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April 1, 2010

Open thread 138
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:39 PM *

There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we are ourselves incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real.
—G. K. Chesterton, Chaucer (1932)
Comments on Open thread 138:
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:50 PM:

Darkness must go down the river of night's dreaming.

#2 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:55 PM:

Sometimes the abrupt nature of a new open thread showing up makes me feel like I wasted my time posting in the last part of the previous open thread.

#3 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:59 PM:

Flow morphia-slow, let the sun and light come streaming into my life...into my life--

There's a light--

#4 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:59 PM:

So this gleam of incredulous existence walks into a fathomless abyss...

#5 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:04 PM:

A man walks into a fathomless abyss, and he asks the bartender for a gin and tonic...

#6 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:04 PM:

Google Books are now available in 3-D. Not clear whether this is a prank, or just regular whimsy.

#7 ::: Lylassandra ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:07 PM:

What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?

--Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

#8 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:08 PM:

Science Fiction World topples its editor-in-chief. It's apparently not an April Fool's joke. Some of the things that the now ousted editor did sound like April Fool's jokes to me, but they came to light a while ago.

#9 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Xopher @#1: Close! Up! Now!

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:11 PM:

Earl Cooley III @2:

I read every comment on every post and delight in them (not all, but much).

And I start new Open threads before we reach the magic number so that conversations going on in the old one can continue.

#11 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:25 PM:

Apparently, they're doing street-view in 3D today, also. (The kind that requires the red/blue glasses.)

#12 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:28 PM:

Am annoyed that Chaucer seems not to be available online, but soon found my favourite bit of Heretics: "It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them."

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:32 PM:

I need your help.

There was a TV ad aired in the late 1990s the imagery of which I never forgot, but not what the ad was for.

It showed what things might look like if Rome had never fallen. There were automobiles, and skyscrapers, but some elements, including the High Official's garb, were glaringly Roman.

I’m fairly certain that it was aired before 2000’s "Gladiator" because, had the ad been contemporary to rhe movie, I’d have simply shrugged it off as trying to cash in on something else. Yes, there was Julie Taymor’s 1999 movie ”Titus”, but I discovered it after "Gladiator".

Does this sound familiar?

#14 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:32 PM:

Did you guys go to today yet?

And no, the "Topeka" business isn't the best part. Click on Gmail. They've disemvoweled the Gmail homepage! Google's official blog "explains" the situation.

TNH for the win!

#15 ::: Falconer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:39 PM:

i must admit I don't get the Topeka thing, but the first thing I thought of when I saw what they'd done to Gmail was that Teresa had been by....

#16 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Falconer, the city of Topeka changed its name to Google for several weeks. It's very silly, but they did it.

#17 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Serge @ 13 -

Could it be this Computer Associates commercial?

It just shows about 10 seconds of the ad.


#18 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:48 PM:

When you stare into the abyss, the abyss charges you fifty bucks and tries to sell you a T-shirt.

#19 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:04 PM:

Lori Coulson @3:

--over at the Frankenstein place.

#20 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:09 PM:

There's a li-i-i-i-i-i-i-ight...

#21 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:13 PM:

Burning in the fireplace.

#22 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:15 PM:

And if you stare too long into the abyss of light, what light may not shine through you?

#23 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:18 PM:

There's a light, a light -- in the darkness of everybody's nignt --

#24 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:22 PM:

Lois Fundis @ 14: Nothing to see on the Gmail link you give (the vowels are back), but the "official blog" page is funny.

At they're offering "New! Break the language barrier between species with Google Animal Translate!"

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:34 PM:

Steve C @ 17... That's the one. THANKS!!!

#26 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:43 PM:

... over at the Frankenstein place...

#27 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:17 PM:

How many RHPS fans does it take to change the light over at the Frankenstein place?

#28 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:25 PM:

Google is now measuring its search times in microfortnights.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:41 PM:

Jiffies, it says.

#30 ::: anaea ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:08 PM:

The trailer for the new series of Doctor Who is out. It does not leave me overwhelmed with breathless anticipation the way I'd hoped it would, but it does look like the new series will be very pretty.

#31 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:12 PM:

I got shakes of a lamb's tail.

#32 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:14 PM:

This just in from Locus: Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross to write an authorized sequel to Atlas Shrugged.

Atlas Shrugged sequel

(I saw it on the interwebs so it must be true)

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:19 PM:

anaea, #30: "All of time and space. Everything that ever happened, or ever will. Where do you want to start?"

Can you imagine a better recruiting line? I sure can't.

#34 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:25 PM:

@28: Nanocenturies, for me.

#35 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:27 PM:

dcb @24: I took a screenshot for posterity.

#36 ::: Gabriel Smufner ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:30 PM:

I wonder if a longtime lurker and occasional commenter may solicit your-all opinions on a somewhat unusual publishing question; I can't think of a better forum to ask this in.

I would like to publish a primer of an imaginary language. I have lots of material - detailed grammar, largeish lexicon, some texts; I'm in grad school (linguistics of course) and this is my way of procrastinating. But this genre doesn't yet exist, to my knowledge anyway, so I don't know how to go about it.

What I envision is a late-Victorian-style schoolbook of the "First Latin Book for Boys" type - written in the same dry donnish voice, with ordered lessons and exercises and increasingly complex texts. It would be as if you had stumbled upon an alternate-world version of a first-form Latin or Greek textbook from 1889. The writing system is appealing (there's a sample if you click on my name), so the book would be visually intriguing though presumably costly to produce. I think it might find an audience, but querying publishers with such a bizarre project seems unlikely to work. Any advice?

#37 ::: anaea ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:34 PM:

Lee #33, no I can't. But why is it yet another cute girl he's recruiting? I was really hoping the new management would mix it up a little bit and we could move away from doe-eyed fawning over the Doctor. One can be fully cognizant of the Doctor's awesomeness without pining for him. I'd like more of that.

#38 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:39 PM:

#36 I think it might find an audience, but querying publishers with such a bizarre project seems unlikely to work. Any advice?

Query the publishers.

Rejecting your manuscript is their job, not yours.

#39 ::: Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:39 PM:

"Blinded by the light,
revved up like a deuce,
another runner in the night
Blinded by the light..."

"There's a light in the depths
Of your darkness.
Let is shine
Oh, let it shine
Let is shine
Oh, let it shine
Let is shine
Oh, let it shine..."

Funny how well the musicians see the light. :)

#40 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:40 PM:

I'm not expecting them to go back to actors of Jon Pertwee's age, but I wonder what's going to happen if this trend of a younger Doctor with each regeneration continues.

"This is my sonic lolly!"

#42 ::: Gabriel Smufner ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:09 PM:

Jim #38 - okay, but who? How to choose a publisher for a book in a nonexistent genre? I'm not sure what type of publishing house such a project would have a chance of interesting.

#44 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:27 PM:

The light! It burns! A joke and yet a truth
I do not look too close at what I feel
Sharp-angled shadows highlight tarnished youth
I’m not as fond as I once was of real
I actively reject the evil dark
But yet retreat from incandescent glow
Too much equivocation leaves its mark
I stand irresolute, afraid to know
And yet I’m only trapped here if I choose
The ostrich’s retreat from things that are
I can reclaim myself if I refuse
The stagnant sterile dimness for the star
We only fall into the faceless night
If we hold back from the abyss of light

#45 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:35 PM:

What a difference change at the top can make....
President Obama showed up in New England today --he is traveling into Boston from Framingham this very instant--regarding the flood damage. One the FEMA executives involved is a former "first responder" who had been in state government in Massachusetts--compare that the FEMA apparatchiks in the Katrina debacle, whose qualifications for appointment to federal posts involved their having been Republican campaign workers without first responder/emergency services experience....

There definitely are political angles involved, admittedly--the governor of Massachusetts has been under a lot of pressure and criticism recently, and the governor and the President are long time affiliates of one nother, there is a $30,000 a plate dinner in Boston tonight fundraiser--but keys points include that the FEMA appointees in the current administrations, are qualified, competent emergency managment professionals--not people appointed based on pure political favoritism--, and that FEMA involvement in disaster relief might actually involve competence rather than incompetence, cronyism, and corruptio.

#46 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:38 PM:

Falling away
Embrace all possibilities
The door is ajar
And the light streams from inside

--from the song I'm recording tonight

#47 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:49 PM:

"Granny had always tried to face toward the light. But the harder you stared into the brightness the harsher it burned into you until, at last, the temptation picked you up and bid you turn around to see how long, rich, strong and dark, streaming away behind you, your shadow had become." (From _Carpe Jugulum_. Granny, of course, kicks temptation's butt: "I’ve fought you every day of my life and you’ll get no victory now.")

#48 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:09 PM:

Steve C, #40: What I've heard is that Steven Moffatt had planned to cast an older actor, but was unexpectedly impressed by Smith.

#49 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:09 PM:

Pendrift @ 35: Thanks - I just had the same idea for the home page with the link to the animal translation page - but I'd closed that window and when I went on again they had already changed it (I did mananage to paste the translation page into a Word document).

#50 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:52 PM:

@28: 0.31 centons, for me. Isn't that the time unit from BSG?

#51 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:12 PM:

"Results 11 - 20 [...details trimmed...] (at warp 8.69)"

#52 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:17 PM:

I got 1.63 times the velocity of an unladen swallow. How much would that be again?

#53 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:18 PM:

If the abyss stares back at you when you stare into it, is that self-abyss?

#54 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:28 PM:

I got femtogalactic years for the Google result time.

#55 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:35 PM:

Results ... (at 2.20 hertz)

Random units, looks like.


#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:41 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 53...

Why would Abi stare back at you?
("Not Abi, Serge. The abyss.")
I still think it's James Cameron's best movie, in spite of its length.

#57 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:46 PM:

I used Google several times today before the TV news told me about Topeka.

#58 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:51 PM:

Gabriel: maybe check with the publisher(s) of the Codex Seraphinianus?

#59 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:59 PM:

Random, perhaps, but for the ones with actually meaningful units the conversions seem about right -- my value of 0.03 femtogalactic years works out to about 2 seconds, and 2.2 Hz works out to about half a second, both of which are pretty reasonable.

#60 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 09:01 PM:

The one I had in jiffies had a number like 59.4 attached. The problem is, which jiffy are they using?

#61 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 09:02 PM:

My quote file has lots of poems about light, but most of them I got from Making Light originally.

Here's one from somewhere else:

Hyperboloids of wondrous Light
Rolling for aye through Space and Time
Harbour those waves which somehow Might
Play out God's holy pantomime.

—Alan Turing

#62 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 09:20 PM:

This is the choice: that we defy the night
for a short time and keep alive a spark,
timid perhaps, but worthy to remark;
a simple thing of note to honest sight,
rejection of the vast kingdom of blight,
a wisdom that calls on us to skylark
with laughter, to ignore the final dark,
empowering the fragile human light.
Each one is a beginning we are told,
to be recorded, and to be advised
of what's around, below, and what's above;
to find out what is clay, and what true gold,
what's best admired, and what's best despised,
the fruit of all our hope and all our love.

#63 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 09:35 PM:

@36, 43--

this is probably advice unneeded and too late, gabriel, but if you are still honing the donnish tone you could hardly do better than to look at the series of primers written by joseph and elizabeth wright (old english, old high german, middle high german, gothic, and i forget what else). and i most love him for the edd, the english dialect dictionary.

they were the real deal, victorian philologists, and wright had a rather promising pupil named tolkien.

i worked with them years ago, and i think you might find some nice turns of phrase and touches of period colour in them.

#64 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 09:37 PM:

Well, I lack Fragano's (Mr. Ledgister's? Apologies!) rigour and clarity, I'd like to post this anyway - on the subject of bullying:

The slap in the face
Resonates. The pain
Coruscates, No trace
Of a bruise will remain.

Nasty notes and texts
Fill up my inbox.
Caught in the vortex,
Shut the doors! Close the locks!

The pretty girls, violent,
Vitriol all over my face -
The pretty boys, silent,
Slut! Know your place.

Trapped, within the zone
Of penitence, I
stare at the wall, alone.
Then, fist aloft, "Why!"

"I shall not atone!"
Though you spit in my face
Ridicule me and condone
My torment, in grace

I walk, No, I stride!
Head aloft, I can ignore
Your sneers, I'm in my pride.
Bullies all know the score...

But for today, I rule my domain,
I am the master of my own pain.

#65 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:49 PM:

Pride and Prejudice and All You Zombies -- "English novelist Jane Austen discovers that she is a time-travelling hermaphrodite and is both of her own parents..."

#66 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:20 PM:

Now this is an april fool's day hit.

Short story. Guy with very popular blog and many minions posts phone number for a comment spammer selling term papers and asks commenters to call the number and bark at them.

It's not so much of a prank as revenge.

#67 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Now this is an april fool's day hit.

Short story. Guy with very popular blog and many minions posts phone number for a comment spammer selling term papers and asks commenters to call the number and bark at them.

It's not so much of a prank as revenge.

#68 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:29 PM:

dlbowman76: Do not underestimate the quality of your own language. Fragano Ledgister's writing is a lofty goal.

(Very nice.)

#69 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:58 PM:

Pange lingua gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
quem in mundi pretium
fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit Gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus
ex intacta Virgine,
et in mundo conversatus,
sparso verbi semine,
sui moras incolatus
miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte coenae
recumbens cum fratribus
observata lege plene
cibis in legalibus,
cibum turbae duodenae
se dat suis manibus.

Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
veneremur cernui:
et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui:
praestet fides supplementum
sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
laus et jubilatio,
salus, honor, virtus quoque
sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
compar sit laudatio.

#70 ::: Gabriel Smufner ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 12:36 AM:

Thanks, Julie L. and kid bitzer! I hadn't thought of the Codex Serafinianus. Apparently Abbeville Press, which published it in the US, aren't accepting submissions, though it looks like they do make some lovely books... And I'd heard of Wright (I think Tolkien mentions him in his letters somewhere), but have never used his primers; I'll check them out. I'm always looking for models.

#71 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 01:12 AM:

B. Durbin @ 69: Just got back from that; we sang it in English, except for the last verse, which was Pange lingua. Tenebrae is pretty impressive, and must have been even more so before dimmer switches.

#72 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 01:14 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 65:

And not only that, she's a True Confessions writer! "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl working as a secretary is in want of a good reputation."

#73 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 01:42 AM:

Does anyone here know who's responsible for those awful "Recession 101" billboards? I want to visit them with my friend, the cricket bat.

#74 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:09 AM:

Fragano at 62. Forgive me, I only just now saw it. It's gorgeous.

dlbowman76 at 64. You need to make no apology.

#75 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:25 AM:

A Question for those in (or those who have eaten well in) Seattle: what is the name of that sushi restaurant that has been mentioned by the greater-fluorosphere as being especially tasty?

I'd noted to myself that with those recommendations heard from Fluorites, the next time I'm in Seattle I should go. NorWesCon is this weekend in Seattle. I'll be there. (and then a couple of days in BC).

The weather northwards looks to promote the great indoors (Every day is listed as "mostly cloudy, 30% chance of rain, highs in the low 50s, lows in the high 40s"), so going foodie seems reasonable.

#76 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:34 AM:

KeithS @73, if I tell you who, that will make me an accessory before the fact. I wouldn't survive in jail for very long at all. Regardless, if I had one chance to make a big difference, it wouldn't be against them anyway.

#77 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 07:33 AM:

Help! I've got a memory of a children's book, one probably on a shelf at my mom's house, that I can't call the title of. It was about a bass, who was born, lived, and died in the river. He was caught once and released as he was too small, he nearly died in one branch of the river which had no oxygen and another which was polluted. Finally, a little boy out fishing with his dad caught and ate him.

Ye gods! In the abstract that sounds like a grim tale. I loved it and carry at least two of its memes: Visceral revulsion towards pollution and the "fact" that fish don't feel pain.

My copy was a light green hardback, with reverse printing in an off-white or light yellow.

I was given it around 1964.

So: Help! I'm trying to write about it but can't get the title or the author straight.

#78 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:39 AM:

Gabriel @#36: You want to talk to Mark Rosenfelder at He has but recently started his own publishing company specifically for constructed languages and suchlike. I don't know if he'd be open to something he didn't do himself (so far he has only published his Language Construction Kit), but it's worth a shot.

And check out the bulletin board, too, under "Virtual Verduria" in the right sidebar.

#79 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:58 AM:

#77 ::: John A Arkansawyer:

I never read the book about the bass, but that reminds me of a book I read as a child (probably early 60s) about a sequoia tree.

It starts with a giant sequoia falling, leaving space and sunlight for the seedling. That bit is still part of my thinking-- this recession is bad for a lot of people, but there's going to be room for some new enterprises which otherwise probably wouldn't have happened.

Much later, there's a fire which damages one side of the lower trunk.

I think there's eventually a hole through the tree with a road and cars going through, but I might be hallucinating that.

The end of the book is the tree being at risk of being cut down to make a sign for a hot dog stand, but is rescued by a public campaign. I think the tree ends up legally protected as a natural wonder.

I've been trying to remember how much, if any we get of the tree's point of view, but all that's clear in my mind is the sunlight on the clearing at the beginning.

Anyone else remember the book?

#80 ::: Jan Vaněk jr. ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 09:10 AM:

Another question that I haven't been able to google but is the kind of knowledge that should be contained in ML commentariat, if I didn't get the link from here in the first place:

About a year ago, there was an article somewhere by a US editor who didn't buy Harry Potter when he had the chance. This was developed in a jocular form a la "now I am living in a hut in Maine woods and work in a fish-gutting factory". If anybody remembers the particulars, I will be eternally grateful.

#81 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 09:11 AM:

By the way, Happy birthday, Scraps!

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 09:42 AM:

Joyeux Anniversaire, Ferraille!

#83 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 11:00 AM:

Nancy, #79--the book is probably "Big Tree", by someone with the last name of Buff. That's all I recall, but I read it in '66 or so.
Nice ones, Fragano and OtterB.

#85 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 11:57 AM:

B Durbin and D. Potter: we sang it in Latin, and I was amazed at the number of people around me who knew all the verses. I didn't.

"And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it."
First verse of the Gospel of John, translated by Richmond Lattimore.

I have always delighted in the non-agreement of the tenses in this sentence. The light is in the present, eternally, and the darkness is eternally past, which means, essentially that the darkness is not real, since the past is not real -- it does not, actually, exist.

That is our hope -- that the darkness, which we encounter daily, and know so well, and fear to be devoured by -- is, most truly, less real than the least portion of God's great creation, less real than a twig, a leaf, a stone.

"Once you were darkness; now you are light."
St. Paul

#86 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 12:04 PM:

this is just to say
i have opened
the icebox
the plums were in

an abyss of light
which you were
probably saving
for revelation
shone out

Forgive me
I put in a webcam
and shut the door
to see if it became
an abyss of darkness

it was experimental
and bold

#87 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 12:07 PM:

dlbowman76 #64: Well said.

#88 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 12:16 PM:

Happy birthday, Scraps.

#89 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 12:17 PM:

Happy birthday, Scraps! Many more.

#90 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 12:29 PM:

dlbowman, #64: No apologies needed. That was... I started to say "painful to read," but that phrasing might be interpreted the wrong way... vividly evocative.

#91 ::: Carol Maltby ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 01:20 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @77

Try the Stump the Bookseller! feature at Loganberry Books.

For $2 (applicable toward the book if they find it), your query can join hundreds of others on the site. People looking for details on a favorite children's book can post what they remember of it, and readers can respond with information that can identify the book, or at least narrow down the possibilities. The listings are sorted by theme.

I tried searching there for "pollution," but didn't see anything that fit ("bass" brought up "embassy" and "ambassador" citations, which didn't help).

I love browsing the queries. There is such passion for dimly-remembered long-lost friends, and lots of warm, kind, helpful connectedness.

#92 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:49 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ #75

I don't know about sushi restaurants, but if you get a chance you absolutely must try The Night Kitchen.

David DeLaney @ #86


#93 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:57 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer (77): That isn't Jim Kjelgaard's The Spell of the White Sturgeon, is it? Wrong kind of fish, of course...

#94 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:57 PM:

Happy birthday, Scraps!

#95 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 03:53 PM:

Hurry, Scraps!

(Because after this last year, a birthday must feel something like winning a Nobel prize.)

#96 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 04:23 PM:


#97 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 05:10 PM:

Do you see that Web site down the line?
The best search engine since ninety-nine?
It's the only one that works that way,
The Atchison, the Google, and the Santa Fe.

See those results risin' round the bend.
You can search for strangers; you can search for friends.
In a third of a second, any time of day,
On the Atchison, the Google, and the Santa Fe.

Oh, the other engines are mighty swell,
Bing and Alta Vista on my DSL,
But I make my searches and I make my day
With the Atchison, the Google, and the Santa Fe.

Searchin' back and forth along teh Intarwebs,
My land, you must've run about a million greps.
It's a treat to work with your brain all day
On the Atchison, the Google, and the Santa Fe.

Here she comes!

#98 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 07:47 PM:

Q. Pheevr, :grin:

#99 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 09:46 PM:

kid bitzer@63, Gabriel@70: Joseph Wright didn't learn to read until he was 15; by the age of 36 he was a Deputy Professor at Oxford. Not for the first time, I wonder where the hell the Victorians got all their energy from.

I'm fond of old-style language primers too, though I'm glad I never had to actually use any of them in cold blood (Kennedy's Latin Primer must have been quite forbidding if it was one's first contact with the language).

#100 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 09:54 PM:

#77: This is probably Billy Bass by R. W. Eschmeyer (Fisherman Press, 1952).

Amazon Marketplace link (apologies for spamming Amazon, but it was not viewable in Google Books or present in Powell's or Alibris)

I know the book because my family has it; my father is an avid bass fisherman (not the obnoxious kind with fast, expensive, flat-bottomed boats and fishing tournaments, but the family kind; we learned to fish as soon as we could be trusted to sit still in a boat).

#101 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 10:19 PM:

Open threadiness: My hiking has started up again! Today I went hiking with my friends in the Shenandoah mountains again, specifically near Stony Man Mountain. We hiked perhaps 8 miles with much up-and-down, which left my older companions pretty knackered. I however, find once again that I'm in far better physical shape than I deserve, given my habits....

The mountain laurel was in leaf, but not much else was (aside from the few evergreens). There was some moss though, and a handful of individual ground plants scattered along our route. There was a lot of deadwood around (both fallen and standing) presumably because of those two blizzards we had. Incidentally, we passed several surviving patches of snow! Most were in sheltered spots on the east side of the mountains, but a couple, next to parking lots, may have been the remains of very large "snowplow piles".

#102 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 10:50 PM:

A great article for Disch fans and the Disch-curious: The Prescient Science Fiction of Thomas M. Disch

#103 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 12:51 AM:

The "Barry Goldwater and a million penguins" link is bad.

#104 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 12:54 AM:

Of possible interest to Role Playing Gamers:

Steve Jackson Games released a free PDF of "outtakes" from an earlier book of mine:

Alphabet Arcane: Lost Serifs

Yeah, it's a promotional item. But hopefully still a fun read.

#105 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 04:46 AM:

Re: the Barry Goldwater Particle - It looks like the url was cut off. It leads to the "Bad News Grasshopper" page.

#106 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 05:16 AM:

The Goldwater link should be to here. (I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but it's there in the html.)

#107 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:15 AM:

Costume recall

I guess I should thank my mother for her eccentricity and pragmatism. Because when it came time for improvising costumes, she rarely agreed to play along with other parents.

I remember first grade, or was it kindergarten? For a schoolwide program to honor a principal, each class had to dance to a particular song and have uniform costumes made. My entire class was to be outfitted in large white tunics with triangular applique or silk screened kites on the front and back. Each kite was made of at least two color panels, and each section in every grade had its own color scheme. My mother, out of a sense of pragmatism, I think, refused to spend money on a costume that could only be worn once. All my other classmates paid what I assume now was a substantial fee to have white tunics made in the particular pattern for our kites--dark green and lemon yellow panels on the front and back of a plain "dress" that had sleeves to the elbows and went from neck to ankles. Yes, we looked like Klansmen with kite insignia, sans the hoods to cover our faces. I do not know whose idea it was to dress over a hundred children up this way, so they could dance to the song "Kite" in a grassy field in high sunlight during the dry season. It was hours of practice in that field called the Sunken Garden, a deep natural riverbed that had been converted into an ampitheater flanked by acacias. I loved that field, and those trees, and had not learned yet to fear dancing in public. I looked forward to swaying to C's voice, along with my classmates, because it was a chance to forget homework.

My mother refused to pay for the school costume and instead told me to tell the teacher that she would make other plans. She had a white dress made by my father's godmother who was a talented seamstress. I was measured for a dress that I would later wear to parties-- a beautiful plain one in white woven rayon with delicate lace edging the cuffs and hems. When the dress arrived, I wondered how the kite panels were going to go on such a nice dress. My other classmates had white polyester uniform tunics, and there I was in my white lace. All the kids were to wear conical cardboard hats with the kite color panels taped to them---and again, I must have missed a meeting, or my mother missed a meeting, because when the morning of the performance arrived, I had no color panels to put on my costume or my plain white hat. My mother bought acetate cellophane, the kind that was made into candy wrappers, the kind that crinkled and reflected light, and made as much noise as it did attract attention because of its sheen. She and my father cut large panels in the shape of a kite and pinned it to the dress, then they taped more panels to the hat.You have to understand, I was the kind of kid who took pride in doing all my homework myself, and even if the other kids in my class had neatly labeled notebooks and acetate covered workbooks of collated pages in crisp manila folders, with the titles written in their parents' neat adult handwriting, I had my own scrawl on the covers of my own notebooks. We are the kind of family that makes our own costumes out of foil, cardboard and tape to make crowns or swords, or cereal boxes to become puppet theaters.

That day, I stood out in that large field, in full sunlight, visible from hundreds of feet away, the nonconformist kite costume with gleaming cellophane crinkling. Every other kid was wearing the standard issue matte screened or appliqued tunic. Not only did I reflect light, the cellophane was making this conspicuous noise as I tried to move in time with the music, blushing and trying to ignore the giggling of the kids around me. It was deeply embarrassing, because in the politically arcane world of grade school kids, the biggest mistake one can make is to stand out. I had no idea of this unwritten rule until that very morning. Such as it was for a girl who would sneak Nancy Drew and Tom Swift books into her workbooks in class, so she could read chapters while her classmates filled in the blanks to use is/are or this/these in sentences in the large mimeographed pages. I often retreated to a space in my head, and so had been too busy to see how I stood out, until that morning, walking into the crowd of children finding their places in the grass.

Not only did I stand out, I was singled out, as I walked to my place in the field, getting sniggers and guffaws from dozens of kids who didn't know to pick on me before, but now would never let me forget that I was that girl who didn't wear the uniform. I was so embarrassed I didn't stand near my actual classmates, but picked a place near the rear of the yellow and green kite section, with the nearest kids complete strangers staring and sneering at my crinkly gleaming mess.

That was the longest song in the entire program when I try to think of it now. In my head, in the middle of the song, I think I flew up into the sky, away from the other children, cancelling out the heat, the blaring bass from the ancient speakers in the bandstand, coasting into the air to get away.

When is a costume not a costume? When it inadvertently tells the truth about the wearer. That day, I learned just how different I was, and how easy it was to be ostracized because of it. While my mother and I got "compliments" afterward for my "cute" shiny costume, I knew the price of standing out. The next day no one sat with me in recess and hardly noticed, I made better friends with my books. Perhaps that was inevitable for a child who preferred her imagination to the reality of being the oddball in her class. To me this is a chicken and egg thing. Did I live in my head and retreat into books before this or after? There are too many ways to spin this, but the image of the cellophane crinkling along the front of my dress, as I tried to dance through my tears, will always stay. The only thing I keep now is the sound of rustling, and the knowing that I have these words to frame that, because I had to retreat into stories to keep from falling out of the sky.

#108 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:24 AM:

ma larky @107:

I've cleaned up your formatting.

We don't mind content composed elsewhere and pasted in, but check at preview whether it's going to be a whole screen of doublespaced lines of text, please?

#109 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:27 AM:

Tim May @106:

Fixed it. Thanks for the pointer.

#110 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 07:22 AM:

Tim May @106, unless one of my fellow bloggers repaired the link without telling me, that's the same URL I used in the first place.

#111 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 07:27 AM:

TNH @110:

I fixed it. You had one too many <a href="s. The URL was there, but clicking on it led to a 404.

#112 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 07:41 AM:

Thank you so much for cleaning that up for me, Abi. Am Relatively Clumsy with that.

#113 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:34 AM:

Good lord but moving is hard. I'm in LA collecting my things and the sheer emotional energy of just (as if it were just) collecting boxes is draining enough.

But the renting of a truck has been an adventure, and some of the boxes needed sorting out, and some of the stuff needed dividing (since much of Maia's stuff is still boxed, and things like the kitchen are intermingled).

So we are behind. But it's been pretty good, all around.

(addendum: I forgot to post. More adventures. In a motel for the night, sleep, shower and then the last leg of driving in the morning. Truck is a pig, and needs new wiper blades)

#114 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 02:31 PM:

Crashing Through by Robert Kurson is about Mike May, who'd been blinded by a chemical explosion when he was three. As an adult, he got a spiffy double operation to replace the stem cells needed to keep his cornea (he only had one eye) clear, and then a new cornea from a different donor.

The descriptions of what it was like to start seeing as an adult are vivid and giddy enough to go with the theme of light.

#115 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 03:32 PM:

Wow, this is the best thing ever: A young sign singer (hearing guy without deaf relatives who learned sign in college) sign-sings Jonathan Coulton's "Still Alive" (the Portal song) with captions and subtitles (that is, the English is shown, but the actual signs he's using are also listed onscreen). Not only fun, but informative; an insight into the structure of ASL for non-signers like me. Don't miss the two uncaptioned signs at the very end.

CaptainValor, as he calls himself on YouTube, also does an ASL performance of "Re: Your Brains" — which we had a great time singing along with last night at the concert.

#116 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 03:39 PM:

I've recently gotten some disturbing news about my back problems that is probably going to result in a lot of time spent on medical appointments and procedures over the next few months, and a lot less time online than I would like. I hope you don't mind my posting it here; talking about it might help me deal with the disappointment I feel in finding yet another problem with my back.

Last Monday I went into my neurologist's office for a steroid injection in my lumbar spine. This is a somewhat complicated but not at all risky procedure where an injection is made directly into the spine to reduce swelling, in the hope that the pain of compressed nerves can be alleviated. In this case, it was also intended to be diagnostic; if the pain was alleviated we'd have an indication of where the compression was occurring.

I've had this sort of injection at least 5 or 6 times over the past few years and was not expecting any difficulties, though I've never had it done at this facility before, and the protocols were a little different. The idea is that you're placed on a fluoroscope plate so the doctor can see your spine and the long needle used for the injection. You're given a local anesthetic where the the needle will be placed (one on each side of of the spine in this case), then given a dose of Verced, and then the needle is moved to the correct location and the drug is injected. They photograph the fluoroscope image so a future injection can be performed at exactly the same location.

Supposedly the local stings, but the Verced prevents the transfer of short-term memory to medium-term, so you never remember any of the procedure from shortly before the Verced dose to a few minutes after.

However, things didn't go as planned, though the Verced prevents me from remembering what did happen. Appparently, lying on my stomach in the position to get the shot resulted in enough pain that I came out of the Verced to partial consciousness, and my blood pressure crashed. They gave me the shots and got my blood pressure back up; looking over the images the doctor spotted a bulge in the disk at L3-L4, where the shots were administered. That's not something we've seen before; all the previous surgery was below that, but it's probably where the pain came from. So now there's something new that's wrong, and the likelihood is that I'll need surgery to correct it, just in time for my COBRA coverage to be running out in June.

#117 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 05:02 PM:

I have an open thread question for the flurosphere.

My folks have a wireless network setup, but can't remember the WEP code, so I can't log on with my laptop while visiting. The whole thing was set up by a friend a few years ago.

Is there any way to look up the codes/settings?

The main computer for the house, through which things are run, is running Windows XP home edition.

#118 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 05:25 PM:

Bruce Cohen (StM) @116:

Oh, aargh, twenty times over! I'm so sorry to hear it.

Please keep us posted as much as possible. I'll be worrying about you.

#119 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 116... My best wishes.

#120 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:05 PM:

Ursula L @117, our wireless modem has the WEP code on the bottom of it. Could theirs?

#121 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:10 PM:

Bruce Cohen @116, sympathies and good wishes headed your way.

#122 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:13 PM:

@117: Yes. Find the wireless router's model number, Google it, and you'll likely find the address to access the router's preferences. Hopefully your parents remember the router login, which you can then use to re-set the WEP (or simply write it down). If you don't know the login, find some helpdesk info (again, based on the router's model number) and see if you can adjust the preferences via tech support chat or a phone call.

#123 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:22 PM:

Xopher #115: There's two experiences I've had with an ASL interpreter that were a lot of fun. The first was, actually, at an Easter Vigil mass at the church I'm attending tonight. It was the reading from Exodus where the Israelites are crossing the Red Sea: "And the water was a wall to their left, and a wall to their right." The gestures were clear and evocative and perfectly comprehensible to those of us who still have hearing.

The other time was a Weird Al concert. The interpreter was having a great time.

#124 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:42 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers), #116, ack! I hope that gets better soon and there's no more damage. (Versed doesn't work for me, I always remember everything so they don't use it anymore.)

#125 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Ursula L @ 117: re: Madeline Ashby @ 122: Here is a link to a list of default passwords for a variety of routers. It may be helpful; odds are good that the default password was left on your parent's router. If not, there may be a hardware reset on the router itself that will restore default settings; then you can use the default setting.

#126 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 08:29 PM:

Re: 125: The list starts out in alphabetical order, but apparently recent info has just been tacked on at the end. If you don't find your router in the logical place, give a look there.

#127 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 08:56 PM:

Bruce Cohen #116: Ow Ow Ow! Best of luck in dealing with this new trial.

#128 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 09:02 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) #116: I hope things improve.

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 09:48 PM:

The Skiffy Channel is showing Eragon. I'm not paying that much attention, as I've been finding much pleasure in eating yogurt. Still, I find myself thinking that, if a movie is ever made about Making Light, I want my part to be played by Jeremy Irons.

#130 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 09:53 PM:


great. i can be played by danny devito, if he doesn't mind wearing a fat suit for the role.

in more cheerful thoughts: does anybody know where to find good recordings of the shanties sung by the swallows and amazons? i know "blow the man down", of course, but not "from ushant to scilly is thirty-five leagues", or many of the others. and the relevant wikis are letting me down, so far.

#131 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:07 PM:

Bruce Cohen, I hope the news gets better. Prayers and good wishes.

It's crossed my mind more than once since the health care reform bill passed that many many people I know would benefit RIGHT NOW from quite a number of the provisions that in fact don't kick in until 2014. As it is, I know too damn many people who are struggling, and a few who are drowning. Four years is too long to wait.

#132 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:17 PM:

Ouch, Bruce, Ouch! I hope the surgery goes well and your rehab is not as lengthy as projected.

I just finished Connie Willis's new book Blackout and am feeling really frustrated. It ends with a serious cliffhanger, and while the sequel All Clear is completed, it apparently won't be published till Fall. T'ain't fair, McGee!

#133 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:22 PM:

Bruce Cohen: Ow. I'm sorry.

kid bitzer, 130: "from Ushant to Scillly" is officially entitled "Spanish Ladies." I have a pretty good CD called Roast Beef of Old England, which has many of the songs referred to in the Aubrey/Maturin novels.

#134 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:53 PM:

Yow. Now I have 2 other people to worry about besides myself, not just 1. Bruce, I hope you get thru this all right so you can do some more of those poems I recall you did once.
I wonder if enough people got together and did just the right thing, could we hurry this reform up a little bit so folks like us could live to see what that Pluto probe sends back? Peaceful action of some sort?
Dental too. And eyes. Richest country in the world, my @$$.

#135 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:58 PM:

Bruce, that sucks. Hope the news gets better. Can't they fast-track you given the coming end of your COBRA? (Not the insurance company, which will of course delay as long as possible, but the doctors.)

In the ML movie, as long as I'm not played by Mike Myers or Pauly Shore, I'm good. Either of those and My Curse Will Be Upon You.

#136 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:13 PM:

Xopher: David Hewlett!

#137 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:17 PM:

TexAnne: Ow. ROFLMAO, and zing and touché.

#138 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:18 PM:

Bruce Cohen: I hope things get better dad has suffered a bulging disk, and I remember the pain he had.

As for an ML movie, I think I'd be best played by Lea DeLaria, except she can sing. Well, that will be the fantasy part.

#139 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:34 PM:

As I was scrolling down, this is what I saw:

Open thread 138
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:39 PM * 138 comments

So here's #139.

#140 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:17 AM:

Saw an incredibly silly and fun animated film from Belgium today, "A Town Called Panic:"

It's stop-motion animation. The characters aren't carefully crafted models; they are crude plastic toys. Barnyard animals, people mounted on round bases so they can stand up, that sort of thing.

The three heroes -- Indian, Cowboy, and Horse -- share a house. Indian and Cowboy are chagrined to discover that it is Horse's birthday and they don't have a gift. So they go online and order bricks to build a barbecue. But instead of 50 bricks they order 50,000,000. The barbecue gets built and the party goes well, but the 49,999,950 bricks stacked up on the roof cause complications.

It's really blindingly goofy. Like a cross between Gumby and Monty Python.

#141 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:42 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @75 -- my posting karma is bad tonight, as the mention of Mashiko as the restaurant you were looking for appears to have not been sufficiently excited to have glowed into the fluorosphere.

#142 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 01:24 AM:

Thank you all for your good wishes and words. I'm hoping that I can get at least part of the treatments I'll need done before my COBRA expires. Luckily, I live in Oregon, where we have a safety net program that should cover me between that and when the Health Care Reform coverage becomes available. And then it should be only a little less than a year until I'm eliglible for Medicare. I just wish it didn't feel so much like jumping from one ice floe to the next while avoiding the flood.

All seriousness aside, Serge, are you sure you wouldn't rather be played by Rafe Feines? Ooooh, gravitas! Myself, I want Ricky Jay to play me in my Aspect as Mandrake the Magician.

#143 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 01:24 AM:

Xopher @115: My favorite lolcat.

#144 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 01:33 AM:

Scraps: Happy belated birthday!

Bruce Cohen: Hopeful thoughts winging your way!!

#145 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:39 AM:

Bruce: Sounds awful, remembering a friend who had a slipped disc in college. May the appropriate Power send you a speedy & complete healing.

My mother gets similar shots in her spine for sciatica, every few months.

Light theme:

According to Mudcat, UU childrens' camps add extra verses (new first lines):

"This little liberal light of mine"
"Don't you come and puff it out"

Or, from someone's UU church:

I've got the light of freedom
I've got the light of truth
I've got the light of love

Or a Chanukah lights song that my cousins like.

#146 ::: Bob Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 04:08 AM:

I am very happy to report that, thanks to VDM Publishing's BetaPublishing imprint, Amazon customers finally have a chance to buy - for a mere $46 - the soon-to-be-classic reference work Vreni Schneider: Annemarie Moser-Pröll, FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, Winter Olympic Games, Slalom Skiing, Giant Slalom Skiing, Half Man Half Biscuit.

According to an article on Slashdot, Amazon has been - graced with? infected by? - VDM's prodigious and growing list of titles whose content has been culled from Wikipedia by bots and is printed on demand, of which the above is but one of many, many examples.

How many examples? Well, about 10,000 added in the last month alone. Search for books edited by Lambert M. Surhone (or, as he's known on the search results page, "Lambert M. Surhone" - inverted commas fit that name like a glove) and you'll find over 18,000 titles, including Raoul Dufy: Fauvism, Le Havre, École des Beaux-Arts, Othon Friesz, Eugène Boudin, Satanic Ritual Abuse: Moral Panic, Physical abuse, Occult, Ritual, Conspiracy Theory, Controversy, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and, of course, Niki de Saint Phalle: Antonio Gaudi, Stedelijk Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou, Naïve Art, Papier Mâché, Jean Tinguely, Giardino dei Tarocchi, Stravinsky Fountain, Sun God. (My friend Jen, who's currently doing her dissertation on Niki de Saint Phalle, is going to be delighted that there's yet another book she has to read, though strictly speaking she doesn't.)

It's really hard to know who to root for in this contest, since thus far Amazon's response to complaints has been as automated as what people are complaining about. It's not clear to me that anyone is actually being harmed by this, but of course this is probably the thin end of a wedge.

#147 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 09:53 AM:

Wow, this is the best thing ever: A young sign singer (hearing guy without deaf relatives who learned sign in college) sign-sings Jonathan Coulton's "Still Alive"...Don't miss the two uncaptioned signs at the very end.

This is charming. As I can only go by context and guess, what ARE the two uncaptioned signs at the very end?

#148 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 09:57 AM:

Bruce: as a physical therapist assistant who sees a lot of lumbar disk hernations: OW!!

Encouraging story: my husband has a herniated disk @ L4-5 that was compressing the sciatic nerve to such an extent that the pain sent him to the ER (and made his blood pressure spike to an alarming degree). He was able to get enough relief from physical therapy (over a few months) to take back-to-back 100-mile bike rides; now as long as he keeps up the exercise routine daily he is pretty much pain free. Sometimes with surgery and sometimes without, this IS a problem that can be treated very effectively, and I wish you a thorough recovery. And as much luck as possible on the insurance front, which can hurt more than the back....

#149 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 10:13 AM:


someone on the youtube comments thread says the last two signs are "cake lies", but to my shame i cannot confirm or deny.

i love love love watching signers. why does it seem like this guy's face is putting out ten times the bandwidth of info that non-signers' faces do? if you were in a relationship with a signer and they went all poker-faced on you, it would be devastating, just like the silent treatment.

among screen actors, i cannot think of any face this expressive, except of course for grommet, but then that's rather the point, innit?

#150 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 11:03 AM:

The brief ASL course I took a few years ago was like a summer camp-- we played telephone and matching games. I had trouble with not mouthing the words I signed, though I didn't mouth the sentence as it would have been in English. Some of the other students had trouble being not hung over, it seemed. It was a really fun class, though I remember just enough ASL to never ever try to sign anything.

In happier language news, a few friends and I got together to watch Jesus Christ Superstar last night (fourth viewing of the week for our host) and we ordered Chinese. It arrived labeled in said language, and I was able to pick out my beef with broccoli by 'rou'. I like the word quite a bit.

#151 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 11:26 AM:

Gabriel Smufner @36 and @42:

The Language Creation Society has talked about doing an anthology of texts in constructed languages eventually, though I think it's lower priority than the journal and the Proceedings of the LCS book that are currently in progress. See this thread on the CONLANG mailing list from March 2009 for the discussion about it.

For models of composition, check out the many constructed language grammars and lessons online, especially the ones that feign the language is a real, obscure natural language -- I think Carsten Becker's Ayeri grammar and Dirk Elzinga's Tepa grammar might be the kind of thing you're looking for.

#152 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 11:31 AM:

Judi Miller does ASL interpretation at a lot of filk concerts. Considering the nature of some of the songs, this gets... interesting. Seanan McGuire's "Black Death" and Tom Smith's "I Had a Shoggoth", ferexample. And sometimes she does this without having heard the song before.

Several videos are up on YouTube.

#153 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:03 PM:

A Making Light movie? Dibs on Helen Mirren!!

#154 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:09 PM:

I'd like Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio to play me.

#155 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:19 PM:

If the ages were the other way round, I'd ask for Carrie Fisher.

#156 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:21 PM:

Back before he died, Teresa always asserted a desire to be played by Walter Matthau.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:36 PM:

Michael Praed as Terry Karney...

#158 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Dibs on this actor here. She's a lot younger and better looking than I am, but there's a distinct resemblance.

#159 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 03:17 PM:

I can't think of any actresses who look like me-- I don't take in enough visual stories, I guess-- so I'd like to be played by a Muppet.

#160 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 03:29 PM:

Teresa, that church door really is disturbing. (It really makes me wonder about the builders.)

#161 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 04:17 PM:

Diatryma (159): Oooooh, that's a good idea. Do you have a particular one in mind?

#162 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 04:29 PM:

A Making Light movie? Who wuld play me? Hmmm....

As I get older, I am starting to see somewhat of a resemblance to Ernest Borgnine.

(Considering Borgnine's photo in that link looks pretty good for a 92-year old, I guess that isn't all bad.)

(This may come out as a double-post, or not at all. Hinky stuff happens when I hit the Post button.)

#163 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 04:37 PM:

Bob Rossney @ 146: the soon-to-be-classic reference work Vreni Schneider: Annemarie Moser-Pröll, FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, Winter Olympic Games, Slalom Skiing, Giant Slalom Skiing, Half Man Half Biscuit.

Maybe Half Man Half Biscuit should sue.

#164 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 04:58 PM:

P J Evans at 160, I agree, that door is disturbing -- I found myself muttering "The better to eat you with, my dear..."

#165 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 05:36 PM:

I think I'd like Conchata Ferrell to play me.

#166 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 05:55 PM:

The Hugo nominees for 2010 just got announced.

Congratulations Patrick (best editor, long form) and all other nominees!

#167 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 06:09 PM:

Bruce Cohen: Sympathies and good luck.

Ursula L @ 117: When we couldn't remember ours, the solution we came up with was to reset the password. However, make sure you've got a computer physically connected by cable when you do that*. Then you can reset the password on the others.

*We didn't and promtly lost the connection until we thought to make the physical link.

#168 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 06:26 PM:

Mary Aileen at 161, I hope I'd rate something created specifically for me. Otherwise, Big Bird is appropriately named and colored, but the wrong sex.

#169 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 06:49 PM:

I'm a little surprised to see no discussion of the new Doctor Who yet.

The new title sequence and the new TARDIS interior are interesting. I'm reserving judgment, but I think they're likely to grow on me. The new theme music is an improvement over the previous iteration, but not as good as Murray Gold's first title music, which is the only version I'd say bears comparison with Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire's 1963 original.

Matt Smith seems to be a good actor, although his performance so far is a little too reminiscent of David Tennant's. No doubt it will evolve. Karen Gillan is immediately appealing, maybe even a little too much so.

Specifics on the episode:
V pbeerpgyl thrffrq gung gur Qbpgbe'f "svir zvahgrf" jnf tbvat gb or nobhg gra lrnef (Xngvr fnvq gb zr jura vg jnf erirnyrq nf gjryir, "Bxnl, lbh jva.") obgu orpnhfr vg nyybjrq gur gbb-lbhat Nzryvn gb orpbzr gur arj pbzcnavba naq orpnhfr vg unexrq onpx gb Gur Tvey va gur Svercynpr. Arvgure Xngvr abe V jnf fhecevfrq ol gur raqvat fubg bs gur jrqqvat tbja, rvgure.

Gur Ngenkvf jrer snveyl pbby, ohg V jvfu gur rlronyy guvat unq ybbxrq n yvggyr yrff fcrpvsvpnyyl uhzna. Rira ba rnegu, rlronyyf pbzr va n ahzore bs qvssrerag inevrgvrf.

#170 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 08:45 PM:

Um, perhaps I should explain -- I don't look anything like Helene Mirren. (If only...)

But I've always wanted to be drop-dead gorgeous and immensely talented, and she and I are nearly the same age. And this is a fantasy movie, right?

#171 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 08:54 PM:

Ursula L @ 117: Wireless Key View is a nice little utility to keep handy if you deal with other people's wireless networks.

#172 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Odd and provocative essay on politics and cognitive style:

"Libertarians, Republicans, and Democrats: New Findings on Morality, Empathy, and Sympathy".

But here’s where it gets even more interesting (for me at least). A commenter suggests that “libertarianism essentially amounts to is the political expression of autism.”
#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 09:26 PM:

Lizzy L @ 170... Ellen Burstyn wouldn't be a shabby choice either. By the way, did you know she'd appeared in an episode of Time Tunnel?

#174 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 09:52 PM:

Serge writes in #129:

Still, I find myself thinking that, if a movie is ever made about Making Light, I want my part to be played by Jeremy Irons.

I'm confused. I thought a movie about Making Light had recently been made.

#175 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 10:06 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 174... There was indeed. In this case, I was thinking of ML as the setting for a fictional drama. Like Airport. Which means that we'd get George Kennedy to play the part of Jim McDonald.

#176 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 10:19 PM:

Serge, Ellen Burstyn is one hell of an actress, but she's also about 15 years older than I am...

#177 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 10:55 PM:

Lizzy L @ 176... But she doesn't look it.

#178 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 11:17 PM:

I don't think that people who actually look like me ever get into acting as a career.

#179 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 11:22 PM:

Eral Cooley III @ 178... Ever seen a picture of Rondo Hatton?

#180 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 11:35 PM:

The ASL song interpretations are fantastic! I can finger spell, but that's it - I never really understood how much ASL diverges from spoken language.

(And here's CaptainValor with Owl City's Fireflies.)

#181 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 11:40 PM:

The "Still Alive" link reminds me of a question I've been meaning to ask: on the words "the people who are still alive", there's a key modulation at the end that I find really difficult to do when I'm singing on my own. If I'm singing along I can do it fine, but when I'm singing by myself it never sounds quite right. So for those of you out there who sing: is that a particularly difficult modulation, or is it just me?

#182 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 12:03 AM:

David, 181: I don't find it difficult, but it's a fairly common cadence in pre-Classical alto lines, which is what I've sung the most.

#183 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Carol 147: As I can only go by context and guess, what ARE the two uncaptioned signs at the very end?

As kid bitzer says at 149, I can't be 100% sure, but I believe CAKE LIE is correct. It matches his expression and it makes sense—"the cake is a lie" is a traditional thing to say about Portal, since the disembodied voice who sings this song promises cake but never delivers.

kid 149: why does it seem like this guy's face is putting out ten times the bandwidth of info that non-signers' faces do?

Isn't it wonderful? He's such a good signer. And I've seen native signers talking on the subway; they're very expressive and smile all the time, in fact I noticed this before I noticed they were signing in one case—a group of teenagers both quiet and smiling is unusual enough to catch my eye!

#184 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 12:18 AM:

kid bitzer @130, Here is a rather good recording and lyrics and so forth for Spanish Ladies, done by Roger McGuinn.

#185 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 12:41 AM:

Stefan Jones, did I already know but forget that Julia Hendricks is your cousin?

#186 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 12:56 AM:

Serge at 177: no, she certainly doesn't. Not in public, anyway...

#187 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 01:01 AM:

Judi Miller's interpretation has been a real joy at the few filk conventions where I've seen her. Yes, she's putting out some approximation to the lyrics (I don't speak ASL, and she gets handed really random varieties of material in real time), but especially when she knows a piece, she puts a lot of emotional expressiveness and humor into it, and the facial expressions, posture, and sometimes dance add a lot.

The church we visited this morning was trilingual - English, ASL, and Fijian. Somebody said the pastor is much more animated when she's signing, which she usually was, and stands fairly still when she's not, and she was having to do a lot of speed matching during some parts because the Fijian language tends to need a lot more words than English to say things (but they speak fast), while ASL usually uses fewer signs (except when you need to finger-spell) and expresses more of the content through facial expressions or motion. (And to tie in to one of the other threads, she announced that everybody should stay after service, because there'd be cake... She's apparently not a gamer - there actually was cake.) The previous time we'd been there, we were puzzled that the Fijian choir sounded like South African music; turns out the choir director had gone to school there.

#188 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 01:27 AM:

Open thread randomness:

I have a few fountain pens. The primary one is a Waterman Phileas with a converter; both are about four and a half years old. How long should I expect either to last? There's something going on at the pen/converter interface, has been for some time now, involving ink leaking out into the barrel and a generally bad seal between the two. I'd try my other converter, but that had its own mishap months ago and when I tried to clean it out, bad things happened-- "Grr, something is not happening, oh, there's something, I wonder if this comes apart... well, yes, if you break it."

Right now, my pens are the one disassembled in the car (no converter any more and it was too scratchy anyway-- I might drop it a few times to see if it becomes more like the pen I bought it to mimic), the leaky Waterman, and the one that came free with a bottle of ink. I am grousy because these things should last longer, darn it, and I have ink on my fingers.

#189 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 02:37 AM:

Isn't there an after-market for luxury pen repairs?

#190 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 05:14 AM:

Re: signing -- the signed videos are great, thanks everyone for the links. Some years ago I got interested in learning to sign, and took an adult ed course. There are two varieties of German signing, one which is akin to ASL (in that it's pure signing, but still, a different language*), and one which is easier and involves more lip reading.

Anyway, our church had a monthly service for hearing-impaired people, and I used to go. I always thought the sign for 'temptation' from the Lord's Prayer was both amusing and apt: come-hither finger gestures.

*I met a profoundly hearing-impaired guy from Poland, and asked him if understanding German signing was easy for him or not. He said there were some similarities, but that they were indeed two separate languages. Too bad -- wouldn't it be cool if signing were universal?

#191 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 05:37 AM:


thanks, pericat--that's just the ticket!

and how great to have it sung in the distinctive voice of roger mcguinn--an amazons and byrds mashup. but i think he may sing "from ushant to sicily"--not a hard mistake to make.

good: now i will know how to rant and roar like a true british sailor.

#192 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 07:21 AM:

Hyacinths and daffs in the flowerbed,
those eager plantings of last summer's heat,
they are the voices of our dearest dead.

We have not asked just what the blossoms said
nor listened long to the black loamy beat;
hyacinths and daffs in the flowerbed

have no regret, nor signal any dread,
their meaning is not evil, it is sweet:
they are the voices of our dearest dead

returning to us in the garden, spread
in sudden colour in the light. Complete.
Hyacinths and daffs in the flowerbed,

each shocking signal sent right to the head,
and heart that with old sorrow is replete.
These are the voices of our dearest dead

gone now, but leaving us with souls full fed
since life refuses to accept defeat.
Hyacinths and daffs in the flowerbed,
they are the voices of our dearest dead.

#193 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 07:26 AM:

Debbie #190: Too bad -- wouldn't it be cool if signing were universal?

In some ways... but then real-time interpretation to/from various languages (as lauded in previous comments) would be that much harder....

#194 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 07:38 AM:

Stefan Jones #172: My comments there are a little cranky, but I do get annoyed about that mistake. Autistics are certainly capable of empathizing, once they know what you're feeling!

#195 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 08:05 AM:

Xopher @183:

"The cake is a lie" is a more specific reference than that. There are two disembodied presences in the game. At various points in the game you can find traces of "The Ratman," a previous resident of the Aperture Science Test Chambers(tm) who leaves directions to guide you, but also seems to have been less than stable. At a couple points in the game you can find his lairs, which contain his deranged scribblings, including the infamous phrase.

#196 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 08:21 AM:

Lizzy L @ 186... Makeup does do wonders. Cinema may one day get to bypass even that. Did you see the 3rd X-men movie? There was a flashback where Xavier and Magneto meet Jean Grey when she was a child. A software was used to make Stewart and McKellen look 20 years younger. That was in 2006. Meanwhile, last week, Fringe's new season began, and the bulk of it was a flashback to not-yet crazy scientist Walter trying to save his son's alternate-universe counterpart a couple of decades before. They successfully made actor John Noble look those decades younger, using a similar process for a TV production, and if you remember the way Noble looked as Denethor in LoTR, that's no small feat.

#197 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 08:41 AM:

Bruce Cohen - my sympathies and prayers are with you.

Anent a Making Light movie - I would have a very small nonspeaking role. Maybe as the gopher who carries a food tray from the Tor suite to the green room for Teresa (That was several years ago at Minicon). I am having trouble thinking of any actress resembling a fireplug with long brown hair going gray, though.

#198 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 09:10 AM:

why does it seem like this guy's face is putting out ten times the bandwidth of info that non-signers' faces do?

The simple answer is, because facial expression is a "phoneme" in ASL. As I understand it, it conveys both the sort of thing speakers use tone of voice for, and also significant meaning on the level of "Is this consonant a stop or a fricative?"

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 09:28 AM:

"...lamenting that the old "Clash" is so much better than the new one will take us only so far. Any remake has to stand on its own merits. That said, "Clash of the Titans" still sucks..."

-'s Stephanie Zacharek

I guess I'll pass.

#200 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:12 AM:

Dear Flourosphere,

If I might impinge upon your hospitality in this open thread, I have a question that perhaps those with some insight into book publishing and distributing can help with:

I live in Japan. Japan is a far off land full of hidden assassins, mysterious beauty, giant radioactive monsters and very few English books (in my neck of the woods). I can buy English books from Amazon (boo! hiss!) or I can have them shipped from other countries for shipping that is more than the cost of the books themselves, so I'm not utterly without hope. But that is only if I want dead-tree books.

Ebooks are, as of right now, ONLY available to me through Amazon. No other source that sells ebooks (that I have found yet) will sell to someone ordering from outside the US, or paying with a non-US credit card.

Why is this? It utterly mystifies me that (for example) I can order a paper book from B& and have it shipped around the world, but I can't order those zippy, shipping-less electronic signals carrying the same book.

Even MORE mystifyingly, those sources that offer free eBooks don't seem to care where I am--Baen's, Random House/Suvudu, and in the past all seem more than happy to give away stuff all over the world...

Someone, please. Help me understand. Why can't Jimmy buy eBooks?

#201 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:22 AM:

The part of Kip W will be played by a 40-watt light bulb.

#202 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:29 AM:

JimR @200

I have no trouble at all ordering ebooks from using a non-US credit card. Have you tried them?

Here is their geographic restrictions FAQ.

#203 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:32 AM:

Reposting my bOINGbOING comment:

Dean Booth provides a valuable service by mirroring the New Yorker Caption Contest and letting readers submit their captions. Not only do we get to see every submission (and not just the three that the New Yorker finds worthy), but one of Dean's commenters just won the actual NYCC. If I recall correctly, they wouldn't have entered but for the encouragement they got at Dean's Comic Booth.

Dean tags his caption contests, so it's possible to go back and read the last few. I'm in there (and at the Comics Curmudgeon) as "Muffaroo." Actually, I'm "[Old Man] Muffaroo" at the CC now, because some misguided souls there think Muffaroo is a chick's name, sadly ignorant of the name's honored history.

#204 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:34 AM:

ps: On the internet, nobody knows you're an old man, though the FBI may suspect.

#205 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 11:59 AM:

JimR #200: Someone, please. Help me understand. Why can't Jimmy buy eBooks?

It's mainly because Digital Rights Manglement lawyers have no souls.

#206 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 12:23 PM:

Jay Lake faces self-censorship.

#207 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 12:26 PM:

kid bitzer, #191: Allow me to acquaint you with something called the "folk process". :-) Many of those old ballads have multiple slightly-different versions, because some people get the words wrong (or forget them and make up something on the fly that fits), and other people sing it the way they learned it from those people. Musicologists can spend a fair amount of time tracing back different versions of a song, looking for the original branching point.

Melodies can change too. The tune I use to sing Tom Lehrer's "Irish Ballad" is only vaguely like the one on the record, because I was trying to reconstruct it after only having heard it once. Having done so, and then hearing the original again, I decided that I like my melody better for prosodic reasons, so I still use it.

#208 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Debbie @190: wouldn't it be cool if signing were universal?

Reminds me of a report I saw a while back (the details of which elude me) about an effort to gather up a bunch of deaf kids from some disadvantaged population and l'arn 'em some sign language that the researchers had invented. Kids got off the bus, took one look at each other, and set about creating their own sign language, completely ignoring the settup the researchers had wanted to teach them. The Fluorogiest will doubtless produce the correct details shortly.

Re: the ML movie: I wanna be played by Whoopi Goldberg. She'd be a much better me than I could ever be.

#209 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 01:41 PM:

Jacque @207, you mean Idioma de Signos Nicaragense, right?

#210 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 01:54 PM:

Earl #209:

That story is amazing, and makes me think of the scenes in _The Mote in God's Eye_ and _The Gripping Hand_ that feature Motie mediators meeting for the first time and quickly hammering out a workable trade language. Is it weird that the whole thing has a SFnal feel to me, even though it could have happened (and surely did happen, many times, in many different places and times) ten thousand years ago?

#211 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 02:44 PM:

#195 ::: Chris W.

Xopher @183:

"The cake is a lie" is a more specific reference than that. There are two disembodied presences in the game. At various points in the game you can find traces of "The Ratman," a previous resident of the Aperture Science Test Chambers(tm) who leaves directions to guide you, but also seems to have been less than stable. At a couple points in the game you can find his lairs, which contain his deranged scribblings, including the infamous phrase.

Okay, now I'm hopelessly confused (though slightly wiser, an odd combination). The song refers to a game? What's the game? What does "Aperture Science Test Chamber" refer to?

#212 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Every spring this transplanted farm girl, currently dwelling in an apartment, goes a little crazy. I get herb and vegetable seeds and peat plugs and start growing gardens bound up in pots. (This is in addition to my house plant habit.) My last apartment was kind to house plants, but not so welcoming to my favorite herbs. This apartment, however, is as close to living in a greenhouse as I'll ever get. I've taken advantage of that.

Last spring's basil is still alive. So, too, are the chives, which died back over the winter as they are supposed to. My rosemary bush (not started from seed, alas) is now putting out shoots of new growth. (I had to work hard to not turn it into a topiary project over the winter.) Cooking with fresh rosemary is a wonderful thing in the gloom of winter.

Last winter's tangerine seedling has bonsai'ed itself nicely in its temporary terrarium (a clear plastic tub cleaned and re-used after the mediocre pasta salad from the deli was gone.) The orange seedling my sister gave me is now an 18 inch tall stick decorated with leaves along the length. I must re-pot both of them along with my rosemary.

This year, I will try again with the oregano and cilantro using plants from a 2" starter pots purchased at a local nursery. I've been buying flower seeds for my window boxes. I like the thought of a meadow mix on the balcony.

As excitable as I get this time of year, these people make me look like a piker.

All I can say is "of course a water pump needs a muffler. All engines do when operated in close proximity to (lots of) people and/or in closed spaces. However, what you've built is a silencer a la Tom Clancy's Without Remorse. It makes me wonder about the R&D-I-Yer's reading habits as well as a new definition for the term "urban guerrilla."

#213 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 02:51 PM:

Open thready coolness: the World Economic Forum risk map. (I found this from the New School blog.)

#214 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 02:53 PM:

[reading the Wikipedia stuff on Portal and not yet feeling clued in]

#215 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 03:21 PM:

Carol, anyone who plays Portal has heard the disembodied voice promising cake. Not having played it all the way through, I was not aware that "The cake is a lie!" actually appeared in the game (thanks, Chris W!).

But throughout the net, when a Portal fan sees a reference to cake, there's a good chance s/he will post "The cake is a lie!" That's where I've seen it most often.

I think if you play all the way through and win, the Portal song ("Still Alive") plays over the credits or something. I'm not sure exactly. The game creators got Jonathan Coulton to write the song, and it fits amazingly well with his usual style.

So at the end of the ASL video, CaptainValor signs CAKE LIE (since verified with a signer I know). This really proves that he's One Of Us (for certain values of 'us').

#216 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 03:30 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 211/214:

Portal is a computer game that falls into the category of first-person puzzle. Except for a few parts, you don't need super-speedy twitch reflexes like you do with a lot of first-person shooters.

It features clever (and often hilarious) writing and characterization, surprising for how simple the concept of the game is. You are a test subject in an Aperture Science testing facility, where it becomes clear that their ideas of ethics and safety may be a little lacking. As you make your way through it, you discover that someone else (The Ratman) has been through before and left helpful clues and deranged scribblings, one of which is "the cake is a lie". GLaDOS, the antagonist, encourages you to complete the testing course by using the promise of cake as a reward at the end.

The song "Still Alive" is used as the end credits music in the game.

There are other things, but those seem like the relevant bits to clue you in.

#217 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 03:34 PM:

Earl Cooley III @209: Heh. Yeah, that comes from the right time period, so I'll bet that's it!

(What the hell did people do before they had ML and Google?)

#218 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 03:43 PM:

Jacque #217: What the hell did people do before they had ML and Google?

We had USENET and Archie.

#219 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 03:49 PM:

Carol @211 and 214:

The song "Still Alive" was written by Jonathan Coulton for the game "Portal" by Valve software and is performed by Ellen McClaine (sp?) who also did the voice for the evil AI GlaDOS. Many of the lyrics of the song specifically reference the plot of the game. The lyrics may seem random, but they actually make perfect sense as a last, passive aggressive "screw you" to the player from GlaDOS.

In the game the player navigates through the Aperture Science lab with the help of a gun which creates portals in the walls of the lab's test chambers. As the game goes on GlaDOS, the AI that controls the facility progresses from passively instructing the player to wheedling the player with promises of cake to attempting to murder the player with the facility's defenses. At the same time a player who pokes around in the dark corners of the levels will begin to find traces of "the rat man," someone who was trapped in the facility and was driven mad. Among the ravings scribbled on the walls of one of the rat man's lairs is the phrase "The Cake Is A Lie" a reference to GlaDOS' promise that once the tests are complete, the player will be given cake.

As an encapsulation of the dark, absurdist humor that made Portal so compelling, this became a sort of gamer shibboleth, not unlike the role occupied by "All Your Base" for internet geekdom in the early 00's or Monty Python quotes for an earlier generation of geekdom.

Of course, having offered such an exhaustive explanation, I've completely obliterated the sly humor of the video inserting a hidden (to those of us who don't know ASL) "the cake is a lie."

#220 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 03:53 PM:

Lee @ #207, "Melodies can change too"

There's a story that Bob Dylan heard Jimi Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower and liked it so much better than his own that from that point forward he performed it on stage with Hendrix's arrangement.

#221 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 03:56 PM:

Earl @218: Oh yeah, USENET. How could I forget? And...Archie! OMG. Now there's a blast from the past...

#222 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 04:04 PM:

Thank you! Thank you!

Wrenching myself away from needing to explain this in comparable detail to the next dozen (Portal-players or not) people I meet.

I loved the comment upthread about the ASL for "temptation" as in, lead us not.

#223 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 04:06 PM:

JimR @ 200: I've had no problem (UK) buying e-books from Baen (as well as getting free ones). Sorry, can't help with the others.

#224 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 04:07 PM:

Should have checked the thread again after composing a post and then leaving it on preview while going off to read other tabs.

Another fun little tidbit for anyone interested: lots of Valve's games have dev commentary. After you've beaten the game, you can play again and there are little word bubbles in the game world that activate commentary from various designers about the game.

One thing that I found interesting listening to the commentary was the extent to which the humor and writing of the game flowed directly from the needs of the game.

For example, at one point a series of puzzles required the player to carry a cube with them, so the developers needed to convey that this particular cube was important to hold on to, even though it behaved just like every other cube in the game. Once they'd solved that problem, playtesters start trying to carry the cube through the rest of the game and getting frustrated when it was too difficult.

The result was an inspired bit of cruelty where GlaDOS provides you with a "companion" cube with hearts on its sides and provides a running commentary on the cube, for instance reminding the player that the cube will never threaten to stab you because does not, in fact, speak. Then, at the end of the series of puzzles that require the cube, GlaDOS forces you to drop the cube into a fiery pit to "euthanize" it before proceeding.

So, one of the funniest and most-beloved sequences of the game grew out of the simple necessity of cluing the player in to what tools they would (and would not) need to proceed.

#225 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 05:26 PM:

Oh, dear Ghu. Someone reminded me of this gem: Beet pulp safety warning (AKA the famous squirrel story).

#226 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 05:55 PM:

Language funny from today's work email:

"This [order] is to replace [earlier order] where products and quantities were in error by request."

I'm having a hard time not taking the bait.

#227 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 06:31 PM:

Jacque, that's right up there with the Dogs in Elk and Squirrel Cop.

#228 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 06:51 PM:

JimR @200: The publishing professionals here can probably give more detail, but my understanding is that (a) some publishers may not have the right to sell all the books they publish in any arbitrary country; (b) for physical book sales, the legal country of sale is the location of the seller, while for ebook sales, the legal country of sale is the location of the buyer. For historical reasons, authors often sell the right to publish a book in a specific country or set of countries to one publisher, and the right to publish in another set of countries to another publisher. Charles Stross did a series of blog posts on publishing a few weeks ago which discussed this among other issues.

#229 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 06:59 PM:

Pericat @ 226:
Ignore previous message.

#230 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 08:16 PM:

@ Pericat, #202

Ahhh, thanks for that. I never made it through the purchasing process with Fictionwise because they didn't have what I was looking for, and I assumed they'd give me the same response as B&, being a B&N company. Good to see I was wrong.

@ Earl Cooley III, #205

Making them different from 90% of other lawyers...
How, exactly? ;)

@Jim Henry, #228

That actually explains a lot, just knowing about the POS differences.

#231 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 08:26 PM:

Chris, #219: It should be mentioned here that TomTom GPS units offer, as one of their selections for the unit's voice module, the GlaDOS voice -- done by the same artist as in the game.

Also, for the sake of completeness:

The Cake is a Lie T-shirt by

The Cake is a Pie parody T-shirt by White Lightning Productions (we print and distribute it for them). This shirt makes use of in-game information, to wit that (1) portals can change your orientation WRT gravity, and (2) things come out of a portal at the same speed they go into it.

#232 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 09:17 PM:

JimR #230: Making them different from 90% of other lawyers... How, exactly? ;)

I think you're being a tad optimistic about that 90% figure. My shortlist of non-evil lawyers consists of only four organizations (and their alumni), only one of which isn't a non-profit (Linden Lab).

#233 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 09:24 PM:

Invoking the open thread:

Yesterday morning, when I was getting ready to go to church, I heard a piece on NPR. Sr. Joan Chittister and Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, two significant contemporary theologians, have co-written a book sub-titled "Alleluia for All That Is."

For the lead-in to the interview with Sr. Chittister, did NPR use probably the most instantly recognizable "Alleluia" in Western Christian music, Handel's "Alleluia Chorus?" No. Did they use any of the hundreds, if not thousands, of Alleluias from anthems, hymns or other Christian liturgical sources? No. They used the chorus of Leonard Cohen's "Halleluia," arguably a spiritual song, but not exactly one that has that joyous Easter vibe.

Interesting choice.

#234 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 09:51 PM:

Teresa @ #185: I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that in the past!

#235 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:02 PM:

JimR #230, Earl Cooley III #232:

Guys, kindly remember that a lawyer might well someday be tasked with defending your liberty, your right to stay in your home, or maybe just your property. Or, alternatively, with getting you recompense from somebody what Done You Wrong on a drastic scale.

Remember, that line from the Bard about "first, we kill all the lawyers", is from the bad guys who are trying to take over a kingdom -- they quite rightly recognize that it's the lawyers who would remember what the law is supposed to be, as opposed to what the usurpers want it to be.

As for "four organizations of non-evil lawyers": let's see: The ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP, the EFF, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, a host of state Disability Law Centers, most of the Public Defender's Offices in the country... that's just off the top of my head.

Why yes, I do have lawyers in my family!

#236 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:50 PM:

It's all right, David Harmon, one of the lawyer friends of the family was a Catholic divorce lawyer, of all things, though now he's a California Superior Court judge. He's the motivating force behind my parents' church's soup kitchen, which has been a weekly presence for over a quarter-century. Nice guy.

#237 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 11:20 PM:

@David Harmon, #235

I hear what you're saying, but I'm not just following the stereo-types.

This is a True Story. I was a Philosophy major in university, and I was thinking about where that would take me. Law is a major avenue for Philosophy majors and I knew more than a few people who went on to Law School from college. I talked to my favorite professor, who was at the time teaching a lot of Mill and the Philosophy of Rights and was also a professor of law (now he's a professor of Business Ethics at Loyola, apparently...Nick Capaldi, a really good thinker) about going into constitutional law and this is what he told me (it's been a few years, so I'm paraphrasing):
Jim, you seem like a nice guy. Don't go into law. If you DO go into law, become a professor. It's the only way to keep your soul. Practicing law, even constitutional law, is a very good way to compromise all of your morals and ethics.

There are certainly good lawyers, lawyers who have kept their sense of ethic and self (and certainly your family members are among them), but I don't at all believe that they are a majority.

#238 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 11:53 PM:

David, #235: Also, remember that it's still the guys who want to take over the country -- the Republican kleptocracy/theocracy faction -- who are most active in pushing the "lawyers are evil" meme today, generally under the label "tort reform".

#239 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 12:33 AM:

The ombudsman column in yesterday's WashPost said that because they're having so many really bad comments to articles and such, they're going to put people in tiers and only let the readers see the top tier of commenters automatically. I think this is really weird.

#240 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 01:19 AM:

I think this ASL version of "My Humps" nearly equals Alanis Morissette's cover in sheer awesomeness.

#241 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 01:25 AM:

Lee @ 238: Ah, yes "tort reform". Let's prevent the injured from being recompensed in the way that a jury thinks is appropriate, because it might be bad for business. Grrr.

I used to be responsible for safety testing and certification of designs at a small company. One of the things I learned was that the USA has far fewer safety regulations than most developed countries. Instead, we have lawsuits. Companies doing business in the states spend money on certifying the safety of their products to reduce their liability if someone is injured and sued. It is perfectly legal to manufacture an extension cord without getting it UL (or ce) certified. It's legal for a store to sell that extension cord to a consumer. But neither a manufacturer or store will ever do that, because they'd be hung out to dry for contributory negligence in a lawsuit.

If we want to limit tort awards, we'll soon need to add more government regulations, or just not worry about people getting injured or killed because that piece of equipment wasn't tested quite thoroughly enough.

#242 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 02:25 AM:

janetl @ #241, if you think the Republican party wants to limit tort damages on behalf of bidness, you're misunderstanding the full motivation. The Rs want to limit tort damages because civil and defense lawyers get big cuts of those damages, and then they turn around and donate to the Democratic party.

Smaller damages, smaller contributions. Simple.

(Listen to a Republican when he uses the words "trial lawyer" sometime: it's all he can do to keep from spitting.)

#243 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 02:44 AM:

My parents are lawyers. My father's family was mostly lawyers and judges. My pseudo-grandfather was a law professor. My godfather is a lawyer. My first two jobs were in law firms. Where do you think I get my passion for justice? It didn't grow under the bay laurel in the backyard.

Lawyers run the gamut, personally and professionally, from saint to sinner. At its best, the law is idealism turned into practical action. At the worst, it's enablement of evil. For every John Yoo there's a Barry Scheck or Peter Neufield.

I know it's easy to roll your eyes and say that all lawyers are evil, but the law is what stands between us and bloody vengeance. And the "greedy lawyer" is a handy target for misdirected anger. Rage at that, and miss the nuanced points about who really is after your money and your liberty.

#244 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 02:46 AM:

load emily_litella_racter
construct tasty_torte_reform_rant in 3, 2, 1, mark.
"Never mind"
end of line

#245 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 03:13 AM:

Jacque @ 225: Thanks for that. I've seen it before, but re-reading still leaves me chuckling, which is a good start to the morning.

#246 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 03:17 AM:

May I still misdirect my anger at the Republicans?

Oh, wait. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Drat.

#247 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 03:57 AM:

Earl, #246: You know better than that. Reader's Digest version: the current Republican Party has NOTHING in common with the Party of Lincoln. During the period of the Civil Rights struggles, the Dixiecrats went over to the Republican side in a bloc following Strom Thurmond's infamous speech, and the GOP has never been friendly to justice since then. And you know this -- or at least you should by now, since I've seen that discussion go by on at least a dozen threads in the last couple of years.

You know how you keep grousing about "having your head handed to you" years ago after putting your foot in your mouth about something nobody but you remembers? Keep this up, and I'll really give you something to cry about.

#248 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 04:26 AM:

Lee @247:

No, Earl has a good point. Categorical hatred is an easy straw man to fall into. If it's not Lincoln, how about Ted Olson, whose conservative and Republican values have led him to spearhead the lawsuit against Proposition 8 in California?

People are messy and complex. Stereotyping by labels like that denies that complexity, and (ironically) excuses evil chew'd, swallow'd and digested by averaging it out with mere tribal loyalty.

And don't threaten to give people something to cry about on Making Light, please. Particularly Earl, who worries enough, but no one needs to fear that someone is going to take after them.

(I'm being nice, but really do not make threats of this kind on Making Light. Really really. Because you are not entitled to carry them out.)

#249 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 06:06 AM:

Off topic, but should I be bothered that our new neighbors's son looks like - and appears to be as old as - Harry Potter?

#250 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 06:15 AM:

Further off topic... In exactly one week, my wife is having her knee-replacement replaced. Kneed I ask for good thoughts?

#251 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 07:54 AM:

250: I'm sure you will manage to restrain yourself from looking at her knee post-op and asking "So, what's a joint like you doing in a nice girl like this?"

#252 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 08:38 AM:

ajay @ 251... I'm stealing that one.

#253 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 08:47 AM:

JimR #237: I'm not just following the stereo-types.

Are you sure about that? You're following, not your own experience, but the brief opinion of one person, whom you admire. For all you know, he got chewed up and traumatized working for the wrong law practice, but you're still willing to accept his statement as gospel, umpteen or umpty years after you heard it.

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 09:05 AM:

I just took a look at the latest issue of Locus, which arrived yesterday. I like the photo from Tor's 30th anniversary. I mean, it shows Teresa sitting in front of everybody, with both hands on a cane's pommel, and one could think she's a criminal mastermind about to whip a sword out of it to punish those henchpeople who displeased her.

#255 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 09:09 AM:


I wouldn't worry about it. Hogwarts students aren't allowed to do wizardry when they're off campus.

#256 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 09:16 AM:

Thanks to all for the book help! I'll check it when I'm next knowingly near my copy.

Now, another plea for "Help!": Suppose I were to get a wild hair* this weekend and use frequent flier miles to attend this.** What are my options for reasonably priced lodging within a reasonable mass transit of Manhattan? I love riding trains and people watching.

* This is not actually a strictly wild-hair question. If I do this, it'll be in conjunction with a training event. Thirty percent off the class in NYC next week, on short notice.

** Note to self: If you do, you must meet Patrick, whose taste in linkage so overlaps yours.

#257 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 09:42 AM:

252: come to think of it, your wife must by definition have an absolutely pachydermic tolerance for puns.

#258 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 09:55 AM:

ajay @ 257... Actually I don't pun that much in the physical world, especially when my wife is around. The blogosphere is safer.

#259 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 10:02 AM:

Micahel I @ 255... That may be the case, but Alan Rickman is outside our house.

#260 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 10:28 AM:

Micahel I @ 255 -- Unfortunately, "not allowed" does not equate to "does not happen". And stuff tends to happen around Harry whether he wants it or not.

There was a boy in filk fandom who looked remarkably like Daniel Radcliffe when the first Harry Potter movie came out, and there's still a strong resemblance. I gather that he tends to use that similarity for costume events.

#261 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 10:49 AM:

#256 John A Arkansawyer

You need to reserve tickets to Bellona, but you surely already know that. I hope you get to spend the weekend here and see the production.

If you're thinking of staying in New Jersey, you'll want to be reasonably close to the PATH train mass transit. On Long Island, it would be the Long Island Railroad. But there are some reasonable hotels in Manhattan itself, if you don't need thousand thread sheets and 40 pillows.

Love, C.

#262 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 11:01 AM:

Wow. Just saw this: Remember the Lesbian girl who wanted to bring her girlfriend to the prom, and they canceled it rather than allow her to? Well, the school district apparently relented and allowed her to go to the replacement prom.

But it was a scam. The real prom was elsewhere, and the prom Constance went to had a total of seven people at it (including two special-needs students*; I'm not sure why the others were excluded).

This is the first I've heard that the students were part of the exclusion. The school district certainly had to be involved in planning the "secret" prom, but it was a fellow student that directed Constance to the fake one. It's possible that most students didn't know about the sham prom that Constance was sent to, and might be horrified at what happened; I'd encourage them to say so.

Students of Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, you need to join the 21st Century. Even the 20th would do. If you're not bigoted scumbags, you need to say so; otherwise it's reasonable to assume that you are.
*In the article, Constance says that the only good thing that came of the whole mess was that the special-needs students had a good time, with no one making fun of them.

#263 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 11:10 AM:

Abi, #248: The line to which you objected would have been much better phrased as a simple "Stop digging." I withdraw it, and I'm sorry.

#264 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 11:27 AM:

JimR @237
That makes a certain kind of reverse sense. There aren't enough decent lawyers, so whatever you do, don't become one of them. Let the creeps squeeze out the good guys.

My cousin's one of the good guys. He tells me stories about the bad ones, so I know there are some. The idea that all or most lawyers are sharks feeds into the narrative the right wing is trying to promote in order to get people to throw away one of the few weapons they have against corporations, incompetent doctors, and bad government.

#265 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 12:41 PM:

Xopher: The worst part is that I have been to several proms in the last few years as a photographer and if the objection is to two girls dancing together they are hopelessly naïve. I've seen things on the dance floor that were perfectly horrendous, and my goodness, even if I objected to two girls dancing together (which would be silly, not in the least because that happens all the time at gender-imbalanced dance classes), I can guarantee that it would be far less objectionable than some of the stuff I've seen at regular proms.

Of course, I think this follows Evil Rob's dictate "The smaller the teapot, the bigger the tempest." It's a big deal to these people precisely because it's so petty. And I think part of the reason they're making such a big deal out of this poor girl and her date is because they know they're utterly powerless at anything that matters...

#266 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 12:42 PM:

Jacque @ #227, hilarious!

Xopher @ # 262--arrrgh. Those jerks. BTW, anyone who hasn't clicked the links, be warned that some of the comments that follow are real winners.

#267 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 12:55 PM:

ajay @251: Oh, you bad bad child. I nearly injured myself trying not to alarm my coworkers on that one.

#268 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 01:37 PM:

question for other u.s. citizens who travel to europe.

have you noticed how europe has moved to credit cards with the emv chip embedded, aka 'chip and pin' cards?

and have you noticed how your u.s. issued card, without said chip, will work for some stuff but not other stuff?

and have you figured out a way to get a card that will work?

i just spoke to a handful of u.s. card-issuing banks who told me, after i explained it all to them, that they do not issue such cards. (this included amex and amex blue).

then i talked to a canadian bank which does issue them, but would not issue one to me, because i am not a canadian citizen or resident.

so: has anyone out there cracked this? how does a u.s. citizen get a european card?

#269 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 02:35 PM:

Xopher @262, there's more very good discussion of the whole thing at Yet another reason I'm glad my daughter was home-schooled.

#270 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 02:45 PM:

This keeps on getting better. Itawamba Agricultural High School also suspended a transgender student this year, and she was eventually hounded out of town. Article from The Stranger.

#271 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 02:48 PM:

Xopher, they sound like stereotypical rednecks.

(I don't like saying that; not everyone in small towns is that mean or that narrow-minded. But this group certainly is trying for the title of 'worst town in the country'.)

#272 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 02:55 PM:

Let's use 'itawamba' as a slang term for "stupid, bigoted redneck."

"Did you really just use the N word? What an itawamba you are!"

#273 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 02:58 PM:

B. Durbin @ 265: It's a big deal to these people precisely because it's so petty. And I think part of the reason they're making such a big deal out of this poor girl and her date is because they know they're utterly powerless at anything that matters...

I wish I could agree with you. Unfortunately, they've at least figured out how to wield some amount of power, and that's power that could (and has in other places) very well get people killed.

Excluding the gays and the special ed students tells me exactly how repugnant these people are.

#274 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 03:11 PM:

It was Superintendent Teresa McNeece and Itawamba County school board attorney Michele Floyd who invited Constance to attend the fake prom.

#275 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 03:28 PM:

I don't want to dilute the strength of the phrase "utterly despicable", but sheesh, it really sounds like that they're going to need a second lawsuit to make the school board realize that they've pissed off a lot of people. They should have no future in directing education policy at all. The school board can probably also be prosecuted under Mississippi's anti-hazing law.

#276 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 03:35 PM:

Xopher @ 270: Unless the reporter got it wrong, I think "he" would be the appropriate pronoun here. From the article: For now Baize says he prefers to use male pronouns.

#277 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 03:41 PM:

Lexica: Damn. Guess I didn't read that carefully enough. Thanks.

#278 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 04:01 PM:

"be warned that some of the comments that follow are real winners."

Internet Rule #1: Do Not Read the Comments.

Not unless you want to ruin your day, at least.

#279 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 04:08 PM:

A high-level GOP conservative defends Pelosi and disses Fox News.

Cracks in the facade, or rats deserting the sinking ship? And how long will it take for the teabaggers to start baying for his blood?

#280 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 04:25 PM:

Maybe we can arrange a trade of GOPers-with-a-conscience for Blue Dog Democrats. heh.

#281 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Wilma Mankiller died today, of pancreatic cancer.

#282 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 06:19 PM:

I just had a look at the 2° map including Sunday's big earthquake. That's a pretty impressive set of aftershocks.

#283 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 08:02 PM:

Well, that was special. Yesterday afternoon we got hit by three quick power dips, after which the DSL connection stopped working, and my backup RAID mirror drive decided it needed to rebuild itself. I played around with the DSL for awhile, discovering that the modem was trying to connect every minute or so but wasn't getting any cooperation from the downstream end, so I phoned Qwest Tech Support. The computer there asked me some questions and then allowed as how it was all their fault, and they'd let me know when it was fixed.

The backup drive took about 6 hours to rebuild; Qwest didn't call me until 8 AM this morning. They never did say what had failed. Things weren't quite done even then; the DSL connection was working but the modem wasn't connecting to the ISP correctly, apparently it forgot its authorization info somewhere along the line. I keep an encrypted file with all that sort of data, so it was an easy fix.

So, a minor inconvenience, that would have been major if I hadn't been through enough of this sort of thing to know about automatic backup procedures and keeping records of authorization data. I wasn't even completely off the internet in those dark hours: I turned off WiFi connection on my iPhone and kept track of this thread via 3G data connection.

Just for grins I downloaded Google Chrome for my Mac a couple of days ago, and now I'm using it for most of my browsing; it's so much faster than Safari or FireFox that it feels like I've boosted the DSL speed by 2 or 3x. Especially nice for catching up on the 3 weeks of Girl Genius I fell behind.

#284 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 08:06 PM:

Serge #258: Might it have something to do with the time of year? An objection to hot cross puns at Easter, perhaps?

My own real life punning can have quite magical effects: getting two wives to sigh at once, for example.

#285 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 08:21 PM:

Neil Gaiman just linked this article about management issues at Science Fiction World, the largest science fiction magazine in China, and also the world. It reminded me a lot of half-remembered stories of shenanigans at the old American pulps, which is why I thought to post it here. Apparently some things do translate across the Pacific, or something. It also synergizes oddly with Teresa's "reviewer's stupid rant" particle, not that I disagree with what Teresa is saying. I think this is the exception that proves the rule. (And to her question, I'll reply, the cliché persists because "everybody knows" it to be true.)

Now I need to figure out how to get my local (US-based) SF library a subscription to SFW. And all the back issues. The magazine catalogers are going to just love me for dropping a magazine in a language they don't read on their laps, I bet. :-D

#286 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 08:51 PM:

285 Kevin Riggle

The article is dated April 1st ....

Love, C.

#287 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 08:53 PM:

Ack, I see John Chu posted the SFW link @8 already. And "I think this is the exception that proves the rule." in my post should be "I think this is the exception that proves her point." My apologies. Oh, l'espirit d'"Comment Posted" page.

#288 ::: sara_k ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 08:58 PM:

They dumbed down Scrabble:

#289 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 09:25 PM:

Fragano @ 284... getting two wives to sigh at once

It'll be some time before my one and only heaves a thigh.

#290 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 09:29 PM:

The faux-Scrabble at Facebook decided honda was an okay word. They are strangely inconsistent.

Capitalized names and words might be okay, as an agreed-upon variant. But there are so many damn stupid neologisms out there, those would turn the game into something like a spellchecker that accepts every wrong spelling it ever got.

There are some variants I'd like to try, though. Playing as if the edges (maybe the two sides, maybe all four) were contiguous and you could spell across them. Playing with all your tiles showing. Allowing tile trades. Moving or removing tiles already on the board, provided the result still spells words in all affected directions.

I wonder if it would be possible to play Bughouse Scrabble, with multiple boards, clocks, teams, and anguished cries of "Just get me a J, NOW, and we're the winners!"

#291 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 09:30 PM:

Yes, and I think that there's going to be interesting times ahead for that part of the state. That's a fair amount of movement going on - I don't remember seeing that widespread a pattern of aftershocks with other quakes. I'm waiting for the aerial photos of whatever rupture they find - out there it should show up nicely. (I'm also waiting for the repair paperwork to start showing up at work. We have stuff out there, right up to the border north of Mexicali.)

#292 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 10:12 PM:

Serge@250, Owwww! My mom's had both knees replaced in the last year, and while she's recovered very well for an 80-year-old, it's still been long and painful. Hope your wife's replacement-replacement goes well.

Also, I was expecting to see something from you about torte reform....

#293 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 11:28 PM:

So, since this is an open thread, AKICITF, and thunder is rumbling and lightning flashing as I type, and this being Oklahoma one starts thinking tornadoes!!! at this time of year...

Due to my divorce I find myself without a weather radio. Before I go out and buy one, is there any reliable online product available that would send alerts to my phone or computer that would do about the same thing as a weather radio -- that is, make loud noises for whatever weather alerts I would like to stay informed about? Preferably phone, because as soon as I hit post the computers are going to sleep...

#294 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 12:26 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 292... Thanks. Her new knee never felt right even though she'd gone thru all the therapy as she was supposed to. Eventually, they figured out what the problem was: the hole drilled thru the center of her tibia for the pin to fit in was at a slight angle to the axis. Not much. That's all it took. Owwww indeed.

#295 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 01:52 AM:

Someone on one of the prom threads suggested that Nina Simone said it well decades ago.

#296 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 06:19 AM:

Serge #289: What you want is the use of a pair of drumsticks for a rimshot.

#297 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:04 AM:

Fragano @ 296... Because I belong with the Femoral Majority?

#298 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:19 AM:

Bruce Cohen @283 --



And, yeah, you're copying stuff to it external to the main drive.


A RAID that rebuilds itself for unknown causes is, for data integrity purposes, gone, finished, kaput, consumed by toe weasels, an ex-storage medium, a heap of feculating scunge. It is not to be trusted nor relied upon.

It's not a backup until it's somewhere else.

(This has been your convulsive backup rant. If the post the rant is in response to had described actual data loss, the rant would have been longer.)

#299 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 10:44 AM:

Neil deGrasse Tyson makes some good points here about the value of space travel, and the importance of having a mission.

Tyson video

#300 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 11:46 AM:

Serge #297: I see you're going on and on in that vein.

#301 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 11:51 AM:

Gods! More bloody puns!

#302 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 12:29 PM:

Xopher @ 301... What else did you expect in this shindig?

#303 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 01:15 PM:

Serge #294: Ow... replacing human body parts is a tough business, and any slip is likely to have disproportionate effects. Best of luck to your wife!

#304 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 01:15 PM:

Constance @ 286: That doesn't necessarily mean it's not true. It was apparently updated later in the day: Update (2010.04.01, 21:50): Xinhua is now reporting that Li Chang has been relieved of his position, so it looks like it wasn't an April Fool's joke after all.

This is an example of why I hate April Fools' Day. Apart from not liking mean jokes — and most April Fools' jokes seem to me to be based on the themes of "if somebody wants or cares about something, make them think it's been destroyed or they're not going to get it" and its flipside, "if there's something bad somebody doesn't want, make them think it's happened" — I hate the way the phony stories get in the way of actual real news.

For example, the head of Caltrain (which provides commuter train service on the Peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose) made an announcement on the first:

Caltrain has gone broke and will likely need to wipe out half its service — including weekend, nighttime and midday trains — officials warned Thursday, bracing passengers for a major shake-up to the popular commuter line that links San Francisco to the South Bay.
“This is not an April fool’s joke,” Caltrain CEO Mike Scanlon told the agency’s board of directors.
"No, really, we actually mean this." Argh.

[And my goodness, it's interesting trying to get <blockquote> to play nicely with line breaks.]

#305 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 01:29 PM:

Not to cut any of the punning off at the knees or anything, BUT.

This weekend I was investigating some software I've been interested in for some time. There's two parts: a free and limited bit, and then a fullblown standalone bit that's rather pricey, and for which a 30-day trial is available. Both require filling out a simple form to obtain keys.

So I filled out the forms, and awaited the coming emails with confirmation links. Click the link to verify I'm the same person who filled out the form, is the theory, and then would follow emails with keys.

A day passed with no confirming emails in my inbox, so I shot off a note to tech support. This morning (the company is in Scotland and I am almost as far not as it is possible to be, so none of this is fast) I get a note back with a key for the trial, which is fine, but as regards the free bit, the support person wrote If you do not click [the link in the confirm email], we cannot send you a key as you will not have confirmed your email address.

That would be the same email address I used to write to support to say I did not get a confirming email. The same email address support used to send me this note. I know I haven't had all my coffee yet this morning, but isn't "absurd" the correct word here?

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 02:13 PM:

David Harmon @ 303... Thanks.

#307 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 03:52 PM:

pericat @ 305: Yes.

Reminds me of my trying to sort out my Yahoo ID. I'm on a couple of mailing lists, but can't get at documents on the group websites, because I can't remember my password. When I called to try to change my password, I was told I had to give the password hint(s)and the answers to the hints. I said that surely, they were supposed to give me the hints (e.g. what's your father's middle name) and I was supposed to give the answers. No, I'm supposed to remember what hints I chose how ever many years ago. Went round about three times. Gave up. AARRGH

#308 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 04:41 PM:

Pericat #305's letter can be explained as a boilerplate e-mail -- they guy probably has a button on his screen for "send trial key as reply", which autoburps a standard message.

DCB #307's... that sounds like someone who has forgotten what their job was supposed to be, and probably doesn't care much. Did you try asking for a supervisor?

#309 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 05:12 PM:

David Harmon @ 308. Yes. Supervisor said the same thing. I tried to point out the illogicality. They were not listening / couldn't understand*. I suppose I could set up a new ID, but Yahhoo want all sorts of info about you now when you do that, so I don't really want to. I suppose I could try again and hope for a less mononic supervisor.

*Like the insurance company, after another car collided with mine coming off a roundabout (because he was trying to undertake me at the exit) who couldn't understand that when the other driver said that both (a) he hadn't been behind me; and (b) he'd seen me indicating that I was turning right (when his car was to the left of mine) he had to be lying (because it's a physical impossibility for both statements to be true).

#310 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 07:36 PM:

David, I didn't quote the whole response. The support person had read my email and was addressing it, it's just that her assessment was cracked.

dcb, when I originally got a Yahoo ID there were no hints. Every couple of years I try to remember my password, for a lark. No luck so far.

#311 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:04 PM:

Lexica @304:

This is an example of why I hate April Fools' Day. ..... I hate the way the phony stories get in the way of actual real news.
The April Fools Day "news" items I like best tend to be so absurd that they couldn't be mistaken for actual news -- or so it generally seems to me. All the Locus Online and April Fools Day posts from this year and last year seemed to me to fit this criterion -- but then, reading the comments on the review of an imaginary Star Trek episode and Jo Walton's review of an alternate-historical version of The Last Dangerous Visions, I saw that several people didn't realize they were April Fools Day jokes until they were well into them, or even (in the case of the Trek episode review after they'd finished reading. I also greatly enjoyed Charles Stross's April Fools Day spoof announcing he was fixing to start writing a paranormal romance series, and was almost as amused again, reading the comments, to see various people saying at what point in the "press release" they realized it was a joke -- in some cases far past the point where it seemed to me too absurd to be plausible.

But I'm probably atypical, having memorized the episode list from the original Star Trek in my teens, and somehow having absorbed a pile of lore about the infamous history of The Last Dangerous Visions in spite of having been a baby when said anthology was originally scheduled to appear. I suppose if one didn't know all the episodes of the original Trek, the fake episode the reviewers made up would seem no more implausible than "Spock's Brain".

#312 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:11 PM:

#253 ::: David Harmon

{{Are you sure about that? You're following, not your own experience, but the brief opinion of one person, whom you admire. For all you know, he got chewed up and traumatized working for the wrong law practice, but you're still willing to accept his statement as gospel, umpteen or umpty years after you heard it.}}

Willing to listen to a man who has spent his life teaching about the law and about ethics? Listen to him give me advice about LAW AND ETHICS? Yes. I'm willing to listen to him, about that particular subject. If I, at 19 years old, had said, "You obviously don't know what you're talking about, because I know some lawyers that aren't like that.", would I have been right to do so? Or is it that, because of this "right wing narrative", we shouldn't look at and recognize how terrible a bad lawyer can be, and how the practice of law often strains personal beliefs and ethics, and some people don't deal well with that.

Lawyers are people, and thus imperfect--and they are put through tests that most people don't have to face. Why should it be so shocking that there is a significant failure rate?

Yes, I made an offhand sweeping generalization that you took personally, and I apologize for my unthinking words. I still believe, though, that the profession of law is one that hurts people...lawyers first.

#313 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:16 PM:

DCB #309, pericat #310: Oy gevalt!

#314 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:32 PM:

JimR, your comment at #312 is not a response to my comments, and especially not to the passage you quoted. Offhand, I count at least four straw-men in your little note, and frankly I'm not interested in playing with them.

#315 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 09:12 PM:

pericat, #310: I deal with that by having a little Notepad file called Hints, in which for every online account I have, I list the user ID in plaintext, and then not the password itself, but something that will make me remember what it was. Setting up a new account includes updating the Hints file as the final step in the process. Periodically I copy the Hints file onto the thumb drive that I carry around with me, so that if I need to get into an account whose password I can't recall on a public computer, I can look it up.

Admittedly, this only works because my passwords are real words (or words and numbers, or words with hyphens and/or underscores) rather than random combinations, and that's not the most secure protocol. But at least I don't use the same password for everything. :-)

#316 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 09:28 PM:

Lee @ 315: A common technique for memorable passwords is to use initialisms. Thus, if you can remember "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.", you can use "MniIMYkmfPtd" as a password. For best results, use a longish phrase that only you would know, and sprinkle some non-alphabetics in.

#317 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 09:48 PM:

I gave in. So many passwords and i.d.s and verification questions, etc.

So I have a file of them all now, stored in various digital locations.

Every move I make involves passwords and i.d.s etc. Start teaching? You need so many more involving the institution.

Not to mention subscribing to newspapers, etc.

It's insane.

Love, C.

#318 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 10:40 PM:

There are also various "password keeper" programs which can stash your passwords in an encrypted file. Some are even cross-platform compatible (Gorilla Password?).

#319 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 11:13 PM:

David Harmon,

I have clearly caused you personal offense. I'm sorry. I should have chosen my words more carefully.

My response was to what I construed your argument to be, namely that my opinion was invalid because it was based on the advice of a person I admired, who himself could have had an invalid reason for his opinion. I was trying to indicate that this person had decades of experience in both aspects of the matter at hand, and thus I felt his opinion was, in fact valid...much more so than any personal experience I could have had at the time (and, indeed, to this day).

In addition, I was trying to explain that I do not, in fact, believe that all lawyers are bad people but that the practice of law can indeed strain an individual's personal convictions and thus the idea that lawyers can become bad people is not so far fetched.

Again, I apologize for my poorly chosen words and I hope that I haven't given too bad a first impression on you.

#320 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:06 AM:

I've heard broadly good things about Password Safe.

The whole proliferation of passwords is a good example of a solution to a problem that scales badly. If you need to remember two important passwords to get through life, this is doable for most people. But if you have a password for each of a hundred different systems you deal with on at least a monthly basis, you are screwed--that's too many for almost anyone to remember. So those get stored in a browser, or emailed to yourself with an easily-searched subject line, or at best stored in an encrypted file somewhere. And yet, for authenticating yourself to a server somewhere, a password is the standard thing almost everyone uses.

Most alternatives also won't scale, alas. There's a whole area of knowledge based authentication ("what is your mother's maiden name?") that is fundamentally and unfixably flawed (it depends on the idea that the good guys can find more information on you than the bad guys, where "good guys" are a commercial service drawing on public and commercial databases that are also available to any serious attacker), and that also scales horribly in security terms. ("Welcome to our porno server. Please enter an account name and password. To protect your password, please enter your mother's maiden name, the last four digits of your SSN, and your current ZIP code.")

Other alternatives probably work just as badly. Giving me a token for every important thing I do will leave me with a pocketful of tokens. Making me memorize a set of colors/shapes with each website to resist phishing probably doesn't scale all that well. Etc.

The alternative that can work is some unified access-granting scheme, and some reasonably good ideas are circulating there. But control of that scheme could ultimately involve huge amounts of political and market power, awful opportunities for abuse and privacy violations and fraud, etc.

#321 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:23 AM:

Stupid Diplomat Tricks

Fine. He has diplomatic immunity. But this asshole deserves to be subject to the slowest, most inept bureaucratic processing of his case that can be arranged.

And if his luggage gets broken open and returned in a plastic bag five weeks later, all the better.

#322 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 01:02 AM:

My solution to the password problem is a three-tier approach. Low-level is the same one for all— this is for forum-style postings and the like, places where my ID isn't all that important. Mid-level is a particularly misspelled word combination with numbers that change from app to app— while it can be a pain, I can run through half-a-dozen variations in a minute or two if I don't remember that particular number code.

High-security, for banking and the like, is complete gibberish. But it's MY gibberish, and I know why I picked it, so I don't have too much trouble with it.

As for security questions, I like the more obscure ones, particularly the ones with misleading answers. I wish I could write my own, honestly. Though the funny one is "mother's maiden name"— it's actually quite easy for me to get that one wrong, as she was informally adopted. I can go with her birth name and be wrong or I can go with the name she was known by and be wrong...

#323 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 01:25 AM:

I can't imagine coping with passwords without an application to organize and encrypt them. I use SplashID. No idea if it's the best or worst, but I haven't had any trouble. I started out using it on Windows and a Palm Pilot, and was able to migrate to a Mac and iPhone. That's also where I store my credit card number, insurance numbers, etc.

#324 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 02:48 AM:

Stefan Jones #321: Fine. He has diplomatic immunity. But this asshole deserves to be subject to the slowest, most inept bureaucratic processing of his case that can be arranged.

Ok, let's say the US decided to unilaterally cancel this guy's diplomatic immunity and disappear him as an enemy combatant euphemism. Qatar could do exactly what about it? Their best option at that point would be to apologize for his actions and hope the US didn't follow up with regime change.

#325 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 04:23 AM:

Things I've learned from playing an MMPORPG -- diplomacy takes careful handling, and one screw-up can ruin months or years of work. And the screw-up looks so emotionally satisfying, people don't want to stop themselves.

Messing with diplomatic immunity is very much like Charles II's stop of the exchequer -- a plan that's regularly proposed to "fix" the national debt. You get some gain now, and spend the next hundred years trying to rebuild the trust you destroyed overnight. Remember a hundred years ago? No you don't -- be very wary of sending trouble like that to your great-grandchildren.

No, Qatar is unlikely to wage devastating war on the US right now. However, there are plenty of countries who have already noticed that armed US agents accosted a diplomat from their area, for doing something that, at home, is completely normative. It makes doing the things we as a nation want to do harder if we anger or frighten other people's diplomats.

What's likely to happen is that the US will apologize for interfering with a diplomat, and Qatar will apologize on behalf of its diplomat for failing to observe the courtesy the relevant smoking laws -- while noting that he's not subject to that authority. This is a good thing; it's what keeps countries with wildly different customs from killing each other wholesale.

In private, the government of Qatar will already have raked him over the coals for being so stupid. Whether he becomes a washed-out former diplomat or a cause celebre will depend on external circumstances.

#326 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 05:29 AM:

there are plenty of countries who have already noticed that armed US agents accosted a diplomat from their area, for doing something that, at home, is completely normative.

An experienced Qatari diplomat should know that it's not completely normal to smoke on board aircraft in most countries. It certainly isn't allowed on, to pick one completely at random, Qatar Airways.

#327 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 07:30 AM:

Coping with passwords... The key element in my choosing one is, will I remember it easily when production-support calls me on my cell phone at 2am after a long day at the office had ended at 1am.

#328 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 08:36 AM:

An additional thought on the universal "New Yorker" cartoon caption. Here's my new all-purpose entry: "It wasn't always like this." (I sent "I was not always as you see me" to bOINGbOING earlier today, but realized that the speaker varies. Sometimes it's the asshole, and sometimes it's the Christ.)*

*As in the ur-caption "Christ, what an asshole." Get it? Here, I'll start the laughter off. Ha ha!

#329 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 09:36 AM:

albatross @ 320: We use Password Safe and I find it very manageable.

#330 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 09:40 AM:

I use the same password for everything. Here it is: ********

#331 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 10:11 AM:

I was once asked to sign a paper at work acknowledging, among other things, that it was a violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley act if I had a password based on the name of a fantasy character.

#332 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 11:15 AM:

Stefan Jones:

Fine. He has diplomatic immunity. But this asshole deserves to be subject to the slowest, most inept bureaucratic processing of his case that can be arranged.

That won't be necessary. Because, sooner or later, he's going to need a flight home and whatever airline he uses is going to route him through Dallas/Fort Worth about seventeen times in August. This will include Aeroflot.

#333 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 11:38 AM:

Erik Nelson @331: it was a violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley act if I had a password based on the name of a fantasy character.


I prefer the algorithmic solution to passwords. One example might be, take the domain name, run it through Rot13, then through a L33t translator. That way, I don't have to remember any passwords, I just have to remember how to generate them. A similar solution might apply for the varification questions.

#334 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:19 PM:

It just riles me that anyone at all, even diplomats, are considered to be above the law. Smoking on a plane today could lead to honor vivisection tomorrow. Ah, well, we must be tolerant of normative behavior; after all, we don't want our diplomats to be beheaded in Qatar for committing public acts of zydeco.... Other cultures, other ways. (sigh)

#335 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Yeah, it's a real pity this guy was a diplomat whom the armed goons couldn't rough up for mouthiness, rather than, say, a Candadian SF writer, whom they could have "taught a lesson."

#336 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Open thready badness:

Let's imagine that it's mid-November 2012, and you're wondering why the Republicans have recaptured the white house, despite being apparently batshit nuts. The MSM will explain patiently that it was all because Obama was too much of a far-left socialist, because the members of that profession with three-digit IQs are mostly tools.

Here is why I probably won't be voting for Obama in 2012. There are other reasons (this is part of a pattern), but this is a good one to point to. Obama apparently believes he has the legal right, as president, to order me killed on his say so alone, if he should decide I am a terrorist and it would be inconvenient to arrest me. I'm not interested in voting for people who think they have that right.

#337 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Who said anything about roughing up?

I'd just have the guy sit in a comfortable room for as long as his fellow customers had to while waiting for their post-flight debriefing.

The total number of hours.

#338 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:58 PM:

Tim Walters @316

Thank you for that suggestion - I'd never thought of it before. And I've actually got a phrase (other than the one you give) which I could use.

Like many people, I suspect, I have a "standard" password which I use for sites not involving money - but I try to be a bit more creative where money-related passwords are concerned.

My pet-hate at the moment is "Verified by Visa": I have two debit cards and two credit cards. I'm supposed to think up and memorise a password for each of them. So far, I think I've had to reset my password EVERY TIME I've used the stupid system.

#339 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 01:06 PM:

albatross @336:

What if the Republicans field someone worse? Someone who proposes or supports not Mirandizing arrested people in case they're terrorists and have no rights? Or someone who "dares to say" that sometimes torture is right and patriotic and American?

Or will you go third-party? Will that end well?

I don't know what to do, frankly, but I haven't yet reached the point where Obama is the worst of the evils on the agenda. Even leaving aside the "message" that This Is The Last Time We Vote For Anyone Left Of Margaret Thatcher.

Disgusted? Yes. Angry? Check. Ready to leap from the frying pan into the fire? Not yet.

#340 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 01:49 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 331 - Please, pretty please tell me you have a citation for that, or an idea of where to find it. I would love to be able to pass that information along to certain people...

#341 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 02:05 PM:

VictorS, #325: Thank you, that's informative. I hope you're right that the Qatari government is going to rake him over the coals, since apparently they're the only ones with standing to do so.

Erik, #331: Did it say anything about using a password based on an obscure fantasy character's planet? I do that sometimes, too.

albatross, #336: The problem with your line of reasoning is that if you vote for a Republican, you will still be voting for someone who believes that. Your only hope is that the Libertarians recover from their current state of disarray enough to actually field a candidate, now that Ron Paul has defected to the Republicans.

#342 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 02:12 PM:

albatross #335: Yeah, it's a real pity this guy was a diplomat whom the armed goons couldn't rough up for mouthiness, rather than, say, a Candadian SF writer, whom they could have "taught a lesson."

The "armed goons" in your inappropriate juxtaposition were highly-trained federal air marshals, not simple border guards. You can't force me to prefer either of the situations you mentioned; I refuse to choose one because of your supposed hand-wavy linkage with the other.

#343 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 02:44 PM:

albatross, #336, on not voting for Obama. Even if the alternative is Sarah Palin? If she wants the Republican nomination, she'll probably get it. For myself, I do not have the heart to work for a conservative President like Obama, or a conservative-dominated party like the Democrats, but I also recognize the greater evil. I will vote for the lesser evil which can defeat it.

#344 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:01 PM:

abi, Lee:

I'm really not sure how to deal with the very likely worse GOP candidate. (I honestly don't see any chance at all that we will get a GOP candidate in 2012 that is even as good as, say, Richard Nixon. I'm beginning to wonder if we'll get a Democratic candidate that good.)

Is there a point at which you will refuse to vote for Obama? I mean, suppose it comes out we're still using torture as a matter of policy? Or if journalists are under NSA surveillance? Or if we're continuing to run the Bush-era secret prisons and kidnapping schemes? Will it change your vote?

I knew a lot of "libertarian Republicans" back before the W administration. They talked a good game about fiscal responsibility, limited government, rule of law, and mistrust of government. But then, W got into office and 9/11 happened. And most of those guys that I knew backed W to the hilt. They were ready to justify everything from the invasion of Iraq to the torture of captives (which, simultaneously, we weren't doing and the bastards had coming for being terrorists anyway) to the medicare drug bill.

Now, this was a natural experiment. Like any experiment, it was possible to learn that we were really wrong in our understanding of the world. And I did learn that--I discovered that most of the people making small government noises meant nothing at all by it. If they'd had any of the principles they claimed, they'd have been W's harshest critics. (And some were, but not too damned many.)

What will we learn about the people who claim to care about civil liberties over the next few years, I wonder?

#345 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:15 PM:

Well, how about if Anwar al-Awlaki threatened Jerusalem? Would it be okay for the Mossad to take him out?

#346 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:22 PM:

albatross, #334: "Is there a point at which you will refuse to vote for Obama?"

You did not ask me, but I will answer: if there is a credible superior alternative, or there truly is little difference between the choices, and neither seems likely in 2012. In 2012, fighting for better Congresspeople, as Accountability Now is doing, seems more likely to lead to positive results. This is the interregnum: the lesser evil is very evil, and yet there are still greater evils. I hope we will not let our revulsion lead us into making choices that harm our cause.

As for abuses of executive authority under Obama, as far as I know, many are still occurring in Bagram.

#347 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:31 PM:

albatross @344:

There's an enormous difference between voting for someone as the lesser of two evils and "backing someone to the hilt." It's perfectly possible to be a harsh critic of someone and still vote for him, if the other guy is even worse.

Seriously. What would you have us do? Vote for Palin because she's going to make it better? Support the anti-intellectual, anti-factual crowd that calls me a traitor and dehumanizes my friends and family? Not vote? Vote for a third-party candidate? Write in Saint Francis of Assisi?

I vote for the least bad bastard I can lay hands on, weighted by the likelihood that my vote won't help get the worse bastard into office. Sometimes I get to vote with a clean conscience, sometimes I have to wash my hands really thoroughly afterward.

I understand that you're angry. I'm pretty pissed off myself. But I'm also not going to lose sight of the long game, nor rage around calling everyone around me a hypocrite. Which you're pretty darned close to doing.

#348 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:40 PM:

Steve C:

I'll admit I'm not clear on the relevance of this to the question of whether the president of the US has the legal authority to order US citizens assassinated. This is a matter of some concern for those of us who sometimes imagine that there are laws which apply even to the powerful in our country. If the president can have me or anyone else killed on his say so alone, with no trial and no appeal and no check on that power at all, what *can't* he do? Is there anything besides Obama's good judgment standing between, say, Michelle Bachman or Glenn Beck and a sniper's bullet?

#349 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:41 PM:

I'm not sure if it's okay to assassinate anyone, US citizen or not. (I am a little conflicted though. A targeted assassination is probably better than a full-scale invasion.)

#350 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:48 PM:

If I am offered a choice between voting for Saruman and voting for Sauron, I will vote for Saruman.

I'll even manage to cheerfully put up with the Uruk-hai* who alternately call me a namby-pamby deluded far-elfist supporter and say "See, there's really no difference at all between our two candidates."

Is that a clear enough explanation for this site?

* Just in case it needs to be said, I do not put albatross in this category.

#351 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:50 PM:

albatross, #348: Is there anything besides Obama's good judgment intelligence and sanity standing between, say, Michelle Bachman or Glenn Beck and a sniper's bullet?


Seriously, hon, you're getting into tinfoil-hat territory here, as well as damaging your own credibility as a member of the Sane Opposition. I could hear that argument on an interview with a teabagger, if I wanted to find it. Dial back the hyperbole and the accusations a bit, eh?

#352 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:59 PM:

albatross, I think there are conceivably circumstances where a Commander-in-Chief is not only authorized to take such an action, he is obligated to so.

The circumstances would be extremely rare and have to constitute imminent danger to American citizens, but the citizenship of the perpetrator would make zero difference. And the idea that al-Awlaki's citizenship means that the President can target someone like me, just on a whim, is absolutely ludicrous.

#353 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 04:01 PM:

Lee @351:

Address the content, not the man, please. It doesn't matter whom anyone sounds like; it matters what they say. (And if albatross cares more for his credibility here "as a member of the Sane Opposition" than he does for exploring and expressing what he believes is right, then I'm a Dutchman.)

He's not in it for our esteem. Withdrawing it is not an effective threat.

And don't use pet names in arguments. It's inflammatory, darling.

#354 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Passwords I remember: Home security system, work voicemail, work logon, NHCC logon, home server logon, cell phone PIN, Nokia N800 lock code, bank PIN, personal private key passphrase, browser master password, personal password database passphrase, work private key passphrase, work password database passphrase, emergency lockbox combination, gun safe combination, Test and root password for virtual machine for Linux course I'm currently teaching. This is really more than I can remember (and I'm cheating by using one browser master password across, erm, 6 software installations). I wonder what I've forgotten? Oh, passphrase for the TrueCrypt region on my thumb drive.

I seem to still remember the combinations to the first two combination locks I ever owned, which I have not had for decades now. I want those brain cells back, damnit!

I, also, have a generic password for accounts that truly don't matter. I use randomly-generated ones from my password database package for everything else.

I'm encountering more and more places that have weird restrictive password rules, preventing me from using good passwords there. I find this very annoying.

My current password database is KeePass, because I have Windows, Windows Mobile, and Linux (Nokia N800) implementations of it.

I have a password pattern scheme that appears to slip past all the scheme-preventing software around, and which I use for a few of the medium-security passwords in the above list. It makes it possible to change it every 90 days without going insane. I am not, of course, going to reveal what mine is. If 50 people would each contribute their scheme to a trusted editor, who would then publish however many unique schemes were submitted without identifying any of the submitters, and then bleach the info out of his own brain, I'd participate.

#355 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Steve C #352:

As I understand it, this is an authorization to assassinate this guy far away from any battlefield, as we routinely do to suspected bad guys using drone-fired missiles. Not when he's getting ready to hit the big red button on the bomb, but when he's sleeping in his bed next to his wife, or walking along a street, or sitting in a cafe somewhere[1].

I don't see how it can be legal to do this. And I definitely don't see how it could be Obama's duty to do this. Can you explain that?

[1] To be clear, I get that it's sometimes perfectly legitimate for federal agents or soldiers to intentionally kill an American. For example, if the Hutarree militia guys had decided to respond to the FBI raids with a firefight, the FBI agents would have been justified in shooting back and killing them. But nothing could justify FBI agents assassinating those guys (say, planting a car bomb and blowing up the ringleaders to save the hassle of a trial).

#356 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Assassination has historically been a big deal. I think it's an informal gentleman's agreement among national leaders for mutual benefit. They all believe that, with nation-state level resources, they can be assassinated.

I seem to recall that killing Admiral Yamamoto was ordered at the Presidential level during WWII; but he was not a head of state, but a serving officer traveling on military duty in wartime, so "assassination" is not exactly the model for this. (The Presidential-level decision was I believe needed because the mission was based on decrypted Japanese communications, which we didn't want to reveal we were doing.)

#357 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 04:32 PM:

ajay @326 -- Thanks for the correction.

Earl @ 334 -- Yeah, it's very annoying when diplomatic immunity is used to ignore local law -- but you've captured exactly why the system is there. "The accordion has been forbidden for hundreds of years! You must die, and your hellish instrument too!"

In general, the friction is kept down because people try to be, well, diplomatic.

The things diplomats' teenage kids get up to, of course, are an unfortunate side effect of the system. I'm sure you can all see why the kids have to have immunity, though.

I turned up a decent primer on diplomatic immunity here, if anybody is interested.

#358 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 04:34 PM:

The legality of such an action may be questionable -- it would depend on how al-Awlaki is classified.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

The answer probably is yes, says Mike Newton, a law professor at Vanderbilt University. If the US could prove that Awlaki is a “direct participant” in a conflict – terrorist operations against the US, for example – then killing Awlaki would probably pass legal muster, he says.
“By making that declaration, the administration has at least admitted the possibility that the fundamental obligation of the executive to protect the American people trumps the basic right to life of that individual,” says Mr. Newton.
Since the incidents last year at Fort Hood and Detroit, Awlaki’s stature has risen within the counterterrorism community. He now represents a top leader of Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which is emerging as a dangerous new franchise of Al Qaeda globally.
While the fact that Awlaki is an American citizen may raise legal questions about killing him, targeting him outside the US may make it more tenable, says Newton.

#359 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 04:45 PM:


I think we're just at a disagreement in assumptions here.

When the Bush administration claimed the power to have US citizens disappeared and (apparently) tortured, I worried that this was a horrifying precedent. It seemed to me that a president who could have people disappeared indefinitely might use that power, not only against genuine bad guys, but also against annoying journalists or pundits, or people who had some dirt on them, or even opposition leaders. This power seemed to me to be dangerous as hell to leave lying around.

In exactly the same way, I think the power to have US citizens assassinated is dangerous as hell.

Did Bush have his enemies disappeared? No, he didn't. He was too sane, or decent, a person to do that. Will Obama have his enemies assassinated? Probably not, because he's also probably too sane and decent.

Who will be president after Obama, do you suppose? Will every president who has this power be sane?

In my lifetime, we've had one president forced to resign (and reportedly, his top advisors were worried about what irrational stuff he might do in those last days before he decided to resign), and we've had one president serve out a couple years of his last term being, most likely, in the beginning stages of senility, with his advisors and wife ruling in his stead. We very nearly got a very old man with serious anger-control issues as the president now.

It is not unthinkable that we could give huge powers to the state, and those powers could be misused in ways that would be horrible. It's not unthinkable that a president could make disastrously bad, short-sighted decisions to try to keep power in a political crisis.

#360 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 05:14 PM:

albatross, the next President might be total nutjob. He might be saint. He might believe in unicorns. Lots of things are possible, but how probable are they?

We simply don't know what the future holds, so we have to get along as best we can with probabilities. Sure, there are "black swans", those unforeseen transformative events, but can one live one's live on the basis that anything will happen?

For myself, I don't believe that Obama's "kill or capture" authorization for a terrorist is a slippery slope. I'm just not going to be looking over my shoulder for black helicopters.

As for our nation, I'm an optimist. We've seen far worse times and managed to muddle through.

In a way, we got spoiled a bit during the Clinton years. The "black swan" then was the relatively peaceful world we had, accompanied by astonishing economic growth.

Since then, we've gone back to the usual shit we have most of the time. But it's not 1968 with its assassinations and futile war. It's not 1979 with Americans held hostage. It's not 1941 with the outbreak of a massive war. It's not 1861 with the country torn to pieces.

It's just 2010, and it's the usual crap.

#361 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 05:33 PM:

albatross, #359: I don't disagree with you that this is a Bad Thing to have going on. I do think that the level of hype you're putting into it is unwarranted. And I've been voting for the lesser evil for a long time now; it may be wearing, but it's still a valid approach, combined with pushing against the things I perceive as evil, to an Administration that I still think has some chance of paying attention to public opinion.

Aside: This is exactly the point we were all trying to make to the Bush-era Republicans, wasn't it -- "Do you really want a Democratic President to have those powers?" The schadenfreude of having been proven right doesn't counterbalance knowing that I don't want the President having those powers either, whether Democratic or Republican.

#362 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 05:52 PM:

333 and 340 in response to my 331:

The same document also made me promise not to leak company documents, so no, I can't come up with a reference.

But I suppose it's just an instance of "don't make passwords easy to guess" and Sarbanes Oxley was invoked because this was about the principle that data security was your responsibility to others.

I was just a plain old Quark Xpress page builder, but some corporate lawyer must have needed something to do.

It was a good job, while it lasted, but sometimes things branched off into Dilbert territory.

#363 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 06:08 PM:

albatross #359: with his advisors and wife ruling in his stead

Twice: there was also Woodrow Wilson after his stroke.

Having First Lady Cindy McCain in de facto charge of the country could get interesting. Better her than Palin or Bachmann.

#364 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 08:08 PM:

I wish they had citations:

Tea Party Jesus

#365 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 08:25 PM:

And I looked back at the head of this thread, and saw, "There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light." So I think The Raven will fly away from this subject until he finds a more appropriate venue for it.

Mmmmm, flying....

#366 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 08:28 PM:

JimR: Apology accepted!

I was mostly noting that no matter whose advice you were following, your original comment at #138 was still supporting a stereotype.

And here's the thing -- no matter how wise someone is, treating their words as gospel doesn't make you just as wise -- it makes you less wise than they were, when you might have the chance to outgrow your teachers.

It's not just that "anyone can be wrong" -- an even more basic issue is that any given statement came out of a particular context -- time, place, who they were talking to, where the conversation came from, and so on. Even "universal truths" can lose their footing over time and distance. How much more so, for advice given to a young student?

Consider: Did your ethics professor actually say "lawyers are doomed to evil"? I doubt it -- you describe comments much closer to "don't go there, you won't be able to take it". (Emphasis mine.) The step to "most lawyers are evil" was your own inference, led by exposure to the classic stereotype.

#367 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 08:38 PM:

An obSF question: what was the short story, perhaps by PKDick, where assassinations had become part of the toolkit of regular international relationships? The protagonist is a professor, who is realizing that...gur ehyrf gung znxr vg bx gb tb nsgre tbireazrag bssvpvnyf ner whfg nf nccyvpnoyr gb havirefvgl cebsrffbef

#368 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 08:43 PM:

Kathryn @ 367: I'm not sure, but it sounds like the PKD version of a story I've also read the Poul Anderson version of, in an anthology on wars, maybe read in 1980, which might have included part of Ben Bova's The Dueling Machine. Does that help? No, of course it doesn't. I don't even know the name of the Poul Anderson story. Why did I even start this comment? Who will help me grind the corn?

#369 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 08:50 PM:

Stefan, #364: They do. Click on any given picture, and it'll take you to a direct quotation of the original source. For example, the first one is Rush Limbaugh -- no surprise there.

#370 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 09:24 PM:

*helps John A Arkansawyer grind the corn*

I assume Jimmy cracked it first, but I really don't care.

#371 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 10:56 PM:

That TeaParty Jesus site is genius! Thank you!

#372 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 01:13 AM:

Kathryn: I was thinking of the same story in relation to the discussion; I think it was by Poul Anderson.

#373 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 01:50 AM:

Kathryn @ 367: You may be thinking of Poul Anderson's "A Man to My Wounding". Also, if you can find a copy, read Avram Davidson's "The Unknown Law", for a particularly dry (and IMO, bleak) perspective.

#374 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 01:52 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 331, 362: ...a violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley act if I had a password based on the name of a fantasy character.

I have always assumed that there are an inordinate number of users with the password "mellon".

#375 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 02:24 AM:

Fantasy characters would run afoul of dictionary attacks, as they're pretty common words. (or at least, they're common enough to have made it into password cracking dictionaries).

Likewise, any halfway decent dictionary attack/cracker will contain any leetspeek substitutions as well as word+digit, and patterns on the keyboard.

#376 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 02:25 AM:

#363 Earl

Do you really want a overprivileged rich junkie who stole narcotics from charity organizations to be running the US Government? Jeb Bush's daughter, decades later....

#377 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 03:28 AM:

Paula Lieberman #376: Do you really want a overprivileged rich junkie who stole narcotics from charity organizations to be running the US Government?

Just like I said, she'd be better than Palin or Bachmann. I'm not saying I want it to happen, just that far worse things could happen.

#378 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 03:53 AM:

janetl @ 374: I'd bank on it.

#379 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 06:11 AM:

Leroy F. Bervan @ 373: I think that's the Poul Anderson story I was thinking of. That he wrote it in 1959 I find a bit amazing. The story read much more recent to me.

#380 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 06:24 AM:

Erik Nelson #331: How did that violate Sarbanes-Oxley?

#381 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 10:08 AM:

janetl, #374: You're probably right. To me, that would feel as obvious as "sesame" -- and how much would you bet that there are a lot of folks out there using that one and feeling very clever?

#382 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 10:24 AM:

abi #347:

Fair enough. I recognize that we all ultimately vote for the best available option, and it's not really fair for me to assume that doing that means discarding your beliefs.

#384 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 10:58 AM:

Pendrift, that means the countdown has started on Beck and others characterizing the eventual nominee as a morality-impaired commie who wants to take away yer guns.

Oh, well, at least the news cycle will be focused on something other than the evil socialist health care reform package with its death panels and all.

#385 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 11:28 AM:

The explanation here.

The youtube video here.

Is this a great country, or what?!

#386 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 11:45 AM:

Pendrift & pericat.

This moose read 385 as a follow-on from 383, which lead to a serious WTF? moment.


#387 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 01:33 PM:

Spring is here -- there were toads in the backyard pond last week, and as of last Saturday morning they had left endless chains of eggs looping over the waterlily baskets.

So I won't be lifting the waterlilies to divide them until the eggs hatch. They are lovely -- little black seed beads encased in crystal.

Last year's toads fled at the sound of our footsteps, while this year's toads came to the pond ledges to listen when we spoke to them. We were surprise by their boldness, and I'm wondering if our talking to the toadpoles and toadlets last year has resulted in their friendliness this Spring?

#388 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 01:49 PM:

albatross @382:
I recognize that we all ultimately vote for the best available option, and it's not really fair for me to assume that doing that means discarding your beliefs.

Thank you. I appreciate that you spoke in anger, and I'm grateful that when you've cooled down you've taken account of what I said.

I'm sure that there are American* politicians somewhere that share my views, but none of them are remotely electable. Between the Overton window and many of our political and social conventions, I am resigned to voting for people simply because they grieve me marginally less than the other lot. The best comfort I can find is in keeping an eye on the long game of which choice will steer the country in the direction I want it to go.

* There are Dutch politicians who share many of my views, and are still electable, but that's a whole 'nother story.

#389 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 01:50 PM:

Re sidebar The most badass military unit ever consider obs sf - steampunk this example of military dress This beautiful outfit is based on the uniform of the Zouaves,

For the real 5th New York see e.g.

Badass? At the Second Battle of Bull Run, the 5th New York, along with another Zouave regiment, the 10th New York "National Zouaves", held off the flanking attack of James Longstreet's Corps for ten crucial minutes before it was overrun. The 5th New York thus suffered the highest percentage of casualties in the shortest amount of time of any unit in the Civil War (of 525 men, approximately 120 were killed and 330 were wounded in less than 10 minutes). Wikipeadia current date That's 2 short regiments against an Army Corps.

#390 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 01:50 PM:

Re sidebar The most badass military unit ever consider obs sf - steampunk this example of military dress This beautiful outfit is based on the uniform of the Zouaves,

For the real 5th New York see e.g.

Badass? At the Second Battle of Bull Run, the 5th New York, along with another Zouave regiment, the 10th New York "National Zouaves", held off the flanking attack of James Longstreet's Corps for ten crucial minutes before it was overrun. The 5th New York thus suffered the highest percentage of casualties in the shortest amount of time of any unit in the Civil War (of 525 men, approximately 120 were killed and 330 were wounded in less than 10 minutes). Wikipeadia current date That's 2 short regiments against an Army Corps.

#391 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 03:07 PM:

Open-thready-bit -- the Peter Beagle 52/50 project, a modern sponsored-writing idea run through the intertubes, is about to come to an end. There's still time to get the 52 poems/song lyrics that Beagle has produced (one per week for the past year), at the subscriber price. I am a subscriber, and I've found them quite interesting. I'm not making a link, but I'll tell you that the information is available at and that I think it's an interesting model of trying to support a writer by subscription. If it weren't directly related to fantasy, I wouldn't post it here.

#392 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 07:40 PM:

What will we learn about the people who claim to care about civil liberties over the next few years, I wonder?

Probably just what we've already learned about Alan M. Dershowitz and Eric S. Raymond: that fear is the mindkiller, and no respecter of political ideology. Believe me that I've been tracking some political figures for more than 4 decades, and a fair number of them have sold or thrown their public opinions into a cocked hat for fear or advantage. Nothing new there.

I agree that giving POTUS the legal authority to have people assassinated is a bad idea. I just don't know that it's much of change, morally and ethically, from a situation where he or she can annihilate half the world in a matter of hours. And it's sure as hell not a good reason to throw our hands in and abandon a card game with the stakes as high as they are: without some resistance from US citizens the Dominationist agenda is going to become the order of the day, and I don't see how any good can possibly come from that.

#393 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 08:06 PM:

Oh, well, at least the news cycle will be focused on something other than the evil socialist health care reform package with its death panels and all.

Steve 384, given the legal challenges from the various state attorneys-general to the HCR law, I am sure the Republicans will be happy to link their desire to get rid of that law with the search for a new Supreme Court justice. Watch them yank the Overton window rightward yet again, by claiming that any possible candidate for SC justice who has come out in favor of the current law (or any portion of the current law), or indeed, ever spoken in favor of reforming health care at all, is "biased" and clearly a flaming Commie radical. In fact, according to Josh Marshall at TPM (you all know how to get there, so I'm not putting up a link) Senator Sessions has already started humming that particular theme.

#394 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 08:19 PM:

A member of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans says that Jefferson Davis led directly to the tea parties.

#395 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 09:26 PM:

pericat @ 385: That is so wonderful!
I'm trying to imagine what other species, with the exception of (most) humans, would stroll along calmly behind a group of bagpipers.

#396 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 09:32 PM:

#377 Earl
I'd rather see P*r*s H*lt*n. She at least was on the side of Good when is came to that war criminal Cheney....

#397 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 10:59 PM:

Xopher @ Open Thread 137: I brought up your thought that the writer of Bellona had gendershifted the lead to avoid male-male eroticism on stage to someone acquainted with both writers and the play.

I am told there is still quite a bit of male-male eroticism in the play, and the gendershift had other reasons. I gather some of this gets brought out during the post-performance Q&A.

If anyone here happens to go or to have gone, I'm very curious what you thought of it.

#398 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 12:10 AM:

Paula Lieberman #396: I'd rather see P*r*s H*lt*n. She at least was on the side of Good when is came to that war criminal Cheney....

She won't meet the minimum age requirement for President or Vice President until about 2016.

#400 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 03:39 AM:

Well, they found the bodies of the missing miners in WVa. Apparently conditions were so bad down there that the rescuers walked past the bodies on the first day without seeing them.

A sad, but not surprising, end to a tragic story.

#402 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 09:09 AM:

This isn't relevant to anything at all, but I happened to be thinking last night about threads we've had here (and similar ones elsewhere) about the extent to which the easy aggregation of information in places like Google street views changes things for the subjects...

It dawned on me that we do have a clear consensus on the distinctive identity and utility of at least one kind of aggregation: the dictionary. We pretty much all agree that a dictionary does represent something more than a couple of definitions jotted down or even a stack of a few dozen flash cards for vocabulary lessons. Using a dictionary is a distinct kind of action.

The question would then be what are the distinctive properties of that aggregation and use, and how much they apply to other sorts.

#403 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 10:29 AM:


horrible, and sad. we should assume it's an accident, but given the rabid virulence of some russian nationalists, and the context of the crash, my mind is not easy on the question.

#404 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 10:51 AM:

Of nearly hypnotic interest is this monthly archive of cycling paths and such kept by the Warrington Bicycle Club (UK). These are the most amazingly perfunctory and ill-considered so-called accomodations imaginable. Month after month of them, with understated comments pointing out the details as if they were benefits. Full of foot-wide paths squished between pedestrians and opening car doors, fourth-dimensional hops, dead ends, and well-placed bollards, poles, and trash cans. Every one designed to fail in order to fulfill some sort of mandate the designers clearly don't give a flying fig about. It's heartwarming that someone else cares about bikes pretty much exactly as much as planners in the U.S. do.

#405 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 10:56 AM:

Another Polish tragedy, and on the same site, the anniversary, of a previous tragedy and crime.

With so many of the intellectual class wiped out at one blow one fears this creates a public discourse vacuum which the jackels of far right, racist extremists will immediately rush to dominate.

A sad, sad, sad day.

Love, C.

#406 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 11:18 AM:

#394 Marilee

Interesting link! Thank you.

Those are the tired, expected arguments, including that of the columnist, who performed some serious gnat straining to find for himself reasons for which the confederacy should be honored today by any right-thinking, decent U.S. citizens. I don't buy his gnats any more than I buy Davis's or the tpartiers'.

I'm reading Jefferson Davis biographies, memoirs and autobiographies currently. This is part of the background research for when we begin the real research in September for the forthcoming project that is the American slave coast, the interstate slave trade and the making of the United States (a writers in residence fellowship award at Washington College, Chestertown, MD). I gotta say, this stuff is hard going because it is so odious and wicked.

People like Jefferson Davis were determined long before Lincoln's election to have a war to expand slavery throughout, not just the continental U.S., but as their manifest destiny, the entire hemisphere. If that's not a war of southern aggression, what is? There weren't that many of them, but they were all slaveholding southern state power elite members. It was for their benefit, and theirs alone. Slaveholding leads to selfishness and solipsism, not to mention breeding irrational thinking.

Love, C.

#407 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 11:37 AM:

That ... has to hurt, if you're Polish.
I worked with a woman who had/has a family member who escaped the Katyn massacre by jumping off the train.

#408 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 12:11 PM:

Bruce Baugh@402:

One important property of the dictionary is that failed searches are relevant.

Not finding something on a set of flash cards just means it isn't there. Not finding something in even a small dictionary means that it is relatively uncommon, and not finding something in the OED is good evidence that it is unusual, recent, or wrong. Similarly, the earliest attested usage in the OED is reasonable (though not definitive) evidence that the word wasn't in common written use much before that time.

I'm not sure that this distinction applies to Google, though.

#409 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 01:38 PM:

The earliest usage cited in Google could be a typo for something else entirely different.

#410 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 01:58 PM:

Thomas, I'm not talking about Google desk searches; I'm thinking of periodic discussion about whether things like Google Maps' street views add up to an invasion of privacy, if so why, and if so what to do about it, and if not what to train people to wish for and expect. It's not very recent, just something I happened to be mulling over, because the idea that aggregation changes some kinds of meaning and not others fascinates me.

#411 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 01:59 PM:

Bah. That's TEXT searches.

#412 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 02:36 PM:

I remember, some 30 years ago, coming across a reprint collection of articles from a WW2 German propaganda magazine, which sometimes is disturbing stuff. And when you read the propaganda about the Katyn Forest discovery, and the investigation by independent experts (Swedish, I recall), and you can sort of take it as the one time the Nazis told the truth.

Except, they don't mention the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. They didn't mention what they had done in 1939, invading Poland, and splitting it with the Soviet Union, and all that followed.

#413 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Doctor Who, the second episode...

Stephen Moffett knows how the world should be saved.

And what a phone call to end the episode on.

#414 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 02:55 PM:

Dave Bell@412:

> Except, they don't mention the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. They didn't mention what they had done in
> 1939, invading Poland, and splitting it with the Soviet Union, and all that followed.

A quondam Soviet citizen of my acquaintance got into trouble, well after WWII, for possessing Fascist literature, i.e. a book with a swastika on the front, i.e. an English-language copy of Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The account of pre-1941 Nazi-Soviet diplomacy was quite an eye-opener if all you'd heard till then was the Soviet version.

#415 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 03:51 PM:

Dave Bell @ #413

"And what a phone call to end the episode on"

Well, don't keep us all in suspense: Deal or No Deal?


#416 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 03:53 PM:

Doctor Who was Very Interesting Indeed, for reasons which it would be spoilerish to menation, and which I expect will be obvious to many Fluorites a few minutes in.

#417 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 05:38 PM:

What better group to pose this question:

Are any of you familiar with the 1990 Brit television series, She Wolf of London, re-titled Love and Curses when the series moved to the U.S.? Would you recommend it to a new viewer?

Love, C.

#418 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 06:58 PM:

More from our highly trained and professional Homeland Security staff here.

#419 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 07:04 PM:

I feel like baking a casserole for the whole damn Polish nation.

I mean that in an entirely non-snarky manner. Goddamn.

#420 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 07:47 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 419:

If you know how, bake them pierogi. That's Polish comfort food as I understand it (says the guy with 4 Ukrainian grandparents).

#421 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 07:54 PM:

Bruce Baugh,

I don't think the problematic aggregation in Google Street Views is like the aggregation in a dictionary, though. A telephone directory might be a closer analogy.

Anyone in Seattle (and to the extent I care, it's people in the same city that I care about) could get a picture of my house if they wanted to. In fact, they could get a better picture than Google gives them. It would take them maybe half an hour's effort, if they have a car and a camera.

There seem to be two things that are distinctive about the difference between this and Street View. The first is that doing it manually takes a moderate amount of effort for each house; doing it by computer is either trivially easy (with Street View) or impossible (without it). The second is that if someone drives by to get a look at my house I may see them, but if they Google it I will never know.

Which one of these is more important varies with the example. For Street View I think it is the fact that the view is one-way.

For ordinary Google searches it's more the fact that a potential employer or date can casually find out the sort of private but not secret information that would have taken deliberate investigation in past years.

#422 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 08:00 PM:

From what I've been hearing the Polish disaster happened in bad weather, when the pilot had been advised not to try to land, on the fourth attempt at landing.

That's kind of a hard one to engineer if one is trying to kill the passengers.

#423 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 08:14 PM:

New job! I am working at a convention center, being a room monitor at an eye doctor's convention. Temporary work, with possibility of leading to more.

#424 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 08:15 PM:

So far I have not broken even on the cost of the new clothes I needed to buy for the dress code.

#425 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 09:07 PM:

I was listening to NPR today, and the reporter referred to this as "one of the darkest days in Polish history." My instant thought was, here is someone who knows nothing about Polish history, because, sad as this is, I doubt it makes the top 10.

Side note, my kid had to dress as Marie Curie and give an "autobiographical speech" in school this week. Of the several Mme. Curies in the class, she was the only one to use a Polish accent, and introduce herself as Maria Sklodowska. (Her paternal great-grandmother, still living, is Polish, and she just copied her speech patterns.)

#426 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 11:17 PM:

abi #388:

The other side of this is that this process, which we are going through right now, is how individuals and political movements sell their souls. It's how people who really believed in fiscal conservatism found themselves arguing that "deficits don't matter" or somehow biting their tongues when some clown like Grover Norquist started talking about "starving the beast." Because, you know, those damned liberals would be even worse in power, and at least Reagan is willing to face down the Communists, and....

I think I've watched this happening here. If you go back and look at some of our old conversations w.r.t. the war on terror in the Bush years, one thing you notice is that expressions of concern like mine, or like ddb's on another thread, were common, and laughing them off was not so common. I wasn't the only one, back when it was Bush claiming the power to disappear US citizens, who found this scary and said so[0]. It's just less scary now, when the guy making scary power grabs is the one we voted for.

You talked above about the long game. By that, I think you meant the next election or two. But what I see is, whichever party is in power, the power of the president and the security apparatus of the government and the military grow. Both parties are absolutely determined that there shall be no accountability for any abuses or errors in the use of those powers, and in fact that any such abuses or errors ought not to ever be known to the public.

The current president ran on a set of war on terrorism policies that looked nothing like what he's followed. If he pays no price for that, if he still can count on those voters to vote for him to keep the Palins and Becks out of power, why would he ever do anything else? Fighting the security apparatus and the Pentagon is hard work, and you have to guess they can fight back pretty damned hard if they care to. Why should Obama or any other president piss those powerful interests off, when he can go along with their demands at no political cost to himself?

The long game you're talking about seems to me to lead someplace none of us want to go. I have no idea how to fix this--I agree that giving the current GOP a lot of power would be a genuine disaster[1]. Maybe stuff like Accountability Now can have some effect. But betraying the constitution and the whole idea of limited government needs to *cost* something, or it will just never stop being done.

[0] I did have conversations like this in 2004, where my concerns were made light of. But not by folks on the left.

[1] I think this is largely because the Republicans destroyed the moral center of their party. They had good enough party discipline that W's disastrous leadership wrecked, not just his credibility and that of his close followers, but that of most of the powerful Republicans on the national stage. Who's left who doesn't look like a complete tool?

#427 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 11:26 PM:

Ooh, I'm sorry about that plane crash. Nothing could I say that hasn't been said better by others here.
I hope I am not being disrespectful when I change the subject, because I saw something this morning that disturbed me a bit. A car turned across my path and I noticed that it had one of those wide, roomy dashboards and thereon was an oval bed holding a bluecream cat, who stood up and lay down in a new position as adroitly as if she was on solid ground. Ohhh, how sweet, thought I, and then I began to realize that this was not such a great idea despite its apparent charm. One sharp swerve or screeching halt and anyone with any physics knowledge would guess that a startled cat isn't something you want flying around in a car with extra g's. Especially if I am in that car's path.
I had neither the speed to catch up with these people nor the courage to confront them, and I wonder how long before someone, and some cat, gets hurt or killed. There are enough bad things happening on the roads--in the past week, just a block from my home, 2 cars went awry and 1 hit a bus stop and hurt a teen, and another car went right into a parked trailer. (No pets were involved in these.) On my bike, I feel like a dikdik in the midst of a buffalo stampede anyway.
Armored vehicles are out of my budget, and anyway I didn't get that bike in order to not ride it. Somebody stop me before I get paranoid and curl up into a ball. I suppose I will have to check the local laws, but does anyone have experience with notifying authorities about this particular kind of unsafe driving?

#428 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 11:43 PM:

Constance, #406, does that mean you'll be at Washington College? Unfortunately, that's too far for me to drive these days.

Kip was trying to find a way to link tea partiers to the KKK, and here's a tea partier doing it himself.

#429 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 11:45 PM:

albatross #426: But betraying the constitution and the whole idea of limited government needs to *cost* something, or it will just never stop being done.

Of course it cost something; it costs the corporations significant bribelobbying money to make things happen to their satisfaction; certainly, it's only reasonable to expect that the cost of corporate governance would be passed on to the consumer.

I think this is largely because the Republicans destroyed the moral center of their party. (...) Who's left who doesn't look like a complete tool?

Zombie Abraham Lincoln. Dig him up, reconstitute the fleshy bits through DNA tech, load him up with kick-ass cybernetics and a Racter AI with all of his speeches and writings, and yer done. The Log Cabin Republicans would be the new center of the GOP.

#430 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 11:55 PM:

I don't know how many of you have been following the story of ex-priest and serial rapist Steven Kiesle.

Kiesle was a priest at St. Joseph's, in Pinole, the parish next door to mine. Our (then) bishop, Allen Vigneron, made a public apology in 2004 for what Kiesle did to the children of that parish and of other local parishes. He eventually was convicted of criminal acts, and went to jail.

It turns out, Kiesle still lives here, in a nearby senior community. He wears an ankle monitor and is a registered sex offender. He's 63 years old. My age.

I don't understand why that fact, and the fact that he's still here, is affecting me so strongly, but it is.

#431 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 11:57 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 429: Um, er... [cracks up laughing].

(Certain assumption about current aggregation calling themselves Log Cabin Republicans may not match up well with principles of Zombie Lincoln. To be frank.)

#432 ::: Xylo ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 12:02 AM:

Constance at 417

I remember watching several episodes of She Wolf of London, years ago. As I recollect, it was a little campy, sometimes predictable, and the special effects were uneven--yet I remember it fondly. Does that help?

#433 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 12:50 AM:

Earl Cooley:

Do you put Log Cabin Syrup on Log Cabin Republicans?

#434 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 12:59 AM:

Lizzy L, #430: "It turns out, Kiesle still lives here [...] I don't understand why that fact, and the fact that he's still here, is affecting me so strongly, but it is." is it affecting you?

#435 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 01:02 AM:

albatross @ 426:

abi must answer for herself as to what she means by "the long game", but I'd like to give you my own definition. I've been playing the game since I was 11, and walked in my first peace march / demonstration. I'm still playing, 52 years later, and I expect to play as long as I live, and pass the game on to my children.

I had hoped that at some point we would be able to convince the people of the US that it was in their own interests to make the country over into a progressive society. I no longer think that's likely to happen, though chance and the weirdness of fate may still allow it. Now I believe my obligation to a better world is to work for the US to pass the mantle of power as peacefully as possible on to whatever nation or group of nations picks it up, so that the legacy we leave behind is as progressive as possible. That may end up being a rear-guard action; if that's what can be done, then that's what I'll try to do. Ultimately it's about leaving the state of the world in the best shape you can, and hoping the next generation has better luck or better information about how to deal with the more resistant aspects of human nature.

#436 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 01:37 AM:

Cadbury @ #415

The TARDIS is a phone box.

#437 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 01:58 AM:

Bruce Cohen #433: Do you put Log Cabin Syrup on Log Cabin Republicans?

Although that part of my @429 was written with humorous intent, I did not intend specifically to make fun of the LCR at all.

#438 ::: Jeff Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 02:41 AM:

Constance @ 406: "I'm reading Jefferson Davis biographies, memoirs and autobiographies currently."

Is there one that you would recommend to a newcomer to the subject? I've been thinking I ought to learn more about the man, for obvious reasons.

albatross @ 426: I wish I could turn your comment into a catchy slogan and post it on every billboard in the English-speaking world.

Bruce Cohen @ 435: "I had hoped that at some point we would be able to convince the people of the US that it was in their own interests to make the country over into a progressive society. I no longer think that's likely to happen, though chance and the weirdness of fate may still allow it."

I feel like I've been hearing this note of resignation from moderate leftists more and more over the past year or two. It's not just disappointment with Obama, although that's obviously an important part of it, and I don't think it's simple outrage fatigue either; it's resignation about the prospects of the progressive project in general. Has anyone else noticed this, or am I just imagining it?

#439 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 04:19 AM:

albatross @426:

The long game. Bruce has a piece of it there, but let me give it to you from my perspective.

Right at this point, I can't see any candidate or party who shares my beliefs. A lot of them use words I care about, but most what of seem to me to be logical means to that end are anathema to the American political discourse. I call myself a progressive because the ordinary European term for what I really am is a dirty word in American politics. There's a whole world of solutions we can't even talk about, to problems we're framing in carefully limited ways.

Fine. Words matter, but actions matter a whole heck of a lot more. Getting into the trenches defending a word with people who think that the Nazis were left-wing is a losing battle, and besides, the pig enjoys it.

What I want to do is to move the Overton window, or perhaps to widen it. I note that it has moved; I see articles in the New York Times about the working poor, and unions, and inadequate corporate oversight by toothless government agencies. People are discussing stuff that can make ordinary lives better. That matters, that's progress.

So I see one problem I can't do a thing about: politicians don't give up power easily. I had high hopes that Obama would do better, and I'm bitterly disappointed that he hasn't. But voting for another party that's no better on that and worse on other stuff is cutting my nose off to spite my face.

Are we nickel and diming our civil liberties away? We are, damn it. Do I see a way to stop it? Not at present. But if I were investing in a way to stop or reverse it, I'd put my money into broadening our political discourse. Which, at the moment, means voting as far left as is pragmatic, talking and listening an awful lot, and quietly going off and hitting my head on my desk a non-trivial amount of the time.

#440 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 07:23 AM:


> I was listening to NPR today, and the reporter referred to this as "one of the darkest days in Polish history." My
> instant thought was, here is someone who knows nothing about Polish history, because, sad as this is, I doubt it makes the top 10.

I think this crash is unique not so much in comparison with other events in Poland's long and gruesome history but with other things that have happened to modern Western democracies. Other countries in the last century have lost leaders in sad circumstances, but I can't think of any precedent for the loss of such a huge number of top officials of one country in peacetime.

Norman Davies on the history of Poland. There's a very useful animation near the start of how Poland's borders have moved over the centuries. (His Rising '44 is very good; I keep meaning to devour Europe: A History once I feel strong enough to pick it up).

#441 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 08:38 AM:

Constance @ 417:

In a word, yes.

Some of the stories are really quite good, but there are inappropriate slapstick moments, messed-up geography and odd British stereotyping as well.

The hero is an academic and the heroine his student. Some people may be squicked by the developing romance between the two.

There is humour, sly and otherwise. There is romance, pathos, atmosphere, charm. Deaths are gruesome, at least in the British episodes.

I saw the series in its first run, obtained some really poor quality episodes via the darknets ten years ago, and am now waiting for my DVDs to arrive.

#442 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 09:04 AM:

Steve@440: comparisons here are being drawn with the Staines crash in 1972. It's very hard to express "I hope this isn't as bad1" at the same time as "this is much worse2".

1: it's harder to chop the head off anything these days
2: there are way more people affected

#443 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 10:40 AM:

The Raven at #434: to answer your question briefly: with extreme emotion. I don't want to go into detail.

#444 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 11:10 AM:

Well, here's a Republican the current crowd would never be able to tolerate as the New Face of their party. Good thing he's dead and all.

No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice. ... No nation's security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.

[Speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors "The Chance for Peace" (1953-04-16)]

What!? Support for international cooperation and understanding, rather than proclaiming America's Imperial Destiny, at the expense of Everyone Else! That will never do.

from the same speech:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ... Is there no other way the world may live?

[Speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, "The Chance for Peace" (1953-04-16)]

Spend money at home, instead of on weapons and international "adventures"? Next thing you know, he'll have a t-shirt that says something about the USAF having to hold a bakesale to buy a bomber...

Un-American activity cannot be prevented or routed out by employing un-American methods; to preserve freedom we must use the tools that freedom provides.

[The White House Years, p. 331
Un-American? You want un-American--that sort of thing right there--it's letting the terrorists win!

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

[Farewell address, 17 January 1961]
That sounds, right there, like some kind of wimpy, touch-feely liberal-progessive nonsense that will make us vulnerable to our enemies.

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

[Letter to Edgar Newton Eisenhower, his brother (November 8, 1954)]
Oh, I wish.

And the real reason the 21st-century GOP couldn't handle Ike? He signed into law income tax legislation in 1954, permitting a top rate of over 90%. It seems there was all this war debt and stuff to pay down.

John Rogers is right. I miss the old Republicans, and I want them back.

#445 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 11:32 AM:

Completely unrelated to anything previous on the thread: I did not know until my daughter pointed me to it last night that Jonathan Coulton had written a love song from Charon to Pluto (the planetoids, not the mythological figures).

Captain Valor's done an ASL version. It made me cry.

#446 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 11:45 AM:

#432 Xylo

It does help. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond!

Love, C.

#447 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 12:15 PM:

Lizzy L@443:

I wish there were something I could say or do that would make it easier. Apart, of course, for the traditional and obvious, which I shall do.

#448 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 12:26 PM:

#438 Jeff Davis

This isn't fast reading. The most interesting so far in the sense of patterning, if you know what I mean in this context, is the 2 volume memoir of him written by his wife, Varina Jefferson. It's not reliable factually, and has many a black hole of omission. I read those two volumes while doing all that historical research in New Orleans. The Tulane Library and other collections, naturally are very strong in these areas. I put Varina Jefferson's texts also within the pattern created by other texts of the time by other women, including Mary Boykin Chesnut (she and Varina were very close friends), and Elizabeth Keckley's very odd, fascinating little narrative, Behind the scenes; or, Thirty years a slave, and four years in the White house -- Keckley was D.C. premiere dress maker, and removed almost entirely to the Lincoln White House and became close to Mary Todd Lincoln. Varina Davis, according to Keckley, exerted strong pressure to get Keckley to move to Mississippi with them when that state seceeded -- telling her that she'd be back in the White House and D.C. within a year.

Davis's own memoir is also interesting. A recent (2000) biography, Jefferson Davis, American by William J. Cooper, is a lot more sympathetic than seems to me, actually fair. Cooper insists upon evaluating Davis in terms of 'his times,' which means, like the apologist for honoring the Confederacy yesterday in the WaPo, essentially ignoring the tremendous evil that is slavery -- because, after all, slavery doesn't happen to the people who matter in history.

As for Mary Boykin Chesnut -- her Civil War diaries are splendid reading. She was in the center of the circles of Confederate power. Her husband served as the Chief of the Department of the Military of South Carolina and brigadier general in command of South Carolina reserve forces; and again Richmond, where her husband served as an aide to the president.

#426 albatross

Not that it is worth anything, but I was and am with you on every point, in the past and now too.

#441 mcz

Thank you too, for taking the time to post your take on She Wolf of London

#428 Marilee

Yes, we will be at Washington College, and living in a restored early 18th house, which is part of the provision of the award. Can we say 'Time Machine'? Why, yes we can!

Love, C.

#449 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 12:31 PM:

#439 abi

Though this is worth no more than my agreement with Albatross, I agree with you on every point too.

What times in which we live.

But the times always are, whoever and whenever, I guess.

Love, C.

#450 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 12:54 PM:

abi at 447, thank you very much.

I believe I was wrong in one thing I said in my original comment; I said Kiesle had been jailed. That was incorrect. He was convicted and given probation.

The whole story is ugly and sordid and infuriating -- and no worse than what happened to thousands of children and families around the world.

I had a vision for Easter this year. I had a vision that Benedict would declare this Good Friday a Day of Solemn Repentance for the church, and specifically, for himself and his fellow bishops. I had visions of every bishop and archbishop and cardinal in the universal church walking barefoot in solemn procession, each in his own city, all of them prostrating themselves before the altars of their cathedrals with their arms outstretched in the shape of a cross, all of them, every one throughout the world. I imagined the kind of ceremonial liturgical event that the Catholic Church is so good at. I envisioned a announcement that for a year, every bishop of the Catholic Church would set aside all pomp: the miter, the robes, all of it: they would wear simple solemn black, like any ordinary parish priest. They would move out of their mansions, give up their cars and their housekeepers and live in the poorest part of their cities, ride the bus, serve meals at soup kitchens. Benedict could have done it! I imagined -- but it didn't happen. It won't happen. Probably it can't.

Lord, have mercy.

#451 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 12:58 PM:

"I miss the old Republicans, and I want them back."

I'm with Fidelio here. Partly for the reasons that Albatross spells out in #426: It's in our interest to try to keep both major parties sane, even if our sympathies are largely with the policies of one of the parties over the other.

I'd feared that Obama would continue to follow the authoritarian, extra-constitutional precedents that Bush had put in place, and to a dismaying extent he has. But I'd had some hope that one way to curb this tendency would be some reasonable opposition. A Congress with enough principled folks of the other party could act as a useful check to abuses of presidential power, and I've been ready to vote for Republicans for Congress who would do that. Even if I disagreed with a number of their specific policy goals, it could be worth it to safeguard the political health of the republic.

Unfortunately, that's *not* what we've seen with today's Republicans in Congress. Few if any are willing to condemn the common thread of presidential usurpation that Bush ramped up and that Obama has largely continued. Most still argue for expansive executive powers, or even for extending them further (e.g. the McCain-Lieberman bill on detention); their only objection is to *who* is in charge, and what particular policies they favor.

And while some R's in more progressive areas might run on a platform of "I'm not like some of those other Republicans", it's hard to believe that in the face of the party discipline I *have* seen, which almost entirely backed up Bush's authoritarianism, and had *every single Republican member of Congress*, whether "right-wing" or "moderate", vote against a health care bill that had lots of ideas taken from past conservative and Republican proposals. It's quite clear that the main reason for this wasn't the principled concern against government expansion that many claimed, (especially given the lack of concern about this in other areas), but as we've seen in a number of memos that have come out, largely intended to damage the other part politically; that is, treating perceived electoral advantage as more important than public benefit.

I'm not sure how best to get this situation to change, but I very much hope that it does.

#452 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 01:05 PM:

A rather foolish question here: I'm using Firefox 3.6 on a Mac running Snow Leopard 10.6.3. Recently I ran into a strange behavior when looking at my Friends list on LiveJournal: a few earlier YouTube links on posts stick in place and replace the image that should be there. For example, an entry which is to show "Music Box with a Secret" (1976) by Valeriy Ugarov at Soyuzmultfilm actually shows "Elisabeth Hasselbeck calls out Sarah Palin" which is an improvement over the YouTube video with the animated penis drawings I was stuck with for a month, but not by much. If I actually open the full post then the YouTube link shows normally. What do I have set wrong, and how do I take care of it?

#453 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 01:36 PM:

Lizzy L @450:

Yeah, I wished that they'd toss this whole "Year of the Priest" thing out the window and put in some serious repentance, too. We could pray for the victims at every single Mass in the world for a year. That would be a start, though hardly an end.

As Garry Wills says, we've forgotten that all the paintings of hell used to include popes, and for good reason.

Maybe we should start putting little tiny millstones in the collection baskets? I'm about that vexed, myself.

#454 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 02:15 PM:

abi #453: Maybe we should start putting little tiny millstones in the collection baskets? I'm about that vexed, myself.

Is there someplace that actually sells such things in quantity, or where they could be ordered?

#455 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 02:18 PM:

I'm not a Catholic, so I can only imagine what it must feel like to be one right now. I know it infuriates ME that the Church is still trying to protect itself at the expense of the victims. Despite their protestations to the contrary, they seem entirely unrepentant to me.

#456 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 02:23 PM:

Lizzy L, #443: "[...] with extreme emotion. I don't want to go into detail."

Fair enough. Thank you for the courteous reply.

#457 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 02:27 PM:

"I miss the old Republicans, and I want them back."

Isn't someone named Obama their new leader?


#458 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 03:27 PM:

David Harmon @454:
Is there someplace that actually sells such things in quantity, or where they could be ordered?

Not to the best of either my knowledge or my Googling. But plaster of Paris (add some black paint for a good stone-grey) or Portland cement is cheap.

I'd make a master millstone out of something soft and easy to carve, like a slice out of a candle, maybe an inch or an inch and a half in diameter and a quarter-inch thick. Add the scores that make it look like an authentic millstone, deep and wide enough to show with your casting material. Drill a hole in the middle, too (gently, so as not to crack the disc). It'll be useful for attaching a note, say a reference to Matthew 18:6-7, Mark 9:42, or Luke 17:2.

Then follow one of the many useful sets of instructions on how to make a plaster cast or sand cast that one finds on the internet.

Also handy for sending to your local bishop, Archbishop, or to the Vatican.

#459 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 03:49 PM:

Jeff Davis @ 438:

Again, I can only speak for myself. I've been playing the game, as I said, since just after McCarthy was knocked over by the Army. In the late 50s and early 60s we all had a feeling that great forces were trying to pull the US rightward into some sort of anti-socialist fascism based on military adventurism in Asia and South America. The hopes we had then were that a new generation of politically active progressives and liberals could prevent that shift, and swing the US away from racism, classism, and the economic predation of rich on poor.

To some extent we were successful, but in the last couple of decades we've seen those same forces return, capture the language of discourse, and hoodwink the people of the US into thinking that economic and class slavery really is freedom (boot, face, eternity, if our economic masters have anything to say about it). It's this resurgence of forces that I'd hoped to see defeated decades ago that's caused the burnout of hope in current "liberal" politics. That and the fact that I could update my second sentence above simply by replacing "Asia and South America" with "Central Asia and South America".

abi @ 439:
Are we nickel and diming our civil liberties away? We are, damn it. Do I see a way to stop it? Not at present. But if I were investing in a way to stop or reverse it, I'd put my money into broadening our political discourse. Which, at the moment, means voting as far left as is pragmatic, talking and listening an awful lot, and quietly going off and hitting my head on my desk a non-trivial amount of the time.

This is a paragraph I might have written in the 1970s. That we have to do things this way still is painful, but I know how to do it. That there are still other people around who feel up to continuing in this mode is one of my few sources of optimism.

#460 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 04:28 PM:

I think my favorite Pope was Kiril I.

#461 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 04:34 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom@451

I'm pretty sure I know the best way to get the situation to change. It's for the Republicans to keep losing elections until they start to want to change.

#462 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 08:41 PM:

Abi #458: Um... You may be willing to make your own, but I was thinking that for the idea to catch on, people need to be able to buy packs of 10 or 20 or more (or 52 for a year's supply)!

#463 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2010, 10:26 PM:

Recent events in the Catholic church have put me in an unusually theological frame of mind for an atheist.

In that frame I feel like I should offer this little parable. I banged it out in the last hour or so, but I thought people around here might find some smidgeon of value in it:

The Parable of the Bad Shepherd

There once was a man who was very wise and good, and also very wealthy. He owned many things, and each of them was kept with the most exquisite care. Many men worked for him, and each one was amazed by the wisdom and goodness of his master.

It so happened that the man owned a flock of sheep, and hired a shepherd to guide them through the stony mountains to market. The journey was long and dangerous, at every turn there were cliffs that the sheep might slip and fall off of, or treacherous rocks ready to collapase and bury the herd in an avalanche, or ravenous wolves eager to feast upon the sheep.

One night, after battling a pack of wolves, the shepherd staggered back to the flock, nearly dead. He was all but out of food and he was not sure he could survive the night without sustenance. After much thought, he slew one of the sheep and ate its meat. And so he slept with a full belly, consoling himself that if he had not done so both he and his flock surely would have perished. He knew that his master would have done no different.

The next day he saw that one of the flock was rushing ahead of the rest. Several times it almost ran itself off of a cliff, or into a deadly crevasse. And what was worse was that the other sheep were following it. Surely this sheep was a danger to the entire flock. With great sadness, the shepherd knew what he must do. He slaughtered the errant sheep that night and dried its meat and placed it in a sack, the better to bolster his own strength for the trials ahead. He was content in the knowledge that his master would have done no different.

The sun was just rising when he saw one of the rams trying to mount one of the ewes. Horrified, he drove them apart. He knew that his master's sheep must multiply, but he said to himself that here on the mountain path was neither the time nor the place. He said to himself that surely the ewe would be unable to feed its lamb, and it would slow down the entire herd, only for the lamb and mother both to starve before reaching market. He slew the ram and ewe both, wrapping himself in the warmth of the ewe's hide and fashioning a weapon from the ram's horns to drive away the wolves. He told himself that his master would have done no different

On the last day of his journey he met a party of other shepherds, also in service to the same master. They saw the ewe's hide on his back and the ram's horn in his hand and the bag of dried meat over his shoulder. They demanded where he had got them and when he told them they demanded that he feed them from the flock. When he refused they seized the youngest and tenderest of the lambs thinking them the tastiest of the flock. They said that if the master had allowed him to eat of the flock he was a cruel and miserly master not to allow them the same, and called him a great many other names besides. At long last the shepherd allowed them to take the lambs, asking only that they carry them over the hill, away from the sight of their mothers before devouring. He consoled himself with the thought that his master's honor had been called into question, and in a question of honor his master could do no different.

That night a terrible storm blew up and the sheep fled willy nilly before it. The shepherd sought to calm them, but they seemed to flee him as though they feared him more than the storm. He shouted at them, he pleaded with them, he abjured them by the dignity and honor of his master to gather together and be silent, but still they ran. Many fell into crevasses or ran off cliffs or were eaten by wolves, and it was a sad and sorry remnant that the shepherd led into the market to meet his master.

The shepherd told his story to his master and said "The other shepherds insulted your honor and the sheep were heedless to the dignity of your name. Everything I have done, I have done for the sake of your honor and the dignity of your name."

"I am known throughout the world for both my power and my goodness," replied the master. "What do my honor and the dignity of my name have to fear from a thousand shepherds or a million sheep? Let my honor and my dignity protect themselves. The task that I set you was to protect my sheep."

#464 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 12:43 AM:

This is a link I got from Making Light, but in darkness even old lights are welcome: Love wins.

It's a phrase I find echoing through my head a lot. It reminds me of MLK Jr's "long arc of history" quote, but shorter, simpler: Love wins.

It doesn't win all the time, or right away, but love wins. It does. If I have any faith, it is this: Love wins.

The world is dark, and institutions we trusted have betrayed us. They have forgotten the charge they were given, and we are left without a place to turn. So turn to this: Love wins.

#465 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 01:05 AM:


Thank you. It's good to be reminded of that now and again. And we had dinner tonight with our two sons and their wives. Talking to them about their work and their lives helped to restore my mood from the dismal swamp.

#466 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 08:09 AM:

The stitches are out.

Well, not exactly. Instead of stitches, they use "clips" to hold you together after surgery. Which are actually staples. They were tiny little things, 34 of them.

I very carefully did not try to look at the removal process.

I am very definitely not going to get into any fannish arguments about the proper number of staples.

#467 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 08:23 AM:

Dave Bell @ 466... Speaking of Staples, I have an "Easy" button. Want to borrow it?

#468 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 10:04 AM:

David Harmon @462:

I posted comment 458 in great anger, and though I don't disown it, I'm not sure that it makes the world any kind of a better place.

Pursuing the matter further? Well, I am not sure that running a business making small millstones would be a good one for the soul and the joy. I know that getting money for the accoutrements of anger is, if not a prestigious line of work, at least one with a long and inglorious tradition*. But it does make me squirm to contemplate.

I mean, you can either run the business emotionally or unemotionally, right? But anger and outrage eat a person up over time. And running it without that anger? Well, it was the ability to detach one's sense of what is outrageous from an everyday job that got the Church into this mess†.

And, peripherally, I worry about the pessimism, however well-founded, of being able to pre-order a year's supply of reminders that the institution isn't doing anything about the problem.

* see also: American outrage radio
† I have always been angrier at the people who dispassionately decided to cover this thing up than the sick and damaged souls who committed the original crimes.

#469 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 10:19 AM:

Open-threaded first impressions - I played a little bit with an iPad Friday. It was fun - easy to use, nice feel in my hands, great display. I could picture it in my office, or resting by my chair in the living room, ready to grab at a whim.

But I put it aside, primarily because I have an iPhone already (which I enjoy), and partially because I'm waiting to see what the next version or two offers.

I do think it (and the inevitable competitors) are going to be next big thing in information grabbing, and Steve Jobs will be be able to pay for as many livers as he needs.

Here's an interesting piece on whether the iPad is a Kindle killer...and a reading killer.

Kindle Killer

#470 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 11:00 AM:

#469 Steve

There are 59 windows open on the laptop I am typing this on. That does NOT stop me from reading books.

I went to Best Buy last week and spent some time one of the demo iPad. I couln't even accurately type "This sucks dead rodents" on it.

The interface -slides- things when opening and closing apps. That drives me bonkers--one of the things I on machines I am the controlling user of, is turn that crap OFF, for sanity-saving... and machines and applications which don't even allow that, enrage me.

The user interface annoys me, generally. It's less friendly to fumble-fingering than my several year old Vista ultra mobile personal computer (Samsung Q1) which has four times as much RAM (apparently the iPad has 256 MB, no wonder it doesn't multitask...) and a 40 GB hard drive, two USB ports, touchscreen and a stylus (finger is usable, so are cheap external keyboards), WiFi, the ability to websurf to sites which employ Flash, user choie of full-up word processors (apparently the iWorks app for iPad is crippleware....).

I can also read epublications on it.

I'm not interested in a flat panel lightweight portable $500+ interactive singletasking "slick" entertainment delivey system -- HP has one of those called the "Dreamscreen" available at Best Buy for half the price of a iPoop that from the front doesn't look much different from an iPoop when turned off... it doesn't have the iPoop hype and slickness and tsunami and apps set and attention, I don't know if it websurfs (but if it does, it's not crippled by lack of Flash support I suspect). It's heavier, but it does have at least one USB port allowing e.g. direct printing from it. And it will play movies, show picture and slide shows, etc.

#471 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 11:04 AM:

abi #468: I get your drift, but I'm cynical. (Also not Catholic, which is why I wouldn't sell them myself.) I suspect that the collection plate really would be the best place to get the hierarchy's attention, and the millstones would be a lot more informative than just seeing a a drop in their receipts. (As indicated by the point that even this secular Jew recognized the symbolism!)

#472 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 11:35 AM:

abi @ 458: So secular a secularist am I that I had to look up the reference, and look what I found. Seems you aren't the only one.

#473 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 11:59 AM:

Abi, David Harmon: millstones

I'm not sure that the collection plate is the best place for them. While I'm sure that totals get reported further up the chain -- paperwork is eternal -- the weekly collection, at least here, only supports parish activities. It pays utility bills, construction debt, and supports the parish staff. Now, in some parishes some of the parish staff might be a legitimate target, but in others they are just as upset about it as you are. In one of our Easter Triduum masses, in a homily about the difficulty of trust in the modern world, "the church hierarchy" was specifically mentioned as one of the reasons that trust is difficult.

Abi: I have always been angrier at the people who dispassionately decided to cover this thing up. Definitely. And even a cover-up could easily have been done in a less monstrous fashion. Suppose the bishops had tried to keep the issue out of the papers and the courts, but had met and apologised sincerely to the victims; ensured they had access to any necessary treatment and support, then and in the future; introduced better monitoring; and reassigned the priests in question to some remote monastery where they could spend the rest of their lives in prayer and penance, safely away from any children. That would still be an illegal cover-up. I still think it would be bad policy -- cover-ups are a moral hazard, and from a practical point of view tend to explode in your face. But I wouldn't see it as an outrage.

#474 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 12:42 PM:

I thought I recalled a sub-thread where this link might have been more appropriate, but now I can't find it. So Open Thread it is:

Why liberals are right to refuse to honor the Confederacy.

There are some interesting parallels between the tactics used by the Confederacy to drum up popular support and those being used by the current Republican Party.

#475 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 12:42 PM:

Thoma #473: A fair point! In such cases, the millstones needn't actually be instead of contributions. (I'm pretty sure they'd be reported upward anyway!) And as heresiarch points out, some parishes clearly "get it" already -- you'd want to target the ones that are avoiding the issue, or, especially, trying to minimize response.

#476 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 12:54 PM:

heresiarch @ 472... So secular a secularist am I

..and old enough am that I remember when masses were in Latin, which is why I initially read your words as 'per omnia secula seculorum'.

#477 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 01:16 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 470: I'm still waiting for a modern device which does everything my Psion 5mx does plus is useful for reading long .pdf documents, for proper web browsing, and with USB connectivity (the things the Psion doesn't do*), while keeping to the size, weight, useable keyboard and long battery life of the Psion.

Until then, the machine I carry all the time will continue to be a Psion, taking my EEE as well for work-related travelling.

*It can go online, with a modem and an appropriate mobile 'phone, and some people have written and maintained websites from one. But I'm not claiming it's really suitable for that.

#478 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 02:34 PM:

abi #468/Thomas #473:

Yeah, the cover up is the thing. In a large organization, there's no way to avoid having some level of misbehavior, ranging from minor stuff all the way up to horrible crimes. It's how you handle that misbehavior when it comes up that counts.

The Church is in the forgiveness and compassion business, or should be, and so it made sense to have a lot of concern for the pedophile priests, as well as for the victims. (We're supposed to be compassionate even to people who are despised by everyone else, even to people who hurt us and those we love.) And I can see why the Church hierarchy wanted to minimize the scandal involved, though at Thomas said, that sort of thing can blow up in your face[1] . If they'd quietly defrocked the priests involved, or moved them to some ministry where they wouldn't encounter kids[2], then the cover ups would be an embarrassment, but they'd blow over quickly enough. What the Church did instead magnified the problem--a priest would molest some kids in parish A, then get moved to parish B, then to parish C, and so on, racking up victims in each place.

The way the Church actually behaved seems to me to have been concerned with the reputation of the Church above all else, then with the well-being of the pedophile priests, and far less concerned with the well-being of either past or future victims of these guys. Afterward, the Church has seemed at least as concerned with financial consequences of the abuse scandals as with the impact on its victims or the parishioners. And that has all come out or is in the process of coming out, now. All that was whispered in the darkness will be shouted from the housetops. I don't know what will be left of the Church at the end of it.

I love my parish, in which I and my family are deeply involved. And though I converted as an adult, I think of myself as Catholic in a very fundamental way. I'm afraid of what's going to come next, and how it's going to destroy both the hierarchy and structure of the Church, and all the beautiful and good parishes and schools and other places that live inside it.

And it's worth remembering one horrible aspect of this scandal: The Church knowingly transferred pedophile priests from parish to parish, in the hopes of silencing the scandals. Parishes that other people loved and trusted as much as I love and trust mine got a new priest transferred in, and, in the feeling of safety in that community, trusted their children being there. And sometimes, that priest raped their children, and in the process destroyed their community.

When my son was going to first confession last year, some thought in the back of my head wondered whether he was safe doing it. Is that priest, the young one who likes to work with kids at the school, is he really just a priest who works well with kids? Or is he a pedophile, maybe one who's been caught multiple times and been transferred from place to place. How the hell do we maintain a community when we're looking at each other in those terms? When we suspect that the Church might send someone they knew was a danger to our kids, just to move the problem somewhere less visible? The Church authorities tell us that the scandals are over, that they're now taking pedophilia claims very seriously. But why should I believe it?

[1] For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open

[2] Isn't the Navy short on non-evangelical chaplains serving on warships? How about prison ministries?

#479 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 02:49 PM:

Teresa's "Thirteen ways" Particle reminds me that in 2004 or thereabouts, there was a thread on this site consisting almost exclusively of hundreds of riffs on "This is just to say" -- am I remembering correctly? If so, how would I go about finding the link to that thread?

#480 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 03:01 PM:

The Modesto Kid #479:
Well, Iduno about 2004, but Abi offered "Smulps" more recently, in 2008.

#481 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 03:10 PM:

Oh -- well thanks Mr. Harmon! That is not the thread I was thinking of but it is a very pleasant one, and one that I was not familiar with.

#482 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 03:20 PM:

BTW, this may be of interest to some readers here -- I recently read and translated Borges' foreword to the Spanish edition of The Martian Chronicles (1955) -- a pleasure to read and makes me want to dig out the Bradbury. My translation is here: Cronicas Marcianas

#483 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 03:25 PM:

Open Thread Question -

I have a fabulous pair of 14 eye Docs bought just before they outsourced production to China. Unfortunately, they bite the hell out of the back of my ankles. Does anyone know if anything can be done to fix this? I'm considering taking them to my cobbler, but I'm not sure if part of the problem is also in the heaviness of the soles. I'd had to lose them, but if they're painful they're not a great alternative to heels with formal wear.

#484 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 03:48 PM:

albatross @478:

Sigh. Yes to everything you've said.

I'm both raised in the Church and an adult convert, and I'm just coming back after a number of years away. (It's very, very complicated, but it does rather prove that I am inescapably Catholic.) This is all complicated by living in the über-Protestant land of Extreme Orangeness, not being entirely fluent in the local language, and sundry other difficulties greater and lesser.

I keep wishing for some science-fictional conclusion, the ecclesiastical equivalent of Strossian deep-history social evolution, where individual parishes discover some new model of interaction and transform into a structure that keeps their best aspects and sheds the damaged parts. But the damaged parts include stuff we can't shed and still be ourselves. And this isn't a novel.

I just keep telling myself that the Church is not the hierarchy.

#485 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 04:02 PM:

abi @ 484... inescapably Catholic


#486 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 04:33 PM:

Here's a picture of the millstone installed as a memorial to abuse victims in Mendham, NJ, referred to in the NYT article that heresiarch links @ #472.

#487 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 04:50 PM:

Linkmeister @486:

I found that page when I was Googling around for miniature millstones. But the one they sell is not something one can use in great numbers to make a point. (I was thinking of the Rice for Peace story.)

#488 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 05:05 PM:

Some time ago, I read a bit about Viable Paradise and dinosaur sodomy. (It turns out, the subject was about dinosaurs AND sodomy.) I found a poster containing the subject via an agent's blog who got it from io9.

All it lacks is the sodomy.

#489 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 06:04 PM:

nerdycellist @483: How long have you had them, and how often have you worn them? The leather may need to be broken in more; I've never been the first owner of a pair of Doc Martens myself, mostly so I CAN get the made-in-UK ones, and have never had the problem of breaking them in, but I understand it can take some time. Some of my friends recommend neats'-foot oil; others suggest puddle-jumping.

Heavier socks may also improve matters -- I often sneak a short pair of crew socks over the fishnets and not visible over the tops when wearing mine with skirts.

Another thing I do is to wear Walking Company dress orthotics in them, which improves the fit and the arch support, and seems to make the ankles fit more naturally as well.

I'll admit I've never worn the 14-eye model, only 8s, 10s, and 20s, but I'd think the same general principles apply.

If none of those work for you, and your cobbler has no suggestions, I don't suppose you wear a UK 5?

#490 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 06:14 PM:

No offense meant to Steve C., but that Techcrunch piece he linked to in #469 struck me as an all-too-typical example of the kind of casual assholery frequently found on tech blogs. For example:

"Let’s finally put to rest the myth that the iPad is a good way to read books--it isn’t. Without e-ink--who’d have thunk it?--your eyes get tired after a few pages. You find yourself wishing you could print out the rest of the book and read it properly, away from the screen. [...]
"The iPad is emphatically not a serious readers’ device: the only people who would genuinely consider it a Kindle killer are those for whom the idea of reading for pleasure died years ago; if it was ever alive. The people who will spout bullshit like 'I read on screen all day' when what they really mean is 'I read the first three paragraphs of the New York Times article I saw linked on Twitter before retweeting it; and then I repeat that process for the next eight hours while pretending to work.' That’s reading in the way that rubbing against women on the subway is sex."
I don't have an iPad yet (I have a 3G model on order), but I've had an iPhone since last summer, and I've read literally dozens of books on its small, bright, non-"e-ink" screen. I've used Amazon's Kindle-for-iPhone program, I've used Stanza, and right now I'm using QuickOffice to read a recently-delivered David Weber manuscript. I find it quite comfortable for reading for hours at a time, and I also find it convenient to be able to pull it out and read a few pages over the duration of a brief subway or taxi ride. I also have a Sony Reader, given to me by Macmillan, and after trying it for over a month, I put it aside; I'm with Nicholson Baker, who described the "e-ink" screen as "like trying to read through a wet newspaper."

And you know, strangely enough, I am in fact a "serious reader," I'm not someone for whom "the idea of reading for pleasure died years ago; if it was ever alive," I'm not actually "spouting bullshit", and I don't "really mean" "I read the first three paragraphs of the New York Times article I saw linked on Twitter before retweeting it; and then I repeat that process for the next eight hours while pretending to work." People are different, and people's eyesights are different. Some people get eyestrain trying to read low-contrast type. Some people can't stand bright screens. Some people need crisp letterforms; some people prefer graceful antialiasing. Also? Paul Carr is a twit, as is anyone who generalizes their personal preferences in electronic devices into a set of wild claims that anyone who feels differently must be a bullshitting fraud. There's nothing lively or colorful or amusing about that kind of thing. It's just shit, in a world that already has plenty of shit.

I am in fact interested in discussing the pros and cons of various different devices and programs for reading long texts onscreen, but only in a context where everyone agrees that preferring one kind of device or program over another doesn't make you hipper, more authentic, or more ruggedly honest.

#491 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Fragano Legister:

By being a security leak for data that doesn't belong to me by having an easy-to-guess password.

#492 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 06:41 PM:

How United Airlines treats disabled passengers.

This is absolutely disgusting. United was already not my airline of choice, but I think they've just dropped below even the chintzy-cheap lines.

#493 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 07:13 PM:

PNH @490:


I was surprised by how readable the iPod Touch screen is for reading whole books, in either Kindle or Stanza apps. I was expecting to give up and buy an e-ink device after a month or two, but I actually like the iPod screen, now. And this includes everything from a few minutes reading while waiting for a bus, to about 10 straight hours reading while travelling from Seattle to Brittany.

A suggestion on rhetoric:
If Paul Carr had written "I can't understand how anyone who reads seriously could like reading on the iPhone, because ..." it would convey the same actual intent, and smoke would be coming out of fewer pairs of ears. The statement might even be true, written that way.

#494 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 07:28 PM:

Erik Nelson #491: Ah. I see. Thanks.

#495 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 07:43 PM:

albatross@478 The Church authorities tell us that the scandals are over, that they're now taking pedophilia claims very seriously. But why should I believe it?

My diocese really does seem to be taking it seriously for future cases. For example, the training they give for everyone who works with children or vulnerable adults, the diocese website, and the brochures distributed through parishes and schools, tell people to first call the state government child protection hotline to report suspected abuse. They also tell people to additionally report suspicions of abuse to a hotline for the archdiocese or in writing to the archbishop, which would make it harder for the hierarchy to deny knowledge.

I'm less convinced that they have really tried hard to find all the previous cases, but there's been enough publicity that any repeat offenders have probably been exposed.

#496 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 07:44 PM:

I'd like to have an eReader platform use LaTeX. Kerning, glorious kerning! Palatino, whenever I want it!!

#497 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 09:09 PM:

Regarding password-locker utilities, which were being discussed upthread -- I used to simply keep everything in an encrypted text file, but for the last several months I've been using 1Password and in that time it's gone from "interesting" to "how did I ever live without it". Really nice integration with the Mac keychain and with multiple browsers. Looks complicated, but actually Makes Life Simpler, which is what one wants in software like this.

It's basically a Mac program, but it has a version for iPhone or iPod Touch, with which it can synchronize when the devices being synced are on the same WiFi network. Even more usefully, it can be configured to automatically save (and constantly update) an encrypted, passworded HTML file which, if you use DropBox, can then be synced to the stupid Windows machine that you use as little as possible at work, making it trivial to retrieve passwords with nothing more than a browser, provided you can manage to remember the master 1Password password, which I can just about do.

#498 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 09:21 PM:

Earl Cooley, #496: "Palatino, whenever I want it!"

I forget whether I told this story before, but when we were in Rome last year, on Jo Walton's advice we walked up the Palatine Hill one morning. It's a fabulous out-of-time place, the site of various Roman imperial palaces and, indeed, the root of the word "palace."

And one of the things I was completely charmed by was the fact that, in the small but fascinating museum of antiquities atop the hill, all the signage was set in--what else?--Palatino.

#499 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 09:24 PM:

nerdycellist @ 483, I've owned my Docs for 11 years, and I recall that when I first got them, they did the same thing to my ankles. The solution was to wear thick socks (the general thickness of good wool hiking socks). The thick socks both kept my ankles from getting ripped up, and filed down/softened the seams as I walked around.

I've not tried wearing them with only fishnets or similar, but I can get away with wool trouser socks these days.

#500 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 09:35 PM:

John A Arkansawyer, #397 (and Xopher, to whom John was responding) -- We saw Bellona, Destroyer of Cities in its final performance on Saturday night, along with Avram, Chris, Velma, Scraps, lj user=stakebait, and Jo Walton, who'd taken the train down from Montreal specifically to see it. We can attest that they did not bowdlerize the "male-male eroticism" out of the original.

They made a bunch of changes I'm not sure I would have made, and some of the performances were terrific while some were merely okay. (The female Kid/Kidd/Kyd was terrific. So was Mrs. Richards.) Overall, despite any cavils, it felt like Dhalgren in most of the important ways, and I'm glad we saw it. It's made me want to re-read the book for the first time in about 25 years.

#501 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 09:46 PM:

New York Times review of Bellona, Destroyer of Cities, the recent stage adaptation of Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren.

#502 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 09:56 PM:

Xopher @455: I'm not a Catholic, so I can only imagine what it must feel like to be one right now.

Actually, speaking as an American who voted for Obama, the whole leader covering up the crimes of a previous leader thing sounds kinda familiar.

#503 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 10:10 PM:

Paula Lieberman, #470: With all due respect (and I have plenty), I really have to wonder why you would even bother to spend any time whatsoever on the demo iPad at Best Buy. Surely decades of misery with devil-spawned Apple products, lengthily chronicled for the illumination of all, would have taught you that no good could possibly come of it.

Honestly, if you keep putting yourself in harm's way like this, I may be forced to conclude that you didn't come here just for the huntin'.

#504 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 10:12 PM:

Avram, #502: Point, but it's not quite parallel. Whatever his other failings, Barack Obama didn't spend the Bush years as GWB's enforcer.

#505 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 10:20 PM:

I cherish a naive hope that the lack of flash support on the iPad will perhaps lead to fewer websites using annoying flash stuff.

#506 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 10:34 PM:

Dave Bell, #466, I got the staples out of the leg & ankle in 1983, and they still are obvious.

Lee, #474, that's not entirely accurate. That added paragraph is the same paragraph that was in the Confederate History Month announcement from the last few Republican governors. Virginia's Assembly only announced that they were sorry about slavery in 2007 -- they "profoundly regret." Plus, McDonnell just required that for non-violent felons who leave prison to get the vote again -- which used to be an automated process -- will have to, in addition, write him a letter about how they've worked in the community and gone to church and so forth. That remind you of anything?

#507 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 11:05 PM:

Poetry Corner:

"In the drinking-well
(Which the plumber built her)
Aunt Eliza fell, --
We must buy a filter."

Where did Little Willies come from?

"Of Baby I was very fond,
She'd won her father's heart;
So, when she fell into the pond,
It gave me quite a start."

Possibly the most classic selection of seminal 'sick' jokes ever, Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes, readable (downloadable too) free at Google Books.

#508 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2010, 11:12 PM:

And on a different note, while I'm thinking about it, some words that come back to me every so often:

For Lewis Carroll and the Children
The gentle journey jars to stop.
The drifting dream is done.
The long gone goblins loom ahead;
The deadly, that we thought were dead,
Stand waiting, every one.

Walt Kelly, 1954

#509 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 12:04 AM:

Thanks for the advice, Rikibeth and Caroline. I'm currently in the process of moving and making some tough decisions as to what to keep and what to pack. I bought the Docs about a decade ago and wore them all the time at work, which at the time was a bookstore. When I got a "real job" I stopped wearing them so much and they wound up in the back of my closet. They must have been broken in at one point. A last-minute Halloween costume of Captain Hammer reminded me I owned them, but the blisters after that were painful.

Unfortunately it seems to be the wrong time of year for me to be wearing heavy socks and boots, but I'll definitely pack them and move them rather than donating them. (Sorry, Rikibeth - they're a UK 6!) Now what to do with that bodhran...

#510 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 12:06 AM:

Marilee @ 506: "Plus, McDonnell just required that for non-violent felons who leave prison to get the vote again -- which used to be an automated process -- will have to, in addition, write him a letter about how they've worked in the community and gone to church and so forth."

Ugh. I feel that the denial of the franchise to any convict, even those still in prison, will be one of the unquestioned characteristics of our time that future generations look back upon with disgust and amazement. It's awful that he's trying to take the vote away from even more citizens.

#511 ::: Paula Liebeman ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 01:01 AM:

#503 Patrick
I try to keep a certain degree of open-mindedness, and willingness to look at/examine/attempt to use new products... The Mac II was a more or less reasonable machine, even though it was from Apple, for its time--it was the first Apple machine that I can recall having had what I consider a relatively adequate keyboard, it had greyscale and color support, a 32 bit processor and bus... yeah, it still have the Mac UI which I was emphatically not thrilled with, but it had had a reasonable amout of screen display pixels for the time, and other nice features about it. It was the first Apple machine that I actually had some fun trying to use.... I don't remember if its innovations for Apple also included multitasking (via task switching than than multitasking, but that was still infinitely preferable to single tasking).

I had to at least if the iPad and my expectation of it passed a reality check.... (one of my career areas -is- test engineering, after all, one does't have to LIKE sometime to be competent tester of it... and the first thing I tried typing on iPad was NOT a rude phrase!)

#512 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 01:06 AM:

Dear Open Thread:

I am heartily thankful for the Sidelight entitled "Greg Van Eekhout to attend Rush concert". I had no idea that Rush were touring again this summer, and apparently the Denver show goes on pre-sale TOMORROW.

Also, congrats to Greg!

#513 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 03:02 AM:

Marilee #506: McDonnell just required that for non-violent felons who leave prison to get the vote again -- which used to be an automated process -- will have to, in addition, write him a letter about how they've worked in the community and gone to church and so forth.

It appears that it's not actually a literacy test, as applicants can phone the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth in lieu of writing a letter. Of course, if the applicant can't write and can't use the phone due to disability, they might have an actionable ADA complaint. I haven't found the actual text of the new rule, so I can't check to see if it actually requires church attendance. If it requires membership in a religion that specifically uses churches and is worded in a way that excludes mosques or temples, then that's another potential legal problem with the rule. I expect that institutional discrimination against Atheists is likely a given, in this situation, but would need to read the actual rule to confirm.

#514 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 06:57 AM:

Open threadiness: The Gene Weingarten piece that was discussed here a while back, on accidental deaths of children left in cars, won a Pulitzer Prize.

#515 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 09:06 AM:

PNH #490: No offense meant to Steve C., but that Techcrunch piece he linked to in #469 struck me as an all-too-typical example of the kind of casual assholery frequently found on tech blogs.

I try not to pay too much attention to that kind of stuff, but I get the impression that TechCrunch is particularly bad in that sort of way, and should in general not be taken particularly seriously.

#516 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 10:19 AM:

Meta and technical:

I would appreciate the comment form notes including a list of the permitted HTML elements (and even attributes, though that might be a tad verbose), for the benefit of those who enjoy being thorough and/or entertaining with such things, without having to figure it out by seeing what gets stripped in preview.

#517 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 11:38 AM:

Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle has these comments
about which makes the better e-book reader, the iPad or Kindle.

His conclusion is that if you're primarily interested in e-books, the Kindle is the better deal because of cost and convenience. He found the iPad display good, but said that he found reading on it for long periods difficult. (Note: I've heard that turning down the brightness is the key to a better reading experience on the iPad)

#518 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 12:47 PM:

I actually used to dim the screen to do color correction, which boggled my co-workers. Honestly, though, it brought it closer to the actual prints, so it worked better.

Recently, though, I did have to brighten a screen to do color-correction, but that was not to a print value. Instead, it was "make this color like the color on these other three hundred files."

#519 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 12:51 PM:

I can do a full day's reading on screen and I don't think it strains my eyes any more than a full day's reading of books, but after spending all day on screen I feel guilty for wasting my time, and that's not how I feel after reading a big book, no matter what the relative worths of the texts. I don't know why this is—memories of whiling away hour after hour at university on the magical 'tin' newsreader and telnetting to to use this 'Lynx Web Browser' thingy when I should have been working? (I thought I was weird for spending all day doing that; turns out I was merely an early adopter).

I've heard good things about the experience of reading on the Kindle, but can certainly see why the iPad's being seen as a Kindle-killer. Look at the pictures of the two devices at the bottom of that Paul Carr article; the Kindle looks embarrassingly retro in comparison—like some descendant of a Sharp programmable calculator used for stock control.

#520 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 02:19 PM:

By the way, on TNH's particle about Air Marshals, they're down to $160M per arrest, since they busted that guy for smoking in the airplane bathroom the other day. He's a diplomat, so he Gets Out Of Jail Free, but they do get to improve their numbers slightly :-)

#521 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 02:40 PM:

There's a customer at our front desk wearing a "George Bush for President 2004" t-shirt. It's going to take a few days for the bite-marks in my tongue to heal up.

#522 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 03:06 PM:

Open threadiness: my favorite video of the week, Dueling Carls.

#523 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 03:16 PM:

496, 498:
To me, Palatino sends the message "I just bought a laser printer!"

#524 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 03:41 PM:

Printing and Binding Lord of the Rings (from the particle sidebar.)

Did the books have to be bound in the darkness?

#525 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 03:50 PM:

Over the years, I've found many consumer-oriented printers wanting, because they were not up to the essential task of displaying the admirable subtleties of Palatino to my satisfaction. I guess I'm a bit spoiled, having worked in prepress back in the day.

As for iPad vs. Kindle, I'm kind of surprised that the Nook wasn't also included in the match-up.

#526 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 04:15 PM:

Open-thready request: I'm trying to find something I remember having read here at ML some time [1] back. My search-fu has failed on all the different combinations of possible search terms I've tried, and I'm hoping that somebody might remember it.

I don't remember if the thread itself was about narcolepsy, but the comment I'm thinking of was from Teresa, about the effects it's had on her life. Her comment was something along the lines of "If I stop to think about how much this disease has stolen from me, I will [scream? go mad? be paralyzed by despair? something like that, I think]. So when it comes up I pause, curse briefly and with feeling, and move on."

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Pointers to likely threads would be much appreciated.

[1] Probably at least a few years.

#527 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Lexica, would it be in the thread about pemoline being pulled from the market, called Fckng Ralph Nader, fckng Public Citizen? I couldn't guess how to search within the thread except by re-reading it, but it seems a likely thread to contain the sentiment.

#528 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 04:50 PM:

Rikibeth, If using Windows, use the Edit function in the top menu to get to "Find" and search for Teresa's (or anybody's) name within the thread.

#529 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 04:55 PM:

Diatryma - # 188

Fountain pens.

They are an addiction.

Drop a phone call to Levenger's customer service area (800-667-8034).

They may be able point you to somewhere to get repairs done.

On the other hand, if you purchased the pen through their website they are aggressivly helpful.

( at one point I had dropped one of my Lamy Safari pens and broke the nib -- I called about buying a replacement nib and the young lady in customer service refused to allow it -- the only concession she would make on the subject was to inquire if I was emotionally attached to the pen body and would only accept the nib, or if a replacement *pen* would be acceptable -- not only did they replace the pen free of charge, they paid for shipping for the replacement and said "don't bother" when I asked how to return the broken one)

Are you able to use cartridges until the piston converter is repaired, or is the problem with the pen itself?

#530 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 05:22 PM:

PNH #498: Did you find out if, by any change, the curator of that museum was named either Sergio or Zenzero/a?

#532 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 07:08 PM:

I guess it's only appropriate that this year, when the action in John Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar" takes place, would be when a genetic marker for lack of social fear and not using racial stereotypes would be discovered.

#533 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 07:41 PM:

Earl Cooley III, #513, ah, I found this:

Polarek said that if applicants had trouble with the essay, they could have a lawyer or someone else write it for them; they could even call her office for help. She said her office would hold a meeting with the ACLU, churches and other groups that work with felons to explain the process.

But it doesn't really seem that they can call to tell what would have been in an essay, just that the staffer would help them deal with the essay.

At the same URL, there's this:

In coming weeks, McDonnell will start requiring nonviolent offenders to write a letter to him explaining the circumstances of their arrest; their efforts to get a job, seek an education and participate in church and community activities; and why they believe their rights should be restored. Some applicants already have been notified that letters will be required.

So it does say they have to participate in church and community activities.

#534 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 07:52 PM:


I attempted to email you using the "gimme" address. Did you get the email, did it end up in a spam trap, or did I misspell it?

#535 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 08:05 PM:

Marilee, #533: If it were actually true that church attendance = religious beliefs, I could almost see that requirement; since we're talking about people who have already demonstrated a lack of internal ethics, providing them with an external Big Overseer With A Stick would be a useful alternative. Unfortunately, since the premise is false, the conclusion is going to fail miserably.

#536 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 08:11 PM:

Craig R at 529, thanks! I think I was aiming more for advice of the 'yeah, converters wear out' type-- it's frustrating and wastes ink, but you know, I have ink, and frustration is cheap. Next step is to buy another couple converters, one for this pen and one for the secondary pen* to replace the one I destroyed in a fit of impatience, and see if that changes anything. If I get really fed up, I might try dropping the second pen a couple times and seeing if that makes it the way I like it. It won't feel as nice in my hand, but it'll be something.

*converters: how interchangeable are they? As in, are they at all?

#537 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 08:40 PM:

Open Thread shake of the head:

So, the First Lady and the Second Lady make an unannounced trip to Haiti.

What is the news coverage fixated on regarding this visit? The assistance the U.S. might be asked to provide the wet, muddy, hungry, homeless, jobless Haitians via their influence? Health care? Fact Finding? Compassion?

Why -- NO! We write descriptions of what the two premiere ladies representing the U.S. are WEARING, particularly their SHOES!

Is this or is this not a great nation of journalism?

Love, C.

#538 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 08:42 PM:

Those of us who are or were Californians might find this story of the origin of the LA logo (seen on Dodgers paraphernalia) interesting. The author's not at all biased:

The hated Giants followed the bums west and copied our entwined lettering and Varsity typeface, but their Halloween-ish orange and black vitiate the overall effect. The Yankees' traditional black-and-white NY logo -- currently on view citywide in ads hyping their midsummer visit to Dodger Stadium -- has always been an abomination, suggestive of bats carelessly jumbled in a dugout barrel. And the Angels' sole scarlet letter A, straight out of Nathaniel Hawthorne, clashes incongruously with its own halo.

#539 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 08:59 PM:

Diatryma #536

I think that converters may be particular to particular manufacturers -- I do know that that the converters for the Waterman pens are interchangeable between several models.

#541 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 09:10 PM:

I've seen those ads. They're calling it the renewal of a classic rivalry, or words to that effect.
My first reaction was 'The Giants moved back to New York and I didn't hear about it?'

#542 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 09:11 PM:

Oh no, Aggie Maggie.

#543 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 09:23 PM:

Teresa, should we ask?

#544 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 09:23 PM:

Craig R. #531: Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.

This will not end well. (queue music)

#545 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 09:32 PM:

P J @ #541, now hold on there. The Giants played the Yankees once in the WS in the 50s (and lost). The Dodgers played them four times in those years and won once.


#546 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 09:39 PM:

Uh-oh. I hope Aggie Maggie's OK.

#547 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 09:48 PM:

Kip W @507:

Yay Ruthless Rhymes! I have a Dover Books paperback which I re-read probably more than most other poetry collections I own.

Bruce Cohen @532:

I guess it's only appropriate that this year, when the action in John Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar" takes place,

Hmm, I should re-read that soon. Probably (if I can find a copy on short notice) starting on the day the novel's action begins, which IIRC is May 3 -- I remember (or think I do) because it's my birthday.

Various posters re: collections at Catholic parishes:

In this respect it seems to me that the Catholic Church is less centralized than, for instance, the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC church I was a member of some years ago sent a certain percentage of its budget, from the general offering, to the SBC and the Georgia Baptist Convention for support of miscellaneous regional, national, & international programs; the pastor recommended giving 10% of one's income to the local church (and maybe something in addition to miscellaneous other charities -- though he didn't explicitly say so as best as I can recall). The Archdiocese of Atlanta recommends that, if one is giving 10% of one's income to charity, one give 5% to the parish, 1% to the diocese, and 4% to miscellaneous other charities (including but not necessarily limited to such Catholic charities as are supported by special second collections during Mass). If I understand correctly, normally none of the money one gives to the parish goes to the diocese, the national bishops' conference, or the Vatican.

Re: prevention of sexual abuse -- around 2002 or 2003, I don't recall the exact dates, the Archdiocese of Atlanta instituted new rules for anyone working with children in any way, including background checks, training on how to detect and prevent abuse, and procedures such as never having one adult alone in a room with one child. I think similar if not identical procedures were instituted in all U.S. dioceses based on decisions made by the bishops' conference.

#548 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 10:06 PM:

So this self-referential sentence walks into a bar.....

Inspired of course by Open Thread 137, but I could not post about it publicly until now.

#549 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 10:25 PM:

Agnes Margaret, ca. 2009-2010. RIP, we're pretty sure. Woe.

It's silly to be so emotionally invested in rodents, but gosh.

#550 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 10:37 PM:

Oh, I am so sorry.

#551 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 10:47 PM:

I'm sorry for your loss, Patrick and Teresa.

#552 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 10:50 PM:

Patrick and Teresa:

Oh, how sad. I've very sorry to hear it.

#553 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 11:10 PM:

Too short, even for a hamster. Or a rat.
May she wake up in an endless meadow (with no predators).

#554 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 11:13 PM:

Such a surprise. She was scaling the walls of her cage and demanding leafy treats just this morning.

#555 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 11:14 PM:

Very sorry to hear about Agnes Margaret -- and while it may be silly to become attached to rodents, it's not at all silly to become attached to unspeaking chosen family members. Which is what pets usually are.

#556 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Wherever she is, she's running.

#557 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 11:30 PM:

Pendrift @522: Oh, dear Ghu! You made me scare the guinea pigs. (I love the little wiggly uvulas.)

#558 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 11:41 PM:

Oh, Teresa. I'm so sorry. (Silly or not, I've been attached to rodents since 2001.)

One just can never tell. I've had them live as little as two hours, as long as eight years. It's never enough.

#559 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2010, 11:57 PM:

They can turn so fragile so quickly. Just this morning she was hanging in mid-air in the top corner of her cage, wheedling a bit of lettuce from me.

#560 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 12:00 AM:

I'm so sorry for your loss.

#561 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 12:26 AM:

Teresa and Patrick -

My condolences on your loss. You always make your little critters into such a part of the Fluorosphere, that we grieve with you, not just for you.

#562 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 12:38 AM:

R.I.P., A.M.

When I was a kid I accidentally killed a pet mouse. I could never bring myself to own a delicate pet after that. It's sad when they go, no matter how small.

#563 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 12:48 AM:

Patrick & Teresa: My condolences. That's a surprisingly short span even for a hamster-sized critter; I'm sure it's an awful shock.

#564 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 01:22 AM:

Oh, no, Aggie Maggie! I'm so sorry!

Now I'm all upset.

#565 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 01:47 AM:

Teresa and Patrick, I'm so sorry to hear about Aggie Maggie.

#566 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 04:28 AM:

Teresa and Patrick: very sorry to hear about Aggie Maggie. Losing a pet is always a great sadness, but even more so when it's untimely. My condolences.

#567 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 04:52 AM:

Teresa and Patrick, I'm very sorry for your loss.

#568 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 05:16 AM:

It's about a year since our cat died. I might have grown up as a farmer, be a bit hard-nosed about such things, but they're not interchangable.

#569 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 06:19 AM:

TNH, my condolences on your loss.

#570 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 06:49 AM:

Patrick & Teresa, sorry for your loss.

#572 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 07:34 AM:

Teresa & Patrick, my sympathies!

#573 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 09:34 AM:

Pendrift @ #522, I am now cracking up at the thought of going back in time and trying to explain this to my 1976 self.

Patrick and Teresa, condolences on your loss.

#574 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 09:35 AM:

Teresa and Patrick, my condolences as well!

Her "small size" makes no difference in the effect she had upon your lives.

#575 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 09:45 AM:

Jim @548 -- excellent!

Teresa & Patrick, sorry to hear about your pet.

#576 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 10:21 AM:

Teresa and Patrick, I'm sorry for your loss.

#577 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 10:33 AM:

At first, with Patrick's "RIP, we're pretty sure" I was afraid she was missing.

I'm sorry about your pet. They trust us so absolutely that it's hard not to feel we've let them down.

#578 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 10:40 AM:

I'm sorry about the loss of your rodent. Animals matter.

#579 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 11:16 AM:

Erik@524: Perhaps only in shadow? At least for the ninth impression? (There's nothing actually in the article saying when the various bits of edited proofs date to, but that's where it's located in the article anyway.)

#580 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 11:18 AM:

P&T: Sorry to hear about Aggie Maggie.

I suspect what makes us identify with animals, even short-lived ones, is closely related to what lets us empathize with humans. Hence I suspect it's very important.

#581 ::: Craig R ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 12:08 PM:

MY condolences on your loss of your wee friend.

#582 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 12:13 PM:

Condolences. They're always their own selves, which makes it even harder.

#583 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 12:35 PM:

Teresa and Patrick, my condolences.

#584 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 01:03 PM:

I really liked the LotR printing info. Except that ISTR that there are different states on the first printing of Fellowship, with a number appearing on one page somewhere in the body of the book on the earlier copies. How does that reconcile with the body of the article? I guess I'll have to go research that again....

#585 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 01:06 PM:

Poor AM! She had a whole summer of fruit-nibbling to look forward to!

I'm sorry. They are such ridiculous animals, which is probably one of the reasons they are so endearing.

#586 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 01:08 PM:

Such terrible news about little AM. I'm sorry for your loss...

#587 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 01:24 PM:

ddb, #580: I suspect what makes us identify with animals, even short-lived ones, is closely related to what lets us empathize with humans. Hence I suspect it's very important.

I want to repeat that, because I think you may seriously be onto something there. We've all encountered the sort of person who says, "Why are you getting so upset? It's just an animal!" Now I'm going to be watching for those kinds of sentiments among people I know who lean right-wing, and see if there appears to be any correlation.

#588 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Oh, dear. Losing an animal friend so abruptly adds that extra degree of difficulty, I find.

Much sympathy.

#589 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 02:19 PM:

Someone, far enough upthread that I've lost track: Norman Davies on the history of Poland. There's a very useful animation near the start of how Poland's borders have moved over the centuries.

I've been doing a lot of family history stuff lately*. Large portions of one branch of my family came from a small town whose land currently belongs to the Czech Republic. However, on the censuses in 1880, 1900, 1920, and 1930 (not to mention the interstitial Kansas ones on the 5-years), these people -- who are the same people and were still born in the same town -- had to list entirely different countries in the "where were you born" field.

Specific values seem to vary by enumerator's whim (and ability to spell) as well as by current geopolitical realities, but included:

Bohemia (I am of ethnically-Bohemian stock)

In my great-grandmother's father's lifetime, the town he was born in changed country seven times (sometimes back to the same one as before, of course). Certainly brings perspective on an era of history. :->

* If you're interested in doing some or getting some done, feel free to contact me offlist in great detail via the blog linked above in my name.

#590 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Adding my voice to the condolences for little Aggie Maggie.

#591 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Teresa, Patrick -- my condolences on the loss of your dear Aggie-Maggie.

It always comes too suddenly -- in the last 3 weeks we had to have two of our elderly cats put to sleep, D'Artagnan would have been 18 on April 2 and Kitsumi was 15. I had an eternity with them compared to little Aggie-Maggie's brief span with you...and it still wasn't enough.

#592 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 03:40 PM:

I'm so sorry about Aggie Maggie. She was so small and so cute. Totally endearing. Of course, she never bit me, either.

#593 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 03:46 PM:

The "Dueling Carls" remind me of degenerative flame wars. If you listen to the bouncing screams long enough, would they coalesce into the discernible sound of "Hitler!"?


I've admired custom fountain pens for years, but I would never buy one. They're the sort of thing I tend to lose or misplace quickly. (My high school class ring didn't even make it to high school graduation.)


New subject: I've noticed an odd phenomenon in my work as a night security guard at a shopping/office complex. One of the things we're supposed to do while walking thru the parking garages at night is pick up the larger pieces of trash people leave behind. (The small pieces get picked up by the Armadillo, a small vacuum truck that looks like a Zamboni washed in hot water, when the Maintenance people do their garage run in the morning.) Usually these larger pieces are things like soft drink or coffee cups, fast food containers, and the like.

But somehow, despite having other guards on duty either on the same nights or on my nights off, it always seems to be me who comes across the stuff like a bag of urine*, a used tampon applicator, and -- far too many times -- used diapers left on the floors of the garages.

(Why, yes, I do carry disposable gloves in a case on my utility belt. Just like Batman, although striking fear into the hearts of litterbugs probably isn't something that's ever occurred to him.)

That this only seems to happen to me has been making me wonder if I'm turning into a Shit Magnet.

I just want to go on record that this is not a mutant superpower I've ever wanted to manifest.

*"a bag of urine" -- some customer apparently decided it was too much trouble to scout out the public restrooms, so they took one of their shopping bags, pissed into it, and left the bag on the garage floor before driving away. W... T... F...?)

#594 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Elliott Mason #589: My paternal grandmother was in much the same boat (so to speak) -- the only country name I remember offhand was Romania, but I she assured me her town changed hands several times. (Somewhere I have notes....)

#595 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Many a city and region of Iberia experienced the same thing. For centuries they changed hands over and over, and not necessarily from Islamic to Christian or Christian to Islamic. Their changing overlords were often the same religion, just different alliances.

Many of the greatest, most ancient, most noble Spanish families were founded by an Islamic mercenary from wherever. Fighting for a Christian king or other powerful Christian figure, as reward for defeating and expelling the enemy the mercenary was rewarded with lands and a title.

Thus the Inquisition was established when Grenada was finally conquered. Too many Moorish families. They suffered the same fate as the Jewish populations suffered later: arrest, torture, execution, confiscation, expulsion. Also Isabella -- who dressed in Moorish robes upon hers and Ferdinand's coronation in the Alahambra -- were fixated on the converso - secret Moors, just as later it was the converso - secret Jews that was their fixation.

Visigoths. There's nothing good to say about them.

Love, C.

Which is why the Inquisition

#596 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 07:05 PM:

Teresa and Patrick, please accept my condolences on the loss of Aggie-Maggie as well. Animal companions are people, perhaps not in exactly the same way as humans, but certainly in the way they earn our love and respect. How could we be people if we could not mourn the loss of our friends?

#597 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 08:20 PM:

Teresa & Patrick, my condolences as well.

#598 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Constance @ #595, "Visigoths. There's nothing good to say about them."

That's good enough for a back-of-the-book blurb.

#599 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 08:24 PM:

Teresa and Patrick: My condolences.

#600 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 08:50 PM:

Visigoths- great jewellery!

#601 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Bruce D @593
I used to have a mutant superpower that when I looked at an animal outside, it would immediately commence relieving itself. I'm kind of glad that's gone, actually.

For a whole day when I was in high school, I could tell bees to go somewhere and they'd go there. I think that one may have been taken away from me because I lied to the bees about the location of flowers. Great responsibility and all that.

#602 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 09:19 PM:

My mutant superpower is that I can get one more bar on my cell phone than my wife can. With identical phones.

#603 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 09:24 PM:

Lee @ 587: "Now I'm going to be watching for those kinds of sentiments among people I know who lean right-wing, and see if there appears to be any correlation."

I find it very strange that you think there's going to be a correlation between becoming emotionally attached to animals and right-wing sentiments. I'm pretty sure right-wingers love their furry companions just as much as anyone--if anything, their failure of empathy is on the societal level, not the personal.

#604 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 09:58 PM:

My condolences on the loss of A-M.

#605 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 10:50 PM:

heresiarch #603: Um, I think you might have attached that to the wrong clause... I think Lee was wondering about their possible inability to sympathize with a fellow human's grief, when it's not their own furry companion that died.

In any case, "societal" empathy is just an extension, and "abstraction", of personal empathy. That is, not "my buddy got hurt, ow!", but "somebody got hurt, ow!".

#606 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 11:25 PM:

Odd linguistic question, which I believe the Fluorosphere will answer: I'm reading a book of Scottish law humor (Lawyers' Leisure by W. G. M. Dobie), and the author refers to WWII as "Hitler's war." Was that a common usage? Why haven't I noticed it before, if so? What class/group of people would have used that term?

#607 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 11:45 PM:

Re: my #533, today McDonnell's staff have said that the hundreds of letters they sent out to the non-violent felons who want to vote just went because a "well-meaning" staffer sent them. However, the WashPost interviewed two of the staffers earlier who said it was definitely what would be done. It sounds to me that he's backing off because people are angry about this, too.

Patrick and Teresa, I'm sorry Aggie Maggie is gone.

Lori Coulson, #591, and I'm so sorry for your loss of the cats, too.

#608 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2010, 11:45 PM:

Open threadiness on the financial meltdown and how it happened:

First, this piece talks a bit about how the incentives in mortgage underwriting led to a sort of feedback loop of fraud and blind risk-taking. (And I learned what "control fraud" means.)

Second, this one talks about the same phenomenon, in the same crisis, at a much higher level of the financial industry.

If you want to see "perverse incentives" and "race to the bottom" illustrated in detail, these stories manage it. I especially liked the detail from the first story: not only did the rating agencies not look at any details (like mortgage paperwork) from the mortgages that appeared in the CDOs they rated AAA, the banks usually don't even have that paperwork. Nobody looked at it. Because if you looked at it, you'd have to refuse the transaction, and that would lose you money.

#609 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 12:13 AM:

I figured that of pet owners, more dog owners would be right-wing and more cat owners would be left wing. That's kind of hand-wavey though, and not scientific; there might be too many exceptions to generalize.

#610 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 12:26 AM:

#609: One negative data point here.

My sister and ex boyfriend, two more to the contrary. (Four, if you count the dogs.)

#611 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 01:14 AM:

For some reason, we now have 10 chicks in the playroom. I'm not sure why we decided that animals that are dumber than a bowl of water need to be part of our family, but there you go.

Though, I won't mind the eggs, when they eventually come. (for those keeping score at home, chickens before eggs, by about 6 months. But then the eggs should have numerical superiority pretty quickly)

#612 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 02:55 AM:

eric @ 611: The best way I have ever found to appreciate how truly dumb chickens are is to raise them. At least they aren't quite in the same class as domesticated turkeys. (A friend who grew up on a turkey ranch told me stories about some of the flock drowning because they would look up in stupefaction when the first raindrops hit . . . and were too dumb to lower the angle of their nostrils to let the water run out. And this was on top of being too stupid to reproduce without direct human assistance . . . )

#613 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 02:58 AM:

albatross @ #608, for a really entertaining read about the mess get Michael Lewis's The Big Short. I just finished it. It's devastating in its conclusions, but it's also extraordinarily easy to understand.

There's a passage in the book (p.171, & the footnote) where somebody asks a woman in the surveillance dept at S&P for the details of some of the underlying mortgage loans, and she tells him S&P doesn't have it. He asks why not. She says "the issuers won't give it to us." He says "You need to demand to get it." She looks at him and says "we can't do that." He says "Who is in charge here? You're the grown-up. You're the cop! Tell them to f***ing give it to you!"

He concluded that S&P was worried that if it demanded that info, the firms would just go to Moody's for ratings, thereby taking all those lovely fees away.

#614 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 05:43 AM:

Hey, w00t, in the office tidy-up, I managed to score a RADICAL MILITANT LIBRARIAN button!

#615 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 09:01 AM:

Earl Cooley III @609: But if you keep really big cats...

#616 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 09:10 AM:

Linkmeister at 613, I've had The Big Short on hold at my county library for weeks; I'm now number 2 in the queue. Waiting...

#617 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 11:37 AM:

Air travel in Europe just became more complicated, and downright impossible in some areas.

So, I assume this lasts until the ash goes away, one way or another, and that's partly dependent on how long this eruption stage lasts, and how fast the winds can spread around and thin out what's up there. Can the problems be expected to spread east with the winds, for at least a while, or what?

#618 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 11:51 AM:

Oh, COOL!! It turns out that the Boulder Public Library offers downloadable audio books! HOW COOL IS THAT!? they offer a version that plays on Macs...?1

1 Technology is so cool when it works!

#619 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 12:05 PM:

RIP Ben Hooks:

#620 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 12:11 PM:

Thanks, Marilee -- I hadn't posted about them because I just couldn't... We knew D'Art was getting frail so we knew we didn't have much more time, but Kitsi's decline came as a total surprise.

The vet said both had failing kidneys; all we can figure is that when her buddy D'Art vanished Kitsi gave up.

We're down to 3 cats: DC, the 16 year old 'mese who is very clingy at the moment; and our dynamic duo, Tealc and Tao (half-mese and full 'mese, respectively). Tealc is about 20 pounds and black as coal, while Tao is the largest Siamese cat I have ever seen -- he is as big as a Maine Coon, and every ounce is muscle.

I haven't come up with a way to explain to Deece why his companions are gone. Does anyone have a way of telling your furry family members* about these things?

*Our dogs, Honey and Brandy, were with us at the vets, but we couldn't take everybody.

#621 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 12:13 PM:

More keeping keeping really big cats.

#622 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 12:29 PM:

Lori Coulson @620: I haven't come up with a way to explain to Deece why his companions are gone. Does anyone have a way of telling your furry family members* about these things?

WereBear over at Way of Cats says:

When we lose someone from the household, we should recognize that cats also feel it. Searching for the gone one when their name is mentioned, having digestive upsets, pacing and wailing, and lying around in a depressed funk are all ways cats express their grief.

We should discuss the situation with the cat as we would with a small child; simple expressions of how much we also miss the gone one, how circumstances made them unable to remain in the body we knew them in, and explaining how they might continue on in whatever way we believe to be so. We can tell our grieving cat that we love them and that we, and they, are not going to go away because of it.

Just as with a child, they might not understand everything we are saying. But they feel comforted by the effort we make towards reassurance.

Because it is reassurance, and grief is easier when it is shared. We don’t need to worry about whether they “understand.”

Because, after all, how well do we understand it, ourselves?

#623 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 01:09 PM:

fidelio @ 617: Precedent suggests that the effects of this type of eruption can be rather widespread in both space and time. Volcanic ash appears to be rather abrasive to crystal balls; they don't seem to work well in that environment.

#624 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 01:18 PM:

I am now wifi-less at home and using the free wifi at a library. It is painfully slow and I can't surf as spontaneously as is my wont. Grr.

In other news I did a temporary gig earlier this week as convention center staff for a medical convention. The talk on billing procedures was standing room only, and I had to ask people not to bring extra chairs in.

Lewis Waterman invented the fountain pen and also the game of Reversi (also known as Othello).

#625 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 02:55 PM:

Late as usual, but my condolences to Teresa and Patrick.

albatross @ 608:

There are a collection of good posts about the mortgage mess at Good Math Bad Math, too. Here are a couple, but there are more under the Bad Economics category.

Jacque @ 621:

Even more keeping really big cats.

#626 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 03:17 PM:

How to keep your big cats amused if your life is not exciting enough for your taste.

#627 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 03:20 PM:

Erik Nelson @624: more under the Bad Economics category

Then, of course, there's the premeditatedly criminal category.

#628 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 04:02 PM:

Lori Coulson #620: Does anyone have a way of telling your furry family members* about these things?

It's a bit late for this now, but last time this came up, someone mentioned bringing a towel for the decedent to lie on during their euthanasia. Apparently, upon smelling the towel, their other pets got the idea immediately.

#629 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 04:28 PM:

Hey, guess what? Consequences sometimes do apply to the powerful, when they are whistleblowers exposing embarrassing boondoggles at the NSA. I mean, if just he'd tortured a few prisoners to death, or wiretapped millions of calls without a warrant, or infiltrated major media outlets with propoganda-spewing "military affairs consultants," he wouldn't be prosecuted. But telling the press about massive wastes of money and privacy violations? That's crossing a line.

#630 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 04:48 PM:

A video showing another way to amuse big cats. Messy, but not gory.

#631 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 04:49 PM:

Lori Coulson @620
When Beulah went in for surgery and they found that she was too full of cancer to revive, we brought her body home. She was curled up, just like she'd be if she was lying on the bed, sucking her toe. It seemed like we should let Natasha know what had happened, so we brought her in. She sniffed delicately at her companion, then suddenly seemed alarmed and ran off. We thought that meant she understood, but weren't certain.

A little later -- a couple of days or a few days, I'm not sure, but after we had buried Beulah under the hydrangea bush she used to look at out the window -- Tosh got out of the patio door and seemed to be searching, sniffing at the sides of the house and mewing urgently. I thought she was looking for her 'sister.' It still makes me sad to think of it.

Who knows, though, how cats think? I read, years ago, that animals don't have nearly as much of a neocortex, so that it could be assumed they experience life as we do a dream, where things simply happen without much questioning. It could be that she did understand, and didn't remember it for long.

Tosh died and joined Beulah under the hydrangea when Sarah was a year old. A year and a half ago, Sarah decided I needed another cat as a birthday present. She was right. Frances is a sweet cat. Animals, in my opinion, are the spirit of the house.

#632 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 04:49 PM:

Jacque, David Harmon, Thanks!

We did do the towel/carrier bit, and have done our best to reassure DC when he goes looking. I just feel so sorry for the little guy. (He's the smallest cat in the house.)

He's getting lots of cuddles, and Honey (our 11 month old Chihuahua) will try to nap with him, just as she did with D'Art. The younger cats are pretty much loners, and don't seem to be as affected as the Deecimal.

#633 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 04:55 PM:

albatross @629:

Aaargh, she aarghs. Aaarghily.

(I have nothing useful to say, no way to make it better. I stand by all my points above, though.)

#634 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 05:15 PM:

Two bits of good news from the courts, for a change.

1) The British Chiropractic Association have dropped their libel case against Simon Singh

2) Dutch nurse Lucia de Berk, who was previously convicted of murder because more patients than average died when she was working, has been cleared and the Public Prosecutor has apologised.

#635 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 07:56 PM:

Constance, #537, Yesterday's WashPost didn't mention any clothes in Mrs. Obama's visit to Haiti and today's article on her trip to Mexico and a bit of Haiti at the end, only mentions the clothes of the children. The writer of both articles is the WashPost's Fashion Editor.

Earl Cooley III, #609, besides the fact that I like cats better, I wouldn't be able to walk dogs.

eric, #611, a building in DC has it's traditional staff protection of ducklings from a hawk.

Lori Coulson, #620, I've always shown the dead cat to the other cats; only one of mine died at the vet (renal failure -- he had all the meds I do). The others died here in the house, unexpectedly, and I showed them to the living cats.

Nebraska has passed two new laws on abortion: the first is to ban abortions at 20 weeks or later, and the second is to require the women to be checked for mental health.

#636 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 08:46 PM:

Marilee: something driven home to me when I was gestating is that the big 'anatomy scan' ultrasound, where they tell you if the kid's healthy and normal (and therefore, give you the chance to abort and try again if you have, say, ancephaly or something else horrible) ... is at 22 weeks.

Because of insurance issues, we didn't get ours till week 26; in Illinois, the 'you have to get special medical dispensation, you can't just opt to have one' line is, I believe, week 24.

I'm very glad we didn't discover anything, well, worrying, at that point, because our options would've been very limited. And Illinois is a GOOD state for choice ...

#637 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 09:14 PM:

Lori at # 620: My partner and I do what Marilee does. Even when one of our cats dies at the vet's, we bring it home to show the other cats before returning the body for cremation.

One time there was a delay of several hours before we could hold the visitation. Presumably the body had started to smell more of decay at that point, and all of the cats had strong reactions. Some of them kept sniffing deeply, while others ran off. I don't want to anthropomorphize too much, but they clearly knew that something was wrong.

#638 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 09:18 PM:

Argh. When I said, "you have to get special medical dispensation, you can't just opt to have one", the 'one' is an brtn, not an ultrasound, obviously. I hope it was obvious, anyhow.

#639 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 10:57 PM:

Re the economics stuff: I've long suspected that there's some kind of similar feedback loop of perverse incentives behind our never-ending medical inflation.

#640 ::: Avocado of Death ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 11:11 PM:

Teresa, my condolences on the loss of Aggie Maggie.

#641 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2010, 11:36 PM:

There's a new version of Adobe Flash Player at It just went up on their website.... I think a new version or patch of Adobe Reader came out last night (and is on my computer....)

(I tried to see one of the big kitty links, and got a notice on YouTube to upgrade Flash Player... and then had to wait, because the download site page had notice on it about undergoing maintenance. Some minute later, I was able to download and install the updated software. )

#642 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Green Eggs and Hamlet

(Warning: the very last word in the video is NSFW; as this is part of the "Next week on..." announcement, you can just stop after the actors' bow if you're in an unsafe environment.)

#643 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 12:18 AM:

Teresa and Patrick, my condolences.

#644 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 12:29 AM:

Teresa and Patrick, many condolences. Any pet takes a bit of your heart, no matter how big or small.

hugs to both of you across the e-ways

#645 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 01:21 AM:

Teresa & Patrick... My condolences.

#646 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 01:26 AM:

More cheerful knews... My wife is recovering so well from Tuesday's knee-replacement's replacement that she'll be coming back home tomorrow afternoon. Yay! Tonight, when one nurse stopped me and said that I am quite efficient with taking care of my wife and that they should hire me because I saved them work.

#647 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 04:45 AM:

Go, Serge and wife!

#648 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 05:31 AM:

Lee @642: "Green Eggs and Hamlet"

OMG! That's freakin' brilliant!

#649 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 08:44 AM:

ObSF: Dime Museum Lot #77 consists of osters for plays at Ford's Theatre in Washington, of which the top one features Fritz Leiber, Senior-- father of the SF writer-- "in Plays of Shakespeare."

(Direct link to the photo.)

#650 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 08:49 AM:

Jacque @ 647... Thanks. Her day started downhill, with Turner Classic Movies showing Victor Manure and other cavemen bringing a mountain down on a giant iguana, after which things went uphill with "The Thing" and "The Time Machine", only to crash way downhill with two Italian space adventures, one of which featured bad guys wearing Matrix glasses, tights and shiny black raincoats. I guess that was an incentive for my wife to get better.

#651 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 08:58 AM:

I Might Have Known Dept.: Fritz Leiber, Sr. has a Wikipedia entry, as does his son.

(As yet, so far as I know, Wikipedia does not have an entry on me, though I am mentioned a few times in it. Yesterday I learned, however, that The Life and Work of William Higgins is now available online for free.)

#652 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 08:59 AM:

Jacque @618 -- I just found out about LibriVox, free downloadable audiobooks of public-domain works. I haven't browsed around the catalog too much yet but (a) it does seem pretty big and (b) my friend who told me about it said the quality of the readings was generally high. Also you can volunteer to record readings of public-domain books that are not yet in their database, which seems to me like a potentially lot of fun.

#653 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 10:51 AM:

Serge, Victor Manure made some real crap movies.

#654 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 10:53 AM:

Bill, there are others, too. And that disambiguation page doesn't even mention the most famous one—or perhaps my viewpoint is somewhat skewed.

#655 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 11:51 AM:

Breaking: SEC charges Goldman Sachs with fraud.

Seems they sold mortgage securities that they KNEW would fail...

#656 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 12:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore @606:

Odd linguistic question, which I believe the Fluorosphere will answer: I'm reading a book of Scottish law humor (Lawyers' Leisure by W. G. M. Dobie), and the author refers to WWII as "Hitler's war." Was that a common usage? Why haven't I noticed it before, if so? What class/group of people would have used that term?

I can't help much, except to say that I've encountered the term "Hitler's war" or possibly "the Hitler war." I believe it is British . . . and I wonder now if it was a term used before the war got upgraded to "World War II" status.

I mean, when did people start calling it WWII? What would they have called it before they knew it was a World War?

#657 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 12:50 PM:

ddb @580:

I suspect what makes us identify with animals, even short-lived ones, is closely related to what lets us empathize with humans.

Funny, I would express the same thought in this way: "Animals possess the characteristic which triggers empathy in us, just like humans do."

#658 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 01:04 PM:

LDR @656 --

It is certainly possible and defensible to take the position that World War II was really two wars; Hitler's War and the Great Pacific War. Being fought in an overlapping span of time by an overlapping set of parties, these certainly interacted and influenced each other but had highly distinct theatres of operation, goals, and historical underpinnings.

So you might have encountered the term being used by someone who takes that view.

#659 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 01:36 PM:

This is just to say

He has opened
a restaurant
that was named
after the poem

and which
you were probably
would scan

Forgive me
this was topical
so recent
and so obvious

It would have probably been more appropriate to talk about the ingredients at Plum being so fresh and so local, and uniquely American cuisine, but I haven't actually eaten there yet, just seen the news article.

#660 ::: Jenavira ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 01:37 PM:

LDR@656 reminds me of a question that came up at the reference desk yesterday -- does anyone know what they would have called the Thirty Years' War while it was still going on? (I was completely stuck on how to search for primary sources until the patron told me they wanted specifically Gustavus Adolphus.)

#661 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 01:42 PM:

This man was one of my son's assistant principals and a really nice guy. The DC School Superintendant seduced him away from Montgomery County. I hope they catch this killer and fast.

Morbid curiosity: the same house was the scene of a double murder in 2002. A stranger entered the home, killing a man and his daughter.

#662 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 07:54 PM:

The Modesto Kid @652:

Oh, WOW! That is VERY cool! Thank you! I know a couple of other people that will love to hear about this. I also know some folks who have been wanting to break into voice-acting; this would be an excellent way to work up a demo reel.

anyone: Say, do I misremember ML providing a RSS feed? I'm finally getting around to setting one up for myself, but I find no little orange icon.

#663 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 08:04 PM:

Ginger #661: Oh, shit.

#664 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 08:34 PM:

Fragano @683: he was the kind of guy that middle school kids just adored. He had a running joke with my son throughout his sixth grade year, and we hated seeing him go, even though it was a great promotion for him.

#665 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 09:12 PM:

Bill Higgins 649 and 651:

My great-grandmother once did a portrait of Fritz Leiber in one of his Shakespearean roles.

#666 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 09:33 PM:

Jacque @ #662,re RSS: on the home page, in the right sidebar, under "More what."

#667 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 10:27 PM:

In the middle of grading, and up pops this, ahem, gem: "Some hate crimes are war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity; these crimes mostly occur in Third World countries such as Belgium, Belarus and Denmark, and many other places."

#668 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Oh Ginger, I'm so sorry. He sounds like he was a wonderful person.

#669 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 10:53 PM:

Elliott Mason, #636, I have a friend who got pregnant at 15 (and married the guy -- they just had their 10th anniversary) and the baby showed up as anencephalic. Her doctor convinced her to carry the baby to term so there'd be organs to use. My friend is upset about this now, but she was too young and was easily swayed back then. When she asked us about it, we each gave our opinion once and stepped back.

Ginger, #661, I had no idea he was related to Sonny! And I hadn't heard it was the same house for the other killings. I remember those, too.

#670 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 11:49 PM:

I'm a few days behind the curve here, but Jeanne Robinson is now in palliative care.

I ponder the truly overwhelming amount of joy she and Spider have made available to me over the last 35 years.

Linkmeister: Thanks.

#671 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 12:02 AM:

Ginger @ 661... Sorry to hear.

#672 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 12:50 AM:

Question for the group:

I apparently got my niece interested in Neil Gaiman books. A gentle shove here and there, making the family watch Stardust, boom! My sister asked me which of the books they'd spotted in the library she might tackle.

So: How suitable for young teens is the "Fragile Things" collection? I know from the Amazon reviews that there's some horror in there, but how freaky are we talking?

#673 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 12:52 AM:

In #660 Jenavira writes:

LDR@656 reminds me of a question that came up at the reference desk yesterday -- does anyone know what they would have called the Thirty Years' War while it was still going on?

Just before it ended, it was known as the Twenty-Nine Years' War....

Time appears to have made a stylebook decision to refer to World War II (in its Roman-numeral form) with the 11 September 1939 issue, for example in this article on European diplomacy or this article on the role of science in modern warfare, which also refers to "World War I."

Now for some years there had been discussions of avoiding a "second World War," so this may not have been a brand-new coinage-- but I don't have a primary source for you on that.

#674 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 01:21 AM:

Xopher at #654:

You can imagine how pleased I am whenever someone points out what you just pointed out.

(But I forgive you.)

#675 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 03:10 AM:

I seem to recall that our hostess Teresa is a fan of citrus. My RSS reader today gifted me with this post full of weird-citrus porn (quite SFW, unless your boss really hates oranges), from the very excellent Cooking Issues, the blog of a couple food-tech heads from the French Culinary Institute. (Best. Geek. Food. Blog. EVAR!)

Stefan Jones @672: It of course depends greatly on the young teenager in question -- I certainly read all sorts of things when I was a voracious young teenage reader, some age-appropriate and some not. There's sex and violence in Fragile Things, to be sure, and creepiness, and certainly things I, reading it as a college student, found uncomfortable. (The story where you gradually realize that the point-of-view character is a pedophile is the standout there.) I can't say as Gaiman's earlier short story collection Smoke and Mirrors is less boundary-pushing -- if anything I think the stories in it are edgier. I guess I read it in the latter half of my teens, now that I bother to check some dates.

Much as I love Gaiman's short stories, if I was going to pick a place for a young teenager to start, I think I'd suggest Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, Stardust, or The Graveyard Book over Fragile Things, assuming the library has them. Your niece may be a little old for Coraline, but that's an option too. I read it at seventeen, I think, and found that an awkward age at which to read the book -- I was too old to be satisfied by it as an adventure, but too young to read it as a horror story. (Yes, you read that right.) But of course everybody ages differently. Gaiman's Eternals reboot would be a decent place to start, for his comics work. All of those are "safer" options -- though by no means staid! The Graveyard Book starts with a boy's family being murdered, ferchrissake -- and also genuinely good books to boot. (The Graveyard Book is the only book in recent memory that has moved me to tears.)

From Gaiman I discovered urban fantasy before that meant vampire porn, Terry Pratchett and Discworld, and Alan Moore and the rest of modern comics, so he really opened to me a whole set of worlds I had no idea existed. Your niece has a lot of good reading ahead of her. :-)

#676 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 03:24 AM:

Bill Higgins @651 -- There's no article on me, either, though I do show up in several Wikipedia articles. I'm still the first two Google hits if you type in my name, though not the third (on Facebook) or the DC area Tea Partier....

LDR @656 -- I did light googling and discovered that the phrase has been the title of two books, only one of them in the SF genre. Thanks for your comment about having heard it outside of the literary context.

#677 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 07:05 AM:

Ginger, I just read today's WashPost story about the murder. Tragic and devastating. Betts was making a real difference at his school.

I'm very sad about the horrible death on Monday of a former work colleague, who was crushed by a military truck that was moving to block an intersection as part of the security for the Nuclear Security Summit.

#678 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 08:07 AM:

Ginger, I'm so sorry. Early death is not necessarily a sign of goodness, but in this case it seems clear that he was a good man and targeted specifically. That's a loss for every good person in the world.

Bill...I'm sorry. I guess I don't think of that William Higgins as a bad guy, but I can see how you might not enjoy the association. My apologies.

#679 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 08:24 AM:

Stefan @ 672: Kevin's assessment of Fragile Things gets things the way I remember them. If that sounds a bit too grown up for the young teen in question, perhaps M is for Magic will work better. It's a collection of stories culled from several earlier publications that is pitched a bit younger.

#680 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 08:39 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #672: I recommend Good Omens. It has the advantage that the older she gets and the more she knows, the funnier it will become; and it will act as a gateway drug to Terry Pratchett.

#681 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 09:48 AM:

Bill Higgins, Tom Whitmore, in re sharing names via google ... there's an Arab-American comic named Achmed Achmed who rants, as part of his standup routine, that he's constantly annoyed (when flying or googling) to discover that there's a well-known terrorist with the same name as him.

Then he turns it around and imagines the terrorist's annoyance for being confused for a comic, and it turns into genius. Imagine on the streets of Cairo's more insurgent-friendly neighborhoods: "Hey, funnyman! Tell us a joke!"

#682 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 10:59 AM:

Janet K @677: My condolences on your loss -- what an awful accident! This isn't the first time a truck has hit a bicyclist in DC. She seemed like a really neat person.

Xopher @ 678: He was a genuinely good man, and I'm sure he would have continued to do wonderful work with the kids. This is a huge loss for everyone who knew him even slightly.

#683 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 12:16 PM:

Ginger #667: Your son must be devastated. You have my sympathies.

#684 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 02:10 PM:

I only read Fragile Things recently, and yes, there is some fairly disturbing material in there. At the very least, to start with, there is a very twisted take on Narnia with bestiality, the aforementioned story with the POV character being a pedophile and contract killer, one with strong suggestions of sadistic abuse and torture, and a lengthy description of torture in hell.

Doesn't mean a teenager shouldn't ever read it, but I would not recommend it as a start and I don't think that it's characteristic of his whole range. (Also, your sister might not thank you for it.) I think Smoke and Mirrors was a lot milder, though I could be remembering wrong as it's been a while.

My recommended starting points for a teen reader would be, in roughly ascending age, Coraline, Stardust (so she can see what the movie got right and botched up), Anansi Boys, or Neverwhere which has a bit of violence and grue, but not quite so front-and-center. Good Omens is wonderful - hysterical - for some people, but some people seem to be allergic to the Pratchett style of humor and it's not characteristic of all his books.

Alternatively, start her with the Sandman series, beginning with the "In the Doll's House" storyline (the second collection/storyline) which will pull in a new reader much faster than the very beginning of the series. That's where a lot of Gaiman fans started with him, including me. The first Books of Magic volume is fabulous too, but the series continuation (written by someone else) was largely a disappointment to me.

This is just off the top of my head.

#685 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Thanks all! Comments forwarded.

"a very twisted take on Narnia with bestiality"

"Mr. Tummnus? Mrs. Beaver? Nooooooo!"

#686 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 06:43 PM:

Clifton Royston @684: I think you are remembering incorrectly -- at least, a perusal of my copy of Smoke and Mirrors turns up necrophilia, a fairly blatant allusion to pedophilia, a story which is entirely a fairly graphic sex scene, and a werewolf main character who's emphatically not a "vegetarian". It also felt... creepier to me, but that may just be because I read it first. Again, they're all good stories, but they're stories I'd let a teenager encounter at their own pace.

#687 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 06:43 PM:

For the photographers here: a digital back for medium format cameras.

#688 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 07:00 PM:

I spent today singing West Gallery hymns in a small Somerset village. The sky was a deep, uniform blue, by which I mean that the sky was the same colour all over, but also that it was as blue as the gendarmerie, which I know was the colour of Sitwell’s sea, also that French policemen are not generally found on Sedgemoor.

The blue uniformity of the sky was remarked upon, as was the absence of vapour trails. While returning to Bristol on the M5, we noticed a haze over the River Severn beyond Avonmouth. We decided this was not volcanic ash.

I began to worry about the dinosaurs.

#689 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 07:00 PM:

Bill Stewart @659: By coincidence, I composed the following this afternoon:

From: US consumers
To: Apple
Subject: Delayed international shipments of iPads

This is just to say (with apologies to William Carlos Williams)

We have purchased
the iPads
that were in
the pipeline

and which
you were probably
for other markets

Forgive us
they were magical
so new
and so cool

#690 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 07:12 PM:

Speaking of Gaiman, Neil Gaiman reads "Instructions" accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Charles Vess here.

#691 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 07:35 PM:

Disconcerting blog comment of the day (over on PalMD's White Coat Underground):

In response to an old post titled "A simple bump on the head can kill you," someone posted describing her boyfriend's recent concussion, followed by slurring of speech and, a day later, "continuous headache" on the opposite side of the head, and the boyfriend's self-described "not thinking straight."

She then asked "Could this be serious? Is there anything I can do, should i use ice on the bump?"

I replied, telling her to call the emergency number or take him to the ER herself.

I also suspect she is also not thinking clearly: why else would you, given that situation, google and find a year-old post explaining why a seemingly minor head injury can be fatal, not read it closely enough to register that it and the comments are saying "this can be serious or fatal," and leave a comment in the hope that some random stranger will diagnose the problem and suggest a course of treatment?

I can see starting by going to the Mayo Clinic web site or NHS direct, instead of immediately dialing 911/999/your local emergency number. But even given google's tendency to rank blog posts high, this seems weird.

#692 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 09:07 PM:

Very Cool stuff: a short video in which pixels explode out of an old TV dumped in the street, leading to 8-bit art vs New York.

I found this on the blog of the Australian literary magazine 'Meanjin', so it has already spread far and/or wide.

#693 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 09:43 PM:

Janet K, #677, oh, I saw that, too. I'm so sorry.

#694 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 10:08 PM:

Fragano @ 683: I'm not sure he knows yet -- my Ex took him to a friend's house for a birthday party weekend, and she might not have said anything yet. She knows, of course.

#695 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2010, 10:30 PM:

Because I've enjoyed many discussions here about astro turf, tort reform, and well-funded organizations twisting public opinion against legal redress, I thought I would drop this link here:

You knew that eventually someone would sue the Massey Mining Company for negligence, and you knew people like Nathan Coffey would crawl out from under a rock to smear them.

#696 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 01:26 AM:

Keith S. @ 690: Neil Gaiman reads "Instructions"


13. Run with everything you can carry.
14. Remember that you bleed more easily.
15. Don't think of it as reasonable. Think of it as terrifying.

#697 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:41 AM:

Vicki #691: ISTR that we've seen just such panicked posts here, on Jim's first-aid and crisis threads. And I think "panic" is the operative term -- we know people tend to be not-quite-rational in such a condition.

#698 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:43 AM:

Myself @694: I forgot; he had an assembly on Friday, at which the principal told the 8th grade class (the last ones to know Mr. Betts). The kids were naturally devastated, as were the staff.

#699 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 08:04 AM:

The foundational library fine of the United States, perhaps:

#700 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 11:29 AM:

Back in high school, I had a new calendar and was writing things onto it. For April 18, I wrote in "Segal Frapp's Birthday." Later, I decided I liked the name and used it as a writing pseudonym for a few years. I had a column, "Futility Base," in the high-school paper my senior year, and for a while afterward I'd give Frapp writing credit on my comics.

So here we are again. Happy birthday, Segal, wherever you are.

#701 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 11:31 AM:

Hey, you got your incredulous existence all over my fathomless abyss!

(Been wanting to say that for the longest time.)

#702 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 11:47 AM:

Thomas (692): That video is indeed extremely cool. Also rather creepy.

#703 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 12:27 PM:

tykewriter 688: thankfully it's velociraptor awareness day today.

#704 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 01:10 PM:

Broadsword to Danny-boy.

Do we have a Doctor Who clearance for the USA yet?


#705 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 01:40 PM:

The US has had the first episode so far.

#706 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 02:12 PM:

Openthreadedness from the "How can someone so smart be so wrong?" department:

Roger Ebert gets back on his "Videogames can't be art" high horse.

Shorter Ebert: "I have never played any games and do not understand them, but I have watched short clips of other people playing games, and I can definitively say those games could never be art." Leavened with a dose of "There is no such thing as bad art. A composer who writes brilliant symphonies is an artist, but a composer who writes mediocre jingles for TV is not."

#707 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 02:34 PM:

Chris W. (706): I wonder how he'd rate composers who write brilliant jingles for TV versus those who write mediocre symphonies.

#708 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Mary Aileen:

Probably say that neither is an artist, though I don't want to put any more words in his mouth than I already have. It seems that for him "art or not art?" is an aesthetic question, which is fine as far as it goes, but it would seem to make statements like "games will never be art" (as opposed to "no game has or will ever meet my personal aesthetic preferences for art") about as meaningless as saying "Lindy's cheescake is better than its strudel." or even more precisely "Lindy's cheesecake is haute cuisine, while its strudel is merely food." (As opposed to "I like Lindy's cheescake better than its strudel.")

#709 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 03:15 PM:

I'm reading a book of Scottish law humor (Lawyers' Leisure by W. G. M. Dobie), and the author refers to WWII as "Hitler's war." Was that a common usage? Why haven't I noticed it before, if so? What class/group of people would have used that term?

Well, my grandparents referred to "Hitler's war" and "the Kaiser's war" (they were born during the latter, served during the former). I suppose it's similar to "the Napoleonic wars".
And in Britain, even during and after WW2, "The Great War" was still used to describe WW1, and WW2 was occasionally just "the World War". Because, for Britain, WW1 was the Western Front far more than WW2 was any particular theatre or campaign.
And in modern British use, almost without exception, "the war" is WW2. Is this the same in the US? If you said "my house was built just after the war" would everyone understand this to mean 1946 rather than, say, 1919 or 1866?

#710 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 03:15 PM:

Chris W. @ 706:

That's too bad; I've been willing to consider Ebert different from the general run of critics, but that puts him back in the ruck, IMO.

As for what that means: Damon Knight wrote a short-short story sometime in the 50's or early 60's in which a painter is approached in his garret by an alien or a djinn, I forget which, and offered a wish. Years later the alien/djinn returns to see what effect the granting of the wish had. He finds the painter living in a palace, surrounded by hangers-on and beautiful sex-objects, carousing with his artist and writer friends who have similar lifestyles.

"I see you've done well by your wish," says the deus ex machina. "No!" shouts the artist, flailing around with a flyswatter,"You heard me wrong! I wanted you to get rid of the damn crickets!"

#711 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 03:47 PM:


That's what's got me so frustrated with the piece. Ebert's writing on film is just about indispensable, and his personal writing can be brilliant, heart-breaking and hilarious, sometimes all at once. But the few times he's weighed in on games, he seems to combine a whopping dose of preconceptions from the film world with an aggressive refusal to actually investigate the works he's passing judgment on. He also seems to want to stake out a series of definitional positions (on what is and isn't art, and what is and isn't a game) without actually taking a stance on his own and his interlocutor's definitions.

None of this would bother me nearly so much if he weren't such a thoughtful writer in so many other areas.

#712 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 03:48 PM:

Keith @690: Oh, that's lovely! Argh, makes me want to go draw. But I have to clean the house...

#713 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 05:22 PM:

Chris W @711
We all have blind spots. I know people who are completely unable to read, interpret, or enjoy anything in comic form. People who are otherwise brilliant.

Then there's my blind spot. Whatever it is. I can't see it. (Well, I'm 'car blind,' but that's not the sort of blindness I'm thinking of.)

#714 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 05:32 PM:

Dave @ 704: Probably not, or not without rot-13ing. Australia has only had episode 1 too, though many of us get ahead by other than legal means. In the meantime, would you care for some tea?

#715 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 06:06 PM:

Mostly. (If there's a possible question we specify which war.)
Example: My father's parents worked in aircraft plants during the war.

#716 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 06:38 PM:

Ajay @709: Here (New York area, I don't know if this is true all over the United States), if you're talking about real estate "the war" is always World War II. Usually in the phrase "pre-War building," meaning probably higher ceilings and solider, more sound-proof walls and floors, but the electrical system may be way out of date. (Not that post-War guarantees up-to-date electricity or appliances.)

Kip @713:

I do badly at reading and understanding comics: basically, if it's linear illustrated story, I can mostly get it, but I'd usually be happier with more written narrative. When it starts getting nonlinear, of the "okay, which panel comes next?" on a page that isn't a basic grid, I tend to get lost. But that doesn't mean I am going to argue that comics can't be art, any more than I would expect a blind person to try to convince me that we're all completely mistaken to value painting.

It doesn't help that I'm not that good at remembering faces, and at least some comic artists seem to draw both faces and bodies from a limited subset of what's normally available. It's as if a writer decided, whether for artistic reasons or because they didn't think about it, to give all the characters names beginning with D. Sure, you could still make several characters distinct, but you're making it harder for me and yourself.

#717 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:20 PM:

It's as if a writer decided, whether for artistic reasons or because they didn't think about it, to give all the characters names beginning with D.

At first I thought you might be snarking on Sandman, but of course not ALL the characters have names beginning with D in that—though there's an Endless supply of ones that do.

#718 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:30 PM:

A diver. A camera. An octopus. Hijinks ensue.

(Subtitling in English; a short commercial in Italian runs before the video starts.)

Tim, #696: That was cool. The perils of reading up the thread instead of down -- I think the mind-bending factor was enhanced by my not realizing while watching that it was in response to #690 rather than the item described therein. Yes, I can't brain today, I have the dumb.

Bruce, #710: I am trying, and failing, to reverse-engineer what "crickets" could have been misheard to mean.

Vicki, #716: You're not the only one who gets confused by non-linear story flow in graphics. If it's bad enough, my brain tends to "bleep" past it (substitute narration to the effect of, "Okay, there's a big fight") and trust that I can pick up the story line again once the gymnastics are over. Sometimes, having read what comes next, I can then go back and pick out what was going on in the non-linear section.

#719 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:36 PM:

Vicki, one of the comics suggested was WATCHMEN, which follows a grid rather rigorously, eschews thought balloons and sound effects, and has a lot of prose passages. It goes forward and back in time, but so do many movies. It got a chilly, nay, hostile reception. So, well, I think we all mostly just shrugged and decided some people don't dig panels and balloons.

#720 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:37 PM:

Lee 718: Bruce, #710: I am trying, and failing, to reverse-engineer what "crickets" could have been misheard to mean.


#721 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:38 PM:

Lee @718: 'Critics' is my guess.

#722 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:40 PM:

It takes a full minute here to preview and post a comment. (By here, I mean where I am.)

#723 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:43 PM:

Chris W @ 711:

Whenever Ebert gets on his videogames can't be art horse, I pretty much skip over it. He is right that a lot of them aren't, which is nowhere near the same thing, and it is true that pretty much all video-game movies have been dire. His proclamation about that is frustrating to me for the same reason it is to you. Oh well.

Vicki @ 716: It's as if a writer decided, whether for artistic reasons or because they didn't think about it, to give all the characters names beginning with D.

Or F, which is one reason why bits of The Silmarillion are so hard for me to read.

#724 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Vicki @ 716... I recommend Busiek's AstroCity. Also Clevinger & Wegener's Atomic Robo. Also, Mignola's Bureau of Paranormal Research Defense.

#725 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:49 PM:


Not snarking on Sandman, though I haven't read much of it. For one thing, if characters are called by ordinary English words, the writer has fewer choices if s/he wants that meaning. Also, words are often easier for me to remember than names that don't carry obvious meaning other than their definitions. (And knowing that, say, "Philip" means "lover of horses" is usually not relevant to a random character called Phil.)

[I'm not looking for comics recommendations: when I want them, I can get plenty right here at home. But thanks, folks.]

#726 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 07:50 PM:


#727 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 08:32 PM:

Vicki, @716: Depending on what comics you're looking at, the "limited subset of faces" thing may stem from the abstraction inherent in the form. Comics are in a way symbolic drawings--they're not straight illustrations, they have a touch of hieroglyphics in their ancestry. So dots sometimes represent eyes, and bumps sometimes represent noses.

As to panel grids... reading them is a skill that not everyone picks up. On the other hand, some layouts really are confusing--see Eddie Campbell's comments on balloon placement, for instance.

One of the problems with introducing people to comics is that the comics that get recommended are often Marvel/DC/Image-style superhero-type books, which tend to be the absolute worst in terms of the quality and clarity of the art and layout.

#728 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 08:44 PM:

Yes, I Am a Nerd:

#729 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 09:46 PM:

Stefan @ 728

You and me both. I spent all day today launching rockets, myself. I just fly the 18mm motor sizes; while I've got a 29mm motor rocket kit sitting in the garage, I've not gotten around to putting it together. And my rockets (almost) all fit in an old cardboard box. The one that doesn't is usually the biggest hit with the kids that come to the launches, though; it's a rocket I made from a Happy Meal box. I was very pleased with its performance today; 3/4 of the time when it lands it breaks a fin. No glue needed this time, though! We had a whole flock of cub scouts invade the club launch once we opened to the public in the afternoon, so I spent a good chunk of time explaining basic rocket stuff and helping kids get their rockets on the launch rods. A good time was had by all.

#730 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 10:41 PM:

@Cally: Heh! Another local launch, last weekend, hosted a cub scout den.

It's fun to teach them how to get the rockets off the ground, but disheartening when you get some kit with a rocket put together horribly wrong that won't fly. Ten minutes of his parent getting involved would have made the difference . . .

#731 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 10:42 PM:

Lee @718: Yes, I can't brain today, I have the dumb.

Heeheeheeheehee!!! I'm going to have to steal that.

#732 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 10:47 PM:

Kip W, #719, we did Watchmen for bookgroup and almost everybody disliked it because of the format. I disliked it for the story.

And at #722 -- the length of time it takes to post is relevant to the length of the comment thread.

#733 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 10:47 PM:

Kip W @713: We all have blind spots.

With me, it's poetry. Which makes me feel really out of place here, sometimes.

*Sigh* "Context and response suggests it's probably brilliant." <peers intently> "Hm. I recognize all the words." <peers more intently> "Ow. Brain hurts. Going to stop now."

#734 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 10:54 PM:

Then again, some parents aren't as helpful as they think they are. We had one parent who kept helping the kids with their igniters--and putting them in upside down. Pyrogen side out. In all the years I've been doing model rocketry, I've never seen anybody make that mistake before. I can almost see someone doing that with one of those new Quest igniters, but an old-fashioned Estes solar igniter?

The parents (or possibly the kids, but I suspect the parents, given the kids' ages) also glued the fins on with superglue. Which doesn't work so well on balsa and cardboard. I ended up field-repairing a LOT of rocket fins with masking tape, and explaining to kids and parents how to make white glue fillets so their fins would stop falling off. (And also why superglue isn't the best choice for rough cut balsa.) One dad said "but white glue isn't waterproof!" He kind of laughed, though, when I pointed out that enough water to melt the glue would have already melted the cardboard of the rocket....

Still, they had a great time. It may be a club record for scouts: there may have been some fins lost, but I don't think any rockets were lost. I expect we'll see some of them at the next club launch.

#735 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 10:58 PM:

OK, more teen reading questions . . .

My sister wants to know where to start my niece (13) on Pratchett & Discworld.

My impression is that Sir Terry knocks off five pieces of formula fluff, then writes a blockbuster that is, as a friend put it, Kind of Deep, Even.

Any suggestions where to start? Maybe three or four titles?

#736 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 11:13 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 735:

I haven't read the latest Discworld books, but I hope I still have enough knowledge of the older ones kicking around. Equal Rites is the book where he takes the series from parody fantasy and more in the direction of commentary, however it is something of a transition work. Guards! Guards! is the first of the City Watch series, and a good starting point. Mort is also a good starting point, I'd say.

Small Gods is very well regarded, however when I read it at about that age, I know a lot of it went over my head. I think I would enjoy it much more were I to read it now.

#737 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2010, 11:44 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 735: For a 13 year old, I'd recommend "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents". I read it with great enjoyment as a considerably older reader, but it's written to be suitable for a younger reader. It's followed by "The Wee Free Men", which friends of mine have raved about. I haven't read it yet, because I'm struggling to move through the Discworld books at a savoring pace, and not gulp them all down.

You're quite correct to not start some with the first few books. They're pleasant, but he got a lot better with practice. You may want to consult the splendid

#738 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 12:08 AM:

Marilee, fair enough. For me, after a couple of decades of reading comics, this was the one I thought was about the best single story I'd read. It demolished the major tropes of superhero comics by putting them in a sort of 'real' world, with panache and storytelling tricks, some of which took me years to find.

I'm not trying to change your mind, but in a nutshell, it's why I continue to love it. (It was enthralling, especially when I had to wait for the next chapter every issue.)

#739 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 12:30 AM:

Stefan Jones @735 -- Definitely start at The Wee Free Men, a great book for teenage girls, and follow with A Hat Full of Sky. That's a girl's coming of age story, and is an absolute blockbuster of a book (YA or for anyone). Those are the second and third of his "intended for young adults" novels, but is not a direct follow-on to Amazing Maurice. Wintersmith, however, is a direct follow-on to them, and also recommended. Read them in order.

From there -- Hogfather is excellent, and can stand alone (though there's a lot more about Death in earlier books). From then on, you probably have enough momentum so she'll read all of them. The Witches books are good, the Watch books -- even when he is writing fluff, it's the very best kind of fluff. I could go on about why I think he's brilliant, but that would take up more space than our illustrious hosts would probably want. Suffice to say that his books are comments on how people really work, and very closely observed social satires with a light and humane touch.

#740 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 02:52 AM:

Lee @ 718: You should check out Veda Hille's latest official video as well. The album it's from (This Riot Life) has seen more spins around here than anything in ages, and the video itself is also quite a thing.

#741 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 04:03 AM:

praisegod barebones @ 703: but that was last year. They may be extinct by now. I hear the volcanic ash has been found in Yorkshire, where I'm heading today.

#742 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 06:21 AM:


Ah, I'd assumed it was a yearly occurrence. Which bit of Yorkshire, btw?

#743 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 12:17 PM:

My experiences with manga suggest that reading oddly-arranged panels in graphic novels is a skill that can be learned if one is willing to put the time in--I'm much better at it now than I was ten years ago. Of course, one has to be interested in the stories thus presented in the first place in order to be willing to bother.

#744 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 12:26 PM:

The rules of manga panel flow are both more complicated and more consistent than in western comics, I'd say.

#745 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 01:20 PM:

On learning to read graphic novels -- I'm assuming folks still remember Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and its sequels? If not, go take a look. A brilliant book.

#746 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 02:06 PM:

At the Mike Ford memorial panel last August, someone mentioned the set of words whose pronunciation changes with capitalization:

Polish/polish; Rainier/rainier, and others

(a few more at this ugly page Heteronyms, but I'd dispute the inclusion of some.)

Today I think I learned another one:

Luger/luger (a Luger, hard G, is a brand of firearm; a luger, small g, is a person who participates in the sport of luge, sliding through a twisty track on something like a tea-tray.)

#747 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 02:25 PM:

It's certainly true that every medium requires skills to navigate and appreciate. And the tricky things is that skills are often invisible both to those who have them and those who don't. So all too often non-comic readers who require a lot of of mental effort to figure out what's going on from panel to panel don't say "I'm not getting a lot out of this because I'm spending all of my mental energy just keeping track of who's doing what." Instead they say "there's just not that much there."

I've run into this recently when trying to introduce my girlfriend to games like Portal or Dear Esther. After hundreds of hours playing games with similar control schemes, I experience these games as offering me an immersive world to explore. For my girlfriend, the pacing's all wrong and two-thirds of what's happening goes over her head because she's still using most of her brainspace figuring out which button she needs to press to crouch. Sometimes it feels like trying to get someone excited about reading Shakespeare's sonnets when they're barely able to sound out the words letter by letter.

#748 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 02:29 PM:

Kip @738: For me, after a couple of decades of reading comics, Watchmen was the one I thought was about the best single story I'd read. It demolished the major tropes of superhero comics by putting them in a sort of 'real' world, with panache and storytelling tricks, some of which took me years to find.

The problem with that, though, is that imho Watchmen really requires previous familiarity with those tropes to be enjoyable, or possibly even comprehensible. The visual flow may be straightforward, but the conceptual flow isn't. I read a lot of manga, but Sandman is probably my closest approach to standard American superhero comics; I've forced myself to slog through Watchmen at least twice, and I still can't make myself care enough to follow significant parts of it.

#749 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 04:07 PM:

If the graphic novel is in black-and-white, sometimes the difficulty becomes even more complex because I can't tell what body part belongs to which person, or if that shape is actually some other object altogether. That really is the point at which I tend to give up, substitute a text narrative, and go try to pick up the plot in the next panel or page.

Chris, #747: That sort of thing is common to a lot of physical skills, including learning how to drive a car. Until the basics become automatic, it's very hard to appreciate the finer points.

My biggest problem with Portal (or any other FP-perspective game) is that I get lost -- the disconnect between visual and kinesic cues causes me to very quickly lose track of where I am and what direction I'm facing. To me, the potential rewards of playing the game are just not worth the months of effort it would take for me to get past that, especially when that would be one more activity competing for my already-limited reading time.

#750 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 06:43 PM:

Comics: I've been reading comics since my teen years - my older brother has always read comics (and has written some) and I had access to his collection. I've often thought comics are more like a film in stills than a book with pictures. There's stuff you can do with comics, in terms of putting in background detail that it's the reader's job to pick up, for example (thinking Watchmen in particular, but also bits of many more), which would be more difficult to do in prose.

Regarding people all looking the same. Well yes, sometimes, but I had a problem telling the three lead males apart when I first saw L.A. Confidential - all three tall and dark haired, dressed similarly and with similar hair styles. I still loved the film (even if they did have modern Vacutainer testubes in an old-fashioned test tube rack in once scene).

As for the Silmarillion, it wasn't just lots of names starting with the same initial, but each character had several names and sometimes they would be referred to by one name and sometimes by another, and if you didn't remember they were the same person...

Chris W. @ 747: Interesting point - I only got beyond the "how do I crouch, again?" for one game (Gods, for anyone who remembers it - great until we got a faster computer and it didn't work properly any more), so I've never really got into the various games.

However, as Lee says, I really don't need anything else competing for time (something as simple as FreeCell can eat a fair amount of time, if you're not careful).

Lori Coulson @ 620 (I know, way back). I know I posted on this, but it obviously got lost sometime between my hitting the post button and it appearing in the thread. Basically, as others have also said, we've always found it best to bring the body back for the remaining pets to sniff. One of our two cats died in December, from a massive heart attack (we think) at just five years old. Her sister worked it out because when she nudged under the tail she got no response, even when she nudged harder. Then she sort of went "Oh". She had a greater need for reassurance and human time afterwards, but didn't look for the sister, even when we came back home (it happened while we were travelling to visit my family).

#751 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 07:00 PM:

open thready question:

My goggle-fu is bad, or it was never defined, per se. Etymology itch needs scratching.

When/where was the term "fluorosphere" created?

#752 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 07:10 PM:

This is iPod, not iPad, and not specifically anti-Apple, so I figure it doesn't belong on the other thread.

On the user experience of a 3-inch multitouch screen for 700-post comment threads.

So I failed the save for 'shiny' and I bought a new computer
I opened up the comments just the same.
But you need little teeny hands for reading little teeny print
like you need little teeny minds for writing flame.

A flick will send you scrolling and a pinch will do rescaling
But the hyperlinks lurk there like baited traps
And you need little teeny hands for reading little teeny print
Like you need little teeny licenses for apps

If I want to write replies the keyboard's, virtually, useless
And my golden words lie there like wounded wrecks
Cos you need little teeny hands for reading little teeny print
Like you need little teeny stegosaurs for sex

I want to love my iPod, and its clever interactions
but the comment threads are making me feel terse.
And you need little teeny hands for reading little teeny print
Like you need little teeny pile-ons done in verse

#753 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Thomas at # 752: That's a brilliant re-filking of one of my favorite filksongs.

#754 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 07:46 PM:


I think the fuzzy answer is "around here, awhile back" but without a doubt someone will be more specific than this.

#755 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 07:47 PM:

Stefan Jones, #735, not Discworld, but I think the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy would be good. Our bookgroup read the first one and liked it, even though it's meant for tweens.

#756 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 08:06 PM:

Lin Daniel #751: I'd guess you'll probably have to look back to shortly after commenting was enabled... it's such a natural coinage, in the vein of "infosphere" and (ISTR older) "noosphere".

#757 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 08:22 PM:


Many thanks.

I just recently got around to Googling the original filksong. I first encountered references to it in two Larry Niven stories, back in the pre-Google days where there was no easy way to find out more.

#758 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 08:27 PM:

squeeee! i've been particled! (see: "the loves of the cephalopods").

or at any rate, i have been one-third particled, which is honor enough--and to share an honor with dave luckett and bruce cohen is to share a further honor in itself!

thanks, tnh--so glad you liked it!

#759 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 08:29 PM:

The earliest mention of "fluorosphere" that I can find is from August 2006. The timing sounds about right, but I thought it had originated in a comment, not a post.

#760 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 09:28 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 452, re: YouTube links on LiveJournal not updating properly -- I've observed the same thing on my Windows box, and think it may be related to running NoScript and not enabling JavaScript for LJ by default. The links seem to get corrected when I enable JavaScript for those pages.

#761 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 10:21 PM:

Etymologies fluorospherical - I seem to recall that at one point there was a "just what do we call ourselves anyway" discussion in a comment thread that may or may not be archived around here someplace. 2005 or 2006 sounds probable and would antedate the usage cited above (#759, link contextually suggests an existing usage...)

#762 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 11:32 PM:

Interesting, the discussion I remember turns out to have been Open Thread 75, which postdates that photo by about three months.


I wonder if Patrick started it?


I really, really ought to have gone to bed two hours ago.

#763 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 11:45 PM:

Thena, I do the same thing with going to bed. Eating, too; I remind myself sometimes that the proper response to 'I am hungry' is not 'I should read a book' or 'I should have something to drink' but 'I should eat something.'

Comics: I found years ago that webcomics are about what I can handle. I keep going back to Girl Genius pages, for example, and finding new bits I like. If I have a book in front of me, though, I skip over almost all the pictures. I am really that text-oriented.

#764 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 11:46 PM:

I thought this might be something this audience might appreciate. (click image for legible version)

#765 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Wasn't "Little Teeny Eyes" originally written by Tom Digby?

And speaking of fans -- I'm sad to report that I just heard that George Scithers has died, apparently of a heart attack (died today, attack two days ago). Fan, author, editor, publisher and Fan. He'll be missed.

#766 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 12:20 AM:

Yep, that's Tom Digby, from Jan. 1966.


#767 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 12:22 AM:

Joel Polowin: thanks for the suggestion. I haven't had NoScript on this Mac for years and JavaScript should be enabled in the browser, but I'm checking to see if there's a more recent version of JavaScript that needs installing...

#768 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 12:25 AM:

Tom Whitmore #765:

Yes, Tom Digby wrote it. It has been recorded by Bill Mills.

That's actually the first time I've heard the music, but it sounds pretty much as I had imagined it.

#769 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 12:48 AM:

This has got me motivated to look up recordings of other filks I only know by repute, like Fire in the Sky

Since all knowledge, etc, there's one song I have heard in real life but can't find any references to online. In 1990 I went to an SCA event near Berkeley and heard a wonderful song with harp accompaniment where the first-person narrator was Montjoy, the French herald from Shakespeare's Henry V. The author and performer was a well-known figure in the region, but I can't remember her name. Does anyone know more?

#770 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 12:50 AM:

My earliest definite memory of reading a comic was of seeing the nifty Neal Adams cover to World's Finest #199 on a newsstand and picking it out to buy. I seem to recall it being in an airport; the issue is cover-dated December 1970, so it might have been going to visit my grandparents for a Passover seder -- if so, I would have been not quite three years old. I have the feeling that I already knew who Superman and the Flash were, so it might well not have been the first comic I ever read.

Unlike many comic fans, I never gave them up or had a hiatus in my reading; I've been reading them continuously for 39 years (I am now not quite 42). So I'm definitely not the person to come to for advice on how to read them, any more than a fish is the one to come to for advice on how to breathe water.

I remember picking up the first issue of Watchmen and not being all that impressed with it at first. Then on re-reading I started noticing the background details like the zeppelins and the newspaper headlines. It's definitely a comic that rewards attention. I re-read it dozens of times even after it was all done and I still kept finding new things in it.

Watchmen is the proximate (if indirect) cause for my being here. When I was a freshman at Cal Berkeley, I roomed for a while in a triple dorm room, and one of my roommates was a CS grad student who was also a comics fan, and he told me about the Watchmen discussions on Usenet. He made them sound very impressive. (Later on I got to read an archive of them, and there was indeed some very good material there.) Eventually I got my own connection to Usenet, and while I ended up dropping out of UC Berkeley (long story) I managed to stay on Usenet, where some years later I encountered Patrick and Teresa.

I don't say things like "if it weren't for Watchmen I wouldn't be here" because I think it's fairly probable that I might have encountered Usenet and / or Making Light in other ways. But Watchmen is what did cause me to be here.

#771 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 01:42 AM:

Thomas, #768> That would be Heather Rose Jones, "Montjoy's Song", available on the recording Bigger on the Inside, from Consonance 1991.

#772 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 01:52 AM:

And Heather Rose Jones is an occasional poster here, as well.

#773 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 04:00 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 769: I was lucky enough to be informed about Watchmen as it was coming out, and was able to buy each issue as it hit the comics store. When issue 12 came out I took a deep breath and, before reading it, started again with issue 1. Got a lot more out of it that way, I'm sure. The wealth of detail and meaning in the background is absolutely amazing. And the levels of connection, and the ordinary people in the story centred on the newstand, and...

This discussion about learning to read comics also makes me remember a discussion about films and how much more subtle cues for flashbacks are now than they used to be. And I remember reading that many people were confused in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" because they didn't expect such a -long- flashback.

#774 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 04:07 AM:

A story in praise of preparation, quick thinking, and taking control.

Yesterday someone I know --"L"--was with her kids, walking out from a park, when she saw a toddler ahead toddling alone onto a dangerous path.

L has trained her kids to "freeze" when so ordered, and here they did [value of preparation], while she took off running [value of quick thinking].

L saw two joggers ahead and called at them to "get that toddler- move it away!"--but they didn't understand, or were confused and didn't try. [value of taking control- not assuming someone else would help*]

L, fully adrenalin-ed**, shot past past the two women, ran up the small slope, and pulled the toddler out of danger. The toddler otherwise could have been severely hurt.

L waited for the section ranger to call the main ranger who deals with lost and found children. After explaining what happened- and pointing out the blind spot on that path- she waited 20 minutes then left.

I called the rangers today for an update: the parents/guardians showed up with the main ranger about 10 minutes after L left. The ranger told me again to thank L.

I'm proud of L: she may have saved a life.


* she was deeply disappointed they didn't help, though. There's a toddler, in a dangerous spot. Move the toddler. Shouldn't be hard.

** which narrowed L's focus down to a few small flashes of memories- absolutely no slowing down time, just shrinking of space.

#775 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 07:06 AM:

Open-thready goodness: So You Need A Typeface....

#776 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 07:59 AM:

This will only have direct relevance for readers in Sydney (Mez at least, and probably several thousand lurkers as well) but open threads aren't about direct relevance, so here goes:

Tripod are a music and comedy group from Melbourne - three guys and a guitar, good harmonies - and I've been happily going to their gigs for years. They've just made the big jump from song and banter based comedy to a show with a plot (they've attemped the jump once before, but in my opinion they just went *splat* on that occasion) with "Tripod vs. the Dragon".

I saw this two weeks ago at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, spent the next two weeks listening to the soundtrack, which my 6 1/2 year old daughter had become obsessed with, then saw them again, this time with daughter in tow (it's not a little kids show, but she'd memorised all the songs by this point, so what the hell...).

Like most comedy groups they have their well established stage personas, and I've become very used to two of the group picking on the third, the sf/f geek, making Spock jokes and talking about him rolling for charisma, etc. I think that made it particularly nice that this show is a hymn to the wonders of D&D and teenage geekdom.

The outer framing story is of a group of people having a game of D&D, with jazz singer Elena Stone (here as a non-standard fourth leg of the tripod) as the dungeon master. The inner story is the plot of the game they play, of a dragon (played by Elena Stone), the tree of life, a couple of evil wizards, and a trip to the land of the dead - well worthy of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser.

It's done on a shoestring, with everyone in street clothes (well - the dragon wears a fancy red dress) and special effects consist of paper cutouts projected onto a sheet, with great panache (and a spotlight).

They take the piss constantly, but at the same time it's done with respect and love, and the songs are delicious.

I've just seen the last Melbourne show and they're heading to Sydney next. Those living in Sydney should see them. Those not living in Sydney should wish they were seeing them.

Some links:

The official trailer for the show:

A Dungeons and Dragons related song which is *not* from the show, but which should have been:

A song from the show, recorded for ABC radio:

As you can proabably tell, I liked it.

#777 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 09:22 AM:

Steve Taylor @775, are any of these definitions of take the piss the correct one?

#778 ::: KévinT ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 09:26 AM:

I'd like to ask for the help of the history and poetry afficionados here:
I'm searching for examples of libels or satirical pamphlets written in verse, to be used as inspiration for writing my own, as props in a LARP game.
To give more context: vicious political struggle in a feudal society, anonymous accusations of heresy, sodomy, adultery, bastardy, know, the usual.

Does anyone know of a good online resource?
I'm currently failing at google.

...and if some of it is in French, the better.

#779 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 09:28 AM:

Not sure it's already been posted here, but George Scithers passed away.

#780 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 09:41 AM:


for libelous french verse the first things that come to mind are the mazarinades of scarron and others--burlesques on cardinal mazarin. but they're a bit late if you wanted medieval (like 1650).

the flyting of dunbar is also a thing of beauty, and dunbar himself is credited with the OED's first citation for the verb "f*ck", in 1503. now *that's* a way to go down in history. plenty of good invective in dunbar.

#781 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 10:08 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 773: Your friend did good. I'm assuming the joggers didn't realise that particular path was dangerous? I can't tell from the amount of information you've given us: you say there was a blind spot, but you say "path", not "road" so what was the problem? Is it used by e.g. mountain bikers who might come around the corner rapidly, or what?

#782 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 10:15 AM:

Earl Cooley III at #776

> Steve Taylor @775, are any of these definitions of take the piss the correct one?

I'd go for "to mock without much malice". Or something.

#783 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 11:36 AM:

Just got the following from the science fiction group on LinkedIn: The Biracy ProjectTM.* Their idea is to create sf movies by crowd-sourcing.

Just like big studios, we bring together brilliant people to make top-quality movies. Unlike studios, we’re run by fans, not a handful of executives. Join us and learn just how much fun it is to make movies. Make Movies, Make Money, Build an Audience.

Any thoughts?

* TM usage appears to be non-ironical.

#784 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 11:37 AM:

Lee #770:

Thanks much.

#785 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 11:39 AM:

For satire without mercy, it's hard to top the efforts of Alexander Pope (try "The Dunciad"), Jonathan Swift ("MacFlecknoe"), and the Scriblerians. Of course, these are in English and not medieval, although they are products of a highly stratified society. In earlier works in English, John Skelton was notorious internationally for his flytings. Sebastian Brant's Ship of Fools inspired a lot of imitators in German as well as other languages.

The two "Testaments" of François Villon meet the requirements of both French and medieval, although so much of both are in-jokes for his personal circle that it's hard to figure out a lot of the point of his jibes these days. There's "Le Roman de Fauvel". "The Fifteen Joys of Marriage" is prose, but could probably be plundered for your aims. There are, of course, the fabliaux as well. The troubadours did satire and political commentary as well as love poems; Bertran de Born specialized in these and got a long-term reputation as a trouble-maker for his efforts*; Peire d'Alvernhe and others also produced them. Search for sirventes.

Rabelais wrote mostly in prose, but can probably be stolen from anyway. You might also want to investigate the tradition of the pasquinade, which is both satirical, anonymous, and a murderer of reputations. as well as often involving plays on words and sometimes multiple languages and references to texts from the common literary canon. Having rude verses stuck up in public places sounds like a great addition to a game.

*Dante stuck him in Hell, carrying his head like a lantern; Bertran is the one who gave Richard the Lion-hearted the nickname "Richard Yes-and-No".

#786 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 11:47 AM:

One of ours, one of ours:

"A few days later Jordin Kare, another former SDI physicist who consults with Intellectual Ventures, came up with the software needed to identify, track, and zap mosquitoes as they flew through a beam of light."

[Newsweek, April 19, 2010, page 41]

Way to go, Jordin! Vaporize one for me. No... two!

#787 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 01:05 PM:

Kathryn, #773: That was indeed good thinking and a heroic act on the part of your friend.

I'd like to mention one thing in possible defense of the joggers. If it were me in the position of the joggers, I might easily (1) not realize that someone was shouting at me*, and/or (2) not parse the word "toddler" -- I have low-end sound-filtering software in my head, and that's not a word that's part of my everyday vocabulary, whereas something more generic like "kid" would get thru. Also, kids in general are not something I notice, especially if I'm concentrating on something else. Obviously, I don't know if any of this actually fits the situation.

* This is partly a defense mechanism against being accosted by random strangers on the street, in parking lots, etc. A lot of people appear to think that a woman my age is an automatic soft touch, so I have deliberately trained myself out of the assumption that anyone talking in my vicinity, who is not actually with me, might be talking to me. Even more useful now that so many people are talking on cellphones in public.

#788 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 02:08 PM:

Mark@774: I looked over that typeface poster, and at different places it recommends both Peignot and (shudder) Comic Sans. I didn't look over the whole thing to see if Papyrus (obXKCD) gets a rec anywhere, but it wouldn't surprise me. So pass on it, at least from this quarter.

#789 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 02:26 PM:

Catching up after a convention and unwellness...

PNH & TNH, Lori Coulson, Ginger -- my condolences on your losses.

(Ginger @ 694: I note "Ex". If I'm correct in inferring that you weren't able to work things out, I'm sorry to hear about that too.)

Kip W @ 785 -- IIRC from Jordin's talk at Worldcon, the mosquitos aren't vaporized, just injured enough that they can't breed / reproduce, which breaks the malaria cycle. This requires much less energy and is a lot safer.

#790 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 02:32 PM:

Joel @788 - I can't find the tag to indicate when I'm speaking hyperbolically. Shall I slather on the smileys?

#791 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 03:10 PM:

KipW @785 came up with the software needed to identify, track, and zap mosquitoes as they flew through a beam of light

This gave me a brief pause as I wondered about the identifying characteristics of individual mosquitoes and what it would take to tell them apart.

#792 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 03:30 PM:

Joel at #788:
"This requires much less energy and is a lot safer."

But not as much fun. (Tabasco's 1998 "Mosquito" commercial.)

#793 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 03:32 PM:

OtterB @ 790: The system can distinguish fertilized females from unfertilized females and males, on the basis of wing beat patterns, IIRC.

#794 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 08:11 PM:

Dorothy Height died today at the age of 98. She was a pillar of the civil rights movement (was unhappy the first part didn't include women and made them do it) and had fabulous hats.

#795 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 09:20 PM:

Keith S. @ 690 and Tim Walters @696, thank you both.

#796 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 09:49 PM:

Joel @ 788: It's complicated. She's moved out, into a tiny apartment about a mile away, and we are at least in mediation, discussing our arrangements for our son and the house. She still wants me to sell it, but I hope to buy her out. Other than that, well, it's interesting watching her avoid acknowledging her midlife crisis, or her grief or depression, or anything that might suggest Real Issues lurking beneath. She buries herself in work, and is tired all the time.

The mediator, a divorce attorney who no longer litigates, is an excellent therapist, and has done more therapy for her than anyone has managed in a long time. Sadly.

After this is all over, I hope to make this attorney into a friend. She's that kind of person.

In the meantime, I have been keeping myself busy with my friends, with community activities (CERT and CPS), with parental involvement in the school play, as our son is on the lighting crew this time, and work. There's lots to do around the house, both inside and out, and now it's just me doing it. She says she wants to help, but she forgets because she overbooks her weekends, and doesn't leave work at the office anymore.

I call her my Ex, because there's no other word for her, not that I know of. I'd have to find something in a language that accreted suffixes and prefixes onto the root, in order to encompass all that she's been lately, which is both bad and good.

It's been an intense experience, and it won't end anytime soon. At least I've managed to lose a couple of those pounds that I've been wanting to lose.

#797 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 10:00 PM:


I've been otherwise occupied and am behind on much.

You have many good thoughts and concerns wafting your way from over here.

Be well. Be at peace.

Love, C.

#798 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 10:03 PM:

#793 Marilee

Dorothy Height is a great loss. She was still going into her office right up until she became ill and was hospitalized.

She did so much, making people understand the relationship and connection between civil rights and women' rights, at finding the space where contending factions could agree.

Love, c.

#799 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 10:05 PM:

So, today I extricated a half-dozen shopping carts from the brush next to the "shortcut" path I take to the supermarket. (I was grumpy, and decided to work it off on a perennial irritation. It worked too, but there were more carts there than I realized....) I only was able to bring two of them back to their store, but the others are now in a parking lot. much closer to their stores, rather than stuck in the "woods".

I also discovered that the easiest way to get a shopping cart up a dirt hill is to flip it end-over-end....

#800 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 10:20 PM:

David Harmon at #798 writes:

> So, today I extricated a half-dozen shopping carts from the brush next to the "shortcut" path I take to the supermarket.

Bravo. Have you checked to see if there's a shopping cart collection service near you? Where I am you can report abandoned carts by phone and someone will come along and get them.

#801 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 10:42 PM:

Open Threadiness: just thought of these in the past couple of days and thought I'd share them with you. Definitions for musical terms:

unison - A buffalo with only one horn.

second - A person who lops your head off with a katana when you decide to commit seppuku rather than live with the shame of having sung one when you were supposed to sing a unison. (Usage note: if the person is under 18, s/he's a minor second; if s/he's in the Armny and has a rank just above Captain, s/he's a major second.)

perfect fifth - A bottle of flawless single-malt Scotch.

diminished fifth - A perfect fifth after you've taken a couple of slugs from it.

augmented fifth - A diminished fifth after you've poured water and a little Coca-Cola into it so Dad won't notice you took a couple of slugs from his perfect fifth.

#802 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2010, 11:44 PM:

Every so often, I'm reminded of a concert I attended in a town in Massachusetts close to where I lived for 2-3 years. I couldn't resist: it was an all-Gershwin program, with Rhapsody in Blue, the Concerto in F, and his Lullaby (written for string quartet but inflated by someone else so that larger forces could program it).

The first thing on the program was the Lullaby, and there I began to feel some concern. The players weren't quite together. The first violin, who had several solos, was not very good. (I was reminded of this by Xopher's post.) They were playing intervals I hadn't heard since listening to pit bands for high-school musicals. My ear is not perfect, so I couldn't tell you if they were major unisons, minor unisons, or augmented unisons, but they were definitely modified by some adjective that distinguished them from plain old unisons.

Let me make one thing clear: my criticisms do not include the first violist. He was either very, very good, or else he stood out by being competent. At any rate, his playing was like a fresh drink of water in the desert. A very bad-sounding desert.

After the undeserved applause for the Lullaby had died down, it was time for the Concerto. I confess, I still felt some sort of hope at this point, that maybe the piano player would be good. I still had this hope when he played his first notes. Indeed, his performance would have been adequate if he could have kept at that level, but every time he went into a new section -- a new run, a new pattern -- it went the same way. He started out bravely and on-target, started getting errors partway through, and by the time he was 3/4 of the way, he had clearly written this part off and was already determined to get his mojo back in the next figure. In this, his optimism made Wile E. Coyote look positively apathetic. I don't expect that I'd do a better job in this repertoire, but then I don't put on a suit and go in front of an orchestra with it.

The concerto's second movement gives the first trumpet a seductive, bluesy solo part. Sadly, it was played here by the orchestra's first trumpet player, who couldn't hit all the notes, or even hold onto a note once he had found it. His sound broke up more than a distant AM station late at night.

So on they went, the horrible and the merely incompetent, barreling toward the welcome end of the piece. A few pages before the finale, orchestra and soloist had gotten so far apart that the conductor stopped them. Unfortunately, he started them back up and they finished the piece off for good.

Then there was applause. Prolonged, enthusiastic, standing applause. If I could have clapped just for the first violist, I would have, but I couldn't, so I didn't. When the inexplicable show of approval died down, I slipped out to my car and went home with a real performance of the concerto on my stereo.

Later that week, I found a review of the concert in our local paper, which I read with some interest, to see if perhaps the Rhapsody had gone better. There was no mention of any difficulty or lack of ability in the orchestra or soloists (the Rhapsody was played by a different pianist). If I'd read it without attending, I'd have thought I missed something.

I read on, hoping to see at least a minor reservation about some aspect of the evening's music. I finally found it: the reviewer found it within himself to criticize Gershwin's orchestration. I wondered how he'd know.

#803 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 12:40 AM:

ATLANTA NIGHTS has been given at least a partial dramatic reading. Now we're going to have to add travel advisories in addition to spittake warnings.

#804 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 01:11 AM:

Amazing. I posted a post with one URL and it got held for moderation. Huh?

#805 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 01:14 AM:

I'm not a mod or anything, but I'd be willing to bet you forgot the " in your URL. That seems to be the leading cause of held messages which included links.

#806 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 01:44 AM:

Actually, we have certain filters on YouTube videos searched by user. I think they're starting to trip more ham than spam. I think I'll take that one off.

#807 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 05:00 AM:

Note from "the big website with the blue header" (thanks, abi):

The sky was a brilliant blue yesterday morning, with no clouds and contrails - so unusual for London on all counts. Today it's quite blue again. But the contrails are back, and the noise of jet engines passing overhead. Wish I'd got the camera out yesterday, clicked to "video" and just panned around the sky.

#808 ::: KévinT ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 06:38 AM:

kid bitzer & fidelio:

Thanks. I'll look these up.

Rude verses are always a pleasure, indeed.
I want to add a layer of obfuscation, not make direct attacks, so that players have fun decyphering how the characters and events in the poems relate to real (in-game) people and events.
Something like La Fontaine meets Scarron.

Now, I have to find out if I'm up to the task!

#809 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 08:34 AM:

dcb #807: Lucky you ... my hike is rained out today (blue sky 404?). At least I got my shopping done yesterday.

#811 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 11:32 AM:

Kip W @802:

But now you're able to tell the story. It's one of the weird ways that experiencing a truly terrible work can give you more pleasure over the years than a great one.

My girlfriend and I are huge theater buffs, and we've seen a lot of great productions, but few of them have given us as much pleasure after the fact as Marlowe.

Marlowe was a new play being performed by a small Chicago theater company and the title character was by far the most egregious Mary Sue that I've ever come across.

See, according to this play, every single major poet of the 1580's and 90's was either sleeping with Marlowe or burning with unrequited love/lust for Marlowe. The play also conflated Thomas Walsingham (one of Marlowe's patrons) with his cousin Francis (Elizabeth I's spymaster who may have employed Marlowe at some point.) Needless to say, this composite Walsingham was more interested in the contents of Marlowe's codpiece than in his use as an agent or his artistry as a poet.

I thought the play had hit rock bottom when it actually played the "Bring out your dead" scene straight up for drama. Our weepy hero, discovering one of his old flames barely alive on a plague cart. (I think this one was supposed to be his "one true love" but it was hard to keep track of the game of musical beds that was going on. Who knew that every leading light of the Elizabethan literary world was gay? Or that they were all sleeping with each other?) He literally climbs on and tries to drag his friend off and has to be persuaded by his companions to leave him. I had thought the play had hit bottom, but I was wrong.

You see, Marlowe seems to have a magical power that makes everyone who comes into contact with him immediately want to have sex with him. I'm surprised that the French agent he fought in the "Marlowe is a super secret spy!" segment didn't stop menacing him with a sword and just say "Kiss me, you fool!" And we learn that this magical power doesn't just work on men when Walsingham introduces Marlowe to Queen Elizabeth. So Queen Elizabeth barely prevents herself from ripping Marlowe's clothes off then and there and goes off to write "Mrs. Elizabeth Marlowe" in her notebooks over and over again.

But the play's towering moment of awesome came when Walsingham at last reveals that he's been carrying on an affair with Marlowe, and Elizabeth, dressed in her full regalia, 2 foot tall collar and all, slaps him in the face and screams "BITCH! HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN F**KING HIM?!?!?!?!"

Needless to say, if the Queen can't have him, no one can, and in a jealous rage, she lures Marlowe to a country house where her guards seize him and she stabs him to death with her own two hands, still wearing the whole court get-up, and forces Walsingham to cover it up.

So was the play bad? Truly horribly terribly so. But it's been 5 years since we saw it and we can still make each other giggle uncontrollably by declaiming "Bitch! How long have you been f**king him?" So the many hours of enjoyment we've gotten from telling the story far outweighs the horros of the two hours spent trapped in a theater with Marlowe.

#812 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 11:58 AM:

Ginger @796: I, too, was wondering, since there hadn't been any reports (that I'd seen) in a while. Sounds like things are motoring in a perhaps not as bad as they could be way. All in all, sounds to me like you're handing the whole thing with remarkable strength and intelligence.

So what, Xopher, you just lay around in the bathtub of an evening and think these things up?

#813 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Joel Polowin @793 The system can distinguish fertilized females from unfertilized females and males, on the basis of wing beat patterns, IIRC.
Actually, that's much more precise identification than I though. I had guessed they were identifying mosquitoes as opposed to, say, dust motes or bumblebees.

#814 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 12:17 PM:

Here's proof that the heat in Arizona has fried the brains of the lege there.

Arizona wants Obama's Birth Certificate for 2012 election

#815 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 12:18 PM:

unison - A buffalo with only one horn.

Triad: chord used as a secret signal by Chinese gangsters.

Diminished Fifth: No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, or unless we really want them to.

#816 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 12:27 PM:

AKICIML, culinary division:

So spouse planted radishes in the square-foot garden. A whole square foot of them, rather densely packed. Not thinned. They've come up like gangbusters. What you might call a bumper crop. Is there *any*thing I can do with them other than wash them off and munch on them, make soups from the greens, or put them in salads with other crunchy vegetables, these all being the sorts of recipes that surface when I go a-googling? (These are the French Breakfast radishes, long, slightly thinner, and a trifle milder than the usual globular varieties.)

#817 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 12:39 PM:

@816: Feed them to the guinea pigs?

#818 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 01:22 PM:

joann @816--there's always the traditional German use: slice the radishes very thin, spread (preferably dark) bread with buter, lay the radish slices on the bread-and-butter, sprinkle with salt to taste, and nom. It's a traditional beer garden snack.

#819 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 01:28 PM:

joann@816: a few sliced radishes go well in pork-based wonton filling.

#820 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 01:29 PM:

joann @ 816 -- there's a recipe for a salad dressing in The Vegetarian Epicure/Book Two ("sour cream dressing II"), which uses a cup of minced radishes as well as about the same amount of minced or grated cucumber, but I think you could vary that easily -- i.e. use more radish, especially if they're mild.

The basic technique is to mince and drain the veg's (I squeeze out the extra liquid, too), then mix with a combination of sour cream and mayonnaise -- total about a cup, proportions again according to taste. The mixture is seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice. It's really good with crudités as well as with cold cooked vegetables.

Also, my grandfather used to like to make open-faced sandwiches with thin slices of icicle radishes -- just buttered bread, and a little salt.

#821 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 01:52 PM:

Steve C, the brains of the Arizona legislature has always been a bit overheated. But the last few weeks have seen some exceptionally depressing instances.

The "Show Us Your Papers!" anti-immigration bill is awaiting the Governor's signature, and will probably get it. If authorities have "reasonable suspicion" that you're an illegal immigrant (like, y'know, brownish skin), they can now require you to provide proof of citizenship. (Proponents of the bill say that can only be done in connection with some other reason to stop an individual, but there are plenty of reasons police could come up with to justify such a stop if they actually just wanted to check citizenship.)

Putting that in conjunction with the new concealed weapons law passed and signed last week, you cross the line from venality to insanity. Previously, to carry a concealed weapon, you had to apply for a permit and attend a class on gun safety & gun laws. The new law eliminates the permit and the classes; now, virtually any adult person in Arizona can carry a concealed weapon at will.

Consider that from a police officer's point of view: From now on, anyone they stop might be carrying a concealed weapon. How much more trigger-and-Tazer-happy will it make them in future stops? A significant amount, I suspect.

(Personally, I always thought even the permit-and-classes concealed weapon law was too much. When the Revolution comes and the cheering mobs thrust me into my rightful position as Semi-Benevolent World Dictator, you'll be able to carry weapons openly, but concealed weapons will mean prison. No excuses, no appeals.)

#822 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 01:59 PM:

Bruce #821:

You want weirdness? Try what's going on with the Texas State Capitol building, which had an Incident with a chap and a gun a few months back. Their response? They're going to institute metal detectors and other security theatre out the kazoo, while still allowing anyone with a concealed carry permit to continue to carry within. This somehow seems remarkably trusting of them.

#823 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 02:08 PM:

Georgia must be having a heatwave too.

The state house is chewing over a bill that would outlaw involuntary microchipping of humans.

You know. One World Order Mark of the Beast Obama Care Fascist chips.

The judiciary committee had a witness. A woman who testified that the DOD had put a beeper-style chip in her rectal-genital area and that her co workers were activating it with their cell phones and putting the number up on billboards.

#824 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 02:19 PM:

Stefan #823:

The weird thing is, I'm not convinced these are any crazier than the crazier/dumber end of the war on terror, war on drugs, or various attempts at catching/arresting pedophiles. It's just that some kinds of crazy are socially acceptable....

#825 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 02:21 PM:

Bruce@821: Half of my social space is celebrating the Arizona Constitutional Carry law as a major victory. They follow Vermont (which never restricted carry in the first place) and Alaska as the third state with this law.

From the police officer's point of view, the people he actually needs to worry about are quite likely to be carrying a weapon even if it's illegal for them to do so. So I don't see how this makes their environment any different in that regard. The difference will be that they encounter more law-abiding citizens with weapons, which means that over time they should be trained to be less likely to over-react to the presence of a weapon.

I was teaching carry courses in Minnesota for a while (also taught courses for Utah -- in Minnesota). Given what I saw in my classes, I do think that most people would benefit from some training before carrying, and am therefore not really sure that removing the training requirement is a good idea. On the other hand, people can get training without being required to.

When I first became aware of the "shall-issue" carry movement (when it was being debated in Florida, in the mid eighties), I thought it was a good idea philosophically but was unsure that there wouldn't be significant levels of improper shootings; but in 25 years since then, and with most states (40 or so, depending on whose count you use) going to some sort of "shall-issue" or better carry permit regime, that's turned out to be a complete non-issue. I'm not aware of Vermont or Alaska having big problems, either. Maybe Arizona won't either.

The issue with carry in the Texas legislature seems perfectly reasonable to me. The point is, people who qualify for and obtain a carry permit are not a threat to innocent people. The people you need to worry about are the ones who will ignore the law. Hence the metal detectors. In Minnesota, I can carry in the legislature as well, and have done so (when visiting my representatives).

#826 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 02:33 PM:

Jacque @ 812: I didn't want to overload the servers with repetitive posts on my roller coaster ride through Life. It's been up and down emotionally, although it could have been far worse. We are quite civil to each other and even friendly; we are not litigating anything (yet, or at all), we agree on the things we need to work on through mediation, and although our goals mostly overlap, there are the one or two that don't. There's a general lack of hostility, although she does have spikes of anger, which are really from her issues and not really caused by me, other than as her "spouse", whereby I transmuted into "handy target".

I keep reminding myself that I can't call it "over" until it's clear that she's moved on to a new life. What she has now is a withdrawal from her previous approach, with a strong flavor of nesting or hiding. Recently, she started rebelling against having to do two church services (long story, cooperative parish, her church being the poor relation, etc.), and is applying her new mantra of "simplifying her life" to the church as well. That's good, because that was a source of stress and a considerable lack of support there, just when she needed support.

Can't change the fact that her mom died 9 months ago, or that she and her siblings still don't talk about mom. I suspect she's still harboring anger over having to sell mom's house to pay for the care, although I would bet big bucks she wouldn't admit to such feelings. I also can't shake the feeling that her dad's death 7 years ago is coming back to make things worse, even though she seemed to handle his death in a better way.

All this, plus her new job (just past the 3 year mark) and concomitant feelings of inadequacy (the reverse Dunning-Kruger), and the violent mood swings of perimenopause, and you have a recipe for mid life crisis.

Well, you have a recipe for disaster, really. Those photos of Eyjafjallajokull? That's what is inside here, both the idyllic landscapes and the lightning-torn clouds looming over the fells. I'm just waiting for Katla to erupt, from my safe distance.

But, on the bright side, I have a house that I like, a son who's hanging in there despite the turmoil, friends and my family -- parents, brother and his family, other relatives -- who have been incredibly supportive in so many ways, good books, strong tea, a decent single malt, a job that I still appreciate in a profession that I still like, chocolate, three cats and two dogs, my health, the birds around the house, the gardens, and the random kindnesses of strangers.

I told our son that although it was tough now, he would later appreciate the lessons learned during this time, and then we watched more Torchwood.

#827 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 02:39 PM:

OtterB @ 813: I may be mistaken in remembering/thinking that they can distinguish fertilized female mosquitos from unfertilized females. But there are a number of interviews on-line in which Jordin says that they can tell the females from the males by the wing-beat patterns.

#828 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 02:47 PM:

Kip W @ 802:

I'm sorry. That's really disappointing.

It does remind me of the time I pulled open a book of music critique in the library. The reviewer completely trashed Gershwin's style and technique, but in the sort of way that made me think, "Dude, if you don't like Gershwin, just say so."

Stefan Jones @ 823: The state house is chewing over a bill that would outlaw involuntary microchipping of humans.

One of the ways you can get a feel for old societies is to look at their laws, on the grounds that you don't bother to legislate against things that people don't do. What will future historians think of us?

#829 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 03:13 PM:

I have to say, outlawing involuntary microchipping of adults does not strike me as (a) premature or (b) a bad idea.

Ginger: Thank you for the update. For whatever else it's worth, I find your posts engaging, interesting to read, and educational (both in practical, and "there but for the grace of god" ways).

So, while I'm not authorized to speak to server load, please don't be reticent on the grounds of posting "too much."

#830 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 03:18 PM:

Outlawing involuntary micro-chipping in adults implies that it's kool for kids. ("Stand still, junior, this won't hurt a bit.")

#831 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 03:27 PM:

Ginger @826:

Thank you for the update. I've been worrying.

Speaking ex cathedra, I can assure you that the servers can take it, and furthermore, the community cares.

Make your choices based on what you need, your own balance between reaching for support and holding your privacy.

#832 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 03:35 PM:


I'm sorry you're having to go through all this. For whatever it's worth, you're in my prayers, and have been since you posted the first time about the whole thing.

#833 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 04:44 PM:


I haven't seen him do it, but my father-in-law is reputed to enjoy boiled radishes. He's described them as being somewhat similar in texture to turnips, but with a little bit of a kick.

(I asked him how he knew this, and his explanation was, "Well, back when I had a market garden, this one year was a really good year for radishes, and we didn't want to waste them...")

Might be worth an experiment, if your household inclines toward that sort of thing. (If you do, tell me how it worked out.)

#834 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 04:49 PM:

Jacque #829:

I'm just waiting to hear someone propose mandatory involuntary chipping of suspected terrorists, followed by a million people explaining patiently why we shouldn't worry that maybe the authorities might misuse the power to do such a thing.

#835 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 05:11 PM:

albatross @834: Want to start a pool?

#836 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 05:12 PM:

Steve C. #830: Outlawing involuntary micro-chipping in adults implies that it's kool for kids.

Probably rationalized as LoJack for kidnap victims ("think of the children"). Kidnappers would, no doubt, devise sinister yet practical methods to deal with that problem: instead of sending a finger or other identifiable body part as proof of possession, they could just dig out the chip and send that.

#837 ::: anaea ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 05:21 PM:

Re the Mandatory Chipping -

One thing I'm finding most disturbing about the Tea Party et cetera movements is how much of what they say about their fear of government matches where I've been near or moving since midway through Bush's first term. I think they're expecting the government to be entirely too blatant about the bad evil things they're going to do - I agree with albatross's assessment of how microchipping would happen - but at the same time I think fear of how much the government has eroded basic civil liberties is appropriate.

Their timing, the direction of their fear, and the way they're dealing with it are utterly baffling, but I can almost understand where they claim* they're coming from. It's got me fantasizing about crash a tea party event, enlightening people with data and long term thinking, and saving the country by subverting the radical right into a force of good.

Then I listen to Tea Partiers talking on the bus and get a reality check. Sigh.

*Why not look around and freak out until now? Looks like it's mostly realizing they aren't in charge and the country is a scary place to not be in power right now. The extent to which the "we" who have upsettingly lost power is conservatives, "regular folk" and white people varies by individual.

#838 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 05:37 PM:

Chris W, you've unwittingly given me just enough of an excuse to re-run this:

Kip Williams quotes from Act I of Christopher Marlowe’s "The Tragedy of the Big Slumber":
For long and weary hours, I bored myself Counting the old, tired webs of spiders
In my narrow office. Just then I heard
A ringing sound from the bell out front,
And in my dismal garret I beheld
A wench who made a good first impression
To my eyes. Her face, I thought could launch
A thousand or so ships, her eyes burn down
A hell of a lot of topless towers.
I took in her form and her tear-streaked face
She beseechingly asked, “Mister Marlowe?
I’m in trouble. They told me you could help.”

(First published in rec.arts.sf.fandom, January 2003)

#839 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 05:38 PM:

Chris W, you've unwittingly given me just enough of an excuse to re-run this:

Kip Williams quotes from Act I of Christopher Marlowe’s "The Tragedy of the Big Slumber":
For long and weary hours, I bored myself
Counting the old, tired webs of spiders
In my narrow office. Just then I heard
A ringing sound from the bell out front,
And in my dismal garret I beheld
A wench who made a good first impression
To my eyes. Her face, I thought could launch
A thousand or so ships, her eyes burn down
A hell of a lot of topless towers.
I took in her form and her tear-streaked face
She beseechingly asked, “Mister Marlowe?
I’m in trouble. They told me you could help.”

(First published in rec.arts.sf.fandom, January 2003)

#840 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 05:45 PM:

The lying jade said it had stopped. (Can somebody put #838 out of its misery, please? Once is enough, and #839 fixes a typo.)

Steve C, I had the theory years ago (middle 70s) that some actions could only be explained by the possibility that the heat in the Phoenix area fries people's brains. I later expanded this theory to other world hot spots. It is a perfectly cromulent theory, and I feel validated when other people independently come up with it.

KeithS, it was, first and foremost, jaw-dropping to witness such near-total incompetence by people in nice suits. The standing ovation was proof positive that applause means different things to different people. Here, I think it meant "that's my relative up there!" The review... well, I'm still scratching my head over that.

#841 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 06:28 PM:

I'm so relieved to learn that there's an easy fix for all the problems with the current American healthcare system: pay your medical bills with chickens.

#842 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 07:18 PM:

anaea #837: The thing is, the Republican propaganda is all about projection -- they consistently accuse their opponents of whatever nasty things they're either doing, planning to do, or would like to do. Among other advantages, it means that when they get challenged for their own offenses, they can just claim the opposition is only playing "tit-for-tat".

Kip W #802: Maybe they were applauding because the musicians stopped playing? ;-)

#843 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 07:22 PM:


Yes, the community (at least the part of it at this keyboard) cares, and wants to hear what's going on. All I can do is lend a sympathetic ear and pass tissues as required, but I'll be glad to do that.

#844 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 07:45 PM:

joann, #816, I've only done this on the round ones, but I cut lines partially into the top and left them line-down in soy sauce for a few hours. Very good.

Stefan Jones, #823, that law was also proposed in the Virginia House by one of the rural delegates. He thought it would attract the devil. The law was not passed.

Also in Virginia on Monday, a national park had about 75 gun-toting folks and a lot more journalists. Hammond, the guy who encouraged people to throw bricks at offices talked about Obama: Hammond, who said he flew in from California, told another demonstrator he believes that President Obama is the antichrist.

"If he's not the antichrist, he's pretty close," the second man concurred.

"We're definitely in the end times," Hammond continued. "The rapture, in my opinion, has to be sometime this fall."

#845 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Jacque 812: I was in the North American Mammals room at the Museum of Natural History, but pretty much, yeah.

Bruce 821: Wow, I think Arizona just became a No Go zone for me.

Ginger 826: Bright blessings for the best possible outcome. I join others in saying that I'd like to lend an ear etc.

#846 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 09:02 PM:

Re the Patrick Pogan Particle: wow, the guy even LOOKS like a guy who beat up gay boys in high school and is now a total thug. It's nice when they look the part, isn't it?

#847 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 10:28 PM:

Kip W @ 840 -
Steve C, I had the theory years ago (middle 70s) that some actions could only be explained by the possibility that the heat in the Phoenix area fries people's brains. I later expanded this theory to other world hot spots. It is a perfectly cromulent theory, and I feel validated when other people independently come up with it.

I know -- I've always been pleased by the intelligence of those who agree with me. :-)

#848 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 12:10 AM:

I wanted to plug the Electric Sheep fundraiser again:

$2,000 to go, ten days left. Fingers crossed.

#849 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 12:31 AM:

Jacque @ 829: Oh, well, if it's educational, then I shall post more! After all these years teaching (technicians, veterinary students, college and high school students interested in veterinary medicine, heck, even cub scouts and boy scouts..), another audience and another topic is just the whipped cream on top of this banana split.

abi @ 831, albatross @832, Bruce @843, Xopher @ 845 -- OK, now you all are making me cry, but it's the good kind. Clearly I can't not post.

Well, good timing: there was a last minute gathering of folks from her previous job (a toxic environment you wouldn't believe), and she called me to invite me to the dinner tonight. I ended up giving a ride to Helen, a grandmother who once shared an office with my Ex in the toxic job. Naturally, I updated her on the state of affairs. After she got over her surprise, she was adamant that things would work out for the best, although it would take some time. She was also quite certain than they could help by providing more social excuses for us all to get together more frequently, without making it obvious that they were trying to help her. It was very uplifting, and put me in a much better mood.

We had plenty of time to discuss everything, as we were stuck in slow traffic for about an hour. For once, I really didn't mind the traffic.

One of the educational parts for me has been hearing the perspectives from others who have known us for years. Helen pointed out that my Ex really has never had to deal with painful life issues before losing her parents. Losing her dad seven years ago was sudden, and she seemed to handle it ok then, but it may be coming back now to make her mom's loss even harder. Plus, dad was the easy one to get along with; mom was difficult. There may well be anger at mom, and other stuff that she didn't want to deal with, as well as jealousy that my parents are still alive.

Helen thinks that the perimenopausal problems are exacerbating her pain and grief, and perhaps once those resolve, that she'll start to feel better and maybe even handle her other issues in a more healthy manner again.

Her counsel is to wait, and watch; to continue doing things with my friends and for the community service; and to hold fast, no matter how long it takes. Now that she knows, the rest of that group will soon know, and they'll be watching for ways to help her as well. No one can force her into therapy, but they can surround her with loving energy and support for both of us.

I can wait. It once took me more than three years to diagnose a patient; I can certainly wait, with the help of our friends and families. It won't be easy, but it cannot get any worse than those first awful moments.

Thank you all for your encouraging words, your prayers, the virtual tissues, and the topics of distraction.

#850 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 01:16 AM:

Ginger @ 826... I told our son that although it was tough now, he would later appreciate the lessons learned during this time, and then we watched more Torchwood.

Tell him that there'll be more of Atomic Robo on the way very soon.

#851 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 04:28 AM:

"All knowledge" request to photographers: I've just discovered a whole load of precious photos (which I'd gathered together intending to scan them for safety) have, at some point, got damp and stuck together. I don't have the negatives for all of them. Does anyone know of any method of separating them which may avoid totally ruining them? Thanks.

#852 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 07:27 AM:

Serge @850: thank you. I will.

#853 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 08:36 AM:

Another fundraiser thing:

The Ned and Jane drive for the Alpha scholarship fund wraps up in a week. The Alphans have raised more than a thousand dollars, which means two full scholarships with matching. Their goal was $2500.

If you have a few bucks earmarked for charity and wish to receive a tiny zombie book, please donate and help send a student to a great workshop.

Besides, if they meet their goal, they will write a sequel.

Ginger, I'm another willing to listen when you're willing to talk. I sometimes find myself not talking about what bothers me because it's been the same things for months now and my audience must be bored and out of patience. I am not bored or out of patience with you.

#854 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 09:02 AM:

Marilee @844--I always woonder what's going to happen to these people who select a date for the End Times so confidently. For some reason, I'm always reminded of the Millerites and the Great Disappointment.

#855 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 09:45 AM:

dcb@851: Ouch! That's a very, um, sticky situation. Seek more experienced physical restoration advice than mine, but that's near the worst case (really extensive mold might be worse).

I think the best bet is to soak relatively briefly (10 minutes up to maybe an hour) in distilled water, separate them (they get much more fragile when wet, so this gets really hairy), then re-dry them. That's a very brief summary, and as I say, get expert advice before proceeding. Proper drying facilities help, too.

#856 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 09:55 AM:

I got a nice surprise from Fidelio in the snail mail yesterday...
1966's abundantly illustrated novel "Superman Smashes the Secret of the Mad Director".

Someone should tell Kal-El that Prince Valiant wigs don't do a thing for him.

#857 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 10:43 AM:

1. You need a new open thread.

2. Patrick, you're concerned about the lack of privacy Facebook provides? Have you looked at lately?

#858 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 11:23 AM:

Well, today is the 40th anniversary of the day I swore I would never own a car.

#859 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 11:30 AM:


As posted previously, there is enormous sympathy over here for what you are currently experiencing.

There's also this, however. You are somewhat in limbo, waiting for her to resolve her issues. As you are doing everything you can to continue living a full and healthy life yourself, you just might find at some point you have moved on, and resolved all this for yourself, while she's still trying to make her way through the wilderness.

Of course, you may have inexhaustable wells of patience too!

All best wishes for peace.

Love, C.

#860 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 11:35 AM:

Ginger @849: And besides which, your posts are always very interesting and well-written!

As a trivial example of the educational value, the article you posted about ignoring a spouse's midlife crisis, and your subsequent commentary, probably saved my boss from sudden and unprovoked strangulation.

The other reason to keep posting (if I may belabor the point) is that you clearly have a skill for attracting advocates and allies. Posting enhances this tendancy. Reticence will impede it.

And Helen sounds like a very smart cookie!

#861 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 11:43 AM:

Glenn Hauman #857: You need a new open thread.

What makes you think that?

#862 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 11:44 AM:

dcb @851: Is there a museum nearby whose expertise you could tap?

Glenn Hauman @857: The mods generally start a new OT when the current one hits ~#930.

#863 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Tangential to everything else in here, I suppose, but I think that's what open threads are for: this post about race-specific organizations is one of those rare* essays that makes me think about a topic in a completely different way than before. In this case, why certain types of exclusive** organizations are 1) good, 2) necessary, and 3) different from other superficially equivalent exclusive organizations that are generally agreed to be offensive/a bad idea.

The information there may be the kind of thing that everyone else here already knows, but it hit me like a brick in the face--in a good way--and so I thought I'd share it around, in case anyone else finds it similarly useful.

* In the sense of "only a few things affect me this way" and not in the potentially condescending sense of "only a few things are written well enough", to be perfectly clear.

** In the very literal sense of "excluding some people and allowing others", though I suspect I can't use that word without a lot of negative connotations I don't want drifting along with it. Sadly, I am not coming up with a concise way of expressing that concept without said connotations.

#864 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 01:23 PM:

Glenn Hauman @ 857: I've never met Patrick in person; I don't think I've even exchanged any private email with him to date. I saw nothing on his Wikipedia page that told me things I didn't already know about him, or could easily find out from public sources. Everything there is something that either he did in public, or chose to make public.

There's a lot of personal information I *don't* know about him, in many cases because he hasn't chosen to make it public. The Wikipedia page respects that. So do forums like this one, and many other online forums. I participate here, and on other blogs, and on Twitter, with the understanding that everything I say in these places can be considered public knowledge. (Especially since I generally use my full name in public forums.) But I decide what I want to say in these places; I have control over what I choose to reveal.

Facebook is different. It encourages you to reveal things you might *not* choose to make fully public, in the belief that you're just sharing it with selected friends, or recording for your own purposes. And people use Facebook, and interact with others, with that expectation. I'm more open in email to known friends than I am in public posting, against because I have control over who I send my email messages to. Many people are also more open in the Facebook environment. If I were to join Facebook, I'd imagine my friends would expect me to be similarly open with them there as well.

But in fact, Facebook information is available to a lot more people than many users realize, due to various policies Facebook has made regarding visibility to apps and ads, the multiple changes that Facebook has made in what it considers private, and the overall complexity of the Facebook information sharing model. I *don't* have the same sort of control over my personal information as I do in either private email, or in public forums.

That's what bothers me about Facebook. (I can't speak for Patrick, but the concerns he's mentioned here sound similar to mine.) It's neither truly private nor truly public, and the control it seems to give users over their privacy is largely illusory. That's not the sort of place I want to hang out in; I want the disclosure of my personal information to be under *my* control, not subject to the shifting business models of some for-profit company that hasn't earned my trust.

#865 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 04:27 PM:

Wandering in late, again: in the Making Light movie, I'd like to be played by Alfre Woodard; I suspect, though, that Whoopie Goldberg is a more convincing choice.

Diatryma @188:

You can order a replacement converter for a Waterman pen for about $10; Swisher Pens, the Fountain Pen Hospital, and Art Brown have them. I'd probably do that first. If the section/converter area is still leaking, then you'd want to decide whether or not to get it repaired, or to replace the Phileas.

As for the scratchy nib, you could try gently re-aligning the tines of the nib with a fingernail, or buy micromesh sheets (Richard Binder sells them at, and then look online for nib smoothing information.

How long should your pens last? Assuming you don't drop them (and for me, even having dropped one pen nib first onto a cement floor, it could still be repaired) or let them get run over by a truck, they should last a good ten years or more. My oldest pen is a celluloid rose-glow striated Sheaffer (I think it's a Balance Junior) from between 1936 and 1939, that's had its sac replaced once; the next oldest is a celluloid grey pearl striated Balance 375 from the 1940s.

(Truth? I don't know first-hand about the Phileas pens: my Watermans are a Hemisphere and the Ici et La, and I've had each of those for under a decade. Sheaffers, Parkers, and Pelikans last, in my experience.)

#866 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 05:45 PM:

Whumpf! That was "my brilliant comment" bouncing off the newly-closed thread. Behind the curve again, dammit!

Oh well, I get to go hiking again tomorrow.

#867 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 06:00 PM:

David Harmon @866:

Hiking is good, better than galvanic and spasming thrashes online.

How's your weather?

#868 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 06:02 PM:

I was going to offer a comment to the newly-closed thread, too, but it was about another author making a "famous bad example" of herself.

Ah well.

#869 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Hey, everybody, have some beauty.

#870 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 06:32 PM:

Velma, I emailed someone at Pendemonium and they said converters do wear out, so that's on the to-do list. Thanks!

I write kind of weird, though-- my first One True Pen was a Parker Vector that I did not treat well. I dropped it. I bit it to bend it back. I patched the cracks in the barrel and cap with nail polish and Scotch tape. At some point, it became easiest to write with it upside-down, so that's what I do all the time now. The new Parker Vector is just new, nothing wrong with it.

My standard operating procedure for pens seems to be to destroy them. Most of the gold plate is off the Phileas cap and barrel and there was an incident with hexane that took off the shine in places.

#872 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 07:21 PM:

ddb @ 855: thanks - I may do that. My stepmother had a photo she sent to be reframed that was stuck to the (broken, I think) glass of the old one; she said to reframe it complete with glass; he soaked it in water and managed to separate it.

Jacque@ 862: not that I know of, but I'll check.

David Harmon @ 866: lucky you! We've got nice weather, but nowhere to hike (although I did manage one short day in the Lake District a few weeks ago).

#873 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 07:35 PM:

Anybody going to be at Conestoga? Stop by and say hi -- we'll be in the dealer room.

#874 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 08:04 PM:

Re: radishes -- 1 slice of radish, 1 slice of water chestnut, wrap in bacon, stick a toothpick through it to hold it together, and deep fry until the bacon's crispy. Then dip in honey.

Far, far better than it sounds.

#875 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 08:51 PM:

Abi #867: Looking good -- we had wanted to shift to Wednesdays, but yesterday offered a full-scale thunderstorm, so we fell back to Friday, and that promises to be sunny.

dcb #872: Oh yeah -- even the "city" area here is a heckuvalot greener than NYC, but I'm very glad to have hooked up with hiking buddies who can drive out to the Appalachian Trail. (Here, the Blue Ridge/Shenandoahs.)

Diatryma #870: Oh my, a Hexane Incident? You are rough on your pens! ;-)

#876 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 09:17 PM:

Jacque @ 860: Hm. Thanks!

Constance @ 859: There is that. I am, in fact, rearranging my life to suit myself instead of "us". As soon as I could, I rearranged the furniture in the master bedroom, and put my bed in there. I have more of the same to do throughout the house, and I'm thinking about how I will place things where I want now.

I am not a superwoman, just able to refill my optimism over long dark hours of pain. This is an incredibly painful experience for me, although not nearly as bad as being physically attacked by a housemate years ago (psychotic break, abusive personality, sudden violence that left me with PTSD), but worse than dealing with my grandfather's unexpected-only-to-me death, when I was 13.

Fortunately for me, the lessons I learned with his death are part of my strength now. I also draw upon my professional skills, learned over the past 20 years of battling the implacable Opponent -- call her Time, Mother Nature, or Death -- she will always win. Every one of my patients will ultimately die, and the pain of losing a patient is nothing compared to the pain of losing my partner.

In my darker hours, I think it would have been easier to deal with her sudden death, because I wouldn't be tormented with the possibilities. Then again, it's those possibilities that make this torment bearable.

I hide my pain from her, make jokes, email articles to her (on menopausal symptoms and other pertinent topics), and share the duties of raising our son. Then when she leaves, and there is no one else around, I can let out my rage and grief in a safe space, until I can corral the energies again.

In the long run, as the famous economist once said, we are all dead. In the long run, none of this matters.

One of her favorite songs by the Flirtations included the lines "the only true measure of your words and your deeds/will be the love you leave behind/when you're gone". Right now, she's not thinking of love, and yet, love is what keeps me going each day.

#877 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 09:57 PM:

Your friends think of you, Ginger, and are there to help in any way they can.

#878 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 10:46 PM:

Serge @ 877: You are indeed helping. I get by, with a little help from my friends. Of course, I'd rather be under the an octopus' garden, in the shade.

#879 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2010, 11:21 PM:

David Harmon, it wasn't that bad. It made me feel awful (this is why we can't have nice things!) but ultimately, it is a pen, it was in lab, and it didn't dissolve. Drink cup broken et cetera (and thank you, Abi I think, for saying that). I no longer feel anything negative about it. The pen is good. The pen forgives.

The pen is also responsible for the portion of my lab notebook that can't be rinsed away in acetone. Bad, bad things can happen to lab notebooks.

#880 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 01:16 AM:

Ginger @ 876:
In the long run, as the famous economist once said, we are all dead.
In the long run, none of this matters.
Not really true. What we do matters because we have done it; the passing of time doesn't erase what we've done, it just makes it seem farther away to those who remain. But our actions remain a part of the fabric of events and continue to have consequences.

That's why love matters: it gives us the values we need to guide our choices and give us the best chance to leave good consequences behind. That's how love survives.

#881 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 01:36 AM:

I am thinking snarly, irritable things about my neighbours, who have (yet again) elected to wake me up by getting home from the bar in a witless gaggle of incoherent banter, combined with a stereo system better used as an offensive weapon. Bah.

Suggestions (beyond speaking to them (tried, hasn't worked), speaking to the landlord (sometimes works), and calling the constabulary (again) would be much appreciated).

#882 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 02:31 AM:

Xeger @ #881, You're gonna need bigger speakers.

When I reconnected my Pioneer 88s (built in the 1970s; they're 80 watts apiece) to my rebuilt stereo system I remembered why I'd never moved the volume control on my former amp/receiver past about 3. I think I could knock over the house across the street if I cranked these things up to 10.

#883 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 03:16 AM:


#884 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 03:21 AM:

Linkmeister @882: Play the Telarc 1812 on it and you could probably take out the whole neighborhood.

#885 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 03:49 AM:

Yes, the Telarc 1812 is still, as far as I know, the gold standard for window-breaking speaker tests.

#886 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 06:28 AM:

The aforementioned really big speakers, recording device of your preference, and a playback at the earliest possible hour at which the constabulary won't get called on you because it -isn't- an infraction to make racket after X o'clock.

Either that or take up practicing a musical instrument bright and early in the morning. Something like accordion / bassoon / violin (absolute novices only) / bagpipes . . . .

#887 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 06:58 AM:

#857 ::: Glenn Hauman

I think a major difference between the Wikipedia entry and the New! Improved! Facebook privacy settings is that the Wikipedia entry does not lend itself to exposing the names and e-mail addresses of your entire "social web" to stalkers.

Wikipedia also does not lend itself to the extensive data mining by spammers and other marketingfirms that Facebook now allows.

#888 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 07:08 AM:

Shorter Facebook privacy policy: "You have no privacy. Get over it."


#889 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 07:27 AM:

Diatryma #879: Oh, I agree, I was just teasing a bit. The Auld MIT equivalent would be "USED UP", a la the Jargon File. (A.k.a., why you need to be cautious about lending stuff to students!).

Xeger, #881, Linkmeister #882: One of the "kids" in my development has a car stereo like that. He's actually been quite good about not annoying people with it, but when he tried it out -- midday, across the parking lot from my place -- I not only heard it, I felt it through my floor, strongly enough that I went out to see WTH was going on.

#890 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 07:30 AM:

#881: Plastic Ono Band, Live Peace in Toronto, side 2, set on repeat.

#891 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 07:48 AM:

re 886: I recommend a big-chorus recording of this. Or better still, set their alarm to this. (WETA radio did the latter to us once. On a Sunday, no less.) 1812 is good, but it takes too long to get to the loud/damaging part.

And if you want another real speaker-killer, the last cut on the 1712 overture has an airhorn. Recorded at authentic chamber music volume.

When the new organ (electronic, alas) arrived at church we quickly found that the 32' bassoon stop had to be cut back a bit. Something in the choir area rattled. LOUDLY.

#892 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 08:17 AM:

If you have the speakers to drive the bass with authority, any competent orchestra recording of Strauss waltzes will reach out and grab them by the resonant frequencies of their rib cages.

When I was a wee lad at a piping camp that included the prof in question on the staff, I was told the story of the time in the early-mid-70s, there was a prof at RMC (the Royal Military College of Canada) who had a stand of bagpipes with an extra drone stock out the side; this allowed a microphone to be inserted so you could use an oscilloscope in an attempt to determine just what, in acoustic wave terms, was going on in there. (It's very complicated; 3rd order effects are significant.)

The cadet pipe-major borrowed the aforesaid pipes, and, as was his alternating duty (well, usually with the pipe band, you understand), went out on the parade square to play the morning wake up call.

Since he'd plugged the microphone into a rented multi-thousand-watt PA, this was extremely effective; there were complaints from miles away, and, quite possibly, from General Sir John Cope's ghost. He only escaped charges for willful self endangerment by being able to point out he was wearing foam insert ear plugs and artilleryman ear defenders.

Bit of a logistical challenge, but I get the impression it was... memorable.

#893 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 08:47 AM:

Graydon @ 892 ...
That reminds me of the cartoon in one of my french textbooks, about a new recruit, and a bugler that didn't own a watch, the tagline of which was something along the lines of "quelle idiote sonne le reveil a trois heure du matin" (speeling optidenal).

#894 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 08:59 AM:

Ginger @ 878... If I wanted to be inside a Beatles song, I'd first make sure it's not William Shatner's rendition of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".

#895 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 09:03 AM:

xeger @ 881... Get Newt Gingrich to move in as YOUR Speaker. On the other hand, that's a remedy worse than the disease. I suggest hiring the owner of the abiveld to live nearby for a couple of weeks.

#896 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 09:20 AM:

Velma @865: Wandering in late, again: in the Making Light movie, I'd like to be played by Alfre Woodard; I suspect, though, that Whoopie Goldberg is a more convincing choice.

I doubt Whoopi would shave her head for the role. :->

Pen geekery: My mother had a biology prof (in a class involving field expeditions) who at the beginning of class, in the syllabus and verbally, repeatedly told the class that the only acceptable writing modalities for use in the Official, Graded Field Notebook were real India ink and graphite pencil.

A week before the final exam, when everyone had to turn in their field notebooks to be read (by grad students) and graded, he collected them all into a big stack, which was taken to the front of the class. Then he took them one by one and dunked them -- full submersion -- in an aquarium of water, then dropped them into a plastic storage bin in an untidy pile. "You will be graded solely on the basis of what I can still read," was his proclamation in response to the shocked gasps of all the students who'd used ballpoint ... and you could tell, because the water was gradually turning purple (as were some of the notebook pages).

#897 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 09:20 AM:

892: or read "The Whisky And The Music" by George MacDonald Fraser; the pipe band sounded Reveille in his battalion on Friday mornings. And, being pipers, they used to sneak over to just outside the junior officers' quarters, inflate their bags without a sound and then burst into "Johnnie Cope". The first time he heard it, he says, he was seized with "a fear that the MacLeods had risen and were coming to finish things with his clan once and for all, while [his roommate] shot across the room gibbering that the Yanks had dropped The Bomb and, as usual, in the wrong place..."

#898 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 09:33 AM:

ajay @897 --

I have read that, and I laughed and laughed.

I've also heard stories of pipers secreting themselves in odd galleries of castles and one case of lurking in an immense (9 foot diameter) length of steel gas pipe that was waiting to be installed in its hole in the ground, just to check what it did for the resonance.

The best "what the hell is that" sound, though, comes from the traditional pipes, where rather than using the effete modern methods of actual drills, the drones are bored with a hot iron, the iron being hammered roughly square after each use. As a result, the drone bore is all of: square, variable in size, twisted, and lined with charcoal, in a repeated number of sections depending on how many times the pipe-maker had to heat the iron to achieve the necessary bore. (The chanters were done with carving tools, and were internally slightly fluted and in no wise circular in cross-section.)

When you get right down to it, modern bagpipes are an essentially civilized instrument; they are made with love, care, and high technology to produce a consistent sound, driven mostly by the needs of competitive pipers at social gatherings. (Which is why A on modern pipes is rather above concert A in pitch; it makes the high notes sound better, for some values of better that correlate with winning competitions.)

The old things, though; those were made with an element of craft and boatloads of sheer bloody-minded obstinacy and they produce a sound that creates an instant understanding of a belief in malevolent spirits.

#899 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 10:13 AM:

Don't mess around: get 180hp sound production and annoy neighbors for a 25mi radius

Or you can just stick with trains and boats (warning: can make your eardrums meet in the middle of your head)

#900 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 10:55 AM:


Indeed, in the end, love is all any of us have and leave behind. Wise.

Thoughts of peace and love wending your way.

Love, C.

#901 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 11:24 AM:

In various places around the world, including Quebec, and under various circumstances, Moslem women are being forbidden from wearing the niqab. It is asserted that wearing the niqab is not part of the canonical writings of the faith, but merely a practise that has been accreted to their particular sect's traditions, and that the practise is psychologically harmful.

I'd like to see the same arguments applied to the celibacy of the Catholic priesthood.

#902 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 11:29 AM:

Serge, in one of my more whimsical bits of near-future fiction-like substance, I had a holographically-decorated, Beatles-themed Mexican restaurant called LCD, which stood not for Liquid Crystal Display but for Lucia en el Cielo con Diamantes.

#903 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 11:32 AM:

Joel@901: After that, it'll be hoodies and billed caps, because they obscure your face from overhead security cameras.

I understand how somebody raised to adulthood in a face-hiding culture could feel pretty vulnerable if forced to go out bare-faced -- seems like it would be not far different from asking an American to go out naked.

#904 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 11:55 AM:

I would love to re-educate my noisy neighbors on my side alley (their garage opens toward our bedroom windows), who seem to exist only to hang out in their open garage at all hours in all weathers, but they're deaf, or at least strongly hearing-challenged, so none of the usual methods works. They have been admonished by people in bathrobes at one in the morning, but it seems to have no permanent effect. And I have the horrid feeling that calling the cops might end badly, what with the communications issue.

#905 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 12:21 PM:

Joel @901:

I'm not sure I can get behind a movement that tells people they have to have sex or lose their jobs. It seems a tad...intrusive*.

I'd say start by enforcing the laws we have instead, including those about being an accessory after the fact.

The laws about the niqab aren't necessarily a very good idea, either. Forcing women not to wear one is as demeaning and restrictive as forcing them to do so. Much better would be ensuring that they get good educations, have the freedom to choose their own partners, have help available if they wish to leave an abusive situation, and you know, treating them like adults who choose their own path.

So not another parade I'm marching in.

* no pun intended, but not really rejected either

#906 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 12:43 PM:

joann@904: Hmmm, maybe a large searchlight to shine in their faces when they're being too loud at night? That might also bother other neighbors less than getting into a noise war (which is obviously hopeless in this case since your problem people have hearing issues).

If talking hasn't worked, getting into a pissing contest may not be the best choice, seriously.

I do understand your concern about the police; if you do resort to them at some point, you might point out when you call that part of the problem is that the problem people are deaf, so they don't understand noise the same as you. It might help to have that near the forefront of the minds of the officers who respond.

#907 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Slash piles in Oak Creek Canyon set for burning

The fools! That won't do any good! Most of that stuff is on the Internet now!

#909 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 02:32 PM:

Re the particle on Face Book's latest privacy intrusions, which were being spoken of extensively and with great annoyance elsewhere, what did I see upon checking into the Washington Post this morning?

Why, yes, I saw this!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Use your Facebook network on the Post Web site and etc.

This morning it was right the top in red. It moved down later, and now it's off the front screen all together.

Love, C.

#910 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 03:11 PM:

I went to a funeral with a friend who had asked me to help as a pallbearer. Afterwards, another of his friends played the pipes outside the church, wearing dress kilt and all. When that was done, we proceeded to a buffet for some wake. There were a couple of old guys there who played harmonicas -- clearly pros. One of them had a pretty ultimate-looking instrument, the size of a paperback book, with the ability to transpose into a bunch of keys or modes.

Anyway, the piper stood by the salad bar and played for a bit, and even though I was holding my camera in my hand, I was too slow and missed my chance to photograph him with a guy next to him in a business suit who was trying without success to make a cell phone call.

#911 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 03:12 PM:

Some time ago, University of the Cumberlands, a Baptist institution, expelled a student when they discovered he was gay. They defended their right to do so based on being a religious institution. This brought them to the attention of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, a gay rights group, who discovered that the school was about to receive a $10 million grant from the state to build a pharmacy school.

The Kentucky Constitution states that "no portion of any fund or tax now existing, or that may hereafter be raised or levied for educational purposes, shall be appropriated to, or used by, or in aid of, any church, sectarian or denominational school," so the KFA sued.

Yesterday, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the grant was unConstitutional, rejecting the absurd claim that the money was just for, like, bricks and stuff, not for an educational purpose.

Yay, Kentucky Supreme Court! Sucks to you, University of the Cumberlands!

See, the two things aren't especially connected, except that they were estopped from claiming not to be a religious institution because they'd claimed it earlier in expelling the gay student.

Neener, I say thee, neener neener.

#912 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 03:32 PM:

THe LA Times has been pushing Facebook also.
I don't use it (or any of the other 'social network' sites). (I'd probably be getting a lot more spam if I did.)

#913 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 03:39 PM:

#911 ::: Xopher

::snicker:: (at the religious, apparently "noneducational" school)

I think I would like a nice light and dry libation with that serving of schadenfreude, sir.

#914 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 03:52 PM:

Telarc 1812, huh? I've got Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra's version. Really loud music; let's see what I've got. Zeppelin? Foghat? Bad Company?

#915 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 04:01 PM:

abi @ 905 -- Seriously, I don't think that requiring priests to be non-celibate, "for their own good", makes any more sense than forbidding women to wear the niqab "for their own good". I am irritated by the patronizing crap that's being promulgated in my own country when the supposed logic, if applied to members of a less-distrusted social/religious group, would be considered obviously nonsensical.

#916 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 04:13 PM:

Early Beatles, cranked up a bit more?

(Actually the Telarc 1812 is interesting: real cannon and real church bells. And some broken windows, caused by one of the cannon blanks being slightly overcharged.)

#917 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 04:31 PM:

BTW, back from my hike -- ~ 7 miles around Big Flat Mountain. Bug repellent has become mandatory, (on the other hand, the butterflies are out, too) most things are greening in, different selection of flowers (lots of violets this week), and the wild roses, while not in flower yet, were getting quite vicious.

#918 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 05:05 PM:

I'd just like to say: "nofer trunnions" at this point.

(Medium Brother sent this moose a video clip. A spot of research turned up the history of the clip and the definitive version, and since it only ever got hinted at in passing by Mike Ford on Open Thread 68, I thought i'd flag it up for entertainment value.)

nofer trunnions

#919 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 05:06 PM:

ddb @ 903: After that, it'll be hoodies and billed caps, because they obscure your face from overhead security cameras.

It's already here, though not by government regulations (yet). My local convenience store has a great big sign on the door instruction people to remove their hoods.

Skirl! When I was in college I had a nice 70s sound system, not especially powerful, but plenty loud. When I wanted revenge on the folks next door for partying too late and not inviting me, I would play for them (at 8 am) one of my pipe band LPs that started out the the pipe major screaming. Or maybe some Rufus Harley.

I once lived in an apartment where a wall phone has been removed and the hole covered with a plate. Removing the plate gave me access to my obnoxious neighbors' drywall. A few items from Radio Shack turned their drywall into an extremely low fidelity speaker. When the came over to complain, they couldn't hear a thing from my apartment. Ah, college days ...

#920 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 05:15 PM:

Tracie@919: Oh! Somebody who actually DID use those Radio Shack speaker drivers on their neighbor's wall. I'm so pleased!

#921 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Bread crumbs to Open Thread 139.

#922 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 06:21 PM:

Ah-hah! So I'm not the only one who finds breadcrumbs useful! Thank you, David!

#923 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2010, 08:51 PM:

Ginger @ 876: One of her favorite songs by the Flirtations included the lines "the only true measure of your words and your deeds/will be the love you leave behind/when you're gone"

Fred Small's "Everything Possible"?

#924 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2010, 05:52 PM:

Awwwww! Felted animals!

#925 ::: thomas sees complimentary SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2010, 03:26 PM:

True, though.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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