote for that! Tell me more.

On the sidelight about the GOP convention: the pamphlet is not only poor quality, but sadly out of date. We plan to visit relatives in Wisconsin for the duration of the GOP i/n/v/a/s/i/o/n convention.

#547 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 08:36 PM:

SpaceX is proceeding with their third Falcon 1 launch - the first with a commercial payload. The webcast is here. Launch in 20 minutes.

The future is already here - it is just unevenly distributed.
-- William Gibson

#549 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 09:57 PM:

Lee @540:
David Harmon @544 beat me to it. IIRC one of the purposes of the so-called "REAL ID" is as an internal visa, and certainly they have been going out of their way to strongly discourage travel into and out of the US.

For folks who supposedly hate and fear communism, they sure are doing a good job of recreating the old Soviet Union....

(I creep ever so much closer to bailing... because, damn it, I'd be an albatross for the resistance.)

#550 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 10:08 PM:

They don't want people to travel, period. It's for the rich, after all.
Subsidize airports, but make air travel so unpleasant that no one wants to fly and allow fuel costs to go sky-high, and the airlines will go away.
Subsidize highways, but not their maintenance and repair, and allow fuel costs to go sky-high, so people can't afford to drive, and trucks won't roll, and highway travel will go away.
Don't bother subsidizing passenger rail, allow fuel costs to go sky-high, and make rail travel unpleasant, and passenger rail will disappear.
Then you'll have a nice static population of peasants to rule, who can't get away from you, and no news will go out but what you can control yourself.

Until the day the peasants get out the pitchforks and torches and show up at the palace gates, because they've had enough.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's been watching this coming.

#551 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 10:22 PM:

Regarding the "embarrassment comedy" discussion, there's one more aspect of humor that got missed in the discussion, and I suspect it's relevant. Humor can be used to cope with something that's completely disproportionate or "out of whack". An example mentioned above would be the "earthquake vagina" foofraw -- this function is why that meme had legs. That's also why so many accidents and stupid incidents can be funny later, after the actual crisis is long gone. (Some personality types can do this almost immediately, often to the great annoyance of those who can't....)

The relevance here, is that some sitcoms try to exploit that response, trying to get cheap laughs from the viewer by exaggerating standard tropes such as the "idiot ball" or the "butt monkey".

#552 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 10:43 PM:

David Harmon @ 551... the "earthquake vagina" (...) that meme had legs


#553 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 12:57 AM:

Randomness for the open thread: On that great time sink, Facebook, there is a spectacular time sink: the "Pieces of Flair" application.

It's an over-the-top button/badge board, done electronically, and oddly hypnotic.

However, there is no "Making Light" flair! Nor "Fluorospherian"... this is a great pity, really it is.

#554 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 02:32 AM:

Re Mice: In the ADB years on the mac, I'd have a mouse on either side of the keyboard, to spread out the wear and tear on my elbows. Also, at the time, I had just one computer on the desk.

Now, (from the left) there's a mouse on the left and a clicky trackpoint keyboard on the mac, a small space, and another clicky trackpoint + mouse on the right for either the windows machine or the laptop, depending on what I'm doing.

I just wish that I could find a good keyboard that didn't have the numeric keypad, since the keypad is wide enough to cause additional strain when I'm using the mouse on that side.

#555 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 08:14 AM:

Is there a reason why Windows-using computers can't have the mouse plugged not into the computer but into the keyboard, like the Mac does - or did, way back when I had a Mac?

#556 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Has anyone else noticed that the article about the worst science in sf films manages to screw up on the entry for Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull by totally ignoring the third film? Because the decontam proceedures Indy goes through should be perfectly sufficient for anyone who has drunk from the right cup. Ahem.

#557 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 02:33 PM:

Serge, I was just wondering that yesterday. Now that most keyboards and mice are USB, the cost of adding an internal hub to the keyboard should be minimal.

#558 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 02:37 PM:

BTW, for anybody here (anybody?) who hasn't been obsessively hovering over the zine thing since it opened, here's another reason:

Jo Walton has been writing an amazing set of essays, many of them appreciations of great or lesser-known SFF novels. She is a wonderful essayist.

#559 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 03:45 PM:

I have come to that part of the summer when the cattle spend part of every day standing under the apple trees and trying to bring down fruit by the force of their voices. Given that the Yellow Transparent tree has the first fruit to ripen and is fifty feet from the study window, this practice has a substantially negative effect on my ability to put together cogent sentences.

(The day when there was also artillary fire and a multiple alarm brush fire was particularly memorable, in the sense of nothing else got remembered that day).

#560 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 04:47 PM:

eric @ 554

Have you thought of looking at compact keyboards designed to fit in a laptop bag (for use with a laptop stand)? I've just got one that's about 13 inches wide - see - no numeric keypad, and not to expensive.

The action on the keys feels okay to me, but I've realised I'd need to get a wrist rest to use with it (laptops coming with their own inbuilt wrist rest in front of the keyboard, of course).

Does anyone have any experience with the LapWorks "Laptop Desk Series - Laptop Desk 2.0" ? I'm thinking of getting one because (a)it's dual function (reduce heat with laptop on my knees, as well as working on a desk to raise the laptop at an angle); (b)the E-Z laptop riser I just got at work lifts the front of the laptop about an inch off the desk which begins to make it to high for my comfort for typing.

#561 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 05:04 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 557... You'd think so. To connect an external keyboard, a mouse and a printer to my laptop's only 2 USB ports, I had to buy a splitter.

#562 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 06:15 PM:

Serge #555: Is there a reason why Windows-using computers can't have the mouse plugged not into the computer but into the keyboard

I expect there probably is, as I've done it successfully myself; however, your problem statement doesn't include enough diagnostic information for me to speculate further without at least checking with your Device Mangler first. I'm not sure I'd want to bore everyone but us with tech neepery on this thread, though.

#563 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 06:31 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 562... I'm not sure I'd want to bore everyone but us with tech neepery

C'mon. You know you wanna. And I for one am curious as to why things are the way they are.

#564 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 09:10 PM:

Serge @555: Dunno. I just pulled my Mac keyboard from the Mac and plugged it into the XP laptop, then the mouse into the keyboard. Worked fine, though XP didn't recognize the cntrl-alt keypress combo as such. Mouse did mousie things, and the letter keys all worked.

So it's really looking like a design choice on the part of non-Mac hardware manufacturers.

#565 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 09:29 PM:

My computer's so old that it has PS2 slots for the trackball and keyboard.

#566 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 09:47 PM:

Serge, there are some simple fault isolation tests you can try. Does your keyboard have two USB sockets? My Logitech G15 does. Do you have any other USB devices (printer, digital camera, scanner, etc.)? Do you have any additional USB sockets other than the one(s) on your keyboard?

If you can get the mouse to work by plugging it in to another USB socket (either a second socket on your keyboard or another one elsewhere), that means that you don't have to smash the mouse with a sledge hammer.

If you can get a second USB device (printer, etc.) to work in the slot you want to use for your mouse, then you don't have to smash the keyboard with the above-mentioned sledge hammer.

Note: sometimes you have to restart the computer a couple of times to get it to recognize your new device setup, or even reinstall the device driver from the CD/DVD you may have received when you bought the mouse and/or keyboard.

Also, if you have a current replacement or repair warranty on a faulty device, you may not need to use the sledge hammer on it (unless it turns out to be a bigger hassle to send it in for repair or replacement than you'd want to deal with).

If the mouse and keyboard are from the same manufacturer, you may also want to prepare a hard-hitting rant or clever poem lampooning the venal slackwits who should damned well make their own products work together better than that.

If you email me the specifics of the make and model of your keyboard and mouse, I'll do some more detailed research on them.

When utilizing a sledge hammer to retire recalcitrant devices (and improve your morale), please use reasonable safety precautions (work gloves and eye protection, at the very least).

#567 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 10:03 PM:

Earl/pericat: I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that Serge was simply complaining about how most PC keyboards don't have any USB sockets to plug a mouse or whatever into. You can get keyboards which do include a USB mini-hub, and I would expect them to work fine, but it's not standard. That probably more has to do with history (the separate PS/2 sockets for PC keyboard/mouse, prior to USB keyboards/mice) and with the race to the bottom for most PC peripherals.

#568 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 10:49 PM:

Re: the DHS confiscating stuff indefinitely... Look, I'm confused. Isn't that a clear violation of "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized"?

#569 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 10:52 PM:

Clifton, I thought the same, but as I could settle it for myself empirically, if not for anyone else, I just gave it a shot. If my experience is not unique, then the problem Serge complains of is a matter of peripheral design rather than a limitation imposed by the CPU or the OS.

I never know, with PCs, what's really going on under the hood. I think the thing with the control-alt key combo is interesting. I wonder what those keys were being mapped to, when the Mac keyboard is just plugged into a PC, rather than it being a Mac running Windows?

#570 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 10:55 PM:


Truffle failure.

Trying again.

#571 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 10:56 PM:

Joel, it sure sounds like it to me. There is, incidentally, a post up at Kos, on the recommended list, where the poster is telling about his experience coming back into the US after going over to Windsor for a couple of hours to photograph Detroit skyline.

#572 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 11:03 PM:

Thanks, everybody. What I had meant was why Win O/S keyboards don't have USB ports, as Clifton suggested. When Earl said that his Logitech keyboard does have USB ports, I looked at my wife's old HP keyboard which she'd just given me. Guess what I noticed, tucked away in a dark corner in the back. Yes. Two USB ports. Woohoo!

#573 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 11:06 PM:

Xopher @ 570...

Truffaut is probably the only director of the French avant-garde that I liked. Also...
("Serge, psst! It's truffle, not Truffaut.")

#574 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 11:11 PM:

While we're wondering about computer hardware design: why don't keyboard and mice plug into the front of the machine, or the side, instead of the back? (especially since the cables on them tend to be not quite long enough when plugged into the back)

#575 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 11:29 PM:

Ginger @538 - good luck on getting to Indy by train. It runs twice a week -- or did ten years ago. It may not even run now. When we took Amtrak to Montana to visit my uncle, we drove to Chicago rather than leave at 3:00 AM from Indy. (It's not like it's a major city -- it has the train service of a European village of 300 inhabitants.)

Lee @540 - damn. That's so depressingly explanatory. I've gotta get that Euro citizenship.

Joel @568 - afaik the position of the courts who have tried the matter is that borders are special, and that people crossing the border have no reasonable expectation of privacy because Customs has the task of assessing duties. I think it's definitely scope creep to give Customs the right to check for everything in addition to taxable assets, of course -- but I'm not a lawyer. Some days I'm damned close to not being an American.

I really wish we'd get somebody in power who gave a damn about American values again. I don't see it happening. I, too, thought Obama might be change I could believe in. The FISA fiasco showed me how ridiculous that hope was.

I'm pretty sure it's going to get worse before it gets better.

#576 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 11:31 PM:

"Truffle failure" sounds a whole lot like a weeks' worth of time and loving attention gone for naught. If so, my heartfelt sympathies.

#577 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 11:42 PM:

Serge @ 573, I like him too. This is because I have a secret black turtleneck-wearing, cigarette-smoking, scarf-wrapped French New Wave streak. But can you get better than The 400 Blows? I think not.

#578 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 11:50 PM:

David, #544: So what we're really talking about here is an American Iron Curtain, only done de facto instead of de jure...

#579 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 11:53 PM:

Caroline @ 577... Strangely enough, I've never seen Les 400 coups or even Jules et Jim, but I did see his homage to Hitchcock, La mariée était en noir, and other films that are less known. What I always liked about him is that his films had warmth. God, the last scene of Fahrenheit 451...

By the way, is there a photo of you black turtleneck-wearing, cigarette-smoking, scarf-wrapped? If so, my blog, ML photo gallery is quite happy to hang new pictures to its infinite walls.

#580 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2008, 11:57 PM:

"Bones, we NEED those truffles."
"Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a confectioner"

#581 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 12:22 AM:

pericat, only a few hours'. But thank you.

Second truffle failure, this time catastrophic (truffle core breach, actually). The truffle approach (with the two-part molds) isn't working. Rethinking process.

*sigh* Instead of cute little truffles, I'm gonna have to use big honkin' domes and stuff to hold the Cointreau ganache, and the Chambord ganache, and possibly even the piña colada ganache, if I decide to do that.

Life sucks. I want to sleep. But if I don't ship tomorrow I'm pretty well out of luck.

#582 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 12:25 AM:


There was a chance, when the ATX motherboard standard was designed, to put the connectors up front, but they didn't take it.

I think the reason may be part economic; motherboards -- which come in different sizes but have a standardized rear layout* -- have to mount flush against the rear of the case so that expansion slots and other ports you *wouldn't* want up front can be exposed to the outside world. You could have a standardized header to connect front-mounted KB and M ports, but it would be an added expense. So they just put in rear facing ports.

* Well, beyond the KB & M there are all sorts of audio and video things, but they're put in a specified rectangle. Good cases have a window in back for this rectangle.

#583 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 01:57 AM:

Serge #572: When Earl said that his Logitech keyboard does have USB ports, I looked at my wife's old HP keyboard which she'd just given me. Guess what I noticed, tucked away in a dark corner in the back. Yes. Two USB ports.

Drat. I assumed you had a USB keyboard connection that just wasn't working properly. My sledge hammer advice still stands, though; it cures many tech support ills fairly definitively.

#584 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 02:33 AM:


I've heard several interesting terms for catastrophic situations. Confectioners have "truffle failure". Pilots of large planes call a failure of the force feedback from the hydraulic systems that move the control surfaces "feel failure". I'd love to hear other picturesque terms like that. Know any?

#585 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 02:45 AM:


I could have really skipped having our minivan stolen earlier tonight.


#586 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 03:24 AM:

"Truffle failure" is another word for "truffle covered brownies" or "trufflettes" or "help me hide the evidence we must throw ourselves on this chocolate grenade" isn't it?

The bottle of Laphroaig--should it be brought to Denver?

Has everyone going to Denvention seen the updates to the Party thread?

#587 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 04:59 AM:

I could have really skipped having our minivan stolen earlier tonight.

oh, gosh, bruce, that's totally shitty. let us know what happens.

#588 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 05:01 AM:

"Truffle Failure" means that when I tried to unmold the truffles from the two-part mold, instead of the mold coming off the truffles split in two. This was also a truffle core breach, obviously, since the cores (fillings) of the truffles were broken open.

Those truffles will not be at WorldCon. I'm not sure what I'll do with them, broken as they are. It's a sad, sad thing.

However, I had more of the same filling and I put it in something else. We'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, the dulce de leche appears to be "crunchy style" (crunchy sugar crystals permeate it). Eat those chocolates (if they don't fail too) at your own risk.

#589 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 05:02 AM:

Bruce 585: Damn, that sucks. I'm so sorry; please do keep us posted, as miriam says.

#590 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 06:22 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 585... Sorry to hear about that.

#591 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 11:57 AM:

Serge @ 572
When Earl said that his Logitech keyboard does have USB ports, I looked at my wife's old HP keyboard which she'd just given me. Guess what I noticed, tucked away in a dark corner in the back. Yes. Two USB ports. Woohoo!

Well, I'll be... not sure *what* I'll be. I just checked the back of my two-year-old Belkin keyboard, and yep, hidden in back are two USB ports. I had no idea. This could solve the almost-too-short mouse cable problem (when I get enough 'spoons' together to go hunting around the back of the computer to unplug it...)

#592 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Bruce Arthurs@ #585:

That's less than fun. I do hope you get it back, or at least the various items and widgets, etc. that made that minivan your minivan. I also hope that your insurance company will replace your car seats, should the minivan happen to have contained any at the time of the theft.

Best of luck to you.

#593 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 12:56 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 585: Good luck getting your vehicle back in one working piece -- sometimes it does happen.

#594 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 01:27 PM:

#556 : Has anyone else noticed that the article about the worst science in sf films manages to screw up on the entry for Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull by totally ignoring the third film? Because the decontam proceedures Indy goes through should be perfectly sufficient for anyone who has drunk from the right cup. Ahem.

Not so, Bruce. I don't think drinking once from the Grail conveys immortality; you have to keep doing it. That's why Donovan wanted the Grail himself, rather than just wanting to take a swig from it. Don't forget, after all, that Indy's dad drank from the Grail as well, and is none the less dead by the start of the fourth film. So, no, Indy's mortal.

#595 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 02:04 PM:

Wirelizard @553: I just threw a few together, but they're pending approval at the moment. I lifted the images from the cafepress store and linked back to it, but if anyone disapproves of me using those images, let me know and I'll take them down.

Once they're approved, a search on the Flair app for "Making Light" should bring them up.

#596 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 02:18 PM:

PJ Evans @574, it is my contention that most annoyances of peripheral design come down to one thing: they guys who design keyboards and mice, and so on, and decide where USB ports will be sited believe that the way they use their computers is the only rational way to do it, and anyone who has other needs is just doing it wrong and should learn to do it right, or suffer.

For instance: the dying macally keyboard with which I am currently cursed has the USB ports for the mouse at the upper corners of the keyboard case, facing left and right; this means that the area at the upper corner of the keyboard is a no-go zone for the mouse hand.

If you have a desk with a keyboard tray (which I don't, because of spatial limitations) or put the keyboard on your knees and use the mouse on your recliner arm (which, sorry, but I'm Not That Nerd) the placement isn't a problem, but for those of us forced to use the mouse and keyboard on a flat desk or table there's intermittant annoyances caused by running into the plug or over the mouse cable.

And don't even get me started on the interaction of device designers who put printer controls on the top surface of printer/scanners with furniture manufacturers who invariably have the printer shelf five feet off the floor.

The routine response to complaints about this (or about optical mice which become clogged with dust and lose their ability to track smoothly, et'c) is "well, buy a better one." Which, fine, OK, but at the moment this household is at its limits for expenditures and still needs to replace the front door and re-side the south and west ends of the house to keep the outside out.

Also, Xopher, various: sounds to me as if you have the makings for a whole lot of very exotic ice cream or cake or cookies or brownies. Possibly enough to fatten up the entire eastern seaboard. Still, I wish you luck with the next lot.

#597 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 02:36 PM:

Bruce @585
I hope that whatever happens next (insurance, police etc) goes smoothly.

sympathize with the stress... that initial sinking feeling of "uh-oh, I hope my memory is going, because if my memory is good then this space shouldn't be empty."

#598 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 02:53 PM:

dcb@560 -- Size matters, but feel matters more. I'm using IBM Clicky Series M keyboards, and finding one without a numeric keypad is difficult. (Though, I do have an all black model M13, those are apparently pretty rare)

#599 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 04:13 PM:

eric #598:

Clickiness is definitely The Way for me, although it bothered some former cow orkers no end.

I have a Unitek clicky thing that's so old--well, the model is--that it's got a PS2 cord coming out the back about three inches in from the right corner. I had to get a special adapter from in order to use it with my USB hub, which has all sorts of things attached to it (mouse, PDS cradle, scanner, external drive, speakers ...) The other USB port on my laptop mainly gets used with LibraryThing's cuecat.

If I'm using the laptop away from my desk, I have a super-small travel mouse to plug in instead, which otherwise lives full-time in a briefcase pocket.

#600 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 04:20 PM:

The best feeling keyboards I ever had was on the Apple IIe that I used to run the SMOF-BBS, back in the day.

#601 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 04:42 PM:

Dave Bell @536:

How would keeping my diary in Babel-17 rather than my own gjâ-zym-byn help? It would look at least equally suspicious to TSA or Customs staff. (Probably any language other than English would look suspicious to them.)

Or do you mean, if I could think in Babel-17, I would become smart enough to talk my way past security without having anything confiscated? "These are not the papers you are looking for?" It's been too long since I've read Babel-17 to recall exactly what psychomagical properties the language was supposed to have.

#602 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 04:51 PM:

A commonly heard line when I'm on the phone with someone: "you have one of those clicky keyboards, right?"

I had a IIe, but iirc, the keyboard angle just didn't work for me. And it was before I could type quickly.

I've gone from the Apple Extended Keyboard 2 (wide, great action, had spares till a year ago) to an original Apple ADB Keyboard (narrow, and decent action, died due to connector failure) to the IBM Series M. (with detours through mushy laptop keyboards). I've been with the Series M for 4 or 5 years now and I don't think that I'm going to give them up, at least until I can't get them connected to the machine I'm using.

Though, I'm tempted to ebay a couple and look at hacking in a bluetooth module. That would be a hack on par with a rotary desk GSM cell phone.

#603 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 05:11 PM:

Bruce @ 585:

May you have the same luck I had when the Geo was stolen... what? three? four? years ago; found a couple/few weeks later, intact with just a few more miles on the odometer, and nothing missing.

#604 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 05:21 PM:

I sometimes turn my Model M upside down just to look at the date of manufacture: 18 Oct 1991. Always tilting the thing away from me, of course, to protect my eyes from any nasties hidden in the crevices.

#606 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 06:41 PM:

Shitty shit, Bruce (Arthurs). I'm so sorry.

#607 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 06:47 PM:

Hmm, I wonder if there's been a significant uptick in SUV's being stolen and later found but completely totalled?

#608 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 07:25 PM:

Jim Henry @ 601: It's been too long since I've read Babel-17 to recall exactly what psychomagical properties the language was supposed to have.

If I recall correctly, Babel 17 was so tied up with the world-view of the originators of the language that anyone understanding it could not help but sympathize with their cause - a bit of a problem for the protagonist who is hired to decipher enemy communications during a war.

#609 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 10:15 PM:

Serge @555:
No technical reasons at all; it's somewhere between "they never thought of it" and "it would cost a few more pennies, and they make no profit on it". PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports are almost identical, in fact, so having the keyboard export a mouse port should be trivial — but that was Apple's schtick. (Although now I wonder if it had IP baggage.)

P J Evans @574:
In fact, I've used several Dells with front USB ports, so with USB keyboard/mouse it's easy. I'm going with the motherboard thing otherwise — or would, were it not for the fact that most computers whose cases I've opened already have a logic board mounted to the front cover, connected to a header on the motherboard. I suppose the extra holes in the front cover might cost an extra fraction of a cent or something.

Joel Polowin @568:
Nonsense, that's not at all important. Terrists, y'know. </sarcasm>

#610 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 10:19 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @585:
Suck. My condolences.

JESR @596:
Apple did the same thing with their fancy new metal keyboards. Annoying, it is. (Especially since, were it not for the resulting side projection, the metal keyboard would be enough smaller than a classic keyboard to solve some space problems... which is why I got two of them to start with.)

#611 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2008, 11:28 PM:

The white shirts at NASA felt fine
Finding ice in a Martian decline.
They were bursting with mirth
Till they brought it to Earth:
It wasn't just ice, but Ice-9.

#613 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 12:42 AM:

[catching up] Bummer, Bruce. Best of luck getting it back, or failing that, wrangling with the insurance company.

#614 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 01:12 AM:

Now that's how to do wayfinding signs in a parking garage.

#615 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:01 AM:

Thanks for the sympathy on the stolen minivan.

It was stolen from the townhouse parking lot where our son had gone for his weekly RPG night with his buddies. (He's been the primary user of the van for about the last year.)

If the van was taken by someone who wanted something to joyride around in and abandon later, there's a chance it might be recovered eventually. (Though there's a distressing tendency with joyriders in this area to smash windows, slash seats, rip out stereos, and/or set vehicles on fire before abandoning them.)

If it was taken by a pro who delivered it to a chop shop, it's almost certainly in pieces already.

For that extra bit of annoyance, the vehicle was the one equipped with the wheelchair hoist for Hilde's electric wheelchair.

(The "good" news on that front is that Hilde hasn't been able to use her electric wheelchair for about a year, due to diplopia from her rheumatoid athritis. After forty years with severe RA, you start to get into the secondary side effects like vision problems; diplopia is pretty rare, but cataracts -- which Hilde's also had, and had surgery for -- are a known possibility for long-term RA patients. So losing the hoist right now isn't the major problem it would be otherwise.)

Minor bit of luck: The van had been used to move some furniture recently, so the two back seats are still sitting under a tarp in our front courtyard.

OUr insurance company says they wait at least 10 days after a theft before declaring it lost, so it'll probably be at least two weeks before we get anything from them. We have $30/day rental coverage for the immediate future (and to my surprise, if I rent an "Economy" class car on a weekly basis, it actually comes in at just under $30 a day; on a daily basis, about $35 a day).

And of course, this comes at a time when I don't need unexpected stress or expenses. (I'm still not re-employed after taking retirement from the Postal Service two months ago.)

#616 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:33 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 615

That sucks big time; I'm glad to hear that it doesn't suck as much as it could. Good luck with the insurance company.

#617 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:41 AM:

Bruce Arthurs, #585, oh dear, I sure hope you get it back intact!

JESR, #596, I have a lowered keyboard section of the desk (differently designed from most desks) and it wants me to put the trackball on top of a higher platform at my side. That doesn't work, but there isn't room for the trackball on the keyboard section, either, so I stacked four 4x6 post-it tablets next to the keyboard and put the trackball on top. Don't know if that will help your situation.

#618 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:41 AM:


I have, somewhere, a PS/2 splitter for running mouse and keyboard off the same single socket in a laptop.

If you're a hardware hacker it shouldn't be difficult, with a bit of soldering, to mount a cheap USB hub inside the keyboard, adding an external USB socket, or some hidden device inside the keyboard. Maybe a gigabyte of flash RAM? People have done this sort of thing with an ASUS Eee, but for a keyboard, without access to more power, there might be a problem.

My PC has six USB ports, and two of them, easy to get at, share a single 500 mA supply.

#620 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 05:47 AM:

If I understood the Last Crusade movie correctly, the immortality granted by the Grail was only good inside the Great Seal. When the rest of the original Grail Knights left, they died of old age. The Knight who remained was immortal only as long as he stayed inside. Henry Jones Senior was healed by the Grail, but the Jones boys were not made immortal, except under very limited conditions.

#621 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 08:36 AM:

Paul Duncanson @608:

Ah. So we all want to start travelling with documents in Babel-17, which will get confiscated, puzzled over by Customs, eventually turned over to the NSA or CIA, and then, when the intelligence analysts figure out how to read them, they'll bring down the ancien regime from within...?

#622 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 08:41 AM:

This is a survey for a social history about what people like about Tolkien. There's a option for further interviews. I just did one and had enough fun with it that I'm passing the word along.

#623 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 09:17 AM:

#614, Christopher Davis -

Wow, brilliant! Thanks for sharing that. *runs off to share*

#624 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 09:54 AM:

A bit of catching up...

Clifton @391 - she's 5. With us it was "Elmo in Grouchland," a couple of years ago - that is a Really Scary Movie. Seriously. If I'd watched it before I showed it to her, well, I wouldn't have shown it to her. What were they thinking? Elmo's geared to, like, 2-year-olds. The movie... not so much. (On the other hand, we went to a booksigning by Kevin Clash not too long after that, and getting to meet Elmo is still one of her fondest memories. Getting mocked by Elmo for forgetting my camera, well, not so much one of mine, but it was still funny.)

Constance @407 - I'd never thought of reading Joyce out loud, but I've pretty much developed a mental block against him strong enough that I wouldn't bother, anyway. But I know that sort of thing can work - I never could read Russians, but I went through a "check out all the library's unabridged book-on-tape classics" phase for awhile, and suddenly, I could understand them! (Er, not Russian. The translation. It turns out a big part of my problem was that I couldn't keep the names straight, but when I heard them instead of reading them, I could.) The Brothers Karamazov is actually really good! Who knew? I thought English teachers just assigned that sort of thing to be annoying. (I also got through all of Moby Dick that way - I'd read it twice before, always stopping about 5 chapters from the end. Why? No idea. But also! Really good!)

Serge @447 - sounds like this Lasalle guy would like Stephen Hunter - he's the critic who said X-Men was a bad movie because "mutations don't work that way"

Jim Henry @463 & Rikibeth @465 - you're right, the frog-brain-zapper part did scare me when I saw it in the theater - I guess I was 4 or 5 when it came out. But it wasn't that scary to the kiddo, I think mostly because she didn't really get what was going on, and also because we were really pushing the "remember that part at the beginning? And how this is all a flashback? Could Kermit be watching the movie if something bad had happened to him?" thing from minute 1 of the movie. We just watched Ratatouille on the advice of a friend and that was a LOT harder - rats in peril! No guarantee of rat safety other than parent's insistence that they're not going to show dead rats in a G-rated movie! There were many tears and more than one request to turn the movie off, but at the end she said it was really good, and asked if we could get a pet rat. (NO. Um, I mean, that wouldn't be really fair to the rat, the kitty would try to eat it and it would be scared all the time.)

Also, in random-open-threadedness, I wanted to thank the folks who helped out on that riddle thing. I won! And I was the only person to get both riddles, so that was kind of nice. (The prize was a bunch of things I already owned, so I gave them all away, but that's NOT THE POINT. The point is that I won. Yay!)

#625 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 10:09 AM:

Cat Meadors @ 624... Stephen Hunter - he's the critic who said X-Men was a bad movie because "mutations don't work that way"

Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

#626 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 12:40 PM:

I voted in the run-off election (Gwinnett County, Ga., commissioners race) today at lunchtime; the Diebold voting-card machine issued an invalid card, which the voting machine I tried it on spat out as soon as I inserted it. Then I tried it on another machine: same result. I gave it back to the poll worker and asked for another one. But the Diebold software was insisting I had already voted. It took four or five poll workers fifteen or twenty minutes of looking through online help and paper manuals, and talking to the state election board's tech support (I think) on the phone twice, to figure out how to tell it that I hadn't really voted and it should let them issue me a new card. The second time it worked fine -- as far as one can ever tell with these systems, with no independent verifiability.

#627 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 01:16 PM:

In the Some Good News For A Change department -

Over One Hundred Thousand Western lowland gorillas found in swamp in Northern Congo.

ObDC - they finally found Gorilla City!

#628 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 01:40 PM:

The 1977 spoof SF show, Quark, is finally being released on DVD on October 14th.

It was cheesy but fun. I'm looking forward to seeing it again, in better shape than the Nth-generation videotapes and the chopped-up-for-the-comedy-channels later rebroadcasts.

#629 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Breaking news: Our stolen minivan has been found!

It was located at Palmer Park in Tempe. First indications are that the only damage is a punched-out ignition. I should know more after it gets into the repair shop and gone over.

It's still going to cost me money ($500 deductible on the policy), but *whew*. I was really not looking forward to shopping for and paying for a replacement.

#630 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:23 PM:

Yay Bruce!

#631 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:25 PM:

the good guys win another one!

(I had a neighbor whose car was stolen and recovered intact, even to its 'Anzio Beachhead Veteran' bumpersticker.)

#632 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:30 PM:

Yay Bruce! Nothing like having a vehicle whose drawbacks you already know, as opposed to the excitement of car payments and discovery of new fail points.

The $500 deductable is a really good idea; I know that we've saved thousands, over the years, carrying that size deductable on our collision insurance. On the other hand, it's still $500 out of pocket when the time comes to pay for the damage, as I learned after our little deer problem in May. I suppose putting the money saved into a "deductable account" as the pros advise would be an excellant idea; however, our financial situation is perpetually stuck on "too many holes in the dike, not enough thumbs" and I'm sure the savings all went to milk, cat food, and toilet paper.

#633 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:33 PM:

Christopher @614 - That's nothing but genius there. Too good!

#634 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 629... Yay! I felt the same way yesterday when I opened a mysterious overnight package and found in it my wife's wallet, which she had lost in the San Francisco Bay Area.

#635 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 02:41 PM:

Yay, Bruce! Excellent luck.

#636 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 03:14 PM:

Could there possibly be a better bunch of good news posts than 627-629?

#637 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 03:54 PM:

Reminder for anyone who might be as interested and forgetful as I am: there's a new David Byrne & Brian Eno song is available at the website for their coming-wicked-fracking-soon album, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. You have to enter your e-mail address and have them send you a link and sign you up on their mailing list, which is kind of irritating, but I just listened to the song and it's pretty damn great.

#638 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 04:21 PM:

ethan @ 636, yes. But only in fantasy. (The first one is better.)

#639 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 05:25 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 629

Glad you had better luck than I had when my folding bicycle was stolen a couple of months ago.

#640 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 06:26 PM:

Hurrah! Huzzah! Welcome back home, minivan. *pets and comforts traumatized vehicle*

Bruce, that is such wonderful news.

#641 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 06:29 PM:

eric @ 554: There are the 'happy hacking' keyboards, which generally don't have numeric keypads. It looks like the only model still available has membrane switches though.

Apple also sells an external bluetooth version of their laptop keyboards. Small, but no travel. And no USB hub.

I've been quite happy with the Fujitsu 4725 over the last decade. It has metal switches and I really like the feedback, but it's not as clicky as the Model M. Perhaps not as well built either, since I had to replace it once about 5 years ago. Didn't survive the second overseas move. It is full sized, but I mouse left handed to reduce repetitive strain on my dominant hand,* so the extra reach isn't a problem. My main regret is that the Ctrl key is below left shift instead of above. Well, that and I've been waiting for a USB version about as long as I've been using it.

ObSF: It seems Star Trek consoles may soon be available for purchase.

* Also recommended because one may write and mouse at the same time!

#642 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 08:46 PM:

So, they find Gorilla City, Bruce Arthur's minivan (YAY!), and Quark is getting released on DVD.

And now Paris Hilton has made something that does not make me think less of her.

Someone better check the temperature in Hell... I think it's dropping fast.

#643 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 09:49 PM:

Serge, #625, Hunter took the WashPost's early retirement package, so will no longer be critiqing.

Bruce Arthurs, #629, that's wonderful news!

Serge, #634, more great news!

#644 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 10:26 PM:

Cat Meadors @ 624:

The daughter has been watching Elmo in Grouchland, since she was three, with no ill effects. (Now she's five.) It helps that it's a pretty good movie (for some values of good and movie). I enjoyed Mandy Potemkin Patimkin Timoshenko's performance. Vanessa Williams was good, too, though strangely cast.

My favorite performer in an Elmo movie is probably Kristin Chenoweth as Miss Noodle in Elmo's Wild Wild West/i>. (I wonder if she's related to the Chenoweths who owned the music store?)

#645 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 11:28 PM:

Congratulations on the happy endings, Bruce and Serge.

#646 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2008, 11:39 PM:

Marilee @ 643... mcz @ 645... Thanks! To say that we were relieved at the recovery of my wife's wallet is something of an understatement.

#647 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2008, 02:56 AM:

Re: Bruce & Serge.

Psssst - you guys chanting and snapping your fingers there in the back, keep it up, it's working!

#648 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2008, 07:16 AM:

This was a bit of a shock: I'm reading Giles Milton's "Nathaniel's Nutmeg" - a history of the 17th Century spice trade, and the rivalry between the Dutch and English traders. I've just reached the chapter "Trial by fire and water", wherein is described the activities of Van Speult, the Dutch governor of the island of Amboyna. Fearing a plot by the English he had them arrested and tortured. One of the tortures being described thus:
"they poured the water softly upon his head until the cloth was full, up to the mouth and nostrils, and somewhat higher, so that he could not draw breath but he must suck in all the water"

Waterboarding in 1623 - so much for escapist reading.

#649 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2008, 07:29 AM:

648: weird, I just finished that book a week ago, and the same passage struck me... also the Dutch defence that it wasn't really torture.

#650 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2008, 08:32 PM:

I whipped up a recipe I'd been thinking about for last night's supper, and it came out reasonably well - nice flavor balance and contrast of textures. I probably got the idea from somewhere but didn't actually have a recipe. If you cook the beets ahead of time, it's quite fast to make.

Roasted Beet Salad

3 large beets
3 clementines (mandarin oranges) or tangerines
1/4 fresh lime
1/4 pound feta cheese
1/2 cup walnuts

Peel and halve the beets, and roast in a 350 degree oven until cooked and slightly tender but not too squishy. (Preferably earlier in the day or the day before.)

Dice the beets into small cubes. Peel and segment the clementines, and chop the segments roughly into thirds. Toss together and squeeze the lime over them.

Dice the feta cheese into small cubes. Toss with the beets and clementines. Toast the walnuts, chop coarsely, and sprinkle over the top.

Serve on a bed of greens.

#651 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 02:57 PM:

Open thread randomness: I had a meeting with my advisor yesterday, and he's intrigued by my floating the idea of working on fandom and fanfiction as a culture and a literature in Complit terms (my PhD will be in Comparative Literature).

I'm only just getting started, but I'm looking for 1. fanfiction written in languages other than English and 2. any sites/blogs/people I should be reading on this topic that I'm not already. Kristina Busse and Henry Jenkins are already on my list. Who else should I be reading?

#653 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 03:42 PM:

JESR @652: Thanks for the reminder. I've seen people complaining about Laura Hale, but I haven't read up on that subject. It might be worth commenting on, actually.

#654 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 05:12 PM:

kouredios @ 651

Surely you've heard of FandomWank? They have comment on a little bit of every fandom, including the bizzare feuds that Korean Boy Band/Girl Band fans have with one another. Cleolinda is a very interesting and intelligent (snarky) contributor, also known for Movies in 15 Minutes. (That was the book link, try this for the current site.)

#655 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 05:24 PM:


Who else should I be reading?

a friend of mine has recently started her master's degree in fanfic studies (more or less). she's making her own curriculum, too, so she's probably got some recommendations. here's her livejournal.

#656 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 05:44 PM:

Kouridos, I've sent a message to your live-journal inbox.

Speaking of Fandom Wank, as it says on their user information page, they have a wiki.

#657 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 06:53 PM:

don delny @654: yup, I'm actually a member of FW with my differently named JF account, just for the reading; I've only commented twice I think. I have definite ideas about the kind of commentary they offer there which, while snarky, is usually very well researched, detailed and critical. Cleolinda actually got added to my reading list recently for her Twilight recaps (and I've been really impressed with her work on the Harry Potter Lexicon case), and I've had m15m on my friendslist for a while.

miriam @655: Thanks! I'll check that out.

JESR @ 656: I've spent afternoons lost in FW's wiki. One of the reasons I'm doing this is that it's a way to take all the reading of fandom meta that I do for fun (including the time I spend here) and doing something constructive with it.

#658 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 07:13 PM:

me @ 650: It was probably obvious to everyone, but fix that last sentence of the recipe to read:

Serve chilled on a bed of greens.

#659 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 09:12 PM:

#657 ::: kouredios
Cleolinda actually got added to my reading list recently for her Twilight recaps (and I've been really impressed with her work on the Harry Potter Lexicon case)

Having just now checked back, after having read the wikipedia entry on 221b Baker Street...well the mental image is quite striking.

#660 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 09:28 PM:

publishing question/akicml:

so i'm self-publishing my graphic novel, right, & i'm trying to make sure my copyright/publication page is all right & proper. i've noticed that when there aren't library of congress categories listed, books will often list two or three genre categories, i'm assuming to let stores & libraries know where to shelve it.

is there anyplace a big list of all the proper categories? i've been googling, but either there is no such thing, or i haven't figured out the right search terms.

i want to make the book as appealing to stores as possible, of course, & not step on any toes of people who have to deal with categories for a living (i remember miss snark, of blessed memory, got really impatient with bright young things inventing their own genre categories). like, if i wrote a memoir, but i'm all postmodern & since all graphic novels are usually treated as fiction anyhow*, i put 1. graphic novels 2. biography/memoir 3. fiction, would that be absolutely horrible?

i have more questions, but i seem to recall the people in publishing here don't usually like to answer newbie type questions. so if there's a place you can point me to, that's fine also.

* researching through my bookshelf, blankets is listed as fiction, & maus & persepolis just give their library of congress listings so i can't tell.

#661 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2008, 10:17 PM:

miriam @655: thanks for that recommendation.

#662 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2008, 04:57 PM:

Miriam, I'd repost that question next week; I think with what's going on right now, it's likely to go unnoticed by our esteemed moderators.

I had one idea, though; maybe you'd want to email someone who specifically publishes comics, like Chris Staros at Top Shelf or whoever at Fantagraphics, and ask for their advice. If they don't want to reply, no harm done.

#663 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2008, 08:19 PM:

Well, for those of us who are here, look at these fabulous pencil sculptures that are made by holing the pencils sideways and using the peyote beading stitch.

#664 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2008, 08:52 PM:


right on all counts, i think. i'm on friendly terms with some people at both fantagraphics & top shelf, just through my years of congoing (not to mention my years of submitting work for publication), & they are usually very helpful. i just always feel bad pestering them with newbie questions.

i thought i may have picked up a scent when self-publishing for dummies (i know, i know) mentioned bisac subject headings. but while those might prove useful for something, they don't consistently match either the numbered subjects at the front of books, or the brief categorizations that appear sometimes on the back covers of books, near the price or barcode.

actually though, getting out a bunch of graphic novels & trying to find the secret formula has been reassuring, cause it seems no two present the information the same way. as long as i am presenting the necessary information (to buyers & shelvers, about what the book's about), it's groovy. maybe.

yeah, i'll probably repost next week.

#665 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 12:09 AM:

Watching the opening show of the Olympics made me feel much better about splurging for an HDTV.

Gorgeous stuff.

#666 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 02:02 AM:

We finally got our dogs. The original schedule was last Monday, but we didn't have quite everything in the house puppy-proof, and then we realized that on Tuesday, the roofers would show up and decided to wait.

Tuesday reminded me of that scene in The 5,000 Fingers of Doctor T where they're touring the dungeons, and Terwilliger shows them the poor wretch who's been imprisoned in a giant bass drum while someone beats on it. The roofers wanted to get the entire job done in one day, so they threw a crew of 6 or 8 at it, and went at it like gangbusters (or maybe eardrum busters). The dogs would have gone nuts.

So Wednesday we went to the shelter, and after wanting to take home just about every dog we saw, we found a pair of older dogs who'd been kenneled together. When we took them out for a meet and greet, they were friendly with us, and got along well with each other, so we adopted them.

One's a Lhasa Apso female, about 9 yo, and the other's a Rat Terrier male, who's 6 yo. They're settling in fairly well, though the terrier turns out to be a bolter who can get through our chain link fence in seconds. The good news is that it's not running away, just the urge to explore, because he will come back. The bad news is we live on a busy street, and he doesn't have good car sense, so he's now on a leash whenever we go out, and will be until he's obedience trained.

Neither of these dogs was ever trained in any way as far as we can tell, though they're housebroken and they recognize their names. Worse, the terrier has scars where a harness was put on too tight and left on him all the time, and he flinches from loud voices and criticism. So we have some work to do to win the dogs over (though after only two days they're both willing to cuddle and be petted by us, which is a very good sign).

I'll post more details about them and some pictures on my blog tomorrow. Right now I need some sleep; it's been too long since I had to walk dogs regularly, and these two wore me out today.

#667 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 09:38 AM:

And for more classic TV SF coming to DVD -- for some value of "classic" -- The Starlost is being released.

Why, only last week (when I was telling him about Quark), one of my colleagues at work said that this would (hypothetically) be a sign of the coming Apocalypse.

#668 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 09:54 AM:

Marilee @663 -- Zowie!

#669 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 10:14 AM:

miriam beetle, 664,
I'd say that other people you'd really want to ask would be the buyers for B&N and Borders, since they actually make decisions about where stuff gets shelved. There should be only one person at each company for graphic novels. (Borders used to be Kurt Hassler, he's moved on.) The chances of you making contact with them is pretty darn small, since they are unbelievably busy, but you should be able to figure out who they actually are - there being only two of em, and you might get lucky with email. (I actually heard Hassler say that he had trouble returning Tokyopop's phone calls, since he was so very busy. This was at a time when Tokyopop was publishing his stuff.)

#670 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 12:39 PM:

Bruce Cohen, congratulations on your pupacquisition. Especially on the wisdom of getting small dogs. Currently, my smallest dog is twice the size of my 22 pound cat,and my largest dog is on a diet to keep from becoming twice the smaller dog's size. I sweep up shed hair daily in clumps larger than either of your dogs.

Also, did they build a subdivision on top of Ponzi Vineyards, or did we just miss the turn yesterday?

#671 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 01:17 PM:

Just dropping in quickly, and saw Miriam's post; I just have time for a quick reply.

The arabic-numbered list of subjects you see on the verso page of a book are intended for the Library of Congress' Cataloging in Publication program (CIP), described at

The CIP subject terms are generally from the Library of Congress subject headings (LCSH), or, if it's a children's book, from the Library of Congress Subject Headings for children-- the latter set of terms are usually marked off with square brackets.
A searchable catalog of authorized subject terms can be found at

The LCSH terms can be pretty fine-grained (e.g. "Time travel -- Fiction"). The BISAC subject headings mentioned in an earlier comment are broader categories for areas of a bookstore where books should be shelved for sale (e.g. "Science fiction"). I generally see BISAC subject headings on the back cover of a book, rather than in the CIP section (where LCSH tends to be seen).

Note that you don't have to provide a CIP description on a published book-- if you do give one, libraries will tend to follow your lead on cataloging and shelving; if not, they'll figure out something themselves (which might be different from library to library, though many libraries follow the lead of certain major libraries). So if you're not sure about including the right information, you can leave it off. Or ask a librarian-- anyone with professional librarian training should be familiar enough with the cataloging conventions to at least give you some guidance.

#672 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 02:00 PM:

JESR @ 670

Thanks. We needed to get smaller dogs this time because neither of us is physically capable anymore of giving a large or very energetic dog (like the border collie we had last) the exercise it needs.

The last time we went down to the coast for a day I tried to take a shortcut through part of Tigard to get to 99W. I hadn't been on those back roads in quite a long time, and was astonished (and disoriented) to discover several large subdivisions I'd never seen before. So it's entirely possible that Ponzi has emulated that valley in Lafferty's short story that sucked itself in until, from the outside it was a few inches across.

#673 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 02:00 PM:

#667: I really dug that show as a rugrat because it was the only new SF on TV. You took what you could get back then. I saw part of a TV-movie recompilation of the show in college, and was amazed at how god-awful bad it was.

I bought -- on impulse, from Goodwill -- two VHS tapes of Starlost episodes. Last year. I haven't had the courage to watch them.

That said . . . I think the basic concept, as cooked by by Ellison and Bryant, has considerable merit and could make a great show.

#674 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 02:29 PM:

Bruce, we were coming back from St. Paul by way of Newberg and the road that goes way up over Stafford Peak, as I-5 was hammered and we missed the turn for 99 from one of the side roads (this was the annual Heirloom Roses clearance sale trip).

As badly lost as we got in the dark in December, being able to see where one is, once one passes Stafford, isn't necessarily better. I'm really surprised that the fire and police departments don't put their foot down hard on the utter chaos of writhing disconnected cul de sacs and insanely elaborated country lanes which has developed between 217 and Cornelius.

Worse than Bellevue. Worse than everything from Tukwilla to Woodenville. At least Lake Washington and Lake Samammish impose some sort of linear pattern on the mess.

I think instead of "the silicon forest" a more exact lable would be "the silicon termite nest".

#675 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 06:52 PM:

Bruce, #666, congrats! It's nice to have little companions.

JESR, #670, maybe you need a Furminator. Shiva sheds like crazy if I don't use this on him every other day or so, and he no longer hacks up hairballs. Spirit doesn't shed, but she's jealous if I don't give her a few light swipes, too.

Also, the European Starling Wins.

#676 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 07:06 PM:

Marilee @675: I have something similar, the (likely cheaper) version you can get at Target, and it's gotten amazing amounts of hair off both dog and cat.

I must have been too enthusiastic this morning on the cat, though, as she appears to have some bald patches in that spot behind the neck where one always begins brushing. Eek! Maybe the real thing doesn't eventually tear the hair out at the roots...

#677 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 07:54 PM:

The Furminator is awesome for cat owners; I finally bought one on the strength of the Cool Tools recommendation for it, and it gets gigantic handfuls of hair off our cats.

I'd guess we're seeing only about half as much (or less) lying around to vacuum up, and we're cleaning up a lot less hairballs too. Three of the four cats love it and come running begging to be groomed whenever they see it out; the other one tolerates it perfectly well, but is not gaga over it to the same extent.

#678 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 08:07 PM:

Congrats on the new dogs, Bruce! Shelter dogs rule. Good on you for getting the pair. Sounds like they're smart and should be able to figure out the House Rules pretty quick. Ardala didn't have too many issues when we got her, but since she spent an indeterminate time on the street she will still hide any piece of food too big to eat with one crunch. Or perhaps it is just her gentle way of telling me to keep my damn laundry off the floor.

The furminator doesn't actually pull the hair out; it just grabs the loose undercoat hairs.

My dog loves it and will give belly if she's particularly pleased with the furmination. This means most of the time I can only get one side done at a sitting. I've been trying to start with her 'tocks - that way if she gets too relaxed, at least her fluffiest part gets done.

#679 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Marilee, I was actually looking at a Furminator at Fred Meyer's this afternoon. It seems so very small compared to the vast acreage of Ruby. Usually, we use a wool card to groom her.

#680 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 09:48 PM:

There are, um, wide stance versions of the Furminator. But 1.5" wide versus 1" wide still doesn't mean much for a really huge dog.

Did I post this picture of what I combed off of my dog one morning last month?

Pile of Hair

That took about a half hour of determined effort with a "wire bristles on one side, nylon slicker bristles on the other" brush from Safeway. I had to tie Kira up to a railing so she wouldn't go belly-up, her "I surrender, stop it" response to brushing.

For more scale, the pile next to the donor.

#681 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2008, 10:25 PM:

Here's the LJ entry with pics I made of our generic Furminator and its yield.

I think I just got too enthusiastic with it with the cat this morning. She loves being groomed (touched at all, by anyone, actually--she's an incredibly unpicky cat) and I only stopped once she started complaining...

#682 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 12:00 AM:

Hugo and related winners!

Via Cheryl Morgan, who liveblogged the ceremony, here are the winners (my first place vote in parentheses, if different from the winner)

Special awards to NASA on its 40th Anniversary, and NESFA Press

Keith Stokes Presents the First Fandom Awards

Hall of Fame Awards to Mike Ashley and Isaac Asimov

The Sam Moskowitz Award for Excellence in Collecting: Frank Robinson and Bob Peterson (tie)

Big Heart Award: Suford Lewis

And now the voted awards

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Mary Robinette Kowal

Best Fanzine: File 770 by Mike Glyer (PLOKTA)

Best Fan Writer: John Scalzi (Steven Silver)

Best Fan Artist: Brad Foster (Taral Wayne)

Best SemiProzine: Locus (NY Review of SF)

Best Professional Artist: Stephen Martiniere

Best Professional Editor, Short Form: Gordon Van Gelder, F&SF

Best Professional Editor, Long Form: David Hartwell (Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: "Blink," Dr. Who (saw none of the nominees, didn't vote)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Stardust

Best Related Book: Brave New Words, the Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, Jeff Prucher (Breakfast in the Ruins, Barry Malzberg)

Best Short Story: "Tideline," Elizabeth Bear ("A Small Room in Koboldtown," Michael Swanwick)

Best Novelette: "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," Ted Chaing ("Finisterra," David Moles)

Best Novella: "All Seated on the Ground," Connie Willis ("Memorare," Gene Wolfe)

Best Novel: The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon (Brasyl, Ian McDonald)

Commentary: the Chaing and Willis wins were a given, as was Locus for Best Locus (h/t, Teresa). Several old hands winning after a drought, but the big surprises to me are Stardust and Chabon. I'm betting the former benefitted from a split vote between Heroes Season One and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

#683 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 02:30 AM:

We'll need to get one of those gadgets. In a previous house with several previous dogs we were death on vacuum cleaners; they lasted a year, tops. What was worse was that before we remodelled the kitchen in that house, we didn't have a built-in dishwasher. So we get a portable, roll-around dishwasher. Then we got another one. And then another one. Turns out the portables don't have seals around the main bearing, and Gordon Retriever hair is Not Good for the bearings. The last portable lasted until the remodel, because a repairman told us the secret: cover the bottom with a pair of pantyhose, which act like a filter, keeping the hair out.

Check out the photos of our new dogs. Like most dogs, as soon as you try to take a picture, they move, so these are the only really decent shots we've gotten of them so far, even with 2 cameras in different parts of the room.

#684 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 08:17 AM:

kouredios @ 676, my cats got bald spots where I applied Frontline Plus to them. Not so with Revolution. May not have anything to do with your situation, though.

On a totally different topic, how long does the Fluorosphere think this information can be kept under wraps?

Bruce, those look like some fine dogs.

I will have to check out that Furminator. My Aussie mix sheds enough each spring and fall to make a whole 'nother dog.

#685 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 08:17 AM:

kouredios @ 676, my cats got bald spots where I applied Frontline Plus to them. Not so with Revolution. May not have anything to do with your situation, though.

On a totally different topic, how long does the Fluorosphere think this information can be kept under wraps?

Bruce, those look like some fine dogs.

I will have to check out that Furminator. My Aussie mix sheds enough each spring and fall to make a whole 'nother dog.

#686 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 08:53 AM:

The story of the MIT students discovering weaknesses in the MTA payment card system is uncannily similar to recent events in Europe, involving similar systems in London, and the company which made the cards. In that case, a Dutch Court told the company that the students couldn't blamed for the potential losses: the fault was that of the company and their customers, for selling and using such a weak system.

#687 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 09:08 AM:

One doesn't need a MIT student hack to bypass the Boston subway gate system, as everyone who rides the trains here knows. This story is being publicised because the MBTA wants to distract attention from endemic incompetence and corruption.

#688 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 09:57 AM:

Jon @ 687:

I infer that my friends are either out of the loop on this, extremely honest, or figure I'm extremely honest; certainly, my girlfriend and I are paying our T fares (at the moment, she's getting hers free with a monthly rail pass; I pay per ride when I visit). I don't mind paying the fare, I'm just wondering what subset of the total T-riding population counts as "everyone who rides the trains."

And yes, you've hit one of my pet peeves, an "everyone" that means "everyone like me" for values of "like me" that can be ethnicity (skin color, background, and/or native language), class, tech savvy, gender, political outlook, or "coolness" of the "everyone knows $pop_culture_fact."

#689 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 09:59 AM:

Bruce @ 683
I knew someone who had a Lhasa. Other than needing to be clipped in summer - this was in a hot-summer climate - the dog was a good pet. Favorite outdoor toy: empty gallon milk bottle. (I dog-sat a few times.)

#690 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 10:03 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 687

MBTA wants to distract attention from endemic incompetence and corruption.

Well, of course: Boston after all. Cambridge, too.

#691 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 10:12 AM:

P J Evans @ 689

Jompa, the Lhasa, has a few medical problems that we'll have to deal with, but she's beconing affectionate and attentive to us already. And she gets along very well with Spencer. They don't care which food or water bowl they use, as long as they each get fed, and they even switch back and forth on which crate they sleep in, though they've both had a chance to rearrange and get their smell on the blankets. I think they'll do fine.

#692 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 10:29 AM:

#688: Of course the vast majority of Boston MBTA riders are honest and pay the fare. I didn't mean to imply that they do not. But when one can easily and without any consequences bypass a security gate by just waving one's hands in the right matter - and I've seen not just kids but city employees do that - I at least have to wonder why the powers that be are getting upset about MIT students.

#693 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Agh: that should be right _manner_. More coffee now.

#694 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Gagdet Geek Time:

Put me clearly on the of side of lovers vs. haters in endorsing the Dyson DC17 Animal Cyclone Vacuum. This machine mows it's way through long and short animal hair* like fans at the party suite buffet. The first two or three times you use it, you'll be amazed and kind of grossed out at all the dust/debris that it pulls from the carpets. It's easy to use, lots of accessories, etc etc. Well worth the price.

* Great Pyrenees/English Setter Mix + 2 cats

#695 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 12:45 PM:

Very strange technical issue with ML - when I try to access the page via Firefox, I get one of those placeholder pages that says "this domain may be for sale." When I access via Opera, however, I get Making Light, same as usual.

Also, if I try to go to via Firefox, I get a "page not found" error, while it shows up fine in Opera.

I'm currently using the internet at Wegmans - had the same error while here the other day. I'm not sure if this is a problem if I log on elsewhere.

Anyway, it is a strange problem and I figured you'd want to know, and that the Open thread was the place to share this.

#696 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Ursula, I'm using Firefox at home and haven't seen anything like that. That is bizarre.

#697 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 12:56 PM:

Ursula L @ 695

I use Firefox all the time, and currently have at least 10 tabs open on Making Light (and have reloaded 3 or 4 of them this morning), so I suspect this problem is specific to where you're coming from. I have no idea why it would work for Opera and not Firefox, that's weird.

#698 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 01:40 PM:

Sounds like it could be a Firefox-specific phishing hijack, especially the "this domain may be for sale" part.

#699 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Rant rant rant:

I just walked to a nice little bakery that's around the corner from my house to pick up some lunch and a coffee. To get to the bakery I have to cross a fairly busy but small (two-lane) main road. There's a crosswalk, and while you can't rely on it, people tend to be pretty good about stopping for pedestrians LIKE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO. It's not a hard street to cross by any means.

Today I got to the street, and some jerk in a Jeep drove right past me, after which the road was clear, so I started to cross. When I got halfway across, though, the same jerk in a Jeep (on a cell phone, of course), who had just made an illegal U-turn in the middle of the street, came back the other way, failed to yield to me AGAIN, in the process almost hitting me and forcing me to stand still in the middle of the road with no idea if anyone was coming because my attention was focused on not getting hit by the Jeep.

As he drove past, some recollection that the world outside of his vehicle exists entered his mind, and he noticed I was there. As he did, I gave him what I thought was a pretty restrained palms-up "what're you doing" gesture, along with a good-natured, but loud, "Dude!" I went into the bakery, thinking the incident was over.

But no. As I stood in line, the jerk (now out of the Jeep and off the cell phone, because god forbid you use your cell phone when you're NOT driving) CAME INTO THE BAKERY TO presumably buy some food but more importantly YELL AT ME. I tried to explain the myriad things he had done wrong (failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, illegal U-turn, no turn signal, another failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk ALMOST RESULTING IN A COLLISION), after which he shook his head in disbelief and just stared at me like I was both crazy and stupid. And then he did this really ridiculous manly thing where he kind of stood in line aggressively, which I can't exactly describe but which involved standing in a place where it was unclear if he was going to try to muscle in ahead of me when the woman working asked who was next, and where I couldn't avoid seeing him staring at me like a jerk.

Anyway, after staring at me for a while in his aggressive stance, he backed off a little and started going through his money, and I guess he didn't have enough or something because he left. I ordered my (delicious) egg and cheese croissant and my (delicious) coffee, and when they were ready maybe five minutes later, I left.

AND THEN WHILE I WAS CROSSING IN THE CROSSWALK TO GO HOME HE ZOOMED RIGHT PAST ME AGAIN. On his fracking cell phone. I don't think he was even aware that I was there that time.


Luckily, on the way home I had an adorable run-in with a pit bull puppy and her extremely friendly and funny owner, so I felt mostly better by the time I started eating, but still. I can't stand jerks.

#700 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 01:55 PM:

PS Re-reading what I just wrote, it occurrs to me that while I've always thought of "myriad" as an adjective, its use makes more sense if you think of it as a number. Is it a (non-specific) number?

#701 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 01:55 PM:

ethan @699:

Sometimes one wishes for a good set of caltrops, doesn't one? Or a nice cave troll.

#702 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 02:00 PM:

ethan @700:

Myriad is Greek for ten thousand. To use it correctly, map it to "thousand", thus:

"the thousand things he had done wrong" -> "the myriad things he had done wrong"


"thousands of tentacles and one fearful eye" -> "myriads of tentacles and one fearful eye"

What you must never do is use "myriad of", until such a day that the English language has become so corrupted that "thousand of" is correct usage. At which point, if I am not already dead, I shall explode into a myriad tiny gobbets and make myriads of little marks on the walls.

#703 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 02:01 PM:

The irony of unleashing a spittle-flecked rant @702 while criticizing the Jeep driver is not lost on me, by the way.

#704 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 02:38 PM:

ethan @ 699: It's a shame you didn't get Jeep Driver's license plate info, especially if your locale has an ordinance against hand-held cell phone usage while driving. Regardless of that, he sounds like an individual in dire need of law-enforcement intervention before he really does injure or kill someone.

Glad that the puppy experience helped make up for things, at least a little bit!

abi @ 702/703: I have often wondered about "myriad", particularly the structure "a myriad of". Thanks for the explanation. And I always appreciate a good spittle-flecked rant on language abuse!

#705 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 02:46 PM:

"I'd like a thousand of those chocolate truffles."

#706 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 03:37 PM:

Chinese and Japanese use nearly the same extended meaning for the same number, 10,000. "The ten thousand things" shows up a lot in Taoist and Buddhist literature, essentially meaning "all phenomena". When I understood that, 'myriad' suddenly clicked for me.

#707 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 03:41 PM:

abi, I didn't know about the etymology of myriad, which does explain a lot. Thanks! And yeah, I would never say "myriad of" but, as you say, would say "myriads of", which is what got me wondering about how exactly the word functioned. Also: caltrops would have been excellent.

Syd: Sadly, I'm pretty sure that Rhode Island doesn't have any cell phone-while-driving laws. And yeah, the thing I most regret not saying to him is something along the lines of "Regardless of what anyone may have done wrong in that situation, myself included, you almost hit a pedestrian you should have seen. You need to pay attention to the world when you're behind the wheel of a fast-moving multiple-ton object."

#708 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 04:26 PM:

ethan, have a truffle. Joel just ordered a thousand; he won't miss one.

Seriously, glad you didn't get hurt.

#709 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 04:41 PM:

Joel @705:
"I'd like a thousand of those chocolate truffles."

You can have a thousand of those chocolate truffles*, but you can't have a thousand of chocolate truffles. Nor yet a myriad of chocolate truffles.

* Well, 998. ethan gets one, and if they're going, I'll have one too, thankyouverymuch.

#710 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 07:53 PM:

Few things gain surreal points as well as discovering two men wearing moonsuits doing something mysterious to a package across the street*, when you peer out the front door.

*Not to worry, the stuff tested out to be non-hazardous (and really - when everybody from the emergency services [Fire|Police|Ambulance] is relaxed and swapping stories with each other, the odds are good that nothing dreadful is going on... it's just -- disconcerting.

#711 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 08:25 PM:

abi @ 709*: Well, I'm not gonna eat 'em all myself.

"Oh dear, oh dear, here I am all alone with all of these chocolate truffles, and no way to carry them. Whatever shall I do?"

(Fan Summoning ½ spell)

#712 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2008, 10:10 PM:

Re: Furminator -- Shiva will come and stand by the chest of drawers and put his front paws on the handle of the drawer where the Furminator is. Now that I do it regularly, I get maybe a handful each time, but he really enjoys it. He eventually lies down on the floor and rolls back and forth. My biggest problem is getting his front, because his head is usually covering it. Kouredios, the Furminator says to be light with it, and probably not to do bellies, unless they have lots of hair, so I suspect you can overdo it if you're not careful. JESR, most of the cards I've seen have pins farther apart than the furminator. I think that's the trick with it -- it really catches anything loose.

Bruce STM, #683, Cute dogs! They kind of match, too.

Lance, #694, I thought you were talking about a vacuum to use on the pets! No such problem here, no carpet. The cleaning lady comes every other week and she's due Tuesday. I'm starting to get catfurbunnies on the laminate, but I'm willing to wait for her to get them with the dust mop.

ethan, #699, wow, what an idiot! I hope he doesn't drive there often, although if he does, I suppose you could alert the police.

#713 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 07:38 AM:

Joel Polowin@711

But what do you do if none of the fans in your vicinity like chocolate truffles?

Granted this could be considered a low-probability event...

#714 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 08:17 AM:

Did you know that, according to taxi drivers(*), SF fans are much more friendly than people who attended Denver's recent p*rn con?

(*) OK, the sample of the study comprised one single driver, the woman who drove us to ML's party after the masquerade.

#715 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Speaking of sweet confections, has anyone encountered the Cakewrecks Blog? On today's front page: the wedding cake made in the image of the bride, numerous baby's arses, a pustuley foot with toenail fungus, another deformed foot, something that makes baby-eating look almost plausible, and a strange wedding cake that resembles a compost heap with apricot-hatted bananas sticking out of it.

On the page immediately previous, a delightful wedding cake with a collapsing top layer, a blowfish cake, and a birthday cake complete with flies and obvious fly-attractant. And there's that appalling baby shower cake that got censored for anatomical correctness...

#716 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 05:59 PM:

#715: Between the war in Georgia and listening to an hour of interviews with Isaac Hayes and Bernie Mac, I really needed that.

#717 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 04:37 PM:

Shambling to a theater near you, Cthulhu, on August 22...

Adapted from a story by H.P. Lovecraft. A Seattle history professor, drawn back to his estranged family on the Oregon coast to execute his late mother's estate, is reaquainted with his best friend from childhood, with whom he has a long-awaited tryst.

Oh, and Tori Spelling is among the cast.
The horror! The horror!

#718 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 04:47 PM:

Just a note- appears to have been haxxored.


#719 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Mindful link propagation: Abi has a second binding education post up on the Tor site.

Yes, I am looking forward to the squares rant. Why do you ask?

#720 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 05:58 PM:

mcz @ 715, oh yes. That is a fantastic blog.

#721 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 07:19 PM:

This is just to say
I have Haxxor3d
Your blog
That was on the Internets

And which
You were probably
Saving fandom with.

Forgive me
It was vulnerable
So Googlejuicy
And unpatched.

#722 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:02 PM:

Cthulhu in Oregon?

I love the pictures of abi with the book!

#723 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:07 AM:

Serge #717: About a year ago, that movie played at the Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival, but I missed it because a friend happened to be coming in from out of town that night and her stupid bus was late. Although judging from the trailer and the other movies I've seen there (the first one having the most misleadingly awesome poster ever created, the last one being the one and only movie I've ever walked out of, and the middle one being best left unmentioned), I'm probably better off this way.

#724 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:30 AM:

"They came out of the sea and killed lots of people!"

You know, ethan, that movie is probably better than Highlander 2. As for Cthulhu being in Oregon, Marilee, why not, if we can have a wicker man and human sacrifices off the coast near Seattle?

#725 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:41 AM:

Serge #724: we can have a wicker man and human sacrifices off the coast near Seattle

Oh no! Not the bees! Not the bees!

#726 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 01:51 AM:

Marilee @ 722

Cthulhu in Oregon?

You ever spent a rainy season up here? We've got to find something to do!

#727 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 03:15 AM:

Oh my stars, something that I know about which the Fluorosphere appears to know not.

Serge @717 and other curious souls: I have seen Cthulhu the movie at the Anchorage International Film Festival. I don't think I have ever laughed as hard at anything in my life. In fact, among a certain subset of my friends, "I'm your rough beast," still inspires helpless laughter.

One school of thought holds that the film makers were trying to tell too many stories at once, and as such failed to tell any one story coherently. I, however, maintain that the original intent was to make a lighthearted coming of age/coming out comedy about being the gay son of the chief priest of the Great Old Ones in a small coastal village. Unfortunately, someone involved with the production saw Children of Men one too many times, and decided that the original idea was too much of an upper. Without entirely scrapping the original script, they tried to inject existential and environmental dread (and polar bears nearly overcome with ennui). Fortunately they did not ruin the comedy.

It was seven dollars well spent. But with all that, it was not actually a good movie -- just very very entertaining. I still felt empathy for the director, who was in attendance. He sat through the screening of a film that he obviously loved and believed in surrounded by an audience that howled with laughter every time the movie tried to be affecting.

#728 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 07:17 AM:

ethan @ 725... I had seen the original movie, starring Edward Woodward, but not this version. I'm not sure which is my favorite scene in this one: Nicholas Cage pointing a gun at a woman and telling her to step away from the bike, or him dressed like a bear and knocking someone down.

#729 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 07:22 AM:

Sarah @ 727... Cthulhu in Oregon and in Anchorage? Ye Old One sure slithers around.

As for the polar bears nearly overcome with ennui, I find myself thinking of Scott of the Sahara being attacked by a 7-foot-tall tentacled penguin before he knocks it out by using his jockstrap as a sling.

#730 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 07:54 AM:

Luckily there's already a really very good adaptation of "The Call of Cthulhu" out on DVD. With a German-silent-expressionist style visit to R'Lyeh and a stop-motion Cthulhu.

#731 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 10:56 AM:

Serge #728: I also haven't seen the remake, which I'm sure is dreadful. Love the original.

I think my favorite clip in the video I linked to is when he's running around knocking the masks off of children while they yell "Hey!" Or maybe when he punches Kathy Bates. Or, yeah, the bike theft is pretty hilarious. Really, it's hard to choose.

#732 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 03:17 PM:

NOVA last night featured the cuttlefish, which HPL could not possibly have seen, but which sure looks like a diminutive version of our most prominent Elder One.

They shapeshift, have several bizarre postures (at least to non-cuttlefish) and the flamboyant variety is poisonous.

#733 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 04:07 PM:

general open thready:

lore sjoberg took a break from snarky humour in this week's column to shout-out to yog's law.

#734 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 05:04 PM:

I'll have to check out that Furminator -- currently I'm using a plastic currycomb, a metal comb, and a Shed'n'Blade, which looks like a small flexible bandsaw. And she'd still both coughing hairballs and spawning dust-kitties....

#736 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 06:45 PM:

Lance, #607: According to Russ, during the last gas-price crunch there was a significant surge in the number of SUVs being reported as "destroyed by vehicle fire". This time around, the insurance companies got smarter. About 6 months ago, they sent out letters to all their customers who own SUVs, saying something to the effect of: "We have terrific news for you! Due to the current surplus of SUVs on the used-car market, in the event of loss or catastrophic damage to your vehicle, it should now be possible to replace it with one of the exact same make and model within 48 hours." *snerk*

ethan, #699: So help me, on the 3rd encounter I would have hit the fender with my fist and yelled (simulating being hit). And then dared him to call the cops about it.

#737 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 08:37 PM:

It's time for another round of Name That Story! In this episode, I'm looking for the title of a short story by Bruce Sterling, in which ordinary people in a near future Japanese city (might be Tokyo, not sure) are connected to a web of reciprocal favors that covers the entire world, and bypasses the normal governmental and corporate mechanisms for controlling them.

If you can also give me some more detail of the way the web works, it would help. Ad[Thanks]vance.

#738 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 08:57 PM:

Well, I didn't have much chance to practice Jim's triage rules today because my "patient" was up some steps. I had just come back in from taking recycling out, paused just inside the door to talk to the cats on the heating pad, and heard Luke (my elderly upstairs neighbor) fall down his stairs. I grabbed his key from the kitchen drawer and knocked and unlocked at the same time. He'd fallen down 7-8 steps (I've never seen the upper rank) and landed on the landing, on his shoulder. He was conscious, but disoriented. He insisted on sitting up even while I told him not to. He said he was having some trouble breathing and I kept him talking while I called 911. This was so annoying, I know triage, but if I tried going up the lower stairs, they'd probably have two patients. I've run over in my mind many times how to handle it if he fell (thinking upstairs, mostly, but it works for the steps, too) and didn't get up.

I called his daughter (who had just left as I came in) and left a message and then when the EMTs came, gave them history. They kept asking me questions and I couldn't stand up anymore, so I pulled a chair to my doorway (didn't want to be on the stoop in the way and fortunately, the cats were terrified and hiding) and sat and answered. They got him on a backboard and then the gurney and took him out to the ambulance. I locked his place up and put a note on the door for his daughter in case she got the message and had already left for the condos and also called her again to leave a message (she told me later she had trouble understanding me, but other people don't seem to) that we were going to the ER. I followed the ambulance, but the nurse had me wait in the waiting area while they got him set up.

His daughter and son-in-law arrived just as they were letting me go in so I went with them to say Hi and when we got there, he was still a little disoriented. He hadn't known why he fell down the stairs here, but he'd remembered by then that he'd gotten up from his recliner and was disoriented and meant to go to the kitchen and instead slipped on the stairs (right across from the kitchen). He held my hand and said Hi and thanks and said he hurt a lot because of the backboard. I explained that he had to stay on that until he was x-rayed and they couldn't give him anything for pain because they might need to do surgery. I joked that there should be something that made us feel better and didn't interfere with surgery. I didn't want to stay and insert myself, so I made sure his daughter had my number and told her I wanted updates and came home. This may be what tips him into assisted living.

Janet and Manny and I are supposed to meet Jo at Union Station tomorrow and I've stood and sat up straight a lot today, but I plan to try hard to get enough rest so I can still go. I'll call Janet tomorrow morning if I can't.

#739 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 09:12 PM:

Marilee, you did the best you could and that is what matters. EMTs got to him quickly and they did not have TWO patients to treat.

I hope all is well, but you've mentioned your worry for him in your LJ.

Take care.

#740 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 09:54 PM:

Marilee -

Wow, you took the best possible care of him and didn't hurt yourself.

You wonderful person, you. I'm proud to know you, even so remotely.

(This was originally sent to her privately - should have been public from the start)

#741 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 10:48 PM:

As you may have heard, the chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party was shot and killed today. It's proof that I hang out here too much that I post the link as an example of a thread that desperately needed moderating. This is from a pretty good local commenting community, too. Be grateful I didn't put up one of the TV station stories--brr!

Would anyone care to point out just where the thread went south, and how it more or less miraculously recovered, despite the lack of active moderation?

#742 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 11:34 PM:

Bruce @ 737: I think it's Maneki Neko. If it is, it's in the collection A Good Old Fashioned Future and volume 4 of the Hartwell Year's Best SF.

#743 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 12:41 AM:

If Bruce Cohen's Name That Story! request at 737 has been fulfilled, may I make one also?

I recall reading a short story in, I believe, Reader's Digest...although it could easily have been Redbook or Ladies' Home Journal. Would probably have been the mid- to late-1970s, although early 1980s is possible. (Are you beginning to see my problem?) The story was prefaced by the author's account of the inspiration for the story: his grade-school-aged daughter had come home from school one day, recited the Pledge of Allegiance, then held out her hand.

When the author asked what she was waiting for, she said, "My teacher told us all that if we could recite the Pledge of Allegiance, our parents would give us a dime." (Actual value of coin not currently in my memory.)

This statement led the author to write a story in which a class full of children, expecting a normal day with their well-loved middle-aged teacher, find themselves faced with a pretty young substitute teacher (obviously--to the reader, that is--the tool of the incoming political regime). She first damps down any discussion of what happened to their usual teacher, and ends by cutting the classroom flag into squares so each child can have a piece...and by doing so, convinces the class that pledging one's allegiance to a piece of cloth is a rather pointless thing to do, thus setting the stage for them to become good little drones for the new regime.

For years, I've thought this was by James Michener, but my limited Google-fu reveals that he died childless. (I suppose he might have been recounting something a friend had told him...) At any rate, this is officially preying on my mind, and I'd really like to make it stop. It itches terribly, you see.

Many anticipatory thanks!

#744 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 02:05 AM:

Marilee, you're a good neighbor and did your responsible best.

On another matter: I can see Cthulhu in Puget Sound; there was a water monster at the middle of the Tacoma Narrows who waited for the tide to turn and ate canoes; it's a huge whirlpool, but was personified as a supersized Giant Pacific Octopus.

#745 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 03:44 AM:

Bruce, Paul nailed it. The story is 'Maneki Neko' and there's some sort of computer network involved which lets people know (via IMs, text messages, email, etc.) that they're needed to do such-and-such favor for someone at such-and-such place. IIRC, the details of how it "knows" are left deliberately unclear. It might be emergent from human behavior, might be AI.

Marilee, you are a good person, and were incredibly responsible and caring. I hope it doesn't get in the way of your seeing Jo.

#746 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 06:05 AM:

Marilee @ 738... You did a Good Thing.

#747 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 06:54 AM:


Very well done. You do us all proud.

Paul Duncanson, Clifton Royston

Thank you. AKICIML and Making Light Can Never Be Replaced By Google (MLCNBRBG). Oddly, this came up because of a post on the Marching Through Georgia thread; funny how everything is connected.

#748 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 06:59 AM:

Marilee @738:
Rule one of first aid is not to become a patient yourself, as Jim always says. You made the difference between an injured and untreated neighbor and one getting prompt medical care. That's an unadulterated win.

Also, remember that the most important tool in first aid is not your hands, much less anything in the kits the EMTs carry. It's the brain, you had it, and you used it.

Well done. I hope you feel better this morning.

#749 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 09:05 AM:

#743 ::: Syd

James Clavell, The Children's Hour?

I have no way to check. Whoever wrote it, it sure stayed with me.

#750 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 09:36 AM:

NOVA last night featured the cuttlefish, which HPL could not possibly have seen, but which sure looks like a diminutive version of our most prominent Elder One.

HPL could have seen cuttlefish - they're not recent discoveries or particularly difficult to catch. The Romans knew about them. And, in fact, HPL explicitly compared the Big Cthu with a cuttlefish: " The crouching image with its cuttlefish head, dragon body, scaly wings, and hieroglyphed pedestal, was preserved in the Museum at Hyde Park; and I studied it long and well, finding it a thing of balefully exquisite workmanship, and with the same utter mystery, terrible antiquity, and unearthly strangeness of material which I had noted in Legrasse's smaller specimen."

743, 749: I think it's "The Children's Hour" too - but being a foreigner and not brought up with pledging etc, I thought that the teacher's anti-pledge arguments made a lot of sense!

#751 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 10:31 AM:

Syd @ #743 et al.:

It is James Clavell, but the title is "The Children's Story".

From memory, what pushed him to write the story wasn't so much the business with the dime as the discovery, when he tried to discuss the pledge with his child, that although they were expected to know the words off by heart, nobody had spent any time explaining to them what the pledge actually meant.

#752 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 12:02 PM:

ajay #750: This is a dumb question, but which story is that HPL quote from?

#753 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Carol Kimball @749, ajay @750, and Paul A. @751:

That's it--THANK YOU!!! The dreadful mental itch has ceased...

Further to Paul A.--yes, you're right: the "trigger" for the story was that the daughter's teacher never explained the Pledge's meaning to the kids, just taught them to repeat it like good little parrots. (I actually had recalled that part...but it didn't make it from my memory to my typing fingers.)

And I don't recall any of my own teachers explaining it, either...but I do remember either seeing this on television or hearing it on the radio. Or both.

#754 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 12:40 PM:

The Children's Hour is a play by Lillian Hellman.

#755 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Confirmed: The US is now living under the bootheel of a brutally oppressive oligarchy.

#756 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 01:03 PM:

752: It's from "The Call of Cthulhu", the only story in which Cthulhu actually features to any extent - think he's namechecked in a few others.

#757 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 01:07 PM:

ethan @752: The reference to LeGrasse would make it 'The Call of Cthulhu'.

#758 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Weird--I don't remember that at all from that story. I'll have to re-read it, I guess.

#759 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 02:03 PM:

#754 ::: Xopher

The Children's Hour is a play by Lillian Hellman.

And a poem by Longfellow.

Speaking of Clavell, in addition to King Rat, he wrote a Buddhist sendup of Jonathon Livingston Seagull called Harry Langendorf Pelican. This was prior to Shogun blowing him into low earth orbit.

His mindset, certainly in his early work, reminds me strongly of A.J. Budrys', particularly Rogue Moon. Any suggestions for others along the same lines? Sturgeon, obviously.

#760 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 03:48 PM:

Somewhat late (I have been with guests, and travelling, and arranging for another show (though the space is full until Jul 2010, they will let me have a show), and the like (you know, working on the photos I took in the midst of all that).

Joel: The courts have long held (and Customs exploited) that until passports have been stamped, one isn't in the US, and so the rules don't really apply.

This is actually at the heart of the 9th Circuit (the most liberal appeals court in the US, which is why the Republicans want to chop it into two benches) ruling referred to in the article.

Because of stare decicis it's going to be hard to overturn that idea, without specific legislation.

PJ My usb ports are on the side. I suspect that all locations are irritating. For those who work with the machine on their laps, the front is bad, the side is probelmatic.

For desktops I'd like the front mounted ports to be lower than they are (they seem to be meant for thumbdrives, or the like).

#761 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 03:59 PM:

Clavell's name also appears on an interesting translation of "The Art of War" by Sun Zu. I'm not sure if he actually translated it, or if the publisher got permission to slap his name on it due to the popularity of "Shogun."

#762 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 04:16 PM:

Clavell also wrote the script, based on George Langelaan's short story, of 1958's movie The Fly.

#763 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Terry, after the passport's been stamped, and one is officially in the U.S., shouldn't they they have to return the materials seized without cause/warrant?

#764 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 05:08 PM:

Paul, #751: I tend to agree that pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth is rather silly -- and, when taken to such extremes as anti-flag-burning laws, borders on the sort of idolatry which should make any God-fearing Christian flinch. I have heard an alternate version of the Pledge which I like a great deal better, though I don't know who wrote it:

"I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and to the republic which it established: one nation from many peoples, promising liberty and justice for all."

Pledging allegiance to the Constitution makes sense to me, because it says something with which you can say you're agreeing. A flag is just a symbol, and one which can be interpreted in far too many different ways for my comfort.

#765 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 05:11 PM:

Lee @ #764: I would happily pledge allegiance to the Constitution. The flag--no.

#766 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 05:21 PM:

The flag isn't just a piece of cloth. It is a very visible symbol. That's what flags are.

#767 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 05:32 PM:

The flag stands for the republic, to which my true allegiance lies*. The republic that I pledge my allegiance to is an ideal, a dream, rather than a reality, and my duty as a citizen is to choose actions that bring the nation closer to it, and to avoid actions that cause it to diverge from it.

The republic is described further in the pledge, but is defined in the Constitution. Thus, pledging my allegiance to the dream of the republic is pledging my allegiance to the Constitution as well.

* Even though I hold another passport as well, my first loyalty is to the United States. The old land is still the true love, the others are but pleasant infidelities.

#768 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 05:52 PM:

abi @ 767... You said it better than I did. As usual.

#769 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 05:57 PM:

Serge @768:
You said it better than I did.

Nope. I don't sound like Christopher Lambert. That gets you a +10 on sounding good.

#770 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 06:29 PM:

Abi @ 769... Christopher Lambert. That gets you a +10 on sounding good

"My cut has improved your voice!"

#771 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 06:51 PM:

Yes, a flag is a symbol.

But, just as in programming, you have to be careful that somebody doesn't change what the symbol references.

#772 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 07:13 PM:

I will make no vows or pledges to a symbol.

The flag is a symbol, therefore I will not pledge my allegiance to it.

The Constitution, on the other hand, is the actual definition of the country—not the country itself, which has diverged sharply from the Constitution, nor the people of the country, some of whom deserve my allegiance, while others do not. My loyalty is to the Constitution, and to the increasingly-imaginary republic it defines.

#773 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 07:17 PM:

Dave beat me to it.

The flag is routinely linked to stuff that has nothing to do with the Constitution.

#774 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Dave, #771: Yes, exactly. For example, it's pretty damn obvious that what abi or Serge sees when they look at the American flag is nothing like what Dick Cheney or James Dobson sees. Symbols are all well and good, but sometimes you just have to go back to primary sources. It's a lot harder to play definition games with the Constitution.

#775 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Joel: They say they will, when they've determined they are, "safe". Since the objects haven't been passed through customs yet, they aren't in the US, and so the rules still don't apply.

Ask Maher Arar how that works.

(cynical much, Moi? I wish, but the facts have overtaken me)

#776 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 08:49 PM:

Lee @ 774... Absolutely right, but like Hell if I'm going to let them take away from me what I see in the symbol.

#777 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 10:02 PM:

Lee @774:

It's a lot harder to play definition games with the Constitution.
...except that Bush and Cheney do so. Daily.

#778 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 10:11 PM:

Dave Bell @771 Yes, a flag is a symbol. But, just as in programming, you have to be careful that somebody doesn't change what the symbol references.

Dammitall! You owe me another keyboard cover... :)

#779 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 01:45 AM:

Something similar, about loyalty and stuff, comes up in an amateur fiction I've written. She's found a place in the world which lets her be herself (not so easy in the 1930s). She's found something which,for her, is worth fighting for, and which England never quite gives her. As a pilot, she'll tell you that the Thunderbird doesn't look her up in Debrett before He reminds her of her mistakes. Doesn't much matter that she's a woman, either. And she likes that.

There isn't a cockpit drill for life. There are no Pilot's Notes. But she doesn't need Tee Emm to tell her when a P/O Prune is running things.

#780 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 04:51 AM:

OK, it's a couple of years since the outbreak of the Zombie Plague, and scientists at the Wellcome Centre make an unexpected discovery. They've assumed, all along, that the plague must be just that - a human pathogen spread via body fluids (for example by biting) that causes rapid and violent changes in behaviour.

They've identified a pathogen, a virus called VA3, that's only found in zombies. (They've kept a few alive for research purposes.) But try as they may, they can't get VA3 to infect human tissue in vitro - in fact, looking at it, VA3 doesn't seem to be a human virus at all. It's a phage - a virus that attacks bacteria.

Further research on zombism victims reveals the unwelcome truth. There's a bacterium that affects the human brain. It's endemic and universal - every healthy human they test has it. It doesn't seem to have any symptoms - but it's killed off rapidly by VA3.

The conclusion is obvious. Zombism isn't a disease - it's a cure. All "healthy" humans are the result of an infection that suppresses our excessive hostility and violence and makes it possible for us to live in large communities (where, incidentally, the infection can be spread more easily than between solitary humans). What we call a zombie, a slavering, blood-crazed, violent cannibal, is simply a human being in the state of nature.

#781 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 06:17 AM:

Headline found on Comcast's site:

Woman Who Cloned Dogs in Hot Water

"They laughed at me at the University! They called me mad!"

#782 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 07:23 AM:

Lori Coulson @761 - I have that version of The Art of War* and, as Wikipedia says, it's the 1910 Lionel Giles translation edited and with an introduction by Clavell. From memory, if you compare it to the Lionel Giles it's a little clearer in a few places.

(Also, this link gives you a random Sun Tzu quote if you ever need one)

* I have two different translations.

#783 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 08:28 AM:

#780, ajay -


And for those who haven't seen it, my favorite LOLcat of the week.

#784 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 09:45 AM:

ajay @ 780

So what's the problem? Brains are natural food, unlike a lot of the foods "infected" humans eat. GMO humans, though, not so much.

Xopher @ 772

Nothing wrong with using a symbol to stand for something you respect and hold allegiance to. But a symbol with a false referent or no referent at all is a shibboleth, and that's another matter altogether. It's the difference between worshiping the god via the idol and worshiping the idol because you've forgotten there's a god back there.

#785 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 10:06 AM:

784: oh, no problem - just an interesting idea... Slow Food in a zombie context would presumably be eating the stupid. (Which is what zombies do anyway.)

#786 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 01:17 PM:

I had to share this. The GOP just had a rally for McCain here in Hawaii. A total of 40 people showed up and the Republican governor skipped it.

That's so sad I couldn't stop laughing.

#787 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Dog cloning lady is way nutty.

How the heck did she afford the $25k fee?

#788 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 02:44 PM:

If I had $25k, I would messily indulge in steaks and high-end computer components.

#789 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 04:12 PM:

#788: Uh . . . at the same time?

No, on the second thought, don't answer.

#790 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 04:20 PM:

Stefan #789:

High-end computer components eat steaks for breakfast.

#791 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 04:25 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 787... And she cloned them using hot water. Had she used cold water, she'd have wound up with slush puppies.

#792 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 04:27 PM:

Serge @ 791 -- Even worse: if she'd used cold water, she'd have been snowed.

#793 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 04:47 PM:

You just know that clone dog lady is going to turn up on CSI. Or Law and Order.

On the former she'd be the perp, on the latter the victim, and we'd at first be led to believe that the dogs were responsible. Dum-dum!

#794 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 04:49 PM:

Clifton @ #786, and of the 40, at least two were on his volunteer staff (Page and Coffee, neither of whom are shining exemplars of intelligence). It looks like none of the (admittedly few) Republican House or Senate members showed up either.

#795 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 05:09 PM:

Ginger @ 792... What is it that Frank Zappa said about yellow snow?

#796 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 06:28 PM:

Stefan Jones #793: I want the Coen brothers to make a movie about her. Or maybe the late Russ Meyer.

#797 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Serge @ 795: Don't eat it? (Cross-threadiness! My mother always said to avoid the yellow snow.)

#798 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 07:34 PM:

Ginger @ 797... Your mother was Frank Zappa? Let me guess. Your real name is Moon Unit Ginger.

#799 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 12:57 AM:

Thanks, guys! I had a great time with Jo, Janet, and Manny yesterday, but arrived home in massive pain and took codeine and slept for 18 hours. So I caught up on LJ today and will catch up on ML tomorrow.

Manny didn't want her picture online, so she took pictures of the rest of us. I liked that one, and this one where Jo said something and we looked at her. From left, that's me, Janet, and Jo.

#800 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 01:54 AM:

Ginger & Serge: Gag me with a spoon! I'm so sure.

#801 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 06:55 AM:

ethan @ 800... Did I ever tell you of the times I did eat yellow snow? I was at a farmer's place. He would boil real maple syrup then, when it was ready, he'd pour some on packed snow. Nomnomnom.

#802 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Nice pictures, Marilee!

I am still trying to reconcile the Tor party pictures and others which proved to me that Jo Walton looked nothing like what I had imagined her. (Don't ask me how I imagined her, because I'm not sure, I just know she didn't match.) I am now trying to adjust my imagination towards reality.

#803 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Can anyone help me find the thread where we all tried to write things that would be eligible for the maximum possible number of gender-, race- and whatever else-specific awards? I wrote a little story that among other things, included a woman who was really living the claim of the Nigerian scams, and there's a thread on BB I want to post it to.

#804 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 03:22 PM:

As Matt Groening once said, Republicans think they own everything.

#806 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 04:45 PM:

Joel: Ah! So it is. Thank you.

#807 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 05:42 PM:

At the world's end we banish each desire
into the past, and wait without pretense
knowing that what will come is only fire.

You give us only what we most require,
intending only that we show some sense;
at the world's end we banish each desire.

It took long years to move out of the mire,
and longer still to build a good defence
knowing that what will come is only fire.

You ask that we cease to hope and aspire,
with peace and honour we must now dispense;
at the world's end we banish each desire.

No choice is left to sleep, nor to retire,
we're past the moment of cost and expense,
knowing that what will come is only fire.

You pay us off as worthy of our hire
thinking us merely plain, foolish, and dense;
at the world's end we banish each desire,
knowing that what will come is only fire.

#808 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 08:53 PM:

Serge @ 798: gasp! You've stumbled upon my deepest, darkest secret!

It's Ginger Moon Unit Ahmet Dweezil (Dilys Inez Barbara..), actually.

::waits expectantly for everyone to catch on::

#809 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 10:28 PM:


#810 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 10:59 PM:

is that a quiz which had her rack-ing our brains?

#811 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 12:05 AM:

Ginger: Also Ginger Ulyssa Sara Undine Laura?

#812 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 03:37 AM:

I forgot to tell you guys yesterday about Luke. He's still in the hospital, but he only broke his right clavicle and three ribs on the right. He's scraped and bruised like crazy, and we're hoping they'll keep him until he can really walk on his own.

Serge, #724 & Bruce STM, #726, yes, I was born in Seattle (and left after six weeks), lived in Edmonds for four years, and went to college for a year in Seattle. So I know it's wet, but Cthulhu belongs to New England!

Xopher, #755, the WashPost did a series on this recently: Careless Detention - Medical Care in Immigrant Prisons. The person mentioned primarily in Day 2 was eventually released.

#813 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 08:24 AM:

Marilee @ 812... I was born in Seattle (and left after six weeks)

On your own?

#814 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 08:25 AM:

Marilee @ 812... Sorry to hear about Luke.

#815 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 04:34 PM:

Xopher #811: Not to mention Emmeline Christabel.

#816 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 04:47 PM:

Xopher #811: Not to mention Emmeline Christabel.

#817 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 09:10 PM:

A passing thought: "Dr. Mike's Sing-Along Blog".

If only...


#818 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 09:58 PM:

Xopher @ 811: My father suggested Ginger Rose Elizabeth Anne (and our last name begins with a "T").

Re 808: Tvatre vf n fcvpr, bs pbhefr, fb gur erfg unq gb vaqvpngr Zhnq Q'vo.

#819 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 10:40 PM:


I'm not an egg eater. The only time I crack open an egg is in the course of baking, or to jazz up the dog's kibble.

So, I really don't know eggs like someone who eats them every day or a few times a week does.


I don't have a very sensitive sense of smell.

This morning I made a tray of brownies. One of eggs had a weird texture; the yolk looked crystallized. "Ah," I thought, "it must have been near the rear of the fridge, where things tend to get frozen."

The oil and yolks didn't blend quite as smoothly as I was used to, but I didn't pay it much mind.

It was as I was pouring the batter into the pans that the possibility of a bad egg came to mind. I tasted the stuff, and sniffed it. Didn't seem especially disflavorful.

The smell started when the brownies were baking. Bad. Sulfurous. Against hope I rationalized that it might be my allergies. So I let the batch finish baking.

And I tasted the result.

What is amazing is that the overall result was that it wasn't tasty.

Then the aftertaste kicked in.

I swear, I've brushed twice since then, and threw away the spoiled brownies, but the sulfurous nastiness still seems to be around.

#820 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 819: Try gargling / rinsing your mouth with a dilute hydrogen peroxide solution (and flossing your teeth, of course). That may help to get rid of the organic sulfides.

#821 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 12:10 AM:

I now have the list of categories used in "Win Tom Whitmore's Books" up at my LiveJournal. Here's a link.

I also have links to the questions used -- I have the category names here too, so if you want to read the questions, you don't need to look at the other post. Game 1 is here and Game 2 is here.

#822 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 01:07 AM:

#820: I suspect the real problem is psychosomatic. Remember what that egg yolk looked like is gacking me out even now . . .

#823 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 01:54 AM:

Serge, #813 & 814, my father had already been transferred to Kodiak, AK, and Mother was too pregnant to fly, so we apparently flew up in a tiny Navy plane when I was six weeks old.

I visited Luke today and near the end of his pain meds, he was in so much pain he could barely lift his fork to his mouth. The scrapes are healing, but he's still mostly purple-blue. I got his TV changed to ESPN so he can watch sports. He wanted to know why they weren't coming on, and I told him he was watching CNN!

Come to think of it, my grandfather (father's father) was at a Huskies game when they called him over the loudspeaker and he had to go home to take Mother to the hospital. Then the drawbridge went up, and I was almost born on the bridge. But she did make it to the old Group Health hospital and I was born there.

#824 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 02:34 AM:

Serge @ 801: I've had érable à la neige. Only in Hawaiʻi though.

#825 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 06:11 AM:

Ralph Giles @ 824... Maple syrup poured on Hawaiian snow? Meanwhile, did you know that Hawaii 5-0 is coming back?

#826 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 06:20 AM:

Marilee @ 823... Then the drawbridge went up, and I was almost born on the bridge.

So, like Conan the Barbarian, you were born on a battlefield?

#827 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 06:54 AM:

Ginger @ 818... My father suggested Ginger Rose Elizabeth Anne (and our last name begins with a "T").

Cue in Tony the Tiger.

#828 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 09:02 AM:

#807, Fragano -

Very very nice.

#829 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 09:16 AM:

827: so it's true, some really are born G.R.E.A.T. A quick trip to the registry office and you could still achieve G.R.E.A.T.ness...

#830 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 01:30 PM:

829: Too bad he thought of it about 20 years too late, eh?

#831 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 04:18 PM:

For Teresa: a bus plunge courtesy the BBC.

#832 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Serge @ 826: Now you've got "Born On The List Field" running through my head. (Well, okay, some credit for that must go to an evening spent at a bardic circle this Pennsic past. But still.)

#833 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 09:21 PM:

A story ID request:

I'm trying to find a longevity and alternate history story, probably from the past 5 years, possibly from one of the big 3 SF magazines.

The protagonist is a young man living in an ossified gerontocracy, where longevity treatments have frozen the society to 1920's (or so) ideas. It takes place in an alt.history 20th century, with slower adoption rates for new technologies.

iirc, he is on a ship, and cannot persuade the captain (an elder) to alter some routine. Thomas Edison or Lindberg or similar famous people are background characters, perhaps on the ship.

#834 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 10:11 PM:

Serge @801: Another A. Linkletter kid ref: "Back in the old days, they made maple syrup by boiling some sap in a caldron. It sounds cruel, but times were harsh then."

#835 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 01:34 AM:

Serge, #826, I'm sure Mother thought so!

#836 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 01:49 AM:

Aaack! I have thesis brain meltdown, and I humbly request the assistance of the fluorosphere. I need an equivalent expression to "beggars can't be choosers" but without the connotations of 'beggars.' Any thoughts?

#837 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 04:54 AM:

B Loppe - Will "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" work?

#838 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 08:38 AM:

How about "Cut your coat according to your cloth"?

Ooo, nasty poetry warning. Tear your eyes out now.

#839 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 11:32 AM:

B.Loppe (#836): "You have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want."?

Okay, maybe not.

#840 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 02:10 PM:

"Eat what is set before you" or "You play the hand you're dealt" get a similar idea across, without the feel of having you be in an inferior/beggar kind of role.

#841 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 05:42 PM:

Entangled quantum bits can't be choosers?

Side note: my response to Michael Goldfarb's smack about D&D players.

#842 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 06:10 PM:

Any other Fluorisphilefire's going to Burning Man this year?

(If you are, get the widest tires possible for your bicycle--the playa's a bit crumbly from the drought)

#843 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 09:43 PM:

Molly Ivins:

"You got to dance with them what brung you."

#844 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 10:08 PM:

I had to go back really far to find an open thread. Most of the current threads up top are either making me furious, unbearably depressed, or just plan horrified at our country. All important issues and rightly so, but wow is it bringing me down.

So, for anyone else in need of a brief respite, I give you this:
Birthday Greetings from Joe Cocker

#845 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 10:35 PM:

Calling upon the Encyclopedia Fluorosphericana. Somewhere on YouTube there's an absolutely hysterical montage of cats doing spectacularly ungraceful things, with background music from La Gazza Ladra. I could have sworn I had it bookmarked, but apparently not; and my search-fu is not up to the challenge of narrowing down something like that. Does anyone have the link?

#846 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2008, 11:55 PM:

apropos of an open thread, Jim and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary today. We had a fine dinner at Po's Dumpling House on 39th St.

Two weeks later we had our honeymoon at Iguanacon.

When I'd started a new iteration of a SF club at U. Kans. in the spring of 1976, I was the 'gal who was never going to marry.' Jim showed up at the first meeting and shot that theory to hell.

Our only puzzle is, "where did the time go?" It has been a lot of fun, a bit of tsuris (wouldn't be life without) and I hope a lot more years.

#847 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 12:34 AM:

Neil, Adrian, Christopher, albatross, Lance, and Carol - thank you for the suggestions. I think that probably "you've got to eat what you've set before you" will work best. I'm using aphorisms for section headings in the last two chapters (recent threads have been a goldmine!) I'm trying here to express that people who don't have the personal transportation have fewer choices for accessing health care, and so "beggars can't be choosers" is perfect but I really don't want to link the idea of beggars *that* directly with the kinds of socioeconomic disadvantage that comes up in this section.
Thanks very much - with your help I'll get this thing to the defense yet!

#848 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 01:10 AM:

For those of you who know Lucy Kemnitzer, I thought it would be worthwhile to pass along this sad news about her nice fellow.

#849 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 01:52 AM:

Re the Cake Wreck Particle. It hits way too close to home.

I have committed cake wreckage. It was in my first job, in high school. I worked in a place that sold icecream cakes. We were all trained how to take the orders, but not how to write on them. But some times, there would just be me there, and a customer who wanted a cake written on. I'd usually start by telling them I wasn't that good at it, and many people did not heed the warning.

Though the worst one was an order that I wrote up, and misspelled congratulations on the order (or abbreviated it strangely because of space and misspelling).

When they picked up the cake, I was horrified to see it perfectly, incorrectly, transcribed on the cake.

The biggest thing that I learned, apart from enough cake decorating to do a toddler's cake, is how to spell congratulations.

#850 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 03:39 AM:

"You've made your bed, now sleep in it."/"You've buttered your bread, now lie in it." (I prefer to mix and match them for comic effect.) But those are really more about facing the consequences of ones own actions.

"Half a loaf is better than none" is about accepting the situation you find yourself in, but it simply contrasts some of what you want as being better than nothing.

"You have to play the hand you're dealt" might be closest in meaning to accepting and working with whatever your situation is, without attributing responsibility for it.

#851 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 04:53 AM:

Lance Weber@841: To the best of my knowledge, no relation.

#852 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 09:21 AM:

B.Loppe @ 847: The canonical example of that saying must be from Starman Jones. Max goes through many of the same iterations (though for different reasons than yours) before landing on this one.

#853 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 09:39 AM:

Lance Weber @ #841: nice. Do you have the "be nice to nerds; you'll end up working for one someday" bumper sticker?

#854 ::: suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 09:55 AM:

Eric at #849: at Noreascon (worldcon) in Boston in 2004, they had a big cake at the artists reception and the cake decorator had misspelled the name of the con as "Noreason".

#855 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Two bits of good news:

1) We should get our minivan back from the repair shop by tomorrow. Unfortunately, when it was recovered after the theft several weeks ago, it wasn't just the ignition/steering column that had been damaged. Besides apparently doing a bit of off-road driving while joy-riding, leaving a number of small dents and large scratches, the last thing the thief did before abandoning the vehicle was to hold the gas pedal down to the floor until the engine was seriously damaged; the engine had to be completely replaced, or we'd have had the minivan back a week ago.

2) I'll be employed again starting Friday. This is a good news, bad news type item. Good news is that we'll move back into a positive cash-flow status again. The bad news is that it's not the type of job I wanted.

What I'd been trying for was to get back into office/clerical work again, like I'd done before starting for the Postal Service thirty years ago.

The number one reason I haven't been successful in that search, I'm pretty sure, is this: I'm not proficient in Excel. Wordprocessing, no problem, but spreadsheets (except for pre-formatted, dedicated ones like Quicken) aren't something I've had a need to use or learn before. But it seems almost every office job in the entire world wants you to know Excel. I can set up a page of columns and rows and stick some labels in there, but that's about the extent of my expertise in spreadsheets.

If I knew Excel well, I could have applied for a LOT more positions.

When I retired from USPS a few months ago, I figured that mid-August would be about when finances would start getting tight, and that's when I'd have to start applying for entry-level, non-office jobs.

So... for a while at least...

(oh god, please don't make fun of me)

...I'm going to be a Mall Ninja.

Yep, security work at a large shopping center. I'll do a good job (I'm obsessive that way), but it's not something I'd get a lot of job satisfaction out of, or want to do long-term.

(I actually sought out the shopping mall work, because it will require more mental involvement than something like night shift at construction sites, like my son Chris has been doing. I don't know how he stands the boredom.)

So, revised game plan: Work security for at least the next six months to a year, and 1) learn to use Excel, and 2) build savings back up for another run at finding an office job.

And... 3) work on my fiction writing, and on marketing the stories I've already written. (The day after I applied for the security position, I sat down at the keyboard and -- for the first time in over a month -- worked on ROBIN RED, a story I began a few months ago. Three new pages in less than two hours; the werewolves should start their attack any page now.

I don't say that the prospect of having a "make-do" job provides motivation for writing, but it sure seems to help. (I am reminded that Spider Robinson wrote his first stories while working as night watchman in a sewer.)

Oh, and a public warning: The job requires me to be clean-shaven, for the first time in over thirty years. I'll probably post before and after pictures on my blog. If you take a look, please make sure small children and pregnant women are not in the vicinity; I'd hate to be responsible for nightmares and miscarriages.

#856 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 12:58 PM:

*valiantly suppresses urge to tell Bruce not to go postal at the mall*

#857 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 01:43 PM:

Xopher: If that was suppression, I am so glad you didn't give in.

Bruce, has it been 30 years? I don't recall you with a beard in 1984; but memory is fickle.

#858 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Bruce @ 855, I am nearly certain you will not be a Mall Ninja. You'll be a mall security guard. But I doubt very seriously that you will post lengthy power fantasies about it online, and I think that is an essential component of Mall Ninja-hood.

(Congrats on the job, by the way. And I'm glad you got the minivan back, although I am sorry it was so badly damaged.)

#859 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Bruce -

If you don't have to worry about insurance, you could also try a temp agency. Some of the better ones have self-guided training available. Most office related programs aren't tough and excel is no exception. You just have to use them on a semi-regular basis.

I temped after 8 years in retail and the agency I stuck with let me come in on days they couldn't place me just so I could get proficient on all the clerical office programs.

#860 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 03:53 PM:

Xopher, have you seen the magnetic truffle molds?

I'm thinking you probably have, it being an area of interest. As a matter of fact, I have a vague suspicion someone else here has already linked them for you. But I can't confirm, and they're pretty cool, so I'm risking a repeat.

#861 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 04:13 PM:

Am I the only one who finds the (apparently common and getting moreso) use of "blog" to mean "blog post" tooth-grindingly annoying?

Usage example: Wow, Jim, thanks for your blog about dealing with broken bones! I really learned a lot."

What the heck these people call the place where they find the blogs they're so fond of, I don't know. If Jim's post on broken bones is "a blog", then what is Making Light? *sighs* I have the feeling this is a usage I'm going to have to take deep breaths and just accept, but I really, really hate it.

#862 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 04:55 PM:

R.M. 860: Yes, those are what I was using when I had my catastrophic truffle core breach. I have two sets. I haven't tried again yet; I expect that if I use them properly they'll work like they're supposed to, but it's going to take practice.

____ 861: That drives me crazy too. It's standard usage on MySpace, but I really hate it.

#863 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 04:55 PM:

R.M. Koske: I've not seen it, but I agree, it's a terrible usage.

#864 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 05:01 PM:

#861: I think it's ok to say "I blogged about it," but the result of that is a post, not a blog.

#865 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 05:14 PM:

Caroline @ #858, but he could use the power fantasy posts as writing exercises! We could suggest themes or constraints, e.g. must be written in haiku form, or in "Iron Chef" style must include a particular ingredient, such as Victoria's Secret or Hot Topic. Or pretzels.

(of course, my latest writing exercise was Shakespeare fan fiction, so perhaps this advice should be taken cautiously)

#866 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 05:14 PM:

Bruce: But it seems almost every office job in the entire world wants you to know Excel. I can set up a page of columns and rows and stick some labels in there, but that's about the extent of my expertise in spreadsheets.

FWIW, I think that's about what "know Excel" is expected to cover, in most offices. If you can put in some columns and labels and click the button to make it add stuff up, that's good enough.

#867 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 06:00 PM:

Stefan #864:

And I suppose you could call the result a "blogging".

#868 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 06:25 PM:

Terry Karney, #857:
"Bruce, has it been 30 years? I don't recall you with a beard in 1984; but memory is fickle."

Thirty-three-and-a-half, actually. The last time I was clean-shaven was January 23rd, 1975, my final day in the Army.

#869 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 07:09 PM:

#855 Bruce Arthurs: I'm in the "batting Job Description forms back and forth with HR" stage of hiring a person, and the one skill I put that the hiree would need is Excel.

What I'm looking for is someone who will only need to be told once, "if you click this corner of the column and drag down, it will fill in incrementally larger numbers... If you select this area and hit control-enter, it will fill the selection with what you typed..." The whole point of computers is that you don't do everything again and again every time while errors slip in, you make the computer do it all exactly the way it ought to be.

I'm looking for someone who understands that you don't sometimes write "mated 3/18/07" and sometimes write "3/18/07 set up mating"--the whole point of Excel is selecting the data area and sorting it by the column heads to get useful data, and that doesn't happen if you're inconsistent with naming.

I'm looking for someone who doesn't quail and faint when I say "Hey, add a column that tracks days between this date and Today, no matter what Today is"... Someone willing to sort through the pretty useful Help file, basically. Someone who will look at the top of the workbook and see that there's no "g" between "f" and "h", and that F and H are blue unlike everything else, and who will poke around until they figure out that means column G is hidden.

I learned mostly by poking through the Help file when I had something I wanted to do; seems like a good way of learning because I remember now where to look when I forget. I'd suggest you make up spreadsheets for stuff you're interested in, and see how much gingerbread you can add to them.

Being a Mall Ninja doesn't sound too bad; like you said, you get to move around and look at things and people.

#870 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 07:44 PM:

R. M. Koske @861

Yes. I've heard it, and that construction needs to be dealt with using a rather large high velocity cluestick.

but that's just me.

#871 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 09:47 PM:

Bruce, I'd suggest using Excel (assuming you have a copy of it!) to create a spreadsheet of books you own (or some subset thereof). Initially, put in title and author. Then decide you'd like to have ISBN and Pub. Date in there for each work. Then say "hmm, it would be useful to know if this is part of a series, so I need a column for that (Y or N). If Y, then what book within the series is this title?" Then say "hmm. Maybe the series column should be over next to the title column, so I need to insert a column there and copy the data from that series column into the new one I just made."

And so on. You learn pretty quickly, and the data's not sacrosanct, so if you muck it up, who cares?

#872 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 10:04 PM:

And if you don't have a copy of Excel, the spreadsheet part of OpenOffice is similar for look-and-feel and overall behaviour.

#873 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 10:24 PM:

Paula Helm Murray, #846, Happy Anniversary!

Bruce Arthurs, #855, at least you get the van back! The job is good, although the lack of beard will be weird. And there's a lot of Excel tutorials online.

Linkmeister, #871, I use a database for that. Spreadsheets do calculations. (I've done spreadsheets, too, but only the DB & spreadsheets in MSWorks95. I refuse to deal with fancier software and don't install it.)

#874 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 10:24 PM:

Heck, the spreadsheet in Google Docs is good enough to get your feet wet.

#875 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 10:46 PM:

Paula Helm Murray @ 846... Happy 30th!

#876 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2008, 10:48 PM:

We use Excel for simple databases at work, even stuff that really doesn't need to be in it. (I'll copy stuff from Excel to Word, because I can mess with tables better, it seems, than any of the other people I work with.)

#877 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:39 AM:

I've dialed down my respect for humanity another notch.

This morning, while tossing out a bag of dog poop, I came across a "moving sale." Appliances, furniture, and boxes of clothing left by the dumpsters. And a small animal cage, with its door open. My dog sniffed at it enthusiastically. I had to drag her away.

We passed by the same area just now. Kira was very enthusiastic about something in there. She dodged in and came up with . . .



Had they left the door open? Did a curious kid open it?

I'm taking solace in the likelihood that one of the local coyotes would have taken care of the mouse tonight anyway. But Kira wasn't hungry or brave or skilled enough to do more than grievously maim the poor thing. I had to finish it off.

Damn dog. Damn, stupid, cruel, thoughtless owners.

#878 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:57 AM:

R. M. Koske #861: Inspired, I think, by Stephen Fry, I've been using "blost" and "blessay" (and occasionally even more ridiculous words like "blaragraph" and "blomment"), because if I'm going to be forced to use a word as awful as "blog", I might as well go all the way.

#879 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:06 AM:

Marilee @ #873, oh absolutely a DB is better for that, but I was thinking that he needs some form of data. I asked myself "what's Bruce got that could be put into spreadsheet format to play with" and books came to mind.

Before Library Thing came up with its series feature I created a few spreadsheets to list authors' works with columns for "read," "own," "borrowed from library," "purchased," etc. That's probably where my idea sprang from.

#880 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 08:24 AM:

#877, Stefan -

Yes, there are times when I'm very, very grateful that I don't have a tested, proven power to hurt people I don't know with my mind. I'd be awfully tempted to use it. (As it is, I probably fail at being an ethical user of the powers I do have. I hope that momentary ill-wishes in anger aren't strong enough to do real harm.)

I'm sorry you had to clean up the aftermath of the discovery. That's hard, and I admire your strength for it.

#878, ethan -

Yeah, that's where my language snobbery hits a serious bump. I don't have a problem with blog at all. It seems to me to be an inevitable slurring/shortening of "web log".* To be honest, the hatred folks have for it has always baffled me a bit. Your words are the funniest iteration of that hatred I've seen - well done. *grins*

*But then, I'm from the south where the slurring might be more inevitable than most places.

#881 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Almost a month ago, I reported on my mother going into hospital.

Depending on various people actually managing to communicate, she could get home today, though it's getting late.

Friday is looking more likely.

Rather than being simply a medication problem, it was the more serious problem that the GP suspected, and getting things sorted out did take more time. And then the bureaucracy has to be satisfied.

Still, it's better than the alternative.

#882 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 11:20 AM:

R. M. Koske #880: if I'm going to be forced to use a word as awful as "blog", I might as well go all the way

I'll see yer "blog" and raise you a "sci-fi". heh.

#883 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 11:44 AM:

Marilee #738 --

You did 100% right. The first rule is to stay safe. The second one is to get help rolling. If you've done those things you've done all that's expected. Leaping in and doing more is good ... but getting help rolling is what's really required.

When elderly folks fall, that can be a sign all in itself of something serious -- folks who are having a heart attack can get dizzy and fall for that reason, for example. Your neighbor belonged in the hospital; you got him there. Good on you.

#884 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 11:50 AM:

R. M. 880 reyrct Stefan: Picture yourself as surrounded by a sphere (or an egg, the image I use) of semipermeable energy. It's black on the inside, so that anything you shoot at it is absorbed; it's mirrored on the outside, so that anything shot at it is reflected. Think of it as being there all the time, even when you're not thinking of it; in order to send someone a good wish, or accept one from them, you must consciously drop it.

That way, when someone does something terrible and you can't keep from thinking "Head. Explodey. Brain-soaked grass. Happy" that energy will just strengthen the shield that keeps you from ill-wishing people. And you'll know your thought-forms are harmless unless you deliberately try to make them harmful.

I've done this for years. Otherwise I would bear the karma for the deaths of many people who smoke on the subway, for example. Being able to send OUT a splash of rage without having it hit anyone helps keep me from pushing them onto the tracks, too!

Dave 881: Bright blessings for a speedy recovery for her (an it be her own will to accept my blessings).

Earl 882: That was ethan at 878, not R. M. at 880.

#885 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 11:52 AM:

R. M. Koske #880: To be honest, the hatred folks have for it has always baffled me a bit.

It's not the neologism that bothers me, it's that the specific word "blog" is extremely ugly and I feel stupid saying it. Like, if I'm talking to people I know IRL and I say that I wrote about something in my blog, I feel like throwing up unless I go out of my way to indicate that I'm saying ridiculous things by also talking about the blomments people left me.

#886 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:10 PM:

Dave @881:

I'm delighted to hear that she's coming home. I hope she recovers well in the familiar and comfortable surroundings. (Hospitals are good for some things, but they're not home.)

#887 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:12 PM:

#884, Xopher -

Many thanks. Your integrity with regard to your thoughts and the energy you put out into the world is something I admire a lot, and I appreciate your help in getting mine more into the light. I'll get my sphere in place on my walk in a few minutes, when I can concentrate a little.

#885, ethan -

Ha! Okay, I understand that, and that may be most of what I'm seeing others express, too. Hm. I wonder, would going back to the root be sufficiently clear without being too weird? "I wrote in my web log yesterday...." Eh. No, I think that's just odd. Oh well. Making it funny works.

#888 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:14 PM:

Earl #882:
I'll see yer "blog" and raise you a "sci-fi". heh.

Back when we rode dinosaurs* to cons, there was served a notorious trash can punch called "blog". As I remember (it was a lo-o-o-ong time ago) it involved cranberry juice, apple juice, wine (Boone's Farm apple wine often) and vodka. Maybe some club soda or 7-up too. UK blog was apparently something else entirely.

*TO cons, not AT cons!

#889 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:46 PM:

#888: "Back when we rode dinosaurs* to cons"

The rampant late-night dinosaur corral sodomy sessions put an end to that.

#890 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:00 PM:

Paula Helm Murray
Happy Anniversary, and may you have many more! As to where the time went, well, that's what happens to time when you're busy living. Glad it was good for you.

Dave Bell
I'm glad to hear that your mother's medical problem has been sorted out.

Bruce Arthurs
Congratulations on the job. Think of it not as a Mall Ninja position, but as a Mall People Watcher job, allowing you to observe peoples' behavior and use what you see in your writing.

#891 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:08 PM:

P J, #876, most spreadsheets can be used as databases, but if people ask for Excel, they generally want you to be able to use it as a spreadsheet.

Stefan, #877, how awful. My Shiva was left by renters who couldn't have cats in their next place, but he managed until he showed up howling at my door one night.

I recently had a house finch fledgling die -- sometimes they're too brain/body damaged to live and the parent won't feed them -- and I had tried a couple of times to catch it and wring its neck, but then I saw it actually eating when the other birds ate (as opposed to just picking up seed and putting it back down the rest of the time) so I thought it might make it. And then the next day it just keeled over. I should have tried harder to kill it.

Dave, #881, I'm glad she's coming home!

Jim, #883, and he had a pacemaker put in on Monday. He'll be going to a convalescent nursing home until he can come home. I hope he comes home.

#892 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:24 PM:

"Blog 2.0: The Bloggening!"

#893 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:43 PM:

Typography fiend? Too much space in your living room?

You need this coffee table, obviously.

I know I wish I really needed it, anyway...

#895 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 04:41 PM:

OK, my sympathies were with them until I found out that the sign itself was historically significant. There's such a thing as going too far, even in the defense of grammar!*

*Even though it may get me excommunicated from the Holy Grammatical I stand, I can do no other.

#896 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 05:10 PM:

My mother is home.

I am somewhat irritated by the lack of information on her medications she should be taking. the Paperwork lists them, and resorts to strange medical abbreviations which seem to drop information actually on the pharmacy labels.

And they managed to lose her walking frame. The Usual Suspect doesn't work weekends.

Still, she's home. But oh, teh stupidity!

#897 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 06:20 PM:

Dave, you should probably fact check with a real, live pharmacist (not necessarily the one who filled the prescriptions) to find out about possible side effects and interactions between the various medications. They have access to extensive medical database entries which can be printed out and taken home, but many of them should be able to tell you right off what to look for.

#898 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 07:23 PM:

I just got this in my email:

Dear Rikibeth,

Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it an 8.1 score out of (10) in the Personal Blogs category of

This is quite an achievement!

We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style.

After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given its 8.1 score.

We’ve also created score badges with your score prominently displayed. Simply visit your website’s summary page on

(graphic doodad)

Click on the "Show this rating on your blog!" link underneath the score and follow the instructions provided.

Please accept my congratulations on a blog well-done!!


Amy Liu

Marketing Department

Obviously, I'm not going to install the doodad on my Livejournal, and I strongly suspect it's some sort of phishing spam -- but does anyone know anything more about it?

#899 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 08:15 PM:

Rikibeth: It seems to be an aggregator of some sort. They want traffic, to sell ads, and you seemed a good mark (steady stream of posts, nothing to outr&eactute; and the like.

They have nested directories of blogs by topic. If you were trying to break into the upper levels of the B-List, it might be useful, but apart from that I don't see it doing you any good.

I'd say it's not worth it, though I don't think it's likely to be a real harm either.

#900 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 08:17 PM:

Rikbeth, take a look at this CNet News article about them: launches blog directory, reviews. Also, TechCrunch comments on it.

#901 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 08:22 PM:

Thanks, Terry. I'm not sure I get it -- do they want to sell ME ads? Or does "aggregator" mean something else? Because, AFAIK, I as a Livejournal end-user can't accept outside ads for my journal -- LJ chooses what ads to display to all the Plus people, or something. (I went Permanent last year, I don't see the ads.)

And all I've posted lately have been my daily Twitter collections. I haven't had the energy for more.

#902 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 09:07 PM:

They collect a lot of blogs, so people looking for photoblogs can find them, and folks looking for directories of wonderful things can find them.

That, if I get it, is supposed to get them pass-through traffic, and they can sell advertisers on the idea of self-targetting eyeballs (e.g. people who are interested in wonderful things will go to the directory which has such blogs et voila there are potential customers who want YOUR product.

So you would be a sales tool for them.

#903 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 12:27 AM:

R. M. Koske @861:
Count me as one of those who thinks "blog" sounds uuuuugly. But then, I have always hated "email" for the same reason.

Marilee @873:
A spreadsheet is a database, and vice versa. Moreover, I would say that using a spreadsheet as a small database is entirely appropriate: most database managers are massive overkill for anything smaller than a couple thousand rows (and even then it's only worth SQLite; wake me up when you have a million rows).

But for all that, I don't know spreadsheets very well (I was fumbling around with Numbers earlier today). On the other hand, I've always used cut, awk, and other shell tools (and, these days, Perl). (Blow someone's mind: you can implement a perfectly serviceable flat-file relational database with cut, paste, grep, sort, and join. Most people don't even realize the latter exists.) If you want, you can simplify things by using awk instead of a combination of the above tools. But no, you do not need Perl or MySQL to set up small (< 5000 rows) databases.)

#904 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 12:53 AM:

The biggest problems I've seen, using Excel as a database, are that there's a character limit on cells - I think it's somewhere around 200 words/1K characters - and a limit of about 31K rows (or 32K minus some). It isn't exactly user-friendly, either, but that's pretty standard for stuff from the folks in Redmond.

#905 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 03:16 AM:

[in passing]

Very cool note (from a very cool pagan linguist's blog) on Old Irish in Hellboy 2. First thing that's made me actually want to see the movie.

#906 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 05:50 AM:

Xopher @ 895... it may get me excommunicated from the Holy Grammatical Church

And it came to pass that Xopher was cast out of the Hyphenly Host.

#907 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 08:19 AM:

Hey, you know how Tor includes information in each of its books about who the editor was? The book I bought this morning, according to the verso, was edited by Patricia Nielsen Hayden.

#908 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 08:21 AM:

(It was the mmpb of Harry Turtledove's Between the Rivers, in case you were wondering.)

#909 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Patricia, when they talk about wearing a g-string, it has nothing to do with guitars.

#910 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 12:48 PM:

#906 ::: Serge

Xopher @ 895... it may get me excommunicated from the Holy Grammatical Church

And it came to pass that Xopher was cast out of the Hyphenly Host.

And barred from further association with the Twelve Holy Apostrophes.

#911 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 02:40 PM:

But, with care and application, Xopher can be redeemed, and comma gain in glory.

#912 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 02:46 PM:

For amusement.

I was just catching up on my back issues of World Wide Words, and found reference to both Tolkein, and Charlie Stross.

The former in discussion of the English, "flat" and the latter in discussion of "chtonic".

#913 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 03:49 PM:

#898 Obviously, I'm not going to install the doodad on my Livejournal, and I strongly suspect it's some sort of phishing spam -- but does anyone know anything more about it?

We get those all the time for ML, usually for long-ago threads.

It's a multi-level marketing plan. A disguised version of the Make Money Fast chain letter. The person who sent you that email bought the software that will send automated emails to others. If they get enough folks to sign up on their code numbers, they may someday make back what they already spent. Meanwhile, the person who's the top of the list gets rich.

#914 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 07:13 PM:

geekosaus #903: A spreadsheet is a database, and vice versa.

I spent about three or four years using a way-too-early edition of Filemaker (allegedly a database) to track--and compute--grades for my classes. Once you'd understood the fact that there were going to be rounding errors, and that they'd work in the students' favor more likely than not, it was an excellent way to deal with crunch time at the end of each semester.

#915 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 08:46 PM:

Paul A. #907: The book I bought this morning, according to the verso, was edited by Patricia Nielsen Hayden.

A googlesearch reveals that Patricia is a fairly prominent online personality whose many accolades include a 2007 Helen Awards nomination....

#916 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 09:00 PM:

Xopher: And all over a mere 95 (paren)theses. Though I recommend against trying to lose weight via a diet of worms....

#917 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 09:44 PM:


...Filemaker (allegedly a database)...

I've spent 15 years trying *not* to remember having to use Filemaker. Horrible, horrible program. (Though I confess to setting up a database for my books in Access'97, which I was using for other things at work at the time. Ported it into Access2000, which I still use.)

#918 ::: Vicki is fretting about security on "Folk Music" ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 10:36 PM:

Since this is an open thread: I just tried to post to the "Folk Music" thread, and NoScript told me it had filtered a potential cross-site scripting attack when I pressed the "preview" button. I've never before gotten that message from trying to post here, but it recurred when I went back and tried again. I didn't get it when I previewed this open thread message, so it seems worth noting.

#919 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 11:31 PM:

Vicki: Odd; I also run with NoScript, and I just posted a couple messages to the Folk Music thread to test and got no such warning. Maybe there was something funny in one of the blog ads? I didn't try enabling them.

#920 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 03:41 AM:

The real question is whether Xopher has a colon. Without such a vocation, he'll just make a hash of things.

#921 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 06:22 AM:

Carol Kimball @ 910... barred from further association with the Twelve Holy Apostrophes

Was that before or after he Crossed his tees?

#922 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 07:11 AM:

Hey, this thread has lasted for a month.

Was something happening that distracted you guys?

#923 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 07:34 AM:


Unfortunately he just has a semicolon. But that should be fine. Two semicolons equals one colon, right?

Paul A@907

Patricia is Theresa's twin. They're very much alike in many ways. Sometimes it's almost as if they're the same person...


#924 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 09:08 AM:

From the sidebar on the story Bruce referenced @ #894:

Judge rules that antiwar t-shirts are protected speech (but leaves intact the problematic law that was intended to stop their production).

#925 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 10:00 AM:

Clearly Xopher is an apos(tate)trophe whose rallying cries of "Gerunds Editing Death!" have punctuated the silence of the church.

#926 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 10:12 AM:

I'm infinitively pleased to be the subject and object of so many comments, both laudatory and accusative. I'm afraid my reflexives will have to be nominal, as I have a dative with my immediate progenitives, who are present from California, and will be tense (and possibly in a fix) if I don't go to meet them now. So I'd better get on mass transitive, just in case.

Conversations on my colon belong in another thread, surely?

#927 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 10:14 AM:

Naught has yet been said of the schism between the followers of the Holy Gerund and those who cleave to the Sacred Participle. I just felt I ought to interject that.

#928 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 12:28 PM:

The one hundred twelfth thread grew old
the edges began to sport mold
the posts sad and gay
soon began to decay
I wonder if abi's been told....

#929 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 01:14 PM:

Maybe abi's going for 999, that *other* emergency number....

#930 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 01:22 PM:

The book I bought this morning, according to the verso, was edited by Patricia Nielsen Hayden

On Earth-Alternate, she's married to Terry Nielsen Hayden.

#931 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 02:03 PM:

Actually, my problem was that 113 is the number of the house where I grew up, and it took me a while to find some other aspect of the number to exploit.

#932 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 07:58 PM:

I just figured it wasn't full enough to merit starting a new one.

#933 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2008, 09:11 PM:

Lee @66:
Because it was the "small" font in most non-Apple laser printers for most of a decade?

#934 ::: k4115 ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2008, 11:50 PM:

#759 ::: Carol Kimball

"Speaking of Clavell, in addition to King Rat, he wrote a Buddhist sendup of Jonathon Livingston Seagull called Harry Langendorf Pelican."

Sorry, but Harry Langendorf Pelican is a character in a book titled Celebrate the Sun by James Kavanaugh.

#936 ::: Jon Meltzer sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2009, 09:30 AM:

[ plonk ]

#937 ::: P J Evans sees more spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2010, 09:03 PM:

Of predictable nature: link in name.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.