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August 6, 2013

Open Thread 186
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:20 PM *

When Charles Nungesser and François Coli vanished in 1927, they were attempting to fly across the Atlantic. It was sad, but not inexplicable. When Roald Amundsen vanished in the Arctic in 1928, it was sad, but not strange. Today in history, 1930, Judge Crater vanished. When a prominent person disappears from a New York City sidewalk it is both strange and inexplicable. The sensation was world-wide; tips came from everywhere, but none panned out (including the one that said he was spotted in California prospecting for gold).

“Good Time Joe” Crater, an Associate Justice with an eye for the ladies, left a mid-town restaurant on the evening of 6 August 1930, enroute to a Broadway theater, and was never seen again. Despite a huge search, and offers of large rewards, no trace has ever been found.

He was declared legally dead in 1939, and his missing-person case was officially closed in 1979. Despite a 2005 claim that he’s buried under the Boardwalk on Coney Island, he’s never been officially located.

Did he vanish willingly, or meet with foul play? Who can say?

Continued from Open Thread 185

Continued in Open Thread 187

Comments on Open Thread 186:
#1 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:24 PM:

There's a wonderful thread running over on Ravelry, if you have an account there, called *the* famous dish from where you are from, that would be of great interest to Fluorospherians, I think. A lot of people raving about their characteristic regional favorites, some friendly One True Food sniping between posters, and RECIPES.

#2 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:27 PM:

Holy cats, firsties? I've never gotten firsties on ML before! *luxuriates*

For people particularly interested in food, this thread may well be good enough to justify making a Rav account just to lurk in it. There are well over 500 posts, and it's only been up two days. Much amused horripilation is involved, since a lot of regional favorites are, um, well. You had to grow up there, YKWIM?

#3 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:30 PM:

Maybe the same thing happened to Crater that happened to Richard Mayhew.

#4 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:31 PM:

Open threadiness: TIL that you can get prescription testosterone that you spray in your armpits. For some reason this strikes me as hilarious.

#5 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:36 PM:

It has never been convincingly demonstrated that Judge Crater wasn't abducted by space aliens.

#6 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:38 PM:


I tremble to ask, but what disease or symptom does the spray treat?

#7 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 05:50 PM:

It's transdermal testosterone for those folks with low testosterone levels. It's applied to the armpits to avoid inadvertent transfer to other persons.

#8 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 06:10 PM:

Actually, Jim, although you're correct about the purpose, the directions insist that you wash your armpits before skin-to-skin contact anyway.

(In case anyone's wondering, low testosterone is a risk factor for osteoporosis, decreased muscle mass, Alzheimer's disease, and prostate cancer, as well as sexual dysfunction.)

#9 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 06:12 PM:

Like cioppino recipes that don't involve rock cod? (Cioppino is the Italian version of bouillabaisse. In San Francisco, they found rock cod, which are in the same family as rascasse.)

#10 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 06:15 PM:

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for poor Anthony Weiner (a guy with his own Cake Wrecks page), now, today:

Weiner Slurs Opponent as "Grandpa" at AARP Event to Court Seniors

Dude. Seriously?

#11 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 06:24 PM:

As a kid, Judge Crater was mentioned to me in the same sentence as Amelia Earhart, DB Cooper, and Jimmy Hoffa, but I realize now that was because there was probably a news spike in '79 when the case was closed (when I was 7). I certainly can't recall seeing much mention of him in recent years.

#12 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 06:28 PM:

I recall, in an old Mad magazine (from sixties, most likely) a character walking on in one frame and saying, "I'm Judge Crater. Is anyone looking for me?"

#13 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 06:31 PM:

So since I realized in that "pretty dresses" thread that Charlie Stross occasionally stops by ML:

This past December I started a new job at a startup. It was as mentally taxing as switching to a new job and learning a new system ever is combined with the fact that as a startup one of our biggest fears is that we'll be beaten to market with one aspect or another of the system so there's a lot of push for iterating rapidly.

I also last fall discovered Mr. Stross's "Laundry" series of books and I believe that while ramping up in the new job I was in the middle of The Jennifer Morgue.

The result was a dream about a work conversation discussing a bug report that we needed to ship in the system configuration sufficient containment pentacles for eldritch horrors that could potentially be summoned by the system at runtime and not just for those horrors known to be present in the system when the configuration was built. There was apparently a user workaround involving drawing a few extra pentacles on the floor before activating the system, but the field team was not happy with this and this bug report had been escalated because it was a customer-facing issue.

It didn't help that the naming convention for files in my corner of the system meant that I'd spent the previous two days working on a file named "Epistemology". (A certain character in the Laundry series is described at one point as a "trained combat epistemologist")

#14 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 07:12 PM:

I so need to adopt Daniel's technique for dynamic late binding of eldritch horrors.

#15 ::: Miramon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 07:20 PM:

Funny, I've just been reading up on many of the aces of WWI. The French ones in particular had a way of vanishing.

The great Guynemer went missing, too: though there were fairly solid reports confirming his death, his body and scout were never recovered. Apparently French schoolchildren were told at the time that he just flew so high he couldn't come back down.

And then of course there's St. Exupery -- yeah, yeah, he vanished in WWII, same thing....

#16 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Daniel Martin @13: Have you read William Browning Spencer's Resume with Monsters? There's a lot in it similar to your dream. It's the grandpappy of the Cthulhu-meets-modern-work novels, I think.

#17 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 07:42 PM:

The Mysterious Vanishing Person linked for me with Judge Crater is Ambrose Bierce. Not that they took off together.

#18 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 08:13 PM:

About the Doctor - Neil Gaiman says a black actor was offered the role and turned it down.

Doctor Who role

#19 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 08:54 PM:

Have you guys heard about Welcome to Night Vale? It's a lovely little horror comedy surrealist podcast that has somehow, due perhaps to a spectacular geek convergence, become the top podcast on itunes in the US practically overnight.

It is dark, scary, funny, and surprisingly moving at times. Told in the format of a community-update-style local radio show, it covers day-to-day life in a bizarre and bloody little desert town populated by hooded figures and patrolled by secret world government helicopters.

Highly recommended.

#20 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 09:18 PM:

I was going to suggest that Edgar Rice Burroughs knew what happened, but concealed it by presenting it as fiction, changing the Judge's first name and transposing two letters of his last name, but alas, the timeline doesn't line up.

If he did disappear, he would be 124 today, which makes it seem unlikely that he is still alive, barring extraordinary means of life extension.

#21 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 11:06 PM:

Leah Miller @19: So THAT'S what that is! I saw (what I now know are) Night Vale crossover fanfics start popping up in several of my fandoms over on Archive of Our Own and had no clue.

#22 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 11:11 PM:

HLN: Local woman, after more-or-less learning to knit at a local convention, has managed to manufacture a strip of knitting measuring approximately eight inches by 1/2 inches, with (so far) remarkably little feline assistance....

Local woman now needs to figure out how to perl.

(Local woman figures she's got at least a month before she needs to figure out how to cast off the washcloth/potholder/squarish-(one-hopes)-knit-object...)

#23 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 11:20 PM:

Cassy B. @22: NB, it's purl. Learning to perl is something entirely different, and less like knitting. :-> Both can iterate, though.

If it helps, my quickie description is that purling is exactly like knitting, only inside-out. Slightly longer: hold the yarn in front and pull it BACK through the working loop to make the new, daughter loop.

Other than that, YouTube is full of videos. :->

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 11:21 PM:

Stick the right needle through the loop in front of the left needle, and pull the yarn through, so the top of the old loop comes off in front of the new loop, instead of behind it.

#25 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2013, 11:41 PM:

Xerox machines rewrite specifications -- in particular, they're changing the numbers. Which, with that sort of document, might cause serious problems. Compression algorithm failure.

#26 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 12:55 AM:

It seems to me that purling is more like knitting backward. That is, if you purl some stitches and then turn the "cloth" you are creating over (so that the left side becomes the right side) those stitches will look, and be, knitted. And vice versa. In like fashion, the backs of knitted stitches are purled.

#27 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 12:58 AM:

The server didn't like that comment. Oh well. Let's try this one instead.

#28 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 01:32 AM:

#27 ::: B. Durbin

I don't see anything from you in the moderation queue or in the spam bucket. What exactly are you seeing when you're getting a server error? Are there circumstances when it always appears, when it sometimes appears, or when it never appears?

#29 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 01:46 AM:

Credit to Karen for pointing out the Xerox problem to me; didn't expect it to get its own thread! I expect it's independent discovery.

#30 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 02:33 AM:

They weren't plums, and they weren't in the icebox, but I found some black apricots at the fruit market the other day. It seemed a strange enough thing that I ought to get some. They were probably really a dark purple outside, and a nice reddish-purple pluot sort of color inside, with a texture more like an apricot.

I'm generally not that impressed with plums, and fresh apricots seem like they're just a watered-down version of dried apricots, but pluots are wonderful. My wife liked them better than I did, but they were ok and visually interesting.

#31 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 02:50 AM:

An NPC in one of my campaigns once said that someone had been Cratered.

"You mean they blew him up?" asked a PC.

"No, kidnapped him via teleport," said the NPC. "Named after the first person it was done to."

Adam 11: As a kid, Judge Crater was mentioned to me

Huh. People hardly ever talk about his childhood.

#32 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 03:06 AM:

The Gilberton militia takeover still isn't on NBC or CNN's sites. Why?

#33 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 05:44 AM:

Purl. Yes. I used to knit before I developed a problem with my wrists, but I don't have a clear-cut hand dominance, so somehow I ended up making the knit stitches right-handed and the purl stitches left-handed. I'm pretty sure I wasn't taught that way, but the results were good and that was really all that mattered.

#34 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 07:18 AM:

Carol Kimball @17: The Mysterious Vanishing Person linked for me with Judge Crater is Ambrose Bierce. Not that they took off together.

There was a Jack Finney short story (warning: spoilers) that had it that, if they hadn't left together, they ended up at the same destination.

#35 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 07:34 AM:

Elliot Mason @23 and PJ Evans @24, it wasn't so much a request for help as a crow of accomplishment (Look! Look! I'm MAKING something and it doesn't suck!) -- but thanks(exclamation point); both of your explanations were very helpful!

#36 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 10:24 AM:

Rob Rusick @ #34 -

I remember that story!

#37 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 10:26 AM:

Saint-Exupéry's plane and ID bracelet have been found; the only mystery remaining is whether or not he was shot down.

Then, of course, there's Benjamin Bathurst.

#38 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 10:46 AM:

A very Fluorospherian post about using genderflipping in pop culture as a critiquing technique, and a way of un-invisibling privilege backpacks. I was aware of almost all the concrete examples used to illustrate the piece, but the writing and the conclusions took me places I hadn't gone on my own.

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 10:53 AM:

The name is wrong, the memory still right
of the grey trees beside the drystone wall
fruiting in summer; so lush in recall
and seen so clearly in approaching night
as we looked up to see the birds in flight.
The setting sun, that gorgeous red ball
as into the green sea it seemed to fall,
made of it one stark blessing of a sight.
We cannot know what goods may come to pass
on this hard journey up and down the hill
but dare not bid a single minute stay,
yet what we see reflected in the glass
is not the force either of wit or will
but all the markings of the normal way.

#40 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:05 AM:

The founder of the Nation of Islam, Wallace Fard, also disappeared mysteriously.

#41 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 12:15 PM:

Howdy, folks!

Are there any plans for a Fluorospherian Meetup down at LoneStarCon 3? I'm excited to have y'all in my home state!

#42 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 01:04 PM:

Jenny Islander@32: The Gilberton militia takeover still isn't on NBC or CNN's sites. Why?

At a guess, because Gilberton PA is a small (population as of the 2010 census, 769), poor, rural Pennsylvania coal-mining town, full of the sort of people that the highly urbanized major media outlets don't really give a damn about until a mine caves in or somebody local finally snaps and commits a spectacularly messy multiple murder.

Cynical? Maybe. But I've lived in a small town for long enough now that I've seen enough instances of urban media only taking notice of local goings-on when they can find a way to tie the problem to their own interests.

#43 ::: David Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 01:24 PM:

I am actually wondering if Judge Crater has simply traveled in time to Mega-City One.

#44 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 01:43 PM:

A couple of years ago I read an exhaustive examination of the Benjamin Bathurst case - the kind of thing Jim Macdonald might have posted, if indeed he didn't post the link to it - which looked into the situation and the information available at the time, as the usual offhand references don't.

I think this might be it: The Disappearance of Benjamin Bathurst

As I recall, it came to the conclusion that (1) the contemporary records make it clear he didn't just "walk around the horses" to the other side and vanish, that was a misinterpretation of something one of the witnesses had said about the last time they saw him; (2) it was winter and dark early, so it would have been nearly pitch black at the time he was last outside in the inn's courtyard; (3) there were strong reasons for Napoleonic spies or troops who were operating in that area to have kidnapped him, if they could; (4) notwithstanding point 3, it was most likely that one or both of a couple men working at the inn had murdered him for the cash and valuables he had carelessly shown he was carrying, temporarily hidden the body, and buried him later; (5) some of his clothes were later found in the woods, and a valuable fur coat hidden on the property of a nearby family; (6) forty years later a skeleton was found in a secret grave which roughly matched his physical description, and showed a skull fracture, probably from a violent blow.

It's a rather disappointing explanation compared to the wonderful speculations, but also much more plausible.

#45 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 01:43 PM:

The Great South American River is now an art gallery. It vends, entre autres choses, serious impressionist pieces. And the comments are to die for:

#46 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 02:04 PM:

#45 Fragano

[still laughing]

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 02:13 PM:

Carol Kimball #46: You should also see

#48 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 02:31 PM:

#44 : Clifton

I posted that very link in the 25 November 2012 Diffractions, the 203rd anniversary of Mr. Bathurst's disappearance.

#49 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 03:03 PM:

Skwid @41: Howdy! I'll add you to the list of those attending the Gathering of Light at LoneStarCon 3. The date/time and place are yet to be determined. Any preferences? (I should ask that of everybody attending).

#50 ::: iamnothing is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 03:05 PM:

Maybe for the exclamation mark.

["Howdy!" was indeed it. Moaria Niiigi, Duty Gnome]

#51 ::: Miramon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 03:08 PM:

> Saint-Exupéry's plane and ID bracelet have
> been found; the only mystery remaining is
> whether or not he was shot down.

Oh come on, he naturally would have made it appear that he had died to prevent people from trying to find him. Hence that German pilot's story. It was a put-up job from the start, sheeple*! The asteroid he's living on now along with Nungesser, Guynemer and Earhart doesn't have much room for tourists, after all :)

*I'm sorry, I take that word back.

#52 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 04:21 PM:

Stephen Fry compares Sochi 2014 to Berlin 1936, not without some justification. Read the whole thing.

I don't think his solution (have a former Winter Olympics venue take over) is practical, because I don't think any of them could be ready in time. But Russia deserves to be treated the way Apartheid South Africa was: they should not be allowed to host, and their athletes should not be allowed to compete.

#53 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Miramon @ 51... I wonder if Saint-Exupéry ever drew a sheep for that kid.

#54 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 05:26 PM:

I am rather new here. Please, what does being gnomed involve? And does it tickle at all? I'm afraid I'm terribly ticklish.

#55 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 05:29 PM:

Mongoose: Gnomed is what happens when the gnomes decide that your post is objectionable and quarantine it until one of the mods can take a look and make sure it's from a real person. You'll know if it happens (and it can happen because of bad punctuation or the like) because you'll get an error message telling you about the glass and steel towers.

#56 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 05:29 PM:

For the Colorado knitters out there with way too much time and money on their hands: Yarn Along The Rockies.

I won't be participating, as I already have enough  crap  stuff in my house, thank you very much.

#57 ::: Carrie S has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 05:32 PM:

For, amusingly, trying to tell Mongoose what being gnomed is.

#58 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 05:47 PM:

Mongoose @ 54... I seldom get gnomed, as I somehow rarely invoke the words of power that get me caught in the spam filter, but, when I do, it doesn't tickle.

#59 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 05:49 PM:

Serge @ 57: thank you - that's a relief! And now I understand what being gnomed is all about.

#60 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 06:13 PM:

Add my name to the Gathering of Light at LoneStarCon3. I'm not sure what my preferences are because I haven't been given a schedule of relevant events. Some are not official worldcon events, so details are sketchy. But if I can make it, I most certainly will. (fondly remembering Denvention and Xopher's chocolates and Teresa's influenza cure)

#61 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 07:10 PM:

Jacque: and a truly fine potato you are indeed!

#62 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 07:23 PM:

The discussion of hope and despair on the Dysfunctional Families thread reminded me of something I wrote a few years back. Re-reading it I don't think it's suitable for that thread so open thread it is:

I put my despair in an empty champagne bottle and corked it. Then I locked it in a box and locked that box in six other boxes, like a Matryoshka doll.

I gave the keys to seven sisters, each more beautiful than the next. They each promised to give the key only to whoever answered their riddles. Their riddles, their inheritance from their grandfather, are the most fiendishly difficult, as well as pointless and aggravating, puzzles ever brought back to the waking world.

The boxes I gave to their brother, who hid them in a cave on a mountain which can only be found by one guide. Sadly this guide was stolen from his home when only three nights old and has not been seen since.

I realise, of course, that these precautions are worse than none at all, as any hero worth their salt will find this quest not only irresistible, but find their eventual victory inevitable. Because of this, next to the bottle I have left a note. Before drinking from the bottle of my despair this hero can read my final warning:

You're welcome to it

#63 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 07:34 PM:

Neil W., that is awesome.

#64 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 07:37 PM:

iamnothing #49: Please add me (and Gail, my best beloved) to the list for the Gathering of Light. Thanks.

#65 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 07:52 PM:

Neil W. @61, that is fantastic.

Xopher @52, people* have been pushing Vancouver again, as the facilities are still in reasonably good condition.

* and by 'people' I mean I heard about it from George Takei's blog

#66 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 08:02 PM:


I'm planning to attend the Gathering of Light.

As far as timing is concerned, perhaps Thursday evening or Friday evening?

Note that the Masquerade is scheduled for Friday night and the Hugo awards are scheduled for Saturday night.

#67 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 08:52 PM:

So, while I wait for my compile to finish, a little bit of follow-up on the events I reported last week. I'm using a few more proper nouns now that the furor has died down a little and the news is getting reported a little more accurately.

The whole sangha* here was heartsick about the murder of Mary Beth, and the near certainty that someone we'd regarded as a brother, however faulty, was responsible. Some leaders of our group pulled together an evening meeting last week at one member's house to give people a chance to privately air their feelings and thoughts about it.

That is where things took a turn from tragic to amazing, without disregarding or disrespecting the tragic side:

When I got to the meeting, a little late, I found a young man and young woman in the group who I didn't recognize. These turned out to be Mary Beth's son and her niece. They had heard about the meeting through a chain of forwarded emails, and showed up to the meeting to express their love and support for our sangha, because it was what she would have wanted, and to reassure us that they have faith that she is fine now and that something positive will come from this.

Mary Beth was closely associated with a Sufi group here - though it sounds like she didn't feel limited to one religion - and I think she must have raised her son with a lot of exposure to Sufi thought and to the Sufi focus on God's love, because he seems to be a truly extraordinary and spiritual young man. No wishy-washy or New Age vagueness; very clear and present, while talking about how he can feel her love around him still.

I had wondered how we could reach out to her family to offer them our support in their grief, without hurting or offending them. It would never have occurred to me that her son would come to us to offer his support in our sadness.

That loving response helped free us as a group to feel comfortable with attending her memorial and to make more of a connection with her family, and it's freed me further to sit with and accept my grief for her suffering and her family's grief. This isn't the end of this - doubtless it will take a year or longer for the trial to begin dragging some truth out - but it feels like a very different road.

Please remember this story the next time somebody tries to tell you that Islam, as a whole, is a violent and vengeful religion.

* "sangha" in Buddhism: congregation, body of the faithful, community.

#68 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 08:56 PM:

I could definitely live with Vancouver having the Olympics!

Daily Kos refutes the "Heavily armed militia" Particle.

#69 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 09:47 PM:

Neil W -

Add me to the chorus praising you for that. It is my characteristically subdued birthday today (go, me!) and I find that hits me right in the feels.

#70 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 09:56 PM:

Happy birthday, nerdycellist.

#71 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 10:14 PM:

Uncharacteristically, a subdued happy birthday wish, nerdycellist. (I'm usually exuberant) Celebrate well.

#72 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 10:26 PM:

Heh. Someone on HuffPo is proposing leaving the Olympics in Sochi...but banning the Russians from competing!

The IOC will never do this, of course. It would piss off NBC. But it's a brilliant solution, and would humiliate the hell out of the Russians, who totally deserve it.

I predict a whole bunch of skaters would hastily become Ukrainian.

#73 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:04 PM:

Note that the Masquerade is scheduled for Friday night and the Hugo awards are scheduled for Saturday night.

Michael I @66: Don't you mean Saturday for the Masquerade and Sunday for the Hugos?

I was also thinking we should have the GoL Friday or Thursday, starting a bit after 6:00 pm.

Here's my latest list for the GoL:

Paula Helm Murray
Christopher Davis
Lin Daniel
Fragano Ledgister and Gail

#74 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2013, 11:23 PM:

iamnothing: Me too. (I could swear that I'd posted saying I'd be at the con, but I could be mistaken about that, or you might just have missed it.)

#75 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 01:08 AM:

David Goldfarb @74: You did say you'd be at the con but didn't mention the GoL, so I wasn't sure. There are some others I'm not sure about.

#76 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 01:37 AM:

iamnothing et al @73: I have been thinking about venues for the GoL. There are a large number of restaurants on the Riverwalk, with a variety of cuisines at various price points. There are also other possibilities.

However, the Riverwalk is below street level and was built before modern standards of accessibility. There are ramps and elevators now, but sometimes involve going quite a long way around*. Also, the walkways are cobblestone** and may be difficult for anyone who is unsteady on their feet. Is this going to be a problem for anyone?

Second question: Vegetarian is probably available almost everywhere, albeit of limited selection. Vegan, gluten-free, etc may be more difficult. Is this an issue for anyone?

*About 20 years ago I navigated it with multiple toddlers in strollers. Since then I haven't had occasion to notice.

**Not the right word, but what do you call flat rocks cemented in place?

#77 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 01:38 AM:

You can be uncertain about me because I'm uncertain about myself -- but I'm hoping to attend if I can manage it! I will be at the con, and do feel free to come up and identify yourself if I don't already know you.

#79 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 04:46 AM:

Allan Beatty @ #14:

I prefer lexically-bound eldritch horrors, if I can. But should you need to dynamically bind them, the Turing-Wheeler Jump is surely the way to go (some swear by the Wheeler Burrower Transform, but...).

In general, seems I will be in Seattle, WA, beginning of September. If there are any local fluorospherians, maybe we should make plans to have beverage in close-ish proximity in space-time.

#80 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 04:59 AM:

Neil W @ 62 and Clifton @ 67: those comments are both, in different but related ways, beautiful. Thank you both for sharing.

So often, we go online and are immediately besieged by news that makes us gloomy, or angry, or simply numb with a sense of powerlessness. Thank you both for reminding us, in different ways, of the light that shines in the darkness: Neil W for showing the light that shines within each one of us, and Clifton for showing the light that shines unexpectedly from elsewhere.

#81 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:29 AM:

Glenda P @76: what do you call flat rocks cemented in place?

"Setts". Though they often get called "cobblestones" as well, which makes something like the Paris-Roubaix bike race sound even more ridiculously difficult than it already is.

#82 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 06:25 AM:

Xopher @52/72: I think the thing that really kicked me in the teeth about the Olympics was when someone pointed out on Twitter that the USOC got super pissy about the knitters who used the term 'Ravelympics' last summer, but they aren't ever going to raise a fuss about Russia's current hate-on for us LGBT folks. I'm not sure why that hit home as hard as it did, because my cynical side says that of course they're going to worry about their money/brand more than they're going to give a damn about human rights, especially where the queers are involved, but--that's what did me in.

Vancouver 2014!

#83 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 07:36 AM:

iamnothing@73 Don't you mean Saturday for the Masquerade and Sunday for the Hugos?


#84 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:11 AM:

There's still some pretty worrying elements to the Gilberton business, that "heavily-armed militia". The Kessler guy could be facing a Federal inquiry. It's a one-man police force, him, but he bought an unknown number of guns for the force, and the town want to know where they are. Full-auto weapons are tightly controlled for "civilians", needing an expensive Federal license, less so for Police Forces. So this guy could find the ATF descending on him.

Why did he buy the guns, where did they end up, and why did nobody notice?

It's possible that all we're talking about are a couple of ordinary cop-guns, a Glock on the guy's hip and a shotgun in the car. But why does a town with 900 residents need its own armed cop?

#85 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:25 AM:

@84: "But why does a town with 900 residents need its own armed cop?"

0.1% police seems like a reasonable number to me. I'd be paying something like $100 of his salary and benefits, if I had that level of protection.

Statistically, per wikipedia, it looks like around 1 in 400 people in the US is a cop- obviously this counts federal, state and local- so 1 in 900, local, doesn't seem ridiculous.

Why _wouldn't_ a town of 900 have a police officer? I mean, not necessarily THIS police officer, I don't know the gentleman, but someone.

#86 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:33 AM:

Sandy B. @85:

I'd expect a town of that size to rely on county law enforcement, but my experience with towns that small is in the rural Great Plains where the overall population density is considerably lower. If nothing else, that means that you don't have a single point of failure if your lone cop comes down with the flu.

#87 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:58 AM:

84, 85, 86--In my experience, police forces in very small towns do work closely with the sheriff's office; it's a good plan even if there isn't a flu epidemic.
One advantage to having a local force* even in so small a community is that there is someone who can be on-hand quickly in the event of an emergency, whether it's an accident, a break-in, an attempt to rob the QuickieMart, instead of waiting 15 to 20 minutes for a deputy to show up. You also have someone on-hand to talk to school children about bicycle safety and such. Besides, you'll want someone around in case the stop light malfunctions...

*For values of force = 'one or two people'

#88 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 10:15 AM:

iamnothing @ 73... Let us know when the Gathering is likely to happen then I'll be able to confirm. As for the masquerade and the Hugos, I'll be in the masquerade, and some of my handiwork will be seen during the Hugos.

#89 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:00 AM:

I grew up in a town of about 6,000 and we didn't have a police department. If you needed the police they came from the next town over; with any luck, you didn't need them quickly.

In other news, local man is reading Bitter Seeds, finding it quite enjoyable.

#90 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:13 AM:

Open threadiness:A good article about the issues raised by NSA surveillance and whistleblowing

The big question we need to consider is how we can have meaningful oversight of secret operations done by our government. It is only a partial solution (though I think still worthwhile) to get rid of as much secret stuff as possible. You will still need undercover cops and spies and hidden technical details about weapons. You will still need to keep internal deliberations secret sometimes, and personnel records and medical records and trade secrets shared with the government to comply with regulations. Some stuff has to be kept secret, and some important things governments do require operating under some level of secrecy. Many of those things will be subject to some level of abuse, ranging from featherbedding and nepotism to collecting dirt on political opponents or running death squads to eliminate the radicals you *really* don't like.

The current solution seems to be, in practice, that oversight is done by people who aren't told much, have no way to check what they're told, and aren't allowed to talk about any problems they find. When the intelligence agencies lie to their overseers, or omit critical data, there are no consequences. This is pretty clearly not a good way to do things. How can we do better?

#91 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:37 AM:

Carrie S @55--

Strange, but I had always parsed the sequences of events differently. (And I'm pretty sure I have had it happen to me before).

I thought that the quarantining was performed by faceless algorithms, not gnomes. And I had thought that the rescuing was done by the selfless gnomes, not by mods.

After all, isn't it usually the duty gnome who intervenes to save your post from oblivion?

But I now see that several of the steps are open to gestalt-shifty re-interpretation. I had always interpreted the gnomes' statements as taking the form, "here's why the faceless algorithms quarantined you, but don't worry, we rescued you." I suppose you understand them as saying, "here's why we quarantined you ourselves."

And the offerings of food also take on a different significance. I thought that the offerers were saying, "beneficent and philanthropic gnomes, please intercede on my behalf against the faceless algorithms!" Whereas I suppose you interpret them as saying, "all-powerful gnomes, who quarantine whom they will, accept my peace-offering and do not quarantine me!"

And what role had I been assigning the mods? Well, none, of course. They pretty much just sit around and eat bon-bons. Easiest job in the world, when you have algorithms and gnomes to do the heavy-lifting for you.

(and, yes, I am resigned to not seeing this post appear for some time).

#92 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Aha--the message from the glass tower tells me that my parsing has been at least partially wrong.

(Still think I'm right about the bon-bons).

#93 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:48 AM:

Many of the smaller towns in my area have no police at all, or just one guy; most of the responsibility is handled by the State Police, whose barracks is an hour's drive south. (We have two state guys who cover the entire area.)

A town just east of me (population 298) had a problem with their one-man force a while back. He was arrested for drunk driving in another town. The town tried to fire him, and he sued for wrongful termination. So what happened was, at next town meeting, the citizens voted the police budget to zero. He left, and now that town only has state police.

Another town, just north of me (population 1,012) had a problem when their entire police force was deployed to Iraq with the national guard. What happened there was our town cops covered for them, even though they had no powers greater than any other citizen, to stabilize any situation until the state guys could get there.

#94 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:53 AM:

Clifton @61: and a truly fine potato you are indeed!

As long a you don't expect me to actually see anything.

#95 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 12:09 PM:

Jeez, I didn't know *that* was a word of power, but by their fruits shall ye know 'em.

#96 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 12:12 PM:

Clifton 67: That's a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it.

Sufism has been persecuted in the Muslim world, and my (very limited) experience is that Sufis tend to be rather fact, I believe there's one Sufi order that accepts non-Muslims.

GlendaP 76, James 81: Flagstones?

k8 82: Just so. They protect their brand, their income, and (I've heard) their personal bribes and kickbacks, but justice? the integrity of sport? Pffft.

#97 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 12:35 PM:

oldster (91): I've been fascinated by the evolution of food-offerings to the gnomes. The first mention of food in relation to them was when abi told us that well-behaved visitors were taken into the back room and given tea* and cookies while waiting for their case to be resolved. Shortly after that, a visitor offered the gnomes some cookies to help restock their supplies. And now the custom is for the visitor to feed the gnomes with whatever goodies are on hand.

Hmmm. Gnomes=Noms?

*or preferred drink

#98 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 12:38 PM:

Sadly, it looks like the fine art offerings by, as Fragano put it, "the Great South American River", are no longer visible at the links given. Even Google searches for the paintings turn up those links, but the pages they lead to say "Looking for something? We're sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site."

Fortunately, Google cached some of the reviews; they are what you would expect of Amazon reviews of multi-million-dollar masterpieces.

#99 ::: Jeremy Leader is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 12:43 PM:

... perhaps for referring to the Great South American River by its proper name, as well as the company named after the mis-spelled version of 1 with 100 zeros.

Sadly, all I have to offer the gnomes is the last bag of real fritos from the lunch room, and a clementine.

#100 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 01:28 PM:

For I will consider my gnome Raul.
For he is the servant of the NielsenHaydens, duly and daily serving them.
For at the first sight of spam in the threads he deals with it in his way.
For is this done by tapping it with his hammer seven times with elegant quickness.
For he looks askance upon accident attorneys, escorts in London, and purveyors of on-line poker.
Then he goes to another page to check the IP number to see if it has spammed before, and if so banning it.
For having done duty and unpublishing spam he begins to consider the rest.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon the hidden comments to see if they are from friends.
For secondly if friends were trapped by the filters he offers them tea.
For thirdly he shares the offerings of the commenters who have come to the glass and steel towers, for they bring more toothsome items than spam.
For fourthly he checks in the refrigerator to see if there be plums.
For fifthly if he finds plums he eats them.
For sixthly when the plums are gone he feels sorrow.
For seventhly he pets the hamster.
For eighthly he fetches bon-bons for the mods.
For ninthly he curls his toes.
For tenthly he does it all again.

#101 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 01:36 PM:

HLN: Local woman and houseguest Rikibeth both giggled when they got to "For fourthly..."

#102 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 01:49 PM:

Jim Macdonald (100): ::applause::

#103 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 02:14 PM:

iamnothing please add a +1 next to my name, as my wife is likely to be joining us!

#104 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 02:28 PM:

Jim Macdonald @100

You had me at "for eighthly". (Actually, you had me from the very first line...)

#105 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 02:44 PM:

@89, HLN: Bookstore employee checks that area man has read Bitter Seeds and A Colder War while selling him Necessary Evil. "Not a trilogy to read out of order," they agree.

#106 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 02:49 PM:

Jim Macdonald @ 100: wonderful! And now I know the gnomes like to be fed, I shall bring them gingerbread:

Recipes tend to mutate somewhat as they pass down the generations. My version, as you'll see at the link, is vegan. I believe my sister still uses lard if she is just baking for her family, but she does the vegan version if in any doubt; however, she uses about twice as much ginger as I do. She really loves the stuff.

All gnomes, please tuck in and enjoy, vegan gnomes included. If there are any gnomes on a gluten-free diet, fear not; I can arrange something for you next time.

#107 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 03:53 PM:

Dammit. Elizabeth Peters is dead.

Sad, sad day. I love her Amelia Peabody series.

#108 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 04:26 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 107 - Damn. I'm going to have to dig out my copy of Crocodile on the Sandbank now...

#109 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 04:46 PM:

Mongoose @106, that sounds delicious; as an American, what ought I to use where it says golden syrup and black treacle? Also what does "wholemeal" flour signify?

#110 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 04:53 PM:

estelendur @109:

Black treacle is molasses; wholemeal flour is whole wheat flour. I'm not sure what to suggest for golden syrup, but someone else might know.

#111 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:02 PM:

I would just turn the golden syrup into more molasses, use white sugar for the demerara sugar, and call it roughly even. But then I like molasses.

My grocery store (Boston) carries Lyle's Golden Syrup, though.

#112 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:11 PM:

Xopher @107 - another mourning for Elizabeth Peters. Somehow I could never get into her Amelia Peabody series, but I was alway always hoping for another Jacqueline Kirby novel (The Seventh Sinner, Murders of Richard III, Die for Love, Naked Once More).

#113 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:19 PM:

oliviacw (112): The Jacqueline Kirby books were my favorites, too. I was also quite fond of some of her early, stand-alone, romantic suspense novels. Time to re-read Devil-May-Care, I think.

#114 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:20 PM:

estelendur @ 109: I'm not entirely sure about the American equivalents, I'm afraid. I've heard of molasses, but I don't know if it's the same thing as the treacle you can buy over here. British treacle is very black and not very sweet; it has almost a licorice flavour about it. This cake doesn't work well if it's over-sweetened, and the treacle balances out the golden syrup, which on its own is ridiculously sweet.

I shall go and make some enquiries on the Book of Face and see what I can come up with.

#115 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:33 PM:

Golden syrup is essentially liquid sugar, It feels a lot like (not HF) corn syrup but it's made from sugar cane.

#116 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:33 PM:

Thanks to Bill Higgins, I am now acquainted with the remarkable book "Endless Amusement", a book written in 1847, and available on Project Gutenberg HERE. (Note: you want a version with images.) While still laughing about how they've got the formula for "fulminating mercury" sandwiched between mathematical puzzles, I came across this, in the vacuum pump section:

Cork heavier than Lead.
Let a large piece of cork be pendent from one end of a balance beam, and a small piece of lead from the other; the lead should rather preponderate. If this apparatus be placed [in a vacuum chamber], you will find that when the air is exhausted, the lead, which seemed the heaviest body, will ascend, and the cork outweigh the lead. Restore the air, and the effect will cease. This phenomenon is only on account of the difference of the size in the two objects. The lead, which owes its heaviness to the operation of the air, yields to a lighter because a larger substance when deprived of its assistance.

Wait, what? Are they crazy, or am I? Are they claiming that the cork is somehow buoyant in the air or something?

#117 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:43 PM:

A Canadian friend on the Book of the Face informs me that molasses is not sweeter than treacle and works as a straight substitute; she cooks in both countries (lives over here but visits her parents regularly).

eric @ 115: yes. "Liquid sugar" is an excellent description. It's a heavy syrup of sugar and invert sugar, and by "heavy" I mean it's about the consistency of non-set honey. Any syrup of that approximate consistency, and about the sweetness of ordinary sugar, would work.

#118 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:44 PM:

Speaking of plums, I must check the tree for the last ripening plum. The deer got about half of them this year, but the 5 they didn't get were wonderful.

Everything else seems to be about 2 weeks early -- the raspberries were almost gone by late July, and we've had browsable quantities of blackberries by August first. I put down the first half gallon in the freezer last night, when normally that doesn't happen till after county fair time.

Perhaps it was the total lack of rain in July, or the lovely day of rain on the second. We woke up to damp ground, dry downspouts and the smell of oils and other things liberated from the dryness. But that was soon replaced by 1/2 inch of warm rain throughout the day, that lead to the dry grass greening overnight.

The sweet spot of zucchini -- enough but not too much, was very short this year,about the last week of July. We're now behind, with foot long ones showing up each day. Thankfully, the neighbors haven't started locking their cars. yet. And, there are 3 categories that one can enter them in the fair.

#119 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:46 PM:

Ooh. Further comment from another knowledgeable person:

"It really depends on what kind of molasses you're using. Black strap is really too strong, but fancy molasses is an okay substitute for treacle. If it's 50% treacle and 50% syrup then you're going to want to go with a 50% fancy molasses and 50% dark corn syrup."

#120 ::: eric is doing the gnome thing ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:46 PM:

I've got a tree with one plum, as mentioned in the post.

#121 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:53 PM:

Hm. The lead-cork thing is wrong but it's possible to see what they were thinking.

Imagine a large glass bubble (airtight). The shell is one gram of glass, and the internal volume is one liter of normal air. If you put this on a scale, it will show a weight of one gram(*). But if you repeat the test in a vacuum, the scale will show about 2.2 grams, because the air sealed in the bubble is no longer neutral bouyancy.

If you run this on a balance scale against a (solid) 1.5g weight, you'll see the result the book is trying to describe. It's a very crude barometer, is all.

The problem is that cork is a terrible approximation of an airtight glass bubble. The air in the cork will escape easily -- or if it doesn't, you'll probably get popcork.

(* Don't get all units on my ass here. You know what I mean.)

#122 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 05:57 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @120, I just got a spontaneous and irrepressible case of the giggles at the word "popcork". The mental image is priceless. But if I get in trouble with my boss, it's All Your Fault....

#123 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 06:23 PM:

Cassy B: You're welcome.

Footnote: I've never actually played with a big piece (a liter) of cork. Maybe it's stronger and more airtight than I think, in which case the book is actually on target.

#124 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 06:54 PM:

Dr. Barbara Mertz -- RIP

I was hoping for another Vicky Bliss book, if only to see if she actually got John to the altar...

She will be missed.

#125 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 07:34 PM:

A lovely unforced pun!

#126 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 07:44 PM:

Open threadiness:

I just read a news article that made me FURIOUS.

Warning: Major triggers. Rape, child abuse.

Link to Salon article

This is barbarism and I'm profoundly ashamed that it can still happen in my country.

#127 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:07 PM:

I'm going to greatly miss Elizabeth Peters, as she joins Amelia and Adbulla on the path on the ridge under the great Egyptian moon. Her early standalones and the Vicky Bliss and Jacqueline Kirby ones were my favorite airplane reading, making my much more mundane travels somehow more exciting.

#128 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:31 PM:

Popcork! Popcork!

Ok, SOMEONE here must have a proper vacuum apparatus, right? Anyone? Singer?

I want video of this experiment!

#129 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:36 PM:

Knitting question from a complete novice:

If you're pretty sure (not positive, but have a bad feeling) that you've made a mistake in a row of knitting (I think perhaps I dropped a stitch; it looks kind of uneven and gappy compared to the rest of the strip), how do you rip out a row without destroying everything you've done so far? There must be a way, short of starting completely over.... (she said, with hope in her voice)

And here I thought I was starting to actually master the knit stitch. <sigh>



#130 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:51 PM:

If you dropped the stitch, you might not need to unravel (frog) your knitting so far. A hook of some sort will help you pick up the laddered stitch and work it back up.

I am not feeling up to describing the maneuver, but if you want to try it, I recommend using your search engine of choice to look for instructions on picking up dropped stitches. (The exact variation required will depend on whether you are working stockinette or garter stitch.)

#131 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:51 PM:

Cassy B @129: You basically unknit it one stitch at a time -- insert your needle into the 'mother' of the last-knit stitch, and then pull the yarn out to remove the stitch. Then move over to the next one, insert your needle into the 'mother' ... and so on.

As you knit, so shall you rip, goes the proverb. :-> This is also referred to as 'tinking back' in some cases, if you see that terminology anywhere on the web.

#132 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:53 PM:

That being said, it's possible to unravel back to a previous row and pick up the stitches with a knitting needle; I recommend using one that's smaller than the one you're knitting with.

#133 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:55 PM:

That being said, it's possible to unravel back to a previous row and pick up the stitches with a knitting needle; I recommend using one that's smaller than the one you're knitting with. If you are able to read your knitting enough to follow a row across, you can even pick up the stitches before doing the unraveling: slip the needle through every other vertical bar. The end stitches might be a little hard to see, though.

#134 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 08:56 PM:

Whoops, sorry! Not sure what I did there. And I should have thought of tinking; it's the most reliable way of undoing knitting.

#135 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:11 PM:

Dropping stitches: the best explanation I've seen for fixing a dropped stitch is to crochet it up the rows. But I started with crocheting, so that's what makes sense to me. This is all easier to explain in person, so really, heading to a yarn store is your best bet.

When you look at the knitting, you'll see loops coming out of loops vertically. A dropped stitch is when the loops pull out and run down. You can use a crochet hook to go through a loop (which won't look loopy anymore), then grab the loop above it and pull the above-loop through the below-loop. Now you have the above-loop on the hook in place of the below-loop, and you repeat that a lot. When you're out of above-loops, the loop goes back on the needle. You can keep the hook through the loop so it doesn't run down again and put the loop on the needle when next you need the stitch.

The difference between a knit stitch and a purl stitch matters when picking them back up, but I have been lucky so far and haven't needed to know it.

There are probably videos that explain this better. Knitting: not something that converts to text well.

#136 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:20 PM:

Naomi and Elliot, thank you both. I think I can figure out how to unknit. (Picking up the probably dropped stitch will be... interesting, however.)


Now I seem to have 51 stitches on my needle rather than 50. <scratching head in puzzlement>

#137 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:22 PM:

Cassie B @129

Also be aware that having to take out stitches, or even whole rows, is a sign of progress. You're challenging yourself. (I challenge myself a lot.)

With regards to frog knitting, I was muttering at my knitting at a con, cursing that I would have to do some frog knitting. A friend asked, what's frog knitting? Another knitting friend, sitting on the other side of the room, joined in when I said "Rippit Rippit". You know you're doing just fine when there's a word for it.

#138 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:25 PM:

Diatryma, after unknitting per Elliot and Naomi, I managed to pick up the probably-dropped stitch, doing exactly what you described (and thank you for that description!), but now I have one too many stitches. So maybe it wasn't dropped at all. I'm really not quite sure WHAT I did.

On the other hand, nobody is going to notice if a potholder or washcloth is a little uneven.


<sheepish look>

#139 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:28 PM:

Cassy B: You're actually attempting to knit at a higher level (achievement unlocked!) than is really necessary for your current project. WHich is good! But it's not that you're awful, it's that you have good taste, if you see what I mean.

As long as you don't gain ten stitches all of a sudden and make the thing fan-shaped your washcloth will be very forgiving. :->

In my opinion, the hardest part of learning to knit is the time it takes to gain muscle memory: so your fingers learn how to knit without you having to devote processor time to WATCHING them knit. And for geeks it's particularly bad trying to get through that period with your brain going "this isn't hard, why am I screwing it up?" Because you don't have the muscle memory yet, that's why ...

If you want to take it back down from 51 stitches to 50 (in no way required, but it might amuse you), then somewhere in the middle of the piece, instead of a normal knit stitch, put your needle through TWO about-to-be-knit stitches, pretend it's one stitch, and knit it. This is known as a decrease, specifically a knit-two-together, or a k2tog in pattern parlance.

#140 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:31 PM:

Elliot Mason@139, Ah, good. Simple fix. I *like* simple fixes. (You can tell I'm a geek (or maybe a little OCD); I not only counted my initial stitches, I count every single finished row...)

#141 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:32 PM:

AKICIML. I have an email friend who has a son with high functioning autism. He completed a college degree in history in 2012 and is having trouble finding permanent employment. He has been working as a substitute custodian for a school system for some months now.

Now, finding a job in the current economy is not easy for someone with a BA in history anyway, so the HFA may or may not be in play. I've never met the young man, so can't speak to his social skills, but his mom says he has done well with small-scale leadership in church-related activities. But he's been called in for interviews several times for permanent positions doing what he's currently doing, and he thinks the interview goes well, but he's not getting any offers.

I'm in search of resources I could pass on to them about job search, interviewing, etc., likely to be of particular applicability to a person with HFA, or any tips anyone can offer.


#142 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:39 PM:

Naomi, Elliott, and Diatryma, THANK you all individually and collectively; I undid it again (fortunately it was only about 10 stitches before I noticed something was funky), reknit it again... and this time it came out to 50 stitches.

I *still* don't know where the extra stitch came from, but it seems to have vanished whence it came.

(1-1/2" completed so far!)

I now return you to your regularly scheduled Open thread, already in progress.

#143 ::: dancingcrow ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 09:56 PM:

Cassy @140 and 142 - At a guess, you got the yarn over a needle as you were knitting a stitch, and then treated that yarn-over as a new stitch and knitted it on the next row. This is the next most popular failure mode, after dropped stitches, among the people I've taught.

#144 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 10:16 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @111, Mongoose @multiple: I tried making the gingerbread with all molasses (not trusting our supplies of syrup) and all the powdered ginger we had, which was more than the recipe but still not enough based on tasting it right out of the oven because of course I don't have enough patience to let it cool. It is tasty; I imagine it would be even better with the addition of chopped candied ginger, because one can hardly ever have enough ginger.

#145 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 10:58 PM:

My guess for the extra stitch is that you had the yarn on the wrong side of the needle when you started a row, so instead of having one loop on the needle, you had what looked like two loops, and you treated them both as a stitch. It's what I was warned against and what I've caught myself almost doing.

#146 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:23 PM:

Heck, I have a scarf where I've taken out a repeat of the pattern and reknit it, counting every single row, and I'm still coming up with the wrong number at a point where it matters greatly. [mutters about the deities of knitting not helping]

#147 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2013, 11:27 PM:

OtterB #141: But he's been called in for interviews several times for permanent positions doing what he's currently doing, and he thinks the interview goes well, but he's not getting any offers.

That may not be the autism, as I'm hearing it's typical for most job searchers these days. Too many people chasing too few jobs!

#148 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:35 AM:

iamnothing, #73: 6:00 might be a little early for me, since I have to be in the dealer room until closing. Apart from that, I think either Thursday or Friday would work. Also, you can add KeithS to the list -- he hasn't been around much of late, but he's room-splitting with us and I'll bring him along. My partner is less likely, as he often has to do paperwork at the end of the day.

#149 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:42 AM:

GlendaP @76: TA for that information.

Lee @148: That's why I said a bit after 6:00 pm :) how much time will you need? I imagine we'll all meet at the Convention Center since most people will still be there.

I personally favor Friday, since Thursday is Music Night. What about everybody else?

attending the GoL:

Paula Helm Murray
Christopher Davis
Skwid and wife
Lin Daniel
Fragano Ledgister and Gail
Michael I
David Goldfarb

The maybes are:

Tom Whitmore
Serge Broom

I'm also not sure about Bill Stewart.

#150 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:42 AM:

Generous Large River gift card birthday gifts have enabled me to place a big order including several SF/F books, an historical fiction that I'm sure my roommate had at some point but then donated it somewhere, a book of ice cream recipes, one called "Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses", two jelly roll pans, a cooling rack and a drop spindle. Yay! For generous Large River gift cards!

#151 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:44 AM:

That order was brought to you by half a bottle of Tempranillo and the sense of well-being that only a freezer full of meat and no fewer than three different cheeses in the cheese drawer can bring you.

#152 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 03:00 AM:

Subsisting on diet of pasta, pizza, and gelato. Cannot last much longer.

#153 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 03:29 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @121

The description in the book has some underlying science, going back to Archimedes. Both the lead and the cork will displace air, but different amounts

Density of Lead 11340 kg/m3

Density of Cork 250 kg/m3

Density of Air 1.25 kg/m3

Lets assume a liter of cork. That's 250g, and it displaces 1.25g of air

There's about a 45:1 density difference so we have a more than 1g difference in the buoyancy effect, which would be within the plausible limits of a scientific balance of the 1840s

I'm not sure how to figure air trapped in the cork. Maybe the time needed for it to escape is long enough to show an observable effect. Seeing the cork outweigh the lead for a minute or two some a reasonable prediction, but it depends on how fast the pressure drops.

So the science is there, but I would reckon the described experiment is pretty dodgy and aren't the authors lucky that none of their readers have the facilities to conduct the experiment.

#154 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 06:28 AM:

Dave Harmon @147, I also think that's possible, that it's not that he's doing anything "wrong" in the interviews but just the way the job market runs.

#155 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:06 AM:

I'm not sure what tickles me more: Casting Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower, or Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.

#156 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:35 AM:

OtterB @ 141

Here's what I've found helpful.

Working on "the goal is to sell yourself, not to answer questions as completely as possible." (I, like many people on the autism spectrum, find this really hard.)

Working on thinking through beforehand "what is this person likely to want."

For me, the most helpful thing was to have real-feeling mock interviews. Campus career services can often arrange those. The key thing is that most people want to do mock interviews mostly to practice; I needed to do mock interviews to get feedback, and then think about that feedback and practice it and get more feedback. (That meant that multiple mock interviews with the same person, and that person being willing and knowledgeable enough to give very specific feedback in a form that I could put into my thinking, was important.) I also needed fairly specific interviews, so that I could practice the "what does this person want to know." Another thing that is helpful is trying (and it's still hard for me) to learn to tell whether the person to whom you are talking wants you to keep talking, or has heard all they need for now.

#157 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:50 AM:

It occurs to me that it might well be possible to do the lead-cork thing with a block of pine that's been finished and painted with a latex-based paint.

Pine is on the order of 700 kg/m^3. A 10-cm-on-a-side block will weigh about 700 grams and displace a liter of air (as above, ~ 1.25g). Then you just need enough lead to weigh 0.5 g more than the block and a decent vacuum pump.

#158 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 09:25 AM:

Allow me to let my molasses freak flag fly. (It's an heirloom; belonged to my father before me.)

"Golden Syrup" can mean a lot of things; here in the southern US it generally means golden cane syrup, which is made from cane sugar, before it's cooked down to the point that sugar begins to condense out. Steen's is one of the brands still available; you may also, in smaller southern stores, especially in rural areas, see ribbon cane syrup; ribbon cane is a sugar cane variant. It tends to be a small-batch, locally produced craft product, unlike corn syrup. In the UK, "Golden Syrup" seems to be pretty much the same thing, and if the Big Doodling Search Engine can be relied upon, Tate & Lyles is the big-name brand.

Molasses in the US is the end-product of sugar-making from sugar cane; it's a dark-colored product, and the longer it's been cooked the darker it is, until you get down to blackstrap molasses, which doesn't have much sugar left in it and can be used as a dietary supplement for humans, or in cattle feed. Wikipedia does not believe that treacle and molasses are quite the same thing, but as they come from the same plant and out of the same process of sugar refining, I will assume they can be substituted for each other--molasses will have a darker, more caramelized flavor than golden cane syrup. (For extra Geek Points, let me note that 'treacle' comes from theriac.) In folk medicine, a mixture of sulfur and molasses performs the same function as one of brimstone and treacle.

In the midsouth, including the Ozarks, where sugar cane is less common as a crop (unless global warming changes that) you will see sorghum molasses. These have a distinct flavor which is not the same as sugar cane molasses, but is equally tasty in baking, barbecue sauce, and on hot (southern-style) biscuits. They are also generally a small-batch, local producer item. I know from talking with my mother and aunts that molasses (sugar or sorghum) were used a lot in baking during World War II to deal with sugar rationing, although these were less effective in coffee and tea. I don't know how the rationing board looked on them, but as sorghum, and in some cases cane syrup were often small-batch farm-to-market products, they may have slid past under the official radar, the way small bee-keeping operations could.

I notice that I am compelled to write and speak of 'molasses' as a plural, although 'treacle' remains singular

#159 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 09:36 AM:

fidelio @158 I notice that I am compelled to write and speak of 'molasses' as a plural

My father used to quote what I assume was an old southern joke about "How can I have mo-lasses when I ain't had no-lasses yet?"

#160 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 09:38 AM:

OtterB @159. So did my father (and his brothers).

#161 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 09:55 AM:

Xopher @ 107 ...
Dammit. Elizabeth Peters is dead.


(also, por favor -- warning of links through to facebook, for those of us that would really rather not go there, and prefer to avoid, rather than spend time cleaning up).

#162 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 10:43 AM:

It's interesting, perusing "Endless Amusement" (Project Gutenberg copy from 1847) further, that the author(s) appear to subscribe to the classical elemental theory of matter, describing, for instance, the operation of gunpowder as primarily an interaction between aqueous and aerial humours:

Gunpowder being a principal ingredient in fire-works, it will not be improper to give a short definition of its strange explosive force, and cause of action, which, according to Dr. Shaw's opinion of the chemical cause of the explosive force of gunpowder, is as follows:—"Each grain of gunpowder consisting of a certain proportion of sulphur, nitre, and coal, the coal presently taking fire, upon contact of the smallest spark; at which time both the sulphur and the nitre immediately melt, and by means of the coal interposed between them, burst into flame; which spreading from grain to grain, propagates the same effect almost instantaneously, whence the whole mass of powder comes to be fired; and as nitre contains a large proportion both of air and water, which are now violently rarefied by the heat, a kind of fiery explosive blast is thus produced, wherein the nitre seems, by its aqueous and aërial parts, to act as bellows to the other inflammable bodies (sulphur and coal) to blow them into a flame, and carry off their whole substance in smoke and vapour."

The first, or one of the first, editions of Endless Amusement was written in 1821. Lavoisier had invented modern elemental chemistry by 1790. I suppose a 30 year lag in scientific knowledge isn't too bad. Of course, the copy I'm quoting from is an edition from more than 25 years later; you'd think they might have revised it, modern chemistry being over 50 years old at the time. I've tried to look up "Dr. Shaw", but all I come across are quotes from various editions of "Endless Amusement".

#163 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 10:59 AM:

An ISP shuts down its secure mail service.

The claim is that it is no longer possible to promise to safeguard the privacy of your users in the United States.

I don't know anything about Lavabit. I know several of the people involved in Silent Circle, and they are smart, well-intentioned people who know what they're doing. I haven't dug into their reasons for getting rid of their secure email scheme, though--end-to-end encrypted email is old technology, and in fact some of the top people at Silent Circle worked on PGP, which was a widespread program for doing end-to-end encrypted email.

I think the business implications of this sort of thing are going to be pretty ugly for some US internet companies. As I said earlier talking about Google, I'm willing to believe (based on what I've read and heard, notably the EFF "who's got your back" report) that companies like Google will honestly try to preserve their users' privacy. But the laws of the US apparently don't permit any promise to be made about that--there can be secret court orders from secret courts based on secret laws and secret legal opinions[1] which require you to spy on your users, and not to disclose the fact that you're spying on your users.

The only workaround for this is probably to simply arrange your operations so that you do not ever have any information that could be seized profitably. If you collect information on your users for benign purposes, that information can be demanded from you for malign purposes. (Or really for any purposes--how would you know how they're being used? Congressmen on the intelligence oversight committees have been blindsided by some of the revelations from Snowden's leaks.) If you never have the information in the first place, you're in a better position--now someone has to pass a law and force you to change your operations to collect that information if they want it.

[1] I know this sounds like I'm piling it on for effect, but honestly, this isn't an exaggeration. You really can get a secret order issued by a secret court, whose justification is based on case law and legal opinions that are also secret.

#164 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 10:59 AM:


#165 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 11:13 AM:

It's much higher level than necessary for washcloth work, but a friend of mine who does more complicated patterns will periodically run a strand of cheap yarn through through a row of knitting. Usually between repeats in a pattern. That way, if she finds she made a serious mistake and needs to rip back, she can just rip back, instead of tinking, and have it stop on the safety line instead of accidentally ripping too far.

#166 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 11:57 AM:

Fade Manley @164, can you expound on this a little?

I'm the sort of person who invented (I'm sure it's been independently invented elsewhere, but I'd not heard of the technique) a method for reducing crossstitch counting mistakes, after a miscount cost me a week of work; I vowed it would never happen again. (And pulling out cross-stitch thread often leaves tiny threadlets of color behind, which is infuriating.) You makes a grid with monofiliment fishing line on the linen before you start cross-stitching, so you can see mistakes in placement; monofiliment line can be easily slid right out of the pattern when completed and will NEVER snag or leave color behind.

Does she thread the stop-yarn along a needle through the loops, before she knits another row? (How? With a large-eyed sewing needle?) Or does she somehow knit it in?

And when it turns out thankfully not to have been necessary, how does she remove it without harming the work? (I'm actually contemplating monofiliment fishing line again....)

If I can figure out how to apply this trick, it will remove about 3/4 of the stress from knitting. This would be a Good Thing, since knitting is supposed to be a stress-reliever, not a stress-inflicter.

(Note that I'm still such a novice that I haven't actually successfully purled. Don't worry; I have some helpful-looking videos bookmarked for when I get up the nerve to try it...)

#167 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:05 PM:

Cassy B, I wish I could, but I've only seen it done and had it explained to me, not done it myself. But as near as I can tell, it's something like this:

For a full row of stitches--ideally a really simple row, like a full row of knit stitches--you thread a piece of yarn in a clearly contrasting color through the whole row. (I'm not sure if she runs it along her needles somehow, or just sticks it through with a tapestry needle after every few stitches.) It's basically going through the loop where your needle does when the row is sitting on your needles, so it's acting like a needle left in the row. And because it's a contrasting color, you can knit the next row on top without accidentally picking up and binding in the contrasting thread.

So every five or ten rows or what not, you'll have this Other Yarn just hanging there. Something long enough that there's a few inches hanging over on each edge, and it won't just slip out accidentally, but not so long it's going to make a mess of tangles.

If you need to rip down to that row, you rip down while keeping hold of the contrasting yarn so it won't get jostled out, and it acts like the yarn is sitting on needles. Just...very soft, flexible needles. Then you thread your needles back along the, er, thread, and start up again as if you had just gotten to that row.

If you don't need to rip down, then when you finish your piece (or after you've inserted another emergency line to rip to, and are sure what's below it is fine), you just pull carefully on one end, and it all slips out. Because it's just running through a single line of loops, without being bound into the rest of the piece. If it gets a little stuck, you can pick it out stitch by stitch with a crochet hook, because with two loose ends and no effect on the fabric of the work, it's just sort of...sitting in there.

Does that help any? I kinda want to wave my hands and draw diagrams, but that's hard in text.

#168 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:15 PM:

fidelio @158, that's fascinating! I'm now curious to look around for some local syrup/molasses, but fear that Michigan is a wee bit too far north (I think we may have sugar beets, though).

I hadn't heard of theriac before; that's nifty. And I feel compelled to note that 'molasses' does not even remotely parse as plural for me. This must be a regional dialect thing?

HLN: Local human went to local bookstore and bought Howl (for research) and a collection of Robert Frost (because browsing it was causing them to rhyme their text messages), then suggested to Cashier-type Person that the bookstore might want to sell some Jim C Hines books, as a Michigan Author They Do Not Currently Stock. Local human suspects that they are bookstore-ing in the neighborhood of correctly.

#169 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:44 PM:

estelendur @ 168: What kind of research?

#170 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:49 PM:

I am feeling quite chipper and adventurous -- there's a set of yeast-dough-based homemade cinnamon rolls in my oven, happily perking away in clouds of steam (caused by tossing cupfuls of water into a baking pan sitting on the bottom of the oven). There is the other half-ish of the dough recipe waiting on the counter puffing nicely to become spherical savory rolls.

Because I'm making cinnaswirls and not just what the recipe recommends, cooking times are approximate; I'm checking about every 10min (and adding more steam).

Smells amazing in there.

For those interested, you make yeast-dough-based cinnaswirls by taking a sufficient quantity of the dough (after its first rising and before its second) and make it into as flat and thin a rectangle as you can manage; I like a 3/1 aspect ratio or thereabouts. If you can get it almost the full size of a sheet pan and quite thin that's lovely. Then you take a bowlful of cinnamon-and-sugar, mixed (I like it heavier on the brown than the white), and sprinkle evenly and heavily on MOST of the rectangle's surface, leaving about an inch along one long end unsprinkled. Dab water on that bare part, then start rolling up the rectangle from the opposite long end towards the bewetted one (the water helps it stick shut). I like to squidge the log a bit more to even it out and lengthen slightly (this helps drive the flavor mix into the dough a little). Then get a nice sharp knife and cut off .5-1" sections, depositing each flat into an oil-sprayed muffin tin opening (or, of course, a paper liner).

Then you let them have their second rise in the muffin tins before popping them into an oven and baking as the recipe recommends.

Update: now they're cooked and smell so good; I needs must wait until I am not biting into lava. WAITING IS HARD.

#171 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 12:50 PM:

Fade, Cassy: That's called a lifeline, for obvious reasons. I would not ever EVER use monofilament nylon for anything other than fishing, because it's so much stronger than the other fibers being used. If you tug wrong, you will destroy your ground fabric. Moreover, if you're not careful, you will change the tension of the stitches on top of the nylon. If you're worried about lint on your fabric, I suggest using a single ply of rayon in a similar color. (Dark gray on black, light gray or beige on white, etc.) Rayon doesn't shed as much as cotton, though I've never had a problem with it. You can also remove the grid as you go, once you're sure you've done the pattern right--so you don't need the extreme slipperiness of the nylon. (OTOH, my personal method for fixing counted cross stitch mistakes is ignoring them completely. OTGH: no stitching/knitting police. If it bugs you, fix it; but if not, not.)

The other Sekrit Trick to lifelines is to be very utterly absolutely 100% sure that you don't split the working yarn with your lifeline. For this reason, I use those huge blunt plastic needles.

/ex-LNS employee who apparently continues to hold views

#172 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:02 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @168, I'm doing a year-long thesis on a topic* pertinent to the development of countercultural and subcultural streams and forces in American culture, particularly over the last decade or so. But of course, in order to talk about where culture went, I have to know where it came from, and the Beats** are a large part of that history. Although the bulk of my thesis is possibly/hopefully going to derive from oral interviews with people who currently consider themselves outside the mainstream of American culture, I have a long list of things to read.

*This is one of those things where I will not know the topic until I have practically finished writing the paper, I imagine.
**I ought to read On The Road at some point, but I do have limited reading time (and find Ginsberg more instinctively appealing than Kerouac)

Elliot Mason @170: oooh. I wonder if one could use sourdough starter as the dough base, thereby creating a more interesting/savory cinnamon experience... *plots*

#173 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:06 PM:

I'd probably use pearl cotton in a size that's smaller than the yarn. I have a piece of my mother's knitting with a lifeline; she used sewing thread in a contrasting color.
The important thing is that it shouldn't want to Become One With The Knitting Yarn.

#174 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:11 PM:

Cassy @#166: I'm in the middle of the first project I've ever done that I'm using that kind of grid on*, and I did mine in bright red sewing thread and am stitching right over it. This is viable because it's 2 strands of floss over 25-ct linen, and every square has a stitch. Fishing line would scare me for the reasons TexAnne mentions, but I think her idea of rayon would be great--especially the stuff they sell on great big spools for machine embroidery. You'd go years without running out, for one thing.

*: A reproduction of Waterhouse's "Boreas". I can't die till I finish it, so I figure I'm good till...111 or so?

#175 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:32 PM:

In reading here and there, I came across the concept promoted by some group or other of southwest native americans who make rugs (navaho? hopi? I don't remember and it's not relevant). The rug makers put a single contrasting bit of yarn in their rugs to make sure the rugs are never perfect. The rationale is that only the gods are perfect.

So every time I make an ignorable mistake (one that won't trash the pattern), I am pleased to tell myself that I'm not in any way challenging the gods.

#176 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:33 PM:

Cinnamon rolls accomplished and nommed upon; perhaps a tad less crust would be better, next time (less clouds of steam, or a slightly shorter bake time), but I enjoy them greatly as it is. I have an inordinate fondness for crust, and am very pleased that this recipe can provide it.

Fiction recommendation: if you like Jeeves and Wooster, I have found an author on An Archive Of Our Own who can write simply topping Bertie pastiche at a level I had not thought possible. The best one so far for imitative dialogue that I have found is Jeeves and the Secret of Service (caution: contains explicit m/m sex, if that's a problem). Less plummily wonderful, but also less explicit and with an SF plot: Jeeves and the Hole in Time, which features lovely scenes of J&W being forced to confront Our Modern Life.

#177 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:37 PM:

Fade Manley @167; your explanation makes perfect sense even without diagrams. Thank you. I can *do* this. (SO much less stressful, having a backstop. I shall have to try it tonight.)

#178 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Elliott: your links are broken.

#179 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:56 PM:

Cally: Argh, ack, thank you. The cloverleaf key on the left side of my keyboard has utterly given up the ghost, and all my cut-and-paste reflexes use it. I'm trying to retrain my muscles to use the one on the RIGHT side of my keyboard, or failing that to right-click, but.

Jeeves and the Secret of Service (explicit sex scenes that can be skipped past)
Jeeves and the Hole in Time

#180 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 01:58 PM:

Cassy @177: It may also help to remember that every single decorative technique in knitting I have ever heard of is easily performable by mistake when one is first learning. So later when you're up to it, you only have to do them again on purpose in a pattern and Bob is your mother's brother, as they say.

(Good gracious, I've been reading a lot of Woosterian verbiage of late, eh what? It's beginning to leak out my pores and puddle like a thingummy)

#181 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Cally in #116:

Best I can tell, Endless Amusement* first appeared in 1818 in England. It went through at least seven editions. I think the first American publication was 1847, which may be the one you are looking at. 1820 edition here.

I looked at that demonstration with approval, it being one of the Wonders of the Air Pump that doesn't end with glass shards flying around the parlor. Didn't really have enough time to prepare, nor decent equipment for it. I wonder whether something might be done with a vacuum cleaner?

I did recognize that it would not work unless the bit of lead and the cork were very carefully matched.

Dave Bell in 153:

...but I would reckon the described experiment is pretty dodgy

As was pointed out in the talk Todd Johnson and I gave at Musecon last Saturday, the dodginess of the book's experiments adds a whole new layer of amusement to Endless Amusement.

and aren't the authors lucky that none of their readers have the facilities to conduct the experiment.

Oh, the anonymous authors definitely expect that (some of) their readers will have the facilties:

We shall not occupy the time of our readers by describing the form and nature of the air-pump; since those persons whose circumstances will enable them to have it, can purchase it properly made at an optician's, at less expense, and with far less trouble, than they can construct, or cause it to be constructed, themselves.

The reader is also presumed to have ready access to such household items as aqua regia, sugar of lead, Glauber's Spirits of Nitre, brimstone, blue vitriol, and small Aleppo galls, slightly bruised.

Why opticians of 1820 peddled Air Pumps remains a mystery to me.

* Endless Amusement, A Collection Of Nearly 400 Entertaining Experiments in Various Branches of Science, Including Acoustics, Arithmetic, Chemistry, Electricity, Hydraulics, Hydrostatics, Magnetism, Mechanics, Optics, Wonders of the Air Pump, All the Popular Tricks and Changes of the Cards, &c., &c., &c. To Which Is Added, a Complete System of Pyrotechny; or the Art of making Fireworks. The Whole so clearly explained as to be within the reach of the most limited Capacity. Second Edition, with Considerable Alterations and Improvements.

#182 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:14 PM:

Fidelio @158; Estelendur @168, molasses to me is neither singular nor plural; it's indefinite, like water or milk. It parses, to me, as "how much" rather than "how many". I'd only say "a molasses" as a shortcut for "A (type of) molasses."

What is the proper term for things which, like water, are neither singular or plural (unless one is in a poetical frame of mind, in which case one can rhapsodise about the waters...)?

My, what a clumsy sentence that was. Ah, well.

#183 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:19 PM:

Things like water and milk are "mass nouns", as distinct from "count nouns" like dogs and trees.

#184 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:24 PM:

Carrie S @182, Thank you. I knew there must be a term for it (and that I probably even knew that term), but I was grasping for the word and coming back with handfuls of nothing. So frustrating.

So much appreciated!

#185 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:25 PM:

Cassy B. @#126:

Ouch, that is bad, from the link title alone. I can't click that link - I appreciate the trigger warning. Of course, then I ran across something else near the bottom of the comments on Charlie Stross's "Who ordered *that*?" post on his website. And made the mistake of reading.

Big flashing neon trigger warning here.

Barbarism, indeed.

I did not and cannot watch the videos in that link, and I'm having a hell of a time holding it together here. Cute Overload helps. A bit.

If this happened to my wife/daughter/mother in law/friend?

Gnarr, there are not words for this level of anger and despair.

Oh, and NFL bans most bags from games.

To heck with this. I'm officially more scared of the security measures than the security risks.

#186 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:26 PM:

And something that is a mass noun in one language may be a count noun in another. When I first started learning Italian, I was intrigued to discover that "spaghetti" (and indeed most other words meaning types of pasta) is not a mass noun in Italian, but a plural count noun. Not that you'd ever hear an Italian speaker talking about "un spaghetto", any more than an English speaker would talk about "a scissor" or "a bagpipe".

#187 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:28 PM:

...gah, and if they *did* talk about a singular "spaghetto" it would be "uno" and not "un". Sorry. Half asleep, obviously.

#188 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:29 PM:

You do get fashion designers discussing "a pant", like "This is a flat-front pant with welt pockets" or whatever.

#189 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 02:55 PM:

I'm pretty sure you can say "un pantalón" in Spanish for what in English would be a pair of pants. I've certainly heard native speakers saying it, but it may be some kind of local dialect thing.

#190 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 03:02 PM:

cajunfj40 @ #184: So, if you don't want to have backscatter photos/patdowns, don't fly.

If you don't want to have public, unsafe [name of technique redacted] searches, don't drive.

If you don't want to be shot in your own driveway, don't leave the house.

What next?

#191 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 03:04 PM:

Estelendur in #168:

This anecdote may be relevant, not only to your concern with the history of the counterculture, but also your concern with agricultural products of Michigan.

It's not every day I converse with someone who needs to be informed of this incident as much as you do.

#192 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 03:22 PM:

re: "a pant"

We get "a pair of pants" because in the dim mists of time, one pant was one leg. The two overlapped in the back and were joined in the front with a codpiece, named because you could keep your fish there on the way home from angling (or the market).

The feet of the wiki say cod run 11-26#, so that can't be right.

Never mind.

#193 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 03:32 PM:

The mental image of a man with a fish in his codpiece caused me to guffaw so loudly that I got a funny look from the cat.

#194 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 03:44 PM:

estelendur @ 172: I'd also strongly recommend picking up Go, by John Clellon Holmes. He's lesser-known and was more with the Beats than of them, but--or maybe therefore--he's essential to understanding them. If you can find his essays via interlibrary loan--all those books are out of print and I suspect they aren't too cheap, though I'd be pleased to be surprised--you'll find a lot of interest in Representative Men and Passionate Opinions.

Essential reading from the latter: This Is The Beat Generation.

#195 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 04:20 PM:

"Pants" (or, in my British-influenced idiolect, "trousers") is a singular word in Dutch: broek. "Glasses" is as well: bril

Using plural verbs with them is one of the markers of an imperfectly Dutchified Anglophone. Needless to say, I do it a lot.

#196 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 04:24 PM:

Abi #195: Once more into the breech?

#197 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 04:38 PM:

mongoose @#193, me too, but it's actually from a word meaning a bag or husk, as in "peascod" (pea-pod).

#198 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 04:53 PM:

The scumbag Putinite neo-Nazis have released another video of them tormenting another innocent kid (a gay 15-year-old). Whether these are the same ones who tortured a different kid to death doesn't really matter; this kid doesn't have much hope of survival. Closeted with a homophobic father, he's now been humiliated on camera and exposed to the world.

Too late to put that genie back in the bottle; hoping spreading it may help raise public outrage. The page linked below discusses what they did, and why (apparently they claim they're trying to stop pedophiles, but doing that by torturing the victims makes that an implausible motive; they're just looking for someone to make miserable, and they know they won't be punished for doing it to a gay kid).

I haven't watched the actual video. I didn't make it all the way down the stills, they're so upsetting.

New this time: apparently there's a woman on this one, urging the men to murder the kid.

There might not be physical torture on this one. Maybe it scared them when they killed that other kid. The Russian authorities are now saying that if they catch anyone they'll put them in jail for 3 months. Considering that you get 5 years for shooting a cat in Russia, 3 months for torturing a child doesn't seem like much to me.

You all know I lost friends and coworkers on 9/11, right? And that I had horrific torture-murder fantasies directed at Osama bin Laden? And that I still want every member of Al Qaeda dead?

I want these bastards dead at least as much as I do AQ. And those horrific fantasies are haunting my brain again.

After all that, perhaps this is redundant, but: TRIGGER WARNING for upsetting descriptions of tormenting a young kid. Latest video released by evil motherfuckers who should die.

Oh, and in today's press conference, POTUS said "No one is more offended than me" about Russia's anti-gay laws. With respect, Mr. President, bullshit. You're not even as "offended" as me, let alone gays in Russia, who are now at constant risk of being kidnapped and torture-murdered, now that everyone knows the authorities aren't going to take any serious action.

#199 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 05:00 PM:

For abi's son...

"You must witness the girth of my improbable genius before I apply it to your death."
"Pushing us into lava is an act of genius now?"

So responds Atomic Robo to the very evil and very dim Dr. Dinosaur in the 2nd issue of "Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur".

(By the way, did your son see the animated "Robo"?)

#200 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 05:12 PM:

Lila @#190:
What next?
I don't know. I can't think about it anymore today.
Be well.

#201 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 05:17 PM:

Lila @ 197: many thanks - didn't know that, even though I was familiar with the word "peascod". I'd never put the two together in my head.

Xopher Halftongue @ 198: I don't know if this is also happening in America, but there is certainly a petition going round in the UK asking our government to boycott the Winter Olympics. I signed it partly because I think it's an effective form of protest, and partly because I don't want LGBT athletes to be put in the position where they're forced to choose between participating and being exposed to risk, or not participating and possibly harming their career. Nobody should have to face a choice like that.

#202 ::: Mongoose needs to feed the gnomes again ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 05:20 PM:

I have been gnomed... now I need to keep my promise of a tasty gluten-free recipe. But not tonight, dear gnomes; can you wait till breakfast?

#203 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 05:26 PM:

TexAnne @171: Lifeline! That's the word I was looking for! Thank you. I dimly recalled that one wanted a Different Type Of Yarn, as well as a different color, but couldn't remember why that was the case. Makes perfect sense when you explain it.

#204 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 06:06 PM:

It's late, but I've changed my mind. I recall that my favourite gluten-free recipe has an anecdote attached to it, and I can never resist a good anecdote.

I have quite a number of friends who are professional singers specialising in baroque and early music. One of them in particular is an outstanding tenor who sings all over the world, and I try to get to his concerts when I can. For reasons I may explain at a later stage but don't want to clutter this post with now, when I go to a concert I bring some baking.

Well, Star Tenor happened to be one of the soloists in a concert performed by one of the UK's best-known early music ensembles in... for the protection of the innocent, let's just say a charming city in the Benelux region. Star Tenor is extremely fond of chocolate, and I had an inspiration about this. I had a recipe for a very frou-frou chocolate meringue creation, and it occurred to me that I could make the constituent parts and assemble it at the venue. It wasn't beyond the bounds of possibility to schlep a box of carefully packed meringue bases and a bag of chocolate custard on the Eurostar, but I would not have fancied my chances with the assembled meringue.

However, I didn't know the venue and I wasn't sure whether there would be anywhere I could do this last-minute assembling, so I did the sensible thing and e-mailed the ensemble. They knew who I was, having tucked into my chocolate lemon caramel shortbread on a previous occasion, so it wasn't as if I was just some crazy person contacting them out of nowhere.

I got a reply. A very panicky reply, from the maestro himself. He begged me not to bring the meringue, although I was perfectly welcome to bake something else. His reasoning? He was afraid that his musicians would drop it all over the venue, make a terrible mess, and never be asked back. I had no idea they were such messy eaters.

Well, we must not frighten famous early music maestros with meringue, so I assured him I would bake something else, and I did. This was it. May you, and the gnomes, enjoy it as much as the musicians did!

Rich Chocolate Cake

For cake:

175g (6 oz) plain chocolate
125g (4 oz) butter
125g (4 oz) caster sugar
200g (7 oz) ground almonds
4 eggs, separated

For topping:

75g (3 oz) plain chocolate
50g (2 oz) butter

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Line base of round 22 cm cake tin and brush with melted butter. Melt chocolate.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in ground almonds, egg yolks and melted chocolate. Beat together.

Whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into tin and bake for 50-55 minutes until firm to the touch.

Leave for a few minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

Melt chocolate and butter together for topping. Spread on top of cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Decorate as desired.

#205 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 06:15 PM:

A friend posted this insightful essay -- The Fake Church vs the Real Church -- on his F/B feed. Applies to non-Christians, too.

#206 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 06:15 PM:

Xopher @96: Flagstones, of course. Why my brain refused to cough up that word...

#207 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 06:40 PM:

Mongoose (186): I've heard Long Islanders ask for 'a scissor'. Takes me aback every time.

#208 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 07:11 PM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey @191: *falls over laughing* Indeed, vital to my intellectual explorations!

John A Arkansawyer @194, thank you :) *adds to reading list*

Lila @197: That's arguably even more amusing.

Xopher Halftongue @198: I haven't anything coherent to say, except that I hope that every one of these bastards gets what they deserve, on all levels.

Tracie @205: Yes. Appreciated by this non-Christian, whose church did talk about Trayvon Martin (the message was "all of us here have some kind of privilege in this matter. Know that our job is not to try to fix it; our job is to support, and to listen, and to be humble enough to learn." Surprising, and good to hear.)

#209 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:16 PM:

Bill Higgins - Beam Jockey @191: That's fabulous! I immediately turned around and sent it to my dad and a couple of my best friends who will also appreciate the laugh. (:

Mongoose @201: You've just helped something click in my brain. A lot of people are talking about how boycotting the Sochi Olympics isn't fair to those athletes that have trained all their lives, this is their only shot, etc. And frankly, they're right - it isn't fair to the queer athletes who've trained just as hard to be told that their options are to either go and pretend to be someone they're not, and hope they don't get hurt or killed anyway, or to stay home and give up on their dream because we've chosen to hold the Olympics in a place that does everything it can to deny their humanity, up to and including beating them to death for the simple truth of their existence. I do love how the implication of that argument (the 'we can't boycott, think of the athletes!' argument, not yours) is that it would be tragic for the straight athletes to not get the chance to compete. (It's probably an obvious point, but sometimes my brain fails to notice the obvious.)

Xopher @198: It feels sort of horrifically inadequate on my part, but I'm sorry, both for your loss on 9/11 and the way that this bullshit is bringing all of those similar feelings up all over again. To steal a line from the DF threads: Reading, witnessing.

#210 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2013, 08:23 PM:

Want to have a better day? Read this story.

#211 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 02:57 PM:

SamChevre @156 Thanks, I'll pass that on.

#212 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2013, 10:15 PM:

Teresa's Particle about having bodies is NOT by Elizabeth Bear; it's by Hanne Blank, from here:

Bear's Tumblr style doesn't make it obvious where quotes begin and end, but she did attribute it correctly at the bottom.

#214 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 01:48 AM:

Having the Crl Drg thread pop back up and seeing mention of the Michigan Militia in it made this come into mind:

Nearly four years ago, I was waiting in a downtown Iowa City garage for my car to be pronounced terminal when I struck up a conversation with another waitee. He, it turned out, was the nephew of Viola Liuzzo, one of the civil rights martyrs killed at Selma. He told me there'd recently been a documentary made about her murder, Home of the Brave. Once I got home, I looked it up online and discovered it was available for purchase for public showing on very reasonable terms and I ordered it.

It sat round my house while I waited for the right time to show it. I never did watch it myself; I wanted to see it for the first time with others. When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, passed in the aftermath of bloody Selma, I knew the time had come and I scheduled a showing last month at church. It was not the movie I'd expected. When it was over, I had learned that one of Liuzzo's five children had become a reclusive racist and another had joined the Michigan Militia.

The slugline for the movie was "Heroism exacts a total price". Until I'd seen the wreckage from Liuzzo's murder, those beautiful children from the old footage having gone through the horror of losing their mother, then seeing her slimed and smeared by J. Edgar Hoover's compliant media tools, I had no idea what that line really meant. "a total price". That murder has just kept on killing and killing. God knows what will be visited on the next generation of that family. It's just too awful to think about.

#215 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 04:03 AM:

Just to note: The web site linked to in Jim's "Fukushima Vegetables" Diffraction now has a partial retraction up.

#216 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 01:06 PM:

Waaaaay back up near the beginning of the thread, Jim MacDonald asked what type of server error I was getting; it wasn't a message. It was taking forever to submit and then timing out. I honestly have no clue if what I had in my comment had anything to do with it but I didn't feel it was important enough to really worry about.

#217 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 03:03 PM:

HLN: Local woman travels to Boston and Maine for a wedding. "Maine is remarkably pretty. The areas we drove through looked just like the picture postcards." She was bowled over by the Boston Public Library's McKim building. "The lions! The reading room! The John Singer Sargent* murals! I love the phrase carved across the top of one facade: 'FOUNDED THROUGH THE MUNIFICENCE AND PUBLIC SPIRIT OF CITIZENS'. I should like to see more of that attitude today," she said heatedly.

"What I don't understand, is why that beautiful courtyard with its dancing fountain isn't jammed with people on such a lovely summer day," she mused. She was also struck by the card catalog still in use on the 3rd floor.

She is going to miss lobster rolls.

*He was having a lot of fun with Egyptian imagery in the "Oh, I'm just illustrating the old testament here!" section, wasn't he?

#218 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 03:04 PM:

Because there was a smoke detector discussion on the previous open thread:

HLN Report: Area woman awakened two nights running at mumble-o-clock by smoke detector going off inappropriately. On the first night, area woman reports the detector silencing itself after about 10 seconds. But on the second night, she had to smack it with her hand to shut it up. After the third such rude awakening, she was obliged to disconnect its power to save the remains of the night's sleep.

"The Handyguys Podcast suggests vacuuming, in case the detector was set off by dust," she reports. "I'm going to try that, and maybe blowing it out with compressed air." She expressed cautious optimism about putting the detector back in service this afternoon.

#219 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 03:10 PM:

(Area woman would also like to thank Leah Miller @19 for brightening up her life and her Boulder/Longmont commute, which is just about the length of one episode of Welcome to Night Vale.)

#220 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 07:00 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little #218:

Did Area Woman's alarm go full-on, or just chirp? (If the latter, it is usually because it is complaining that its battery is getting low. For some reason, this happens only at owl-fart-thirty. And yes, AC-powered alarms also have batteries in, for some perverse reason.)

#221 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 07:07 PM:

joann, maybe the "perverse reason" is that a) fires can happen when the grid power is out and/or b) fires can take out the AC?

#222 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 07:28 PM:

I work at a university library, and had been out for a week because I hurt my wrist and subsequently could perform zero actual job duties. I came back in today, and lo, the universe hath rewarded me, for what should I find among the returns but a copy of the Codex Seraphinianus?

It's an art piece of incomparable beauty*, and I hadn't imagined that I would ever get to page through a physical copy. I'm almost sad that I have to send it off to its proper place in the stacks.

*While one may find other things more beautiful, one certainly can't compare it to any of them ;) the Voynich Manuscript being the obvious potential exception

#223 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 08:29 PM:

#218, 220, 221

In the Department of Bad Design submissions:

My smoke detectors go off noisily when the power comes back on after being off for a while. Not just a battery-low chirp.

Just what one really wants to be waked up to learn.

#224 ::: dancingcrow ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 08:59 PM:

#220 - Joann I find myself deeply grateful for the term owl-fart-thirty and plan on using it to make my brother snort coffee out his nose when we visit next week. Thank you very much.

#225 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2013, 11:22 PM:

Inspired by Jim's wonderful riff on Kit Smart, I give you E.A. Poe on "The Gnomes."

See the tower of the gnomes
--busy gnomes!
Digitally vigilant, they guard our peaceful homes.
Reading thread, thread, thread
In their tower of glass and steel,
they review what's being said
and review without appeal.
See them ply their doughty hammers,
on the heads of naughty spammers,
in their glass and steel tower,
where they watch for Words of Power,
fighting crime and keeping order,
on the web's anarchic border,
on the web of Nielsen-Hayden that abounds with grateful poems
to the gnomes, gnomes, gnomes, gnomes,
gnomes, gnomes, gnomes,
To the beauties and the duties of the gnomes.

See the feeding of the gnomes
Greedy gnomes!
See them offered teas and cakes and fragrant honey-combs.
They are honored and adored,
they are given their reward,
to propitiate their greed,
from the kitchens of the horde.
See them feed feed feed,
as the commentators plead,
that their comments be restored,
by the gnomes, gnomes, gnomes, gnomes,
gnomes, gnomes, gnomes,
By the kindly intercession of the gnomes!

#226 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 12:48 AM:



#227 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 03:06 AM:

estelendur -- the Codex Seraphinianus was remaindered back when it came out. I remember buying one. You wouldn't guess that from the prices copies bring now!

#228 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 04:28 AM:

oldster @ 225: further applause!

#229 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 09:13 AM:

As an experiment, a Whovian Olive Garden Server spent a whole night conversing with his tables entirely in quotes from the Doctor's dialogue.

He made out like a bandit on tips, even from tables that had no idea what he was doing. :->

#230 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 09:57 AM:

I fondly remember a server in Williamsburg, VA, who thoughtfully labeled our takeaway leftovers as "The Salmon Mousse."

#231 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:05 AM:

Elliott: I could totally see my daughter the super-hostess doing that, and getting away with it. (Her workplace is excellent.)

#232 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:10 AM:

Lila @230: One of my fondest roadtripping memories as a kid (ok, high schooler; still) was me and my mom and her best friend and her best friend's kid (we were tummies together in their lamaze class; she's kinda my cousin sorta) in a minivan headed for the East Coast.

My mother is of the DEATHMARCH roadtrip method, only stopping when utterly necessary and do-everything-then (pee, gas, food, etc) so you can then go a long time before stopping next.

We were hungry; we saw a sign for a restaurant that turned out to be attached to a hotel that was formerly a Howard Johnson's, distinctive roofline and all. Anyhow, looked good; went in. The place was utterly utterly dead (middle of nowhere Ohio, early in the dinner block). We only ever saw the one waiter.

Who was visibly, flamboyantly, hilariously campy-gay -- high trays and calling everything fabulous and every member of our party daaaaahling and so on. In 1989 in rural Ohio. We were shocked but pleased, and tipped the heck out of him (also, the service was good).

Getting back on the highway, a mile or two further down the road we passed a sign for a sizable community college. My mom blinked, turned to her friend, and said, "I wonder if he's an acting student, and on Thursdays he's French?"

#233 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:36 AM:

Elliott: oh God, the MILEAGE OR DIE model of road trips. My father was like that. Georgia to DC in one day with minimal potty stops. It's a wonder we didn't all get blood clots.

Also: "on Thursdays he's French" is awesome. (Now we know where Thomas Raith spent 1989?)

#234 ::: Mongoose is waiting very patiently to be ungnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:53 AM:

O gnomes, is it my new website you don't like? I was just trying to applaud oldster's poem!

[Indeed. is the home to many-many spammers. -- Borin O'Borou, Duty Gnome]

#235 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 11:03 AM:

Re the sexual harassment comic sidelight: the comment thread of the original post, and the comments on PZ Myers' blog, are busily proving Jim's point. In spades.

Ya know, it's bad enough watching a train wreck. But I have new sympathy for TNH, PNH, Elise, Jim Hines, Scalzi, and all the others who keep having to watch THE SAME DAMN TRAIN WRECK over and over.

#236 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 11:03 AM:

Tom Whitmore @227: Huh. Actually that vaguely explains why a collector-quality edition is going for $2500 on Large South American River…

Elliott Mason @228: Excellent :D

Elliott @231, Lila @232: I did MI to CT in one day, spent a day there, and took one day driving back. The stops weren't minimal, though, as my mother was along and requires frequent breaks. This was how I learned that although it's not pleasant I can indeed spend 16 hours on the road (counting stops) without turning into a highway zombie. I did come down with a godawful cold on the middle day, however, which healed up quickly enough that it might have just been a reaction to the driving.

(Now we know where Thomas Raith spend 1989?) Yes I approve

#237 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 11:28 AM:

I'm another very focused roadtripper; I was raised on annual trips from Illinois to New York, about fourteen hours each way, and long car vacations elsewhere. One Christmas, we drove twenty-seven hours to Key Largo, mostly my father driving. He says he slept a little while my mother drove in Georgia, but I doubt it.

This year, I drove out to Alpha with a friend who was moving to Pittsburgh. Most of her worldly goods in the trunk, her mattress rolled up in the back seat, my luggage on top of it, and two cats. We stopped a fair amount because our bladders weren't synchronized, and since it was a cool day, we could leave the cats in the car and eat at tables. On the way back, I was much more focused on getting home. I generally forget to eat or make eating a lower priority than finding the right road food. Point the car west, set the cruise at seventy or thereabouts, and I was home in good time.

#238 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 11:47 AM:

I love the Thomas Raith idea!

I can also second the relatively wide availability of Steen's Golden Syrup (you can get it at many grocery stores in North Texas, anyway) and that it is delicious on pancakes.

#239 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 11:56 AM:

My recent marathon roadtrip. Via bus, not car.

#240 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 12:03 PM:

estelendur @236:

(Wall-of-Text roadtrip warning)

We visit my inlaws in Rhode Island/Connecticut annually over the Thanksgiving holiday. The trip from Chicago to Rhode Island we take sensibly in two days, stopping after about ten hours at a cheesy little truck stop in middle Pennsylvania. (Mmmm, greasy trucker food...)

Pennsylvania just goes on, and on, and on, and on. Rather like Texas, I'm told, only bumpier and not so hot.

The trip back from Connecticut we do not-quite-so-sensibly in one day; it takes about 14 hours these day, but before they raised the speed limits in most of the states we travel through, it took between 16 and 18 hours. I should note, however, that we have two drivers. Cruise control helps moderate road fatigue (and our speed; when you get tired, you speed up or slow down...) And I heartily recommend the Day After Thanksgiving as the PERFECT day for a grueling grind-out-the-miles roadtrip; the weather is largely ok (pace a lake-effect-blizard in Indiana) and the only traffic jams on the road are outside of shopping malls.

#241 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 12:06 PM:

Lila @ 235: Yes, I was noticing the same thing about the comments on that comic.

#242 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 12:17 PM:

Re: Abi's Barrayar Dreaming link

Many of the pictures fit my mental images fairly well. But Bothari was not *nearly* ugly or sinister-looking enough.

#243 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 01:16 PM:

Cassy B. @138: So maybe it wasn't dropped at all. I'm really not quite sure WHAT I did.

When adjusting knitting, one wants to be careful not to drop stitches over into parallel dimensions.

#244 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 01:22 PM:

estelendur @222: I live in the same state and also, at the moment, work in the library of an institution of higher education. Wonder if it's the same one? (No need to reveal it if you'd rather not; but here's a video made in my building.)

#245 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 01:37 PM:

xeger @161: (also, por favor -- warning of links through to facebook, for those of us that would really rather not go there, and prefer to avoid, rather than spend time cleaning up).

Don't know about Chrome or Firefox, but both Safari and IE have "status bars" along the bottom of the browser window that will, upon mouseover, display the url that a link points to. I use this to determine if I really want to click the link or not.

#246 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Jacque @243, When adjusting knitting, one wants to be careful not to drop stitches over into parallel dimensions.

Yes. This, exactly! (I'm using the lifeline trick now. It's undoubtably unnecessary for something as trivial as an oh-my-ghod-I-actually-made-a-washcloth! project, but it's surprisingly reassuring to know that Mistakes Are Not Unrecoverable.)

#247 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 01:58 PM:

Open threadiness: recent Popehat post makes me wonder whether there's something in the water up there in New Hampshire.

(Meanwhile, our local police are upset because they don't have Tasers. The local University police force has had them for 4 years and has not yet used them.

#248 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Lin Daniel @175: So every time I make an ignorable mistake (one that won't trash the pattern), I am pleased to tell myself that I'm not in any way challenging the gods.

My dad held this view, as well. "Leave in at least one mistake, to prove that it was handmade."

I prefer, "Leave in at least one mistake, so the ghods don't strike you down for hubris." Which is the same as what you say, only with fancier words, so I sound snootier. :)

#249 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 02:06 PM:

Jacque @ 245: yes, both Chrome and Firefox also have this feature. It's very useful.

#250 ::: Mongoose is gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 02:17 PM:

These gnomes really do not like my website. I'm sorry about that; I used to have it on WordPress, but unfortunately there's some issue between my broadband provider and WordPress which is still showing no signs of being resolved, so I have thrown in the towel and moved the site over to Weebly. I really didn't intend to give anyone the Weeblies over that.

By way of atonement, here are some date and walnut slices.

250g dates
100g walnuts
1 unwaxed lemon
50 ml rum
75 ml water
2 large eggs
100g plain flour

Chop the dates as finely as possible. Put into a small pan with the rum, the water, and the juice and zest of the lemon. Heat gently, stirring all the time, until you have a paste similar in consistency to stewed apple. Allow to cool, then mix with the walnuts.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then fold in the flour. Spread into an 8" tin and bake at 180 C for about 30-40 minutes.

[We've disabled the "" filter. Let's see if there's a huge influx of spam making it through the other filters. -- Eilis Xerso, Duty Gnome]

#251 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 02:41 PM:

Susie @244, I work in that building's smaller, formerly-uglier sibling! Although I worked in HH for one summer and it was, yes, architecturally entertaining. I never got lost, at least. Experiential sense of direction is a Very Good Thing to have in a library. Also the six-story-high bookcases with gaps are apparently a humidity-and-heat-mitigation measure? (Airflow!) And also a severe fire hazard. The video is pretty fantastic.

Lila @239: I've never used Megabus, mostly because they don't cross Cleveland (so there's east of Cleveland and west of Cleveland) and all of my relevant travel is from one of those regions to the other. Sounds like as long as I can afford it I'll stick with Amtrak, but about as reasonable as public transit ever gets in the US.

#252 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 05:00 PM:

Fountain of the happy lactating she-wolves!

And pigeons.

#253 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 08:31 PM:

If you want to look at the blog post Patrick pointed to in the sidelights as "A simple desultory heuristic"—which I recommend—it's probably a good idea to do so soon. Similarly, to save it for future reference, a copy on your own machine is probably a better idea than bookmarking the page at freethoughtblogs: PZ Myers has gotten a letter from a law firm demanding that he take the post down, and is consulting with Popehat for advice.

#254 ::: Vicki has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 08:32 PM:

I'm not sure why I got the gnomes attention, since I included no actual links; maybe weird punctuation?

I can offer the gnomes some homemade tzatziki, or fresh blackberries (the berries ought to be eaten quickly anyhow).

#255 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:12 PM:

I can do either form of road trip, but when there are kids involved I prefer my parents' idea of stopping every hour and trying to make some of those stops interesting. The fun part is that my kids have been on long road trips since they were very very small, so they're the ones most likely to say, "Let's go!"

It's kind of odd being told by a five-year-old that he's had enough time at the playground and it's time to get back in the car for the rest of the 10-hour trip. After twenty minutes. You'd think it would be otherwise.

"On Thursdays he's French" is an awesome phrase.

#256 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:25 PM:

Workplace rumors strongly indicate that I did not get that job I wasn't sure I wanted in the first place. I'm afraid that gives me a bit of the feels: first, unexpectedly, relief. I like the security inherent in my Union position, I'm really good at what I do (even if the asshole VP considers those of us in my department as too stupid to get other jobs in the division) and I like knowing that if I need to work overtime, they have to pay me. On the other hand, I still feel kind of rejected. And of course, there's the fact that the people in charge of hiring, with whom I work (especially the one who used to be my supervisor) haven't bothered to tell me, and yet other people in the department know. Gutless, and it makes me lose a little respect for them. Eh - at least I won't feel bad about requesting Xmas 2014 off, even though there is an annual task so important and arcane only I can do it. Maybe they'll just have to find another "unskilled" person to handle my window-licker workload.

Otherwise, I got all my birthday presents from Large South American River today, including the drop spindle. Thus far I have made a hideous fuzzy dreadlock and some lumpy, somewhat coiled yarn. I think I'm getting better. I'm going to watch a couple more Youtube videos to see what I'm doing wrong, and then I'm taking it to work; I'm already enjoying it (like a cat with a ball of yarn) and I look forward to sitting out by the pond and spinning on my lunch break.

#257 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 10:57 PM:

Open threaded movie stuff - I saw Pacific Rim over the weekend because I wanted to catch it before it disappeared from theaters.

I was impressed. The main difference between this movie and crap like Transformers was the difference between story and spectacle. Pacific Rim, for all its FX, was about its story. Michael Bay's idiocy was about fireworks.

And fireworks are fine if you have meaning behind them, but by themselves, they're just light and noise.

Guillermo del Toro cared about this movie. It wasn't perfect (I think it was about 20 minutes too long), but the action scenes actually advanced the plot and I didn't get the feeling that I was just being thrown motion for motion's sake. I could tell what was going on.

The character's were unique. They weren't formulaic cutouts.

I'll buy the movie when it hits Blu-Ray.

#258 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2013, 11:27 PM:

HLN: Local woman's first novel is now listed in an assortment of online sales venues with a publication date of Jan 14, 2014. I offer, for those who are interested, the listing at Powell's. (Alas, the blurb included in the listing is the publisher's original draft and not my suggested revision. I hold out hopes that the revised version will be featured on the actual physical object.)

I do hope people understand that this is "sharing the bubbling-over excitement" not "fishing for repetitive congratulations". I'll be a lot calmer over book 2.

#259 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 01:16 AM:

Meanwhile, it appears that the Fairfax County public library system is going through a project to trash the books in the library to make way for an internet cafe-based system, with no librarians on staff. They have apparently destroyed some 200,000 books already. Not sold, not gave away, destroyed.

#260 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 04:54 AM:

nerdycellist @ 256: I've also got a drop spindle. It's very hard to get right. I think I go the other way; rather than making a fuzzy dreadlock, I think I overspin it, because I tend to end up with yarn that coils itself into a complicated fractal mass if not immediately stretched out and wound.

Heather @ 258: congratulations! I took the easy way out and self-published mine online - that was back in November. So far I've had precisely one download. At least they liked it enough to give it a good review. I'll go and have a look at your link once I've posted this comment, otherwise I'll have to type it again.

#261 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 04:58 AM:

Steve C.: I really loved Pacific Rim, but I didn't have at all the same reaction as you. I thought the characters were the very thinnest of cardboard cutouts, and I could have largely have guessed which ones would live, die, change, make a speech etc. within 5 minutes of seeing each of them on screen.

I thought it was a big, dumb spectacle of giant robots fighting alien dinosaurs. The difference between this and Transformers was this was a well shot, beautiful spectacle, and Transormers was a stupid, confused mess.

#262 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 05:47 AM:

Jacque @ #245:

From some quick experimentation, Firefox and Chrome both do.

#263 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 08:06 AM:

Spinning hurray!! Wall of text follows.

There are a ton of helpful groups on Ravelry, aimed at all levels and styles of spinning. (Stay away from Spindle Candy and Spinners' Marketplace if you value your budget.)

Overspinning and fuzzy dreadlocks alternating with fractal wire are both extremely common beginner yarns. Park-and-draft helped me get the muscle memory I needed. I felt a lot better when my spinning group told me that perfectly consistent yarn is just not ever going to happen. You know how your knitting gauge changes with your mood? Like that.

The other thing I learned about being a beginning spinner is that after the initial thick-and-thin phase is over, you start spinning finer and finer until your hands find their preferred weight. (Mine seems to be kind of a heavy laceweight, with the occasional slub, which I've been told not to worry about...otherwise how would you know it was handspun?) Apparently spinning worsted-weight yarn is a thing you have to consciously learn to do. I haven't tried it yet, since I'm still going "OMG THIS IS YARN AND I MADE IT MYSELF." You also get more yardage, which is a plus. Good fluff is expensive, but the entertainment value is nearly infinite.

There's also stuff you should know about setting the twist, but it's probably time I stopped talking. (The Law of Unintended Consequences: Teresa's post many years ago about stupid knitting tricks is what pushed me over the edge in the first place.)

#265 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 08:33 AM:

"I just can't seem to get my focus on my center," Tom said elliptically.

"It doesn't need a bullet to make a loud noise," Tom said blankly.

Sorry--just came to me in the shower.

#266 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 09:13 AM:

Heather Rose Jones, how wonderful!

C. Wingate, that is appalling. How can they DO that? (Well, actually, I know how. I heard of a local school district that used to post guards to stand by as discarded textbooks were bulldozed into the landfill.)

oldster, *snork*

#267 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 09:38 AM:

Well I guess I'm going to have to join Ravelry then! One of my knitting friends assured me that knitters who enjoy working with hand-spun yarn adore the product of beginning spinners; they like the chunkiness and the slubs. I still have about $35 in gift card, so if I run out of roving before I stop overspinning, I suppose I can get some more.

#268 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 09:44 AM:

nerdycellist @267: The thing that makes beginner yarn particularly valuable is how hard it is to make it on PURPOSE after you've trained your hands to spin evenly. :->

#269 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 10:26 AM:

Heather, congratulations! Your publisher's blurb is sufficiently intriguing that if your revised one is better, the book must be fascinating

In what may be an interesting demonstration of the relative lead times between print publishing and digital-first, my own book, which was accepted after yours (I distinctly remember squashing down my envy to congratulate you the first time!) is currently on sale, directly at the publisher (where the link goes) and also at Large South American River and The Other Big One. I was asked to write my blurb myself, so I did, and have only myself to blame if it doesn't do a good job of representing the book.

I have a very nice .pdf in my possession (with only one typo that I've spotted, phew) but I haven't seen the physical object yet. I'm hoping my author copies will be here soon!

#270 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 10:37 AM:

On the subject of Pacific Rim, story, and meaning... I found a short essay about Pacific Rim on tumblr, written by a college-age girl. It's rough and unpolished, but it hits me where I live.

A couple days ago i saw someone raise the question of why Pacific Rim only seems to be resonating with millennials, and i didn’t know the answer, but i’ve been thinking about it a lot and suddenly i understand.

It’s because it’s a movie about young people who are smart and capable but nonetheless handed a broken and nightmarish dying world, which is hurting everybody but especially them because they’re the ones who have to live their whole lives in it.

And maybe it’s somebody’s fault but maybe it’s nobody’s fault, it doesn’t matter, but there is a solution—which is literally to allow those young people to connect with and lean on each other and to give them the resources to take care of it themselves—but those in power refuse to take that solution seriously, so all the money and resources and power that should be going to fixing the problem are going into useless holes that aren’t going to save anybody.

And everyone knows there’s no chance that things will get better. they know that everything is going to be terrible for the rest of time.

And these young people take that world and the pathetic bottom of the barrel that’s been left for them and they spit and rebel in the faces of all of that, screaming that they won’t let it take them down after all.

It’s a story about young people, together, exercising hope and power when they are afforded none and the stakes are so high.

And it’s your story, too, if you make it be.

That essay makes me cry every time, and I think it explains why tumblr is where I've seen the strongest response to this film.

There's also this interesting essay on the visual intelligence of Pacific Rim, and how much additional story is told through stuff other than dialogue.

One of the things it touches on is the Kaidonovskys, the pilots of the Russian Jaeger Cherno Alpha. These guys are hugely popular in fandom, despite having very little screen time in the movie. What time they do have is strangely evocative, though. Sasha, the female pilot, is shown as the more assertive one, beckoning her partner over to sit on her lap, and shouting commands when they pilot their Jaeger. Supplementary materials reveal that they are a married couple, she is seven years older than him, and she was his superior officer. Yeah, they're on camera for maybe fifteen minutes, but how often have we seen characters like that? A strong woman and a strong man together, affectionate and loving? It's enough to build a world on. It's enough to generate tons of fan art, hundreds of young girls saying "this is the kind of person I want to be."

I don't know. I enjoyed this movie, but watching kids explore it on the internet has made it feel... important. This movie is doing something for a generation of young fans, something real.

#271 ::: Leah Miller has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 10:39 AM:

I'm guessing links, weird punctuation, the usual.

#272 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 11:23 AM:

I have, a time or two, griped about how self-publishing on Kindle forces you to deal with the IRS, because Amazon's KDP operation is based in the USA.

I don;'t know how long they have been running, maybe not very long, but today I discovered Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing. Free books only, PDF only, maybe a few tricky little format details, and possibly with a bias to STEM publishing, but they do have a small amount of fiction.

Presumably, Sturgeon's Law applies.

#273 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 11:50 AM:

estelendur @ 251, we seem to have traded buildings! (I used to work in yours.)

About the multistory bookcases, I don't know the original reason for constructing them that way. I've heard that they are integral to the structure and can't be taken out. Which gives me hope that they will always hold physical books, provided fire does not intervene.

#274 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 12:11 PM:

Rikibeth @ 269

I understand all about squashing down envy and congratulating others! (Been doing it for a long long time.) Fortunately, getting published isn't a zero-sum game.

#275 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 01:07 PM:

Heather @273: it certainly isn't a zero-sum game, and it seems that the authors in my particular niche (LGBT historical romance, especially Age of Sail) have often come up from the ranks of fandom and are SUPER helpful to others aspiring to do so.

Your first announcement hit me right in the Maximum Envy Zone because I'd only just started sending mine out at the time and hadn't heard back. Before I had anything to send out: less envy, because wile it was something I aspired to do, I didn't have a concrete book of my own. After I'd gotten that lovely acceptance: great benevolence, with envy only reserved for financial details I might catch wind of. Those (looking back on it, remarkably few) months between when I sent my story out into the world and someone offering me a contract? Nerves did not make me pretty!

Now I just feel like jumping up and down with you, grinning and saying "It's going to be a real book!"

#276 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 01:21 PM:

Heather Rose Jones... Congratulations!

#277 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 02:44 PM:

joann @220: For some reason, this happens only at owl-fart-thirty.

And, true to form, this is when my neighbor's smoke alarm decided to complain last night (this morning). I would seriously like to get my hands around the throat of whoever designed this particular function. Because:

a) The chirping occurs at fifteen- to sixty-second intervals, and

b) The accoustic nature of the chirp means that it's really hard to localize, especially in accoustically-bright spaces, such as stairwells and apartments with hard-wood floors, so that

c) One spends at least five to ten minutes...not being able to figure out where the f*ck it's coming from.

d) At owl-fart-thirty.

e) On a work night.

Fortunately, it seems that it did, in fact, belong to the upstairs neighbor, who was apparently finally woken up by it about the time I gave up looking and went back to bed (after shutting all my windows in the hopes that I could ignore it.)

We hates smoke alarms with a passion, we does Precious.

#278 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 02:59 PM:

Further to PNH's Sidelights "A Simple Desultory Heuristic" and "Sexual Harassment Conversations, In Comic Form, in the comments on the former, someone linked to this: The Rape of Mr Smith ("a holdup victim is asked questions similar in form to those usually asked a victim of rape", which I think is very well done. Reminded me of a case I once heard about where the judge explained to the jury that s/he had to tell them that they were allowed to take the victim's word for it that the guy in the dock was the guy she woke up to find robbing her house - but shouldn't take her word for it that he was the guy who raped her...

#279 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 06:36 PM:

I think I've linked to articles on The Toast before, but here's one more, their take on the new California "kids get to use the changeroom of their felt/presented gender, not what gender police SAY is their gender" law.

It is amazing not just for the article itself, but for the comments and commentariat, which reminds me a lot of Making Light, if the Fluorosphere were (a) more overwhelmingly female and (b) an awful lot snarkier/verbally vulgar (while never at all being abusive or crass).

They have hilarious satire pieces worthy of the Onion, and then other thinky or heartfelt or difficult stuff, all with these amazing commenters, and it's amazing. The site only started up a few months ago.

#280 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 07:55 PM:

Elliott, 279: Oh, wow, what a step forward.

#281 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2013, 09:58 PM:

Since nobody has responded negatively to GlendaP @76 (on Aug. 08), I take it that Riverwalk venues for the GoL can still be under consideration. Is everybody OK with Friday evening (Art Night), meeting at the convention center around 6:15 pm?

#282 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 12:20 AM:

iamnothing@281: I expect I'll show up for the start and have to run off to help Karen get the dance together, but I'll be glad to see folks!

#283 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 12:57 AM:

Vampire alert! People who have problems reading about blood donation, stop now.

I went to give platelets today, and made an interesting discovery: I've gotten used to the finger stick. You know how they prick your finger with a spring-loaded lancet, to get a couple of drops to test for hematocrit? That was always the worst part of donation for me: not the stick itself, that was never so bad, but the moment of stress when the lancet was on my finger but not yet triggered. But I've been donating often enough lately (you can give platelets once a week, rather than once every eight) that I've actually become jaded to it. That's rather a good thing, really.

The last time but one that I donated, they took red blood cells as well as platelets. Today's donation was eight weeks from that...less one day. So they couldn't do it again. Sigh. They did take 450 mL of plasma. I guess I should go in next week (you can go in once a week for platelets, but I've been doing more like once a month) and let them do platelets + RBC's.

On the up side, their promotion this month is a gift certificate for a pint of Blue Bell ice cream. If I go back next week, I can get another one!

#284 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 01:15 AM:

I love pint-for-pint promotions. My blood center is platelets every month, not every week, and they have a points reward system. I'll donate at the end of the month, then spend two years' points in a catalog of prizes. I've gotten a knife block, a kitchen scale, and an ice cream maker so far.

I'm not inured to the finger-stick, but I have discovered I have very firm Opinions about the donation process and the people performing it. And I will correct them if they do something like try to stick the wrong side of my finger.

#285 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 02:45 AM:

My center also has a points reward system, but it sounds like yours has better merchandise. Mine runs very heavily to t-shirts -- I've also gotten from it an umbrella and a backpack, but I'd love to get (for instance) a kitchen scale. I've seen people with Commit For Life lawn chairs, but there haven't been those on the store since I've been part of the system.

I have gotten an 8-gig thumb drive: I once worked out that given the number of points required and so on, it comes out to 39 platelets per bit.

#286 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 04:37 AM:

Elliott @ 279: oh, that's good to hear.

I don't really understand why people get so hung up about gender; there are not many contexts in which it matters. I'm androgynous and identify as gender-neutral. Yesterday, on the tram, a conductor identified me as one gender, then decided I was the other one and apologised profusely. I said, no problem, I don't mind which you call me, because I don't really have a gender in the first place. He didn't seem to hear that. He just apologised again for thinking I was Gender A rather than Gender B.

Listen, very nice and well-meaning tram conductor. It doesn't matter whether I'm male, female, neither, both, or little green alien to whom the concept of "gender" doesn't make an atom of sense. All you have to do is sell me a tram ticket.

#287 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 08:13 AM:

Mongoose #286: The full complexities of the world are too much for a human mind... and so we all produce structures to overlay upon the world and make sense of it. And having built those, we are much disinclined to change them -- and when we encounter something that just doesn't fit into our world-schema, we have difficulty perceiving it properly, let alone grasping "what sort of thing is this".

Of course, a lot of those maps and guides we make for the world concern the most complicated objects in them, which are other people. Someone who has put "either male or female" into their most basic concept of humanity, is going to have a lot of trouble dealing with someone insisting they're neither.

#288 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 11:56 AM:

Hyperlocal news... After reading Catherynne Valente's "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making", the 7-year-old daughter of local writer Daniel Abraham cooked up a joke for her mother, the punchline of which is that when stars reach the iron stage, they go boom.

#289 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 01:17 PM:

Heather Rose Jones: many congratulations :D

Jacque @277: The intervals seem precisely timed to come when you have just relaxed from the last one.

Mongoose @286: I got sir'd by a waiter the other day and my mom corrected him the, like, third time he did it? After which I told her, "Stop correcting them; I don't actually care." I'm pretty sure it didn't stick, though.

Leah Miller @270, yes. It didn't hit me as hard as it hit some of my other friends, but also? In this time and place where moral ambiguity and outright lack of morality is hailed as "realistic" and considered desirable in the media we consume, Pacific Rim holds up a giant metal finger to all of that and says: it is not foolish, but brave, to hope. Humanity can overcome unimaginable obstacles. If we try hard enough, and marshal our resources correctly, we can do more than we ever dreamed possible. There may come a day when the strength of men will fail, but by the gods, when it does, we are taking them down with us. It says, we refuse to give in, give up, drop out. We're tuning in, suiting up, and heading out to fight. Because we believe. Because we care. Because we love.

#290 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 02:03 PM:


I think part of what's going on is that the range of people's responses to being misgendered range from "no problem" to verbal hostility and threats. Most people would rather not get into a fight, especially when they're in a customer service position, and the tram conductor risks much less by apologizing to you than by ignoring the issue since you didn't object. "She doesn't care" looks the same as "she's giving me an opening to apologize before complaining." And "she doesn't care enough to make a fuss" looks the same as "this person doesn't identify with a gender and really doesn't care."

On the relatively rare occasions when someone calls me "sir" I ignore it and go on with the conversation, which tends to be something like "pastrami on rye, please." But even though I haven't called them on the gendered honorific, they hear my voice, conclude that I'm female, and apologize.

#291 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 02:07 PM:

On blood: they used to do branded merchandise and a year's-end special thing, which is why I used to have all sorts of Hawkeye gear I never used, but now they have an outside fundraising catalog. I like that it's a two-year promotion, too, as it means I can get better things.

On pronouns: my first thought was, "Why not use something neutral, like 'messere'?" Then I realized I've been watching too much Dragon Age.

#292 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 02:17 PM:

I occasionally get identified as female (the long hair, I suppose) by inattentive wait staff -- it doesn't bother me either, and I'm pretty solidly male-identified in terms of gender presentation. It's sometimes amusing to watch them back-and-fill....

#293 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 02:20 PM:

iamnothing, #149: I should be clear of the dealer room by 6:30 at the latest -- it just takes a bit of time to cover and shut everything down after the room officially closes. And yes, meeting in the convention center lobby would be fine; I suggest somewhere near the voodoo board.

OtterB, #159: That joke (which I believe may have come out of old blackface vaudeville routines) is also one of the things my fannish fount of trivia comes up with for "molasses". ISTR that I first encountered it in the children's book Cheaper by the Dozen, where it's described as something the father would occasionally do to amuse the family.

albatross, #163: This is exactly why libraries no longer keep records of who has checked out which books once the books have been returned. This step was taken after an attempted (warrantless) fishing expedition by DHS in 2005, which was foiled by the simple expedient of the head librarian calling the police and having the DHS agents ejected from the library. The incident was the genesis of this shirt.

Lin, #175: I've heard a modern variant on that -- apparently the rug-makers also introduce one deliberate error in each item to prove that it is handmade (because a machine-made copy wouldn't have a random error in it). I rather like that idea, and would consider incorporating it into my own jewelry if I were making more complex stuff.

Lila, #190: Note that these are exactly the same things said to women over and over again about "keeping yourself safe from rape". It's not just sharia law we're looking at here, it's total lockdown for everyone.

Oh, and incidentally, the backscatter machines at airports are now being replaced by a much less intrusive (and safer) variety that merely shows a stylized body image with "questionable areas" highlighted; this strikes me as being not so different from the metal detector and wand combination. The backscatter machines, having been purchased at enormous taxpayer expense, are now going to sit in a warehouse somewhere gathering dust, because they're boat anchors. But at least Bush II's cronies got a shitload of money out of the deal.

joann, #220: I believe this is what's known as "battery backup", a common belt-plus-suspenders mode of operation for critical equipment. Or even not-so-critical; I recently replaced my 25-year-old bedside clock with a new one that has battery backup because I was tired of having to reset the old one every time we had a power blip.

Elliott / Lila, #232-233: Our preferred mode of travel is a slightly less doctrinaire version of that -- we try to make one stop serve multiple purposes, but bow to necessity when needs must. Of course, we're sometimes doing trips like the one we just got back from (Houston to Baltimore in 2 days, return in 3 with a longish stop in the Dallas area), and there's not always a lot of flex time in the schedule.

Elliott, #268: *snerk*

iamnothing, #281: I can probably make 6:15. If I'm going to be significantly later, I'll send KeithS on ahead to let you know.

#294 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 02:23 PM:

HLN: local herpestid's friend Flavio has just got himself into the finals of the singing competition at the Innsbruck Early Music Festival. Local herpestid is quite ridiculously proud of him:

#295 ::: Mongoose has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 02:26 PM:

...apparently for my last link. Oh well. *rummages around for edibles* There's this, which I'm making for Sunday's concert.

#296 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 02:39 PM:

Mongoose, as long as you keep offering delicious recipes when gnomed, it's hard for me not to add psychic energy to them coming down on you!

#297 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 02:58 PM:

Lee (293): ...why libraries no longer keep records of who has checked out which books once the books have been returned. This step was taken after an attempted (warrantless) fishing expedition by DHS in 2005

Small correction: libraries had been not-keeping such records for much longer than that. Deliberately discarding/destroying that information was established practice when I started library school in 1985.

#298 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Carol @ 295: heh. Next time, they're getting a jam sandwich!

#299 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 04:45 PM:

My uncle was very much of the all things done at one stop method of car trips. It had its flaws.

Mark, age four-ish: Daddy, there's a moth.
Uncle/Dad: We'll take care of it at the next stop.
Mark: Daddy, there's a moth!
Dad: Mark, we'll take care of it at the next stop.
(possibly some additional iterations)

next stop
Dad: OK, Mark, where's the moth?
Mark's sister: Mark ate it.

#300 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 04:47 PM:

Anyone know Colorado law? Because this makes me wonder if a court could actually order these neighbors to eat shit and die. Clearly that would be the right resolution to the dispute.

#301 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 06:24 PM:

To corroborate Mary Aileen @297: I began working at a University library circa 1996. We'd just switched over to a new back-end system (including circulation management) and despite some queries from the administration, the librarians and library systems managers were adamant that we did not keep records of who had checked out books once they were returned, and we would not engineer such capabilities into the system.

#302 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 06:37 PM:

Xopher @ #300, the damage to property value of living that close to a bunch of known assholes is probably severe. Countersuit?

#303 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 06:41 PM:

Mongoe(@286) I am fairly often identified as "the other" gender (in spite of how unobservant a person would have to be to reach this conclusion) and I have never been able to persuade anyone that it really really doesn't matter to me.

We need a new polite for of address, to replace "sir" and "ma'am" where one wishes to do so.

#304 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 06:42 PM:

Sorry, *form* of address

#305 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 07:02 PM:

Tom Whitmore @292: I occasionally get identified as female (the long hair, I suppose) by inattentive wait staff

I would have thought that the muttonchops would be a heavy clue.

Xopher Halftongue @300: Seems like Colorado would be an especially bad place to take that attitude.

#306 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 07:17 PM:

Older @303: I tend to use "gentlebeings", at least when addressing people in the plural. I think I got that one from Poul Anderson, though I could be mistaken there.

#307 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 07:29 PM:


6:15 pm on Friday for the GoL sounds fine.

#308 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 09:24 PM:

In the SCA they often say "Gentles," or did when I was in. Nothing wrong, methinks, with "Gentle" by itself as a singular form of address.

Might sound a little archaic, a little overly courteous. I don't see either as such a bad thing.

#309 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 09:45 PM:

I have been reading the chapter-by-chapter takedown of the 50 Shades books by Jenny Trout, and I can safely say that anyone who talks about their inner goddess as much as the protagonist of those books does should walk off a short pier. I don't mind people buying porn; I mind people buying BAD porn. The quality of the writing displayed makes me long for Penthouse Letters. ("I never thought it would happen to me...")

#310 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 10:18 PM:

Delurking, with a query on fingerprint cards:

I'm up for a freelance translation job which would require a security clearance, and the employer in question has sent me a set of fingerprint cards to get done and returned to them. For my freelance tax preparation work, I already had fingerprints taken at the behest of the IRS earlier this year.

1. Is there a way I can verify that my fingerprints are on file somewhere that can be referenced? Maybe I don't need to do it again.

2. Would I be risking any future weirdness from the Powers That Be if I have two sets of fingerprints on file with the Powers That Be? Buttle turning into Tuttle, dogs and cats living together, suchlike?

Thanks muchly!

#311 ::: Chris Quinones, gnomed at last ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2013, 10:20 PM:

My first time! I'm so proud. I have Dominican takeout sopa de pollo I'm willing to share.

#312 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:35 AM:

Jacque, between long hair and muttonchops, I'm calling it neutral. Facial hair of whatever configuration is but one clue when choosing pronouns for strangers.

#313 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 01:11 AM:

Diatryma (@312) This is true. In my days of delivering mail and other things (it seems to have been my Calling), I have met at least two women with considerable facial hair.

In my own case, not much facial hair. I used to imagine the mental process that could lead someone to address me as "sir" -- long hair, check; boobs, check; wide hips, check; must be a man. I would have preferred to be called "sir" simply because it denoted an adult person.

Two of my children have been in the Air Force, where the common worker is ranked as, and addressed as, "Airman", regardless of gender. I approved entirely, but I thought they should go all the way with it and call their female officers "Sir".

Thanks for the suggestions, Mongoose and Xopher, but somehow "gentle" doesn't seem quite easy on the tongue, although I like the implication.

Back in the early hippie days, I often met people who pretended not to be able to discern my gender. I ended up telling all such that the information was available on a need-to-know basis and they didn't need to know.

#314 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 02:10 AM:

I believe that "gentle" in that sense derives from "gentile", and so might be problematic for a large portion of the population (to Jews, for example, or many non-LDS Christians). At least, that's the etymology I was taught many years ago!

#315 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 02:20 AM:

Also, Older -- the sideburns are pretty darn bushy, and I've lost a lot of hair on top. As I said, someone not paying a lot of attention, but not completely incomprehensible.

As with facial hair, the body shapes for the male and female dimorphs of humans overlap significantly more than they differ. The dimorphic differentiation is much more statistical than absolute.

#316 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 04:56 AM:

Tom @ 314: yes and no. "Gentle" is indeed derived from "gentile", as is "genteel" (which has kept more of the original meaning), but not from "Gentile". [Warning: Language Nerd Wall of Text alert.]

I don't know the derivation of "Gentile", but it is, as far as I know, completely unrelated. I do know about "gentile". It occurs in both Old Italian and Old French with the approximate meaning of "noble"; you'll find it in Dante and Petrarch. Like many other words in Old French it came over with the Normans, who imposed their own aristocracy on the Saxons, and with it a great many words of the sort you'd expect to find alongside an aristocracy.

The word has managed to hang onto some of its original meaning in compound words ("gentlefolk" and so forth), although even here it has been rather diluted; "gentleman" is now simply a polite way of saying "man", rather than specifically meaning an aristocrat. On its own, it has shifted more radically in meaning in all three languages under discussion. In French and Italian, it now means not much more than "nice", whereas in English it has taken on a slightly different connotation - "gentleness" is a specific type of niceness.

Like other words which have shifted in meaning, this one can cause problems for unwary modern readers trying to make sense of, say, Dante (who, let's face it, gets pretty weird in places anyway); however, I'd say they were particularly pronounced in this case because there has also been a massive cultural shift regarding the concept of aristocracy itself. In the Vita Nova, Dante repeatedly describes Beatrice as "gentile"; he means she's of noble birth, not that she's sweet-natured, although it seems she is that as well. (Not that it's entirely easy to tell, since she never speaks to him.) These days, if we understand what he's talking about, we're tempted to wonder what the big deal is; but of course in Dante's time the upper classes were considered to be somehow intrinsically better than everyone else, and so Dante is emphasising her aristocratic birth to make it clear that she is a Superior Being.

Yes, I know. I love Dante to bits, but he didn't so much have issues as subscriptions. Just wait till I dig out my translation of the poem with the gruesome heart-eating metaphor - would you believe that was supposed to be the height of romantic?

Anyway, so that's "gentile/gentil/gentle/genteel/&c". No reference to religious groups of any kind implied.

#317 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:11 AM:

Gentile and gentle both derive originally from the Latin gens, meaning race/birth/clan/family. Other words derived from the same source include genitals, generation, and gendarme.

Anyone who objects to the term on the basis of its late Latin roots should be ignored.

#318 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 06:33 AM:

Jim @ 317: ah, OK. So not so much "unrelated" as "so distantly related that they're no longer sending each other birthday cards".

#319 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 08:37 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @309, in re the badness of the porn in the Fifty Shades books

I have not read them myself, but I have skimmed the deconstructions over at Something Short and Snappy (where they are also doing awesome Ender's Game deep reads) and something has become clear: Fifty Shades is D/s porn written by someone who's had no real-world (or detailed fiction-intake) experience of healthy, organized D/s. In exactly the same way that Twilight is a vampire novel written by someone who's never read a vampire novel before.

The quoted passage that made me realize they're not just bad porn but are actively dangerous was the one where The Dominant Master croons to his slave that if you're really in love you don't need safewords!

People are going to try this, and people are going to get hurt, because they don't realize (a) the book is lying to them and (b) there are other people who ALREADY KNOW how to do this without hurting yourself or your partner, who can be ASKED. For FREE. On the Internet, where nobody knows if you're a dog (or a kindergarten teacher).

Cecelia Tan recently posted about a gushing longform review of her newest erotic novel; the reviewers were ecstatic that her D/s protagonists don't ever slip over the line into being abusive with each other. Because NOT slipping over that line is, apparently, rare in the genre Fifty Shades has encouraged ... sigh.

#320 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 08:45 AM:

Probably for illicit linkage (though I checked they all worked). It's a fair cop. In a few hours I should have homemade cinnamon rolls (I will gladly pay you this afternoon for an un-gnomed post right now?).

#321 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 09:12 AM:

@Casey B, re road trips from southern New England to the midwest.

I live in Ann Arbor, MI and have family in CT; I've driven between them several times. I suspect that this means my trip is essentially a subset of yours.

Have you considered avoiding PA by getting up to the Mass Pike and then taking 90 west to Cleveland (where 80 and 90 join)? From Providence to Cleveland, according to Google Maps, RI146+90 is only 14 miles longer than 95+80.

The advantage, in my opinion, is that upstate NY has attractive scenery and has cities about every hour (Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse-Albany) to make you feel like you are making progress. PA, as you say, just goes on and on and on.

#322 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 09:14 AM:

Apologies to Cassy B. for misspelling her name.

#323 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 10:26 AM:

On the subject of racist, sexist, homophobic dipshits (from another thread), given the recent revival of Orson Scott Card's batshittery ( is anyone going to see Ender's Game?

#324 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 10:29 AM:

Fragano @ 323... is anyone going to see Ender's Game?

Not me. Instead I'm looking forward to Lake Bell's "In A World" because it's Lake Bell, and because I get to hear her say "These are not the droids you are looking for" with a Russian accent.

#325 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 10:49 AM:


It strikes me that one of the "look at all of us in our pretty dresses" effects of both commercial and government privacy violations will be fewer people willing to look into such resources. Don't want to get added to a watchlist, after all.

As an aside, I'm not too sure the genre of one-handed reads[1] is in general noted for its careful attention to either safety or healthy relationships.

[1] Into which I'm provisionally putting 50 Shades, despite having never read it myself.

#326 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 11:14 AM:

#323 : Fragano Ledgister anyone going to see Ender's Game?

There's already a formal campaign to boycott the film: "Skip-Enders"

I fear that it won't have any effect; the tons of people who will buy tickets won't know/care about it or the reason for it, and the lesson that it teaches Hollywood will be to ignore the folks calling for it.

#327 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 11:24 AM:

DavidS @ 321: My route from A2 to New England starts similarly, but after Erie, PA, I veer off onto I-86/US-17.[1] It's toll-free, less trafficky than the cross-Pennsylvania routes or the NY Thruway, and beautiful (provided you like hills). I especially love the eastbound rest area that overlooks Lake Chautauqua.

[1] Why does the hyphen look right in I-86 and wrong in US-17?

#328 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 11:30 AM:

I am dubious about seeing Ender's Game even without referring to Card's politics. The story is about a boy, and the adults are peripheral. When they cast Harrison Ford, someone automatically wrote him a big part, and thus the movie is unlikely to be faithful to the book.


#329 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 11:38 AM:

I doubt I will go see the movie, but I wouldn't avoid such a movie based on the repugnant political views of the author. If this kind of boycotts were successful on a large scale, so that writers who expressed really unpopular political or social views were unable to sell their books or get them made into movies, would you expect this to make the world a better place, or a worse place? Keeping in mind that 40 years ago, Card's views on gays would have been the popular view that writers had to express to be able to sell books.

#330 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 11:46 AM:


#331 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:04 PM:

David S@321, don't sweat misspelling my name; doesn't bother me as long as it's close enough I can figure out that it's me that's meant. <smile>

Regarding I90; it looks like an interesting alternative. My two possible issues are that we're going to the Newport area, not Providence (and that looks like a more substantial detour), and (more implortantly) that we take the drive in late November.

I-90 looks like it runs next to the Great Lakes for a considerably longer distance than the I-80 route. We've hit lake-effect blizzards in Ohio and Indiana two or three times in the last five years, so I'm concerned that the additional couple of hundred miles of near-Great-Lake driving wouldn't yield beautiful vistas but knuckle-whitening snowstorms, instead. <wry>

#332 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:06 PM:

Older, #313: Back in the early hippie days, I often met people who pretended not to be able to discern my gender. I ended up telling all such that the information was available on a need-to-know basis and they didn't need to know.

I used to be in an apa with someone who was very hostile about people whose gender he couldn't immediately identify from a distance. It always struck me as a "don't want to slip up and treat the second-class citizens like REAL people" sort of thing. I recall asking him once why he cared, since he was happily married and therefore presumably not in search of a potential sexual partner!

Re being addressed as the other gender, I've been called "sir" on occasion despite being visibly, unmistakably female. I think many times it's a genuine slip of the tongue, related less to the person's actual appearance than to ingrained habits of speech and perhaps someone having a tiring day.

Fragano, #323: No. The book was never one of my favorites (too formulaic -- I consider Speaker for the Dead to be a much better book), and I'm not much of a movie-goer to begin with. That's two strikes before you even get to Card's having gone batshit-insane. I don't count this as boycotting the movie, because it's not something I'd have been likely to see in the first place.

Brenda, #328: Good point.

#333 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:08 PM:


Reading Card's essay was really odd, in a through-the-looking-glass sense. He hedged everything around with hypotheticals, but then built a story that would seem plausible, if only the last five years had been completely different.

In some alternative universe, Obama is a dictatorial control freak, who continuously bends the powerful to his will. He's a secret Muslim who refuses to make war on Muslims or permit surveillance of them, and who trusts Muslim countries implicitly to keep their promises. In that alternative universe, the Muslim world is unified, militarily powerful, technologically advanced, and poses a genuine threat to the US, like the old Soviet Union when there were still a lot of true believers in communism. In the alternative universe, Obama, through his close connection with the urban black street[1], can call on urban blacks to riot or terrorize his opponents on demand, and can fill an alternative police organization with a bunch of gang members who will be his muscle-squad. In the alternative universe, Obama's health care reform was single-payer with absolute government oversight of who gets care, so as to ensure that withholding medical care can be used as a mechanism of social control. And on and on.

Card is a good writer, and he could probably spin out a dystopian story that was internally consistent in that universe. But it would be very weird to read, like reading a story in which Reagan was a gay intellectual elitist, George HW Bush was a populist man of the people, Bill Clinton was highborn but intellectually stunted and uninterested in women, etc. Because it has so little to do with the universe we actually live in.

[1] Think of the common phrase "the Arab street"

Such an alternative universe might be interesting to read about. But it doesn't have much to do with *our* universe.

#334 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:37 PM:

Cassy B.

Welcome to the world of knitting! I see our fellow Knitlanders have been taking good care of you.

Have you discovered the Ravelry web site yet?

#335 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 12:59 PM:

Jim Macdonald #326: I agree that the formal boycott isn't likely to have much effect. I'm not going to give my two bits to Orson Scott Card, even though I enjoyed the novel when I read it, long before he came out as a homophobe or as another of the idiots who appears to think that a moderate Christian Democrat is the second coming of Huey Newton.

I agree with Lee that Speaker for the Dead is a better novel, although Ender's Game is a superb example of the bildungsroman, and concur with her on Brenda's point.

#336 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 01:07 PM:

Older @313: I have met at least two women with considerable facial hair.

Well, in point of fact, through much of my school career, the bullies liked to call me "moustachio."

And there was a very beautiful young woman from India, at my last job, who had quite a thick moustache. And fangs.

I approved entirely, but I thought they should go all the way with it and call their female officers "Sir".

Some TV shows seem to be promoting that practice. Castle comes to mind.

I, personally, have been lobbying for years to use "Person." Per. Marshall. "Thank you, per." (Actually, now that I look at it, maybe it's too evokative of "pervert." Hm.)

Mongoose @316: I love Dante to bits, but he didn't so much have issues as subscriptions.

::grin:: I'm going to have to file this one. :-)

WRT Ender's Game, the trailer looks like the story had changed fundamentally from the book. If memory serves, the puncline of the book is that Raqre guvaxf ur'f cynlvat n jne tnzr, naq vg gheaf bhg ur unf npghnyyl naavuvyngrq n jubyr fcrpvrf, naq gur cflpubybytvpny vzcnpg bs gung qrprcgvba. Granted, It's been decades since I read it. But I don't get that at all from the movie trailers.

#337 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Victoria @333, Ummmm <guardedly> I've heard it mentioned. And I've heard it's addicting...

#338 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 01:50 PM:

Lee @332

There are identities which I have used on the net, and are old enough to vote, which are "real" to me and the folks I use them amongst. They're different to the real-world me, but they don't do things that feel wrong to the real-world me. And, if need were there, the link could be traced.

[Waves to the NSA: does your mother know what you're doing?]

There are people in positions of authority who seem to care more about knowing exactly who you are than about the basic validity of the facts you point out. I am thinking about politicians in particular, who set themselves up with such things as Facebook accounts, and get all worked up when you respond to their propaganda with even a simple, "I can't see how that works."

Or perhaps somebody is wittering about how we need to get out of Europe, and we will be better up under the control of our politicians. Well, those politicians, under the system of the EU, have to pass into national law all the bad EU laws, and we never heard them object.

But if I use "zhochaka" as a tag, I'm not real. That invented word has been part of domain names I have used since 1995. It has history. But to them it is nothing.

They're the people who send me an unsolicited email about the wonderful things they're doing.

I'm living in a different world, and they're not of my tribe, and they do things I find repugnant, without apparent shame.

It's not about gender, or rather these things are not just about gender. It's about conformity. We've been reading that wacky sci-fi stuff for so long that we don't know right from wrong any more. We're the weirdos who would fuck Spock, or T'Pol, or even that Six of Eight or whatever that machine is called.

We're not their sort of decent God-fearing people who will scrape and bow in their general direction.

And some of us have read more of the Bible than they ever do. We're homo sapiens sapiens, the product of generations of cultural and physical evolution. We know, and live by, that simple human trick which eludes them.

We gang up on problems.

We teach each other.

We know we can't know everything, but somebody has Jon Singer's phone number. Or casts Summon Librarian.

We have our own spirits from the vasty deep, and they do come when we do call them.

[Still there, Mr. NSA man? We know the difference between propulsion systems and weapons.]

#339 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 02:03 PM:

I have taken the plums
which were in the icebox
and added them to a one-million-ton ice cream sundae
which will be dropped on the White House
with a cherry on top.

This is not
A Hollywood plot
It can only be done
on the wireless.


#340 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 02:13 PM:

Porting Lee's comment from the DF families thread so as not to threadjack there: Oh, yes, definitely. But one caveat for anyone wanting to read the series -- the last 3 books (Swordhunt, Honor Blade, and The Empty Chair) are effectively one long story that's been broken up oddly, and should be bought and read together; they don't stand alone very well.

They also, in my opinion, don't do what Duane claimed was her goal, that being explaining how we got from TOS Romulans to TNG Romulans. That doesn't mean I don't like them, of course, but they didn't explain to me how we got from mnhei'sahe to a thinly-veiled Communism allegory.

It's disheartening to have to watch the on-screen versions going, "But, but, the Rihannsu are SO MUCH BETTER."

#341 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 02:51 PM:

#319 Elliott
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me already used a report of a fire department gettting a major uptick in (expensive) emergency ambulance trips because of idiots reading Fifty Shades of Gray playing copycat.

#310 Chris
Ha, ha, ha.
I think I've been fingerprinted at least four different times for the Federales.

#342 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 03:07 PM:

I always figured that trying to merge the two was the official excuse for the books - they're clearly TOS, and never get to TNG.

#343 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 03:48 PM:


I've been fingerprinted several times by different organizations (different employers, the Catholic church when I volunteered to work with kids). There appeared to be no way to get any of these organizations to communicate with one another.

#344 ::: albatross still gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 03:49 PM:

I wrote another post awhile back, and it seems to have been eaten by gnomes, or perhaps to have disappeared into the ether.

#345 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 04:37 PM:

Cassy B. @ 337 Ummmm I've heard it mentioned. And I've heard it's addicting...

Some people find it addicting. I, personally, don't. But then I'm not a knitting geek. I'm just a geek who knits. And crochets. Tats (the needle kind) Basic weaving is my latest acquisition of the yarn/string-based crafting activities. Ravelry, as far as I can tell, is the yarn/string/craft equivalent of Making Light. I like to go there and shop for ideas in the pattern section when I can't figure out how to do something myself.

I'm not OCD about my stash and tools and library. Plus, I'm a goal oriented knitter - if I want something that I can't find in the stores, I'll make it myself. Ravelry has a lot of patterns (free and for sale) for people who want to try new things.

#346 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:02 PM:

Victoria @345, good to know.

#347 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:04 PM:


I suspect the attributes of politicians you're describing have less to do with their nature or beliefs, and more to do with their incentives and situation, than you might imagine.

Politicians deal in social proofs--X is true because lots of the people I care about (my voters, my constituents, those I must please to get appointed to some desired job) say X is true. Even when politicians believe X is nonsense, they will still act as though X is true. (When they accidentally let on that they don't really think X is true, it's called a "gaffe".) Most politicians, by the nature of their job, will defend the belief in X from all comers, and will indeed be (or act) outraged that some nobody dares question X, when all right thinking people clearly know X is true.

There's a selection effect at work here. Politicians who don't do this most of the time tend not to get elected or appointed to higher offices, tend not to be given assignments on important committees, etc.

And the people whose opinions they mirror are themselves subject to a similar selection effect. Media personalities and newspaper/TV news editors who too often say "X is wrong" when the important people are all saying it's right tend to be out of a job. Politicians in safe Republican or Democratic districts can be and are challenged from their own party when they challenge some X that is widely believed in their party, even when it's transparent nonsense. What sounds credible or crazy is largely a function of what you're used to hearing.

The ultimate arbiter of truth for essentially this whole class of people is social proof. It's like the Paris Hiltons of the world, who are famous for being famous. Many of these beliefs are widely believed (or claimed) to be true because they're widely believed (or claimed) to be true. That makes for really uncomfortable discussions with people who don't trust social proof as a way to figure out what's true. The social proof people and the evidence or logic people don't speak the same language, don't play by the same rules, and talk past each other.

#348 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:13 PM:

Ravelry has 3 main useful bits (IMHO): the pattern-searcher, the forums, and the self-logging parts (your 'notebook'). You can use or not use any aspects of the site; using one doesn't obligate you to the others, though there are useful cross-connect functions if you DO use more than one.

Patterns: oh so many. You can search the Rav database just for patterns that are (for example)
* knitted
* lace
* difficulty 1-3 stars (user chosen/crowdsourced)
* uses less than 400yds of
* fingering-weight yarn

And you'll get hundreds of results, probably. You can then limit it just to patterns you can click to download free off the web. Killer app. Amazeballs. All the patterns IN THE WURRRRLD at your fingertip-clicks.

Forums for to talk about the things you, y'know, might want to talk about. Participation, moderators, and level of discourse highly variable; effectively, each sub-forum is its own social site (with a common member list with all the others).

Self-logging in your notebook is useful for me because it makes me feel accomplishy. Also, if I'm careful to 'start' a project when I put it on the needles, then when I finish it some unknown long time later (after finding it abandoned in a pile of bagged cruft from some convention last year), I can go on Ravelry, click that it's done, and see how long it took me to do it. I can also take notes to myself about it to make it easier to do again the same (or different). Also you can 'stash' yarn you own, so you can see it all at once, and add it to a project you're working on seamlessly, which lets you see what projects you've done all with the same yarn, etc.

Cross-connecting: Any pattern that you can find on Ravelry, you can tag to an in-progress project, and everybody ELSE who did that pattern, you can see what they got (and their comments about how it was to work with). You can see what yarns people made it with, and whether they liked them or not. You can share photos uploaded to your projects on the forums pretty simply (you can share other photos out on the web, but it's a little more complex).

#349 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:25 PM:

albatross @344:

How long back? There's nothing in the moderation queueueueue. I've dug through the spam midden for the last 24 hours searching for your name and found nothing either. It might be gone.

#350 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 05:47 PM:

Thanks to Jim for the sidebar link to "Man Lures Drunken Girl: What would you do?" It's powerful to see regular folks modeling caring for each other, to hear the specific words they use.

#351 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 06:00 PM:

re: fingerprinting, as a student my wife had to get fingerprinted and photographed twice, something like six months apart, to work with two different organizations within the same university-affiliated healthcare institution. Both fingerprintings were handled by the same outside contractor, who probably isn't allowed to keep the fingerprints on file, and certainly has no financial incentive to say "no point re-doing this one, we just printed her a while ago".

#352 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 06:09 PM:

Dave Bell @339: With modern CGI, of course, that's no longer true.

#353 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 06:23 PM:

@Dave Bell:

This is just to say

I've taken the cake
You took so long to make
And left it out
In the rain

It was wrong, but
I just had to watch
The icing flowing down,
So green.
So sweet.

#354 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 06:36 PM:

Small win for the day: today's batch of yeast-based cinnamon rolls are nearing my platonic ideal very quickly. Not too sweet, but a flavorful dough with a ribbon of cinna-kick in it. Nom om. They're not nearly as nice on Day 3 after baking, so I have to KEEP making them, and I really wish I had enough clean work surface to roll it out nice and thin for the proper Yule-log-esque pinwheel, but still. Very close.

Also I made bunny breads*, and they actually look bunny-esque today. The last batch ended up sort of cat-like, and my 4yo was not impressed with their bunny-ness, though their taste was pleasing to her. Today's look kind of like the creepy goth-cartoon version, but still! Proper genus! I can work on 'cute' later.

* When I roll up my log of cinnaswirl dough etc. and cut slices to be the actual buns, the two ends of the log end up with much less cinnamon filling in them. So I cut them off, knead thoroughly until swirly-looking, and pull off dinner-roll-sized pieces of the dough to make into bunny breads. Not very sweet at all, but sufficiently cinnamonned to not taste bland (which, unfortunately, the dough I'm using tends to if just baked in solo rolls. Great texture! No flavor to speak of, even with a 16hr pre-ferment).

#355 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 06:43 PM:

… I posted the 140 character version of my last entry on Tweedle and was wished a happy Jimmy Webb birthday in return.

I, of course, replied I KNEW THAT and sincerely hope my delivery was convincing.

#356 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Pursuant to my @354, Pix Or It Didn't Happen. Also a couple of them could be convincing trilobites; something I hadn't thought of with the technique.

(My kid is more impressed by bunnies at the moment than trilobites; le sigh. Great for a Girl Genius room party, though)

#357 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Elliott at # 348: accomplishy

I like that word!

#358 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 06:57 PM:

Probably for linking to a url-shortening pix-sharing site.

#359 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 07:01 PM:

As mentioned above, gentleman is originally racist and classist as well as sexist. In England it meant any man of Norman rather than Saxon descent. But in those barely literate times, most people could not trace their ancestry very far back. So they came up with a functional definition—a gentleman was anyone who had the right to bear arms.

By the 2nd Amendment, all Americans are gentlemen.

#360 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 07:31 PM:

bOINGbOING recently mentioned a Welsh URL lengthening site, to make your links more Welsh. All in all, it's still a wonderful world, full of wonders.

#361 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 07:36 PM:

Allan Beatty @ 358... By the 2nd Amendment, all Americans are gentlemen.

And. according to a movie from a few years ago, America's Tom Sawyer was an *extraordinary* one.

#362 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 07:48 PM:

Paula Lieberman #341: The London Fire Brigade '50 Shades' story is ideal for Wait Wait, who specialise in stories that are too good to check. However, the increase in calls was well within the margin of random variation, and the '50 Shades' thing was an anecdotal impression by one firefighter, not part of the data. (says me)

#363 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 08:03 PM:

Carrie, #340: I'm pretty sure that mnhei'sahe was never in the show at all -- that was part of Duane's own worldbuilding. And I suspect that the answer to "how we got from Point A to Point B" is contained in the line from The Empty Chair about how they might go into complete isolation for a while and would likely be very different when they came back out again -- IOW, it's the equivalent of, "Yes, they are Klingons, and we do NOT discuss it with outsiders."

BTW, did you notice that the Rihannsu language is to some extent a recycling of the Draconic language from The Door Into Shadow? Or maybe vice versa.

thomas, #362: Hey, that's a cool trick for estimating margins of error! (My college Statistics class was a disaster, so pretty much everything I know about the topic is self-taught from other sources.)

#364 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 08:34 PM:

Lee: No, mnhei'sahe wasn't canon, but the OS Romulans certainly acted like they had it, which the Next Gen Romulans did not. :)

how they might go into complete isolation for a while and would likely be very different when they came back out again

Yeah, and I guess in theory that could work? But it didn't ring true for me. It felt like Duane doing handwaving.

IOW, it's the equivalent of, "Yes, they are Klingons, and we do NOT discuss it with outsiders."

DS9 handled that all wrong, all wrong! They should've just put Michael Dorn in the old-fashioned makeup and had no one say a word about it.

BTW, did you notice that the Rihannsu language is to some extent a recycling of the Draconic language from The Door Into Shadow?

I haven't read the Door Into books, so no.

Rihannsu is not, alas, a very good conlang. I've managed to extract enough grammar for a couple of stock phrases, but that's about it.

#365 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 08:45 PM:

My gnomulated post is back, for those who've already scrolled past.

#366 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 09:30 PM:


I see it now. If it wasn't with the gnomes before, I must have missed it when I looked last time. Sorry about sending you in a dive through the Swamp of Spam.

#367 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 09:40 PM:

A bit more on Card's weird counterfactual Obama as dictator story.

I see this as a cautionary tale, alongside Romney and various ofher Republicans being apparently surprised not to won the election despite the polls. Propaganda from your own side is in many ways fun to read and listen to. It's relentlessly undemanding--your side is always in the right, and the other guys are always knaves and fools, and you need never worry that there are bad people on your side, or dangerous tendencies that need to be countered, or blind spots your ideology doesn't address. You need never feel a conflict between what you know or suspect and your team spirit.

But it's poison. It's too damned easy to turn off your critical thinking brain and just swallow all kinds of nonsense, because it's reassuring nonsense that says good things about people you like and bad things about people you hate. You hear stuff from people you trust, you hear some things repeated again and again till your brain absorbs it as true without going through the formality of thinking about it at all.

And then, you start thinking and acting like it's true, because it *feels* true--it's what you hear on the background chatter on the radio all day, on the TV, among your friends who soak in the same pool of propaganda.

Card is a smart guy, as is Romney, as is George Will. All three fell prey to the same thing. You and I are vulnerable as well, unless we take precautions not to soak in a propaganda bath. Find media and fiction and conversation that disagrees with your assumptions. Take the arguments and worldview seriously enough to engage with them, to actually understand them in a non-dismissive way even if you fundamentally disagree. Or find yourself spouting idiocy that you swallowed without ever realizing where it was coming from.

#368 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 10:33 PM:

AKICIML: (Warning: Wall 'O Text)

Ok, a confession: I'm feeling rather like a fraud. A small local convention asked my twin and me to be co-Fan Guests of Honor in about a month, because the theme of the convention is "clones" and, well, we're clones.

I'm not feeling fraudulent about being a clone, mind you; I'm quite confident of that fact. My problem is Small Local Convention asked me (and my twin) to do two panels. Now, as any self-respecting convention-going SF fan has, I've seen many many panels where I thought to myself, "Self, you know as much as the panelist, or more!" Until now. I've never actually been on a panel in my life. I'm having a crisis of self-confidence, and my mind is completely blank as to topic ideas.

Well, not *completely* blank -- I have exactly one idea. (Halfway there, right?)

I want to do "Clones in fiction: How to get it right -- or really, really wrong". With examples. I figure Bujold's Brother in Arms is done right, and Wilhelm's Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, although well-written, got clones completely wrong. What I'd like to ask for is suggestions of prominent books and/or movies which feature cloning and do it right... or spectacularly wrong. (In movies, "Aeon Flux" comes to mind for risible clones. I actually can't come up with a movie offhand that does it right...)

(Also, any brilliant clone-related panel ideas would be welcome....)

#369 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2013, 11:18 PM:

Casey B. @368 -- Ursula Le Guin's "Nine Lives"? Good or bad? I think it was the first thing of hers I ever read and it left a very powerful impression. And I just watched the Doctor Who ep "The Doctor's Daughter"; that might be something to look at, but as a first time viewer (who suspects Jenny will be back), I don't know how it plays out in the end. Still, the instant classification of the Doctor's clone as his daughter rather than his sister is interesting in light of what Bujold does.

#370 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 12:17 AM:

I've always maintained that clone law should be based on how we treat identical twins—that is, Hey look! We already have clones in front of us! And the world has not ended, and they are not the same person!

On that note, first day of kindergarten for the Dude. There's triplets in his class. A quick survey indicates that they are fraternal, but really, really similar in looks. Ought to be interesting.

#371 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 12:17 AM:

Just in the Vorkosigan stories, you have:


The Duronas

The clones created for the brain transplants

That's a lot of contrast right there.

Some random topics that come to mind (may or may not be useful):

a. Clones as replacements for lost people

People have sold cloning services for pets on this basis. It's not hard to imagine someone having a clone of their tragically dead kid or spouse or sibling or parent made.

What would it be like to raise a clone of your dead grandmother? It sounds creepy, but I can imagine some culture or family in which it was just the thing people did, and it would seem no more creepy than the (uncommon in the US, common elsewhere) practice of marrying your first cousin.

b. Clones as mini-mes for the egotistical (justly or not)

Would it be easier or harder to do a good job raising someone with 100% of your genes? Or a house full of genetically identical kids at different ages, all identical to you as well. Certainly, you would have a handle on a lot of their likely flaws and strengths, at least to the extent they were genetic.

c. Clones as walking spare-parts warehouses.

This is easy to see as wrong and yucky, but there have been cases of parents having another kid in hopes that he can donate matching bone marrow or kidney or whatever to the ailing first kid--it's not obvious to me that this is wrong or evil. And ISTR Heinlein using the idea of clones whose brains were never permitted to form for spare parts--this is uncomfortably close to the Jackson's Whole brain transplant business to my mind.

What if you intentionally had yourself impregnated with identical twins, partly as insurance--if one needs an organ or marrow transplant, the other can always provide it. What if you decided to have five or six kids with identical genomes, spread out every couple years? (I wonder if your whole family would get absolutely clobbered by some bug once in awhile, as the whole family had the same hole in their immunological reportoire.)

d. Clones as attempts to reproduce extraordinary performance. (Imagine you could make 20 clones of Richard Feynman and give them all first-rate educations. Would you get another genius physicist?)

To think about this, you have to think about narrow-sense heritability and regression to the mean. If 50% of intelligence is genetic, and I chose to clone you because of your remarkable intelligence, then your clones will average about halfway between your intelligence and the average intelligence for the population. (Unfortunately, there's good data on narrow-sense heritability of IQ, but it's not clear how well that would track with reproducing a one of a kind genius like Feynman or Von Neumann. Maybe you make 20 clones and get 20 very clever guys who are good enough at math and physics to get PhDs in some hard field and get tenure somewhere, but no geniuses anywhere close to the level of their progenitors.)

e. New family structures

What if you had a society where lots of families like the Duronas existed? (Brin's book _Glory Season_ has something like this.). What would that be like?

What if the normal family strucure in some society was that a couple got married and usually had one clone from each parent?

f. Current cloning

Have human clones been made by now? Animals have been cloned successfully, so it's possible. It would presumably be hard to get anyone capable of doing it to clone a human, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone had tried by now, to be honest.

#372 ::: B. Durbin is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 12:18 AM:

I honestly don't know what I said, but I will offer some of the chocolate-covered cinnamon bears that were kindly shipped to me by a friend.

#373 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 12:59 AM:

Older @ 313: ...I have met at least two women with considerable facial hair.

I suspect that you have met a great number of women with a lot of actively growing facial hair—which they were assiduously plucking, waxing, shaving, and so on. Maintaining the "innate differences" between the sexes can be a lot of work!

#374 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:04 AM:

Faith-healing parents charged with murder after their 8-month-old son dies of untreated pneumonia.

Note that this is the second child they've lost in exactly this way, and that after the first death part of the conditions for their probation were that they were NOT to deny medical care to their other children. The remaining 7(!) children have been placed in the foster system.

There is a serious ethical issue when parents are allowed to kill their children in the name of "freedom of religion".

#375 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:16 AM:

Tom Whitmore (@315) "the body shapes for the male and female dimorphs of humans overlap significantly more than they differ. The dimorphic differentiation is much more statistical than absolute."

I keep telling people this. It's not true just for body shapes, but also for psychological profiles, height, strength, you name it. I got a great lesson in how not true it is as an undergrad (if I had needed it, being pretty much of an outlier generally myself).

In my endocrinology class in college, the instructor opened the class the first day by showing slides of "a typical male figure" and "a typical female figure" taken from the back. Then he showed us the front view. The "typical male" was a woman, the "typical male" a man. There followed some discussion about the differences individual endocrine systems could make, and about how "untypical" almost everyone actually is.

#376 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:21 AM:

Lee @ 373: The Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City has quite a few small graves in its cemetery. According to Wikipedia, their child mortality rate is 26 times that of the general population. Oregon used to have a law on the books that gave parents a religious exemption from providing medical treatment for their children. That law was finally changed. When a baby died recently, the parents were sent to jail for 6 years.

#377 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:25 AM:

janetl (@372) I am aware of that. What I really should have said was that I had met at least two women who were brave enough, or confident enough, to wear their beards and mustaches with pride.

These were the real deal I am sure. For one thing, it was back in the 50's and 60's and their womanly shapes were enclosed in the usual flowered house dresses of the day. This was not before Christine Jorgensen, but it was before ordinary people in small city neighborhoods were getting sex-reassignment surgery. Also, if they were into becoming men I doubt they would have been wearing flowered house dresses. So I'm pretty confident of what I was looking at.

I've sometimes wished for a mustache. I am way too lazy for a lot of painful depilation, so if I had it, I'd wear it even if I didn't like it a lot. Luckily, my husband has one I can enjoy.

#378 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:28 AM:

Concerning a non-gendered form of address: I would be happy to go with "Friend" which is widely used among Quakers, as are a lot of other commendable practices.

But if it were going to catch on widely, it probably already would have.

#379 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:47 AM:


I'm trying to remember a book I read when I was a child, and my Google-fu is insufficient to the task.

It takes place in New Zealand. As I recall, the story starts when... something? happens to the parents of the family. Whether they die, or are in the hospital, or simply away, I don't remember. The children, who may be four siblings, or maybe include one cousin? scheme to get out of going where they are meant to be sent. Whether this is social services, or some other family member, I don't know. They successfully get themselves to where they want to go: the family seaside cottage, and spend the summer? there. There is a nearby Maori village, who may or may not know that the children are living adult-free (I remember that this was the first book I had ever read about NZ, and the first time I'd ever heard of Maoris).

I recall one scene in particular, in which the children are swimming in the sea, and they see a fin and run out of the water thinking a shark has come into the bay, but then realise that it's a dolphin.

Any ideas?

#380 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:00 AM:

Any ML people who have heard of the latest swarm of earthquakes her in New Zealand:

Current status is no reported injuries, no major damage, a fair bit of disruption as buildings are cleared pending checks, and the trains re not running until the tracks are checked.

Aftershocks continue.

J Homes

#381 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:13 AM:

Cassy B., there's also Cherryh's Cyteen, which contains:

1. a Parental Replicate, or "vanity clone," who is nothing more than a genetic twin to his father;

2. stories of a failed attempt to recreate a genius through cloning;

3. a couple of azi (tape-raised humans) who, with identical genes and identical tape, should be the identical people, and aren't, quite; and

4. one case of a CIT (regular person) replicated with genes and experiences as close as they can duplicate them, including having her mother die when she's very young.

It's a great, grand story. Won a Hugo. Its sequel isn't really worth your time, but Cyteen is really special.

#382 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:46 AM:

Cheryl @378 -- sounds like it might be a Lucy Sussex novel, but I don't know which one! She's done some lovely YA ANZ fiction.

#383 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:03 AM:

Cheryl #378 Roughly when was this (or when do you think the book was published?).

None of the Lucy Sussex books I can find look right. Joan de Hamel was also possible but doesn't fit.

#384 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:17 AM:

In re clones, and especially albatross@370's points b/e: David Brin's Glory Season is really interesting for an exploration of a culture steeped in clonage. A group with lots of doctors and man-hating feminists (note: specific subtype, not implication that all B are A) sponsors a planet-colonizing ship. They modify all the colonists before settlement to radically change the nature of human reproduction, tying it into the planet's very long year: ovulations in winter produce clones of the mother (but, like lacertid lizards, require exposure to mating and sperm to trigger), while the summer ovulations produce bi-gametic offspring.

In this world, bi-gametic offspring are the strange, 'weird' case, because the powerful families of clone-sisters would rather produce known quantities to bolster their economic existences. Summer children are raised to maturity and then set loose to find their fortunes. Our protagonists are a pair of identical summer girls, who in a classically YA sort of setup (for a not very YA novel) 'swipe' a Brilliant Idea from a popular novel to go out and pretend to be two clones of a small House in an attempt to hustle their way to economic security.

And then the plot happens, but BOY HOWDY are there a lot of neat clonage issues throughout the book. And a neat exploration of what it might be like to live in a multigenerational all-clone environment. In the medium-big Houses, they cover most economic needs (accountants, cooks, household crafting, livestock-tending; think late-medieval city-state) with sisters, but often have a specialty or something they are acknowledge as being particularly good at.

(and then there's what the men are doing, but that's wrapped up in Plot and possibly Spoilers, whereas most of the above is on the back cover blurb)

#385 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:33 AM:

Cassy B @368 (Possible spoilers for films where the twist is CLONES! follow)

I don't know about films that get cloning right, but The Boys From Brazil is a perfectly good clone-based thriller with a dark twist on Albatross @370's category d.

Of stupid cloning films, the least stupid that comes to mind is The Island which has a quick glance at category c. Moon is a fairly intelligent film that is not especially interested in the cloning that's going on.

#386 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:37 AM:

A lot of sci-fi (a term I use here deliberately) treats cloning as essentially duplication: one of you gets into a box, two of you get out. In order to do this, they have to hand-wave some form of forced growth, despite that (so far as I know) there is no indication that such a thing is even possible. You then have to have some sort of mind transfer or memory replication, despite there being no indication that that's possible, either.

One of this year's Best Novel Hugo nominees uses it that way, and it just broke my suspension of disbelief. (Yes, I could suspend my disbelief in gur mbzovr ivehf, but not in that.)

#387 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:57 AM:

David Goldfarb:

One honorable exception is Greg Egan, who assumes spare-parts cloning and mind duplication, but has a lot of short stories looking at the problems. His collection Axiomatic is great on these topics, and others [eg, The Infinite Assassin is the best response I know to Niven's All the Myriad Ways]

#388 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 07:30 AM:

Cloning? Anybody remembers the "Wonder Woman" episode where someone clones Hitler, boots and uniform included, and WW declones him?

#389 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 07:59 AM:

Giant Wall Of Answers...

Janet Brennan Croft @369 - I haven't thought of "Nine Lives" for years. I'll have to give it a re-read. "The Doctor's Daughter" is an excellent suggestion; because this Small Local Con is at a college, I expect that many of the attendees will be half my age; Doctor Who is a good connection point.

B. Durbin @370 - Speaking as a clone myself, I agree.

Albatross @371 - Lots of excellent ideas there! I'm not sure I can whitter on about any single topic there for an hour, but fold in two or three of them... well, a panel calld "The Ethics of Cloning" has just been born! Thanks!

Xopher Halftongue @381, how did I ever forget Cyteen? And Cherryh's treatment of azi in general -- who are only not quite fully human because of intensive mental programming from an early age. Actually, that brings to mind one of the first novels in the genre: Huxley's "Brave New World"...

Elliott Mason @384 - Somehow, I think I missed Brin's Glory Season I'll have to look it up!

Neil W @385 - The Boys From Brazil was in the back of my head, but I've never seen it. Looking at the wiki entry, it looks like it might be half-way sensible in its treatment of clones; at least, the kids apparently aren't monsters...

David Goldfarb @386 - yes, I had the same issue with that particular novel. I managd to hang onto a thread of suspension of disbelief only because it was the CDC who did it, who had had unlimitted black budgets and no monitoring for twenty years because of the aforementioned mbzovr ivehf. But I voted for Redshirts instead. (2312 was also a strong contender. Actually, the whole ballot was strong...)

Thomas @387, I've read some Egan, but nothing on clones. I'll have to look up Axiomatic.

Thanks, all for your EXCELLENT suggestions on Cloning Done Right.

Now, has anyone read any really risible Cloning Done Wrong recently? Other than the novel David Goldfarb elliptically refers to...? Bad movies would also be good...

I knew I could count on ML to save me from looking foolish. I'm desperately afraid of falling on my face here, and you folks have provided lots of material to cushion my landing!

#390 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 08:25 AM:

Serge @388, I never watched Wonder Woman, but that's EXACTLY the sort of Bad Cloning I need for counterexamples. Thanks!

#391 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 08:42 AM:

albatross #333: That would be a fascinating novel. I'd read it, if it were written by someone other than the egregious Card.

#392 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 08:50 AM:

Enthusiastically seconding the recommendation for Cyteen, if it's still in print. My copy is ancient and missing its original cover; I was given it by a certain guerrilla bookshop owner as a small "thank you" for having helped them sort out their shop. They apologised because the book was in such a poor state, but assured me that I would enjoy the story.

I did. And I made it a new cover out of A4 card.

#393 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 09:41 AM:

Cassie B @ 390... Glad to help. By the way, I'm not so sure anymore that the cloning had included the uniform. HERE though is the decloning scene.

#394 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 09:42 AM:

I thought that the novel "Joshuah, Son of None" had dealt well with cloning.

#395 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 09:51 AM:

#350 ::: Sumana Harihareswara

It's good that most bystanders intervened, but it's a relatively easy case. The bars were quiet and well lit, so it was easy to hear what the man and women were saying. The man wasn't especially large and wasn't belligerant. The woman was talking instead of being completely foggy.

And I wonder if the off-duty policeman is going to get identified. Sometimes blurring a face isn't enough.

#367 ::: albatross

IIRC, there were people on this blog who thought GWBush would stage a coup. In retrospect, I think it was a result of confusion between "do not expect to lose" and "will do whatever to stay in power". People who *really* don't expect to lose may not do even the ordinary work needed to win.

#368 ::: Cassy B.

Kate Wilhelm got one thing abstractly right in When Late the Sweet Birds Sang. When I read the book, I thought "Silly science fiction author, don't you know clones are biologically identical?". And then it turned out that in some cases, clones are less healthy than the original. This is much less dramatic that Wilhelm's ideas, but I wrong to trust that an untested technology would completely accomplish what it said on the label.

#384 ::: Elliott Mason

One thing that impressed me about Glory Season is that it's an (unintentional?) attack on Heinlein's "Specialization is for insects". Men are expected to be good at so many things that they don't have time to accumulate political power.

Other than that, I was underwhelmed by the book. The only thing that stuck, aside from the premise, was a terrifying scene where the coal starts breaking down the internal compartments in a cargo ship. On the one hand, it could have been from a historical novel, and on the other, I probably never would have seen it if it had been in a historical novel.

#396 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 10:03 AM:

Nancy Farmer's In the House of the Scorpion has organ clones, but that's not the entire story. I wasn't thrilled with it in general. I want to say there's a lot of YA about genetic manipulation lately, but I'm not sure to what extent it's clones. You could argue that Westerfeld's Uglies books are a type of cloning. Oh, and Buckell's Ragamuffin and Sly Mongoose.

#397 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 10:10 AM:

Cassy: technically, you and your twin are *a* clone; just as a bamboo grove is a clone.

One interesting fact that doesn't get mentioned often is that female identical twins are "less identical" than male identical twins, because of the phenomenon of x-inactivation. In every cell of your body, one of your X chromosomes is inactive, and the selection is random.

#398 ::: Lila is be-gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 10:11 AM:

possibly for links to information about clones.

#399 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 10:25 AM:

Serge Broom #394: I was racking my brain trying to recall that novel.

#400 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 10:53 AM:

Following up albatross @ 347

"Social proof" is a weak form of what Steve Randy Waldman refers to as a "Rational Astrology"--something that you act on, knowing it to be false, because acting on it is reasonable given social norms. The post is very well worth reading.

#401 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 11:14 AM:


Also, in Glory Season, the clone families have continuity at a level that non-clone groups like companies don't. It's a planet where the role of churches and corporations and governments is largely taken over by Durona-style clone-clans. I think that's a lot of why they manage to have political power--they have staying power that an individual cannot. I'm not sure that's a natural result of their engineered biology, but it's at least plausible.

In general, I don't recall seeing much SF that deals with regression to the mean. One example I can think of at a small scale is Sam Yeager and Jonathan Yeager in Turtledove's Worldwar series, but that's not very systematic. For anything that's not 100% genetic (which is most stuff we care about, like musical talent, mathematical genius, work ethic, social skills, etc.), clones should average less spectacular than their progenitor, because while they'll have the same genes, their environment and upbringing and developmental noise and all will be different.

Let me try to explain the idea a bit, because it's important. I am probably messing some of this up, but someone (thomas?) will probably catch my errors. I'm very far outside my expertise here.

Imagine you want to measure the same thing several times. For example, to test my memory, you give me some kind of memory test (like "how long a list of numbers can you remember") twice a week apart. Let's assume that giving me the test once doesn't help me much the next time.

Now, you can imagine each of these tests as a noisy measurement of some underlying thing. So you might say

test#1 = how good my memory is + random stuff
test#2 = how good my memory is + other random stuff

Those two tests are correlated--knowing I did well on one tells you I'll probably do well on the other, and the better I do on the first one, the better you should expect me to do on the second. However, they will also exhibit regression to the mean. If I do especially well on test#1, you should expect me to do well on test#2, but not as well as I did on test#1.

The intuition here is that some part of each test outcome is random stuff--was I having a good or bad day, was I distracted or hungry, did the numbers somehow fall into some pattern I recognized by good luck, etc. And some part is how good my memory is. When I get a really high score, your best bet is that this reflects both a good underlying memory and some good luck. And then the next test, I'll keep the good underlying memory, but I'll probably have worse luck.

This phenomenon happens all the time, and it always fools people into thinking there's some pattern there. Any group of people who did badly this year can be expected to improve a bit thanks to regression to the mean, which can easily convince you that your attempts to help them out were more useful than they really were. Anybody who made a ton of money this year can expect to make a little less next year, convincing him that he must have changed something. (Even though it was just the random stuff that changed.) And so on.

For heritable things that fall on a bell curve, people talk about narrow-sense heritability (written like h squared). Suppose in some environment, IQ has a 0.5 narrow-sense heritability. That means, roughly, that about half the distance between your IQ score and the average IQ score can be explained by genetic factors, and the rest can be explained by random stuff (childhood environment, developmental noise while you were growing in the womb, whatever). So, your identical twin or your clone is going to have an IQ rather similar to yours, but not identical to it. (And this is true even for identical twins who were separated at birth and raised separately--that kind of study is one source for the estimate of narrow-sense heritability of a bunch of stuff.)

Let's throw some numbers around, but again, someone who knows more should correct me if I mess up.

Suppose the clone progenitor is Alice, who has an IQ of 160. (I'm sure IQ doesn't tell most of the story of who is a genius who discovers new physics or something, but it's what we can measure, so it's what we have numbers for.) We make 10 clones of Alice. If the narrow sense heritability of IQ is 0.5, then their expected average IQ is 130--half the distance to the population mean. That's the half or so of Alice's really high IQ score that can be attributed to her genes; the rest is random stuff that we probably can't replicate for her clones.

The standard deviation for IQ scores is 15, so this is a big difference. Alice's clones are, on average, very bright--they are 1 in 50 sorts of thinkers, like the brightest kid in your eighth grade class. But Alice was a super bright, 1 in 300,000 sort of thinker--like the brightest kid in your graduate program in physics. If I'm doing the math right, you'd need to make something like 50 clones of Alice to expect to get one with her IQ.

These numbers aren't all that important, but the big idea is: if you make a clone of someone, they will in general be less outstanding in all sorts of good and bad ways. Your Einstein clones will be bright, but you'll have to make a whole lot of them to get another revolutionary genius physicist, your Mozart clones will be musically talented but mostly won't be writing symphonies anyone wants to hear, your Hitler clones will be good public speakers and manipulators, but not at a level that will let them take over any countries or mass murder anyone.

On the other hand, every human has a *vast* number of attributes. Einstein's clones will hardly ever be the physicist he was, but they may be outstanding in other ways--maybe one will be a really good musician, for example.

#402 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 11:26 AM:

gnomed again

[Three blank spaces in a row do it ... Noris b'Kher, Duty Gnome]

#403 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 11:53 AM:


You're right, it was very much worth reading. Contrast with this.

There's a lot going on in Waldman's essay.

One interesting tension is between making good decisions and being seen to make good decisions. (If you're the boss, you can just hire the guy you think is best; if you have a boss, you have to justify your hiring decisions and so you may fall back on paper credentials because they make your decision easier to justify.) I suspect this is a built-in advantage of smaller, less formal organizations, that you spend less time documenting your decisions and more time making them.

Another interesting tension is dealing with stuff nobody really believes, but everyone acts as if they believed--like trusting ratings agencies. Everyone knows they're not all that great, but lacking an alternative, people use the ratings anyway. That seems like it is extremely unstable--if a shift ever starts away from trusting them, the ratings agencies could go from giants to bit players in a year or two.

#404 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 12:36 PM:

Cassy @389: Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go infuriates me, but mostly because it fails to explore any of the interesting bits of cloning-for-organs in favor a high school love story.

(I may be mis-remembering the exact plot of the book--I was so frustrated by the feeling that it started from an interesting point and ignored all the good stuff that it may have polluted the rest of my experience and memory.)

#405 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 12:54 PM:

So, Are You Still a Brain Surgeon?

Danielle Steele discusses men (she says it's not all men, but never women at all) who open up small talk with "So, are you still writing?" as though she hasn't been writing steadily and professionally for umpty-ump years. As though her writing was just a fun little hobby, something she might drop to do something else at any moment.

Do men ever get that sort of question?

#406 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 12:59 PM:

Lee @ 405

Do men ever get that sort of question?

I definitely do. (Are you still an actuary/still programming?) In my case, I work in a notoriously unstable field,and for a company that has had round after round of layoffs--so I consider it a reasonable question.

#407 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 12:59 PM:

Just because I'm procrastinating and avoiding real work for another minute:

_The Rainbow Cadenza_ has a social custom that it is common to have clones of yourself and raise them as your kids. "Clone-raper" is an insult approximately equal to "motherfucker" in our world.

_Time Enough for Love_ has LL's two clone sisters ("with the Y chromosome changed to X"). I don't recall if they were supposed to have gotten the other X chromosome from someone else, or just have duplicated LL's one X chromosome. And that motherfucker also fucked (but didn't rape) his clones.

#408 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:01 PM:


In Isabel Allende's autobiographical La Suma de los Dias, she recounts a conversation with a dentist at a party who tells her he plans to write books when he retires. She responds that she plans to pull teeth when she retires.

#409 ::: SamChevre has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Pretty certain for punctuation.

I just had awesome dim sum for lunch, but all I have to offer is cold coffee; I will thus offer a recipe.

Sweet Rolls:
1 pound flour (4 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 cup very warm water
1/4 cup butter

Start in the morning; knead 5 minutes, put in refrigerator for the day. In the evening, shape into rolls and put back in the refrigerator. In the morning, bake at 350 until done and serve with butter.

#410 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:02 PM:

iamnothing@73ff: I will be around from Monday, but I'd prefer Friday for the get-together because by Thursday evening I will be either completely dead or spending several hours dead for sanity purposes. (I'm doing the layout of the exhibit space -- almost 3 acres -- and probably something with art show setup. I have reasonable hopes that I will not be given new plans on Tuesday night, as happened in Montreal, because my immediate management is sane.)

= the idea of a mind-cultured clone as replacement isn't original to Cyteen or even Joshua, Son of None; cf Sturgeon's "It's You!" (1970). OTOH, it's an interesting trap; when we talked about Regenesis at Boskone recently, Jo Walton came up with a chilling vision(*) of Ari III or IV attempting to apply Ari I's solutions and/or live Ari I's life several centuries later.
= albatross offered multiple clones of Feynman attempting to get another genius. Bova's The Multiple Man varied this, deliberately specializing the multiples (clones so they can substitute for each other): one campaigns well, one knows economy, one knows military.... A thriller but IME not badly done.
= related: Blish & Lowndes wrote The Duplicated Man back in 1953, with a deliberate hack: the copying (not cloning) machine requires a person focusing for each copy, so all of the copies are bent according to individual perceptions (cf O. W. Holmes discussion of the 6 people present in any 2-person conversation).
= I'm not sure Brave New World exactly counts. I don't remember how the fertilized eggs are generated, but the artificial wombs are specifically said to interfere with development to produce desired results: e.g., tall Alphas / short Epsilons, people spun so much in utero that they can't be made dizzy (good for spacemen).

I'm trying to think of laughably bad clone stories, but memory appears to be merciful today....

* I think Jo phrased this more sympathetically; I caught horror from it, but I think Brigadoon is a horror story -- a sort of prolonged version of Zelazny's "The Set".)

#411 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:10 PM:

#401 ::: albatross

Another angle on regression to the mean is that extraordinary people have extraordinary talent, but they probably also needed to be in circumstances which were a good fit for their talent.

#412 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:37 PM:

I'm not sure Brave New World exactly counts. I don't remember how the fertilized eggs are generated
For the lower castes, they use the "Bokanovsky process", where up to 96 copies of an individual are made -- it's about mass twinning, rather than clones of a pre-existing adult.

#413 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:40 PM:

Orphan Black has, so far, handled cloning pretty well (and showcased Tatiana Maslany’s marvelous acting abilities). The only thing I that thought sounded a bit off was that for plot reasons, clones/twins are treated as having fingerprints that, if not perfectly identical, are close enough to flag a match in a police investigation; whereas I thought fingerprint ridges had an element of randomness in their formation and never duplicated exactly, even in individuals with identical DNA.

#414 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:52 PM:

Oh – and while the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars handwaves the science behind cloning, I’ve enjoyed its portrayal of the Clone Troopers as individuals struggling to deal with the knowledge that they have been bred and raised as cannon fodder, as well as finding comfort in being a literal band of brothers.

#415 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:55 PM:

Cassy B

While I'm not sure it meets all your criteria, have a look at Cordwainer Smith's The Ballad of Lost C'Mell. It is about genetic manipulation.

#416 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 01:58 PM:

Xopher: In Amsterdam, the City Council (local government) has put Gay Pride flags up on all council-owned offices and buildings for Putin's visit - thought you would like to know. And in Stockholm, apparently someone went and painted the Zebra Crossing in front of the Russian Embassy rainbow...

#417 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:07 PM:

On the clones-in-sf thread:

albatross @ 371

Would it be easier or harder to do a good job raising someone with 100% of your genes? Or a house full of genetically identical kids at different ages, all identical to you as well. Certainly, you would have a handle on a lot of their likely flaws and strengths, at least to the extent they were genetic.

This gets touched on, at least in passing, in Suzy McKee Charnas' Motherlines. (Briefly: all-female society reproduces by hand-wavy parthenogenesis resulting in a relatively small number of genetically identical "motherlines" from the original founders.) It's been a long time since I read it, but I recall in-passing comments like "the so-and-sos are all good at X" or "so-and-sos all tend to have bad teeth" and the like.

#418 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:08 PM:

dcb @416:

The visit in question was in April. I went to the spot in the photograph on Monday and it had its ordinary flags up.

On the other hand, Amsterdam didn't wait for that law to pass to make its point. They did it even without the egregious law as a trigger.

#419 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:11 PM:

@383 thomas

I read it in the 70s, but I had a lot of second-hand books, so it could have been published anywhere from the 40s on.

#420 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:15 PM:

Not cloning exactly, but –

Bioshock Infinity has two characters, Rosalind and Robert Lutece, who ner erirnyrq gb or NH irefvbaf bs gur fnzr vaqvivqhny; ab bgure punenpgref va gur fgbel jub ghea bhg gb or NH qhcyvpngrf ner traqre-fjnccrq, naq gur Yhgrprf fgngr gung gurl qvssre “ol n fvatyr puebzbfbzr,” juvpu gb zr vzcyvrf gung Eboreg vf n Xyrvasrygre’f znyr – va uvf havirefr n gevfbzl va gur svefg pryy qvivfvba nqqrq na rkgen L puebzbfbzr gb uvf QAN (abgr – abg n fpvragvfg, fb yrg zr xabj vs V’z qrfpevovat guvf vapbeerpgyl). Ur vf gnyyre guna Ebfnyvaq (Xyrvasrygre’f znyrf graq gb or nobir nirentr va urvtug), ohg gung zvtug whfg or gur traqre qvssrerapr. Vg nyfb ybbxf nf gubhtu ur unq n zbhfgnpur va gur pbaprcg neg ohg gung vg jnf qebccrq qhevat tnzr qrirybczrag (Xyrvasrygre’f znyrf nyfb graq gb abg unir gung zhpu snpvny unve). V pna’g svaq nalbar ryfr envfvat guvf gurbel va gur tnzr sbehzf, ubjrire, fb znlor V’z bireguvaxvat vg.

#421 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:29 PM:

Abi @418

I recall a few stories from other fans who were at Confiction (the 1990 Worldcon in Scheveningen) about the essentially friendly attitude of Dutch Police. It wasn't "Gay scum" but "how on earth did you make that outfit?"

I reckon there was some smart police work there, noticing something odd, and checking things out, without being provocative. I expect the general "don't annoy a cop" rule applies everywhere, but, more so than today, being gay in the wrong place annoyed cops.

And people who had to notice were telling me the Dutch cops were the good guys.

#422 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 02:53 PM:

Cassy 389: She even calls them alphas, betas etc., and her tape bears some passing resemblance to his hypnopaedic system. I think she was taking the ideas and running with them, myself.

You could also open with this song.

dcb 416: I'll add that to my list of reasons to move to Amsterdam (unlikely to overcome the reasons not to, but it's getting closer all the time). And I love the Stockholm street art!

#423 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 03:20 PM:

In Arthur C. Clarke's Imperial Earth, the main character's family has been reproducing via cloning for several generations; he's on Earth to arrange for his own clone-son. IIRC (it's been a long time since I've read it) the family members think enough alike to predict each others' arguments and reactions--more like arguing with oneself than with another person. This is both good and bad, in-story; gur znva punenpgre hygvzngryl qrpvqrf gb pybar fbzrbar ryfr gb znxr uvf fba.

#424 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 03:53 PM:

Well, the "bad" news is that I officially did not get the Job I Wasn't Sure I Wanted. The good news is, of course, I get to keep my union benefits. Actually, the further good news is I got to talk to my manager, who wants to give me some feedback on the interview. He says he thinks there may be more opportunities coming up and he'd like me to be ready for the right one. Happy are they that hear their detractions and can put them to mending. I will just need to set up a meeting with him at some point next week when I am certain that I won't get defensive and weird.

I just realized also that I've been itching to fail at something. I don't have a lot of practice with failure without linking it to rejection, and since I find that particular feeling so icky, I have managed to make it over 40 years without taking enough chances. I was thinking along the lines of auditions for choirs, but the only one around here that I think I'm not qualified for has mail-in auditions, and if they like your recording, then you're in. It's not the sort of face-to-face opportunity to screw up that I think would be helpful. I think this interview actually fit the bill: I came in, I did my best, they went with someone else and the world did not end.

#425 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:03 PM:


Great personal best(s)!

#426 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:33 PM:

Elliot @ 319 -- from the review you linked to:
"Slow Surrender made me love the billionaire Dom again and you should definitely check out this perfect example of everything this subgenre should be."

I guess I'd been subliminally aware that the Billionaire Dom (or the Billionaire Dom's Club) was a trope; I don't read enough porn, so I'd usually encountered him/them as the villains in thrillers. The trope always reads to me like fantasies of what the Cool Kids get up to at the parties to which you are not invited. Sadly, I suspect the rich & powerful are usually too busy consolidating their wealth and power to have any really creative orgies.

#427 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:47 PM:

A hidden form of cloning is important in Varley's "9 Worlds" series. He does sex-changing by growing a new body and moving the consciousness from one body to another. This occasionally results in problems. Cloning is not done to produce more people, but just to move the individuals around (in general), though this becomes a plot device once or twice.

#428 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 04:53 PM:

Spares, by Michael Marshall Smith, is another "clones as spare parts" book. The protagonist works in a "clone farm" where the clones of the wealthy live until their originals need an organ or two.

I'm also trying to remember, but failing, which book had temporary clones. They were brightly colored, lasted a fairly short time, and then disintegrated or died. Originals used them to run errands or do work on their behalf. I'd thought it was Spares, but checking back, it isn't.

#429 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:04 PM:

abi @ 428... I think John Varley also wrote a story about clones being raised a donors for their originals.

Le Guin wrote a story of someone who'd grown many clones of himself, but with some of them switched during growth to the opposite sex. That takes keeping-to-yourself to an extreme.

#430 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:14 PM:

Carrie S. #340 and P J Evans #342
IIRC, the Bloodwing Chronicles were popular enough that Pocket Books didn't want to just leave it hanging, but Swordhunt and Honor Blade came out about the time that Roddenberry was taking much stricter creative control over Trek books. Ultimately, Duane was allowed to finish the series, with the unwritten caveat that they weren't canon.

And that's a shame. My personal head-canon for Trek will always favor the Bloodwing Chronicles and Spock's World.

Carrie S. #364
Yeah, in her own words, she didn't actually gen up much of a language, she just wrote a program that built words using rules that would output something "halfway between Latin and Welsh", and picked words she liked. Stole the grammar from the Five Kingdoms Draconic, and she was off to the races.

Cassy B. #368
As I recall, Heinlein's Lazarus Long books involve clones grown without brains, specifically for replacement parts. ANd LL's clone-sisters. And for bad cloning in comics, in Marvel alone there was Jean Grey (Madelyne Pryor), Nathan Summers (Stryfe), the Spider-Man Clone Saga, just off the top of my head.

For laughs, the short-lived Men in Black animated series included quick-clones. You could always tell when a quick-clone was about to expire because it would start talking gibberish. "The underwear wrench undoes the laughing lumbago" is a catch-phrase in our house for "I can't brain so good."

#431 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:15 PM:

abi @418: Oh well. I was shown it by someone, on their smart phone, while at a bere festival today and my so-called mobile broadband wasn't working very well, so I didn't check it.

abi @428: That's David Brin's Kil'n People

#432 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:17 PM:

That should have been "beer festival" of course - and I saw it just after I pressed "post", naturally

#433 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:22 PM:

My personal head-canon for Trek will always favor the Bloodwing Chronicles and Spock's World.


In Star Trek Online, a bunch of stuff about the Romulans' background is taken from Duane--the ancient Vulcan swordsmith S'harien, the fact that their new homeworld is called Mol'Rihan, that kind of thing--and it makes me smile. I've hammered out a couple of stock phrases in Rihannsu for my Romulan character to use, which is fun.

Spock's World was the first place I encountered the idea that Spock had to have been genetically engineered. It was very much a "and the student was enlightened" moment. :)

Apparently Roddenberry didn't like the Rihannsu, alas.

Stole the grammar from the Five Kingdoms Draconic, and she was off to the races.

If there's much in the way of grammar, it's not easily extractable from the bits in the books. I had a brief email exchange with her about this topic several years ago, and she said, basically, "I can give you the word generator I used, but I don't have any of the other notes anymore". The word generator's online these days.

#434 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:23 PM:

Thank you, dcb. It was Kil'n People. It was annoying me not to be able to remember.

#435 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:24 PM:

I don't remember brainless clones grown for parts in Heinlein, and I'm hoping someone can track down a more specific reference.

#436 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:27 PM:

Nancy, 435: One of them was used to fake Maureen's death in Time Enough for Love. (or maybe the retcon in...I dunno...all the Dirty Old Man books kinda blur together for me.)

#437 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:36 PM:

IIRC, the retcon was in To Sail Beyond The Sunset.

Brainless clones might also have been mentioned near the end of The Cat Who Could Walk Through Walls, when a clone was used to donate a body part for another character.

#438 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:37 PM:

Carrie @433

The genetic history of wheat is a bit strange too with wild grasses crossing, and one or two extremely significant mutations to make the result fertile, and a radical change in the structure of the seed head.

It looks like the reason for ancient astronauts that Von Daniken never knew.

I never gave much thought to Spock, but I knew there was some brute-force genetic mucking about needed for Triticale to exist.

#439 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Carrie @433

The genetic history of wheat is a bit strange too with wild grasses crossing, and one or two extremely significant mutations to make the result fertile, and a radical change in the structure of the seed head.

It looks like the reason for ancient astronauts that Von Daniken never knew.

I never gave much thought to Spock, but I knew there was some brute-force genetic mucking about needed for Triticale to exist.

#440 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 05:44 PM:

Nancy @ #435 -

In Time Enough for Love, one character makes reference to an impostor who showed up at the rejuvenation clinic claiming to be Lazarus. He received a heart from a "cloned pseudobody" and it killed him (the impostor).

#441 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 06:00 PM:

Albatross (@371) and Heather Rose Jones (@417) -- we adopted a number of children and heard a whole lot of "well, he's adopted, you know" about both our kids and other kids.

At one point, I was discussing getting along with one of mine with his soccer coach, and he said "It's probably more difficult because he comes from a different background."

I said "Actually, of all my children both born and adopted, T is the most like me temperamentally, but that doesn't make it easy for us to get along. Quite the contrary, in fact." I expect it would depend on the actual temperament involved. Some of us are just prickly and "prickly-squared" is likely to be a difficult relationship to keep on an even keel.

#442 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 06:26 PM:

Of course they're canon. (The Great Bird was neither omniscient nor omnipotent.)

(note: I'm writing this on a computer named Moerrdel, on a nonexistent network named Artaleirh. I might be a little biased....)

#443 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 06:30 PM:

a computer named Moerrdel, on a nonexistent network named Artaleirh

PJ: I cannot find either of those words. Where'd you get 'em?

#444 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 06:39 PM:

TexAnne and Steve C.: Thanks for the Heinlein details-- now that it's mentioned, I remember about faking Maureen's death, but not the bit about the impostor at the rejuvenation clinic.

#445 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 07:15 PM:

Carrie, #443: They're both from The Empty Chair. Artaleirh is the system in which the opening battle in that book is fought, and the first of the colony worlds to openly rebel against the Empire. I think (being too lazy to go get my copy and look it up) that Moerrdel was the name of the planetary governor, or perhaps the battle-commander.

#446 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 07:17 PM:

Oh, thanks, Lee. My copies of the books are lent out at the moment (which is sad, because I'm in the mood to reread them).

#447 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 07:18 PM:

out of the Bloodwing books - the name of a system, and one of the Rihannsu ships that didn't get destroyed. (Steal from the best.)

#448 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 07:23 PM:

albatross #371: Vinge has a short story in the AFUtD universe, based on what turns out to be a failed attempt at clone+experience duplication.

In my own case the spoiler would be that I'm on the spectrum. The traits for it do run in my family (though Mom would never admit the ones she shows) -- but I was also a premature birth with complications, and that surely had an effect. My family runs smart in any case though -- my next-younger sister was full-term, and is about as smart as me without the autism.

#449 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 07:24 PM:

Thanks, abi, for that 'The Shape of Rome' Parhelia. That was a fascinating read.

I want to drop 'that' so I get "[..] for 'The Shape of Rome' [..] " or 'The' so I get "[..] for that 'Shape of Rome' [..]". Apparently my parser has problems with insertions.

#450 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 08:05 PM:

Re: Clones.

Thematically linked to Serge's suggestion "Joshuah, Son of None" is Ben Bova's "The Multiple Man".

I hadn't read "Joshuah, Son of None", but a friend described it to me as John Kennedy's DNA is sampled and used to produce a clone, whose life is manipulated to assure a temperament similar to the original, and eventually becomes President and is also assassinated. This may not be correct, as this is a memory-reconstruction of a conversation about a book I never read.

In "The Multiple Man", a Joseph Kennedy-like character with ambitions that his son should be President - and also realizes the scope of the job has grown beyond the reach of any one man to handle - creates a creche of clones who pass as an individual. One is trained in science, one is trained in economics, one is trained in international cultures and languages, one is trained political gamesmanship (and I think there may have been a couple more). The story unfolds from the viewpoint of a Secret Security agent who is asked to investigate the apparent murder of a man in a back alley who is a dead-ringer (pun-intended) of the President - currently on the job in the White House. Complicating his life is that a former girlfriend is the current First Lady. One of the other characters is a police investigator who I continued to visual as Dennis Weaver in the role of McCloud. If I haven't spoiled enough, the villain is one of the clones who turned on the other clones because he didn't want to share the power of the Presidency.

#451 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 08:06 PM:

Arg. I was previewing and hit post - I intended to Rot 13 much of that.

#452 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 08:09 PM:

Also, for 'visual' read 'visualize'.

Or, for 'ivfhny' read 'ivfhnyvmr'.

#453 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2013, 10:35 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 450... That is an accurate synopsis of "Joshua, Son of None".

#454 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 09:36 AM:

Heather Rose Jones @417

This sounds uncomfortably like Virgin Planet, Poul Anderson's first novel. It's a satire. "The Burkes" are mostly administrators, "the Dyckmans" are good at flattery, etc. They also use handwaving parthenogenesis.

#455 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 02:10 PM:

Does anyone know if there is a market for unused promotional material for feature films? We've been going through some boxes and have found a bunch of studio release promotional miniposters and large posters (not to be confused with actual theater-release posters, which are usually on heavier paper stock so GCC could use them in multiple theaters) from the 70's through the 90's in various quantities (boxes of miniposters for The Scorpion King and almost a box for the re-release of E.T.) as well as some art posters which we'll be asking Tom "You ever heard of this guy? We have no idea who in hell he is." about.

#456 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 02:28 PM:

IME, it depends entirely on the film (anyone want a Dark City mousepad?). Large quantities of the same one -- not likely to have any more value than a single one, and possibly less if you try to sell them all at once.

#457 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 02:51 PM:

I've got a Dark City mousepad as well, and have had folks ask about where I got it. We'll have to show you the prints: the large one sustained water damage and protected the rest, but M. and I were caught in one of those "Well, I didn't bring it home" discussions when we opened the box.

#458 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 06:18 PM:

When I cleaned up / thinned down during my recent move, I agonized briefly over a couple of handfuls of buttons, and a couple of small posters, promoting genre films.

I ended up tossing them all. It felt good.

#459 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 06:24 PM:

I'm four days from the end of my trip through northern Italy , and suddenly feeling sick as a dog. Not sick to my stomach, but coughing and sneezing and headaching.

Tomorrow is Venice. I'm wondering how hard to push myself.

My sister kindly provided benadryl and Tylenol. I hope that doesb the trick.

Fwiw, Verona is lovely.

#460 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 06:36 PM:

I'm four days from the end of my trip through northern Italy , and suddenly feeling sick as a dog. Not sick to my stomach, but coughing and sneezing and headaching.

Tomorrow is Venice. I'm wondering how hard to push myself.

My sister kindly provided benadryl and Tylenol. I hope that doesb the trick.

Fwiw, Verona is lovely.

#461 ::: Stefan Jones, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 06:38 PM:

Too I'll to wonder why.

Sorry all the bicotti are taken

[A comma with a blank space to either side. -- Ponneo Cufret, Duty Gnome]

#462 ::: Stefan Jones, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 06:40 PM:

Too I'll to wonder why.

Sorry all the bicotti are taken

#463 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 08:47 PM:

Another clone story, about clones as disposable people. Unfortunately even mentioning the title is spoilery: Obar Qnapr, ol Rzzn Ohyy.

Gur cebgntbavfg vf n flagurgvp pybarq obql, jub fubhyqa'g or n crefba ohg vf. Bar bs gur jnlf lbh pna ernq gur obbx vf nf nobhg jung unccraf jura aba-crbcyr trg n ibvpr "Gurer'f tbaan or oybbq, naq sver, naq gur qrnq tbaan qnapr va gur fgerrgf".

#464 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 09:33 PM:

Regarding the Sidelight "Report: If you travel to the wrong country, Google Books will delete your books", a couple of points. Firstly, that title is misleading, the reported issue was not being able to re-download already-purchased books after an update to Google Play (on an iPad). Secondly, as noted by The Ditigal Reader, it seems odd that this issue, which would presumably impact all types of media purchased through Play, hasn't come to light earlier. Possible, credible, but a bit odd. Is Play's market share so small that the tech/publishing blogopshere hasn't noticed earlier?

But yes, I do strip DRM from those few purchases I make with DRM, and back up my Calibre library.

#465 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 10:04 PM:

Thomas, ah, yes, Emma Bull. I have to re-read her works; I've not read them in quite a while and I did enjoy them.

#466 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2013, 11:27 PM:

I watched the Blu-Ray of Oblivion tonight and I liked it. It was smarter than I thought it would be, and remarkably understated.

Anyone else?

#467 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 12:57 AM:

thomas, that's my favorite Emma Bull book, except when I've just read Finder.

abi, I've sometimes wished for some of Brin's kiln clones. That way, there would be enough of me to get some jobs done (like the yard work AND watching the kids) and I'd still have all the memories.

Random open-threadiness: Self-propelled cars are well underway and currently legal in California, though not publicly available yet. I've seen so many people wondering why anyone would want such a thing, and I'm surprised that it hasn't occurred to them that there's a huge potential market:

People who are disabled. People who have lost the ability to drive because of age-related causes. People who have *never* had the ability to drive. People who can't drive due to invisible medical issues. In other words, people who currently have to rely on others for transportation, and who often live very circumscribed lives because said transportation is limited and relegated to certain hours.

Can you imagine the possibilities for someone who has had to turn down social activities for years because the bus they need stops running at 7PM? Or the little old lady who just wants to go grocery shopping? Heck, what about the person who has had trouble getting medical appointments because the transport medical van is unreliable?

I know the technology isn't quite here yet, but I will be interested to see what happens when it does get here.

#468 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 01:23 AM:

Self-driving cars would also give young people a lot more freedom.

#469 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 02:09 AM:

B. Durbin @467: I've been saying for a few years that several things will become much different with the widespread adoption of self-driving cars:

- DUI becomes much less of an issue; the remainder of the problem would be "going manual while impaired".

- Would under-aged kids be allowed to travel alone via self-driving car? Reminds me of the "free-range kids" discussions about kids traveling on their own by city bus, without the "they might sit next to a scary stranger" concerns.

- And, as you say, a whole new range of "handicapped drivers". I think Google's already done a PR video with a legally blind person in the "driver's seat".

- Should there be any restrictions on unoccupied cars? Instead of parking, you could send your car back home until you need it again. Instead of paying through the nose to park downtown, your car could drop you off, then go park someplace cheap on the edge of town until needed. What if many people decide it's cheaper or handier to just have their car keep driving slowly around the block until they need it, instead of paying for parking?

- If fuel is cheap enough, what about unmanned mobile billboards wandering around town? (Ugh!)

- If you can call for a car whenever you need one, and it combines the convenience of a taxi while being cheaper than a rental car (less collision insurance, reduced wear and tear from lead-footed drivers), maybe private ownership of cars declines in built-up areas?

By the time my kids have kids of their own, knowing how to drive may be like driving a manual transmission today; something many people used to do, some people still do, and many people will never see the need to learn.

#470 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 02:30 AM:

What are the second- and third-order effects of driverless cars? Some things that come to mind:

a. Everyone will want a limo. Not a literal limo, but if I had a self-driving car, I'd want a much more comfortable back seat setup, so I could enjoy the drive in comfort. If I'm in work mode, I want a nice place to sit with my laptop and a way to make some hot tea; if I'm not, I want a place to sit comfortably with my ipad or a book and read, play games, surf the net, etc. An SUV or minivan has plenty of room in the back for an extremely comfortable backseat.

b. More long roadtrips. The whole flying vs driving equation changes radically if I can just have my *car* do the driving. If I can make the car do the driving while we sit in the back and watch movies or read books or play Monopoly, that two day car trip to visit my family will look a lot more appealing relative to the much more expensive 4-hour flight.

c. Pressure for nicer accomodations on planes. As we get used to relatively comfortable self-driving cars, planes will have to compete or will lose out. People will start *expecting* to have enough legroom to stretch out, and a decent space in which to work, and any airline that wants to capture the St Louis to Chicago traffic, or even the St Louis to Denver traffic, is going to have to accomodate them.

d. The effect on traffic enforcement will be really interesting. I assume self-driving cars will not be easy to catch in speed traps, not least because Google or whomever is operating them will notice statistical patterns and never drive through the speed trap towns. Some small towns will have a major revenue loss. (I'll shed lots of tears for them, honest.)

e. Sex on the highway will be a much more routine thing. Why not--you're sitting together on a couch with the car driving anyway, it's not like you've *got* to keep watching the movie or surfing the net on your ipad.

f. Rationing of houses/jobs by tolerance of commute will change radically. I'm not sure if this will lead to more people living in the exurbs 90 miles from the city, or living downtown because the rush-hour commute isn't really all that bad if you don't have to do the driving.

What else?

#471 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 03:06 AM:

John Barnes has obviously put some thought into the issues around self-driving cars in Mother of Storms. He casually mentions a lot of the same things albatross has noted, and a few more besides. Living in your car becomes much more practical if it's got that much workspace, and people with highly-mobile lifestyles (one of his characters is a freelance reporter/blogger) often do. Also, freeway rest areas are more like truck stops -- you can get gas, food, a shower, and the interior of your vehicle freshened up all at the same stop.

#472 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 03:41 AM:

Cheyrl @379

Sorry, I'm coming up blank on your book. While I can list some authors who it isn't (the plot sounds like Anne De Roo, but I've read all hers, and it's not Maurice Gee, and probably not Mahy unless it was quite a young book), I can't get any further.

About what year did you read it, and what age group/reading level was it aimed at? And do you think it was by a New Zealand author?

A couple of tagmash lists form librarything that might jog your memory,+young+adult,+children%27s

One possibility might be Ruth Dallas' "The Children in the Bush", published in 1969 and the first of a series of 7, but I can't find any synopsis of it. One cover for it is shown here:

#473 ::: Aquila got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 04:10 AM:

A first for me!

*carefully offers meatloaf and salad because it's dinner time at this end of the world*

#474 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 04:33 AM:

B. Durbin: #467.

That's I how feel about the two books. However, since my copy of Finder is falling apart and it's not available as an e-book (can you say 'market failure', boys and girls?), I'm not that often in the state of having just read it.

#475 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 04:56 AM:

Cassy B: IIRC, when I started having enough money to buy new books, Emma Bull was the second person to make my "Buy on sight, no questions asked" list. (The first was Terry Pratchett.)

I stupidly managed to lose my copy of Freedom and Necessity on a recent international trip, when I was most of the way through rereading it. Sadly, Air Canada will probably have just thrown it out.

#476 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 05:04 AM:

"I assume self-driving cars will not be easy to catch in speed traps, not least because Google or whomever is operating them will notice statistical patterns and never drive through the speed trap towns."

I'd have expected a self-driving car would be able to conform to whatever speed limits it's informed about, though that'd have much the same effects on revenue.

#477 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 05:36 AM:

Albatross @470, More consequences:

0. Lots of unemployed taxi drivers and truckers.

1. Human-driven cars will gradually be made illegal without legislation -- by insurance. 90% of RTAs are due to driver error, so the accident rate for self-driving cars should be at least ten times lower; this will be reflected in insurance premiums. As more and more people opt for cheap self-drive-only insurance, premiums for human-driven vehicles will rise steeply to reflect the higher relative risk and smaller pool of people willing to insure for it.

2. Drunk-driving, underage driving, and driving without a license will gradually become obsolescent offenses: what kind of driver qualification do you need to drive a self-driving car?

3. Change in working hour patterns will ensue when your 8 year old can climb in the car and tell it to take them to school. Or to their friends' house.

4. Road markings and sidewalks will largely become obsolete. (I note that Volvo are already selling cars with pedestrian-avoidance radar that try to hit the brakes if they spot an obstacle ahead and the driver doesn't react in time. This is only going to get better.) With distributed metropolitan level computing and "smart dust" we can expect roads to inform oncoming cars about the 4 year old chasing their pet cat into the street the car is planning on turning into, and to route them another way.

5. Corollary of 4: "drive on the right [or left] side of the road" will gradually be replaced by "drive on the unoccupied side of the road". And anti-jaywalking regs will fade because the expectation will be that cars and trucks avoid pedestrians (or balls, or cats, or bicycles) automatically. (There may be a new offense of intentionally obstructing traffic by playing chicken.)

6. Fractional-reserve car ownership: the association of UK car park operators estimate that at peak rush-hour, 95% of the UK's automobile fleet is parked in garages or at the roadside. Even a heavy driver doing 30,000 miles a year probably only operates their vehicle during 10% of their waking hours. Why own a Ford Focus if for the same money you can buy a time-share in a Rolls Royce, from a car rental outfit that will send a Rolls to take you wherever you want, for as long as you need, whenever you call for it via your smartphone? (Especially important in the UK, where houses are closer together and the average dwelling is 75 years old and was built before mass car ownership brought the concept of the built-in garage.)


The city of the future, with self-driving cars, will look a lot like the city of 1900, minus the horses and with better road surfaces -- no (or few) street signs, no (or few) painted markings or parking bays, far fewer vehicles in sight.

Oh, and the current carnage -- as many people dead on US roads every 6 weeks as perished on 9/11 -- will be a thing of the past, much like the tuberculosis deaths resulting from living cheek-by-jowl with horses in an earlier century.

#478 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 06:01 AM:

Charlie Stross @477, I think a thing or two in there might run up against the difficulties of quickly stopping or redirecting a tonne of metal moving at 60 mph, though....

#479 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 07:46 AM:

I have my doubts and discomforts about self-driving cars. We're assuming a lot more affluence in our predictions than I'm convinced we have to spare.

For instance, if insurance companies start increasing the price of human-driven vehicles, the people who will be hit are the ones who can't upgrade their vehicles, which is to say, the poor? If people can't drive the new cars they don't have, and can't drive the older cars because they can't insure them, what then?

A rise in uninsured drivers. Better public transport? Maybe where I'm living, but not in the UK or the US, the way things are trending. But if not that, then...what? Can we afford to strand that many people in their formerly affordable suburbs? Will they lose their jobs and become part of the underclass? Will they use electric bicycles, even in the winter with the snow?

It's all very well talking car-shares, but those are also part of affluence: the buy-ins are generally prohibitive, to prevent tragedy-of-the-commons carelessness to shared resources. And the hypothetical 8 year old can be driven to school if the family has enough resources to be able to plan its schedule so that that car isn't needed elsewhere right then. But in a society that also includes zero-hour contracts with floating shift patterns, that's not a universal experience.

How does the other half get around, in this driverless future? How do driverless cars intersect with the economic world we live in? At the moment, I'm not enthusiastic about self-driving cars, because all I can see is another way that new technology will squeeze people with no squeeze left in them. The fact that the people with the money to live in the new world have a much sexier morning commute doesn't seem like very good compensation to me.

I'm not always a Luddite. But I'm not particularly enthused about this particular brave new world, given the circumstances into which it is being introduced.

#480 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 07:52 AM:

B. Durbin @467, in re self-driving cars, said: Self-propelled cars are well underway and currently legal in California, though not publicly available yet. I've seen so many people wondering why anyone would want such a thing, and I'm surprised that it hasn't occurred to them that there's a huge potential market:

Or just people like me who find driving stressful, difficult, and in no way 'fun'. I seriously un-grok this "fun to drive" thing they talk about in car commercials and that my husband natters on about. Driving is never 'fun' for me. It is something I can do competently because I need to be able to get the transportational outcomes it can bring me, but every time I do it I have to gird my loins and carefully respoon, because my backbrain spends the whole trip yelling "If you make one tiny mistake YOU COULD KILL A WHOLE SIDEWALK OF NUNS. And babies. You baby-killer!"

It is a cognitively-complex tax with extremely high downside risk, from my point of view.

#481 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 08:07 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 477: I like the sound of that. I've never been able to drive due to a disability affecting my wrists, and I can no longer even ride a regular bicycle, so a self-driving car (or a share in one) would be just what the doctor ordered for me.

I'm in the UK, where public transport is not bad in general, especially if you live in a city. Even so, it's quite difficult to match up public transport efficiently with all the different ways people are trying to move about, and you can still end up having to go a long way out of your way for certain journeys. And, of course, no matter how good your public transport is, it can still be awkward if you have anything to shunt around.

Stefan: Venice is wonderful and ever so slightly unreal, and I hope you feel better in time to see it. I advise getting lost in it, which is not something anyone can ever do for very long, since all you have to do is keep walking and you will eventually hit either a notable landmark, a signpost or the lagoon. My sister and I got lost in it once and walked straight into a beautiful old church; of course there are any number of those in Venice, but this one was running a two-day exhibition of mediaeval musical instruments, in many cases showing how they were made. There are unexpected delights like this all over Venice.

#482 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 09:11 AM:

Driver-less cars?

Besides what Abi said, I'll add...
Zelazny's "auto da fe".
Ron Goulart.

#483 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 10:07 AM:

#479 ::: abi

I think that people who can't afford their own driverless cars will be able to rent them-- driverless taxis.

This may actually be a good deal-- are cell phones cheaper than being able to use the now almost non-existent pay phones? Especially considering that you don't have to pay a taxi driver. On the other hand, there are trust issues with driverless taxis. How do you know it won't hold you for ransom?

Will cars tend to become smaller or larger? Both?

On one hand, there will be less need for four-to-six passenger cars if people can split up rather than travelling together. On another, the desire for comfort may eliminate the smallest cars. And people might want long narrow cars that they can stretch out and sleep in.

#484 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 10:26 AM:

Ridesharing in addition to buses, hopefully run by the transit authority to eliminate scamming. Put the desired address into an app, it tells you when 2-4 more people want to end up within a block or two. Or between towns, as an expansion of Bolt Bus or SuperShuttle. (There's no reason that one couldn't happen now, though I don't know how the costs would work.)

#485 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 10:30 AM:

thomas @ 475 ...
I stupidly managed to lose my copy of Freedom and Necessity on a recent international trip, when I was most of the way through rereading it. Sadly, Air Canada will probably have just thrown it out.

I'd be very surprised if that was the case. In my experience, the flight crew(s) tend to have enough downtime that they're constantly in need of something to read. I've ended up passing along several novels (in good condition) that I didn't expect to read again after the flight, and they've been happy to take them.

#486 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 11:41 AM:

Charlie, #477: I take issue with your #4, because it assumes that people will completely stop walking for any purpose whatsoever. (Also, note that there are already plenty of US cities where sidewalks are present only in the older sections. I live in one of them.)

Nancy, #483: there will be less need for four-to-six passenger cars if people can split up rather than traveling together.

This doesn't parse for me at all. If I'm going somewhere with a group of friends, riding together serves 2 purposes: (1) it ensures that we all get there at the same time, and (2) it provides more time for socialization on the way to and from whatever the event is.

OTOH, as a teenager I would have jumped at the option of being able to avoid Captive Lecture Time by not having to be in the same car with my parents, so there's that as well. :-)

#487 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 11:57 AM:

Driverless cars also imply the following:

Wireless communication between vehicles, or between each car and a traffic control system - more surveillance

The necessary ability to shut down a vehicle remotely

Hacking into a car's control systems

#488 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 12:00 PM:

It'll be awesome to be rich in the future.

#489 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 12:20 PM:

thomas #475, xeger #485:

I once deliberately left a novel (Caleb Carr's The Alienist) on a European flight. Imagine my annoyance when the local office called up to arrange for me to collect it.

#490 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 12:26 PM:

Lee @486: you read my point #4 completely back-to-front. I suspect people will walk more once there are no human drivers to succumb to road rage or use "oops, I didn't see you there" as an excuse for running pedestrians over.

Sidewalks and street markings and annoying pedestrian crossings get in our way, impede pedestrian progress, and they're only there because human drivers are pedestrian-blind. (I know. I'm a pedestrian; I'm a driver, too, and it's shocking how hard it is to pay attention to pedestrians when you're focusing on the other steel boxes around you.)

#491 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 12:44 PM:

Charlie @ 490: I once went to Rome, where I was told that the way to cross the road was simply to walk out into the traffic and people would drive round you. In great trepidation I tried it, and discovered that this was absolutely correct. They do exactly that.

#492 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 12:50 PM:

Driverless cars: B. Durbin @467 raised something near to the heart of this parent of a 19-year-old who, due to special needs, is unlikely to ever learn to drive but can operate a laptop or an ipod, and thus would be capable of learning to direct a vehicle she didn't have to operate in real time. My daughter had a volunteer job this summer that was great, except that it wasn't accessible by public transit and I had to hire someone to drive her since the hours weren't compatible with my own work.

Charlie Stross @490 and earlier, when I think of my driving and walking in Washington DC, I think some system of pedestrian crossings and control will still be necessary even with driverless cars, because otherwise at peak times the cars will never get through.

abi @479 and Nancy Lebovitz @483, some US cities already have the shared-car "Zip Car" franchises; I have several colleagues who live in downtown DC, own no car, and check out zip cars when they need to go somewhere off the transit path. Combining this with the effort I was reading of recently to help cover the annual fee for bikeshare membership for low income individuals, and it seems like something could be worked out.

#493 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 02:18 PM:

@472 Aquila

About what year did you read it, and what age group/reading level was it aimed at? And do you think it was by a New Zealand author?

I have always gone through books like a fish does water, so year and age is hard to pin down. It was probably in the 70s-ish (could be early 80s), and I might have been anywhere between 7 and 15. I don't think it was purchased new (most of my new books came from the in-school Owl Book Club), so I may have inherited it from a family member, picked it up at a garage sale, or maybe from a library or church sale.

Just because of the age of the protagonists, I think it was aimed at the 12-13ish age group. I had always supposed the author was from NZ, but have nothing to back that up.

Thanks so much for your help! I'll definitely look at those librarything links.

#494 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 02:30 PM:

OtterB @ 492, abi @479 and Nancy Lebovitz @483 - It will be interesting to see how the costs/pricing of these new car options evolve over time, and how they complement mass transit and private cars.

Today, a Zipcar must be picked up at its designated spot and returned to it, which is very limiting. If you used one to go to dinner and a movie, you're paying by the hour for a rather long time and it gets spendy. If you want one to pick up something heavy and get it back to your house, it works. If you want a car for an all-day trip to the beach, it's probably cheaper to get a rental car.

Car2Go is in fewer cities, but has a more flexible model. You pick it up wherever the last person left it, and park it wherever you want to leave it—as long as you stay within the boundaries of their service area. They use Smart cars, which aren't going to haul much of anything, but was adequate for my groceries. I find that using a Car2Go is about two or three times the cost of a bus ticket (assuming one, rather than 2 people, in the car), but half the cost of a taxi. It's a good supplement to using mass transit, but not a replacement. Car2Go really requires a smart phone. The model only works when you can quickly look up the nearest car, and reserve it while you walk towards it.

Joining Car2Go costs $35, unless you get one of their (frequent) free promotions. Zipcar costs $25 to join, plus $60 per year to stay enrolled.

Both these services require you to have a credit card, unlike mass transit.

#495 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 02:50 PM:

I suspect that the length of time between driverless cars with a driver ready in case of emergency being common and completely autonomous cars being allowed will be measured in decades, so not much help for those unable to drive

#496 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 03:34 PM:

Bjorn @495: cars with adaptive cruise control (keep to constant set speed or slow down to keep constant distance behind car in front) are here today. Cars with highway lane tracking and lane departure warnings are going on sale within the next year. (Volvo last year demo'd a convoy of cars driving for 200km on an autobahn using this system). That's your minimal "driverless car with a driver ready in case of emergency" scenario, in showrooms in 2014.

Given that the half-life of a car is 7 years, this suggests that by 2020 more than half the autos on the roads will have some self-driving capability, even if at first it's just like a fancy cruise control for use on long-haul highways. And the most recent ones by 2020 will do a lot more than that.

The key factor we tend to forget is Moore's Law. The DARPA Grand Challenge winning autonomous vehicles of a few years ago bore sensors and computers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But today, your regular cheap Android smartphone contains differential GPS, cellular data transceiver, inertial sensor platform, compass, and video cameras along with a 2000-era workstation equivalent processor, on a circuit board the size of a large postage stamp and costing a few tens of dollars. An entry-level iPhone today is probably capable of doing a better navigation/control job than the guidance computer of a Tomahawk cruise missile -- hence worries over drone proliferation. And this same mass production process that's giving us hundreds of millions of dirt-cheap smartphones is going to drive the cost of the ICE to manage autonomous automobiles down below the cost of an automatic gearbox (itself a couple of thousand bucks) within a very few years.

#497 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 03:36 PM:

BTW, Bjorn, when I said that adaptive cruise control in cars is here today, what I should have said was, "my brother's driving one; he bought it second-hand". (My earlier statement might be misinterpreted as "some manufacturers are boasting about building it into their latest concept cars", rather than "it's a showroom option you can buy right now".)

#498 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Mongoose (@491) This is the law where I live. Pedestrians have got the absolute right of way over vehicles of any kind. From time to time one hears people who have not been here long complaining of how the locals will "just cross the street any old where".

But of course, when I say "absolute", I mean that everyone, including pedestrians, is expected to show some common sense, ie not to cross so close in front of oncoming traffic that the drivers would have trouble stopping.

#499 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 04:59 PM:

Rural folks—in "half a tank is empty" country—won't be able to access zipcars. And it's a question whether the technological infrastructure to support self-driving vehicles will ever be out that way.

I could see the logic in self-driving cars in cities. But I'm tense about the idea that rural driving could become unaffordable. I grew up among the people that would affect. I know too much about them.

#500 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 05:23 PM:

Charlie, #490: This may have been a communications issue. You said "no sidewalks" and to me that translates as "not friendly to pedestrians". If I'm going to walk around the neighborhood, I want a sidewalk, or something fungible therewith. I don't want to walk on either the street (unless it's a quiet side street) or the ground/grass (too uneven, and I'm sure I'm not the only person around who can trip over an air molecule). So to me, "no sidewalk" has always meant "if you don't have a car, you shouldn't be here".

#501 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 05:31 PM:

Lee: I think he meant more like a modern woonerf, or an old-world twisty street, with paving of some kind from building to building that has no particular margins in it. Cars are permitted to drive on it, but the design shouts "THIS SURFACE IS FOR PEOPLE, CARS ARE VISITORS ONLY".

#502 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 05:56 PM:

Oh yeah, here we go! Drone hunting licenses, bounties head to November ballot

DEER TRAIL -- A tiny Colorado town's proposal to approve hunting licenses and bounties for shooting down drones appears headed to voters.
#503 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 06:34 PM:

Open-threaded audio fun - If you take the Dolly Parton recording of "Jolene" on a 45 rpm record and play it 33 rpm, you get something sounding really cool.

Jolene slowed from 45 rpm to 33

#504 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 07:10 PM:

I've always thought the problem with driverless cars will turn out to be product liability. At present motor manufacturers have no responsibility for what you do with their product (absent an actual design fault). Once they produce a car advertised as capable of driving itself, they become responsible for (and get sued by) anyone hurt in an accident involving one of their cars. Even if they can prove the fault lay in the other vehicle, they still incur costs defending the case, and given that their lawyers have to convince a jury (who mostly use Windows) that the fault doesn't lie in their software, I suspect they'll be hammered.

Unless they can get some corporate mass liability waver passed I suspect their lawyers won't let them ever release such a thing.

#505 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 07:28 PM:

And therein lies the issue. I don't think we're going to have driverless cars except as part of system that makes them possible. I don't think you can you have a driverless car system without some form of addressability, and that implies fitting into a network, somewhat analogous to air traffic control.

I think the liability would be limited to how well the system works.

#506 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 08:08 PM:

abi @499: The "technological infrastructure to support self-driving vehicles" is effectively zero (aside from GPS satellites), at least for things like the DARPA Grand Challenge vehicles and Google's self-driving cars. The first round of the Grand Challenge was a long-distance course on dirt roads in the Southern California desert, and I believe the rules forbid any form of communication or outside assistance to the vehicles. Google is testing their cars on unmodified streets and highways (I think mostly in California), with whatever other traffic happens to be sharing the road.

The infrastructure needed for shared car services is a different question; but keep in mind that with self-driving cars, the car can be dispatched from a central location (or where ever the last passenger left it) out to a rural customer, though of course that raises the cost.

Whether on balance self-driving cars end up helping or hurting low-income rural folks isn't obvious to me.

#507 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 08:16 PM:

janetl @494, I've seen Car2Go cars around but didn't realize they had the different model of where to get the car. That would explain why I have noticed them most often because they're blocking traffic parked in a location which should have no parking during rush hour. Somebody left it there the evening before when parking was legal at the spot, and nobody has come for it.

abi @499, good point on the needs of rural inhabitants. When I think of "the poor" I think of the urban poor and clearly the circumstances are different.

Assuming - and it's a big assumption - that the liability issues mentioned by Andy Brazil @504 and Steve C @505 can be worked out, perhaps there could be a model where higher insurance rates for human-driven vehicles only apply if the vehicles are driven inside urban zones. That makes more sense to me anyway.

But in any case, you are correct that as the system evolves it needs to consider the needs of everyone, not just of early-adopting urban-dwellers.

What I want is something in between a self-driving car, a tugboat-and-barge setup, and a Cetagandan haut-lady's bubble. I leave my house in the morning, get in my bubble, and program it for my destination. It drives itself where it needs to and, where possible, hooks up with other bubbles heading the same direction to share propulsion. Run convoys of them for long distance travel. I can dream, can't I?

#508 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 08:41 PM:

Steve 503: Except for the esses and tees, which are just a little prolonged, that sounds like a tenor covering the song. I think the fact that Dolly Parton's vibrato is actually unusually fast is part of what makes the slowed-down version work so well.

I think Dolly Parton is deeply underrated as a singer. I'm not a fan of country music at all, but I'll listen to her anytime.

#509 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 09:29 PM:

dcb@432: why couldn't it have been a bere festival AND a beer festival? (According to our Orkney visit, bere is an ancient grain; Wikipedia doesn't link it to the *lithic times like many other attractions but does say malt is an important product.)

Nancy L @468: I can just see the fulminating that freedom would produce. OTOH, it could also produce much more thorough training; they can go off manual when they've had N-hundred hours on dummy controls without goofing off (including using a phone while driving), making a major error, .... (Yes, I'm still baffled by my 1971 Maryland driving test, which was entirely in a small lot with no real-road observation.) OTOOH, this only works if the auto-drive software works to human parameters; one of the "features" claimed is that it could improve traffic density through faster reaction times, inter-vehicle communication, etc.

albatross@470: a fascinating list. Note that (e) can have its own issues; there's this scene in "He Who Shapes" involving coitus interrupted by suicide.

steve@487: IIRC, the issue of hacking has already been raised in the mundane press -- possibly relating to a story about automatic toilets that turned out to be hackable from Android(?) phones. (Shades of the scene in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, where the heroes harass the Warden by making his toilets run backwards.)

I know someone who IIRC would like a driver's license but is prevented by occasional significant epilepsy, so I can see autonomous driving being useful.

There was a mention I'm not finding of the move to controlled vehicles being pushed by insurers. I expect this has many historical precedents, but the one that immediately occurred to me was the banning of non-union riverboat pilots described by Twain in the first part of Life on the Mississippi: the union pilots traded updates on a notoriously variable river through lockboxes, secret whistles, etc., such that their accident rate dropped, such that "the underwriters" finally forced the issue.

albatross@401 (late followon): a number of the cited stories involving duplication attempts specifically assume that genetics isn't enough, and have steps to match the environment as well -- although sometimes these steps are very crude. It's probably futile to guess how well that would work, since even the crudest attempts to link nurture to results seem to get contradicted (or at least annulled) by the next set of statistics.

#510 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 09:50 PM:

#509 ::: CHip

I was thinking about fully self-driving cars, not cars that need supervision.

#511 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2013, 09:51 PM:

albatross @347

Thank you for bringing the concept "social proof" to my attention. It will prove useful when speaking to someone who can only comprehend very small sound bites. My explanations were too long.

#512 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 12:58 AM:

#505 ::: Steve C. @ 505: I don't think you can you have a driverless car system without some form of addressability, and that implies fitting into a network, somewhat analogous to air traffic control. And now I'm remembering speakers at software conferences talking about the spec for software to make planes automatically avoid each other, and how it became a complete mess.

OtterB @ 507: Oh, yes—a Cetagandan haut-lady's bubble is absolutely what I need!

Xopher Halftongue @ 508:I think Dolly Parton is deeply underrated as a singer. I'm not a fan of country music at all, but I'll listen to her anytime.
Absolutely. I have several of her CDs, and I (um) don't buy country music? I loved it when she decided to do a bluegrass album, for the first time, and won a grammy for it. She's incredibly smart, talented, charming, and hard working, and a whole lotta people underestimated her for a long time.

#513 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 02:19 AM:

Offered for inclusion in the particles - not the wake-up call I had wanted this morning, but there you go...

It's about how the partner of Glenn Greenwald was detained under anti-terrorism laws at Heathrow Airport, while in transit between Berlin and Rio de Janeiro. Glenn was one of two journalists (the other, Laura Poitras, lives in Berlin) who brought the Snowden story to The Guardian newspaper in the UK.

Crazy(for what it's worth, it also made the radio news on the Flemish network... will see if they also include it on the tv news as well)Soph

PS albatross of this parish shared the link about Laura Poitras in the comments from the post "Look at us all in our pretty dresses" (, in case that's also useful to know while getting the background

#514 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 03:53 AM:

Charlie @496 &7: Well absolutely, and with the Google car, having fully automatic cars is probably going to happen in the next 10, 20 at most, years.
What I meant is that I am certain they will only be allowed if there is a human in the 'driver' seat, ready to take over. Then the step to 'car drives itself, human sleeps in back seat' will be the decades more.

#515 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 04:32 AM:

As well as the adaptive cruise control that Charlie mentions, there are self-parking cars on sale right now. You can buy a system in a Ford Focus, a family hatchback.

Drive up beside an empty spot, engage the system, and it will parallel park for you. This system leaves the driver handling accelerator, brake and clutch, with the car twirling the steering wheel.

You tube link here.

#516 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:19 AM:

Jeremy Leader, albatross @ #469-#470:

The current state-of-art (not by any means what I imagine the end-point) of self-driving cars are cars that cope well with freeways, but still need a human to take them to and from there.

If we'll ever get to a point where a self-driving car is legally in charge of the car (at the moment, the self-driving car is monitored by the human who is behind the wheel and legally in control), I don't know. We're now at a point where aircraft can take off, fly and land on auto-pilot, under ideal conditions, but I don't know that we'll ever take the human pilot(s) entirely out of the loop.

If nothing else, self-driving cars will (probably) obey the speed limit (if there's enough of them, human-driven cars will have a hard time increasing the average speed), so speed-trap towns will have a harder time raising revenue from them.

As far as commutes go, there is both a time and an effort balance in at least my perception of a "bad" or "good" commute. One of the best commutes I've ever had (longer term) was about 1h20m door to door. It consisted of "walk down to the train station" (5m), "sit on train" (60m), "walk to office, through a park and across a bridge" (15m). No changes, no nothing. But, if I'd been unable to read a book (or, admittedly, occasionally write code or read assorted slashdot articles opened in tabs in the laptop's browser), it would have been HORRIBLE. As was, it was another two hours of reading, per workday, that magically appeared.

#517 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 06:49 AM:

How about an automated car which can handle slow-moving traffic jams? When the road starts to open up, it bleeps at you to take over.

#518 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 07:18 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @517: I can go you one better than that. If you use the adaptive cruise control for all your highway driving (and as little as 30% of the cars on the road are doing so), congestion caused by concussive breaking DISAPPEARS. This was accidentally discovered by (a German car company, I forget: BMW or Mercedes or someone?) during their testing of the adaptive cruise control.

They were a little worried about emergent behavior from robots interacting with robots, as it were, so they mass-entered an autobahn during rush hour in such a way as to ensure certain percentages of total traffic were their cars. Certain troublesome "the highway always backs up here stupidly when the traffic gets dense" spots just ... evaporated, because the way the cars were driving DIDN't CAUSE it.

However, I can't set my 2002, non-adaptive) cruise control for any number lower than 25, so I'm not sure how that'll help make driving in gridlock nicer in the future.

#519 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:41 AM:

Another reason to think highly of Dolly Parton.

A friend is signed up for this, and her son is enjoying his books a great deal. I notice that they are now offering braille and audio books as well.

#520 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 11:01 AM:

NPR's Morning Edition has a story about automated cars this morning: Hitting The Road Without A Driver

#521 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 11:59 AM:


Just got this forwarded email from a friend. I have no reason to believe that it's fake; it appears to be a query from someone at the Library of Congress. The email, in its entirety, is as follows:

- - - - -
From: Science Fiction and Fantasy Listserv [mailto:SF-LIT@LISTSERV.LOC.GOV] On Behalf Of Cahill, Colleen
Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 5:38 AM
Subject: [SF-LIT] Book search question

The following question came to the Library of Congress:

"I am looking for the title or author of a book in which the main character acquires the ability to modify his body through biological means. There is no supernatural element to this control. The main character starts out as a man living in prehistoric times which, following an event on a mountain where he had traveled to live out his last few moments, gains the innate ability to control his biology. Throughout the book, he is able to grow wings, low light vision, telescopic vision, gills, etc. He lives on for thousands of years into the future where he is investigating a first contact with an alien species. After he performs an autopsy on a dead specimen, he is able to change himself into one of them to study them."
I can only give you my best guess as to where and when it was published. I am certain that it was an English publication first and not translated from another language. Therefore, I have to assume it was published in the US. As to when, based from its content, between 1950 and 1990. I did read this book in its entirety around the early 1990s; 1990, 91 or 92.”

Does this ring any bells?

Thank you!


Colleen R. Cahill
Digital Conversion Coordinator and
Recommending Officer for Fantasy and Science Fiction
Geography & Map Division
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20540-4650

#522 ::: Cassy B. has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 12:01 PM:

For posting an SF book query from the Library of Congress. I have... <scrabbling through desk drawers> some stale chewing gum....

[Three or more blank spaces in a row....-- Durew Mowoit, Duty Gnome]

#523 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 12:37 PM:

So, my dog's been having trouble with her arthritis. Initially, the vet tried to point me to a specialist offering a $3,000+ operation. This is not in the cards -- I'm working a part-time job, and even if my family could cover it... well, bluntly, I may need a joint operation one of these years.

When I called back and pressed the vet, he admitted that he'd turned down that operation for his own dog, accepting "the dog's going to hurt sometimes".

I'm kinda pissed at that vet... but the other thing he mentioned was "Low-light laser therapy", described as a pallative at an order of magnitude lower cost. The keyywords here do ping a bunch of my alarms, but I'm trying to research it just in case.

So far, I've found a couple of papers and articles:

Wikipedia, which is at least not all gosh-wow about it.

Device Watch apparently a branch of Quackwatch), which admits there may be some short-term benefit but is otherwise dubious.

Study at NIST (40-odd subjects).

NCBI roundup of studies, not directly relevant but some of the studies look plausible.

So, what does the Fluorosphere know about this treatment? It there something there, or just static?

#524 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 01:01 PM:

Isn’t Dolly Parton credited with the quote “anyone who thinks I’m stupid because of the way I look is dumber than they think I am?”

I enjoy her voice, but her face always looks slightly wrong to me, because many years ago I saw a very talented drag queen lip-synch to “Purty Legs and Great Big Knockers,” and that became my mental image for her.

#525 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 01:23 PM:

Re: self-driving cars

The history of making sure the very poorest are not left behind as technology moves forward is...patchy, particularly of late. Even making sure they're not comprehensively screwed over is not a strong suit in the US (see also, rolling out electronic payment to low-wage employees as a way to hit them with some juicy, unavoidable fees).

And I know too much about programmer fallibility (particularly edge-case blindness) and squeezed testing schedules to want to rely on driving sofware on, say, Highway 93 from Cecilville to Forks of Salmon. It's a two-way road on maps, but most of it is about as wide as one logging truck (total, not each way), with a steep drop on one side and a cliff face on the other. It's full of lovely sharp turns that you have to know to go around slowly, after sounding your horn, because you never know when you'll find your windscreen full of logging-truck grill. (Then it's eyeball to eyeball for who reverses to the nearest passing place.)

(GPS? Is to laugh. You're down in a rock-walled gully. Not a lot of sky to have birds in it.)

I think there are applications for it: freeways, as Elliott mentions, would flow more smoothly with better coordination among cars. Urban areas would probably benefit, after and assuming we got the crashing bugs out (and assuming we have a draconian regime of vehicle inspection to ensure sensors aren't damaged or dirty).

But universally? I am in grave doubt whether people will be willing to use them. And I'm in equally grave doubt whether implementing them would be nearly as much of an improvement as all that.

#526 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Usage question for the commentariat:

Do you say "a couple of X (e.g., weeks)" or "a couple X"?

I'm seeing the latter more and more, and it just looks wrong to me. And I wouldn't say it. And they should get off my lawn.

#527 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Tom Whitmore @526, A couple of xx. Always. Otherwise, you get "A couple people" which begs the question as to whether the people in question constitute "a couple" or just are two random people...

(And they should get off my lawn, too. <waves broom> )

#528 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 02:16 PM:

Bjorn @ 514: Well absolutely, and with the Google car, having fully automatic cars is probably going to happen in the next 10, 20 at most, years.
What I meant is that I am certain they will only be allowed if there is a human in the 'driver' seat, ready to take over. Then the step to 'car drives itself, human sleeps in back seat' will be the decades more.

What would the human actually be ready to do? I know that if I have to just sit there doing nothing for longer than about five minutes, I'm not gonna be ready to do anything without several seconds' warning. If you want the driver to stay alert, you need to keep them active doing something like, er, driving the car.

That intermediate step is useless, is what I'm saying.

#529 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 02:28 PM:

Dave Harmon @523 -

Ardala had cold laser therapy (I believe this is the same thing) in conjunction with massage as part of her physical therapy for spondylosis (severe spinal arthritis). It was very beneficial - but I can't tell you whether it was the massage or the laser, or whether she perceived the laser therapy as an extension of the massage. I did see her face relax as she got the laser, but again, it could just be that her therapist had a wonderful touch.

After her massage/laser she was extremely relaxed, and then she'd get some underwater exercise. For a few days after PT, she'd definitely be more active, which indicates lack of pain. If I had it to do again, I would definitely repeat the experience, but I wouldn't do it without the massage.

#530 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 02:42 PM:

Also, barring additional complications such as bad liver function, don't be afraid of an NSAID for canine arthritis. We went with meloxicam and it made a world of difference. If your pup is already on an NSAID, you can add a supplement booster; ours was Synovi G3, and while it didn't make as much of a difference as the NSAID, she was definitely perkier and more active when she got her "special treat" than when we missed it.

#531 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 02:52 PM:

abi, it's my understanding that the one going downhill is the one that gets to back up. That's a decades-old memory and could easily be wrong, but ISTR it was covered in the DMV handbook.

#532 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 02:56 PM:

PJ Evans @531:

These are level roads, notwithstanding the fact that they are carved into the side of a bunch of steep mountains.

I've driven that road. It's always an interesting negotiation; it generally depends who's got the least backing to do to get to the passing place. Also, in a not unrelated observation, it's amazing what a logging truck can do in the hands of a skilled operator.

#533 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 03:02 PM:

"These are level roads, notwithstanding the fact that they are carved into the side of a bunch of steep mountains."

ObPratchett: "There's a lot of flat land in the Ramtops. Unfortunately, most of it is vertical." (from memory, likely somewhat incorrect)

#534 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 03:05 PM:

abi @ 532

Also, in a not unrelated observation, it's amazing what a logging truck can do in the hands of a skilled operator.

No kidding. Loggers will drive heavy trucks at night on roads that are a white-knuckle drive in a 4wd pickup during the day.

#535 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 03:18 PM:

Open thread-y weirdness:

Fantasy Football--tonight's game, the Giants vs. the Orcs. Tomorrow, the Elves face off against the Trolls.

#536 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 03:20 PM:

RE: Jim's "Indescribably insane" diffraction.

I find it interesting what gets left out of news items like the one linked.

What jumped out at me was that there was no information on how spending had changed, so I went looking. I didn't find any sources I prefer, but per Wikipedia, per-student spending was about $7,000 in 2001 and per the NY Times in about $13,000 in 2012.

That figure leaves me distinctly unconvinced that the problem is "not enough money."

#537 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 04:51 PM:

#531 ::: P J Evans [...] the one going downhill is the one that gets to back up.

Yes, because if they lose control they can see where they're rolling without looking over their shoulder.

#538 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 04:51 PM:

Tom, #526: I'm with you -- it's "a couple of" (or sometimes if I'm tired or rushed, "a coupla"), not just "a couple". OTOH, I have the same reaction to "my car needs washed", and I've been assured that this is indeed a regional language variation. So it's hard to tell.

Roy, #528: Good point. Which brings up something else I haven't seen mentioned, either about individual self-driving vehicles or the hypothetical traffic net -- both of them involve a MUCH higher level of computer reliability than anything currently on the table! Would you be willing to trust that the control system for even the hundreds of cars in your immediate vicinity during morning rush hour will never glitch or crash? And if your car's individual system BSODs on you (as Roy points out) there is likely to be nothing you can do quickly enough to prevent disaster.

#539 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:09 PM:

Open-threadiness approaching, and a confession.

Despite multiple recommendations, I had - until today - never read anything by Mr C Stross of this parish. In my defence, I've tried. I did walk into a branch of Waterstone's in search of a copy of "Halting State" a few months ago, only to discover that they not only didn't have it, they'd never heard of the author (what?!). I suppose I could have ordered from the Great South American River, but I avoid doing that as much as possible because I don't like the way they treat their workforce.

Well, over the last few days I've been in Cambridge visiting my sister, and, as you would expect of Cambridge, the place is awash with well-stocked bookshops. I asked my sister to take me to her favourite, which she did, and, behold, they had about half a shelf of his books... but not "Halting State", the one I'd been specifically recommended to start with.

So I bought "Accelerando". I haven't finished it yet, but to say I'm enjoying it so far would be something of an understatement. Mind = blown, in a very positive way. That took care of what would otherwise have been a fairly tedious rail journey.

I came home and enthused about it on the Book of Face, and one of my friends said, "Oh, I think that's his weakest novel." I tell you what, if my weakest output read like that, I'd die happy.

#540 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:10 PM:

Lee @538, you've been bamboozled into thinking computer systems are unreliable or prone to crashing by putting up with crap consumer-grade operating systems and software.

Do you think the software on NASA's Mars rovers crashes because it's buggy? Or on Boeing or Airbus airliners?

Most new cars are already largely software-controlled, to the extent that there are major news headlines when a potentially-fatal bug triggers a recall. And where new Fords come with a USB port so that Ford can mail out USB sticks with upgrades to all owners in event of a fault. But in general, embedded systems -- the type of software we build into big, powerful machines that can make a mess if something goes wrong -- are built for reliability in a way that Microsoft never really mastered.

#541 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:24 PM:

This is just say

I have eaten
the crackers
that shed crumbs
on the bed and the freshly-swept floor

and which
crumbs you
did not
expect to lie in

Forgive me
they were restorative
so crunchy
and so salty

#542 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:34 PM:

Mongoose @539: One thing I say about Mr. Stross (hi) when people express curiosity about whether they would like his books, is that he and Scalzi share an interesting trait: all their books/series are very, very different from one another. There are people who would adore Accelerando and hate the Atrocity Archives, because to some readers they are completely radically different in feel.

I see a commonality in style and method of attacking the storyline (one thing no Strossian novel I've ever read does is drag along -- usually I'm at least jog-trotting to keep up and sometimes it's considerably faster than that). But 'what they're about' are all very different, and to some people that makes them whiplashy.

Speaking personally, I'd say if you loved Accelerando you'll definitely also like Glasshouse; if you liked its posthuman/downloading/space opera bits, I can recommend the Eschaton series (starting with Singularity Sky) or the Saturn's Children series (starting with a novel of same name), as feeling similarly headlong-technological.

I also wholeheartedly recommend all the REST, but they're plotted a little differently. :-> Merchant Princes is definitely his most mainstream-feeling (to me!) series, it's a lot more like reading, um, something written by somebody else? That's a really weird way of putting it. (Sorry. Oh, and hi again)

The Laundry are hilarious and biting if you like that sort of thing, but I know people who can't stand them. They're sort of James Bond, working as a sysop in Dilbert's office to defend our world from Cthulhuian horrors. I think I've mentioned I like them. It may help that I spent 8 years in the tech-support trenches, and live with a Unix-head who lays fiber for a living; some of the jokes don't make as much sense if you don't have the direct context.

#543 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 06:06 PM:

Re: Self-driving cars.

I'm generally enthusiastic about the idea, assuming I won't be priced off the road. Abi's concerns about the poor (or even just "less affluent"!) being left behind (even worse than they are now) are spot on. I like the idea of being able to read or sleep on the way to/from work. I don't like the idea of even more folks falling through the cracks (or being pushed...).

Liability/reliability: What Charlie Stross said @#540. Plus, once that self-driving technology (code, sensors, communications, etc. hereafter referred to as "the tech") matures to the point that insurance companies "prefer" the average implementation of the tech to the average human as the driver of a car, liability won't be the limiting factor for uptake for very long. I'd expect to see the scenario posited above where the cost of insurance starts to rise for non-tech drivers. Sure, if you're the person in (or in the path of) the tech-driven car that BSOD's it'll be horrid for you, but with BSOD's happening less often than insufficient/drunken reaction time moments, it'll still work out better for the insurance company. How to keep that from cutting the transport options of the poor is a dicey issue, and one that needs to be addressed before it comes to pass.

At least the tech driven cars currently being tested are mostly doing said testing in "regular traffic", so there is no real technical incentive to prevent mixing - the tech can likely avoid regular drivers better than other regular drivers can. This leaves regular driver vs. pedestrians, parked non-tech cars, passengers and infrastructure to set the liability insurance rates. Parked tech-driven cars - especially if they are networked - might be able to get out of the way. Sufficiently advanced/networked "bystander" (parked or driving nearby, though driving ones would also need advanced automatic passenger restraints...) tech-driven cars might be able to prevent a mis-piloted vehicle from hitting a pedestrian. That pretty much requires "instant on" vehicular motive power, only currently achievable with hybrid or electric models. It could be done with standard non-hybrid ICE's, but it requires giving the tech the ability to release the parking brake, ignore the neutral safety switch, change to the correct gear, engage the clutch (pressurize the transmission on automatics) and engage the starter in gear. That's a whole different level of liability management though, as getting different insurance companies to trust each other could be difficult.

Oh, another parking benefit to self-driving cars. If they can all communicate, then cars can park nose-to-tail along the curb with minimal gaps. The parked tech-driven cars will just scooch over and make room, if it is available. Hmm. A non-tech car could possibly game that system...

Long-haul trucks could greatly benefit from the tech. Not so much their drivers, though. That is, if energy costs don't move towards electrified rail (or shut down long-haul transport altogether...)

Hmm. I've no idea how to keep insurance costs from driving poor people off the roads in areas under-served by affordable other forms of transit, short of expanding the idea of what public transit means and convincing folks to pay into that system, via taxes or otherwise. As someone said either in another thread or elsenet, civilization costs money.

#544 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 06:12 PM:

Sam Chevre #536 - the problem appears to be less 'not enough money spent', and more 'where's the money coming from because it isn't coming from taxes so they'll have to stop running the system if nobody increases money coming into it'. The state government already cut funding by a large percentage; even if there's plenty of fat, large organisations (we'll ignore the actual teachers because they aren't the ones doing anything here) often poor at identifying where to cut.

Re. reliability and not crashing, I have switched to LInux mint after windows XP, and will have to wait 6 months to see how it is reliability wise, but after spending a few hours configuring things, am finding it easy and quick enough to use.

#545 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 07:07 PM:

guthrie #544: "Cutting the fat" means somebody wants a pound of flesh. Yes, sometimes it's worth looking for waste, but nowadays when that phrase gets deployed, odds are they're actually going for the meat. (As in this case, where the real objective is to crush the public educational system.)

#546 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 08:05 PM:

Steve C. @503: Open-threaded audio fun - If you take the Dolly Parton recording of "Jolene" on a 45 rpm record and play it 33 rpm, you get something sounding really cool.

Wow, that is cool! It's fascinating that the voice reads (to me) as distinctly male.

#547 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 08:25 PM:

Jacque #546: Well Wikipedia notes that the fundamental frequency of adult male voices commonly ranges from 85 to 180 Hz, and adult female from 165 to 255. Looks to me like cutting the frequency by 25% would take all but the high end of the female range, into the male range.

#548 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 08:27 PM:

I'm sad. It's definitely a First World Problem, but my household sysadmin just upgraded my firefox to iceweasel 17.0.8, and greasemonkey no longer works. I miss my Making Light script!

I've tried various searches to see if the greasemonkey team will make it compatible, and I'm coming up blank.

#549 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 08:35 PM:

Jacque @ 546 - I've listened to that clip several times, and I just now listened to Parton's original recording, and it sounded weirdly speeded up, as if she were hurrying to get through the song. Odd how perception works.

#550 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 08:45 PM:

Jacque, #546: I can hear the voice as male if I think about it, but my immediate parsing was "bluesy torch singer, female". Maybe having lived in the Deep South, where there are a significant number of female singers with voices in that low-alto range, makes a difference.

Does anyone else feel that the slower pace actually suits the song much better? The original sounds way too bouncy-wouncy for the lyrics; slowing it down turns it into a lament, and reminds me that much of the music of the Appalachians is directly descended from the same people who brought us the Child ballads.

#551 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 08:57 PM:

Lee -

I'm glad you said that about the torch singer. I've been listening to this all weekend and thinking about how great that would be for my range (which is, to be fair, pretty low). If only I could play the guitar. And I think I do prefer it to the original. Now 9 to 5, on the other hand, I prefer at her original speed and pitch.

#552 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:02 PM:

Lee, 550: Yes, I hear a female alto too, perhaps because I am one. I also like how the slow version lets you hear Parton's ornamentation; I knew she was a great musician, but it had always gone by too fast for me to think about.

#553 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:14 PM:

In re feeling accomplishy: in the past 36 hours I have added well over 150 indexed, photographed records to, from headstone photographs taken by me that were as old as 2011.

I really enjoy contributing to the site, and consider it to be paying it forward, as I have lucked across several clumps of my out-of-state relatives there, but it is an oddity of my energy economy that in periods when I can shoot a lot of stones (because I'm feeling outgoing and awesome and walk-about-y and can visit cemeteries and stay organized), I can't enter very well, and in periods when I'm entering like gangbusters, I can't make myself go shoot.

So it's kind of a good thing that I build up boluses of un-indexed photos and then have them to enter later, I suppose. :-> It makes me feel especially good to have more than doubled the total entries in a local small Jewish cemetery near me (from, admittedly, a very low starting point). I shot it with an aim to eventually index it end to end methodically, marking off (on a Google satellite image printout) which areas I've 'done' so I can return with no duplication.

Having familiarized myself with Czech-on-tombstones problems, I've now ended up amidst a bunch of new Cyrillic-on-tombstones problems. :-> At least one of the stones I've got on my plate has no Latin/English info at all, not even name or dates; another stone has the name in characters I can transcribe, but all the other info on the stone (including, presumably, dates) is in Hebrew. I'm going to have to find volunteer consultants or just skip those stones.

The thing I did this weekend (including today) that really helps is organized my workflow and directories so I can come BACK to 2-year-old pictures and still have a hope in *(&^ of remembering which cemetery it was, etc etc.

#554 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:21 PM:

Re: the Dolly Parton slowdown: I parsed it as turning into a gay torch song.

But anyway, it gave me a crazy idea: I recently heard a guitarist/lutist who was using loops to back himself¹. Imagine a singer using a slowed-down loop to have a duet with herself -- sing the first verse fast (but with suitable pauses), then the slowed-down loop becomes half of a back-and-forth with a new verse by the singer. Of course, working out lyrics where that would make sense, might be harder than the singing.

¹ "Your instruments keep playing when you let go of them". "I've trained them well."

#555 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:32 PM:


This is like the usual refrain of politicians, when asked where they will cut the budget. Inevitably, they answer that they will cut waste, fraud, and abuse. This means either:

a. I won't really cut anything, unless there's some political reason to do so (like undercutting the other party)

b. I will make cuts that don't really make much sense, because I won't really be able to easily distinguish waste, fraud, and abuse from normal spending.

Really, there is corruption and waste in most organizations, and sometimes you can get rid of it. But most of the time, waste/fraud/abuse is either hard to find and identify (which is why it hasn't been gotten rid of), or politically too tough to mess with (which is why it hasn't been gotten rid of), or can't be cut without also eliminating valuable things (which is why it hasn't been gotten rid of).

Worse, there seems little reason to expect that political or managerial leaders at the top can distinguish between those cases very well. Usually, you get some top-down imposition of austerity as a way to encourage lower-level managers to try to cut the w/f/a from the budget. And thus, you end up with stupid crap where the secretary won't give you a new stapler when yours is broken, or where the travel budget won't support you making a trip that's really essential to getting your job done, or you impose a years-long hiring freeze and decrease your headcount by attrition, thus only retaining the employees with few choices or commitments that make it difficult for them to leave, etc.

#556 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:45 PM:

albatross #555: There is also the point that unless you do have a serious waste problem, cutting "redundancies", "surplus capacity", and such like, translates to stripping away resilience -- you get a department or office that has no fallbacks, not just against disasters, but against ordinary misfortunes and variations.

Those guys the boss "caught just standing around"? Might miss them when your newly reduced workforce gets further reduced by a flu outbreak. Clearing out that stored inventory means the customer now has to wait for you to get parts before they get their fix. Cutting half they guys in shipping means more delays -- rush hour is now rush afternoon -- plus now nobody's double-checking that packages are going to the right place, or even packed/sealed properly. And so on....

#557 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:52 PM:

Re self-driving cars and reliability: Doing better than human drivers is probably not such a high bar. Is it worse to get killed because your car's software[1] has a bug, or because you dozed off on the way home late at night? It seems to me that once the probability of dying from a software bug drops below the probability of dying from human driver error, the self-driving car is a win, buggy software and all. People who fancy themselves better drivers than average may want to wait longer, but it seems likely that the software will improve over time.

Re self-driving cars and the people on the bottom, I don't know how that will play out. But there are many different definitions of "the bottom." There are a fair number of old and sick people who simply cannot safely drive, and in most of the US, that means they almost can't get around, or they have to get someone to drive them places. Having a self-driving car will be an *enormous* improvement for them, potentially buying older people several years more independence.

Where I think abi's concerns come in (but tell me if I'm wrong) is that US society has a history, more and more over recent years, of changing in directions that make life better at the top and worse at the bottom[2]. So it's pretty reasonable to suspect that new laws, industry practices, etc., surrounding self-driving cars might continue that trend. I'm not sure how to push back on that trend, alas.

[1] Your car is running software now, unless you have a very old car. If your car is at all recent, that software absolutely can kill you if it fails, or if it is tampered with by a malevolent person. Just think what happens when your airbag deploys while you're going 70 MPH on the highway, or when your right front wheel's brake locks up.

[2] I suspect this isn't really because many people hate those at the bottom, but rather because people at the bottom just don't have much of a voice--they seldom vote, they don't have a lot of money so they don't vote too effectively with their dollars, the people who make decisions and write standards and develop products and report the news mostly don't know anyone in the bottom 20% of income or education or intelligence, and so those people are basically invisible to the decision making processes that run our world.

#558 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:52 PM:


#559 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 11:07 PM:

Slowed-down Dolly Parton definitely still sounds female to me. I can't articulate exactly why. (I agree with the characterization "surprisingly awesome".) Speeded-up Bruce Springsteen, however, does change gender.

#560 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 11:11 PM:

Oh, and here's an AKICIML:

I read a book or long story a while back about an account of the Crucifixion that "changes nothing...but changes everything." What that turns out to mean is that the account portrays Jesus as an unwilling victim, who curses God for abandoning him and curses his followers for betraying him -- so that while the physical facts of what happened are the same, what they mean is completely different.

Sometime in the last decade or so I conflated this story in my mind with Wilton Barnhardt's novel Gospel, which is also about a newly-recovered early Christian document, but having recently reread the latter I discover it's quite different. So does anyone recognize the story in the first paragraph?

#561 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 11:25 PM:

#559 ::: David Goldfarb

We would find speeded-up Bruce where, please?

#563 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 12:03 AM:

re 503 et al: I definitely hear slowed-down Dolly as a tenor; it's a bit high for me but it's reasonable for a real pop tenor and it lacks the slightly heavy quality of an alto singing out in the same range. Speeded-up Bruce sounds sort of like Dolly but it's too low (Jolene seems to be in A-minor, so it stays way up there in soprano land), which isn't surprising since he's a baritone.

#565 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 12:34 AM:

Lee @550: The slow version reminds me of Mindy Smith's cover version, chosen by Dolly for Just Because I'm a Woman, a compilation of covers of her songs. Jolene isn't long for this world.

I heard a contralto, probably because I'm one. Fits perfectly in my range.

#566 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 12:50 AM:

#562 : Nancy Lebovitz

Not just GPS jammers; GPS meaconing has been demonstrated against US drones in Iran. And spoofing RDS-TMC has been discussed, though not (so far as I'm aware) been used in the field.

#567 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:39 AM:

Openthreadiness Rant: Awhile ago, I complained about the bugginess of SplashData's SplashID Safe password app. I picked an alternative, exported/imported data, and found that the manual fiddling that would be needed to get the data tidied up into categories was more than I felt like dealing with. Well, time to deal. I clicked "Update All" in the iPhone App Store yesterday, and now cannot use the app on my phone. SplashID decided to start synching over the cloud, instead of computer-to-device. I can't use it on my phone unless I create an account in the cloud and upgrade my computer and other devices. Oh, and there's no way to revert to the previous version of the app on my phone.

SplashData has been buried by support tickets and complaints, but say they can't do anything about the iPhone. They certainly could, but they're not bothering.

I'm just glad this happened after I got back from a 2 week trip. Can you imagine not having any of your passwords with you but the ones you remember? I use unique ones, and certainly can't remember the ones for airline or car rental websites. Shudder. Fortunately, I didn't update my iPad, so I can lug that to work and have my passwords available. I've exported the data from the app on my desktop, and will get to work. Sigh.

#568 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:51 AM:

I just reviewed SplashID in the Apple App Store, and I feel a little better. The one-star reviews are surging!

#569 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:52 AM:

Tracie, #565: I was curious, and went back and sang along with the slowed-down version. That's in my mid-range -- I could drop it another half-octave easily. I've always had a low voice for a woman; I sang tenor in my college choir, and my bottom range has gotten stronger since then.

And yes, that cover version is very nice.

#570 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 04:14 AM:

Something for those interested in old=time fandom.

Ray Bradbury fanzines on Gutenberg

Knowing the fluorosphere, I shall be unsurprised to discover that somebody here had a hand in it. It's likely that a lot of early fanzines from the USA, because of various features of US copyright law, are now in the Public Domain.

#571 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 08:15 AM:

Whereas the first time I ever heard Jolene was with Sam Larsen singing it on the Glee Project (performance starts about 0:18; sorry about the sound quality), which isn't that different in phrasing and performance from the Slow Dolly version, so that feels 'right' to me ... though the (cismale) singer in it does do it distinctly higher than Slow Dolly does. :->

#572 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 09:52 AM:

BUG ALERT: asking for identification of this bug. There are two of them in my kitchen sink, of goodly size. Bug I can deal with. What concerns me is that these are adult-looking bugs. How did they get here and where are the rest of them? I don't like bugs because I don't know what they're thinking. *shudder*

I am new to the east coast and upstate New York. Southern California does not have this bug (that I know of).

#573 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 09:57 AM:

Lin Daniel @572: That's a house centipede, or as they were called in my house of origin, a Wacky Wall-Walker. They are CREEPY AS ALL EVERLOVING HECK, imho, but they're otherwise inoffensive insectivores. They eat mosquitoes (which is impressive given their non-flying nature) as well as more ground-based household pests.

So a net positive, if your squick factor will let you view them as a creepier-looking, quieter version of Puerto Rico's ubiquitous wall-geckos. :->

#574 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 09:58 AM:

Argh, I mis-linked. House centipede, to be specific.

#575 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:05 AM:

ah, thank you. I can get used to things that eat the things this guy eats. I'll go fish them out of the slippery sink and let them be on their way. This may explain why so few ants in my kitchen. Nice squicky bug. *shudder*

My first encounter with a wall gecko was in Ft. Lauderdale. I came out of the guest room to tell my father there was a lizard on the wall. He explained. I went back to bed. The next night, this huge freaking "palmetto bug" (cockroach to the rest of us) was wandering around my room. I came back out and asked my father if he knew where the bug-eating lizard was, and could we put it back in my room.

#576 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:11 AM:

ghods, those things move *fast*. The big one skittered off into the shadows. The little one had to be rescued twice, as the first time, it scuttled back into the sink.

#577 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:21 AM:

Another thank you to Elliott Mason, this time @553

On behalf of a friend who uses Find-A-Grave, thank you for your input.

#578 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:10 AM:

Cassy B. @521: The description matches what I remember of In the Face of my Enemy by Joseph H. Delaney, which, according to Amazon, was published by Baen in 1985.

#579 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:26 AM:

This summary of In the Face of My Enemy agrees.

#580 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:44 AM:

Last night in Italy.

Venice was very neat. I never knew that the city had island suburbs, which have SFnal specialties, like a cemetery island, and Murano, island of glassblowers, and Burano, island of lacemakers.

The best part about the obligatory gondola ride was seeing the grubby back end of the homes and hotels, most of which had back doors with steps leading down into the filthy green canal water. You could punish a really naughty kid by making him sit on the back stoop for a timeout.

Spotted some geekiness last night; a window display of steam punk venetian masks. I'll post pictures in a few days.

#581 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:47 AM:

House centipedes are the one critter that I truly cannot abide. Thankfully the IDs were already here so I didn't click. Spiders, no big deal. Big wasps in the house I will swat without fear after making sure cats, kid, and allergic wife are all in other rooms. But house centipedes will make me scream. It's the speed, I think, and the hairiness.

We had house geckoes in Tucson and they were awesome. (They're an introduced Mediterranean species, but they like moisture and so aren't invasive outside built-up and irrigated areas.)

#582 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 12:06 PM:

Stefan @ 580: oh yes! My sister and I went to Murano and got into a conversation with one of the glassmakers, which started off in Italian (my spoken Italian exists but is far less confident and fluent than my written Italian; my sister doesn't know the language at all) and soon shifted to English when he realised where we must be from. He gave us each a pretty little glass bonbon, possibly for the language practice.

Murano was also where we got into a huge argument with the proprietor of a sandwich shop who'd put meat in our sandwiches when we had specifically asked for something vegetarian. Picture, if you will, one very annoyed herpestid in full Carnevale costume, standing their ground in polite but increasingly fractured Italian, while this chap was trying to give the pair of us the brush-off. I made it clear I wasn't moving until he gave us what we'd originally asked for, and he made it equally clear he wasn't going to... until his wife came out of the back room and sized up the situation, at which point he capitulated with a speed that would have done credit to a general who'd just realised that he was surrounded by superior weaponry. In fact, I suspect he probably was.

Looking forward to seeing your steampunk masks when you've posted them. I still have mine, but it was what I could buy easily in advance, so it is fairly restrained by Venetian-mask standards.

#583 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 12:07 PM:

E. Liddell @578 and Niall McAuley @579, thank you both; I'm sending your answer back to the nice Library of Congress librarian.

#584 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 12:39 PM:

janetl @567: I, too, am a SplashID user. I was incandescent with rage at the "upgrade" ... but it turns out it's just very heavy marketing to push you to use the cloud service; if you persist, it'll let you continue to use it in wifi sync mode without buying a new license key. Trick is to quit it and restart, at which point it'll recognize your existing license key and try to convince you to buy a new one. Tell it "no" and that you just want to work with wifi sync and you should be okay.

I am now contemplating alternatives, because that kind of shitty marketing trick has lost them my custom for good.

#585 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 01:55 PM:

Clones: more Vorkosigan - Ethan of Athos, despite not being exactly clones, discusses a lot of things around clones. And speaking of the Duronas, what about the cloned warriors/"guest workers"?

Self-driving cars: I can see that, and the TSA, putting commuter aircraft out of business; and given that that is a reliable and profitable part of U.S. (the country, not the company) Airlines at the moment, might cause yet another "reorganization". When it's 45 minutes in the air Edmonton-Calgary, and that takes 1h15, people do it. Now that security theatre and checkin policies mean that it's now at least twice as long, and the 3 hour drive starts looking both a reasonable alternative and not that much more stress (and lower cost). Make it a self-driving car, with always-on data, and who in their right mind would fly? We're starting to cut into Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa trips now, too (6h from TO, 2h between Montreal and Ottawa is already like this). The entire BAMA corridor becomes this - okay, say BWMA, at least. JFK suddenly gets half the traffic it's used to, as it's all on the interstate, happily not logjamming.

I'd certainly never fly on my trips to Penticton if I didn't have to drive it - it's just a grueling 8h drive through the mountains, if you are inured to the beauty.

As a quick side note to GPS spoofing: so, it turns out that current location-trackers will happily ignore what the GPS says if it has more "valid" data to go on. I don't expect that to be an issue in the cars, but anything that is controllable by smartphone-of-choice (even to "reserve a car near your location)...

Jolene: oooh, do I like Slow Dolly. And I don't like her choice of music (but I'll have to look into that bluegrass stuff). I'm a "no country except for individual song exceptions" person, not even a "no country, except for individual acts" person (bluegrass doesn't count) - although I realize in my old age it's the style of singing I object to (30 years of hearing "land on top of the note" conflicts badly with "reach for everything as a style").

It read male to me, though, in ways that other low-alto singers don't (Johnette Napolitano comes to mind - she sings in my (2nd tenor-to-baritone) range).

#586 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:09 PM:

Knew I forgot something: I'm not asked "do I still do X" - except for my hobby job - not that that's not a real job, it's just something I do on my holidays that I get paid (something) for, and gets me free food. I do, however, get "do I still work at X?" As SamChevre, I'm in an industry where 3 years at one company is unusual (whether it be "need to change jobs to get a raise", "company doesn't exist/got bought/outsourced IT", "I worked for EA", "I'm a contractor", or whatever).

It was interesting (re: the NSA in relation to "job for life/human 'resource'", and why Edward Snowden is just a canary, particle) as I'm somewhat on the borderline in two ways: at my graduation, it would be possible to join Oil Company of our choice and expect to stay my entire career in it, and that would be expected were I any other type of engineer, but I minored in Computers, and that was already a fluid business. But even in that (small, niche) company there were the 10-year veterans and there were newbies, and not much in between. After a couple of years, the new people moved.

Relevant side note: one of the things-that-changed-my-life was that a majority of the veterans-due-respect in that company were women; if I had any "girls can't code/lead/design" in my body, it disappeared FAST. Thanks, J., F., and J (and those I've forgotten).

I think that comparing Danielle Steel's rant about "are you still a writer?" (really? One of maybe 3 biggest names in modern fiction, at least if you look at non-bookstore bookstores?) with say John Scalzi's equivalent rants is interesting. They both have a backend of "well, it's not really WORK, is it?", but the way that is expressed seems to be strongly gendered.

#587 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 03:05 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 584: Thank you. That should ease my transition to a much better password manager product than SplashID. I originally picked them because I was moving from Windows to Mac, and they supported both. Over time that "support" for the Mac seemed weaker and weaker.

#588 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 04:58 PM:

Lin Daniel #572:

I'm not phobic, but centipedes are one of very few critters whose appearance actually disturbs me, especially in motion. The WP article seems to have been moved and rewritten, but I remember it formerly included a choice bit to the effect of "they are an aggressive predator of the American cockroach, but most householders find centipedes even more objectionable".

#589 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 05:10 PM:

Dave Harmon @588: It also includes the fun fact that they hatch with only a few pairs of legs, and work their way up to 15 molt-by-molt. Which is both kind of fascinating and something I did NOT need to know ... I agree, their leg-rippling locomotion just squicks something in my hindbrain, especially if I'm caught by surprise.

My mom raised me to love predators in ecosystems, so I attempt to leave them, but OH MAN do they bother me.

#590 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 05:11 PM:

Re password products:

I am a big fan of 1Password ( which now has Mac, Windows, Apple IOS, and Android versions; it can optionally sync N-directionally among all your devices via Dropbox. It uses AES-256 encryption, which should be fairly solid, instead of using some crazy home-grown encryption scheme which one still regrettably finds in mass market products.

I am going to have to upgrade my iPhone app for 1Password before long, but the way they're handling it couldn't be more different than what you describe: I started the iPhone app, got a message about "Here's why we have to ask you to upgrade soon due to impending Dropbox API changes, we're really sorry about that, and here are your choices.", with a browser link to help you confirm whether your version is affected.

A few of the nice features are:
1) With the browser plugin installed, it will automatically prompt you to save your new login and password when you are creating a new account on some website.
2) Inversely, you can use its account list in the browser as a kind of super bookmark to jump to a web page and immediately log in.
3) As a natural side-effect, this means that it ends up also acting as a list of all the user accounts I've had to create here or there; knowing I had dead accounts somewhere which I'd forgotten about used to give me a nearly tactile scratchy feeling, so this in itself is good for some peace of mind.
4) It has a password strength indicator and nice solid random password generator. (This stupid website is limiting passwords to alpha-numeric with a minimum of 12 and max of 17 characters? OK, just pull the sliders to match that and you get a random password as strong as those limitations will allow.)
5) You can also use the main app to keep various secure notes in encrypted form, like lists of family SSNs, bank account #s, etc.
6) Licensing is per user (by platform) so I can legally have my one Windows copy on four different computers between work and home; they also sell family packs of licenses.

Taken all together this means that I now can create a fresh highly random password on every site or system where I need to create a new account, so the passwords on nearly every account I use are now A) different from each other, and B) adequately strong against brute-force password cracking attacks. I feel much more secure on this than I used to; I finally got my wife to start using it too, which is a further relief, and she's also pretty happy with it.

For hardcore geeks, 1Password also saves the encrypted data in the form of an HTML page with a JavaScript decryption engine and user interface. This might not sound like a big deal but for true geeks it means you can take a copy of that file, put it on any computer or device which supports a browser with JavaScript, and be able to access all your passwords there when you put in the master password. Effectively that offers you a read-only version of the application on Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, or whatever other crazy OS you may run. On the very tech-oriented mailing list where I first heard about this, that was a critical selling point for some of the users.

#591 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 05:23 PM:

Gee, I'd love to see cute little centipedes like that here.

The kind we commonly have in Hawaii, Scolopendra subspinipes, run up to ten inches long and thick as your thumb, with a shiny black-brown carapace. The bite is both excruciatingly painful to humans and very prone to get badly infected, because they're carrion eaters. And the way they skitter... [shudder] they just trigger a panicky visceral reaction in me, and in almost everyone too.

I've never been bitten but my wife was bitten while sleeping in bed. It took weeks for the spot of the bite to get back to normal.

#592 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 05:27 PM:

Last night in Italy, cont.

Across the street from the nice little restaurant where we had dinner was a large, perhaps five story building which housed SIX hotels. Some had small lobbies, others were only known by signs in a pass-through telling those interested to walk up to the first and fifth stories, respectively.

We had fun speculating how things were arranged, and whether it was all one contiguous hotel whose rooms were frantically redecorated and re-equipped (linens, matchbook covers) to match the lobby chosen by the customer.

#593 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 05:30 PM:

Stefan Jones @592: If you have not yet read the Ex Urbe post about Italian bathrooms, I think you would find it amusing. Or instructive, at least. :->

#594 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 05:37 PM:

For a link, perhaps.

#595 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 05:57 PM:

Dave Harmon @588 Elliott Mason @589

Having read a well-done article on cockroaches in Smithsonian Magazine, or something like it, I found cockroaches didn't bother me. In my Southern California house when I'd get cockroaches in the kitchen, I knew they were coming in for water. I'd water the side yard and I stopped getting cockroaches for a while. (Someone, several someones, independently over time, asked me if I had a cockroach problem. I told them I didn't have a cockroach problem. I had a cockroach parts problem. The cats thought they were great toys.)

The thing about the critters in my sink this morning is that I'd never encountered them inside, much less up close and personal in my sink. Now that I know they're harmless, mostly, and eat bugs I most definitely do not want in the house, I'll adapt. How well I adapt only time can tell. *shudder*

#596 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 06:15 PM:

I am so not good with centipedes. It's not the number of legs (I'm fine with those little shiny tubular millipedes) but the pointyness of the whole affair. Also the locomotion. But centipedes and spiders hit the same "Too Crunchy And Pointy" nerve for me. I will not hesitate to smash one in my house, I don't care how many other things I hate they eat.

Now snakes on the other hand - not bothered by those at all. In fact, I rather like them. When I was a toddler, my manx cat and I would hunt them together.

#597 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 06:24 PM:

Awwww. Quite possibly the earliest portrait of a pet guinea pig. From 1580 or so.

#598 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 06:36 PM:

HLN: Local woman discovered this morning that all of her library's books on Hurricane Katrina were destroyed by Sandy. "I'm probably more amused by this than I should be," she confessed. "It's both annoying and hilarious."

#599 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 07:13 PM:

Open threadiness:

A year or so back, there was a post about women-as-geeks (relating, if memory serves, to the San Diego Comicon).

I just saw This Video, which I offer for the Fluorosphere's amusement:

If you're like me, you'll want to watch it three times; once for the overall impression, once with your eyes closed so you can concentrate on the lyrics, and once with the sound off so you can concentrate on the visuals.

#600 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 07:39 PM:

I've seen centipedes before, and probably not ones you want in the house. Just not that kind of centipede. *shudder*

#601 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 08:19 PM:

North American centipedes, particularly those along the upper East Coast, tend to be smaller and more easily overlooked. When I moved to the Caribbean, I immediately came to realize that their centipedes were much more icky, as well as aggressive and prone to entering a house when the power was off. Chasing those things while barefooted and carrying a candle was not one of the highlights of my stay.

Neither was the time a 'pede chomped my ankle at 4 am, waking me from a sound sleep. Nor was I amused when, a few weeks later, one crawled across my elbow while I slept. (I was standing before I was fully awake.)

For years afterwards I had a mild case of PTSD towards "things moving rapidly across the corner of my vision". Luckily for me, my cats would chase centipedes just as much as they chased the palmetto bugs, only with fewer parts left behind.

#602 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 08:39 PM:

Dave Harmon @523: "Low-light laser therapy"...So, what does the Fluorosphere know about this treatment?

My vet offers that, and has used it on a couple of guinea pigs post-surgery. She even gave me a "sample" on my hand. Slight warming sensation; apparently the light color is pitched to maximal penetration of soft tissue. I gather the idea is that it increases circulation to aid healing.

No miracle, by any means. Might be more effective than a heating pad, but by how much, I can't say.

Sarah @524: I enjoy her voice, but her face always looks slightly wrong to me

I enjoy her as a person, as well. Lately, though, she seems to be going down the plastic surgery rabbit-hole, which IMHO makes her less physically attractive. I don't care at all for the late-life-celebrity "cat-woman" look.

Elliott Mason @553: so I can come BACK to 2-year-old pictures and still have a hope in *(&^ of remembering which cemetery it was, etc etc.

This may be obvious, and would just be me being typically lazy, but if I were to attempt such a thing, I would be inclined to shoot a pic at the beginning of each outing displaying the "front gate," and signage, if available, of any cemetary I entered, thus having that piece of metadata right in with the dataset...?

Tracie @597: Yup, that's a guinea pig, all right!

Ginger @601: fewer parts left behind.

<spider squick warning>Neither centipedes, palmetto bugs, nor cats, but:

Back In The Day, my friend Bo was reclining on the living room floor, watching TV.

Suddenly, Pixie (a wee, fierce, female ferret) comes boiling out from behind the stereo, a three-inch diameter (including legs) wolfspider, wrapped across her face, hatchling-Alien-like. Pixie reaches up, scrapes the spider off with her front paws, spider pops back on.

"MIKE!!!" Bo shrieks, leaping to her feet and dashing into the kitchen.

Mike comes out, stands at the edge of the living room. Bo hides in the kitchen, face in her hands. Occassionally, Mike provides battle reports. After a while, there's a prolonged silence.

Bo, peeking out through her fingers: "What's happening?"

Mike, meditatively: "Pixie, don't be gross. Eat the legs, too."

#603 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 08:55 PM:

Jacque @602, on cemeteries: Yes, that's a procedure my (professional photographer) grandfather used to call "Taking your notes on your roll." Not a total replacement for taking your notes ON YOUR NOTES, especially for things like people's names, but.

It was the only reason I was able to reconstruct locations for some (only some) of my orphaned directories of photos -- shooting the site map before any stones, and trying to shoot the sector marker when I moved from one sub-section to another (so I can give mildly precise intra-cemetery locations in the indexing).

Also, if you're taking headshots of a whole cavalcade of people and are even a little worried your notes will get out of sync with your frame numbers, set up your shot to have space at the bottom intended to be cropped off, and have (some subset of, or all) your subjects hold a small slip with their name or some identifying hash on it.

Your spider vs cat anecdote made me think of this animated gif. Content warning: contains alien facehuggerness, but the cat ends up fine and is exceedingly embarrassed (which is funny). The octopus is, eventually, not fine, but that's offscreen.

#604 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 08:56 PM:

Probably for an exceptionally convoluted and machine-generated-looking link.

#605 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 09:02 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 554:

"Real Thing" from The Mad Show is a musical sketch that plays with the same idea -- a squeaky-voiced adolescent sings rapidly into his tape recorder, then plays it back at a lower speed and enjoys the sound of himself transformed to a suave baritone.

Then there's the joke I once heard about playing the original Chipmunks' "Christmas Song" slowed down: it sounds like three regular guys singing in harmony, *really* slowly, while in the background a demonic voice growls from the bowels of Hell itself: "AAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLVIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNN..........!!!!!!"

#606 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:08 PM:

HLN: Last night a local man awakened in the middle of the night unable to breathe, with n yhatshy bs fgbznpu npvq.* "I couldn't get a breath," he told HLN. "I was terrified; I really thought I was going to die. I kept pulling in air as hard as I could, trying to get past the yhatshy bs oheavat yvdhvq. Eventually I got enough breath to cough, and then it was just extremely painful, which was a huge relief."

When asked what he plans to do about it in the future, he said "Well, no ice cream at midnight is a pretty good rule, I think. Maybe no eating at all after a certain hour. I mean, I know I have to die sooner or later, but I'd really rather not go out by pubxvat ba zl bja ibzvg."

*TMI items ROT13d throughout this report.

#607 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:41 PM:

Xopher: Potentially, learning to sleep with a bit of an incline from feet to head might also help. A 2x4 under the headboard is a start, or a wedge of carefully piled pillows.

#608 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:50 PM:

Yeah, I have to go back to using pillows. Trouble is, that works when I first go to sleep, but during the night I move around, and I could end up in almost any position, including with my head hanging down over the side of the bed.

#609 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:58 PM:

Xopher @606, my husband finds that taking a Pepcid Complete before bed helps him considerably with his acid reflux problem. For whatever that's worth.

#610 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:03 PM:

Xopher @606: "I'd really rather not go out by pubxvat ba zl bja ibzvg"

But Xopher, it's such a rockstar way to go!

#611 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:10 PM:

Cassy B. @599, I love that video, but I'd much rather watch it here: than have to deal with Upworthy's obnoxious popups.

#613 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:20 PM:

Xopher -

About twice a month I'll wake up just as I'm hitting REM sleep from coughing on that matter. It is deeply unpleasant (and then I get paranoid about my vocal cords). Unfortunately, there is little way for me to predict when it's going to happen. Sometimes it coincides with eating anything 30 minutes before, or eating something acidic at any time of the day, or you know, just for fun. Usually it's on a Sunday night. (so stress, I suppose). I second the Pepcid Complete. It's the only thing I've taken that stops in in its tracks. Gaviscon does a pretty good job if I have the warning heartburn, but if I'm at all concerned and un-warned, the pepcid complete keeps it from happening. Of course, I hate to take one more damn pill every day, so it does sneak up sometimes.

#614 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:54 AM:

#593 My nieces were amused enough by the square toilets to take pictures of them.

Fortunately I did not have to sit on any of the many seat-less toilets.

This last hotel room I'm in has a steam-heat bum-towel warmer above the bidet. That's luxury! When we were growing' up we only had coal to warm our bum towels, an' we 'ad to mine ourselves!

#615 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:10 AM:

Clifton @ 590 - That's very helpful. I'm grateful and phrasing this awkwardly because the short, obvious sentence would get me gnomed for sure.

#616 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:27 AM:

Xopher: ack, sympathies. I second the pillows if you can manage them, since I find them helpful. I have asthma, the primary symptom of which is a heavy cough in my case, and when it's playing up more than usual I sometimes cough so much that it vzcngf ba zl qvtrfgvir flfgrz naq v trg onq jvaq, fbzrgvzrf gb gur cbvag bs ibzvgvat. If it's particularly bad I have to prop myself in a sitting position, which means I tend to wake up with a stiff neck (you can't have everything); however, that does help both the cough and the unpleasant consequences thereof.

If you've got an armchair with a footstool and plenty of cushions, would it be possible to try sleeping in that when you're feeling "tummicky", as an old Irish friend used to put it? The arms should help to keep you in position.

#617 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:12 AM:

Cassy B. @599: That was linked from Whatever as well and I agree about dividing it up (sound and video separately) to get the full picture - I couldn't focus on the lyrics while I was reading the written words, but it's awesome!

Jacque @602: my cat has taken a liking to catching and eating black buzzies (house flies, bluebottles) Thankfully she appears to have grasped and accepted that the humans reserve to themselves the right to catch/shoo-out the yellow-and-black buzzies (wasps/bees).*

*My family's old dog, a German Shepherd, used to eat bees/wasps. He would then open his mouth and shake his head in a motion that definitely communicated "hot! hot!" - but that never stopped him. Luckily he also never reacted badly to them.

#618 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:11 AM:

Crossing two streams a bit: Charles Stross's Neptune's Children has a sort of mental cloning- because the characters are robot-humans, not meat-humans, the way you reproduce is to copy an instance of your brainstate and put it into a new body (which is often very much like your own, but could be totally different.) You could do this for just one daughter clone, or have a whole group of sister-daughters. There's one character who decided that her current mind wasn't suitable for a new set of descendants, and edited out a bunch of stuff.

#619 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:37 AM:

Cassy 609: I'm already on a prescription acid reflux med. It's just defeated when I eat ice cream (or certain other things) right before bed. Also, not sure taking Pepcid is a good idea when I'm already on the scrip med (not named for fear of gnoming, but it's the one that sounds like a rocket if you cap the last two letters).

John 610: Absolutely. Get me the album sales, the mansion in Malibu, and the (male) groupies, and I'll be more willing to go out that way!

nerdycellist 613: Hmm, two recommendations. Still concerned about the drug interaction, but maybe I'll ask a pharmacist.

Stefan 614: When we were growing' up we only had coal to warm our bum towels, an' we 'ad to mine ourselves!

So that if anyone attacked you, you'd explode?

Mongoose 616: I have a recliner, but sleeping in it is impossible (falling asleep in it and waking up with various pains is quite possible). I fall asleep on my back, then turn on my side (and various other ways). I'd wake up every couple of hours in recliner position.

I had this problem in the hospital. In addition to pain, they had me in a fixed position to sleep in, and I just can't do that.

#620 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:07 PM:

On an unrelated topic, a friend just told me this story:

Said friend works at a drugstore, and on his day off he stopped in for a soda, saw that they were swamped, and clocked in to help. While working the pharmacy counter, he took in a scrip from an elderly woman I'll call Miss Havesham.

"How long do I have to wait this time?" she asks. My friend tells her about twenty minutes. "Well, I hope I don't die before then!" (Note: it was a prescription for a rash cream, so not exactly life or death.)

A coworker muttered "We should be so lucky." Apparently she's not a favorite.

At length the scrip is ready, and my friend calls out "Miss Havesham, your prescription is ready." No response. The pharmacist tells my friend that Miss H turns off her hearing aid sometimes, so he waves at her and calls out "MISS HAVESHAM."

Something's wrong. "M-m-miss H-havesham..."


So my friend starts CPR (while help is rolling, Jim). As he told me:

I'm doing chest compressions swearing like a fucking sailor. The pharmacist couldn't because of a broken wrist. People crying...Just as the rescue guy grabs my shoulder to take over she gasps for air.

Saved an old lady's life. That's to feel good about, right?

Except that as the EMTs are carting her out she says "That faggot didn't give me mouth to mouth did he?"

Yeah. That's her reaction to having her life saved. Mind you, my friend was the only CPR-trained person there other than the pharmacist, and as he pointed out, "one-handed chest compressions ain't enough." And remember, he just happened to stop by that day.

My friend looked at the manager and said "I'm clocking out."

"Thanks for helping out," says the manager, looking like she's about to cry.

What can you say about a person like that? Yeah, she's old, but FFS, there are plenty of old folks who aren't like that, or who, if they'd just had their lives saved, might suppress their prejudices temporarily. (OK, she might have been disoriented. But still.)

The irony is that if we make progress "one funeral at a time," my friend just delayed that progress!

#621 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:16 PM:

Xopher, it's amazing what a person can get used to. I used to turn over a lot while sleeping, but in recent years I've been forced to learn to sleep only on my back, and yes, sitting up (it's all in finding the ideal pillow configuration, one which will provide good head and neck support). So my advice to you would be: don't get old, and be very careful which ailments you develop.

Yup. Advice is useless in situations like this, but I get a lot of it anyway. Here's some genuine advice: I have found that lying down in various other positions before I go to sleep (like, while I am reading) makes having to stay in one position while actually sleeping less onerous.

#622 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:21 PM:

1) Compression-only CPR is entirely appropriate. (It's to protect the rescuer, not the recently-deceased.)

2) People you've just saved with CPR say the darnedest things. ("What the hell did you do that for?" being pretty common.)

3) The funeral was delayed, not canceled. (We don't save lives, we prolong deaths.)

#623 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Jim 622: Re your 2, I'm pretty sure my dad would have said that if my mom hadn't come up with the DNR while the EMTs were working on him.

#624 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:32 PM:

She now has more time to think things over, and may very well change her mind. Brushes with death are kinda known for causing people to do some thinking, and hospital stays (as people who survive CPR often have) are an ideal time for it.

Also, well done to your friend. We can't control other people's choices; all we can do is choose to make the world better. He did that.

#625 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:36 PM:

#622 ::: Jim Macdonald
[...] (We don't save lives, we prolong deaths.)

I get what you mean (and have some grasp of how many bears you're fending off this morning), but shouldn't that be, "we don't save lives, we prolong them" or "we defer deaths"?

No prolonged death for me, please!

#626 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:11 PM:

There is such a thing as a prolonged death, and I don't want one either. (That's what DNRs are for.) But yeah, "deferred" is the best we can do.

#627 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:25 PM:

Further development: the woman's daughter came in to thank them.

The manager said "We're glad we could help her, but we're going to have to ask her to fill her medications elsewhere after what she called the employee who saved her."

"Oh, no. What did she call him?"

"A bad name," said the manager.

"A fag," said the pharmacist.

The daughter just looked at him. "Well, is he?"

One may suppose a pause.

The manager then asked where to transfer the prescriptions.

I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, in some cases. I believe this is what the Southern sense of the word 'ignorant' is used for.

#628 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:46 PM:

What a sad story. You'd think having their own life, or their mother's, saved by someone would do something to change a person's thinking.

"Ignorant" is used in exactly the same way in the part of northern England where I live; it carries a very strong overtone of "rude". (If a child says something out of turn, especially to an adult, it's common to hear a parent telling them not to be ignorant.) What would be called "ignorant" in most other parts of the UK tends to be expressed round here as "you don't know owt".

#629 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Xopher@627: I believe this is what the Southern sense of the word 'ignorant' is used for.

Also, "ugly." As in, "God don't like ugly."

(The ugliness referred to in this case, needless to say but I'll say it anyhow, is ugliness of spirit rather than ugliness of feature.)

#630 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Or if not change their thinking, at least make them inclined to be polite to the person! That daughter didn't seem to even understand that calling someone a fag is rude.

#631 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:55 PM:

Yeah, I thought the pharmacist could well have said "That's not the point. I didn't call your mother an ignorant bigot, even though she is one."

#632 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:55 PM:

Debra, 629: The version my parents dinned into me is "Pretty is as pretty does, but ugly's to the bone."

#633 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:15 PM:

I was under the impression that the entire point of the parable of the Good Samaritan....

#634 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:31 PM:

Xopher @620, <hugs> and a smooch on the cheek to your friend from this straight person. He done good; even Miss Haversham must have family and friends. (Well, not so much the literary one, but still, one hopes...) I hope the knowledge he saved a life, however curmudgeonly and bigotted, helps him.

#635 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Xopher, I second Cassy B on the hugs!
I'd like to tell Miss Haversham that if your friend hadn't done mouth-to-mouth, she'd be in front of St Peter getting her destination explained to her.

#636 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:05 PM:

Seconding the sympathies to you and your heroic friend, Xopher. I am heartened by the manager doing the right thing and transferring this hateful bag of mostly water's prescriptions elsewhere. May she and her daughter live the rest of their pinched lives unencumbered by the aid of anyone who is gay or cares about someone who's gay.

#637 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:10 PM:

Astronaut Luca Parmitano has posted an account of last month's more-exciting-than-expected spacewalk: "By now, the upper part of the helmet is full of water and I can’t even be sure that the next time I breathe I will fill my lungs with air and not liquid.". Link via Commander Chris Hadfield's Twitter account.

#638 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:12 PM:

Thanks, everyone, I'll pass along the hugs etc.

To clarify, he actually hadn't done mouth-to-mouth, since compressions only is the current standard.

Annnnd I spelled Haversham wrong. Drat.

#639 ::: Carol Witt, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:12 PM:

Hm. I still have some oatmeal cookies, but I must warn you that they have chocolate chips in them.

#640 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:02 PM:

Several hundred posts late: Here's a terrible-clone example. Pat Benatar from the "My label made me do it" drawer.

Also, that Dolly Parton slowdown is gorgeous.

What I originally came here to mention: Conservation of Shadows, by Yoon Ha Lee. Math-based gorgeous poetic SF (and fantasy) short stories. I hope I'm late to the party, because that means other people are reading her.

#641 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:30 PM:

Adding to the chorus, Xopher. Your buddy did good. People can have an entire career and never get a CPR save.

Wondering, did the store have an AED? Those things are really handy.

#642 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:38 PM:

BTW, while we're mentioning creepy-crawly critters - cf. Xopher @ 620 - I have lived in Hawaii upwards of 30 years and had never heard we had scorpions here.

Last week while I was doing a multi-day backpacking meditation retreat in Volcano National Park - which was *amazing* - one of my companions got up from her sitting mat at the end of breakfast, and then teleported about a yard backwards as a little yellowish-tan thing crawled across the spot she'd just vacated, tail raised high. Guess what? We got scorpions.

Someone caught it in an empty cup or bowl and carted it off into the bush. Later she mentioned that she's seen them before near her home in Honolulu, and a little Googling reveals they have apparently made their way to most of the islands. They're only happy in a very dry dusty environment though, and aren't very widespread, which may be why I've never run into one. It was definitely a surprise to me.

#643 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:43 PM:

I have this in Diffractions already, but thought I'd put it here because the conversation has moved in this direction:

Utah Publisher Cancels Book Because Author is Gay

(And, may I add, it's only fairly recently that the Union Leader started using the word "gay" instead of "sodomite." My guess is that they noticed it saved space.)

#644 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:46 PM:

Washington Dulles airport has free Wi-Fi.

THANK YOU, Washington Dulles.

Also, indoor water fountains that dispense free chilled water.

#645 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:49 PM:

Yoon Ha Lee? That name sounds familiar.

I think she wrote a rather neat short text-adventure aka interactive-fiction story, 'The Moonlit Tower', incorporating themes from Asian legend and folklore. Not an epic work but evocative and worth playing.

I'll have to look for her SF.

#646 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:57 PM:

Clifton @645: yep, same person, and author of at least a couple of other IF games. Have a feeling she used to comment here once upon an aeon, too.

#647 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:06 PM:

Yoon Ha Lee was a commenter here, and is a Viable Paradise graduate.

#648 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:13 PM:

Crossing subthreads: does everyone know why the famous clone Dolly the Sheep was named Dolly? It's because the cell she was cloned from came from the mammary tissue of her progenitor.

Dolly Parton, when told this in an interview, was amused and not offended.

#649 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:16 PM:

Way back in #368, Cassy B writes:

My problem is Small Local Convention asked me (and my twin) to do two panels. Now, as any self-respecting convention-going SF fan has, I've seen many many panels where I thought to myself, "Self, you know as much as the panelist, or more!"

I have thought the same thing. Which is why I recommended to the organizers that they should invite you to participate in the program.

I had no idea they would ask you to be Fan Guest of Honor. But I am quite pleased about it.

#650 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:18 PM:

Um, I haven't actually been gnomed. Slip of the "Type your name here:" box autofill. My apologies to the Gnomes.

#651 ::: Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:19 PM:

The gnomes forgive you.

#652 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 08:19 PM:

Elliot Mason @553: I appreciate your labors for Find A Grave. We moved to Pittsford in 2008, and on a walk I explored the Pioneer Burying Ground, a mile from here, and found a likely relative. I then found the stone at the website as well. (I have a couple of pictures of it on my flickr page.)

Recently, I learned that the name on the stone (no longer even readable, though it was in '08) was of the widower, Nathaniel Babbit, and that underneath one would find the remains of his beloved wife, Anna, 1782-1804 (though the stone mistakenly says '06). I learned this from the town historian, who has two or three office hours a week, and who knew the grave I meant as soon as I began to describe it. The sandstone had been letting go of the dates and everything else for many years, and now it's flaking off in chunks and some kind of stoney excrescence is covering the readable parts.

A book my grandmother had turned out to be available from the Internet Archive, and from that I learned that Babbits in the U.S. all descended from the original Bobit who came here in the 17th century (except for some who had the name planted on them by immigration officials who couldn't spell their original names). I can't find this Nathaniel in the book, but I've learned that the family has been all over this area. The historian told me there'd been some here in town, but they moved away — she told me where they went, but I've forgotten.

#653 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 08:20 PM:

Bill Higgins @649, <blush>

#654 ::: Kip W, spiny gnorman ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 08:20 PM:

Have some plums! My roommate won't mind.

#655 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:11 PM:

Also Yoon Ha Lee used to be a regular poster in the far-off palmy days of rec.arts.sf.composition.

#656 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 01:08 AM:

Clifton @642: The first wild scorpions I ever saw were in Northern California along the edge of a river; the most recent was a one-incher who tried to threaten me about 1/4 mile from the shore of Lake Tahoe (I thought he was incredibly cute, but didn't take liberties). They don't just thrive in dry and dusty areas. They're very adaptable.

#657 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 06:58 AM:

Xopher @620: ER nurse here. My favorite ::rolls eyes:: patient to date was the dude who wrecked his motorcycle* who proceeded to tell us that his only allergies were blacks and homosexuals. I came inches away from leaning over him while he was strapped to the backboard and telilng him "a bunch of queers just saved your life, asshole." (I also came close to entering "patient states 'blacks and homosexuals'" into his allergy record simply so that everyone in the hospital would know who they were dealing with, but I figured that might lose me my job.)

There are days I go home from my job feeling like I've done good. That wasn't one of them.

*drunk, wearing flipflops and gym shorts and nothing else, doing 70+ in a 25mph speed limit--and, lest anyone wonder if this was one of those places where it's a big straight three-lane road with a stupid 25mph speed limit, no; the locals all blanched and said 'he was driving where?' with the exact same look of horror on their faces. To be fair, a good chunk of them live in that neighborhood, too...

#658 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 07:01 AM:

(And, for the record, as a nurse I'd rather save the assholes and the murderers and all that rather than engage in the slippery slope that says that you can judge who gets treatment by your moral values. I mean, that way lies people denying me treatment because of my gender and sexuality. It doesn't mean that it doesn't sometimes suck, though.)

#659 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 07:43 AM:

Not a life-and-death situation, but I used to know someone who was pretty homophobic (and, since prejudices tend to come in boxed sets rather than singly, didn't react well when I came out as asexual to him, either). Once, in an attempt to demonstrate to me his great tolerance and magnanimity, he informed me that he had shaken the hand of the rep for Company X along with all the other company reps whose hands he'd been shaking that day, although he knew that the rep for Company X was gay.

I did not give him the result he was clearly hoping for. I snorted at him and replied, "I should jolly well hope so. Why make such a big deal over it? What are you, afraid you can catch the gay from shaking hands or something?"

Cue awkward, and admittedly satisfying, silence.

#660 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 09:23 AM:

AKICIML question for the people who know church music.

Here is a good recording of the version of the Doxology that is sometimes called "The Mennonite Anthen." Does anyone recognize it? I've been trying for years to find out where the tune came from. (It's a pretty a capella piece.)

#661 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:30 AM:

SamChevre, does this help?

#662 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:47 AM:

Lila @ 661


I'm familiar with the Harmonia Sacra which is usually referenced as the tune source (including in the article). However, Harmonia Sacra is a publisher's compilation--it's thought that very few of its tunes are original. I'm wondering if this tune is sourced from somewhere else recognizable, or if it was taken up by other groups early enough to get into hymnals other than Mennonite and Brethren hymnals. (Harmonia Sacra identifies it as a John Fawcett tune, and there is a composer of that name and the right time period--but he's English, so if it is his tune I'd expect that some Anglicans would use it.)

#663 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 11:17 AM:

k8 #657

Why was that guy even still alive? We have a name for that sort: Organ Donors.

Carol Kimball #625

Yeah, I know. But around the ambulance garage, sometimes, if it weren't for black humor we wouldn't have any humor at all.

#664 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 11:39 AM:

Longer phrase re: organ donors when pointing out motorcyclists without helmets:

"Evolution in Action!"

Unfortunately, by the time they got a license for the road they might already have spawned.

#665 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 11:52 AM:

One of the side effects of improved auto safety (crumple zones; air bags) and helmet/seatbelt laws, plus the social pressure against drinking and driving (designated drivers and such), and fast and efficient EMS, is that the supply of organs for donation has gone down.

#666 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:22 PM:

Jim @663: the correct term for their mount of choice is "a donorcycle".

#667 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 01:19 PM:

Larry Niven's Jigsaw Man?

Clearly we need to expand offenses carrying the death penalty.

#668 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 01:19 PM:

re 660: The form (and attributed composer) tends to suggest New England singing school anthem, but I don't know of a shape note book offhand that includes it.

#669 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 01:20 PM:

K8 #657: The technical term for the language spoken by your, ahem, client is, I believe, Moronics.

#670 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 01:20 PM:

K8 #657: The technical term for the language spoken by your, ahem, client is, I believe, Moronics.

#671 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 01:29 PM:

k8 657: Wow. What a maroon.

Some people's keys should be locked up and given to them only if the breathalyzer is negative. Others, like this guy, shouldn't be permitted to operate motor vehicles under any circumstances ever.

#672 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 02:14 PM:

Xopher, #671: ISTR that at one point there was a suggestion to incorporate a breathalyzer-equivalent into the steering wheels of automobiles, with interlocks such that unless the driver blew legal, the car wouldn't start. Since I can think of at least 3 ways to defeat that off the top of my head, I'm not surprised that the idea went nowhere.

Also, I think k8 would have been well within hir rights to have accurately recorded the patient's statement of allergies on the chart, but beyond that I am not willing to go for reasons well-stated by others above.

#673 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:33 PM:

@672 Lee

ISTR that at one point there was a suggestion to incorporate a breathalyzer-equivalent into the steering wheels of automobiles, with interlocks such that unless the driver blew legal, the car wouldn't start. Since I can think of at least 3 ways to defeat that off the top of my head, I'm not surprised that the idea went nowhere.

I know someone* who had one of these devices mandated after a DUI conviction, so the idea definitely went somewhere.

*Lovely, sweet, intelligent man, who simply cannot get a handle on his drinking problem. I'd be happy if he never drove again.

#674 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Carol @667: you might think you're joking. In China, they're introducing a bill to stop organ harvesting from executions. After it turned out that demand for transplants was resulting in unfortunates being arrested and executed purely for their organs.

I'm hoping that within a decade or two, stem cell tech or xenotransplants will render the demand for transplant organs from human donors obsolete. Because there are some predictions from hard SF that we don't want to come true.

#675 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Charlie: that was the premise of Niven's story, that organ donor demand meant that a man had been condemned to death based on (IIRC) cnexvat gvpxrgf.

#676 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:08 PM:

Carol @675,

Oh, no; his offence was FAR worse than that. Ur snvyrq gb fgbc ng *fvk* erq genssvp yvtugf, naq ivbyngrq gur fcrrq yvzvg gra gvzrf. Obviously a dangerous criminal....

#677 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:30 PM:

Knew I should have looked it up!

#678 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 06:22 PM:

You know, anvyvat gb fgbc ng *fvk* erq genssvp yvtugf, naq ivbyngvat gur fcrrq yvzvg gra gvzrf is extremely naughty and potentially endangers other peoples' lives. Though I'm surprised Niven didn't anticipate the rise of frys-qevivat pnef.

#679 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 07:18 PM:

Charlie Stross@678

I'm surprised Niven didn't anticipate the rise of frys-qevivat pnef.

Unless you count "Fnsr Ng Nal Fcrrq".

#680 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 07:49 PM:

On the evolutionary persistence of variation in horn size among Soay sheep

The small-horned sheep are fitter,
but the big-horned sheep are phatter
And though we deemed it sweeter
To dally with the latter,
The small horns still stay with us
Though Scottish boffins wonder:
In flocks the nerds still pull the birds
When the jocks are six feet under

#681 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 07:53 PM:

Jim Macdonald @663: Oh yes. The really ridiculous part is that he was barely injured. Walked out of the hospital the next day, probably didn't need the helicopter ride from us to the trauma hospital that he received. (I was really hoping they'd intubate him proactively for the helicopter ride, but that might have been vindictiveness talking.) The mind boggles.

Fragano Ledgister @669: *snerk*

Xopher @671: Oh, that's not even the half of it. The dude was in my ER a couple of months later complaining that he couldn't afford Tylenol or ibuprofen for his wreck-induced back pain (which, in the grand scheme of spinal injuries, was incredibly freaking mild). Meanwhile he was busy telling our motorcyle-riding tech about the new, expensive, overblown crotch rocket he'd bought to replace the one he'd just wrecked. Let's hope he doesn't take anyone else out when he does something stupid on this one.

Lee @672: My cousin installs those; it's something the courts sometimes mandate here for multiple DUI/OWI offenses. It's easy to get around--have a legally sober person in the car with you, don't blow hard enough to give a proper sample... Not a bad start, but not foolproof. (And thanks for the gender catch! I prefer 'their' but answer to just about anything. :)

#682 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 09:01 PM:

Status Update:
I'm afraid I haven't been able to narrow down the possible venues for the Gathering of Light yet. Maybe GlendaP has a better idea. There's one place that was indicated as being good for large parties, which I'll have to look up again.

#683 ::: Kip W was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 09:56 PM:

Could I be de-gnomed at #654, please? I fear my earlier post on the topic may have been too gnomic for my own good.

#684 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:11 PM:

thomas, #680: Bravo!

#685 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:13 PM:

thomas @ 680:
Bravo! Clap-clap-clap-clap!

#686 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:49 PM:

iamnothing @682: I'm having trouble accessing the pdf list; I'll have to try on a different computer. In the meantime, have you seen the urbanspoon guide they tweeted today? One caution about that: the restaurants listed as "Midtown" are 1.5 to 2 miles away. If people are up for a one mile walk each way, I could add several popular, but less touristy, possibilities.

#687 ::: Glenda is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:52 PM:

Care for some fresh corn tortillas?

#688 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:57 PM:

#683 Kip W

Kip, I don't see anything in the moderation queue or the spam folder from you in the past 48 hours.

#689 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 11:42 PM:

So, the Atlantic puts up an article on brewing the perfect cup of coffee. Exactly one guess as to what I linked to in the comments.

#690 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 11:49 PM:

iamnothing @682: OK, I finally got a look at the pdf list. Many of the restaurants on that are well outside the downtown area. Some very good choices, just not doable without a car.

One thing I forgot to mention is that while our public transit system is fairly sucky, the streetcar service around downtown is reputed to work well.

#691 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:27 AM:

GlendaP @686 & 690: Part of why I couldn't narrow things down is because I can't easily tell where anything is. I'm too used to numbered streets. My opinion is that a mile is too far to walk, if only because I'd rather spend more time at the restaurant. However, if it's easy to get there by streetcar, it's OK. Also, I personally don't mind touristy in itself, if it's otherwise suitable. Now to see if I can look at the streetcar map and the urbanspoon guide.

#692 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 05:25 AM:

Thomas @ 680: *applause*

Open-threadiness: following Chelsea Manning's announcement, would it be possible to change her name in the link here, please?

#693 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 08:54 AM:

There are times when a thought enters your mind and you need to tell someone,.

Luckily for me right now there's the open thread here, and most of the people who read this will not suggest I might need some discipline for my unruly thoughts.

Topic for debate: Pro or con, The entity known as Julian Assange is in fact operated by a Trickster.

#694 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:21 AM:

Mongoose @692:

With Patrick's permssion, I've changed the link to refer to her as simply "Manning". The article uses "Bradley" in its title, and at the time of writing, that was the known correct usage*. Changing the reference to the article struck us both as uncomfortably ahistorical. Removing the forename, however, works.

* Many of us have known for some time that she identified as transgender, or had done so at times, but absent the confirmation from her, "Bradley" was the correct usage at the time the article was written and Sidelit.

#695 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 11:33 AM:

abi @ 694: that makes a great deal of sense.

#696 ::: Kip W, gnot gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:05 PM:

Jim: I perceive now that your gnomes had already salvaged my message, and my antignomes had kept me from seeing it. I'll tap dance out the door now.

A one.
A two.

#697 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:18 PM:

Antignomes hang out with unclegnomes. When begnomed do as the gnomons.

#698 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Isn't Antignomianism a heresy? Are posts like these pathognomonic for it?

#699 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:59 PM:

This is all getting very gnomic.

#700 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:04 PM:

What happens when antignomes meet regular gnomes? If we run the result through a dilithium crystal, can we power a starship?

#701 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:17 PM:



(goes upside your head with a gnomon)

#702 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Lila, you put that back! Without it, how will we gnome what time it is?

#703 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:32 PM:

Does anybody really gnome what time it is? Does anybody Sidhe-ly care?

#704 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Lila, I think your answer had better be "Yes'm."

I wouldn't recommend "Gno'me."

#705 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:35 PM:

Thanks for asking - I was wondering that myself.

#706 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 05:28 PM:

It's throwing it down so hard here that I got soaked just shutting the bathroom window (which had been wide open due to the heat). Could I borrow that gnomon, please, in case it gets any wetter? I may need a point of refuge.

What? Oh. Gnomon is an island.

#707 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Mongoose: been there, Donne that.

#708 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 05:42 PM:

And here I thought Antignome was the short rebellious sister of Ismene. Silly me!

#709 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 06:57 PM:

My antignomes don't take plastic or paper money, so I pay them in Antimony.

#710 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:59 PM:

Kip W, that's good, because otherwise you'd have to both pay them and not pay them in antinomy.

#711 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:05 AM:

If they ever happen to antignome you, the thing to feed them is antipasto.

#712 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:15 AM:

Open threadiness: This Scientific American piece says that college students now don't hook up anymore than they did in the 80s.

This is a depressing trend--there are all kinds of "facts" that most people have absorbed from TV chatter and magazine articles and such, but which are utter horseshit. These facts become part of the social ecosystem, and politicians and serious people are supposed to (and do) have an opinion on them, The right opinion. That serious people like broadcast journalists on talk shows have.

This belief has lots going for it--kids these days, hot sexy college kids having hot sexy sex, declining morals. And people have made money talking and writing about it, and will go on doing so, even if it's bullshit. Because most of their audience doesn't really care if it's bullshit, isn't paying attention, etc.

#713 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:53 AM:

Is antimoney something that mutually annihilates when it touches money?

#714 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:52 AM:

Something I wrote earlier seems to have been gnomed or to have disappeared somehow.

#715 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:53 AM:

Gnomed twice

#716 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:46 AM:

albatross #712

While bullshit1 is alive and well in lots of areas2, I think stories about teenagers are an especially fertile area. That's partly because many people remember the things they got away with as teens, and because the difficulty that many parents have with the transition.

In NZ, while the papers did stories covering surveys showing less sex, less drug use, and less binge drinking by today's teens, these facts didn't make it into any of the editorials about Kids Today3

1. ie, not necessarily false, but spread by people who don't really care whether it's true

2. There was a story in one of the national NZ papers saying that houses with a 4 in the address were going cheaper, because Chinese buyers were superstitious about them. It could actually be true, but it was based on a single anecdote, so the paper clearly didn't care whether it was.

3. And their music? It's just noise One Direction.

#717 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:53 AM:

I've got, shall we say, a rather unusual perspective on Kids And Sex. As I've mentioned in passing before, I'm asexual. I belong to various asexual groups here and there, and because I'm an older person who listens, I tend to end up informally counselling other members of the group, especially the younger ones (teens and twenties). Most of them are American, though obviously not all.

Now it took me a very long time for the penny to drop with me about my asexuality; I think it's fair to say that almost all my friends knew before I did. I think this had a lot to do with the environment I grew up in, where sex, whatever else it was, was not a matter of course. Even if you didn't wait until you were married, you were at least expected to wait until you were pretty sure you had a stable relationship, and those people who did engage in casual sex didn't generally talk about it. And nobody, not even my peers, seemed to think there was anything odd about the fact that in my late teens I hadn't the slightest interest in getting involved with anyone, preferring to stick my nose into a book (especially if it involved robots, who are reassuringly non-sexual creatures).

Now I'm not saying that kind of environment was great for everyone; it wasn't. There was an awful lot of slut-shaming and general stigmatising that I wouldn't want to go back to. Nonetheless, the environment that my young asexual friends are describing seems no better. They're very well aware that they're asexual, because of all the pressure they're under to have sex. It used to be the case that you would (at the very least) get funny looks if you did; now, it seems, at least in some areas, you get funny looks if you don't.

Maybe - you know, just a suggestion here - it would be nice if people could just let other people get on with their own lives in their own way, and stop giving one another funny looks altogether?

#718 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:38 AM:

mongoose: two of the rarest phenomena in the universe: "Live and let live" and "none of your damn business."

#719 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 08:27 AM:

Thomas @716

While I may well be biased by my recollection of my schooldays, I do remember that we were not as innocent as the politicians of today seem to think we were. There is much swivel-eyed viewing-with-alarm of things, which are certainly easier, but there was no need for computers for me to get my first sights of porn.

#720 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 08:58 AM:

Re kids today and bullshit: Someone, probably here, pointed out once that TV news regularly reports "Women are wearing their bras too tight and it's somehow dangerous", with two minutes of cameras pointed at large breasts to demonstrate the health risk. Whereof ratings result.

I would put "Young hot teenagers having new wild sex and it's somehow dangerous" stories into the same category.

"Sitting around complaining about having nothing to do" is not good TV, even though that was like 99% of my free time as a teenager.

#721 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 09:55 AM:

Add to that the American Obesity Epidemic, which is based on several very false premises:

1. That BMI has any medical basis for use -- it was in fact a measure made up by a Victorian by looking at his friends and ESTIMATING their weights, and then designating certain ranges unhealthy. More recently (10-15 years ago?), the range of 'unhealthy' was widened by narrowing the 'healthy' band, again with absolutely no reference to statistics about real people, populations, or health. Because of that fence-moving, we suddenly had a massive epidemic of 'unhealthily fat' people.

2. That one's BMI correlates causally to any negative health outcomes at all. There is no proof that being fat causes all the things it is said to cause. There is some good evidence from large studies that certain kinds of being-very-fat is a comorbidity with some of the Caused By Fat things (heart stuff, diabetes), but not that it is causal. It may even be the effect in many cases. There is lots of good data about quite old people showing that those who are 'underweight' or 'healthy' on the BMI charts actually DIE FASTER than people who are a bit 'overweight'.

3. That is is simply a matter of willpower and work for anyone to change their body's base weight and keep it there indefinitely. Studies have shown again and again, no weight loss method or diet (including bariatric surgery) will keep the weight off for more than three years for anything but a vanishingly small percentage of the users, on the order of 10%. For everyone else the weight comes back and brings all its friends. Yes, individuals can, with lots and lots of work (often taking over their whole lives) change their bodies. And sometimes it sticks. But it is not a moral failing to have a higher BMI or a squidgy middle, and it doesn't even necessarily mean you're unhealthy. There are marathonners who are visibly, jigglingly 'fat', even leaving out the people who have enough lean muscle mass to throw their BMI out of kilter. Those marathonners are much healthier than I am, even though many doctors would hassle them a lot harder about 'weight loss' than they do me.

If you remove those three underpinning premises, suddenly all this talk about the obesity epidemic becomes no more valid than showing shots of jiggling breasts while talking about bra sizes.

Humans have always varied in their bodyfat percentage; now that our diets are generally much more full of nutrition, we're getting EXPRESSION of a wider range of percentages than was previously visible in the population, but that doesn't mean We're All Gonna Suddenly Die. And it ends up hurting a lot of people when we keep pretending their fatness is the major medical (and moral) problem they have.

Anyone for whom any of this is new info might also like to google the phrase "health at any size" or HAES. I'll quit ranting.

#722 ::: Mongoose hasn't fed the gnomes today ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:33 AM:

Elliott @ 721: oh my. Don't get me started. Well, you have, so I'll try to keep it as brief as I can.

1. Somewhere on the Internet, there is a very telling series of photographs of a huge variety of people, of all sizes, shapes and body types. Under each picture is a one-word description of them based on their BMI: "underweight", "normal", "overweight" or "obese". I'd say fewer than half of the people in the pictures matched their BMI-based description. That, of course, was the point of the series of photos.

2. As you point out, ideas about what is a normal weight and what is not have shifted wildly. They've done it in my lifetime. Can anyone else recall the advertisements for a product called "Wate-On", which was marketed as the solution to a problem called "being too skinny and therefore unattractive" in exactly the same way that diet products today are marketed to solve "being too fat and therefore unattractive"?

3. Oh, food morality. Aaaaargh. In the last place I worked, there were lots of Skinny Women On Diets who drove themselves into a tizzy whenever there were cakes, biscuits or sweets around (which there quite often were, as people often over-catered for meetings to be on the safe side). They'd go into a long spiel about how they shouldn't be eating this, then they'd eat it, then they'd go on a guilt trip. To hell with that attitude. I used to tell them, "Look. Lying is a sin. Stealing is a sin. Cheating is a sin. Chocolate is not a sin; it's just a food." Ironically, our section head was fond of saying, "There's no such thing as unhealthy food, only an unhealthy diet," but I don't think they ever got the message. Certain foods always had to be Bad and Wrong in themselves; I'm tempted to add "so they could be martyrs", though that might be a little uncharitable.

When I was a kid, there weren't gyms unless you were a professional athlete of some kind, and everyone had a piece of cake or a biscuit now and again and didn't make a huge song and dance about how it would make them fat and nobody would ever love them. And, strangely enough, fewer people were fat. I am convinced that the whole "forbidden food" idea causes more overweight than it prevents, not to mention a shedload of entirely avoidable stress.

#723 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:35 AM:

Oh, sorry! I got so carried away that I forgot to remove the gnome reference. Not gnomed this time.

#724 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:46 AM:

albatross #712

This Scientific American piece says that college students now don't hook up anymore than they did in the 80s.

I bet that if the data were there we'd find that they don't hook up any more than they did in the '50s.

#725 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 11:33 AM:

I got out of HS in the late 60s, and from what I noticed in the following Year Away At College, the place wasn't nearly as wild as all the stories would have you believe. (The students taking over the student union, that was real. It resulted in more interesting publications on the tables.)

#726 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:39 PM:

Mongoose, #722: Illustrated BMI Categories.

(Side note: Is anyone else as unhappy with Flickr's "new look" as I am? It looks messy on the page, half of the images get truncated, and it takes for-fricking-ever to load. I think they're trying to make your Flickr page look like a Pinterest page -- but if I wanted that, I'd get a Pinterest account!)

Also, there's a lot of stuff fueling the changes in obesity levels besides the idea of "forbidden foods". But I live with someone who is evangelical on that topic, which makes me hyper-sensitive about going into details unless asked.

#727 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:40 PM:

I've got miniature Heath bars to offer...

#728 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:47 PM:

Reposting part of my own comment on the Song of The South thread:

As a side note... I don't know when it began, but America has been afraid of its children for a long time. This became explicit during the 60's, but in more recent decades, it has gotten worse, and it has hybridized with other American pathologies, notably the libertine/puritan split (both co-dependent and fixated) that goes back to our founding.

Here I'll elaborate a bit more: The libertine and puritan strains of American culture play off each other and define themselves in terms of standing against the other -- but because they both claim to be "the real America", they can't admit that the other strain is a valid culture in its own right. That demands constantly trying to suppress their awareness of the other side... which leads to fixation -- obsession with what you're trying to suppress. With respect to kids:

The libertines don't want their kids punished or abused for what they see as perfectly normal pre-sexual and early sexual activity. They especially don't want their kids slut-shamed or declared Child Sexual Offenders, or any of the worse things that can be done to kids in the name of "Defending Purity".

Meanwhile, the puritans don't want their children to be exposed to sexual stimuli, because part of propagating the puritan stance is preventing early exposure or awareness to sexuality, while also pre-emptively training against actual expressions of sexuality. That is, those are (some of) the conditions which make puritanism transmissible down the generations. In short, the puritans are correctly recognizing the presence and visibility of libertines as an existential threat to their worldview.

#729 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:48 PM:

Open Threadiness: I got a kick out of this tweet from the Doubleclicks: Were just invited to a con & were promised they have a harassment policy and "it will be enforced by a local roller derby team." cc:@scalzi

If you're not familiar with the Doubleclicks, they are a folk duo (sisters) from Portland, Oregon who write and perform nerdy songs. Their current hit is Nothing to Prove , but I have a very soft spot for 'Hollywood Raptor' and 'Oh, Mr. Darcy'.

#730 ::: janetl has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:49 PM:

For the link to Youtube? I did try so hard not to have errant spaces!

[A comma with a space to either side. -- Maleios Cifarge, Duty Gnome]

#731 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 03:27 PM:

Lee @ 726: I'm grateful, but will have to express that in circumlocutory terms as I don't want to wear out the gnomes' hospitality today.

#732 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:06 PM:

Lila (@718) and mongoose: "As for the rest, I hope I am ignorant."

#733 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:07 PM:

Just had some internet fugghead tell me that the word 'tapestry' can only be used of things made in a factory by a particular technique (which he did not describe).

Right, because these were definitely made in a factory, 300 years before the invention of mass production. Or maybe it's called a factory when a bunch of people sit around hand-embroidering a unique object, and I just didn't know that.

#734 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:22 PM:

Xopher @ 733: did you ask him what he called the Bayeux Thing?

#735 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:29 PM:

Maleios Cifarge, Duty Gnome @ 730: Oh, I see that space comma space now. I was focused on extra spaces around periods, because I still have the bad habit of double-spacing after a period, learned on a typewriter.

Why, yes, I do know how to type on a sheet of paper and do vertical spacing properly to fit footnotes on the bottom! Come the apocalypse that destroys our electrical system, I can count on being in high demand for clerical positions in academia. Such survival skills give me peace of mind.

#736 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:33 PM:

Well, to be fair, although I do say "Bayeux Tapestry" for that fabric object featuring Halley's Comet, I am enough of a pedant to append (*not actually a tapestry--actually crewel embroidery). But only in my head.

Still wish Charles Babbage had known someone with a jacquard loom, though.

#737 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:38 PM:

The worst thing is that this came in response to my response to someone's joke that there was no butch way to pronounce 'tapestry'. I said "Sure there is: 'wall hanging'." While it may be true that some things are tapestries and others are not, all the ones that ARE can also be called wall hangings...

...especially since macho dialect accepts inaccuracies, even gross inaccuracies, in the service of not having to say any "sissy" words.

#738 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:15 PM:

Mongoose @ 722: I think it was a commenter on Kate Harding's blog who coined the phrase "It's pizza, not genocide."

When I hear someone say "Oh, I'm SO BAD for eating that!" I think to myself "It's cake, not genocide." And then I giggle quietly to myself.

#739 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:35 PM:

Caroline @ 738: I'll remember that one!

I also suspect food guilt tends to distract some people's energies from feeling guilty about the things that maybe they should be feeling a little guilty about. I have no proof of this, but I can recall an individual who would go into agonies of guilt if she ate a chocolate chip muffin, but didn't seem even remotely remorseful about casual racism.

#740 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 06:02 PM:

AKICIML: I'm looking for a word that may not exist, but should.

Does anyone have a term for the sort of dramatic irony that either spoils or distorts your expectations of a film or TV episode depending on the casting?

(For example: I had an episode of Person of Interest spoiled for me by the fact that one of two possible suspects was played by Qvnaar Jvrfg, whom I know from Gur Gragu Xvatqbz. I figured, correctly as it turned out, that nobody would cast that particular performer in a role that didn't provide scope for the performer's, um, range.)

Incidentally, I'm going to be offline for the rest of the evening, so if I appear to be ignoring helpful responses, I'm not!

#741 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 06:45 PM:

Open-threadiness before I turn in for the night.

There are several things I'm finding here. One of them is "here are the people I belong with, and why have I not found you all before?" Another is somewhat more bittersweet. Just about everyone here reminds me (at times) in some way of a very dear friend of mine with whom I used to have a lively semi-regular e-mail correspondence. This person is still a very dear friend, but the e-mail correspondence is no longer possible due to, for want of a better word, politics. I won't go into the politics here, but it's unfortunate for both of us.

And this is making me realise just how much I still miss getting lively, well-read e-mails covering just about everything, served up with a generous dollop of surreal humour. If that sounds like your sort of thing too, how would you feel about corresponding? If there's interest, I'll create a temporary e-mail address which I can post here and then kill as soon as the inevitable spam comes rolling in.

#742 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:03 PM:

Lila, 740: I call that the "Law & Order Person You've Heard Of Rule."

#743 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:05 PM:

#740 Lila:
Does anyone have a term for the sort of dramatic irony that either spoils or distorts your expectations of a film or TV episode

No, but I can think of a few stories I'd love to see adapted, except that they depend on a background character in the opening scene turning out to be important later, and if anyone remotely recognizable were cast, at least a portion of the audience would think "Hm, why would they hire him/her for just that one scene?"

#744 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:30 PM:

that there was no butch way to pronounce 'tapestry'. I said "Sure there is: 'wall hanging'."

Well, that's more butch than 'arras,' anyway.

#745 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:33 PM:

TV listings that spoil the show. TV Guide used to be so good at doing that, I got somewhat wary of reading their capsule descriptions. Sometimes the description itself would give the ending away. Sometimes the cast list (remember those?) would include a listing like
MacMillan……Rock Hudson
Wife……Susan St. James
Surprise Murderer……Merv Griffin

But the scenario Mongoose and Sarah mention was in there too. ("Hey, why is #BIGNAMEACTOR playing a throwaway extra in the first scene? Oh…" or "Why did the doorman get third billing?")

#746 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:44 PM:

TV listings that spoil the show. TV Guide used to be so good at doing that, I got somewhat wary of reading their capsule descriptions. Sometimes the description itself would give the ending away. Sometimes the cast list (remember those?) would include a listing like
MacMillan……Rock Hudson
Wife……Susan St. James
Surprise Murderer……Merv Griffin

But the scenario Mongoose and Sarah mention was in there too. ("Hey, why is #BIGNAMEACTOR playing a throwaway extra in the first scene? Oh…" or "Why did the doorman get third billing?")

#747 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:46 PM:

Tch. It told me I was posting too fast. No wonder, as it had already quietly accepted the post it said it had rejected (and hid the rest of the page from me so I couldn't tell without reopening it in another window, and why would I do that?).

Must have been my antignomes at work.

#748 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 08:07 PM:

Lila 740: I've heard that called the "actor you recognize" effect, which isn't a word, exactly. The idea is that the actor you recognize is probably the killer (in a murder mystery). It's on TVTropes, somewhere. Not looking because once I start looking at that site I keep looking until I faceplant on the keyboard.

#749 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 08:27 PM:

Xopher: Narrowed It Down To The Guy I Recognize.

Warning: TV Tropes link!

#750 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 09:20 PM:

Could someone please re-post the meeting time & place for the Gathering of Light at Worldcon? My brain is like a sieve this week. Thank you.

Also, may I suggest that "Fluorosphere" be added to the name list on the Voodoo Board and used to communicate messages that everyone needs to see? I'll be happy to do the adding, since we may well be there before most of the rest of you.

#751 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 09:40 PM:

Mongoose: I would be interested.

#752 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:20 PM:

Perhaps this is my historical ignorance, but weren't tapestries generally owned and commissioned by dudes whose fun activities involved jousting and picking duels with swords? How isn't that butch enough?

#753 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:27 PM:

Lee @750: We plan to meet Friday evening (Art Night) at the convention center about 6:15 pm, probably near the Voodoo board.

I'll be happy to do the adding, since we may well be there before most of the rest of you.

Please do.

#754 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:41 PM:

In other news, the Language Creation Society (LCS) will be presenting a language relevent topic at LoneStarCon 3 (LSC) Monday noon in room 008B. Attendees who are interested in this sort of thing are invited. This event is not listed in the printed program book.

#755 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 11:09 PM:

(Now that I"m back from my daughter's aerial silks show)

Thanks, everyone. I should have known TVTropes would have something relevant. Like Xopher, I'm wary of TVTropes because I tend to find myself in a maze of twisty references, all equally intriguing, and then I look up and it's 3 a.m.

#756 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 11:16 PM:

albatross, it's only the word that isn't butch enough.

#757 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:12 AM:

Open threadiness: This McClatchy article describes the Obama administration aggressively going after people for offering classes on beating polygraph tests. It's short and worth reading.

The administration's responses to whistleblowers are nasty and evil, but they also look to me like the decisions of people who have a lot of power, and are in over their heads. Somewhere on the net (maybe here) I recall reading a comment that you could tell when someone had been promoted past their abilities, because they would start demanding stuff that didn't make sense (like getting fixated on nonessential questions while missing the big picture). I think there is a lot of that happening right now.

Giving police and spies and such more power turns out not to make them any smarter, but it does make it easier for them to shut people up who offend or frighten them, and to behave in increasingly thuggish ways. I make two predictions:

a. We will continue to see weird overreactions to things that upset or offend the cops, spies, homeland security types, etc, because they have more power than before, and many people are already afraid to offend them, making them even less likely to hear any pushback.

b. We probably won't enjoy how this works out. But that mostly won't matter, because our input is not wanted.

#758 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:24 AM:

albatross @ #747, the evidence Dave Zirin of The Nation provides about what he saw at the March in DC today would support your theory: ". . . it does make it easier for them to shut people up who offend or frighten them, and to behave in increasingly thuggish ways."

#759 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 04:03 AM:

Giggling over T's Minecraft cat fountain. What really makes it are the little kitteh voices.

#760 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:09 AM:

Elliott @ 751: thank you! You should be able to reach me on mlmongoose [at] aceofsquee.33mail. [usual domain]. If you try that and nothing happens, please let me know; 33mail is normally pretty reliable, but just occasionally it glitches.

Lila @ 755: ahhh, yes. I know that feeling. I originally discovered that site just before I started reading manga, because some other people were talking about it and I wanted to know what on earth a tsundere was. After several unexpected hours in the winding trope-labyrinth, I pretty much knew what every single manga trope was, ever, and by that point I couldn't very well not go off and read some. (Incidentally, for those not already familiar with it, Manga Here is a treasure trove of manga translated into English; the site itself is annoyingly flashy for my taste, but once you get down into the actual manga there are no distractions. They even have a manga version of the popular TV series Sherlock; it's beautifully drawn, and I am told by those who own TVs that it is also very faithful to the original series.)

#761 ::: Mongoose is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:11 AM:

Ah. Possibly for the reference to my temporary e-mail provider, but that's just a guess. Cashew butter sandwiches all round, then!

[You were grateful. You know where that leads.—Anglesea Vervain, Duty Gnome]

#763 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 07:04 AM:

O wise gnomes, may I thank people in Italian? Or, alternatively, I could do it in French, Russian, German, Polish or Welsh. I don't speak all those languages, but I can be grateful in any of them.

#764 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 07:23 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @756: And playing 'taps' at the grave of the fallen warrior, that's not 'manly' enough either?

Although that one could be settled by re-branding it as 'Death Theme' from Big Action Movie.

#765 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 07:50 AM:

The whole topic of gender-appropriate behaviour is notoriously slippery, anyway. I've occasionally been told I'm not behaving appropriately for the gender I'm being read as by the person who is talking to me, and normally, rather than explode their brain by telling them I don't have a gender, I reply, "But plenty of people who are [gender you think I am] actually do [activity you think is not appropriate], so it can hardly be as inappropriate as you think it is." And, in fact, for pretty much any activity you care to name, you can find a historical time and place where men did it and another one where women did it.

My great-uncle, incidentally, did tapestry (in the more modern sense of "large pieces of wool-on-canvas embroidery" rather than the strict sense of "figured weaving"). He was good at it, too.

#766 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 09:38 AM:

Mongoose (765): I'm a bit confused. I have always understood/used 'asexual' to mean 'not remotely interested in sexual activity' (a description that mostly but not entirely fits me), so that's the way I read your earlier comments. Given your latest, am I correct in thinking that you are instead using it to mean that you don't consider yourself to have a gender?

I apologize if this question is in any way offensive.

#767 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 09:46 AM:

Mary Aileen @766: One can be both asexual and neuter ...

#768 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 09:48 AM:

Elliott Mason (767): Of course! That makes perfect sense.

#769 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 10:01 AM:

Or, of course, one without the other. :-> I have a friend who is agendered but has sexual interests, which leads to some interesting conversations with zir prospective sweeties.

#770 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 11:15 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 766: yes, Elliott has got it right - I identify as both asexual and non-gendered. In my experience (though it's notoriously hard to get hold of exact figures), it's more common for asexual people than for sexual people to identify as genderqueer or non-gendered. I have a theory about this, which is that since most sexual people get involved in sexual relationships, it's much more advantageous for them to be obviously gendered than it is for asexual people. But, of course, the rider to any statement at all involving groups of human beings is "although it's actually more complicated than that".

#771 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 11:57 AM:

Mongoose (770): Thank you for explaining.

I am reminded of Sherwood Smith's Banner of the Damned, in which one prominent culture has words for 'sexually attracted to men', 'sexually attracted to women', and 'not sexually attracted to anyone'. None of these words are gendered.

#772 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Re Patrick's link about retailers in the US refusing to sell to Iranians in the US: Perhaps this is just my starting beliefs coming out, but I suspect this has to do with the fact that some of these laws do get applied in pretty broad ways, and that it's not intuitive when you will and won't get in trouble.

You know those prosecutions and SWAT raids and multi-year investigations that are meant to "send a message?" They really do send a message--one that says "don't even get close to breaking this law, because it's a swamp and its enforcers have no scruples." I gather this happens with doctors specializing in pain management, where a prosecutor and some DEA agents get to overrule the doctor's medical judgement and can often send him to prison. Mysteriously, chronic pain patients find it hard to get decent treatment when you do that a few times. You have sent a message.

IMO as a non-lawyer, national security/terrorism laws scare the crap out of me. I don't have any feel for what can get someone sent to prison, or for what will trigger a spurious but life-wrecking multi-year legal nightmare. You can go to jail, as I understand it, for donating money to the wrong charity or for selling satellite decoder boxes that allow watching the wrong channel. In this climate, it's very understandable to me why private companies are paranoid. I get why someone designs a business process to err on the side of excluding people who should be included, under a narrow reading of the law. Most companies don't actually want to be the test case that eventually (after they have gone broke) reaches the Supreme Court and limits the application of the law.

#773 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:10 PM:


#774 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:26 PM:

Mongoose, #763: It has been experimentally determined that only effusive thanks trigger the filter. See my #750 for an example that didn't get gnomed. Or make it part of a sentence, as in "thank you for that link", etc. I'm sure other languages would also work, but the key in English is to avoid the dreaded exclamation point.

#775 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:26 PM:

See also Three Felonies a Day-- it's not just about laws on terrorism, though those have increased the risk.

#776 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:33 PM:

Lee @ 774: ah, thank you for that...

*looks nervously over shoulder*

#777 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 03:08 PM:

"Is antimoney something that mutually annihilates when it touches money?"

The short story "The Man Who Hated Cadillacs" by E.K. Grant had an appearance of anti-money. Basically, there was a device that converted objects into their relative worth in coinage, and during the course of the story it got turned on the bad guy, who turned out to be so far into debt that he became a stack of very aggressive anti-money.

#778 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:29 PM:

Advertizing facepalm time:

A Guinness ad showing their barley being roasted. The card:

I hold with those who favor fire.

Robert Frost

#779 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 06:41 PM:

Elliott Mason: something has become clear: Fifty Shades is D/s porn written by someone who's had no real-world (or detailed fiction-intake) experience of healthy, organized D/s. In exactly the same way that Twilight is a vampire novel written by someone who's never read a vampire novel before.

I would go further. When I was in college doing assigned papers (History and English double degree = unemployment in two fields) I used to come up with the occasional paper that was too short. At that point I'd pull down my copy of Strunk & White and start violating rules to bloviate to the preset limit. (That's why I had mental shocks whenever Patrick used to say mean things about S&W, since that book saved my bacon.) It has become clear to me that the author of the 50 Shades books ran into a copy of Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses and decided to violate all 18 listed rules "in the domain of romantic fiction" for similar reasons. It's really amazing: you'd think she would have gotten a few right by accident.

The quoted passage that made me realize they're not just bad porn but are actively dangerous was the one where The Dominant Master croons to his slave that if you're really in love you don't need safewords!

Oh, there's MUCH worse than that in there. I realize that I'm cheating by reading a takedown, which is the Cliff Notes version with extra snark, but the excerpts presented reminds me of the experiments that the wonderful Genevieve Valentine did in the Twilight movie lines: she handed out lists of ten details of a relationship type and asked folks to check the ones that applied to Bella and Edward. Usually they picked seven and said they wished their partners would do that for them. When she showed them that the questions were from a list of warning signs of an abusive relationship they still wished their partners would do that for them. So far in the two books worth of chapter excerpts there is at least one manoeuver described which would cause lasting physical damage unless the female participant was Jennifer Walters in her alternate state.

The most devastating short critique I know of was for a book by John Lilly: "It reads as if it was dictated while jogging." I'd argue that this doesn't quite fit the 50 Shades books since I don't have the air necessary after jogging to produce the unending flow of logorrhea the narrator spews, but I may just be too out of shape.

I haven't read the Twilight books, but I have to ask: does the female lead in them hate all other female characters the way the female lead in the 50 Shades books seems to hate the other women in her story? Because this cupcake has got a case of raging paranoia that someone is going to steal her studmuffin every time a woman that's not a Miyazaki grandmother shows up, and her body image is for shit.

I keep hearing how there is fanfiction that doesn't make you feel embarrassed to read it, or isn't badly written, and I resolve to read some only to run into a pile of cowpie like this and say to myself "At least professionally published books have copyeditors." Although the ones that handled 50 Shades seem to have been in an alternate state when this thing wandered in under the transom.

#780 ::: dancingcrow ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 06:53 PM:

Bruce Durbin @ 777 -

I believe Aunty Mony may be a sister of mine, along with Aunty Gnomonic. My nephew refers to me as Aunty Gravity. My daughters and I have spent some happy time finding other aunts, and describing their attributes. My favorites are Aunty Bellum, who is quite old fashioned and has distressing views, and Aunty Podes who is usually in Australia.

#781 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 07:15 PM:

C. Wingate, #778: Dear ghod. Did someone not read the rest of the poem (it's not that long!), or did they simply fail to understand it?

Bruce D., #779: You might start by looking at some of the various fanfics which have been recommended here. This group has high quality standards and isn't going to link drek... or at leas not without a point-and-laugh warning.

#782 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 07:21 PM:

Of course, the brilliance of Columbo's "howcatchem" plot structure was that it completely sidestepped the problem of recognition ruining the suspense.

#783 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 07:51 PM:

@753, 754: I still haven't pinned down my linguistic or conlanging topic for the presentation at LoneStarCon 3, much less written up notes, so it might be advisable for somebody else to finish organizing the Gathering of Light (i.e. pick the restaurant and make reservations). Sorry. Here's my current list of attendees:

Paula Helm Murray
Christopher Davis
Skwid and wife
Lin Daniel
Fragano Ledgister and Gail
Michael I
David Goldfarb
Tom Whitmore (beginning only)

Lee's partner
Serge Broom
Bill Stewart

#784 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 07:54 PM:

I hold with those who favor fire.
Ha! Take that, Smirnoff Ice!™

My nephew earned outright unfeigned laughter from me earlier this year when he said "…That's why my safe word is 'keep going.'"
(It was new to ME.)

"Say there, Mister Bugs! Do you know how to make anti-fweeze?"
—Elmer Fudd

#785 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:56 PM:

Rob 764: I'm not at all sure where you're coming from on that. In fact I'm in a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot state about it. Could you explain?

In case we're really missing each other here: You do know that I'm ridiculing the macho that would rather be inaccurate than say an unbutch word, and that finds 'tapestry' humiliating to pronounce, right?

#786 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 09:00 PM:

Having recently watched Despicable Me 2, I suggest that the macho way to pronounce "tapestry" is to shout it while skyboarding into a volcano on a shark filled with dynamite.

#788 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 11:26 PM:

International Business Times reports that Icelanders, outraged at Franklin Graham's anti-gay-marriage stance, have reserved all the tickets in his upcoming "Festival of Hope" appearance, with the intention of not showing up. While it's possible that some Graham fans may have been in time to reserve tickets, it appears that almost all of the seats will be empty.

#789 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 11:33 PM:

Cally @788: And furthermore, the Church of Iceland has made it clear that they do NOT support Graham in this tour and are not affiliated with him, no matter what Graham's website copy may say.

#790 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 09:48 AM:

Cally Soukup #788: Hmm... I'm assuming that "reserving" the tickets in this case doesn't actually involve paying money, or Graham gets "money for nothing". Unfortunately, that's something that Graham could easily fix for next time.

#791 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 09:52 AM:

PSA: For once in its existence, "Mallard Fillmore" is funny. Luddite.

#792 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 10:40 AM:

#790 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 09:48 AM:

Cally Soukup #788, Dave Harmon #790:
It turns out that the tickets are free, and each person can reserve up to four.

Go, Icelanders!*

*Or is the correct name Ice? Swiss live in Switzerland, so Ice live in Iceland, yes?

#793 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 11:18 AM:

I went to Graham's site, and it says

"On-Line Bookings for Hatid Vonar tickets is temporarily suspended.

Please be patient with us as we work on resolving this issue."

Amusingly, the "d" is actually not a "d" but an ð. It figures that Graham's people don't know how to transliterate an ð into English: "th". Of course if they did, they'd be faced with the word "Hatith", which may be a little to close to comfort.

The fact that it calls them "suspended", and an "issue" and not "sold out" must mean they know about the protest. The only question is how will they deal with it.

Unfortunately, there is a work-around available to Graham. If I were him (and I'm glad I'm not), I'd announce first come first served seating, no tickets required, and advertise heavily among those churches that invited him to show up, tickets or no. Still, even if he does that, the venue holds 5,500 people. Can he fill most of those seats? I doubt it.

#794 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 11:27 AM:

Open-threadiness: I am continually puzzled by the word "ouster".

I am puzzled because it seems to be an anomaly. To me, the -er suffix (like the similar -or suffix) denotes an active agent rather than an action. An "advertiser" is a person who advertises, not the act of advertising. A "promoter" is one who promotes, not a promotion. So why do we talk about the "ouster", rather than, say, the "ousting", of a dictator?

And, on a related note, when did this usage start? I'm pretty sure it's very recent (this century).

#795 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 12:40 PM:

Also: paging the two people who have e-mailed me. I haven't previously used the temporary e-mail facility for more than a single reply, so I wasn't aware how it worked. I thought what happened was that when you e-mail me via the temporary address and I reply, it comes from my regular e-mail address.

In fact it turns out that it does not. When I reply to you, it's redirected through the temporary address and anonymised, and I'm only allowed one such anonymised reply every 24 hours, which I've just used. This means that we physically have to exchange real e-mail addresses, rather than having the temporary address bow out gracefully on its own.

Sorry about that - I had no clue.

#796 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 12:55 PM:


Depending on how much privacy you're wanting, wouldn't it be easier to create a new Gmail address not connected with your other email addresses? This won't keep Google or NSA from figuring out the connection (say, this person always comes to Gmail from the same IP address as that person), but it will provide a layer of separation if you're worried about inviting correspondence from someone that turns out to be a stalker or nut of some kind.

#797 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:00 PM:

Mongoose, you can also reach me via my website (linked from my name).

#798 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:02 PM:


I don't dispute your take on who the good guys and bad guys are in this case, but I wouldn't really think this was playing fair if it were done to my side. So I don't think it's okay when it's done to the other side, either.

Imagine someone giving pro-gay-rights speeches somewhere where this position is unpopular, and, say, the LDS church and the local Catholic diocese carry out exactly this process to ensure that the people who want to see the speaker can't get in. Would that seem okay to you?

Or suppose in the runup to the Iraq war, someone had been going around giving antiwar speeches, and the local College Republicans carried out this hack to ensure that the auditorium for the antiwar speech was empty. I'd kind-of think that was a lousy thing to do.

So I can't avoid thinking the same thing about this. It's a clever hack with an unsympathetic victim, but it still seems a pretty shitty way to have public discussion work out.

#799 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:03 PM:

The gnomes find my posts especially tasty.

#800 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:10 PM:

It occurs to me that a nice side-effect of b/r/i/b/i/n/g/ contributing to the provisions of the hardworking gnomes is that it makes it much clearer when someone accidentally leaves "gnome" in their namefield. If they write a perfectly normal post with no reference to either foodstuffs or gnomes, then I, at least, am pretty sure it's just a carryover.

#801 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:19 PM:

Carol @ 797: thanks for that (a phrase which appears to be gnome-proof so far); I've e-mailed. Your site looks fascinating! Being an SCA member, I'm very interested in historical clothing reproductions.

albatross @ 796: I've never had a stalker or a nut via a temporary address so far, but I've had spam. The spam filters on Gmail are pretty good for most purposes, but they don't always catch stuff that is coming in via a temporary address, as I've discovered. I prefer to keep the spam down to a minimum if possible.

#802 ::: Mongoose is gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:21 PM:

I've got some chocolate fudge cake. I'm just not sure there's enough to go round. How many gnomes have we, and how big is a gnome-sized portion?

#803 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 03:09 PM:

Mongoose, I'm betting you got gnomed for complementing Carol's site. There are a huge number of spams which are nothing but contentless praise.

#804 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 03:51 PM:

Albatross @ 772:
I've run into your example case personally.

A couple years ago, after my previous rheumatologist (arthritis specialist) who I adored had died, I went to see a new rheumatologist who had a good reputation. I went through the usual several visits and battery of tests to get pretty much what I had expected: I obviously have some kind of arthritis, including some of the joint swelling and classic "swan's neck" deformation, but we can rule out nearly all of the common or even uncommon kinds and he had no idea what it can be.

At that point I asked if I could come back and see him periodically to get a prescription for Rx painkillers if it flared up, since I nearly died once of an NSAID-induced ulcer and can't safely take NSAIDs in any quantity.

His answer made my jaw drop: "I don't prescribe pain medicine. You need to see your regular doctor for that, or go see a pain management specialist." I didn't quiz him about the reasons, as I felt pretty sure of them; I just left.

What could motivate someone to specialize exclusively in a class of diseases whose main symptom is chronic pain, often much more severe than mine, and not offer any kind of pain treatment to his patients? I think it probably takes fear of being prosecuted and jailed for prescribing painkillers. (Fortunately my arthritis has usually been mild in recent years, and between that and meditation I have been able to get by with the occasional prescription from my primary doctor, which lasts me a long time.)

#805 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 04:53 PM:

Clifton (@804) I am astonished! I am in exactly the opposite situation. I had, for good reason recently fired my rheumatologist (he *laughed* at my report of side effects of a medication he prescribed), and had not yet found another. They are scarce around here, it seems. My regular doctor was especially anxious that I should find a new specialist as soon as possible.

After I found a new one, I asked my regular doctor a question concerning pain relief, and he declined to discuss it with me, saying that now that I finally had a rheumatologist, I should take this kind of question to him.

Since he himself prescribed the medication I am concerned about, and since he prescribed it while I was seeing a rheumatologist, I can only conclude that the dividing lines have shifted while I wasn't looking.

#806 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 05:35 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Local man is considering changing his name to Yukon Cornelius after his wife brings home yet another rescue case - a 4-year-old greyhound-mix boy missing one hind leg.

#807 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 09:10 PM:

Totally unrelated to any other topic: I just watched the International Space Station fly overhead. I never fail to get a kick out of that (and we've had very few clear nights lately, so it's been a while).

For those who are interested, you can sign up for email or text alerts to let you know when the station is visible from your location.

#808 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 12:07 AM:

HLN: Local woman drives from Houston up to Trenton, TX (location of Pegasus Publishing) to pick up a load of shirts destined for Worldcon, and then back to Houston in the van Instant Attitudes is borrowing for the con.* It's about 5 hours each way, and the trip home hits Dallas at the heart of the evening rush hour. "I'm glad I don't have to do this very often," she says. "I've had longer days behind the wheel, but usually they're in my own car, not a large and unfamiliar vehicle."

* After the con, my partner will drive the borrowed van back to Trenton and retrieve my car. I'll be without a car on Tuesday, but as I can't imagine wanting to do anything that day except recover from the con, that's not a problem.

#809 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 01:12 AM:

Linking in another post from The Toast, their editor has written a neat (positive) post about A Canticle for Leibowitz. The comments are worth at least half the price of admission.

#810 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 03:14 AM:

With the news that Linda Ronstadt has Parkinson's Disease and can no longer sing comes this appreciation of her voice and talent.

This is a blow, as I've been a huge fan of hers since she began with The Stone Poneys and Mike Nesmith's song "Different Drum."

#811 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:04 AM:

re: Worldcon Gathering of Light

Are Mexican food, entree prices in the $10-15 range*, and a walk of 0.4 mile** acceptable to everyone?

Is the list of attendees @783 accurate?

*per Urbanspoon

**per Google maps

#812 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:31 AM:

I wrote a gnome poem:

The gnomes of Making Light,
we labour day and night;
when dunderheads pollute your threads
we whisk them out of sight,
for we are granted power
to lock them in the tower,
while you with flair and insight rare
improve each shining hour.
We run on nimble feet,
and life is mostly sweet...
but triple damn this blasted spam!
It's nearly all we eat.

We have spam fritters, spam au vin, spam roll,
spam-in-a-basket, spam-in-the-hole,
spam fricassee, terrine of spam;
we've even invented the first spam jam.
There isn't a style we haven't tried;
we've sampled it baked and boiled and fried,
we've put it in casseroles and stews,
rissoles and rarebits and ragouts,
and Heston Blumenthal joined the team
to help us develop spam ice cream.
There's also our famous rich spam cake;
you can wash it down with a cold spam shake,
but none of this matters a single gramme
when everything tastes of blasted spam.

So, if we take you home,
don't fret and fume and foam;
quite soon, you know, we'll let you go,
so won't you help a gnome?
Although it may seem strange,
we only want a change;
we'll gladly eat with joy complete
all food that you arrange.
We don't mean to be rude;
our gnomish gratitude
we all extend to every friend
who brings delicious food.

We like apricots, almonds, beef or blini,
spaghetti, lasagne or tortellini,
goulash, gherkins, chocolate cake,
cod, salmon, tuna, prawns or hake.
Bhuna, vindaloo, madras or phal -
pass 'em over here, we love them all,
and we'll top it off with a glass of lassi
(it's better than Coke, which makes us gassy).
Meringues, macaroons, they're welcome here
with a cup of tea or a pint of beer,
or a bottle of wine from your castle cellar,
or... did we mention, we love paella?
Or a simple sandwich of cheese and ham,
but, by all that's gnomely, spare us spam!

#813 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:50 AM:

Mongoose: excellent. I hope "bravo!" doesn't trip the spam filters.

#814 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 08:35 AM:

Mongoose @812, excellent.

#815 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 09:26 AM:

Mongoose @ 812: That is splendid. I just finished (and thoroughly enjoyed) Laura Anne Gilman's new book "Heart of Briar". The gnomes were evil and powerful little creeps, quite unlike our local variety.

#816 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 10:11 AM:

iamnothing @ 783... Put me in the I-am-definitely-going-to-be-there-category.

#817 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 10:11 AM:

iamnothing @ 783... Put me in the I-am-definitely-going-to-be-there-category.

#818 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 11:03 AM:

Very nice, Mongoose!

#819 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 11:03 AM:

Very nice, Mongoose!

#820 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 11:28 AM:

Oh goodness...
A TV series based on "12 Monkeys"?
It *is* one of the best movies about time travel.
On SyFy?

#821 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 11:41 AM:

Oh, well done, Mongoose!

#822 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 01:10 PM:

RIP, Neil Armstrong. The number of people who have walked on the moon keeps dropping.

#823 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 01:13 PM:

Serge, thank your former countrymen for us.

#824 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 01:13 PM:

With research, I just realized it's old news, so cancel that.... Still, it's the anniversary.

#825 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 01:34 PM:

>PJ Evans @ 823... I have fond memories of those fat-bellied yellow birds.

#826 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 01:51 PM:

Mongoose, that's a riot.

#827 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee Cowper ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 02:04 PM:

Now I'm all hungry.

#828 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 02:15 PM:

Grazie, tutti... that should be safe, I think!

#829 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 03:21 PM:

GlendaP @811

Yes, yes, yes

no. Add "and guest" to Lin Daniel's listing

#830 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 03:51 PM:

GlendaP @ 811... Are Mexican food, entree prices in the $10-15 range*, and a walk of 0.4 mile** acceptable to everyone?


#831 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 04:13 PM:

Three well-fed and torpid ch**rs for Mongoose. (The normal exclamation points have been fed to the gnomes' excitable watchdogs, to keep them quiet.)

#832 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Hooray for Mongoose (exclamation point).

HLN: Local woman quietly announces impending nuptials to her Fabulous Girlfriend. "After much discussion, of pros and cons, of past baggage and future hopes, we have agreed upon a date," she said. The ceremonies will be of the civil kind, at the court house in the nearby large city. "We had initially hoped to keep this small," she admitted, "But we can't overlook the aunties, nor the machetunim, and, well, there's just more people who must be invited even if they can't attend." The future brides plan a short honeymoon of the camping type, in a location yet to be identified even to themselves.

#833 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 04:31 PM:

Oh Ginger, I am so so happy for both of you! Congratulations!

#834 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Ginger @832:

Awwww. Congratulations!

#835 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 04:39 PM:

Ginger, this is great news!

#836 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @785: I picked up the guy you were talking about thought the word 'tapestry' was too unmanly to even speak.

My convoluted (and not particularly clever*) notion was to take a slice out of the word (taps) which had noble and military connotations. It might have been clever if the words had a common root; as far as I know they don't.

*My excuse of record will be it was too early in the morning.

#837 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:04 PM:

Ginger, is it too early to throw confetti over the happy couple?

#838 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:08 PM:



#839 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:11 PM:

GlendaP, #811: Fine by me.

Ginger, #832: Congratulations!

#840 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:15 PM:

Mongoose #812: Huzzah!
Ginger #832: Mazel Tov!

#841 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:19 PM:

Ginger: congratulations - that's lovely!

#842 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:27 PM:

Ginger @ 832... Congratulations!

#843 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:28 PM:

Ginger @ 832... Congratulations!

#844 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:44 PM:

Ginger: Congratulations!

#845 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:46 PM:

Ginger, I'm still breaking into the pleased smile that hit my puss when I read your news earlier.

#846 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:50 PM:

mongoose, that is hilarious. I love it.

And I exclaimed both of the sentences above. (And disclaim neither of them).

#847 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:52 PM:

GlendaP (#811): Sounds good to me.

Ginger: congratulations and felicitations!

#848 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:06 PM:

Ginger, yay!! Congratulations!

#849 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:11 PM:

Serge @ #830

This moose was on the road for most of today, a 400+ mile round trip from chez moose via Thiefrow to Deal (or No Deal?), which is about as far southeast of chez moose that you can get without wet feet. The satnav, which is old and somewhat cranky, decided that 'C' roads and farm tracks were the great "new thing" towards the end of the outward journey and was pointedly ignored for most of the return trip.

However, to return to the topic in hand, a motorway service area cafe on the M2 had "Mexican Bandit Baguettes" on sale. I was unable to resist asking (as Wednesday would have):

Are they made from real Mexican Bandits?

#850 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:15 PM:

*cheers for Ginger and her wife-to-be*

#851 ::: elise is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:17 PM:

Probably for whimsical formatting from the past aeons of Usenet or Fidonet or something.

The gnome on duty is welcome to share a nice lavender shortbread cookie.

#852 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:22 PM:

Ginger: How wonderfully cool, congrats!

#853 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:32 PM:

Cadbury Moose @ 849: this mongoose's best friend, who is incidentally a Mole, has a satnav rather like that. It once told him to turn right immediately, whereupon we ended up in the car park of a large DIY store. It took several minutes and much fruity talpid swearing to get out again. (The right turn we actually needed was a couple of hundred yards further on.)

I can't help but wonder if this may be a cunning plot to get people to buy more DIY stuff.

#854 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:38 PM:

Ginger @832, wonderful. Congratulations.

#855 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:46 PM:

Ginger @ 832

YAY*bang* Congrats*bang*


#856 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:06 PM:


Sounds fine.


Congratulations to both of you!

#857 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:07 PM:

Cadbury Moose @849

I got to test drive with one of the first voice GPS systems. The map makers were a The right turn, u-turn because it didn't know there was a left turn available was doable. The drive down what turned out to be a dirt "fire road or unfinished road" over a mountain was a bit of a challenge. Fortunately it was a completed road and Brunhilde (85 Chevy Caprice) and I made it thru ok. A friend later asked in an astonished voice, "You went over *Cougar* *Pass*?" I guess it's not normally done.

#858 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:12 PM:

Cadbury Moose in #849:

Baguettes? We don't need not steenking baguettes!

#859 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:18 PM:

Lin Daniel @856, I used to know someone who, perhaps ten years ago, was directed by his GPS to take his 35' RV (live-in-travel-trailer) down a logging road. Dirt. Narrow. Precipices and cliffs on either side. No possible way to turn around....

I'll never know how he made it. (Probably neither will he.)

And, congratulations, Ginger!

#860 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:27 PM:

Congratulations and best wishes to Ginger and her FG.

Admiration and bouquets to mongoose as well, with a plaintive cry from spam musubi asking why it was not included.

#861 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:35 PM:

Cassy B., I think Lucy and Desi showed how your friend did it in their 1953 film The Long, Long Trailer.

#862 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:42 PM:

Congratulations from here, too, Ginger and FG.

#863 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:43 PM:

Congratulations, Ginger!

#864 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:45 PM:

A very happy birthday to Fragano, whose birthday this is if FB has the right information. Many happy returns, Fragano!

Mongoose 812: Love it.

Ginger 832: Congratulations! All bright blessings for a long and happy marriage.

Rob 836: Ohhh. That makes sense, and is even funny. Pity I didn't get it at the time. "The crack I was telling you about is behind the taps there."

You know, the tapestry-geek bozo (NB: not all tapestry geeks are bozos, I'm sure) was using a different definition of 'factory', though the example he cited was still later than the Unicorn Tapestries. What this has to do with macho dudes calling them wall hangings I don't know, and really don't want to engage with him enough to find out. In fact if he tweets me one more time I'm going to block him.

#865 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 08:13 PM:

re: Worldcon Gathering of Light

I just made the reservation. Sixteen turns out to be the inflection point for where they seat us. By the current list, there are 16 yesses and three maybes. For now I have the 16 or less area, but I have a couple days to let them know if we're going to be more.

Replied today:
- GlendaP
- Lee
- Serge Broom
- Lin Daniel and guest
- Christopher Davis
- Michael I

Yes per earlier list:
- iamnothing
- Paula Helm Murray
- Skwid and wife
- Fragano Ledgister and Gail
- David Goldfarb
- KeithSCHip
- Tom Whitmore (beginning only)

- Lee's partner
- joann
- Bill Stewart

#866 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 09:03 PM:

Mongoose @ 812:

Bravo! or Brava! or... jeez, what's appropriate?

(pre-emptively offers the gnomes some home-made cranberry scones with a bit of orange zest added)

(I think we need a way to get food to the gnomes *without* tripping the spam filters...)

#867 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 09:05 PM:

Congratulations, Ginger!

#868 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 09:17 PM:

Ginger @ 832:


#869 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 09:26 PM:

glinda @865: Take a leaf from the Spanish-gender-neutraling movement and say Brav@? :-> That looks better handwritten, but I think bravo/a is awkward looking.

#870 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 09:30 PM:

Ginger!!!! Woo!!! :D

#871 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 09:48 PM:

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. Feel free to fling confetti on the afternoon of Friday, September 20th. Civil ceremonies are walk-in only, so we have no idea what time precisely, but we plan to arrive, mill about, line up, and get married. Following that, we shall depart for the obligatory feast.

Hm. What would we have at our virtual ML feast? Plums from the icebox must be on the menu, if I am not mistaken.

#872 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 09:49 PM:

Lin Daniel @854:

I suppose I could say "Ginger *potion* Congrats *potion*" then, yes?

[Bonus points for anybody who recognizes the source, and double bonus points for anybody who's been around the net long enough to play that in its original form. Triple bonus points for anybody who can argue cogently what the original form might be. Heh.]

#873 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 09:54 PM:

I know! I know! Though I only played at it, (@ it?) <grin> I never actually got more than a few levels down.

#874 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 10:00 PM:

elise @871: I met he-who-is-now-my-husband partly because of that game. :-> He was playing it in the Honors College computer lab (I was playing Civ, by preference), and if all the other computers were taken up by people legitimately doing homework, we'd shoulder-surf and keep each other company.

I still remember the first time he tried to pray in Wizard mode (reflexively) and it said "Force the gods to be pleased? (y/n)" He cackled and repeated the line and spun his office chair and completely lost it. :->

#875 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 10:25 PM:

Potions, yes *excla-potion mark* I once got part way through ascent as a v before I got flustered in Juiblex's lair and dropped my bag in a pool of ~. Bad scene.

I've never done as well since, but I'm sure I'll try it again some time.

#876 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 10:44 PM:

GlendaP @864: Muchas gracias for taking care of this. What restaurant are we going to? By my count there are 17 yesses. You appear to have KeithS and CHip combined. I think they're separate persons.

#877 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:05 AM:

iamnothing @875: Aha. Thanks for catching that.

I decided on El Mirador. It isn't on the Riverwalk and I haven't been there, but a good friend recommended it.

#878 ::: GlendaP is GNOMED ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:09 AM:

Probably the link. Hmm, I'm out of food to offer, unless Your Gnominesses would care for some leftover brown rice.

#879 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:22 AM:

Yikes. I'm one degree of separation from the man who was killed in this incident -- my friend D, who is a freelance bookkeeper, had him as one of her clients. She's in shock, and I'm a bit freaked out myself.

GlendaP, #864: You can strike my partner -- he's got an invitation to a friend's private party, and will be doing that instead.

#880 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:55 AM:

Mongoose: Very nice.

GlendaP: I'm definitely in. We're meeting Friday evening, is that right? If I recall right, the Trivia for Chocolate contest is Friday at 5, so I invite people to come cheer me on and/or compete with me.

Ginger: Mazel tov!

I know that ! for potion is in Nethack (which I have won more times than any reasonable human being ought to have) but I think it was that way in original Rogue as well.

#881 ::: David Goldfarb is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:56 AM:

Probably for improper use of exclamation points.

#882 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:01 AM:

elise@871 -- well, there were a lot of potential original forms. I managed to win several of them a few times, and even developed strategies that would win (e.g.) Larn most times, which was the one I played most. Vg vaibyirq zbivat fvyragyl, trggvat n znc (cnegvny be pbzcyrgr) fpebyy, naq trggvat trzf sebz gur Qhatrba fvqr, gura hctenqvat gur trzf hagvy V pbhyq ohl nalguvat V jnagrq sebz gur fgber. V rira sbhaq bhg nabgure jnl gb jva (jvfu sbe na Nzhyrg bs Lraqbe, juvpu trgf lbh n pbhagresrvg bar; gura genafzhgr vg, juvpu gheaf vg vagb n erny bar).

#883 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:14 AM:

Ginger, mazel tov!

Xopher, was the bozo talking about the Gobelins manufactory? It's been on its present site in Paris since 1602, and, IIRC, tapestry-weaving technology didn't change much in the century or so prior to it, so it's possible that the Met's unicorn tapestries were produced in much the same way, in a large-scale environment with multiple workers.

I was just at the Cloisters last weekend and caught the very last day of the 75th-anniversary special unicorn exhibit. My favorite bit: the ten-foot narwhal tusk. It made me think of Stephen Maturin and Lord Clonfert's insistence that his narwhal tusk was a unicorn's horn, even claiming that he was present at the hunt. When I spent some time with the actual tapestries - return visit for me, first visit for my friend - we found ourselves concentrating on the different types of dogs!

I visited the Gobelins manufactory in 1987- it was my request on a school-exchange trip, because I'd read about it in Smithsonian. It's still essentially a handwork process, not an automated one - but they do call it a factory.

Also, if that bozo can't say "tapestry" without introducing a lisp into it, he needs better diction. :)

#884 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 03:20 AM:

There's been a bit of localised email chaos surrounding a couple of mailing lists, and I noticed Jim Macdonald was one of those hit. It involved confirmation messages from a list server run by a university, and a googlegroups mailing list which doesn't seem to exist any more.

I noticed there was a typo in the username part of the email address for me. I have my own domain name, so it still got through, but I am so not going to try to find which website was where I made the typo.

#885 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 05:43 AM:

Dave, 883: I bet it was this one, because I got hit too, at the address I pretty much use only here. I noticed a few other Fluorospherians in the mix as well.

#886 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 07:41 AM:

Ginger #832: Mazel tov!

#887 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 08:36 AM:

The spelling brav@ for "bravo/a" is not confined to Spain (I originally encountered it among Italian-speaking friends), and it is the one I would have suggested.

However, there's a possible alternative. In English, if you use the person-neutral "one" a lot, you're either royalty, very pretentious or a non-native speaker. Italian, however, uses it all the time; in fact, it tends to prefer it to the passive voice. So whereas in English we'd say "That sort of thing isn't done round here," Italians would express that as "One doesn't do that sort of thing round here".

And the word used for "one", which is si, takes a special adjectival form which looks like the masculine plural. It is clearly not a plural, though, because si takes singular verbs ("all the bread has been eaten" would be si ha mangiato tutto il pane, not si hanno..., even if it's clear from the context that more than one person ate the bread, such as in a restaurant. In a sentence along the lines of "we ought to leave - people are tired," it would be very common to translate this into Italian using the construction "one is tired" (except that you can't literally translate this construction back, because in English it strongly implies that the speaker is tired, whereas in Italian it just means that some of the group are, not necessarily including the speaker). This translates as si è stanchi, not stanco or stanca. In other words, you've got a singular non-gendered adjectival form, albeit one that is only ever used in one special case.

/[language geek]

#888 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 09:23 AM:

Mongoose @886: I am mostly familiar with it in Latin@, which is used in American Spanish-speaking subculture groups. Well, the more feminist ends of them.

#889 ::: Dave Bell tests a typo ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 09:24 AM:

If that spammer had lifted the address from Making Light, there'll be other messages associated with this one. But, since there were names I didn't recognise in the responses, it wouldn't be he only source.

#890 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 09:58 AM:

Tom Whitmore #881: Are you aware of any top-down ASCII dungeon crawls before Rogue? I had thought that was the root of the type.

#891 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:37 AM:

Ginger @832: Congratulations, and may your life post-nuptials be as fulfilling and loving as they were before!

#892 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:45 AM:

Dave Bell (883), Texanne (884): I got hit by those, too. The aftermessages are still coming, although my spam filter is catching most of them.

#893 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:37 AM:

Xopher, way back at #863: If I heard someone call a tapestry a wall hanging, my default assumption would be that they didn't know the word "tapestry", not that they thought it had girl cooties. While it's not by any means an obsolete word, neither is it one that people encounter on even a semi-regular basis unless they hang out in certain interest groups. And technically, tapestries are a subset of wall hangings, so...

#894 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:49 AM:

GlendaP #864:

s/maybe/not at all/


#895 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:50 AM:

Dave Harmon@889: "Are you aware of any top-down ASCII dungeon crawls before Rogue?"

I read this and wondered "Huh, when was Beneath Apple Manor?" And in fact that game was released in 1978, two years before Rogue. (I didn't see it until 1980 when my family got an Apple 2.)

It wasn't ASCII but I think it counts. The first version of BAM used Apple lo-res graphics, meaning a 40x40 grid of pixels with four lines of text underneath. Each cell of the dungeon grid was an entire pixel, with single colors representing wall, space, gold, chest, etc. (I don't remember if there were potions.)

(Google turns up many screenshots of the Apple hi-res graphics version, but that's not the one I played.)

#896 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:50 AM:

Ginger (and the Fabulous Girlfriend):

Best of news!

#897 ::: Andrew Plotkin was gnomed for a roguelike ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:51 AM:


#898 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:57 AM:

Yes: I think it had some kind of virus that ate someone's address book, as I got at least 40 messages on it.
Everyone hitting reply-all didn't help.

#899 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:02 PM:

Ginger, may this not be the happiest day of your life. May you have many happier to come. Joy to you both.

#900 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:26 PM:

My standard nuptials wish is "May this be the best day you've had in your life, and the worst day you'll have in future."

I think it applies here...

#901 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:13 PM:

correction: it appeared that everyone was hitting 'reply-all', as replies were hitting an entire set of people who had no clue what was going on.

(The place where I worked had some people who didn't seem to get that there were two groups with similar names, and they wanted the other one. So you'd get an e-mail, a whole lot of replies to it where people automatically hit 'reply all', and several more where some one would reply-all to say wrong list and don't use reply-all.)

#902 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:23 PM:

Mongoose @741: I'm game. Feel free to email me at the address at the bottom of my homepage, linked from my name above.

Be warned; I periodically fall off the planet. Nagging and poking is encouraged.

#903 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:40 PM:

Ginger, congratulations to you both. Hope you have a wonderful day.

The Anniversary card which I got from my wonderful husband today says: "True love is spending one day getting married and the rest of your life feeling glad you did." Enjoy!

Mongoose @812: I really enjoyed that.

#904 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:57 PM:

I have to say, I have no idea whatsoever what email address problem is being referred to on this thread. I don't know if that makes any difference to people's investigations of whatever the problem is.

#905 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:14 PM:

dcb @902:

Happy anniversary!

#906 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:31 PM:

abi @ 903: I've been spending an inordinate amount of work time solving (or not) email problems lately, and my sincere opinion is that the less I know about anything related to any email issue whatsoever, the better.

#907 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:55 PM:

dcb, #902: What a lovely sentiment! You've got a winner there.

abi, #903: I haven't been getting any of the spam either. But Earthlink's spam filter is mighty, and I haven't been over there to check the spamtrap for most of a week.

#908 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Ginger & FG: Happy happies!!

#909 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 03:15 PM:

Lee @878 & joann @893: Noted

#910 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 03:17 PM:

Aaaannd, I keep forgetting I want to congratulate Ginger.

#911 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 03:17 PM:

abi, you aren't missing anything except a wheelbarrow-load of e-mails saying 'WTF?'
(I suspect something that takes over an Outlook address book.)

#912 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 03:18 PM:

Staggering into the thread late (I was expecting this to show up in one of the Worldcon threads) but I want to put my name in as a solid "maybe" for the Gathering of Light. (I'm still waiting on a couple of programming things to shake out, but I am fully expecting them to fall through at this point.)

#913 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 03:50 PM:

iamnothing.... Where and when are we all supposed to meet before moving on to the Gathering of Light?

#914 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 04:37 PM:

Speaking of GoLs, anybody else here likely to be at MileHiCon in October?

#915 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 05:21 PM:

Serge @912: Last I saw the plan was to meet by the voodoo boards 6:15 Friday.

PS. That's exactly where I'm posting this from.

#916 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 05:46 PM:

I want a virtual con membership... ::sulk::

#917 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 06:16 PM:

Ginger, wishing you happiness now, and more on each anniversary.

#918 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 07:49 PM:

Ginger: Three cheers and a cascade of rose petals for you and the Fabulous Girlfriend, this year and for many anniversaries to come.

Mongoose: if you check the comments on the topmost post on my livejournal (link in the name in this post) you'll see an e-mail address of mine. Feel free to write to that one; I'll eliminate that post on the first of the new month.

#919 ::: fidelio has dessert with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 07:51 PM:

Would you rather have cherry nut ice cream or Black Forest cake?

Or plain vanilla?

#920 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:59 PM:

Dave Harmon @889: Rogue was the first one I remember, but then I'm not a very early adopter. Beneath Apple Manor, described after, doesn't sound like it uses ASCII characters, so it wouldn't really count. There were other text-based games before that, IIRC -- Zork seems to have started in '77, though it wasn't available commercially until 1981. And text-based is different.

#921 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 07:17 AM:

Tom Whitmore #920: Right, Zork is a different category -- "text-based adventure," rather than "top-down ASCII dungeon crawl". I'm passably sure that Rogue founded the latter category.

There were certainly arcade and computer-graphical dungeon crawls before that, but Rogue introduced the business of using a text screen to do it with much less graphics capacity needed. That made it much more practical for terminal-based timesharing systems, which is how Rogue (and successors such as Hack/Nethack) initially spread. (Also, Rogue was turn-based instead of "realtime", but the category term is already unwieldy enough.)

#922 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 09:56 AM:

Speaking of games, it was recently pointed out to me that if you go to any YouTube video, then pause it, then click outside the video and type 1980, a convincingly ancient-looking Missile Command game pops up. You play it with your mouse, so it's not exactly the same, I daresay.

#923 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 10:54 AM:

Ginger #871, wonders what should be on the ML virtual feast menu.

Anything, but anything, that has ever been offered to the gnomes, of course!

#924 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 10:56 AM:

joann (923): Plus all of the recipes ever posted here.

#925 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 11:52 AM:

Two lights in the black, thrown out for any who can use them:

mycroftw@arabella:~$ rogue
The program 'rogue' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install bsdgames-nonfree


(I like the latter because it has a wide userbase, and bones files. I missed bones files (well, other people's bones files) when I left the UW CSC and could only nethack on my own.

#926 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 11:53 AM:

(ohnosecond edit: 1s/can/would/ . I knew it looked wrong.)

#927 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:31 PM:

GlendaP, will it ruin your day if I add another +1? Bless you for taking the initiative on this!

#928 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:41 PM:

Open Thread 187 is now ... open.

#929 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:26 PM:

Mary Aileen #924:

I am convinced that recipes posted serve as advance propitiation of the gnomes.

#930 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:50 PM:

Mycroft W @925: The other way to get other people's bones files on your home PC is with Hearse, which downloads them from a user-uploaded repository:

I was never that good a Nethack player. I always preferred ADoM, (pre-Stone-Soup) Crawl, GearHead, and (more recently) Brogue. GearHead doesn't have potions, though.

#931 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:23 PM:

Isn't Zork where the "Maze of twisty little passages, all [alike|different]" comes from?

I remember one trap in that game where you ended up in a room with no exit and nothing there but a pail. You were effectively dead at this point, but stuck in the TWP until you typed "kick bucket," at which point you died.

#932 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:25 PM:

I broke my "no productivity killing computer games" pledge a few months back to try out Nethack.

I was so bad at it that I up and quit after a few sessions.

#933 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:33 PM:

Xopher @931: Wikipedia confirms my recollection that the two mazes predate Zork, and go all the way back to the original Colossal Cave Adventure.

#934 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:37 PM:

Xopher @ 931: "Maze of twisty little passages, all [alike|different]" is Adventure. All text. No graphics whatsoever.

Fun game.

#935 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:46 PM:

I remember Adventure. Still in our family lexicon are "Maze of twisty little passages, all alike" and "You are about to be eaten by a grue." (which I think was Adventure, but might have been Zork).

Once, in Adventure, I encountered a plant asking for water. I had no water. I had a flask of oil, which I poured on the plant. "Indignantly shaking its leaves, the plant demanded, 'Water!'"

As a computer science student, I was delighted by the fact that someone had anticipated that particular action and prepared a response for it.

#936 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:05 PM:

OtterB #935: Oh, there were loads of those little Easter Eggs scattered through those games. I don't remember if it was Adventure or another one, but one game's starting equipment included a "lamp", If you typed "rub lamp", you got a message to the effect of "you rub your electric flashlight, feeling a little silly". (That is, they'd tossed in a Britishism.)

#937 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:10 PM:

I think grues are Zork. I remember the plant in Adventure, too. When you water it a little, it bellows.

(Zork had the thief. I watched one game where the player was in the troll room, when the thief showed up: 'Kill troll with sword.' 'You aren't carrying one'. Must have been one of the shortest games on record.)

#938 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:52 PM:

The maze of twisty little passages was Colossal Cave, but Zork stole it -- so it was in both. (At least unless my memory is failing me badly.)

#939 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:02 PM:

David Goldfarb: I'm afraid your memory is failing you. Zork I had a fairly tricky maze, but it wasn't described like that. (Discussion also continuing in Open Thread 187.)

#940 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 06:57 PM:

Hey, can I leave my stuff here? I'll be back to pick it up in a few weeks. C'mon, it's almost empty . . .

#941 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 07:01 PM:

But then you forget about it, and we're stuck with deciding what to do with it, and what if we don't get our cleaning deposit back? Huh? What then?

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