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July 30, 2010

Open thread 144
Posted by Teresa at 01:47 PM *

144, two to the fourth times three squared, also CXLIV in Roman numerals, 10010000 in Binary, 12100 in Ternary, 220 in Octal, 100 in Duodecimo, and 90 in Hexadecimal, is the sum of three squares (42 + 81 + 81), and of two consecutive primes (71 + 73). It is the square of 12, the 12th Fibonacci number, the only Fibonacci number (other than 1) that is a square, and the 12th square number, following 121 and preceding 169; and furthermore, the sum of its digits is a square as well. It is one of the largest numbers that has its own name (a gross) but is not a factor of 10, and the smallest number that has exactly 15 divisors. It is also the Intel 8086 instruction for “no operation,” the measurement in cubits of the wall of New Jerusalem shown by the seventh angel in Revelations 21:17, the atomic number of unquadquadium (a temporary chemical element), and the number of words in English currently known to rhyme with wolverine. Its common properties are abundant, composite, even, evil, powerful, and practical; its rare properties are Fibonacci, hungry, and square. In the same way that 17 and 37 are perceived as exceptionally random numbers, 144 is perceived as an exceptionally square one. Its big brother, 144,000, is significant in a number of different religious traditions, and a favorite with apocalyptic theoreticians.

Comments on Open thread 144:
#1 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:20 PM:

And, of course, one gross was the number of guests at a certain Party, chosen to match the sum of the ages of the celebrants, eleventy-one and thirty-three.

#2 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:28 PM:

It's also the number of hours for work available in a week if you set aside one day for resting....

#3 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:29 PM:

It is one of the largest numbers that has its own name (a gross) but is not a factor of 10

I think you mean multiple of 10, though it isn't a factor of 10 either.

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:32 PM:

Is that gross of cubits measuring the short way or the long way of the wall?
Because it's apparently going to be either a very thick wall or a very small city.

#5 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:36 PM:

P J Evans @ 4: height, maybe?

#6 ::: Michael Adelstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:43 PM:

144 even has its own Wikipedia page....

#7 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:45 PM:

What's the square root of 42?

How about the squares of 9, 8, and i? That gives 81+64-1=144.

#8 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:57 PM:

Michael Adelstein @6:

I'm probably giving away Making Light blogger secrets when I tell you this, but every number up to some unreasonably high one has its own Wikipedia page. I use 'em as jumping off points for Open Threads when I have nothing already prepped.

#9 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 02:57 PM:

The sum of 3 squares bit is just plain wrong (as those three together add up to 204, not 144).

#10 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:00 PM:

... and "the square of 12" and "the 12th square number" are equivalent statements -- no new information comes from stating both.

#11 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:03 PM:

Honestly, nitpicking! Shush.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:16 PM:

In spite of recent updates, gallery "Making Light and Faces" counts a total number of photos that's one third of a gross plus 4 heads away from a full gross.

#13 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:29 PM:

81 + 36 + 27 = 144.

#14 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:29 PM:

Unless I've screwed up my arithmetic, the only way of expressing 144 as a sum of three squares is as 64+64+16.

#15 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:30 PM:

Not that 27 is a square. Sheesh. *hangs head in shame*

#16 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:44 PM:

Carol, don't hang your head...two squares and a cube beat three squares. :)

#17 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 03:55 PM:

Sum of two squares and a cube is easier, though: there are three ways of expressing 144 as a sum of two squares and a cube, and only one as a sum of three squares.

#18 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 04:04 PM:

Serge, to push the total number of images in Making Light and Faces closer to the number of this open thread, you can find a picture of me here: Ben's Lab Page

...and, for anyone who was following the conversation on fMRI from the previous open thread, the above link goes to my page within my lab's page. Lots of information and papers there for those who are interested.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 04:37 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 18... Done. Thanks to this photo, the gallery is now only (1/3 gross + 3 heads) short of one gross.

#20 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 04:39 PM:

Steve C.@16: Carol, don't hang your head...two squares and a cube beat three squares. :)

Now that's a poker game I'd like to see!

#21 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 04:44 PM:

Serge, you could pair this one with the more recent one of me you have. It would be a horrendous "before & after" sequence.

#22 ::: Mark_Wales ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Its rare properties are Fibonacci, hungry, and square.

Indeed. It is also one of only 3 Fibonnaci numbers without a proper divisora.

Also, 144=122, and if you reverse 144 and 12, it still works, since 441=212, which is nice.

Talking of squares, Bob, the smallest magic squareb you can make out of consecutive primes consists of the 144 odd primes from 3 upwards.

Alas, The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers, which is one of my top 144 favourite books ever, though more comprehensive than wiki number pages, doesn't mention 144's hunger...

a here meaning a divisor that does not divide any smaller Fibonnaci number. (The others are 1 and 8).

b a square where all rows, columns, and both diagonals have the same sum. (Here 4,515).

#23 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:09 PM:

Unless I've got my hexadecimal arithmetic hexed, 42 + 81 + 81 = 144 when all four numbers are hex.

So Teresa's claim is not grossly baseless!

#24 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:09 PM:

12 squared + 12 squared + 0 squared.

Oh, I'm sorry, that's too gross.

#25 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:14 PM:

Me at #23: Unfortunately, none of the hex numbers involved are squares.

#26 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:17 PM:

I suppose I should send Serge a more up-to-date photo of the new (as of late August 2008) beardless me.

(The reluctance has been because being clean-shaven is job-related, and that beardless visage is not my real face. I keep hoping something will come along to make it financially feasible to dump the part-time security work and move into full retirement.)

(Oh, and those people who say my being beardless makes me look younger? THEY'RE WRONG.)

#27 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:18 PM:

Me @25: Except for 144 hex, which is the square of 18 decimal.

I think I'm done now.

#28 ::: Mark_Wales ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:32 PM:

Even more excitingly1, UK readers especially may be aware of, or remember, the The Legendary Countdown Numbers Round.

Now, as named on previous threads, the bitzer for this Open Thread will be post 144.

If we take, and I don't see why we shouldn't, the alphabet, and then assign the number 1 to the letter A, 2 to B, etc., then we can generate a set of numbers for a Countdown numbers game from the letters B, I, T, Z, E, and R thusly-wise:

2, 9, 20, 26, 5, and 18.

Can it be mere coincidence that these numbers lead so easily to 144?:

18 x 9 = 162.
20 - 2 = 18.
162 - 18 = [drum roll] 144.

I think not!

1 I've now cast away my numbers dictionary, and am entirely powered by wine...

#29 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:33 PM:

@22: That's probably because hunger is one of the silliest properties of numbers ever devised. It's in the staggeringly comprehensive online encyclopedia of integer sequences, but even that doesn't know the name "hungry" (which I can only find here).

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:39 PM:

Thanks to Janet Brnna Croft, the gallery is now 1/3 gross and 2 heads short of a gross...

#31 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:39 PM:

Maybe I'm just easily amused, but I laughed out loud at the comment under the Garfield cartoon:
Note also: Garfield is actually incorrect here. "Loser" does not in fact rhyme with wolverine

#32 ::: Mark_Wales ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:45 PM:

Chris Eagle #29,

Thanks - that's brilliant! It may be silly, but the fact there's a way of defining "hungry" numbers eating pi is the possibly the best thing ever.


#33 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:57 PM:

I nearly disenvowelled Janet Brennan Croft over @ 30. Could our moderators fix that? Thanks.

#34 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:58 PM:

Just thought I'd mention.

Included in the latest news item from the ReConStruction (NaSFic 2010) home page: vuvuzelas have been banned from the convention.

Darn. And here I was looking forward to a nice relaxing vuvuzela concert. :-)

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 05:58 PM:

Linkmeister's 1977 incarnation makes the gallery 1/3 gross and one head short of a gross...

#36 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 06:01 PM:

Serge, in contribution to Gross causes, here's another pic of telescopic me. You can use the caption from the picture if you want.

(BTW, I love being able to attach faces to the names here. Thanks!)

#37 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 06:03 PM:

Gripe du jour: In the wake of new federal regulations, my bank (and probably yours too) is aggressively pushing to get me (and you) to accept their "overdraft coverage". Thus they are attempting to continue their previous scam of charging me massive fees instead of notifying me at point-of-sale that my account is dry, or allowing me to use another form of payment instead.

Some links on the issue.

#38 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 06:08 PM:

Open thready gloating: I'm about to go see Seven Samurai on the big screen.

I love living in a town with an art house theater, and I love my taekwondo school for sponsoring this particular film!

#39 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 06:11 PM:

They're exploiting customer embarrassment. American Express used a similar technique to promote their no-limit credit product.

#40 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 06:13 PM:


My elbows are deep into Pennsic Prep (and the sewing machine just broke, damn it. Thankfully, I'm about to hand work), so I've been using this pic all week. That should even up your numbers, if I'm counting right.

#41 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 06:21 PM:

More on the bank gripe: MSNBC's Red Tape Chronicles is even more scathing.

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 06:30 PM:

Mischief is made by those who hate all peace
and want us all within hard walls and gates.
With loudest words, and after harsh debates,
they'll order silence, and demand we cease
turbulent thoughts that challenge their caprice;
command each soul into narrow estates,
and keep each heart distinct from its best mates
just so that love and light may both decrease.
They call it summer when they see it snow,
mistake the cold for some redeeming balm
and bid us all accept the freezing rain
out of the north, claiming they see it glow
with ready warmth. They tell us all is calm,
that all is gentle, that we're past all pain.

#43 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 06:34 PM:

On a happier note, I got to hike again today, as for once the heat let up a bit without "benefit" of a thunderstorm. No berries on this trail, but lots of butterflies! I found one gorgeous one dead -- pale green, with what looked like a little mouth icon on each wing.

#44 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 06:37 PM:

That list of rhymes for 'wolverine' actually has 149 items on it.

#45 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 07:31 PM:

Sisuile, 40: Ooh, lookit the blackwork! Is it reversible?

#46 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 07:38 PM:

The "rhymes with wolverine" list leans pretty heavily on the chemical suffixes "-ine" and "-ene", not to mention all 7 appearances of the numeric suffix "-teen". I am, however amused by the inclusion of "Dion, Celine". Anyone want to try for a poem rhyming "wolverine" with "buckminsterfullerene"? :-)

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 07:43 PM:

Sisuile, how'd you get the supermodel to wear your blackwork?

#48 ::: patgreene ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 08:16 PM:

I just feel compelled to share this: my work contract got extended a couple of weeks. I'm a census clerk, and we are shedding people right and left. Tomorrow, the clerk contingent in my part of the office gets cut in half.

My boss's boss told me I'm being kept around (in spite of being probably the most junior clerk there) because I do "fantastic work."

I was told this Wednesday afternoon, and I still feel floaty about all of it.

#49 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 08:58 PM:

David Harmon @ 37:

My sleazebag bank (the one I gave up on when they took over the bank I used to be with) has been annoying me with letters and emails about overdraft protection. They've been trying to spin it as a wonderful, positive thing, including that you can use it as a very short-term loan! Since I think I have a whole $15 in that account these days, I think I need to toddle down to the nearest branch and say my goodbyes.

Lila @ 38:

Gloat away!

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2010, 10:03 PM:

Here you are, Sisuile. And there you go, Steve C. Thanks for passing the pictures on.

#51 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:36 AM:

Mirrors do not show the truth
or if they do, we are not equipped to hear it.
A mirror reflects only that which we expect to see,
our hopes, our fears, our vanity
reflections only of the eyes that see it.

The mirror absorbs images
Impresses them into its lack of soul.
Magazine girls, too slim,
Tweaked to absurd alien perfection,
Hollywood starlets in their eating disorders
wrinkles smoothed, curves cleaned
soft-focus lenses, one thousand tricks
that I know, subtle distortions of reality—
Stalin would be proud.

Mirrors are cold, backed with metal
and care not if their harsh reflection leaves scars
I will never be thin enough
I will never be pretty enough
The mirror is Despair's domain with just cause.
Cold rationality for a world
for which reason has taken on too much
Much that is not its purview.

Mirrors do not show the truth. Truth
is only to be found in human eyes.

You are beautiful. Believe this.
You are so beautiful.
You are so beautiful.

#52 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:39 AM:

Hmm. That was not the poem I had intended to write.

On that note, however, we're a few weeks away from yearbook photography, and in all of my years of photographing high school students, I have only ONCE heard a girl say that she liked her own photo. Every other time, the subject of the photo hates it while all of her friends think she looks great.

Why is this?

#53 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:03 AM:

B Durbin @ #52, I can't answer that. I can say that I've just been through collecting current photographs of many in my high school class, and very few of them look anything like they did in 1968.

The occasion was a 60th birthday bash held in the same location where many a school dance was held way back then. About 50 people showed up (including spouses), but as a result of the original mailing someone suggested collecting birthday photos and I volunteered to put them up on my Picasa space. I now have 100 pictures there.

My family moved 6,000 miles from the East Coast to Guam 3 days after graduation. This was the first contact I'd had with any of these folks since that day 42 years ago. It was fascinating and a lot of fun.

#54 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:21 AM:

Why I Wear Headphones, and Should Never Remove Them For Any Reason Outside Emergency or Desire:

Friday afternoon, the guy working one particular corner in downtown Toronto for a well-known charitable organization (one we've donated to in the past, in fact) asks me if I like children. This is his usual line, because he works for an org that apparently thinks placing teens on streetcorners with a hard-sell routine is the best way to endear potential donors to youth. I should know. He and I have done this dance before. That first time, he asked me: "So, are you gonna punch me if I follow you like this while I give you my talk?"

"Yeah," I replied. "I might punch you. But it's cool, because I'm little and I probably won't do any permanent damage."

This wasn't my first run-in with the org -- another binder brandisher for the same org once told me I had "a strong handshake, for a girl."

"Dick," a friend said, when I told her this.

"Yeah, I think that's what he had in mind."

Skip to Friday afternoon. He's wearing mirrorshades (mirrorshades! sincere ones! with un-ironic khakis and a pristine white polo shirt!), and he looms over me and says: "I know you're just going to walk away, but can you tell me, do you like children?"

I hesitated, staring at the blazing red hand where I wished the walk signal was. "I've decided on my response in these situations," I said. "And that response is to tell you that I do like children. A lot. They taste great with barbecue sauce."

#55 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:35 AM:

Madeline Ashby @ 54: The charitable organization types in downtown Portland have become so numerous and pushy that I'm tempted to start giving money to panhandlers. A peculiar reaction, but I've never claimed to be all that rational.

#56 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:52 AM:

Steve C.! You do the "Observable Universe" blog for the Houston Chronicle website! I had never connected you before. I went out and watched the Iridium flash that you wrote about.

(Now I have to try to remember if I found out about that blog from here...I don't think I did, I think it was somewhere else....)

#57 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 03:00 AM:

When it's a grey winter day (it is) and the SAD is starting to bite (and it is) there's one sure cure:

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra doing a medley of Baby Elephant Walk and the Sesame Street theme before a massive *screaming* audience.

There's no other bit of music so certain to remind me that life is good. Wish I'd been there.

#58 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 03:32 AM:

Nine's an interesting number. Multiply any number by nine, then add up each of the digits in the product and keep doing so until you have a single digit left and you'll always get nine. To give a couple of random examples:

9 x 3 = 27 = 2 + 7 = 9

9 x 44 = 396 = 3 + 9 + 6 = 18 = 1 + 8 = 9

9 x 456 = 4104 = 4 + 1 + 0 + 4 = 9

#59 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 03:45 AM:

As I recall, this is a property of any number X in base X+1. (E.g., in base 8 all multiples of 7 will have a digit-sum of 7.)

#60 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 04:00 AM:

David @59 — I did not know that. That's cool.

I knew about 9 because of how numbers are treated in numerology. My observation was also based in part on the observation that taking 9 (which I am in numerology) multiplying it by the month of my birth, 3, gives the date of my birth in that month, 27, which reduced, again, to 9.

But I'm a 9 because the number of my first name (which adds up to 15 = 6), the number of my middle name (which adds up to 24 = 6), and the number of my last name (not the pseudonym you see here; which adds up to 33 = 6), add up to 18 (= 9). But the numbers of my names individually would give some people reason to pause: 666. Behold, I have the number of the name in Revelation 13:17-18. :P

#61 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 05:58 AM:

Madeleine, #54: That first time, he asked me: "So, are you gonna punch me if I follow you like this while I give you my talk?"

Teenage guy, probably not exactly a bruiser, right? I would be SO tempted to respond with:

"No, because I don't have the upper-body strength to do so effectively. However, I probably weigh twice what you do -- and I guarantee you that if I body-block you into the wall, you're gonna feel it. Now, are you going to leave me alone?"

(Depending on my mood, I might follow that up by muttering, "C'mon, punk, make my day.")

#62 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 07:34 AM:

B. Durbin @ #52, the simple answer would be that to the friends, the photo looks like the way they see their friend every day, while to the subject, it's reversed from the way she normally sees herself. I know very few people of either gender who like the way their voice sounds on recordings--we prefer to hear ourselves with all that extra bone-conduction resonance.

Madeleine @ #54, that is infuriating. I guess they're working from the "if you're annoying enough people will give you money to go away" panhandler paradigm.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 07:44 AM:

B Durin @ 52... Is it that uncommon even among boys?

#64 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 08:12 AM:

BTW: Seven Samurai (the 200+ minute, Criterion version) on the big screen is massively full of win.

The rambling, 20+ minute introduction by a local film studies professor....not so much. I deeply wanted to say "could you please shut up and let us watch the movie??" Or possibly just beat him over the head with a club marked "show, don't tell".

#65 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 08:42 AM:

I didn't get the job. On the bright side, it probably would have killed me dead by Thanksgiving anyway.

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 09:13 AM:

TexAnne, I'm sorry you didn't get it, but I'm VERY glad you probably won't be dead by Thanksgiving!

#67 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 09:16 AM:

B.Durbin @52, lovely poem. We (especially women) are so trained by society to be uncomfortable in our skins and dissatisfied with our bodies that it drowns out even the voices of our family and friends telling us we're beautiful. We carry around ideas of what we are supposed to took like, and photographs and mirrors rarely match. I know someone recovering from anorexia, who says when she looked in the mirror all she saw was the "fat" parts, no matter how skeletal the rest of her got. So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself actually LIKING nearly all the pictures of me taken at Mythcon. It feels good to have reached that level of comfort with my appearance.

#68 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 10:03 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 56 -

Yep, that's me - thanks for reading. I owe Observable Universe another post this weekend.

I did make a post here back in March about the blog, so that's one possible place you could have found out about it.

#69 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 10:31 AM:

Relevant to some people's interests: a lady I know through LiveJournal has learned to bookbind and posted about it, with lots of pictures.

#70 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 10:35 AM:

Elliott, 69: You know her too? I'd say "the Internet is a very small place," except that she's the person who pointed me to ML in the first place.

#71 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 10:45 AM:

TexAnne @70: Her son Colin and my daughter Beka were due the same week ... Colin came 5 weeks early, and therefore is now older. :->

I've been reading her lj since 2001 or 2002. I forget how I first came across it; perhaps I was reading Respectful of Otters first? In any case, I found enough of her posts fascinating to 'friend' her then, and have been reading ever since.

She may very well be the only person I 'met through livejournal' whom I haven't met in person, yet.

#72 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 10:56 AM:

Metacomment: With any luck, this is a special half bitzer, the first since "bitzer" was coined, and unique in the realm of ML bitzers and comments because it simultaneously marks half of one and six dozen of the other.

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:03 AM:

I for one prefer TexAnne alive.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:07 AM:

TexAnne @ 70... I'd say "the Internet is a very small place"

It is. A few weeks ago, I noticed some of the people whose names had been added to a friend's FB list. He was the Best Man at my wedding.

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:08 AM:

It'd appear that Paul A has been replaced by his Evil Universe counterpart.

#76 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:09 AM:

Lee @ 61: Actually, this guy was about twice my size. (Then again, I'm very short. So it's easy to be twice my size.) Even if I had body-checked him, it wouldn't have done much good. Again, this is a good reason to wear headphones. An aural condom is good protection against this sort of thing. It just doesn't always work, when the person trying to get through is sufficiently caustic or weaselly.

Lila @ 62: That's probably it. My guess is that the level of the org that handles street dealings is totally different from the level that handles their print and online marketing. Their print and online material actually communicates both their mission and methods of accomplishing it in a very clear and accessible way, without bullying.

#77 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:19 AM:

Serge @ 63: Some guys will try to get their photo retaken on specious reasons, but they very rarely comment on it other than to be annoyed that they have to take the photo at all.

Lila @ 62: Unfortunately, it's not so simple as that— they hate the way they look in photographs and think they're hideous and ugly and all sorts of things. And they usually want the photo retaken.

Sometimes we'll allow this, especially if the student shows up nicely dressed as opposed to the original photo's slovenly clothing and hair, and they promise to smile this time. But it's not as though we don't send out multiple notices when photographs will be taken.

We did finally figure out a way to cut down on the complaints about the yearbook & ID photo with its mandatory pose and clothing rules. We take a different picture first, where they have several options for poses (including choose your own). Our complaints about the ID pose dropped to near zero when we started taking the others, and it actually speeds things up.

#78 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:37 AM:

David @59 -- We learned a trick in elementary school for checking addition on long columns of multi-digit numbers. Add the digits across each number, and if the sum comes to two digits, add those. Then add those number, and if necessary reduce to 1 digit. Then, add the digits of the answer. It should be the same number.
3+4+6=13 1+3=4 1+1+2=4 2+5=7 4+4+7=15 1+5=6
4+8+3=15 1+5=6

It was called "casting out nines", and thanks to the internet I finally know why. We didn't actually cast out any nines, which I why I was mystified for so long.

#79 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:59 AM:

Open thready question: I was dreaming last night and got into a discussion of how one pronounces the comic-strip word "AAAaaaaaugh!" I pronounced it as if it were a slightly fading sequence of As -- the other person pronounced it "aa-oo-gah". Now I know the latter is Just Wrong, but I don't think what I was proposing in the dream is right either. How do you pronounce it? Or do you?

#80 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 12:22 PM:

Tom Whitmore@79

In IPA symbols I would say "ɑː" fading to "ɔː" and perhaps even as far as "uː". That is, "ah" maintained as your mouth closes at the end.

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 12:23 PM:

I used to pronounce it awg (aw as in bawl). Now I pronounce it with a sort of long positional glissando from a (as in father) to ə (as in but), optionally with either a full g or a dying gh (as in Afghanistan when pronounced by a native Pashto speaker) gurgle at the end.

It must be prounounced loud.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 12:27 PM:

Question for the team: if someone calls Fox News a "legitimate news source that you don't happen to like," am I justified in dismissing them as 1) a troll, 2) a wingnut, 3) a fugghead, 4) none of the above?

#83 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 12:29 PM:

I pronounce it "aaaaugh." Not to be confused with "oooooooooh," an expression of surprise and alarm.

#84 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 12:34 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 79... Isn't "aa-oo-gah" the onomatopiea for a submarine's signal that it's about to dive? Jim Macdonald probably could confirm.

#85 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 12:35 PM:

Madeline, #76: Yeah, that would be a problem. OTOH, that puts it into the realm of things in which the police might take an interest -- "Officer, this guy is following me and harassing me and making implicit threats." (But I'll bet they're also trained to check for cops before doing this.)

My fallback position would be to make a scene ("Stop following me, you pervert! I said I wasn't interested!") -- thereby invoking social stereotypes and possibly persuading some nearby White Knight to come to my defense. I may not like stereotyping, but it's what he's doing, and two can play that game.

Tom, #79: My default pronunciation would be along the lines of "awwwwwg" -- "aw" with a g on the end.

#86 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 12:36 PM:

@85: if I recall das Boot correctly, the signal for "this submarine is about to dive" is ALLLLLAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRM, shouted like two Brian Blesseds.

#87 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 12:36 PM:


Personally, I'd spell that as "Aaaaargh", but then I speak a non-rhotic version of English.

The 'gh' gurgle occurs more accessibly in Dutch, if anyone is motivated to try to learn it from a native speaker.

#88 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 12:38 PM:


It depends on whether they have ever watched Fox News. If yes, then (1) or (2), if no, then (1) or (3).

#89 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:06 PM:

Xopher @ 82 : I prefer fool, but wingnut or troll seems fitting. Going on at length to describe the cortical lesions required to find faux news a useful source is recommended but not required (probably lesions in prefrontal cortex at the very least).

#90 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:15 PM:

Calculated Risk's periodically updated unofficial list of problem banks for July 30 (see if yours is on it) -- more than 800 of them -- is here.

5 today.

All of these, needless to say, are small banks, not big enough not to fail, and did not receive the bailouts -- that then went to paying bonii to their execs.

Love, C.

#91 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:19 PM:

Hmm, Benjamin, you make me miss my dad again. He could have written a parody neuroscience article (for, say, the Journal of Irreproducible Results) about what part of the brain has to be damaged for a person to take Fox News seriously. And probably would have.

#92 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:33 PM:

If I was not enmeshed in all of the busyness that is packing and getting ready to move, I might do that just for the amusement value. There is enough social neuroscience / neuroscience of decision-making work out there to bounce off of that a very amusing article could be written. I know a few of the researchers in the aforementioned subfields; they would be amused.

#93 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:34 PM:

Xopher@82, I'd either go for (n)dupe or (n+1)victim. (Unless it's troll, of course, which can be a fine position for friends to take...)

#94 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:43 PM:


I wonder if the disagreement is mainly about what a "legitimate news source" means. If you define that in terms of having the trappings of being a real news source (big and well-funded, widely watched, often widely cited, apparently taken seriously by other media), they definitely fit that category.

If you define it in terms of whether they're honest or careful with the facts, you're in a different realm. There are a number of recent cases (the Sherrod case being the obvious one) where Fox has been at least very careless with getting the facts straight, in the direction of their open political affiliation.

Now, that's not unique to Fox. My impression is that they're unusually bad in that direction, but most of the respectable MSM seems to be susceptible to the same disease, especially when the story they're reporting on fits the broad narrative they expect on some issue.

If someone wants to cite Fox as a source for some news item or event, well, it's probably about as legit as most other news sources as long as it's not an explicit partisan point of contention. Otherwise, I'd want to see if it was covered the same way by other sources. (Though that isn't a guarantee of correctness, or we'd all be talking now about what a visionary Bush was for stopping Saddam's nuclear program just in time.)

#95 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:50 PM:

Relevant to Serge's question @ 63: this study says that "underweight males are at high risk for depressive symptoms, as are female "weight pessimists" -- girls who think they are overweight but are actually normal weight."

However, that only speaks for weight. Even when I was thinner, I never thought of my face or hair or other features as pleasing. Occasionally I catch glimpses of myself and think I see what my husband sees, but mostly I just have to trust that his programming, while wildly different from mine, is relatively bug-free. I think it's telling that we identify totally different women as attractive -- I think Carrie-Ann Moss is beautiful, but he finds her "skeletal." He was disappointed that Halle Berry couldn't fill out Ursula Andress' bikini in Die Another Day. I don't know if it was nature or nurture, but I happened upon someone pre-adapted in my direction. And even if I don't understand it, I have to accept it.

Regarding why it's such a problem in Western culture, though, I think we could discuss that forever and never come up with an answer. At least, not an answer that fits everyone's issues. Everyone's issues are too different. I think a large part of the problem is how we discuss our bodies in front of our children. Some people worry about swearing in front of children, but think nothing about saying things like "I'm so fat/ugly/decrepit" while they're in the room. If you believe in the viral nature of language, and you think that using curse words or slurs or improper grammar is wrong because it influences the word choice of others in common speech, then it follows that you should be equally conscious when applying descriptors to the body. Another anecdote: the Ontario College of Art and Design (where I'm doing some grad work) is hosting a summer camp this year, and while using the bathroom I overheard a seven-year-old tell a camp counselor, "All my friends say I'm chubby."

Adolescence is not the time to address this issue. It starts earlier than that.

#96 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:54 PM:

They posted a link to a clip. I scoffed. They defended it in the terms I quoted.

I think using clips from Faux News for any purpose other than showing up Faux News for the lowbrow propaganda engine they are is, at the very least, indicative of a certain political point of view that is distinctly to the right of mine.

#97 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:54 PM:

On photos and dislike of them: You've heard me say I mostly look like a mole in photos. This is true. I don't like how I look in a lot of them, and every once in a while, I get one so very bad it drags the others down by association.

I think it's partly because I don't see my face very often, and when I do in a mirror, I'm doing other things and can either pose or change the angle to one I like better. I like the parts of my body I see. I don't see the part under my chin very often, even if mirrors; in photographs, it's either squished or stretched depending on whether I've been told to drop my chin or look up, and since many pictures are taken by people below me, ick. I also move a lot, and so the part I see of myself in mirrors is either posed flatteringly or active. I'm kind of like a Youtube video still-- pictures always catch me at an awkward place.

So yeah, mostly that people aren't used to seeing themselves at all, and the parts they don't see most are often parts that aren't supposed to be visible, like under the chin.

#98 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 01:55 PM:

G D Townshende #60, Tracie #78:

Yup, that's a classic way to checksum arithmetic. It works for multiplication too, and with a slight extension¹, you can also use it for subtraction.

To use it for (integer) division, run it backwards: multiply the checksum of the quotient by that of the divisor, add the checksum of the remainder (continuing to cast out nines as needed), then compare to the checksum of the dividend.

In fact, the basic pattern works for other bases as well -- that is, for octal, you're casting out sevens, and for hexadecimal you're casting out fifteens.

¹ sordid details: Subtraction is the same as adding a negative number. When adding the digits of a negative number, you treat the resulting checksum as negative, and (if needed) add 9 to make it positive. (Ditto if subtracting the checksums yields zero.) So, "243-125=118" --> "243+(-125)=118" --> "9+(-8)=1" <--> "9+1=1" (mod 9)

#99 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:07 PM:


Further right than yours, perhaps. But that doesn't automatically mean dupe or villain. And even the "further right" isn't 100%. I read and listen to stuff from a *really* wide range of views, and sometimes cite them or make reference to them in discussions, without any claim at all that I agree with that source in any other area, or even that I generally trust their honesty or care in collecting and reporting on the world.

The problem with Fox news isn't their political slant, it's their unreliability as a news source--a problem they share with most other news sources, but I think they have it worse.

Is your objection with citing Fox about reliability of the information, or about determining whose side your friend is on?

#100 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:14 PM:

Not MY friend. This guy is calling the Cordoba Center project "inappropriate" because if will cause "pain" to the relatives of 9/11 victims.

I'm not friends with bigots.

#101 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:17 PM:

But I didn't answer your question. I think that if he thinks Faux News is a "legitimate news source," he may be too far gone into the "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" school of "reality" to be worth arguing with.

It's a "legitimate news source" only if you're not particularly concerned about facts.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Bedeline Ashby @ 95... Some years ago, I was going thru some old stuff when I came across my student cards from the Halcyon days that high-school was not. Looking at the photos, I found myself thinking that my acne had been nowhere near as bad as Martin Landau's in Outer Limits episode "The Man Who Was Never Born". Self-image... Last year, I was visiting a friend up in Quebec City, who told me that her 14-year-old daughter despaired of ever getting a boyfriend because she is... too tall. Doesn't matter to her that that she's a gorgeous young woman. Silly.

#103 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:45 PM:

Albatross @94, but Fox News isn't "widely watched". In prime time, Fox News currently averages 1.84 million viewers, which puts it ahead of the other cable news channels, but way behind network news shows, which are currently getting 5-7 million viewers for their evening newscasts.

Fox News is primarily a channel for the dissemination of political opinions. Their best-rated shows are Bill O'Reilly's, Sean Hannity's, and Glenn Beck's opinion shows, all of which get more viewers than their news programs. The news programs exist to give the opinion programs a veneer of respectability, and allow the viewers to make believe that they're watching news and being informed.

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:47 PM:

Chris Eagle @ 86... Maybe 'ALLLLLAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRM' is the German word for 'aa-oo-gah'. As for the BrianBlessed unit of scientific measure... I like it!

#105 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 02:51 PM:

Xopher @100, whoa, you know Abe Foxman?!

#106 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 03:24 PM:

Xopher, #96: Remind them (or, more likely, inform them) that Fox went to court for the right to broadcast any damn thing they please, whether true or not, and call it "news" -- AND WON.* Since then, you can't trust anything they say without independent confirmation.

* I can't remember enough details to narrow a Google search, but the case involved a news anchor who was fired for refusing to read a report containing known factual errors. The case went to court, and the court ruled that it was NOT a wrongful termination.

#107 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 03:24 PM:

In other news, the Dutch have managed to brew the world's strongest beer at 60% alcohol by volume: as strong as many cask-strength whiskeys.

#108 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 03:25 PM:

Avram, no, just someone who's quoting him on BoingBoing.

#109 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 03:37 PM:

B. Durbin (52): I liked my senior class photo. I liked two of the three alternate shots, too. More recent photos, however, always surprise me with how large I am. (I know what I weigh. I know it's more than it was 25 years ago. But my mental image of myself is stuck in the past.)

Thomas (87): To me 'Aaaaugh' is a cry of despair and 'Aaaargh' a cry of frustration, because the 'r' in the second one gives it a hint of a growl.

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 03:49 PM:

What of Lucy van Pelt's 'waugggghhhh!!!' ?

#112 ::: debraji ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 04:49 PM:

This seems like the right venue for this question.

I'm looking at the copyright page of a 2003 Penguin reprint of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, North and South. It gives dates for the first serialization in Charles Dickens's magazine, Household Words (1854-1855), on up to the present edition with an Introduction by Patricia Ingham and a Chronology.

Then, beneath all that, appears this statement:

The moral right of the editor has been asserted.

What is that about?

#113 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 05:24 PM:

Debraji@112: Moral rights as defined in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 have to be 'asserted' at the time of publication, even (it seems) if the author is long dead.

Sometimes publishers use a gender-specific form of wording... and use the wrong one.

#114 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 05:36 PM:

Serge, you could add the picture of me from (I'm the one without the black-and-white fur coat). It's a few years old, but I've not changed that much - slightly shorter hair now (and some grey hairs, but they don't show on pictures yet). At least it doesn't have me in evening wear (most recent pictures of me do, and I only wear dresses like that a few times a year - but that's when the cameras are out).

#115 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 05:51 PM:

Steve with a book, 113: To clarify, editors who produce new editions of public-domain texts count as people who have earned moral rights in a work. They have to choose a base text, collate every edition against that base text, make lists of variants, resolve errors (and in many cases punctuation), add notes and comments, and write introductions. It can take years. When academics do it, it counts for tenure (though at a reduced rate because although scholarship can't happen without editions, tenure committees don't think it's "real scholarship.") (Gosh no, I don't have any lasting bitterness, why do you ask?)

#116 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 05:51 PM:

Serge, if you link to DDB's pix, there's a good one of me from 4th Street this year over there. DDB, would you mind it going into that set? should reach it...

#117 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 05:57 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 42, B. Durbin @ 51: Thank you for sharing your poetry. I'm not much good at writing them myself, but at least I can appreciate those presented to me.

On the topic of "what I look like", I think I'm very lucky in that I'm basically happy with my appearence and body shape. It's sad that so few people, particularly so few women and girls, are, nowadays.

patgreene @ 48: Congrats. on the work extension and the complimentary reason for it.

Madeline Ashby @ 54: Great response!

David Goldfarb @59: Cool! I knew it worked for nine, but didn't know the wider rule.

TexAnne: Sympathies for not getting the job, but yes, better not dead.

#118 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 06:38 PM:

TexAnne@115: yes, sorry—I had misread debraji's post slightly and thought that the long-dead author's moral right was being asserted rather than the editor's.

Actually, while we're on the subject of copyright-page boilerplate: You must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer. Why?

#119 ::: Narmitaj ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 06:47 PM:

Steve @ 118 - "you must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover" -

One reason I heard was that it was to prevent libraries from buying paperbacks and rebinding them in hardback so they would last longer.

#120 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 06:53 PM:

@118: It's my understanding that clauses like that one are void under the first-sale doctrine: once you've bought the book, it's yours, and it's no business of the copyright holder what you choose to do with it (as long as you don't make copies).
This doesn't stop people trying to impose such clauses, of course.

#121 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 06:56 PM:

Steve C.@ 68: Yes, that's where I found out about the blog: I didn't make the connection that it was you who was conducting it, I thought it was just something new that you knew about.

#122 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 06:57 PM:

TexAnne, sorry the job didn't come through. Best of luck with a better fit some time soon.

#123 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 07:29 PM:

I think Mary Aileen @109 has it right: 'Aaaagh' is despair (scream devolving to death rattle) and 'Aaaargh' is frustration (scream devolving to growl).

Serge @110: By the above, 'Waaaugh' is a tantrum (scream devolving to wailing a la 'Gimme what I want or I'll scream until I'm blue!')

#124 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 07:37 PM:

One of my favorites along that line is "bleargh", a portmanteau of "blech" and "argh".

#125 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 08:15 PM:

And of course there's the classic "GAAAH!"

#126 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 09:21 PM:

TexAnne, #65, well, bad news, good news. I hope your next interview has a better result.

Elliott Mason, #69, I met Rivka the year before Alex was born, and saw her when Alex was a baby, and, I think, when Alex could walk by holding onto tables (there's a name for that and I've forgotten it) -- all at cons. I think they only go to SUUSI these years.

#127 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 09:33 PM:

Diatryma, #97, and mirrors reverse your look -- it can be surprising to see yourself in a photo after being used to seeing yourself in a mirror.

#128 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 10:16 PM:

This is brilliant:

Composites from WW2 photos, and modern shots

He took new photos, from the same vantage, and layered in the older images. Really good. Some are poignant, some are downright spooky.

#129 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:12 PM:

dcb said: I think I'm very lucky in that I'm basically happy with my appearence and body shape. It's sad that so few people, particularly so few women and girls, are, nowadays.

It is sad, but it's not surprising. There's a huge industrial web which encourages women to be unhappy with their physical appearance, and makes immense amounts of money from products they then sell to assuage that unhappiness. I'll list just a few: weight-loss and diet foods, books, programs and drugs, cosmetics, hair products, personal trainers, gym memberships, high-end beauty shops, cosmetic surgery, fashion and clothing manufacturers -- you get the idea. Massive amounts of money are spent in this culture to make girls and women believe that they are ugly. Every woman I know encounters the vampire effects of this advertising barrage every day, and has, from childhood. It's a wonder any of us are halfway sane.


#130 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:19 PM:

Marilee, I'm not sure how strong that effect is on me. I'm mostly symmetrical, and while I can never remember which side of my nose my mole is on* it doesn't make as much of an impression as the under-chin in photographs. I've never been able to tell the difference, really. I did the trough-mirror thing in the Explorabook years ago and never figured it out. It's probably more my perception than anything else, though. Anyone else have data points?

*scarmole, started when the cat Scheherezade/Shazzerade took a piece out of my face

#131 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2010, 11:44 PM:

Terry, 128: Good grief, I half expect Sapphire and Steel to show up!

#132 ::: debraji ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 12:29 AM:

Steve with a book@113, TexAnne@115, thanks for the explanation & links.

It seems strange that one must assert a moral right to the work one is presenting to the public, as if the act of presenting it as one's own is isn't assertion enough.

#133 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 12:49 AM:

Diatryma @ 130
I have a red birthmark above the right corner of my mouth. It's always a little surprising in photos that it's on the "wrong" side. And in a way it's surprising to me that there's a birthmark there at all in pictures. By some quirk of personality or whatever, I've rarely been self-conscious about it and really don't see it when I look at myself in the mirror.
I guess it's a different aspect of the anorexia thing with mirrors - our brains make choices of what to focus on or ignore.

#134 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 03:11 AM:

B. Durbin @ 51/52: It may not have been what you intended, but it is what it needs to be-- very powerful. Thank you.

I really don't think the reversal of a mirror is the true root of women's dissatisfaction with their looks. That can be unsettling, but most of us are trained to hate what's in the mirror as well as what's in the camera.

Women are told constantly that appearance is the *single most important* thing about them. Little girls get complimented on their hair or dresses or told that they are pretty; I can't remember people (non-family) ever remarking on anything else about me-- or any other little girl in my hearing. ISTR hearing little boys told they are brave or strong or smart in casual conversation, but girls get appearance remarks. Even when they're positive, it still underscores what's really important.

Women-in-the-media has been discussed plenty elsewhere-- Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw can soldier on and become more "distinguished" and "trustworthy" with every year, while Barbara Walters gets "shouldn't you retire?" I even catch myself at it-- a less-decorative woman reporter comes onscreen and I think, "who thought *she* was qualified for this?" Mentally wash my mouth out with soap and try again.

I've seen arguments that men evaluate a woman's suitability as a mate visually by looking for markers of youth, to produce healthy offspring, while women evaluate a man's suitability as a mate by looking for markers of social status, to provide for offspring. Even if I accept that, my "suitability as a mate" had ruddy well better not be the main criterion most people (all but one on the planet, in fact) use to evaluate *me*. Add to that all the financially-motivated messages that Lizzy L points to @129, and here we are.

#135 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 03:16 AM:

Lizzy L #129 : I agree;  yet people have tried to improve their appearances since prehistoric times.  I’ve often thought that basic cosmetic tools – mirror, comb, scissors – are among the most valuable human inventions.  Where, between those simple things and the items in your list, is the line of unacceptability?

#136 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 03:42 AM:

Zelda #134 : ISTM that if we evaluate each other in the way that you describe – and there’s a good deal of evidence that we do, not only evaluating the opposite sex but also the same sex in terms of competitiveness, as you describe in your penultimate paragraph – then the instinct to do so is built into us at a very basic level, either by evolution or by cultural conditioning, perhaps both.  If that’s the case, then maybe we do better to accept it, and live with it, and work to civilize it, than to fight it.

#137 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 05:46 AM:

Anyone have cross-cultural or historical information about how women feel about how they look?

My impression is that the obsession with never being attractive enough is a fairly modern American thing.

I've heard about a book which analyzed American girls' diaries and found that at some time in the past (before 1900?) there was a lot of concern with moral self-improvement, but then there was a shift, with the impulse to self-improvement going into improving their appearance. Anyone know of this book or if I've got the premise right?

Are there cultures where women dress up and then typically think they look pretty good?

#138 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 07:13 AM:

My (unfounded) impression is that while girls and women have always been somewhat concerned with their looks, the American obsession (and with thinness in particular) dates to the spread of mass-media advertising. Especially television, but I suspect that glossy magazines had their part in it even earlier.

#139 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 08:16 AM:

This is pretty awful, but today is the 176th anniversary of Emancipation Day in the British Empire, which has particular significance for me.

I bow to those who went before
bearing the hoe, and long cane-bill,
who wept and worked at others' will
till August eighteen-thirty-four.

We make our choices, know the score,
believe we act with style and skill;
but every option, good or ill,
begins in eighteen-thirty-four.

The ships that took them to that shore
in stink of vomit, shit, and swill,
rivers of ink and blood to spill
till August eighteen-thirty-four.

We cannot tell how much they bore,
which ones resisted, which stood still
and fed the canes into the mill
till August eighteen-thirty-four.

Our duty now is not adore,
but spread the word from plain and hill
that we bear their remembrance still
since August eighteen-thirty-four:

To bow to those who went before
bearing the hoe and long cane-bill
who wept and worked at others' will
till august eighteen-thirty-four.

#140 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 08:44 AM:

"you must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover" prevent libraries from buying paperbacks and rebinding them in hardback so they would last longer.

I seem to recall one of my previous incarnations as a librarian, in a city somewhere in North-West England; that's exactly what we did.

#141 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 09:19 AM:

Marilee @ # 126: the mode of toddler locomotion using furniture to assist in remaining upright is called "cruising".

Terry @ #128: those are both beautiful and unsettling.

Various: advertising for women vs. advertising for men.

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 10:06 AM:

New additions to "Making Light and Faces"...

A more recent pic of Fragano, and first-ever here of dcb and Tom Whitmore.

#143 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 10:46 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 139: Thank you for sharing that.

Lila @141: That video - yeah, just about sums it up. I'm so glad I don't have a TV or read glossy magazines...

#144 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 10:56 AM:

lila @ 141...

"...because you're already brilliant..."
I am?

#145 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 11:17 AM:

Serge @144

lila @ 141...

"...because you're already brilliant..."
I am?

Brilliant enough to make the bitzer!

#146 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 11:21 AM:

Lila @ 141 - That vid is hilarious....and so true.

#147 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 11:43 AM:

John Stanning @136:

I say again: my suitability as a mate1 is not an appropriate basis for evaluating my worth as a person. If by "civilizing" this impulse, you mean seeing it, naming it for what it is, and banishing it to the corner where it is relevant, I think that's what I've been trying to say. Quit mixing up suitability as a mate with suitability as a teacher, or reporter, or analyst of your data, or technical resource to your customers, or company at your dinner table. Cultural conditioning can be changed, so maybe we should be training ourselves that a woman's appearance is *not* the single most important thing about her. If you mean something else, please do explain.

1 The matter of what besides appearance goes into this calculation is a whole other discussion.

#148 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 11:57 AM:

Wanting to look better begs a couple of questions: what's "better"? What criteria are useful in deciding? Sexy is one. For some men, heavily-made-up is sexy; for others, a complete turnoff. Strong could be one -- sumo wrestlers are strong, but they sure don't fit "height-weight proportionate", which is another criterion that gets a lot of play out there. "Gentlemen prefer blondes -- but they marry brunettes."

One of the dirty little secrets of advertising is that there is always some measure on which any person doesn't get a good score. This ties into one of the more interesting pons asinorum moments of modern evolutionary theory, the concept of "evolutionary load" -- if every less-than-optimal gene is less fit, how does any actual organism survive to mate since there's so much heterozygosity and every organism is far, far below the optimum for its species? The explanation: that's just not a useful way to think about things.

John Stanning @134, why do you think those tools are among the most valuable? What are they useful for? What value do they add? I can find lots of very valuable uses for them that aren't cosmetic, but practical -- did the cosmetic uses predate the practical?

#149 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 12:32 PM:

The Clock Stories Particle worried me: I thought for a moment it might be a site with somewhat different clock stories.

#150 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 12:59 PM:

Even if someone (and I would say 'not an evolutionary psychologist') manages to find really, really good evidence that our self-destructive obsession with female beauty is absolutely hard-wired into us at a basic level, part of being human is fighting the counterproductive urges of our ancestors.

I have seen the argument that mass media really boosted the obsession because before, who do you see? Who's the prettiest woman you've ever known? How much prettier is she than you are? If you're in a small farming community, she's probably not hugely better-looking by your standards. Then you get TV and suddenly you're seeing the prettiest woman in America, and you can't measure up.

#151 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 01:06 PM:

John Stanning, this is a complex and wide-ranging discussion; I'm not sure I have the stamina for it.

However, in answer to your question: I agree, means to change one's appearance have been around since prior to recorded history. I object to specific means when 1) those means are placed at the service of an ideology which devalues, dehumanizes and degrades the people who use it, or on whom it is used, and 2) those means are physically and/or spiritually and psychologically damaging. The means may be innocuous but the ideology pernicious, and in that case, it's the ideology and the results which follow from its application that I object to. I don't object to scissors: I object to the ideology which persuades women that hair which is not manipulated according to fashion dictates is ugly. I DO object to foot-binding.

As I said, this is a big and complex subject, and even people who agree generally with what I stated above may not agree with my specifics. (For example: are tattoos damaging? People disagree. reasonable people disagree.) Hell, I don't always agree with my specifics. For example, I think in general that risking surgical procedures for cosmetic reasons is not a good idea. Surgery to remove a pre-cancerous mole, good. Surgery to tighten up the skin on one's 60 year old face, not so good. But when I look at my own 60 year old face, one of my emotional responses includes a desire to get rid of that damned frown line! Women in this culture (and perhaps men, too, but I know less about this and therefore cannot speak to it) -- and particularly women of a certain class and experience -- live constantly with tensions like that.

Sometimes those tensions are easily resolved. Sometimes they are not resolved, and sometimes they become pathological and lead to anorexia, or constant dieting, or self-mutilation, etc.

#152 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 01:12 PM:

Addendum to my post above: when I said that women of a "certain" class and experience live constantly with the tensions created by social expectations around physical appearance, that suggests that some women don't live with those tensions. I don't mean to suggest that at all. I think all women live with those tensions. The ways we choose to address them are very different, and often have to do with what social/economic class we came from, the specifics of our upbringing, and how much money we have.

#153 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 01:53 PM:

Body hatred...where do I start?
Start with having a body that wasn't any good at anything the p.e. teachers wanted, but they wouldn't let me just skip the class. Or help me find out about something I WAS good at.
Gettting yanked out of school to get glasses put on me because my eyes weren't good for distance, but never hearing anything about how good they might be close up. Having a bunch of teeth taken out without so much as a by your leave. Hearing that some teeth had shallow roots, but never hearing that others might have deep ones.
Having a parent take up the hobby of gouging up my skin with fingernails because supposedly my complexion wasn't right (no one never consulted a doctor about this) while other parent never said a word, waiting to submit to same treatment next.
As an adult, having relatives hassle me about my weight whenever my financial situation got dodgy. Having them spin the old I'm-sorry-it-has-to-be-like-that capitulation-and-betrayal to the whims of the marketplace, instead of give me props for just trying to live my life.
Recalling how if I ever complained about my looks they would wave it aside, totally refuse to listen, but their own dissatisfactions with me were sacrosanct. Logic fail. And so on.
Seeing ads for plastic surgery, cosmetics, etc. and giving them the back of my hand, resolving to not suffer any more for someone else's esthetics.
Hunting and farming tools, fire, medicine, art, writing and music are far more important inventions to me than body ornamentation/ modification.
I'm not in this world to decorate it. I'm up and dressed, that ought to be enough.
I wish that all adults who find something wrong with a kid's body, take time to find something better'n normal to balance it out. They are like teachers who pile on homework in one class w/o thinking how much homework the kid might already have to deal with. This stuff is cumulative, like mercury, and just as poisonous. I'm still getting over it decdes later.
What Diatryma said--even if destructive patterns are hardwired, they must be counteracted.
# 72--*snort* Thanks!
As a teen I existed (won't call it living) in a tiny remote village whose school principal was a tyrant and a sadistic creep. He may not have been all that smart either, because when the school ran short on magic-markers, he ordered... a dozen gross.

#154 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 02:11 PM:

tykewriter@140: and I understand that decades ago it was quite common for publishers to supply books as unbound leaves to libraries (both public libraries and privately-run circulating libraries like Boot's) for them to bind in their standard format... perhaps the no-other-binding warning is a relic from the days when unbound-leaves-for-libraries was a strictly separate product from HB and PB.

TexAnne: sorry about the job; work on books (particularly those books that take years of work with no distractions) as opposed to papers seems to be criminally undervalued in academia these days.

#155 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 03:34 PM:

I don't have body hatred. I happen, by and large, to be quite comfortable in my skin. I don't think I photograph well in some contexts, because I am quite lean/slender, and clothes tend to show that off poorly.

Which is why I don't wear shorts.

But I have what is, basically, an invisible problem; I am too thin.

Not for health, but for the market. Boots, pants, shirts, they don't fit. Shoes I get by in, because they don't need to fit my ankles. I don't dare try to complain about it, in a general way, because the level of scornful (even hostile) derision those who don't know me come back with is appalling (even to one as thick-skinned as I can be). My friends are, by and large a bit better about about it, but any sympathy tends to be loaded with a bit of either teasing, or gentle dismissal.

It sucks. My motorcycle gear... all of it is a bit too large. I can't buy protective trousers for men, because I am too small. Women's pants fit me in the lower leg, and sort of in the waist (I have "textile" pants, with a liner. When the liner is in, they are almost small enough in the waist, with it out... the velcro isn't long enough to get them smaller than about 2 inches too large. If I got a size smaller, couldn't wear them at all.

My chest, is about a 36. My neck, a 15 1/2, sleeve length 32/33. The patterns for that, don't exist. The "fitted" shirts seem to assume I will have a waist of at least 32 inches. I don't, it's a 27.

The only place I could (and that's changed now) get clothes which really fit me, was the Army.

I don't know how to really explain the levels of frustration which go with all of that. It's both not as big a deal as I might be making it seem, and more. Because the level of "not existing" is pervasive, and the reaction when I speak about it so discounting.

But, mostly, I don't have to read articles telling me I am, in some way, wrong. I just don't count for anything.

#156 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 03:56 PM:

Well, I've compromised my principles. I had weaned myself off of Amazon quite some time ago in moral support of the various #amazonfail protests, but I fell off the wagon today.

I'm currently sick as a dog, to the extent that I can't do grocery shopping in meatspace. So, I bought a bunch of bulk groceries from Amazon to hold me over for a while; all but one item is supplied by third-party sellers, but Amazon is certainly profiting from my situation. Sigh.

#157 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 04:13 PM:

Earl, 156: As has recently been pointed out to me, not dying is a good thing. I would prefer that you spend your strength on healing, rather than guilt.

#158 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 04:53 PM:

I've been reading about eating disorders recently -- not happy reading, but it helps to understand that even parents with the very best of intentions can say things that reinforce society's cruel messages to their children. You may be very careful about what you say about and to your child, but what you say about yourself without thinking comes through loud and clear and undoes it all. Expressing dissatisfaction with your own body hurts just as much as saying something bad about theirs. (By the way, it's Be Body Positive Day.)

#159 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 05:05 PM:

Zelda #147 : I agree with most of what you say.  My point is that we do, by instinct, assess people we meet very quickly, on appearance alone, before exchanging a word, and that – because of what’s called the “halo effect” – that initial assessment can have a strong influence on our subsequent interactions.  There’s been quite a lot of research on the influence of appearance on first impressions.  It seems that this is something that’s built into our psychology;  it won’t go away, and it can’t be entirely suppressed, so all we can do is be aware of it and modify it by experience, learning and simply growing up.  Your reaction to a less-decorative woman reporter (#134), and your awareness of that reaction, and your response to it, is a good example.

So I’m saying that whether we like it or not, appearance is indeed important – not in women only, but in men too – because appearance is what determines how people begin to respond to us before they’ve spoken to us to find out what sort of person we are.  I’m *not* saying that it’s a matter of ‘beauty’, whatever that is, or ‘suitability as a mate’ (in grown-ups, at least).  It’s a matter of the totality of our appearance – expression, dress, deportment, je ne sais quoi – that influences whether others are interested enough in us to start a conversation and find out the rest.  Of course the appearance that one person finds attractive can be different from the appearance that the next person finds attractive, which is a good thing for diversity!  The aspects of appearance that people find attractive are surely culturally determined, but the *influence* of appearance seems not to be culturally determined but hard-wired.

It’s important to realize that we don't assess only people in this way.  Somebody did some research (which I can find if I dig for it) which apparently showed that web users form a first impression of a web page within a second or less, and that (through the “halo effect”) that first impression can color subsequent judgments of perceived credibility and usability of the page.  This is what leads me to believe that we’re dealing with something basic that's built in to us, not derived from cultural or market influences.

#160 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Lizzy L @151:

I confess that I entirely missed your frown line.

More broadly, our own perceptions of what stands out about ourselves are so rarely accurate. (Of course, my habits of denigrating my appearance are an exception; I really do have all these faults.)

#161 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 05:27 PM:

Tom Whitmore #148 : I’m not sure whether cosmetic uses predate practical, except that in the case of combs at least, the reverse may be true, as one of the very earliest prehistoric combs (in a museum in Switzerland) seems to be a nit comb, for combing out the eggs of head lice.

I think those basic tools are important because they enable basic self-care.  A mirror lets me look at my own face – and parts of my body that I can’t see directly – to deal with spots, for example, that make me uncomfortable.  Personally I find my hair much more comfortable when combed than when uncombed and tangled.  Scissors let me cut my nails, for comfort again, rather than biting them or breaking them.

Now that I say all that, I realise that I'm talking about practical, rather than cosmetic, value of those tools – yet if I’m comfortable in those ways (combed hair, cut nails, etc.) it seems that I get a cosmetic improvement too, because I’m neater, and also because if I’m comfortable I probably look happier, which also improves my appearance.

#162 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 05:39 PM:

Terry Karney @ 155: I sympathise. I have some similar (although lesser) experiences re. being a non-standard size, particularly in recent years, since a number of companies got together and funded a big project to measure women, with the result that they have changed womens clothes sizes. Apparently the average woman no longer has a waist ten inches smaller than her hips - so they have made the waist bigger. I however, do have a waist 10 inches smaller than my hips, so now, buying theoretically the same size clothes as I have done all my adult life, if the hips fit, the waist is too large by several inches - a problem for trousers in particular (if I can even find any which actually reach the waist, with the present fashion for "low-waisted" trousers, but that's another problem). And I spent my teens and twenties shifting hay bales, carrying 25 kg (55 pound) feed sacs around, mucking out stables and so on. So I have shoulders. This means that "fitted" shirts and (particularly) jackets correct for my bust size are too small across the shoulders. If I go up a size to fit the shoulders, they're much too large across the chest. However, I do sometimes find garments that fit, so I'm not as badly served as you are.

#163 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Lizzy L #151: (For example: are tattoos damaging? People disagree. reasonable people disagree.)

And the distinct question: Given what happens to them within a couple of decades, are tattoos stupid? At the least, they seem to represent a certain shortsightedness -- the classic tension between short-term gratification and long-term benefit. Again, reasonable people can disagree on the tradeoff.

I'll agree with John Stanning that appearance issues apply to men too, but note that for men, the "test" is different. Instinctive initial reactions to men are more based on dominance and status markers. These are a bit less whimsical than the dictates of female fashion, but still heavily culture-dependent -- leisure markers, trappings of wealth, upper-class accents, and so forth.

Terry Karney #155: Indeed, your problem is more with the mass market, and the industrial/manufacturing structure that drives it. When mass manufacturing is "where clothes come from", anyone who isn't "one of the usual types" gets shafted. (I have a milder problem in that regard -- my legs are short enough that I have trouble finding pants in most stores.)

#164 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 06:23 PM:

dcb #162:

It's worse if you wear so-called plus sizes, situation where you're already at considerable cultural risk. If you're also short like me ... Two purveyors of catalog wares sell trousers that now suffer from waist fail as you describe above, but you can get them hemmed to order; another couple have more stylish, more expensive stuff that, surprisingly, fits in both waist and hips, but does not come in any length shorter than 5 inches too long. I'm not quite at my wits' end, but it takes much too long to do the alterations, not to mention that I could buy two pairs of trousers from the less expensive people for the price of one from the others.

#165 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 06:41 PM:

PS to John Stanning: Degree and type of grooming is a marker for wealth and/or leisure! Being unkempt in public (stubble, tangled hair/beard, untrimmed nails, worn-out clothing, etc implies (socially) that for some reason you can't manage basic grooming, and most of the likely reasons for that imply very low status. At the other end, a man with carefully styled hair, heavily groomed nails and skin, fashionable clothes, etc, is displaying that he has the wealth and spare time for expensive haircuts, manicures, and so on (and a lifestyle which won't void the results of same).

#166 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 06:45 PM:

joann @ 164 -- Standard pants don't fit me: many are, hmm, binding if they fit my waist; all are too long in the leg if they're otherwise okay. So I assume, when I buy pants, that I'll be cutting something off the legs and hemming them. My skills with a sewing machine are somewhat eclectic (as some of you know) but a simple hem is within my abilities.

#167 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 06:50 PM:

David Harmon #165 : by all means, except that 99.9% of the population (I guess) fall between the two extremes that you mention.  If ownership of a comb is a marker for wealth, leisure and expensive haircuts, I’m missing out, big time.

#168 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 06:55 PM:

I followed the "Swine Flu Music" particle to the download link...and I find that the download server has embedded ads. Including this popup:


Find Great Flu! Check Top Rated Sites. Flu Highly Recommended!

Flu.Pages.US.c** (URL redacted to avoid giving them googlejuice)

That's the best auto-keyword ad I've seen since Fault Line was offered me for low prices on eBay.

#169 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 07:31 PM:

John #167: No no, mere ownership of a comb, razor, clippers, etc -- and willingness to use them -- just keeps you above the "epsilon"¹ status level, usually reserved for "street people" and the like. Certainly there are more distinctions and levels between those extremes, but my own limited social awareness makes me the wrong person to try and explain them.

¹ My own extension of the usual "alpha" through "delta" dominance levels.

#170 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 07:34 PM:

David Goldfarb #168: Also, if you click the wrong (more prominent) "Download" link, you instead get offered an assortment of dubious "bandwidth meters" and suchlike.

#171 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 08:12 PM:

David Harmon @169 said [intervening material redacted]: ...keeps you above the "epsilon"¹ status level, usually reserved for "street people" and the like. / ¹ My own extension of the usual "alpha" through "delta" dominance levels.

And here I thought you were making a Brave New World allusion, which would also fit in here fairly seamlessly. :->

#172 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 08:22 PM:

Diatryma, #130, the difference for me is quite a bit now -- I took prednisone last year at a high dose (to make my brain shrink) and I got the traditional moonface. Well, as we tapered the prednisone and my moonface got smaller, the area under my chin became very different. I have a scar there from surgery on my vocal cords, and the scar side is much tighter than the other, which hangs down and wobbles.

Lila, #141, ah, thanks! I saw Kip's daughter cruising at a con, too. And since my balance is bad, I frequently have to stabilize myself by putting my hand on a wall. I wonder what that would be called.

Pants - I found someone to make them for me. I buy the fabric and pay her $25/pair, which in total is a lot less than plus-size pants from catalogs that never quite fit. She's making me a new robe now because the old one is falling apart.

#173 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 08:23 PM:

Diatryma, #130, the difference for me is quite a bit now -- I took prednisone last year at a high dose (to make my brain shrink) and I got the traditional moonface. Well, as we tapered the prednisone and my moonface got smaller, the area under my chin became very different. I have a scar there from surgery on my vocal cords, and the scar side is much tighter than the other, which hangs down and wobbles.

Lila, #141, ah, thanks! I saw Kip's daughter cruising at a con, too. And since my balance is bad, I frequently have to stabilize myself by putting my hand on a wall. I wonder what that would be called.

Pants - I found someone to make them for me. I buy the fabric and pay her $25/pair, which in total is a lot less than plus-size pants from catalogs that never quite fit. She's making me a new robe now because the old one is falling apart.

#174 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 08:26 PM:

I went kayaking on the Charles today, and I saw a great blue heron close up! Tried to take a picture but my camphone was awkward.

#175 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 09:26 PM:

TexAnne@45 it's not reversable, though I must also say it's not my work. I don't have the patience to do blackwork. It was a gift, and so it went on the new chemise last year for a friend's wedding.

Xopher, you are too kind.

Madeline @ 54 my former roommate worked for them for all of three days a couple weeks ago. It's one day of training, one day on the street with a trainer, and one day without a trainer. If you don't manage to get a subscriber in 2 days on the street soliciting, you don't have a job. The required rate goes up as you survive.

#176 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 09:30 PM:

dcb: Even when I am working out/moving bales, etc., I just get stronger, not bulkier. Even when I was straight out of basic (or a bit later, in Monterey) and working out all the time (from basic I was 136 lbs. and carrying some fat. In Monterey I was running 40-60 miles a week, and was about 125), I was still about the same dimensions.

I get told, should I complain, that I just need to, "go to the gym," or, "eat more."


#177 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 10:12 PM:

#149 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II

The Clock Stories Particle worried me: I thought for a moment it might be a site with somewhat different clock stories.

Strange site. I'm intrigued, but can't stand to work through it in one go (I'm up to four and counting). It immediately reminded me of this
creepy place in Lucas, Kansas.

#178 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 10:47 PM:

Re the "Not confident about the venue" particle: Either they fixed whatever the problem was on the website, or I completely missed what Patrick noticed.

The Cuba Quarter is basically the bar/restaurant/nightclub part of downtown Wellington, named for Cuba Street. I don't know that specific hotel, but I did get to know Cuba Street pretty well a couple years back.

Looks pretty typical for a mid-priced NZ hotel to me.

#179 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 10:51 PM:


Remember that rainy day
When you threw me out
With nothing but a fine toothed comb?

#180 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 10:56 PM:

Self@178: And now I've looked at the convention's own site.

It seems to me that holding a con in Wellington the weekend before an Australia Worldcon is either sheer genius or suicidal madness. And I love Wellington. I guess time will tell.

#181 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2010, 11:03 PM:

Elliott, #172: That was my first thought too.

Terry, #176: While not wanting to minimize your legitimate difficulties with being outside the standard size ranges... based on pictures (and the videochat for the ML gather), I am obliged to say that from my POV, there are compensatory advantages.

#182 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:35 AM:

[completely unrelated to ongoing conversation]

It has really started to hit today that I am actually moving - it is not just an abstract idea floating betwixt my neurons - but it is really happening. A couple of things slammed it into the realm of the concrete: I sold my car this morning, for a more than respectable price and with a minimum of hassle. Also, I have been packing for the last week (which I have posted on before - the dust bunnies and their dust llama steeds are beating a retreat to the Great Bed Fortress, from where they shall be routed in a couple days) - but I have all of a week left at Vanderbilt, which feels really weird. It will not even be a full workweek, as I am taking one day off to pack and load, so that my stuff gets to Berkeley around the same time I do. Having most of my stuff in boxes makes my current apartment feel, in a large way, less mine - and just a set of rooms I am inhabiting. The last time I moved, I made the mistake of taking down all of my art towards the beginning of the project (all of it is flat photographs) - I found that to be very depressing, and am opting to leave it up as long as I can this time. I figure, it can be stuffed back in the box and the box can be stuffed in one of my suitcases with a minimum of fuss.

My living room is covered in a range of boxes - some empty, and occasionally explored by Totoro the Cat - others full and taped and looking drab (or, by their very presence, reminding me of other moves - I have saved the same boxes through up to five moves at this point). After Tuesday, once 95% of my worldly belongings have been loaded for the move, the apartment will feel even more strange than it does now.

I will note that audiobooks minimize the annoyance of packing - even when one realizes that packing the mini speaker setup used to amplify the iPhone for such uses was a bad idea.

#183 ::: Nathaniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:48 AM:

Patrick Connors, #178: I just took a look at the hotel page, and it certainly doesn't seem like anyone's edited it recently. Or at all, which I think was the point.

#184 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:56 AM:

Carol Kimball: Strange site. I'm intrigued, but can't stand to work through it in one go (I'm up to four and counting).

I should have mentioned it's tied to this book. If you like the site, you'll absolutely love the book.

It immediately reminded me of this
creepy place in Lucas, Kansas.

Interesting place based on the pictures, but for truly creepy the Afterglow Vista Mausoleum beats it like a drum.

#185 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:56 AM:

Patrick Connors @178, 180.

Having been to a scientific conference at this very hotel last year (Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand), I can agree that it's much the sort of hotel that gets used for such things in NZ.

I can't think of anything bad that it's unusually close to, and the facilities are much what you'd expect (it's very like the hotels used by previous cons I've attended).

The timing is deliberate (and they hope it will be genius); they are hoping that people coming a long way for Worldcon will consider the marginal cost of the side trip to be small compared with the base cost of coming in the first place. It appears not to have worked for Charlie Stross :-(, even though I've promised him a beer if he comes.

J Homes

#186 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 01:42 AM:

I'm somewhat baffled by the hotel sidelight. Can someone tell me what the problem is in the clear?

#187 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 04:50 AM:

abi @186: I read it’s authenticity and atmosphere is good for your soul—twice—and winced.

#188 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 05:34 AM:

Pendrift @ 187: Me too!

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 06:55 AM:

Headline found this morning on Comcast's site:

Older Brains Work Better?
#190 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 07:07 AM:

Yes, the "it's" thing can stick out like a sore thumb if you're sensitized to it. (I groaned inside when I saw a proud, permanent-looking park sign in Philly the other day that misused it.)

It can be distracting enough that it sometimes takes a little while to notice other copy errors, like the "Fom" that leads off the same paragraph.

#191 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 07:44 AM:

Re Au Contraire: The hotel's site has been prettied up since I looked at it while booking a few weeks ago. It wasn't branded 'Cuba Quarter', I don't recognise the 'Location' page, and I don't remember the changing graphics.

Given that the con has warned that they may have to cap registrations, I would suggest 'genius'.

The marginal cost is presumably somewhat less if you are going to WorldCon from North America, rather than Europe (avoiding the USA).

#192 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 10:33 AM:

Tom Whitmore@116, Serge@142: Happy to be of use! (And I'm feeling like agreeing after it's been done can be read as snippy, so I wish to disavow any snippyness in this case; it just seems polite to answer the request.)

#193 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 11:24 AM:

I got interested in Clarke's old short story "The Nine Billion Names of God" last week -- among other things something that seems like a weird continuity error. Any opinions on why the Lama first says he has calculated that the project will last 1000 days, then (in the very next paragraph) that he wants to hire technicians for the 3 months the project will take to complete?

I'm very happy about the parallels between this story and Borges' "The Library of Babel." I don't believe Clarke would have read that story at the time he wrote "Nine Billion" -- it did not appear in translation until 1962. But he was drawing water from the same well.

#194 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 11:29 AM:

I've got some posts from a few years ago on the subject of summing squares, which were fun to write...

#195 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 11:55 AM:

Susuile @ 175: Well, that's frustrating, on a variety of levels. If I were in your former roommate's position, I'd have been pissed and stressed to find myself doing commission sales for a charitable org. And it certainly explains the hard-sell tactics. I just can't imagine why the org thinks those tactics are a good idea, when the rest of the marketing is so intelligent. It also makes me wonder where our money is going. I told my husband about your comment, and he said: "So, we've been funding a Douchebag Encouragement Program?"

#196 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 11:56 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe: For sheer sad/strange, the moves from DLI are probably tops. One shares a building with lots of people (modern barracks are two-to-a-room) and all of a sudden 30 people are all packing like mad, because they are all leaving within the same three days.

When my class came to go, I took advantage of quirks in the system to ship out about 30 days after my class ended. It was a pleasant, if slightly strange, existence. I was sort of like a ghost, lingering after my time was done.

#197 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 11:59 AM:

sisuile/Madeline: Color me clueless, but I have no idea what group you are talking about.

#198 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:03 PM:

ddb @ 192... I did jump the gun on that one. My apologies.

#199 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:10 PM:

Modesto Kid #193 : I wonder if it stems from a typo.  Maybe Clarke originally wrote “100 days” in figures, then some copy-typist (this is in the early 50s) accidentally added a zero, then the typesetter turned that into “a thousand days”, and nobody noticed.  Stranger things have happened.  Three months seems to be what Clarke intended, because the story jumps to the point where the machine has been running “for weeks” and will finish the project in another week.

#200 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:21 PM:

Modesto Kid @ 193 -- In all copies of the story that I've got at hand -- The Nine Billion Names of God, Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. I, The Other Side of the Sky, and the error-ridden The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke -- the lama says that the project will take "a hundred days". I'm suspecting a weird error in your copy. I see that several on-line copies of the text have it as "a thousand days". Perhaps it was an error in the original publication that was corrected for later collections?

#201 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:23 PM:

Thanks John, that seems plausible -- I was trying to figure out where the error had been introduced.

#202 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:25 PM:

Joel, I was reading it from an online source.

#203 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:28 PM:

Between my junior and senior years of college, I stayed on campus to do research-- more killing time than anything, but the professor actually did need someone to take care of some animals, and I was desperate for Original Research for grad school applications. It worked out wonderfully, though I had a lot more time on my hands than any of the other summer researchers.

The school wasn't set up for summer students; we were all at the faraway dorm (all of a seven-minute walk!) because cheerleading camps had the others. We were able to move into our school-year dorms early, and did so. That week was weird. They were painting my dorm, so doors were open up and down the halls. They were phasing in the new mattresses, much more comfortable than the old, so I switched with another room. I had a friend visit for the week. Then freshmen arrived, then the rest of the school a week later.

It was a good summer, and better than I would have had at home, but surreal in a way that required that visit from a friend to make me fit for human interaction afterward.

#204 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Serge@198: Thanks. Without rejecting the principle (of ownership of images) in general, I was trying to convey that I didn't mind at all in this particular case.

#205 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 12:58 PM:

Open threadiness: It's not just arrows and bullets that can hurt when they fall back out of the sky. Tragic slighshot accident. Presumably one could have created this same problem with a trebuchet and other kinds of catapult as well.

Be careful out there!

#206 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 01:05 PM:

@194: It's not dreadfully difficult to calculate the number of ways a number can be expressed as a sum of two squares, directly from the number's prime factorization. I count zero as a square (so e.g. 4=2^2+0^2 is a sum of two squares); if you don't, you'll have to change things slightly.

Suppose the number n that we care about factorizes as 2^a*(p1^b1*p2^b2*...*pk^bk)*(q1^c1*q2^c2*...*ql^cl), where the ps are the prime factors of n that are one more than a multiple of four, and the qs are the prime factors that are one less than a multiple of four (either k or l could be zero if n has no prime factors of that form).

Then for n to be expressible as a sum of two squares at all, it's necessary that every c be even. Given this, the number of such expressions is (b1+1)*(b2+1)*...*(bk+1)/2, rounded up to the nearest integer.

So for example your 3,453,125 factorizes as 5^6*13^1*17^1. 5, 13, and 17 are all one more than a multiple of 4, so the number of ways 3,453,125 is expressible as a sum of two squares is (6+1)*(1+1)*(1+1)/2=14, as you calculated.

#207 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 03:06 PM:

Terry Karney @ 176: More sympathies. I just get told "At your size, what are you complaining about?" or "Well you could always put on weight - you're too thin anyway." (I -like- my size, shape and weight. I don't want to put on weight, have more to carry while running and stop fitting the clothes already in my wardrobe).

And then of course there's the "large fits all" assumption problem which I discovered while assisting with oiled wildlife response. I understand the basic logistical concerns, particularly when you're outfitting sometimes more than 1,000 people a day, but no, large gloves do -not- fit all, they just make those of us with small hands clumsy and less able to do our jobs (I ended up getting my own gloves, ones which fit).

joann @ 164: Yes, sympathies - I know that compared to some other body shapes, I have it easy. But I also know what Terry Karney means about it being assumed that if you're small/thin (which fits the cultural "ideal" in women, of course - less in men) then you don't have problems finding fitting clothes, and if you do, it's your own problem, you should just gain weight to fit the clothes. And as for the tyrannies of fashion - I am SO glad I have enough pairs of trousers in my wardrobe to (hopefully) keep me dressed until waistbands start reaching the waist again.

#208 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 04:08 PM:

Madeline @ 195 It's not commission, it's hourly, but your continued employment is dependent upon sales. It's nasty.

Terry @ 197 It's a large children's welfare agency, one that I first became acquainted with because of their tie designs. From what I can tell, they've hired a contractor to promote their sponsorship program, and the contractor is the one with the hard sell tactics. I hope so, anyway. It's not a particularly bad group.

#210 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 04:36 PM:

Fragano @139: Thanks; I found this moving. It reminds me of the song "I Remember, I Believe" by Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock, which opens with this verse:

I don’t know how my mother walked her trouble down
I don’t know how my father stood his ground
I don’t know how my people survived slavery
I do remember, that’s why I believe
#211 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 08:18 PM:

Earl Cooley @209 -- didn't get far enough in the comments, but I think it's interesting that the hedge fund manager found Twilight so inspiring when combined with its fairly obvious and well-documented Mormon message.

#212 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 08:36 PM:

Diatryma @ 203 - Your statement that "It was a good summer, and better than I would have had at home, but surreal in a way that required that visit from a friend to make me fit for human interaction afterward." describes the danger of my own solitary tendencies disturbingly well. I am happy enough if I hole up on my own for days at a time (well, less so if I am packing, but certainly if I am settled) - and the need for human interaction is something that I do not usually notice until I really need it.

#213 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 08:52 PM:

This is one of those "all knowledge is contained in the fluorosphere" questions.

I happened to be on Mount Desert Island a few days ago and was climbing Cadillac Mountain, a lovely hike/climb where in spots there are metal rungs (and other metallic accoutrements) implanted in the granite rock of the mountain. I looked carefully at some of the joins between the metal and the hole in the rock, and they were tight. My wife and I discussed this as we were climbing, and tried to figure out how it was done. Drilling, presumably, but the apparently non-glued, no-visible-space part was hard to figure out.

That is, they didn't seem to be glued or cemented in, and the holes were just right, and the rungs didn't seem terribly pounded (e.g., by a sledgehammer a la John Henry). But they were still very, very tight after 50 to 100 years.

I found via ferrata via Google, which describes what they are like but not how they are made.

Anyone have any experience or knowledge? No doubt it turns out to be something simple, perhaps involving hamsters. (Or hamsters with jackhammers, anyway.)

As an aside, this seems to be one of those cases where the Google search algorithm falls down flat on its face. Lots of where they are, where they might be created, who likes and dislikes them, but nothing on the how. Complete sentence searching didn't make it any better.

#214 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 09:12 PM:

#205, thanks for the warning. My trebs are little ones that throw marbles, ball bearings, beads, etc. but I am careful. Tensional, torsional, and gravitational launchers each have things that can go wrong, and I would not go to a hurling meet where the spectators are behind the machines, even with a safety net--I seem to recall that someone got hurt when something backfired the other year, even with the net. It's best for everyone to be off to the side, and the trigger is made to be operated from the side also, preferably from a distance.
Too bad such devices can't be deployed against all the industries, institutions and so on that make things harder for people whose bodies don't conform to this or that standard.

#215 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 09:14 PM:

DaveL @ #213: explanation here.

a Via Ferrata is a fixed-protection climbing path. The protection consists mostly of heavy-gauge steel wire, periodically fixed to rock with thick metal bars with eyelets on the end. These bars seem very similar to the 'rebar' steel that is used to reinforce concrete in buildings. These metal bars are drilled and cemented into the rock.
This applies to the ones in the Dolomites which the author has climbed, so who knows whether the New World's version tracks exactly, but . . .

#216 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 09:22 PM:

Nice picture of Via Ferrata in a rock wall here. There's more at that site. It's translated from French, so it's a bit fractured, but not impenetrable by any means.

#217 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 09:22 PM:

Does this have anything to do with the Macmillan/Amazon ebook brouhaha?

#218 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 10:03 PM:

Re: NZ Convention hotel

I missed the language misuse part of the site; it would indeed have made me cringe had I caught it.

Glad to see the convention is doing well. Have fun!

#219 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 10:05 PM:


Looking at the particle "Things that don't make me feel confident about the venue of Au Contraire, the New Zealand National SF Con, later this month" I can't see what makes it different from any other hotel ad.

What incredibly obvious thing am I missing?

#220 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 10:13 PM:

Ok - language misuse spotted after reading backthread. I was expecting something more massive.

#221 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 10:44 PM:

The wine is red. I got ahold of a speaker of Hebrew,and the gist of the passage is to beware of red wine, because it will sneak up on you, and you won't like the results.

#222 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 11:04 PM:

#54: my first "you shoulda said" response (what is 'l'esprit de l'escalier'in the second person?) is "Do you know you sound like a rapist? " I suspect I'm feeling a little asocial myself.

#223 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 11:16 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe at 212, yeah, it's not a great way to be semi-introverted. It's why I'm staying in Iowa City until I have a reason to leave, actually-- I have people here, and a framework to see them. I don't have that in my hometown, and in the summers between college years, I holed up like a bad thing. I don't have people there any more, not ones who aren't related to me anyway. Here, I have Knitter's Breakfast on Saturdays, Pub Knit on Mondays, people from lab who call me for dinner, people who visit. My social life requires an external framework, and I require a social life.

When I get a Real Job, I'll be in a new place. I hope I'm able to find an external framework quickly, before strange habits set in.

#224 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 11:43 PM:

This week's Newsweek has an article about self-publishing books. They give 3 examples of writers making money, and don't mention any downsides at all.
Who Needs a Publisher?

#225 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2010, 11:53 PM:

I found this out the hard way for the most recent time last December - I took ten days off from the lab, but rather than flying home, stayed in Nashville - and did not see anyone for the great majority of said days. Just sat around my apartment, reading and playing computer games. I realized afterward that just doing that for over a week was not exactly healthy. I find it survivable when I have all of my stuff around - being introverted in an environment that is very much mine is easier than not - but I am worried about the first half of next week. My last day at my lab is this Friday, but I will have shipped all of my stuff out on Wednesday, save a couple of suitcases and the cat. So, I will have next monday and tuesday with pretty much nothing to do save cleaning the apartment, and I am insufficiently obsessive to be able to do that for two days. I am thinking of setting up a dinner with a couple friends for one of those days, and I will probably make a point of wandering away from the apartment for my own sanity, but it will be a couple of very empty-feeling days.

I am not expecting to like the experience of living in my apartment here without my belongings for the next week. It should be a tolerable experience, but I do not expect it to be an enjoyable one.

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 01:05 AM:

Benjamin, #225: Take your book and go down to Bongo Java, and sit there and read rather than in your empty apartment. That should give you enough "being around people" to keep you stabilized.

#227 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 01:07 AM:

The WashPost had an article back a couple months ago that was very inaccurate about science fiction and I wrote the editors a letter. I got a "maybe we'll use it," but it hasn't been, so you might like to see the article and give your own opinion. I'm linking to my LJ.

#228 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 01:10 AM:

Have friends over to help clean, and when the place is done, go out. Walk to the library if it's within walking distance, walk somewhere else if it's not*. If you aren't calmed or otherwise positived by walkies, go somewhere with people, yours or otherwise. It's not just hermitting you have to fight but being-inside-forever.

Good luck with the packing and the move!

*It took me far too long to realize that the reason I was so out-of-sorts at the old apartment was that I wasn't getting three-mile walks on a regular basis. I had some proper walkies soon after that epiphany and felt so much better.

#229 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 01:21 AM:

Benjamin, take care of yourself and your kitty. The kitty will likely help with the strangeness, but will also be feeling it itself. You two are what you have in a semi-empty apartment.

Take care and best wishes!

#230 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 03:05 AM:

Too many little worries in my head to sleep. Maybe if I ask a couple questions of the Fluorosphere, I can at least move on down the list to lesser matters.

Weighty problem #1: I'm about to attend my first con since my daughter was born seven years ago (and SF cons were rare for me before that). In the intervening years, I've acquired a laptop, which is my bread-and-butter (I'm a freelancer) as well as primary source of entertainment and communication. What little travel I do--even just to my parents' house for the weekend--I *always* take the laptop along, and I have been planning to do so for this trip.

But I'm suddenly worried about the logistics over several days of a con. Can I safely leave it in the room while attending panels, dinners, etc.? Or should I ask about having it put away in the hotel safe? Or should I just plan to take it with me wherever I go? (I've got a good rolling laptop backpack.) Or should I revisit my plan to take it? I'd thought to get some work done on the trip, but is that at all reasonable? Any feedback welcome.

Weighty problem #2: Any idea where I can get a list of what letter tiles ship with Scrabble Junior? My Google-fu doesn't seem up to this one.

Whew. Goodnight, all, and thanks.

#231 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 03:15 AM:

Janet@224, speaking of NewsWeek and "who needs a publisher?", apparently NewsWeek needs one - they just got bought for $1 by Sidney Harman, audio tycoon and husband of Congressmember Jane Harman.

#232 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 03:25 AM:

No time to go back and find the response in OT 143 that recommended Greens in San Francisco, but would like to give thanks to that person because we went tonight (at sunset, despite the fog and lack of view) and it was absolutely delicious. Simple food, incredibly well prepared, and really nice staff. I would definitely go again, if I ever come back to SF. Three very full days so far, and we're looking to hit the bookstores tomorrow. Wish me luck. I've already spent far too much money on chocolate. Well, and food. The food here is fantastic. I haven't had a bad meal yet.

I leave you with my quote when I realized we'd reached our bus stop this evening. "Falafel! Sharwerma! We have to get off the bus!" Yes, I recognized our stop by the sign in the restaurant window. Possibly I pay too much attention to words.

#233 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 04:32 AM:

Tom Whitmore #107:
Call me a purist, but that's more distilling than brewing because percentage-wise, yeasts keel over once the alcohol level hits the high teens. Getting the alcohol levels this high requires (IIRC) freeze distillation.

#234 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 05:32 AM:

Britain's solution to the problem of immigration: cut legal aid to destitute asylum-seekers.

#235 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 06:41 AM:

Joy #230 : I also take my laptop on almost all trips.  Before I go, I take a backup so that if I do lose the laptop, by accident or theft, at least I’ve still got my files to load on the new one.  I use a fairly generic case that doesn’t shout “expensive laptop in here!”  I’m a bit twitchy about it:  I make an effort to have it either (a) attached to me, or (b) within my view, or (c) somewhere that I assess as secure enough, or at least trustworthy.  I’ve never had one stolen (unlike a colleague who put his case down for a moment to buy a newspaper at a stall – when he turned round, it was gone).

Often I need my laptop in the conference room anyway (at a business conference).  If not, it depends on the hotel.  Better hotels have room safes big enough to put a laptop in (not the whole case, but the laptop itself).  Otherwise I take it with me in the morning, while rooms are cleaned, not because I don’t trust the cleaners but because rooms are often left open while cleaning is going on, but the cleaner may go away to do something and leave time for a thief to nip in.  In the evening, I don’t mind leaving the laptop in my room, but I conceal it somewhere so that a thief doing a quick in-and-out won’t see it instantly, and I don’t leave a lot of accessories lying about with a laptop-sized space in the middle!

Obligatory disclaimer:  each of us is different.  What works for me may not work for you.  Security is only partly a matter of habit and routine.  To keep yourself secure, you must be responsive to individual situations, assess each location each time, and act according to your assessment.  “You cannot step twice into the same river.”  By the way, all of this paragraph applies to safety as much as to security.  Good luck.  Have fun.

#236 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 06:59 AM:

Soon Lee 233: Call me a purist, but that's more distilling than brewing because percentage-wise, yeasts keel over once the alcohol level hits the high teens. Getting the alcohol levels this high requires (IIRC) freeze distillation.

First, could it be that they discovered or bred a yeast that can survive in higher concentrations of alcohol?

Second, freeze distillation is also called jacking, correct? Where you freeze the liquid and let the concentrated liquid melt out of the water ice?

#237 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 07:43 AM:

salixulon #210: Thanks!

#238 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 08:07 AM:

Joy Freeman @230; Take it. If you don't, you'll just spend half the trip wondering if you'll need it and getting twitchy because you've not got it (in my experience - YMMV).

Sensible advice @235, which I'll second. I've always gone for a protective sleeve, then a backpack or other bag which didn't scream "LAPTOP IN HERE - PLEASE STEAL": but having it on wheels may be more important to you. I've lugged mine round enough conferences (and occasional SF conventions) that I finally got myself a netbook for travelling, reducing the weight by 2/3 - 3/4 (my back and shoulders are grateful).

As for getting work done... At a convention? Doubtful, unless you're (a) awake bright and early before everything gets going (despite being up late the night before); or (b) got something boring and pretty mindless that you can do while sitting around chatting (I've been known to search for and correct broken hyperlinks in a large website, while at a beer festival, for example).

#239 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 08:39 AM:

In re laptops at cons ...

When my total cargo load is small enough, I often bring mine along. Partly because it's my eeeeee-lectronic filkbook, so I always have my lyrics with me, but also because I sometimes get twitchy if I 'have to' sit still and listen for long periods -- like at panels -- and it can really help my enjoyment if I can kip against a wall in the back of the room and play Civilization (or other turn-based fiddle game) to help me hold still.

#240 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 08:56 AM:

Marilee @227 wrote about her letter to the editor protesting that their "lists of beach reads by scientists contains no scifi!!!eleventy!!" article is entirely science fiction.

You are completely right. For those who don't feel like clicking through to the full Newsweek article you linked, here are all the fiction picks in the entire article:

-- "The City and the Stars" by Arthur C. Clarke (1999).
-- "Red Mars," by Kim Stanley Robinson (1993).
-- "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute (1957).
-- "The Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham (1951).
-- The space trilogy by C.S. Lewis, beginning with "Out of the Silent Planet" (1938).
-- "Kindred" by Octavia E. Butler (1979).
-- "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell (1995).
-- "Dante's Equation" by Jane Jensen (2003).
-- "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood (2003).
-- "The Dresden Files" series by Jim Butcher.
-- "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley (1932).
-- "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes (1966).

Atwood CLAIMS Oryx isn't scifi, and Dresden's more fantasy, but every single one of them could be mentioned on panels at any SF gencon without anyoen batting an eye. Their writer is either stupid, cluelessly sloppy, or trying to make a point.

#241 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 09:02 AM:

Marilee #227, Elliott Mason #240:

Also, a couple of them predate the recognition of SF as a genre, but are nevertheless recognized as seminal. Clueless indeed!

#242 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 09:03 AM:

Joy, #230: We routinely take our laptops (plural) to cons, but we're also dealers, and keep them at the table with us during the day (one of them runs our cash register, and the other is for looking up stuff online). OTOH, I see a lot of people running around with laptops or sitting in the public areas working with them. Good advice about making a full backup first, and not leaving it in the room during housecleaning time; apart from that, I wouldn't worry too much about room security.

#243 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 09:21 AM:

240: That's really pretty weird. Even if someone was completely ignorant of SF, you'd think that titles like "Red Mars" and "The Day of the Triffids" and "Voyage to Venus" would make them think "hmm, these all sound a bit SF-y".

#244 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 09:44 AM:

#240 : there seems still to be a certain snobbery among the more self-consciously intellectual novelists and critics:  SF isn’t proper “literary fiction”.  Hence Margaret Attwood’s eagerness to avoid the accusation of having demeaned herself by writing SF.  It’s not just SF – writing crime fiction (“detective stories”) used to be just as slummy.

#245 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 09:47 AM:

Joy@230: I've been taking expensive camera equipment to conventions routinely since 1972, and laptops since probably 2003 or some such (when they became a vital photographic accessory for me), and have never had anything stolen, even when I leave bags sitting around in public (not, however, at random). How much these good results are pure luck, how much my skill in choosing when to hang onto stuff and when to leave it, and how much my choice of conventions, I could not say. Certainly there have been things stolen at many of these conventions; just not from me.

I've been traveling with more equipment than I can conveniently carry at once to more places than SF conventions, including internationally, and have never lost anything out of a hotel room, either.

On the third hand, it's insured. To use this stuff, I have to put it at risk sometimes, and I've gotten over being distracted by that (I still try to avoid being actively careless).

Enjoy your convention!

#246 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 09:56 AM:

John Stanning #244: To which the proper response is: You're all just jealous of my jetpack.

#247 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 10:13 AM:

When I take my laptop to cons, I leave it in the hotel room, plugged into the broadband. I've never had any trouble.

On the other hand, I don't have anything vital on the laptop. Making a backup before you go is an excellent idea, as are the other suggestions.

#248 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 10:17 AM:

#246 : Oh yes!  Tom Gauld.

#249 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 10:24 AM:

At the worldcon last year, I was going around the dealer's room when I realized that I was not carrying my laptop-containing backpack anymore. Had not been doing so for atbout 30 minutes. To say that my heart skipped a few beats would be an understatement. I quickly - very quickly - walked back to the area with tables & chairs next to the art show. There was the backpack. And, in it, my laptop. Money. Passport too.

#250 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 10:49 AM:

Many thanks to everyone for the feedback on taking my laptop to a con. I'm feeling much better about taking it. I don't mind keeping it with me during most day events (as dcb says, I'd likely get twitchy otherwise) as long as I can lock it up in the room during the evening. I do indeed have "something boring and pretty mindless" I can do while chatting, plus I am a confirmed introvert, so will need to get away from the mob for a bit each day anyway, and figure I might squeeze in an hour or three on a project that's falling behind schedule.

I've got a recent full backup on my Time Capsule, and will update my documents-only backup on an off-site portable drive, so I suppose the worst that could happen is that I have to replace the computer. I also have password protection on, which may or may not add much security for the info (no truly sensitive stuff), but I do think I'll improve my (far too simple) password before leaving.

#251 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 11:07 AM:

EClaire @ 232: I'm glad to hear that Greens restaurant is still wonderful. I must visit San Francisco again!

#252 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 11:31 AM:

Benjamin at 225, there's nothing we can do about your present inbetweenish situation, but there are plenty of us Making Light folks in the Bay Area, and Berkeley is filled with interesting people/activities. I recommend you pay a lot of attention to your cat while the apartment empties -- she's going to be pretty freaked out as familiar things go away. Good luck during the move, and when you get to Berkeley, let us know.

#253 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 02:26 PM:

Seconding what Lizzy L says about Berkeley (and the East Bay in general) being full of interesting people/things. In my experience, it's also full of interesting things that are enjoyable for introverts. (YMMV depending on your level of introversion; for calibration, I consider myself pretty introverted and occasionally mark weekend days on the calendar as "SEE NOBODY DAY".) Aquatic Park in Berkeley is a nice place to go for a walk or doze on the grass, with no more interaction required than a possible nod to one's fellow park-goers as they pass by.

Come to think of it, a number of my favorite places in the area are places one can go and just be without needing to interact much or at all.

#254 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 02:50 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe:I'll second the "get out, get some exercise" advice. I often work from home and can spend the whole day in the house if I'm not careful, then wonder why I'm feeling twitchy. Not so much of a problem now I'm running, but today was a "rest" day on my running schedule and after 10 hours at the computer, I got the bicycle out and took that round the park (where I usually run) a few times. Feel better now.

#255 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 04:15 PM:

Xopher #236:

Google is my friend. Yes, freeze distillation is also called jacking (I wasn't familiar with the term).

As to finding a yeast that can survive higher alcohol concentrations, it's exceedingly unlikely (I have a professional interest in it). Champagne yeasts can go to the high teens (% ethanol by volume), sake yeasts a bit higher, but they all tend to die off due to toxic effects of ethanol.

Interestingly, jacking is used to make 'ice wine' in New Zealand (though we are no longer allowed to call it that) by removing water from grape juice before fermentation; NZ winters normally not severe enough for grapes to freeze on the vines, the traditional way of making ice wine.

#256 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 05:36 PM:

Re "jacking"... I haven't heard the term before, but it fits in with "ciderjack" being one of the few drinks that is usually made with the method. Returning to the original reason for discussing it, this is definitely how Brewdog make their high strength beers. Not sure about their Dutch competitor, however.

Soon Lee: "Champagne yeasts can go to the high teens (% ethanol by volume)"

About 10 years ago I was using one that according to the producer's data sheet could survive to 20%. I understand there have been further increases since then. But this is still definitely toward the high end of the scale that can be reached by fermentation alone.

#257 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 05:42 PM:

The distinction between fermentation and later augmentations is somewhat important to home-brewers in the USA, because fermentation up to quite decent quantities per year is legal, but doing anything to concentrate the alcohol after that is heavily illegal (without a distiller's license).

Jules@256: I'm not familiar with the term "ciderjack", but I'll bet it's the same thing as "applejack", which I am familiar with.

This actually relates to your car "jack" etymologically, I believe. Apparently that term for a device to push heavy weights around using mechanical advantage predates the automobile :-) .

#258 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 05:48 PM:

One of the advantages of jacking over distillation is that more sugars get left in the jacked beverage, and more of the less-volatile flavor elements. It produces a very different kind of beverage than distilling; it's also quite natural in certain climates and doesn't add to air or heat pollution.

#259 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 06:57 PM:

I recall some discussion some time back about the possibility of a Making Light gathering at NASFiC.

Has anything been decided?

(Although, as far as I know, I won't have internet access at NASFiC. It isn't a matter of unavailability of WiFi. It's a matter of not having anything with me that can use WiFi.)

#260 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 07:04 PM:

Michael I (259): I haven't heard anything about a Making Light get-together at NASFiC, but I was just about to ask who else was planning to be there. You and me, obviously, and I know Fragano is and that Serge can't make it. Anyone else?

#261 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 07:08 PM:

Tom Whitmore@258: On the other hand, careful evaporative distillation can separate out methanol and fusel alcohols, whereas freezing leaves them in. So some of the details of your fermentation process become more important if you're planning to concentrate it by freezing later!

#262 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 07:30 PM:

ddb #261:

Worse, actually, as the jacking process concentrates them too, increasing the likelihood of really bad hangovers, blindness, and or death.

#263 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 07:32 PM:

We will not be as NASFIC, alas. But anyone else who is not planning to be there and happens to be in the vicinity of Springfield, MO can drop by and visit us at Barataria Faire. Tickets are $5, and the weather is predicted to be in the lower 90s and partly cloudy.

#264 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 07:41 PM:

DaveL @213 (and other interested parties):

Hmm... Precipice trail, perhaps? Which I think is the trail with the most fixed protection (mostly ladder steps and handrails). The Beehive? The cliffs above Echo Lake?. A pretty meek form of via ferrata. Try the Hidden Vally Trail* in Zion National Park. The methods are far more generalized than just for climbing aids, and the techniques are pretty common. The holes are drilled with a star drill and hammer (as in "Drill ye Tarriers, Drill) or more modern drills, but it usually doesn't make sense to drag up power equipment. Hold drill against rock face, and beat with hammer, pull drill from hole to clear chips, and repeat ad nauseum, or until you hit your hand with the hammer. On the end of the steel rod cut a slot, put a wedge slightly in the slot, put in rock and hammer home. Wedge expands the tenon for a very tight fit. Alternately (and this is what you might do if you were fabricating pieces on site) heat they end of the rod until it is malleable, and hammer in hard enough to deform.
Nowadays they tend to be cemented in place.

* You know how, in old Westerns, you'd see folks inching along a narrow ledge on the side of a canyon? They are real. The trail was icy on the day that I solo "hiked" it - it did have a bolted cable for the amazingly scary part. Managed by the same US Park Service that has someone who threatened to throw me out of the Smithsonian for, OMG, walking down an escalator.

#265 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 07:45 PM:

Michael I #259/Mary Aileen #260: Leave me a message via FB (well, Mary Aileen can, at least).

Lee #263: Drat!

#266 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 08:00 PM:

TexAnne @ 115

After watching a new department chairman snooker a junior professor out of tenure because he had severe migraines and couldn't be relied on to attend faculty meetings, I too find academic politics leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. It didn't help that the said chairman pushed me out of the staff position I had held for 4 years because he "didn't have the funding to keep me fulltime." (translates to: "I have my own people I want to move into these positions.")

#267 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Well, with everything packed, exercise was not lacking today - moving the vast majority of one's worldly possessions into a cube constitutes exercise in my book. Roped a few friends in to helping me load (with the traditional gift of beer after), so loading took an hour or so. Rather warm for it - 98 here in Nashville today - but not too bad.

The cat is only mildly freaked out - I think having all the boxes piled in my living room freaked him more than the mostly empty apartment (right now, he is just sitting on a paper bag, sleeping). In terms of my own worries about introversion and being overly solitary, I still have three days at the lab, which will go by all too quickly, and then I just have next Monday and Tuesday. I will, I think, wander down to the chain bookstore about half a mile from my apartment to kill time on at least one of those days.

I have to say - I am really looking forward to getting out to the bay area. The weather here this week is just emphasizing this desire.

#268 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 08:24 PM:

Benjamin@267 - remember to bring some really warm clothes with you, so you've got them before you unpack the rest of the moving. Berkeley gets annoyingly cold at night, especially in the summer microclimates.

#269 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 08:33 PM:

Good to know. It will be a novelty after a Nashville summer.

#270 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 08:39 PM:

Bruce StM, 266: Whoo, wrongful dismissal much? And of course academia's set up so that people can't win if they sue.

#271 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 09:08 PM:

I'll be at NASFIC and would love to know if there's a ML gathering.

An aside: I am truly pleased to be leaving today's 106 degree temp in Little Rock for the balmy 92 degrees forecast for Raleigh tomorrow. My washer and dryer are in a non-air-conditioned room off my carport, which is why I've been putting off until evening the washing of the last few items I was planning to pack. I just stepped out there and it's still a sauna. I'm thinking I've got plenty of clean clothes. :-)

#272 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 09:49 PM:

Benjamin, it's been a cold summer. 55 degrees and foggy in the morning for weeks. Whether or not your neighborhood warms up in the afternoon depends on the microclimate you happen to inhabit. I second Bill Stewart's advice.

#273 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 10:34 PM:

Addition to advice on Berkeley weather: warm blankets. Wool is good.
(Those fleece things they sell are also good, if you don't have a wool blanket; try a craft store for the ready-cut throws, generally sold in pairs.)

#274 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 10:36 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 260... Serge can't make it

...and is bummed about it. Luckily there is local affair Bubonicon and I'm very much ready for some con time. Of course, guess on which weekend my employer decided to deploy our merger-related work. Luckily, my involvement with that mostly as a consultant (meaning they all came to me to ask how the system worked before they started changing it around) and hopefully - HOPEFULLY - my cell phone won't go off at a time when I'm enjoying non-work life for once.

#275 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 10:36 PM:

55 degree mornings sound lovely, after ending up with the (maybe) second hottest day of the year to load my worldly possessions for shipment. My desire for cooler weather aside, I will make sure to have somewhat warmer clothing to hand when I pack.

#276 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 10:55 PM:

Joy, my laundry room is a fairly loosely finished back stoop and I've decided to do laundry only at night so the dryer will work when it's 'cool.' I'm in Kansas City, MO.

Weather Channel keeps teasing that the temps are going to go down to the 80s during the day Real Soon, but I'm skeptical.

We have an ancient house so the A/C is zoned, window units in the most-used areas. they're working wonderfully but not totally keeping up. I hope it gets cooler out.

#277 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 11:13 PM:

Open-thread stuph --

Some of you may recall my writing about rebuilding my MacArthur Harp.

I finally got around to putting up a post on my blog page about that effort, complete with pictures.

At the end of the post is a You-Tube video so you can hear a sample of what the harp sounds like.

#278 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2010, 11:53 PM:

Bravo, Craig!

#279 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 12:10 AM:

Elliott Mason, #240; David Harmon, #241; ajay, #243: That was actually the WashPost and one of the other weird things is that their main critic is Michael Dirda, who has a Pulitzer Prize for litcrit, and is an SF fan. He attends the local con. You'd think the author would have checked with him, or something.

#280 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 09:46 AM:

Marilee @ 279 -- I've seen a few too many cases where relative newbies actively avoided having their work reviewed by a friendly local expert, to say nothing of consulting with the expert while the work was in progress, so as to "prove themselves". The usual result is a load of avoidable mistakes.

#281 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 10:35 AM:

Craig R.@277: Thanks for the pointer, I enjoyed reading and seeing the pictures of the rebuild.

Reading between the lines, was part of the decision process that you might as well try the repair yourself, since professional repair would be close to the price of a new instrument? And hence, if you messed it up, you'd be no worse off financially? I ruined a film scanner on that basis some years back (and now have a better scanner); looks like your repair worked better than mine.

#282 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 10:38 AM:

Remember that I mentioned that the Canadian government was going to make returning the long census form non-mandatory?

Treasury Board President Stockwell Day says the government will go ahead with its plan to spend billions for new prisons, suggesting statistics that show crime is declining in Canada are not accurate. On the other hand, they're firm believers in the statistics that say that crime is under-reported.

I'm reminded of a quotation I found while I was doing my Ph.D. research, from one of the big names in the field of computational chemistry, in a big paper in a prestigious journal:

We have therefore decided to use a few adamantane values which do not affect much the outcome of the parameterization in fitting the force field. And these values are probably experimentally accurate. However, the values which we cannot fit we do not think are experimentally accurate, and unless convincing evidence is presented to the contrary, we will continue to believe that the force field here gives results more accurate than those experimental results which are in conflict with them.
-- N.L. Allinger, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 99, 8127 (1977)
#283 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 10:43 AM:

Joel Polowin @282: Our local head of the teacher's union has complained (in the face of massive budget-related layoffs) that the school board agrees with her that the 'what teachers are amazing' statistics are completely subjective to the principal's preferences/whim, and therefore not to be used for merit pay, but somehow the same board thinks the other end of the same dataset (what teachers the local principals hate) is perfectly accurate.

Considering over 95%of all teachers in this dataset, even in failing schools, get a rating of 'excellent' ... it is well-documented (but not believed by the school board) that principals use bad performance reviews as a tool to get teachers they personally dislike, or teachers who call the principals on bad behavior, in trouble.

And those teachers are now being fired en masse for being 'bad teachers'.

#284 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 11:20 AM:

Elliot Mason @ 283... bad performance reviews as a tool

I am shocked, shocked!

#285 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 11:35 AM:

Serge: In general, the US system has no good workable way of separating teachers who are objectively bad at teaching from those who are objectively good.

There are two competing methods (sometimes used simultaneously), each with a fatal flaw.

Method 1: Quantitatively evaluate the students before and after the term; teachers who improve their students' scores more are 'better' than those who do not.

Fatal flaw: Strongly influenced by non-teacher factors involving the students' preparedness, parental involvement, dedication to their classes, etc; also leads to 'teaching to the test' and sabotaging the entire term's actual learning. Many good teachers can improve a badly-behind class 'less' than bad teachers improve a class of gifted kids, and the raw number-crunching can't tell the difference.

Method 2: Qualitatively evaluate the teachers while they are teaching, by putting a classroom monitor or other judge in the room. Sometimes done by the principal of the school directly.

Fatal flaw: Extremely vulnerable to corruption and grade inflation/deflation. Unless some rigorous outside group with no stake in the results is used for evaluating (which, to my knowledge, has never been tried, at least not in Chicago), it becomes a Prom-Queen-style popularity contest. At best, the evaluators try to make their school's stats turn out well; at worst, the evaluators rate their friends highly and their enemies at the bottom.

#286 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 12:00 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 285... I wonder how this is handled in other countries. Yes, I am from another country, but I left a long time ago.

That being said, my response was also based on my own experience in the corporate world. ("Sure, you upgraded our job scheduler, streamlined the 1000-job flow, got rid of the obsolete tasks, but it was just one project, which is why you get a mediocre rating of 3 out of 5.")

#287 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Serge@286: Teaching is extra problematic because success in your training is utterly unrelated to your later success in the classroom. There was an interesting Malcolm Gladwell article on the subject; he compared teaching and professional football quarterbacks as two fields of endeavor where the person doing the scouting has to almost guess randomly as to whether the prospect will excel in their chosen field or flop.

#288 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 01:06 PM:

Prop 8 decision coming down today.

Waiting is hard. Whichever way it goes, it will be appealed, of course.

#289 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 01:27 PM:

Lizzy L @288:

We know who won -- the Plaintiffs -- because the Defence has filed a motion to stay, even before the Judge has issued his decision. Apparently, a draft of the decision was given to both parties in the suit so they could have their statements prepared...

#290 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 01:37 PM:

Elliott Mason #285, 2877: It's also problematic because (1) properly evaluating the kids is labor- and resource-intensive, competing with all the other things schools need to spend money and time on, while (2) properly evaluating the teachers requires someone (lots of someones) with comparable teaching ability, and if there were that many spare teachers around they'd be in the classroom. (Not to mention the question of evaluating the evaluators.)

An additional issue is that while we know a lot about what needs to be done to teach kids, most the schools have decades-old "routines" which ignore all that, plus many teachers whose training is outdated. Then too, proper teaching is itself resource-intensive, and requires not only stocking up on teachers with modern training, but empowering those teachers against both interfering parents and disruptive administrators.

And then there's those religious groups for whom genuine education is an existential threat....

#291 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 01:48 PM:

The very best thing about miso soup is the convenction cells...

#292 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 02:01 PM:

DDB (# 281)
In re: Harp repair --

From the inquiries I made of a couple of luthiers, the estimates I got put the repair in the range of $300 to $500 (US)

At the time, Lark In The Morning still had some stock from one luthier that they were pricing at $300 plus shipping. Since that time, they now carry from a different instrument maker, and their asking price is $500.

I have seen prices listed on the web from a couple of instrument makers ranging from $500 to $1500. Since it's not a "popular" instrument, there is a limited supply of luthiers who are willing to take on the effort.

So, it *did* work out OK for me.

I might be willing to tackle that again, but only for instruments that I might have gotten for $50 or less. My stress levels would be a lot lower :)

Overall, there were some costs -- I had the "heat gun" (nee hairdryer) and the straps. I did pick up additional clamps (I already had 4, I picked up an additional 4).

Of the remaining "ingredients," the Gorilla Glue was about $4. The most expensive component, however, was a full set of replacement strings. They ran to an average cost of $3/each, and I needed 24.

I could have used up some of the spares I keep on hand, but I wanted to just get a full set for this project.

#293 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 02:10 PM:

286 Serge: Oh, sort of like this?
In case he/his server decides to break all the links again in the future, June 16, 2008.

#294 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 02:33 PM:

Mycroft W @ 293... I love it! My one consolation about that former manager is that her incompetence (if not her lack of appreciation of my work) eventually bit her in the you-know-what.

#295 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 02:53 PM:

Hmm. has no logon of its own; to comment there you have to connect your comments with something else you're doing on the web.

I want to comment on Scalzi's column, but I'm not willing either to let people from go right to any of my existing accounts OR create another separate Google account just to comment on FilmCritic.

Why can't they have their own godsdamned accounts? Bastards. Is there any easy way to comment there without this crap? Anyone know?

#296 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Terry @ 155: I hear you. My latest issue is that I bought two pair of shorts for post-pregnancy sizing and totally forgot that when I go with shorts, particularly bermuda-length shorts, I *can* get them in petites so that the waist is at the correct height for me. ("Low-rise" would be correct were it not for the fact that those are cut to go around the hips. "Paper bag" is the effect and not pleasant.)

Right now I'm folding them over in front so the zipper doesn't undo itself.

Oh well, at least these didn't actually cost me anything due to gift cards & discounts...

#297 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 03:02 PM:

Lori at 289: my understanding was that the defense filed a conditional motion to stay the decision pending appeal, but I didn't realize that meant that the judge found for the plaintiffs. Hooray for our side. I actually expected that. I'm very interested, however, in reading the decision to discover on what grounds Walker's ruling is based, what "facts" he accepts as support, and so on.

#298 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 03:05 PM:

I can't speak for any woman other than myself, but I rather like how I look when I look in the mirror. I'm happy with my looks, and the few minor things I'd change if I could are, after all, minor. However, I am generally unfond of how I appear in most photographs. Really. Strongly.

Then I started using Photobooth on my Mac to take photos of myself, and I was surprised how flattering they all were. It was a little while before I realized that they were all mirror-images. I flipped them around the "right" way, and the photo got less attractive. I tried the same thing with a regular photo of myself, flipping it to mirror made it look better.

I also end up as profile more often in photos. I don't see my profile that often...even in the mirror it looks wrong to me. So I think that quite a bit of my dissatisfaction is due to seeing images of myself that differ from what I am used to.

Also, in the mirror, my face is animated. In a photo I might be caught and frozen in a weird expression.

All this has helped my own photography. For one, as someone who wants to not be in pictures, I try to be behind the camera as much as possible. For another, I am determined not to "publish" (for whatever value of publish) unflattering photos of my subjects. I try to get them in a good place to begin with, and any photos that aren't quite there get deleted.

#299 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 03:13 PM:

Kayjayoh @ 298... in the mirror, my face is animated. In a photo I might be caught and frozen in a weird expression

Which one is it that prevails, in the case of a photo of you looking in a mirror?

#300 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 03:28 PM:

Kayjayoh... Me, I like the photo.

#301 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 04:01 PM:

#298-299: Kayjayo: Interesting, in that from that photo, you appear to have a particularly symmetrical face.

PS: Just curious: is your handle derived from initials KJO?

#302 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 04:59 PM:

CNN is reporting that Judge Walker has overturned California's Prop. 8 on the grounds that it violates both equal protection and due process; and instructs that California may issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

#304 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 05:08 PM:

From Judge Walker's decision:

Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8. (p.136)

#305 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 05:14 PM:

For any Fluorenes contemplating joining us for a Gathering(s?) of Light in Boston over Labor Day weekend, I've posted an entry on my LJ for discussion of plans thereof.

#306 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 06:09 PM:

Lori Coulson @304 -- a very strong ruling indeed! Has the stay been granted?

#307 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 06:34 PM:

Tom Whitmore@306

According to the AP, the judge has asked both sides to submit arguments by August 6 on the question of whether the ruling should be stayed pending appeal.

#308 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 06:40 PM:

AKICIML: How do you know when your dried beans have soaked long enough?

#309 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 06:44 PM:

"I'm wearing stays again."
- Carla Göteborg to Prof Lindenbrook in Journey to the Center of the Earth

That being said, yay for the Prop 8 decision!

#310 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 07:14 PM:

#308: They've been soaking too long when little green shots pop out.

But seriously, I just soak them overnight to be sure. I've read four hours if you change the water halfway through.

#311 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 07:30 PM:

TexAnne @ 308... IIf you hear someone say "Fi Fy Fo Fum", it's time to stop soaking them.

#312 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 07:35 PM:

Stefan #310: They've been soaking too long when little green shoots pop out.

But those are the best part!

#313 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 08:11 PM:

TexAnne @ 308 -Overnight at least, if you want their enzymes to break down the parts that give you gas. (This is also important for Crohn's, is why I know.)

What I stopped in to say, tho: Trilobite cookies FTW! If cookies or chocolate were on the menu, I'd make those!

#314 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 09:28 PM:

A brief political bit: is organizing a boycott of Fox News. They claim to have already made a fair dent in Beck's sponsors and other Fox advertisers. Hat tip to Field Negro.

#315 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 09:51 PM:

Very happy about the Prop 8 decision today - I have the feeling that it will go to the supreme court, but at least it is a useful precedent.

#316 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2010, 10:24 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @315 -- the Supreme Court might well choose not to hear it. It's something that they'd probably rather send back to the states.

The judge who made the decision is openly gay. The Prop. 8 folks knew this and didn't ask him to recuse himself. Is anyone else Machiavellian enough to think they did this in order to allow a procedural overturning of the decision rather than having it decided on the merits? Did their refusal to ask for recusal on an openly-known potential conflict of interest mean they agreed to accept his fitness to judge?

#317 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 12:45 AM:

Xopher @295:

I went fifteen rounds with the thing a couple of days ago trying to comment on Scalzi's post of the previous week, because somebody needed a smack upside the head with a copy of John Stuart Mill. It choked on recognizing my OpenID and I finally gave up; don't know what I did wrong. But *if* you could get it to work, perhaps an OpenID that you already have would be sufficiently discreet for your purposes, or setting up a new one would be more acceptable?

#318 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 01:38 AM:

I'm human. Does that recuse me from making decisions affecting other humans?

#319 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 02:07 AM:

Not only that, the pro-Prop. 8 forces argued (poorly and illogically) that same-sex marriage weakens opposite-sex marriage. If they were right, wouldn't straight people have to recuse themselves for conflicts of interest as well?

#320 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 03:39 AM:

TexAnne @ 308: Overnight works fine. Longer doesn't damage them, so I'll often put them to soak in the evening (when I'm cooking and thinking about such things), ready for cooking the next evening. I think they generally say at least eight hours. Note that if you're cooking soya beans, you need to cook them thoroughly before putting them into an acidic sauce such as tomato, or they don't soften properly (discovered the hard way).

Some lentils don't need soaking (but I don't know of any beans that don't).

Related query: My green lentils say boil for 30 minutes; how long do I need to fast-boil them before putting them in a casserole to slow cook (they will be cooking in a heat-retaining box for 4-5 hours)?

#321 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 03:48 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 316 - Why would anyone think that he should recuse himself in this case?

What I found interesting is that he was recommended by Meese and appointed by Reagan, while opposed by Pelosi and Kennedy. What a difference the years have wrought.

#322 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 08:14 AM:

I will make a brief digression as to why "casting out (n-1)s" works for base n.

First, we all know that a base-n number is the sum of multiplications of a single-digit number and an (integral) power of the base (so, for example, 647 (in base 10) is the same as 6*10^2 + 4*1-^1 + 7*10^0).

Now, it's not always obvious, but n^a can be expressed as (n-1)*b+1 (where b is the base-n number 1, repeated a time). If we look at our example base 10, we can see that 10^2 = 9*11 + 1 and that this pattern holds true.

If we call the number 1....1 (repeated m times) rep(m), we can express a base-n number a (using _i to denote the i:th number, counting from the right and starting with 0) as one of:

sum a_i * n^i
sum a_i * ((n-1)*rep(i) +1)

The second of those can be re-written as:
sum a_i*(n-1)*rep(i) + a_i

And we can quite trivially see that the remainder of a divided by n-1 is the same as the sum of the individual digits (as the terms multiplied by (n-1) neatly cancel out).

Of course, this could probably use a more rigorous proof, but I suspect this is enough to illustrate the principle (for example, i am definitely glossing over moduli and how they operate in rings).

#323 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 09:36 AM:

dcb #320: split peas also don't need soaking. For your lentils, my own guess would be to say "not at all", but I haven't played with slow-cooking, so I may well be missing something.

Idea for a netquiz, inspired by typo-fixing the above: What legume are you? lentil? navy bean? fava? Uncle Duke? :-)

#324 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 09:47 AM:

Ingvar M #322: (where b is the base-n number 1, repeated a time)

<twitch> How about: "b is the sum of the powers n^0...n^(a-1), which is expressed as the sequence of 1's with length a"

#325 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 10:05 AM:

The New Jim Crow particle (pointing to Leonard Pitts's article about Michelle Alexander's book) is 404. Fortunately, the article is all over the web, e.g. at the Reading Eagle.

#326 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 10:17 AM:

Yay for the Prop 8 ruling! I still need to read it, but from what I've heard it's good and uses Scalia's dissenting opinion in Lawrence v Texas in a wonderful way.

Rymenhild @ 319:

Of course straight people wouldn't have to recuse themselves. Being straight isn't something special, you know, it's only gay people who are different. (Excuse me while I now wash my mouth out with soap.) See the recent Julian Comstock thread, and also this LJ post.

#327 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 10:44 AM:

Late to the party here, but:

Its big brother, 144,000, is significant in a number of different religious traditions, and a favorite with apocalyptic theoreticians.

-- shouldn't this have been saved for Open Thread #144000, which I confidently expect all present to participate in in due course?

(I mean, we're 0.1% of the way there already!)

#328 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 11:12 AM:

ddb@257 — I suspect that the term jack to mean ice distillation is a back-formation. Applejack has been around since the early 1800s, while this sense of jack seems to be a recent invention. Even the sense of "to lift with a jack" isn't attested until 1885.

Googling for applejack etymology, the only published hit I found was from The Gaelic Etymology of the Languages of Western Europe* by Charles MacKay, LL.D., 1877. He claims that the -jack is from Gaelic deoch, meaning "drink".
* Or, in full, The Gaelic Etymology of the Languages of Western Europe and More Especially of the English and Lowland Scotch, and of their Slang, Cant, and Colloquial Dialects.

#329 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 11:12 AM:

Not only that, the pro-Prop. 8 forces argued (poorly and illogically) that same-sex marriage weakens opposite-sex marriage. If they were right, wouldn't straight people have to recuse themselves for conflicts of interest as well?

Married straight people, certainly. Or people related to married straight people. After all, SSM is supposed to "weaken the institution of marriage". If the case was about some policy that would weaken another institution - IBM, say - you wouldn't give it to a judge whose sister worked for IBM.

#330 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 11:12 AM:

KeithS @ 326... Being straight isn't something special, you know, it's only gay people who are different.

Brian: You're ALL individuals!
The Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
Brian: You're all different!
The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!
Man in crowd: I'm not...

#331 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 11:15 AM:

I am inordinantly tickled that my link to discussions about my upcoming trip to Boston for my friend Matt's handfasting drops into the middle of a discussion of Prop 8's take-down.

Matt and Katherine very specifically put off getting married until Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, so that they would not be exploiting a freedom that was withheld from some of their friends. Then, when that finally happened, they went down and queued for marriage licences along with all of the gay couples.

Katherine made matching rainbow vests to celebrate the occassion.

I have some pretty cool friends, ya know?

#332 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 11:31 AM:

Attention all Making Light denizens attending NASFiC: Fragano and I are planning a Fluorospheric dinner expedition on Friday (August 6, tomorrow). Meet us by the party and message boards outside the dealers room entrance. We will be wearing our yellow Fluorosphere buttons that Lee was giving out at Denvention.

Lurkers welcome! The more the merrier!

#333 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 11:41 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 232... Have a grand time at NASFiC, all of you!

#334 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 11:59 AM:

me at #332: Meet Friday at 6:00 for dinner.

#335 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 12:04 PM:

Thanks for the advice, everybody! I soaked them overnight and will probably let them sit until suppertime. I don't think they needed that much--lima beans bought in the pod from the farmer who grew them can't be *that* dry.

I'm going to saute them with pumpkin leaves and onions. Omnomnom.

#336 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 12:50 PM:

Would anyone here be going to Aussiecon 4, by any chance?

#337 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 01:55 PM:

Ingvar @322: Thanks for providing a helpful explanation that doesn't hurt my head too much!

Regarding the use of "casting out (n-1)s" for checking arithmetic: Since there are n-1 possible results in base n, the likelihood of false positives (where an error yields the same "checksum" as the correct result) is higher for smaller bases. In the extreme case, all checksums are identical for binary, so I guess casting out 1s isn't very useful.

#338 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 02:10 PM:

salixulon #337: In the extreme case, all checksums are identical for binary

Not quite! A binary checksum is also called "parity" -- it's 1 if and only if there are an odd number of 1's in the number. This is actually used quite a lot, but mostly below the surface, in error-checking code and the like. A "parity error" can indicate that a character or packet needs to be re-transmitted, or that something's gone wrong with a memory chip.

Many of the older folks here (from 40's or so upward) will remember having to pick the correct parity scheme (and other settings) for a modem connection, before the standards settled down.

#339 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 02:38 PM:

AKICIML: Does anybody have carry-on luggage guidelines that they like that they can link to?

I'm presuming the following items are out: nailclippers, nail file, 1.5" swiss army knife, 1.5" multi-tool...? (I figure I'll just pop these in an envelope and mail them to my friend.)

#340 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Jacque, #339: They didn't fuss about my nail clippers and file in my belt-pack when I flew out for ConChord. But pack all your liquids and gels in a Ziploc and have it somewhere easily accessible -- they want to do a visual inspection on that, and I had to dig mine out of my toiletries kit at the bottom of my bag, which was a hassle.

#341 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 02:44 PM:

salixulon @337: And of course, casting-out checksums is closely related to Trachtenberg.

(I've never understood why Trachtenberg isn't taught as the default method for arithmetic.)

#342 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Jacque @ 339:

If it's an everyday object with a recognizably sharp edge or point, and it is supposed to be used for cutting or stabbing, it will most likely be taken and eventually sold on Ebay. Examples are knives, nail clippers, and even dull kiddy scissors. They might be letting up on nail clippers a little, but I wouldn't take a pair I cared about.

If it has a sharp edge or point, but is not recognizably used for cutting or stabbing, it may or may not be taken. Keys won't be taken. Knitting needles may or may not be. Nail files probably will be, but maybe not, depending.

Liquids must be in 3 ounce or smaller containers, and must all fit in a 1 quart (iirc) plastic bag. What matters is not the volume of substance in the container, but what the container is marked as. Toothpaste counts as liquid, and I have heard stories of almost empty tubes of toothpaste causing trouble because they were marked as 4.7 ounces. I did not try to confuse the person with issues of weight or volume when they had to ask their supervisor about my small can of shaving cream. The stores past the security checkpoint are very happy to sell you bottled drinks, but remember that if you have to change flights and that involves going through security again for whatever reason, you can't keep them.

Garrottes are, as far as I know, entirely acceptable.

#343 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 02:58 PM:

Lee #340:

And the ziplock should be quart size, and the individual liquid/gel containers should be 3.5 oz or less.

(Do *not* get me started on my contact lens solution manufacturer, who, when given a chance to Do the Right Thing when they redid their packaging, not only made the bottles impossible for people to open in a sterile manner, but made them bigger than the carry-on limit. Where they'd been ok before. OTOH, they did make them round instead of flat.)

#344 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 02:58 PM:

David Harmon @338: Right. I guess the context of my statement wasn't clear enough. I meant "all checksums produced by casting out 1s are identical for binary". As a long-time software developer (about 20 years beyond your criterion for "older folks") I'm well aware of the significance of parity values, computed as you indicate.

Jacque @341: Thanks for pointing out Trachtenberg!

#345 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 03:08 PM:


The checkpoint dance goes like this:

Take ziploc baggie of liquids out of carry on and place in tray.

Take off your shoes1 and place in the tray.

Also stick your keys, wallet, coin purse, hat, jacket, and (if you think the metal detector is set to ultra-sensitive) belt in the tray.

Stick your laptop in another tray. There are now signs up saying that you can leave the laptop in its case if it's one of the approved types of case. The sleeves are ok, not sure about which others are.

Zip up your carry on bag before putting it through.

On the other end you get to put everything back to its rightful place. Fun.

1. The joke, of course, used to be that we were all glad that the guy didn't try to put a bomb in his underwear. Now we've had someone try to set fire to his crotch and they still don't want to inspect our underwear. Yet more proof, as if we actually needed it at all, that the shoe thing was, is, and always will be entirely fucking stupid. Ahem.

#346 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 03:14 PM:

Speaking of mathematics...

How do you keep track of the costs of taste, whether it's good or bad?
You don't.
There's no accounting for taste.

#347 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 03:39 PM:

I had to throw out my packaged-but-not-in-ziploc-or-marked-with-volume ShoutWipe on the way back to Ireland (it was OK going to for some reason) and so naturally I dropped some kind of staining liquid on my bosom in flight and had to toss the shirt.


#348 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 04:22 PM:

Tom, #316: The judge who made the decision is openly gay.

Where had you that information? It hasn't been mentioned in any news source I've been reading, although a couple of them have mentioned in passing that the pro-8 folks have made that claim. I'd be interested in finding an independent source that confirms it.

#349 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 04:36 PM:

KeithS@345: And if you have sleep apnea, take your machine out of its bag and put it in a separate tray, and wait a bit at the end while they run chemical detectors over it. In the US, at least; one time someone in Montreal airport chided me for taking the machine out.

I always carry a backpack with me, so I generally put my keys, coins, and phone in an outer pocket of that. I leave my watch and belt on; so far I haven't had any problems there.

I have plans coming up that involve going through airport security four times in a two-week period. Not looking forward to that part of things. (And yeah, the shoe thing is just stupid.)

#350 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Lee@348 — It was on All Things Considered yesterday.

#351 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 04:38 PM:

All the references I've checked online for the claim that Judge Walker is openly gay go back to a San Francisco Chronicle article. Wikipedia footnotes it to this article (despite the name, I believe "" is the online prsence of the SF Chronicle).

#352 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 04:44 PM:

KeithS @342: <soupfail!>

Re: sharps. Hm. Think I'll err on the side of caution. It would annoy me deeply to lose my tools.

@342: Thanks for the dance-card. I'll print that out and put it with my boarding pass.

nerdycellist @347: Not disputing your evaluation, I'm told that a hack that can serve in those circumstances is club soda.

#353 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 05:06 PM:

If you go through one of those virtual-nakedness scanners, don't wear a drawstring skirt. I had to get an ineffectual and pointless patdown because I thought they'd be able to tell the difference between cotton and det-cord.

#354 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 05:28 PM:

Dan, #350: Thanks! Honestly, I'm amazed that the pro-h8 folks didn't make an issue of it -- but that would also explain why the ruling was so painstakingly detailed.

Also, what part of "the people can't make policy that contravenes the US Constitution" do some of these people fail to understand? Just because they managed to get a bare majority to vote for it in the first place (and that only with huge infusions of out-of-state money spent on lying scare tactics, AND a weak defense from the home team) doesn't make it either legal or right.

#355 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 05:34 PM:

Brief reminder: Tiny Gathering of Lurking Specks of Light at noon tomorrow, Aug 6th, in the lobby of the Musecon 0 hotel in Itasca, with lunch to follow at a location TBD.

I will be there, with spawn in tow (she's now significantly bigger than in that picture, being 1.5 years of age in two weeks). The kid will probably be in a carrier on my back (which is very visually distinctive, for purposes of meeting up); if she's antsier than that, I may be chasing her about and a little less obvious to find. :->

I'm hoping another Fluorospherian lurker of my acquaintance who couldn't attend the whole con may also come.

#356 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 05:38 PM:

Jacque @352 - thanks! The club soda cure for stains is one of those things I can never remember. I'll try and retain it for any flight in which I will not mind having a fizzy, damp bosom.

Since I have not changed blouse sizes in the last decade or so, I buy tops under the assumption that they will inevitably meet their end prematurely from some sort of food hitting them rather than just wearing out in the fullness of time. This understanding has saved me from much heartache.

I really wanted to bring a needle and thread on my next flight (sewing trim to a medieval gown so's I can have fancy pix in period clothing whilst in Gdansk. Yes, I'm a big dork) but the idiot regulations have quashed that. As far as Ineffectual Nudity Scanners are concerned, I'm fat so I will always get the Ineffectual Fake Pat-Down. Yay?

#357 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 05:40 PM:

323 ::: David Harmon @ 323: Well, I'm guessing that if it says "boil vigorously for fve minutes, then simmer for 15", I still need to do the "boil vigorously" part, but I was wondering if anyone had any experience.

I was once fed a lentil lasagna in which, I'm presuming, the lentils had not been cooked adequately and I spent half the night rolling around the hotel room floor (rather elderly, not particularly nice carpet) with my guts cramping like crazy - then I had to pretend to be compos mentis the next day.

I'm trying to do more hot-box cooking because it makes sense - ten minutes stove top then into the box and leave for a few hours, instead of say an hour in the oven - much less energy used.

Jacque @ 352: If you're wearing a jacket/coat of any sort, it saves time to place all your keys, coinpurse etc. into the pockets of said jacket/coat while in the queue. Then you just put that through the scanner (plus the laptop, carry-on bag, shoes etc.

Nobody made a fuss about my embroidery needles, the one journey (four flights including return) I was carrying them, but I'd hidden one alongside the metal of my ballpoint pen, just in case.

#358 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 05:48 PM:

Sounds like I'll probably wind up with three trays: backpack, laptop, jacket/purse/shoes. Ah well.

Oh yeah, that reminds me: any cautions about running things like thumb drives and digital cameras through the x-ray?

And will they twitch if I have a 4oz empty plastic Nalgene bottle in my purse, which I intend to fill with water once through security?

#359 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 05:58 PM:

nerdycellist @ 356: Needle and thread you might be able to take - nobody made any fuss about my embroidery, a few years ago (good thing, since I really needed that flight time to finish embroidering my wedding stole). Of course, I couldn't take scizzors to cut the thread with - but there are pendant-looking things with recessed tiny thread-cutting blades to deal with that. Knitting needles, I've heard, are a different matter.

#360 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 06:00 PM:

KeithS @ #345: Take off your shoes and place in the tray.

This isn't consistent, at least in Europe. You sometimes see a sign stating you shouldn't remove your shoes unless instructed to.

I invariably wear NewRock boots with lots of metal on them. They go in the tray no matter what.

and (if you think the metal detector is set to ultra-sensitive) belt in the tray.

It's been a while since I could keep my belt on though.

Oh well. I remember a newspaper notice from years ago. A certain infamous black metal musician got into a discussion with airport security because he insisted on wearing chain mail...

#361 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Jacque @ 358... any cautions about running things like thumb drives and digital cameras through the x-ray?

Nope. Never had any problem.

#362 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 06:10 PM:

salixulon #344: In that case, whoops pardon my braindump. Yeah, mod 1 isn't terribly useful.

dcb #357: Eeep! OK, warning taken, (though that might also have been the cheese, unless you noticed crunchy lentils). Were other diners similarly affected?

Airline travel: The second most abusive aspect of the TSA is that the rules are not fixed -- they change constantly and get "interpreted" differently depending on the moods of the security droids.

Random: The summer heat here (central VA) is definitely giving way to thunderstorm season. I just got chased home from the supermarket by one, and it was clear and baking when I went into the store.

#363 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 06:19 PM:

Nostalgia for the early posts? Nah, it's just me catching up, sorta.

B. Durbin @52 - It's because the subject of the photo has a mental ideal that she wants to look like. At times, she is able to look like that, in front of the mirror at the exact right angle. That's what she wants the camera to capture. Her friends only know that it's a good likeness and that she looks fine in it.

Admittedly, this is a theory, based on myself. (And now I see that Diatryma backs me up @97, in better detail.)

Steve with a book @118 - I believe that's so that 'stripped' copies of the book can't be resold. Retailers can tear the front covers off of unsold books and return those, in lieu of the entire book, to the sellers. What's left is supposed to be unsellable. It's sleazy for someone to intercept stripped books from the trash can and peddle them.

#364 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 06:20 PM:

I take my CPAP out to run it through the scanner*. In New York and Atlanta they don't wanted to wand it for radiation, but the smaller airports I've flown out of do.

The cases that you can leave your laptop in are the ones that open out flat with only the laptop on one side.

*pain in the neck (*grumble* *grumble*)

#365 ::: Alberto ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 06:22 PM:

On top of the wonderful ruling finding Prop 8 to be unconstitutional (and how!), there's more fantastic news:

The Supreme Court of Mexico has upheld marriage equality in the DF (Mexico City).

¡Viva México!

#366 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 06:44 PM:

Kip W #363:

I've meant to bring this up before: I think there's also a sort of "grooming" involved, where there's this little kabuki play of girl photo subject knowing that she's supposed to say that she hates it (liking it would be bragging), thus giving other girls the opportunity to give her virtual hugs and reassurances. I know my senior picture was one of the best I've ever had taken, and I really did not feel as though I were allowed to say so.

#367 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 06:47 PM:

David Harmon @ 362: Doubt it was the cheese - never had that sort of reaction to cheese, even after scraping the mould off before eating the rest. Guts not happy with undercooked lentils or beans is classic, I've been told. And I was the only vegetarian; the rest of the party were eating meat, not lentil lasagna.

#368 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 06:50 PM:

Jacque @358, empty drinking bottles are fine. I always clip an empty plastic bottle to the outside of my carry-on, and fill it up at the first water fountain on the other side of the security checkpoint. But yeah, the really unfair thing is that they keep changing the rules on you and not telling you, or even having different rules at different airports. I'm dreading the day when they suddenly decide I can't fill my own little bottles with my favorite shampoos and things.

#369 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 07:48 PM:

Re: Airport security

I flew in May (Cincinnati to Houston, round trip). My mom and I had no problems with bamboo dpns or my plastic crochet hook. Having socks in progress on the needles and spare yarn in the bag probably helped. Likewise, I had no problems with a cheap nail clipper in my carryon. It did not have an attached nail file, and was buried with my hairbrush, pills, and other non-liquid toiletries.

When we got to the security check in, we found out that anyone who was wearing flip-flops was allowed to leave them on when they went through the x-ray machine. Naturally, we were wearing sneakers so we'd be comfortable on the long walk to the gate.

My backpack (sans laptop and liquids) got a quick visual inspection in Cincinnati, and passed through Houston without a hitch. But my backpack is has been getting these since the mid 90's, probably because I cram so much stuff in there.

#370 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 08:02 PM:

Does a poet with six fingers on each hand have a dactical advantage? How about a teacher?

#371 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 08:05 PM:

Airport security: I forgot to mention--I've never had a problem with bamboo DPNs, bamboo circs, or tapestry needles. Except from idiot male passengers, who look at me in alarm. (But if guys like that want to be afraid of me, I'll be happy to let them.) No TSA or airline person has ever given my textile supplies a second glance.

Fun with vegetables: The lima beans are taking their own sweet time about cooking. So instead I'm braising pumpkin leaves as though they were chard. The vrilles (or whatever you call the little squiggly things in English) are yummy raw, and have a flavor that reminds me of something I can't place. Further bulletins as events warrant.

#372 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 08:39 PM:

Jacque @ 352:


Roy G. Ovrebo @ 360:

Europe, as far as I'm aware, hasn't been suckered into the sheer amount of airport inanity that we have over here in the US. They still have to enforce it for anyone travelling to the US, though.

Also seconding David Harmon's point that there aren't really regulations as much as guidelines, the TSA employees don't really get much guidance on the guidelines, and it's open to a certain amount of interpretation and abuse.

#373 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 08:51 PM:

A further bulletin: OMG GOOD.

-caramelize an onion
-put in the pumpkin-leaf stems, salt, and sriracha; cover
-chiffonade the leaves
-put leaves in with some extra water, re-cover
-add lima beans when they're done cooking, with some of their cooking water
-adjust seasoning (by which I mean: MOAR SRIRACHA)
-leave the lid off, let the water boil away
-messe it forth, or eat from the pan if you live alone and are starving

The texture is unlike all the other leafy greens I've had. It's meaty like slippery vegetable, but fuzzy like baby okra, and not at all mucilaginous. I still can't tell what it reminds me of. Further experimentation is required! Especially since I found a Zambian recipe involving "pounded groundnuts," of which I have none. I'm going to use natural peanut butter instead. Same difference, right?

#374 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 09:33 PM:

joann #366: Sounds like a Berne-style "game".

#375 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 09:54 PM:

You know, keeping my photographs on the walls of my now very empty apartment was a very good idea. Yes, there is almost no furniture left (either it was shipped to Berkeley yesterday, or it has been or will be sold), but with the photographs up, it still feels like my apartment, rather than a sterile box. Makes me much happier.

Last day at my lab tomorrow. Sad to leave the people; excited to be leaving Nashville.

#376 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 10:06 PM:

Wow. I've never lived in either one, but Nashville to Berkeley does sound like trading up.

#377 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 10:19 PM:

KeithS @ # 372: Europe, as far as I'm aware, hasn't been suckered into the sheer amount of airport inanity that we have over here in the US. They still have to enforce it for anyone travelling to the US, though.

Well, the rules seem to be enforced relatively consistently in Europe (excepting stuff like shoes), but I have problems believing the US can be much worse, unless you have to strip nekkid to get through.

#378 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 11:03 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo @ 377 -- unless you have to strip nekkid to get through

I sometimes think that the only reason they haven't gone that far is the general level of body-phobia in North America.

#379 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2010, 11:46 PM:

jnh@370 — Teachers of the very young lose the advantage when their students grow another foot.

#380 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 12:35 AM:

Amazing close-up photos of people's eyes here.

#381 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 05:23 AM:

Dan Hoey @379:If the student were to grow a whole 'nother meter, it would be worse!

#382 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 09:21 AM:

Xopher, I could not agree with you more. Very much trading up - I have been joking that I am moving across the country with a 2 year layover in Nashville (Boston - Nashville - Berkeley).

#383 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 09:23 AM:

Reminder for Fluorosphereans at NASFiC:

Making Light dinner gathering tonight (Friday). Meet us at 6:00 by the message/party* boards. Look for yellow Fluorosphere buttons. (Links to my picture and to Fragano's in my 332, above.)

*"meet and greet"

#384 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 09:27 AM:

Oh, and in line with all my nattering about moving, today is my last day at the lab. Very weird feeling - a bit melancholy, excited for what is to come and a bit nervous (both for my own future, and if I trained my successor well enough). Hm. Not that nervous for my friends here, but a bit nervous about the whole starting graduate school / teaching bit. Which is, I bet, a good way to be going in to things.

Now, to get ready for one last day in the magnet dungeons for the greater glory of the lab and the furthering of scientific understanding. I shall endeavor not to be eaten by a Grue.

#385 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 09:37 AM:

377, 378
In National Lampoon's The Nineties, A Look Back (published 1990) there was a law passed that everyone had to fly without clothes.

#386 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 10:13 AM:

Dan Hoey @ 379: I read your post and was somewhat puzzled, trying to work out where the third foot was growing from...

And on a totally different topic: is anyone else at the GBBF?

#387 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 01:58 PM:

The tendrils of grape vines (and the leaves, too... except that I've yet to bite into a "tender" raw grape leaf!) are edible... for that matter, I think most legume sprouts are, I wouldn't be surprise if maple tree sprouts are (the seeds are edible, and of course maple sap is..) .. Never know that pumpkin leaves are. I know that squash blossoms are edible, and squash seeds, and pumpkin seeds... never had cucurbit family and related leaves, though, only the blossoms, fruit, and seeds...

#388 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 02:07 PM:

What's this about Dorchester terminating mass market publication?

"...Dorchester Publishing has dropped its traditional print publishing business in favor of an e-book/print-on-demand model effective with its September titles that are “shipping” now. President John Prebich said after retail sales fell by 25% in 2009, the company knew that 2010 “would be a defining year,” but rather than show improvement, “sales have been worse.” [The returns rate is lower, but with bookstore reducing the titles they carry] "the company has had a difficult time getting its titles into stores... Dorchester [dismissed its seven field sales people but is keeping its] editorial team [and probably reducing] the number of titles released monthly ... from over 30 to 25. He said the schedule for 2011 is set and Dorchester has books in the pipeline through June 2012...."

#389 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 02:07 PM:

I enjoyed the Music Metaphors particle. By the way, the URL was , which lets stumbleupon track it, and which is blocked by our censorware at work, but the real URL is just which goes right to the article.

#390 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 02:18 PM:

TexAnne@335 - fresh lima beans are just wonderful; I wish I could find them out here, but the closest we get are fava beans. I hadn't known pumpkin leaves were edible; I'd have tried that back in Jersey when I had a yard and garden and grew squash and occasionally pumpkins.

It would have been especially interesting to know if Chinese Long Squash leaves were edible - the one summer I grew them, I made the mistake of fertilizing them and leaving for vacation for a couple of weeks, and came back to find 1/3 of the yard covered in squash vines, baseball-bat sized squash up on the porch roof and hanging from ten feet up in the pine trees, making it dangerous to walk there.... We took a picture of a friend's kid standing next to a squash that was taller than she was, looking intimidated. Friend's husband was from Nigeria, and they cook mature squash there, so we were able to give some of the things away, but mostly we ate the ones that were still small enough to be zucchini-like, and composted the rest.

#391 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 02:59 PM:

Bill #390
The local-to-me garden enthusiasts have taken up growing record long gourds (after setting several pumpkin mass records.) Maybe you could get into that? It seems to involve construction of an appropriate environment, though, very tall frames are needed.

Those pale giant pumpkins always make me think that Bunnicula's been working overtime...

#392 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 04:10 PM:

Alas, I'm now limited to what I can grow in pots on a balcony in a dry climate. I'm gradually getting more adventurous, but it's not like having real ground and summertime rains.

#393 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 04:32 PM:

KeithS @372: As in: you owe me a new keyboard.

And belatedly:

Garrottes are, as far as I know, entirely acceptable.

And you know this how? 8-)

Roy G. Ovrebo @377: I have problems believing the US can be much worse, unless you have to strip nekkid to get through.

Just yesterday I had a vision: individual, sealed coffins, handled like packing crates. Much as one would ship through on a heighliner, only smaller. Leave us pray this is not one of my precog episodes.

#394 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Oh, we're back to talking about gardening? Great!

I went on vacation for three weeks without arranging for anyone to water the garden. I expected to come back to find my nine volunteer tomatoes, Fiona's beans and pumpkins, and Alex's corn all dead. But apparently it was really bad weather while we were gone; everything was thriving*.

So I spent this morning setting up a teepee for the beans, tying the tomatoes up (first green ones are visible, and the snails are keeping their distance now that I've removed all the cress from the area), and gazing in bemusement at the pumpkins. Between the tomatoes and the pumpkins, the weeds in that bed are outcompeted and have given up.

Maybe this weekend I'll get the right attachments to put our hose reel onto the outside tap, attach the power washer, and clean our paving stones. Might even dump out and power-wash the water butt, which is getting a bit rank (moss washes down from the bike shed roof, then sits in the water and rots. It's probably wonderful for the plants I water from there -- liquid compost! -- but it smells like pretty logic flowers.)

Then again, maybe not. I've already made two skirts, and I would like to relax before my second week of work†.

* Even the blackberry by the water butt, which has responded to my very aggressive prune earlier this year by producing masses of still-green berries. Hopefully this year they'll be sweet, rather than the half-dozen seedy and flavorless things we got last year.
† Which, by the way, will probably be fun. The first week was, though I currently have a quirk in my user profile that's baffling three helpdesks. I gather that's a record‡.
‡ They hadn't encountered the Abiveld before. They're just lucky I didn't lock my whole team in a room like I did my first week at RBS.

#395 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 05:38 PM:

Well we're still at least 3 weeks ahead of where we should be at this time of year. In one perennial bed I passed on my way to work the Japanese Anemones (Fall blooming) were in bud, and some of the buds are showing color.

At home, our daylilies are done, the marigolds which had been looking whimpy are suddenly going gangbuster, and the coneflowers* are chest-high!

Our fragrant flowering tobacco is hip high (again these plants rarely exceed 2 feet in height) and wonderful to smell at dusk.

Plus we have a pair of self-sown Datura who are taking over the front stoop. They are covered in buds with near a dozen opening each evening. Another night-bloomer, the frangrance is a combo of moonflower and spice.

The tomatoes are bearing well, and the Fall Gold Raspberry is loaded with fruit. My lotuses have been prolific this year as well.

All in all, a good if strange growing season so far.

*Much to the delight of the local goldfinches who conduct dogfights over the seedheads. Note: Normal coneflowers (or at least all the rest I've seen in my neighborhood) are about knee-high at maturity.

#396 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 06:06 PM:

Keith @345:

Take off your shoes and place in the tray

This varies from airport to airport -- not the shoe-removal, which is consistent throughout the US, but the "in the tray" part. The last two times I've flown out of LAX (most recently yesterday) I have been instructed firmly that shoes cannot go in the tray but must go directly on the belt. I've not been someplace recently with a "shoes must be in a tray, not directly on the belt" requirement but it would not surprise me. The return flights, both times, have not cared.

#397 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 06:09 PM:

Abi #394: They're just lucky I didn't lock my whole team in a room like I did my first week at RBS.

That really rates a [*]. (That's bolded, if you can't tell.)

#398 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 06:11 PM:


Due to schedule constraints, I will not only have to go through airport security tonight, but eat in the airport.

I plan on de-shoe-ing, un-belt-ing, de-change-ing, de-watch-ing and etcetera while eating, so I can roll from food court to security line dequipped for the ordeal.

#399 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 06:18 PM:

Stefan #398:

Austin's airport, built a couple of years before we (who's this "we"?) decided all this, er, stuff was necessary, is cleverly designed so that *all* the food is inside the security zone. This has unfortunate ramifications for people meeting flights that have been delayed, but would certainly improve your day today.

#400 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 06:24 PM:

abi @394:
I went on vacation for three weeks without arranging for anyone to water the garden. I expected to come back to find my nine volunteer tomatoes, Fiona's beans and pumpkins, and Alex's corn all dead. But apparently it was really bad weather while we were gone; everything was thriving.
Since they were without and outwith het Abiveld for the duration, this is a surprise?
PLUS, you live in the Netherlands. If a neighbor saw them going dry during your absence, I'm sure they would have been watered (with the possible accompaniment of mild tongue clucking).

#401 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 06:28 PM:

lorax@396 I've not been someplace recently with a "shoes must be in a tray, not directly on the belt" requirement but it would not surprise me.

Vancouver, yesterday.

#402 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Since All Knowledge etc:

Does the Fluorospherical hivemind have suggestions on the useful redeployment of conference bags? I acquire a few of these every year, and I can't productively use more than one or two.

The most obvious defect of these bags is that they are defaced with the names of a statistical conference and its sponsors, rather than, say, a cyclist and his sponsors.

#403 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 07:21 PM:

Thomas, do you know any knitters or other textile workers? We never have enough project bags.

#404 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 07:26 PM:

abi @ 394: They hadn't encountered the Abiveld before. They're just lucky I didn't lock my whole team in a room like I did my first week at RBS.

Is it story time?

lorax @ 396: I've not been someplace recently with a "shoes must be in a tray, not directly on the belt" requirement but it would not surprise me.

Huh. All the airports I've been in in the last couple years have had shoes going in the tray as a requirement. At least, all the security people at all the airports I've been in in the last couple years have had that as a requirement. I haven't been in any airport where they wanted shoes loose on the belt. I also actively avoid LAX for travelling.

#405 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 07:50 PM:

Abi @ 394... How the heck can you tell that a snail is gazing in bemusement at the pumpkins - or gazing at all?

#406 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 07:55 PM:

Abi @ 394... They're just lucky I didn't lock my whole team in a room

Hmmm. Did you ever work at Delos?

#407 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 08:36 PM:

reposting this from the Cablevision thread, where I accidentally put it:

I just got back from a very nice dinner with Fragano and his wife and Michael I. (Joy Freeman came to the meeting-place and chatted for a while before we left, but she had another commitment that precluded joining us for dinner.)

We talked books and censuses and Latin America and race relations and multilingual puns, among other topics. A good time was had by all.

#408 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 09:36 PM:

My gardener neighbor just handed me two cucumbers, with promise of more to come. (You probably know that story!) I was startled to feel little spikes on the surface, but those were breaking off even as I handled them. He said they were "burpless" -- I hadn't realized that was a hazard of cucumbers....

I did mention I knew someone who'd been cooking pumpkin leaves, and he was interested in the idea.

#409 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 09:49 PM:

PS: I just googled up this PDF of an experiment where someone actually compared the "burpiness" (their word) of several varieties of cucumbers. It seems that various people can be susceptible or resistant to burping after eating cucumbers.

#410 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2010, 10:53 PM:

Trader Joe's sells these wonderful things called "Persian cucumbers." They're small, sweet, and delicious. I've been making salads with them all summer. Sooo good!

#411 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 01:29 AM:

Deficit hawks from seventeen states celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by cutting funding for the disabled.

#412 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 03:43 AM:

Hey, just thought I'd mention what I've been doing on LibriVox: I've been working on a dramatic reading of Alice in Wonderland. This differs from the usual sort of reading in that instead of just having one person doing a whole chapter, you have one person taking the role of a character and voicing that character wherever it appears, with another person doing all the narration and speech tags and so on. I managed to score the role of Narrator. I just uploaded my last two chapters today -- of course, we still have to get 6 chapters worth of Alice, and various other more minor roles, and have the coordinator edit it together. But I expect it's going to be nifty when it's done.

I'm afraid I don't remember who it was here mentioned, but thank you.

#413 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 05:02 AM:

Thomas, #402, around here, the food pantries use them to make it easy to send food home with people.

#414 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 05:11 AM:

Ok, by popular demand, the room-locking story.

When I joined the Royal Bank of Scotland, I was attached to a team that, for lack of space elsewhere, was sitting in a (nearly) disused server room. Like all such spaces in that building, it required an additional level of swipe* pass access to open the door from the outside. There was a button to press on the inside that would release it, of course.

We kept the door propped open for the benefit of visitors. But it had to be closed whenever it was empty, so last one out shut the door, first one in reopened it. We all had to get that extra smidgen of access on or passes in case we were the first one in in the morning or back from lunch in the afternoon.

So I trotted down to Security† and got that extra access added on. We closed the door so that I could check it.

Swipe. Nothing.
Swipe. Nothing.
Sswwiiipe. Nothing.

The guys inside pressed the button. Nothing.

Robert slipped his pass under the door to me.
Swipe. Nothing.
Swipe. Nothing.
Sswwiiipe. Nothing.

They called one of the Security guys, with super pass access.
Swipe. Nothing.
Swipe. Nothing.
Sswwiiipe. Nothing.

Turns out the electronics of the lock developed some kind of a fault during the morning, and whenever it was next closed it was just gonna be a problem. The final solution involved shutting down and restoring power to all the doors in the area. To the sound of fire doors closing on all the stairwells after their magnets lost power, my colleagues were released.

This was before I was a tester. Or, perhaps, before I knew it, and started getting paid for it.

* This was before proximity passes, back when the canteen served fresh dinosaur, yadda yadda
† I liked the RBS security guys. I used to wink at the security cameras as I'd enter the building, just because. And after a while, one or two of the security staff would wink at me when they saw me. So they were watching.

#415 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 06:10 AM:

Ooops, I started typiing this yesterday but I seem to have completely forgotten about the "post" bit.

David Harmon @ #324:

Yeah, that'd probably be better. I was looking for something short, descriptive and intuitively understandable for the lay-person (as it were).

salixulon @ #337:

Thank you.

abi @ #414:

I can't decide if that's a "hahaha" or a "ooouuuff!".

#416 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 07:02 AM:

Abi @ 414... You should write locked-room mysteries.

#417 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 07:26 AM:

Serge @ 416... Mind you, one problem with Abi mysteries is that they all have the same solution, just like Cardassian mysteries. In the latter case, the solution is that everyone is guilty. Here it always is Abidonit.

#419 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 09:16 AM:

Mary Aileen #407: Gail and I both had a good time meeting everyone. Light was indeed made.

#420 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 09:51 AM:

Thomas @402, your local library might want them to have on hand for their book sale. I know our library employees get a call about a week before our book sale to bring in all their spare grocery bags.

#421 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 10:14 AM:

Abi #414 : classic story!

Perhaps I’m the only old fogey* who read the line “The guys inside pressed the button. Nothing.” and thought “bad, bad, BAD design.”  Where there’s no way out of a room except through a locked door, surely the lock should fail safe – it should always be openable from the inside?
* It’s so long since I was in the US that I can’t remember whether “fogey” is in USian slang or only British.  If the latter, can someone give an equivalent USian word?

#422 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 10:28 AM:

John Stanning @ 421... The design makes me think of the typical Michael Crichton plot setup.

#423 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 10:31 AM:

John, 'fogey' is used in the US, though not as frequently as a generation ago.

#424 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 10:40 AM:

John Stanning @ 421 -- That was my reaction as well. I don't know if I count as an old fogey yet, though for the last few months I've certainly felt like one, too much of the time.

#425 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 11:36 AM:

John Stanning #421: Oh, totally... to the point where I wouldn't even say it was Abi who locked them in. Besides the matter of locks failing closed¹, where was the manual override?

¹ And I'm sure the local fire marshal would have something to say about that!

#426 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 12:07 PM:

Xopher (423): Only us old fogeys use 'fogey' in the US?

(The more I see that word, the wronger it looks.)

#427 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 12:14 PM:

Mary Aileen #426:

Maybe it's the plural that's giving you trouble? Would you feel any better if it was "fogies"?

#428 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 12:37 PM:

joann, you’re right, the OED says this meaning of ‘fogey’ is originally from Scots dialect, and the Scots examples (1790 and 1821) spell it ‘fogie’, plural ‘fogies’.

Second of four meanings:

A disrespectful appellation for a man advanced in life; esp. one with antiquated notions, an old-fashioned fellow, one ‘behind the times’. Usually preceded by old. See also Young Fogey.
Describes me exactly ...
Since ‘fogey’ or ‘fogie’ is specifically for a man advanced in life, is there a word for a similar woman, or are there none such?

#429 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 12:47 PM:

John, 428: What's the etymology?

For women who are fogies, I've heard "fogette" a few times. But "biddy" is more traditional.

#430 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 12:47 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 426...

If you're an old fogey, I dare not think what I am.

#431 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 01:16 PM:

The OED’s etymology is unconvincing:

Possibly a subst. use of FOGGY a. in sense 3, fat, bloated, or in sense 2, moss-grown. Cf. FOGGIE and FOGRAM.
FOGGIE is short for foggie-bee, so called “either because the insect inhabits mossy places, or because it is clothed with a moss-like covering.“

FOGRAM is closer:
A. adj. Antiquated, old-fashioned, out of date.
B. n.
1. An antiquated or old-fashioned person, a fogy.  So fogramite, a fogy; fogramity, an antiquated thing; also, a fogy.
(but also)
2. Naut. slang. (1867):  Fogram, wine, beer or spirits of indifferent quality; in fact, any kind of liquor.

#432 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 02:55 PM:

The walk-in cooler at my old lab had a bright and cheerful sign on the door: YOU ARE NOT LOCKED IN! It did get tense once or twice when someone flicked the light off from the outside, but knowing that the door opens helps a lot.

#433 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 02:59 PM:

Apropos of nothing, I just got a spam purporting to be from one "Therese Nielsen", which starts out as:

Hey bud!! Do you want an improved future, go up in money earning power, and the praise of all?

(And it goes on to offer me degrees from prestigious universities based on my present knowledge and professional experience.) This seems like a very disturbing sort of alternate reality I've slipped into. Or possibly this is just Teresa's evil doppelganger? I find this remarkably disconcerting.

#434 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 03:00 PM:

Open threadiness:

There has been an ongoing attempt, often surprisingly successful, by the military to control coverage of our wars. This McClatchy piece describes the games being played by the military authorities at Guantanamo, pretty clearly to make it as hard and unpleasant as possible to report on the military commission trials being carried out there[1].

In this post, Glenn Greenwald talks about the mechanisms used to keep embedded reporters in line. It's striking how effective this has been at controlling the coverage of our wars.

Obviously, this means those who do an end-run around that control of information need to be silenced. Following a link from this article gets you to this op-ed by Marc Thiesen[2], proposing that we kidnap Assange and use our "defensive" cyber warfare apparatus to shut down Wikileaks[3].

This tracks with the old Bush administration program of setting up Pentagon shills as military advisors for the big media companies. This seems like all part of the same strategy. Of course, that's all over now.

The result of all this is that our media-provided picture of our wars (and probably all sorts of domestic stuff, too) is heavily controlled, filtered, and influenced. Well-connected people are openly threatening violence against those who bypass that control in too overt a way. (Rather like those "patriotic hackers" who shut down the Al Jazeera English language site during the beginning of the Iraq war, or like the couple of times Al Jazeera offices have been "accidentally" bombed since then.) What you think you know about these wars is very likely reality mixed in large measure with bullshit. (I can see a bunch of places where the official story is bullshit, but how many others am I missing?)

Our political debates are shaped by this controlled and filtered coverage. Our policies are twisted by them, because decisionmakers are influenced by the same media, and are also subject to public pressure from those who have few or no other sources of information. And so, we're blinding ourselves. Our decisions are almost guaranteed to be bad ones, based as they are heavily on deception and propaganda and bullshit.

[1] If these look suspiciously like the sort of show-trials old Communist regimes used to engage in, held at a gulag in a remote location, that's just a sign that you are insufficiently patriotic.

[2] Thiesen is best known for his enthusiastic defense of war crimes committed by American and allied personnel. It's good to see that along with advocating for torture and murder, he's also a fan of kidnapping. Perhaps when he has outlived his usefulness to the powerful in the US, he could go to work as Kim Jong Il's press secretary?

[3] Why, this might almost make you suspect that the PR blitz about cyberwarfare over the last few months is less about protecting us from jihadi hackers causing our nuclear plants to melt down, and more about ensuring the government can silence or cut off US access to unwanted sources of information.

#435 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 03:01 PM:

Arggh. I wrote a longish open thread post full of URLs, but now the gnomes have it for review.

#436 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Hey, kids,

I need to borrow your brains.

I'm thinking about doing a podcast series, interviewing creators and experts about their creative process. I need a clever name for it. I am seriously fried at the moment (Big Life Drama, manic side of bipolar cycle, not enough sleep), and the best I can come up with at the moment is "Process Weenie."

#437 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Jacque, maybe something with the word "wonk" in it?

#438 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Tossing out ideas for Jacque in the spirit of brainstorming

Process Podcast
Way of the Wonk
Dream, Think, Do
What Were They Thinking
How do they do that
Turning ideas into reality

#439 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 05:15 PM:

Jacque @ 435: Xiphoid Process?

#440 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 06:06 PM:

Ingvar M. @ 415: I have to say that this layman was confused by your description and understood David Harmon's instantly.

#441 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 06:20 PM:

Slacktivist talks about Omelas and Uvebfuvzn. Ripped me up when I realized what he was getting at, is why the rot13.

#442 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 06:36 PM:

Bruce Cohen @440: I think you mean this link.

The one that you linked to is also well worth reading though, including the comment thread.

#443 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Brooks Moses @ 441:

Right, I must have gotten the links switched somehow. Both posts are well worth studying; there's much under the surface in both of them.

#444 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 08:09 PM:

Brooks Moses @ 441:

Right, I must have gotten the links switched somehow. Both posts are well worth studying; there's much under the surface in both of them.

#445 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 09:34 PM:

The post of my enemy has been disemvowelled
And I rejoice.
It has undergone lossy compression
and is read no more.
What avail him now his puns and sonnets,
The praise expended upon his delicious recipes,
His translations from the Greek?
His post now consorts with the bad boys
The trolls, spammers, robots and kooks,
The Argics of the world of Moveable Type,
The vanity publishers and Nigerian widows,
The glibertarians.

#446 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 09:35 PM:

Sn nw pst f mn cld b dsmvwlld ls
Thgh nt t th mnmntl xtnt
n whch th chstsmnt f dsmvwllng hs bn mtd t
T th psts f my nmy,
Snce n th cs f my wn pst t wll b d
T msclcltd phrs, trmnlgcl rrr
Nthng t d wth mrt.
Bt jst sppsng tht sch n vnt shld hld
Sm slght lmnt f shm, t wll b ffst
By th mmry f ths swt mmnt.
Tmpr th chclt nd fll th tb wth br
Th pst f my nmy hs bn dsmvwlld
nd m gld.

#447 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 10:24 PM:

Thomas #444-445: Cute....

#448 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Sauna endurance contests are a hideously bad idea.

#449 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2010, 11:45 PM:

This probably isn't going to mean anything to most people here, but Robert Aitken Roshi, an influential American Zen teacher died on Thursday of pneumonia and old age. I can't recap his whole life, which had some amazing turns, so I'll just say that he helped me find my way to Zen practice 30 years ago and gave me the Mu koan, which has slowly shaped me over many years.

As far as I could observe, Aitken Roshi had absolutely no fear of death, only an engaged curiosity about what it would be like. In a Dharma talk he gave once on death, he quoted Zen master Bassui's letter to a dying disciple: "This death which is no death is like a snowflake dissolving in pure air." I can't find anything more to say than that.

#450 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 12:45 AM:

#444-445 Thms

#451 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 02:03 AM:

Thomas: Very cute! And a rebuttal to those who say that disemvowelment makes gibberish of a post, as I was able to reconstruct every word. (Admittedly a couple of them, such as "merit" and "temper" took me a little time.)

#452 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 03:01 AM:

David Harmon & cucumbers:

My parents drove me and my brother up to college for what was going to be my frosh year. They decided to make a long trip and go camping in Yellowstone as a loop before going home. So they took the dog as well. We drove straight, about an eighteen-hour trip. This is not that story.

The relevant part is that the cucumber vines went nuts just before this trip, so my parents stripped the plants and took them with us. I was left at my dorm with a grocery bag full of cucumbers. So in a typical fashion, I went down the hall that night, knocking on doors and saying to anyone who answered, "Hi, my name is Bernadette. Would you like a cucumber?"

I file that sort of introduction under the category of "fair warning."

#453 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 07:32 AM:

B. Durbin #451: "Watch out for her, she's got cucubits!" :-) Certainly, that'll tell you who else has "been there"....

#454 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 07:43 AM:

I forget who it was who warned that leaving your car door unlocked this time of year poses a risk of returning to find your car stuffed with zucchini.

#455 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 08:01 AM:

Sane new paste if many clad by disemvowelled loose
Thigh ant it the manmantle extent
no which the chastisment f disemvowelling hose bin mated at
To the pests if may enemy,
Seance on the ucase if my wen pest at well be do
To misclaculted opheris, tramunilogicle arorur
Nothing it ode with mart.
Bat jest sipping that seach on vent shield held
Sam sleight lament if sham, to well be uffasate
By the memory if thus swot moment.
Tamper the chiclet end fell the tb with br
Th pst f my nmy hs bun dsmvwlld
end m geld.

#456 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 11:33 AM:

The New Jim Crow particle may be 404 (as mentioned upstream), but it is still in Google's cache, and the original is on Miami Herald's website.

#457 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 12:19 PM:

Bruce, Brook, thanks for both those links.

#458 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 12:58 PM:

C. Wingate #454: Excuse me a moment while I retrieve my eyeballs from the floor!

#459 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 06:59 PM:

joann @366 - I'm just back from a weekend trip out, but yes, I would imagine that this is true as well. I remember that I really hated my sophomore picture. When I was given a yearbook to sign, the first thing I did was draw a black rectangle in front of the eyes of the picture. For my senior year, I simply didn't show up for a studio-type portrait at all, and instead would sign one of the other photos of me in the book. There were two or three (maybe four) from plays I was in, one with the newspaper staff, and one with the speech team. I was pretty happy with that.

Looking back on it, my parents probably paid the fee for my photo. There was some collection of mandatory fees for things I would never do that year, amounting to about $35 that we couldn't afford. They sent the money in with me the first day. Other parents objected and were told they didn't have to pay, but of course we weren't allowed a refund.

Erik Nelson @385 - It's an understandable mistake, but that book wasn't from National Lampoon, it just had some of the same contributors. It seems like I'm recounting the "Wøødi" strip from that about once a year.

Jacque @436 - "From here to AHA"?
"The old drawing board"?
"Watching the wheels turn"?

Inspired by Thomas @444-5 et al (recent enough I'm not going to put another link in this post and risk purgatory):

This Is Just to Say

I have removed
the vowels
that were in
your last post

and which
you probably
to be read

No regrets
you were offensive
so rude
and so smug

David harmon @453: I'm coo-coo for cucubits! Coo-coo for cucubits!

#460 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 09:48 PM:

Earl Cooley III @437: maybe something with the word "wonk" in it?

Yeah, I was pondering "Process Wonk."

OtterB @438: Jesus, do you shit rainbows, too? Wow. Those are great.

Tim Walters @439: Xiphoid Process?

You made me laugh out loud and scare the guinea pigs. Of course, I initially misread it as "Xophoid Process," which would be an altogether different kettle of greeps.

Presuming kind permission on your parts, I have copied these over to my LJ post. (And the results of this query are amply demonstrating the challenge outlined in this post....)

Okay, now to go catch up on the rest of the thread. (Where the hell was I, anyway...?)

#461 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 10:12 PM:

OtterB @438: Was thinking about something else when your "Turning ideas into reality" prompted me to think, "Hm, I think we'll be discussion less the aspect of 'turning into reality,' and more just wallowing around in the process of ideas themselves." Sort of mental masturbation, you know.

And then this popped into my head:

"Jacquing Off"

Erm. Don't think so....


#462 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 10:12 PM:

A recent computer science paper looked at weakness in the implementation of 'private browsing' modes in current browsers. They also did a survey of the frequency of use by buying ads on a range of sites that contained code to detect the 'private browsing' modes.

They note: We found that private browsing was more popular at adult web sites than at gift sites and news sites and say browser vendors may be mischaracterizing the primary use of the feature when they describe it as a tool for buying surprise gifts.

Who would have guessed?

#463 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 10:17 PM:

Kip W #459: Of course, if you have enough cucubits, you could try to make a quaquantum comcomputer....

#464 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 10:35 PM:

abi @394: (moss washes down from the bike shed roof, then sits in the water and rots. It's probably wonderful for the plants I water from there -- liquid compost! -- but it smells like pretty logic flowers.)

BAD, abi! You made me scare the guinea pigs again.

#465 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 10:48 PM:

Do logic flowers have square roots?

#466 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 11:12 PM:

joan @397: Thank you.

Hm. "Plucking pumpkin leaves." Hm. There's a nice start for a tongue-twister....

#467 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 11:12 PM:

SERGE !!!!!

#468 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 11:14 PM:

Gargh. That was supposed to be a </b> after "leaves."




#469 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 11:17 PM:

Thomas @ 462:

I guess The Register called it, then. They've been calling it porn mode from the beginning.

#470 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 11:19 PM:

Jacque @ 468:

Wilt you, really?

#471 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2010, 11:36 PM:

Let's all tell her to stay, men. She's a pistil, that one.

#472 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 01:26 AM:

Anther we were, waiting for her return....

#473 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 07:14 AM:

Just out of curiosity:

(1) Why does Making Light’s front page sometimes cause Windows Media Player to try to play something from (hosted in Russia at  I’ve seen it do this on two PCs this morning, but only the first time on each PC, so maybe it only does it once for each IP address?

(2) What does the following piece of Javascript do, at the top of ML’s front page?

[code redacted in case AV scanners really are that dim — AS]

#474 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 08:32 AM:

Will nothing stem this tide of verbiage? Weed best get back to our roots to have any oak of surviving.

#475 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 08:44 AM:

Yew know thistle come to no good.

#476 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 09:12 AM:

Jacque @461

And then this popped into my head: "Jacquing Off" Erm. Don't think so....

Grin. Yeah, that's the danger of free association. At least in a work environment, one has to keep some filters running.

I'll have to pop over to your LJ and see what else you're getting.

#477 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 09:44 AM:

In a post here earlier today – held for the ivory tower, presumably because I quoted a weird piece of Javascript that occurs at the top of each ML page – I mentioned that on two PCs that I used today, going to ML’s front page caused Windows Media Player to try to play something from (hosted in Russia).  On this third PC (using IE7, the first two had IE8) refreshing a ML page caused “Windows Help and Support” to pop up, saying it couldn’t find the page I asked for.  That behaviour has stopped after I blocked  WTF?

#478 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 09:47 AM:

"We are doomed!"

A normal day in the world of Agatha Heterodyne.

#479 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 10:13 AM:

John Stanning, my computer threw up an AVG Threat Blocked window for that URL. I don't know what it is, though.

#480 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 10:26 AM:

Patricia Neal has passed away.

#481 ::: CaoPaux ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 10:51 AM:

@476 & 478: I got a version of the Window Media Player message, too (and immediately stomped on the URL with AdBlock, which labeled it as a "frame" named, FWIW).

#482 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:02 AM:

David Harmon@408: I first learned that people associated cucumbers with burps from the name of a particular variety -- "Burpee's burpless". Those were a European-style cucumber, skinnier and smaller seeds, and didn't need to be peeled before use. Still my favorites for eating and use in salads.

#483 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:04 AM:

The same site was triggering a 'you need to install more plugins to run this page' warning in my Firefox. Until I blocked it. :->

#484 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:09 AM:

That Media Player message is becoming really annoying.

#485 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:14 AM:

I may be a gum-chewing IT dimwit maintaining ancient code, but by God, I'm still needed.

#486 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:22 AM:

John Stanning@ 476: I got a warning from AVG as well, when refreshing the front page of ML.* I closed down the tab running Making Light, re-opened in a new tab, and it's not making any more fuss.

* Danger: AVG Active Surf-Shield has detected active threats on this page and has blocked access for your protection.
The page you are trying to access has been identified as a known exploit, phishing, or social engineering web site and therefore has been blocked for your safety. Without protection, such as that in the AVG Security Toolbar and AVG, your computer is at risk of being compromised, corrupted or having your identity stolen. Please follow one of the suggestions below to continue.

Name: JavaScript Obfuscation (type 1556)

Process name: C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer \ iexplore.exe
Process ID: 29000

#488 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:26 AM:

Steve C.@484: It's amusing, even pleasing in a perverse way, to see how the old IBM architectures are hanging on.

I switched from IBM to DEC mini-computers in 1970, and haven't looked back. Well, I did take a few DOS/VSE courses in 1979 when an employer was looking at switching to IBM (they did, after I left, and it was a disaster, and they eventually switched to yet a different mini-computer vendor), but I couldn't stand it, it was so primitive. And so I've never worked on a System/360 or any of its derivatives.

Amusingly, that article mentions CS students being interested in Linux, but doesn't mention that Linux runs on IBM mainframes. I'm sure it's not what the customers facing this support crunch are running, so it's not directly relevant to the article, but still amusing.

#489 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:28 AM:

Yup, looks like ML has been hacked. Fortunately, Microsoft has got a security clue over the last several years and media player asked before running questionable content. The site is now added to the restricted sites list in IE.

When I have time later, I may figure out how that snipped of script works just for the mental exercise.

#490 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:33 AM:

Weird. It's okay when I open ML, but the warning comes up when I refresh. Any ideas why?

#491 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:47 AM:

Stave #484 : hey, maybe I can go back to being a programmer?  As far as I can make out, code that I wrote 40 years ago would still work on IBM’s latest mainframe!  Can any other vendor match that?

Even back then, IBM’s hardware and OS had security built in that Intel and Microsoft took years to only partly achieve.  For example, it was practically impossible for an application program to modify the operating system.

#492 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 11:51 AM:

John @ 490 -

I'm thinking that if I freeze myself, I'll be thawed out in the year 9999 to work on the Y10K problem. :-)

#493 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 12:04 PM:

Windows Media Player let me cancel out of the questionable file others have posted on, then for some reason Adobe Reader stopped working, then Firefox crashed.

I let Firefox send an error report, restarted, and everything came back OK. I also blocked the whole domain in AdBlock. My antivirus is up to date, so I hope nothing's been damaged.

#494 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 12:04 PM:

Has someone ever written a steampunk story about what happens when all the Babbage engines reach the first minute of January 1, 1900? If I had any talent, I'd write it, along with "A Brush with Atomic Death in Gay Paris", set in 1893, and in which Toulouse-Lautrec, Marie Curie and Albert ("The Kid") Einstein prevent atomic armageddon.

#495 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 12:05 PM:

Re: rogue scripts at ML:

I never noticed anything, but looking in my Noscript menu, I find a new pair of entries which would let me "[Temporarily] Allow". I don't think I will.... (Noscript under Firefox FTW!)

#496 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 12:10 PM:

Fluorospherian awesomeness: there is a new web-based TV show (shown, so far as I can determine, exclusively on Hulu) called The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. It is awesome for two reasons.

First: Each sub-10min episode is like a tiny art film, with really interesting storytelling through the cinematography, etc.

Second: It's a superhero story, superficially not unlike Heroes in its setup, only all special-effects using-one's-superpower sequences are replaced with intensely danced choreography. It's remarkable, and beautifully symbolic, and I found it powerful as heck. As well as pretty.

Their homepage; a list of episodes available through Hulu. The story starts in the first one, "The Tale of Trevor Drift", but if you want to glimpse the pretty and the premise, I think "Robot Lovestory" (episode 01.03) is a better tempting-tiny-portion.

Apparently three 'seasons' have been filmed and are in the can; as of this comment the first eight episodes have been 'aired' through Hulu, and new eps go up every Wednesday.

#497 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 12:17 PM:

PS: WHOIS indicates that "" was created July 29, 2010, with the registrar "Moniker Online Services" ( The only contact listed is one "Jolene Kave" (, with a Detroit address and phone #.

#498 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 12:20 PM:

Elliott: Woo-hoo! Sounds like the story I've been waiting for all my life without knowing it. Dancing superheroes!

#499 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 12:30 PM:

abi @414:

"Do not meddle in the affairs of the Abiveld,
for your are entertaining, and easy to catch."

#500 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 12:48 PM:

TexAnne @ 497... What? You never saw that late-1970s issue of Fantastic Four that began with Ben Grimm dancing disco? Yes, he rocked.

(Of course you probably weren't even born.)

#501 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 12:55 PM:

I also got the threat warning from AVG and NoScript concurred. NoScript also showed a "chrome:" URL which is a known vector for certain drive-by download attacks, particularly on IE.

On looking at the source for the page, there is indeed some very suspicious looking JavaScript in the header of this page. At a glance, looks like it is decrypting a binary string into a Javascript function and then executing it.

Odds are pretty good that some visitors to this page have had their computer infected with serious nasties.

Patrick, Teresa, Abi: I suggest you replace the page templates with freshly uploaded clean versions, and contact your hosting company to see if they are aware of any problems with sites being hacked.

#502 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 01:08 PM:

Terry Karney @155

There's something to be said for bespoke clothing and tailoring.

While I don't have your problem, I do have issues buying dresses, suits, and similar items because I'm two different sizes*. Below the waist I'm a size bigger because I carry most of my excess weight around my hips. At the same time, I have broader shoulders (and longer arms) than the average woman. The result is a non-symmetrical hour glass shape. Nobody designs for that.

While I know how to sew, I have just as hard a time finding patterns that work because all designers seem to follow a symmetrical median model. Rather than altering existing patterns, I've been researching how to draft my own. For fashion, that's fine. For safety gear, that's not.

I'm also left wondering how much the technical and economic necessities of designing inexpensive ready-to-wear clothing has driven the need to create an ideal "live action mannequin." IIRC, the 1950s started in big with the inexpensive off-the-rack fashions and size 14 models. As production costs have increased, the size of the model has decreased.

* Plus one foot is half a size smaller than the other. Finding comfortable shoes that will work for both feet is a hassle when I'm shopping for anything but sneakers.

#503 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 01:56 PM:

Clifton Royston #501: Patrick, Teresa, Abi: I suggest you replace the page templates with freshly uploaded clean versions, and contact your hosting company to see if they are aware of any problems with sites being hacked.

Someone with access to the mods' phone contact info should let them know.

#504 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 01:59 PM:

We seem to be unable to remove the code from the front page. Patrick has raised a ticket with Hosting Matters.

We're NOT HAPPY, and very sorry that this has occurred. Makes me wish the Disemvoweller were more portable so's I could take it to Russia.

#505 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:08 PM:

In Russia, the disemvoweller removes YOUR vowels.

Actually, that should be disemWoweller.

#506 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:10 PM:

I've been able to block the unwanted application (SpyBot and using Chrome, also blocked it in IE ).

#507 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:12 PM:

<Walter Koenig voice>I remember the Disemwoweler. It was inwented in Russia by Peter the Great to harwest wowels from the Siberian steppe.</Walter Koenig voice>

#508 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:21 PM:

albatross @434: Jesus. Scary shit. Are "We" defending adequately against this threat? (I mean, above just being aware?)

Bruce Cohen @441: Found the following email from a coworker in my inbox this morning:

Date: Fri 8/6/2010 11:02 AM

Subject: Famous Last Words...

"What the #@&% was THAT?!!

-- Mayor of Hiroshima, Aug 6., 1945

My response: "Not funny, Tom."

#509 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:22 PM:

abi: nit: <Ensign Chekov voice>

#510 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:44 PM:

The offending lines of code are gone, and our provider is monitoring.

#511 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:46 PM:

Kill them all, and show no mercy.

#512 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:50 PM:

The evil JS that's been incorporated into this page is an example of fairly simple obfuscation. It takes a long string of numbers, breaks it into groups of three digits, xors them by pairs, converts the result of that from character codes to characters, and writes that into the page. The end result is an iframe to a pit of despair that I do not wish to visit and check out further.

Suggested workarounds include adding the domain to your restricted sites list in IE, using noscript in Firefox, adding the domain to the blocked content list in Opera, whatever it is that you do in Chrome or Safari, and finding the person responsible and introducing him to a herd of mad yaks.

#513 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:50 PM:

David Harmon @497, what was that about a phone number in Detroit?

#514 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:51 PM:

And I see that the higher powers have already come by with a proper fix.

#515 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 513:

I wouldn't put too much stock in contact information listed for a domain used for nefarious purposes.

#516 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 03:01 PM:

I know. I just want to fantasize about blistering the ears of whoever did this.

Patrick had me change a different major password over the weekend, on the grounds that there'd been a dicey-looking access of one of my accounts. I think it's time to change every password I have.

#517 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 03:13 PM:

Jacque @ 436

Methodical Madness
Light Bulbs
The Muse Dialogs

#518 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 03:55 PM:

Teresa #513: I've E-mailed you the WHOIS info.

#519 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 04:27 PM:

I suggest we feed the fools to a tenticular horror. Seems the proper response to those who would contaminate the Fluorosphere.

#520 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 04:31 PM:

Or we could send them a dinosaur.

#521 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 04:59 PM:

Today, by coincidence, I had great pleasure explaining to a new colleague that in my spare time I moderate a blog that holds first place in the search results for "dinosaur sodomy".

(Hi, John, if you did that Google search!)

#522 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Teresa @ 511... Can we take turns at causing their demise?

#524 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 05:15 PM:

Abi @ 521... Nothing like a good first impression.

#525 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 05:52 PM:

Ah! So good that it's safe to come back.

I presume that since AVG kept saying it was blocking, my computer should be okay? Is there anything I can check for? Or should I just let it virus scan the hard drive tomorrow morning?

#526 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 05:55 PM:

Victoria @517: Very nice! I particularly like the first and last.

#527 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 06:33 PM:

Victoria, ditto what Jacque said

And heresiarch @523, thanks for that one.

#528 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 06:56 PM:

Lets hear it for the COBOL neanderthals!

I'll be putting that "shortage" theory to the test -- I'm a-lookin' for work again.

25+ years of COBOL, CICS and DB2 experience does battle with the Dark Forces of Unemployment!

(No, not happy, I am)

#529 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 06:59 PM:

dcb@525: I ran a scan on the hard drive and didn't find anything. I think Spybot (and your AVG) blocked it from getting in.

#530 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 07:25 PM:

On a lighter note --

I'd wager that some of what ddb was complaining about with the DOS operating system may have been restrictions based on the purposes of the OS itself.

On the lines of Things That IBM Got Right First, here a few I can think of right off

Virtual Machines

RISC (In IBM processors, for cheaper CPU sets, more complex instructions, if not implemented in hardware are implemented through "microcode" at machine power-up)

Common Language Runtime (IBM made common runtimes available using LE (Language environment level) for quite a while before .NET was around)

Emphasis on structured design and constructs

Object orientation at the OS level (functional features in containers)

Security ( unless there is an insider helping you, you cannot gain access to the OS at all, and without OS access you cannot execute arbitrary code - and attempts to force exceptions by trying to execute code outside the assigned memory key, without the proper supervisory gates turned on will just stop the process cold. And it's a basic design in the hardware)

Actual large-scale commercial implementation of hierarchical / relational databases

Very high volume transaction processing

Code stability between implementations of the OS (over 90% of currently executing programs can be ported without more than minimal changes (if any) at the source level, to enable running them under a newer version of the OS)

As for the main thrust of the applications being run on Big Blue iron, most are financial applications of some sort or another, and There Are An Awful Lot Of Them. And they work well, and they are secure, and they are stable over the years (see above over code stability)

Other contributions?

#531 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 08:06 PM:

Jacque #436:


Too clunky?

#532 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 08:13 PM:

I got some weird messages when trying to load the page too. If I recall correctly something about Adobe Reader has quit, when I didn't start it, and something about trying to execute data.

#533 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 08:33 PM:

David Harmon @518: It is probably just a quirk of my twisted brain that I pondered whether -- if one were to use a Tardis, for example -- one would then have Doctor WHOIS info?

#534 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 08:35 PM:

I didn't get any weird messages or weird behavior browsing ML with Safari on Mac OS 10.6.4, but am currently running a VirusBarrier X6 scan anyway. Just to make sure.

#535 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 09:03 PM:

Craig R, a thing IBM got wrong, at least as far as its users' managers are/were concerned:

No path from S/34 and S/36 to the AS400 without a stop at S/38. That put a lot of former S/34 and S/36 programmers into an employment hole they've never escaped from, since the AS400 relied on S/38 architecture.

(Yes, that group includes me.)

#536 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 09:05 PM:

Teresa, here's what you need to deal with the miscreants - an attack hamster!

Personally, I run Firefox with NoScript, ad-blocker, and Ghostery, which catches an amazing amount of Evil Javascript trackery on pages that I do allow to use Javascript.

#537 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Hmmm.. I thought I remembered links auto-converting here. Let's try that miscreat-repeller again:

An Attack Hamster!

#538 ::: Paula Liebeman ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 09:40 PM:

Whr hv my vw'ls gn?
Thy ll r mssng
Whr hv my vw'ls gn?
Cnsnnc rns
Whr hv my vw'ls gn
Prs fr th wrtng
Prs fr th tlst
Bt thy r lst....

#539 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 09:57 PM:

Ay, why
By by by
At why
By try why...
Why fry
Why spy
Why why
Sy Fy
Why pry
Why fly
Ply sly
Cry scry!
Why wry
Sty sky


Whr hv ll th vwls gn
Lng tm pssng
Whr hv ll th vwls gn
Lng tm g
Whr hv ll th vwl gn
Th trlls hv lst thm v'ryn
Whn wll thy vr lrn
Whn wll thy vr lrn?!

#540 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2010, 10:05 PM:

Some syzygy there, Paula.

#541 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 12:39 AM:

Linkmeister (# 535)
The S36 - s38 - AS400 migration path was marketing, not engineering (neither hardware or software). It would have been technically feasible to have supplied an emulator for the s/36 architecture to run on the S/38 codeset, but marketing was agin' it - that user community didn't have the clout that the 1410/1401 users had that forced IBM to supply an emulator that would not only run the 1401 object code, but that could ruin the Autocoder language compiler, and supported it well into at least the 1990s. I'm sure there are still some 1401 programs still running, happily doing inventory control.

The smaller boxes (read as "those not based on s/360 architecture") were always the orphan children. They were kind of the holdover from the days when it was viewed as acceptable to shift architectures at-will, and to force into use incompatible operating system versions. You know, something that nobody dreams of doing these days.....

Oh, wait. It seems maybe IBM did *that* fiorst as well.

Never mind....

#542 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 12:43 AM:

Linkmeister (# 535)
The S36 - s38 - AS400 migration path was marketing, not engineering (neither hardware or software). It would have been technically feasible to have supplied an emulator for the s/36 architecture to run on the S/38 codeset, but marketing was agin' it - that user community didn't have the clout that the 1410/1401 users had that forced IBM to supply an emulator that would not only run the 1401 object code, but that could ruin the Autocoder language compiler, and supported it well into at least the 1990s. I'm sure there are still some 1401 programs still running, happily doing inventory control.

The smaller boxes (read as "those not based on s/360 architecture") were always the orphan children. They were kind of the holdover from the days when it was viewed as acceptable to shift architectures at-will, and to force into use incompatible operating system versions. You know, something that nobody dreams of doing these days.....

Oh, wait. It seems maybe IBM did *that* fiorst as well.

Never mind....

#543 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 02:26 AM:

Craig R @#542, if the user community for S/34 and S/36 was of comparable size to the two places I worked, I suppose it didn't have much clout. The S/34 company had $7M annual revenues, the S/36 (a hotel) had maybe $50M annual revenues. Even though there were a fair number of those machines installed just in Hawai'i (the only place I'm familiar with), trying to match the corporate IT departments of Fortune 500 companies would have been hopeless. At the first company I was it for IT, and at the hotel there were two of us.

#544 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 02:59 AM:

Ginger @ 529: I decided to let it run (over program files at least)* just to be sure. Nothing found, thankfully

* I have well over 100GB of files on my laptop. Allowing AVG to scan them all takes for ever, so I don't do that very often - I mostly stop it once it's reached My Documents.

#545 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 07:53 AM:

Mary Aileen@407, Fragano@419

Also had a good time meeting everyone.

Hmmm. Anyone likely to attend CapClave this year?

#546 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 10:01 AM:

Craig R.@530: I wonder how much I can remember from that far back? For a system I only used for about two weeks.

The development tools and developer interface were pitiful; inferior to what I had on three-generations-older IBM hardware, for example, or what I had on current DEC hardware. In general, the system provided little support for interactivity, and that as an expensive and highly idiosyncratic add-on.

The other thing that really ticked me off was that the IBM instructors and the other users in the class were so appallingly ignorant of the state of the art -- they constantly presented as "new" stuff that was old hat in the rest of the industry. Actually, even at IBM; IBM did a lot of fairly pioneering things, even if they mostly didn't let them get into their mainstream products.

From a security point of view, my impression was that levels were far LESS isolated than I was used to at the time. Programs could actually be granted hardware-level access, and contained custom drivers, sometimes.

(Remember this was 1980 roughly, pre-PC; lots of security lapses people have gotten used to since then would have been unheard of then in most of the industry.)

#547 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 11:37 AM:

Michael I @545 Anyone likely to attend CapClave this year?

I was thinking of it. I'm local and have never been. And even if I don't go to the conference, I could probably be available for a gathering of light.

#548 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 12:05 PM:

Linkmeister, #535: Yes. That's one of the main reasons that I'm now a jewelry designer -- I couldn't find a way to get up to speed on the AS/400 and had to change careers.

#549 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 12:19 PM:

The AS/400 (and its successors) is still running critical systems for a lot of corporations. One place I worked at tried twice to replace a sales and billing system running on multiple AS/400s with state-of-the-art ERP software, and failed both times, burning $200 million in the process.

It's understandable that CIO's and IT directors don't want to back down from a challenge, but the stat I heard one time is 40% of major IT projects fail, either in terms of flat not being able to function effectively, or they don't meet original requirements. (Sometimes that's fixed by retroactively changing the requirements)

But you don't often hear of a CIO saying to her boss that, "Hey it's simply too friggin' complex. Don't go there."

Number one rule of sunk costs: The money you've already spent has no bearing on the ultimate success of the project. Number one response to that is "Yes, but...."

#550 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 12:36 PM:

the stat I heard one time is 40% of major IT projects fail, either in terms of flat not being able to function effectively, or they don't meet original requirements

I worked one year at a nursery that was changing from tracking its inventory on paper to tracking it on computer. The biggest problem I saw was the insistence that the computer system do it in the same way as the paper system. (Some of their one-piece-of-paper stuff was really doing two different things, and would have been much easier to do in software if it had been turned into two processes.)

#551 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 12:52 PM:

P J Evans @ 550 -

Yep. Insistence that business processes stay the same is another roadblock. The trick is determining what processes are really essential and what can be modified, enhanced, or even eliminated.

#552 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 01:07 PM:

ddb (# 546) -- I don't know what systems you were running on, but it sounds like you were looking at something other than DOS/VSE.

The DOS/VSE systems were (and current z/VSE implementations are) all on base S/360 architecture (in the 1980s that would have been something like s/370-135, -145, or 4300-series machines). The interactive interface would have been ICCF (which worked very well for what it was intended for) or CMS (if the VSE system was a guest on a VM/370 installation). And they would have been extensions on the same tools available for the OS/370 MFT/MVT boxes.

Yes, "programs could be granted hardware-level access," (if by that you mean the ability to directly execute channel programs on DASD) but only if specifically granted by having the program running with supervisor's memory key. Custom transients were not the norm.

As a systems programmer for DOS/VSE my user ID was granted that kind of access, but it wasn't the norm.

Again, in order to gain otherwise unauthorized access you had to have collusion on the inside. The same problems exits for every system, from the book-keeper at the local savings & loan to the security guard who looks the other way when somebody with a big truck pilfers from the warehouse. Technology is not going to stop it.

But the separation from the operating system that is enforced by the remote access technologies (such as CICS (now renamed "transaction Server") or IMS DB/DC) don't allow for the kind of drive-by exploits you get with the platforms most people are concerned with)

#553 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 01:22 PM:

P.J. Evans (# 550)

The trick there is to keep the external interface the same (same piece of paper mimicked on the input screen, same piece of paper mimicked on reporting) but actually have the background processing be different.

Unless asked, you don't tell 'em it's different. The Obligatory XKCD reference would be

#554 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 02:07 PM:

Craig R.@552: Some kind of 43xx system as I remember it. Might vaguely possibly have been DOS-something-else, but I think it was VSE (new-at-the-time low-end virtual-memory system).

I was coming from TOPS-20, which had perhaps the finest user-experience of any timesharing system, and was particularly good for software engineering, so I may possibly have been a bit upmarket in my timesharing expectations. But then TOPS-20 was a fairly old system by then.

The platforms "most people" are concerned about today didn't exist then; back then most OSes had pretty decent security, and in particular kept user programs well away from the hardware.

#555 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 02:51 PM:

P J Evans @ 550:

Doing it the same way they've always done it on paper is one reason, although sometimes that works quite well. The one I see all the time is when management is convinced by the marketroids that this off-the-shelf solution will work so well, and so doesn't budget anything for customization to make it actually work.

ddb @ 554:

Yes and no. There are fun stories about exploiting systems back then just as much as there are now. When the micros all came out, they had such limited resources that most things, like a decent OS, were rather optional. These days, with micros more powerful than old minis, most consumer OSs are much better about the whole security and isolation from the hardware things.

#556 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 03:20 PM:

Xopher: Woke up 3am this morning, *>pop!<* "Oh. That's what 'Xopher' means!"

Very clever!

How do you pronounce it? My inclination is "Zo-fer" though I could see where you could go with the full moniker.

#557 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 03:37 PM:

KeithS@555: I gotta disagree. It was MUCH harder to do damage outside your own user-controlled space on say RSTS-11 than it is on at least any of the consumer versions of windows. They've compromised far too much to get video performance and a few other things.

#558 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Jacque @ 556... 'Zo-fer'. Like 'Xena', but he doesn't carry that round killing thing.

#559 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 03:47 PM:

Serge is right. ZO-fer.

#560 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 03:53 PM:

I used to say "ECKSopher" to myself, but when I went to use it in a sonnet, I had to fix my mental pronunciation. Seems to have stuck, to the point that when PNH once referred to him as "Christopher" I had to think a second to figure out who he meant.

#561 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 04:04 PM:

They were having a commercial OTS manufacturing inventory system customized, complete with live-in programmers. It was not easy, AFAICT.

The difficulty I remember is that one form was for moving plants from one location to another, and the other was for holding plants for a customer to a given size (usually the next larger container), often with a change of location. To me, it seems smarter (and easier) to split the size-change paperwork from the location-change, but I wasn't the decision maker, and it was 'the way they'd always done it'.

#562 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 04:23 PM:

So I'm loading up the new eReader in preparation for my trip in a couple month's time and I thought this would be the ideal time to give some Georgette Heyer a try. Can anyone tell me where to start?

#563 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 04:28 PM:

nerdycellist (562): There are a lot of different opinions on that, but A Civil Contract seems to be widely regarded as one of her best.

#564 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 04:29 PM:

nerdycellist @562:

We need a FAQ for this one, don't we? The most recent discussion of the matter is summed up here.

#565 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 04:37 PM:

Craig R.@552: Some kind of 43xx system as I remember it. Might vaguely possibly have been DOS-something-else, but I think it was VSE (new-at-the-time low-end virtual-memory system).

I've worked on those. Yes they were low-end 360->370->390->zSeries architecture, usually running DOS/VSE either native or under VM (I've used both).

No resemblance to S/34 et al, or AS/400 (concerning which I know nowt except that they were very different (in ways it sounds like I would not appreciate)).

J Homes.

#566 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Thank you abi! My searches were incompetent.

#567 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 05:45 PM:

Open Threadiness: Tom Lehrer's "Who's Next", illustrated.

How did we survive?

#568 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 05:57 PM:

I'm just curious. When the front page had the weird malware thing, my Windows Vista spotted it and gave me a weird alert. I am sort of inclined to think this is a reason to like Windows Vista. Did other OS's respond similarly? I'm just curious, because I am sort of still deciding what kind of computer to like best.

#569 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 06:03 PM:

434 albatross "do an end run around the control of information."

Information is not a thing to be blocked, like a football, but a thing that seeps, like an odor. Football metaphors may not be appropriate here.

#570 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 06:19 PM:

Soon Lee @531: "Creativationeering"? Too clunky?

Not if we pare it down to "Creationeering."

I like that! Adding it to the list.

#571 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 06:39 PM:

abi @560: Oh wow. As previously discussed, I don't really do the poetry thing. But that's lovely!

#572 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 07:25 PM:

Sometime last autumn I posted on the open thread current then, flailing about the ton of bricks my baby sister had dropped on my head: she'd chosen to join the U.S. Navy after she graduated high school in May. I was pretty upset.

Earlier today she swore in and got on a plane going to boot camp, and from halfway around the world I cheered her on. Just now, I wrote about how why I've since completely changed my tune about her decision.

I'm really, really proud of my sister.

#573 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 07:38 PM:

Disney might have "creationeer" trademarked. I wouldn't put it past them.

#574 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 07:49 PM:

Earl: I think Disney's people are "Imagineers". Which doesn't mean they haven't also trademarked creationeering, but.

#575 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 07:49 PM:

The Disney term is 'imagineer'.

#576 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 08:19 PM:

Testing new phone: woo! ML comments from burger joint in Brooklyn.

#577 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 08:28 PM:

Renatus: happy news. Glad to hear it.

#578 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 09:28 PM:

Renatus, I loved your LJ post.

Congratulations to you and to your sister.

#579 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 09:29 PM:

All the best to your sister, Renatus.

#580 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 09:57 PM:

Serge @558, Xopher @ 559:
What! You mean it doesn't start with a lateral click? I thought it was Xhosa derived...

#581 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 09:59 PM:

Ahem. Anyone know any publishers? Library Thing has announced a new feature just for them.

#582 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 10:21 PM:

abi @560: I used to say "ECKSopher" [..]

Which sounds like it would be Lucifer's smarter (and more successful) brother.

#583 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2010, 11:14 PM:

jnh @ 580... Nothing like that. He simply did what we sometimes do with 'Christmas', replacing the prefix with an 'X'. Meanwhile, infrequent ML poster Xeger uses a nom-de-blogue that refers to a Java library for generating random text from regular expressions. Can't remember how to pronounce it though.

#584 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 12:29 AM:

And the moving saga continues - this is my last night in Nashville, and tomorrow I get to fly the rest if the way across the country with the Very Large Cat (ok, fine - he is only about 15lbs of cute) and by tomorrow evening, I will be in Berkeley.

My lab here sent me off with several nice gifts - good scotch, a copy of "Surely you're joking mr Feynman" and a copy of one of the great reference works in the field. Very nice of them.

#585 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 12:39 AM:

Hmm. When I pronounce a leading X, it's not quite a "Z"... there is a hard sound there, weaker than a "K", but in the same family.

#586 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 01:48 AM:

The kind of French I used to speak would pronounce the 'X' in 'Xavier' as a hard G followed by the 'S' sound.

#587 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 02:26 AM:

Spelled by a friend of mine as "Zh" as in Zhenya.

#588 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 03:08 AM:

Like the second "g" in garage?

#589 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 04:01 AM:

Jacque #570:
My original suggestion has the advantage that currently, Google has no hits for it.

Xopher: I've always pronounced it (in my head) Zo-fer, rhymes with gopher.

#590 ::: David Hodson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 06:07 AM:

Serge @558: You have no idea how disappointed that makes me.

#591 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 06:30 AM:

Serge @583:

... Nothing like that. He simply did what we sometimes do with 'Christmas', replacing the prefix with an 'X'.
I know the derivation — wait, do you mean that you think I pronounce Xmas wrong as well?

#592 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 09:00 AM:

David Godson @ 590... For all I know, Xopher does possess a round killing thing.

#593 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 09:01 AM:

jnh @ 591... Either that, or I should be pronouncing 'Xopher' as 'Christopher'.

#594 ::: David Hodson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 09:37 AM:

Serge @592: You should certainly be pronouncing "Godson" as "Hodson". Otherwise I might have to borrow Xopher's round killing thing myself.

#595 ::: Larry Lennhoff ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 09:55 AM:

An interesting article on one of the major contemporary designers of Hebrew typefaces:

#596 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 11:24 AM:

Serge #586: Yes, that's it!

Jacque #588: Nope, that one comes out for me as "d" + "j".

#597 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 11:42 AM:

"Insiders pronounce the χ of TEX as a Greek chi, not as an 'x', so that TEX rhymes with the word blecchhh. It's the 'ch' sound in Scottish words like loch or German words like ach; it's a Spanish 'j' and a Russian 'kh'. When you say it correctly to your computer, the terminal may become slightly moist."

-- Donald E. Knuth, The TEXbook

#598 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 11:55 AM:

To resolve the problem of trying to convey the pronunciation of “Xopher” without a phonetic alphabet, can we get The Man Himself to say his name definitively into a microphone and post it here?

#599 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 01:19 PM:

I remember once someone typoed Xopher's name as Xaopher, and I was prompted to wonder whether a xaopher was something that was a source of chaos.

#600 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Serge @593: Pronouncing it that way would be just wrong.

#601 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 03:13 PM:

I am in need of a reality check. At work, there have apparently been a couple of accidents on the stairs recently, so they have not only requested that we hold the handrails, but also required us to sign a piece of paper that says that we will hold the handrails when using the stairs. I am annoyed by what seems like pointless nannying. Am I being as unreasonable as factory workers who chafe at having to wear safety glasses and hearing protection?

#602 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 03:22 PM:

Renatus - 572 --

We'll keep you and your sibling in our thoughts.

Does she have an idea what her specialty will be, yet?

#603 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 03:26 PM:

KeithS @ 601 -

Yep, it's kind of a nannying, but it's about the money. Injury claims from falls on the stairs would likely be covered under workman's comp. Extra claims can increase the insurance rate.

#604 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 03:36 PM:

Open threadiness, and some of you will be interested: a nice article on The Other Change of Hobbit from the Berkeley Daily Planet.

#605 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 03:53 PM:

KeithS, it sounds like they want a basis to deny future liability for injury claims. If they get everyone to sign this silly thing, they can then say anyone hurt on the stairs was acting in violation of company policy as acknowledged in writing and signed on #date. They probably think they can successfully deny a workers' comp claim that way, which may or may not be true under your state's laws.

#606 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Concern for Fragano

Open threadyness -- has anyone heard more about or from Fragano in the last two days?

Love, C.

#607 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 05:01 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @584,

Welcome to the Bay Area chapter of the Fluorosphere! I/we/they are always happy to help with advice (albeit with delays from me because of my work schedule, and I know more about the South Bay). Along with what's been mentioned, let me add...
* works well, although restaurant reviews can be biased on the least-expensive end (cheap&good food can get the same score as medium-priced&great food).
* if you're using a car, always check something like google traffic plus the CHP traffic incident website (real-time reports) before you head out.
* in the summer, the hotter it is inland, the colder it is on the coast. (And overall it's been a ridiculously cool summer.)
* The Squidlist is a great calendar of events

#608 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 05:02 PM:

Constance @ 606 -- last night he posted that he'd had a sudden illness, but was ok.

#609 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 06:29 PM:

KeithS@601: Well, our building encourages use of the stairways (they're open throughout), and nobody has tried to tell us what necessary safety precautions are. But that says nothing about which building is right. However, these people (landlord) do have a sign on a wide bridge going across a piece of lake that says "Safety on the grounds is a personal responsibility", so they're not immune to covering their asses.

The liability and especially workman's comp issues probably have a strong state component (I am not a lawyer, so you can't pay me enough money to give you legal advice)

#610 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 07:19 PM:

John 598: Good heavens, I didn't know that existed. Alas, I have neither microphone nor camera (I should probably fix that). Because of this, I will make one more attempt to convey the pronunciation in writing.

The Xo in Xopher starts with the sound of an ordinary zee or zed, as in zap, zebra, zip, zodiac, and zulu. It rhymes with ago, blow, crow, Downbelow, eau, 'Fro, grow, hoe, Joe, low (as in not high), Moe, No!, o (as in o Cæsar), Poe, quo (vadis), row (your boat), so, toe, woe, and Yo!

The pher should be pronounced exactly like the final syllable in Christopher. I'm fine with either the rhotic or non-rhotic version of this. Really, it's OK.

As for phonemic transcription, I would give it as /zowfr/. I speak a liquid-rhotic dialect of English, so that /r/ is fully syllabic. But it's OK if you don't, honest.

Perhaps I'll just change to !ofer, and then only jnh (whose own nom-de-comment is not especially pronounceable) will know how to say it.

Erik 599: Είμαι αυτός που φέρνει χάος.

#611 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 07:37 PM:

Xopher, once again, I heart you.

All: I have a phone interview tomorrow morning. Please direct me-wards and/or deity-of-your-heart-wards the well-wishes and/or petitions appropriate to your religion or lack thereof.* My own request for assistance is on the order of "please make sure I end up where I ought to be." (In meatspace, that is; online I'm in good shape.)

*any resemblance to Zelazny's agnostic's prayer is my subconscious' fault.

#612 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 07:46 PM:

TexAnne: I ♥ you too. And in Wicca we call what you're asking for "right livelihood."

#613 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 07:48 PM:

Best of luck, TexAnne. I keep realizing that part of the stress of my continued unemployment* is that no one in my social group is succeeding. When they do, they go elsewhere for postdocs (grad school, it's a hazard). My friends are mostly students with some loose realpeople, my relatives are mostly not working the jobs they thought they'd have, and I find myself thinking of how good I had it back in grad school. I really, really want someone to succeed.

*which is not as unemployed as some; I do have a job, if only during the school year, and I make enough money when things go right to cover everything. It's just that it's a kibblejob, not a move-to-another-state job.

#614 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 07:57 PM:

Xopher: "Right livelihood" is an excellent phrase which I shall co-opt forthwith.

Diatryma: Oh yes, I think that's a common late- and post-grad school experience. At least, my friends and I all had it.

#615 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 08:26 PM:

Right livelihood is originally a Buddhist term; it's one of the 8 spokes of the Noble Eightfold Path, which puts the principle somewhere around 2400-2500 years old.

"Right livelihood (samyag-ājīva • sammā-ājīva). This means that practitioners ought not to engage in trades or occupations which, either directly or indirectly, result in harm for other living beings." Good goal.

#616 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 09:02 PM:

Clifton: Ah! Thank you. This tells me that I should ask my local Buddhist friends for books.

#617 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 09:33 PM:

Re "right livelihood":

Oh! Now I get it! I had originally parsed this--And in Wicca we call what you're asking for "right livelihood."--as meaning that asking for appropriate well-wishes and/or petitions to deity/ies was called 'right livelihood'. Wrong meaning of "what you're asking for."

TexAnne: May all go well for you.

#618 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 09:56 PM:

TexAnne --

Good vibes for the interview.

I should know tomorrow if I have an interview coming up or not. I have applied, through the unemployment office's job board, to a number of headhunting agencies for what I suspect is the same small set of openings. And one of them actually called me today and asked for an e-mailed version of my resume.

I'm probably over-qualified*, but when I quoted an hourly rate that was a percentage above my prior salary as a full-time employee (the slot(s) he called about are for a 6-to-12-month contract) the agency rep said he would submit the high end of the range without any hesitation.

I'd rather have full-time perm work, but I *really* rather have money coming in to pay the bills

Now to find out if I can get moving on this...

On the contracting end, over-qualified isn;t the kiss of death for an interview, because they *know* that you are leaving at some point, but they don't need to get exercised, "HR-wise"

#619 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Best of luck on the interview!

#620 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 11:12 PM:

TexAnne @ 611... Mes meilleux voeux de succès!

#621 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 11:36 PM:

Clifton, the Wiccan meaning includes that, but also means "the right job for you."

Mary Aileen, not quite the wrong meaning...more like the wrong level of indirection. Or something. Wow. I'm feeling all duh now.

#622 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2010, 11:41 PM:

TexAnne, it is a frustrating time. No one in my age group seems to be getting the adulthood we expected. Even knowing that the people who succeed* leave my immediate group, it's easy to get very discouraged. Then I take refuge in a book, which is really counterproductive, not least because I also turn to books for things like celebration, having unclaimed time, and hunger.

*here defined as 'taking the scripted next step' be it postdoc or work elsewhere

#623 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:19 AM:

Diatryma, I'm the only person of my cohort who finished the PhD. More people did after me, but it wasn't more than a third of the people who started. And I haven't kept up, but I don't think I'm the only person who left university teaching (or never even got started).

I take refuge in books too. It's better than Spider Solitaire?

#624 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:54 AM:

Made it! Got in around four, got to the apartment, freed kitty from his carrier ( kitty was very good on the plane). Had dinner with my aunt, did some grocery shopping and am collapsing in a heap.

#625 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:59 AM:

Yay Benjamin! Yay kitty! Yay heap!

#626 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 02:25 AM:

Xopher @ #625, "Yay heap!"

Reminds me of a Richard Armour retelling of David Copperfield in which Micawber at one point says "Thanks Heeps." Wonderfully illustrated by Campbell Grant, Micawber has clearly just been abused again by Uriah Heep but he doesn't realize it.

#627 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 02:26 AM:

Joel Polowin@597: While I don't know about Modern Greek, according to everything I've read about the ancient tongue the letter chi was not that sound, but an aspirated K -- like the kh in "backhand".

#628 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 09:26 AM:

It's looks like it's gonna be clouded out in SE Texas, but for those elsewhere, tonight promises to be a fine display of the Perseid meteor shower.

#629 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 09:46 AM:

Patrick @ 510: and they're back again. They appear to attempt to donwload a PDF, which if it's run probably has a payload of some exe or other: I'm not tempted to let it get that far.

On the other hand, the cookie that is set is just "test=123", which might indicate a lower level of seriousness/sophistication. It might not, of course.

#630 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 09:51 AM:

Someone had a name for that feeling where you spot a spelling mistake just after hitting POST, I'm sure of it. I meant to type "download", honest.

#631 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 09:53 AM:

TexAnne - best of luck with the phone interview! I always found them a bit odd on both ends (interviewee and interviewer), but that's just me. This is probably related to my dislike for phone conversations under most circumstances. Pay no attention to my noncaffinated ramblings-on - good luck, may you find a job in meatspace that you enjoy, with people that you like and that pays you well.

Xopher - a heap is right. I flew out here with two suitcases of stuff and the aforementioned kitty, and have just spent a fairly stiff night on the floor. Given that hard sleeping surfaces are not my friends, I had to be very tired to be able to sleep thus. This was not helped by Totoro the Cat exploring his new domain at all hours. That said, the rest of my stuff arrives this morning, which should improve matters.

#632 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 10:01 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe: Congrats on reaching your new apartment! And welcome back.

TexAnne: Luck on the interview of course.

#633 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 10:02 AM:

Mike McHugh @ 630 -

I don't remember a name for that particular feeling, but I heard the term OhNoSecond used to describe the time period between when you press the enter key and then realize you did something irrevocable.

#634 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 10:37 AM:

ISTM that 'payload' is not that wrong a term for such things.

#635 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 10:56 AM:

found in my e-mail inbox (all caps in the original, fixed for legibiity):

With all due respect,
We are minner's in Ghana. We have 500kgs of gold dust which is presently in our possession here in Ghana.We are looking for a serious buyer who will be ready to enter into a long term venture agreement with us
Introduction of offer.We present to you our offer as follows:
Commodity----------alluvial gold dust & bar
Quality-----------------22/23 karat plus (96.5)
Find time to dilute the above conditions and if it is acceptable to you then we can proceed.

I'm not at all sure what is intended by 'dilute the conditions'.

#636 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Well, let's see....

Dilute means to reduce the concentration, as in water. So they want to dissolve the gold in water, thus giving GOLDWATER.

Obviously, it's a pitch for campaign contributions to GOP candidates. DON'T DO IT -- IT'S A TRAP!

#637 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 11:13 AM:

Xopher @610:
!ofer won't work, that's the wrong click (even though it is the one I can actually pronounce in a word). The other problem is that the 'ph' isn't a diphthong in this case, a hard 'p' followed by a long aspirated 'h'. Sort of Tskop-her.

In reality, my internal pronunciation is somewhere between 'Zopher' and 'Chauffeur'.

The pronunciation of 'jnh'? Hmmm. I think all three letters are silent.

#639 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 11:47 AM:

I'm not at all sure what is intended by 'dilute the conditions'.

I think it means you should take them with a pinch of salt.

#640 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 11:51 AM:

Good news: I have a little work for the next few weeks, with the potential for it becoming a more long-term thing. The company seems pretty cool, so I hope it's a good fit for me.

#641 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:11 PM:

David Goldfarb@627:

The Knuth quote is imprecise, since the consonant in ach is not the same as the Russian consonant transliterated as kh: the Russian is a unvoiced velar fricative and the German is an unvoiced uvular fricatives. I understood you as saying the Greek is an unvoiced velar fricative and Wikipedia agrees that this is how modern Greek chi is pronounced. It's also how at least some people pronounce loch, though I would have used a uvular fricative.

As a chorister, it has been my experience that attempts to describe foreign phonetics in English often don't try to distinguish the velar and uvular fricatives, and even when they do try they are often unsuccessful.

In any case, I doubt that many English-speakers actually pronounce TeX with a uvular fricative -- it's quite difficult to do, whereas a velar fricative is easy.

#642 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:20 PM:

Thomas, 641: Well, Wikipedia's article on German phonology only partly agrees with you on ch. I thought you were confusing the ich-laut with the ach-laut, but it's more complicated than that.

#643 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:26 PM:

Update: the phone interview went well, I think. I should hear whether I made the short shortlist (shorterlist?) by Monday.

#644 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:29 PM:

Good luck on the job front, TexAnne

#645 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:38 PM:

hey PNH, TNH, Abi – the Javascript hack to
is back!

#646 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:39 PM:

Steve C, I've heard of the Oh-Shit Wave, which is what the brain does during that second. Terminology, even informal, amuses me greatly.

#647 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Good luck, TexAnne.

Speaking of phone interviews, here's a story from my past.

A little over ten years ago, I saved up some money and took a ten-month sabbatical. I gave notice and for the next ten months I slept late, goofed off, did a lot of reading, some traveling, etc. I loved it.

But all good things, yada, yada, and I get back in the job market. I was thinking that programming was a young person's game, so I decided to touch up my graying hair.

It turned out all the interviews I had for the job I took were all phone interviews. Nothing in-person. So I showed up for work and stopped touching up the gray.

Six months later, my colleagues there thought the job must have been really stressful because it looked like I turned gray really, really fast.

#648 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 12:58 PM:

TexAnne@643: Excellent! Best of luck with the rest of the hiring process.

#649 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 01:45 PM:

TexAnne @643, congratulations and good luck with the rest of the process!

#650 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 02:24 PM:

Good for both Chris and Texanne! May this just be the beginning of the turnaround.

Ginger Thank you! F. kindly sent me an e-mail update yesterday. Like everybody else, I was pretty concerned.

Love, C.

#651 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 02:38 PM:

I usually just lurk while I'm at work, but that JavaScript exploit is showing up on some of the archive pages too. I just found it here.

For users on Windows machines, you can edit your hosts file to block anything from these sites. This file is usually found in the C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc directory (for reasons I have never fully understood). Open the file called "hosts" with the text editor of your choice, and add the following lines at the end:

I've gotten the attempted JS attack from both these domains. Thank goodness for AVG!

#652 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Thanks for the heads-up about the hack. Measures Will Be Taken.

(Anyone seen the keys to the thumbscrew cabinet?)

#653 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 03:03 PM:

Also shows up on the index-to-recent-comments page. Invite for me to load additional plugins to view the page. Bad page!

#654 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 03:06 PM:

abi @ 652... Not the... comfy chair?

#655 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 03:09 PM:

TexAnne @ 643... Bien! Très bien!

#656 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 03:25 PM:

Breaking: Walker Denies Motion to Stay Prop 8 -- Same Sex Marriages Can Resume in California

#657 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 03:41 PM:

Not a big surprise, Lori Coulson, to anyone who's read the text of the decision! And very welcome news anyway.

#658 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 03:59 PM:

Lori @656:

That's a thing to make a person put her arms in the air and exclaim "Yessssss!"

Because for that is what I am doing.

#659 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 04:07 PM:

The ban on SSM in CA ends August 18th. Judge Vaughn Walker again rocks.

#660 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 04:14 PM:

Lori Coulson... Woohoo!!!

#661 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 04:14 PM:

A brief history of the hosts file (since puzzlement was expressed):

Once upon a time, when the net was many quantum levels smaller, all of the domains upon it were listed in a file called "hosts" which existed on a machine under one early luminary's desk, and was distributed around in toto when updated. Then the crucial service of DNS (domain name service) was added, which allowed on-the-fly changes to be distributed more efficiently...but the tradition of the hosts file for local usage persisted, allowing the substitution of a predetermined route (often to a safe nowhere) for domains that someone wanted to resolve in a certain way. In some corporate environments (and elsewhere), this is used...creatively. On my personal system, my very large hosts file has 700K of nasty things routed to a bitbucket full of zero, plus a few of my common typoes and shortcuts routed where I want them to go. For a favorite pizza place? Put its IP address in there with a domain name of "pizza", and you can just type "pizza" (minus the quotes in both instances) into the browser's address bar to get where you want to go.

Just a bit of trivia for the collectors.

#662 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 04:23 PM:

Russ @660, I suppose this means that a DNS provisioner engineer has a legitimate claim to the title of Lord of Hosts. heh.

#663 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Earl Cooley III@662: Certainly anybody working at the root nameserver level, anyway!

I can set DNS fields for the domains I own through various registrars through forms on their sites, as can many of us I imagine. Which large quantity makes me think of us as "a host of lords" now.

#664 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 04:45 PM:

Apparently, marriages can resume 8/18 unless the 9th upholds an appeal by the proponents of Prop 8.

NOTE: The "proponents" are not the defendants* in this case, and therefore may not have legal standing to appeal this decision.

FWIW, in the denial of the stay, Walker states that he doesn't think the proponents can demostrate that they have standing. If this is indeed the case, and the 9th District Court concurs, it will deny that the proponents even have a right to appeal.

*Said defendants are the Attorney General and the Governor of the State of California, who have already stated they will not appeal.

#665 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 04:47 PM:

BTW, Russ is my partner. The damn thing tried to nail my laptop, and he just spent the better part of an hour cleaning it out. Fortunately, I was tipped off that something was amiss by Spybot telling me that a registry entry was being changed; as I hadn't been doing anything that would affect the registry, I yelled for help immediately.

People who write malware should be deleted with extreme prejudice.

#666 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 05:31 PM:

In case anyone might find it useful, I can recommend the "NoScript" add-on to Firefox, which blocks sites from running Javascript or Flash unless you approve them. NoScript has kept me from running into the malware on ML (and probably elsewhere).

On the other hand, the larger type/smaller type options aren't available to me unless I let ML run Javascript.

#667 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 05:34 PM:

Singing Wren, 651: I apparently don't have the permissions to save changes to that file on my Vista laptop. Not sure why. AdBlock Plus may be taking care of it, though earlier I had Adobe Reader crash on me when it shouldn't have been open again.

Persistent little so-and-so, isn't it?

#668 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Dan Hoey@666: Hey, good message number for discussing malware!

I'm running Firefox with Noscript, and it has in fact prevented me from seeing any signs of this problem.

#669 ::: Rick Owens ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 05:43 PM:

From Judge Walker's Order, some beautiful verbiage addressing (and then dismissing) possible reasons for a stay:

Proponents also point to harm resulting from "a cloud of uncertainty" surrounding the validity of marriages performed after judgment is entered but
before proponents' appeal is resolved. Doc #705 at 10. Proponents have not, however, alleged that any of them seek to wed a same-sex spouse.

The thought of the reaction of the bigo... excuse me, "Proponents", when they read that last sentence makes me smile.

#670 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 05:44 PM:

TexAnne, #611, I sure hope the next part of the interview goes well!

Benjamin Wolfe, #624, yay for the good trip and good welcome!

Chris Quinones, #640, excellent! I hope it continues!

Anybody have trouble with Two days now it's been on the status line for 15-20 minutes and freezing the screen while I open

#671 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 06:53 PM:

I invoke the lazyweb!

There's a well-known essay by, I think, a black woman, about SF and covers and the general whiteness of the future. I'd like to mention it, but can't remember a great deal more than that-- there's a father, talks about Star Wars, the Earthsea whitewashing (which I think is why it was written).

I promise I shall bookmark it once I find it, but Google is not helping me. Does anyone know where I can find it?

#672 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 06:57 PM:

Dan Hoey #666, ddb #668: In fact, NoScript would shield from this attack even if you do allow (ML's host machine) to run Javascript. The attack is coming from a different host, and NoScript was specifically designed to deal with this sort of crap.

#673 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 06:58 PM:

Lori, Serge - Ohh, noes! The Sky's gonna fall like it did last time! (Oh, wait - it was cloudy marine-layer when I got up way to early this morning for phone calls with East Coasters, and it's now bright and sunny outside! Hope it stays clear long enough to catch the meteor showers and the planetary conjunction thing around sunset...)

Actually, the fact that the proponents probably don't have standing may be a bad thing - if nobody appeals the decision to the 9th Circuit (and the state doesn't want to), then it's a good precedent but not immediately binding on the rest of the 9th, and won't get appealed to the Supremes. So people are going to have to do the same thing a state at a time in Washington, Oregon, etc., unless one of those states loses and wants to appeal. (Maybe the place to start is Idaho or Arizona?)

#674 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 07:02 PM:

Diatryma @ 671:

Shame, by Pam Noles.

#675 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 07:07 PM:

Thanks, KeithS!

#676 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 07:25 PM:

I stayed in Raleigh visiting friends and relations for a few days after NASFiC, and just got home last night. I'm sorry to have missed the Making Light dinner during NASFiC -- I had no Internet access at the con, having left my laptop at home, and didn't check the party board late enough to see the notice. I did happen to meet Fragano and Mary Aileen in the halls, though, which was nice.

Re: what one can and can't carry, what should and shouldn't be taken off one's person or out of one's carry-on bag before scanning: The regulations cited on the AirTran website said that scissors, etc., with blades of less than four inches are now OK to carry. But I didn't think I was likely to need scissors, and didn't want to risk them getting confiscated, so I left them at home. Then, of course, I realized when I got to the hotel that my medical equipment and supplies that had been shipped there were in boxes sealed with heavy tape; I had to go borrow a cutting implement from the hotel staff, and all they could come up with was a bottle opener, which sort of worked, but took a lot more effort than using scissors would have.

On a couple of different websites I found when searching for recent changes to the rules last week, I found some indication that the rule against quantities of liquids more than 3 ounces has been unofficially relaxed and isn't enforced very often anymore. I don't know how accurate that is, but on the flight from Atlanta, the security people obliged me to throw away a bottle of water. However, they didn't care to open my bag and inspect my aerosol air compressor; the TSA people in Raleigh did. They also admonished me to take it out for inspection in the future. In the past it's been inspected on about one flight in three, I think. I always carry a letter from my doctor about it, but they've only asked to see it occasionally.

#677 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 07:48 PM:

Chris Quinones @ 667: Permissions for that file were vexing me too, but I figured out how to change them.

Right click the hosts file in the ...\etc\ folder and select Properties. Then go to the Security tab.

Select the group that includes you (probably Administrators) and click the Edit button. The Permissions pane should show you ticky boxes to Allow and Deny a list of functions - Modify, Read, Write, etc. Allow them. Click Apply.

Go back to the General tab and make sure the Read-Only attribute is unselected.

Click OK. Save changes to your hosts file.

#678 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 08:54 PM:

Chris @667, Mark @677:

My apologies. I should've mentioned that some permissions might need to be adjusted, especially since I had to do the same on my computer!

Speaking of which, where does Linux (Ubuntu) keep this file? I'd like to add this fix to my netbook as well as my desktop machines.

#679 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 09:03 PM:

Singing Wren @ 678:

Unixy systems keep it in /etc/hosts

On Windows Vista and 7, you should also be able to edit your hosts file using an elevated notepad, I think (right-click notepad, select run as).

#680 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 09:15 PM:

KeithS @679:


As with most things Linux-y, I had to work from the command line. But then, command line has sudo :)

#681 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 09:40 PM:

Singing Wren @680: As with most things Linux-y, I had to work from the command line. But then, command line has sudo :)

I do believe the relevant scriptural reading from the Book of XKCD would be 149.

#682 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 09:43 PM:

Bill Stewart @ 673... I seem to remember that, a few years ago, when Gavin Newsom allowed San Francisco to issue same-sex marriage licenses, Schwarzenegger warned that there'd be a Gay Apocalypse. I expect that, when the Gay Apocalypse does occur, everybody will be smartly dressed, and houses will be tastefully decorated.

The horror. The horror!

#683 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 09:46 PM:

Drat, I guess I miss the Perseids again this year, as usual due to not having planned in advance.

The trail bridge I was thinking of turned out to have both more trees than I remembered, and more light pollution -- not to mention the bridge seems to have lost half its railings in our freak storm a while back! I tried a field at the edge of the development, but there's so much light pollution there, I'd be lucky to see anything less than an outright fireball.

Time to sign up for the Outdoor Adventure Club, they had something going, but it was RSVP.

#684 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 10:10 PM:

PS: To tie into another subthread, the Greater Charlottesville Outdoor Adventure Social Club has the following on its application form:

"Couple" is defined as two people who are engaged or married, or two people who are living together and want to get married but laws prevent them from doing so. If you are not a "couple" as defined above please do not bend the rules and try for a discount. We would like to keep offering this special deal.

#685 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 10:18 PM:

Mark #677: Then afterwards, remember to change that back, as the "hosts" file really should be read-only! (Actually, it's better to edit it with Administrator/Owner privileges than to set the file as generally writable....)

#686 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2010, 11:01 PM:

Random: Has anyone had experience with, either as an editor or a client? They looked interesting, but I don't know anything about their history. (And somewhat alarmingly, their page isn't loading just now.)

#687 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 02:26 AM:

#682, I expect that, when the Gay Apocalypse does occur, everybody will be smartly dressed, and houses will be tastefully decorated.

... I'd like to give a shout-out to my friend Andy, who came out of the closet and kept right on having a sink full of dirty dishes and free-from-the-sidewalk furniture for YEARS. I slept on that fold-out couch once; it was a nightmare folded up, unfolded, sleeping on either side or horizontal across the bottom.

My first theory as to why he cleaned up was "he was losing guys when they saw the interior of his apartment."

However, straight women are also traditionally considered civilized and I seem to remember that if they were willing to enter my bachelor pad of stereotypical horror, they were willing to stay a while.

Opinions? Am I just overthinking this?

#688 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 02:53 AM:

Sandy B @ 687... my bachelor pad of stereotypical horror

Is the horror eldritch, or rugose?
Either way, it sounds like HellBoy's own den.

#689 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 02:57 AM:

When we had that Gathering of Light in Oakland, on July 16, gaygeek referred to a unit of measure called 'gay fat'. If I remember correctly, it's when the guy has a great bod that, according to its user, is afflicted by a couple of ounces of fat.

#690 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 07:55 AM:

Serge #688: Well, mine is pretty rugose, especially around the bed.

#691 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 08:20 AM:

Sandy B., I'd guess that the different ways men and women are sociallized around mess in our society play a part in that.

#692 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 10:23 AM:

#664: Walker states that he doesn't think the proponents can demonstrate that they have standing.

O jour frabbjais, etc. If I understand correctly, that would also give a reasonable chance that the Supreme Court would stay out of it.

#693 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 11:58 AM:

Thomas @692: The downside of it not being appealed to the 9th District and further upwards is that the decision will only be binding on California. Other states' courts can, when similarly sued, cite some of his findings of fact as useful if they like, but they're also free to do whatever else they feel their particular suit justifies, as they are not bound by California precedent.

#694 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 12:17 PM:

Elliot Mason @693:

Yes, but I don't see the Supreme Court as being that likely to uphold the ruling. At least four of them are going to find some reason to distinguish it from all the precedents, and I really wouldn't bet on them not finding a fifth. And if the 9th district upholds, it's sure going to be appealed to the Supremes.

#695 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 12:24 PM:

Thomas @694: Yes, but the 9th District (and the Supremes to a greater extent) are going to be interpreting intent. What the current judge did is *find facts* -- and given the case the Pro-Prop-8ers didn't bother to make, his facts alone are pretty damning. There is a limited scope, in the system, for the 9th to make new findings of fact: that's not what that level of court is for.

It's more likely that if it appealed that highly the Supremes would (at least really want to) refuse to hear it, because they'd be forced to rule based on the previously-established facts. And the current judge has shown that the best 'facts' the pro-8ers have managed to come up with amount to "But they make me feel oogy!" Which is not, as he pointed out, a valid basis upon which to make law.

#696 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Elliot and Thomas @692-695:

I think Walker's "Proponents lack standing to appeal" (for those following the case less closely, the named defendants (Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown) declined to defend the proposition in court, and Walker allowed the proponents of Proposition 8 to defend it in their stead) is a brilliant out. I don't see any way that this Supreme Court would uphold Walker's ruling -- it all comes down to Justice Kennedy, who while he's generally been good on LGBT issues is still a Reagan appointee, and will not want for another case as controversial as Roe to be his legacy -- and the SCOTUS in general tends to be very averse to overturning precedent, so that a bad ruling now would delay eventual marriage equality by a couple decades. Letting the Ninth Circuit, or the Supremes, let the case quietly go away on a technicality is probably the best outcome we can hope for -- California gets marriage equality back. Sure, there's a long-shot hope that the Supreme Court would rule to uphold Walker's ruling, but I don't think it's worth the gamble.

#697 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 02:41 PM:

Open Thready goodness: Steampunk computer casemods.


#698 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 03:24 PM:

Via Stumbleupon (which is not letting me in to vote today for some reason):

Body camo art

Japanese rice fields

#699 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 04:12 PM:

lorax #696: Yes, that's what I meant, more clearly explained.

#700 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 05:31 PM:

I've just been characterized as "an immature, smug, anti-religious bigot" on another site. Since the person saying it was a Mormon homophobe arguing against marriage equality, I can understand why HE thinks so, but it's certainly...bemusing.

I believe the line from Blazing Saddles is "You know, morons."

#701 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Is bemusing the grade below amusing?

#702 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 05:43 PM:

Yes, though this guy gets an F in all other respects. He's generally pretty zemusing.

#703 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 06:53 PM:

Bemusing is the sister of Bewitched, Bothered, and Bemildred.

#704 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 07:08 PM:

re 700: Never a good idea to do one of those: people will want to check whether it's so.

#705 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 07:13 PM:

C., not quite sure what you mean there. I have a lot of comments there and people can read my history and judge for themselves; he obviously didn't.

#706 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 07:37 PM:

Thank you for the good wishes for my sister, everyone.

Craig R. @ #602: I know my sister has something specific in mind -- I thiiink it was Aviation Ordinanceman. My failure to remember accurately is more due to me having a poor memory than anything, I know she's told me a ton of times...

#707 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 09:02 PM:

David Harmon @ 683, the Perseids hang around for a couple of days - you may be able to see them tonight.

Unfortunately, we got hit with night-time clouds, and didn't feel like driving out to the mountains in case it was drier there. And I'd forgotten about the planetary conjunction thing until a bit after sunset, so Mars, Venus, and Saturn were still out, but Mercury had set, and I wasn't sure whether any of the bright things I could see were the asteroid Vesta or just stars.

#708 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 10:32 PM:

Bill Stewart #707: Alas, tonight it's raining.

On a brighter note, I picked up my new glasses! Definite improvement, and they're transitionals for when it gets sunny again -- the sun clips for my old glasses had broken.

Also this week, I made a new batch (~7 quarts) of split-pea/lentil/veggie stew, which came out quite nicely. (As usual, most of it went into the freezer.)

#709 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2010, 11:17 PM:

Yeah, the "Micmac hieroglyphs" in tonight's episode of Haven are recognizable Egyptian hieroglyphs. Sigh. Don't these people think anyone knows this shit?

#710 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 12:44 AM:

I am not sure what I like more - the small but nice apartment, the proximity to lots of interesting culinary options... or the fact that I can walk around at my preferred pace without getting so hot and sweaty that I think I am going to melt.

Yep, I like it here.

I also had the great good fortune today to find, by random chance, bitter lemon soda whilst running errands - I have a great nostalgic fondness for it, having first tried it on a plane to the UK around the age of ten. Now, of course, I can drink it properly (with good British gin). I am very happy at the moment.

#711 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 01:29 AM:

Xopher #709: Yeah, the "Micmac hieroglyphs" in tonight's episode of Haven are recognizable Egyptian hieroglyphs. Sigh.

Were there any in-jokes in the hieroglyphs? I remember from a long ago Nixon Goes To China piece in Mad Magazine had Chinese ideograms that translated to "would you buy a used rickshaw from this man?"

#712 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 01:59 AM:

Sandy B. @687: Am I just overthinking this?



#713 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 02:17 AM:

I spent part of Thursday night in moderate middle of nowhere with friends, staring up at meteors. The friend with an iPhone downloaded a constellation app that we couldn't get to work-- it never identified Scorpio, which is one of my favorites. I declared the bright thing in the northish to be Jupiter because it usually is. I also saw the Milky Way for the first time.

Now I'm wondering about the thing that's probably Jupiter.

#714 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:24 AM:

Diatryma @713:
Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Spica were all visible at twilight last night. The visible planets were all pretty close to each other visually.
Since I haven't had a chance to skygaze in a few weeks, I cribbed this from Sky and Telescope's front page which is targeted at the casual sky watcher, with the goal of sucking people into astronomy. The big front page illo usually shows just the five or so major sky features to answer the "What's that star Mommy?" question (sometimes preempted by major observable events, but usually about naked-eye objects). The "This Week's Sky at a Glance" is a somewhat more detailed look at the evening sky. Behind the free regwall is their interactive sky chart.
Heavens Above is where I go to find out about visible ISS passes and Iridium Flares (the satphone satellites are frequently oriented so that the sun will glint off of the big solar panels for a few seconds, they can be the brightest lights in the night or evening sky, but are only viewable in a very tiny area (a few miles or so). Free registration allows you to store your viewing locations.

#715 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 10:33 AM:

When I'm trying to figure out what's going on in my sky, I go here. My only reservation about it is that I can never remember which planets are represented by most of the planetary symbols.

#716 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:04 AM:

Stellarium is good too. In fact it's more than good. It was referenced earlier, on 'Open Thread C'. I couldn't find the reference, but enjoyed re-reading the thread.

Here, Kitty, Kitty!

#717 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:14 AM:

Open threadiness:
Safe for work, but may get stuck in your head. I'd even call it "likely."

688: Horror of apartment: The one I'm thinking of was a bit squamous. Definitely not eldritch, though. I was 23 before I realized that someone had to wash the windows in a given place, and since I lived alone that would be me.

#718 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:44 AM:

Lee @ 665
Where was it in the registry, and what does it look like?

(I think it got into my computer at work, which keeps trying to go to a page that, fortunately, is blocked by the corporate firewall/AV software. We are, for various reasons, still using IE6, and the firewall/AV is not what it maybe should be.)

#719 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Diatryma, #713: Are we late enough in the year for Scorpio to be visible? I'm used to seeing it in the winter -- but OTOH, I haven't been looking, so if you saw it naked-eye, that trumps. :-)

P J Evans, #718: I don't remember -- it was some sort of random string. I think it had "ru" in it, which made me think it was Russian malware. My partner says he'll take a stab at responding when he gets a moment; since he was the one who actually knocked it down, he may remember more.

#720 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 12:15 PM:

Lee, the site my computer keeps trying to go to is begins with something like nagwer ... a string of letters like but not identical to the one you found. I've put it on the 'don't' list in the browser, but I can't get the machine to stop trying to go there.

#721 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 12:56 PM:

P J @ 718 --

The key was in the Startup entries, and it was a launch for a file named usru.exe that had been dumped in the otherwise-empty new folder /Documents and Settings/User/Application Data/Emurt. The folder name and the file name both looked like they might have been generated randomly on the fly, though, so look for nonsense folders and files with the relevant date and time. Spybot's TeaTimer flagged and prevented the attempted registry change, and the data about the registry entry pointed me at the dropped file. The script kept trying to install the reg change after the file had been deleted and the browser had been knocked down, but TeaTimer kept flagging it, so the reg change never got made. The sophistication level of the attack was fairly low. I didn't do a file scan on the offending item (nuking it seemed the higher priority at the time) but it's still trapped in the recycle system at this point, and I suppose I could toss it to Kaspersky for a pathology exam.

#722 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 01:04 PM:

AKICIML: someone here once recommended/linked to an online shop selling silk and other natural fiber clothing and fabric, undyed IIRC. Having lost my bookmarks in a hard drive crash, I've been unable to find it again (curse my weak Google fu!). Any suggestions?

#723 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 01:04 PM:

AKICIML: someone here once recommended/linked to an online shop selling silk and other natural fiber clothing and fabric, undyed IIRC. Having lost my bookmarks in a hard drive crash, I've been unable to find it again (curse my weak Google fu!). Any suggestions?

#724 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 01:05 PM:

P J -

You need to drop the offending domain into the hosts file to block it effectively. Just causing the browser to ignore it may not be enough. There was a sample entry up-thread covering this tactic. If the domain has morphed from what was listed, adjust accordingly. These attacks are common enough that some of the systems here are further shielded by running the NoScript plugin for FireFox, but it's not an annoyance that everyone would suffer gladly.

#725 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 01:05 PM:

(grr. Also curse my twitchy posting finger. I'm sorry.)

#726 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 01:08 PM:

Lila - has a selection of undyed cotton, silk and rayon clothing, as well as everything needed to dye them. Or batik, or otherwise decorate chemically. they also have undyed yard goods. Oh, and they have many of the instructions online for doing these things, as well.

#727 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Lila, when I lived in Austin I had to stay very VERY far away from Silk Road Fabrics. I am assured that they also do mailorder, although I can't verify it, since I am requiring myself to stay Very Far Away from their website.

(They had undyed double-sided 100% silk satin ribbon in several widths. Also khadi silk and about a million cottons and linens, some dyed, some not. Their bolt- and roll-ends were a marvel.)

#728 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 01:28 PM:

Lee: that's the one! Thank you!

TexAnne: Oh my God, I would so go broke in there. I nearly drooled on my keyboard! Parts of their website appear borked, but what's there is amazing. Thank you as well!

#729 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 02:24 PM:

David Harmon @ 708: recipe and cooking instructions, please? I'm always looking for vege stuff I can make in bulk and then freeze most portions of.

Benjamin Wolfe @ 710: Glad you're (by the sound of it) somewhat recovered from your move, and liking your new place of abode (it would be sad if you really didn't, at this point).

Diatryma @713: It's great isn't it, seeing the Milky Way properly, and realising why it got called that?

Lee @ 719: I consider being able to see Orion as one of the compensations for winter, and I'm always a bit sad when he dips out of sight in spring.

#730 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 03:02 PM:

dcb @ 729 -- You might take a look at the recipe section of my website. I've got several crock-pot recipes for veggie stews and the like (along with all of the chocolate dessert recipes).

#731 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 03:14 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 730: Great! Just been there and grabbed some. Left the wonderful-sounding dessert recipes, because I really don't need temptation in the house.

I'll have to try some of these in the hot box (aka no-energy slow cooker).

#732 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 03:48 PM:

dcb @729: You might like my Hearty Vegan Split-Pea Soup recipe. Dead simple to make, cheap ingredients, freezes/thaws like a dream. Easiest if you have a plunge blender ('braun-schtick' in our family argot), but can be done without. It's a long-boil (until the peas are done), so ideal for hotboxing.

My Zucchini hash-zerole is more an algorithm than a recipe, but potentially useful for you. It's a sautee, then long-bake.

#733 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 03:56 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 732: Grabbed, with thanks - hearty soup sounds great. I could adapt the zucchini one to be vege.

#734 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 05:26 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe@710: Mmmm, gin and bitter lemon! Yum. (I learned to drink bitter lemon in England as a child, and progressed from there to gin and tonic, and then back to gin and bitter lemon.)

#735 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 05:45 PM:

Earl 711: I didn't look at them for that long. I just recognized one or two of them from my brief study of Egyptian.

#736 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 05:45 PM:

dcb #729: My legume-veggie stew isn't a specific recipe, so much as an algorithm:

  1. Start with 12 quart stockpot. Fill halfway with water, start that heating while I clean and chop the other stuff.
  2. Pick over and rinse 2 pounds of split peas and/or lentils (now available in a wide choice of colors). Split peas, and the lentils I buy, don't need soaking.
  3. Select, clean, and chop veggies♪ until the pot is almost full, leaving some room to boil. (See below for suggestions.)
  4. Add spices to taste. I almost always put a few laurel-bay leaves in, and this time I also used: a teaspoon or so apiece of turmeric and mild chili powder, about a half-teaspoon each of ground pepper, dry dill weed, and celery seed, and a pinch of rosemary. This came out fairly mild, but with a subtle heat.
  5. My secret ingredient is homemade stock♫. For a big batch like this, I just dumped in a bag of the cubes, about a pint of strong stock. If your stock isn't so concentrated, let it replace some of the water.
  6. Boil for several hours. You can probably get away with 2 hours, but I like to cook it longer -- this time, between 4 and 5 hours.
    • Once you've got it boiling, keep the heat low, and make sure to stir up from the bottom at least every hour.
    • Add water if it gets below half the original volume -- keeping it covered most of the time will help keep that under control. Anyway, it's a matter of taste just how thick you like your soup.
    • For this batch, I went from almost 12 quarts down to 7, as gauged by water level in the pot. For once I didn't need to add more water, as I'd kept the flame low enough. (Didn't burn the bottom at all, either! ;-) )
  7. Cool in the covered pot -- this much soup will need a few hours to cool before you can safely put it in the refrigerator, much less the freezer (that's "safe for your fridge"). Usually I let it cool on the stovetop to "merely warm", then put it in the fridge overnight to thicken. The next morning, I ladle pints and quarts into quart freezer zip-bags -- laid flat, those stack nicely in the freezer.
♪ Veggies are pretty flexible -- I like to toss in a variety, including some leftovers. All should be well-cleaned, appropriately trimmed, then chopped into fairly small pieces. My base mix (as per Grandma :-) ) is carrots, celery, onion, parsley, a parsnip, and sometimes a small turnip. More recent additions to my "usual veggies" are mushrooms, potato and a can or two of diced tomatoes. This time I also added garlic, some red bell pepper, and a small mildly-hot pepper. If you want it hotter, one habanero or a couple of jalapeños (seeded, deveined and chopped into bits) will be plenty! When you're putting in that many kinds of vegetable, you won't need too much of any one sort -- for example, I had two full-length celery stalks, a couple of small potatoes, about half of the big bell pepper, perhaps 6 ounces of mushrooms, half a medium-large onion, etc. This time, I actually forgot the parsley, parsnip, and turnip. I noticed the difference when I tasted it ("hmm, a bit short on sulfur"), but it wasn't a serious mistake. (And IIRC, the batch of stock I used had a lot of parsley stems in it anyway.)

♫ I periodically make stock from veggie scraps and chicken bones, then freeze it in ice-cube trays. Having it in cubes lets me easily toss a couple of cubes into a pot of soup or rice, pan of veggies, etc. I actually learned how to do this here on ML, but I'll repeat it for completeness:

  1. I accumulate the scraps in the freezer until I've filled a gallon bag or so -- for example, a lot of the trimmings from this soup went into the stock bag. "Tired" veggies are fine for stock, as are onion & garlic "paper", but anything rotten or moldy goes straight to the trash! Also exclude potato eyes, sprouts, and green bits (poisonous), pepper seeds and membranes (bitter), and beet trimmings (purple!). Don't use too much of anything that's likely to "take over" the stock's flavor, notably sulfurous vegetables. Skip spices and salt, as this is just a component for later dishes.
  2. Put in pot, fill with water to 10-11 quarts, and boil for many hours -- at least 6 -- adding water as needed to keep it from boiling too low -- I try to keep it at least at the 6-quart level. (This will be concentrated, but I'm not very consistent about exact strength.) Some folks here boil stock overnight, but I generally get enough boil-off that I don't dare do that.
  3. Strain out the scraps, and transfer stock into a suitably smaller container for cooling. Let the scraps stand in a bowl long enough to get the last few ounces of stock out (you can squeeze a bit), then put that in with the rest, and discard the scraps.
  4. Cool first on stovetop and then overnight in refrigerator.
  5. In the morning, then skim off any fat, and put in ice-cube trays for freezing, covering the trays with saran wrap. Once frozen, one or two tray's worth of cubes fit nicely into a quart freezer bag.

#737 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 05:54 PM:

Ooh, I see other people have jumped in with more recipes. Thanks, Elliott & Joel!

#738 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 05:55 PM:

David Harmon @ 736: Thanks. I'll adapt to (my) taste (which is the proper thing to do with recipes, after all).

#739 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 06:18 PM:

David Harmon@736: Freezing in ice cube trays is one of the greatest tricks. I first learned it for pesto base (basically, whirled basil), but it can be profitably applied to a very wide range of things certainly including good (i.e. homemade) stock. Not that I make stock much of ever lately, but I recognize the benefits of doing so! (I suppose it could also be applied to mediocre stock, but why bother?)

For those who haven't discovered this wonderful trick yet -- freeze in ice cube trays, then when well frozen break out and put in a plastic bag. They don't tend to freeze together in the bag (at least solidly enough to cause any trouble), so you've got nice fairly uniform-size chunks of whatever it was that will keep for a long time and yet is very easy to use in small to medium quantities. And it's very little (extra) trouble.

#740 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 06:36 PM:

Thanks for the website, Joel Polowin-- I'm going to spend some time bothering it until I can make proper sense of it.

Lee, I saw what I think of as Scorpio, but I have my own ideas of which stars go on which constellation. Scorpio's the first one I ever picked out and named, though I don't think I had seen it before then-- some things are obvious and thus probably named constellations*, some are not. My favorites are Orion, Taurus, and the Pleiades, in that order-- Orion's belt leads to Taurus leads to the Pleiades, though in my head Taurus is actual a dog wanting to play.

*my father teaches astronomy. Sometimes, he forgets that not everyone knows the sky. "Okay, this next constellation, you see those three stars that make a triangle?"

#741 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 07:10 PM:

ddb @ 734 : Even if it is sweetened with HFCS (which does not thrill me), it still tastes like my childhood. And, as I am just back from a 4.5 mile grocery hike through various bits of Berkeley, I think I want one.

#742 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 08:08 PM:

So, some open-threaded food fun - what was your favorite bad snack as a kid? For me, I loved a fried pie and a pint of chocolate milk.

#743 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 08:43 PM:

Steve C., 742: At the risk of telling people to get off my my family there were no bad snacks. As long as I didn't make myself sick or spoil my supper, I could have as many Oreos or tomatoes or huge wads of cheese as I wanted. My mother occasionally rolled her eyes at my choices, but she never installed any Goddamned Tapes about food. Cake for breakfast? Yeah, I never got that Cosby routine. That was a normal breakfast, and still is when I go see my parents. It doesn't keep forever, you know, and if we run out Mom will make another one.

#744 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:01 PM:

Cake for breakfast isn't inherently any sillier than doughnuts, danishes, coffee cake, or pancakes with syrup, all of which are standard breakfast foods.

#745 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:01 PM:

It's a shame that air pollution is ruining the constellations. Even on the clearest night with no light spill, you can barely make out the little lines that connect the pictures, and without these, they're just a bunch of random stars.

#746 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:06 PM:

I am hard pressed to come up with a genuine bad snack - the super-processed stuff did not come into the house when my brothers and I were growing up. These days, I have a horrible soft spot (for someone who is obsessed with good food) for cheap steam-table Chinese food... preferably at airports.

In terms of odd breakfast foods... let me see: one memorable time, brussels sprouts (leftover from dinner the previous night - I was, I believe, seven at the time). I am very fond of leftover Tom Kah Gai as a near-perfect breakfast - but most of the time, my breakfasts are small (a piece of fruit and an espresso).

#747 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Favorite bad snack growing up? That would be liquid-filled chewable wax, sometimes bottle-shaped, but there were other types as well.

#748 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:22 PM:

I'm having trouble coming up with a bad snack that I don't still... oh, wait, squeeze cheese on Ritz crackers. My parents didn't object, really. Food going into young me, good.

#749 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:24 PM:

Earl I remember those. But I think my favorites were candy 'cigarettes'.
(No, I don't smoke. Candy, on the other hand, is a definite temptation, along with cookies and other bakery items.)

#750 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:29 PM:

I too can corroborate Earl's wax bottles full of eldritch colored syrup, not to mention the chewable giant red wax lips, with and without vampire fangs; but my favorite bad snack was Moon Pies (back then they only came in plain "chocolate". I still eat one a decade or so, just to remind myself that they actually exist.

#751 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:29 PM:

Favorite bad snack?

Slice of ham, smear of cream cheese, sweet gherkin in the middle, rolled up into a tube. 3 or 4 of those after school was a great snack. Or a peanut butter/banana/mayonnaise sandwich. Or a bowl of dad's homemade salsa and chips, with three slices of cheese to cut the heat. Yum. This is making me hungry.

Favorite holiday food as a child? Lil' Smokeys in bbq sauce, sitting in the slow cooker. I love those. I wish someone else in my family did so I'd have an excuse to make them more often.

#752 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:32 PM:

Oh, and fried bologna sandwiches with American "cheese".

These days my favorite breakfast is leftover frumenty (from the recipe in Lobscouse and Spotted Dog). I eat it with extra cream, but without the rum.

#753 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 09:49 PM:

The word 'snack' is giving me problems, because I didn't snack much as a child (unless you count smuggled-in candy bars). However, I was very fond of my mother's chili, which consisted of canned chili mixed with canned corned beef.

#754 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 10:59 PM:

Hmmm; not exactly "bad" snacks. But two of the stranger snacks I ate as a child were Peperidge Farm breadcrumbs (dry in a bowl), and mustard sandwiches (English Muffin bread, butter, yellow mustard).

I still very occasionally eat the bread crumbs plain (and use them as the base for turkey stuffing twice a year).

#755 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:00 PM:

If I may define "bad snack" as "snack that my mother thought was disgusting," then mine is as follows:

Two flour tortillas, with a moderately thick layer of cream cheese (about a fifth- to a quarter-brick) spread evenly between. Pat the tortillas firmly together, then nibble off the edges. Peel the laminar layers off delicately (folding the circles and biting them into snowflakes before consuming entire) until the thinnest possible layer of tortilla that will still maintain structural integrity remains; then eat.

Of course, Mom ate and enjoyed fluffernutters, so as far as I'm concerned it's the pot calling the kettle grimy-assed in regards to disgusting-sounding food. :->

Our household record for disgusting food consumed within it, though, has to go with our Australian houseguest. She stayed for several weeks, and when she left, left us the remainder of the small jar of Marmite she had brought with her. As we found its odor highly unappetizing, it sat in the cabinet for several years unopened. Then, we decided to wash it out and keep the jar -- it was an interesting shape. However, even bleach, dish soap, and thorough scrubbing failed to remove the stench, so we had to recycle the glass.

#756 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:04 PM:

Hmm. My Mom despaired of my sweet tooth, but that's pretty generic. Probably Slim Jims were my most specific "guilty pleasure" back then, but she was pretty firm about limiting our sweets and the supply of over-processed snacks. Of course, my Mom's side of the family runs strongly to eating a lot of salt (and to low blood pressure, sometimes too low).

I eat rather more processed snacks and quickmeals nowadays -- if I weren't hyperactive, I'd probably be morbidly obese by now, instead of just having a medium-sized potbelly.

EClaire: How are those snacks bad? Admittedly, I'd leave the mayo out of the PB&B sandwich, just because I don't think I'd like the combo. But otherwise your snacks seem pretty reasonable to me. Especially the homemade salsa and chips -- yum!

It's worth remembering that kids are supposed to eat more animal fat than adults -- in particular, cholesterol is a critical
nutrient for nerve development.

#757 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:10 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 741: Fever Tree bitter lemon is made with cane sugar. It's a bit expensive, but quite good. Dunno if it will trigger childhood memories as well as the childhood brand (presumably Schweppes, which I loved as a child).

#758 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:23 PM:

Mayo sandwiches, with or without mustard. Possibly with buttered bread, to keep the rest from soaking in.

I went through a stage where I liked sandwiches that had PB with strawberry jam and sweet pickle relish. Fortunately it didn't last long.

#759 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:25 PM:

One of my cousins used to come home from school and heat up a bowl of gravy. When I learned this, I made the proper disgusted motions while thinking, "Why didn't I think of that?"

#760 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:28 PM:

Oh, if we're expanding it to "weird snacks", I do have a few:

(1) Peanut-butter-and jelly cheesebread -- that is, put the PB&J on a slice of bread, add a slice or two of American cheese★, broil in the oven until the cheese melts. My sisters and I loved those -- when I tried one as an adult, I found it horribly oversweet.

(2) For about 10 years (age 5 or so until I went into high school), I made and brought to school the same lunch every day -- a scrambled-egg ("omelet") and ketchup sandwich. That (and other omelet variations) was the first cooked meal I could make for myself, though I did tend to burn them by my current standards.

(3) One of those omelet variations is something I still make occasionally: putting a can of Campbell's soup ("Alphabet" or chicken noodle) over a four-egg omelet (somewhat before the flip). That would be for dinner or if a couple of us were eating it -- for lunch or a snack, It would be half a can over a two-egg omelet.

Hmm, thinking about it, we had a bit more processed food than I claimed above -- canned soup, American cheese, often hot dogs. (Hamburgers were homemade.)

★ For non-Americans, that's "processed cheese product" in "slice" form -- basically, 3mm slices of Velveeta, individually plastic-wrapped. American labeling rules have a special exemption to let it be sold as "[American ]cheese".

#761 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2010, 11:32 PM:

Tim Walters @ 757 : Schweppes is very much the taste of my childhood - but I want to try the Fever Tree version (for that matter, I want to try their tonic water as well - I like mine with rather more quinine than most people seem to).

#762 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 12:20 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 741... it still tastes like my childhood

I'm not sure I'd want to taste the culinary equivalent of my childhood.
("One lump or two?")

#763 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 12:43 AM:

P J Evans@758: I never did take to pb&jelly. I was raised on real peanut butter (peanuts and salt), and have never come to like sweetened peanut butter (if you will accept that what's in Reese's is not peanut butter).

I loved honey on a heavily-buttered english muffin, or peanut butter. One day, with those in mind and remembering the traditional PB&J sandwich, I tried honey and peanut butter on a muffin. Didn't like that at all either. I'd had great hopes for it, but nope.

Oh, but I DID eat liver sausage and pickle relish sandwiches. And still do very occasionally.

And I've always liked stinky cheeses; Limburger (which my father ate for lunch about every day), or these days (for appetizers rather than lunch) really ripe Brie, or Pont-l'Evêque, or something. These of course are not disgusting in the slightest, unless you do not like ripened cheeses.

Can't stand mayo or anything at all like it, never have tolerated it. Do you know some sushi chefs put it in California rolls? That was a truly terrible shock; I send them back now (unless there's a warning in the menu, in which case I order them without, or something).

Tim Walters@757: Fever Tree, eh? Don't recall seeing them, I'll have to look when in the fancier stores and see if I can find them locally (both tonic water and better lemon seem of interest).

I've only had Schweppes bitter lemon previously. I drink Schweppes or Canada Dry tonic water pretty interchangeably.

#764 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 12:56 AM:

Snort. I am very glad that I was not having a glass of it when I read your comment. It would have been unpleasant.

Bitter lemon is amazingly evocative stuff for me - the taste of it takes me back to one of several times I drank it in the UK as a child (usually getting rather odd looks from whatever adult was to hand, as they could not believe that a kid would want to drink something like that).

#765 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:05 AM:

My sister and I ate PB with honey or Karo syrup on saltines. I still prefer PB on something other than plain bread....toast, crackers, french toast, a spoon.

#766 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:16 AM:

I used to like cottage cheese with barbecue sauce (Open Pit was the brand in our house) mixed into it. It was pink and looked really awful (because the sauce colored the cream but not the curds), but tasted great.

Given that I was a teenager at the time, I suspect the fact that it looked disgusting enhanced its appeal.

#767 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:41 AM:

My mother used to eat mustard and strawberry jelly sandwiches. She'd chase one of her sisters around the house with it.

I consider lemon curd on Ritz crackers to be one of the finest meals ever. When I have more money, I'm spending more at American Spoon.

#768 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:56 AM:

Childhood sneaky snacking:

I used to eat ramen noodles without cooking them, just breaking them off and dipping them in the flavor packet. Still do, on rare occasion.

I used to drink the soy sauce out of the fridge when no one was looking, too. Got caught by my dad, who was inexplicably freaked out.

My (2 years older) brother and I used to do what he'd call "black market brownies": half a batch of brownies from scratch, made, divided and eaten before my parents came home from work.

And sometimes I'd make up about half a cup of a rough approximation of cookie dough (flour, sugar, brown sugar, oil, milk) and eat that.

(More legitimate snacks at my house were carrots, apples, and bread. Full stop. I think we did some of this stuff out of sheer boredom.)

#769 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:57 AM:

Being a picky eater as a kid, my weird foods were more along the line of "nontraditional breakfast" than actually strange; my favorite summertime breakfast as a teen was a slice of bologna, a handful of Pringles, and a peach.

However, I did get into mixing weird soft-drink flavors for a while. Faygo fruit punch and grape is one that I remember liking, but the #1 success for making other people go "EW!" was Vernors and milk in a roughly 1-to-1 ratio. (Given that I absolutely hated milk otherwise, my parents didn't object to this.) Tasted a bit like a cream soda, but with that Vernors edge to it.

#770 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 02:00 AM:

ddb @739:

I learned about ice cube trays when my son was a baby and I was making baby food for him: another small-doses foodstuff.

(He liked what we called "orange food": cooked and mashed carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, and butternut squash. Funny; he won't touch any of those foods now.)

#771 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 02:02 AM:

PB&Honey sandwiches still are an occasional winner for me. I used to add potato chips (crisps, for the Brits) before closing up the sandwich.

If we have leftover bacon I'll make toast, slather it with peanut butter and add the bacon.

#772 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 02:05 AM:

Spread chocolate frosting on a Graham cracker, top with another cracker, stack in a cookie tin. You could eat them as you made them, but allowing the crackers to soften up a bit from the moisture in the frosting made them somehow more satisfying.

Watch old movie while eating.

Quick supper when Grandma had to feed the kids
Add a little milk and sugar to an egg, mix, and cook into a quasi-omelet/scrambled eggs. Add to a sandwich of white bread spread with strawberry jam. Serve warm.

The astonishing thing is that my siblings and I were all healthy, lean kids!

#773 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 02:17 AM:

P J Evans @ 758:

Mmmmmmm ... mayo sandwiches, hold the mustard, but be sure to use Hellman's (Best) Mayonnaise™. And always use White-Privilege Bread (that's Wonder-class white bread); you can add a leaf of lettuce if you're really freaked out about the nutritive value of the snack. These were some of my favorite foods.

But even I quail at my older son's favorite snack as a teenager: take a package of cream cheese and half a loaf of Cheap White Bread (ibid) and jam them together with the cream cheese at the center. Crush the mass into a roughly uniform lump and start eating. He calls it a "snowball".

#774 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 05:52 AM:

Speaking of earworms, this one's stillstuck in my head.

#775 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 07:47 AM:

Bruce Cohen #773: Heh -- my Mom wouldn't let Wonder Bread in the house, it was Arnold's or Pepperidge Farms for us. I do remember seeing (at school? somewhere outside home) what a tiny ball a slice of Wonder bread could be squished into. Supposedly the whole loaf could be crushed into a ball smaller than a walnut.

Odd breakfasts -- leftover Chinese food was "get it first" popular in our house. So was leftover lobster, but that, we'd get territorial about -- whoever's leftover it was, got to finish it. (Lobster -- always bought fresh and boiled at home -- was the our family's traditional celebratory dinner.)

#776 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 08:08 AM:

Lard & brown-sugar sandwiches.

#777 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 08:10 AM:

David Harmon @775:

Double heh -- my parents insisted on making all of our bread themselves when I was a kid. Nothing but healthy, fresh, whole wheat bread for us!

Naturally, I would have killed, or at least maimed, for Wonder Bread. It took me another 18 years to like any form of brown bread again.

(Yes, fresh bread is delicious just out of the oven, with lashings of butter. But the way it used to soak up the jam from our PBJs was...not nice.)

#778 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 08:13 AM:

I ate Cheerios and other breakfast cereals dry. Still eat oatmeal with butter, salt, and pepper. Used to eat ketchup by itself. Won't put it on French fries; hot sauce is much better. Still occasionally eat soda crackers with butter.

#779 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 09:43 AM:

Elliott Mason (755): Fluffernutters! Okay, that's mine. I only got them at my best friend's house, so I forgot all about them.

Generally: Braunschweiger and honey sandwiches were a mainstay of my childhood, along with the more traditional peanut butter and jelly☮. And as a teen, I enjoyed peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

☮ or jam, or preserves; my mother☃ rarely bought actual jelly
☃ despite the canned chili, canned corned beef, canned spaghetti☹, and occasional Spam, my mother was (and is) a believer in healthy eating
☹ another staple of my childhood. I quite liked it at the time, but it would probably disgust me now

#780 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 09:57 AM:

I love braunschweiger (in a sandwich with bread & butter pickles for preference), but it's too scary for me now. Especially since, if I buy it, I have to eat the whole package myself, since nobody else in my family likes it.

#781 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 10:34 AM:

Abi, I probably would have gone for soy sauce had I been able to do so discreetly. I adored salt and would dump a bunch into my hand whenever I cleared the table, then lick it off when I thought no one was looking.

#782 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 11:06 AM:

PB&honey was one of my standard lunch sandwiches: it holds for hours without any worse than just making the bread a little crunchy. PB&brown sugar is also good. The technique I learned is to put a thin layer of PB on both slices of bread and then the jam/jelly/honey/brown sugar. (Honey needs to be mixed in or it will leak out.)

The commercial jars of 'PB and' never got into our grocery baskets.

#783 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 11:43 AM:

I have eaten all my cereal completely dry for at least fifteen years, so it does not sound strange to me at all (I have recollections of putting milk on my cereal as a kid, but after about the age of seven or eight, I stopped). In fact, I have a great dislike of drinking milk - which does not extend to other dairy products - I eat a considerable amount of yogurt and cheese and will happily cook and bake with various dairy products, but I cannot stand the idea of drinking or consuming milk. I do not think I have drunk a glass since I was 12 or 13.

#784 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 11:46 AM:

We also made peanut butter and honey sandwiches or, more rarely, braunschweiger and jam. Very occasionally, we'd put all four together. (Mom wouldn't let us use two sweets with one protein, but two and two was okay.)

#785 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 11:49 AM:

Kip W @745: you can barely make out the little lines that connect the pictures

But your comment is brilliant! Thanks!

#786 ::: salixulon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 11:52 AM:

I've been a fan of peanut butter sandwiches since I was a kid, but never with any jelly or other amendments. In recent decades, I've preferred my plain PB on pumpernickel.

#787 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 11:53 AM:

It's not so much that they were unhealthy, as that they were such odd combinations, or seemed it at the time.

Another favorite from the Shoney's All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast Bar (because I didn't like breakfast food)- red jello with ranch dressing.

#788 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 12:03 PM:

Anne, #778: I still eat cereal dry, on the rare occasions that I eat it at all -- but that has a lot to do with my general loathing for milk. It also means that the only cereals I like are the equivalent of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs. Froot Loops is probably my favorite, with Frosted Flakes running a close second.

Benjamin, #783: Seebling! The taste of milk makes me gag. I can drink milk-based flavored things like Instant Breakfast or licuados (fruit smoothies), but the last time I remember drinking an actual glass of milk was when I was 7 years old. I was having lunch at a friend's house, and as a matter of course I was given a glass of milk because that's the healthy drink for kids. I remember that I held my breath and chugged it, and then had to eat something quickly to get the taste out of my mouth, and when they asked if I'd like some more I requested water.

Like you, I don't have any problem with other dairy products (well, I don't like yogurt, but that's because it tastes like spoiled milk to me) -- it's just milk itself as a beverage that's the issue.

#789 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 12:16 PM:

I'm not a big fan of white milk, but that's because it tastes pretty neutral to me. And it doesn't include all the chocolate I normally add.

When all three kids were at college, that was the first time in my memory that my parents had a gallon of milk go bad. When we're all home, it's standard grocery procedure to get a gallon every time you're at the store, whether you've seen the fridge recently or not.

I was taught to eat dry cereal because Mom knew that we took forever to eat it-- I'm one of those who ate Trix in color order with my fingers-- and that once it got soggy, we were done. I don't think I've had cereal with milk in it more than once or twice, and that's a high estimate. It seems like a way to mess up two good things by mashing them together needlessly.

#790 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 12:19 PM:

Peanut butter and honey sandwich - with good thick layers of both the peanut butter and the honey. I still like this, but I tend to go easier on the PB and use just enough honey to stop the PB sticking the bread to the roof of my mouth.

A favourite quick lunch was scrambled egg, mashed potatoes and baked beans - all mixed up together to give a pre-digested-looking pink mess which everyone else, of course, thought was disgusting. No doubt that added to the appeal, when I was eight or nine.

Milk: I'll use in on cereal, but just to drink - no. I blame it on those 1/3 pint bottles we had to drink in infant school, which had usually been left standing in the sun half the mornig and were already slightly "off" when you had to drink them - and you did have to drink it.

Anyone else tried toasting individual lengths of spaghetti in the gas flame? You have to keep turning it, and moving it back and forth, to get as much as possible white/slightly brown and as little as possible burned, while avoiding burning your fingers. Mmmm!

#791 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 12:21 PM:

...guess I was the only one here that ever rolled up bologna with cottage cheese in the middle?

#792 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 12:42 PM:

While we're talking about milk: after a recent physical and lab work, I discovered I was seriously deficient in vitamin D. "Self, what the hell?" I said to myself, because I drink milk every day. Then I realized that about a year ago the family switched to locally produced organic milk, which (though delicious!) does not have vitamin D added to it. (I had not previously thought to check.) So now I'm on heavy-duty prescription vitamin D for a while and I feel much less worn down. Just a thought for anyone who might end up in the same situation.

#793 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 12:59 PM:

In my family, we always ate peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches. I've actually heard of people eating PB and dill pickles, but that's just crazy (tongue firmly in cheek, if you can't tell).

Sadly, I can't get sweet pickles over here, and I'm too lazy to can them myself, so I make do with nectarine slices sometimes on my peanut butter sandwiches. And PB is also terrific on pancakes.

#794 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:02 PM:

It's certainly an eclectic catalog of snacks and meals.

Oh, one more from my youth, which I still enjoy on occasion: banana sandwich, with the banana sliced thin and between two slices of buttered bread.

I also had a minor odd eating habit when I was young. I ate everything sequentially. First the meat, then the potatoes or starch, then the veggies. That stopped when I got into my teen years.

#795 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:12 PM:

Kip W @745! :)

Snacks: pumpkin pie and peanut butter cookies were Approved Breakfast.

My most bizarre snack was a tar made by pouring A&W root-beer concentrate over sugar. (Not sure whether the taste appealed to me so much as the just plain weirdness.)

I learned about cheeze-and-jelly sandwiches from Don Baily when I was living in Mpls.

Where I had (have) a voracious sweet-tooth, my mother's thing was salt. Every once in a while, she'd settle down for a good nosh of saltines slathered liberally with anchovy paste. Wake up the next morning with her eyelids all edemaed shut.

My dad (having grown up on a farm) referred to Wonder Bread as "Kleenex Bread." Was years before I realized this wasn't a common expression.

#796 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:27 PM:

Lila #792:

I was recently diagnosed as D-deficient, and we get regular D-added grocery milk.

I now take D supplements in addition to my usual vitamin mix, and have found that it has massively improved concentration and a tendency to depression.

I was one of those who couldn't bear plain milk as a child (it always smelled three days sour, even when totally fresh), but I didn't get a free pass out of school milk even though I was officially allergic to the stuff. Finally, in fifth grade, chocolate milk showed up at lunchtimes, and after that I was a reasonably happy camper. (Summer camp was much better--bug juice at every meal!) I can definitely handle milk--hot or cold--with coffee in.

As for the most disgusting thing I ever had for breakfast, as a child I always regarded *anything* for breakfast as disgusting, so that covered a lot of territory.

Weird snacks, not really back then, although I was very fond of getting a bag of peppermints and going through most of them in an afternoon. I also put salt in Fresca, and in very hot weather would apply salt to a tall glass of ice cubes (in layers), add tap water, and drink up.

Nowadays, my favorite "I'm sick" meal is undiluted cream of chicken/mushroom soup on buttered toast, sometimes with cheddar on top. Other stuff for times of stress is plain saltines, buttered or with a slice of cheddar each, under the broiler.

#797 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:36 PM:

Steve C, your minor odd eating habit is my completely normal multi-part meal. It's rare that I mix food. Were you also a no-touching food person?

#798 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 01:43 PM:

Diatryma, touching food was okay, as long as it didn't get out of hand and all mixed together. I do recall my sister loved to mix corn and mashed potatoes together.

Oh, I always preferred to have some drink left over at the end of a meal. Draining the glass after the last bite seemed more satisfying than finishing the drink before the food was eaten.

#799 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 02:16 PM:

I like milk, but only to wash food down with. Cereal gets a tiny bit of milk, just enough to dampen it without making it soggy. Any milk left in the bottom of the bowl when I finish is discarded.

Debbie (793): It was dill pickles♣ that I put in sandwiches with peanut butter.

When I was about 15, I invented a dessert that I dubbed Candy Cupcakes: Melt a bag of chocolate chips and a bag of marshmallows (mini work best) together in the top of a double boiler, stirring enough to blend thoroughly. While that's melting, set out cupcake papers (a few dozen? I forget) and put a few jellybeans or gumdrops★ into the bottom of each. Pour the melted chocolate-marshmallow mixture into the cupcake papers and let cool. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

♣ Dill is my default pickle. I tend to forget that other kinds exist.

★ The "healthy" version uses peanuts instead. Or other nuts, I suppose.

#800 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 03:31 PM:

Sandy B @ 791 re cottage cheese wrapped in bologna: Mormon sushi?

I hated cottage cheese, except in lasagna (when it had apparently had the "disgusting" cooked out of it). Still don't eat it by choice.

My cousins and I would sometimes take a cup of tomato juice or other inoffensive liquid and add as many of the spices in the kitchen as we dared, then dare one another to taste it. Surprising how often it came out tasting like chocolate, even when we had put no chocolate into it.

#801 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 03:36 PM:

We ate puffy white bread when I was a kid. But its best and highest use was as a raw material in summer-camp craft classes. Once you've squeezed it entirely solid, it can be molded, dried and painted to form flowers to mount on jewelry findings and all the other ugly things you might otherwise make out of clay.

But it's not like I actually wanted to eat it, and I quit when I left home. My first husband was a musicology student -- he wrote a cantata which began, "Eat-eat-eat Lang-lang-langendorf Bread, it's dead, you know it won't fight back."

My high school class toured the local bakery that baked the local brand, and later toured a local brewery. That's how I learned that neither product was honestly made. In particular, the rising of the dough, and the head on the beer were the result of injected carbon dioxide, and yeast flavoring was used for that "authentic" taste.

Oregon, you've come a loooong way!!

#802 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 03:40 PM:

OMG. Are we a bunch of Aspies, or what. Not letting the different foods touch (raises hand), lining up particulate foods according to color or other non-food considerations (raises hand). My parents were somewhat distressed, but they were kind, and only teased me about being secretly French (you know, separate courses, presentation, etc).

Now that I'm old, I still do this kind of thing, but not necessarily the same things. I am still hung up on color arrangements, though.

#803 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 04:12 PM:

Rainflame @765 - Oh yeah, peanut butter & honey on saltines. Good stuff.

I also like liverwurst sandwiches, formerly with mustard & relish, though now when I have one at a deli, I ask for some brown mustard and a thin slice of onion. Liverwurst can be mixed with mustard and relish for a great spread over saltines as well. (And every few years I might do the same with potted meat food product or deviled ham, just to bring back the good times.)

Peanut butter with honey sandwiches can be good, too. I generally add thirteen raisins (nine spaced evenly and four more placed into the resulting squares for even coverage). Peanut butter and dill pickle slices was a good combo as well, but I haven't had it in a while. (It took me years, but I can now consume sweet pickles as well.)

I used to come off the school bus famished and find nothing to eat. I would nibble on cloves sometimes, and even munch bouillon cubes. Fortunately, Mom discovered the bakery thrift shops, and there came a time when we would have a lot of slightly mashed Twinkies in the freezer (that cost as little as a nickel for two). Fun fact: when they're frozen, the whipped hydrogenated vegetable oil filling turns into something a lot like ice cream.

Buttered toast with cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on (and sprinkled on again when the butter soaked through it) was good too. Luxurious and cheap. It was even better when we finally got a toaster — we used to toast in the oven, but one day we got a four-slice gizmo that sat on top of a stove burner. You could get two good slices of toast from it: trying to put four on would not have worked.

For years I wouldn't put milk on cereal, because no cereal made stays that crispy. In later years I learned the secret (after going through an intermediate stage of taking a mouthful of cereal and grabbing a sip of milk before chewing): pour a very small bowl, or cup, of cereal. Add about an inch of milk. Consume quickly. Repeat as needed.

Touching foods: there are foods that can touch, and foods that shouldn't touch. Wet food shouldn't be allowed to make dry food soggy. Cathy can attest that I used to ask for fish and chips and NO coleslaw, and would mention that the tip was contingent on there being none of that nasty liquid mayo junk making the breading get soggy and fall off. This is because anything milder would, like as not, fail to make an impression.

#804 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Kip W @ #803: "I generally add thirteen raisins (nine spaced evenly and four more placed into the resulting squares for even coverage)"

I wonder if there's something magical about thirteen. The meat loaf recipe I use calls for thirteen saltine crackers: ten crumbled and mixed into the meat mixture, the remaining three crumbled and spread over the top of the molded product before cooking.

#805 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 05:23 PM:

Steve, #794: I still eat things one at a time -- meat first, then potatoes or stuffing, then veggies. And I tend not to drink much until I'm completely done eating, unless it's very hot. My parents thought that was one of the most bizarre things they'd ever seen, and made a HUGE deal out of it whenever I occasionally tried a mouthful of "mixed" food (like green beans and potatoes on the same fork) because I was "eating like normal people for a change". I later discovered that this eating pattern is neither uncommon nor, among the general public, considered particularly weird.

joann, #796: My parents always salted sliced tomatoes, and so did I until I discovered by accident how much better they were unsalted. My only remaining trace of that habit is that I like to put a little salt in my tomato juice.

Dr. Psycho, #800: I never could stand cottage cheese, and still can't after my last (inadvertent) test -- I got some crepes off a breakfast bar, and discovered when I bit into one that they'd been made with cottage cheese instead of ricotta. Totally disgusting!

Some of my comfort foods:

- Cinnamon toast, as described by Kip @803.

- Toasted cheese crackers. Put a square of sliced Velveeta or equivalent on each of half a dozen saltines, then toast in the toaster oven (or, very carefully, under the oven broiler) until the cheese is melty; eat warm. If you feel like getting fancy, take a can of Vienna sausage, split each one lengthwise, and arrange two halves on each saltine under the cheese. (Eat the leftover one as is while preparing.)

- Comfort rice. Plain white rice (Minute Rice works too) with a little chopped onion and a LOT of butter -- the rice should look yellowish; add salt to taste at the table.

I used to include Campbell's vegetable soup in my comfort-foods list, but apparently eating ramen has spoiled me for that. Now it tastes insipid.

#806 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 05:45 PM:

Peanut butter and maple syrup on homemade wheat bread (the denser and more brick-like, the better) was my sweet snack of choice. On one occasion mom had extra chocolate frosting leftover (?!) from a batch of cupcakes, so I brought a peanut butter maple syrup chocolate buttercream sandwich to school, much to the disgust of my classmates. I'm sure they were just jealous.

For savory, you can't beat the sliced dill pickle and mayo sandwich (bread type unimportant) although Vlasic's changed their pickle recipe enough that it's not longer as tasty as I remember it.

#807 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 06:03 PM:

Serendipitously enough, I just picked up a book at the thrift store: What We Eat When We Eat Alone, by Deborah Madison. Fascinating, and right in line with the current topic.

My current favorite by-myself comfort food is a quesadilla made with pepperjack cheese, sundried tomatoes, and spinach. I cook a small amount of frozen spinach in a custard dish in the microwave (30 seconds) and squeeze the liquid out with a fork. Then I zap the tortilla with the cheese, add the spinach and tomatoes, fold and eat. Takes next to no time, is yummy and fairly healthy, and the ingredients can be kept on hand a good long while without spoiling.

#808 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 06:07 PM:

I used to make lettuce, onion, and white vinegar salads. Or, sometimes, just drink the white vinegar.

#809 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 06:11 PM:

Before I left the East Coast I had a serious dill pickle addiction that could only be satisfied by real deli pickles, the kind that you fish out of a barrel of brine with a pair of tongs and put into a plastic bag. Haven't seen their like on the West Coast, though, and pickles in jars just aren't the same.*

I'm another milk non-drinker who eats almost any other dairy product: sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheeses of all sorts and descriptions. But I haven't had any milk since I was a teenager, and I've always taken my coffee black and my tea unadulterated.

* It's that burst of sourness that floods your mouth when you bite into the pickle; there's just nothing quite like it.

#810 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 06:14 PM:

Lee, I still expect my parents to comment when I stagger my food or drink part of a glass of milk midmeal. I don't think this wariness is warranted, but a lot of things I did when I was younger were contingent on no one saying anything, ever. Ridiculous things, sometimes.

I adore cinnamon toast; for the week or two before Alpha, that's basically what I ate. It feels decadent, even when it's standard dinner fare for days on end.

#811 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 06:16 PM:

While I'm talking about coffee, I have a small appliance question for the Fluorosphere. I just bought a Capressa coffeemaker, the kind with a bean grinder on top and a thermal flask carafe. So far, I have not been able to get the ground coffee from the beans to go through the channel from the grinder to the filter, so all I get is hot water in the carafe and ground coffee blocking the channel. Does anyone have any experience with this machine that might shed light on why I can't get it to work right?

#812 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 06:46 PM:

My mother's mother was a health nut when it was considered lunatic and my mother followed her rules often. That meant that our snacks at home were raw nuts and raisins.

If we went out on a long drive, my brother and I each got a roll of Lifesavers.

But what I used to make when we had company was Chex Mix -- back before Chex made it themselves -- and that has lots of butter, soy sauce, roasted nuts, pretzel sticks, Cheerios, and Chex cereal. If I could figure out a way to make a smaller version, I'd do it now.

#813 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 07:10 PM:

So I've installed NoScript, and I must be doing something not quite right, because every time I post to ML, now, despite having checked the "Don't make me type all this again" box every last time, all the personal info is blank and I have to type all that again. Bo-ring. Any thoughts?

#814 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 07:12 PM:

You mean there are people who have never met cinnamon sugar, even on hot buttered toast?????

I put cinnamon sugar on hot buttered tortillas: the cinnamon sugar burrito. (As opposed to the salsa burrito and the za'atar burrito. Both of which are good in their own ways.)

#815 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 07:48 PM:

joann @ 813 -- Have you enabled scripts for ?

#816 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 08:20 PM:

Kip W @ #803: "I generally add thirteen raisins (nine spaced evenly and four more placed into the resulting squares for even coverage)"
That's approximately how you handicap the board when you're learning to play Go and there's nobody in the club who's anything close to be a beginner :-) I used to work at a very large building that had a lot of Chinese people as well as chess players, so there was a solid go club, with most of the people around sho-dan - total beginner is about a 25-30 stone handicap.

#817 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 08:29 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe on Bitter Lemon - Schweppes is also the taste I associate with bitter lemon. But if you want to find rare sodas in Berkeley, the place to go is Bevmo (Beverages and More liquor store chain, north on San Pablo, out toward Albany), plus whatever you can find at Whole Foods or Andronico's or maybe the Berkeley Bowl.

#818 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 08:37 PM:

Bill Stewart @816: Long ago, on a Scouts paper drive, I picked up some books from the tourism people in Japan, issued around 1938 or 1939. They apparently were once part of the college library's collection. I gave one or both of the theater books to my favorite director, and I still have the one on the game of Go.

My favorite factoid from this book is that the large Go tables have a hollow carved out underneath the playing surface. The purpose of this hollow is so that the pieces will make a pleasing sound when played.

#819 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 08:47 PM:

Elliott@755, flour tortillas didn't exist in Delaware when I was a kid, as far as I knew (by the time I was in college there was a Taco Bell in Cherry Hill NJ, and a few years later Mexican food actually arrived.) But the other week I was looking in the refrigerator for a snack, and there was some sourdough bread, cream cheese, and leftover olives, and I realized it had been a few decades since I'd made cream cheese and olive sandwiches, which were one of my mother's standards when I was a kid. Green olives would have been a bit better, but black were ok.

Microwave ovens weren't normal consumer items when I was a kid, so there are a whole range of evil homemade snack foods that hadn't been invented yet. We did have the wax bottles of eldritch sugary liquids that mainly showed up around Halloween, and mixtures of things with horribly wrong colors were always a good choice. The standard approved-of snack was celery with peanut butter (or cream cheese, or evil spray-can cheese once that existed), or cookies or leftover tiropita if they were around, or peanut-butter-and-anything sandwiches. "Leftover bacon" wasn't a concept that made sense, but we'd occasionally cook some to make bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. And the best snack food I learned about from a friend was putting garlic spread on grilled-cheese sandwiches when cooking them.

Abi, you've got family in Berkeley, and your black-market brownie snack wasn't the *special* ones that you get from the grumpy guy who sells patches and books out on Telegraph? :-)

#820 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 09:25 PM:

My snacks that I can recall were not particularly strange. They just weren't usually snack foods: last night's leftovers. Sometimes I'd have a slice of braunschweiger, plain. Which was odd because I've never liked the stuff. Dad did, though, which was why we had it in the house.

Odd sandwiches: Hard salami and Nacho CheeseFlavor Doritos. I didn't care for either very much alone (again, Dad liked them for his lunch), so I'd combine them at lunchtime.

Another odd combo: French flavor salad dressing on broccoli. Cooked broccoli. My parents commented once, and I pointed out that I was eating my broccoli, and without complaining. They agreed that made it a worthwhile combination.

And the cereal combo I haven't seen: Replace the milk with an equal amount of juice. Cranberry is best, but apple will work too. Orange juice is too thick. Heavily flavored and sweetened cereals won't work, you need something simple, like Chex or Cheerios. This one I picked up from my grandfather, who was put on a low-calcium diet when he was diagnosed with gout, and didn't want to give up his morning cereal. This combo is guaranteed to get me some weird looks.

#821 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 09:43 PM:

Fried bologna sandwiches on Rainbow bread (the Texas alternative to Wonder, at least in my youth), but no cheese.

And variations on the peanut-butter sandwich. Fluffernutters, sparkle sandwiches (peanut butter and brown sugar), and peanut butter, mayonnaise & raisin.

#822 ::: J MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 09:50 PM:

Elliott Mason at 755: You do mean Vegemite, rather than Marmite, don't you? (Sorry, that little detail leapt out at me, particularly after having had Vegemite on my toast at breakfast, and made me wonder if your houseguest really was Australian, or had spent time in Britain and had acclimatised to the British equivalent.)


#823 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 10:27 PM:

I used to sneak drinks of vinegar or molasses, depending on if I was in a savory mood or a sweet one. Similarly, I would make lemon tea with two teabags, and then add some lemon juice.

I loved cinnamon sugar buttered toast, with enough cinnamon sugar poured on to make a slurry.

I've never liked tomato sauce, so when we had spaghetti as a kid I would put Italian dressing on it instead.

My mother always made us peanut butter and tomato sandwiches, which I couldn't stand. It was bad enough that pb sandwiches always have too low a proportion of peanut butter to bread, but she only put pb on one slice of bread, which meant that the tomato turned the other slice all soggy.

#824 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 10:54 PM:

Y'all are making me hungry for things we don't have right now, like braunschweiger.

Today's breakfast was a peach chopped up into a bowl of milk, I forgot I'd bought a big thing of plain yogurt yesterday ..... (not a huge disappointment).

And I inaugurated our brand new* range with a bacon and onion quiche. Works like a dream.

* Friday night Dr. P went to make wings for Roh and himself and discovered the range wasn't heating up. I came down shortly after and asked, "Is there a gas leak somewhere?" he nuked the wings and ran the cleaning cycle on the oven. When it finished, the lower burners still didn't work.

We have a huge, semi-national retailer of furniture and appliances relatively nearby and we had some credit on our Mart Card. So we have a new range. Thank ghu.

#825 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 11:37 PM:

Lee, thanks for the Vernor's & milk suggestion. I'll have to try it the next time I get back east somewhere that Vernor's is sold (it's rarely to never available here in Iowa).

#826 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2010, 11:51 PM:

Bill @673, I don't want it to be appealed to the Supremes, because we'll almost certainly lose. No, it's not binding on Idaho or Arizona, but there's no way a ruling by the Ninth Circuit wouldn't be appealed, and I just don't think we have Kennedy on this one.

#827 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 01:12 AM:

shadowsong, you just reminded me of my very strange preferred pick-me-up when I was a teenager: a straight shot of cheap balsamic vinegar. Occasionally, if I wanted to really smack myself upside the head, added to a mug of cranberry juice.

I do not think my stomach would let me do either anymore.

#828 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 02:13 AM:

I'm a huge milk drinker; I go through a gallon or more a week. It has to be nice and cold though; I hate it when it's warm. My birth mother is the same way.

#829 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 03:22 AM:

Strange but utterly gorgeous snacks: one Polo mint followed by a glass of cold milk. Clears your sinuses (well, my sinuses, at any rate) totally. It'd probably work with any peppermint hard candy.

I'm another huge milk drinker though: no tea, no coffee, but a litre of milk a day.

#830 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 05:33 AM:

Soggy cereal, ugh!

Meanwhile on the subject of gross/tacky/tawdry.

I got into a call-it-a-discussion regarding point of view, and women writing male point of view. I had a long comment on it starting with Gender is -one- dimension, and far from one of the more meaningful ones (in my opinion and experience) regarding people's thoughts, outlooks, and actions... and went on to mentioning e.g. Bujold and LeGuin and said they did it well enought that the Hugo voters which include a lot of men, awarded them multiple Hugos.

A response to that boiled down to me not cotributing anything productive for women to writing from the point of view of male character elicited further reaction from me:

I think that a lot of it is trying to look from the perspective of "What would a person in that culture with that upbringing and that size, shape, gender, interests, beliefs, attitudes, etc., expect/want/think/say/do?" It's related to worldbuilding, but it's character building.

Samuel R. Delany, who's a homosexual male, played with gender in Neveryon and Neveryona, if I recall correctly he created a culture where there was one word for genitals applied to both male and to female... the people from that culture were bewildered by people from another culture whose didn't do that....

My point, is that there are a lot of things which are culturally determined about how people think or get trained towards thinking

(it takes to varying degrees. Some people completely internalize cultural values and training, some people try to reject it with varying degrees of success (one of the points of a LeGuin story entited either "The Day after the Revolution" or "The Day before the Revolution," it's a sort of a prequel written after to her novel _The Dispossessed_ which was her other
Hugo-winning novel... The Dispossed won because she was examining social structures, people within the, effects of social revolutions, and the nature of scientific invention and inventors versus culture. Shevek, the protagonist and inventor, doesn't fit well either in of the two cultures....

"The Day after the Revolution" was a very short story which didn't really get much notice. It focused on Odo, the woman whose views and writings formed the basis for the society Shevek was born and raised in, and that while a revolution occured based on the influence of her writing, she was never comfortable living in the changed world she had helped create and idealized. Odo didn't fit, because she was of the culture she was born and raised in, despite her dreams of a more equal, kinder, more scialized world. Shevek didn't fit, because the very characteristics making him the genius scientist of his generation with the breakthroughs making the ansible(a faster than light communications device, used in LeGuin's Ekumen universe) possible, distanced him from everyone else in the cultures--he literally thought differently and looked at the universe differently, making him -different- in his culture which valued consensus and harmony and social equality, but his very upbringing with the social values in it, made him not fit in the other, dog-eat-dog-competiveness and social non-equality culture.

The Dispossessed didn't/doesn't succeed in everything it tried to do, but even where it failed, it was magnificent.. )

and much--not all, but a lot--of gender attitudes and sexual behavior is culturally determined rather than "natural."
Some people behave like chimpanzees, some like much is nature, how much is urture? If postulating a chimpanzee-like society, the characters are more likely to act like chimpanzees than bonobos. If postulating a bonobo-like society, the characters are more likely to act like bonobos. Humans may be very slightly closer genetically to bonobos than chimps. Chimp behavior has gotten a lot more press and publicity though (perhaps because bonobos use sex as a primary communications channel, which makes discussing them in cultures which regard casual promiscuity with distaste/disgustfear/loathing, a challenge?).

Characters need to be credible within the worldbuilding setup, as people in those worlds--or as aliens from outside a culture, used as a means to see into that society (as with Genly Ai in The Left Hand of Darkness, seeing a world of bisexuals, from the perspective of a monosexual. The Winter natives see him as a deformed pervert, someone stuck permanently in male phase... he sees them as Other, androgynes who entire sexual orientations and cultural metaphors and valued are based on their alien-to-him ambisexuality. His ways of relating to people based on male or female, don't work on Winter. His assumptions about outlooks, don't work. LeGuin in the book include relating of Winter folk tales and history, which illuminate the way the natives think, what their historical perspective is,
what their taboos are, and why....


A reponse to the had someone with porn industry experience claims that males on the receiving end of anal intercourse, have very difference sensation involved than females, and the the presence of the prostate gland in males perforce makes the experience different for males versus females, and that having interviewed males about it provided a basis for cogizance regard male anal sexual senation. I don't have a clue on the topic, other than suspecting that individual responses are individual responses, not class action suits....

Comments? (metaphorically opening up an end of the large intestine....)

#831 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 10:09 AM:

Kip W@818: I learned back in college (though not in a course) that to serious players Go is a very physical game. Both the board and the stones are chosen to have the "right" sound, as well as feel, look, and so forth. "Cheap" boards often look fine, but they don't sound right. (They're also much lighter and easier to transport, and much cheaper.)

Also, the grid on a good board is slightly elongated, so that it LOOKS square from the players' perspective. (Since the stones are round, this can't be taken too far before other problems arise.)

Paula Lieberman@830: One thing that comes into play in general (not so much with the specific issue of anal sex) with one sex writing characters of the other, is that in a society, people of the non-"normal" types generally know a lot more about the "normal" (unmarked state) types than vice-versa, because information about the unmarked state permeates popular culture. Hence women writing male characters successfully is perhaps less surprising than men writing female characters successfully.

Snack food: Mmmmmm, cinnamon sugar! A childhood and somewhat ongoing favorite for snacks. I rarely had it for breakfast, for some reason (toast with jam or marmalade was a normal part of breakfast, nobody would have batted an eye at cinnamon sugar on toast); I use it as a snack when I want "baked goods" (meaning sweet; just bread doesn't fill the niche), but there's nothing available.

(Back when I ate breakfast; eating breakfast is one thing I gave up for life in my first week in college, along with switching to showering in the morning. I ate and enjoyed breakfast when my parents served it (plural is correct; quite often both of them were involved in preparing it), but I'm not hungry in the morning, and go quite happily to lunch without eating anything. Breakfast happens most often after being up all night at SF conventions.)

Also: oven toast. Now made in a toaster oven, but still called that (I learned this from people well after leaving college and home). My current version is to put a quarter inch or something of brown sugar on Catherine Clarke whole wheat bread (which I've been eating since that was the brand name and not just a note that Brownberry Ovens was using her original recipe), sprinkle cinnamon over it, and dot with butter, then put in the toaster oven until the butter is thoroughly melted and the bottom a bit toasted. Raisins are not completely inconceivable.

Bread: we never had "Wonder Bread" or equivalent at home. Sometimes my mother made whole wheat bread, which was quite good (though not as good as Pamela's). More often we had the Catherine Clarke whole wheat bread, which is still my favorite, or Cholmondley's English Muffin bread (which I've seen fairly recently, with very similar logo, but it's a pale ghost of its former self). Or actual English muffins, one of those fine things to eat in the USA that Michael Flanders pointed out they didn't have in England.

#832 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 11:19 AM:

Joel P #815:


#833 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 11:23 AM:

ddb #831:

My normal breakfast is cinnamon toast in the toaster oven--but I leave off the cinnamon. (Seems to me like you do oven toast backwards--I butter the bread and then sprinkle on the sugar; dotting the butter can get extraordinarily messy in a climate where the butter doesn't stay stiff.)

#834 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 11:30 AM:

joann@833: It's hot enough in summer here that the butter has to live in the fridge, so it's stiff. Or else VERY soft. Either way, no problem at the moment. And I don't find it a big problem at other times either.

Putting the butter on the bottom doesn't get the sugar soaked as effectively as putting it on top.

#835 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 11:35 AM:

Snacks from childhood?

Cream cheese and jelly sandwiches.

Grape jelly omelettes. (I had forgotten these entirely, then woke from a dream of eating one and promptly called my mother to ask if she had really fed me such a thing. She had. I loved them, apparently.)

#836 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 12:00 PM:

My cinnamon toast protocol: start toasting two slices of bread. Count to forty while you get out a plate and a knife. At forty or so, start the second two pieces of bread. First two pop up, butter generously, sprinkle to cover, dump excess onto next piece. Repeat for second set, dumping excess back into the mug of mix. Try not to make too much of a mess. Then stick all of them in the microwave for fifteen seonds to get the butter extra-melted.

Usually, this gives me one slice that's a little too thickly coated with the cinnamon-sugar mix for if there were four like it, but it's still delicious, sometimes one that doesn't have quite enough, depending on how much care I take. I hadn't thought of toaster ovens in terms of setting up toast and *then* heating it.

#837 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 12:18 PM:

Diatryma, 836: "too thickly coated with cinnamon sugar." How odd! I understand each of those words individually, but taken together I can't parse them at all.

#838 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 12:20 PM:

ddb #834: Putting the butter on the bottom doesn't get the sugar soaked as effectively as putting it on top.

No, but it sure can caramelize nice. Oh well, chacun a son gout.

I don't keep the current stick of butter in the fridge any time of year; my theory of butter is that it is there to spread, and any other usage will just have to accommodate itself to that, although I have been known to take another stick out if I have to measure some accurately.[*] (I hate restaurants that serve iced-down butter.)

[*]Or if spouse has gone and gotten tomato sauce all over it again

#839 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 12:47 PM:

joann@838: When I find my butter smelling of blue cheese, I feel that it has been allowed to sit out too long. And in fact the texture it gets in the summer I find highly unpleasant and inconvenient to work with (it's too soft, to the point of there being liquid in the bottom of the dish).

#840 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 01:08 PM:

Joann@838: I don't keep the current stick of butter in the fridge any time of year....

I spent my childhood and adolescence in Florida and Texas, and it wasn't until years later, when I was a houseguest in upstate New York, that I realized there were in fact places in the continental US where you could leave the butter out on the counter and not have it turn into a liquid puddle inside a couple of hours. Where I grew up, you even had to keep the Crisco in the refrigerator if you didn't want it to melt.

#841 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 01:21 PM:

Debra Doyle #880:

This *is* in Texas; just a bit more air-conditioned than people (even me) may remember. The butter here [*] gets soft, very soft, but does not puddle.

[*] Modern well-insulated house kept at 77 degrees

#842 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 01:52 PM:

joann@841: That's definitely a bit more airconditioned than the kitchen of my adolescence. Most of the time I lived there, we made do with an attic fan.

#843 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 02:16 PM:

Yesterday afternoon, recovering from Saturday's trip home, I indulged in an past pleasure: Big mug of coffee and a peanut butter on whole wheat sandwich. Amazingly, it didn't ruin my appetite for dinner. I must have been very hungry.

#844 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 02:37 PM:

Peanut butter and honey sandwiches were a staple of my childhood diet. I still eat them frequently. Another food fixture involved rice. See, if we had Chinese food for dinner, there was usually rice left over at the end - just plain, white rice. So into the refrigerator it went, to come out the next morning and be heated up, mixed with a touch of sugar and cinnamon, covered in milk and served for breakfast.

Speaking of milk, I'm another of those who won't drink it. I'll eat cheese and yogurt and other dairy products, and on rare occasion I may drink chocolate milk. I'll even put milk on my cereal. But to drink it? No, thank you. It just tastes weird to me. I think I stopped drinking it when I was seventeen. My husband is lactose intolerant, so we usually have soymilk or almond milk in the fridge; if I actually want a glass of milk (which, unless it's chocolate or extremely vanilla-flavored, I generally don't) I'll go for that. So the only one in our house who actually drinks unadulterated cow's milk is my elderly father, who manages to go through about three gallons a week and *still* needs Vitamin D supplements.

#845 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 02:48 PM:

Summer Storms@844: My father would use leftover rice as cereal, with brown sugar and milk (same as we did with any kind of cereal). In that household it was more often brown rice cooked at home, but otherwise the same scheme.

Milk is the only known solvent for peanut butter :-). But that's one of the very rare times I drink it. The other is with powdered-sugar doughnuts. We don't normally have milk in the house; so I have to plan in advance when I need it, and figure out ways to use up the rest of it.

#846 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 02:54 PM:

There is an upper limit to how much cinnamon sugar I can take on four pieces of toast. When it falls off the toast in pieces, that's not a great sign.

Keep in mind, I perfected this protocol while eating toast as the main, if not only, meal of the day. What is pleasant for one or two pieces becomes less so for four day after day. And I like the contrast of the slightly salty butter and the sweetness of the sugar.

#847 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 03:47 PM:

On the weird vinegar menu, my mom put granulated sugar in a lettuce leaf, moistened with vinegar. I think it had a cutesy name that I can't remember.

#848 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 04:24 PM:

ddb @ 845: Yep, I do the same thing these days, and yes, usually with brown rice, since it has better flavor and more nutrients.

#849 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 04:32 PM:

Summer Storms@848: I've gotten used to using brown rice with Chinese food at home (and that's the first cuisine I really learned to cook, as opposed to just learning to follow three recipes), and also with red beans and rice. Mostly I like it better, I think, and they do say it's better for me as well.

#850 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 05:05 PM:

#772 ::: janetl

Spread chocolate frosting on a Graham cracker, top with another cracker, stack in a cookie tin. You could eat them as you made them, but allowing the crackers to soften up a bit from the moisture in the frosting made them somehow more satisfying.

OMG. When a teenager, I used to make big batches of buttercream frosting, flavored and delicately tinted, and make "cookies" like these. Always layered up in a fruitcake tin. Yellow = lemon, pink = peppermint, green = spearmint, white = vanilla, blue = wintergreen. They were always half-squares of the crackers, presumably to make it take a bit longer to pick up and eat them.

#851 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 06:31 PM:

I don't post often, but do read every day. The odd childhood snacks theme dragged me out of the woodwork. Carrot sandwiches: Pepperidge Farm white bread, both slices heavily buttered, salt and pepper over the butter and thin sliced carrots in between. They never held together well, but I loved them.

#852 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 08:03 PM:

There was a point in my life where I was emancipated and my younger brother's guardian. Since I was working, I didn't get Mother's Social Security anymore. We just had my pay and my brother's Social Security. So near payday, we frequently ran short on money and had popcorn for dinner.

Yesterday's WashPost had an article telling us how sorry white bread is -- wheat bread sold more than white bead over the past year. But it's not just nutrition.

Also in yesterday's WashPost, an article on small presses making more money with e-books. Kelly Link and Gavin Grant's Small Beer Press is mentioned.

#853 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 08:05 PM:

Lorax@826 - Bother. The 9th Circuit 3-judge panel just granted a stay on the Prop.8 decision, written arguments by Nov. 1, hearing December 6th, decision whenever.

#854 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 08:33 PM:

Re: Greek Necktie particle - it's all Latinish to me, he said romantically....

#855 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 08:46 PM:

Oh lovely, keep the Prop 8 decision hanging fire until after the election. Nice job, guys.

#856 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2010, 08:54 PM:

Benjamin 827: I do not think my stomach would let me do either anymore.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

#857 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 01:55 AM:

I love brown rice for breakfast. I add all kinds of things to it: sauteed onions, celery, and an egg; raisins and ground coriander; bacon; red beans; black beans; that's just a few of the possibilities.

#858 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 03:01 AM:

Just in a spirit of sharing, I wanted to post that I'm today back from a week in St. Louis playing bridge with my birth father.

(He had occasion to repeat my quip that there must be something to genetics: not only do we both play tournament bridge, we both like weak notrumps!)

We did pretty well overall: in five days of play (taking one day off to do some sightseeing, as I've never been to St. Louis before) we won 26 masterpoints, 21 gold and 5 red.

(If you don't play bridge, that won't mean much to you; I can sum it up by saying that it's a decently large number to get in a week.)

#859 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 08:47 AM:

David, I used to play bridge. Are you talking about duplicate? Did you and your father play as partners? What bidding system did you use?

We used to use Precision, which is a strong 1♣ system.

#860 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 09:43 AM:

David Goldfarb@858: Congratulations! I haven't played even party bridge in forever, and I think you got about as many points that week as I accumulated in total. (And the colored points are new since I started playing I think. But then almost all my points are club games anyway.)

We did especially enjoy playing against people just learning precision :-).

#861 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 10:10 AM:

In my childhood, it was sugar toast. Rarely was cinnamon involved. White bread, margarine, white sugar. Now, on the occasions when I have rye bread on hand, I may indulge in the rye, real butter, brown sugar version.

#862 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 10:30 AM:

I was on the bridge team in high school. I really enjoyed playing duplicate. I absolutely sucked ass at learning complex bidding systems. As with my ability to think more than two moves ahead in chess, this limited how well I could do in the game in tournament play. :->

I particularly enjoyed (since we could usually get eight players at practice, if we included the teacher) dealing out random hands into trays and playing duplicate at practice, comparing what contracts the two tables got and how they made or didn't make them, as a sort of 'limit the variables' method of analyzing play. Fascinated me.

I must admit that some of our team's finest hours came from the subtle use of table talk to so interest our opponents in what was being discussed that they might lose track of what trumps were out or not.

However, the school that won most often in our league was, I think, cheating -- they had a family of six kids as the core of their team, and those kids' parents really enjoyed bridge too. Can you imagine having two tables of duplicate AT HOME after dinner most nights, almost every week since the youngest got old enough to play?!? Definitely cheating. :->

#863 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 10:48 AM:

I'm going in for surgery in a few hours, and will be in the hospital for the better part of a week, so please try to be dull and boring so I don't have so much to read through when I get out, O.K.?

#864 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 11:16 AM:

Bruce Durocher @ 863...

"Not the bore worms!"
- Princess Aura in 1980's Flash Gordon

Best wishes with the surgery.

#865 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 11:18 AM:

Bruce Durocher@863: Try not to come back with any exciting stories!

#866 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 11:20 AM:

Bruce @ 863: It will just be spam and drive-by trolls, not to worry. Hope you're up and about faster than expected!

#867 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 11:34 AM:

I found the following piece interesting. Eric Schmidt of Google suggests that kids should be able to change their name to escape the "permanent record" of their youthful hijinks.

I kind of like the idea. I'm certainly not the same person I was as a 17 year old. As long as fraud or criminal activity isn't being hidden, why not get a fresh start?

But on the other there a moral hazard in giving young people a "get out of jail" free card?

#868 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 12:05 PM:

Serge: Thanks. As long as it's not dialog from Flesh Gordon, the worst misuse of the talents of Jim Danforth and Bjo Trimble ever to be imagined...

ddb: I intend to make this as boring as possible. Maybe this time they won't be running a 17 hour Ronald Reagan marathon on TBS and nothing else but infomercials, which is what happened the last time I was in a hospital...

Ginger: Drive-by trolls are sort of the Pringle's Chips of the internet. I'll do the best I can to be back fairly soon.

#869 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 12:11 PM:

Bruce Durocher @ 868... In that case, another quote from in 1980's Flash Gordon...

"Klytus, I'm bored."
- Ming the Merciless's opening remark before he considers blowing up the Universal Studios logo.

#870 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 12:15 PM:

858@David: Ah yes, my downfall. I was in Red Deer last week doing the same thing (except I was directing as well. You need to be a serious(-ly insane) bridgegeek to want to direct).

Well done - especially in the Swiss! That must have been on the 30-scale, which I've lost track of since moving west. 7 matches, or 8? (of course, I've always described the 30-scale as "win-loss, with tie-breaks for the directors").

It was fun - I had three partners (only one of whom I regularly play with): First playing a crazy Precision variant, second playing basic Western 2/1, third playing old-fashioned K/S. 10-12, 12-14, 14-16, 15-17 NTs, depending on partner and vulnerability; I, too, feel most comfortable in a weak NT world.

(geekery off).

#871 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 12:18 PM:

Bruce at 863, hope the surgery is uneventful and recovery swift and easy.

#872 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 12:43 PM:

Mycroft, 870: Old-fashioned K/S? Goodness, those Star Trek fans are everywhere!

Bruce: I hope your hospital stay is short and boring.

#873 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 12:43 PM:

Bruce Durocher @ 863: Another good wish (you can't have too many, right?) for a short and boring (regarding medical happenings) stay in hospital.

#874 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 01:00 PM:

872 TexAnne: Yes, well. Acronym overload, neh?

Although bridge K/S is just...wrong. Bridge partners (a|we)re more known for swapping wives than, erm, each other.

Edgar, Alfred, you can stop spinning in your graves now. Thanks.

#875 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 01:28 PM:

Re: worst campaign ad ever particle - Oh my. Oh my. Whoever designed that ad is an unrecognized (probably even by his or herself) comedic genius. The demon sheep. The terribly, terribly poorly-thought out demon sheep. The terribly, terribly poorly thought-out shot of the person in demon-sheep costume crawling away from the camera on all fours. The metaphor of "being one of the herd" as a good thing, a positive quality to be sought out in our leaders. The casual, jarring juxtaposition of "a proven financial conservative" and "a new face on the political stage."

I can't wait for the "Demon Sheep for Tom Campbell" bumper stickers.

#876 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 01:35 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @868 said: Maybe this time they won't be running a 17 hour Ronald Reagan marathon on TBS and nothing else but infomercials, which is what happened the last time I was in a hospital...

When I was in, post-gestation, I found the History Channel to be relatively salutory. Lots of interestingly facty documentaries (especially the Modern Marvels series and the ones about history of food whose names I forget), which were great for pointing my eyes at when I had too much brain to enjoy the 'calming sights and sounds' channel but too little for anything but lying in bed staring at the screen.

It made a nice change, since the last time I had access to cable, years ago, the History Channel was fairly accurately lampooned by calling it the Hitler Channel: they went through a phase of being totally obsessed with WWII.

#877 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 01:36 PM:

I just partly broke a part of my computer desk by sneezing. Those stories some of you might have heard about the enormous amounts of energy released during sneezes? They're true.

#878 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 01:37 PM:

Luck to Bruce - may the surgery be brief and the TV programming excellent.

#879 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 01:53 PM:

I could comment about bridge but I won't -- haven't played duplicate in far too many years.

Best, Bruce. Keep us posted.

#880 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 02:25 PM:

TexAnne, #872: Hee! You beat me to it, because that's exactly what I was thinking too.

#881 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 02:27 PM:

Open threadiness:
1) Is there a recent uptick in Wacky Actress Screwball Fantasy ? (Laura Resnick's Dopplegangster and Unsympathetic Magic, Gene Wolfe's An Evil Guest, possibly others)? If so, what does this mean? I have theories ranging from "actors live in random-paycheck land, which many of us are now visiting" to "antifeminist backlash" to "retro-pulp comfort food" to "this has always been around and I just now noticed", and no idea which are likely to be correct.

2) Has anyone tried homemade [table salt or road salt] dehumidifiers? The theory looks reasonable, as so many do ...

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

Bridge, bridge, bridge! Doesn't anyone play Fizzbin anymore?

Good luck on your surgery, Bruce.

#883 ::: Mark_Wales ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 02:47 PM:

Re. Bridge, an associate of mine, when first learning the game, was advised by his partner/tutor to "bid your points". First to speak in the next hand, he said, "Sixteen No Trumps!"

Re. Teresa's Fantasy Covers particle, this doubtless falls into the "As you know, Bob" category amongst this community, but if anyone hasn't spent time perusing the Differently Good F and SF covers at Good Show Sir! (, it's certainly my own favourite InnerTubes displacement activity...

#884 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 02:49 PM:

When my wife had her 2nd knee-replacement surgery, she stayed away from one of her faves - the Blood&Guts Channel (officially known as Discovery Health Channel).

#885 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 02:50 PM:

coming in late on the weird foods thread

My mother and I both like grape jelly on sour cream on Ritz crackers. I told a boyfriend I was having this as a snack, and he was absolutely panicked because he sure I was pregnant. He felt somewhat reassured when I told him I'd been eating it all my life. He felt even better when I had my period.

#886 ::: Mark_Wales ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Steve C @882

Doesn't anyone play Fizzbin anymore?

I've no idea, but owners of Dave Langford's splendid The Silence of the Langford (introduction by one of our esteemed hosts) may recall his description of "Fizz! Buzz!":

"Clang Pow!" "Clang Zap!" "Oink Clang!" "Pow Zap!" [...] "Twenty-six!"

#887 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 03:37 PM:

Having only a Ronald Reagan film marathon available on television while waiting in hospital would be better than nothing. Most of his films are trifle, but harmless trifle.

Although I would certainly hope that KING'S ROW as not the last thing shown before I was wheeled into surgery....

#888 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 03:50 PM:

Bruce Durocher @863:

Best of luck! Come back when you're out and tell us how you're doing.

#889 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 03:52 PM:

"I've had lots of physical traumas in the last 48 hours and kissing Fargo wasn't one of them."
"You kissed Fargo?"
"You kissed Fargo."
"How come I heard you were frenching Fargo?"

- What happens when Deputy Jo kisses You-Know-Who in the first episode of Eureka's season 3.5. Yes, it's been on our DVR since last year.

#890 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 04:02 PM:

Elliott@876: Yes, up here it (well, the equivalent History Channel) was known as NEN: the Nazi Entertainment Network. Though since the takeover by Norm Christie, it's now the "all wars Canadians were in" channel.

Please note, I am not slagging Mr. Christie (he makes good cookies videos). But with the Canadian content regulations, we do seem to see a whole lot of his stuff.

#891 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 05:04 PM:

Lin D @885 -- you and your mother are not alone. When I met my husband, he was a great fan of quark or sour cream with jelly. He was heavily into bike racing and wanted the calories, so he'd also add peanut butter.

#892 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 05:09 PM:

When I first saw the Demon Sheep ad, I was appalled that they made it, and that she actually allowed it out the door, because I couldn't see how any reasonable person could vote for somebody who disrespected the voters that much.

Unfortunately, in spite of AFAIK never actually being shown on TV except by people who played it for free to discuss the "controversy", seems to have accomplished its goal. It got Carly Fiorina's name in the lead early, got the Tea Party types jumping up and down, and established her as the front-running right-winger, knocking out Chuck DeVore, the other right-winger, and the combination of national politics and Tom Campbell being a relatively reasonable guy meant that the right-wingers were going to win the primary.

It's probably too bad that Fiorina's running against Barbara Boxer (a quite reasonable liberal Democrat) as opposed to Dianne Feinstein (an evil war-mongering anti-civil-liberties liberal Democrat) - with the economy in the shape it's in, Fiorina could win in spite of how much people in Silicon Valley dislike her, and it would be a shame for us to have two evil Senators.

#893 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 05:17 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II #863: Best of luck!

Another odd snack, which I just made: couscous in canned soup -- that is, make the canned soup as usual, bring to boiling, then add the couscous, cover and let it absorb the liquid. You will usually need to guess a bit at how much of the soup is actually liquid....

#894 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 05:32 PM:

David Harmon @ 893: Sounds a sensible snack to me - I've often done similarly with Cup-a-Soup type soups and cous cous. When I was doing my PhD and was sometimes out until late, darting wallabies after the zoo closed for the evening (in the UK), cous cous* and cream cheese was a staple supper: almost no preparation and no effort required to eat - just mix and swallow, no need even to chew!

*made with boiling water, heated a bit more in the microwave if necessary.

#895 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 05:50 PM:

Open threadiness. At the website for the National Book Festival they are offering the opportunity to vote for your favorite author from previous festivals as well as this year's. Currently way, way out in front with about 3600 votes is Diana Gabaldon (who is apparently speaking this year). In second place with about 1300 votes is Neil Gaiman, who spoke in 2008. Also in the Top 10 is Terry Pratchett, who was there in 2007.

Also among those speaking this year is Norton Juster, of Phantom Tollbooth fame.

#896 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 06:29 PM:

Bruce Durocher: Best of luck in surgery. My experience in recovery is that the drugs make it possible to watch the basic cable TV shows.

And speaking of medical procedures, Eva finally finished radiation therapy today. She informed the technicians that they were running the worst tanning salon she'd ever been in: one of her breasts is now a nice toasty brown and the other one is completely pale.

#897 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 06:45 PM:

Bruce, good luck in surgery. Hope the television is more interesting this time.

#898 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 07:27 PM:

To those who have congratulated me on doing well at bridge: thanks!

Xopher: Yes, I played with my father as a partner. We've played before, most notably when the North American Bridge Championships were in San Francisco. This was duplicate, the Mississippi Valley Regional. Our system was Lawrence style 2/1, with 12-14 1NT throughout, and using a number of the ideas that Fred Gitelman put forward in his article (findable online) "Improving 2/1 Game Force". (In particular, we use 1H/1S - 2NT as natural and forcing, and have another bid for a forcing raise of the major suit.)

I have of course heard of Precision, although I haven't played it in a regular partnership -- I have had three regular partnerships that used a home-brewed system based on Polish Club....

Mycroft W.: Ah, you must have gone and found our results! I didn't want to bore people with them. :-) The Sunday Swiss was 6 matches, actually, of 8 boards each scored on the 30-VP scale. Tournaments in the SF Bay Area typically used 20-VP, and I especially noticed the difference here because we lost one of our matches by 1 IMP! The event started earlier than the rest of the week, and was played through without a break, so that it would end early for the benefit of people who needed Sunday evening for travel. Jon (my birth father) had two pairs he wanted to team with, and those two pairs ended up playing with each other instead of us. But we got a pair from the partnership desk that he knew, and who were willing to play in A/X (we've had trouble in the past getting people who will do this instead of the B/C/D event). They played quite well; we had some accidents but they did a good job of covering us. They actually left early, figuring that we couldn't have placed with 3 wins and 3 losses (albeit one loss by only 1 IMP) so we had to call them that evening to let them know that we came away with almost 12 gold points.

#899 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 07:43 PM:

heresiarch @ 875:

I just tried to view the Demon Sheep ad and got the message "This video is private". Does this mean someone pulled the plug on it?

#900 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 10:17 PM:

Bruce, #899: No, it probably means that the person who posted it figured out that they'd stirred up a hornet's nest and blocked anyone except those they specifically authorize from viewing it. That's a rarely-used option on YouTube, but it is available. If it had been taken down, the message would have said something else -- "no longer available" or "removed for X reason" or whatever.

#901 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 10:24 PM:

I have one fewer UFO in my stack of things I'm going to spend a long time working on in the next life. (Shawl - it's the find-the-mistakes-in-the-pattern version, in sport-weight acrylic rather than anything expensive.)

#902 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 10:28 PM:

dcb 894
darting wallabies?

#903 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 10:51 PM:

I just made my first tart in the new apartment, with the most amazing plums from this weekend's farmer's market. I was told that they were elephant heart plums, and working with them earlier this evening, I got a sense of where that name came from - they are somewhat heart-shaped, and their juice is quite red. I had been working with poor-quality supermarket plums for so long that I had forgotten just how good they can be - and these are awesome (and at $2.50/lb, an affordable luxury - unlike the $4/lb peaches that I have seen in great profusion). Ought to make a good "hey, I'm here" treat for the new lab tomorrow.

On another note, I am really annoyed with my smoke detectors - there are two in the ~500sq ft apartment, and they are rather too sensitive - if I do any cooking for more than five minutes, they go off. There is no actual door to my kitchen, so I hung a sheet I do not like in the doorway, and am planning to drop it as needed to keep from irritating my neighbors.

The good news is that having a gas stove for the first time (well, since moving out of my parent's house), is awesome.

#904 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 11:05 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @903 -- this is probably teaching you to suck eggs, but is there an exhaust fan over the stove? I've found that if I forget to use the fan, I'll often set off smoke detectors. But using the fan works to keep them quiet. I still forget sometimes.

#905 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 11:15 PM:

Yep, and I was using it when they triggered. I am considering mounting a fan in a kitchen window...

#906 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 11:38 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 905... I am considering mounting a fan in a kitchen window

That seems a bit kinky, but as long as it's between consenting adults...

#907 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 11:39 PM:

Bruce: bright blessings for the surgery. Heal well and (within that) quickly!

#908 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2010, 11:40 PM:

David Goldfarb @ St. Louis: I hope you made it to the oh-so-blandly-named but oh-so-wonderful City Museum. If not, check it out for next time!

#909 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 12:15 AM:

Arrgh! Not that kind of mounting - anyway, that would hurt.

#910 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 12:41 AM:

Mormon mom, Hummer driver, child molestor.

Damned Hummer drivers.

#911 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 12:51 AM:

Well, I know Tim Walters at least will appreciate this:

I just received in the mail, from a seller in Virginia who apparently deals in obscure records, a copy of the Ortho-tonics' LP 'Wake Up You Must Remember'. From 1984. Apparently unopened after 26 years. My mind boggles.

Anyway, time to hook the turntable up to the computer again...

#912 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 01:11 AM:

Clifton Royston @ 911: Sweet! Reminds me that I need to fix or replace my turntable. And then digitize a bunch of LPs. And then see if my sealed 2LP copy of Lolita Nation sounds better than the indifferently mastered CD...

#913 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 01:21 AM:

Tim Walters: We went to the Botanical Garden (though it was a bit too hot to really enjoy) and the Gateway Arch. Not time for anything else. I'll keep that one in mind for the next time I'm there, but I don't know when that'll be.

#914 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 01:53 AM:

Bruce Durocher is out of surgery and resting more or less comfortably. The surgeon tells me that it was textbook and everything went just the way it was supposed to.

Bruce (and I) would like to thank everyone for the kind words and good wishes. They mean a lot to us.

More to follow.

#915 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 02:03 AM:

Margaret @914:

Thank you for the update. I'm glad the surgery went well.

#916 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 02:23 AM:

re american cheese slices: Velveeta is not the same. Veleveeta is a cheese blend, with some stabilisers. The american cheese singles are a different thing altogether, and usually a poor substittute for, "american" cheese. If anyone has ever had, "Government cheese" that's a really good example of what "american" can be.

The rules for what counts as cheese, proccessed cheese, and processed cheese food are pretty exact, and there aren't (to the best of my knowledge) any exemptions for them, just because they've been made into slices and individually wrapped. The difference in names reflects the differing proportions of milk, water and oil they are allowed to have.

abi: I learned to eat ramen and spice pack when backpacking. It was a good snack while moving on the trail. I was about 11 the first time I had it. I still do it. It's the only time, anymore, I use teh flavor packets.

#917 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 02:38 AM:

Terry Karney #916: I learned to eat ramen and spice pack when backpacking

Don't the crunchy noodle spikes tear up your gums?

#918 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 03:38 AM:

Erik, #902: Tranquilizer darts. (Vet's jargon.)

Xopher, #910: That link didn't work for me. This one came up just fine, though.

#919 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 03:58 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 902: Darting wallabies. Yes. Short for "remote injecting" wallabies. As part of my PhD, I needed to take serial blood samples from 60 wallabies, part of a population of several hundred which are semi-free-ranging in the 500+ acres of Whipsnade Wild Animal Park to check for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii. In order to get the blood samples, I had to anaesthetise the wallabies - by remote injection using a CO2 powered blowpipe and "flying syringes", aka "darts". In all public parts of Whipsnade, I could only do this outside opening hours - so I tended to do some very long days, arriving to start about 7am and leaving after it got dark at say 9.30-10 pm, once the last wallaby I'd darted had woken up (I always waited to make sure the wallaby was back on its feet properly before leaving). Then I had a 40-minute drive home.

Benjamin Wolfe @ 903: Sympathies. one of our smoke detectors is in the hall just a few feet away from the kitchen. Any time something on the stove or grill chars a bit, the beeping starts and one of us has to close the door while the other stands in the hall madly waving a newspaper or piece of cardboard to dissipate the particles around the detector. At least we do have a kitchen door (didn't when we moved in).

Also, thankfully (unlike one place I stayed for three months) we don't also have to call the local fire brigade and say (over the sound of loud alarms) that no, the library isn't burning down, it's just the toast/sausages in the guest house again.

Plums: My sister-in-law has trees producing cherry plums. Small but numerous. Been eating them all week and we stewed some last night. I must learn proper fruit preservation - it seems silly for the use of the bounteous harvest this time of year to be limited by freezer space.

#920 ::: KévinT ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 05:43 AM:

I just discovered the show 'Castle' with Nathan Fillion was on TV here in France.
I watched one episode and thought it was... not very good.
But, by random chance, it was the one set during Halloween, when Castle demonstrated to his daughter his "space cowboy" costume, complete with browncoat.

#921 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 06:36 AM:

Bruce Cohen (#899) -- Try using "demon sheep" as a keyword in youtube. I think that ad is up at least 3 times.

#922 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 08:28 AM:

OtterB@895 Also among those speaking this year is Norton Juster, of Phantom Tollbooth fame.

Oh! Oh! I'm reading that to the baby at the moment. Although, as she definitely counts as pre-lingual*, I admit its possibly a little for me, too.

It does help her get to sleep though :D

*Unless expression solely through the use of raspberries counts as a language?

#923 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 08:33 AM:

Benjamin @905 I had the same problem for years. I ended up replacing the fire alarm this year because the bracket holding it on the wall broke this year and suddenly I have no problems. I hadn't attempted it before because I knew it was a hardwired setup and I thought it would be hard to find a new one, but it turned out to be as easy as replacing a light switch.

#924 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 08:46 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @903

I can't believe no one has asked you this.

But you made a tart from plums?

Were they originally in the icebox? Delicious? Sweet? Cold?

Don't you think you owe somebody an apology, buster?

#925 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 09:15 AM:

There's a new Simon's Cat video out.

#926 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 09:59 AM:

Steve C. @ 867: Eric Schmidt of Google suggests that kids should be able to change their name to escape the "permanent record" of their youthful hijinks.

That assumes that the name changes aren't going to be part of the public record, unlike (my understanding of) the current situation. Otherwise, it's just a more complex search with more chance of error.

#927 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 10:04 AM:

The complete run of Jim Hutton's TV series "Ellery Queen" is being released on DVD next week.

#928 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 10:53 AM:

I made a tart
with the plums
from the icebox

They were delicious
sweet and cold

I saved four
from a pastry fate

#929 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 11:08 AM:

Steve C @ 925... That kind of feline behavior is why I've suggested to my wife that we should change Agatha the Cat Genius's name to Schrödinger.

#930 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 11:42 AM:

Bruce Durocher @863: May the surgery be boring and your TV viewing in the room not. (update: Looks like I need to send this back in time now. Glad it went okay!)

OtterB @895: Ah, Norton Juster! I first heard of him because of The Dot and the Line.

Russ @922: I'm not sure someone who's capable of a bi-labio lingual forced fricative is pre-lingual, technically, so your footnoted query is spot on.

#931 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 11:49 AM:

dcb #919:

We've got sort of the same setup, only no door, or really the possibility of one, and the smoke alarm is ten feet off the floor, so waving madly doesn't really come into it. There's a button you can poke to shut the alarm off for fifteen minutes, and aiming the end of the broom handle at it is a precision job not made any easier by the noises, although the existence of eight alarms, all wired together, throughout the house makes the task even more urgent. The oven and the toaster oven are at the end of the kitchen where the opening to the hall is, and I have been known to forgo breakfast rather than risk opening a toaster oven where it is becoming obvious that charring is occurring inside. (Just turn it off, turn the exhaust on high, and drink coffee.)

Benjamin, I'd strongly suggest checking into whether your exhaust fan is really doing its job--in our last house, we found ours was running backward, which kind of defeated the point.

#932 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 12:15 PM:

Open threadiness: Yesterday I went on a closet-cleaning binge. I filled two bags with pants, t-shirts, and sweaters that are in decent condition but which I rarely wear.

I set aside three semi-formal dresses that I don't see myself wearing again anytime soon. There is an organization in my city, Kayla's Closet, that accepts stylish formal and semi-formal dresses and provides them to girls who otherwise couldn't afford dresses for high school dances. (There are many such organizations in the US and Canada.) I added a pair of shoes bought to match one of the dresses, since I rarely wear them.

I also set aside several suits and suit separates that either don't fit well or are redundant with something else I own, along with a couple of pairs of shoes. Another organization, Dress For Success, takes women's suits and provides them to low-income women for job interviews, along with interview training and career workshops. (There is a similar organization for men, Career Gear, but they don't have as many locations. They do accept clothing donations by mail, though.)

Putting together clothing donations always makes me feel happy. I highly recommend it.

#933 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 12:39 PM:

For abi's particular interest:
a commode disguised as a book.

quote from auction catalogue:
Wooden folio book titled on spine: Historia Universalis. [France]: 18th Century, Oak and calf leather, Folio (Closed: 500 mm high x 90 long (binding) x 380 mm deep. Full calf covers elaborately blind-stamped in geometric design over oak boards, spine with lettering label in red morocco paneled in gilt, 6 raised bands. The folio opens to reveal two oaken boards that can be folded out to form a closed square and one board lifted upward to become the seat, the hole in the middle ready to hold a chamber pot. The box rests on four small wooden pegs, the binding protected by a small brass plate at the foot. Condition: clasps possibly renewed in 19th century, seat cracked, old restorations, minor losses to calf.
an unusual example of the use of the book form to disguise travelling personal furniture, probably for use on the military field. Other examples include a piece of furniture at the Chateau de Lamothe-Fenelon in the Dordogne, consists of a pile of folios on short legs with a lid to open, but is not portable. Other examples listed in Komrij, Kaka fonie, p, 286, and plate V.

Alas, it was sold in 2008, but the photo is still up.

#934 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 12:47 PM:

I found the following piece interesting. Eric Schmidt of Google suggests that kids should be able to change their name to escape the "permanent record" of their youthful hijinks.

That's an interesting hypothetical way of relieving his and other companies of any responsibility for the information they aggregate about people, including minors. "Not our fault! Change your name!"

#935 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 01:18 PM:

Barbara Gordon @ 933...

"This book is a page-churner!"
- the Washington Water Closet

#936 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Margaret @914: Really good to hear. Thanks for the update.

joann @ 931: Sympathies. Ours are all wired together as well (part of the legal requirements when we had the loft conversion done), which is why stopping it as soon as it starts beeping is really important.

At the other place I mentioned, the kitchen is semi-open plan to the living room, there is a large hole in the wall just over the cooker, and (when I was there, at least - may have been changed) there was a smoke detector only a couple of feet the other side of that wall. Because it was on the same circuit as the library for the same institution, an alarm going off was VERY SERIOUS. We each had our own code (name and code had to match) to give the fire service to say it wasn't real, and we got very good at sending one person to turn off the alarm by the front door, another to do the same down in the basement while a third ran for the 'phone. Difficult with the sirens and flashing lights eating into your brain.

Caroline @ 932: Sounds good. If I'm ever doing a clear-out, I'll have to see if there are any similar organisations here.

#937 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 01:57 PM:

Margaret at 914: Good to hear. Awaiting more news.

#938 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Barbara Gordon @ 933: Is that a Dan Brown or a Stephanie Meyer?

#939 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 03:20 PM:

joann @ 931:
I'd strongly suggest checking into whether your exhaust fan is really doing its job

I'll second that advice. In our previous house the fan above the stove wasn't connected to any exhaust pipe; it just moved the air around in the kitchen.

#940 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 03:24 PM:

"That worked in The Blob."
"This is what it wants."
- Eureka's Season 3.5

#941 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 03:48 PM:

Simon's Cat

Giggled my way thru that one and Snow Business.
Thank you! I've never seen any episodes.

#942 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 03:56 PM:

Bruce Cohen #939: I'm pretty sure my current stove's exhaust fan is like that.

Lin D #941: You can see all of them at .

#943 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 04:03 PM:

Far too many kitchen "exhaust" fans, these days, just run the air through a filter and put it back into the kitchen. If the filter is in good shape, this can remove some smells and some grease, but doesn't do a thing about heat or moisture. And most people don't ever think of changing the filter.

My previous kitchen, the only one I extensively remodeled, had a dual-blower fan that sounded (at the top end) a bit like a jet engine, vented outside. Since it was variable-speed, I didn't have to listen to it all the time; but when I made kung pao chicken (where I start by burning a dozen or so dried hot peppers in oil in the wok), I need that level of exhaust.

#944 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 05:13 PM:

dcb @919 - preserving plums is remarkably easy, I discovered last year. My neighbors have a yellow plum (small, tart fruits) tree that overhangs my driveway. In normal years, its fruit production is lackluster at best - it's more ornamental than anything else. But last year was a BUMPER CROP - I picked a total of five large mixing bowls worth from just the sixth of the tree or so that is on my side of the fence. We made 18 jars (8 oz) of jam from it - my first time canning, and it was very easy and fabulous. Plums have enough pectin that all you need is sugar - google for any number of recipes available online.

#946 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 05:53 PM:

(Ooh, and the breadcrumb post is 945. Nice bit of parallel structure. Hat-tip to the lovely and charming Jacque.)

#948 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2010, 06:50 PM:

Continuing to post here would be just gross.

#949 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2010, 12:59 AM:

Sarah, #924: I was in a hurry when I originally read this, and didn't have time to post a response. But I still want to note that it made me laugh very hard.

And I have spent 10 minutes trying to put the gist of that into a "plums" pastiche, without success.

#950 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2010, 08:00 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe: Where did you get Elephant Heart plums?!! I have not seen any for, let's see, about 45 years. All of the plums around here, in both groceries and farmers' markets, are known as "plums". Sometimes "yellow plums" or "Italian plums". But aside from that they seem to be all one variety, and it is not Elephant. I miss them.

#951 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 11:08 PM:

Google Translate says it's Romanian.

#952 ::: Serge Broom sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 12:10 PM:

Canada spam in a can?

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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