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May 2, 2009

Open thread 123
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:50 AM *

Admiring the cup till the tea’s gone cold.

Comments on Open thread 123:
#1 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 07:24 AM:

What's that you say, swine flu? "Fizzle"?

#2 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 07:49 AM:

From a Twittering friend, alternative names she's collected (or thought up) for Not-Swine Flu:

Piglet's revenge, Whine Flu, Aporkalypse, Swineabifida, Snoutbreak, Hamdemic, Sowmanella, Hogwarts, and #1 is Hamthrax

#3 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 07:51 AM:

My favourite is from Ben Goldacre:


#6 ::: Ravyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 08:35 AM:

Re: admiring the cup til the tea's gone cold...

My grad school advisor and I were out walking once and went into a coffee shop. Ordered coffee, which they served in clear glass mugs. Added cream, which, being cold, sank.

Gently blowing on the top of the coffee set up convection currents, leading to a pattern of hexagonal cells, not so very unlike the solar photosphere, and for similar reasons.

Put fluid mechanics in the presence of hot coffee and they'll just watch it get cold.

Oh, and they sold us two sets of clear glass mugs before we left the shop.

#7 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 08:46 AM:

At one of the local restaurants, the ceremonial highlight of the visit is the Pouring of the Cream Into the Iced Coffee.

the perfect cup ... and saucer

#8 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 09:03 AM:

Warning for clear-glass-coffee-mug mavens:
Don't pour the cream in before the coffee. I broke one of my sister's mugs that way. (Temp difference between the chilled cream, which cooled the glass, and the hot coffee, broke the bottom right off the mug.) For disclosure's sake, this was one of those Nescafe cups made to look like a globe, probably made out of cheap glass.

#9 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 09:47 AM:

Lila: I've broken a couple of those Nescafe cups by trivial impacts or mild pressure in a drying rack; I've never broken any other glass drink container so easily. They really are abnormally flimsy.

#10 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 12:15 PM:

Forgetting the cup until the tea grows cold... realizing, refreshing, repeating.

Apparently today is not a good day for tea.

#11 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 12:42 PM:

With iced tea, you don't have that problem. We have a Mr. Tea tea-maker, and it gets a lot of use! Our house blend is 2 parts green, 1 part black, 1 part flavored (or just 2 parts black), which makes a nice mix that doesn't require much sugar.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Once more the effort brings with it much dread:
to read these words, and see how little sense
has been made here. But i cannot dispense

with justice, and the kindness in me bred
by hungry years; and so i will commence.
Once more the effort brings with it much dread

of all the ancient horrors i have read
here in this room, at least there's no pretense
that there's much here that merits defense.
Once more the effort brings with it much dread.

#13 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 12:58 PM:

Dave Bell @ 5:

Sock Dragon?

Ravyn @ 6:

I'm not even a fluid mechanic and that sounds incredibly cool. Looks like it might be experimenting time here.

Lila @ 8:

I guess that solves the milk in before/milk in after debate, at least if you have those mugs. I still think that those mugs look pretty, though. Pity about the cheapness.

#14 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:09 PM:

Open threadiness that came of following a link from Unqualified Offerings:

This Pew Center Survey on approval of torture is disturbing on many levels. Among them:

a. Torture is a more-or-less 50/50 issue in the US, though with a slim majority (in this poll, anyway) approving use of torture either often or sometimes. (Slightly fewer people said it was acceptable rarely or never; I assume the "rarely" people were thinking in terms of ticking time bombs.)

b. More religious (I guess mostly Christian and maybe Jewish) people were more likely to approve the use of torture. (This wasn't a really huge effect, and I'm not 100% sure it was statistically significant, but it was noticable in their charts.)

Go look at the link for more details.

#15 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:12 PM:

Am safely arrived in Tennessee. Luggage to follow.

#16 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:13 PM:

Fragano #12:

Dismayed professor
scrawling red marks on papers
grading season's here

#17 ::: Marc Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:16 PM:

Smithfield Swine Flu (Not just any swine)

#18 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:33 PM:

albatross: Sadly it's packed away (just yesterday), and something like 3,000 miles from me, but I was just reading "Henry VIII The Mask of Royalty" by Lacey Baldwin Smith, and he points out that the nature of the religious beliefs in the 16th century made torture a good thing.

If I recall the argument... the oofender had to suffer as both a purge to society, as well as increasing the odds of heaven; which their crimes had forfeited. It's hard to recall; in part because, while it had an internal logic, the ideas were so alien.

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:35 PM:

albatross #16: "Dismayed professor" is exactly right.

"For example, Mack H. Jones, a Political Scientist, articulates in his literature 'Responsibility of the Black Polecat Scientist to the Black Community' that the black Political Scientist should feel obliged to represent the African American community."

#20 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:44 PM:

Lee @ 11 reminds me:

Good cold coffee recipe, adapted from the New York Times:

Use a ratio of 1:3 coffee to water. I make this in a 2 quart pitcher, so I use about 2 and 2/3 cup ground coffee.

Tie up the coffee in a double thickness of cheesecloth, using whatever string or twine you have that won't dissolve in water and won't add weird tastes.

Chuck the coffee into a pitcher or jar or other container. Fill it up with your required amount of water. Let it sit at least overnight; 12 hours is best.

Fish out the cheesecloth and dispose of the ground coffee. Put the infusion into the fridge.

To serve: Pour over ice; add milk or cream to taste.

The New York Times has you making a concentrate, with a 2:3 coffee/water ratio, which you then dilute with water to taste when serving. You could do this too. I don't because 5 and 1/3 cup ground coffee seems to be a ridiculous amount to put in a 2 quart pitcher.

The trouble with this is that you end up admiring the cup till the coffee's room temperature, which is much less refreshing in the heat. I get around this by putting the coffee in a see-through thermos mug.

#21 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:59 PM:

Also, to all liberal Catholics, lapsed Catholics, former Catholics, and questioning Catholics: I highly recommend Dan Savage's monologue on This American Life.

I may have cried.

#22 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 02:02 PM:

albatross @ 14:

Their sampling methodology looks reasonable enough to me. I'm not sure about the conclusions they draw from their subsamples, though. It's been a while since I took statistics.

I am disappointed, but, sadly, not as surprised as I could be by these results.

Fragano Ledgister @ 19:

Sounds like a rather odoriferous paper.

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 02:06 PM:

"Women face exclusion in every aspect of life. They are not allowed to have the same jobs as men, speak derogatory in public or private life, or have sexual occurrences like a man."

#24 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 02:42 PM:

I have just seen the announcement that Yahoo will be closing down Geocities, so I am trying to figure out where to migrate my pages to.

Should I use the paid kind or the free kind? On the one hand I don't want to spend lots of money. On the other hand I need to learn some of the more advanced webmasterly skills, and perhaps only a paid host would have the backdoor DIY functions that help me do that.

By the way, did Yahoo get its money's worth when it bought Geocities if it paid 2.78 Bil for them and it's worth nothing to them now?

#25 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 03:43 PM:

Erik Nelson (24): Where did you see this announcement? My website is on Geocities, and I haven't heard anything. Or is it just the free Geocities that's going away? (I have a paid account.)

#26 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 03:49 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 25:

It looks like it's everything, although they claim they'll help people explore relocation options.

Apparently there's a group of people who want to mirror it for posterity before it goes away.

#27 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 04:05 PM:

Lately when I see "H1N1 FLU" on the screen or page I find I'm reflexively thinking "hiney flu."

Yeah I move my lips when I read sometimes; also, when I edit.

#28 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 04:09 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #19:
Spelling Correction Software gone Wild!

I wonder how the student misspelled "polecat" that would lead to it being corrected to "political"?
I now need to research (i.e. Google) to discover other assumptions about Black Polecat Scientists. I, for one, have never met a black polecat that was a scientist.

#29 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 04:22 PM:

Luggages has arrived. Not even tossed, so far as I can tell (plus side of TSA nonsense, I can carry my gear in rusk and duffles, without it standing out as an easy target. Downside, locking it is fruitless (by all accounts, even when one uses a TSA lock, they seem to come out the other side with an absurdly high rate of being cut).

The twisties for seals are all, apparently intact.

#30 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 04:49 PM:

Keith@ @ #26, I've got an email in to the originator of this Geocities fansite advising her I'll host it at my space if she doesn't want to be bothered any longer.

The internet needs all the Nero Wolfe fan sites it currently has.

#31 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 05:07 PM:

Linkmeister @ 30:

Back when Geocities started, it was the ideal way for lots of people to put their own content up on the web. I think that the free blogging sites have taken over from that, but blogs aren't quite suited to freestanding things like that Nero Wolfe fansite.

I keep thinking about carving out some webspace for myself, but I really have no idea what I'd use it for.

#32 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 05:17 PM:

KeithS, sure. I have a few non-blog projects myself. In retrospect, the Iniki page could have been a long blog post, but the Hawai'i Islanders minor league baseball team history wouldn't work in that format at all.

#33 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 05:47 PM:

When people use full Unicode text (for Chinese, or whatnot), and they post spoilers, do they have to use ROT-32768?

#35 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 06:11 PM:

KeithS (26): Thanks! On exploring the links from the announcement page, and inspecting my profile, I see I have already transitioned to Yahoo's other WebHosting service. (I vaguely remember making some kind of change last fall but hadn't really registered just what it was.)

#36 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 06:19 PM:

Why the Internet is cool, part n+3000: so my wife and kids are going to Europe while I move our stuff, our van, and our dog to The House and commence the cleaning and triage. And they're going to Europe by ship, i.e. cruising from the Dominican Republic to London, then flying on from London to Budapest. Tickets were cheap.

So my wife emails me from midAtlantic that the cruise line's airport transfer is kind of pricey. I google for taxi reservation options and reserve a car for half the price. That's just ... I still can't get over that kind of stuff. I love this century, except for the political crap.

#37 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 06:55 PM:

#20 Caroline:
I use this: Filtron with a New Orleans style coffee and chicory blend. Their instructions are pretty good. Not sure about any of their claims, but it does make good coffee concentrate. It can be tricky to drain, though - if you just set it up the way they suggest, the big plastic soaking vat seals against the mouth of the decanter and prevents air from getting out and making room for the concentrate. I stick in some toothpicks to keep the airway open, and I'm thinking of gluing on some permanent standoffs. The tall decanter is also a bit top-heavy with the vat sitting on it to drain. One gadget of theirs I don't have yet, but want, is their Tip-N-Pour thing that looks for all the world just like a measuring dispenser for 2-stroke engine oil... I'd use one meant for engine oil but I've no way to know that I've gotten out all the nasty hydrocarbons, or that the manufacturer used a high-leaching plastic 'cause it isn't for beverages.

The concentrate lasts a long time, I've considered getting a flask and filling it so I always have "known tasty" iceable coffee at hand.

It's not yet warm enough here for my morning mug to go iced yet, and I haven't written down my mixture, but I tend to make it rather strong. A tip for those who have sturdy mugs (mine is an old all stainless Nissan vacuum mug) for commuting: Make a bit of your preferred mixture and put it in your mug overnight in the freezer, basically enough to get just under the fill line when the mug is laid over at a shallow angle from the shelf you balance it on. This gives you an ice-chunk of the same makeup as the mixture you'll be adding in the morning, so as the ice melts the coffee gets neither weaker nor stronger. I've also tried freezing little coffee ice cubes, again with the proper mix. They tend to separate out a bit as they freeze and the coffee oils make the tray messy, but it is workable.

Happy Free Comic Book Day everyone! My wife and daughter and I went to Uncle Sven's in St. Paul and they had age-appropriate bags for the kids, plus all the other stuff added back in for us "adults". My wife picked up Munchkin Quest for 20% off, too. We're only missing some Munchkin decks because they keep coming out with new ones...

Oh, and in case it messes up my post history, my website has changed. There will eventually be a link to Socrates Cafe MN on it, as I'm still running groups. Is there a preferred way to link to Making Light, or is a plain hyperlink fine? Don't expect much to show up fast - I'll be mining the web for my old rants first and my wife will be doing most of the upload work, etc. until she can teach me enough that it's less bothersome to fix what I break than to just do it for me.

#38 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 06:57 PM:


grr, extra h in the http for my new URL...

#39 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 07:17 PM:

albatross, #14: I saw that elsewhere, and am Not Impressed. Just for starters, their sample includes no blacks, no Hispanics, and no Jews (nor members of any other non-Christian faith). Bluntly, this reeks to me of deliberate sample-pool skewing.

Michael, #36: Me, too. When I had scary car trouble on the way back from a solo trip last year, my first call was to AAA. My second call was to my partner, and by the time the tow truck showed up, he had located a AAA-approved repair shop one exit away, and a hotel within walking distance of the shop. This turned the whole episode from Freakout City into a minor annoyance -- especially since the scary car trouble turned out to be a leaky oil seal that cost about $50 total in repairs.

#40 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 07:18 PM:

Linkmeister at #30:
The site has extensive listings of books that Nero Wolfe read. Are they all real books, or did Nero Wolfe, being a fictional character, sometimes read fictional books?

#41 ::: Bether ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 07:29 PM:

Oh, I was hoping for an open thread!

My sweetie linked me to a post on a rationalist blog about online communities and comment moderation. It struck me as having some in common with ML's theory of comment moderation, specifically, that this community supports intelligent, well-reasoned, and/or kind comments and actively discourages those that take away from the conversation (or are just plain mean). I think that contributes greatly to this being a pleasant, fun, joyful community to lurk in and sometimes participate in.

(Note: the opinions presented in that post or that blog are not necessarily reflective of my own.)

#42 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 07:30 PM:

Erik @ #40, they're all legitimate. I'm the Steve Timberlake mentioned as a helper on that reading list page. When I went through the novels, novellas and short stories, many of the titles or authors were familiar to me by name.

Stout himself was a voracious reader; I'm pretty sure he had read every book he put into the Wolfe canon.

#43 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 08:12 PM:

I broke my favorite mug a few weeks back.

Generally, I'm not such a klutz, but in the space of about three weeks, I managed to break:

Two large soda-fountain-style glasses (one tipped over in the sink, the other I managed to knock over onto a glass end table)

One unopened bottle of one of my favorite salad dressings (Trader Joe's Romano Caesar)...which I didn't just knock off the kitchen counter, oh no--I knocked it off the counter into the relatively narrow (~6 inches) space between the stove and the cupboard...

And my favorite coffee mug, the start of the bout of clumsiness.

The mug was 24 or 25 years old, a gift from my good friend and ex-fiance on either the first or second Valentine's Day after we finally called it quits. It was emblazoned with three large hearts (dark pink, orange-pink, and red) on a pale-purple background and overwritten (or printed) with a disquisition on the meaning of love. Capacity-wise, it was probably 16 ounces--at least, it was big enough that the product of a four-cup coffeemaker would fill it twice with a little bit left for a warm-up. Or, in keeping with the title of this thread, about two cups' worth of good tea, sometimes allowed to cool while I read.

Said mug had survived numerous trips from tabletop or chair/sofa arm to the hardwood floor, most of which were set in motion by one or another of the cats in a fit of high-speed joie de vivre (or fear at the ringing of the doorbell). But a hardwood floor is one thing; a 3/4-inch-thick glass tabletop is quite another, and this time I managed to sweep the mug in exactly the wrong direction.

I suppose, in the great scheme of things, that breaking the mug was better than breaking the glass table, since it would cost rather more to replace the latter than the former...but I still mourned a little. Which may be silly, on my part.

After all, it was only a coffee mug.

#44 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 08:24 PM:

Lee@39 writes "Just for starters, their sample includes no blacks, no Hispanics, and no Jews (nor members of any other non-Christian faith). Bluntly, this reeks to me of deliberate sample-pool skewing."

Where did you see that they were absent from the sample? My quick read suggested that people in those groups were not separately reported, but were not excluded from the sample. Quoting from the linked Pew page: "Other religious groups are not reported due to small sample sizes."

Which makes sense to me. If the total sample size is ~750 adults, and Jews make up ~2% of the US population, then a random across-the-board poll of that size will only include about 15 Jews. That's too few to make any reasonable comparisons of the sort they're making. One person in a group that size changing their mind because of what they had for breakfast that morning could swing the reported results by a full 7%, enough to make relative comparisons look very different.

#45 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 09:16 PM:

Syd @43: After all, it was only a coffee mug.

My mantra in such situations is "Here in the material world, everything has a beginning, and an end. Sometimes they are close together. Sometimes they are farther apart. But they are always connected."

You loved it while you had it. You are spared regret. You have decades of memories.

And, dammit, it's still a shame.

#46 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 11:37 PM:

siriosa @ 45: I like your mantra. :)

#47 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 11:50 PM:

What Siriosa said.
I baked fish in a supposedly ovenproof glass pan one time and it cracked when I pulled it out of the oven. But at least I was spared the experience of some dorm-mates many decades past. They decided to make some spaghetti sauce in the kitchen, and used one of those oven-proof glass casserole thingies...but they put it on the burner (gas or electric I don't recall.) They went about their other business while I and someone else sitting at the table were waiting for our own food to get hot. All of a sudden, the casserole gave way to thermal stress--and how, it didn't just crack, it exploded, flying into a million bits, throwning glass and spaghetti-sauce all over the place. 4 or 5 of us were 20 minutes cleaning up the mess...and being thankful no one was standing right at the stove when that thing went.
I stick with steel pans (I learned my own lesson with aluminum, I was going to steam something and forgot to put the water in. Sure enough, aluminum melts at red.) I don't drink coffee, so don't have any good coffee stories...

#48 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:02 AM:

(for Serge, in particular)

I got wood today[0], and in the process of playing with it[1], ended up in a remarkably sticky state[3], which was rather hard to clean up[4]...

#49 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:03 AM:

[0] I'd forgotten how much fun a decent lumberyard with clueful people is...
[1] Hopefully v3.x of this project[2] will turn out to be the final one...
[2] Screens for the storm door
[3] Clear, resinous pine smells lovely...
[4] ... but is really horrible on tools and self...

#50 ::: Matthew Austern ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:04 AM:

I'm not impressed by the religion/torture poll because I didn't see any attempt to account for confounding factors. Religion is correlated with a whole lot of other things (age, sex, income, location,...), any of which you might reasonably expect to have a lot to do with political opinions. A result like this is only interesting if you've done enough statistical analysis to be able to say that religion is independently a good predictor even after taking everything else into account, and I don't believe any such analysis exists.

#51 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:04 AM:

I had a mug that I used at work, to warm up clam chowder in the microwave. It was cheap, and disposable, because it lived at work, and it worked just fine. I got used to the soup hitting that critical point where it bubbled and blorped so that some hit the nuke's ceiling, and knew to turn the mug, stir the soup, and let it go back in for a few more seconds.

Until the day (oh, about eighteen months after acquiring the mug) when the blorp was LOTS louder and sharper than before, and suddenly I was running for the roll of paper towels by the sink, and swearing at the hottish soup all over the nuke (and some on me, before I got it under control).

Just a reminder that even the most tried and true utensils can sometimes surprise, in a not very fun way.

And, digressing slightly, this is Open Thread 123, which reminds me of When Michael J Was Cool. ("A-B-C/Easy as 1-2-3/Simple as do-re-mi, A-B-C, 1-2-3...")

#52 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:18 AM:

I blew up a Pyrex casserole on the stove once too. OTOH, once in college, about the only time I ever went to a bar in College Park (I did NOT go to the 'Vous) four of us went to Bentley's, and two of the guys had LI iced teas, while the fourth guy had a house drink called a stop light which consisted of appropriately colored potions in three double shots. As the waitress was explaining how this thing was supposed to be drunk (in order of course), my friend Dave's mug simply split in half, as if it had been cloven with an axe.

#53 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:31 AM:

When I was in 8th of 9th grade, my dad came home at lunchtime and started to cook up some beans in a Visions (pyrex) cookware pot. And then forgot about it and headed back to work.

When we all came home that evening, the house was full of smoke, and on the stovetop was a pot full of bean-shaped charcoal bits. Fortunately, the worse thing that happened was that the beans were ruined and that area of the house smelled of disgusting bean-smoke for a long time after that. Could have been much worse, I'm sure.

I can't remember if we ever managed to get the pot completely clean, but it stayed structurally intact, at least.

#54 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:41 AM:

#37 cajunfj40:

We're only missing some Munchkin decks because they keep coming out with new ones...

Yeah, we've got this problem, too. Combined with having to pay for things like food, utilities, books, etc.

#55 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:10 AM:

Bruce Adelsohn: One of the things about stoneware, is the common presence of Iron (and other metals) in the clay, and the glaze. Over time the difference that causes when heating in a microwave; and the subsequent stresses, will cause those object to fail.

My first ceramics instructors told us that we could microwave anything we didn't care about, because sooner or later it was likely to break while cooking.

#56 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:32 AM:

Syd, #43: Not silly at all. They call it "sentimental value" for a reason, and from your description, you have plenty of reason to mourn the loss of that mug.

John, #44: You may be right. I re-read the article I linked to, and I can see that interpretation. I read it as, "We just didn't include any of those groups because we had such a small sample." But that doesn't change my feeling that the results can't be considered accurate for Americans as a whole because the sample size itself is too small; in fact, if there were small (and unreported) numbers of blacks, hispanics, and members of non-Christian faiths, that further reduces my confidence in the accuracy of the projection.

Angiportus, #47: I did that with a dish that was supposed to become chicken gravy. Fortunately, mine didn't explode quite that badly -- but there was gravy-glop all over the stove and the floor, and glass shards that we had to clean up very carefully. And then the friends for whom I was trying to make dinner gently but firmly kicked me out of the kitchen and finished the cooking themselves. :-)

Matthew, #50: Good point. In particular, I wonder if they controlled for "primary news source"...

#57 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:37 AM:

Terry @55: Thanks. I typically don't use well-liked ceramics in the microwave anyway, in case of air bubbles that somehow survived the kiln. It was the self-destruction after significant use that surprised me, and now I know the likely reason.

#58 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:47 AM:

Also, two significant deaths to note:

Fan and filker John Caspell ("Dr. Filk") has died unexpectedly while recuperating from surgery resulting from a motor vehicle accident. (He was hit on a bike by a truck that ran a red light, IIRC.) He was scheduled, along with Brooke Lunderville, to be the Interfilk Guest at Concertino (the New England iteration of the Floating Northeast Filk Convention) this June. I'd met him twice or thrice, briefly, and was looking forward to hearing them again.

Less personally, but more widely notably, Congressman, would-be President, ex-quarterback, and old-time conservative Jack Kemp has died of cancer at age 73. I was never fond of him, but if he were in office now, I can't help but think that the party would hound him for actually considering what his constituents thought and felt.

#59 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:52 AM:

xeger @ 49: Good luck on your storm door screens. I decided to replace the screening material on my screen door several years ago. I had the old screens removed, new quarter-round cut to hold the new material, and then read the instructions on how to get the screen taut. It said to place the two ends of the frame on sawhorses, leaving the sides to sag, and staple in the two ends. When you lay the frame flat, the screen will be tight. My house was built in 1911. I don't think the screen door is original, but it's old: solid oak, 1 inch thick. Sag? Not so much. The resulting door has a somewhat rumpled screen, but still looked much better.

#60 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 02:34 AM:

I spent a good chunk of the day cleaning up my DVR's hard drive. Erased some things I have no interest in, watched a couple of movies and several TV episodes.

One show was one of those oddball live-action items that turn up on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim program: "The Mighty Boosh."

Dang, was that strange. Its about two slackers who staff a curiosity shop somewhere in Britain. The store's owner is a shaman who hangs out with a talking gorilla. In one episode the guys have to deal with a sleazy anthropomorphic fox who steals a magic potion after knocking one of the guys out with a florescent pink fart. In another, a menacing cockney fellow dressed in a top hat decorated with mint Life Savers tries to extort protection money. He threatens the guy on duty with eels.

Of course, this could all be a Allergy Medication Overdose hallucination.

#61 ::: RuthTemple ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 03:12 AM:

AKICIML: over our spinning wheels last Monday, while the tea cooled, we were trying to recall the novel that had the missing Royal discovered/recovered because where she was, she was missing the pockets that ought to have been in real royal garb weren't present in what she'd been given to wear... it's been long years since I read it, but I recalled that slight tidbit. Any clues as to author, title?

#62 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 03:43 AM:

#61: I think that's Samuel R. Delany's "Fall of the Towers" trio, with the rediscovered royal in book 3, City of a Thousand Suns.

#63 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 04:34 AM:

cajunfj40 @38:

I've fixed your link.

#64 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 04:57 AM:

Syd, Sirosa:
Here in the material world, everything has a beginning, and an end. Sometimes they are close together. Sometimes they are farther apart. But they are always connected.

One of my rules of life is "drink from the cup as though it is already broken."

We never miss the beautiful mug that someone gave us and which we then leave on the shelf. That which we love, we should use, even if we know it's mortal.

#65 ::: mea ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 05:55 AM:

KeithS at 13 - Glad I wasn't drinking coffee when I clicked on that link. Love it!

David Bell at 5 - oohh, I know several people who need to read about Henry

#66 ::: John Hawkes-Reed ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 06:29 AM:

Stefan @60: Eels! (S'alright, boy. I won't 'urt yer...)

The various Mighty Boosh series are works of twisted genius that are either the best thing on telly ever ever or utterly impenetrable and I'm sorry I can't see why that's funny.

JH-R in former camp, obv.

#67 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 06:56 AM:

siriosa@45:"Here in the material world, everything has a beginning, and an end. Sometimes they are close together. Sometimes they are farther apart. But they are always connected."

YOUNG IKKYU, looking pensive, has been waiting for his master to come back.
- Master, why do people have to die?

- This is natural, everything has to die and has just so long to live.

IKKYU, revealing the shattered remnants of his master's favourite cup.
- It was time for your cup to die.

"drink from the cup as though it is already broken."

I have trouble explaining that to some of my relatives, from my friends going "You drink in a 400$ cup ?", to my mother, who won't use that Korean celadon set from fear of breaking it.


Also: I lost most of my cup/yunomi collection when my overzealous neighbour drilled so far inside our common wall he caused my shelf to fall (the joy of living in a flat).

Remember to use your cups, shelves are just too damn dangerous !

#68 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:07 AM:

re 51: .... and back when he was all-natural (including the falsetto).

Microwaves can be bizarrely selective. Our youngest once nuked a package of shoelaces and a Duplo block; the laces were completely carbonized, while the Duplo (which was sitting under them) wasn't even slightly warm.

#69 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:21 AM:

#8 and #9

Some many years ago, I had four promo glass cups from Harvey's, the Canadian burger chain. They were made in Indonesia. Three of them exited this world in unpredictable and abrupt fractures relatively soon after acquisition; the fourth survived a number of years longer. Cheap glass often has a visible mold line, as these did. Fracturing on the mold line gives the "cleaved by an axe" effect.

I'd speculate that process control - temperature and contamination control, mostly, is both expensive and the determiner of lifespan of glass objects. I seem to recall that long slow cooling is (also expensive and) key to top-grade durable glass.

I also remember a set of bargain frosted-glass bowls and casseroles my mother had. They had a tendency to shatter for no good reason. The Wikipedia pages on Prince Rupert's Drop and Toughened Glass give some clues, though; it seems to be the same issue of skimping on the annealing to increase production and save energy.

#70 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:44 AM:

Most of my mugs (of which I have many - too many according to my husband) have sentimental value - they are mementos of places visited, or special occasions, or are presents. If they break in a manner which is not too extensive (handle comes off, large chip out of rim) they tend to be recycled into pen pots, toothbrush holders etc. Luckily I also accumulate pens so have need of several pen pots around the house...

#71 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 09:54 AM:

I recently discovered mice droppings on my kitchen counter. Trapping the mice in the no harm traps is going well (I think it was just one mother and one litter at this point and there are no signs of mice elsewhere in the apartment), but now I'm faced with disinfecting the counter and everything on it.

Most of the items can be cleaned with bleach and water or run through the dishwasher, but I'm at a loss as to how to disinfect the electric griddle (as I can't use bleach on it) and google is giving me no love. Any suggestions?

#72 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:04 AM:

Hilary Hertzoff -- I would think heating the griddle up would take care of everything.

#73 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:29 AM:

Hilary @71: Heat is an accepted method of sterilization. Make the griddle hot for at least two minutes, and repeat if you hve any organic debris on the surface. Another option is to add water and heat until the water is gone.

#74 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:41 AM:

The "drink from the cup as if it is already broken" maxim reminds me very much of this piece of artwork that Theresa (aka Tiger Spot) made when one her much-liked teacup broke.

#75 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:43 AM:

(Sigh. Apparently my editing of that last sentence broke, too.)

#76 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:45 AM:

John Houghton #28: My first assumption was that she meant black scientists who study polecats. However, you could be right.

#77 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:48 AM:

janetl @ 59 ...
xeger @ 49: Good luck on your storm door screens. I decided to replace the screening material on my screen door several years ago. I had the old screens removed, new quarter-round cut to hold the new material, and then read the instructions on how to get the screen taut. It said to place the two ends of the frame on sawhorses, leaving the sides to sag, and staple in the two ends. When you lay the frame flat, the screen will be tight. My house was built in 1911. I don't think the screen door is original, but it's old: solid oak, 1 inch thick. Sag? Not so much. The resulting door has a somewhat rumpled screen, but still looked much better.

Thanks! I agree on the 'sag' -- the door itself is made of 1.5" thick pine, and has no desire at all to bend about -- and the replacement screen that I'm making are starting out at 1 5/8" thick clear pine...

If these sag, it's going to be because I cut or glued them badly...

#78 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:02 PM:

abi @63

cajunfj40 @38:

I've fixed your link.

Thanks! I guess I missed more than one, as I can't see which one was fixed. There's also possibly caching issues, etc. that I know little about... The one I was grr-ing about was the URL that my name links to in Comment #37: it starts out as "hhttp" and FireFox says that that protocol doesn't make any sense...

Adam Lipkin @54
Yeah, we've got this problem, too. Combined with having to pay for things like food, utilities, books, etc.

Actually, since we limit ourselves to only a few games at a time for collecting purposes, the cost isn't as much of a problem, since they are classed with books under "necessary for life" and are budgeted for. The real problem is that since our gaming group all have lives as well, and they don't link up well, we game maybe once every few months - and usually end up playing LOTR Risk, rather than Munchkin, so we don't always buy the new expansion packs because we so rarely get a chance to use them. It's difficult enough to play single-deck Munchkin with only 2 people without vicious lopsided victories, much less multi-deck! I think we need a bigger gaming group to pull from...

#79 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:20 PM:

C. Wingate@68: Perhaps it's that the Duplo was pure of soul, while the laces demonstrated that they had no soles? :-)

More likely, it had to do with the resonant frequency of the Duplo plastic; I'm no physicist, but my understanding of nucleowavers is that the energy they provide is translated to heat by exciting resonances in the materials (particularly water) they strike. I suppose it's possible the Duplos were made of a plastic that didn't get excited by microwaves of commercial oven frequencies.

Then again, I could be utterly wrong (and would appreciate someone setting me straight).

#80 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:02 PM:

The "Black Polecat" is more usually known as the "European Polecat", and is the species from which the domesticated ferret comes.

There is a very rare "Black-Footed Ferret" in North America.

I can see there being a little confusion.

#81 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:13 PM:

Ice tea: lemon or no lemon?

I just buy glasses in bulk and then if one breaks I have a bunch of others that look just like it. But possibly I read Cheaper by the Dozen at too young and impressionable an age.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:26 PM:

I bet the student spelled 'political' "politcat" or something quite similar to that.

#83 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:26 PM:

The particle When the foundations of the earth were laid reminds me that I've got a No. 4 Lion Menucator that was previously used to print menus for the railway. It's a neat little thing, and if I did more (any) printing, I'd keep it -- but it should really go to somebody that'll use it, rather than sitting about taking up space.

... so I'm wondering if anybody here has suggestions for how I might go about finding a person to use it, rather than somebody that's just interested in reselling it, or sticking it in storage. I'd rather not go the eBay route (for multiple reasons), and craigslist/kijiji seem to have an extremely odd hit rate.

#84 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:40 PM:

Bruce Adelsohn: I'd not worry about airbubbles. If the kiln clay is getting vitrified, then there isn't going to be the needed porosity for moisture to return to the air pocket. Kilns are really good at driving water out (something about being more than a little above the steam-point of water).

Honestly, I've never seen a pocket of significant size in a vessel failure, after glazing.

Re breaks. Sometimes I'll repair something with epoxy. I did that recently with the handle of a pot of no particular merit, save that Maia made it, and I liked it. Had I not been packing to move, the pieces (which had been set aside something like a year ago) would still be at risk of being lost.

For glassware: At a friends housewarming party he yelped when he saw me using a very nice water glass for my Guinness (it was the only one large enough). It was, he assured me, a "trick glass", or so said the instructions which came with it.

They said that on placing a cold drink in it, the glass's bottom would separate, with the base glued (from deposited condensation) to the table, the rest in your hand, and the drink everywhere else.

Examining the glass this seemed silly. Dennis told me I could take them if I liked. I did like, and they were fine glasses.

Until one of them did that trick (and a lot of Guinness when by the boards). When I examined the remains (two pieces of glass, one solid, one a tubular cylinder, with a belled shape), I saw the problem.

The glass was very thin where the base joined it. On a warm enough day (or in this case, a working kitchen), the glass couldn't cope with a chilled drink, and "pop" went the cohesion.

A great pity, as they were pretty; but not safe enough to keep. Into the recycling bin they went.

#85 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:45 PM:

Dave Bell #80: Now, I've got to tell that to Mack Jones.

#86 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 02:05 PM:

Henry, #69: Annealing (which is, as you note, a long slow cooling process) is critical in the art-glass field. Cheap glass beads sometimes break unpredictably, from very slight impacts or just having pressure put on them the wrong way. A properly-annealed lampwork glass bead... you can drop it on a concrete floor, and it will bounce. Not that I recommend doing this!

Tony, #81: Depends on whether or not you like lemon in your tea. I can drink it either way -- although I'll note that if the tea is somewhat bitter to start with, adding lemon can correct for that. Our house blend just needs a little sugar, and in a pinch can be drunk straight.

#87 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 02:12 PM:

abi @ 64:

That's some of the best advice I've heard. You can't enjoy something if it's locked away.

Bruce Adelsohn @ 79:

As far as I recall, the microwaves work by causing polar molecules to twist back and forth, which then essentially heats the item through friction. Microwaves work very well on water, as water is polar and can move freely. They don't work so well on ice because the water molecules are trapped in a crystalline structure.

Plastics are long, linked chains of hydrocarbons. They're not polar and they're meshed tightly together, so they won't twist and don't heat up. I'm not sure why the shoelaces would turn crispy, though.

#88 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Hnnh. Re: fandom sites and geocities closing down -- I may be able to play host to some fandom sites. I'll take a look and see what I can do and post more here later.

And most sites that rely on ad revenue are taking a BAD hit with the economy. A lot of the better paying internet advertisers were banks and car companies and airlines ...

#89 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 02:41 PM:

Xopher #82: That's probably it.

#90 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 02:52 PM:

On the thread of cheap glass breaking: I've certainly seen that. Years ago, I had a set of glasses that I bought with green stamps (I said years), and they just sort of disintegrated.
I've also had a failure with an expensive glass. It was a wine glass that I bought at an art gallery. I just bought the one. I had it displayed on a shelf, rather than in use. It had a gold-colored glass bead between the stem and the bowl. I picked it up to dust, and the stem separated from the bead. I must have instinctively tightened my grip when it slipped, and that drove the jagged end of the stem into my finger. It was nasty enough that I went to the Urgent Care, but not so nasty that it required stitches. I can still see a slight scar.

Lessons learned:
1. It's non-trivial to find the address of the nearest Urgent Care in a hurry (they aren't listed like that). The GPS on my Prius now has the Urgent Care address saved to preset #2.

2. Don't buy pretentious glasses.

3. Don't dust.

#91 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 02:57 PM:

The Royston household thinks your lesson #3 should be lesson #1.

#92 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 02:59 PM:

Re: Pointy hats

Under fictional references, they left out Elrod the Albino. How could they forget "I'm wearing a pointy hat! That's status, son! You can argue with me, but you can't argue with status."

#93 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 03:27 PM:

janetl@90: Lesson #3 also applies in our house, albeit for different reasons. However, vacuuming the floor is still required.

#94 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 03:38 PM:

Also, the various references to a "pointy hat trick" in the LotR Very Secret Diaries. But I doubt the wikipedians would have enough of a sense of humor for that to last very long in an entry.

#95 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 03:40 PM:

Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist, does not have a pointy hat, but makes up for it with an awesome title.

#96 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 04:04 PM:

Matthew #50:

ISTM that the information being reported by the poll is interesting and valuable, even if it doesn't give us everything we'd like. My own first question, on reading this, was how much of the answer to the torture question tracks with political party affiliation, and whether the same question would have gotten different answers before it became a Republican/Democrat issue. But what we seem to get from this is:

a. Torture is an issue that divides Americans. This is very bad news, but it's the result you can take away from this poll.

b. People who are religious appear to be noticeably more likely to support torture. Again, this is an awful thing to find out, but it is hard not to read the poll results in that way.

The implication of this is that a political fight on the acceptability of torture may come out very badly indeed. Now, maybe the poll is somehow flawed, but I don't think either your objections nor Lee's really call the big points of the results into question.

Is there other data that might give us more/better information about this stuff?

#97 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 04:44 PM:

Open threadiness:

Any news (comeuppances) in the A&R (Australian bookseller putting the screws to small presses) debacle?

#98 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 04:52 PM:

albatross, Matthew: While the internals of this poll are not available to us (I am ever eager to see the actual poll questions... heh, there's a line of work I'm qualified for, I wonder how one applies, and if I can do it from home), there have been a number of such polls in the past few years, and the mapping of religion to acceptance seems to be tolerably consistent.

This may be the false confirmation of memory, but that's how I recall it. One of the arguments I've seen maps to the more OT flavor of the underlying belief structures of a lot of US Protestants (overlaid with a couple of very autocratic sayings from the NT), which has a lot of "This is they way it is, deviate at your peril", add the "eye for an eye", a sense that all who are not saved are less than completely deserving of decent treatment (yes, I am painting with broad strokes), and the latent "othering" which is attendant to every group, and stronger when one is "at war" and their is a potent inclination to that sort of thing.

If add some american exceptionalism, and the idea that such things will only happen 1: to the bad guys, and 2: the "bad guys" will never include anyone like them, we have a recipe for that sort of skew.

The folks who don't have so many of the mental buffers, to keep the idea of torture from affecting their lives, are much more likely to be ambivalent, if not downright hostile, on the subject.

#99 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 05:02 PM:

cajunfj40 @78:
The last link in your comment was wrong as well (you didn't seem to have put an http:// in front of it).

I've fixed the other one now too.

#100 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 05:06 PM:

Terry @ #98, Here's the full Pew report. It includes the question's wording: "Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?"

I had it to hand because I got some argument in my post about this.

#101 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Linkmeister: Got the link to your post (I seem to have misplaced the link to your blog)?

I didn't notice, when I looked at the page, the last time, the link to the .pdfs. I'll go look, but I already see some problems in the wording of the questions.

Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can

often be justified,
sometimes be justified,
rarely be justified,
or never be justified?

That's a bad question. It's wording implicitly states that 1: the subject has such information, 2; the information to be gained is, "important", 3: the use of torture will gain it.

There's a secondary implication that such tortures will only be used on "suspected terrorists", such "suspects" are terrorists in fact (elstwise how could they have the information?).

Which allows the respondents to isolate the idea of torture to the "ticking bomb", and "other people".

I suspect this greatly changes the reactions of "moderates". I know, from personal experience, that when people divorce the question from "extreme circumstances" and other people, to general principle, and everyone, the way they react is quite different.

#102 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 05:35 PM:

albatross, #96: I would say rather that people who follow certain types of religion may be more likely to support torture. I seriously believe that this is a "correlation =! causation" issue, and that the underlying theme that leads to both support for torture and membership in that particular type of religion is "hierarchal authoritarianism". Most, but not all, evangelical Christians fit that paradigm, which explains both their attraction to that religious structure and their willingness to accept an authority figure telling them that torture is okay.

#103 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 05:35 PM:

My Teacher Said
(a requiem)

"This symbol is often displayed
incorrectly," he said,
"The yin descends. Darkness
descends. But do not forget
that there is some light in the darkness
and some darkness in the light,
yin and yang. And far too often
we forget the value of darkness.
The Hebrews created the concept of the Sabbath,
a stroke of brilliance.
It is a natural rhythm;
when we rest, we step outside
and then we can see clearly."

"It is as though our lives are a stove.
We burn to warm; we burn for light.
But burning creates ashes which, unchecked,
will eventually fill the stove
and choke it out.
Some who burn too brightly will burn out
if they do not take the time to sweep the ashes clean.
And if you only clear enough to light the stove again
it is only a matter of time until
the fire goes out once more.
Deal with the ashes in your life;
scoop out the cinders, and sweep the flue clean.
Only then can a new fire be laid."

You can rise up high and fall down low;
We all must to ashes someday go.

#104 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 05:36 PM:

NB: Teacher Red Cheever is alive and well. The "requiem" is for other people and things.

#105 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 06:13 PM:

Link under my name is to my blog, Terry.

The implication of the question is "yes, the guy may have important info," I agree. But if you ask it otherwise you might imply "torture everyone, whether info is there or not."

#106 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 06:16 PM:

Terry, Lee, et al:

This poll has some more neutrally worded questions. Note the numbers:

29. Obama has ordered the release of previously secret records of Bush administration policies on the interrogation of terrorism suspects. Do you support or oppose Obama's decision to release these records? Do you support/oppose this strongly or somewhat?

(Result was 53/44 in favor of releasing information; see the link for more details.)

30. Obama has said that under his administration the United States will not use torture as part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism, no matter what the circumstance. Do you support this position not to use torture, or do you think there are cases in which the United States should consider torture against terrorism suspects?

The result here was almost evenly split--49% said it was never okay to use torture, 48% said there were cases to consider torture. Interestingly, the same question was asked in Januare--then, the answer was 58% saying it was never okay, and 40% saying there were cases for using torture. My guess is that the events of the last couple months have made this a more sharply partisan issue, and that people have shifted their opinions to support their preferred parties.

31. Do you think the Obama administration should or should not investigate whether any laws were broken in the way terrorism suspects were treated under the Bush administration?

(As of 4/24, it was 51/47 in favor of investigation; as of 1/16, it was 50/47. This was probably always a sharply partisan issue.)

If you're looking for more discussion of this, there's an article by Dan Froomkin with links to many quotes and polls. Very interesting.

#107 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 07:42 PM:

Lnkmeister: But the real question is, "do we allow torture as a questioning method?"

Because the real application is pretty binary. There are no good rubrics by whic one can, "know" someone has information.

And (as I've said before) if one knows, then one need not torture. As a practical tool torture is used to get confessions. What it is the inquisitor wants confessed may change, but that's what the tool does.

albatross: WRT to, "we won't torture". The previous administration said that too. Until we have some definition of what we mean (and I've had people say that plea bargaining amounted to prohibited coercion under Geneva. He was doing it in bad faith, but he meant it; if that makes any sense) I don't know that we can have a poll which gives a credible answer.

It can't give a credible answer because when I say torture, and when Michael Savage says torture (or James Bybee, John Yoo, Steven Bradbury, David Addington, or Dick Cheney) we mean very different things, and the same answers from both of us, will have very different internal understanding, even with external congruence.

#108 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Teresa, the link on the front page to your recent comments at BoingBoing is broken.

#109 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:04 PM:

Albatross @ 14, Lee @ 39, John Mark Ockerbloom @ 44, et seq:

I hope I'm on record here as:

1) being an observant Protestant,
2) violently* opposing torture, and,
3) basing that opposition more on religious than on utilitarian grounds.

ISTM that polls of this sort do less to give an accurate picture of the political landscape than they serve to cast aspersions on a group of people who may share a common religious source but who are (to say the least!) are far from homogeneous. The frightening irony is that defending Christianity against "heathen" criticisms tends (in my practical experience) to increase the sense that Christians are being persecuted (yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but remember, you're speaking of people who are just beginning to recognize that the majority of U.S. citizens are not at least nominally Christian) -- and increases the desire of those who feel "persecuted" to huddle together with others who are like-minded.

In other words, the poll feels like a set-up.

* Pun intended (no matter how wrong it seems on a moral basis :-)).

#110 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:15 PM:


Maybe. Anecdotally, I know a number of people who have been pretty-much on board with all kinds of abusive sh-t the previous administration was doing, on the theory that it was being done to scary Arab foreigners who had it coming and besides Those People Only Understand Terror and besides It's Them or Us. These are not stupid or uneducated people, nor are they evil people in other areas of their lives. And though they make up a smallish portion of my friends and family, they're not a negligible fraction. I don't think those folks are especially concerned with the question of whether the way in which we're beating answers out of someone[1] are technically torture or are technically just "harsh interrogation methods[2]".

My intuition is that a sizeable number of voters is just fine with doing absolutely anything to scary Arab terrorists, and even with people who kinda look like they might be scary Arab terrorists, if it promises to keep them safe. Not only polling data and my own acquaintances suggest this, but also the widespread use of torture by good guys in the movies and TV. A movie that makes the white good guy into an overt racist will almost certainly not do well, because that offends the sensibilities of too many viewers. A movie that has the good guy commit forcible rape will, similarly, not work out--few viewers will be able to think of the main character as a good guy after that. But a movie in which the good guy tortures a bad guy to get information can still do okay, as can a movie in which the good guy does the extrajudicial killing thing (aka murdering people he thinks need killing).

[1] This seems an appropriate term, given the concern that even people with no useful information will find answers to provide to stop the torture.

[2] There's a lovely irony in the fact that most of the people who insist on calling what we did "harsh interrogation methods" instead of "torture" have absolutely no tolerance for euphemisms in other contexts. They're mostly the same folks who ridicule the "differently abled" sort of euphemism.

#111 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:23 PM:

LLA: I think that "most" americans are nominally christian (I am... heck, I am officially Roman Catholic, an Anglican attender when I need the comfort of ritual, and a Quaker attender for the companionship of like minded fellows), what most of them aren't (I suspect) is members of a certain, moderately broad, swath of Born Again Protestant.

Pew reports breakdown of 76 percent Christian, by self declaration. That is stable from 2001, and a drop from 86 in 1990.

#112 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:34 PM:

albatross: Yep. I know a lot of people who think torture is just fine, when we do it, because we won't do it to the wrong people.

They never ponder how it is the people whom we torture are selected. They also, as you say, tend to abstain (I say tend, because there are some who use the word, one who actually says we don't use torture enough; even if we use the word too often (mostly in decrying things he thinks aren't torture; or are justifiable).

Torture has a bad rap, and they don't like to be associated with it, even if they have no problem accepting it, in fact.

#113 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:35 PM:

Tatterbots, the BoingBoing Recent Comments feature (which used to display the most recent comments of BB registered commenters) has been borked for weeks. I'm not sure they're planning to fix it.

#114 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 08:51 PM:

Terry Karney @ 111:

That may be factually correct, but the public discussion has changed dramatically in my lifetime. As a child, I remember different Christian denominations trying to recruit from other denominations. Just recently, I found a Youtube video of "Dear God" by XTC (yes, I realize the search dates me!) and found the contrapunctal words and images to be painfully poignant.

I suspect most of my fellow Christians would fail to see what (I think?) is a deeply spiritual point in the song, as Christianity itself has become radicalized.

Having outlived Christ -- and being prone to take up unpopular causes because he said we should be "no respecter of persons," -- I tend to have less fear of attack than I probably should (since I tend to get it on both sides). That does not stop me from understanding the bewilderment of nice, safe, law-abiding souls who can't understand how the world has changed around them.

#115 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 09:00 PM:

What I find particularly troubling about the religious numbers in the torture poll is that the predominant religion in the US is centered around someone who was tortured to death, which you would think would make its adherents more likely to find something wrong with torturing people.

Not only that, but the current official teaching of the Catholic Church, as summarized in the Catechism, explicitly condemns torture*. So seeing that white Catholics are reported to be slightly *more* likely than the average US citizen to condone torture is worrisome, to say the least, even taking this particular poll's limitations into account.

*CCC 2297. For those remembering the Inquisition, there's also a footnote in the catechism (CCC 2298) that acknowledges that Catholic thinking on this point has evolved since the Middle Ages.

#116 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 09:54 PM:

A riddle I heard today:

Q: How is a Hummer like hemorrhoids?

A: They both surround an asshole.

#117 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:10 PM:

B. Durbin @ 103:

How can I have forgotten to tell you how beautiful that was? And so apropos. If ashes choke out the fire, what is left?

#118 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:13 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 115:

I can't speak to anything other than my own experiences, so I might be completely off-base here. Someone please do correct me if I'm wrong.

It seems to me that there's often a bit of a disconnect between people saying that Jesus died for their sins and actually really thinking about all the aspects of that story. It usually mostly comes up around Easter, that I'm aware of, and that's it. We don't have crucifixions these days, and the cross has changed from being an uncomfortable execution device to a symbol of the faith.

Xopher @ 116:

Now, now. One of those things is ugly, annoying, and potential trouble. The other is a medical condition.

#119 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:26 PM:

A church near my house was trying to remind people about the details of crucifixion, for Easter. I thought their presentation was a bit off, though.

#120 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:37 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 119:

I'm sure it would be very appealing to some people.

I was wrong. Some people think about it at Christmas too. Probably not too hard, though.

#121 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:39 PM:

There are groups which keep the idea of the method of Jesus' death alive; through reenactments. People vlonuteer to be hanged from one for a few hours.

There was a book (Richard ben Sapir, I believe), The Last Gladiator, which had, as its hero, a gladiator who was, freakishly, cryogenically suspended.

A nurse cozies up to him, and he'd more than willing, until her crucifix comes into view. He is appalled, disgusted; knocked not just out of the mood, but repulsed that anyone would wear a symbol of something so perverse.

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:43 PM:

It's rather like wearing a little electric chair around your neck, isn't it?

#123 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:59 PM:

Sort of. I think it's more gruesome than that (I know people who have all sorts of death related pendant jewelry, nooses, electric chairs, guillotines... all sort of creepy).

But we do our public killing in private. They did it in the open. One of the things he does is complain to the nun taking care of him (she speaks latin), about how sick and twisted it as, as well as wondering when they stopped using the fish.

#124 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 11:05 PM:

Xopher @ 122:

That's the reason I eat lamb for Easter. There's nothing like sustaining your body by commemorating Christ's last meal, knowing that he called himself "the Lamb of God," to shock you out of passive Christianity.

#125 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 11:55 PM:

LLA: I actually did paraphrase Red Cheever's teachings pretty well. The idea is that you can't have a fire without creating ashes-- the side effects of life that affect your psychology. A good example is those stars in the public eye who burn so bright and then destruct so thoroughly-- they don't take the time to clean out their lives, as it were, and it destroys them.

Even clean living creates some detritus. :)

(P.S. This one's Iron John. Previous two were Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood.)

#126 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:00 AM:

John, #115: the predominant religion in the US is centered around someone who was tortured to death, which you would think would make its adherents more likely to find something wrong with torturing people

You're looking at it the wrong way. Look at the wording of the Nicene Creed, particularly the part that runs:
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried;
and the third day he rose again
according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead

The Crucifixion is a necessary part of the story -- without it, you could not have the Resurrection. From that POV, it's much closer to being like the "ticking time bomb" scenario emotionally, and the torture is viewed, because of the ultimate outcome, as nearly celebratory. Listening to any musical setting of the Nicene Creed will illustrate this.

The other thing that differentiates this from garden-variety torture is that Jesus underwent his trials willingly (well, barring a few qualms in the Garden of Gethsemane). That is not something which can be said about any current torture victim.

#127 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:03 AM:

I should probably add that, in my tradition, eating lamb for Easter also commemorates Passover, linking me to God's promise to Abraham, and fulfilling his promise to Adam and Eve.

Yes, I take all of the stories in the Bible seriously, just as I take most fiction to be more truthful than most works of history. What, you expected Christians to be predictable?

I also view soy-based "meats" as comfort food and generally don't like red meat. Go figure,

#128 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:03 AM:

In another place a friend asked if we had any favorite poems.

I allowed as I did (and did not mention WCW).

I even went so far as to retranslate one of my favorite Russian poems. So, I offer the pair I sent her to you.

Two poems

To pluck it is a pity
To leave it is a pity
Ah!, this violet


Я вас любил

Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.
Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.

I loved you, perhaps I love you still
but forget this love which pressed on you
no tears, only laughter. I do not wish to grieve you.
I loved you quietly, hopelessly, jealously; afraid
I loved you with tenderness, and sincerly
May God grant you love like this again.

Aleksandr Sergeyivich Puskin
(trans. T. Karney 1995/2009)

It's not the best translation. It's hard to translate; because there are so many passive structures, whch are active thoughts.

I also was reconstructing the translation. I don't have my dictionaries here, and some of it may have suffered as a result.

I'd like to think that catches the gist of it, in any case.

#129 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:11 AM:

Here's a nice setting of the Nicene Creed in Latin. You can hear that the "crucifixion" part is somewhat melancholy, but as soon as you get to "et resurrexit tertiae diae" you're back to celebrating again.

#130 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:14 AM:

#66: Thank you for the link. I was worried that I imagined that bit while goofed on Benadryl.

(FYI to others: The Youtube video is a musical number; the actual sequence ends with the cockney's hat opening up and a little lady peering out and the shop keeper dancing with her in the hat and EEELSSS!)

#131 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:18 AM:

Lee @ 126 :

I think it's important to distinguish Christ's willingness to suffer from any "kinky" desire for pain. The Gospels clearly depict someone who did not desire the outcome of human sin, but who (to my knowledge) originated the full and complete concept of "passive resistance."

I think our democracy would be in better shape if more Christians were willing to suffer for their beliefs and less willing to cause suffering for the same (but I've said that before).

B. Durbin @ 125:

A stirring paraphrase may reach spaces in the heart that even an original idea cannot. You got me going. Take the compliment.

#132 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:23 AM:

Lee @ 126:

It's a necessary part of the story, yes, however Jesus was supposed to take the place of us for our sins. Couple that with Jesus teaching do unto others as you would have done to you and I think that's a pretty good indictment of torture right there.

Terry Karney @ 128:

I don't understand Russian, but judging by your translation it's a lovely poem.

#133 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:27 AM:

LLA @ 131 ...
I think it's important to distinguish Christ's willingness to suffer from any "kinky" desire for pain. The Gospels clearly depict someone who did not desire the outcome of human sin, but who (to my knowledge) originated the full and complete concept of "passive resistance."

I think you'll find that "passive resistance" is rather older than Christianity :)

#134 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:35 AM:

KiethS: At risk of seeming overly something, Russian poetry pretty much makes up for all the pain that language has caused me.

And that poem (Ya vas lyubil/Я вас любил may be the best poem written in Russian.

I think, honestly, it's one of the best poems ever written, and nearly think it's my personal favorite.

Puskin is amazing. That poem is amazing, in a body of work which is amazing. There is a tension, a passion, a resignation and a faint blossom of hope, which I lack the power to translate.

My translation is a pathetic thing. The best I can say for it (for it breaks a host of conventions) is that I have caught some hint of the essence. I have trashed ryhme, ignored meter; chucked some of the parity and changed a verb.

All to try and catch the meat of it.

The speaker loves the object. Loves the object so much that even the loss of that love involves love. There is a sense, in the last line, that maybe the fire will rekindle, and a complete satisfaction that if it doesn't, it will not matter, if love is vouchafed the subject again.

One cannot do it justice in translation; it as through a glass, darkly, I present it.

#135 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:36 AM:


Perhaps it's my odd path to becoming Catholic, but I've never been able to see the crucifixion as anything but horrible. Jesus is going willingly in the sense of "okay, if the only way to do Your will is to be tortured to death, even then I won't run away from it," but certainly not approaching it as something joyous. According to (plausible) legend, several of the disciples were also crucified, and the early church certainly would have seen such a death for the horror it was.

I suspect this is just one of those places where people compartmentalize their beliefs. According to the poll I quoted, as of three months ago, the numbers were 58/40 against ever using torture; now, they've shifted to 49/48 against ever using torture.

Some of that may be sampling error, but the most sensible explanation I can come up with is that many people, upon finding that their "side" of the political argument is embracing torture, have changed their position on it. It may be that before, most people hadn't thought it through at all, and now, many more have thought it through because it's been in the headlines--and here are their favorite talking heads/commentators explaining the pro-torture side of the case. But I'll admit I'm guessing here--the fact that people who self-identify as Christian are more likely to vote Republican suggests this connection to me. There was a similar shift in beliefs shown in a previous Pew Center poll, w.r.t. wiretapping without a warrant--before the wiretapping was a political issue, far more Republicans thought wiretapping without a warrant was wrong. After it became an us/them issue, many Republicans appear to have changed their beliefs on that issue.

I believe this same phenomenon happens on the Democratic/liberal side, too, but I don't have such striking examples available to demonstrate it; perhaps I'm wrong.

#136 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:41 AM:

I'm certainly familiar with Isaac's willingness to become a sacrifice at Abraham's hand, but my classical training is otherwise somewhat lacking (some concept of the epic of Gilgamesh and enjoyment of Egyptian and Greek mythology do not qualify me as a classical scholar -- especially since my Greek, Latin, and Hebrew are mostly limited to my enjoyment of classical music).

What I haven't encountered is such a full and complete account (four versions in the New Testament and multiple "prophetic" accounts in the Old Testament) of a hero who walked into a trap, knowing it was a fatal trap, urged his followers not to protect him, then suffered torture and death without ever asking for human intervention.

But I'm willing to be taught.

#137 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:42 AM:

Argh. That was meant to respond to Xeger @ 133.

#138 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:53 AM:

LLA: Part of the picture is the loss of cult for some of the rest. Theseus and the Minotaur is one. With the fadings of the religions those stories were attached to, the understandings of them as that sort of tale are lost. They become merely clever men in fairy tales.

The other half of that is the "prophecies" are all being explained ex post facto, and through a cultural lens which has the New Testament as its filter.

There is a talmudic tradition which says Abraham failed the test of Issac. He ought have told God to stick it (just as he bartered for the lives of Sodom and Gomorrah). We don't tend to see it that way, because we have the later, "recapitulation to salvation" of Jesus.

But the meanings of those prophecies are open to lots of interpretations.

#139 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:56 AM:

In re the Pointy Hat Page, which is awesome: Folks seeking extra bonus lulz might want to read the Talk:Pointy_Hat page, which features a spirited debate on whether to change the name of the page to "Pointed Hat," because "Pointy Hat" sounds childish and silly and very un-Wikipedia. Aargh.

#140 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:15 AM:

#8 Lila
That sounds like it was ill-tempered glass.

#141 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:24 AM:

Terry Karney @ 134:

If prose translation is a careful balancing act between real and figurative, literal and idiomatic, naturalized and foreign, then translating poetry has to be all that while unicycling down the side of a steep mountain while juggling flaming chainsaws. I think you probably did just fine.

One of these days I should at least learn to read Russian. I can read about half the characters, but that's only half helpful.

LLA @ 136:

I'm not sure I'd describe Isaac as willing, although I wouldn't say he's unwilling either. He doesn't protest. He lets Abraham bind him and put him on the altar. His only speaking part in the whole story is to ask his father where the sheep for the offering is. He's otherwise a perfect blank. In fact, Isaac doesn't appear in the story after Abraham sees the ram, leading to some speculation that Isaac may have been killed after all. (He got better.)

#142 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:25 AM:

Terry Karney @ 138:

I was simply speaking to the issue of earlier examples of passive resistance -- not to the validity of the stories.

My impression of Theseus was of an active, combative hero, but I may have read the wrong version. For instance, I know, and am moved by the story of Prometheus, whether I believe he existed or not. I find Isaac's willingness to let his father come at him with a knife extraordinary -- especially given later accounts of his personality. These stories are powerful even without a religious context.

Despite my Aryan roots, I know of no Norse mythology that celebrates the martyr until the coming of Christianity.

I don't know Eastern Mythology as well as I would like (too many interests...). I know Ghandi famously said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians."

As I said, I am willing to learn.

#143 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:31 AM:

Albatross @ 135:

Your examples lead me ever closer to the idea that this was an example of push-polling: finding a sample that will tell you what you want to convince people it is acceptable to believe.

Statistics was my worst course in college, but even I can recognize lies, d#&^ lies, and statistics.

#144 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:35 AM:

Serge hasn't posted anything at his LJ since 4/24, nor has he posted here since 4/25.

I wonder if there's anything wrong (equally, he could just be on vacation). I've emailed him but gotten no reply.

#145 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:42 AM:

Re: Dollhouse S01E11

Jura gurl oevat Qbzvavp onpx (va Ivpgbe'f obql) gb dhrfgvba uvz nobhg gur synfuqevir, evtug nsgre orvat qehttrq ur ybbxf ng Qe, Fnhaqref naq fnlf, "Juvfxrl..." Fur vagrecergf guvf nf n erdhrfg sbe n qevax, naq Qrjvgg pbaphef grcvqyl. Gura yngre, jura Nycun* unf ure, ur nfxf, "Unir lbh nyjnlf jnagrq gb or n qbpgbe?" Jura fur fnlf lrf, ur ercyvrf "Gung vf n yvr." Gura ur nfxf ure nobhg jura ur svefg pnzr va, naq fur tvirf n cerggl obevat nppbhag, juvpu ur abarguryrff svaqf snfpvangvat. "V jvfu jr unq zber gvzr," ur fnlf. Jul nyy guvf vagrerfg?

V oryvrir gung Qe. Fnhaqref jnf sbezyl n qbyy, pbqr-anzrq Juvfxrl. Qhevat Nycun'f rfpncr, ur xvyyrq gurve qbpgbe (cbffvoyl gur bevtvany Fnhaqref) naq fynfurq hc Juvfxrl'f snpr. Gur Qbyyubhfr jnf va qrfcrengr arrq bs n qbpgbe gb qrny jvgu gur jbhaqrq, fb gurl znqr bar bhg bs Juvfxrl--cbffvoyl ol fvzcyl pbclvat gur cerivbhf qbpgbe'f crefbanyvgl jubyrfnyr. Ubjrire, jvgu n fynfurq-hc snpr Juvfxrl jnf ab ybatre hfrshy nf n qbyy, naq fb gurl qrpvqrq gb yrnir ure va cynpr nf gur snpvyvgl zrqvp.

/penml gurbel


#146 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 02:03 AM:

I was waiting for Serge, too, after xeger's trip to the lumber yard, and Paula Lieberman's ill-tempered glass.

#147 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 02:07 AM:

LLA: Ok, I misunderstood some of what you were saying.

Theseus was an active resister, once he got to Minos, but he went to the place of sacrifice willingly. He may have been active, but he didn't expect to come back. Sort of like the 300 at Thermypolae.

Odin springs immediately to mind. Losing an Eye to gain wisdom and hanged himself from Yggdrasil (the world tree), as a "sacrifice to himself". It's not clear to me that he didn't die, and recover, but nine days of agony, upside down, to get the secret of the runes.

#148 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 02:31 AM:

KeithS @87: Thank you. That explains rather a lot.

#149 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 02:57 AM:

Xeger @ 133:

D'oh. Fell asleep, woke up -- I forgot about Daniel.

Terry Karney @ 147:

Must reread those stories. Me likes a good story :-).

#150 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:13 AM:

Looking at The Onion's first 100 days particle. I chuckled at Day 21.

And then it struck me. Barack Obama is the first President young enough to have played Dungeons & Dragons as a teenager. Not that he needs to have, but we have a US President who might get the joke about the Head of Vecna.

Does it matter? Maybe not, but think of the cultural changes for that generation. Not just Gygax and Arneson, but the appearance of domestic video recorders.

And think of the new interactions between culture and technology that will be commonplaces for the people who will follow him.

Heck, how old was Bush when Star Wars came out?

#151 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:14 AM:

Linkmeister @ 144 ...
I wonder if there's anything wrong (equally, he could just be on vacation). I've emailed him but gotten no reply.

You too? I haven't emailed, but he's seldom-to-never this silent...

#152 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:23 AM:

Okay, I need a little validation here that I'm not crazy: for webcomic-related reasons, I have just looked at the Wikipedia article on the "Burns & Allen" radio and TV series. According to that article, "Say good night, Gracie" - "Good night, Gracie" was not a running gag, Gracie Allen never said that, it's a legend. Other web pages say the same (although I suspect them of cribbing from Wikipedia).

Except that when I was a kid there was a radio station in the Bay Area that played old radio shows, and I have a distinct memory of Gracie Allen saying exactly that.

Can anyone validate me here? A hyperlink to a short clip of Gracie Allen saying it, suitable for sending to the webcomic author, would be ideal, but just saying "Yes I remember hearing that" or "No, your memory is playing tricks on you" would help.

#153 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:59 AM:

I don't remember it from the radio show, but I remember it from the TV show, at least once.

#154 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 05:18 AM:

Q: How is a Hummer like hemorrhoids?

A: They both surround an asshole.

What's the diffence between a Hummer and hemorrhoids ?

The Hummer's a pain to everything but assholes.

Almost there... I remember my first try was better but I can't find back the exact way I formulated it.

This just in: Neil Gaiman signing near me this afternoon... how ridiculous would it be to go queue up just to say "thank you for being awesome" in horribly bad sounding english ? (I really don't care anymore for autographs.)

#155 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 05:53 AM:

There are groups which keep the idea of the method of Jesus' death alive; through reenactments. People vlonuteer to be hanged from one for a few hours.

Or nailed. (Warning: potentially NSFW, lots of squick.) This is a two-hour drive from where I lived for a while, but I could never bring myself to go.

Some days I think that the prevalence of extrajudicial killings, torture and oppression in the Philippines is a result of the equanimity and resignation with which the downtrodden face adversity. Other days I think the former begets the latter. I'm certain both (of many factors) are involved.

Terry, lovely poem.

#156 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 07:31 AM:

Andrew Willey @139: What's interesting about said discussion is that, as I've now added at the bottom, Wikipedia guidelines on this are quite clear: "pointy hat" _is_ the correct title, as the more common of the two alternatives.

#157 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 07:31 AM:

David @ 152 -

In his book Gracie, George Burns states that she never actually said 'Good night, Gracie' but that he wished he'd thought of it because it was a great gag.

#158 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 07:33 AM:

s/Willey/Willett/. Sorry about that. In my defense, I have an ear infection, and claim it is disrupting my coordination.

#159 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 08:31 AM:

Linkmeister@ 144, J Austin @146, xeger@151: Serge and his wife are on vacation, and not necessarily checking the internets. He told me just before they left that there would be some peace and quiet lack of punning on ML.

#160 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 08:41 AM:

LLA: The Pew Center is nonpartisan and I think it has a pretty good reputation, so I'm pretty sure they weren't *trying* to push-poll. They may have asked their questions in a leading way, though I'm not too sure of that, given that their results are fairly close to the answers given to the much-more-neutrally-worded Washington Post poll.

I think the wording of the Pew Center question does track reasonably well with the moral/legal argument, which is the only one for which polls offer any useful information. Polling people on whether or not torture provides useful intelligence is useless, since hardly anyone has any experience or training that would let them have an informed opinion. As well ask people whether regulating CDS as an insurance instrument would have headed off the financial meltdown--hardly anyone's opinion is worth having on such a question. The moral question is whether it would be okay to use torture to get answers out of people, assuming we could do it in a way that worked.

There's no inherent reason the answer to the moral and practical questions must track together, though given the way human minds work, they usually seem to. You might be convinced that torture works in some circumstances, but still oppose a formal policy of torture because you think it will be used inappropriately leading to worse intelligence overall, or will lead to too much backlash among the public or the world, or will be expanded until all sorts of American citizens are being tortured routinely. A fair number of people have more-or-less this position w.r.t. capital punishment, for example--thinking it's morally acceptable in some circumstances, but that practical considerations of cost and error rate of the criminal justice system make it a bad policy.

#161 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 09:16 AM:

#159 ::: Ginger @ 159 ...
Linkmeister@ 144, J Austin @146, xeger@151: Serge and his wife are on vacation, and not necessarily checking the internets. He told me just before they left that there would be some peace and quiet lack of punning on ML.

Ah well... he was lost... but now is found ;)

[0] Say... anybody know the correct/best way to keep a cover that's hanging on by a few threads with the attached book of common prayer?

#162 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 09:45 AM:

heresiarch @#145: V yvxr gung gurbel. Gur dhrfgvba vf jurgure fur xabjf vg--vs fur qbrf, naq xabjf gung fur'f tbvat gb qvr jura gung qbyy'f pbagenpg vf hc, vg jbhyq tb n ybat jnl gbjneqf rkcynvavat Fnhaqref' trareny qrzrnabe.

Fb jub ryfr guvaxf gung Wbff jnf cynlvat ba hf nyy erzrzorevat Ghqlx nf Jnfu gb znxr hf oryvrir Nycun jnf unezyrff?

#163 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 10:05 AM:

Re glass (8,9,69,etc.):
The slow cooling of glass (annealing) is important to all glass. The internal stresses built up when the glass is being shaped need time to relax. In a production environment, energy isn't really a concern since there is plenty of heat to spare -- having sufficient insulated space to let things anneal properly could be an issue. At the craft level, small handworked pieces are initially annealed by reheating in the torch and then being put in a can of vermiculite. It is possible, if time intensive, to completely anneal glass this way, but a kiln does a better and more consistent job. The stress in transparent glass can be seen by shining polarized light through the object and looking at it through a crossed polarizer.

Tempering of glass is deliberately creating stress between the surface and the center of the glass to strengthen it (and give it a safer failure mode of breaking into very small pieces).

Visions cookware is strengthened by letting the glass start to crystallize in a very controlled way.

Prince Rupert's Drops/Tears are an example of tempering the outside of unannealed glass with the tail being a deliberate stress focus/trigger. Unfortunately I don't have access currently to glassworking equipment to make some.

#164 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 10:24 AM:

Xeger @161: um. Send it to abi?

Oh, and Happy Star Wars Day, everyone!

#165 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:19 PM:

pendrift: I didn't mention how they were hanged. There are southwestern groups that do nailings too. I don't know if it's remnants of something Aztec, or adoption of some transition ordeal, or what, but it's sort of creepy to me.

As to the equanimity thing, the book I was referring to above put it in the "suffering was so everpresent, that a layer of judicial suffering was needful." It's not as if Henry VIII was against some public torture. Some of it, "witty". He promised one rebel he wouldn't have him cut down for the final acts of "hanged, drawn and quartered" until he was dead. Then he hanged him in chains... so the hanging wasn't what killed him, but rather death by exposure.

albatross: "The moral question is whether it would be okay to use torture to get answers out of people, assuming we could do it in a way that worked." I think that raises a different moral question. It's the implicit assumption that torture does work which drives the "buried baby/ticking bomb" scenarios.

I'd expect a lot higher response rate in the affirmative, when the hypothetical explicitly states torture works. The question I think matters more is how many people would be willing to use it,if they knew it didn't work. That's a moral question with meat on its bones.

If torture does work, then the thing being questioned is if not torturing one person is worth the harms to be avoided by the information to be gained (which is almost always presented as pain in the present; for one, against death for many: a tolerably easy calculus for most people to make. Greatest good for the greatest number). I've even had people tell me, "if I new how to stop a bomb, and wasn't talking, I'd want them to torture me." Mind you they are certain it could never happen they would have such information; they are unaware of the downward creep of, "exigent circumstances."

#166 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 12:24 PM:

MD² @154:
Neil would be cool with that. The reward for him is getting to meet his fans. No book to sign? A chance to stretch his hand (he can only pull off signing in the numbers that he does because he does first drafts longhand. Meeting someone that hangs out on Making Light? That means that you have lots of mutual friends to chat quickly about.

#167 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:28 PM:

Albatross @ 160:

I think the reasons for my concern are the way the poll seems to be being used (going solely on the sources cited in this thread, ugly conclusions are the only ones that can be drawn from the polls) and my virtual certainty that few of the people in that sample group would know if they know anyone who has been tortured (I believe most actual victims of torture go to great pains to hide their pain, although I am not an expert).

I also bet you would get an entirely different answer if you asked them if it was okay for someone to torture their child -- or even their neighbor (even if they believed such torture would save a baby or stop a bomb from going off). They're living in the fictional world, where people are briefly tortured and are fine by the next scene. Phrasing the question in such an abstract fashion encourages this kind of fictional thinking.

The media has certainly made this fantasy universe seem appealing -- a high potential upside for very little downside. My moral (and practical) problem with this fantasy is that it doesn't reflect reality.

#168 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:53 PM:

V nyfb yvxr gur gurbel nobhg Fnhaqref. Vg znxrf frafr, rfcrpvnyyl vs lbh oryvrir, nf V qb, gung Nycun jnf fynfuvat Qbyyf gb znxr gurz ab ybatre hfrshy nf fhpu, naq guhf "serr" gurz. (Ohg gura jul qvqa'g ur fynfu Rpub?)

Tvatre, V jbhyqa'g chg vg cnfg Wbfu gb unir qbar rknpgyl gung. Pna'g gryy vs vg jbhyq unir jbexrq ba zr gubhtu, orpnhfr fbzr wnpxubyr ba nabgure fvgr fnvq "url, Nyna Ghqlx vf tbaan cynl Nycun! Vf gung pbby be jung" n pbhcyr bs jrrxf ntb. Crbcyr nera'g frafvgvir nobhg fcbvyref ryfrjurer nf jr ner urer. V gevrq ernyyl uneq gb guvax "ur tbg vg jebat, Ghqlx vf ba Qbyyubhfr, ohg ur'f pyrneyl abg Nycun..." ohg vg qvqa'g jbex, naq gur fhecevfr jnf pbzcyrgryl fcbvyrq.

#169 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:59 PM:

John Houghton@166:

Pffff... would have been nice. Instead I spent my end afternoon mad rushing into a fight with the great polycephaled admistrative monster. The civil servant in charge of my father's retirement files went on vacation without finishing her work on it. He'll start being paid three months late, among other troubles, and, since he's in Africa, can't do anything to correct things himself.

I just love how casualy they dismissed my complaints/fears with a "No need to get upset, he'll get paid eventually"... I mean, he will manage all right (and at worst we're here), but just thinking how quickly the situation could turn desperate for someone else, while wondering how many other files still are in limbo left me irate.
Worst is they wouldn't understand why.

Bah... he knows he's awesome anyway.

#170 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 01:59 PM:

Ginger @ #159, "there would be some peace and quiet lack of punning on ML."

I'm glad to hear it and hope he and she are having a good time. I do think it was irresponsible of him not to designate someone to cover for his job as punster.

#171 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Rather than forcing us to scan the open threads for ROT-13 posts for the Dollhouse discussions, could someone please create a "Thoroughly Spoiled Dollhouse" thread a la Harry Potter?

#172 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 03:27 PM:

Are we afraid no one here can opun up and give us their charminingly twisted opunions in the absence of our francophonic transplunt?

For shame.

A contrapuntative discussion, in all its discursive manners ought to spring forth, in honor of our absent friend, why should we punish ourselves with lack of wordplay? Sing your wyrd, and let the punches fly.

#173 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 03:42 PM:

I'm back, at a reduced baud rate: fewer posts for awhile, to let my fingers get stronger. Surgery went very well, recovery is going far better than I was led to expect. No problems at all after the second day after surgery, when the bandages came off, giving back all degrees of freedom of the finger and wrist joints. No pain to speak of after the first day, and not much then. I've caught up on the open threads, but now have to go back and see what I've missed elsewhere.

Old business:

Velma @ previous open thread
Yay for Scraps! You just can't keep a good man down.

KeithS @ 13
Snork! No coffee in mouth == dry laptop. That drawing is by Ursula Vernon, who does the Digger comic online. There's a picture of Digger up at the top of the sock puppet page. I've been reading the Digger archives for a couple of weeks now (interrupted by the surgery), and I'm almost up to the present. The best description I've seen is the tagline on the comic page: "A wombat. A dead god. A very peculiar epic." Great fun, good jokes, terrific drawing, adventure and pathos (two-hankie minimum) galore. And a not-so-subtle examination of gender roles in cultures ranging from hyenas to wombats, with a side order of humans.

Re link editing problems: I've been typing html links for years, and I screw them up often enough to be really annoyed with myself. Nowadays I use the "BBCode" extension for Firefox. It inserts various BBCode or HTML code fragments around the current selection, so to put in a valid link, you type the link text you want in the text area, select it, and then right-click/control-click, select BBCode->HTMLCode->Make URL. You get <a href="">Your Text Here</a>. Then type or paste the url itself between the quotes.

Re: annealing
It's a fascinating topic; one of the few techniques that spans so large a number of different fields: from ceramics, glass-making, and metal-working to computational physics and evolutionary computing. It may turn out to be one of the fundamental operations of the physical universe.

I like heresiarch's theory. V abgvprq gur zragvba bs "Juvfxrl", naq pbhyqa'g erzrzore nal cerivbhf zragvba bs gung qbyy. Gur vqrn gung Nycun vf phggvat gurz gb znxr gurz hahfnoyr nf qbyyf znxrf n ybg bs frafr. V'z fbeel gb urne gung fbzrbar fcbvyrq gung fhecevfr sbe lbh, Kbcure; vg jerapurq zl urnq nebhaq jura V fnj vg. V jnf guvaxvat, "Avpr gb frr Ghqlx ntnva, funzr gur ebyr vf fb zhpu yvxr Jnfu, fb ur qbrfa'g trg n punapr gb fubj uvf ena- ... BZST, V fb qvqa'g frr gung pbzvat!"

#174 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 03:52 PM:

A thoroughly open-thready question:

When did street food carts first start appearing in NYC?

This brought on by wondering why Archie Goodwin never grabbed a hot dog or pretzel while out and about performing his duties for Nero Wolfe.

#175 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 03:55 PM:

Linkmeister @ 170: I believe punning is a team sport around here. Or am I mistaken in thinking of Fragano, Terry, Xopher, et alia as punsters in their own rights?

Selecting a designated punster? You'd have fights! The Punic Wars would never end!

I think it would be far easier to have a designated non-punster to keep the conversations from degenerating into absolute melees. Sort of a contrapuntal* POV, to balance everything out nicely.

*Not to be confused with Iran-contra or the conga.

#176 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 03:58 PM:

re Ursula Vernon: She has a most entertaining Livejoural, "ursulav"

#177 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:00 PM:

Linkmeister @174

For a long time it was considered incredibly rude to eat on the street. I believe that, with minor exceptions, it's still considered rather vulgar in Japan.

I'd expect that the appearance of one practice probably coincides/overlaps with the fading of the other.

#178 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:01 PM:

Bruce Cohen (StM) @ 173:

I'm glad you're recovering well. What sorts of finger exercises do you have to do? I assume typing on a modern keyboard doesn't really count as exercise.

I've been following Digger for a few years now. It's every bit as wonderful as you say, and then some.

In university we had a class where we took pieces of steel and did various heat treatments to them. We then had to compare ductility, brittleness, and so on. One of the students took trying to bend or break one of the hardened tokens as a personal challenge, so he cranked it down in a vice and went at it with a sledgehammer. Good times.

#179 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:17 PM:

Sarah S @ #177, "it's still considered rather vulgar in Japan."

Really? When I was stationed in Yokosuka in 1972-1974 there were lots of yakitori open-fire grills and walk-up burger joints. They were right outside the base's main gate, though, so maybe the practice wasn't so widespread away from American influence.

I first learned the joys of fried rice and gyoza while pub-crawling there, but those were indeed sit-down places.

#180 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:39 PM:

I would think that must be a relatively new development in Japan. When I lived there as a child in the '60s, I recall Tokyo as full of food carts, with customers happily noshing away. Perhaps it's peasant manners, but then lots of people seemed happy to employ peasant manners.

#181 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Alright, I am sick and tired of this!, really. I'm recovering from bronchitis and didn't sleep at all last night. Not a wink. I'm sick and tired.

And bored. I beat the internets.

So...any Fluorospherians on Facebook that I haven't pestered yet? What's the local feel on Ye Olde Booke o' Faces, anyway?

#182 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 04:55 PM:

Linkmeister @174, I'm not sure it's an authoritative source, but Sydney Taylor's All-Of-A-Kind-Family children's books describing life on the Lower East Side in the early 1900s definitely included street food vendors -- I especially remember the hot chick peas and the sweet potatoes.

I do think that the class issue may have factored in to hot dog carts not being a part of the Nero Wolfe landscape.

#183 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 05:02 PM:

Skwid @ 181: me! I just sent you a friend request.

I am sorry about the bronchitis. I recommend tea.

#184 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 05:19 PM:

Terry Karney @ 172: " . . . and let the punches fly."

If the punches in question are Hawaiian, do they do so in a lei'd-back manner? Or would that not be a fruitful line of enquiry?

#185 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 05:33 PM:

Rikibeth @ #182, well, for Wolfe, sure, class might have been the issue, although he was quite willing to deal with a mobster to get black-market beef at one point. Another time he was quite willing to take advice about corned-beef hash from a Southern belle (the secret was chitlin's). But Archie? Archie was a small-d democrat; I'd have thought he'd say all food deserved an equal opportunity.

And Archie was from Chillicothe, OH; surely he'd have had hot dogs at state fairs there.

#186 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 05:45 PM:

On the uses, and lack thereof, of street space in Japan:

One of the things I found disquieting while there is how inhospitable (however clean) the streets were made to be in some areas, and how different our conceptions of space could get. Streets were meant to be walked across, not lived on, apart from specified times and places (the difference being, I don't think I remember people taking possession of the streets, they had designated place they could use, if I make sense). No bench or trash cans for miles, and when you did find some they were designed specificaly to drive users away. Phony "Modern art" placed in such a way as to actively prevent the use of space (my guess is: to drive the homeless away in most cases).

Eating on the streets though ? Vulgar ? Probably. Rude ? I don't think so, not as such.

Now I'll need to enquire... Would eating directly in those half-open-on-the-street food shops (and I'm not talking about the carts) they had in edo-architectured japan have been considered "proper" behavior or were most people indifferent to it, and the idea that it wasn't something to do crept from (my guess) upper classes ?

I'm pretty sure from my period readings people did happen to eat on the streets... I never wondered about the cultural values associated with doing so (for shame).

#187 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 06:02 PM:


Thanks. Quite the Serge in inquiries, though, huh?

#188 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 06:25 PM:

Linkmeister @185, maybe if we're talking WWII era rationing and black market beef, the hot dog carts temporarily disappeared because of meat rationing? I was curious and did a little Googling, and found a maker of the carts themselves who claims to have been in business for 110 years making carts based on bicycle wheels, an improvement over earlier pushcarts based on wooden wheels. It looks like their first carts were used for ice cream carts, and that hot dog ones may have come later, but their site wasn't very easy to navigate.

#189 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 06:29 PM:

Linkmeister: I think for Wolfe the issue wouldn't be class, per se, as much as taste. There are any number of, "low class" things he enjoys (see the addition of chitlins to corned beef hash), but there are other things he abominates, and will not abide (rye bread).

More to the point, his great uwillingness to leave the brownstone makes it less likely he will encounter them in their element. He might be willing to grant them flavor, but as with his specially grown and delivered, corn, he might think they fail to meet that hieght if not eaten right then.

#190 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 06:31 PM:

David @61 - Thank you for knowing that book!
I was suspecting early Delaney. Now to see if a copy can be found nearby...

#191 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 06:33 PM:

Linkmeister @ 174: A New York hot dog stand in 1936. Ice cold lemonade, too.

Also, NYC pretzel vendors in 1896 and a Japanese food stand in the 1870s.

#192 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Linkmeister #174:

Why does Archie Goodwin never buy a hot dog from a street vendor?

If he were a movie character, the answer would be "because then you'd have to hire an actor to play the street vendor, with associated costs."

But he's a book character, so that's not the answer.

#193 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 06:48 PM:

I seem to recall that Archie Goodwin often ordered a glass of milk when grabbing a sandwich at lunch counters and such places. It was probably difficult to find a good glass of milk from a sidewalk vendor. :-)

#194 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 07:06 PM:

Archie also has elevated tastes. A trifle more pedestrian than Wolfe's, but he goes to good diners to get his egg sanwiches.

I say good diners because he gets them with anchovies.

As to the pay an actor, Stout would have needed to have a reason to use the cart. He used the diner as a place to meet. I don't know how peripatetic the carts are, and I don't know how seamlessly Stout would have used them. Easy to have the characters in a booth, with some semblanc of privacy, not quite the same on a street-corner, where anyone could see them (which was often not in Archie's interests).

#195 ::: joXn ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 07:36 PM:

As I recall, in Some Buried Caesar Wolfe and Archie both enjoy an excellent rendition of chicken and dumplings at the fair. I agree with Terry that for Wolfe it's a question of how much extra effort it takes to get that class of food, rather than an inherent snobbish refusal to eat it at all.

As for Japanese culture, at least nowadays the way it was explained to me (in college Japanese class -- take it for what it's worth) was that eating while walking is considered rude.

#196 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 07:43 PM:

Terry @ #194, "A trifle more pedestrian than Wolfe's"

Yeah, although Wolfe was quite willing to take Archie's recommendations. Remember the chicken and dumplings made by the Methodists in Some Buried Caesar?

Okay, I'm willing to conclude that carts existed (particularly after that wonderful photo that Tracie found) during the time Stout was writing the stories, that he knew about them, and that he just decided they didn't fit in the universe he was creating. I think he might have missed a bet; I can see Fred Durkin described as "wiping mustard from his mouth" as he waved Archie over on a stakeout.

#197 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 07:44 PM:

Sheesh. I should compose faster; joXn remembered the dumplings and put them into pixels faster than I.

#198 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Linkmeister: And Wolfe ate, with apparent gusto, at the Dude ranch.

#199 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 07:54 PM:

re eating: I've been told that one who eats and walks is not fit to testify at some rabbinic courts; one who is so innatentive to the gifts of God isn't sincere enough (or devout, or able to observe) or some such.

I can see it, sort of, but I happen to enjoy a bastourma and cheese pie (from the Sassoon Bakery) while taking in the fresh air and flowers of North Allen, in Pasadena.

#200 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 08:03 PM:

Ginger #175: I am a punster in my own write, not to mention, as a person who belongs to no religion, in my own rite.

#201 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 08:06 PM:

Sarah S #177: Some of the first street food I encountered, when I arrived in New York in 1982 was gyoza (from a cart on Madison Avenue in the 40s). I found I preferred it to knishes.

#202 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 08:07 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) #173: Glad to see you're back, albeit at reduced baud rate. They can't keep a good STM down.

#203 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 08:09 PM:

Terry, that was the Montana version of Truite Montbarry, I think. At the end of Death of a Dude Wolfe cooks his own version of the same thing.

At the upcoming BoucherCon the Friday night meal will be a recreation of the one from Too Many Cooks that Wolfe had been invited to explicate:

"Mr. Servan has invited me to speak on--as he stated the subject--Contributions Americaines a la Haute Cuisine."

#204 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 09:07 PM:

Linkmeister: One of my prized possessions (and a $1 find in a thrift store in some small town in Arizona, I want to say Sierra Vista, when I was at BNCOC, in 2006), is a Nero Wolfe Cookbook. I've cooked some of the dishes, and lusted for reasons to cook a lot more.

But I'm with Fritz, add the extra juniper berries.

#205 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 09:29 PM:

I own it too. I keep thinking I'll try the hedgehog omelet and forgetting to do it.

Wolfe, hiding out at her apartment in The Mother Hunt, says to Lucy Valdon that she should tell him twenty minutes before she wants her scrambled eggs. She expresses shock; he says Americans (or American women; not sure which) don't know how to cook eggs.

#206 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 09:33 PM:

Apropos of nothing, I just got back from a meeting of the Neon Guild. This month, the group's founder, Jack Smith, was giving the talk... about online communities. He mentioned that he ran a group called Writers' Ink, on GENIE. I suggested he come check this place out, as some of you folks probably remember him from there....

#207 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 09:41 PM:

Talking about extremists in religion reminds me of Pakistani singer Ayman Udas, murdered in a so-called Honor Killing by her brothers for appearing on TV. I doubt Pakistani men would be so ready and willing to do this if they faced the same odds of this happening to them.

#208 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 09:52 PM:

I also have the Nero Wolfe Cookbook and while I haven't tried anything complex, I've used the scrambled eggs recipe (between only cooking one or two eggs at a time and gas burners which run a little hot, I've never taken 20 minutes, but slow cooking over low heat does work well) and I swear by the instructions for cooking corn on the cob (roast in a very hot oven in the husks - burnt husks smell horrible but the corn tastes better than any other way I've cooked it).

#209 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 10:15 PM:

Hilary Hertzoff: try it on the grill. I think it's better than the oven, and the smell is less horrid (if you are using good charcoal the smoke flavor is a wonderful addition).

I've done the eggs coddled in heavy cream. Not bad, but not the best. I've done the eggs poached in wine and demi-glace. Oi!... That was a breakfast. Served with some good sausage, or a really good streaky bacon and a nice piece of toast (have to have the toast, to sop up the sauce); divine.

But the serious dishes, the roasts, and stews and the like... those need company, and something of a budget.

The two most common ingredients seem to be butter,and cream. I like to eat, but there is no way I see those as meals for four.

#210 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 10:22 PM:

Fragano, #202: They can't keep a good STM down.

That was a Twilight Zone moment! There used to be someone in one of my other online communities who went by the abbreviation STM, although the expansion was different. He is now deceased. But when I read that sentence, my brain automatically supplied the older association -- and for just a moment I was thinking, "OMG, he's a zombie!"

#211 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 10:59 PM:


Oh. That person, as a zombie? Now that is a truly scary thought.

#212 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 11:13 PM:

David Harmon #206: I was dissapointed when following your link to find technologists that weren't benders, and tools that weren't torches and marvers and ovens (oh my!)

But that's just me. Do you at least incandesce by running current through hot rare spare gases?

#213 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 11:13 PM:

The Nero Wolfe Cookbook: I'm a fan of the griddle cakes.

#214 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2009, 11:35 PM:

Sigh... I just delivered a royal smackdown to a fool who called me a liar ("You were NEVER an Army Interrogator. You are a lefty lawyer. Another liberal liar outed."), and I suspect it was held for moderation because I had a pair of supporting links.

But that's good. I am a lefty lawyer, and a liberal liar. About the response I expected. I don't expect they will release it, if at all, until tomorrow. Happily I have the original text, so I can do a workaround, if I have to.

Lefty lawyer. That's oddly satisfying.

#215 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 12:16 AM:

Lee #210:

It's Managers, not Minerals.

#216 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 12:42 AM:


Carrie S. @ 162: "Fb jub ryfr guvaxf gung Wbff jnf cynlvat ba hf nyy erzrzorevat Ghqlx nf Jnfu gb znxr hf oryvrir Nycun jnf unezyrff?"

Bu lrnu, ab qbhog. Vg jbexrq ba zr--V qvqa'g frr vg pbzvat abg rira n yvggyr. Npghnyyl, whfg guvaxvat nobhg gung jubyr fprar fraqf zr vagb snafdhrrrrrrrrr!

Xopher @ 168: "Pna'g gryy vs vg jbhyq unir jbexrq ba zr gubhtu, orpnhfr fbzr wnpxubyr ba nabgure fvgr fnvq "url, Nyna Ghqlx vf tbaan cynl Nycun! Vf gung pbby be jung" n pbhcyr bs jrrxf ntb."

Gung vf frevbhfyl ynzr--zl flzcnguvrf!

Ol gur jnl, jung qvq lbh guvax nobhg gur qrzbafgengvba bs Gbcure-vp oraribyrapr rneyvre va gur rcvfbqr? Vg jnf pyrneyl vagraqrq gb znxr crbcyr tb, "bu gung Gbcure, V thrff ur'f nyevtug." Zr, V guvax vg'yy gnxr n ovg zber guna n enaqbz npg bs xvaqarff urer be gurer gb onynapr bhg jung ur qbrf rirelqnl.

Bruce Cohen @ 173: Zl svefg gurbel er: Juvfxrl jnf gung Fnhaqref jnf nyfb jbexvat sbe gur AFN naq gung jnf ure pbqranzr--gura V erzrzorerq gung Juvfxrl jnf cneg bs gur vagreangvbany yrggre pbqr.

#217 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 01:03 AM:

LLA: I merely meant that Mr. Cheever actually talks like that, and it's cool.

He also teaches in parables, and is the only person I've ever met who pulls it off.

#218 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 01:20 AM:

David Harmon #206: Apropos of nothing, I just got back from a meeting of the Neon Guild.

I like that web site's logo.

#219 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 01:33 AM:

Which of the moderators handles the blood and guts technical details of the site's internal design? I have a concern that I'd like to bring up (but not on an open thread).

#220 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 01:47 AM:

heresiarch @ 216:

Zl ernpgvba gb Gbcure'f "cuvynaguebcl" jnf "Uzz ... nal punapr ur nppvqragnyyl ybbxrq va n xnezvp zveebe, npghnyyl fnj uvzfrys, naq svtherq ur'q orggre qb n tbbq qrrq gb pbhagre gur rivy gurer?" Naq ba ersyrpgvba zl nafjre jnf, "Anu, ab jnl ur pbhyq frr n gehgushy vzntr bs uvzfrys; ur'f whfg gelvat gb pheel snibe jvgu Nqryyr, jub'f nyjnlf ba nobhg gur tbbq gur qbyyubhfr qbrf."

Yrg'f snpr vg guvf zna vf abg pncnoyr bs guvaxvat orlbaq uvf bja fxva; ybbx ng uvf yvggyr oveguqnl cnegl cerfrag gb uvzfrys: uvzfrys cbherq vagb Fvreen, cynlvat tnzrf jvgu uvzfrys.

#221 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 02:59 AM:

#214 Terry

Some people deserve to have the ghosts of Enver Hoxha, Leon Trotsky, Lenin, Madame Mao, and Pol Pot haunt them to show them what true "leftists" really were like. Claiming David Souter a liberal is like claiming Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat....

I hope the management of NBC, ABC, CBS, Fux, and the NPR types who keep bringing in the Heritage Foundation and other rightwing masquerade-as-disinterested-research-institutions ideological abosolutists sinkholes as supposed balanced reporting information sources, get haunted by those mentioned above, and not with pleasant dreams, either...for lies, for omissions, for bias in reporting, for slanting the reporting, for imbalance in reporting and providing all the weighting to the rightwing ideological screed for air time, for quoting the Heritage Foundation but not giving air time to opposing viewpoints with an equal tilt in the other direction, claiming that anyone to the left of Attila the Hun is a left wing radical, etc.

#222 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 03:20 AM:

SylvieG@157: Is there any chance that might have been meant as a joke or hoax?

#223 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 03:42 AM:

Gur ovt erirny gbbx zr ol fhecevfr gbb, naq V'z tynq vg jnfa'g fcbvyrq sbe zr. V jnf guvaxvat gbqnl gung V bhtug gb unir thrffrq, ba gur tebhaqf gung Wbff Jurqba jbhyqa'g unir jnfgrq bar bs uvf ercregbel cynlref ba fhpu n zvabe naq srpxyrff ebyr -- ur unq gb or fbzrguvat ovttre.

Ybbxvat onpx ba vg, npghnyyl: V qba'g erpnyy, ubj qvq Cnhy Onyyneq svaq Fgrcura Xrcyre? Ubj ernfbanoyr jnf vg sbe Nycun gb xabj gung Onyyneq jnf pbzvat?

#224 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 05:37 AM:

...sorry, I'm still fascinated by the 'Responsibility of the Black Polecat Scientist to the Black Community'. I can't help thinking of the Black Polecats as a slightly less militant splinter group of the Black Panthers. ("We've had enough negotiating. Time to make a stink".)

#225 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 05:51 AM:


Er: Juvfxrl. Bire ba gryrivfvbajvgubhgcvgl.pbz, guvf vf cerggl zhpu gur npprcgrq gurbel. Jbhyq or fhecevfrq vs vg jnf nalguvat ryfr. (Gung fvgr vf TERNG sbe znq fcrphyngvba naq qba'g lbh whfg ybir ENAQBZYL pncvgnyvmvat jbeqf va cynvagrkg gung lbh ner tbvat gb RAPELCG jvgu ebg13 fb gung gur plcure grkg jvyy ybbx GNAGNYVMVATYL rkcerffvir?)

Er: Gbcure'f zbenyvgl. Gur ornhgvshy guvat nobhg guvf frevrf vf gung gurl'er nyy bs gurz rivy onfgneqf va fbzr jnl. Gbcure npghnyyl chg vg irel avpryl: "Rirelbar jnagf gb or evtugrbhf jura gurl pna nssbeq vg." V guvax gur ovg jvgu gur becuna tvey jnf n yvggyr... bss va gung vg jnf ehfurq, dhvgr yvxr gur rcvybthr va gur Evpu Byq Ynql Sebz Orlbaq Gur Tenir rcvfbqr ("Fb V jvyy jevgr n yrggre... fnlvat jub jvyy xvyy zr... jura gurl jvyy qb vg... naq ubj... naq V'yy nggnpu n arj grfgnzrag gb gung yrggre, terngyl snibhevat fbzr bs zl fheivivat snzvyl! Lrf, gung'yy jbex, ab jnl nalbar'q or fhfcvpvbhf nobhg gung!"). Hayvxr zbfg pbzzragngbef ba GIJbC V qvqa'g guvax gur Oevne Ebfr zrgncube jnf bireqbar be urnil unaqrq. Vg jnf n avpr pbzzragnel genpx, naq vg jnf ornhgvshyyl fhoiregrq ol gur eriryngvba gung *Nycun* jnf gur cevapr naq Fyrrcvat Ornhgl jnf, jryy, abg-Rpub.

Er: Nycun naq Onyyneq. Onyyneq sbhaq gur raivebazragf flfgrz fcrpvnyvfg guebhtu gur SOV. Ur tbg gur nqqerff sbe gur Qbyyubhfr ol genvyvat Zryyvr cbfg-erwrpgvba (naq jung n pbyq-urnegrq cynl gung jnf, ohg lnl sbe Onyyneq svanyyl orvat ba gur tvivat raq bs n pbyq-urnegrq znavchyngvba) naq gura tnir gung nqqerff gb uvf nyyl ng gur SOV jub zntvpnyyl chyyrq bhg gur anzr bs guvf thl jub znxrf ohvyqvatf qvfnccrne. V pna xvaq bs ohl gung Nycun jbhyq unir guvf thl'f anzr naq nqqerff, naq V pna nyfb xvvvvaq bs ohl gung ur jnf sbyybjvat Onyyneq pybfryl naq xarj jung Onyyneq jnf hc gb, ohg gur rknpg gvzvat, gung ur'q gnxr bhg Fgrcura jungfuvfanzr naq nffhzr uvf cynpr WHFG va gvzr sbe Onyyneq gb pbzr xabpxvat, gung erdhverq n jubyr gehpxybnq bs oraribyrag fhfcrafvba bs bu-ybbx-n-oveq!

Ohg V'z ybivat vg naljnl. Cyrnfr or erarjrq, fubj.

(I just love it that Re: becomes Er: in ROT13)

#226 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:15 AM:

On the breakage of things: when I was little we had a set of old-fashioned glass Christmas ornaments. These weren't your modern shatter-proof kind and, over the years, some of them broke. These very large plain blue bulbs purchased long before I was born were some of my favorites. There were three when I was little, then two, then one. Finally the last one broke, probably around when I was twelve or thirteen. I put on gloves, got out a decorative glass bottle, and put as many of the shards as I could in the jar. I broke the big piece into a few smaller pieces to get them to fit in. I still have that jar somewhere, and it looks very pretty and strange.

I always mean to get into quilting so I can do the same with beloved old clothes. Maybe someday I will.

#227 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:32 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 222 - AFAIK, no joke; his book was pretty serious, for him. Of course, the only people who'd know for sure are George and Gracie, and they're pretty much incommunicado right now. (Boy would *they* make interesting zombies!)

But I used to watch reruns of the show all the time, and listened for it; she always said just 'Good night.'

#228 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 07:51 AM:

#219: Earl Which of the moderators handles the blood and guts technical details of the site's internal design?

That would be Patrick and Teresa.

#229 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:02 AM:

Lee #210: Somehow, I can't conceive of Bruce as a zombie (for one thing, according to Wade Boggs, zombies are weak and mentally challenged as a result of the poisoning that's made them into zombies).

#230 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:11 AM:

Isabella Bird described Japanese food vendors in Unbeaten Tracks in Japan in 1881.

One of her illustrations shows a booth that can be carried across one person's shoulders. It's a combination kitchen (with hibachi) and serving counter. Ingenious.

(Oh look!)

#231 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:17 AM:

Terry, as Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, come sit over here by me.

#232 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:54 AM:

Yrg'f snpr vg guvf zna vf abg pncnoyr bs guvaxvat orlbaq uvf bja fxva; ybbx ng uvf yvggyr oveguqnl cnegl cerfrag gb uvzfrys: uvzfrys cbherq vagb Fvreen, cynlvat tnzrf jvgu uvzfrys.

Va zl ubhfr gurer'f n gurbel gung vg jnf n fvoyvat be orfg sevraq jub vf qrnq be bgurejvfr bhg bs gur npgvba.

Ubj ernfbanoyr jnf vg sbe Nycun gb xabj gung Onyyneq jnf pbzvat?

Nycun'f orra xrrcvat genpx bs Onyyneq, erzrzore--frag uvz cvpgherf bs Pnebyvar naq fb ba.

#233 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 09:08 AM:

Terry @209:

I suspected as much and I'd love to try it, but I live in a condo with a no grills unless they're electric rule. (As I feel electric grills are heresy, I've never bothered to buy one.)

#234 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 10:45 AM:

Regarding eating on the street in Japan, I'll second joXn @195. I went to two different Japanese universities, and in both my Introduction to Japanese Manners seminars it was made clear that eating and drinking while walking was rude. Buying food or drink on the street and eating or drinking it right where you were standing (or immediately nearby) was not. It was also fine to buy food and take it to the park and eat on the swings... as long as you didn't eat while you were actively walking. I developed the habit of buying bottled drinks and only taking sips when I was stopped somewhere and had stepped out of the way of traffic, closing the bottle and returning it to my bag when I started walking again. Most of the Japanese kids I knew would buy a can or bottle of juice and drink the entire thing standing next to the machine, immediately disposing of the can in the invariably provided adjacent receptacle.

Another thing that encourages this practice is that trash cans are usually located immediately near the place where you buy the food and nowhere else anywhere around. I remember walking six blocks looking for a recycling bin once when I was in a hurry and hadn't yet gotten into the habit of buying resealable bottles.

#235 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 11:10 AM:

Brought to you courtesy of open threadiness and mention of pointy hats upthread: the complete "Hoagie talks to the Mummy about its hat" dialogue tree from Day of the Tentacle.

(Context: Hoagie has been sent back in time in a Chron-o-John, to the year uh well 17 something, and he just entered the house where John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson are writing the Constitution. Well, so far it's only A constitution because they hit writer's block after the preamble. They have a suggestion box, in case you have an idea... but that's a different story. At the reception desk of the... hotel they're writing in stands an unmoving, unspeaking mummy wearing a Tricorne. Hoagie is supposed to find out the whereabouts of one Red Edison, but has the option to, uh, digress and talk about hats instead. Let's make him do that.)

(This is a dialogue tree. Every possible choice opens up a new layer of choices, represented by the amount of dashes preceding a line. It is finite, of course, so usually at four or five choices deep you run out of stuff to say. This is because while Tim Schafer's genius is infinite, time is not, so he had to stop at some point.)

(Also note that the mummy never says ANYTHING. At ALL. Hoagie doesn't mind and neither should you.)

(I omitted repetitions)

Great hat, man.

- I dig the three-corner idea.

-- It's like the pyramids, you know?
--- I heard pyramids are supposed to have weird energies.
---- Far out.
---- Whoa.
--- My friend Eddie told me the pyramids were built by aliens.
---- As if.
---- Way.
--- Hey, are you REALLY a mummy?
---- Gnarly.
---- Awesome.

-- It's so piratey, you know?
--- All's you need is an eyepatch and a hook.
--- Ever see the movie "The Secret of Monkey Island"?
---- Totally rad!
---- Wendell Finwinkle is awesome as the Guybrush dude.
---- Killer three-headed monkey effect, man.
--- Avast, me matey! Heh heh Heh.
---- Yo ho ho, dude.
---- Prepare to walk the plank, me bucko.
---- Stand back, ye scurvy sea dog.
----- Stop yer starin' and pass the grog.
----- Have at ye, o bilge rat.
----- Make haste, three sheets to the wind.

-- How do you know which side's the front?
--- Does a point always go forwards, or a flat side?
---- Personally, I'd wear the point forwards... that way, you never forget which direction you're walking.
---- Personally, I'd wear the flat part forwards... that way, if you bang your head on a wall, you don't ruin the hat.
--- Is there a tag in it, or what?
--- Or are there competing fashions of tri-corner wear?
---- Are there several manufacturers?
----- I'm interested in quality. (beat) I don't suppose you'd consider parting with yours, would you? (beat) Well, let me know if you change your mind.
----- Could I get a band logo printed on one?
----- Does anyone make them with propellers on top?
---- Would I need to go to a specialty store?
---- Do they come in a variety of designer colors?

- I know some dudes in a band who'd eat roaches for hats like that.
-- Of course, they'd probably eat roaches anyhow.
--- They're like that.
--- Maybe with a little chocolate sauce.
--- I once saw them play a whole set with grasshoppers in their nostrils.

-- They're called "Insensitive Spittoon."
--- Ever hear of them?
---- No, I guess you wouldn't have.
---- If you ever get to the 1990's, check them out.
---- They play at the Black and Blue Sound Pitt in the city a lot.
--- They play funk punk folk polka house grunge rock.
---- That's a new movement based in Tucson.
---- They're heavily influenced by bands like Limpid Harmonica and Howling Moon Rocket Limbo.
--- I helped name the band!
---- I thought of the "Spittoon" part.
---- They might sign with VGA soon.
---- I worked with them before I hooked up with Megabreth.

(none of this is relevant to the game at all)

In case you're still not convinced Tim Schafer's a freaking genius, I present to you: Brütal Legend Story Trailer

#236 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 11:20 AM:


heresiarch 216: V pbzcyrgryl nterr nobhg Gbcure. Ohg V nyfb guvax ur'f nabgure pnfr bs jung jr'ir orra gnyxvat nobhg jeg Fnhaqref; V guvax ur'f n fcrpvnyyl pbafgehpgrq trrx-zvahf-rguvpf, gnxvat whfg rabhtu gb yrg uvz qb jung ur qbrf rirel qnl.

Bruce 220: V nterr jvgu Pneevr F. ng 232; V jnfa'g pbzcyrgryl fher gung jnf uvzfrys. V gubhtug vg zvtug or na byq sevraq bs uvf, abj qrnq (be bgurejvfr ybfg). Lbhe rkcynangvba vf pregnvayl va punenpgre, naq vf cebonoyl evtug, ohg V yvxrq zvar orpnhfr vg'f xvaq bs gbhpuvat. Npghnyyl rira vs vg jnf uvzfrys...vzntvar orvat fbzrbar gung oevtug naq perngvir. Jub pbhyq lbh rire gnyx gb be cynl jvgu ba lbhe bja yriry? Npghnyyl gurer ner crbcyr ba guvf fvgr V'ir jbaqrerq gung nobhg; ubj gurl pbcr, qnl gb qnl, jvgu univat nyzbfg ab bar gurl pna gnyx gb jub vf pncnoyr bs haqrefgnaqvat gurve gubhtugf.

#237 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 12:06 PM:

I just found out about Amazon's "Mechanical Turk" website. I am croggled. Some of these tasks... It's astroturf farming! Sharecropper astroturf farming! No?

#238 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Kate Yule: Yeah, some of the "post our comments to websites" ones are just unbelievable.

They do have tasks that you can do ethically--image labeling, data extraction from forms, that kind of thing. I use it as pin money to buy books. :)

#239 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 12:35 PM:

Lila: You can look at the carnage there: NJ Blog, just scan for Pecunium. They never released the comment, so I did a workaround. Sadly (apart, perhaps from myself, and the tropes are all the same... some folks just need to be tortured, the leftists just want to give the bad guys cookies and fix their self-esteeem, torture must work or no one would use it, etc., etc., a naseum.

Hilary, that's horrible. Perhaps there is a park with public grills?

#240 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 12:37 PM:

Oh man, it's been so long since I played 'Day of the Tentacle'. I am overcome with nostalgia.

#241 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 12:45 PM:

Not that I'd encourage borderline illegal activities, but there is such a thing as abandonware. And SCUMMVM. And a slow day at work. Combine, shake well, try not to draw your coworkers' attention too much by laughing, et voila: instant DOTT goodness.

#242 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 01:08 PM:

Daniel Klein @ 241:

I'm not sure if DOTT and the other LucasArts games are abandonware or not. I think they might still available in places, although I haven't looked recently and I can't check LucasArts's webpage from where I am right now.

Here's a link to ScummVM for convenience. I have a stack of some of the old LucasArts adventure games, and they definitely get replayed every now and again. There's also a free download of Beneath a Steel Sky on the ScummVM downloads page, which I would heartily recommend.

#243 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 01:26 PM:

Terry @ 239: the leftists just want to give the bad guys cookies and fix their self-esteeeem

And nevermind the trivial little detail that cookies would undoubtedly work better?

We need to be spending more time asking people if, knowing that torture is completely unfit for purpose and has been shown to have long term consequences including but not limited to a) the irreversible corruption of data vital to national security, b) the creation of new generations of implacable enemies, c) increased danger for such members of our own forces as fall into the hands of those we have tortured and their comrades, do they feel that allowing the foolish, fearful, evil, and sadistic among us to play out their revenge and toughness fantasies on the bodies of the helpless in clear violation of international law can:

1) Always be justified?
2) Usually be justified?
3) Sometimes be justified?
4) Rarely be justified?
5) Never be justified?

Because I want to see the results of THAT poll. Probably after someone edits the question; I feel I have not yet quite achieved mastery of the push-poll genre.

#244 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 01:44 PM:

I mean to say that I'm more than half-serious about the cookies. I sort of shudder to think what Our Terry could accomplish, in his professional capacity, equipped only with a nice pot of tea and a platter of still-warm oatmeal raisin.

#245 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 02:07 PM:

Marna: Hee. Want a piece of candy little girl?

The problem (as I keep finding) is a mix of denial, exceptionalism, compartmentalization, narrative, and a lack of critical thinking.

The best tool (and it's pretty poor, just look at the non-response to it in that thread in New Jersey) is to ask people how they'd feel if:


Torture is legal (as so many seem to want), or at least allowed.

Someone denounces one of their relatives for knowing where bombs had been planted.

Said relative dpesn't know.

How long will the interrogator wait? How long will the answers of, "I don't know," be allowed to go on before the "attention slaps", the bouncing off of walls, the sleep dep (not for more than eleven days), the controlled hypothermia and the waterboard are brought to bear.

How much of that should they expect their father, mother, son, cousin, niece, daughter, wife, husband, what have, to endure? When will that person (who knows nothing) give in and make something up.

Conversely, how long do they think the interrogators will continue, if their relative should cling to innocence?

Because that's the real moral question. Even if we accept, arguendo that torture can produce results, how many innocents are to suffer that one knowledgeable person be exploited?

Worse, we know the results of that situation. Algeria, in the 1960s. What you get is a wider war, and denunciations for strategic gain. Better than the VC killing the supporters of the gov't, the FLN ignored the really loyal, and laid an information on the someone in a family/village which was sitting on the fence, and then let the French do the work.

The rest, as they say, is history.

#246 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 02:13 PM:

Marna Nightingale @ 243:

You know, now that I really start to think about it, the Pew torture poll seems a bit incomplete, although it doesn't seem unreasonable to me. Other people have critiqued the question, which is an important part of the way the responses fall, but their sampling methodology itself seems sound enough. It's not a push-poll, it's just trying to find out information.

Perhaps they should do a second poll to try to understand what people think that torture actually is and the results it obtains. That alone might help put the poll results into perspective. If most people's idea of torture is maybe slapping the guy a couple times and doing a bad-cop routine, then it's far more likely to be accepted.

I will grant that there are bloodthirsty types out there who think that all the <epithet>s understand is force, but they can't be in the majority. The rest could just plain not know. I know I really don't know what's involved, but I also know that it can be horrible stuff. I know that people will admit to anything just to make the pain stop.

Maybe it's a lack of empathy. Maybe it's a lack of thought. Maybe they didn't have my history teacher who took great glee in describing to impressionable young boys how one can extract confessions of being a witch.

Also, oatmeal rasin cookies are good, but you want to have chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies as well. All still nice and warm, of course.

#247 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 02:33 PM:

I forget who it was who said "Give me a couple of days alone with you and a waterboard and I'll get you to confess to multiple suicide bombings."

#248 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 02:44 PM:

Terry @ 245: *eyes you*

Depends. If you want my entire autobiography, I'm holding out for a five course dinner. With wine, or is that forbidden by Geneva as administering mind altering substances?

And, yeah. I just find myself wondering if we play too nicely. People have reasons for torturing and for authorising torture, and those reasons can't be 'to extract information', because it doesn't.

So why do they do it, and how can we make the ones who sort of go along with it stare at that 'til they vomit?

Education is good, but basically reactive. How do we go on the attack, and how far is it fruitful to go? Because I have no actual problem with reacting to stuff like this by saying "yeah, that's cause cookies would work better", but it's not enough, because it's still fighting on their turf.

How do we kill that image of torture as stark and noble and make it look like the vile and creeping infection of the imagination that it is?

#249 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 02:46 PM:

Speaking of my other favorite Lucas game, there are new Sam & Max games out - a whole series of episodes, released on Valve's Steam system. I haven't played any yet, I must admit.

#250 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 02:53 PM:

How do we kill that image of torture as stark and noble and make it look like the vile and creeping infection of the imagination that it is?

"It wasn't George Bush that favoured torture, it was Dick Cheney".

Mostly a lie, of course, but hey.

#251 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 03:01 PM:

Someone on the radio this morning was pointing out that KSM (I think it was) almost certainly knew about the planned Madrid train bombings when he was being waterboarded six times a day for a month, and he didn't tell.

#252 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 03:06 PM:

Bad news for someone known to many people here. Suzette Haden Elgin's husband George has had a stroke and is in the hospital.

If you don't follow her LiveJournal, you may not be aware that (1) Suzette doesn't drive, hasn't done so for decades, has been trying to regain that skill but has had little success to date; (2) they live out in the backside of beyond, in an area where driving is an absolute necessity just to get to the grocery store; and (3) Suzette's son Michael died unexpectedly just a few weeks ago.

I am terrified that the double load of stress may do serious damage to her health as well. Even if she copes, it is likely that she and George will have to move, or at the very least that she will have to find temporary lodging somewhere more walkable until he is recovered enough to drive again. GoodThoughts and positive energy in that direction would be a mitzvah.

#253 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 03:21 PM:

Terry Karney @ 245:

You just shook loose something I've been thinking about for a while. People tend to have an in-group/out-group mentality, and don't identify with the out-group. I find this wrong, and yet I know I still fall into that trap. People are still people whoever they are, but as soon as you make them other, you can justify doing practically anything to them. It seems to be one of the constants of history.

Going by the results of a Google search (the US Department of State's website not being entirely helpful on the subject that I could see), maybe up to 30% of US citizens have passports. That means that the majority have never left the country. It's true that the US is a very large country with its own distinct cultural regions, but it's still the US. A lot of people have never been exposed to a foreign culture in any meaningful way. Without that, there can be a lack of understanding and a lack of empathy. There's no grasp that the way we do things here isn't necessarily the only way or the best way, or even an understanding of why not everyone likes the US.

I'm aware that being able to up and travel is a mark of privilege. It's not a practical solution to be able to suggest that everyone should experience traveling abroad without the bubble of a comfortable little tour group, but I think it would help all the same. Some people manifestly Would Not Get It, but then there's always some obnoxious English or American tourist who thinks that all French waiters speak English, really. Others, I think, would have their eyes opened.

There's a certain insularity at work here that needs to be addressed. It happens in a lot of different countries, but the US seems to have picked up a good dose of it.

I'm still not sure that my thought's been completely knocked free, so take this for what it's worth.

#254 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 03:31 PM:

Anybody remember the thread on "moral" programming for unmanned aerial systems? That totally inspired a story in my head. That story is currently being very difficult and thwarting me a lot, but I wanted to say thanks all the same. I'll keep working at it.

#255 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 03:52 PM:

KeithS @ #253, I did an informal poll about passport-holding Americans among my (small sample size, self-selecting, yada yada) readers back in 2003. 8 of 11 respondents (in the comments) said they held current passports or planned to renew the one they held shortly.

Mine is still expired. I think the fee has gone up from the $55 I quoted there.

#256 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 04:17 PM:


(~30% of Americans with passports)

One minor complication (which I don't think changes the calculation THAT much) is that until recently one did not need a passport to visit Canada or Mexico.

#257 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 04:21 PM:

KeithS: if you look you will see the internals aren't completely available. They have released some questions, and are holding more. Which is part of the problem.

Xopher: I've never put it that way, but I have said that, given enough time; and no retraints, I can get anyone,to confess; to anything. A couple of suicide bombings? Trvial.

Self decapitation... no problem. Those are both actually pretty easy; because they are blatantly false. The subject will wonder why you want such a fib, but hey... you're the one with the rubber hose.

Where it gets harder is the more sublte ones, the fingertip you cut off when you were with the yakuza. Those give the source cognitive dissonance, because they might have happened (because the source needent die from it), but the fingertip is still there.

Do it right and they will believe they did it, and it was replaced (they will see a scar in the wrinkles of the knuckle).

But you can't convince the believers in torture of that. They are so certain of so many contradictory things they have no problem believing no one will confess to "important" things they didn't do.

So the trick is to torture people so they will give up the little things, (so they know lying is bad), then when you get to the big ones, they will, "give it up", and you know it's true because no one would confess to crimes they didn't commit; that would be stupid, they'd end up in prison for nothing.

Never mind they might already be in hell for nothing.

#258 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 04:44 PM:

Linkmeister @ 255:

When I renewed my passport in 2002 it was a whopping $75. Looks like it still is. I'm kind of looking forward to a new passport, though, as the overly cheerful person who took my photo wouldn't let me go until I'd smiled for the camera.

According to the US Department of State, there were 101 million passports issued in the last ten years. Assuming they were all for adults, that means that about 33% of the US population has a valid passport. The percentage must be lower, because some of those are undoubtably for children's passports which expire in five years rather than ten. Taking the data for the last five years gives a lower bound of 22%.

#259 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 04:53 PM:

Thanks for the thing on itch; it goes a long way toward explaining that spot just above and inside my left knee, which, thankfully, doesn't itch all the time or as badly as any of the itches felt by the people in that article. I've long thought it was neural rather than anything external.

#260 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 05:02 PM:

KeithS @253,

Until recently Americans didn't need a passport to visit Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Since Mexico has been the single largest international tourism country for Americans, it changes the correlation between passports and international travel.

There are at least 30 million people who live within 100 miles of Canada, and 20 million or so within 100 miles of Mexico*.

Here are statistics on where U.S. residents went for international travel, and here are statistics on day-trips and overnight travel between the US, Mexico, and Canada.

Mixing those two sources, and really roughly, in the 1990's and 2000's
* 50 million U.S. residents traveled overseas each year (20 million excluding Canada and Mexico).

* 12-13 million U.S. residents traveled to Canada each year. This was done via 25 million day-trips and 13 million at-least-overnight trips. 25% of the overnight trips were by plane.

* 18-20 million U.S. residents traveled to Mexico each year. This was done via 70 million day-trips and 20 million at-least-overnight trips. 25% of the overnight trips were by plane.

In 2005, the last year before the passport rule changed, Mexico and Canada had 20 million and 14 million American travelers respectively. Canada's tourism agency estimated that 34 percent of Americans had passports in 2005.

This data doesn't say how many Americans visited foreign countries without a passport, but it suggests a non-trivial number.

* no source, just me looking at a population map.

#261 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 05:18 PM:

Re: the "corruption of Elsevier" particle, I've recently been getting spam from Elsevier and from, soliciting manuscripts. This does not inspire confidence in their publications. I don't know where they got my address, though I have my suspicions.

#262 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 260:

I couldn't find travel statistics when I initially looked, so I went for passport statistics instead. The passport statistics show that there was an uptick of passports issued around the same time they became a requirement to go to Mexico and Canada, so the number of US citizens with passports now must more closely track the number of US citizens who have traveled out of the country. Still, having better data is always good, and what you dug up is better than what I found.

I'm aware that I'm going to sound like I'm No-True-Scotsmaning, but I'm not sure that boozing it up in Tijuana really counts all that much as seeing another country. Everything else, though, is good if it exposes people to differing cultures and viewpoints.

#263 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 05:39 PM:

Marna #248:

It's possible that it doesn't work on balance, but that the people doing the torture remain convinced that it does. That could easily happen--even very smart and careful people are susceptible to confirmation bias, availability bias, and many other systematic ways your mind has of fooling you. This is why people trying to evaluate a new drug do randomized double-blind studies.

That's how I'd parse the comments by ex-administration people who are claiming torture worked--they're remembering the occasional guys who gave up good information under torture, and not remembering all the guys who gave them lies to get the pain to stop.

#264 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:00 PM:

KeithS @ #262 says: I'm not sure that boozing it up in Tijuana really counts all that much as seeing another country

I'm not sure that it counts as a cultural exchange, but it's still international travel by any measure.

Plenty of people in the Euro statistics only went abroad to buy a tulip bulb, or a bottle of Abbey beer, or cheaper diesel.

#265 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:10 PM:

Albatross @ #263 wrote: That's how I'd parse the comments by ex-administration people who are claiming torture worked

Really? My interpretation is that they are like other war criminals: they'll say or do anything to avoid a trial for their crimes against humanity.

#266 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:30 PM:

This is as good a place, I guess, as any for me to bring up my favourite mathematical poem - and no, I can't remember who came up with it first:


Hint: ep'o w heianeyg.

#267 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:32 PM:

B. Durbin @ 217 :

Yum. Thanks for the reference. More goodness to read!

The pastor who made my brain* was a Texan who also tended to use parables to say what could not be said in any linear fashion. He gifted me tremendously by showing the power of short, complex examples of seemingly ordinary ideas.

* Yes, this is my proof of both the power of religious figures and of the danger that this power will be abused by false prophets. I was one of the lucky ones, and got what I needed to have compassion for others, respect for my sense of self, and courage to face adversity. I am sadly aware that others are not so blessed.

#268 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:34 PM:

Niall McAuley @ 264:

Fair enough. I suppose I should really amend my suggestion to, as you put it, cultural exchange, or, at least, a proper trip abroad with a good eye for observation and culture, which is what I was really going for anyway.

#269 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:44 PM:

Mycroft: well, I figured out your hint, but it doesn't help.

#270 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:49 PM:

Hmm, I was prompted into remembering a lunch (Indian, delicious) with a few Fluorospherians (yeah, drawing a blank who all was there, I'm terrible, I know...) at the last Worldcon by Abi's recent post on the Dutch, and Going Dutch.

Why did Abi's post remind me of that lunch? Because when I suggested we ask the waiter to split the check, I was stared at like I had just suggested we sign our checks by licking them.

I had heard this was something that was accepted differently in different regions, but it was my first experience with it. Here, it is so commonplace that more often than not a waitron will ask a clearly-non-couple party (either before taking orders or at the conclusion of the meal) if that is what is desired.

So my Open Thread question to the Fluorosphere: is splitting the check something you expect from your waitstaff when dining in a group where you live? And, self-interestedly, what should I expect in this regard on my upcoming trip to Montreal?

#271 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:54 PM:

Skwid, I remember that awkward moment. We dealt with it, as I recall.

#272 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 06:57 PM:

KeithS @ 262:

Even in Tijuana [1], it's not that difficult to stroll a few blocks away from the most highly commercialized "tourist trap" sections, into areas where locals actually live and work.

Sure, it's a very brief and shallow exposure to "what the country is really like", but an approach that can be surprisingly informative for those who are willing to pay attention to details. Stopping in to buy a few items in one of the local grocery stores, with the local currency [2], can also provide some additional -- though of course limited -- insight into how the folks there live their daily lives, when not on display in the more touristy sections of town.

(For those who live in nations with notably non-homogenous cultures, especially those with substantial geographical variations, the same principles can apply to a great many types of travels, closer to home. In some cases, you don't even have to leave your own metropolitan area.)

[1] The last time I visited there, at least. Which was, admittedly, a few years ago.
[2] Especially if you already have a reasonably firm mental grasp of the approximate exchange ratio between your home currency and the local one, and can do the math in your head quickly enough to make meaningful comparisons of prices and values.

#273 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 07:01 PM:

KeithS @246 and others:

My greatest concern about the poll truly is its abstract nature. It's easy to have one opinion when faceless victims are involved, but it's hard to hold to those ideals when the victim has a face and name, and you have personal feelings about the people involved.

Here's a thought experiment I've been contemplating that might be illuminating to both sides of the political spectrum:

Imagine that British Intelligence has what they believe to be actionable intelligence that al Queda intends to bomb the White House, but lacks the necessary details to give the U.S. a useful warning of the time and exact location that will be bombed.

Imagine further that former president G. W. Bush happens to be in England at the time. As an obvious source of information about both the secret security systems protecting U.S. presidents and as someone who has been recently briefed at the highest level on U.S. intel, he is asked to confirm certain pieces of the picture and to give other information that might prevent the attack.

Imagine even further that, even though British Intelligence believes the attack is so immanent that usual diplomatic channels will be insufficient to prevent the attack, Bush refuses to give up the requested information, stating that there are some secrets that even our closest allies must not know, for fear of weakening America.

Would the Brits be justified in using torture on the former president to obtain the information necessary to complete the holes in their intelligence and to prevent the attack?

#274 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 07:06 PM:

#210 - Carl? that would be the ghost in the machine rather than zombie.

#275 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 07:10 PM:

#272 - Chicago is a great example.

One of the bases in Southern California was fun for visitors- leave the base on the ocean or high rent side and McDonalds/Burger King was a lot more money than the same food on the desert or poor side.

#276 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 07:32 PM:

Oh, and if the Pew pollsters are so good at what they do, and are still unaware of the complications abstraction tends to create in the statistical value of their data, are they really so good at what they do?

#277 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:00 PM:

LLA @ 273:

You are right that a part of the problem is its abstract nature. As long as it's something that might happen to that guy over there, who you don't know and who's probably bad (maybe), you don't care so much. It's part of the human condition.

Even though I tend to operate along Utilitarian principles in daily life, I really have a hard time arguing against torture on Utilitarian grounds. It doesn't matter to me that it's often applied to the wrong people for the wrong reasons, or that it will be used by our enemies to point and say how bad we are, or even that it doesn't get useful information. Torture is Just Wrong.

I dislike arguing based on morals because everyone has different but usually overlapping sets of morals, but, in this case, I think that the Utilitarian approach is worse. It encourages people to start counterarguments by positing that torture works, or coming up with elaborate ticking-time-bomb situations, while ignoring the point that it's about inflicting immense amounts of pain on another human being to get them to say what you want to hear.

Do I occasionally wish that Bush would be personally subjected to the wrongs that he inflicted on the world? Yes. Should it happen? No.

#278 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:09 PM:

296 Xopher: Argh, stupid tools (for hint #1). What I meant was "vg'f n yvzrevpx". I didn't mean it to be that hard. Now, I have to figure out where I went wrong. I should have known from the "w is not n".

Hint #2: ernq vg bhg ybhq - that one I checked. I'll give the smarter people than I a bit more of a chance before giving it completely away...

#279 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:36 PM:

Keith S @ 277:

So you would let Obama, his family, and all of the people who work in the White House die, knowing the havoc it would wreak on the United States to have much of the Executive Branch extinguished at once, and knowing the harm the resultant chaos would cause to the world?

#280 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:48 PM:

Because I am a scientist or facsimile thereof: I would be okay with a torture experiment with proper controls. Positive and negative-- and if you want to be effective about it, make the negative controls people close to the experimental torturer. Not sure about the positive controls, but it feels weird to run an experiment without them.

For splitting checks, sometimes waiterfolks don't even ask when we're out to lab lunch. There are some restaurants that automatically split by seat, even for families. I think it's polite to ask for the check to be split upon ordering because that gives the waiterbeing flexibility.

How does a table split appetizers, though? Usually, we just consider them a gift from whoever orders. It evens out in the end.

#281 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:54 PM:

LLA @ 279:

I'll do one better than that. I would still be against torture even if it meant that I would die.

To put it mildly, though, your situation is so far-fetched as to really be unthinkable. Every single ticking-time-bomb scenario ever posited assumes not only that torture works but also that they have the right person to torture. Now, sure, Bush would probably cave in less time than the half life of N-16 (7 seconds), and, if he was at all paying attention during the last eight years, might even knows some useful information, but that doesn't mean it's right.

Now, imagine some horribly convoluted situation where you know there's a bomb on a bus full of nuns and kindergardeners, and you have to find out which one it is (there were lots of nuns and kindergardeners out that day, you see) to stop them from being reduced to a pile of meat. Do you grab that swarthy-looking guy who was talking about how he didn't like America's foreign policy and take frayed cables to his feet, or do you get the police and intelligence services to do their job? Please explain how this situation is different from the one you gave.

#282 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 09:07 PM:

LLA #279: So you would let Obama, his family, and all of the people who work in the White House die, knowing the havoc it would wreak on the United States to have much of the Executive Branch extinguished at once, and knowing the harm the resultant chaos would cause to the world?

You can extend the example to whatever "bad guys turning trillions of cute little babies into pate and gobbling them raw" extreme you like, but a society that tortures does not deserve to survive; a society that does not act to stop torture does not deserve to survive unless it decides to act to stop torture; a society that accepts total annihilation to avoid torture is morally superior to a society that rationalizes torture.

#283 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 09:16 PM:

LLA @273 Imagine that British Intelligence has what they believe to be actionable intelligence that al Queda intends to bomb the White House, but lacks the necessary details to give the U.S. a useful warning of the time and exact location that will be bombed.

Then they don't have actionable intelligence.

Look, I'm sure you're a nice person, but that's a really ludicrous hypothetical.

It's fantasyland and movie plots. And not good movie plots. Not even up to the do-I-cut-the-red-wire-or-the-blue-wire movie plots.

#284 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 09:32 PM:

KeithS @ 281 and Earl Cooley @ 282:

Far-fetched? Probably. It wasn't meant to be realistic -- just a measure of my own internal fortitude.

I would like to believe I would resist the urge to torture if convinced that such a situation gave me only a single choice. The fact that it was so easy for me to come up with a hypothetical situation that would, if true, be so morally agonizing is the reason for my belief that knowing fictional thinking occurs makes pollsters who ask abstract questions about complex questions so morally problematic.

It's also the reason I am grateful that, under the U.S. Constitution, I would have an emotional "out", by pointing to a set of higher values that would make the decision for me

#285 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 09:36 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 282:

This is why I don't like arguing from morals, though. I know it's wrong, but I can't really explain why. Saying that a society that tortures is less moral than one that doesn't means that there has to be some way of comparing it. I expect it would come down to the Golden Rule. I don't want people torturing me, and therefore I shouldn't be doing it to others.

Still, that's not an entirely satisfactory explanation to me. For example, I accept that wars—real wars—will happen, which involves killing other people. I don't particularly want to be killed, but it's a necessary evil.

The Utilitarian argument says that torture is bad because it causes harm for no benefit. Even if you have the right person, which is not a given no matter how the fantasy goes, you still don't necessarily get correct information or useful information in a timely manner. But, once you go down that path you wind up with people popping up and saying that they've guaranteed that they have the right guy, that the weight of this one person's life is insignificant compared to the number of lives that getting the information out of him will save, and he doesn't want to talk so here's the rubber hose.

I'm not arguing with you. I'm just frustrated that I don't have an explanation that I'm happy with.

James D. Macdonald @ 283:

I wasn't going to mention that part of it, but, yeah.

#286 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 09:37 PM:

KeithS @ 281 and Earl Cooley @ 282:

Far-fetched? Probably. It wasn't meant to be realistic -- just a measure of my own internal fortitude.

I would like to believe I would resist the urge to torture if convinced that such a situation gave me only a single choice. The fact that it was so easy for me to come up with a hypothetical situation that would, if true, be so morally agonizing is the reason for my belief that knowing fictional thinking occurs makes pollsters who ask abstract questions about complex questions so morally problematic.

It's also the reason I am grateful that, under the U.S. Constitution, I would have an emotional "out", by pointing to a set of higher values that sets a bright enough line to make the decision for me.

#287 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 09:47 PM:

By the way, I assumed, but did not express in my hypothetical setup, that the questioners would suspect that Bush would be willing to sacrifice his successor for political reasons.

'Cause I like to torture myself by questioning my own deeply held moral beliefs ;-).

#288 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 09:54 PM:

Oops. I have no clue how I managed that double post.


#289 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 11:38 PM:

Mycroft 278: Not sure what I'm going to say at 296 that will elicit that response, but I'll enjoy finding out!

As for your puzzle poem, though, let me be the first to say DUH. I don't get it. Naq gung'f gehr jurgure V ernq vg nf "bar ovyyvba, sbhe uhaqerq rvtugl-guerr zvyyvba..." be nf "bar sbhe rvtug guerr svir fvk gjb..."

I guess I'm not one of the smart people here. Or maybe I'm just having a duh-head couple of hours.

On check-splitting: I assume you mean asking the waitron for separate checks, right? While I know very well that Skwid and the others here who do that don't mean it this way, to me it means either a) "I don't trust you to pay your fair share," or b) "We may be eating at the same table, but we're not actually eating together, not like we're sharing food or anything."

It kind of negates the bond of eating together. I don't know why I have this response. The food is the food and the check is the check; but it feels like not-sharing. And sharing (even if you eat meat and I eat veggie-wacko food that you won't touch) is the point of eating me.

#290 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 11:40 PM:

I am satisfied with the notion that torture is wrong because I judge it to be so; one (of many) weaknesses with this approach, however, is that I lack an effective way to enforce my will in the matter.

Wish list for the project: somewhere between five and eight time quanta worth of omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence.

#291 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 11:48 PM:

If someone is bored, would they go please write a Wikipedia article on "woo" or "woo-woo" as it applies to genre fiction, so I can go look it up?

Saw it in an article a few days ago, and I'm not sure it means what I think it means...

#292 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 11:51 PM:

Not that the other discussions are in any way boring, mind you--I'm just wading through my google search list, and when it comes to the evolution of modern fiction, well, where better to ask?

#293 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 11:52 PM:

I can see what you mean, Xopher, but most of the times I eat at a restaurant, I'm not with one single person, but a bunch, and none of us carry a lot of cash on us. At cons, it's sometimes easier for one person to pay with a debit card and be paid back in cash, but that's more a haven't-found-the-ATM thing. Most of my restaurant eating happens on Thursdays, lab lunch day, and it's easier for each of us to be independent.

Besides, every time my family does the pile-o-cash thing, we come out short on the tip.

#294 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 11:54 PM:

Drat, after hitting Post I realized part of why I don't like a single check: it makes the money explicit. "How much do you have?" "I can pay the tip." "I got this, this, this, so I owe so much...." "Does anyone have change for a twenty?" I could spend that time talking about things I like.

#295 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:09 AM:

Xopher, #289: Wow, I'm glad you mentioned feeling that way about check-splitting! If we ever have the chance to eat together, I'll try to remember that, because otherwise I would certainly suggest it.

Some reasons why people in my usual social groups might prefer to have separate checks:

- It transfers the work of calculating "who had what" from us to the restaurant. (This is the most common case.)

- It relieves me, personally, from wondering if I've miscalculated and stuck someone else with more than their share and they're just being too polite to mention it. (Obviously, I don't know how much that applies to anyone else.)

- It means that someone who needs to leave early can do so without having to wait for the group check and calculation process. (Bad Memories from a dinner gathering at TorCon that nearly trashed the rest of our evening...)

- Specifically at a con, some of us may need a separate receipt because it's a business expense.

- Gender rituals and associated sexual implications. (Not so much me, but some of my friends are still very much in the dating scene, and "going Dutch" removes one of the most common quid pro quo scenarios.)

Things like shared appetizers and split desserts are either negotiated or somebody just says, "Put that on mine."

#296 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:15 AM:

LLA: I'll grant you marks for clever in your variation of the ticking bomb.

It fails, in the same way most ticking bombs do. If it's going off so quickly they can't call the White House and say, "Dude, there's going to be a huge problem, get on the plane and leave for awhile" then torturing Bush ain't gonna help.

That's problem the first. Problem the second... you don't know, even in the set you describe, that Bush knows the specific details needed to foil the plot. (the subject of a security system as complex as those at the White House is never going to know all of them). When he says he doesn't know the one you need to know, how do you know he's hiding it?

And no, they would not be justified in using torture. As to your later question of harm to the rest of the world... I think it's in Trust me Mister President, that a lot of us described what we wanted on our gravestones if a terrorist killed us; even if torture might have saved us.

What I am curious about is why this is so agonising (and without being as harsh as Jim... the sheer lack of realism in the model is a problem. When something so outlandish is a trial of your beliefs, either the model, or the beliefs has a problem).

The meat of the matter (and something I had to wrestle with, for years) is that torture is so seductive. It ought to work.

What it lacks is negative feedback. In the thread at the New Jersey blog the second fool to step up to the plate tried to say we had corroboration from the number of people giving the same answers. If I'd not washed my hands of him (I didn't flounce, I just made a point that further discussion was fruitless, as he' made up his mind).

It doesn't work that way. Interrogators question until we get a negative response (i.e. the subject claims ignorance). Torture doesn't allow for that. There is no way to know when the subject is no longer able to provide information.

Different hypothetical: You are a prisoner. You are a co-operative prisoner. I ask you a question to which you don't know the answer.

I hit you, and repeat the question. You still don't know anything. I hit you again.

Then I strap your hand to the table. When you continue to trust in your honest ignorance, I whip out a hammer and break a finger.

How many fingers are you willing to have broken before you start to, "admit" you know something?

#297 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:21 AM:

J Austin @ 291 ...
If someone is bored, would they go please write a Wikipedia article on "woo" or "woo-woo" as it applies to genre fiction, so I can go look it up?

You might try looking at the urban dictionary (skipping the link here, since it's both easy to find via any search engine, and prone to startling language and phrases that could be considered (at best) NSFW and offensive to many).

#298 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:22 AM:

Terry, you just made part of the thread make sense to me. I've been interpreting the what-if scenarios as counterexamples-- "You say torture is okay. What if it's this kind of torture? No? Then torture is not okay. Spread the word,"-- while others have seen them as arguments.

#299 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:26 AM:


#300 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:36 AM:

Check-splitting: I'm happy to just divide by the number of people. The only downside is that then I'm on the horns of the dilemma:
1. Order what I want (the shrimp and crab Louis, and dessert!) and worry that someone who is short of funds is thinking about having to skip their latte the next morning, or
2. Order something less expensive than I want, and not enjoying my meal quite as much as I'd like, and wondering if it was for no good reason.

#301 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:39 AM:

Re: Urban Dictionary

Wow, four pages on Woo Woo.

Apparently, it's "a slang term for your cooter." Which has seven pages, and is also a swamp turtle.

#302 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:42 AM:

J Austin @ 301 ...
Apparently, it's "a slang term for your cooter." Which has seven pages, and is also a swamp turtle.

Among other things, indeed ;>

#303 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:45 AM:

"a society that accepts total annihilation to avoid torture is morally superior to a society that rationalizes torture" (#282)

Perhaps that's part of why so many people find it easy to go along with the arguments for torture. Read a lot of history. The groups who'd avoid it were mostly wiped out by the groups who enjoyed impalement, burning villagers alive in barred buildings, etc, etc, etc, so it becomes part of an unacknowledged ground of society that we have to struggle knowingly against.

#304 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:51 AM:

Diatryama: Glad to be of service. Could you elaborate a bit. I am clueless as to what was made clear.

#305 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:11 AM:

Diatryma @ 298:

I think you've got what I meant to say. I tend to be confusing, even to myself.

#306 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:14 AM:

Xopher @ 236: "Npghnyyl rira vs vg jnf uvzfrys...vzntvar orvat fbzrbar gung oevtug naq perngvir. Jub pbhyq lbh rire gnyx gb be cynl jvgu ba lbhe bja yriry?"

V nterr. Npghnyyl, va n jnl vg'f irel pbaivapvat rivqrapr gung Gbcure vfa'g n anepvffvfg: gurer'f abguvat n anepvffvfg jbhyq ybngur zber guna n pbcl bs uvzfrys. Zbfgyl zl ernpgvba gb Gbcure'f cynl qngr jnf birejuryzvat cvgl. Jungrire'f tbvat ba, vg'f abg urnygul.

Vs vg vf n fvoyvat be sevraq, V'q chg rira zbarl ba rfgenatrq, abg qrnq. Vg'f rknpgyl gur fbeg bs guvat na bireornevat, frys-pragrerq crefbanyvgl yvxr Gbcure jbhyq qb: qevir njnl gur bar crefba gurl npghnyyl yvxr naq erfcrpg.

(Fvqrabgr: vfa'g vg vagrerfgvat ubj abg univat erny anzrf vf fb abaguerngravat naq ernffhevatyl qruhznavmvat jura gurl'er fzvyvat qbyyf, naq fb vaperqvoyl perrcl jura gurl'er Nycun?)

#307 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 03:59 AM:

James D. Macdonald @ 283:

I’m not a nice person. Nice people don’t entertain revenge fantasies. Nice people certainly don’t tell other people that they’ve entertained revenge fantasies.

Terry Karney @ 296 and others:

I confess that, rather than trying to create a realistic scenario, I was trying to seduce myself – and others on this site – with some of the factors I believe to be the most dangerous inducements to torture: revenge fantasies, triumphalism (the belief that, as victors, we get to write the history books), and the sense that normative values don’t apply to the other (which, IMHO is just a description of the urge that causes people to choose partisanship over peace).

I was taking a calculated risk, given a carefully chosen sample audience, but I am delighted by the horror and revulsion that greeted my hypothetical scenario. Despite having cherry-picked my sample, and having a response level that is merely anecdotal, I think your response, and that of others since I posted my monstrous scenario, serves to rebuff the most powerful arguments that will be used against prosecutions for torture.

As I said, I’m not a nice person. I apologize for the ploy, but am heartened by the response.

#308 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 05:22 AM:

Have we noted here the new comprehensive interactive three-dimensional image/model of the Saint Domitilla catacombs? It's been made using laser scanners and digital images by a team lead by Dr Norbert Zimmerman of the Vienna Academy of Sciences (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften — ÖAW on Totenstadt; BBC story; START-Projekt site. I find Fig. 9 particularly impressive.) Google may have made an offer already. (Google UnderEarth? Google AncientEarth?)

Local Hero: They're using 3DM Analyst from a company in Perth, Western Australia, to generate high-resolution 3D photo models. It sounds like great fun: "the same camera and software can be used for the smallest projects, in the order of 30 microns (over 1,000 points per square millimetre) … up to large projects spanning several kilometres." My optimist senses wonderful and amazing possibilities; my cynic sees baby-sized Hello Kitty dolls personalized with your daughter's face; my pessimist foresees darker and dirtier uses. All may occur, or none.

Dollhouse discussion suggestion: I suggest all of the ROT-13 posts in this have 'Dollhouse' in clear in them, or some such identification.

#309 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 08:17 AM:

LLA, if you quote me in whatever the hell thesis you're working on, you're going to have to pay me.

#310 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 08:51 AM:

How I deal with check splitting depends on how much disposable income I have. When I'm well off, I'm quite happy to throw more money into the kitty rather than do meticulous calculation. If my bill would be higher than the rest, I'll put some money in before we split evenly. At the moment I'm quite poor and can't afford to subsidize other folks, I'll take the check and do the calculation for people- even though (or possible because) my meal has been more expensive.
I figured out a way of dealing with the quid pro quo issue at cons - I make it explicit. I'll subsidize poor starving con-goer if they'll do some hard-to-fill volunteer task for the con (you can put away the torches and pitchforks now).

#311 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 08:53 AM:

Terry, I'd been wondering why we were still arguing about torture when no one had made a post in favor of it. What you read as serious scenarios, I read as counterexamples.

#312 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 08:59 AM:

Ada Lovelace - The Origin.

Sent by a friend this morning, made me smile to no end. The crowd here probably knows it already, but passing the love anyway.

Daniel Klein@241: Not that I'd encourage borderline illegal activities, but there is such a thing as abandonware.

Well, no, not really if you happen to listen to some people in the industry.
I personally don't find anything morally wrong with it as a whole if it allows people to experience some games that would not be available any other way (or who've become ridiculously overpriced), but the area (51?) sure becomes very grey very fast. For example, most Lucasart adventure games never actually fell in the abandonware zone, as they were re-edited numerous times (a batch of them made it to the shop next to my place around january this year for around 10€). A pain to get ? Yes, definitely depending on where you live. Abandonware ? Not stricto sensu.

(On a semi-related notice, since there was that whole Amazon talk recently, I must confess I just hate they just won't export video-games. No matter if the game was never released in your country, or you want the original text rather than a translation. Not that there aren't other sources, but still. Can you believe the DS version of Chrono Trigger, a 1995 game, and a major one, was the first to be officialy released, this year, for most of Europe ?)

Check-splitting: Considered perfectly fine here in Paris. Be warned though, some restaurants won't allow to add the tip to a credit card payment.

Lee@252: "Tout-plein-de-bonnes-ondes" for them.

#313 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 09:03 AM:


Nf sbe jub Gbcure chg vagb Fvreen, gung'f n ernyyl vagrerfgvat dhrfgvba, naq V'q yvxr gb nccebnpu vg sebz n fbzrjung zrgn cbvag bs ivrj.

Svefg bs nyy, erzrzore gung gur rcvfbqr vgfrys jnf nobhg n qrnq crefba "ergheavat sebz gur tenir" ol orvat chg vagb n qbyy. Vs guvf jnf jung Gbcure unq qbar nf jryy, V jbhyq unir rkcrpgrq vg gb or zragvbarq ng yrnfg vs abg qrirybcrq vagb n cnenyyry cybg.

Frpbaq, zl svefg vafgvapg juvyr jngpuvat gung rcvfbqr jnf gung ur unq perngrq sbe uvzfrys gur cresrpg tvey, hagvy V ernyvmrq gjb guvatf: n) ur pbhyqa'g unir xabja orsber-unaq jung qbyy jbhyq or tvira gb uvz, naq o) gung vs guvf jnf jung gur jevgref unq va zvaq, gurl jbhyqa'g unir hfrq Fvreen hayrff gurl ernyyl jnagrq gb znxr Gbcure vagb n qvfthfgvat ivyynva. Vg ghearq bhg gb or ragveryl aba-ebznagvp naljnl.

Guveq, gur gurbel bs Gbcure univat pbcvrq uvzfrys. V'z abg fher nobhg guvf bar rvgure. Ntnva, vg jbhyq or fhpu n fcrpvsvp pnfr bs vzcevagvat gung V'z fher gurl jbhyq unir mbbzrq va ba vg, aneengviryl fcrnxvat, n yvggyr zber. Unir gurz obgu fnl gur fnzr guvat ng gur fnzr gvzr be fbzrguvat znlor yrff purrfl guna jung V pna pbzr hc jvgu urer bss gur gbc bs zl urnq. Ng nal engr V qbhog gurl jbhyq unir yrg vg unccra jvgubhg fcrpvsvp pbzzrag.

Jung V oryvrir npghnyyl unccrarq naq jung frrzf gb or gur fvzcyrfg rkcynangvba vf gung Gbcure znqr n sevraq sbe uvzfrys, pbafgehpgvat guvf sevraq bhg bs favccrgf bs bgure crbcyr be rira jevgvat uvz sebz fpengpu. Gung guvf sevraq vf chg vagb n srznyr obql frrzf gb or veeryrinag gb uvz.

Ohg V jbhyqa'g zvaq gurz ergheavat gb guvf cybg cbvag, znlor va gur ynfg rcvfbqr be va gur arkg frnfba. Nyfb, ba gur gbcvp bs gur arkg frnfba, V jbhyq nyfb yvxr gb frr pbyq shfvba qvfpbirerq va zl yvsrgvzr, jbeyq uhatre fbyirq, naq ab zber jne. V'z whfg na bcgvzvfg yvxr gung.

#314 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 09:12 AM:

#300: There's an easy way around that, though. Order whatever you want, and when the divvy-up happens, say, "OK, let's take an extra $5 off the top for me, because I wanted all the fancy stuff, then split the rest evenly." Does not lead to significantly harder calculation, and lets everyone have what they want. Even better if you can take a reasonable amount off that makes the remainder evenly divisible by the number of people eating.

#315 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 09:45 AM:

Check-splitting: If you don't, then nobody calculates their share of the tax and the "tip" winds up being something like 2%, if you even manage to collect more than $180 for a $200 tab.

My favorite restaurant recently upgraded their POS thingy, so now it's really easy for them to split checks after the fact. Since I usually wind up being the one to put in $50 on a $15 bill (I don't drink, and after a few rounds none of my drinking friends understands why they need to put in more than $10 for a $10.95 entree), I really appreciate it. Of course, I'd prefer to be able to just pay for everyone, but I don't see that kind of income in my future any time soon.

#316 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 10:05 AM:

My coworkers and I will often ask the waiter to split the check, when we go in a group to lunch. This has at least three advantages:

a. Two people can pay by credit card without undue hassle.

b. The lady who always orders a salad and a water for lunch doesn't get stuck with the bill for the guy who always orders the entree, soup, salad, and appetizer.

c. In small mixed-sex groups, it diffuses the potential weirdness of having it seem like a date or something.

In a lot of our groups, (b) is a big issue. One of my coworkers really is inclined to order a salad and a diet coke for lunch, and she is (predictably) the one who has the least interest in just dividing the total bill by 6 or whatever, so she can subsidize everyone else's steaks and shrimp.

#317 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 10:10 AM:

Re: check-splitting--

Depends on who I'm with, where we're eating, and what's likely to be ordered. With close friends/coworkers/family, we just split the check ourselves, dividing by the # of folks at the table. Most of us eat in the same price range anyway and if one person has dessert but another has an appetizer, it generally works out that everyone's paying their fair share . . . and if not, things will probably balance out the next time we eat together.

In groups where some member(s) drink alcohol and others don't, we sometimes split the bar tab only among those who drink while the food cost is shared by the entire party. Since I don't drink at all and often have little cash to spare, it can be hard to have to pony up extra bucks to cover other people's alcohol consumption, especially when the bar bill is as much as or more than the food bill.

I'm going through a version of this right now, arranging dd's bat mitzvah. We're not a big drinking crowd, especially at lunchtime. Some people may want a drink, but I don't feel like paying $20 per person extra so a handful of people can have a couple of glasses of wine each.

Sometimes one person eats a lot less than everyone else. Like just an appetizer when everyone else is eating a full meal. In those cases, I usually allow that person to pay for their meal directly (plus tip) and divvy the remaining bill among the remaining guests.

I'm usually the one who does the divvying, and I'm not above pulling out a calculator (well, my cell phone) to make sure that things work out and the waitstaff gets a decent tip. I'm teaching dd to do the same, and she's passing it along to her friends, many of whom have never been taught how to tip even though they are all 12-14 year-olds. Lots of them never seem to eat at real restaurants, just fast-food places.

#318 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 10:28 AM:

Earl Cooley @ 309:

No thesis. I promise. I just thought you might enjoy being able to quote yourself.

#319 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 10:36 AM:

Diatryma @ 311:

Thank you for seeing right through me.

#320 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 11:08 AM:

MD² @ 312:

It's my impression that in the UK, and probably the rest of Europe, a lot of older games are continually re-released on budget labels. Here in the US, that's not so common. I am not morally averse to obtaining content for free that is out of print anyway.

Regarding the bill-splitting discussion:

It makes perfect sense in a business context where you have to expense things separately, or in the case where you have a big group and people with different budgets or sizes of order. I hadn't really come across Xopher's objection to it before, so that's food for thought.

I'm rather fond of the mechanic of buying a round at the pub. Essentially, each member of the group takes a turn at buying the drinks for the group.

On a completely different topic: something for the editors in the audience.

#321 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 11:24 AM:

Has there been a terminology slippage here? Some discussion above of splitting checks seems to me to be about separate checks.

To me, "let's split the check": Get a single check, add 20% tip, divide amount evenly by the number of diners, throw money on the table. Fast and simple.

Asking for separate checks: Ask the waitperson in advance to provide each person (or couple) with a check. I understand that some restaurants don't like to do this. Lots of people paying their bill at the end of the meal can be a slow process.

Or do some of you also mean by "splitting the check" to figure out the cost of each individual's order from the information on the single check.

#322 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 11:47 AM:

Janet K @ 321:

Yes, I think there has. I think most of us are thinking of separate bills. This is especially true in the context of needing to do it for expense purposes, maybe less so in others.

#323 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:05 PM:

Back from Texas... Our trip took us to Abilene, then to Fredericksburg (I was bummed to realize too late to visit it that Lyndon Johnson's ranch was just south of that town), then to San Antonio. Next we drove thru Utopia, then to Fort Stockton. I was amused that, in one hotel, the bed table on the woman's side contained the customary Bible, while the man's bed table contained K-Y's "His and Hers" gel.

#324 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:13 PM:

KeithS, #320: Re "buying a round", that brings up a couple of issues:

- It makes it hard to stop at fewer drinks than the number of members in the party. This isn't so bad when you have 3 or 4 people, but if you've got a dozen... well, I hope to hell none of them are driving home!

- As (usually) the sole non-drinker who would be there for the social aspect only, it puts me in the same position as the diner who only gets a salad and water -- I'll end up paying a lot more than my share. Which I might not mind as a one-time deal, but if this gathering is a regular thing, it's going to get really old really fast.

Janet, #321: From the sound of the discussion, most of us are thinking of "split the check" in terms of calculating what everyone owes. And if you're going to do that anyhow, then asking for separate checks makes it easier and faster.

Forgot to mention in my previous comment that for my upcoming Birthday Dinner gather, I'm handling the problem by having it at a buffet-line place where each party pays as they order. This also provides maximum flexibility for people to arrive late or leave early if they need to.

#325 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:15 PM:

Serge, how did you know which one was the woman's side?

#326 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:15 PM:

You know, the more people discuss their reasons for it, the more comfortable I get with the idea of separate checks. It certainly won't bother me the next time it happens with any of you (especially you, Skwid). It was just a culture-shock moment for me.

I've often been the poorest in a group of my friends. In fact I ran up a lot of credit-card debt in the 80s due to that fact; we were splitting checks evenly at places where I could afford a salad at best. I finally blew up when a friend ordered ANOTHER bottle of hard cider (the fourth for the table) and I a) hadn't drunk any and b) was already worried about paying my share.

After that we divided by what people actually ate/drank, unless it was obviously pretty even. But we still didn't ask for separate checks. Like I said, it's a cultural thing.

I was once part of a support group for Wiccan coven leaders. We would meet to discuss interpersonal issues arising in our covens, and call on the collective wisdom of the group (adding up to decades of experience leading covens) to resolve them. Then we would go eat dinner together.

One time we went to an Indian restaurant. This presents additional difficulties, because you order appetizers and breads and sides and sauces (like raita) separately, and people share some but not others. Ordinarily it's a nightmare, expecially with something in the neighborhood of twelve people at the table.

Ten minutes from the time the (single) check arrived, it had gone around the table, everyone had put in their share, and there was enough to cover the check with a generous tip. Every single person there (being coven leaders) had been stuck "making up the difference" for poor or just-plain-clueless coven members!

In my own coven this was really kind of expected. There were a couple of us with lucrative jobs, and a few of us in economic hardship. I made it my job to calculate the check every time, and (having discussed this with the other relatively-well-off members) divided it more according to ability to pay than to what they ate. No one exploited that; no one complained about it. (Before having the discussion I just made up the difference myself; the other r-w-o members insisted on taking a piece of it.)

This would have been embarrassingly conspicuous with separate checks. As it was I just told people what they owed, they paid what I said, and the subsidy was hidden. We ate at affordable places, so it wasn't too obvious, though the poorer members certainly knew what was going on. I made it clear that I'm a socialist and I would have a socialist coven.

#327 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:27 PM:

Janet, I hear "separate" and split" used more or less interchangeably for this purpose, but I hear "split" used much more often, particularly by waitstaff.

And when it comes to paying for a meal, the waitstaff are always at the forefront of my mind. I have been to far too many group meals where what Cat describes at #315 occurs, and in addition to being the person most likely to throw in more than I should have had to to cover someone who hasn't realized what they owe, I've had enough waitstaff as friends and family to know that this is where they most often get stiffed on their tip. Separate checks alleviates or eliminates a ton of pain, and just make more sense 99% of the time.

MD² @ #312, "some restaurants won't allow to add the tip to a credit card payment." ...WHA? Inexplicable!

#328 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:34 PM:

Xopher: the first. Actually, "bar ovyyvba, sbhe uhaqerq naq rvtugl-/guerr zvyyvba...".

The cute trick is that it's a (slightly) different poem in (1950's) England. Because there, it starts:

""bar gubhfnaq, sbhe uhaqerq naq rvtugl-/guerr zvyyvba..."

#329 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:41 PM:

Serge @ 323:

Welcome back. Sounds like you had a really slick holiday.

Skwid @ 327:

When you tip on a credit card, the waiter doesn't get the full tip amount because some of the credit card fee is skimmed off it.

However, regarding the original statement, isn't the gratuity typically already included in the bill in France?

#330 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:41 PM:

Madeline Ashby @ 325... how did you know which one was the woman's side?

I asked my wife and, apparently, the 'woman' side of the bed usually is the one she sleeps on. Thus my assumption. It may just be a statistical fluke. Anyway, when I saw that K-Y gel, I asked my wife if it meant we'd turn into trapeze artists while doing the deed.

#331 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:51 PM:

KeithS 320: I'm rather fond of the mechanic of buying a round at the pub. Essentially, each member of the group takes a turn at buying the drinks for the group.

Lee has pointed out some of the problems with this. It also encourages people to drink more, and to drink more expensively, than they otherwise might. Pub owners must love it. It seems tailored for people who think sobriety is a state to be extinguished thoroughly and quickly.

I think this hasn't caught on in the US in part because of our history of Prohibition. Drunkenness, especially in public, is widely considered a shameful state here (intrinsically: even if you don't barf or misbehave in any way). There are people here who will lose all respect for someone permanently, even sometimes cut off all ties, if they see them drunk on a single occasion (and no, I'm not exaggerating: I have friends who have told me it is their policy to cut off anyone they have seen in an intoxicated state).

That's not my objection, though I don't like to be around drunk people (let's just say it's because of my individual childhood experiences and leave it at that). It's economically exploitive of people who have less capacity for alcohol, even people who do drink. When I drank, I would be paying much more than my fair share if the group contained more than two people total, because two drinks was my limit (I don't like to be drunk, either). Note that there's a loose correlation to physical mass (modified heavily ¬π by experience) as well, so it's yet another way of disadvantaging those of us who are relatively small.

One relatively trivial objection: it completely squelches the rather nice (IMO) American custom of "I'll buy you a drink," which is used to mean "I approve of you/something you've just done/said." A bunch of us said that on Electrolite years ago, to an Australian man who'd just shown extraordinary character and intellectual honesty. He said "If we're ever drinking together I'll stand my round like a good Australian." Well, OK, so what do we do then? I kinda felt slapped down, in a way, even though I knew that wasn't his intention. It was sad and disappointing.

#332 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 12:54 PM:

Skwid, when we have dinner together in Montréal, as I deeply hope we will, we can have separate checks and I will not be offended or surprised. Now that I understand.

#333 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:10 PM:

Mez @ 303

I think there you're talking about cultures which used torture deliberately as a means of oppression through fear, not as a means of extracting information. I doubt that Vlad the Impaler cared about any information his thousands of victims might have had.

Of course, there's no doubt in my mind that that was one of the motives for Bush & the Cheneymonster in allowing torture. Their problem was they wanted their cake ("Fear me, heathens, for I will hurt you!"), and wanted to eat it too ("The US does not use torture.").

mez @ 308

I read Kuttner's Mutant many years ago, and fell in love with a prop that appears in one scene: a globe that shows geopolitical boundaries and alliances for any year it's set to, and can run forward or back through a range of years, animating the changes in borders. I've lusted after that toy ever since, and I'm waiting for Google to give me at least a flat-map version. Google Geo? Google Realpolitik? Google Empire?

Daniel Klein @ 313
V guvax lbh'er evtug; gur zbfg yvxryl fpranevb vf gung Gbcure perngrq n cynlzngr ol fcyvpvat gbtrgure ovgf naq cvrprf, naq creuncf fbzr bs gur ovgf jrer sebz uvz. Ohg V ernyyl yvxr gur vqrn bs uvz cynlvat jvgu uvzfrys nf n qrzbafgengvba bs whfg ubj phg bss sebz gur erfg bs gur jbeyq ur vf. V nterr jvgu urerfvnepu gung ur'f abg n anepvffvfg; whfg na rkgerzryl ybaryl crefba jvgu cbbe fbpvny fxvyyf naq abg zhpu gb pbaarpg uvz jvgu gur crbcyr nebhaq uvz. Orra gurer, qbar gung.

Guvf fhowrpg yrnqf gb n gurzr bs Qbyyubhfr gung V ernyyl ybir: rivy vf hfhnyyl whfg n cneg bs n crefbanyvgl, abg n fvatyr qbzvanag punenpgrevfgvp. Naq rivy vf bsgra nffbpvngrq (jnivat zl unaqf ng pnhfngvba if. pbeeryngvba) jvgu fvtavsvpnag rzbgvbany qnzntr. Rira Onyyneq unf uvf qnex fvqr, naq rira Nqryyr be Gbcure pna fubj n fcnex bs qrprapl bppnfvbanyyl. Vg'f jura gurve qnzntr zrrgf gur jbeyq urnq-ba gung gur fcnexf syl.

#334 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:11 PM:

Mycroft 328: Even with all your hints, and apparently giving the first line and beginning of the second, I'm not getting this. It still doesn't come out to a yvzrevpx, because rvtugl doesn't rhyme with fvkgl:

Bar ovyyvba, sbhe uhaqerq naq rvtugl-
Guerr zvyyvba, svir uhaqerq naq fvkgl-
Gjb gubhfnaq, avar uhaqerq
-and then there's nothing to rhyme with uhaqerq. 'Friragl-bar cbvag' doesn't even scan right.

I know there must be a way to make it work. But at this point I pretty much give up.

KeithS 329: However, regarding the original statement, isn't the gratuity typically already included in the bill in France?

But WorldCon isn't in France. It's in Canada, albeit a French-speaking part thereof.

#335 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:13 PM:

KeithS @ 329... Thanks. I kept taking wrong turns, but it was a nice trip. I was bummed when I realized that, at some point, I was staying close enough that I could have visited Lyndon Johnson's ranch, but there was no time. Maybe some other year. By the way, Texans might be amused to hear their climes described as humid, but that's how it was for this resident of New Mexico.

#336 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:30 PM:

My problem is that with almost any method of payment for a group of more than two at a restaurant, somehow everyone else ignores the tip, either seriously underpaying or ignoring it altogether. Since I once worked as a hostess, I've always been fairly clear on the concept, and in order to satisfy my own feelings of what's right, there has been many a time I've added in lots o' money, sometimes more than I really could afford, because I saw that nobody else had tipped anywhere near a fair share.

#337 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:35 PM:

Serge #335:

Here in Austin, it's almost always humid as all hell. All that moisture being sucked up from the Gulf.

The LBJ Ranch, a few miles east of Frederickburg in Stonewall, which is the center of peach country [1], has a great if rather low-key pioneer farm thingy, complete with pigs. We like to go visit them once every year or two in bluebonnet season.

[1] No peaches this year, probably; they all got hailed upon. (Local pronunciation is "hell," and it's easy to see whay.)

#338 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:42 PM:

Joann @ 337... I'm tempted to exclaim "Oh! The humidity!", as a cross-thread to the Zeppelin thread, but I won't.

#339 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:46 PM:

Lee @ 324 and Xopher @ 331:

True, the round system isn't perfect. It is my understanding, though, that the notion of whose round it is persists between pub visits. I was not a heavy pub-goer and not quite a native, so I may have missed some of the subtleties.

I am a little confused about the Australian commenter. In England, there's also the custom of "I'll buy you a drink" for those circumstances. Maybe it's not quite the same in Australia? Alternatively, it was his way of saying "thanks, but it's no big deal".

Xopher @ 334:

MD²'s original comment at 312, which Skwid was responding to, was talking about Paris, hence the confusion.

Serge @ 338:

A friend of mine bought a stuffed manatee that I thought should be named Hugh. She didn't take me up on it.

#340 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:55 PM:

Joann @ #337, it might be more accurate to say that local accent pronounces hell rather like "hail" to most non-local ears, IMO.

#341 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 01:57 PM:

KeithS @ 339... Hugh Jackman, manatee?

#342 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 02:13 PM:

LLA I am not horrified, nor revulsed. I've been at this too long. I am a trained interrogator. I did it for 16 years. The things I know how to do are scary, and that's without torture. Give me, as Marna said, a pot of tea, and a plate of cookies, and; if I have an agenda, I can get you to implicate yourself in all sorts of things.

Give me the same tools, and no agenda, and I can get everything the subject knows. The only question is time. If the source will talk to me, I will get it.

I am not a nice person either. What I am is practical. On practical grounds your model fails. On moral grounds it's suspect. The hypothetical is morally suspect. It's designed to force an answer; torture one, or kill many. No matter what the answer, the respondent is being put in the position of making an evil choice.

But that choice is dependent on a lie... torture works.

None of which will rebuff (no matter how thoroughly it refutes) those who want to believe. I know this because I've been refuting them for more than 16 years. They don't listen, and the arguments they make are seductive. False, but seductive.

Diatryama: Ah. Perhaps it's too much that I spend time out in the wilds, where what you see as counterexamples are offered as valid arguments, that or more amazingly false ones are made (to sum one up, "OK hotshot, if it doesn't work, why have people done it for thousands of years).

I am, perhaps, too willing to take such things at face value. I suppose, in this regard, I am more baitable than others.

KiethS, I appreciate the round, but if the group is larger than four, I am not going to be taking a drink every round, not unless I go home in a bucket.

re checks: I'm mixed. I've spent 12 bucks on a cup of coffee (when I wasn't exactly flush, and 12 bucks was a fair bit more money than it is now). After that (because 12 bucks was far from what that bill was shorted, and it wasn't the first time, just the worst) we got separate checks.

Splitting is a little harder, because (IMO) when it isn't even one either needs someone to tally, or the tip ends up short,because people tend to forget what the total costs are

#343 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 02:21 PM:

Re: tipping

More and more places around here, even small neighborhood restaurants (especially small neighborhood restaurants?) have started putting a line on their menus to the effect that gratuity of a certain percentage will be added to the bill for groups of 6 or more.

#344 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 03:11 PM:

Skwid #340:

Maybe up around your part of Texas, but not around here. Which is not where I'm from originally, so I'm at least partly a fresh ear. Leastwise, I say "hayl" and "hell", and lots of them say "hehl" and "hehll". The difference between those last two is in the prolonged "l" used in referring to the infernal regions.

#345 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 03:25 PM:

Re: Texas.

Yes, humid as hell.

For me: hell. For a lot of people, it's drawn out to two syllables; more like hay-ul, but not that pronounced. Drawls tend to get more pronounced when you're telling a joke or making a point. Or within ten feet of someone from another state.

#346 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 04:04 PM:

[re pointy hats]

A letter-writer in the latest issue of Viz offers the following top tip: "Biro pen tops make authentic Battle of Hastings re-enactment helmets for stick insects."

#347 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 04:12 PM:

LLA #318: No thesis. I promise. I just thought you might enjoy being able to quote yourself.

You have seriously misjudged the amount of enjoyment people derive from being played.

#348 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 05:01 PM:


Earl's right. Don't do that again.

#349 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 05:06 PM:

Earl Cooley@ 347:

No, I didn't expect you to enjoy it at all.

As part of my religious upbringing, I was pushed and taunted by people I trusted to scour my most deeply cherished beliefs. I didn't enjoy it then (and I don't enjoy it when I do it to myself now), but I have had occasions to be glad for the moral certitude that it built as a result.

The problem, I know, is that you have absolutely no reason to trust me, and this place can be a beacon for trolls.

#350 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 05:11 PM:

LLA @349:

The more you say, the less I am minded to grant you that charity which I attempt to extend to all who comment here.

You are not entitled to run us through exercises for our own spiritual development, nor indeed for yours. This is not your site or your community. No one consented to being gamed.

this place can be a beacon for trolls

Starting to wonder if I'm looking at one right now, to be honest.

An apology and a resolution to reform would not be out of order.

#351 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Terry Karney @ 342:

Point taken. I was trying to come up with a scenario that would put enough of a human face on the issue that it could simultaneously be used as a gut check by people who hate Bush and as an argument to try on fence-sitters who might be sympathetic to Bush.

Probably not the best such example -- and I didn't expect you to answer differently.

#352 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 05:29 PM:

Abi @ 350:

You are right. I apologize completely and without reservation.

#353 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 05:36 PM:

LLA @352:

Very well. Go thou and comment only in good faith henceforth, OK? These are matters for which the community has a long memory and a short temper.

#354 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 06:27 PM:

Abi @ 353:

No sport was intended nor will be attempted in the future.

#355 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 06:47 PM:

I am marking finals. This came up: 'Don Imus whom plays the character “Kramer” from the hit television show “Senfield” is also known for his statement regarding the black women whom play professional basketball, where he referred to them as “Nappy head Hoes” are current visible examples of racism.'

#356 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 06:56 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 355:

One point for knowing that the word "whom" exists, I suppose. Minus several million for, well, everything else.

For your information, I dropped that quote into Word, turned on the grammar checker, as I don't use that abomination normally, and discovered that it found no grammatical errors at all.

#357 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 06:57 PM:



#358 ::: Summer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:01 PM:

Fragano: Gaaaahhhh!

KeithS: Gaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!

#359 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:03 PM:

Please, please, please tell me that you are flunking that person. Error detection overflow — I don't know where to begin. Or is your class graded like the game of Hearts, where you can win by losing every trick?

#360 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:06 PM:

Keith S #356: That doesn't surprise me. The grammar checker is rather limited.

Xopher #357: Indeed.

#361 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:27 PM:

John, #359: Nitpick re Hearts: a run consists of taking every point -- all 13 hearts plus the queen of spades. This will of course happen if you do take every trick, but it's possible to run while failing to take some tricks so long as those tricks contained no points.

Why yes, I have been playing a lot of Hearts on the computer recently, why do you ask? ;-)

#362 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:28 PM:

*headdesk* And as soon as I hit Post, I realize that I misinterpreted what John was saying. My apologies.

#363 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:30 PM:


I think there were at least two more errors possible in that um, not-exactly-a-sentence thingy you quoted.

#364 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:32 PM:

You still can't win by losing every trick. You have to WIN every trick, which results in LOSING every POINT (by winning it).

Hearts is a weird inverted sort of game.

#365 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:32 PM:

KeithS writes: One point for knowing that the word "whom" exists, I suppose.

Abuse of "whom" and "Joe and I" are irritating in a very specific way. They are used by people who know nothing (consciously) about grammar but are afraid that they should. If these people weren't scared of grammar police, they would never say "whom" or "and I". Since they don't know what they're at, they almost always get it wrong.

If they just said "Fuck off!" to their internal grammar policeman, they'd be fine with "who" and "Me and Joe", as often as not.

#366 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:32 PM:

J Austin, #291:

If someone is bored, would they go please write a Wikipedia article on "woo" or "woo-woo" as it applies to genre fiction, so I can go look it up?

The blog Respectful Insolence often uses "woo" as a term for pseudoscience and other pseudointellectual buffoonery. If I came across the word in a genre fiction context I'd assume it implied something nutty in the book's worldview... bees escaping from the authorial bonnet into the text. The classic example would be Ayn Rand's thousand-page objectivist tracts.

If this theory is correct, then the term was probably inspired--knowingly or not--by a comedian named Hugh Herbert, once famous for his "woo-woo" noises, now remembered mostly because Mel Blanc apparently borrowed some of his vocal mannerisms for the earlier, crazier version of Daffy Duck.

#367 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 07:45 PM:

John Houghton #359: I can't tell you whether that person is passing or failing. I'm in the middle of grading, and I'm not going to calculate all the grades for another day or so and finals are only part of the overall grade. I will say that some students are better at some things than others.

#368 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 08:19 PM:


I kind of got the pseudosciency feel from the material I could find, but like a lot of in-crowd terminology, I might be a little off in identifying it.

Somewhere, it linked it to the "wooooooooo" of the audience during a flashy magic trick, which I thought was cute, and now, goddammit, it's stuck. If I ever do find a more concrete definition, the ooohing and ahhhing yokels are going to shove it out every time.

I'm thinking along the lines of the "Aliens did it!" school of archeology. Yes? No?

#369 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 08:49 PM:

Xopher: One wins at hearts by having the lowest score; If one loses every trick the only way one can be stuck is to have someone else shoot the moon.

#370 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 09:02 PM:

Niall McAuley @ 365:

If they just said "Fuck off!" to their internal grammar policeman, they'd be fine with "who" and "Me and Joe", as often as not.

Can I put this on cards and pass them out? Good advice.

#371 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 09:05 PM:

Fragano @ 355... I'm looking forward to the next season of Doctor Whom.

#372 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 09:33 PM:

Serge, would that be the objectivist version? And in that case, would they have some odd subjects noun then? Or would all the plots be predicated on his conjugations (or lack of same) with his companions?

#373 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 10:09 PM:

I can only point and laugh; there's no room for my head upon this desk.

#374 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 10:12 PM:

That's what LOG is for!!!

#375 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 10:20 PM:

Just so long as the ablative shield on his TARDIS doesn't end him up in the wrong place, datively.

#376 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 10:33 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 375:

Are you accusing the TARDIS of being locatively inaccurate, or do you decline to comment?

#377 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 10:36 PM:

Tom: J'accuse!

#378 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2009, 11:36 PM:

This seems appropriately open-thready, although it has naught to do with TARDIS:

The US Navy's History Department has transcriptions of telegrams & wireless telegrams concerning disposition of the German Navy, starting at the Armistice (Nov 11 1918) and covering several weeks afterward.

I love primary documents, and these are as primary as they get, straight from the offices of senior British & German admirals & such.

My other thought, partway through my first reading of these, was "These look like liveblogging or tweets, don't they?" Then I smacked myself on the back of the head, because it was a very silly thought.

Still, go have a read. See what short-form communication looked like long before tweets!

I'm tempted to do a long, long blogpost with some basic annotations for those messages, actually. It would be a very long blogpost, though...

#379 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:31 AM:

Wirelizard, don't smack yourself for thinking they look like liveblogging or tweets. Back before we all migrated to the internet, when fan activity was still mimeographed and mailed, and I was working as a literary criticism reference series editor, I was researching 18th C. literary flamewars -- Pope, Cibber, Kenelm Digby, Alexander Ross, all that lot. The items on the library shelf at Columbia turned out to be the original publications the participants been throwing at each other.

There's nothing like primary documents. As soon as I opened the cardboard jackets in which the pamphlets been mounted, I understood that I was looking at feudzines: topical, highly contextual, written quickly and run off in editions of a few hundred copies, and circulated to list of people who largely knew each other.

The internet is a huge change in the human condition, but the things it changes aren't always the ones people imagine they are.

#380 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:46 AM:

Wirelizard, #328: My other thought, partway through my first reading of [the telegrams], was "These look like liveblogging or tweets, don't they?" Then I smacked myself on the back of the head, because it was a very silly thought.

Not silly in the slightest; in fact, you were rather perceptive.

#381 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:11 AM:

Openthready Fluoroquest:

A friend is getting married in 2 1/2 weeks, and the dress code for the first evening of the festivities is "Indian dress preferred." For this I'd need to get something for me and something for my guy.

The first two (local physical) stores I looked at today had some lovely stuff starting at about $140 for men's sherwani* and $120 for fancy salwar kameez sets, and about the same for lehnga cholis (fancy = shiny, lots of embroidery, nice colors. I'm avoiding sari or dhoti--those seem like they'd need practice).

As the (no longer active) salwar kameez thread showed, it's possible to buy these for much less online. However, is it possible to do this in under 18 days? And if yes, any recommendations as to where? Or is there an equivalent to the salwar thread I could ask this?

If you're in the S.F. Bay Area and can recommend a shop, I'd be interested in that too.

*would there be other types/names of men's formal wear I should look for?

#382 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:44 AM:

Xopher, #364: However, if you managed to lose every trick over a statistically-improbable number of hands, you would eventually win by virtue of never taking any points at all. The problem with this strategy is that inevitably you end up with at least one card that has to win a trick.

Kathryn, #381: Another name for a men's garment that you can inquire about is "kurta".

If you know where the "Little India" area local to you is -- or the area where import wholesalers congregate -- that's where to look for hole-in-the-wall sari shops that will be cheaper.

#383 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:46 AM:

LLA @ #267:

I read your comment, got confused, looked at the comment you were replying to, got even more confused, then googled Red Cheever. Ah.

Mind you, this is the same person I've been playing telephone tag with for the past five months in attempting to set up my son's baptism. A wonderful person he, but horrible at getting in contact.

#384 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 08:43 AM:

CHip @#377: Now, there's no reason to get like that unless he declines to state his case.

#385 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 08:53 AM:

A wise man I once knew* used to say that, if you wanted a job done well, you should ask a busy person to do it.

I hope your son's baptism is as much a blessing as it has been a thing-to-be-sought-after.

Meanwhile, I've read what Google granted me, been made hungry by the limited material on Mr. Cheever's website and others, and want more. Has he preached sermons that have been transcribed or published works that are not widely available?

*He died, relatively young. It's particularly poignant to me when wisdom occurs at an early age, and is as easily extinguished.

#386 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 09:23 AM:

Xopher @ 372... would all the plots be predicated on his conjugations (or lack of same) with his companions?

The (Quite Handsome) 10th Doctor: And, uh, you're my fiancée?
Emma, The Assistant: So you remember me then?
The (Quite Handsome) 10th Doctor: How could I possibly forget the only time-traveling companion I've ever had?
Emma, The Assistant: You've had lots of companions.
The (Quite Handsome) 10th Doctor: The only time-traveling companion I've ever... had.

#387 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 10:34 AM:

Wirelizard @ 378:

Those are really interesting to look through. As others have already said, your thoughts about the resemblance to modern communication forms are not silly in the slightest. TNH is right that the internet has changed different things than what a lot of people imagine; the internet alters the speed of communication, not the human behavior behind it.

Serge @ 386:

Fade to black as the two lie supine?

#388 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 10:42 AM:

#379: English Civil War pamphlets, too: rather like reading Daily Kos but with everyone using Biblical references to support their views.

#389 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 10:49 AM:

KeithS @ 387...

The 9th Doctor: Without even knowing I was looking, I have found a woman I love. A woman more fascinating than all my travels through time and space. A girl more exciting than an escape up a ventilation shaft. A lover more thrilling than an army of cybernetic slugs.

#390 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:20 AM:

Terry Karney 342: Give me, as Marna said, a pot of tea, and a plate of cookies, and, if I have an agenda, I can get you to implicate yourself in all sorts of things.

Suddenly Eddie Izzard's Church of England Inquisition seems a lot less funny.

#391 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:24 AM:

As I continue to sink into the pit of despair grade, I encounter such, ahem, gems as this: 'But looking at the past, even all the way back to 1714 when Christopher Columbus “discovered” America even though the Native Americans where already settled in present day US.'

#392 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:41 AM:

Wow, Fragano. That has gnostemic, sememic, lexemic, and graphemic errors. Just missed morphemic, unless you think s/he meant 'were' when s/he said 'where'. (Not clear to me that the thought was that coherent.)

#393 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:47 AM:

Serge @ 389:

The slugs are for Captain Jack?

Xopher @ 392:

It's almost certainly supposed to be "were". That's a common error I see in a lot of online writing.

#394 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:55 AM:

KeithS, you're probably right. But try rereading that sentence as if 'where' was really the intended meaning, and you'll discover that the syntax is almost unimaginably garbled!

This is for fun, to clarify, not because I think it's a serious possibility that the student meant 'where' there. Or anywhere.

#395 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:56 AM:

KeithS @ 393... Probably not, since that story was done in the 1990s, but if you want to see Rowan Atkinson AND Joanna Lumley as the Doctor, go to YouTube and search for "curse of fatal death". Chuckles will abound.

("They are NOT breasts. They are Dalek bumps.")

#396 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:59 AM:

xeger @ 161:

A book conservator would of course tell you to take it to a book conservator. I'm not a book conservator though.

The best thing is to carefully peel back the paper or cloth on the cover and the spine, insert a piece of strong tissue (like japanese kozo, ideally painted to match) or, if there's likely to be a lot of use, fine linen or bookcloth, and then paste everything back together. That should leave it looking pretty much the way it does now, but the cover won't be falling off.

That's a bit finicky. If you want something easier, just glue a piece of cloth over the broken joint. It will obviously look patched, but will hold up better and do less permanent damage than using any kind of tape, which is most people's natural instinct. (Meaning you can fix it again/better later.) Water soluble (washable) white glue or starch paste are the best things to use for this. You can also reinforce it by openning the cover completely and gluing a strip of paper over the gap from the inside.

#397 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:00 PM:

And it wouldn't be a morphemic error anyway. Lexemic. But I'm fuzzy about the difference between those two strata, because they were combined in the first edition, which is the one I learned stratificational linguistics from.

#398 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:02 PM:

Xopher @ 394:

I was just wanting to help you rack up the error count. Fragano's earlier example made me check if my brain was dribbling out of my ears, but this one is just so vastly wrong on many levels that I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

I have this little alarm pinging in the back of my mind that says, "Error: unterminated subordinate clause," which is actually more annoying than the gross error of fact.

#399 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:16 PM:

378, 379, 388- I got that impression first with the non-fiction volumes of the Collected Works of George Orwell. Columns, reviews, letters, diary entries, essays, varying in length from short paragraphs to dozens of pages and in content from household matters to queries to scholary analysis to particle-like notes about trivial anecdotes he read in the paper- that plus the fact that it's all sorted chronologically rather than by subject or form, and that they've sometimes included angry or thoughtful reader reactions, gives it a very blog-like feel. (One of my main thoughts when reading it was "Hey, the 1930s and 1940s were a lot more like the present than I had thought!".) The same probably goes for other collected works editions as well.

#400 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 01:06 PM:

Fragano@391... I'm trying to imagine how someone could confuse Louis Antoine Juchereau de St. Denis with Christopher Columbus, or otherwise what the significance of 1714 might be.

#401 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 01:16 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 381: There's a concentration of shops in Berkeley at the corner of University Avenue and San Pablo Avenue. I've only ever been in the fabric store (it was extremely challenging to stick to my "don't buy yardage on spec" rule — such gorgeous stuff), but based on the window displays of the clothes stores, you might find something you like.

#402 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 01:48 PM:

On the blogginess of old-time media: from the Publisher's Note at the front of "The Best of Myles", a collection of newspaper columns by Flann O'Brien, from (mostly) the 1940s:

"It has not been thought advisable to delete from the following pages the occasional references to the original appearance of these articles in a daily newspaper. The author, for example, sometimes indicated by arrows or a pointing finger his references to other contributions in the paper, either a leading article with which he disagreed or some contribution in the social column. He was for many years a committed newspaperman and it would distort the tone of this book if all indications that these articles were written against a deadline, or that his own column was part of a greater whole, were to be deleted."

Since I have the volume in question down from its shelf (well, the shelf it shares with other works by the same author and various books which somehow seem to me as if they belong with said works) I will, entirely in the spirit of fair use, transcribe a short extract:

HER FACE was radiant. She looked up, sensing the passion that was written in every line of the taut, lean face. Their eyes met.

"Mary!" he cried.

He bent down and took her in his arms. How strong he was, how masterful! How utterly he crushed her frail body against his pounding heart!

"Mary!" he cried again, huskily this time.
Their lips met. Heaven and earth seemed to-

The Plain People of Ireland: What in the name of goodness is all this about?

Myself: It is a scene from my new serial, which commences in this column next week.

The Plain People of Ireland: But surely that isn't the beginning of it? That's no way to begin a story.

Myself: No, it's not the beginning.

The Plain People of Ireland: Then what-

Myself: Were you never at the pictures? This is the trailer. The trailer shows the high spots of the story.

The Plain People of Ireland: (interested) O, a trailer? Well, go on.

Myself: In a minute, when you cool down.

#403 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:04 PM:

Xopher #392: I believe the student probably intended 'were'. I suspect the student thinks the rules of orthography are arbitrary wastes of time.

#404 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:09 PM:

Dan Hoey #400: George I became King of Great Britain in 1714.

#405 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:18 PM:

More of it:

Amicus Plato, amicus Socrates, sed quid est mihi veritas?
Magis amicus.
Bene qui latuit quomodo vixit?
Bene (Goodman).
Quis palmam ferat?
Qui meruit.
Ubi nemo me lacessit (inquit Ghandi*)?
In Poona.
Noli me quidere?

Is this killing you?

*this mispelling in the original text!

#406 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 03:00 PM:

Why May is merry I do not know. Sometimes, however, wisdom is found in unlikely places. As in: "Bad English sometimes does not have a clear meaning to others."

#407 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 03:05 PM:

And in the category "Spellcheckers Gone Wild", I give you the thought of one "Sigma Freud".

#408 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 03:11 PM:

And in the category "Spellcheckers Gone Wild"

[Trying very hard not to picture a gaggle of Tor copy-editors, drunk on a beach, wearing ... No, stop that.]

#410 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Fragano: Is that Six Sigma Freud, the master black belt of process evaluation? The very same one who determined that homoscedasticity was related to a cold mother-board early in life?

#411 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 03:35 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 403:

I am somewhat meter-impaired, so take this for what it's worth.

Scribbledy scribbledy
Communication with
Modern orthography
Is tried and true;

Students' respect for the
Language is suspect, and
Is lacking too.

#412 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:11 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale@381:

This is going to sound weird, but a lot of belly dance shops (online and otherwise) sell salwar kameez and lengha sets. You might call around to your local belly dance outlets, or post on a bellydance forum for shopping recommendations.

#413 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:17 PM:

Okay, since nobody else is taking a shot at it, and sorry, Xopher: 1,483,562,971.2854763

One billion, four hundred and eighty-
three million, five hundred and sixty-
two thousand nine hun-
dred seventy one
point two eight five four seven six three.

I was in awe for at least a day when that one got explained to me. The only thing that came close was the M R DUCKS sequence.

In apology, I present three from The Mathematical Magπ (at least one of which you probably all know):

A mathematician decried
"Into space computers must fly!
Though it may be more sound
to keep them on the ground,
the people want π in the sky."

Needless to say, this is a very old book, back when computers were room-sized. And, a matching pair:

A mathematician confided
that a Möbius strip was one-sided.
"You'll get quite a laugh
if you cut one in half,
for it stays in one piece when divided!"

But a mathematician named Klein
said "A Möbius strip is quite fine.
Of course, if you glue
the edges of two,
you'll get a weird bottle like mine."

#414 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:18 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale again:

I posted a request for SF bay shop suggestions on a belly dance networking site. I'll check back later and see what they've suggested.

#415 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:24 PM:

I am told that at many places, if you have time to show up the day of when the shop is open, they will assist in the assembly of the sari for those of us who aren't familiar enough to do it ourselves.

If it would be safe (which it could very easily not be) the Pakistani sari-equivalent is self-assemblable without practise.

#416 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:27 PM:


I haven't been logged into Twitter for a week or two—just been busy—and now I can't log in.

It doesn't recognize my password (which was going to be, for many reasons, hard to guess), and the password reset links in the email address don't seem to be synchronizing with their systems. I get a message that Twitter doesn't think I've requested a reset when I click on them.

I am thinking Sinister and Worrisome Thoughts. I'm also getting somewhat peevish.

#417 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:44 PM:

Back in college, one of my roommates, from PA, had a lovely sari that she wore for music department receptions (she was a physics major with a minor in music and wanted to be an acoustical engineer, though her physics advisor thought this was, well, inadvisable; it was the mid-70s and I suspect he thought a woman couldn't hack it).

How this young woman who had grown up in rural PA had a) learned about saris and b) gotten her hands on one, I no longer recall. I do remember that she could put it on herself though she preferred to have another set of hands available to hold certain things at certain points; I was often her assistant dresser.

I've worn fancy Indian-tunic-and-pants outfits numerous times. Comfy and beautiful.

#418 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:46 PM:


Thanks so much for the Sister Dottie S. Dixon link. I visited her website and listened to several "potcasts" and she's a hoot. I'm thinking of sending a link to my mom, but I'm not sure she'll get certain, ah, aspects of the performance.

Never thought I'd say this, but it's a shame I can't be in Utah on such short notice. I'd love to see her show!

#419 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 05:05 PM:

Skwid, #270, I mostly eat out together with our bookgroup (in Northern Virginia) and since I'm usually the first one to the restaurant, I tell them how many are coming and that we want to split the check. No problem so far.

Ah, and I would not be interested in dividing the single check evenly. Not only do I eat less and have less money, I can only have 30gr protein a day and that makes the meal I can eat much cheaper than everybody else's.

#420 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 08:20 PM:

A slight word of advice on saris, from someone who's been there:

Bear in mind that the standards for putting on a sari for a wedding are not just higher than you realize, but possibly higher than you can realize. I liken it to knowing how to tie a tie, versus having a lot of experience getting the details right - only at least an order of magnitude more complicated.

I discovered this by wearing a sari that I thought I did a credible job of putting on. As soon as I stepped out of my room, the 'aunties' swooped on me, tut-tutting, and all but ripped the sari off to redo it properly. An example failing: at 5'6", I'm a little too tall by Indian standards for the standard-width sari, especially since it is really supposed to drag on the ground - and I had tucked too much fabric in at the waist (after the aunties were done with me, the sari was held up by safety pins and heartfelt prayer).

For my sister's wedding, two of my aunts spent god knows how long fussing over me to wrap a sari in a fancier style, in which the pullah (the decorated end) falls down the front and is therefore more prominent than the everyday, over-the-shoulder style.

For my brother's wedding, I wised up and wore a gorgeous lehenga, which looked fabulous without my needing a personal dressing-maid, and whose component pieces (a fitted embroidered silk top, and a flowing ankle-length) can be worn again as separates on other occasions (since I now have a whole bunch of saris that I never wear because, apparently, I can't put them on without expert help).

#421 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 08:57 PM:

Okay, herewith a selection as I finish the process of marking papers and actually (hurrah) enter the grades:

"King helped orcastrate numerous boycotts as well as the voter rights act of 1963."

"Americans believe that freedom of speech is a form of expression that everyone should be able to express how they feel without any restrictions or limitations on it."

"He showed the brutness of injustice, but it could be argued his lack of aggressiveness and rebelliousness made was a weakness."

"Their acts of courage as well as their willingness to be unselfish with their knowledge have whisked our world to a new domain."

"Barack Obama is the newest president of the United States of America, and all eyes are on him to take this nation to great lengths that they have never seen before."

"Bob Marley wanted equal rights for black people and he wanted blacks to free themselves form anti slavery."

#422 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 09:00 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale@381:

I've only gotten a couple answers to my inquiry, but apparently University Avenue in Berkely has a whole string of sari shops. I don't know how helpful that will be, not knowing the area myself, but that's from two different posters.

#423 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 09:25 PM:

Fragano @ #421, "He showed the brutness of injustice, but it could be argued his lack of aggressiveness and rebelliousness made was a weakness."

Um, who's the he (or, name that antecedent!)? That might at least give a hint as to what the sentence is intended to mean.

#424 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 09:32 PM:

Linkmeister #423: The "he" in question was Martin Luther King.

#425 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 09:42 PM:

Fragano @ 421: "orcastrate"

I'm very sorry, Fragano, but I simply cannot castrate orcs. Nor can I castrate orcas.

(packs bags, heads home in disgrace)

#426 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 09:46 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #421:

"King helped orcastrate numerous boycotts as well as the voter rights act of 1963."
Somehow I suspect the problem isn't that your student changed "orchidectomy" to "castrate" halfway through the word.

"Americans believe that freedom of speech is a form of expression that everyone should be able to express how they feel without any restrictions or limitations on it."
Is this a Möbius strip?

"He showed the brutness of injustice, but it could be argued his lack of aggressiveness and rebelliousness made was a weakness."
Brut? Less sweet, as in champagne?

"Their acts of courage as well as their willingness to be unselfish with their knowledge have whisked our world to a new domain."
Our world is now a soufflé. Explains a lot.

"Barack Obama is the newest president of the United States of America, and all eyes are on him to take this nation to great lengths that they have never seen before."
So close!

"Bob Marley wanted equal rights for black people and he wanted blacks to free themselves form anti slavery."
Clearly a different Bob Marley that the one I'm familiar with.

Fragano, you are a better man than I. I hope that these snippets aren't representative of the whole class.

#427 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 10:15 PM:

A burleycue dancer, a pip
Named Virginia could peel in a zip.
But she read science fiction
And died of constriction
Attempting a Möbius strip.

#428 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 10:22 PM:

O Encyclopaedia Fluorosphericana: I am in need of advice about online shopping carts, the technical use and features thereof, with particular interest in comparisons between PayPal's proprietary cart and open-source alternatives. I don't want to hijack the thread -- would anyone knowledgeable in this area please drop me an e-mail at the address linked from my name? Thanks.

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:12 PM:

Ginger @ 425... At least the writer talked about orcastrating boycotts, not boycuts. Must must use circumcision when certain subjects come up in a conservation.

#430 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:45 PM:

Serge @ 429 ...
Ginger @ 425... At least the writer talked about orcastrating boycotts, not boycuts. Must must use circumcision when certain subjects come up in a conservation.

... and here I thought they were dancing around the topic

#431 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 12:02 AM:

That sentence could easily be fixed.

#432 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 12:29 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 431 ...
That sentence could easily be fixed.

A snip here, a snip there?

#433 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 01:12 AM:

Speaking of mathematical verse, I find myself earwormed with trying to sing the digits of e to the tune of MacNamara's Band.

#434 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 02:56 AM:

J. Austin @422, Debcha @420

That concentration of stores seems like the best for around the Bay Area, although I'm checking with a neighborhood group for their recommendations.

Debcha- that's why I'm avoiding Sarees, even though I have a lovely one that a relative had got 50 years ago. The other types seem just as lovely and less safetypin-worrisome*.

I'll look for 'lehenga' too- those will work for weddings? Looking around all the choices is feeling dangerous, now that I have a goal- there's such beautiful cloth and design around, but for now I should buy just one (and also my guy's sherwani).

What did the other men at your brother's wedding wear?

* The non-sari-wear also has more chances that I'd wear it elsewhere.

#435 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 02:58 AM:

#410 ::: Ginger @ 410: Fragano: Is that Six Sigma Freud, the master black belt of process evaluation? The very same one who determined that homoscedasticity was related to a cold mother-board early in life?

No, it was Dr. E. Freud, the one who studied heteroscedasticity and was so much nicer.

#436 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 06:43 AM:

The mathematical limerick reminds me of a poem built around UNIX geeks' readings of punctuation symbols. I encountered it shortly after I got on the net, about two decades ago now:


Read thus:

Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash
Caret at back-tick dollar dollar dash.
Bang splat tick dollar underscore,
Percent splat waka waka number four.
Ampersand, right-paren, dot dot slash
Vertical-bar curly-bracket tilde tilde CRASH.

#437 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:03 AM:

Ginger: I count myself lucky that there was nothing remotely related to political theory that could have resulted in my seeing a reference to Alpha Adler. However, I assure you that my father (who castrated pigs and dogs) would have happily castrated orcs. Orcas, however, would probably have been beyond him; he was just a hill farmer.

#438 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:20 AM:

John Houghton #426: Two different classes, as a matter of fact. Fortunately for my aching head, they're not representative.

#439 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:48 AM:

429 et seq: I hope you won't think I'm getting teste, but I must point out that there's a vas deferens between circumcision and orcastration.

#440 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:49 AM:

Did these "writers" at least show improvement? Though, in some of your examples it might be difficult to call it improvement. Change, perhaps?

#441 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:56 AM:

Serge @ 386

Time-traveling causes the Doctor's plots to be quite tense. By the way, would you call travel to an alternate history a "subjunket"?

#442 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:37 AM:

Bruce Cohen@386

I suppose whether it's past tense or future tense depends on which direction he's travelling.

#443 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:57 AM:

John Houghton #440: Some did. No one sat in my office this year screaming at me for being too dense to appreciate the turbid unclarity of their prose. Most of the bad writing I see comes from efforts to impress me, which is not a bad thing in itself. Some of it is, of course, the result of the paper being written the night before it's due. Some is the result of excessive reliance on spellcheckers and failure to use the Mark 1 Eyeball.

#444 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 10:42 AM:

Fragano etc.:

An Icelandic professor friend of mine reported just yesterday that in grading papers for her ethics in science class, she found two which were largely copied from web sources. The miscreants were both chemistry majors and were friends; one supposes that they knew of each other's misdeeds.

My friend turned them in immediately, of course. They've already been lectured by their doctoral advisor and next will face departmental disciplinary action. My friend reports that most of the time people who commit such acts are given second chances; given that this was an _ethics_ class and that the department chair is livid, that's not likely to happen this time.

One thing that tipped her off was that these papers were better written than these students' usual work.

#445 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 10:55 AM:

I've just been looking at a piece of fiction I wrote, which has finally ended up on the web.

I thought I'd spotted all the errors.


What I spotted this time was ordinary typo stuff, not the horrors that Fragano reports.

Unless you count gratuitous Kipling as a horror.

#446 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 10:59 AM:

Dave - never Kipple gratuitously.


#447 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:09 AM:

Xopher @ 446: In the spirit of tying together two topics, I say unto you, "Keep the tip!"

#448 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:12 AM:

Melissa #444:

*Ouch*! Gee, did these students learn a lot from their ethics in science class? Maybe not....

#449 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:29 AM:

Yes, I could have done better...gratuitous Kipling would be leaving a copy of The Jungle Book on the table after a meal, wouldn't it?

#450 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 12:44 PM:

Be advised: all the discussion of orcastration have been noted, are being arranged and such measures as need taking will be performed.

#451 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 12:49 PM:

Melissa Singer #444: Generally, any disjuncture in the quality of writing in a paper will send me rushing to Google. I do have a very clear policy on plagiarism, and I enforce it. This tends to upset students, for some reason.

#452 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 12:53 PM:

Terry @ 450: That's music to my ears.

#453 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 01:30 PM:

Sorry, I just need to vent a little here. Anyone who's not a voter in California can skip this one.

I bloody hate California state propositions. I'm not a politician. I'm not an economist. I'm not a lawyer. I don't have the magical ability to see into the future. Why are they asking me, who's not an expert in these things, how to shape California's economic policies? Isn't that the legislature's job? I know they seem to be stuck doing penny-ante bullshit instead of figuring out how to run the state, but come on.

I'm almost tempted to just vote for the ones that all the no new taxes people oppose. Does anyone have any better ideas or pointers to websites that I can trust?

#454 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 01:51 PM:

KeithS @ 453... That's the thing I didn't get about California's system, when I was living there. It recently gave us the not-so-wonderful Prop 8 garbage.

#455 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 02:10 PM:

Serge @ 454:

In an ideal world, it seems like it should be a good system. The legislature does its job, and people who have full and complete information about new proposals that the legislature doesn't want to be involved in get a direct vote. Democracy at its finest.

Unfortunately, in this best of all possible worlds, the legislature regularly punts things that it can't be bothered to figure out to the voters, and people hire signature collectors to get their own craziness added to the ballot as well. Then we get to see the texts of the proposed laws, which still is not full information even to a lawyer, and get slick, multi-million dollar advertising campaigns trying to persuade us to vote one way or another.

This go around it seems to be entirely regarding budgetary issues. I want them to make budgets on time, I want schools and universities to be funded, I want healthcare to be funded, but I have absolutely no clue whether these initiatives will actually do what they say they're supposed to do, because I'm not steeped in California state legislative minutae. Every single one of these propositions was put on the ballot by the legislature. All of them.

Sorry, I'm just annoyed right now. If this is democracy, I don't see why we should wish it on anyone.

ObThreadTangling: The instructions on my mail-in ballot start: "Please use a black or blue ink pen to mark your choices on the ballot." California doesn't have the pen/pin sound issue, and it doesn't have the British differentiation between a ball-point and a fountain pen. And it's written, not spoken. Ink pen seems wonderfully redundant.

#456 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 02:14 PM:

KeithS (455): "Please use a black or blue ink pen to mark your choices on the ballot."

I think they meant "black- or blue-ink pen"; that is, a pen with black or blue ink, not an ink pen that is black or blue. But yes, confusing!

#457 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 02:15 PM:

Since people were concerned by Serge's absence, I'll just leave a note that I'm going to be gone for about a week and a half. My mother health and mental condition has taken a turn for the worse, and my brother suggested I get there ASAP.

For those following at home, I suspect she's had another stroke, and again, it sounds as though she is getting essentially no care or treatment from the local health clinic or hospital. My brother's moved her into his house so he can care for her better, but he sounds at wits' end.

#458 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 457 ...
Yargh! My wishes to you for the best outcome, whatever that may ultimately be. It's very hard dealing with medical issues for folk in the best of conditions.

#459 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 02:40 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 456:

Hyphens make all the difference. You might be right.

Clifton Royston @ 457:

I wish you well with that. Dealing with those sorts of situations is never fun.

#460 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Fragano Ledgister@451: any disjuncture in the quality of writing in a paper will send me rushing to Google

My Renaissance and Reformation professor accused me of cheating on a final, and nearly failed me, not because my comprehension for the essay seemed to have taken a giant leap over the previous offerings, but because my writing was too "flowery" for a person "of my level." He used to just give us the question, then go back to his office to watch basketball, which gave anyone who felt like it ample opportunity to pull an already filled bluebook out of their backpack and leave. I didn't. I've never been able to stay awake for lecture classes, but we were studying Martin Luther, and I felt like I understood him. All I could say was, "I actually read the material this time." He grilled me for about an hour, then changed my "F" to a "B-". (!)

I'm dying to dedicate my first novel to him, but I don't think my karma could stand it.

#461 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:02 PM:

Open threadiness: Has anyone here ever done a Drunkard's Path or other quilt with small circular piecing? Any advice or tips?

#462 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:04 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 451: any disjuncture in the quality of writing in a paper will send me rushing to Google

Sure. Another favourite was when I found that parts of a lab report were written (by hand) with much wider margins than the rest, and words hyphenated or otherwise split up unnecessarily. See, when a student does a word-for-word copy from a piece of text written with a larger font or handwriting, and isn't even thinking about it enough to "reformat" to fit the page...

#463 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:07 PM:

So, I saw Star Trek last night, and was very impressed. They clearly put a lot of thought into trying to balance respect for the original cast and continuity with creating a new and compelling setting for the characters they've reimagined. Very well done, indeed, and highly recommended to fans and not-fans, alike. The several not-previously-fans I've spoken to about it all enjoyed it, which is impressive in and of itself.

Now, on to the spoilers!

Fb, Fcbpx/Huhen. Ubj pna jr svg guvf vagb n fgehpgher gung vf oryvrinoyr sbe gur punenpgref jr xabj va fhpu n zvabe nygrengvba bs gur gvzryvar? Zl orfg fubg: Gur qrfgehpgvba bs gur Xryiva yrnqf gur Npnqrzl gb er-rinyhngr gur rzbgvbany erfbanapr gurl ner gelvat gb grfg jvgu gur Xbovlnfuv Zneh fvzhyngvba, na vavgvngvir gung pbzrf gb n urnq juvyr Fcbpx vf pbzcyrgvat uvf nqinaprq genvavat (v.r., ur orpbzrf gur fvzhyngvba urnq'f tehag-jbex tenq fghqrag). Uvf jbex ba gur fvzhyngvba vf fb vzcerffvir gung ur'f nffvtarq gb urnq hc cebtenzzvat sbe gur grfg vafgrnq bs gur oregu ba n fpvrapr zvffvba gung jbhyq unir bpphcvrq GBF Fcbpx. Guvf vf tbbq jbex, ohg abg gur punyyratr lbhat Fcbpx arrqf gb or shyyl ratntrq, naq fb n oberq naq sehfgengrq lbhat unys-Ihypna vf zber vagrerfgrq va rkcybevat uvf frkhnyvgl guna n shysvyyrq naq jbex-vzzrefrq bar jbhyq or.

#464 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Clifton... My best wishes.

#465 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:10 PM:

As a tech support representative, I really, really enjoy (and, of course, its longer alias). Of course, with most of the clients that really, really need that service both influential and lacking a sense of self-deprecating humour, actually sending it back as a link would be a CLM. But I think that Prof. Ledgister would have neither of those issues, and could probably get the point across quite quickly with something like:


And it's been that way for ever. My mother, when marking essays back when she was in university would label sections with "cite?" She was once asked by the person who had done it how she could tell; did she know everything anyone had ever written about the subject? "Well, the writing got much better about , and went back to normal ." Which would be the pre-ARPANET equivalent of, I guess...

#466 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:16 PM:

J Austin #460: Generally, when the style changes from limping in paragraph one to limpid in paragraph two it's a dead giveaway. Or when the student makes assertions that seem extremely unlikely for an average undergraduate. My favourite was the student who claimed that Mussolini was really a leftie all his life. To do that required more knowledge of Bennie than the average American undergrad would be likely to possess. In that particular case, I had to deal with a sudden outflow of crocodile tears when I asked the student in question how long she'd been teaching at the University of New South Wales.

Why is it that young people seem to think that Google is a secret unpenetrable to people over thirty? Or, for that matter, why they seem so shocked when they discover that their professors are on Facebook?

#467 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:17 PM:

And, in the nature of all speeling miskate comments triggering one of your own, I forgot this was a real HTML blog.
"Well, the writing got much better about <here>, and went back to normal <here>."

Sorry all.

#468 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:17 PM:

Open thread random computer security comment:

ISTM that not everyone realizes that a bunch of common file types are now being used (carried by email) to take over your computer. This article on the fsecure blog shows the breakdown of file type targeted attacks. Although I don't know of any current exploits based on this, a couple years back, someone was using zip files to do this. Also, many years ago, people started writing macro viruses for Word and Excel. However, I believe the weaknesses these attacks are exploiting are not just about macros.

It might not be a bad idea to download Open Office and use it to open .doc, .ppt, and .xls files from the net, though there's no reason attackers can't find holes in Open Office as well. This article recommends replacing Adobe with some other PDF viewer, and links to a list of other known PDF viewers.

An alternative is to use an online viewer for untrusted files--obviously, that raises some problems when the file might have confidential data, but Google Docs will open Word, Powerpoint, and Excel files. There are various online PDF viewers out there, but I don't know anything about the folks who offer the services and what they do with the content or information they get from you. I think you can get all these file types to open on scribd, too, but I haven't used it.

One thing that I find really interesting about all this is that a lot of these file types are being used in tightly targeted attacks--I send you, personally, a PDF file with some relevant-to-you-looking information in it, in order to take over your computer. That's rather different than the more common case of my virus sending out a gazillion of these files to everyone as attachments.

I hope this is helpful.

#469 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:22 PM:

Skwid @ 463 -

My wife and I saw the movie last night as well (and if you have an Imax version playing nearby, it's worth the extra few bucks), and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

I welcomed the changes they made -- the desire to adhere to old established timelines and canon had made Trek start to feel a bit creaky, and a reboot was definitely in order. The young actors took the best of classic Trek and freshened it with contemporary interpretations. And that ship is gorgeous!

#470 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:28 PM:

Fragano @ 466... They are shocked, shocked?

#471 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:28 PM:

KiethS: The system is broken. It's broken because a couple of groups have exploited it.

Ignoring the social issues, the real problem is the tax issues, and those stem from Prop. 13.The problem with Prop. 13 isn't the 1 percent cap on property taxes; or the restrictions on reappraisal. Those were, and are, limited in effect. They have other pernicious effects, which are part and parcel of the real problem.

Prop. 13 requires a 2/3rds approval for increasing any tax. Be it by legislation, or referendum. That's an almost impossible burden. The trouble is getting the legislature to pass a tax is (esp. in this climate, almost impossible. There are enough "no taxes, ever" people in the gov't, to prevent pretty much anything from passing.

Which leaves things to the public; who are, as you say, less than completely informed.

Now comes problem the second. Bonds. Bonds are presented as, "free" money. No increase in taxes, and the money comes rolling in from the people who by them. But the problem is they have to be paid back, and the profit the buyers get isn't taxed by the state. Bonds cost about twice what they bring in, when the repayment is done. They also move a fair bit of money into the hands of the companies which issue them, on behalf of the state.

The money to repay the bonds comes out of the general fund (there is one exception, CalVet bonds are let against property. It's the California equivalent of the VA Loan, and has never lost money). So the taxpayer has to pay. Which makes the bonds, effectively, a special tax.

Worse, it's a tax which pulls money from other uses to cover the special case.

Bonds only require 50 percent of the vote to pass.

Historically bonds have passed with about 53 percent in favor.

Taxes have, historically, failed with about 57 percent of the vote. In short, more people are willing to pay an open tax (this is probably because Calif. has been very good about building sunsets clauses into referenda taxes).

If we changed the law, so that bonds and taxes both required 55 percent to pass, a lot of that would change.


Regarding the present batch of initiatives: They are poison pills, designed by the Grover Norquist crowd, to make gov't more drownable. It's two pronged. The first part is to lock up money. The, "rainy day" requirements are a way to shrink the available funds. Which means services will have to be cut. When the economy shrinks, the rainy day fund will put a brake on the ability of the gov't to engage in any sort of Keynsian policies (decrease in revenue stream, and need to keep the percentage up).

The second thing they hope for (I think) is to make it seem gov't can't do anything; and so degrade confidence. Reagan strikes again.

To get some good press (which thankfully seems to be going nowhere) they wrote 1B, which makes it seem they care about teachers. But the education money only comes if 1B passes. What it does (if I understand it) is to divert some of the "rainy day" fund to the teachers, which means it takes longer to fill it, which means more time with the income to the general fund reduced, and so a longer time when taxes have stayed the same, but gov't services have to be reduced.

So 1B is doing double duty too.

The rest are all window dressing and pie in the sky things (how is the lottery going to be more profitable? What's going to suddenly cause it to pump the schools full of more money..? Nothing, but there will be tax-dollars spent to try, etc.).

The reason we don't get budgets passed on time is the same 2/3rds requirement. A handful of assembley member can (and do) hold it up, every year, until they get some piece of special consideration they want (often enough, a bit of pork).

Now I think I have the meat of the post I've been meaning to write on this, thanks.

#472 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:35 PM:

Fragano Ledgister@466:

Oh, I wasn't saying anything about your grading methods!--I get "disjuncture"--just that a much larger break in pattern nearly got me failed in a class it was much too late to drop. I turned in one competent essay and my professor thought it had to mean I was cheating. Doesn't say much for my first crack at college, does it?

I'm the slow kitty in my family anyway; I can't hold on to structured information in a meaningful pattern for very long. My poor Gran, who had revealed to thirty years' worth of students that they were not, in fact, stupid, finally had to give up on me when we had to start over at sentence diagramming every day. I can make good sentences, I just can't tell you why. She never said I was stupid, though, she just teased that I was smart in unmarketable ways.

I had the same problem with knitting, coincidentally. I spent a whole summer trying to learn how, but I had to start over with basic "knit and perl" every day. By the end of the summer, everyone else had gone through a scarf, an afghan, a sweater, and a purse. I still had the same trapezoidal swatch of lilac yarn.

#473 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:35 PM:

KeithS, #455: I strongly suspect that in this case it was a clumsy formulation of "a pen containing black or blue ink" (as opposed to, say, green or pink ink, or a #2 pencil). But yeah, very odd as written... and I see that Mary Aileen beat me to it.

Clifton: GoodThoughts being sent for you and your mother & brother -- sounds like you all need them!

May I suggest that a Star Trek movie discussion thread might be appropriate, to avoid people having to ROT13 spoilers?

#474 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:36 PM:

Clifton, my thoughts will be with you.

On the subject of student writing . . . dd is not brilliant at punctuation (drat it, but they don't actually teach that in NYC anymore), but her _thinking_, especially in certain areas, is pretty darn sharp.

Her literacy teacher (7th grade now) argued with her quite a bit during the Poe unit, claiming that dd "couldn't understand" Poe's themes and that someone must have helped her with her essay on "strange illness in Poe." DD, who had read not just the assigned three stories but everything else she had time for, proceeded to pull additional examples out of the rest of the material and was able to prove her case and get her 4 (top grade). But she came home with steam coming out of her ears.

Sorry, in literacy, the kid knows what she's talking about. And in social studies, they only let her debate in about every third debate, because she tends to mop the floor with her opponent even when arguing the "bad" side (she won the slavery debate, arguing "for"--the teacher put her on that side hoping it would slow her down).

Her writing skills haven't caught up yet, but when they do, she's going to be scary.

#475 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:51 PM:

Skwid, 463:

Gur guvat V qvqa'g dhvgr tenfc vf jul gur cnvevat bs Huhen jvgu Fcbpx? VVEP, gur BF punenpgre jub unq gur ovttrfg pehfu ba uvz jnf Puevfgvar Puncry. Zl zrzbel znl or (cebonoyl vf) snhygl, ohg V whfg qba'g erpnyy n ovt ebznagvp cbgragvny orgjrra Fcbpx naq Huhen.

Nyfb, jung qbrf guvf fnl nobhg gur bevtvany pnaba Ihypnaf' eryrtngvba bs frkhny npgvivgl ynetryl gb gur gvzr bs cba snee? Unf Noenzf jevggra gung bhg bs gur arj Gerx-irefr, naq vs fb, ol jung zrpunavfz?

#476 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 04:03 PM:

I was a slacker kind of kid who was bored to tears with most of junior high and high school. When we moved from Utah to Illinois between 7th and 8th grades I found that my new school did not have different levels of english and math, as my previous school had, but instead had a double period for Language Arts. After about two weeks, I surmised it was remedial. Very few kids who had grown up in that district thought of reading as anything other than a chore.

I got called into the principal's office in 8th grade for allegedly plagiarizing a paper on WWII. Some rather disgruntled sarcasm from me and an emergency conference with my Language Arts teacher (who confirmed that yes, I was a lazy thing who rarely did homework, but also, I was able to write a passable 8th grade level essay on the fly) got me off the hook.

#477 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 04:16 PM:

Thanks all for the good wishes. Taxi coming in about an hour to take us to the airport.

I'm hoping it will turn out not to be as bad as I made it sound, but my brother is usually the one who minimizes everything, so.... I don't know. I'm just trying to stay unsure and open my heart and mind to whatever situation I find.

#478 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 04:31 PM:

Clifton: Good luck and safe home.

#479 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 04:32 PM:

Clifton: some more good wishes. This stuff is very difficult.

#480 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 04:42 PM:

Terry Karney @ 471:

Thanks. That's probably the best general and specific explanation I've read.

Lee @ 473 and Mary Aileen @ 456 (again):

Thinking about it more, it's technically correct to say black-ink pen, but people don't say that (no one I've met, at least). They say black pen, which some smartass will claim means the color of the pen body rather than the ink inside it, or pen with black ink. Hmm...

#481 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 04:57 PM:

Summer @ 475 on Trek:

Fb sne nf V xabj gurer jnf arire vagvzngvba bs purzvfgel orgjrra gur gjb va GBF, ohg V pna frr frireny ernfbaf jul vg'f n orggre pubvpr va gur arj pbagvahvgl. Svefg, pbafreingvba bs punenpgref. Puncry vf n avpr ohg aba-arprffnel fhccbegvat ebyr, naq rfgnoyvfuvat ure punenpgre jbhyq or qvssvphyg gb jbex vagb gur fgbel. Frpbaqyl, n engvbanyr jul Huhen zvtug or fghqlvat, nurz...haqre Fcbpx vf rnfl gb pbawher, jurernf Puncry, abg fb zhpu. Guveqyl, gur npgerff gurl pnfg nf Huhen vf fb zvaq-ahzovatyl ubg vg'f vzcbffvoyr gb vzntvar rira n shyy-oybbqrq Ihypna abg jnagvat ure. Tenagrq, gung ynfg cbvag zvtug or fyvtugyl fhowrpgvir.

Naljnl, gur nfrkhnyvgl bs Ihypnaf bhgfvqr bs Cba-snee unf orra fgrnqvyl haqre nffnhyg fvapr GAT ng gur yngrfg, naq nethnoyl fvapr "Nzbx Gvzr," vgfrys. Vg'f n qnza vapbairavrapr gb fgbelgryyvat, erzbivat gung ragver qvzrafvba bs grafvba sebz vagrecrefbany qlanzvpf. Gurer ner cyragl bs pnaba ovgf gung vzcyl gung Ihypnaf ner pncnoyr bs frkhny eryngvbaf bhgfvqr bs Cba-snee, evtug hc gb Fcbpx'f orgebgurq "qrfvevat" gung bgure qhqr, naq bs pbhefr zl frirer qbhog gung gurer jbhyq or gur ahzore bs Uhzna-Ihypna eryngvbafuvcf jr'ir frra vs gung jrer gur pnfr.

#482 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 04:58 PM:

Carrie S (461): I done a couple of quilted things (scroll all the way down) with curves. My hard-won advice is to mark both sides of the curve at least every two inches (closer for tighter curves) and be very careful about matching up the marks as you pin and sew.

#483 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 05:20 PM:

Skwid, 481, Trek:

Bu, nterrq; gur arj Huhen *vf* ubg - naq V fnl guvf nf n urgrebfrkhny jbzna. Ohg fgvyy, V'z ernyyl ubcvat guvf vfa'g tbvat gb vagehqr vagb gur qlanzvpf bs gur arj 'irefr fb zhpu gung vg orpbzrf n qvfgenpgvba. (Avgcvpx: npgvir ebznagvp eryngvbafuvc orgjrra fhcrevbe naq fhobeqvangr va guvf fbeg bs raivebazrag; ubj ybat pbhyq gurl ernyyl trg njnl jvgu gung?)

Fvqr abgr gb WW Noenzf: Ybfr gur frkvfg havsbezf sbe gur srznyr punenpgref arkg gvzr, cyrnfr. V ernyvmr gung FS, naq creuncf rfcrpvnyyl FG, vaibyirf fvtavsvpnag fhfcrafvba bs qvforyvrs, ohg V svaq perqvovyvgl fgergpurq gb gur yvzvg naq orlbaq ol gur cebfcrpg bs na nyyrtrqyl rayvtugrarq naq rtnyvgnevna fbpvrgl'f Fgnesyrrg chggvat vgf srznyr zrzoref vagb havsbezf gung ner fb pyrneyl qrfvtarq sbe gur checbfrf bs cebivqvat rlr-pnaql ng gur rkcrafr bs cenpgvpnyvgl be pbzsbeg. V zrna, juvyr ba bar yriry V pna haqrefgnaq gur grzcgngvba gbjneq snafreivpr gb lbhe znyr nhqvrapr naq nyy gung, vfa'g vg nobhg gvzr gb ernyvmr gung n abg-vafvtavsvpnag crepragntr bs gur Gerx sna onfr vf srznyr? (Naq ab, V qba'g zrna gung V jnag gb frr gur znyr punenpgref va fvzvyneyl-erirnyvat havsbezf; V'q fvzcyl yvxr gb guvax gung Fgnesyrrg jbhyq qerff nyy vgf crefbaary va shapgvbany, pbzsbegnoyr havsbezf, ertneqyrff bs traqre.

Other than that, and a few other assorted bits which I ought probably to address in my own patch of cyberspace rather than wasting our esteemed Hosts' bandwidth, I *did* thoroughly enjoy the movie when I managed to see in an advance screening a couple of weeks ago.

#484 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 05:29 PM:


Good luck with it. Please tell us how it comes out, and if you need someplace to vent, to fret, or to bounce thoughts around, we're here.

#485 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 07:09 PM:

Clifton, #457, I hope things go as well as they can.

The library bookgroup is working out what day/time to see the Star Trek movie.

#486 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Fragano Ledgister, 466: Why is it that young people seem to think that Google is a secret unpenetrable to people over thirty?

Not just young people, I'm afraid. I was peer-reviewing a journal article that was written by a single author, in Russia, with no institutional affiliation. The prose was quite sophisticated for someone whose first language was presumably not English. So I identified a 'statistically improbable phrase,' typed it into Google Scholar, and found that the author had plagiarized...himself. The same article, word for word, had already been published elsewhere--only the title had been changed. Needless to say, I sent a short note and a PDF of the original article back to the journal editor.

Total elapsed time: under ten minutes.

#487 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:33 PM:

Serge #466: They seem to, ahem, be. It's rather like discovering your parents, you know...

#488 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:34 PM:

Clifton: Good luck and get home in one piece.

#489 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:38 PM:

J Austin #472: You, obviously, have a different way of learning. That can lead to interesting results. Sometimes, no doubt, to confusing ones.

#490 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:44 PM:

debcha #486: Now that's chutzpah. My favourite story regards a plagiarism committed by an undergraduate at another institution. He turned in a well-written essay. He'd gone to the library and found an article in a journal and gone to the trouble of copying it by hand into his computer. He hadn't realised that the fact that the author of the article had the same name as the professor teaching the course might just mean that it was by the professor teaching the course. What made it particularly ironic, according to the aforementioned professor, was that he (the author that is), had changed his mind on the subject of the article since publication.

#491 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 10:17 PM:

Fragano @ 487: My parents are what now? Plagiarising? I think not. My mother's last publications were in 1999.

#492 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 10:30 PM:


No, think more like discovering your parents in the act of doing what it took to produce you.

#493 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:07 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 490:

My grandmother told me about a student who borrowed one of her reference books and returned it when she turned in her paper. Bits of the student's paper were copied straight from the text. There has to be some sort of award for that.

#494 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:08 PM:

Ginger #491: Well, you know, my dear lass, when a mummy and a daddy love each over very much....

#495 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 12:02 AM:

Summer Storms #492:

I think she'd need a time machine for that.

#496 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 12:17 AM:

Fragano Ledgister@489: Sometimes, no doubt, to confusing ones.

Mostly, frustrating ones. I'm pretty sure I'm not stupid, but it's really hard to prove it sometimes;)

My favorite (now) question from umpteen exasperated math teachers is, "Well, if you didn't understand, why didn't you say?"
Um, because you have to know you're not understanding in order to bring it to someone's attention? Everything can be making perfectly good sense to the student, until the test comes back.

I usually hate "aha moments," when something alien suddenly makes beautiful, perfect, crystalline sense. Then all the pieces start to drift away, to attach themselves to other bits of trivia. Still shiny, but their utility is gone.

"Er...a cosine is--uh...Camels have elliptical red blood cells!"

#497 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 01:06 AM:

Trek: Va GBF, gurer jnf na rcvfbqr jurer gur perj vf unatvat bhg, Fcbpx vf cynlvat uvf Ihypna yler, naq Huhen fgnegf fvatvat syvegngvbhfyl "Gurer'f n zna, ba gur Ragrecevfr / Jubfr rlrf, pna ulcabgvmr... ". V qba'g guvax vg jnf *vagraqrq* va GBF, ohg vg zvtug abg or n fgergpu gb vzntvar gurl unq n uvfgbel.

#498 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 01:14 AM:

J Austin @ 496 ...
I usually hate "aha moments," when something alien suddenly makes beautiful, perfect, crystalline sense. Then all the pieces start to drift away, to attach themselves to other bits of trivia. Still shiny, but their utility is gone.

Out of curiousity, have you ever been tested for ADD? This article about the inattentive subtype of ADD isn't the one I was looking for, but still gives an idea. The quick summary would be 'lose the hyperactivity and risk taking, and move into "things just slide out of my brain, and I can't tell why"'.

#499 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 01:32 AM:


No, I never have. I always thought of ADD as part of a hyperactive nature, so it never would have occurred to me. The being invisible part is so, so familiar--that's something I whine to my friends about almost constantly. But if I could just have reading for pleasure back, that would be so wonderful...

Um, how do you get tested for things like that, please?

#500 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:10 AM:

KeithS @ 453

For the last decade or so I've been using a system similar to the one you're tempted to use when an initiative on the Oregon ballot is either unclear, difficult to analyze, or seems likely to have unmentioned or unexpected side-effects. I check to see if one of the sponsers, or one of the parties submitting pro or con arguments to the voter's pamplet is one of the usual suspects: a group of professional initiative writers and bigoted early anthropoids who always put at least 4 initiatives into every major ballot. Then I simply vote against them. Of course a lot of times I can tell even before I see the names because the initiative is one of:
 * anti-gay-rights initiative (usually with some Orwellian title such as "Prohibits special rights")
 * anti-tax initiative or any move to reduce education funding
 * anti-land-use-planning initiative (Orwellspeak: "Property rights")
 * any amendment or modification of the state constitution (I figure that tinkering with the Constitution, like playing with the fabric of spacetime, is something to be done after long thought, and with great care)

#501 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:30 AM:

J Austin @ #499, I did a Google search for "ADD diagnosis in adults" (without quotes) and got a bazillion hits. This page has a section about 1/4 of the way down discussing adult diagnosis. Looks like a psychologist or psychiatrist should be the specialist consulted.

#502 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:39 AM:

Some of the sayings in that "Talking Texan" particle aren't exclusively Texan. "Shit in one hand, wish in the other" is one I heard as a wee kid on the docks in Alaska; the full proverb is, "Shit in one hand, wish in the other; all you'll have is a handful of shit." "More nervous than a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs" is somewhere in Laura Ingalls Wilder IIRC.

"Shittin' and flyin" is a good one!

#503 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:41 AM:


Thank you. I've been googling, too, and I'm taken aback at how familiar it all sounds. I've been forcing my doctor to take blood every year for my physical, because I was so sure something had to be wrong with my thyroid.

My boss at work has a son with Asperger's, so I can maybe ask her for a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist, since I have no idea where to even start.

#504 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:43 AM:

J Austin @ #499, Addendum to my #501: the page I linked to also has a 6-question one-page self-diagnostic test (.pdf) which requires you to answer the questions with Xs in the blocks provided. The choices are in the form of "how often do you..." and the answers are either Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, or Very Often. If 4 or more answers are in the "Sometimes," "Often" or "Very Often" range the authors suggest a clinical evaluation might be in order.

The test is a subset of the World Health Organization's 18-question symptom checklist.

#505 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:48 AM:

Jenny Islander @ #502, Loggins and Messina sang a very lively song using the following phrase to start it off:

"Long tailed cat sitting by the old rocking chair
He don't realize that there's a danger there"

#506 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:49 AM:

Terry @121, 123, yup, Richard {ben} Sapir is author but title is The Far Arena. Other books called The Last Gladiator or Last of the Gladiators look interesting tho'.

#507 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:51 AM:

Xeger@498: If this turns out to be right, I don't think I'll ever have the words to thank you. I hope you like quirky handmade jewelry heavy on the copper.

#508 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:51 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 500: Well put — that is the perfect, canonical list for assessing ballot initiatives. When John Kitzhaber was governor, he'd put a PRO or CON in the voter's pamphlet on all the initiatives. When the other rules failed me, I'd see what he thought.
Thank heavens for Oregon's vote by mail system. It makes navigating our long ballots a bit less pressured.

#509 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:54 AM:

J Austin @ #503, if you've got a primary doctor in your health plan he or she should be able to refer you as well. If your boss's son has Asperger's then I'd think he or she ought to be sympathetic, but employers can be unfeeling about mental health.

#510 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:07 AM:


It's not a career or anything. I've been stuck in a shitty retail job for the pas--oh god, the acid--for a really long time, and they don't care as long as I show up. I've got insurance through my husband's job, but my primary always just looks at me like I'm hogging his air, and waits for me to tell him what's wrong with me.

The Assistant Mgr is pretty cool, and has experience hunting down specialists that actually listen.

#511 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:13 AM:

J Austen @ 503

There are psychiatrists who specialize in ADD, often in both children and adults, so try a referral service or just googling. When I was 50 I was referred to one such therapist by the employee assistance help line of the health insurer for my then employer. Turned out to be one of the best referrals I ever got; he was able not only to prescribe a drug that helped my short-term memory, but also to help me develop new strategies for organizing myself and my work that took the attention and memory problems into account.

To give you another view of what might be the problem, here's what sometimes happens to me when I'm concentrating on a line of thought. I'll be going along, and some distraction will occur, such as a noise, or someone asking a question. The train of thought will so completely disappear that I can't even remember what the topic was. About one time in five I can reconstruct it by starting from a previous line of thought and following the trail from one subject to another, but most of the time it's just lost. Does this sound familiar?

#512 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:19 AM:

Epacris: Yes. Thank you. I think I ought to read it again. It's a really good book, much better than the premise implies.

#513 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:32 AM:

Bruce Cohen@511:

I have literally had to go back three and four times to a tab where I've just looked up a word to use, and forgotten either the word or the definition of it between clicking from the dictionary page to the paragraph I'm working on.

It's not that bad all the time, but I just feel like I'm getting stupider and stupider as I get older, and presence of physical symptoms like lethargy just clinched it for me. I hope to god this is right.

#514 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 08:14 AM:

I'd always heard it as "shit in one hand, wish in the other; see which one fills up first."

#515 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 08:31 AM:

re 481: Vg frrzf gb zr gung vg jnf rfgnoyvfurq nf pnaba gung Ihypna frkhny nssrpgvba vf abg pbasvarq gb cba snee onpx va Wbhearl gb Onory. Vg'f whfg gung Jura gur Gvzr Pbzrf, gur hetr gb fjvz hcfgernz fjnzcf rirelguvat ryfr.

#516 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 08:58 AM:

Summer storms @ #475, Fcbpx--guvf Fcbpx--frrzf zhpu zber pbzsbegnoyr guna gur bevtvany irefvba jvgu rkcybevat gur snpg gung ur vf unys-uhzna.

More generally:
Nyfb gur Fcbpx/Huhen jvgu Xvex yrsg bhg va gur pbyq tvirf na ragveryl arj fcva gb gur snzbhf hajvyyvat Huhen/Xvex xvff: "Bu penc, Huhen, V'z fb fbeel, guvf vf ABG zl vqrn, V xabj lbh'er abg vagb zr..."

#517 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 09:47 AM:

J Austin @ 513 ...
It's not that bad all the time, but I just feel like I'm getting stupider and stupider as I get older, and presence of physical symptoms like lethargy just clinched it for me. I hope to god this is right.

I really hope it helps some -- if nothing else, it's wonderful to think "Waidda minute... you mean it might not 'just be me'?!?"

One of the classic books about adult ADD is You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder, and contents aside, I think they nailed it on the title.

#518 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 10:52 AM:

Terry at 471, thank you for your comments on the CA ballot initiatives. It's been driving me crazy to read them because they are fundamentally substance-less, and I couldn't figure out what they were designed to actually, er, do. (Anyone have a problem with my split infinitives? I didn't think so.) You've clarified it. Bless you.

#519 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 10:58 AM:

KeithS, #453: try Calitics.

Terry Karney, #471: I am concerned that UC may not survive the present crunch as anything but an underfunded teaching school. That would be a huge loss. It's possible that UC simply will not open in the fall. In addition, tens of thousands of teachers have been let go in California. Honestly, I don't see how the state can recover in less than two generations.

Washington is almost as bad off. Think about that for a moment: the state where Microsoft is located and where Boeing still maintains major factories is too miserly to pay for teachers or maintain its excellent research university. It can, however, afford numerous expensive road projects.

We need to revive the words "miserly" and "usury."

#520 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 11:22 AM:

Randolph: It can afford those road projects because of bonds.

Want to talk stupid... the new GI bill pays for tuition. The states get to report what the cost of an in-state education costs. Calif. used straight tuition.

Total available, a bit less than 4,000 (as I recall).

Texas used tution, and fees. Total available, something like 60,000. I'm going back to school. I'll have to make up about 3,000, to go to a CS (I only qualify for 60 percent of the benefit).

The problems of Prop 13 are what you get when you insist all taxes are bad (the opponents of 1A are focusing on the "extension" of taxes that paying the teachers will cause. 1 percent sales tax for two years. Whoo... horrors. I may break my pearls I am clutching them so hard).

#521 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 11:52 AM:

Dollhouse: Pyrneyl jubrire pnzr hc jvgu gur gurbel nobhg Juvfxrl jnf evtug. Nz V gur bayl bar jub guvaxf Gbcure qvqa'g znxr gur Fnhaqref vzcevag ungr uvz ba checbfr, ohg gung Fnhaqref ungrq uvz sbe uvf bja ernfbaf naq Gbcure arire xarj?

Pnebyvar vf n ovg zber bs n ibyhagrre nf bs ynfg avtug'f rc; fur pbhyq unir rfpncrq, ohg qrpvqrq abg gb.

Jr abj xabj sbe fher gung gur Qbyyubhfr qbrf hfr qbyyf nf fgnss va fbzr pvephzfgnaprf. V jbaqre vs "hahfnoyr nf na Npgvir" vf gur bayl pvephzfgnapr.

I sure hope this show gets renewed. I think it's unlikely, though. Either way I'm buying the DVDs.

#522 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 12:50 PM:


The UW and WSU are not as badly off as the UC system, but mostly because state funding is usually a smaller part of their budgets. The situation in K-12 is scary, though.

The problem with being the home of Boeing isn't so much 'miserly' as 'massive subsidies to bribe Boeing to stay here'. The bidding wars over being the home of the new Boeing Dreamliner were ferocious.

#523 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 01:03 PM:

Thomas: I recall that (I was in Ft. Lewis at the time) Someone pointed out the corporate tax breaks, "to keep jobs" in Wash. amounted to something like 8 billion dollars. The deficit was 6 billion dollars.

That, and the function of such breaks is to impose income taxes on the workers, while the corporation (which uses road, electric, police, fire, medical water, etc., infrastructures) gets to export the money it makes.

Nasty things those, "tax incentives". They don't expire, because when the time comes for that, the companies threaten to leave.

#524 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 01:14 PM:

Randolph, not only are the road projects you mention funded by bond issues, but the people of the state of Washington have explicitly approved gas tax increases to pay for roads. Some of the road projects thus funded are places where new automated techniques in road bed and surface construction were used in the sixties, to disasterous effect when it comes to useful life of the roads; the horrific surface between Milton and Midway on I-5 being a uniquiely bad example.

I'm prone to the less-traffic solutions; my favorite Alaska Way Viaduct solution is still "tear it down and let people learn to live with it" but there are some places where the existing combination of housing stock and arterial access are out of whack, and have massive effects in fuel consumption and air quality: 167 and I-5 in Pierce County, for painful instance. And then we have other problems with bad 60's era engineering assumptions: I-5, again, in the Centralia/Chehalis area.

Not building roads doesn't solve the state's underlying revenue insanity: no income tax, and the whole Tim Eyeman induced inability to increase tax rates to respond to economic times and natural disasters. I've been pro-income tax since I was in high school (a long, long time ago) but have had it forced upon me that amending the constitution to enable such a tax is a bar to rational behavior.

#525 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 01:17 PM:

I came here to say magnolias in lieu of real participation and then participated anyway, bad me. Must run, things to do, places to go, things to plant, travelling soon and the housesitter deserves less mess.

#526 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 01:25 PM:

JESR, beautiful magnolias. And have a good day!

#527 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 01:46 PM:

Terry: That, and the function of such breaks is to impose income taxes on the workers,

Even that would be better. Washington has sales tax, but no income tax.

#528 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 01:58 PM:

xeger @ 517, I'm going to get that book, I think -- or maybe a similar one. I've been suspecting more and more lately that I may have been dealing with ADD all my life. It would explain a lot.

I was never hyperactive or risk-taking, but my brain has always been flaky. Things don't stick. My academic success has always been in spite of this -- which has led to a bunch of Imposter Phenomenon feelings -- and since starting grad school, I feel like I'm less and less able to compensate.

I finally got screened at the counseling center yesterday (with the WHO screening questionnaire), on which I scored relatively high (meaning it's likely I have it). I've got referrals to people who treat it, and I'll be getting checked out further.

J Austin, I think it's well worth getting checked out.

#529 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:39 PM:

JESR, #524: It's not that I object to building roads in Washington per se, but that the road-builders seem to have a lock on the state legislature. So we get lots of expensive unnecessary projects. I'm fairly sure that the best thing the state could for transportation in and around Puget Sound is (re-)build an extensive rail system, but it'll probably only happen after a major political realignment. Which I expect is in the works, but the, ah, road promises to be rocky.

Thanks for the magnolias!

#530 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:40 PM:

I really can't thank you enough for suggesting it. It never in my life would have occurred to me.

Caroline@528: I'm going to, I just have to figure out how to get started;) I've been (I hope) coming at it from exactly the wrong end--thyroid, dysthymic disorder, social anxiety, allergies, for god's sake anything--so I'm cautiously optimistic, but don't want to get too excited until I find someone to check it out.

I am the only one perversely amused by a self-help book for people who are non-starters, can't concentrate, and get easily distracted?

#531 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:58 PM:

J Austin @ #530, heh. I hadn't thought of it, but yes, that is amusing. Particularly when the book is 480 pages long.

At least that WHO test is just a few questions!

#532 ::: Regular posting nonymously ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:58 PM:

J Austin, Caroline,

I'm a regular here not yet ready to namefully talk about my AD(no H)D, but I'll second recommendations to get tested, and later I'll give some advice about that. In short, see if there's a CHADD chapter around--talk to other adults with ADD--and go to a doctor who has other adult ADD patients.

My life became better post-diagnosis, because once I could name what I have (gives you power), take medication, and most importantly know what it feels like to be concentrating, I had choices in my life I didn't have before.

Women with ADD can get underdiagnosed because they often don't have physical hyperactivity. Instead, they might be hypertalkative [running into the stereotype of girls=chatty, even though most girls can control how much they talk.] Or they could be inattentive / daydreamers--this isn't going to get you noticed or your problem noticed.

In both cases, these women won't get a childhood diagnosis, and it can still be the case you won't get an adult diagnosis unless you had "classic" symptoms or a diagnosis as a child. Catch 22.

Growing up my diet was low-sugar, high-veggie and zero-food-colors, and my environment was low-TV, high-book and lots of running around outside. My ADD had (and has) nothing to do with those.

I get more sleep now than pre-diagnosis, but that isn't a cause, it's an effect. Back when it took me 12 hours to get 8 hours of work done, yes sure I had more stress and less sleep. Once I had a diagnosis I finally could have a life.

More later.

#533 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:45 PM:

J Austin @ 530 ...
I am the only one perversely amused by a self-help book for people who are non-starters, can't concentrate, and get easily distracted?

Hm, yes, you.... oooh! Look! Shiny!!! Bicycles!!!! ... er, what?

#534 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 04:02 PM:

J Austin: I was diagnosed as an adult, and I was lucky then - girls didn't get AD(then)D when I was a kid, and as a teenager I'd have needed the H in ADHD to get any attention.

I just thought I was lazy and/or unmotivated, since that's what everyone else thought. Post diagnosis me, once I wrapped my head around it, was a whole new ball game.

It's been a while since I've looked at the literature, but I always recommend Driven to Distraction and Answers to Distraction (Answers is basically a FAQ for AD(H)D).

Good luck!

#535 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 04:09 PM:

Carried over from previous open thread: George Zinkhan, the guy who shot my 3 friends, is dead. He dug his own grave, got in it, covered himself with debris and shot himself in the head. Body found today near where they found his car.

#536 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 04:30 PM:

Lila: More condolence. I can't imagine that ending helps any.

#537 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 04:51 PM:

Oh Lila, more violence. I'm so sorry.

#538 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Here at my brother's house.

Not really clear if she recognizes any of us, other than (maybe) him. She's not initiating much speech, though she responds to simple questions like "Are you hungry now." Apparently she lies in bed and sleeps or reads most of the time. She seems very frail, almost skeletal, but her vitals are good according to the doctor. Right now I'm helping Matt look up neurologists with appropriate specialties so we can try to get her to one this coming week, with luck, and Abby is helping on more stages of cleaning out her house. (There were clothes stacked in heaps everywhere, hampering getting to the books stacked everywhere, the children's toys stacked everywhere, and all the other junk stacked everywhere.)

#539 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 05:23 PM:

Back to the "Talking Texan" link: I think I know what "shittin' and flyin'" has to do with nouveaux riches. It has to do with sailing past, looking all shiny, while unwittingly leaving a bad impression.

#540 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 05:42 PM:

Lila @ 535: I suspected that might be the case when the car was reported abandoned; he didn't seem like the kind of guy who could do an Eric Rudolph. Still, that means no one will ever know why he chose to do such horrible acts.

I hope you and your family are recovering from the trauma suffered that day.

Clifton @538: It's odd, isn't it, how the body chugs along when the brain goes awry like that? Best wishes to you and your brother at this time.

#541 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 05:46 PM:

Lila @ 535
I'm sorry you got a reminder of the violence; I hope that at least it gives some closure, some sense that it's finally done and no longer hanging over you.

Clifton @538
My condolences for your mother's situation. I hope the neurologists are able to help.

J Austen, Caroline, Regular posting nonymously
Despite that there are two different disorders, ADD and ADHD, there's an unjustified stigma of hyperactivity associated with attention deficit. I have ADD; my son had ADHD as a teenager; we both can tell you about the differences. He was hyper, I just forget things and am easily distracted.

Sugar doesn't cause hyperactivity, but OMG what it does to people (especially kids) who are hyperactive. Halloween was a real trial for our family for a number of years, as our kids insisted on eating as much of the candy they brought back from trick-or-treating as we would let them; no amount greater than none would prevent a major sugar rush.

Caroline, there was a moment after the psychiatrist told me how the problems I described to him fit closely into a description of ADD where it really was like a light bulb going on in my head; so many other things fit into that description.

Xopher @ 521
Nz V gur bayl bar jub guvaxf Gbcure qvqa'g znxr gur Fnhaqref vzcevag ungr uvz ba checbfr, ohg gung Fnhaqref ungrq uvz sbe uvf bja ernfbaf naq Gbcure arire xarj?

V gubhtug gung gbb. Znlor vg'f uneq sbe Fnhaqref gb oryvrir gung fur unf nal ibyvgvba, abj fur xabjf gung ure crefbanyvgl vf na negvsvpvny pbafgehpg.

Qvq nalbar ryfr guvax, sbe bar ernyyl ubeevsvrq zbzrag, gung Onyyneq unq fbyq uvzfrys gb gur Qbyyubhfr va beqre gb trg Zryyvr vzcynagrq va Abirzore, naq abg Abirzore'f bevtvany frys?

Zl fxva penjyrq jura Rpub fnvq, "V'z whfg gur cbepu yvtug."

#542 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 06:16 PM:

Ginger at #540 writes Still, that means no one will ever know why he chose to do such horrible acts.

I think it's more important that he will never do such horrible acts again.

#543 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 06:20 PM:

And now for an OMGWTF Nature moment.

Eva and I took the dogs up to their favorite off-leash park at the top of Council Crest (elevation 1,073 feet), about a mile from our house. At one point, they were both running around a hundred feet or so away from us when we both looked up to check on them. We heard a lot of noise from that direction, a murder of crows mobbing something. We saw a bald eagle on the ground with something partly white in its claws. For a horrible moment we both thought that it was clutching Spencer, our Rat Terrier, but then we saw Spencer run toward us from the base of a tree between us and the eagle. Jemma, the other dog, was with Spencer, and so well away from the eagle. Seeing an eagle there was no real surprise, as we'd seen one flying around that park several times that week; once it flew right over us just 20 or 30 feet up.

We looked back at the eagle as it jerked up and back, and realized that it was on top of another eagle. Seeing two of them was highly unexpected. At first we thought they were mating, then it looked like they were fighting, and the one on the bottom was injured, or even dead. The crows were swooping around trying to chase the eagles off; the only reason that crow wasn't on the menu was that the eagles stayed on the ground.

We called the dogs back (not an easy task; they were fascinated by the eagles) so they wouldn't go sniffing up to the eagles, and took them back to the car, drove home, and called the Audobon Society medical facility, which isn't far from us. Since they couldn't get anyone out to the park immediately, they asked me to go back and check on the eagles, hoping that the one on the bottom may just have been stunned.

I went back to the park and found that both eagles were gone, and the crows were gone as well. There were no feathers or other signs of the eagles, so I have to conclude that the eagles were both uninjured and able to fly, and that when they left, the crows went about their business.

It was definitely the sort of thing you expect to see with David Attenborough providing narration.

#544 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 06:50 PM:

Terry, Marilee, Ginger, Bruce, and Niall: I can't speak for anyone else, but I personally am relieved that he can't do any more damage, and relieved that I won't have to go through testifying and being cross-examined, and relieved to know that the media will turn their attention elsewhere and we can all get back to piecing our lives back together.

I feel terrible for his kids, but I can't think of a scenario where this could have ended well for them.

#545 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Niall McAulay: I don't know that your sentiment offers much comfort to those who were involved. His not doing anything like that again is a comfort to the rest of us, but we are at a remove (then again, his actions are of the sort which tend to be a single act, rather than a habit/compulsion).

Bruce (StM): I know your shock. In Galapagos we saw some mockingbirds mobbing another mockingbird. I was sure it was doomed; they were pecking its eyes. Then there was a break, it flew away, landed near us, and the event was over.

Bird looked fine, no damage to the eyes, wings, etc.

#546 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:06 PM:

#502 Jenny Islander: "Shit in one hand, wish in the other; all you'll have is a handful of shit."

I heard it as "Shit in one hand, wish in the other, and see which hand fills up first."

#547 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:32 PM:

I think my favorite Texan phrase is probably "all hat and no cattle".

#548 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:39 PM:

Serge, #330: "I asked my wife and, apparently, the 'woman' side of the bed usually is the one she sleeps on. Thus my assumption. It may just be a statistical fluke. Anyway, when I saw that K-Y gel, I asked my wife if it meant we'd turn into trapeze artists while doing the deed."

One time at a Bubonicon, a batch of attendees, chilled by a cold wind that had come up, moved the conversation into Hilde's and my room. Good room party ensued.

One young lady who was sitting on the bed beside me happened to look upwards, and said, in a quizzical tone: "Why is there an eyebolt in the ceiling?"

I looked up. Yep, an eyebolt in the ceiling above the bed. "Oh," I said in a matter-of-fact tone, "That's to hook the trapeze bar up to."

I look back down and see the young woman staring at me with wide eyes and a shocked (shocked!, I tell you) expression on her face.

So I had to explain to her that it was a handicapped room, and that a trapeze bar was available for people who lacked lower-body mobility but had upper-body strength, and could use the bar to move themselves in and out of bed and/or a wheelchair.

#549 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:42 PM:

Lila: I hadn't thought of that aspect of relief. I'm glad it helps.

Time, I think, for a soak, dinner out, or whatever else might be relaxing.

#550 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:45 PM:

Lila @ 544: I don't know what to say. I'm glad you're relieved, but what a horrible conclusion.

In KeithS goes to the movies news: they're charging $11.50 a ticket now? And they figure this will entice people to go to the theater instead of waiting for films to come out on DVD? I'm glad I still have a couple free tickets lying around.

Star Trek was both good and frustrating. They ran a trailer for GI Joe before the film. It made no sense. At all. The Transformers trailer made more sense.

#551 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Jenny @502 and Jim @546, about half the items in that article are phrases I've heard in non-Texan contexts. "Meaner than a junkyard dog" in particular sounds like the sort of thing someone from Philly might say to describe a guy from the southside of Chicago (the baddest part of town) who was badder than old King Kong.

#552 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 08:12 PM:

"Junkyard dog" has also made it into popular song lyrics: Jim Croce's "Bad Bad Leroy Brown".

#553 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 08:18 PM:

I found the Star Trek movie a curate's egg: parts of it were quite excellent. The whole, not.

If you want to see it, do so in a good theater, as I don't think it'll stand up well on the small screen. Lots of adrenaline, lots of "huh?" moments when I just wondered what they were thinking.

The "Hazardous Baking Ingredients" particle cries out for the standard addition to "Don't try this at home!" -- "Go to a friend's house."

#554 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 09:00 PM:

Linkmeister, are you channeling Avram, or is it the other way around?

#555 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 09:13 PM:

Xopher, 331: I think this [buying a round at the pub] hasn't caught on in the US in part because of our history of Prohibition.

It hasn't? That's news to me. Here in Ohio, at least among my particular social circle, the custom is alive and well. And most of the folks in whatever group I'm with manage to leave the bar at the end of the evening not terribly intoxicated at all.

#556 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 09:35 PM:

Clifton Royston @457: My sympathies, and I wish you strength.

Lila: Well, at least that's over.

Re: the Hazardous Baking Ingredients particle, I remember that trick from science camp.

Other: my fonts are still messed up. :-(

#557 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 09:45 PM:

Summer Storms @ #554, two great minds? Nah. I'll admit his thought prompted my memory of the late great singer/songwriter.

#558 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 12:42 AM:

ADD self-testing:

Wait, what? You mean that's a thing? All this time I've accepted it as a character flaw. There's medication that fixes it? No way.

I always did well academically. I used to read voraciously. After a year of caring for the love of my life while she was dying, in my late 40s I lost the ability to read more than a paragraph. If something is very, very interesting, I can read a book of it. (Terry Pratchett, ftw.) Other than that, my mind skitters and skates. I'll open up a half dozen tabs of stories in, say the NY Times, and then read a paragraph, look at the next tab ... three weeks later, I might discover the window buried under a dozen others. Or not.

I am untidy. I start things, and complete them in a series of skirmishes. Thwartage and disappointment make me listless and apathetic.

And oh, the insomnia. My brain seems to delight in tormenting me with excruciating memories as I try to drift off to sleep. Or outrages. Whatever will tweak my adrenals and bring me to full consciousness. Gah.

And it's a thing? And not everybody has it?

This is such an edifying establishment.

#559 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 01:16 AM:

In case you're interested, Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1910 is finally out. Two years late.

#560 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 01:50 AM:

Trek: A good enough action movie. The "reboot" aspect was very well done, and the new actors appealing. Avzbl jnf terng; Byq Byq Fcbpx jnf n jvfr naq qrprag sryybj.

What I absolutely detested: The sets. Tacky, cheap, and (ahem) most illogical. The bridge and transporter room was the worst sort of shiny white futuro-shlock. The engineering room reminded me of old Dr. Who episodes set in the BBC boiler room. I mean, cripes, there was a stairway on the USS Kelvin that had concrete walls!

If they do a new series, I hope they go back to an exploration format. They can add the good stuff that we've come to expect of dramatic series (like story arcs and characters that change and grow), and hopefully drop all of the awful cliches and cheap lazy stuff that made Late Trek so dreary.

#561 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 01:58 AM:

Siriosa@558: "Wait, what? You mean that's a thing?"

I know, right?

#562 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 02:23 AM:

Linkmeister: re Junkyard Dog: that is exactly what Avram was referring to. Jim Croce was from Philadelphia, etc.

#563 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 02:57 AM:

Terry, exactly. Hence my "channeling" comment.

#564 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 03:03 AM:

Ack. I forgot Croce was a Philly guy. Ah well.

#565 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 04:25 AM:

Do I live in Mayberry or something? People buy rounds for the house here (Kodiak, Alaska, USA) all the time; you ring a bell over the bar and people place their orders at your expense. General admission at the movie theater costs $6.50. For $1.50 extra you get loge seats. This is unusual?

#566 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 04:32 AM:

Jenny/Summer Storms: Perhaps the British/Australian custom of buying rounds isn't what you are thinking.

Say six guys go to the pub. Each of them buys a round of drinks for everyone. That way each of them gets six drinks.

One of the interesting things of my exchange with the Territorials is that I was bought drinks. I wasn't really allowed to buy rounds. I managed to buy some drinks for people, and got around the rounds problem by buying a bottle of whisky to share, but as the honored guest, it was their privelege to buy my drinks.

#567 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 08:51 AM:


Xopher @ 521: "Nz V gur bayl bar jub guvaxf Gbcure qvqa'g znxr gur Fnhaqref vzcevag ungr uvz ba checbfr, ohg gung Fnhaqref ungrq uvz sbe uvf bja ernfbaf naq Gbcure arire xarj?"

Pbhyq or, ohg V yrna gbjneqf gur gurbel Gbcure unf ercerffrq thvyg nobhg uvf jbex, naq rkgreanyvmrq gurz bagb Juvfxrl/Fnhaqref. Nsgre nyy, ur tnir ure gur rknpg "haarpprffnel sbe n culfvpvna" pbzchgre fxvyyf gung nyybjrq ure gb qvfpbire jung fur vf, evtug? Abj fur pna whqtr uvz, be sbetvir uvz, be xvyy uvz--juvpurire jnl, gur thvyg'f orra tvira ibvpr.

Zl srryvat birenyy jnf gung rcvfbqr gjryir jnf zber bs n frg hc sbe frnfba gjb guna n erny jenc hc--vg frrzf yvxr Jurqba, ng yrnfg, vf cerggl fher ur'f trggvat n frpbaq frnfba. Guvf vf rkgen lnl orpnhfr guvf frnfba jnf fb rkcbfvgvba-urnil: ur'yy or noyr gb ernyyl syl nybat arkg frnfba. *rkpvgrq*

#568 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:12 AM:

One reason I really like my hometown theater is that when they added new screens, they didn't go digital. They knew it would add cost, and that they'd end up passing it on to us, so they basically said, "No, still cheap." If we want the megaplex experience, we can drive to another town with more theaters and spend quite a bit more money.

Fifteen years ago or so, my parents set my allowance by saying that I should be able to see a movie a week. It came out to three dollars.

#569 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 11:36 AM:

J Austen: I really hope all this helps you somehow. I've lost a good chunck of my life because I unexplicably decided not to see any doctor when my problem first became apparent (like that would help), and now, all I can say is: don't make the same mistake. Even if you end up not having ADD, at least you'll be certain.

Serge@559: In case you're interested, Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1910 is finally out.

Yes, and it's right here on my working table, tempting me. But I won't give in. I'll wait for the remainding volumes to be published. Never start a work that isn't finished, or you might get zelaznied as my friend say (we were convinced as kids that The Chronicles of Amber would see no conclusion because Zelazny had died before he could write it... Truth is my friend's mother had hidden the last book from the library and played that prank on us for reasons I have yet to understand. The term stuck anyway)

#570 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 11:44 AM:

Terry, 566: Nope, it's the same. Only our usual group we do this with is more like three or four people. But yeah, each one buys a round for the group.

#571 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 12:37 PM:

MD² @ 569... On the other hand, it's my understanding that, this time around, each issue is a self-contained story, and that the next one jumps to 1950.

Zelaznied? That reminds me of Asimov's reminiscences about the time when 'anthologize' briefly became a four-letter word.

#572 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 12:47 PM:

I had occassion yesterday to use a phrase of my dad's (spent 1940-1945 in a unit with Texans and Oklahomans) which may be a Texas-ism, since my father in law (born in Brenham, BA UT, died in Waco) also used it, and few others in my life: "crazier than Tom Pepper's bull."

And Lila, I hope that things quiet sufficiently that you all can grieve and heal in privacy; having been in the prenumbra of a couple of murder trials, I know that the service of objective justice and the leads of people damaged by violence do not overlap much.

(I have no business being here. I need to do eight thousand things today, but as departure date approaches I am siezed by acompulsion to dawdle).

#573 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 12:59 PM:

It occurs to me that there are probably people here who would appreciate this shirt (as well as others on that page).

#574 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 01:37 PM:

Some "found art" in my inbox: recommends "The Devil You Know"

I can see where this might lead if every website started giving proverbial advice. (Making Light does in the subhead, after all.) recommends "the bird in the hand" recommends "to have loved and lost"

#575 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 01:57 PM:

MD² @569:

I promise. I'm thirty-five this year, and I think that's a good enough chunk.

Just as aside-weirdness; Since Xeger mentioned it, I've had a few instances of luck that can be tentatively called "good" until proven otherwise. I'm waiting for the soft whistling sound that gets louder, and the anvil-shaped shadow around my feet.

#576 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 02:38 PM:

J AustinJ Austin @ 575... Just make sure to carry a cocktail umbrella with you at all times.

#577 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Serge Serge @576...I have a supply in my desk, along with a small sign reading, "yipe."

#578 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 03:01 PM:

@Terry Karney #566: No, in my limited experience with social drinking, people don't usually buy rounds for a small group of friends. However, it's common for a group of friends to plan on sharing the food they order. This could involve ordering a bunch of appetizers instead of dinner entrees, getting several varieties of pasta with extra plates, or trading items from different bento-style lunches. (Naturally this is done before the forks actually go into the mouths!)

#579 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 03:19 PM:


heresiarch 567: Zl srryvat birenyy jnf gung rcvfbqr gjryir jnf zber bs n frg hc sbe frnfba gjb guna n erny jenc hc--vg frrzf yvxr Jurqba, ng yrnfg, vf cerggl fher ur'f trggvat n frpbaq frnfba. Guvf vf rkgen lnl orpnhfr guvf frnfba jnf fb rkcbfvgvba-urnil: ur'yy or noyr gb ernyyl syl nybat arkg frnfba. *rkpvgrq*

V qrrcyl ubcr lbh'er evtug! Gubhtu V unir gb fnl, V guvax vs ur qbrfa'g trg nabgure frnfba (naq erzrzore, vg arrqa'g or ba Sbk), jung jr unir fb sne vf n snveyl pbzcyrgr yvggyr cvrpr bs neg ba vgf bja. Gubhtu bs pbhefr n sbyybjhc zbivr jbhyq or snohybhf!

#580 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 03:53 PM:

Henry @ 574: The comments section at recommends "to keep silent and be thought a fool."

#581 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 04:22 PM:

Slate (see the Particle) didn't even mention my favorite Grateful Dead song. I should probably be glad.

#582 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Mary Aileen @573 -- Yep, I appreciate that shirt for one. Unshelved is one of my daily must-read comics. (And I saw Star Trek last night and was very, very pleased...)

#583 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 05:23 PM:

Terry, #566: Say six guys go to the pub. Each of them buys a round of drinks for everyone. That way each of them gets six drinks.

This is part of what I see as problematic about it. Six drinks in the course of an evening -- even if they're only beers -- is enough to render a lot of people sufficiently incapacitated that they shouldn't be driving, but I'll bet they're all driving home at the end of it. If they're drinking mixed drinks or British-style ales, so much the worse.

Mary Aileen, #573: Hee! I love the accompanying text: We've already learned that if we have to explain this shirt, it's not for you. Now I wish I had it to wear tonight to see the movie...

Jenny, #578: In my social circles, this would be the Chinese-restaurant model. Everybody orders something different, and then everybody gets a chance to try everything. With sufficiently large N, it becomes advisable to order N-1 entrees.

#584 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 05:53 PM:

Lee, 583: Six drinks in the course of an evening -- even if they're only beers -- is enough to render a lot of people sufficiently incapacitated that they shouldn't be driving, but I'll bet they're all driving home at the end of it. If they're drinking mixed drinks or British-style ales, so much the worse.

Depends on the length of the evening. If you hit the pub at 6PM and leave at midnight, drinking six beers in that timeframe isn't going to make you drunk when you leave, unless you weigh less than 100 lbs or drink them all in the last couple of hours or so. Also, not all British-style ales are necessarily high in alcohol.

Note: we often walk or use public transportation when we go out. One of the nice things about urban environments.

#585 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 06:05 PM:

I saw a t-shirt yesterday that said "Ignorance is stupid." That's... really random. I also saw one that said "this is my PARTY shirt," but that's more just kind of sad.

Unrelated recommendation: check out this amazing dance/light performance. It's exactly what Golden Age SF told us that 21st-century performing arts would be.

#586 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 06:35 PM:

Just saw Trek. Hate it hate it hate it.

Lrnu, gur cybg'f tbg ubyrf. Lrnu, gur erobbg vf jrveq (Fpbggl unf n fvatyr gevooyr? Qvq gur qrfgehpgvba bs gur Xryiva yrnq Zhqq gb oevat gurz vagb Srqrengvvba fcnpr fbbare, naq abj fbzrbar'f qrirybcrq pbagenprcgvirf? Jungrire).

Ohg ernyyl, jurer ner gur nyvraf? Yrnivat nfvqr gur Ihypnaf naq gur onq thlf, gur bayl nyvraf jvgu fcrnxvat cnegf ner (n) Huhen'f Evtry ebbzzngr, n frk bowrpg, naq (o) Fpbggl'f fvqrxvpx, n crg. Byq Gerx qvqa'g unir gur ohqtrg sbe nyvraf, ohg gurl znqr gur rssbeg.

Naq gur arj Fcbpx...gurer'f bar znwbe zvffvat nyvra. Gur jubyr svyz sryg, gb zr, yvxr n yrpgher ba ubj ur jnf, naq fubhyq or, "ernyyl" uhzna. Ihypnaf unir srryvatf, vg gheaf bhg, naq gurl'er enpvfg nffubyrf naljnl, fb jub arrqf gurve ragver nyvra phygher?

Bar guvat V ybirq nobhg byq Gerx jnf gung gur punenpgref jrer abg nyy gur fnzr, naq jrer abg gelvat gb or nyy gur fnzr. Vasvavgr qvirefvgl va vasvavgr pbzovangvbaf naq nyy gung. V qba'g frr gung va guvf svyz, abg ng nyy.

V'z gnxvat guvf crefbanyyl, V xabj. Ohg V terj hc vqragvslvat jvgu Fcbpx sbe nyy gur ernfbaf gung gurl gbbx njnl. V oryvrir gung, qrrc qbja, abg rirelbar vf yvxr Wnzrf G Xvex. Abg rirelbar npgf ba gurve rzbgvbaf, naq vaqrrq, fbzrgvzrf rzbgvbany ernpgvbaf qba'g yrnq lbh gb gur evtug cynprf. Ohg V thrff gur fpevcgjevgref qvqa'g inyhr gung fvqr bs Gerx snaqbz.

Naq vs gur erobbg orpbzrf gur arj pnaba, gura gur byq pnaba trgf ohevrq bire gvzr. Naq gurer'f ab cynpr sbe zr va guvf arj pnaba.

#587 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 06:52 PM:

J Austin @ 575 ...
I'm waiting for the soft whistling sound that gets louder, and the anvil-shaped shadow around my feet.

Odd you should mention that ... but there's no way I'm going to let my newly obtained anvil[0] go anywhere but home with -me-!!!

[0] Literal chunk of iron, to be clear...

#588 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 07:06 PM:

abi @ 586: (New Star Trek discussion)

Gurer jrer fbzr nyvraf unatvat nebhaq gur onpxtebhaq bs gur oevqtr, ohg bgurejvfr gurl jrera'g ernyyl gurer. Vs V'z erzrzorevat pbeerpgyl, va Haqvfpbirerq Pbhagel gur Xyvatbaf pnyy gur Srqrengvba n Uhznaf' pyho, fb gurer vf n creprcgvba gung gurer nera'g arprffnevyl n jubyr ybg bs nyvraf va Fgnesyrrg. (Lrf, gung znl unir orra lbhe engvbanyvmngvba nynez tbvat bss. Erznva pnyz. V'yy gel gb svaq gur fvyrapr fjvgpu.)

Tebjvat hc, V vqragvsvrq jvgu Fcbpx nf jryy. V qvqa'g trg dhvgr gur fnzr ivor nf lbh qvq ertneqvat ubj uhzna be ihypna Fcbpx fubhyq or, ohg guvaxvat nobhg vg V'yy pbaprqr gung vg'f gurer. V oryvrir gung vg'f Gerx pnaba gung Fcbpx ortna gb rzoenpr uvf rzbgvbaf n ovg zber qhevat gur GAT ren, ohg gung'f nsgre znal lrnef bs rkcrevrapr.

Gurer jrer guerr znva guvatf gung naablrq zr gur zbfg nobhg gur svyz orlbaq gur fubqql fpvrapr, nf Gerx unf bayl unq n cnffvat eryngvbafuvc jvgu fpvrapr naljnl. Svefg, vg jnf n tb-tb-tb npgvba svyz, juvpu vf svar, ohg vg ynpxrq gur gubhtugshy, vagryyrpghny fvqr bs Gerx, juvpu vfa'g. Gur frpbaq vf gur snpg gung Abxvn naq Ohqjrvfre frrz gb fgvyy or nebhaq. Gur guveq vf gung jr frrz gb unir fyvq onpxjneqf vagb frkvfz ntnva. Fher, Xvex jnf n ovg bs n jbznavmre, ohg gung'f ab rkphfr sbe gur vafgvghgvbany fxvegf be gur tenghvgbhf fubgf bs Huhen haqerffvat.

V jnf zbfg qvfnccbvagrq ol gur ynpx bs gur uhznavfg fvqr bs Fgne Gerx. Creuncf vg'yy pbzr onpx.

V qba'g xabj. V rawblrq gur zbivr birenyy, ohg ng gur fnzr gvzr vg yrsg zr sehfgengrq naq naablrq.

#589 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 07:16 PM:

Lee: In Britain most of them are walking. The streets of Inverness, late at night, were an adventure. A friend said Shaun of the Dead worked so well because at closing time, who could tell a shambling zombie from a shambling drunk?

#590 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 07:24 PM:

Tim Walters @ 585

That was just what we wanted to do in '60's light shows: real-time interactive lighting and background graphics. That video, and a couple of others from the same dance group I found on YouTube are making me think about getting into that stuff again. Hmmm ... there's a webcam in my laptop, I should be able to try out some algorithms on my own image.

#591 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 08:02 PM:

Bruce @ 590: My friend Tim Thompson does very nice work in this area using ordinary webcams and PCs.

#592 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 09:04 PM:


what is it with slate? wall-to-wall wrong-headedness.

i think the root trouble is that the slate people came from print, and still want to be print. they fundamentally do not like the web. they didn't come up through darpa, usenet, etc.

instead, they spent their adolescences wanting to write for the new republic or new york times or new yorker--something old, anyhow.
and they still have the print attitude that they are the shapers of opinion, talking down to us mere consumers. sorry, guys--that ship sailed a long time ago.

anyhow--yeah, the article on the dead is egregious. and yet, somehow, par for the course at slate.

#593 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 09:45 PM:

A small thing I noticed in the new Star Trek movie, which I mostly sort of liked, although not enthusiastically.

(It's an action movie. They're all slightly too loud these days, and cut too quickly. Someday the people who make these things will remember that action scenes are more exciting when we can actually make out what the hell is going on, and that will be a happy day for me.)

This isn't really a spoiler, but what the hell--I'll ROT-13 it:

V ernq ba gbe.pbz n juvyr onpx gung, va na rneyl qensg bs gur bevtvany frevrf rcvfbqr "Gur Anxrq Gvzr," Fhyh ena nzbx jvgu n xngnan. Fbzrobql ernyvmrq guvf jnf na rguavp pyvpur naq tnir uvz n encvre, yrnqvat gb fbzr terng Guerr Zhfxrgrref ersreraprf gung yvirarq hc gur rcvfbqr.

Fb ng bar cbvag va gur arj zbivr Fhyh trgf vagb n fjbeqsvtug, naq chyyf bhg... n xngnan.

V'q nterr gung gur traqre ebyrf jrer gbb ergeb, naq V ubcr arkg gvzr nebhaq gurl'yy ybfr gur zvavfxvegf. (Qvqa'g gur gjb cvybgf sbe gur bevtvany frevrf tvir gur jbzra npghny cnagf? Be nz V zvferzrzorevat?) Naq V nyfb pbhyq unir hfrq zber nyvraf.

#594 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:10 PM:

Lee/Summer @583/584: In fact, the British have a specific term, "session beer", for what you drink when you're having a lot more than one. Most of these are less alcoholic than the "3.2" beer the U.S. drank under rules and despised; 3.2 is alcohol by weight, corresponding to 4% by volume (the standard measure for beer outside the U.S.), while session beers are often 3.5% v/v or even less. (Notice how hooligans are characterized as "lager louts"; some of this is from the lager being brewed to stronger U.S. standards.) There's not enough money in these to make them worth trans-Atlantic shipping, but even the Names brew them for home consumption. (I remember Sam Smith's Library Ale at a tied house on the edge of Trafalgar Square -- wonderful stuff!). It's true that the Brits have a long tradition of real skull-lifters -- barley wines and (later) imperial stouts -- that U.S. microbrewers have been borrowing; but with friends in rounds, beers with substantially less alcohol and more flavor than the U.S. standard are typical.

And, as Terry notes, most of the drinkers walk home. That's part of the point of a pub; it's in walking distance (or transit, in the city) for many people. (Not all -- in Shute's Chequerboard (~1950) the lead drives to his favorite country pub -- but many.)

#595 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:26 PM:

Wesley @ 593: You don't misremember about the two pilots.

#596 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:40 PM:


I was surprised in the Netherlands to see a lot of advertising for a designated driver campaign[*]. I had assumed that the Dutch would tend to either walk or cycle home.

[*] helpdesk professionals will appreciate that the Dutch designated driver is called "Bob".

#597 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:50 PM:

Good ole uncle Bob!

#598 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:51 PM:

Wesley @593: [..] V ubcr arkg gvzr nebhaq gurl'yy ybfr gur zvavfxvegf.

N pbzzba ubcr jvgu zvavfxvegf.

#599 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:56 PM:

Abi, 586, Star Trek:

Huhen'f Evtry ebbzzngr

Bevba, npghnyyl, abg Evtryyvna. Ohg lrnu, juvyr gurer jrer pregnvayl ernfbaf gb yvxr gur arj zbivr, gurer jrer nyfb ernfbaf gb ungr vg. Bqqyl rabhtu, V'z svezyl va obgu pnzcf, naq univat erny vffhrf bire guvf.

#600 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 11:14 PM:

CHip, 594: Actually, alcohol measurements in the US are also by volume, hence the references to "_% ABV" seen on bottles of American beers, especially microbrews. defines a "session beer" as being between 3% and 4% ABV. Being both a beer connoisseur and a homebrewer, I've had some pretty decent session beers, both imported and domestically-produced. And US lagers, at least the mass-market varieties, often actually have a lower alcohol content than many of their European counterparts. Of course, there is a regrettable tendency among Americans beer drinkers to equate ABV with flavor or with color, when in reality, there isn't much connection between them.

#601 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 11:42 PM:

I'm getting the impression that Abrams' Star Trek is to Roddenberry's approximately what Jackson's Lord of the Rings was to Tolkien's. Showy, and much of the shape of the original is kept, but much of the integrity and character depth of the original are gone.

#602 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:19 AM:

I went to see Star Trek with a female friend of mine, and I told her about the Bechdel Test: a movies passes if it has at least two women in it, who talk to each other, about something besides men.

When you actually make that explicit, it's pretty shocking how few movies (especially summer blockbusters) actually pass. (The new Star Trek might pass on a technicality, but it fails horribly in spirit.*)

So yeah, like all SF, Star Trek reflects its makers and times: men are in charge, almost everyone has an American accent, the Starfleet Academy is disproportionately white, and the skirts are short (I trust that no one considers those to be spoilers.)

*Lrf, grpuavpnyyl, Huhen naq ure ebbzzngr qvfphff gur enqvb genafzvffvba. Tvira gung gurl ner obgu va tenghvgbhf fgngrf bs haqerff, naq Xvex vf npghnyyl va gur ebbz ng gur gvzr, V jbhyq arireguryrff qrfpevor guvf nf n erfbhaqvat snvyher bs gur Orpuqry Grfg.

#603 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:23 AM:

#581 and #592:

TNH says in the Particle link that "Slate gets the Dead wrong."

I would be interested to hear her elaborate, or comment on what getting the Dead right would be like.

There are a few laughs in John Swansburg's piece, in a snide Bimbos of the Death Sun kind of way.

The article has also caused me to wonder: I have a favorite Dead song. I am not sure whether people who know me would guess right about which song is my favorite (in other words, whether my choice would be easy to predict) or whether my favorite would surprise those who know me.

Anyone want to take three guesses?

Or, alternatively, take three guesses about the favorite Grateful Dead song of some other member of the Fluorosphere?

#604 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:33 AM:

Mine is open for guessing, if anyone wants to give it a try.

#605 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:53 AM:

If there's anyone here who worked with me at FTP Software back in the day, they might have a clue about my favorite Dead song.

#606 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:57 AM:

The Dead song I've heard far more often than any other (usually from people playing or singing it) is "Ripple," which was not mentioned in the article. It's also the only Dead song I could name that wasn't mentioned. So I'm guessing that for both of you.

#607 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:05 AM:

Speaking of local customs, here's one that I thought was universal below the painfully self-conscious upper clawsses: the honking parade from the wedding venue to the reception. People line up behind the newlyweds' car, which is decorated (sometimes tastefully or at least cheerfully, with balloons and hearts/flowers/double rings/doves drawn on in soap; sometimes not so much). They all drive slowly through the heart of town, honking and waving, even if the reception is actually being held away from downtown. But I mentioned this at my alma mater in Conecticut and nobody had heard of it. Does anybody else live in a town where this is the custom?

#608 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:14 AM:

Tim, nope. Not "Ripple".

#609 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:26 AM:

I'm not a Deadhead by any stretch; my 1960s-70s musical tastes seemed to come more from Southern California than from the North (although you'll have to pry my "Essential Jefferson Airplane" from my cold dead hands), but the song I like was mentioned; apparently I'm a poser if you take the author's judgment as gospel.

Too bad. I still like "Truckin'."

#610 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:27 AM:

I have a favorite dead song, though it's a toss up between two of them, but one just edges the other out.

#611 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:31 AM:

Linkmeister, I'm not a Deadhead either, though I do have a favorite song out of what I know of their music. There's just something about it.

#612 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:41 AM:

Truckin' is a good song. As to "poser"... hunh? I'm not trying to prove my "cred", I like what I like.

#613 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:41 AM:

Oh, I forgot to add: Can anyone suggest some summer blockbuster-type movies that do pass the Bechdel test?

#614 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:44 AM:

Ok, I went and read the slate piece: I know who the poser is.

#615 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 02:00 AM:

*Universal in the United States and in towns that don't have a 50 mph highway as their Main Street. I can edit, yes I can.

#616 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 02:09 AM:


I wouldn't call it "universal" even in my hometown, but it was a relatively common practice there during my youth and young adulthood. (I left there in the late 1980's.) This was a smallish city of approximately 30,000 people in western New York state, if that helps any. I moved from there to Cincinnati, Ohio, and while I occasionally saw the same thing occur, it wasn't terribly often. I now live in Cleveland, and can't remember the last time I encountered this custom. I think I may possibly have seen it happen once or twice in the almost nine years I've been here. So I couldn't tell you whether this is something that's geographically based, or simply a custom that has faded over time.

#617 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 02:15 AM:

Note: when I lived in Cincinnati, the few times I saw the honking parade, it took place on a main artery of whatever neighborhood or suburb I happened to be in at the time. Same goes for Cleveland. Back home in WNY, the same thing applied: sometimes it would be the main drag through downtown, other times another major thoroughfare in another part of town. Not that town was all that big - about 9 square miles.

#618 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 02:17 AM:

I'm not a Deadhead, but I've seen them live a few times (the first time in 1968; hmm ... been awhile). I like "Truckin'" too, the tune's bouncy, and the lyrics are a nice snapshot of a time in a culture.

I can't say I have a favorite Dead song, maybe six favorites. A couple of them were in that Slate piece; I'm not. Neither is anyone else I know. Terry's right, it was written by a poser.

#619 ::: martyn44 ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 02:37 AM:

Summer Storms @ 584 - if you think you can drink six beers (pints, halfs, whatever) and still be fit to drive home I wouldn't want to be in a car with you, however long your evening was, however much you ate. If you have six beers you'll fail when the gentleman in blue invites you to blow into this little yellow tube. Guess what, you'll fail in the morning too.

#620 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 02:53 AM:

Martyn: Body size, metabolism and one drink an hour... I'd not want to do it (but I only weigh in at 118), but I know people for whom they wouldn't blow .08.

Yes, I think they'd be impaired, and I'd reccomend against it, but that's the case, and 3 pints, in 6 hours, I'd be willing to drive home after that.

#621 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 04:12 AM:

I don't know how big a difference it might be, from my own experience, but US fans at their first Eastercon have been astounded by the apparent level of drinking. Partly, it's an illusion down to beards, black t-shirts, and beer glasses. I get the feeling that more people are drinking beer, but individually it's rarely heavy consumption.

Remember that most fans at an Eastercon don't expect to be driving before Monday.

#622 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 06:45 AM:

Star Trek:

Wesley @ 593: VVEP, vg jnf Trbetr Gnxrv jub fhttrfgrq gur encvre.

V'z nsenvq V'ir nyjnlf pbafvqrerq encvref gb or cerggl zhpu hfryrff va n erny svtug. Gurl'er gbb yvtug naq gbb rnfvyl oebxra naq ernyyl bayl qrnqyl vs gur fjbeqfzna vf irel snzvyvne jvgu gur bccbarag'f nangbzl. V whfg nffhzrq gung Fhyh, yvxr zbfg srapref V'ir xabja, fghqvrf zhygvcyr fglyrf naq qrpvqrq n fynfuvat oynqr jnf zber nccebcevngr gb gur fvghngvba.

abi @ 586: Ihypnaf unir srryvatf, vg gheaf bhg, naq gurl'er enpvfg nffubyrf naljnl, fb jub arrqf gurve ragver nyvra phygher?

Ihypnaf unir nyjnlf unq srryvatf naq nyjnlf pnzr npebff gb zr nf univat n fhcrevbevgl pbzcyrk. Naq nyy bs gurfr punenpgref ner lbhatre guna jr erzrzore gurz, jvgu pbafvqrenoyl yrff aba-npnqrzvp rkcrevrapr. V'z ubcrshy gung gur rneyl erpbapvyvngvba jvgu Fnerx, naq jung V nffhzr jnf n yratgul qvfphffvba bss-fperra orgjrra gurz, jvyy gnxr gur cynpr bs fbzr bs gur rkcrevrapr Fcbpx unq va gur byq pnaba. V fhfcrpg gung gur byqre snaf jub, yvxr zr, guvax guvf vf n cebzvfvat fgneg jvyy ghea ba gurz va qebirf vs gur punenpgref qba'g frggyr bhg avpryl va gur frdhry.

#623 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 08:37 AM:


Pyrneyl jubrire pnzr hc jvgu gur gurbel nobhg Juvfxrl jnf evtug. Nz V gur bayl bar jub guvaxf Gbcure qvqa'g znxr gur Fnhaqref vzcevag ungr uvz ba checbfr, ohg gung Fnhaqref ungrq uvz sbe uvf bja ernfbaf naq Gbcure arire xarj?

V'z ortvaavat gb jbaqre vs vg'f abg cbffvoyr gung Juvfxrl vf gur bevtvany obql bs jubzrire Gbcure jnf cynlvat jvgu. Ur frrzrq njshyyl fgevpxra ol Fnhaqref' qrpynengvba bs ungr.

Pnebyvar vf n ovg zber bs n ibyhagrre nf bs ynfg avtug'f rc; fur pbhyq unir rfpncrq, ohg qrpvqrq abg gb.

V fgvyy jbaqre nobhg Znqryvar/Abirzore. Fur nccneragyl nterrq gb or na Npgvir orpnhfr bs ure qnhtugre'f qrngu, ohg vg'f abg yvxr fur unq n punapr gb ernyyl cebprff vg juvyr ure crefbanyvgl jnf va n uneq qevir...

Jr abj xabj sbe fher gung gur Qbyyubhfr qbrf hfr qbyyf nf fgnss va fbzr pvephzfgnaprf. V jbaqre vs "hahfnoyr nf na Npgvir" vf gur bayl pvephzfgnapr.

Gur shaal cneg vf, Juvfxrl vf npghnyyl cresbezvat cerpvfryl jung'f va ure pbagenpg--fur'f whfg tbg n ybatre-grez vzcevag guna vf glcvpny. Bar qbrf jbaqre jung'f tbvat gb unccra gb gung crefbanyvgl jura gur obql'f pbagenpg vf hc, gubhtu. (V nyfb jbaqre jung gur znyr Qe. Fnhaqref' tvira anzr jnf--Pynve vf cynhfvoyr sbe n zna bs uvf ntr, ohg abg rknpgyl yvxryl.) Naq vg whfg abj bppheerq gb zr: unf Fnhaqref orra ohvyg jvgubhg gur pbqr cuenfrf? Fur pna hfr gur "Jbhyq lbh yvxr n gerngzrag?" cuenfr, juvpu jr'ir arire frra nabgure Npgvir qb.

Qvq nalbar ryfr guvax, sbe bar ernyyl ubeevsvrq zbzrag, gung Onyyneq unq fbyq uvzfrys gb gur Qbyyubhfr va beqre gb trg Zryyvr vzcynagrq va Abirzore, naq abg Abirzore'f bevtvany frys?

V zvtug unir, jrer vg abg sbe uvf erfcbafr gb univat unq frk jvgu Zryyvr.

#624 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 08:50 AM:

Saw Star Trek last night. I consider myself a Trek fan of light-to-mid seriousness -- it has a special place in my heart and I can discuss it and have opinions on it, but my knowledge is not encyclopedic.

I liked the movie. V ernq vg nf, onfvpnyyl, NH snasvp. Vg vf yvgrenyyl naq rkcyvpvgyl na NH. Vg jnf n tbbq NH naq n qvssrerag rabhtu gnxr gb or jbegu znxvat. V rawblrq cynlvat "jung vs" naq cynlvat jvgu gur punenpgref va qvssrerag pvephzfgnaprf. V guvax gur nygreangr punenpgref jrer jryy-cbegenlrq: jung gurl zvtug unir orra yvxr irel, irel lbhat, funcrq ol qvssrerag rkcrevraprf. V nyfb ernq gur qvssrerag fglyr naq cuvybfbcul bs gur npgvba zbivr nf cneg bs gur NH.

Gur bayl guvat gung ernyyl obgurerq zr jnf gur wbl lbh jrer pyrneyl fhccbfrq gb srry va Xvex'f oynfgvat Areb nsgre ur ershfrq erfphr. Lrf, ur qrfreirq vg…ohg gurer jnf fbzrguvat irel ha-Gerx nobhg gur "Srqrengvba, shpx lrnu!" synibe. V jnagrq gurz gb ornz uvz hc naq yrg uvz yvir jvgu gur funzr bs univat uvf rarzl pncgher uvz naq gerng uvz xvaqyl. Rkgen obahf: Va pnfr lbh arrq gb hfr uvz va fhofrdhrag svyzf, whfg unir uvz rfpncr.

Hayvxr nov, V qba'g srry gung guvf NH guerngraf gur bevtvany pnaba. Gur bevtvany pnaba vf fb rkgrafvir, fb jryy-rfgnoyvfurq, gung n srj svyzf va guvf NH pna'g renfr vg.

#625 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 08:54 AM:

Oh, it's ROT-13.

I was beginning to think I'd been too long at an Eastercon.

#626 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 09:08 AM:

Leet Key for the Firefox browser is a fairly painless way to deal with ROT-13 text.

#627 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 09:48 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 607: Around Ottawa, I think it's less common to honk horns for wedding processions than it used to be, but I still encounter it occasionally. I've been part of wedding processions in which many people were honking their horns, but though I tried to join in, I felt uncomfortable doing it and stopped after a couple of honks.

#628 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 10:27 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 607, here in the Triangle area, NC, I've never seen nor heard of such a thing. Decorate the car, yes, but that's usually done during the wedding reception (the groomsmen traditionally sneak out and do it) and the couple drives off on their honeymoon (or to a hotel, or home) when the reception ends, with everyone waving and cheering.

If there is one thing I have learned from reading wedding blogs, it is that wedding traditions are highly regional, even in America where culture is often homogenized. And everyone is completely shocked when they encounter a different regional tradition, because they assumed everyone did it the way they do. It's fascinating, actually. I wonder if a book has already been written about it; I wish I were a sociologist so I could write one.

#629 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 10:29 AM:

I actually liked the Slate article, but only because it busted on Truckin', which was the theme song for my high school class, and yes I'm still bitter*.

Probably I don't need to elaborate that I didn't like any of the people who voted for it; in fact, that's why for almost a decade I thought I didn't like the Grateful Dead (well, that and "Touch of Gray" - the 80's were hard on all of us). Obviously any band that was liked by people I disliked so strongly couldn't be any good. And then I finally listened to one of their albums and went, wait, what? I've been depriving myself of what all this time? Gah!

So I have a favorite Dead song, but it wasn't on the list. And now that we've all been talking about it, I'm going to go put it on and do a bunch of tedious stuff that needs to be done.

*Not actually still bitter.

#630 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 10:48 AM:

Cat Meadors: My class song was, "I love LA", which I do (now, I was a bit ambivalent then). It's not what I'd have chosen for a theme song to sum up my high school experience.

#631 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 10:53 AM:

Any recommendations for those of us who might want to start listening to the Dead? I've heard a few of their songs, but don't know their work too well. ISTR that they were pretty sympathetic to allowing recording of their music by fans, too; does that translate into having a lot of their music online at decent quality?

#632 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 10:57 AM:

Cat Meadors: What song(s) would you have preferred as your senior class theme song?

(My school didn't have class theme songs...)

#633 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 11:42 AM:


The "American Beauty" album has some very approachable songs on it; there are none of the long jams that get stuck 15 minutes in (I once saw them hit a point like that while playing "Dark Star"; Garcia and Weir looked at each other in mild disgust, waited a few beats, and started another song) . And the lyrics are some of Hunter's most poetic. I particularly like "Box of Rain" and "Sugar Magnolia".

#634 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:18 PM:

I'm cueing up a day of The Dead on iTunes now for research purposes. Going in, I'm going to say Ripple, as it's what I remember. Though Workingman's Dead can grab me when I'm in the mood.

I'm going to second American Beauty as approachable.

#635 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:24 PM:

Not a Deadhead, just a Dead fan; the Slate article's whole "LOL dirty hippies" tone was out of accord with the Deadheads I've hung out with in the past (and should have cited the author's intellectual debt to Iggy Pop). That said, I've gone to a bunch of Dead concerts- five, maybe? and provided miracles to two more: one too close to a travel date and the other, the last day of the last real Dead show at Portlnd Meadows, when I saw a shot of Jerry playing in 90 degree heat on TV the night before and said "I don't want to watch Garcia commit suicide."

Favorite song? One nobody has mentioned: the meditative "St. Peter." Well, and "Bertha," for the opposite reason: dance to that song once a week and your cardiac fitness would be right up there with taking the stairs in the nearest skyscraper just as often, only with a lot more fun endorphins.

#636 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:28 PM:

Albatross: here are some thoughts on shows in the current Dead tour with song links.

The albums Workingman's Dead and American Beauty from the late '60s are kind of another experience. Many people love those without being into the live performances.

Lots more show reports and links to streams of complete shows on their current tour are here.

#637 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:31 PM:

In my day, the class theme song might just have been by the Bay City Rollers.

Even then, I might have voted for something by Hoagy Carmichael. Stardust might have gone down well for the last record at a school disco, nice and slow, but not really long enough.

#638 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:40 PM:

abi, #586: About the Vulcans, I have to disagree. Everything you mentioned not liking in the movie is canon -- either shown directly or alluded to in the series. I go into a little more detail about it here, if you want to discuss it. If you don't want to talk about it, that's fine -- I'm not out to convert you.

debcha, #602: The roommate's deshabille isn't gratuitous, considering what was just going on! The rest of it, yes -- and I say that even though they gave us some nice eye candy too.

And it would be hard for ClassicTrek to pass the Bechdel test in any event, because it's such a male-character-heavy movie. Which I guess is part of the point, isn't it? Original!Uhura was a token in more ways than one.

Jenny, #607: The honking wedding parade was common in the Detroit suburb where I grew up. But I've never seen it either in Nashville or in Houston. They don't tie tin cans to the back bumper to make noise, either.

#639 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:56 PM:

I've encountered versions of the honk convoy all over the US, and have ritually honked at wedding caravans. Scares away the evil spirits, it does.

#640 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:06 PM:

@Tracie: Hmmmm. I wonder where the honk convoy comes from originally. A lot of USian culture that is automatically labeled "WASP" is actually German, the German immigrants having changed their names and dropped their accents ASAP.

And did people blow trumpets back when the wedding party was horse-drawn? Whirl clappers, ring bells?

#641 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Martyn @ 44: Then you don't appear to know much about how the body metabolizes alcohol. I weigh enough that if I drink one 5.2% ABV beer per hour, I remain below the legal limit for intoxication by a fair margin. Same goes for hubby. I've actually taken a breathalyzer test voluntarily in a study to examine my alcohol metabolism, so I know this for a fact.

Would you get in a car with me if we'd been out for one hour, and I'd had one beer, or would you expect me to be drunk after that single beer? If you say, "One beer won't make you drunk," then I invite you to do the math. At my current weight and physical condition, my body can metabolize one beer per hour without my becoming intoxicated. One beer X one hour = me being still sober. You can expand that out to two beers in two hours and I'll still be sober, and yes, it can go all the way out to six beers over six hours - again, provided I'm not drinking the strong stuff, and I'm pacing myself.

Note that if I've been out drinking for six hours, I'm generally *not* driving, and also that I don't usually have six beers in a night out anyway, but I do know that I don't blow over the limit if I follow the "no more than one beer per hour" rule.

#642 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:45 PM:

Caroline @ 624: Yes, I find that if I regard it as AU, I'm mostly okay with the new movie. I read plenty of AU fanfic in other 'verses, after all (SG-1, frex). Though I still cringe over some of the slipshod science. But it's a good yarn, otherwise.

#643 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:50 PM:

Lee -

Overall, I liked the movie, but I have to agree with debcha that gur va syntenagr fprar jnf bireqbar naq cbeavsvrq. Ahzore bar, vs n jbzna trgf vagreehcgrq ol na harkcrpgrq ebbzzngr, cebonoyl gur svefg guvat fur'q qb (nsgre uvqvat ure oblsevraq) jbhyq or gb teno n furrg sbe pbirevat, be cbffvoyl yrnc hc naq cergraq gb or ybbxvat sbe pybgurf. Ng nal engr, fur jbhyqa'g or ybhatvat frqhpgviryl va irel frkl haqreguvatf juvyfg ubyqvat n pbairefngvba jvgu gur ebbzzngr. Nyfb, fgenvtug jbzra qba'g haqerff nyy frkl sbe bgure jbzra - jvgu gbffvat unve naq nepurq onpxf, snpvat gurve ynql-sevraqf nf gurl jevttyr bhg bs gurve pybgurf. Yvxr gur pyvpur lbhat jbzna va gur ubeebe zbivr, ehaavat nobhg va n guva gnax gbc, ab oen naq cnagvrf jrqtrq va ure ohgg be fyvqvat bss ure uvcf, guvf vf ba svyz bayl gb gvgvyyngr.

Vg zneerq na bgurejvfr uhzbebhf - naq vzcbegnag - fprar sbe zr.

Plus, idiotic tunic dresses. You could practically see the women on the Enterprise worrying about peeling their thighs from the plastic/leather chairs.

Nonetheless, I adored the over the top gratuitous beefcake in Wolverine. If about 193 more films do that in the next couple of years, we might be even with all the dumb chick cheescake we've seen in the last 6 months.

#644 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 01:59 PM:

re 622: Vg'f zber be yrff pnaba gung gur Ihypnaf unir n fhcrevbevgl pbzcyrk: frr "Nu, lrf, bar bs lbhe uhzna rzbgvbaf" ("Jurer Ab Zna Unf Tbar Orsber"). Gung fbeg bs guvat vf pbzzbacynpr va gur Gerx jbeyq, gur xrl rkprcgvbaf orvat Sreratvane, Onwbe, naq Rnegu.

Znlor vg'f whfg orpnhfr V unir grra-ntrq xvqf, ohg zl ernpgvba gb Areb'f fghoobearff ng gur raq jnf jrnevarff.

re 593: Jryy, jura jr jrag gurl unq genvyref sbe gur arkg Grezvangbe, Genafsbezref, naq TV Wbr senapuvfr ragevrf, naq gurl jrer nyy gur fnzr zbivr, naq engure qvssrerag sebz guvf bar. Gerx sryy vagb npgvba zbivr rqvgvat ng gvzrf, ohg vg frrzf gb zr gung vg jnf sne zber vagrerfgrq va gur cflpubybtl bs gur punenpgref guna nalguvat ryfr.

re 602: Gung cnegvphyne fprar qvqa'g obgure zr ng gur gvzr, ohg gur pnfgvat bs Huhen jnf hafngvslvat. Fur jnf, jryy, gbb "ubg". V pna frr gur fuvsg va Xvex, orpnhfr Xvex "cevzr" (nf gur perqvgf jbhyq chg vg) unq n zhpu rnfvre puvyqubbq guna guvf Xvex, fb V pna frr gur urvtugravat bs uvf erpxyrffarff rgp.; jung V pna'g frr vf ubj gurl pbhyqa'g unir cvpxrq hc gur yrffba bs Fvtbhearl Jrnire'f punenpgre sebz Tnynkl Dhrfg.

Back to 586: Bar bs gur guvatf gung vf rfgnoyvfurq rneyl ba va Gerx pnaba vf gung Ihypnaf qb unir rzbgvbaf, ohg ner nyjnlf va pbageby bs gurz. Gur abapnabavpny vffhr jvgu Fcbpx unf nyjnlf orra rknpgyl ubj uvf unys-uhznavgl eryngrf gb uvf pbageby. Guvf zbivr frrzf gb or cerffvat gur gurbel gung ur unf gur pubvpr gb znvagnva gur fnzr pbageby nf nal bgure Ihypna (nygubhtu ur znl unir gb jbex uneqre ng vg), ohg gung uvf zvkrq hcoevatvat, va cynpvat gur pubvpr orsber uvz, haqrezvarq gur vffhr cerpvfryl orpnhfr ur unq gb pubbfr.

Va guvf gur xrl zbzrag vf abg gur pbasebagngvba ba gur oevqtr (juvpu fgehpx zr nf n jrnx zbzrag, ohg yrg gung cnff sbe n ovg). Vg vf Fnerx'f pbasrffvba bs ybir sbe Nznaqn. V qb abg guvax guvf pbasrffvba vf vapbafvfgrag jvgu pnaba, ohg vg vf vapbafvfgrag jvgu gur Ihypna frys-fgrerbglcr. Jung gur pbzcyrk fnlf nobhg gur Ihypnaf nf n jubyr vf gung gurl nera'g dhvgr gur arhgeny, hggreyl engvbany orvatf gung gurl nfcver gb or; rzbgvbaf gung ybbx qvfcnffvbangr qb znantr gb yrnx guebhtu. (Nf n qvterffvba: V guvax guvf vf cneg bs gur ernfba jul V yvxrq Xvefgvr Nyyrl'f Fnnivx bire Ebova Phegvf'f irefvba: gur Phegvf irefvba frrzrq gb bcrengr ba gur gurbel gung Ihypnaf ynpx nal punenpgre.)

Juvpu gnxrf hf onpx gb gur oevqtr: Fcbpx Cevzr'f nethzrag, rffragvnyyl, vf gung Fcbpx vf abg orvat qvfcnffvbangr nobhg uvf pubvpr gb frrx bhg gur erfg bs gur syrrg; ur'f birepbzcrafngvat ntnvafg qbvat fbzrguvat gung ybbxf enfu. Fcbpx Cevzr'f pnyphyngvba vf gung (n) va guvf pnfr gur ybtvpny pubvpr vf gb tnzoyr orpnhfr gur nygreangvir vf pregnva ybff, naq (o) gung Fcbpx vf ihyarenoyr gb pevgvpvfz bire guvf. V gubhtug gur pbasebagngvba jnf jrnx orpnhfr V qbhogrq gung Fcbpx jbhyq sbyq fb dhvpxyl, ohg nyfb orpnhfr uvz univat sbyqrq, gurer'f ab pyrne ernfba jul Xvex fubhyq raq hc va gur pncgnva'f punve.

#645 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 02:06 PM:

Jenny Islander @640 -- they (still) do honk convoys in Germany. I've seen them both in the South and in the Ruhrgebiet. Florists specialize in making arrangements for the hood of the newlyweds' car. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the history of the pre-motorized processions.

#646 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 02:19 PM:

Honk caravans: Is THAT why we're called "honkies"?!?! I always wondered.

Or, since you honk AT the people in the wedding car, maybe I've been misspelling, and it's really 'honkees'.

#647 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 02:41 PM:

nerdycellist, #643:

I actually think that the scene would have been much more interesting - and funnier - if Huhen ehfurq va gb, fnl, qebc bss ure obbxf naq jbaqrerq nybhq rknpgyl jul ure ebbzzngr jnf va ure haqrejrne. "Hz, V yvxr qbvat zl ubzrjbex va yvatrevr?"

But you're exactly right - much as I enjoyed Wolverine (and Watchmen, although admittedly I mostly enjoyed how discomfited men were by it), there's a looooong way to go before we get gender parity in gratuitous skin.

And no, I wouldn't expect the Star Trek reboot to pass the Bechdel test. But seriously - mom, Uhura, roommate - were there even any more female speaking parts?

#648 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 03:00 PM:

nerdycellist @ 643 and debcha @ 647:

There's gratuitous and there's gratuitous. Shirt just happens to come off during a fight and we get a good look at Wolverine, that's one thing. For no adequately-explained reason whatsoever Uhura undresses in a rather stereotypically provocative way? That's something else. The end result is the same, I suppose, but it seems like in the first case there's at least a little bit of motivation and it's not the sole reason for the scene's existence.

I'm tempted to go see Wolverine for the eye candy, but, well, see above about $11.50 theater prices.

I don't know what trailers you got to see before the film, but there was a bit in the Transformers trailer where the female lead's legs and backside seemed to be the entire purpose of the shot. Now, I will admit to enjoy looking at things like that in the right context, but that wasn't the right context. I take exactly the same issue with that shot as with Uhura undressing.

#649 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 03:17 PM:

I'm pretty sure the honk convoys (I got the term from the video) have origins lost in history, but are of the sort to "make lots of noise at this happy occasion to scare away demons/evil spirits/etc." Ring bells, whack pots and pans, blow horns, beat drums, sing, dance, break things, etc. at the turn of the new year, weddings, beddings, graduations, births, wakes. In many cultures, the "scare away spirits" aspect has been lost, but the practice endures.

#650 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 03:18 PM:

(Star Trek)

C. Wingate, #644: Lrf, gurer jnf. Nf Cvxr jnf yrnivat, ur fcrpvsvpnyyl nccbvagrq Xvex gb or Svefg Bssvpre -- naq Fcbpx jnfa'g unccl nobhg vg, rvgure! Ohg gung zrnaf gung jura Fcbpx erfvtaf, Xvex vf yrtvgvzngryl arkg va gur punva bs pbzznaq.

BTW, at the end of the G.I. Joe trailer, I made an audible comment about, "Now, THEY got power suits! Why couldn't they have done that for Starship Troopers?" It got some laughs from the people around us.

#651 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 03:22 PM:

I haven't seen Star Trek yet. Thank you to those of you who are still ROT-13ing spoilers.

#652 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Open threadiness: this site shows the amounts of sugar in various foods, based what's on the label or what was available from other (I assume) standard sources. The twist is how it's visualized--as sugar cubes stacked next to the food. Very cool, IMO.

#653 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 03:24 PM:

albatross @631 - Check for live Dead recordings, they've got bazillions. Although now I'm vaguely remembering some sort of copyright takedown thing that happened a couple years ago with it - I *think* it wound up with them keeping them all, or most of them, but can't check from here. (That's where I got all my bootlegs, but it's been awhile.)

Bill Higgins @632 - you know, I was trying to remember when I wrote that first post and honestly I have no idea. Probably some hair metal thing. (I did say the 80's were hard on all of us.)

#654 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 03:40 PM:

Star Trek

C. Wingate@ 644: Vg'f zber be yrff pnaba gung gur Ihypnaf unir n fhcrevbevgl pbzcyrk: frr "Nu, lrf, bar bs lbhe uhzna rzbgvbaf" ("Jurer Ab Zna Unf Tbar Orsber"). Gung fbeg bs guvat vf pbzzbacynpr va gur Gerx jbeyq, gur xrl rkprcgvbaf orvat Sreratvane, Onwbe, naq Rnegu.

Znlor vg'f whfg orpnhfr V unir grra-ntrq xvqf, ohg zl ernpgvba gb Areb'f fghoobearff ng gur raq jnf jrnevarff.

V guvax zl frafr bs gung fhcrevbevgl pbzcyrk pnzr zber sebz Fnerx, jvgu Fgne Syrrg abg orvat "tbbq rabhtu" sbe n Ihypna. Nalguvat Fcbpx fnvq ba gur fhowrpg nyjnlf sryg gb zr yvxr birepbzcrafngvba.

Nf sbe Areb, Xvex'f beqre gb sver frrzrq gb or bar cneg crefbany eriratr, bar cneg eriratr ba Fcbpx'f orunys, naq bar cneg zrepl fgebxr.

V gubhtug gur pbasebagngvba jnf jrnx orpnhfr V qbhogrq gung Fcbpx jbhyq sbyq fb dhvpxyl, ohg nyfb orpnhfr uvz univat sbyqrq, gurer'f ab pyrne ernfba jul Xvex fubhyq raq hc va gur pncgnva'f punve.

Fcbpx'f ernpgvba rpubrq gur fprar sebz uvf puvyqubbq. Gur ohyyvrf naq Xvex obgu uvg gur fnzr ubg ohggba.

Nf sbe Xvex naq gur punve, jr unir Cvxr znxvat uvz KB naq Fcbpx Cevzr gryyvat uvz gung ur UNQ gb gnxr pbzznaq. Juvpu nyfb yrq gb jung V guvax jnf gur ernfba sbe znxvat gur Xbonlnfuv Zneh fb pevatrjbegul: gur pbagenfg orgjrra gur vzzngher Xvex bs gur grfg naq gur zber frevbhf Xvex bs bayl n srj qnlf yngre.

#655 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 03:40 PM:

Albatross @631:

Aside from the stash, here are a few resources for acquiring Dead shows:

Lossless Legs Dedicated BitTorrent tracker for the Dead and related bands. Registration required, and be careful about your upload:download ratio. Lossless (FLAC and SHN, mostly)

TuneTree has Dead shows to download. Lossless has a stash of shows, including the Grateful Dead, that can be either downloaded or streamed.

Sugarmegs has long been a good place to listen to or download MP3s.

And, of course, Google is your friend.

#656 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 03:47 PM:

Lee @ 650: BTW, at the end of the G.I. Joe trailer, I made an audible comment about, "Now, THEY got power suits! Why couldn't they have done that for Starship Troopers?" It got some laughs from the people around us.

I was thinking something similar with both G.I. Joe and Star Trek. Pub fnvq gurve fcnpr qebc fhvgf jrer nyzbfg vzcbffvoyr gb zbir va. V erpnyy urnevat gung gur vzzbovyvgl bs gur Ongfhvg jnf jul gur svtugf va Ongzna Ortvaf jrer svyzrq fb punbgvpnyyl. V jbaqre vs gung unq fbzrguvat gb qb jvgu gur jnl gur pnzren whzcrq nebhaq va gur svtug ba gur qevyy.

#657 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 04:52 PM:

Xopher @ 646

Oh, thank you: I feel better not being the only one to think that. I initially read Lee's response to Jenny in 638 as "honky wedding parade" and thought that a Detroit suburb seemed like an appropriate venue for it.

Star Trek & Dollhouse:

Trying to keep all the ROT-13 straight made me wonder where a combined thread might go. If nothing else, it might explain why otherwise competent and professional cadets might be behave so exhibitionistically: they're dolls with some inter-personality bleed issues.

#658 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 05:00 PM:

Re the blank page particle:

This comment left accidentally blank

#659 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 05:18 PM:

I want a t-shirt that says "This Mind Intentionally Left Blank."

Sell it outside the zendo.

#660 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 05:35 PM:

re 650/654: Gur ceboyrz jvgu gur svefg bssvpre gurbel vf gung ol gung cbvag Fcbpx unq nyernql gbffrq Xvex bss gur fuvc sbe vafhobeqvangvba, fb ur qvqa'g unir n cbfvgvba gb fhpprrq gb pbzznaq sebz.

#661 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 06:01 PM:

Ok, A not quite Dead favorite, Grisman/Garcia: Dreadful Wind and Rain.

#662 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 06:09 PM:

Okay, I'll spill: My favorite Grateful Dead song is Uncle John's Band.

Anybody else?

#663 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 06:30 PM:

Checking in from Oregon. Things might not be quite as bad as they had seemed. I think her limited response Saturday might have been more due to exhaustion or difficulty initiating anything rather than failure to recognize us. Sunday I was in and out of her room a fair bit. Told her "This is Clifton", and she said faintly "I know." My sister Alice was also over Sunday, and when I told her Alice was there she said faintly "All three of you." So she knows who we are, at least. Problem may be with executive function, exhaustion, or a combination.

The other main thing we did for her Sunday was set up her CD player and bring over some CDs from her collection, and start playing them. It seems like the music has helped energize her and bring her back a bit more in touch; she's been able to specify which CD she would prefer. Today she was up from her bed for a bit trying out the word-finder puzzle that the Meals-on-Wheels people brought along with her lunch.

Mostly though, we've been trying to organize and clean up her house, which has been getting close to a garbage house. (Not quite there, but...) With my wife working upstairs and me downstairs, her focusing on clothes and me on papers, we got 6 big bags of clothes sorted out to be washed and all the rest (which seemed clean) put away or folded and stacked, one upstairs room and the upstairs hall cleaned and vacuumed, a lot of the financial and other papers found from where they were scattered in piles all over the house and moved to the dining room table (with another huge pile to sort gold from dross on the living room table) and one half of the living room and entryway clean and vacuumed.

This morning we got an appointment set up with a neurologist and arranged to get her records sent over from her primary doctor and the neurologist she'd seen previously; the first one we could schedule was next week after I go back, but we're on the list for any cancellation this week.

Hopefully we'll be able to get some more done during the rest of this week. Just giving my brother some moral support and some breathing room would be worthwhile in itself, though.

#664 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 663:

That's good news, at any rate. I have some experience in cleaning up messes like that, so I appreciate the difficulty you're going through there, but that she still seems to be doing well is the important thing.

If there's money available for it, I'd suggest one of those services that handles incoming mail and pays the bills. That alone can make your mother's and your brother's lives easier.

#665 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 07:13 PM:


Glad to hear things weren't as bad as you feared.

#666 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 07:25 PM:

Clifton @ 663... Glad to hear it's not as bad.

#667 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 07:34 PM:

#662: If you include G&G songs, my favorites are (short) "Grateful Dawg" and (long) "Arabia." The first time I heard "Grateful Dawg" I instantly imagined it as part of a G&G soundtrack recorded for "Lyonesse: The Movie." (It would be played under Shimrod's coin-trick scene before King Casimir, early in the novel.)

I also envisioned Garcia and Grisman doing cameo scenes in the movie as wizards; but all we actually got was a walk-on of Garcia as a street tramp in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." (And this welcome to the Great World Circus.

The refrain in "Grateful Dawg" is kind of a reworked, acoustic version of Jerry Garcia's solo break from "Estimated Prophet." After the mandolin's jazzy solo, the guitar makes an assertion of the EP melody. The mandolin then comes in and echoes it before going off on another jazz jaunt. In this transplanted acoustic version, that little instrumental passage from EP transforms itself from the Finnish Cave/"light my way home" motif to something gentle and joyful (and a little bit persnickety).

"Arabia" is a really long and colorful piece that fleshes out the potential the Dead introduced in "Alhambra" -- a Spanish guitar instrumental that they used to perform as a tail/encore to "Alligator->Caution." "Arabia" is kind of a jazzy "In a Persian Market" spiced with flamenco.

This stuff would, imho, really be a great score to accompany the movie made from the Vance trilogy. But I guess we'll only ever see that if we get transported to a parallel Earth -- or Neil Gaiman wakes up in a fey mood one morning, with Hollywood producers nagging him for a colossal fantasy idea.

#668 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 07:57 PM:

Not "Ripple," although I used to sing that as a lullaby to my daughter; my own favorite is "Scarlet Begonias."

#669 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 08:19 PM:

Randolph way back at 519:

I never did thank you for pointing me at the Calitics site. Thanks very much.

#670 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 08:42 PM:

Summer Storms: That's mine too... closely followed by Sugar Magnolia.

#671 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 09:16 PM:

Goodness gracious: Canadians demonstrate!

Okay, okay, Tamil residents of Canada, but getting 5,000 Canadians together for political purposes is impressive.

Blocking a freeway might not be the best tactic I've ever seen, though.

#672 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 09:28 PM:

Linkmeister @ 671 ...
Canadians certainly do demonstrate -- I'd suggest looking at this link as well, given that the National Post is well known to be the ultra-conservative right wing rag...

I find it rather more impressive that they managed to protest in an overall peaceful and reasonable way, myself (and -very- Canadian that the main damage was from throwing bicycles off of a freeway overpass, and inconveniencing people)

#673 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 09:33 PM:

Xopher @646: Honk caravans: Is THAT why we're called "honkies"?!?! I always wondered.

I saw an interview with a lady who participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the 1950's; she described walking along the side of the road (not taking the bus) and the white citizens driving by honking at them. I assumed that was the origin of 'honkie'.

#674 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 09:39 PM:

xeger @ #672, I didn't know that about the Post. I was listening to the CBC's As It Happens and went looking for something about it at Google News. That's what first popped up.

#675 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 09:44 PM:

xeger, reading the comments to that link you provided shows isolationism and bigotry don't start at the US border.

#676 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 11:09 PM:


I think those are part of the package that's installed in humans at the factory. And at some level, a proper education is sort-of like the process of going through the list of scary, insecure, or evil services and turning them off, one by one, to avoid becoming a member of someone's physical botnet. ("Hmmm. Fervent nationalism wants to listen on port 445. Should I let it?")

#677 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 11:21 PM:

(various strong words, mostly meaningless; in a repetitive monotone)

Jesuita Fire

This is the first I've heard of it (for some reason it didn't make the news in Oak Ridge).

It's a pretty decent piece from where was hanging my hat, but not too far from where I plan to be hanging it again.

And this is only May. I feel disconnected, and sort of at a loss. There is nothing, much, different to what I could do, were I home, but at least I would have known.

13 injured, no dead; no homes destroyed. All in all it wasn't bad.

But this is only May, and I have a few months of finding out late to go.

#678 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 11:57 PM:

In my web wanderings, I just found a blog Separated by a Common Language, written by an American linguist living in England. I thought of Abi when reading it, but I'm sure others will find it interesting too.

#679 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 12:08 AM:

Star Trek:

C. Wingate @ 660: Vg jnf rabhtu gb pbaivapr gur oevqtr perj, juvpu jnf nyy ur arrqrq.

Fbzrguvat V arrq gb erzrzore gb jngpu sbe jura frrvat vg ntnva: qvq Huhen creznaragyl eryvrir gur pbzzhavpngvbaf bssvpre, be qvq gur bevtvany sryybj gnxr gur fgngvba onpx nsgre ure nggrzcg gb fbeg bhg gur Ihypna naq Ebzhyna fvtanyf. Vs gur ynggre, gura fur jnfa'g ernyyl nonaqbavat ure cbfg gb punfr nsgre Fcbpx, fbzrguvat gung obgurerq zr sbe nyy fbegf bs ernfbaf.

#680 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 12:31 AM:

Terry, 670: Yep, Sugar Magnolia is also my second favorite. I wonder if those two just kind of go together as a set in terms of people's musical tastes, perhaps?

#681 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 12:51 AM:

Grateful Dead favorites (can't choose just one, it's impossible):

Morning Dew
I Know You Rider
Till the Morning Comes
Friend of the Devil
Uncle John's Band

#682 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 01:26 AM:

Lizzy L: Friend of the Devil is pretty high up there too. Now I think I need to get some Dead.

Summer Storms: Maybe. They both have a similar lilt, though the subject matter is quite different.

I have some associational memories with Uncle John's Band, which comes of life on the road, performing for people, and swapping good times in the dark, after hours, which is why it probably comes out on top.

Sugar Magnolia, well there are a couple of loves in my life who have filled that role some.

#683 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:49 AM:

I read this comic and I thought, oh hey. I think a few Fluorospherans might resonate with that.

#684 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:32 AM:

OK, so I'm British. I was also not born until the 70s. These two facts combined mean I pretty-much by definition do not get the Grateful Dead[1]. Given this, can somebody explain to me what's wrong with the Slate article? I mean, other than the idea that you can gain significant insight into a person's personality by knowing what their favourite song is, which is so obviously wrong that I don't think anyone would bother commenting on it...

[1]: Aside -- Ben & Jerry's have an ice cream flavour called "Cherry Garcia". I am convinced I am the only person I know who actually understood this without an explanation.

#685 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:51 AM:

Jules: The article was a hit piece. It pretended to analyse one's personality by what song you liked; but all the answers were insults to the people discussed.

Oh, and the Cherry Garcia, I can attest to several people, myself among them, who got it straight away.

It happens to be my fave ben and jerry... I wonder what that says about me. :)

#686 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:56 AM:

OG, #679: Re Uhura, you're not the only one. Worse yet, it happened more than once.

#687 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 05:27 AM:

Heresiarch@683: Oh yes. Especially that last panel.

#688 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 06:54 AM:

For some reason, I am inclined to see female characters from Cats wearing the Classic Trek female uniform. After all, all that stuff about the Heaviside Layer is prime techno-babble.

Perhaps TNG got it wrong about Data and that cat?

#689 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 07:25 AM:

Jenny (#640), Tracy (#649) This immediately gave me to think of the charivari tradition (I'd say shahr-uh-VAHR-ee, others obviously differ, since variant spellings are chivaree, shivaree & chivari. NTBCW Chiavari, a town in Italy). My understanding was it involved following newlyweds back to their house (or sneaking around to their window if the celebrations were happening in the same building), and creating a lot of noise while they might be expected to be consummating their union.

Elsewhere, this article on Charivari at the 'Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society' <pauses for breath> deals with other aspects of charivari, which reminds me of political demonstrations I've heard of <g> over the last few decades, but disturbs me with its passing-over of ignoring gang rape.

Cognitive Dissonance: a site called The Free Dictionary, where I attempted to commit research, greeted me with "This article is available to subscribers only. To read this article please sign-in or register for a free trial." I wonder how their definition of "free" goes.

Looking forward, as a 'casual fan' like Caroline (#624), with an open mind to seeing Star Trek: Reboot at our local Imax. Until then, all the rotten ROT-13 will be tantalizing me.

#690 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 07:37 AM:

676: and setting up various useful community packages that take some configuring from the command line, like "culture" (a great bloat of a thing, with hundreds of confusing localisations), "scepticism" (a small but very useful if recondite utility), and "tolerance", which people forget to use.

#691 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 07:43 AM:

Open Office had a glitch in the British English installation which meant the dictionaries didn't get set up right.

I suspect some distributions of Windows for Humans have similar bugs in the 'tolerance' driver.

Have you noticed how many politicians BSOD when you remind them that their latest scheme to "protect" us might be applied to them?

#692 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 08:27 AM:

Dave Bell @ 691 ...
Open Office had a glitch in the British English installation which meant the dictionaries didn't get set up right.

One of my mail clients once had a glitch which resulted in -only- the turkish dictionaries being installed...

#693 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 09:51 AM:

Open threadiness (and probably bad poetry):


A needle and thread
And the right fabric
Can make the torn tissue of my life
Seem more manageable
More three-dimensional
More amenable to becoming
A useful thing to wear.

#694 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 10:26 AM:

David Goldfarb @687: But...but...but I like Papyrus!!

The only font that makes me want to rip pages up or throw rocks at store signs is Comic Sans, but that probably goes without saying.

(Then again, if it did, the darn thing wouldn't be so ubiquitous. Our letters from the mayor's office are in Comic Sans. Good grief.)

#695 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 10:33 AM:

xeger, my Elemental Photoshop had some kind of seizure, and thereafter has only communicated in a fractured French/English blend. At least it's one I have some chance of comprehending.

#696 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 10:56 AM:

Mez @ 695... my Elemental Photoshop had some kind of seizure

One just can't get reliable Spirits anymore.

#697 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 11:05 AM:

Pendrift @ 694:

I occasionally fantasize about writing a virus that does nothing but remove Comic Sans from people's computers. And beating the admin assistant at the office who thinks it's great to use for putting titles on binders. Because it just screams professionalism. Or something.

I liked Papyrus, and then I saw it used everywhere, and now I hate it. I don't think I've ever had an opinion of a typeface flip so quickly.

Mez @ 695:

Cliquez ici to resize cette photo?

#698 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 11:11 AM:

KeithS @ 697... Cliquez ici to resize cette photo?


#699 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 11:15 AM:

I want Arial eradicated....I have an astigmatism and sans serif fonts tends towards anathema for me.

#700 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 12:02 PM:

I hate all san-serif fonts unless they're at least 20 point. Serifs help your retina (which is actually part of the brain, really) process characters somewhat before they get sent to the brain. Reading a lot of san-serif fonts gives me a headache.

#701 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 12:11 PM:

Serge@571: I'll lend it to my friend, if I hear no complaints, I'll know it's safe to read.

*evil scientist laugh*

"Charivari": to those of you who speak french, may I recommend Anne Lombar-Jourdan's lovely book on the subject (yup, she makes a charivari/carnaval connection) ?

Honk convoys at weddings are almost mandatory here, I don't think I remember a marriage involving cars where it didn't happen (and the only one I remember where it didn't happen was because it mostly didn't involve cars until days after the wedding proper had ended - an incredible event it was, with guests in the hundreds and the most incredible "Jeu de la Jarretière"[1] I ever witnessed).

Now that I think of it, that kind of honking always interrupted my music classes around once a week. And everytime, invariably, the teacher would go to the window and shout to the passing convoy: "Yeah, we'll talk about it again in ten years."

He was such a lovely man.

heresiarch@683: that's a reaction I couldn't really understand, watching Helvetica. I only care in the choice of fonts in things I want to read.
In a way, the haphazard and heterogeneous magazine adds that one rather passionate designer presented as repulsive I found less jarring than what he defended (I guess because they came from a time when publicity was still advertising, if I make sense.). He reminded me of those people who want every house on the street to be imposed the same coloring pattern (but then this comes from someone who'll only own dishware in single items).

[1] "wedding garter auction" is the closest translation I can think of?

#702 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 12:30 PM:

xeger: Is ML a serif font for you? Because the comment window is for me, but the posted comments aren't.

#703 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 12:47 PM:

T minus about 3. I'm packing the truck. I sure hope this whole house project isn't going to turn out to be a monumentally stupid error.

Anybody in the Fluorosphere on a track from Jacksonville, Florida to Richmond, Indiana? (I.e. Macon, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, Lexington, Cincinnati?) I could drop by and say hi on Thursday or Friday, if you don't mind the presence of my dog.

#704 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 01:26 PM:

I like some fonts better than others, but the only one I hate to the point that I Will Not Have It Installed On My Computer is LetterGothic. Talk about fugly!

#705 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 01:54 PM:

LLA @693:

Thank you for that.

I spent the weekend rather obsessively making a couple of summer dresses. It wasn't until I read your poem that I realized how much of my emotional involvement in the process was tied to how grey and chilly (and therefore depressing) this spring has been.

I hope the mending came out well.

#706 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:28 PM:

Michael Roberts: Close, but no cigar. Oak Ridge is a bit far to swing by from Nashville.

#707 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:31 PM:

Xopher @ 700: Serifs help your retina (which is actually part of the brain, really) process characters somewhat before they get sent to the brain.

No, they don't. We have the egregious Cyril Burt to thank for this myth.

#708 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:39 PM:

Xopher @ 700... Serifs help your retina

Eyeshot the serif.
But I didn't shoot his depupil.

#709 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:42 PM:

Iris I could think of the puns first.

#710 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:54 PM:

Puns? Corneall of them.

#711 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:58 PM:

OK, I deserve several lashes for that one. But I'll run out of here in a mask, ere I receive them. (The mask lens an air of mystery, you see.)

OK, you want me to die right now. But I'll dilater.

#712 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:58 PM:

Eye puns contain lots of humour.

#713 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:01 PM:

Oh, Xopher. You are indeed a font of drollery.

#714 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Has anyone here tried couch surfing? I'm tempted, but wary.

#715 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:27 PM:

Serge, of course will blame all these visual puns on Bob Mar l'Eye.

#716 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Pendrift, I have heard good reports. The problems I have heard of are more often those of obnoxious surfers, than of horrid couch owners.

As with any sort of thing like this, a few precautions are in order, but it's no riskier than most things.

#717 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:40 PM:

J Austin #513
I just feel like I'm getting stupider and stupider as I get older, and presence of physical symptoms like lethargy just clinched it for me. I hope to god this is right.

Also get checked for multiple sclerosis. "Fatigue" (or something that feels very like it) is apparently one of the most common symptoms of MS, and memory problems might well be nerve damage in the brain. There are treatments (not cures), but you want to start them ASAP.

#718 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:44 PM:

Okay, I have an etiquette question: I am a known Trekkie, and with the new movie coming out, I'm getting bombarded with Are ya ready? When ya gonna go?

Problem is, I'm what you might call a Trek Fundamentalist, and what with one thing and another, I really, really, really don't want to see this thing. (As in, "Ew, ick, get it off!!")

What's a good way to discourage well-meaning but misguided enthusiasm without being an offensive stick-in-the-mud about it?

#719 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:51 PM:

Xopher @ 711: You're going to end up in Limbus for that. Not even a belief in Macula Reception will save you from that dark fate.

And before that, I'll take a rod to ya, just see if I don't.

#720 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 04:00 PM:

Eyebrow't the level of discourse down. Again.

#721 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 04:01 PM:

I'm old enough that I can claim original Trek as part of my childhood (along with Gemini and Apollo), and I could say I didn't want to spoil that memory.

(Doctor Who, on the other hand, was always getting re-invented, and so is a different problem.)

I don't feel all that strongly about Trek, and while the new movie may include contemporary elements I won't like, it sounds to have been done pretty well.

(I've no objection to -fanservice, but from what I hear the Wolverine movie did a better job of fitting it into the story.)

#722 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 04:13 PM:

Jacque @ 718: The pseudopresident of our local SF society was interviewed on the radio about the movie, and said that the only people who wouldn't like it were "a few grumpy oldsters who don't like the miniskirts". When I encounter comments like that, I have no trouble at all with being an offensive stick-in-the-mud.

(With all of the classic stuff they threw away in the reboot, why did they have to keep the miniskirts? I have no objection at all to miniskirts in the appropriate context, but they aren't a functional uniform, at least not for that profession.)

#723 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 04:16 PM:

Serge @ 720: I thought eyebrows were something to raise. Or was that glasses?

And Dave Bell says pretty much what I was trying to express about fanservice, but couldn't figure out how to say.

#724 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Jacque, if I were you, I'd say good-humoredly, "Ehh, I'm kind of a Trek Fundamentalist. I like the old-school Star Trek; the re-imagining isn't really my thing."

Carries enough humor to not be stick-in-the-mud-ish ("Trek Fundamentalist" is a humorous phrase), but gets the point across that it's not what you're into.

#725 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 05:06 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 722... The skirts are the one and only reason my wife (who was a Trekkie) absolutely refuses to see the movie. It's a damned shame because, from what I've little I've seen yet, it seems to have done a good job in its handling of the essence of the original story - at least in its shoot'em-up plots. (I don't expect that their exploration tales like The Corbomite Maneuver would draw in much of a crowd.)

#726 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 05:25 PM:

My favorite Trek uniforms were the ones that had a sort of Napoleonic era look to them.

#727 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 07:20 PM:

Jacque, #718: I'd suggest misdirection in this case. Instead of saying, "I don't want to see it," say, "I'm going to wait for it to hit [the cheap seats/NetFlix/DVD]" and plead schedule or monetary issues as a reason. By the time it does, everyone will have forgotten that they wanted to bug you about it.

#728 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 07:30 PM:

Earl Coley III @ 726... I'm for the Horatio Hornblower look, bicorn and all. After all, the latter was the inspiration for Kirk.

#729 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 08:04 PM:

The idea of Windows for Humans™ reminds me of an older quote, possibly Ogden Nash, something like:

The door of bigotry is hinged outward, so the pressure of outside facts only wedges it tighter.
Though it's a bit wordy for ol' Oggers.

#730 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 08:19 PM:

I suspect the uniforms weren't changed because they were so visually distinct. I mean they are iconic (not in the best of ways).

They should have been changed, but I can see why the people doing it didn't. It also probably looked a lot better in storyboard, than it does on the screen.

#731 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 09:12 PM:

I'll wait for the DVD or something similar, because the theater sound systems are almost always set way too loud.

I figure you could, if you were female, wear a pair of nice-looking black trousers under the tunic, and would, if they weren't bulky around the hips, still look decent.
But those TOS uniforms won't do at all if you're overweight.

#732 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 10:50 PM:

Hey everyone, check out my new website. It's a bit new and naive and unread and clunky, but it's mine and I'm proud of it.

#733 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 11:11 PM:

@600: Actually, Summer, the use of v/v is recent; "3.2" is w/w. This was known when I began homebrewing, in 1990; there was much comment on the illogic of U.S. beers being graded differently from beers in other parts of the world -- although it was less noticeable then, because there were laws against quoting alcohol content at all. Certainly it is true that some European beers are stronger than some U.S. beers; but I do not think you will find many session-strength beers in the U.S., where they are common in the U.K.

martyn44@619: care to provide evidence? Summer's experience matches the rule of thumb I learned; the morning after 6 beers may be very unpleasant, but that's partly because it will be be stone-cold sober.

Dave@621: part of the reason is that U.S. fans mostly don't do public social drinking; it's seen here as a pursuit of people who don't read, so any drinking (let alone drinking in mid-afternoon, as I was treated to at Seacon '79) seems strange. OTOH, I remember a Brit (visiting just before Noreascon 3 (1989)) commenting that the U.S. fans didn't drink a lot but they could certainly eat a lot. (Granted, he showed up at a major work session, so everybody had an appetite when the pizza showed up.)
And wrt your follow-on: how many Brits actually drive away when they leave the convention? However horrible it is, mass and long-distance transit in the U.K. are not as bad as they are in most of the U.S.

#734 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 11:36 PM:

CHip: The morning after might be a bit... "leftover", but that's largely because the diuretic effects are more cumulative than the inebrietory effects are additive.

I will point out the present teaching (from my training in drug related stuff for the Army/reports from folks at traffic school) is figure an hour and a half for one drink to completely leave the system.

It seems the 1 drink=1 hour was based on the magic number being .10, not .08..

Even at that, the basic one drink an hour rule still seems to work, even for a lightweight like me (though it seems my liver is pretty good at dealing with it. I can generally [other life stresses not monkeying with my tolerance] keep up with folks in the 140-160 lb range.)

The one time I got field sobrietied was not for poor driving, but for a bad tail-light. They smelled the outbreathing drinks, gave me the tests. Decided I was impaired, took me to the station; I blew below the threshold (I think it was a .058). They called the supervisor, they drove me home.

They drove me home because I asked them too. They were going to drive me back to my car. My car was walking distance to my house.

Why had I blown so close to hot? The bartender liked us. I'd had, in the course of five hours, a martini, and a couple of glasess of wine.

Found out later the martini (which was brimming) was in a deceptively large glass. It was five ounces of drink, at a ratio of about 4-1 gin to vermouth. So I had e6 drinks, in five hours, and was below the threshold.

Today, I wouldn't drive, not after three drinks in five hours (I thought I'd had about four; thinking the martini counted as two).

I did ask the cops, after I told them to take me home, if they could, if I had been driving poorly. They said no, if it hadn't been for the taillight, they never would have pulled me over, and they'd followed me long enough to run my plates.

So drinks in six hours; a judgement call, but not a certain failure of legal sobriety.

#735 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 12:07 AM:

On the topic of the Star Trek film, Franklin has an interesting (and, of course, amusing) perspective: The Panopticon.

#736 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 12:10 AM:

As I said before, miniskirts are another example of Star Trek's failure to recognize that space has zero gravity. (along with the fact that they always show the space ship flying upright, the fact that they walk around on floors, and the fact that the two ships stand face to face when the captains confront each other.)

#737 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 12:11 AM:

OK, the Puppy Matrix is really cute.

It's midnight, I've been up since 6 AM, and the truck is not quite loaded. Sigh. Close, though. Oh, so very close.

I get this stuff into that house in Indiana, and the heavy boxes (i.e. the books) are never ever ever going to leave it until after I die and they divvy it all up. I don't care if we move somewhere else; I'm keeping that house, just to house the books. I tell you, paying cash for a house just really makes that kind of decision workable.

#738 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 12:22 AM:

CHip, 733: Actually, Summer, the use of v/v is recent; "3.2" is w/w.

I'm talking about both in the present day. There are still beers on the market with ca. 3.2% ABV. I know, because I've seen them, and they are labeled as such. The labels clearly state that it is AB*volume*, and not AB*weight*.

And I've found plenty of session-strength beers in the U.S. They've pretty much all been microbrews or homebrews, and some of the ones that were microbrews I drank right in the brewpubs attached to the breweries in which they were made.

part of the reason is that U.S. fans mostly don't do public social drinking; it's seen here as a pursuit of people who don't read

*chuckle* Interestingly enough, my personal drinking circle includes at least one gentleman who invariably brings a novel along, and can be seen almost daily around 4 PM in his local, with both pint and open book. (He is also a writer, as am I.) And most of the rest of the group read quite a bit.

Terry, 734: Actually, at the time I first learned that formula (cough*almostthirtyyearsago,whoa*cough), the magic number was indeed .10 rather than .08. The .08 limit is quite recent, at least where I am. Either way, it still depends at least in part on the ABV of what I'm drinking, and since I rarely drink mixed drinks and I know the size of my local's "pint" glasses (Place A uses the smaller American pint, while place B casts itself as an Irish pub and uses the real deal) as well as the ABV of my favorite brews, I can be pretty sure of keeping my BAC low. Especially as I tend to drink more slowly than the rest of my crew and so generally end the night having consumed fewer drinks than they have. (Chalk some of that up to the fact that I stick to stuff with actual flavor to be savored, and many of my drinking buddies are given to drinkng Budweiser, which tastes like ass if you give it time to warm up, so they down them quickly. A Newcastle Brown Ale, on the other hand, tastes perfectly fine even after 45 minutes in the glass.)

And I'm still a huge fan of public transportation and/or walking to the pub and back.

#739 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 12:31 AM:

#735: Somehow, the title of that piece ("Do gay martians have a right to marry?") made me expect "Stranger in a Strange Land" references.

#740 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 12:48 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 732:

It's nice to have your own little space carved out on the web, isn't it. I've been pondering it for a while, but I have yet to figure out what I'd actually put there, so I haven't.

janetl @ 735:

Thanks for the laugh.

Erik Nelson (again) @ 736:

I read a Trek book once where the power failed on the Enterprise, which caused the anti-gravity field in the turbolift shafts to fail. I'll let you ponder that for a while.

#741 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 01:10 AM:

Erik Nelson #736: and the fact that the two ships stand face to face when the captains confront each other

Larger military confrontations in Trek have usually been portrayed as fur balls rather than stately conflicts of ships of the line. I'm not really bothered by one-on-one confrontations visually aligned with the ships' weapons arrays, nor with symmetrical placement of weapons either. It certainly didn't bother me back when I was playing the tabletop game Star Fleet Battles.

#742 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 01:10 AM:

Summer Storms: yes, the BAC was lowered after I learned to drink, and after I learned to drive (the skills were acquired in that order. I was 21 when I got my license).

#743 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 01:22 AM:


Similar here. I took Drivers Ed in high school at 16, but didn't go and get my license right away. I reached the legal drinking age at 18, having already been taught proper use of alcohol by my parents starting at the tender age of 13 (and was considered competent by them wrt to its use at age 16). I got to turn legal again at 19, due to NY state's decision to raise the age without employing a grandfather clause, approximately four months after my 18th birthday. I finally got off my duff and got my driver's license at 22.

#744 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 08:47 AM:

Re: Honkies. I recall reading that the term was originally directed at Hungarians, and later generalized to all us white folks.

#745 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 09:01 AM:

Neil Gaiman's latest blog entry reminded me of a sidelight posted last February.

I wanted to send a "simplicity of things" reply to a client yesterday. One of the drawbacks of being your own boss is having everyone else think they're yours.

#746 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:35 AM:

That puppy matrix link is like a graphic representation of my "happy place" - completely swarmed by corgi puppies.

My roommate informs me that puppies actually have needle-sharp teeth, but for the sake of my happy place, I will continue to imagine soft snouts and gentle paws.


#747 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:35 AM:

Joel Polowin @722, Caroline @724, Lee @727: Good suggestions, all! And, really, nothing I couldn't have thought of myself had I been, well, thinking.

(This is one of the, er, fundamental problems with Fundamentalism: the higher brain functions shut down when contrary opinion is encountered. Then it's all just the Lizard Brain: "How could you believe such a foolish thing!? You're crazy! You're evil! I'm gonna tell my momma!!")

#748 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 12:10 PM:

Does anybody know what the deadline for Hugo voting is? Neither Anticipation nor the Hugo Committees say anything about it.

#749 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 12:36 PM:

abi @586: Now, see, that's exactly what I was afraid of. Thank you for running point for me.

#750 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 01:00 PM:

The one thing I'm concerned about, regarding Star Trek, besides the skirts, is that it's using time travel. I love time-travel stories, but this is Star Trek. There was way too much reliance on time travel in Enterprise. Well, I'm hoping to find out this afternoon.

#751 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 01:12 PM:

Serge @ 750:

That's one of the main reasons that I gave up on Enterprise. I think that, provided that you don't think about the time travel aspect too hard (which you should never do in Trek anyway, with the exception of the TNG two-parter Time's Arrow), it's a good way for setting up the reboot aspect of the film.

Va snpg, byqre Fcbpx rkcyvpvgyl frgf bhg gur snpg gung gur gvzr geniry perngrq na nygreangr havirefr, juvpu pnhfrq Xvex gb abg unir uvf sngure gb or n tbbq ebyr zbqry sbe uvz naq fb ba naq fb sbegu, naq gur qrfgehpgvba bs Ihypna. Ur'f pnyyrq Fcbpx Cevzr va gur perqvgf gb erzbir nal shegure qbhog bs gur nygreangr-havirefrarff bs gur fvghngvba.

#752 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 01:35 PM:

KeithS @ 751... I'll de-rot13 your comment later, but I'm not sure how time travel allows them to reboot since Spock originally was older than McCoy, who was older than Kirk, who was older than the rest of the cast (and who cares about Chekov?) and who had never served with Captain Pike. Oh well.

As for Enterprise...
To boldly go where everyone has gone before.

#753 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 01:56 PM:

Serge, near as I can figure out from having seen the film, Spock is still older than both McCoy and Kirk, and McCoy is clearly still older than Kirk. Kirk may well still be slightly older than the rest (including Chekov); certainly there is no clear evidence that he is not, at least not that I saw.

Nf sbe freivat jvgu Cvxr, vg vf ragveryl cbffvoyr naq zber guna fyvtugyl cebonoyr gung gur riragf jvgu juvpu gur svyz bcraf nygrerq gur npgvbaf naq pvephzfgnaprf bs rirelbar jubfr yvsr jnf gvrq hc jvgu Fgnesyrrg va gur bevtvany gvzryvar, rfcrpvnyyl gubfr jubfr cnguf unq pebffrq naq vagregjvarq jvgu Xvex'f va gung bevtvany gvzryvar naq jbhyq abj qb fb va n qvssrerag znaare vs ng nyy, orpnhfr Xvex'f bja cngu unq nygrerq.

Any more than what I have said in the open here I would have to ROT-13 in order to not spoil it for others.

[Moderator comment: I ROT-13'd a bit more to be on the safe side. Abi]

#754 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 02:01 PM:

Summer Storms @ 753... I stand corrected, especially regarding Kirk serving with Pike. I wonder if this means that Harcourt Fenton Mudd is still conning his way around the Federation.

#755 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Could we maybe have a spoiler thread for Star Trek? I don't want to read spoilers here before I've seen the movie, and I'd rather not need to ignore the open thread....

#756 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 02:53 PM:

Albatross, so far all the actual spoilers have been clearly labeled and posted in ROT-13, so unless you're running them through a ROT-13 decoder or you read ROT-13 fluently in the raw, I don't see how you're reading spoilers.

#757 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 03:13 PM:

755/766: There's been some stuff in the clear that the extremely spoiler-adverse might want to avoid. (I don't happen to be one of them, but I've noticed.)

#758 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 03:15 PM:

I meant 'averse' not 'adverse', of course. Darn it. Why do I never notice this stuff until after I hit post?

#759 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 03:24 PM:

Dave Bell @ 621
People do drink a lot at Eastercons. In my experience UK fandom in general seems to have a fair cross-over with real ale drinkers and cider drinkers.

I was told once that whenever a hotel hosts Eastercon for the first time they (a) want a deposit for damages; (b) don't believe the organisers when told how much beer and how much (hard) cider will be drunk.

They tend to get pleasantly surprised because yes, people drink a lot but they drink it over a number of hours - paced out from say 2 pm to midnight - so in general they don't get drunk (or no more than merry) and they don't start bashing up the place. Result: lots of alcohol imbibed (good for the hotel's income), the hotel runs out of cider (except Woodpecker) and decent beer, but no damages. Of course this could have changed (it's been a few years since my last Eastercon).

#760 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 03:26 PM:

Mary Aileen, most-to-all of what's been in the clear is, AFAIK, stuff that anyone who'd watched the trailers or TV ads for the movie would already know or have at least guessed at. Or have I missed something?

#761 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 03:42 PM:

Summer Storms (760): I've known people who consider trailers and TV ads to be spoilers. But since I haven't seen either in this case, perhaps I misjudged how much information was out there in the clear already.

#762 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 03:43 PM:

Summer Storms... Then again, there may be people who purposefully avoided the coming attractions. It'd probably best to have a trek track.

#763 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 03:51 PM:

With a trek-track-paddywack, give a thread to me
So this one stays spoiler-free

It's possible my random-association-neurons are firing overtime

#764 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 04:02 PM:

Serge #748: Does anybody know what the deadline for Hugo voting is? Neither Anticipation nor the Hugo Committees say anything about it.

July 3rd. The deadline date will be more prominently featured when the official voting ballot is released sometime soon. Apparently, the information was buried in a progress report.

#765 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 04:05 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 764... Thanks. I was wondering because, about 2 weeks ago, I got an email from the Hugos that sounded like it was saying I could vote now, and I was planning to do so soon now that I've read everything in all the categories I was planning to vote in.

#766 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Starting on July 7, the SciFi Channel will premiere Rockne O'Bannon's new series, Warehouse 13.

After saving the life of an international diplomat in Washington D.C., a pair of U.S Secret Service agents are whisked away to a covert location in South Dakota that houses supernatural objects that the U.S. Government has collected over the centuries. Their new assignment: retrieve some of the missing objects and investigate reports of new ones.

It looks interesting. Goofy too, and not just because Saul Rubinek is in charge of Warehouse 13.

#767 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 04:37 PM:

Trek spoiler thread is up.

Should I go back through with a heavy hand and ROT-13 problematic comments on this thread? What say you people? (Answer quick: it's nearly my bedtime!)

#768 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Is anyone here into numismatics? I've found a jar of old coins in my father-in-law's things, and am having great fun identifying them. Australian pennies are huuuuge.

Several nazi coins, Italy, France--looks like someone's wartime mementos, then later, travel ones. There's one that has no lettering on it, though, and Google nor the coin collecting sites are giving me any love. 1909, looks to be bronze, about the size of a US dime. There's a double-headed eagle that looks a lot like a Hapsburg eagle, holding a crest that is too small for my magnifying glass. All I can tell is that there's something rampant on one half. The obverse has a beautiful, simple nouveau frame around the numeral One, and some sort of berried branches beneath. That's it. No words or letters.

I thought Russian, or maybe a token of some kind, but a lot of people use a double eage on their coins.

#769 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 04:44 PM:

Abi @ 767... it's nearly my bedtime!

I was beginning to think that I was the one who, thanks to timezone differences, never sleeps.

#770 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 04:52 PM:

Serge @ 768

I believe that Warehouse 13 was developed as a follow-on series for The Lost Room a mini-series that was aired a couple of weeks ago (originally released in 2006). It's more of a spin-off, actually, since none of the original characters appear.

It's probably worth checking out; the mini-series was very good. It respectfully built a carefully-constructed plot development on top of an old pulp-fiction idea, and didn't cheat or try to promise too much, but resolved the major puzzles satisfyingly, while leaving some for a sequel or a series. Some good actors in it too: Peter Krause and Julianna Margulies are the leads, and Margaret Cho has a small, but fun part.

#771 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:07 PM:

j austin @ #768, 1909, looks to be bronze, about the size of a US dime

If that's a VDB penny you've got a valuable coin there.

I used to buy those bags of coins shops would sell, hoping against hope. I didn't understand scarcity very well when I was ten.

#772 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:09 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 770... I remember The Lost Room. By the way, I was amused by the fact that, when the hero got whisked away, he reappeared one block from where I work. I am of course not suggesting anything about my professional life.

#773 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:09 PM:

Right, I've ROT-13'd a few arguably spoileriffic comments.

I think further Trek discussion should go in the new thread; this one should be safe for non-Trekkified eyes.

#774 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:10 PM:

Oh, wait. The same coin has a double-headed eagle? Scratch the penny as an option. I misread the comma delimiters.

#775 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:13 PM:

Nothing that's appeared so far has been a major spoiler, as far as I can tell. But some minor stuff has slipped out, which makes me worry that something huge is going to slip out and massively change the movie for me.

Abi, thanks for the spoiler thread!

#776 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:20 PM:

albatross @775:
Perhaps I can bury any spoilers in chaff, by posting some that aren't true.

1. They've done a Starbuck. Leonard McCoy is played by a woman, and is now named Lenore.

2. The major antagonist in the film is a planet-eater from The Doomsday Machine which has been taken over by tribbles. Most of the "bad science" complaints you hear are because the thing purrs in space shots.

3. All those miniskirt complaints about the women overlook the fact that the men are wearing kilts. Except Scotty.

4. Sulu breaks into an extemporaneous rendition of "Kung Fu Fighting" during a fight scene. All the characters onscreen slip smoothly into a synchronized dance, then return to the fight once Sulu stops singing.

5. This time, the toilets on the Enterprise are shown. A major scene takes place in there. Watch for the reference to the three seashells.

#777 ::: JCarson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:21 PM:

J Austin # 768 - is it this one?

#778 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:31 PM:

You should have seen my expression when I read your comment@771. Or it felt like you should have seen it, anyway.

I make jewelry with my own elongated pennies, and come across the wheat pennies fairly often. I'm not much of a collector, but find foreign coins fascinating as art objects.

#779 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:33 PM:

Yes! Your google-fu is much superior to mine.

#780 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:34 PM:

Thank you, abi, for the spoiled-Trek thread and the ROT-13ing. I'm already close to deciding that the movie might be something I'm better off skipping (they did the frakkin' miniskirts?!?...stupid jackholes), not because it's no fun (probably at least some fun), or because it's not true to the original (which in my book could be a plus), but because it sounds like an offensive piece of crap.

#781 ::: JCarson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:39 PM:

J Austin@779 — happy to help. If you're curious, "doubleheaded eagle coin" in Google Image Search got me to the 2-cent version of the coin on that site, which inevitably led to the 1-cent. If only google-fu were a marketable skill....

#782 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:40 PM:

In the spirit of this old thread, I'm currently relaxing over half a bottle of Augustinerbrau Maximator. I'd highly recommend anyone who's a fan of the Chimay to give it a try.

#783 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:45 PM:

JCarson@781: I tried "double-headed" and "two-headed", (and Hapsburg, and Imperial, and double eagle) but didn't see it. Ah, well. Thanks for the site, too, I'm going to be stuck on it all day;)

#784 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 05:49 PM:

Xopher @ 780:

I'm not sure I'd say it's offensive. It's no worse, and arguably a little better, than a lot of summer blockbusters. As a data point, I did enjoy it. I was just hoping that, since it's Trek and we know what sorts of ideals it's supposed to have, it would be better.

#785 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 06:52 PM:

Abi, 776: Damn. Now I almost want to see your version.

Xopher, 780 & KeithS, 774: Well, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool, canon-preferring, from-the-cradle Trek fan and a feminist to boot, who was bothered by the miniskirts and a few other items, but nevertheless, I thoroughly *did* enjoy the movie just the same.

Bonus: my hubby, who is *not* really a Trek fan, nor even a fan of SF in general, and who rarely goes to the movies due to a pronounced tendency to fall asleep when placed in a comfy seat in a dark environment regardless of what is on the screen, enjoyed it as well, giving us something new to talk about. ;-)

Anything more I will save for the new thread.

#786 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 07:03 PM:

Open threadiness: So, as I was filtering my latest batch of stock (~10 hours, longest yet!), I had an idea...

Would use of a pressure cooker speed up stock-making? Or would the lesser time and limited venting mean you wouldn't get the volume down enough? (With boiling, you understand, I have the opposite problem!)

#787 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 07:13 PM:

Xopher -

I'm with Summer... as far as sexism is concerned, a couple of maddening moments onscreen (probably less than 3 minutes) didn't negate the rest of the film for me. (there was more egregious misogyny in the Transformers trailer shown before the film.) However, I am only a casual-to-midrange fan of TOS so my lack of objection to treadmarks left on the canon may be taken with a grain of salt.

#788 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 07:32 PM:

I can't stand to watch TOS any more. The acting is so terrible that it makes me cringe; some of the stories are so stupid they make me want to barf ("The Omega Glory," "Specter of the Gun"). A reimagining of that would not bother me, if they did something better with it (see also Battlestar Galactica).

#789 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 08:22 PM:

Warning - the link leads to a joke on a joke site. Some of you may find it funny. Some of you may groan and throw things. Jumbo joke: The Scottish Military Field Hospital

(Can I blame it on the kilts remark above?)

#790 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 09:15 PM:

Henry, I will throw things at you should we ever meet.

Bouquets of flowers, but don't get cocky.

#791 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:02 PM:

re coins. I have five of the wartime "silver" nickels. Oddly, all of them are 1943.

#792 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:03 PM:

O Henry.

#793 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:10 PM:

thanks for the warning, Henry. Groan and tee hee.

#794 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:17 PM:

Xopher, some of those shows (including both of those you mention) were so bad then, that people were making jokes about them. ('Spock's Brain': oyyyy!) But some are still good stories, even though their age is showing.

#795 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:22 PM:

You can make stock in a pressure cooker. If you are looking to concentrate it, well that's a stove top operation.

In other news... cross your fingers for me, I just submitted a piece to the WaPo for consideration as an Op-Ed. An hour to write, and three hours back and forth with my editor.

Here's hoping.

#796 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:26 PM:

Henry Troup @ 789:

I'm groaning here, but I'm not going to be throwing things. That was good.

P J Evans @ 794:

I think that the overall themes of Star Trek were good. Unfortunately, the execution was often lacking. And Spock's Brain was the worst episode ever.

Terry Karney @ 795:

Good luck.

#797 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:28 PM:

A glass (or two..) of wine, a fresh loaf, orange infused olive oil, and an apple later -- the world is a much nicer place :)

#798 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2009, 10:39 PM:

If you haven't already followed the particle to Neil Gaiman's blog, do so soon: "George R. R. Martin Is Not Your Bitch"

#799 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:08 AM:

Henry Troup @ 789

From: Sidereal Integrity Dept.

Dear Sir/Madam/Herm/Thing,

Notice is given that your recent attempt at humor has seriously disturbed the fundamental cohesion of the space-time continuum, resulting in considerable tearing of the fabric of reality. You are hereby requested and required to cease and desist from any activity that might be deemed injurious to the cosmos.

Permanent Undersecretary of Complaints.

You owe us a new keyboard.

#800 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:18 AM:

So my day started out pretty well. I got up, fed the dog, gave my wife Hilde her morning meds and put her back to bed, went out to a doctor's appointment, picked up a few items at the grocery, dropped off a prescription, got back home, moved a load of wash into the dryer and started another, went into the bedroom...

...and that's when I called the ambulance.

It's... stressful... to find the spouse who'd been fine three hours before gasping for breath, arms and legs jerking spasmodically, unable to respond to you or to speak at all, possibly not even recognize you, covered with sweat and running a burning fever.

The good news is that by the time I got home from the hospital tonight, close to twelve hours after the ambulance took her there, Hilde had made an almost complete recovery. She was focused and coherent again, with no problems speaking or verbalizing. She was even able to speak to our son Chris on the phone and ask what he wanted for his birthday dinner tomorrow. (Though she'll likely still be in the hospital then, either getting tests or waiting for the results of them.)

She remembers going back to sleep before I left for my doctor's appointment, but the next time she was aware of her surroundings was in the early afternoon, when I was giving the ER doctor some further information at her bedside. She drifted in and out for several more hours, but then became more and more awake and aware. By the time a neurologist came in to look at her, she was able to give normal responses to his questions.

We're still not certain what exactly happened. Stroke was the immediate concern, which is why she was taken to the closest hospital with a stroke unit, rather than to Mayo Hospital, which is about ten miles further away, but which she prefers to go to when possible. (Her primary care doctor is with Mayo.)

But the jerking arms and legs seemed more like some kind of seizure. And the high fever and sweats seemed like an infection. (Which it turned out she had, and received several units of IV antibiotics for, but the ER doctor said the bacterial count didn't seem high enough to account for everything happening with her.)

So she's in the hospital tonight, with an MRI and EKG due tomorrow, to try and figure out what was happening, and if there's any sign of permanent damage.

But, oh, man, trying not to panic once I found her in crisis was a struggle. We've been through a number of medical crisis' over the years, but every other time -- even if she was in agonizing pain -- she could still communicate something of what was happening to her to me and/or the medics. This was the first time where it was completely up to me.

And beyond the obvious fear that she might have been dying, there was that other fear, possibly even worse: That she might not come back to a state of awareness; that her body and brain might remain "alive", but that Hilde, the person, the mind inside that brain, might never come back.

We seem to have dodged a very large bullet today.

(It's after midnight here. I'm going to take some anti-anxiety meds of my own and go to bed.)

#801 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:44 AM:

@Bruce Arthurs: Oh my, that's scary. I'm glad recovery is nearly complete, and I hope they find out what it is - and that it doesn't happen again.

#802 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 04:41 AM:

... And the award for most inappropriate use of present tense in journalism goes to BBC News, for "Ancient man sculpts a grotesque vision of the female form", a front page headline linking to this story.

#803 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 04:48 AM:

Terry Karney @795: You can make stock in a pressure cooker. If you are looking to concentrate it, well that's a stove top operation.

Or, if you're willing to experiment with unusual kitchen equipment, one to perform in a partial vacuum (i.e., the opposite of a pressure cooker).

#804 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:03 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ #800, that's terrifying. I hope they can figure out what the cause was and how to preempt it.

#805 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 06:11 AM:

Bruce Arthurs: How frightening. I hope everything works out all right.

#806 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 07:34 AM:

PJ Evans @ 794... Their best episode? The Corbomite Manoeuver.

#807 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 07:38 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 800... My best wishes.

#808 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 08:20 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 800... My sympathies for your experience, and best of luck finding out (and fixing) whatever happened.

#809 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 08:35 AM:

Bruce Arthurs: That sounds awful to experience. I hope your wife continues to heal, and that you do too, while the doctors puzzle it out.

#810 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 10:17 AM:

Bruce Arthurs:

Yikes! FWIW, you and your wife are in my prayers.

#811 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 10:27 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 800:

How absolutely horrifying. I hope they figure out what happened and can fix it, or, failing that, that it never happens again. I hope that you recover as well; a shock like that will stick with you.

#812 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 10:55 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 800:

Symathies; hope the recovery goes well, with no repeats of the situation (and if possible, an explanation)

#813 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 11:58 AM:

Bruce Arthurs,

That's very scary. But no matter how scared you were, you did the right things, and you got Hilde the help she needed. I hope the doctors can get a diagnosis swiftly, and that it will not involve any more troubles for the two of you.

#814 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:05 PM:

I'm putting in a request for good thoughts/energy, prayers:

My mom got a teacup Yorkie for Mother's Day. Yesterday morning we had to rush Tuppence to the vet -- with what looked like an episode of hypoglycemia.

The vet was able to alleviate that -- but Penny still has diarrhea and may be suffering from a virus (parvo test was negative, and she does have coccidiosis). Now they're saying she needs a blood transfusion and they're hoping they can get blood from the clinic at Ohio State.

Whatever energy you can send this way would be apreciated...we're really depressed here.

#815 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:09 PM:

My best wishes to puppy Tuppence, Lori.

#816 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:11 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 800, oh my gosh. You and Hilde are in my thoughts and I hope they can find out what happened, and make it not happen again.

Take care of yourself. You did the right thing and the best thing in getting her help quickly. As frightening as it must have been -- and I can't even imagine -- you handled it just right.

#817 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:27 PM:

Bruce Arthurs: how scary! I'm glad to hear that Hilde seems to be recovering, and I hope all the further medical news is good.

#818 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:39 PM:

Bruce Arthurs, sounds like your day was worse than ours. Hope they get to the bottom of what caused Hilde's problems. My best wishes for a complete recovery.

Serge, thanks...waiting for news is so difficult.

#819 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:42 PM:

Bruce at 800: thoughts and prayers for both you and Hilde. What a scary thing for both of you!! I add my hope for recovery, diagnosis, treatment, etc. to those expressed by all here.

Lori, I hope Tuppence gets what she needs.

Your factoid for the day: Today is the birthday of Dante Alighieri.

#820 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:44 PM:

Bruce Arthurs #800: Oh, my goodness. Glad Hilde's okay now.

#821 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 01:19 PM:

A little good news on Tuppence:

Ohio State's vets recommended a plasma transfusion, our vets have a volunteer donor, and Penny will get her transfusion sometime this afternoon.

*crosses fingers and continues praying*

#822 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 01:32 PM:

Lori @ 821: Sending best wishes for Tuppence!

#823 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 01:54 PM:

Bruce 800: Terrifying doesn't begin to say it. All bright blessings for a speedy recovery and no recurrences—also for finding out what it was, because otherwise even if it never does you'll be worried. You and Hilde are in my thoughts.

Lori - best wishes for Tuppence as well.

#824 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:15 PM:

Bruce, #800: Yikes! I'm glad she seems to have come thru it okay; GoodThoughts being sent that further examination will reveal no non-obvious damage.

Lori, #814: GoodThoughts being sent for Tuppence as well.

Here's a unicorn chaser after the scary news -- a fairly comprehensive set of pictures from the Houston Art Car Parade last weekend. We're in it as entry #139.

#825 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:31 PM:


Good luck with Tuppence.

#826 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:41 PM:

Repost from Star Trek spoiler thread, because this is non-spoilery and people not on that thread may be interested:

Star Trek: The Experience reopens in Vegas.

If Keith and I decide to chuck the whole wedding thing and elope to Vegas, we are thinking Star Trek wedding.

#827 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:44 PM:

In response to Lee's question about it that should probably be posted here as well:

I went on the Star Trek Experience a few years ago. It was fun. You go to whichever casino it is, buy the tickets, go through the line looking at memorabilia, then get in the ride. It's one of those simulators like Star Tours at Disneyland or the late, lamented Back to the Future ride at Universal.

#828 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @800:
What a frightening thing to have gone through. Well done for keeping your head! Please keep us posted on Hilde's progress, and on how you're managing as well.

Lori @814:
Poor Tuppence! Poor you! Tell us how the transfusion goes.

#829 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 02:58 PM:

OK, did anybody else just hear the words "Klingon Opera" go by on Performance Today?

#830 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:07 PM:

632: not Cat, but for me, the theme from Carrie. No, I haven't gone to high school reunions. Why do you ask?

Tamil Demonstration: about 30 years ago, about a then 90-minute commute:
"But our old City Fathers know something's amiss;
In their Ivory Tower they're working on this.
With the Gardener Expressway they're forging ahead,
And soon it will take you two hours instead!"
-- The Brothers-in-Law, "Toronto the Good."

754: FRA "I wonder if this means that Harcourt Fenton Mudd is still retconning his way around the Federation."

ADD: Mine's the other end, but yes, Having A Name helps a lot. Also "yes, this is not Normal(*), and it's not just that everybody else handles it better than me."
(*) Normal = the way it works for everybody, not normal = right. I don't have to make that distinction clear here, do I?

Drinking - I'm a two-drink limit (in a reasonable amount of time). I'm a one-drink limit, and an hour after I finish it (which can be up to 40 minutes after I start it), if I'm driving. I know this, and I would feel uncomfortable standing my round. Standing a drink for people? No problem at all.

ObBob, just to raise some envy in my colleagues here: KPkB l*!p EE++d m7? CPE B-20 Ol Ls STc T- A6A H6 b7. I support *administrators*, and anything that has accounts. That's good in many ways - My fellow Bobs and Monks can fill in the rest, I'm sure.

#831 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:17 PM:

Terry, #795, good luck!

Bruce Arthurs, #800, I'm so glad Hilde came back to normal! According to my neurologists, seizure can cause stroke. I hope they find out what happened!

Lori, #821, I hope Penny does well!

#832 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Bruce Arthurs (#800) How awful, and frightening, for all of you! It's good to hear things seem to have gone far better than they might. I'll add my good wishes to the many others.

My Original Purpose here now:
Please to observe the Sydney Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef (with patterns), the local iteration of a multi-person-created installation which is to be exhibited at our Powerhouse Museum during the Ultimo Science Festival (last year's site linked here) in August 2009. They have workshop meetings on the last Sunday of the month, so there's still some left before then, if I ever get myself motivated.

The Museum is also running displays, demonstrations & learning workshops on bookbinding, as well as a talk on book conservation as part of the Sydney Writers' Festival over the next fortnight or so. The last could be useful for my piles of inherited & collected volumes, once I have access to them again.

#833 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:32 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 800,
That sounds frightening-- I'm glad she's recovering and I hope they're able to find what caused it. You and she are in my thoughts.

#834 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Bruce: glad she is doing better. Here's hoping the improvement continues, and that they find out what it was and how to prevent it from happening again.

Terry: best of luck to you!

Lori: get-well wishes to Tuppence!

#835 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 03:39 PM:

#Lee @ 824
Here's a unicorn chaser after the scary news -- a fairly comprehensive set of pictures from the Houston Art Car Parade last weekend. We're in it as entry #139.

So you are the extragavant tie-dyed goodness here? Magnificent! I really enjoyed the slide show of the whole event.

#836 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 04:00 PM:

I got out of High School in 1980 . . . undergrad school in 1986 . . . grad school in 1997.

Last night, I had a sort of serialized nightmare, or perhaps a nightpony, since it wasn't particularly scary.

I was trying to finish a final paper for some kind of lit course, a multi-part essay analyzing a Sunday comics section. The comics were supplied in the form of poor quality photocopies. Each section was on a different comic, and required a different analysis. Stuff about themes and character arcs. I was working on my old, slow PowerBook.

I kept waking up, realizing it was a dream, and slipping back into it, finding myself working on a different section. Or not working, since procrastination and an extreme lack of motivation was the main theme of the dream itself.

#837 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:15 PM:

Bruce: What a terror! I'm glad Hilde seems to be OK, and that you're coping, and hope they can figure it out well enough to avoid any repetition.

Stefan: I've been out of college for 29 years this spring. I still get final exam or final assignment dreams. "The final exam started an hour ago? I didn't remember to turn in any of the assignments, did I? Did I even go to any of the classes for this course?" [wake up in cold sweat]

Update from beautiful downtown Philomath...

We were lucky and got a call Tuesday afternoon that the neurology clinic we'd made an appointment at had a cancellation and we could get my mom in there Wednesday morning, which we did. The guy we saw does pediatric neurology as his primary specialty, but is clearly very good across the board - he took a good history, did a very careful exam, and most important was willing to spend a good while listening to us, her family, along with the exam. (Her original primary care physician two years ago had refused to talk to any of her kids to learn what problems she was having. Guess what happens when you ask someone who has cognitive problems if they have any problems, or someone who is suffering from serious memory loss if they have any memory loss? Right, "no problem.") He's also part of a clinic with two stroke specialists and other specialists in chronic neurological diseases, so he's got that expertise at his fingertips.

She's scheduled for an EEG and an MRI and then a follow-up with the neurologist in a couple weeks, which will be after I'm back home, but now that it's set up my brother should be able to cope with getting her there and handling the results.

Bad news is that he thinks there may be more than one problem going on. He mentioned the possibility of frontal lobe dementia, which would be a very unattractive possibility. We'll know more in a few weeks.

Good news is that we've made incredible progress on clearing out and organizing the house in the last few days, and I've been able to watch her often enough to give my brother a little breathing room this week.

#838 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:20 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 836: A night or two ago, I had a similar dream about a high-school or early-undergrad exam -- I finished high school in 1981. I gather that this sort of thing is common.

#839 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:22 PM:

Update on Hilde/post 800:

The doctors told Hilde this morning that they believe the seizure, etc., was caused by a systemic infection.

Basically, she'd been dealing with a stubborn UTI for a number of weeks. That infection, when it finally spread beyond the urinary tract, spread fast and explosively, giving rise to a cascade of escalating consequences in just a few hours.

She's doing well, but still has an MRI and other tests scheduled, so probably won't get home until tomorrow.

Thanks for all the well wishes and concern. They are appreciated.

#840 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 05:49 PM:

Caroline & KeithS: Thank you! That link has now been sent to my partner, with a note that this IS going to be a required stop on the vacation trip. :-)

janetl, #835: Yes, that's the most comprehensive set of pictures I've been able to find. Last year somebody put the whole parade up on YouTube in segments, but I haven't been able to find anything similar this year. Glad you liked it!

Side note: The "Sock It To Me" van (#206), which won a Special Recognition award, was created by a group of senior citizens at Tanglewood Retirement Home, and they were riding in it! Everyone can have fun with art cars.

Stefan, #836: I get "stuck" in dreams like that a lot, and it's generally either very annoying (when it's an anxiety dream about not being able to get something done, and I just keep replaying the same segments over and over again) or very frustrating (when it's a mystery and I can't get to the end dammit!). The only way to break the cycle, for me, is to get up and go use the bathroom or something, and stay up until I've broken out of the dream-muzziness. Then it's safe to go back to sleep.

#841 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 07:05 PM:

Bruce: In a way, the fact that it might be "just" an infection is good news. There are a lot scarier things that can cause siezures. Fingers tightly crossed.

#842 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 07:40 PM:

Bruce Arthur: I'm glad it's only an infection, though it must be a doozy of an infection. Hope that everything goes well with Hilde. What a terrible scare you had.

Lori: I hope Penny gets better. Blood transfusion. Huh. I didn't know they did that with pets. On the other hand, I was offered chemotherapy for my cat when she was dying. Amazing the things they can do.

#843 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 07:53 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 836

Those dreams go on forever; doesn't matter how long you've been out of school. I graduated high school in 1964; the last college course I took (I was getting graduate credits while working) was in 1988. Just a few months ago I had one of those examination dreams; something to do with a math class that I didn't know I was taking.

#844 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 09:26 PM:

And, slightly cross-threaded,
from Menace of the LASFS: Meeting 3730 [February 5, 2009]

'Karen Anderson had a science report.

'Briefly, they've found an interesting extrasolar planet.

'Look for the extrasolar planets encyclopedia for more details.

'They've found a planet around a dim red dwarf, apparently not much larger than earth, but a mass that gives it a density of something like 2.3 to 3.6 tons per cubic meter. It's an iron planet, practically skimming the atmosphere of the star. When you look at the stellar system, it's a double star. There's a brown dwarf orbiting about the orbit of Mercury around the red dwarf, and the planet orbits inside the orbit of the brown dwarf. Mining rights are being sold by Harcourt Fenton Madoff.'

#845 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 10:24 PM:

Lydy @ 842: Anything we can do for humans, we can do for pets. Heart disease is treated with the same medications, as is diabetes. Cancer is treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Hips and other joints are surgically repaired or replaced. Kidney transplants are done, new vaccines are developed, ultrasonograms are performed, and so on. Blood transfusions are a little trickier in dogs and cats, because of the increased number of blood types to deal with, but plasma and platelets can be done easily. Most private practices have a blood donor dog (and cat) that can be used in an emergency, or they can call in to the local animal blood bank.

All the animal research that goes to support human health ends up also helping animal health. It's a two-way street of benefits.

#846 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 10:53 PM:

Bruce (StM): It ain't just school. I recall jumping up from a sound sleep, looking at the clock, swearing under my breath and diving into my wall-locker.

I was 3/4rs dressed; dead certain my drill sergeant was going to kill me when it dawned on me, this was Sunday. I wasn't in Basic.

I've had more recent dreams about things on deployment, and chasing down impossible missions, etc.

#847 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 11:06 PM:


This is all a good thing, but it comes with the somewhat unsettling recognition that my dog has consumed, over her 12 year or so lifespan, more medical care than a lot of children in very poor countries will ever see.

It's easy to miss how incredibly, obscenely, unspeakably rich we are, compared to a lot of the world now, and all of the world even a couple centuries ago, largely because of the exponential progress of technology. The King of England in 1907 could not get the quality of medical care my dog gets. I'm not sure a super-rich man like Malcolm Forbes could get that quality of care in 1957. Something about that is just mind-blowing.

#849 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:10 AM:

KeithS: I am SO tempted to make one of those.

#850 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:38 AM:

That kind of fake ID is illegal.

#851 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:55 AM:

Earl: Maybe.

Since there is no such ID, since the thing it purports is true (the right to use a camera)...

Since DHS says such things are legal...

It is not, prima facie, an attempt to claim a right, or privilege which is controlled.

Which means it's probably not illegal.

#852 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:59 AM:

Sorry, not clear: Since DHS says the activity it purports to license is legal.

I am not claiming DHS says such licenses are legal. DHS would say it was unneeded.

So, barring an attempt to use it in one of the few places where such photography is illegal (and such places are posted, pretty much), I don't see any real reason it ought to be illegal.

#853 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:59 AM:

Bruce, best wishes with all that is happening.]

A couple of years ago my partner got sick. She didn't think much of it, we didn't either mostly because she wasn't.

Then I was home from work one day and realized she could hardly walk even though she was still all, "There's nothing wrong with me!"

I dressed her as much as she would tolerate, made sure I had her insurance card at hand and took her to our favorite emergency room.

She had a raging kidney infection. Enough that she got to spend the night and the next day in hospital. AND she'd been to our family doc, he thought she had a 'mild bladder infection' and prescribed a drug that only dinked at the infection.

And it was the only whole American Idol I have ever watched (in the waiting room). It sucked.

We made a pact that when she feels really bad she has to TELL us, This has served us well during her breast cancer treatments. (and the doc declared her CURED about eight weeks ago!!!)l.

#854 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 01:01 AM:

Paula: Yay for cured!

#855 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 01:06 AM:

#843: "something to do with a math class that I didn't know I was taking."

The LAST school nightmare involved something like that. I was scrambling to remember which classes I had and on which days, and it turned out there was one I'd forgotten to go to for months . . . but that I was still liable for. Awful, awful, awful.

#844: Karen Anderson is on the CONTACT-L list. Lots of folks reporting on weird exoplanets. I can just picture Poul setting novels on them.

* * *

Dog transfusions: There are many dog blood types, and two "universal" blood types. My belgian sheepdog Kira has one of those; every two months I bring her downtown to donate 400ml.

The program has nearly 200 volunteer dogs.

The hospital has a colony of donor cats. I presume they are carefully screened and kept isolated so as not to pick up toxoplasmosis and other nasties.

#856 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:18 AM:

The probability is high that I will not be seing the new Star Trek movie in theatrical release....

Reasons include:
o I shut off the radio on NPR playing an audio clip of recruiter lobbying James T. Kirk to join Starfleet.
o It's 2009. When the original show was on, there was a ban on women even going to military pilot training and to military navigator training. Caltech, Dartmouth, Princeton, Notre Dame, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, all the military academies, the Coast Guard Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy, and Harvard were among the institutions which did not admit female students or cadets. MIT and Rennselaer admitted very limited numbers of female students. Vera Kistiakowsky, daughter of a Presidential Science Adviser and a physicist with a string of papers and academic achievements, had to go to court to ssue continue using the name "Vera Kistiakowsky" after she married, instead of her husband's last name, in her professional life, because the law in the state she lived in at the time required married women to use their husband's surname.

Today, Harvard and MIT, two of the country's and world's leading academic institutions, both have female presidents--that was all but unthinkable except to visionaries, 45 years ago. Today there are female fighter pilots, female airline pilots, a female Supreme Court Justice (none in the 1960s.... there had been two, but that was before the most corrupt and anti-equal opportunity ad justice regime in US history had control for eight years and one of the two female Supreme Court Justices retired...), women started graduating from the national military academies starting with the end of the 1970s....

o Lt Uhura was a breakthrough character, in a time when the ink was still wet on the striking out and striking down of racial segration laws in the USA and lawsuits and conflict were rife because custom and law aren't necessarily congruent, Nichelle Nichols played a character who was a dark-skinned woman who was a bridge officer on a interstellar government starship, That was a bold controversial step in the middle of the 1960s. Today--in the outgoing regime the Secretary of State was a woman with dark skin. But, the gender ratio on the reboot show, doesn;t reflect the changes in the status of women and equal opportunity changes in the past 45 years...

o In 1975 I was one of the first three women commissioned into the US military from ROTC at MIT. I was the third woman in the cadet corps at MIT, which happens to be the only fully private land grant (by both land grant acts) (and sea grant, and space grant) college/university. That was more than three decades ago.

It riles me to see a franchise like Star Trek, which in its original incarnation was in the forefront of social change promotion, in the twenty first century, fail to even match the social forwardness as regards diversity, that it had back in the middle of the 1960s, when again, there were no women in military academies, no women on the Supreme Court, no women in the Cabinet of advisors to the President of the United States of America, no women in airline cockpits flying planes, women were outright banned from military pilot training, and not admitted or admitting in only tiny token quantities, to the top private colleges and universities in the USA.

I thought Kirk's behavior was offensive when I was a young teenager watching Star Trek episodes in their original airings... what I've heard of the reboot, and being older and and in a time where there is greater penetration and a reduction in legal and cultural barriers to equal opportunity for women and greater respect for women as people as opposed to objects, the new Kirk is a character I probably would find extremely repellant.

There;s a reboot, but is it any more progressive in culture than the original show was, or is it even more in tune with the social values of "conservative" Amerika, than the original show was which was airing when the feminist revolution was underway and initiating changes and ideas which a decade plus later, would result in women starting to serve on ships, women going into military cockpits as pilots, women being appointed as judges, Title IX opening up collegiate sports to women (forgot about that one above...)

"Retro" when it comes to gender inequality, is completely lacking in appeal and merit, to me-- and comes off as exploitive in ways almost guaranteed to infuriate me.

#857 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:26 AM:

Terry Karney @ 795:

Fingers crossed, prayers ascending and --

If they don't accept the piece, they're fools. With your combination of experience and writing ability, the nation deserves to hear what you have to say!

Bruce Arthurs @ 839:

I'm glad they were able to determine the cause and treat the infection. I hope no permanent kidney or brain damage was sustained?

And, while I'm asking, I hope you won't let anyone guilt you into the idea that "this was a simple, treatable infection" or that she "should have pursued immediate medical attention at the first symptom?" UTIs can be tricky to recognize and treat in the best of cases. Having one go undetected/insufficiently treated is one of the dangers even modern medicine hasn't got a handle on yet, IMHE -- and the modern fiction that antibiotics can cure everything can lead to some very hurtful words from people who love you but can't handle their grief.

albatross @ 847:

You've sure got that right. My grandfather was a chemist, working in a hospital, when WWII broke out. He was most assuredly aware of the development of Penicillin (as I know he approved of having its use limited to men fighting on the front lines). The problem is that he developed a Staph infection in his jaw that led to Rheumatic Fever. He was allergic to sulfa meds, but took them anyway. They didn't help, despite almost killing him in the process. He developed heart damage from the systemic Staph infection, leaving my mother without a father at the age of 3.

The fact that most of the developing world is just as susceptible to dying of a simple, treatable infection -- but knows that we, in the developed world would rather save our pets than help them (as much as I love my pets) cannot help to promote world peace.

#858 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:34 AM:

WaPo turned it down. It was a long shot with them in any case (as Bruce Schneier reminded me, most papers have a general policy of not running responses to OpEds as columns. Is with LATimes now. Might have slight advantage as local boy.

If they say no, then we move it to someplace else.

#859 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 02:53 AM:

Re: photography "license" card, KeithS @848 et al.

The idea's funny, but I would say counterproductive. Flash it at somebody in authority, and one of two things will happen:

1. He recognises it as a fake. Whether having it or not is illegal, you're going to be asked some tough questions about why you're presenting it as if it's real.
2. He doesn't recognise it as a fake; he's now under the impression that you have to have one in order to be allowed to take photographs.

Neither sounds like a good outcome to me.

#860 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:13 AM:

Terry Karney @ 858:

Yet more proof that the standards at WaPo have declined (into the deep, deep basement) since Woodward & Bernstein (as if much of the screed they HAVE published wasn't enough evidence!).

The LA Times is beleaguered by many forces, but I hope they're far enough from D.C. to let taste and judgment overcome politics!

#861 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:23 AM:

Bruce Arthurs:
I'm so glad they've tracked down the cause, and that it's curable! What a relief.

Clifton Royston:
It's good to know she's in professional, competent hands. It's even better that she has such a loving family to stand by her and by each other. Keep us posted on how she—and you—are doing.

Paula Helm Murray:
Cured! Yay!

#862 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:33 AM:

My best friend at university had a brother (twenty years older) who had gone to Oxford. Now, at Oxford (at the time; I don't think it's the same now), you study for three years, in and out of class, and take all of your exams at the very end.

Richard (the brother) knew he had five exams to take. He sat down, when it was time to study, and dealt out his papers by topic. It came to four piles. He dealt and redealt the notes, but basically, he'd missed an entire class for three years and no one had noticed. He still has nightmares about that to this day, even though he is a highly successful maritime solicitor, albeit with a third-class degree from Oxford.

#863 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:45 AM:

Abi @ 862:


I only have the standard nightmares about showing up for a final exam in my underwear, only to discover that the exam will cover topics never discussed in class.

I can only shudder at the dreams your friend must have!

#864 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:14 AM:

Bruce Arthurs:
Really pleased to hear you have a diagnosis (and it's one that makes sense, etc.) raging infection with high fever, bacterial endotoxins etc. - yeah, that could produce the signs and symptoms you described.

Abi @ 862:
Mine wasn't quite as bad: third year at Cambridge (the exams which determine what class of degree you get). Got into the exam hall and decided to follow good practice and actually read the instructions at the top of the exam sheet for the second exam (first exam was one, three-hour, essay). It stated I needed to answer Three questions. Three. I'd spent some considerable time going through previous years' papers, writing practice answers, and the whole time I was sure I needed to answer four questions per paper and had organised my revision accordingly. In the exam hall and I discovered I should have skipped a couple of my weakest topics and revised the others in more detail. At least I did read the instructions... Got an Upper Second, so not too bad an error.

#865 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:25 AM:

LLA: That policy (not to use responses to columns) is more practical than political. They don't want to have lots of back and forthing on single topics in the opinion pages.

I used to be an opinion editor, and rebuttals were a thing I was very cautious about allowing, for just that reason.

#866 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 05:24 AM:

Jenny Islander, #829: Klingon Opera.

Bruce Arthurs: sorry to read your horror story, glad to hear that Hilde is improving.

Terry Karney: I hope your article finds print.

#867 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 05:40 AM:

862: that sounds like a nightmare made real...
Oxford is still pretty much the same; your degree depends partly on a thesis or research project, but mostly on Finals, which is about a week of exams held at the end of the third year. The dress code for these exams, incidentally, is "subfusc" - black suit, white shirt, white bow tie for the gents, gowns, and caps to be carried but not worn.

#868 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 07:56 AM:

LLA @ 863 ...
I only have the standard nightmares about showing up for a final exam in my underwear, only to discover that the exam will cover topics never discussed in class.

I had to reread your sentence several times before realizing that the topics not covered in class were completely unrelated to the topics not covered by your underwear...

Caffeine anybody?

#869 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 08:30 AM:

xeger #868:

I'm now visualizing a student in his underwear, using the papers of his notes to cover himself as best he can while writing furiously....

#870 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 08:42 AM:

Terry Karney @ 865:

I can understand the policy. I'm only reading into the fact that 1) what little I've read of late from that once great giant has disappointed me tremendously, and 2) if you felt the need to respond, there was probably something very wrong in the Op Ed piece to begin with.

#871 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 09:00 AM:

I met a woman once who missed a final entirely. She took her morning final, drove home celebrating the end of the semester, and realized as she got there that there was another test to take.

My missing-class dreams are mostly me being accountable for them and beating myself up for the decision to skip-- it's very seldom a class I didn't know I had to take, in dream context, but a class I willingly and with all agency decided not to pay attention to. In spite of the fact that I go to all my classes.

"Sudden inexplicable accountability" is not as much a nightmare to me as "you worthless, bad decision-making twit, anyone else in the world would have made the right choice and you didn't."

#872 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 09:47 AM:

My bad dreams usually have me wondering what I forgot to make sure of when I installed that new computer program, either the day before in workland or that night in dreamland.

#873 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:21 AM:

Once, I dreamed that I was asleep, dreaming about being asleep, and waking up to find out I'd missed an exam only that was a dream, and waking up to realize I'd missed the exam, only that too, was a dream, and then waking up in real life thinking I'd missed the exam -- and it was Saturday.

The mental vertigo took a while to shake off. I was about to take an important exam that Monday, which I woke up early for and arrived at with plenty of time. The echoes of that dream had nothing to do with that part, or so I kept telling myself.

#874 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:21 AM:

Once, I dreamed that I was asleep, dreaming about being asleep, and waking up to find out I'd missed an exam only that was a dream, and waking up to realize I'd missed the exam, only that too, was a dream, and then waking up in real life thinking I'd missed the exam -- and it was Saturday.

The mental vertigo took a while to shake off. I was about to take an important exam that Monday, which I woke up early for and arrived at with plenty of time. The echoes of that dream had nothing to do with that part, or so I kept telling myself.

#875 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Diatryma @ 871 ...
I met a woman once who missed a final entirely. She took her morning final, drove home celebrating the end of the semester, and realized as she got there that there was another test to take.

I once arrived on the wrong day (a day late) for an exam. Fortunately, I ran into the instructor on my way in, and was so obviously unaware that it was the wrong day that he allowed me to write the exam anyways. The gods protect fools and innocents...

#876 ::: LLA ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:42 AM:

Xeger @ 868:

Since I strongly suspect that there was a powerful psychological component to the fact that I am physically and educationally, um, not quite as naked as I was born in these dreams, I'm not surprised you made the connection you did (I may even have meant it, psychologically speaking ;-)).

#877 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:11 AM:

( really capture the flavor of that dream, I should post it one more time.)

#878 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:17 AM:

Open threadiness:

I'm not sure I quite buy the argument here, but it's at least thought-provoking, and of a piece with the wonderful Atlantic piece linked from here a month or so ago.

#879 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:17 AM:

xeger @ 875:
What a sensible instructor!

My first ever exam at Cambridge I got to the bike shed and found I had a flat tyre. Panicking, of course the pumpwouldn't fill the tyre. I ran to the bus stop(my college, Girton, is 2.5 miles outside Cambridge) worried all the way to town, then the bus turned off the route I knew! More panic! Finally got to the exam hall just as everyone was filing inside.

For some reason I was an hour early for every exam thereafter...

At least at Cambridge they didn't make us wear subfusc to sit exams.

Ginger @ 873:

That sounds really disorientating. Glad you made it to the actual exam okay. I've done the "wake, throw clothes on, rush to the door 'cos you're late - and realise it's 2.30 am and the alarm doesn't go off for hours yet."

#880 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:26 AM:

Bad news: Despite the plasma transfusion, Penny didn't make it. According to the vet, whatever it was that did her in, she had it before we got her.

May flights of fairies sing thee to thy rest, little one...

You will be missed.

#881 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:36 AM:

Lori, my condolences on your loss. Sometimes Mother Nature wins the battle, no matter how hard we try.

#882 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:49 AM:

Lori: My condolences.

#883 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:52 AM:

Lori, I'm sorry to hear it.

#884 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:34 PM:

My condolences, Lori.

#885 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:42 PM:

I'm sorry, Lori.


I realized a few years ago that most of my dreams are me doing things I normally do. I get anxious about the list, I run errands, or I think I have run errands, things like that. I already have trouble distinguishing between 'have accomplished' 'have resolved to accomplish' and 'have thought seriously about accomplishing' so 'have accomplished in dream' is not helping.

Where does one go for wild, crazy dreams with plots in?

#886 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 12:46 PM:

Exam story:

In 1968 I walked into a room to take the exam for my master's degree in Eng Lit at the University of Chicago -- and froze. Serious panic: I could not function. (I have never been a good test taker, but this was an extreme reaction.) The test had (I think) seven questions on it; candidates had to answer any four of them. All the questions related to literature in my field of study. To receive an MA in the department at that time one had two options: one could write a thesis, or take an exam AND prepare a "major paper." I had already written the paper and it had been accepted.

I told the proctor that I could not complete the exam that day: I didn't feel well. She told me I would be allowed to take a make-up. Some time (a week? two weeks?) later I was presented with the new exam and allowed to sit alone in a room to complete it. To my astonishment, it was the same exam: same questions, same choices.

I had no trouble completing it, and received an A.

#887 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 01:21 PM:

Lori @ 880:

My condolences.


Clever me for the first (and only) time ran out of gas on my way into university for a final in my last year. This is also the only time I've been glad to own a cell phone. I called the professor, who always went well beyond the call of duty, and she said that if I promised not to discuss it with anyone I could take it by myself in the afternoon. That was a harrowing morning.


If I'm having a dream where there are weapons (chased by a monster, pirates, borg, etc.), the weapons either are imaginary or don't work. Death is by consensus, and the 'dead' guy gets to go stand off to the side until he's forgotten. Shades of playground "I got you!" "did not!" "did too!", I guess. Very strange.

#888 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:18 PM:

*Sigh*. The Obama administration is on something of a roll, here:

Resuming military tribunals at Guantánamo

Not publishing photos of abuse

And apparently not charging the architects of the torture policy

Sigh. To more-or-less repeat something I've said before, "Better than the previous disastrously corrupt and incompetent regime" isn't exactly the same thing as "good."

#889 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:41 PM:

In today's episode, Agatha Heterodyne finds herself under attack by a mad scientist with a big machinegun-cum-exoskeletton.

"Our doctor Merlot is an intense and bitter little man, yes... What is his grudge against you?"
"I'm not sure... He was just one of my teachers at the University!"
"Ah. Say no more... I too have had students."

For some mysterious reason, this made me think of Fragano.

#890 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:48 PM:

More than once I have dreamed of failing a course because I did not know I was enrolled in it.

#891 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 03:50 PM:

albatross: yep. I am getting ready to vent on the subject.

Depressing, because I've just won some small victories in the torture debates (one person who said his opinion had moved from rarely [i.e. ticking bomb stuff] to never, and various discoveries of people linking/referring to things I've written at large, not just on my blog).

#892 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:02 PM:

My school nightmares were of the forgetting my locker combination or losing the locker entierly, losing my schedule, or just plain being totally lost and not knowing where I was supposed to be.

And now, I'm somewhat unsure about which ones really happened. Though I know in middle school I had at least 3 different lockers in one school in one year.

(and the combination stuff is weird, since I can still remember the combo to my first bike lock.)

#893 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:06 PM:

Erik Nelson -- Nearly happened to me. My freshman college advisor signed me up for one of his courses, then wouldn't let me drop it until nearly too late.

#894 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:07 PM:

Erik Nelson -- Nearly happened to me. My freshman college advisor signed me up for one of his courses, then wouldn't let me drop it until nearly too late.

#895 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:09 PM:

KeithS, #887: My only weird exam story isn't even that weird, and has to do with exams only tangentially. When I was in college, one of the nearby SCA groups had an annual event in mid-December that I liked to attend. The problem was that it inevitably fell on the weekend in the middle of my 2-week exam period, and my parents used that as a control lever -- it didn't matter if I only had 1 exam left and it was on the following Friday, they'd howl about "You can't go anywhere, you have to STUDY for your EXAMS!"

So my senior year, I deliberately set out not to have any exams that second week in December. Five classes. One was easy -- the professor said at the beginning of the semester that anyone with higher than a B+ average would be exempt from the final, so that was just a matter of studying for the regular tests. One turned out to be scheduled during the first exam week anyhow. I sweet-talked two other professors into giving alternate exams, because the alternate period was in the first week and the regular exam the second. The last one was the trickiest; it was also during the first week, but in the afternoon slot on Friday, and my ride wanted to leave earlier than that. But I was on good terms with the professor, and he agreed to let me take the test 2 hours ahead of schedule on condition that I left the campus immediately afterwards, which I assured him I was planning to.

I probably didn't do as well on some of those finals as I could have, but I passed them all handily -- and it saved me a helluva lot of hassle at home.

#896 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:12 PM:

Exam dreams:

Over time they morph to forgetting about an exam I had to *give*, rather than one I had to take. I don't think 'more realistic' is the way to put it, but at least less surreal.

#897 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 04:42 PM:

Rather than a dream, I had an actual experience with an exam's results disappearing.

Long ago (1980? About then.) I took the GMAT right after finishing the BSBA degree. I was mildly hungover, but I appeared on campus 13 miles away at 0730 for the three-hour test. I went through it and felt mildly comfortable that I'd done well.

A few weeks later instead of a letter/card telling me my results, I got a letter saying a whole batch of answer sheets from that exam session had been lost, and mine was one of them. Please come back in and re-take the exam. I want to say I had to pay the exam fee again because that would add to the effrontery, but I'm not sure that's true.

Anyway, I took it again; I didn't feel quite as good about it the second time around but got a 650 or something; I've always wondered how I might have scored on that first one.

I never did go to grad school for the MBA, though; life intervened.

#898 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 05:54 PM:

And then there's this other dream, where I'm hitting post, over and over and over, but nothing ever submits...


#899 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 06:23 PM:

This fall during our Renaissance Festival season a friend lived the wrong dream.

The one where you show up at work and don't have any clothes on. (Well, she was about 70% clothed, the part that was missing was important.)

I picked her up and we were whizzing down the highway toward our festival site. I don't know why I looked at her, but I did just as she looked down and realized what she'd forgotten. I wish I'd had a camera.

She usually has a short, short-sleeved top, a light overdress, her crotchless (traditional) bloomers and a long, cotton skirt. She had forgotten the skirt.

She had been standing in her front yard, drinking coffee and smoking her cigarette for about fifteen minutes before I picked her up.

Our festival neighbor, who has to drive from Omaha and therefore brings lots of extra clothing, had a skirt to share for the day.

It was the big laugh for the rest of the festival, too. (She's sometimes a flake, but usually she remembers her clothing...)

She started to go on about what her neighbors would think and I reminded her that her neighbors were either a) gay men or b) restaurant workers or musicians who did not get up until 11 or 12. AND, her other clothes are so fluffy that you might not have noticed it when she was standing up. I sure did not.

#900 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 06:30 PM:

Lori, I'm so sorry.

#901 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 06:54 PM:

Lori -- :(

#902 ::: Heather M ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 08:07 PM:

My condolences to you and your mother, Lori.

#903 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 08:22 PM:

I was once an hour late for a final exam because I couldn't find it, just like in the classic dream.

#904 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 08:28 PM:

I still have nightmares about my comprehensive examinations -- the last of which was eighteen years ago. I don't have nightmares about giving exams, however. I suspect I ought to.

Perhaps I should worry about students looking to gun me down. I've already been stalked once. Though that, fortunately, was just a minor nuisance.

#905 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 08:31 PM:

Lori: My condolences.

#906 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 08:37 PM:

'Get Disappointed by Someone New.'

#907 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 08:41 PM:

Lori, I'm so sorry to hear that.

#908 ::: JCarson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 09:11 PM:

Wow, reading this, I am increasingly grateful that my college had self-scheduled exams. Though I do have the nightmare about turning in what I think is my last exam, and having the proctor hold up another blue book and ask when I'm planning on taking that one.

The best thing about self-scheduled exams was the ability to take two in one session - I write fast, so in more than one semester I knocked out 2 exams in the first period, 1 in the second, and then was free to leave for vacation a full week before exams were officially over.

#909 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 09:32 PM:

Lori, condolances.

Linkmeister, that would be a gigantic suck.

I did walk into a class that I had consistently cut on the day of the midterm. It was Econ 101. The book and class were all stuff father had taught me in an ongoing way and it bored the heck out of me.

I threw myself on the professor's mercy and asked for an incomplete. Then I found out that I could take extension courses (self-taught, mail-in tests and papers) even though enrolled in regular classwork.

I got an A, and constant comments on my coursework how I should pick that as a major. I didn't have the heart to tell the grader what I thought about the subject (big yawn!).

Anyhow, it was a requirement for a B.S. in Journalism. So it was a win all around.

#910 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 09:33 PM:

The only exam dream I have is one where I relive an old triumph: at a district UIL slide rule competition, I was fast enough that I was the first person to turn the page on the test, and a bunch of the other contestants gasped in dismay. It was great being the only non-jock around to have earned a letter jacket (of course, it's more common these days, I suppose).

Of course, the really fast ones at the state level of competition (with their fancy circular slide rules) would start at the end of the test (where the hard calculations are) and work their way backwards through the test booklet, so that the test gets easier as it goes along, instead of harder.

#911 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 09:59 PM:

Terry @706 - well, actually it turns out I was still thinking about the route to get to Bloomington, forgetting that even though I'm still going to Indiana, it's Richmond I'm going to. So not Nashville - Knoxville. And I'm in the Econo Lodge in Lenoir City right this moment. Want to meet for breakfast? I want to go to the Waffle House. I just had their patty melt and hashbrowns and it wasn't the least bit criollo, and it was sooooo good.

Also, everybody here sounds exactly like my paternal grandmother's million siblings, nieces, cousins, and so forth. We had a regular little Tennesseean colony in New Castle. I love driving through here.

#912 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:00 PM:

I once forgot a midterm. I walked into class, saw that lots of people were there rather than the usual early birds, and they were all reading. "Is something going on?" I asked the girl beside me.

"Midterm," she said in that particularly wary way people have when they aren't sure if you're going to freak out.


I got an A-. You'd better believe I wrote that on the evaluation. Class too ridiculously easy, boring, come on make the freshmen work, by the way I aced the midterm without studying, no love.

#913 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:13 PM:

Michael Roberts: What time? I'm in Oak Ridge, and don't know my way around the most thoroughly, but I can probably manage to find you, if you can't head this way (waffle house being ubiquitous).

#914 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:36 PM:

Google's directions from Oak Ridge to Lenoir City look straightforward. State 162 south to I-75, west on 75 to US 321/TN 95 south to Lenoir City.

#915 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:40 PM:

The Waffle House in Oak Ridge will be fine -- it's about 11 miles off of I-75, so that's doable in my book. Very cool! How about 8 AM? I don't want to get up too early -- had enough of that this week already, and I have no particular schedule this weekend (except the whole clients-wanting-work-done thing, even during moving).

#916 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:48 PM:

Also, I'd like to state for the record that given I haven't been off island in over a year, this northern weather tonight is ... brisk. I can't decide whether it's unpleasantly cold or wonderfully breathable. Both, I guess.

#917 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 10:58 PM:

Bruce @839 & others, Hilde's trouble reminds me of Suzette Haden Elgin's husband George's suspected stroke early this month. Short description at her ozarque Livejournal here: ‘Personal note; hasty partial update...’ [Alongside other Sorry Business.] With Paula's story @853 too, wondering how often this happens, especially with demographic aging. Useful to remember.

Lori @880, it's sad to hear Tuppence is gone. There's times nothing will help. My mote of condolence adding to others'.

#918 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:15 PM:

Paula Helm Murray #909 — “a B.S. in Journalism” sounds a particularly appropriate degree. In Marketing or Political Science even moreso.

#919 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:18 PM:

#361 Lee
Long ago during my Air Force days, I was one of the lunchtime double deck killer cutthroat Hearts players.... got called "Shoot the Moon" trying to get all the hearts... the two most painful events, were when Ed Bobek of The Aerospace Corporation put the SECOND Queen of Spades on a heart trick, and when someone got 51 points--both Queens, and all but ONE heart...

#920 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:25 PM:

I've never had a nightmare about tests. Does this make me weird?

#921 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:32 PM:

heresiarch @ 920:

I've never had dreams about tests or exams either. If they are related to university, it's that I have a paper due that I haven't done. The last one of those I had was a fever dream that I kept falling back into after I woke up. Not fun.

In good news, the dental anxiety dreams stopped after I had my wisdom teeth out a few years ago.

#922 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:38 PM:

An absolutely brilliant post from Elle over at Shakesville. Summary: "Republicans? Your problem isn't that PoC are not listening to you. It's that we are, and furthermore, we have been for a long damn time."

After looking at as much of the post to which she was responding (and its comments) as I could without throwing up, I don't want to hear anybody complaining about how "we (progressives) act like conservatives are a bunch of ignorant assholes and you don't change anyone's opinion that way" for a long, long time. Their spokespeople, and the grassroots, are all busy proving that they ARE.

#923 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2009, 11:42 PM:

A technical question for people who've had to do PowerPoint presentations...

Assuming that my computer is hooked up to a 'slide' projector, will a photo originally the size of a paperback appear too blurry, or just too small for anybody not sitting right before the screen? I expect that my presentation's room will not be particularly large, the kind where 3 big cars would fit in although I wouldn't give a speech to vehicles.

#924 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:13 AM:

Serge @ 923:

A lot of projectors run at 1024x768, so if it fills your monitor and looks all right at that resolution, it'll probably be all right when projected.

#925 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:29 AM:

I survived academia with nothing worse than waking up an hour late to one exam, but in my final week I was afflicted with someone else's nightmare: my major department's paperwork panjandrum called in a great lather to explain that I couldn't graduate because I hadn't filled requirement X. I had, twice over; but one case required reading the related-subjects listing (at the bottom of the qualifications page), and the other required having the back documentation to see that the course I took three years before was not the same as the course which had since assumed its title and number.

#926 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:51 AM:

Paula Lieberman: Second Queen of Spades? What?

#927 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:54 AM:

Paula: Now I see, I missed the second deck.

That must have been a vicious game.

#928 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:24 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 910

Your post reminded me that back in the day I coveted a cylindrical slide rule, but could never get both the money and the lack of need for higher priority purchases together. Just for grins I looked on ebay, and sure enough, someone is selling an Otis model L (the cheaper version) for $33. Damn, a year ago I'd have bought it just as a desk ornament; things are too tight this year for trinkets.

#929 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:25 AM:

Terry Karney @851-2, jwz commenters noted 18 U.S.C. § 506(a)(2) and DHS IP Policy, suggesting that using such a fake DHS ID would be a bad idea. I don't think that rationalizing its use to one's own personal arresting officer would turn out well.

#930 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:36 AM:

I never saw anyone bring a cylindrical slide rule into UIL competition in the 70's; I got the impression that circular slide rules were mainly used for their intimidation value over linear slide rules, not because they were really any better.

For the curious, allow me to recommend Eric's Slide Rule Site. Lots of good info there. It gave me a nice nostalgia buzz.

#932 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:57 AM:

Earl Cooley III: Ok, so affixing a seal would violate IP, and might violate 18 506. Leaving it off would prevent that.

But as Jules said, the real problem is the blowback.

#933 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 03:31 AM:

I bought a slide rule, similar to the one I had at school. I find myself using it sometimes. Set it up with conversion factors to multiply/divide and it can be easier than a calculator. I suppose a circular slide rule could be even better (and isn't there a circular one that was used in aviation? Are pilots still expected to know how to use it?).

I sometimes look at the sextants on eBay.

#934 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 04:49 AM:

Circular slide rule: the ones I've seen were used in graphic arts; called 'proportion wheels', they were typically used to calculate "starting with original art with some edge measured in inches, and a corresponding edge where you want it to fit on the printed page, what scaling factor do you need to set the photostat camera to". It was a while before I noticed that it was a slide rule, and could also be used to multiply inches by inches more readily than a calculator (for example, 3 3/16" x 5 1/8").

Along with 'speccing type'*, calculating proportions was a skill made obsolete by desktop publishing.

* Much more involved: fitting a given copy to a specific number of printed pages required character counts for the copy, how much area on the page the copy was to take up, and some factor for the font — what you were trying to work out was what point size and leading you could use, so you could tell the typesetters what you needed. Bread and butter graphic design used to be more work than it is today; except for the typesetters (also obsolete), I don't think anyone misses it.

#935 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 06:53 AM:

I happen to own two cylindrical slide rules -- a Thacher's Calculating Instrument and a Fuller's Calculator. Both were owned by my grandfather until his death. Neither, alas, has its manual (although it looks like the manuals are readily available on the Web).

#936 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 07:56 AM:

KeithSS @ 924... Thanks.

#937 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:07 AM:


My condolences also; it's always hard.

#938 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:29 AM:

Lori, very sorry to hear about Tuppence.

Earl Cooley III @930: Thanks, that was fascinating. I've only heard of slide rules, but have never used one. I don't recall my siblings using them either, even though they must have had to - my eldest sister finished high school in 1977.
At home, we all learned our times tables (up to 12 x 12) by heart. Mom has my eternal gratitude for that.
While we're on the subject of analog calculators, if a real abacus appears in one of the local shops, it's coming home with me. Always wanted to learn how to use those things. (Though I suppose I could just fashion one from wooden beads and some wire.)

#939 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 10:53 AM:

Pendrift @ 938

Except that an abacus really is a digital calculator. And not just because you use your fingers top operate it.

Engineers still use gnomographs these days (well, at least I've used them on occasion, maybe I'm just a fossil). Do pilots still use them to calculate flight range and fuel usage? Or are there programs for calculators to take care of everything.

#940 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Serge @ 923 ...
Assuming that my computer is hooked up to a 'slide' projector, will a photo originally the size of a paperback appear too blurry, or just too small for anybody not sitting right before the screen? I expect that my presentation's room will not be particularly large, the kind where 3 big cars would fit in although I wouldn't give a speech to vehicles.

Bring the presentation up on your laptop, step back to ~4'[0] away. If you can still make out the detail you want folk to see, it's big enough :)

[0] 6' if it's a larger space

#941 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 12:38 PM:

Ok, I know what a circular slide rule is (and I'm an anachronism, at my age being able to use slide rules), but I don't know that I have ever seen/heard of a cylindrical one.

#942 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 02:15 PM:

Bruce Cohen @939:
The word digital reminds me of a prostate cancer screening campaign at one Philippine hospital some years back.
The poster proclaimed "Have a digital rectal exam today!"
I always wondered if some patients complained about being misled.

#943 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 04:49 PM:


When I lived in Japan as a kid, soroban (Japanese abacus) was still being taught in schools as a basic skill, so I'd expect there are some Japanese in my age cohort who still use them. If you're really good, they can be faster for addition and subtraction than a calculator; there were competitions done between them at one point. I bet you could find one in a store carrying Japanese goods.

The Japanese soroban has a two-part frame with a bead on each column above the line representing fives and four unit beads below, so it's kind of a hybrid of base-10 and base-5. That makes it much faster to operate because you're moving a maximum of 4 beads at a time, which you can just see as a group rather than counting. The Chinese abacus is operated similarly, but with an extra bead in each section, above and below the frame division, to keep track of the carries until you clear them to the next section or column; with the Japanese soroban you just have to remember to immediately apply the carry to the next column.

#944 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 05:10 PM:

Terry @ 941:

A circular slide rule allows a longer scale in something you can still hold in your hand than a linear (maybe "straight" would be a better word) one, because it wraps around a circle. Cylindricals go one dimension better; one had a scale some 41 feet long but the rule itself was less than 18 inches in length. One cylindrical (I can't recall which one) was supposed to be equivalent in accuracy to a 4-place log table.

#945 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:05 PM:

Lori: :(

Diatryma #885: Where does one go for wild, crazy dreams with plots in?

Well, antidepressants can do that! The SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, and kin) and relations (notably Effexor) often have a side effect of vivid, bizarre, dreams. Of course, those drugs also have other side effects.....

#946 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2009, 08:55 PM:

Dave @ 933: The Kane E6B was not just a circular sliderule; it had several conversions (density altitude, weight of gas and oil volumes) built in, and the back was an analog vector calculator (pencil in the expected wind aloft, twist and push to align the desired course with the expected airspeed, and get the required heading and expected groundspeed). I'm still pissed I tossed mine, even though I hadn't piloted a plane in ~20 years when I did so; I remember now how much effort I put into earning the license and certificate. The sliderule site Eric points to says they're now made by ASA even though calculators will do everything the E6B does, possibly because there's no generator plugin for calculators with dead batteries.

#947 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:54 PM:

Terry #927
It was. Gerry Nordley (G. David Nordley) can attest to that.

#948 ::: Xopher sees obviously autogenerated spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2011, 10:31 PM:

As we will allow far more possibility for uncover more. Because for that is what I am doing.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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