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August 29, 2013

Open Thread 187 (Worldcon Edition)
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:32 PM *

29 August, 1952, saw the premiere of John Cage’s most famous work, 4’33”.

4’33” has been recorded several times.

Alas, Cage’s attempt to sell the work to Muzak was unsuccessful.

Continued from Open Thread 186

Continued in Open Thread 188

Comments on Open Thread 187 (Worldcon Edition):
#1 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:38 PM:

I perform it regularly. It's ideal for me, since I have asthma which tends to mess with my singing.

On a more serious and not unrelated note, who's read Goedel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter?

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:55 PM:

I have, but not recently. (It may be somewhere in one of my boxes.)

#3 ::: Jonathan Crowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:00 PM:

I was in a classical sheet music store (this one, actually) earlier this month and they actually had the score for 4'33" in stock. (Yes, I looked at it. Yes, it's what you'd expect.)

#4 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:07 PM:

I saw a Youtube death-metal drummer perform it in about 2 and a half minutes. Yeah, that's fast. He had a camera on his foot so you could tell he wasn't cheating.

What I actually came in to open threadify: I don't know if "The Devil Came Up To Boston" has been mentioned here. Contains language, both NSFW and Bostoncentric. Made me laugh a lot.

#5 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:07 PM:

#1: Gödel, Escher, Bach is an old favourite that I've reread several times. I'm fond of Hofstadter's other books too, especially Metamagical Themas. But somehow I haven't got around to the autobiography.

#7 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:11 PM:

Jeremy Preacher OT186@912 & Skwid OT186@927: Noted.

Fluorospherians at the con: You can reach me at Gjb bar mreb qnfu guerr gjb svir qnfu sbhe svir gjb bar

#8 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:22 PM:

Ladies and gentlemen: Cage Against The Machine

#9 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:45 PM:

_GEB:EGB_ was one of my great formative influences as a young geek.

I read Hofstadter's most recent book, on analogies (_Surfaces and Essences_). It was boring. I don't *think* that's because I'm an old geek now.

#10 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 02:01 PM:

Tracking in the roguelike discussion from

Dave Harmon: "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"

The reason I bring up "Beneath Apple Manor" as a possible contender is that it had the same resolution as a terminal screen, and had to deal with the same design issues. (And was real-time.)

BAM had a 40x20 grid to display its map, and just 16 possible options for each grid cell. (I said 40x40 in my last post, but the screen shot shows that it was using 1x2 pixel blocks for cells, so half the vertical resolution that I thought.) The display wasn't ASCII, but "grey block:floor, brown block:door, blue block:player" requires the same mindset from the player. And from the designer -- the map can only differentiate "wall", "floor", "monster", "treasure" rather than showing fine object distinctions.

I submit that this is Close Enough.

(As a technical note, the Apple's lo-res screen was a remapping of the text screen. If you'd flipped the graphics bit off, with no code changes, BAM would have *become* an ASCII roguelike! Albeit with unconventional character choices: "@" for wall, etc.)

...End of genre nattering. If you get me started on Zork, I'll *really* go on for a while.

#11 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 02:02 PM:

"...and was *not* real-time", duh, my mistake.

#12 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 02:04 PM:

Sandy B. @4, thanks for this; I'm a fan of Dropkick Murphy and it made me giggle. Literally. At my desk at work. (Fortunately, nobody noticed the earbud in my ear; definitely NOT work-safe lyrics). Toy Dolls does a pretty good "The Devil Went Down To Scunthorpe."

(I always thought the devil won, in the original song; Johnny was good, mind you, but the devil kicked butt...)

#13 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 02:16 PM:

Today is also the birthday of the FG. Tonight we -- myself, the FG, her daughter, and son-in-law -- commit mayhem upon various aquatic species, along with copious quantities of beverages.

Tomorrow night we shall watch cheesy 80s Sci-Fi movies with friends, and on Saturday we venture forth to shop for a new car.

#14 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:03 PM:

I haven't read GEB in a long time, though I enjoyed it when I did.

#15 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:07 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @9, I'm sorry to hear that. I bought Surfaces and Essences because I thought it sounded interesting (the ways people think fascinate me) and it's on my TBR pile. I guess we'll see if I have the same reaction.

I remember liking GEB but it's been a long time.

#16 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:13 PM:

I read GEB back, oh, it must have been thirty, thirty-five years ago. I probably should re-read it...

#17 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:28 PM:

Reposted from OT186: 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.

#18 ::: Nonie ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:31 PM:

I still treasure the New Yorker cartoon where a conductor tells the audience, "In memory of John Cage, we will now have 4 minutes and 33 seconds of noise."

(Not exact quotation; most of my stuff is in storage, so I can't check details.)

#19 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:36 PM:

I started reading GEB many years ago, only to discover that a chunk of 50 or 100 pages or so was missing out of the middle of my copy of the book, replaced with a duplicate of a similar sized chunk of the preceding pages.

It always struck me as some sort of meta-commentary on the book by a mischievous universe, but someday I'll acquire a complete copy and finish reading it.

#20 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:51 PM:

Mongoose: Yes, I was a big Godel, Escher, Bach:... fan way way back in the late 70s. (I still am, as long as I don't mistake Hofstadter as actually talking about Zen in anything he says about "mu", for example.) I haven't read anything he's written very recently. If you really liked GEB:EGB, another book I greatly enjoyed from the same period is Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It's partly philosophy, partly road trip, partly a memoir of going insane at the U. of Chicago, and of life post-recovery... and it does get pretty deep into thinking about the process of thinking and of life itself.


Xopher: The "kick bucket" situation, that you are probably remembering from Zork, but not remembering quite right. "Kick bucket" indeed dies, but if you don't do that you could always walk back out of that room, and you can move onward from it once you recognize the situation and how to exploit it. My son and I played through all 3 Zork games this past year, so they're still fairly fresh in my memory.

On the other hand, the two mazes, "Maze of twisty little passages, all [alike|different]", come from the original Adventure, aka Colossal Caverns, aka "Advent" if you were running it on a machine with a maximum of 6 or 8 character for command names like the ones I first played it on.

I first encountered it on the IBM 3xx mainframe at the U. of Chigago Library Systems Group, and a year later when I was back in college, on the U. of Chicago's TOPS 20 minicomputer. I last played it... a couple weeks ago, I think. I felt the impulse to fire it up for old times sake; didn't make any maps or start seriously accumulating treasure, just explored a bit.

#21 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:54 PM:

The 'maze of twisty little passages, all alike', and 'the maze of little twisty passages, all different', predate Zork, they come from Will Crowther's Colossal Cave Adventure.

I helped type in the source code once, in my high school computer lab, so that we could play.

#22 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:10 PM:

A discussion of 'plants to please not put in your yard' from my local nature museum takes a Cthulhian turn as they post example photos of some absolutely horribly over-cultivated instances. Funny and short.

#23 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:21 PM:

In regard to Advent (Colossal Cave Adventure, but I knew it as Advent), there is a car I've seen in my neighborhood with the license plate "PLOVER", and my husband swears he's seen a car on his commute with "XYZZY" on the tag.

We do use the "maze of twisty passages all alike" as a throw-away line. Not so much the "Twisty maze of passages, all different"...

I never made it all the way through (although remember it takes the bird to kill the snake). Perhaps I'll download it and try again.

The first game that really sucked me in was Ultima 3 (Exodus). I played others before that, of course, but I was obsessed with beating Ultima.

#24 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:21 PM:

Andrew Plotkin #10: From your description, I'd tag that as a "primitive ancestor" to roguelikes. The other side of the point to ASCII graphics was that even without "real" graphics, you did have a few dozen different glyphs, allowing you to distinguish among various items, features, and threats.

Re: GEB: That was one of the few books of the time where I stalled part-way through; a year or so later I came back and read through it completely. Definitely a geek rite of passage, not to mention mind-expanding.

#25 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Elliott, the Green Wizard Coneflower looks like it probably has a facehugger inside. Don't get too close.

#26 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:27 PM:



No, the slightly older (1976) "Adventure" or "Colossal Cave" program, written in FORTRAN on a PDP/10. I first came across it in Tracy Kidder's "The Soul of a New Machine", a formative influence (along with GEB:EGB) in high school when they came out. I first played it in the PR1MOS version in 12th grade. I think I still have a printout of the 700-line FORTRAN version at my mother's house from that work-study internship.

That's the one with magic words like xyzzy and plugh.

#27 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:41 PM:

I officially know that the MoTLPA[A|D] is from Adventure, a game I played but had forgotten.

Therefore there is no further need to inform me of this fact.

#28 ::: John Costello ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:52 PM:

Donald Knuth translated Adventure into a Literate Programming idiom and the result is available as a PDF. Highly interesting read, even if you don't program in C.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:56 PM:

I was allowed to read the source code (in Fortran, as you say), but only after I'd gotten all the way through.

#30 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:56 PM:

If you want to play Zork, here it is.

(BTW, I loved me my Infocom games.)

#31 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:08 PM:

But Zork *is* the one with "It's dark. You might get eaten by a grue", right?

#32 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:10 PM:

abi @OT186 #905: thank you.

Lee @OT186 #907: I agree! All mine... :) :) :)

#33 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:14 PM:

Elliot Mason, #22: I think the odd plants look pretty neat. Of course, I'm not the one who has to take care of the garden.
They had someone perform 4"33" in a "freshman exploration" class many eons back. I recall thinking it was a pretentious joke, but then much of that class was a pretentious joke.
There is an xkcd about that piece, but I don't recall title or date.

#34 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:30 PM:

If a lot of people respond the same way to something, you can probably assume that they were each composing their answers for a while, having seen the initial thing, and didn't realize that 6 others were saying the same thing. Each of us thought we were the only one saying it. Unfortunately, the result looks like a pile-on.

#35 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:35 PM:

Jim, I started playing it and unfortunately it has a direction bug. Found a couple of points where going north repeatedly toggles between two places, and if you say "go south" it says "there is a wall there." The first time it happened I assumed I fell down a hole, but I think it's just a bug.

#36 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:47 PM:

@35: For Adventure, something like that could be intentional, but I'm not 100% sure about Zork. The idea, I think, is that a passage that starts off going north could wind up anywhere (in that particular case, I guess it's a U shape that enters both rooms from the north?)

It does, of course, make it more difficult to map... which is probably intended.

This sort of thing is much harder to do in a game with graphics (even the primitive graphics of Rogue), because the geometry of your game world is in some sense imposed by the attempt to display it.

Although you can still do some tricks with geometries that only locally resemble Euclidean spaces... "world maps" that are technically toroids were pretty common at one point, for example, and some may still be in use.

#37 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 06:02 PM:

Yeah, too confusing to be fun.

#38 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 06:09 PM:

"It does, of course, make it more difficult to map... which is probably intended."


The twisty nature of passages (even outside the so-named "maze" areas) was unquestionably set up by Crowther in Adventure to reflect his caving experience. Underground passages *are* twisty, after all. (And the above-ground forest, where you start, is at least a place where one might get lost.)

It's less clear how well this was understood by the MIT hackers who created Zork. They would have appreciated the puzzle-quality of the map, but I think they were riffing off Adventure's style rather than a first-hand knowledge of how caves worked.

"Although you can still do some tricks with geometries that only locally resemble Euclidean spaces..."

I saw an experimental roguelike that was built in hyperbolic (negative-curvature) space. Web-search for "HyperRogue II". Very unnerving; you can get lost on "flat" ground...

#39 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 06:12 PM:

I think if you go east, then go west, you should end up where you were before. Or at least notice the passage curving. If you were there physically you could go back. I think it's just buggy; if they did it this way on purpose I hate them.

#40 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 06:19 PM:

More evidence: they have places that are specifically noted as impossible to navigate from. I don't think they intended the whole map to be that way.

#41 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 06:33 PM:

Xopher @ 40: They did it that way on purpose. Sorry.

Here's a relatively spoiler free map that might help.

#42 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 06:51 PM:

Cage's heirs may sue for unauthorized performances of his best piece, but it's not altogether original in concept (I think his idea that the piece consisted of whatever noise the pianist couldn't prevent was original).

I put a copy of the one-page score in my flickr page, where its pictorial qualities can be appreciated.

Schulhoff died of TB while imprisoned by the Nazis in WW2. His music rans from romantic to Dada, from very Gershwinesque piano jazz to a wonderfully bombastic choral setting of bits of The Communist Manifesto. I've been listening to a lot of his music recently, and will pick up more as opportunity permits.

#43 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 07:01 PM:

Zork's maze was trickier because it had a thief who would pick up the objects you left around to mark your position in the maze. ("Oh, look, someone left a perfectly good rusty dagger lying here.")

Text adventures are an entirely different experience than Rogue-like games. Apples and kumquats.

#44 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 07:05 PM:

The first text-based adventure I ever played -- well, tried to play -- after having heard about Zork and such for years from my parents, was Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I was about 11. I'd not read the HHGttG books at all.

It made no sense and I kept getting killed before I could figure out what I was supposed to do -- kind of like the Myst problem, only long before Myst existed.

Then I played Leather Goddesses of Phobos (at about the same age) and a-freaking-dored it. Highly recommend.

#45 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 07:33 PM:

As if the maze weren't difficult enough because the directions mean nothing.

It just bounced me out to the beginning and I landed right in the maze as soon as I went down. I hardly have anything to mark, and of course it won't let me start over when I want to.

#46 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 07:48 PM:

The first game I got for my PC was ADVENTURE.

I bought some of the ZORK games as well, but I don't think I ever solved them back in the day. When I started setting up home Linux systems I was able to get the "original" ZORK (which combines Zork I and some of Zork II) and finished it with some help.

The mazes . . . well, you just have to be persistent. It isn't fun to map them out, but it can be done.

#47 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 07:54 PM:

#21 ::: Steve Downey :::

"I helped type in the source code once, in my high school computer lab, so that we could play."

But doesn't that mean one big spoiler, you know how it ends because you typed it?

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 08:14 PM:

I mapped it as text: each place's name, the ten directions available, and where they went. Magic words got another line.
At least that way I wasn't trying to draw a picture of something that was convoluted.

#49 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 08:18 PM:

Worse than that, Stefan.
I watched someone playing Zork, once. They were in the Troll Room when the thief wandered through.
'Kill troll with sword.'
'You aren't carrying one.'
It might be one of the shortest games on record.

#50 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 08:38 PM:

Xopher@39, etc:

I grieve for your confusion and your hatred of my forebears.

"I think if you go east, then go west, you should end up where you were before. Or at least notice the passage curving."

For what it's worth, genre conventions evolved quickly. Infocom's designers were mostly in agreement with you by 1983, I'd say.

The idea that you shouldn't get completely screwed over (put into a hopeless situation) by sheer bad luck took a little longer.

The idea that you shouldn't get completely screwed over by a mistake that you couldn't have known was a mistake until much later in the game... didn't develop until the 90s. (Everyone brings up Hitchhiker's dog at this point, although that case is actually more complicated than is obvious.)

#52 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 08:58 PM:

Xopher @ #17

There's a Richard Cory text adventure game that's only slightly longer than that.

#53 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 09:01 PM:

The episodes of I've Got a Secret posted on Youtube are a maze of twisty passages, all different, but this one has "Water Walk", which I like better than "4'33"."

#54 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 09:03 PM:

Sorry, that one had John Cale, not John Cage. A maze of twisty passages, like I said. Here's Cage.

#55 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 09:04 PM:

I love GEB.

Douglas Hofstadter and I had an interchange in 1973? 1974? several years before that came out.

He'd written a column for Scientific American about Pat, Sandy, Mel, etc. in various activities where gender was deliberately confusing (though IIRC heterosexually monogamous).

I hand-wrote him a two-page letter of facts about myself and recent activities, asking him to guess my sex (term of use in those days). SA wrote me that they'd forwarded it to him and it might be a while before I heard back, which astonished me, as I'd assumed their entire staff was elbow-to-elbow in cramped rooms in Manhattan like The New Yorker.

When he replied, he said he'd spoilered himself by flipping immediately to the signature (this was pre-sticky notes or I'd have used one), but gamely speculated about me based on use of language and tone. He was fairly sure I'd had an upscale education in a private academy in Europe, probably Switzerland, which my Nebraska teachers got a kick out of.

He also sent me a copy of ZPG, with encouragement to think seriously about what we were doing to our planet.

I toyed with "I wish I could tell you that this changed my mind, but I was firmly there beforehand" as I'd bought my own copy when it had come out a few months before. I was afraid that he'd want his copy back. The hugely benevolent genie that had come out of that lamp so overwhelmed me that I chickened out, a poor return for his kindness and a regret still with me.

I'm confused by the time line, as apparently he didn't take over Martin Gardner's column until the 80s. Maybe he'd done a guest stint?

#56 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 09:48 PM:

Sandy B. @ 6 -

And the drummer did it barefoot.

#57 ::: Johnny Darko ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 11:16 PM:

Have never heard of this one

#58 ::: Rick York ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 11:19 PM:

I'm sorry to "hear" that Muzak never picked it up. It's certainly more interesting than most of what they pipe into mindless places.

#59 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 11:25 PM:

I read GEB the summer when I was fourteen, and admired it greatly. Although I still think it a great pity that the index entry for "self-reference" did not contain the number of the page that entry was on. I did notice at least one actual joke in the index, however.

Metamagical Themas introduced me to the Prisoner's Dilemma, and eventually to Robert Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation, which is a cornerstone of my personal ideas about ethics. So (to paraphrase Hofstadter himself in re Chopin) I can't imagine who I would be if I hadn't encountered his work.

GEB included among its Escher works Castrovalva and I have always wondered whether the writer of the Doctor Who episode with that title was consciously influenced by Hofstadter.

#60 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:55 AM:

Although I still think it a great pity that the index entry for "self-reference" did not contain the number of the page that entry was on.

That's because it's a member of the set whose members are not members of themselves. You see—


Argggh. Ack. Crumple crumple. Slump.

#61 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:07 AM:

Way back in the days when my family got its first computer (a Vic 20!), one of my older siblings put up a small poster of Snoopy and Woodstock in front of a scaled repeating drawing that had the caption "Help! I'm trapped in an infinite loop!" Since we're talking about old computer games and meta-references, it sprung to mind.

... Actually, I think that poster's still there. That corner of the house hasn't been used for much since the computer moved to the phone line.

#62 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:36 AM:

I had almost forgotten, back in the late '80s, one of my co-workers wrote a textbook about semantic databases which was partly inspired by GEB. The book alternated between typical technical chapters, and chapters of discussions by Socrates, the Tortoise, et al about the nature of truth, what it means for an object to belong to a class, when it's appropriate to use IS-A versus HAS-A relationships, and similar topics. I think it also contained a cookie recipe, though I can't remember how he tied that to the ostensible subject of the book.

#63 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 02:46 AM:

One more time, the list for the Gathering of Light :

1. GlendaP
2. Lee
3. Serge Broom
4. Lin Daniel
5. and guest
6. Christopher Davis
7. Michael I
8. iamnothing
9. David Goldfarb
10. Skwid
11. and wife
12. and guest
13. Fragano Ledgister
14. and Gail
15. KeithS
16. CHip
17. Paula Helm Murray
18. Tom Whitmore (beginning only)

- Jeremy Preacher (likely)
- Bill Stewart

Meet at 6:15th the voodoo boards.

You can reach me at Gjb bar mreb qnfu guerr gjb svir qnfu sbhe svir gjb bar, or on the voodoo board I'm the only Glenda under PF. Or I'll be checking in here several times during the day.

#64 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 03:44 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 60: Bravo!

(I particularly enjoyed the post-shot sound effects)

B. Durbin @61: My first computer was a Vic 20! Of course, if I'd been able to articulate what I really wanted it for I would have held out for a BBC Micro (I really wanted a word processor, not a "type in the lines of programs for simple games and discover they have errors in so you can't actually play the games even when you've typed in all the lines of code" machine).

#65 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 03:57 AM:

Open-threadiness, ROT-13'd for extreme grossness. All I'll say is that the protagonists in this story are a cat and a slug, and it's probably not what you imagine. Don't decipher if you're eating or about to eat, OK?

Zl png vf n uvtuyl-fgehat perngher naq pbafrdhragyl guebjf hc n ybg. Lrfgreqnl V znantrq gb trg ure bhg bs gur ubhfr orsber fur qvq vg, naq fur guerj hc whfg bhgfvqr gur onpx qbbe.

Guvf zbeavat V ybbxrq bhg naq fnj n fyht ba gbc bs vg, nccneragyl rngvat vg. Gur cvyr jnf fheebhaqrq ol fyht genvyf. Vg frrzf gung gur png unq hajvggvatyl cebivqrq Fyht Gnxr-Njnl.

Abg jung V arrqrq whfg orsber oernxsnfg.

#66 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 05:07 AM:

Mongoose @65

Gosh. If I'd known that when I still lived in a house with a garden, I might have been able to save my vegetable patch that way.

#67 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 05:35 AM:

Mongoose @ #1:

I have, in both English and the Swedish translation (the latter is recommended for the bonus (written by the translator) dialogue between A and T, discussing why T is T and not the obvious S in the Swedish translation; but only if you actually can read Swedish).

#68 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 05:49 AM:

The writer of the Doctor Who episode Castrovalva was Douglas Adams, so yes, he probably had read GEB

#69 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 06:03 AM:

Ingvar @ 67: I can't, but I have a sister who can. I'll mention it next time I speak to her.

#70 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 07:05 AM:

BBC news is reporting that Seamus Heaney has died.

#71 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 07:16 AM:

Ginger: I'm curious; are you by any chance the Ginger mentioned in the OIE list of reference labs regarding a certain bacterial disease, or is that another Ginger?

#72 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 07:55 AM:

Mongoose @1: I red GEB when I was, um, 17 or 18? It made a lasting impact, especially the gentle introduction to first order predicate calculus.

#73 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 08:18 AM:

Charlie @ 72: I'd have been a couple of years older than that when I first read it. It had a similar effect on me, accompanied by a tendency to plonk it in front of anyone I remotely thought might appreciate it and exclaim "This is amazing - you need to read it!" for about the next six months.

Having said that, I think I like Le Ton Beau de Marot even better.

#74 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 08:53 AM:

I probably never would have picked GEB:EGB up if I hadn't started attending Indiana University about the time it came out. It was all over the campus bookstores. As a long-time Escher fan, I was intrigued, and I've worked my way through it three times now, getting more out of it every time.

#75 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 09:17 AM:

dcb @ 71: Is it in a hamster?

#76 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 09:21 AM:

dcb@71: Ah, no -- that appears to be an entirely different Ginger!

#77 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 09:46 AM:

I have written a joke!

Q: What do you call an overloaded bus, full of MBAs, driven off a cliff and into the ocean?

A: Cost-effective.

#78 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 10:06 AM:

Ginger @76: Thought it was probably a different Ginger, but also thought I might as well ask! Actually, looking at what I wrote on this topic a little while ago, I see they don't even tend to inoculate poor hamsters with it (mice and guinea pigs were used, but nowadays thankfully almost never).

John A Aransawyer @ 77: Substitute "city bankers" for "MBAs" and it would be even more cost-effective!

#79 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 10:44 AM:

Kevin Marks @68: The writer of the Doctor Who episode Castrovalva was Douglas Adams, so yes, he probably had read GEB.

Shortly before seeing Castrovalva, I had watched The Island of Lost Souls (the 1932 version of The Island of Doctor Moreau with Charles Laughton). There is a shot towards the end of Castrovalva where The Master is overwhelmed by the people of his creation turning on him, which to my eye recalled a similar scene where Moreau's creations turn on him. Wonder if Douglas Adams had a hand in that touch.

#80 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 11:13 AM:

Mongoose #65, Pendrift #66:

Rats. I'd hoped it was a case of vairagvat Fyht Naq Fanvy Qrngu, n cebqhpg bapr nyy gbb cbchyne va FS Onl Nern tneqraf.

#81 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 11:38 AM:

I tried learning the guitar adaptation of the Cage but was stopped cold by a particularly gnarly passage aroung 2'37". It may be manageable in DADGAD, though.

#82 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:07 PM:

You know, Cage wasn't just being silly. He was scripting what was later called Performance Art, where the pianist's and audience's expectations and discomfort with not meeting them/having them met were themselves part of the purpose of the work.

I knew someone in college who performed it as part of a class (she was a piano major IIRC); she said the hardest part was the section where she was required to turn her head and look out at the audience—which she had never done before. She had never looked at an audience that wasn't applauding (being a pianist rather than an actor).

That said, it's mostly silly, and I'm not actually objecting to anything said here. But ISTM that it's worth mentioning the real artistic intent of the piece, whether you think it's a success at that intention or not.

And btw some of his Prepared Piano pieces are absolutley wonderful. Once he goes aleatory I lose interest, but that wasn't the only thing he did.

dcb 64: (I particularly enjoyed the post-shot sound effects)

Got them from my late ex David, who I believe was quoting from The Goon Show. That was definitely the source of this bit of dialogue:

"You're not going to do anything silly with that gun, are you?"
"Yes, I'm afraid I am." *kazoo tootles*

Mongoose 65: V xabj n ubhfrubyq gung pbhyq znlor hfr fbzr crg fyhtf, onfrq ba gung.

#83 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:08 PM:

While we're on the subject of text adventure games, I commend to you ULTRA BUSINESS TYCOON III, an extraordinary in-browser experience:

Burgundy carpet. Monogrammed wallpaper. Spotless windows frame the sprawling cityscape. The Embezzlertron is behind your desk.

The Control Room entrance is behind your secret bookshelf.

The exit is outside your office and down the elevator.

(And so on.)

#84 ::: Paula helm murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:16 PM:

When and where for dinner?

#85 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:25 PM:

re 22: There was a phase sometime back when alien life form plants were fashionable introductions. OTOH, see this old comment and contemplate the future of the illustrated plant in commerce.

re 42: I suspect it is impossible to copyright the audio portion of Cage's work because there is a rule about how a certain number of bars are required to claim ownership of a theme. Zero bars will not do.

#86 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:29 PM:

It's the score that's copyright, IIUC, and it's a set of instructions.

#87 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:31 PM:

Cage: I was perusing the library at the University one day and found an interesting Cage piece. It was a rhapsody for 7 AM radios. The instrumentation consisted of one line for each instrument, with a time and a frequency to start at, and a line showing how to move the dial, how long, and what frequency to end at.

I'm not sure, like Leroy Anderson's iconic "Typewriter", that you could perform it any more without specialized (read: ancient) equipment. Are there any radios made any more that don't have discrete frequency dials?

Also: story. Now this is "report of a report of a friend of a friend who was there" story but even if it is fiction. I believe I heard about it in the Monastery, if not Another Place.

The scene: a graduate music recital in their university theatre. The candidate comes out in her beautiful gown, approaches the piano, sets the score out, and prepares to play 4'33".

This being what it is, everybody in the audience knows the piece intimately. This being what it is, there are practise rooms ringing the back halls of the theatre. This being an unpaid performance, the practise rooms are not out of use.

The performer starts playing the work - and all you can hear is longcomplicatedpassageendinginmistakeFUCK! samecomplicatedpassageendinginsamemistakeBUGGER! samecomplicatedpassageendinginsamemistakeDAMN!

Cage would have been proud.

John A.: Hey, my partner is a bus driver. It may be cost-effective, but only for military/Jed Lacey values of that word.

E. Liddell: Oh, I love ADOM (on computers that don't confuse green and grey). Need to get back to that. I wonder if my tablet's terminak app or DOSBOX app would run it...

Nethack gets a lot easier and a lot more fun with a few spoilers - especially the cheat sheet I picked up elsenet (can't find it now) that had a list of every level (so you could put down what's there to remember where that _ or shop is, for instance) and every thing-you-can-do-to-yourself, so you can check them off or get them if you want them and don't (and remember you don't have petrification resistance at an appropriate time, for instance). Not sure it doesn't get less fun with more spoilers.

#88 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:43 PM:

Mycroft @ 87: How do you think the bus got overloaded in the first place? The bus driver was an MBA.

#89 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:52 PM:

Mycroft @ 87: tangentially related, I have my own concert story relating to a work by a living composer. Since he is still, as far as I know, living, I had perhaps better not mention him or the name of his piece for fear of causing acute embarrassment.

I have briefly mentioned in a previous comment a friend who is a star tenor. Mainly he sings baroque and early music, but his repertoire stretches from the ninth century to the present day; he's got one of those very light, agile voices which is perfect for Purcell or brilliant for Britten, depending on which you happen to prefer. This particular currently-living composer is a huge fan of his, and so he wrote #InsanelyDifficultPiece with him in mind for the tenor role. #IDP also has two soprano roles, which are not quite as bad as the tenor role but still, I have to say, pretty hairy.

I personally prefer the early stuff, but Star Tenor sounded uncharacteristically worried about this piece in his e-mails, so I thought it would be a good idea to turn up and support him at the premier if I could. Thankfully I was able to do so. The first half of the concert consisted of more familiar stuff (I think there was some Vaughan Williams, but I don't recall what else), and then this piece was going to take up the whole of the second half.

I had a quick chat with Star Tenor during the interval, and then, obviously, went back to my seat when the interval was due to end. Star Tenor positioned himself at the back of the church ready to walk down the nave with the two sopranos and start singing.

The interval didn't end. Something was wrong.

After a few minutes, I looked back at Star Tenor. He was still smiling like a true professional, but I know him well enough to know that's not where to look to see if anything's wrong. You look at his hands. He's a cyclist, and what do cyclists do in an emergency? They grip the brakes. Yup, his hands were clenched. Something was badly wrong.

The audience was starting to get a bit restless. Finally, one of the organisers made the embarrassed announcement that the concert would resume shortly... when they had found the sopranos.


The sopranos were duly located, and all three of them marched down the nave to their doom, er, I mean to sing to us. To be fair, they did it extremely well, although Star Tenor spent some time explaining to me afterwards that in fact he couldn't sing it exactly as it had been written, or he would have damaged his voice. When he says that kind of thing, it's wise to believe him. To this day I'm convinced that one of the sops had taken fright and locked herself in the loo, and the other one had stood outside and tried to coax her out.

Note to composer: writing for voices is not like writing for most instruments. Honest.

#90 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:03 PM:

Yes, mostly you can't damage an instrument just by writing things that can be written in conventional music notation.

A lot of modern composers prefer early-music singers, btw. This is because they've finally realized that vibrato was a bad idea from the beginning! (OK, no, but I prefer styles that don't use it.)

#91 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:14 PM:

Xopher @ 90: also, it's really interesting to notice how much modern classical music seems to be rooted directly in mediaeval music, apparently missing out everything in between. This isn't the case for all modern music, obviously, but it's striking how often I come across a modern piece with a sound-world that seems to have been lifted straight out of somewhere around the thirteenth century.

#92 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:26 PM:

Xopher @82: When I was a kid, my father told me about a composition by Cage that required a number of radios tuned to different broadcast stations, to provide a background of random noise for the rest of the instruments. At the first performance, the President was giving a speech, which was carried by all stations, making for a very different effect.

I remembered the story as happening during an FDR fireside chat, but looking at the dates on Wikipedia, that seems very unlikely. I suspect the piece was probably Imaginary Landscapes #4, premiered in April 1951, when Truman was president.

When I first heard the story, I was young enough that presidents who served between my father's birth and mine were all interchangeable in my mind.

#93 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:50 PM:

Gathering of Light

We're meeting by the voodoo boards for 6:15 departure.

If you miss us at the voodoo boards, we're going to El Mirador, 722 South St. Mary's. Hint: exit out the back of the convention center and cut diagonally right across Hemisfair Park.

#94 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:57 PM:

Re: Gathering of Light. *sigh* wish I could be there. Maybe next year. Have fun!

#95 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 02:07 PM:

Mongoose, I think people are realizing what was abandoned when vibrato came in, and even worse, when equal temperament came in (much later than most people think). If you sing straight-tone music (Renaissance motets, barbershop) with vibrato, it doesn't sound right (because the harmonics don't develop correctly). This is why, much as I loved the Flirtations, their rendition of "Lida Rose" was hollow and lifeless. Do-wop is a vibrato style.

Also, the virtue of a capella vocals is that well-trained singers will naturally drop into natural harmonic tuning (approximately "just intonation") if they're not continually corrected by an equal-temperament instrument. This makes the chords tune properly, and that's why it can sound like four voices are singing in eight or more parts (with no "harmonic singing" involved).

Jeremy, I think Stockhausen did one of those too. He also had one where each performer was in a separate room, soundproofed so they couldn't hear each other, playing I-can't-remember-what but probably not conventional scored music, and all recorded.

#96 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 02:16 PM:

Xopher @95: The next con we're both at we haaaaave to sing something together. :->

I have no vibrato, and cannot turn it on when I wish to use it, because my Choir Nun indoctrinated me firmly since the age of 5 that (caution: factually incorrect statement follows) "Vibrato is the sign of a lazy voice." I haven't the foggiest idea where in one's neck muscles vibrato is kept; when I try to induce it it sounds as embarrassing as people trying to fake a yodel by just changing pitches quickly.

Many of the things she trained into me as spinal reflexes I am very glad, as an adult vocalist, to have; that one, not so much. Especially since there are a lot of styles that sound REALLY STUPID when sung straight-up with my Choir Diction and no vibrato at all, as if it were an Ave Maria or something.

Through dint of months of concentrated practice, I can now emulate a Torch-Song style well enough to have it be recognized that that's what I'm doing, but it in no way substitutes for the Proper Thing performed by an Actual Torch Singer who can perform the idiom correctly. Etc. And leave out anything Tracy Chapman ever wrote, much as I love it, because OH MY BOB my vocal cords are too white (or in operatic-voice terms, too pale) for that.

#97 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 02:25 PM:

Xopher @ 95: I hesitated about saying this because I felt it might uniquely identify Star Tenor, but then it occurred to me that anyone who could identify him from this probably also knows him well enough to work out who he is from 89, so I'll say it.

Star Tenor has the sort of perfect pitch that is astonishing even by the standards of professional musicians, and he is an acknowledged expert on mediaeval micro-tunings. He used to work with a small ensemble before he was sufficiently well known to get a lot of solo work; they specialised in mediaeval music, and what they'd do would be to take a piece they wanted to sing, thrash out different tuning until they found the best one, and then ask ST to sing them a chromatic scale in that tuning so that they could all pitch. And he would.

I'm not sure what this group does now they no longer have him, but they still manage the mediaeval tunings. It does, as you say, make all the difference.

#98 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 02:32 PM:

O my gods Elliott, I had no idea. That would be so fantastic! Maybe we can sing my "Lux Laeva Tenebrae," which is a Gregorian-like setting of (more or less) abi's translation of "Light is the left hand of darkness..." (more or less because I liked the word 'tenebrae' better than 'obscuritatis' for singing purposes; abi helped me with the cases). I set the Litania Contra Timorem too ("Timendum non est mihi...") too, but that's harder.


#99 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 02:49 PM:

If you want me to sing something off sheet music you have to sing me my part; I have good orientation but am not paper-trained.

I should also 'book you', since that's sort of my Stupid Fan Trick -- I have a kind of cabaret version of Talis Kimberley's X-Libris that people like to use me to haze their friends with. :-> It's not nearly as suitable to my underlying vocal pipes as more floaty-harmonic music is (I have a voice made for singing backup) but I make it up in schtick.

Certainly WisCon if not before.

Oh, for those potentially interested, the massive multi-continental filk vocal-harmony band I'm in, Lady Mondegreen, has a retrospective 10-year DVD now (with a lot of purely sound recordings as well) with performances and interviews and such. All profits from it go towards paying for plane tickets so we can rehearse in person instead of remotely. :-> Contact me off-list (rot13: 2ryyf2grrf ng tznvy.pbz ) if you Must Have One; initial print-run was something like 100 discs, of which I have no idea how many are left.

#100 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 02:54 PM:

Sorry to break into the fascinating music discussion with my silly pseudo-filkish earworm, but I've had these two lines stuck in my head for days now:

A pair o' ducks, a pair o' ducks,
A most ingenious pair o' ducks

This is presumably from the theme song to These Mad Scientists Are Quackers. Or possibly it's an excerpt from Pair o' Ducks Lost.

#101 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 02:57 PM:

More seriously, I first encountered 4'33" at a high school summer program, specially arranged for two pianists. I think they had a page turner, too.

#102 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 03:29 PM:

I introduced my son to 4'33" yesterday afternoon, via the YouTube speed-metal performance, followed by appropriate explanation.

He immediately wanted to know if he could play it for his 30 minutes of piano practice, and I had to tell him no. However, he did get to perform it for my wife's colleague who was over visiting; she had never heard of it (neither had my wife, to my surprise) so everyone got a big kick out of it.

#103 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 03:54 PM:

Scientific study showing poverty has a measurable effect on cognitive abilities (but that ability rebounds when the situation improves).

"The results showed that people wrestling with the mental strain of poverty suffered a drop of as much as 13 points in their IQ — roughly the same found in people subjected to a night with no sleep."

Washington Post article here (probable subscription wall)

Abstract from Science here

#104 ::: OtterB is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Gnomed. Not sure why. You could have some of the cherry tomatoes that are ripening faster than we can eat them.

#105 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 04:55 PM:

re 86: The score is to some degree a proxy for the work: i.e., you can't just listen to a performance and transcribe it into sheet music, or even an excerpt if it be long enough. However there is a lower limit on how long such a excerpt can be and still be so protected, because for instance as a rule any given measure appears in some out-of-copyright piece somewhere.

#106 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 05:05 PM:

#88 John A Arkansawyer: True - although I still must disagree(*). I have dealt with enough Manglement (especially Suits trained in "Management is a Skill; it can be done independently of what's being managed") to know that there's no way in hell (**) any one of *them* would accept driving *that*. If it's not made in Maranello or Stuttgart or Munich, find a flunky.

They also will gripe about the cost of the service-trained driver, and will insist on using their own - but it will be some quality control person crosstrained into a Class-2, because QC is "overhead" and not really work anyway. Probably undertrained, which is why the unscheduled flight.

But we do know why it's overbooked - they have 45 people for this trip, and there's a 48-passenger bus; you're not gouging us any more for the 72-. (Note: school buses are sized "three-to-a-seat", as they would be for 6-year-olds).

* I hope it's clear I'm riffing off of the joke and not *actually* criticizing. John, WELL DONE. If it's not clear, I'll shut up now.

** actually, there probably is - after this bus goes off the cliff, the passengers' punishment will drive a bus full of ex-bus drivers)

#107 ::: Mycroft W begnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 05:07 PM:

Argh, sorry. Too many reviews made it too likely I was a bot. We have applesauce; the bridge game Monday had bags of cooking apples from the Director's neighbour's lawn...

#108 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 05:23 PM:

Mycroft W #87: I'm not sure, like Leroy Anderson's iconic "Typewriter", that you could perform it any more without specialized (read: ancient) equipment. Are there any radios made any more that don't have discrete frequency dials?

I'm not familiar with the current market, but I would be surprised if you couldn't find radios on the “very cheap” end of things with continuous tuning.

On the other hand, it would be trivial to put together a software-defined radio which would perform the entire piece, given hardware capable of receiving the AM broadcast band (total cost around $40-$100, which might even be cheaper than the eight* radios) and a computer. I could do that right now if I were inclined to write some code to follow Cage's directions. It might be a little lacking in visual spectacle, though.

(I got into SDR as a hobby when I thought about how (having no radio or TV) I had no access to conventional emergency information broadcasts, but disliked the idea of buying a single-purpose device that would be mostly unused; getting low-end SDR receiver hardware (~$20) makes it into something tinkerable by a programmer like me, and indeed I have tinkered.)

* My very sketchy research says the piece is titled Radio Music, and has eight parts, not seven. Unless it's the one with twelve.

#109 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 06:13 PM:

Mongoose, I have absolutely no idea who you're talking about, but I want to buy his entire catalogue. I can be reached at gknaar ng znp qbg pbz; would you mind dropping me a line?

#110 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 07:05 PM:

HLN, from the Department of Whiskey, Tango, & Foxtrot: Local woman accomplishes follow-up mammogram, which involves sensations not dissimilar to someone wearing cowboy boots grinding their heel into woman's right nipple. Woman successfully completes experience without becoming verbally abusive toward Imaging Tech, but remarks, "I've never before in my life felt such a strong impulse to punch someone in the teeth." Upon reflection, woman ponders, "Is it wrong of me to fantasize about prophylactic double-mastectomy? I mean, it's not like I have any use for the damn things, anyway."

Further contemplations of "Are you freakin' kidding me?" come when woman pauses at hospital cafeteria for lunch. A serviceable salad bar is available, although, while local woman lauds the hospital providing fresh vegetables from its on-site garden, she has never before encountered uncomfortable Scoville counts in—"You're joking, right?"—salad greens. But the crowning feature of the available cuisine was the entree: chicken-fried steak, with available sides of french fries, mac-and-cheese, and—wait for it—deep-fried mozerella.

The only sense woman can make of this arrangement is that the Food Services Department is getting kick-backs from Cardiology.

#111 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 07:20 PM:

Jacque, sounds horrible. I don't understand why they can't make mammograms that don't hurt.

As for the cafeteria, that's quite a piece of WTFery there. Do you know what the greens were?

The only think I can think of wrt the State Fair food is that the cafeteria isn't mostly for the patients, but for their stressed-out friends and relatives, who need comfort food.

Or, of course, they're getting kickbacks from Cardiology.

#112 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 07:33 PM:

Jacque (110): Is it wrong of me to fantasize about prophylactic double-mastectomy?

In a word, no.

At one point, if certain test results had come back differently, it would have been a good idea for me to get a prophylactic double mastectectomy. I didn't want the other bad consequences, but the double mastectomy would have been a nice compensation. I almost didn't know what results to wish for. (I was in fact relieved by getting favorable results.)

#113 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 07:55 PM:

One of my aunts had a double mastectomy because of cysts. (Her husband said he didn't marry her for her breasts.)

#114 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 09:53 PM:

Back around 1978 or thereabouts, there was a spot on the FM dial where three stations came in at once. I used to listen to it.

#115 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 10:03 PM:

So, this morning at the tobacconist, there was a gorgeous green moth clinging to the doorframe. After consulting the inestimable What's That Bug?, I've now identified it as a Pandora Sphinx Moth.

#116 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 10:04 PM:

RE hospital food:

Boing Boing recently posted an article about the subject.

I recently read an article about the mixed success that national healthy school lunch programs were having, and how a few schools were dropping out. Why? Kids simply weren't interested in whole grain bread, fruit, and vegetables, and cafeterias were losing money.

As Xopher notes, the comfort food in the hospital cafeteria might be for visitors.

#117 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 10:04 PM:

Probably for linking to an image-sharing site. Want some Ovaltine?

#118 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 10:30 PM:

I remember an episode of Chicago Hope, in which a woman came to the hospital requesting a prophylactic mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA gene. One particular doctor, female, was supportive; another, male, was against performing the surgery. The two doctors were dating at the time, I think. The line I recall, still, so clearly to this day? When, during an argument over whether or not to do the surgery, the male doctor says to the female one: "She might as well have her head cut off!"

I don't remember the rest of the ep; I didn't normally watch the show (it might have been on at my Aunt's house). That scene still remains perfectly clear in my mind. Because apparently, if I don't have breasts, I should just be decapitated.

(I suppose I can hope the male doctor realised that he was an unmitigated ass, saw the worth in women as human beings, and apologised most deeply and profoundly. Maybe he did. I had no interest in watching it.)

#119 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 10:44 PM:

Kevin Marks @ #68: Castrovalva was written by Christopher H. Bidmead, not Douglas Adams.

(Snark) You can at least partly tell by the bits where the plot dissolves into incoherence and the other bits that take far too long to get anywhere.

I liked Castrovalva and the stories preceding it at one point. Rewatching them caused a severe case of Suck Fairy visitage. The story in my memory makes far better sense.

I can still watch the Douglas Adams episodes (City of Death especially) happily.

#120 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 11:01 PM:

I've been fortunate in that none of my mammograms have been painful. The imaging center I go to has padding on the screening equipment. Is that what makes the difference, I wonder?

#121 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 11:18 PM:

If we're starting a Making Light choir, I'd like to join, if you'll have me! I can sight-read decently if one starts me off on the right note, and get it very nearly right after a few sing-throughs - a few more and I'll be right. (Hi, Elliott! I don't know if you remember me - we met at Chicon, and had a really lovely long conversation at the pizza party. I'm Em from Montreal who had blue hair at the time.)

#122 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 11:42 PM:

At this rate we'll be doing Spem in Alium at LonCon!*

*No, we won't.†
†Won't we?**
**No, we won't. SiA is a FORTY-voice motet and none too easy in any of its parts. Xopher is exaggerating. Besides, he's not going to LonCon.‡
‡Oh. Guess not then. Darn that Xopher!

#123 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 12:02 AM:

It IS a science-fiction convention, we could always just clone ourselves.

Alternately, obtain a time-machine and loop back to the beginning of the piece. I'm sure someone could run down the road to the Beeb offices and borrow a TARDIS.

#124 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 12:12 AM:

I just got off the phone with my aunt. She'd had trouble logging onto AOL. Because she'd just moved she didn't have her list of helpful numbers handy, so she searched for "aol technical support."

And got a phony technical support line. A chap with an Indian accent talked her into granting access via a remote desktop.

On top of whatever malware they installed, the guy had the gall to tell me aunt that she needed to buy an extended warranty. Fortunately she hesitated and gave me a call instead.


Tell your elderly and/or unsophisticated relatives about this scam, and if you can look up the legitimate technical support lines for their Internet provided, computer manufacturer, and so on.

(Also . . . I've had one of these frauds CALL me, say he was from Windows, and ask me to give him access. I asked him if his mother knew what he was doing and whether she would be proud of him.)

#125 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 12:13 AM:

That's how you do it when you only have four to eight people. You do ten layers of overdub. But each person has to learn ten parts.

And as I said, they're not easy. No two of the 40 voices move in parallel fifths or octaves, and they kinda jump around a lot to make that work. So it's kind of chaotic.

#126 ::: Harry Payne ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 04:07 AM:

Stefan Jones @124: If I have the time, I string along any "Windows support" people who call me with variations on "Which PC? I've got three running at the moment", or "Nope, can't see a "Start" button on the screen. There's this penguin..."

Anyone else got any others?

#127 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 04:34 AM:

Xopher @111: Do you know what the greens were?

Well, as far as I could tell, they appeared to just be innocent little mixed baby greens. When I voiced this puzzlement to the sonogram tech, she commented that others had commented on the same experience. I also noticed it with the simple tomato-and-white-onion salsa which didn't, so far as I could ascertain, have any kind of sauce or dressing on it. I dunno. Maybe it was some sort of ubiquitous high-test contaminant that was otherwise oderless, colorless, and flavorless. I was able to pick out edible lunch-like matter, so I didn't go hungry. But as I've commented elsewhere, I respond very poorly to hot spice, especially when presented unexpectedly, and really especially when it turns up in stuff that I've carefully chosen for blandness.

So I was already in a fine fettle when it came time for the mammogram. Pondering the latter further, I think I'm going to take the topic over to the DFD thread, because I'm finding that on top of the (entirely unacceptible, in my not-in-the-least humble opinion) not inconsiderable pain (The tech said, "Yes, it will be 'quite uncomfortable'." What she should have said was, "Yes, it's going to hurt. A lot. Oh yeah, and: in my haste to get this experience over with, I'm just going to torque it down, concentrated on the most sensitive area, all at once, for maximum effect.") (I'm still quite sore.), I'm finding that I'm having a big triggery traumatic reaction. Plus rage. Did I mention rage?

Mary Aileen @112: At one point, if certain test results had come back differently, it would have been a good idea for me to get a prophylactic double mastectectomy. I didn't want the other bad consequences

Are you comfortable saying more about this? Would they have been consequences of the mastectomy? Or something parallel?

P J Evans @113: One of my aunts had a double mastectomy because of cysts. (Her husband said he didn't marry her for her breasts.)

One of my ongoing issues (and one of the triggers brought up by this experience) is that dealing with my breasts has always been an issue for me during physical intimacy.

I absolutely hate hate HATE having my nipples touched. It makes me want to puke. I wouldn't let my first couple of boyfriends touch my breasts at all. My most recent one (geez—twenty years ago now? ::bleak::) got away with it, but only by being extreamly careful. I never did get to where I could enjoy it. Having no breasts would actually significantly enhance my experience of sex.

Stefan Jones @116: As Xopher notes, the comfort food in the hospital cafeteria might be for visitors.

I speculated about that, too. But by my count, at least three quarters of the clientele were staff. And, srsly: artereosclerosis on the hoof as the only entre option? Now, I concede, it's possible they are extra constrained because their real cafeteria is under construction, and what they've got now is basically a commandeered classroom outfitted with a half-dozen caterer's dishes. But: wow. I'm all about Teh Fried Carbs, but even I was revolted by that stuff.

Cheryl @118: Chicago Hope ... "She might as well have her head cut off!"

I don't remember that episode specifically (unless it's the one where they managed to sneak in a scene with full-frontal female nudity cleverly disguised as "awe-inspiring reconstruction"), but I can well believe it. I wonder if Grey's Anatomy has taken a swing at it?

A coworker boggled to me a week or two ago about Angelina Jolie, and the only reaction I could muster was burning envy.

Teka Lynn @120: I've been fortunate in that none of my mammograms have been painful.

Well, up until now, my mammograms have been, at worst, Very Annoying. This one, though: I'm frankly mind-blown. And I don't think padding would have helped. Evidently there's very dense tissue, right up under the nipple in my right breast. The first two or three (remember, this is a follow-up, after having gone through a standard two-angles-per a couple of weeks ago), were painful. Then she pulled out the next one which, if memory serves, was roughly the diameter of a tea-cup. I think she made me do two with that one. The last one, though: it was literally the size of the heel on a cowboy boot. Planted square on THE MOST SENSITIVE part of the nipple. After she had basically taken the boob and spread it out like biscuit dough with her fingers. And then torqued it down, clamp CLAMP. Then with the hand-turned fine tuning. "Okay now! Hold perfectly still! Don't even breathe!" I was clenching my fists and my teeth, and I wonder if maybe I don't now have some glimmering of what guys go through when they take one in the nuts.

Then she went away to consult with the radiologist. Which took, like, a while. Then she came back, "We're going to do another few images." She went about setting me up, and it got worse and worse and—"Stop. STOP!" I pushed her away and backed out of the aparatus. That's the worst of it. Feeling like you're being given no choice in all this.

I just about walked out at that point. "Do you ever have people just burst into tears?" "Well, we get a variety of reactions. Some women just push through because they want to be sure they're okay."

She really wasn't particularly sympathetic in all this. I stood there and ground my teeth for several minutes, just managing to keep my temper. "Okay," I finally said. "You get one more."

Wow. Even thinking about this makes me want to scream in rage and punch someone in the face.

The irony is that the tech who did my standard mammo coupla weeks ago commented, after I'd expressed appreciation of her willingness to back off when I yelped, "Well, the way I figure it, even if we don't get an optimal image, it's worth going easy because, if the woman has an experience that makes her never come back, I haven't served her health, have I?"

At this point, I'm afraid that that's exactly where I'm at. It occurred to me belatedly that if I'd taken some [of that drug that sounds like a doll riding a tram] before going down, the experience might actually have been somewhat tolerable. But I frankly didn't expect it to be anything like that bad. Breast cancer risk or no, I'm just not sure I'd be willing to do that again. Not least because it just doesn't seem like a reasonable thing to ask.

And the upshot of the whole thing was that I came out clean. Yay. :-|

#128 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 04:35 AM:

Fruit smoothy and some nice tea?

#129 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 05:27 AM:

Jacque @ 110: ouch, and oh dear.

Perhaps they get their salad greens from McDonald's? I once travelled a fairly significant distance north with my (then) lodger, and we stopped for something to eat on the way. I am a vegetarian, but lodger was not, and lodger was driving. We ended up in McDonald's, a place where I wouldn't normally set foot. To be fair to lodger, he did look round for somewhere more suitable, but there weren't that many places to eat that we could find close to that stretch of road at that time.

So lodger ordered Standard Lodger Food, which McDonald's do in profusion, and I looked at the menu and saw that they were offering two types of salad - chicken or, I think, bacon. And I looked at the counter, and saw that the salad base was pre-made and they added chicken or whatever the other stuff was to it, according to what the customer ordered.

"Ah," I thought innocently, "this should be simple enough." So I asked them for a salad without additions. Yes, please, just a salad. No, thank you, no chicken, no bacon-or-whatever. Vegetarian. Thank you.

You have no idea how much this confused them. First of all they said I had to have one of the two types of meat. I replied that in that case I wasn't ordering at all, because I was, as I'd just explained, vegetarian. How hard could it be to give me some salad without adding anything extra to it? They looked at one another, looked at me, looked at one another again, shook their heads and sucked in their breath.

I stood there and gave them The Look until one of them - I kid you not - went and rang up some managerial bod to find out if it was OK just to give me a salad. It was, thankfully, otherwise I'd have been asking them to hand me the phone so I could speak to Managerial Bod myself. Fine, sorted, and no, thanks, I don't want any dressing, yes, I'm quite sure about that, I absolutely hate vinegar and can detect it in homeopathic quantities, and NO, THANK YOU, NO KETCHUP EITHER, THAT HAS VINEGAR IN IT TOO.

And when I did finally get my just-a-salad, it was not only expensive for what it was, it was also the worst salad I've ever eaten.

#130 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 06:30 AM:

Jacque #127: You would be entirely justified in filing a formal complaint with the hospital, against that radiology tech. As the other, competent tech noted, doctors and hospitals are paying attention these days, and there is no excuse for that sort of callousness in a medical setting.

#131 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 06:41 AM:

Mongoose #129: "Have it your way" is the slogan of The Other Leading Brand, Burger King.

MickeyD... well, over the years they've pulled enough screwed up crap that mostly when I've been tempted to go in there, there's been something fresh in my mind. (One ongoing issue: as I recall, their Ronald McDonald House is an explicitly if not aggressively Christian charity. Not a good selling point for a Jewish ex-Pagan atheist.)

#132 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 06:42 AM:

Jacque, 127: Mixed baby greens frequently include arugula/rocket, which can be extremely spicy. I once had some that made my mouth go numb--it felt very similar to clove oil. Mustard greens are also sometimes included. It sounds like you got a batch that had been insufficiently shuffled.

I'm sorry about the mammogram. That shouldn't have happened. Filing a complaint sounds like a good idea, especially since you're still bruised.

#133 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:19 AM:

@131, @129: I refuse to eat food-like products from McD's.

Read a newspaper article about a decade ago, in passing: a motorway in Wales had been closed for a few hours due to an overturned truck. The truck in question was transporting ingredients to a MacDonald's burger factory. What stuck in my mind was that the motorway was closed because a lorry laden with 20 tons of cow udders had shed its load.

Cow udders. "100% pure beef". Yeah, right.

(The technical term for that stuff is "pet food". It's not fit for human consumption because (a) use of antibiotics and other medication to deal with sore/inflamed teats, and (b) hazard of accumulated fat-soluble pesticides, hormones, and other pharmacologically active substances. Which, incidentally, is also why I only drink milk from organically farmed cows.)

#134 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:35 AM:

Jacque @ #127: I have a sister who's had breast cancer. I've had a lot of mammograms.

What you experienced was unprofessional behavior and warrants both a report to the hospital and a request to your doctor that s/he send you somewhere else.

It might be worth asking around to your friends whether any of them have had particularly good experiences. Facilities vary and so do individual mammogram techs, and some of them are AMAZINGLY good at what they do, both the dealing-with-people bit and the getting-a-good-image-with-the-least-possible-pain bit.

Good luck, and you have my sincere sympathy for the horrid experience.

#135 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:47 AM:

Jacque (127): Parallel. I was being tested for the BRCA gene mutation--negative, thankfully. Positive results would have meant a much higher cancer risk not only for myself but potentially for other family members as well.

#136 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 10:58 AM:

Jacque #110, Stefan J #116:

I believe I've mentioned here the time I was in hospital after gall-bladder surgery, with low-fat diet on my orders. First meal (after the Cream of Wheat, which makes me gag under any and all circumstances) was a bunch of ham, oozing fat. Under a heavy dome that I could barely lift. With condiments and implements packed in heavy can't-really-tear-it plastic. The only thing I could both lift and eat was an apple. The mealiest, most tasteless apple I have ever encountered, and I've met more than a few in my school lunches.

So it's no surprise to me.

#137 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:02 AM:

Em @121: Making Light choir? Sounds like fun! Where do I sign up?

#138 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:09 AM:

re 129: Recently I went through the McDonald's drive-thru and, having decided I wanted some fries with my std. two hamburgers, I proceeded to order what is now #2 (two cheeseburgers) with no cheese. And indeed, I got two rounds of patty/ketchup/mustard/pickle/onions/bun, but no cheese, each wrapped in a yellow cheeseburger wrapper and carefully tagged to show that they lacked cheese.

re 131: Dave, I don't see any evidence that RMDH is anything but secular, in spite of heavy local support by churches.

#139 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:26 AM:

Last Wednesday, on the way home from Italy, I had a four hour layover in Dulles.

I didn't want to pay for a meal on the plane, so I took advantage of a Wendy's near the gate:

I won't say that turned me off of fast food burgers forever, but . . . . nghhh.
* * *
McDonald's has one thing going for it:


Good basic coffee, and pretty good enhanced coffee drinks, at a good price.

#140 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:41 AM:

Xopher @111 didn't understand why mammograms often hurt. As pointed out upthread, there are some techs who are more humane than the one Jacque encountered, but by their very nature, mammograms range from 'unpleasant' to very painful. Normal breast tissue is quite chunky, though there is variation both between individuals and throughout a life. Cancer presents as ... a lump. In the lumpy beef-stew-like waterballoon that was already chunky.

What you're supposed to do before you're old enough to need mammograms is a monthly 'self-exam,' where you spread the tissue out as flat against your ribs as you can manage (with one hand straight over your head to stretch things), and use your fingertips to do a texture survey to see if everything seems the same as last time or if any lumps are doing new lumpinesses. Mine are so very chunky to start with that even attempting a self-exam sends me into anxiety hyperventilation because WHAT IF IT's ALL CANCER? So I don't do them. I let my gyn do it at my checkups and when she asks about my self-exam routine I'm honest -- it's so chunky I can't map it and hold the map in my head for a whole month so it wouldn't do any good anyway.

Luckily, tumor tissue is more opaque to imaging than normal breast chunks ... but normal breast chunks are fairly opaque, and you might get the lump in the middle of one, so the mammographer has to flatten it out as much as possible between the two plates of the imager to try to get a really good view of whether we're dealing with a normal chunk or a cancer lump.

This was never going to be fun.

The small-breasted have different extreme-non-fun than the large-breasted do, but it's not fun for anyone. At all. At best it's uncomfortable and very cold. At worst? Jacque got a really, really bad one.

I've not had one yet; I'm not looking forward to it.

I do, of course, intend a (cosmetic) bilateral radical mastectomy without later implant-bearing reconstruction at some point in my future, which will make my cancer self-exams much simpler through the serendipitous removal of most of my natural chunks. However, given my tendency towards massive keloid scarring, I'll have to memorize where my surgery scar-tissue is and be careful to feel past/behind it. So much a problem I'd RATHER have.

(Safety note: if you still have even traces of a cancer-prone organ, you need to get it regularly checked for cancer, folks!)

#141 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:50 AM:

Stefan Jones @116 said: I recently read an article about the mixed success that national healthy school lunch programs were having, and how a few schools were dropping out. Why? Kids simply weren't interested in whole grain bread, fruit, and vegetables, and cafeterias were losing money.

It's a little more complicated than that, at least in Chicago. Because the national guidelines have an absolute cap on carb amounts, the actual as-implemented lunches are often .5-.66 of an actual lunch by calories and filling-ness, so even if the kid orders and enjoys the lunch, they're really hungry afterwards. Add in that a large component of the lunch may include massive quantities of something the kid is unfamiliar with or dislikes (like a green salad that's about 1/3 made of green pepper slices) as a mandatory part of the meal ... and you're starting to grasp the problem.

Even in more affluent white-dominated high-performing schools, parents are starting to send a lunch along so their kid (a) doesn't faint at soccer practice, (b) doesn't blow all their pocket money on Doritos the instant they get out of school, and (c) has nutritious food they can actually eat, in enough quantity to fill them up.

It's kind of a failure. The schools that've opted out (and are now paying more for food, since that's the tradeoff) are still trying to offer more fresh fruit/veg options and actual real cooked meals in quantities and varieties their students will eat, like slow-cooked flank steak with collards and sweet potatoes with additional veg and fruit, or a main course that comes with a yogurt cup AND a large serving of fruit, whereas the federal guidelines in that case mandated offering it with only one of those (despite that both doesn't put them over the total-calories limit).

The particular fruit/veg the school ends up with out of the federal program is often a random mixed assortment of WTFery and not necessarily easy to turn into something any of US would eat, even leaving out 2nd graders.

#142 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 12:17 PM:

The classic instructions on preparing for a mammogram are here (click the title for the full exercise). Xopher, you might appreciate them: they capture the experience.

Large, somewhat chunky here. Uncomfortable to unpleasant, and the tech makes a big difference. (One place I went, it was outfitted like a living room, and the tech was very good.) Also, the self-exams don't work very well, which they've finally figured out.

#143 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 12:57 PM:

@127 Jacque

Since you said the first mammo wasn't so bad, it was the follow-up that was so painful, maybe you can ask for a breast ultrasound if you ever need a follow up again?

#144 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 01:00 PM:

@133 Charlie Stross

Which, incidentally, is also why I only drink milk from organically farmed cows.

That stuff is illegal is Canada, so I happily drink milk/eat dairy while at home.

When in the US, I will only buy organic dairy.

#145 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 01:03 PM:

McDibbler's. Made from genuine parts of cow.

#146 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 01:13 PM:

Ad: McDonalds sub-thread:

Although I appreciate that Charlie Stross's point @133 is mostly about safety rather than taste, a bit of googling around turns up quite a few recipes (or references to them) for cows udders (as well as the collateral information that the Turkish winter drink 'sahlep' used to be available in Britain in the eighteenth century under the name 'saloop'). So they've clearly been regarded as food for people at some point.

#147 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Self-taught sheep-herding rabbit I strongly recommend turning the sound off.

The rabbit even does the thing of controlling the sheep with a firm stare.

And I read a couple of pages of comments to the speed metal 4:33, and they were funny and charming. At youtube. This is a miracle.

#148 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Re breast cancer screening, this blog entry at The Pump Handle (public health blog) about dense breasts and cancer risk was the first I had heard of a connection - as someone who is also told "dense breasts" at screenings.

I don't know how to make a clickable link, but I recommend reading it (and the comments discuss options other than mammograms, which is also interesting given that options are not typically pushed in the USA)

#149 ::: Mea was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 01:45 PM:

New season apples for the Duty Gnome?

#150 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 01:50 PM:

C. Wingate #138: There may have been some local, or perhaps not-so-local, "problems" in my youth. Googling around, I find that currently, they have an official policy against proselytization at their events. However, I also found this article about an originally-Jewish RMHC executive being proselytized for 10 years, and eventually converted, by a fellow executive there. (He eventually ended up working for Billy Graham's ministry, which is where the article is from.)

#151 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 02:08 PM:

Amendment to my #149: On closer inspection, that policy appears to be specifically for the Delaware instance of RMDH. I don't know about the national group.

#152 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Zen Pencils: Bill Watterson. As a comment says, "epicness overload".

#153 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 02:56 PM:

Mycroft @ 106: I appreciate any help in tuning up a good joke, including yours!

#154 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 03:27 PM:

Charlie Stross @ #133: Which, incidentally, is also why I only drink milk from organically farmed cows.

Cheryl @ #144: That stuff is illegal is Canada, so I happily drink milk/eat dairy while at home.

When in the US, I will only buy organic dairy.

Organic milk/dairy is available in Canada (or at least my subsection of it). Are you thinking of unpasteurised milk? I know it's illegal here.

#155 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 03:29 PM:

Carol @154: I believe Cheryl means the bovine growth hormones fed to cows in the US to "improve" lactation. That stuff is illegal virtually everywhere else in the developed world.

#156 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 03:44 PM:

Re: RMDH and proselytizing:

First I'd heard of it. The local one is less than a mile from where I live and is a favorite charity for our community; we have had Neighborhood Association meetings in their community room in the colder months, they do an annual 5K night run around the neighborhood, and an acquaintance is their director for development.

No religious overtones whatever; I've not seen any godly mentions anywhere in the lit or in the iconography. Any religious associations would be different here in any case; the Children's Hospital that RMDH is right across the parking lot from is run by the Catholic Daughters of Charity as part of a corporation that runs a number of local hospitals under contract to a local county-wide health district. You want religion, you get it in the hospital chapel.

#157 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Re mammograms and their surroundings:

Once, any number of years ago, I went to a new mammogram provider, who was located in a beyond lovingly restored Victorian house in the campus area. (It's entirely irrelevant that I knew way too much about the previous history of the building.)

Serious cognitive dissonance--lots of hushed tones, reproduction Victorian furniture, fancy wallpaper with fancier borders. If they could have hung antimacassars and fringe off the X-ray machines, they would have.

That place made me incredibly nervous, sort of "What are they trying to hide?" or "What are they trying to distract me from?" I swear I'd much rather have the ordinary medical environment, and I was delighted the next year when I ended up someplace else.

I am, BTW, not sure that you can get ultrasound right off the bat; I didn't get it except as a clarifying tool for a followup whose X-ray was rather ambiguous. (The six-month follow-up to *that* was all ultrasound because they knew whatever it was wouldn't show on X-ray.)

#158 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 04:15 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @147: Self-taught sheep-herding rabbit

OMG, that's hilarious! I love it when one of the sheep stamps his foot angrily—and still backs up when challenged. By someone 10% her size. The only disadvantage he seems to have is that the sheep is faster than he is at a full run. But he's sure got no shortage of chutzpah.

#159 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 04:34 PM:

TexAnne @132: Mixed baby greens frequently include arugula/rocket, which can be extremely spicy. I once had some that made my mouth go numb--it felt very similar to clove oil. Mustard greens are also sometimes included.

Ah! Yes, that would explain it. It would never in a million years occur to me to include mustard greens in mixed babies (because I just don't think that way) but that makes perfect sense.

It sounds like you got a batch that had been insufficiently shuffled.

I think it was shuffled as much as it could be shuffled. Was just insufficiently dilute. (Should have tripled down on the iceberg.)

Various: Maybe I'm too credulous. I had taken the tech's word for it that what she put me through was innevitable, given what was required. But, given the consensus here...maybe not. At the very least, maybe it's worth dropping a note to the department head.

joann @136: So it's no surprise to me.

Well, given that the badness of hospital food is legendary, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. But this is Boulder, so maybe I was deluding myself that our hospital would be slightly ahead of the curve on this...? Fortunately, I'm content to let my take away be a snort and a hearty eye-roll.

Elliott Mason @140: I do, of course, intend a (cosmetic) bilateral radical mastectomy without later implant-bearing reconstruction at some point in my future, which will make my cancer self-exams much simpler through the serendipitous removal of most of my natural chunks.

I think I'm going to start researching this. I'm assuming it wouldn't be covered by insurance (although the fact that apparently, in my case, a case could be made for therapeutic breast reduction might be a mitigating factor), so doubtless $NN,000. Which means, in practical terms, it's not an option.

I made comments to that effect to the ultrasound tech, and she commented that no surgeon would ever do that. I wonder. I wonder what difference it would make if I put it in the frame of sex-reassignment. The catch there, of course, is that, IFUC, sex reassignment typically involves years of non-surgical prep. Which would be silly, because I don't actually mind being female—except for the completely absurd secondary sexual characteristics, and all the associated medical crap.

Cheryl @143: Since you said the first mammo wasn't so bad, it was the follow-up that was so painful, maybe you can ask for a breast ultrasound if you ever need a follow up again?

I actually did that this time after the first couple of not-completely excruciating follow-up images. She said that the ultrasound could only be used to confirm the absence of a tumor. I'm not entirely sure I believe her, but there you go. (26 hours later, I'm still sore.)

Cheryl @144: Which, incidentally, is also why I only drink milk from organically farmed cows." That stuff is illegal is Canada

Really? I wonder if there's a confusion with raw milk (i.e., unpasteurized) is highly illegal in the US, too, (due to high danger of bacterial infestations and such). But organic milk? A quick Google of [canada organic milk standards] turns up a long string of references.

Mea @148: dense-breasts...cancer-risk

See? I obviously need a double mastectomy! Right? Right??

I don't know how to make a clickable link

You don't have to. Just use this widget here.

From the comments: "There are also suggestions that women who have large breasts are at higher risk"

#160 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 05:06 PM:

Charlie @ #155: Ah, okay, that makes sense. I'm sorry for misreading your comment, Cheryl!

#161 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 05:15 PM:

Harry Payne @ 126

There's this penguin..."

I just tell the tech support people, "Pretend I'm using Windows and I'll make the necessary adjustments."

Dave Harmon @ 131

their Ronald McDonald House is an explicitly if not aggressively Christian charity.

I've done a fair bit of work at RMDH (in a West Coast state) and never seen anything like religious iconography. And they do very good work with children and families.

The Zork Discussion

For those who haven't heard it, please note this lovely tune by MC Frontalot, all about being eaten by a grue.

#162 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 05:15 PM:

Jacque @159: 'Chest surgery' of the sort I'm in the market for can be had from various reputable US-based providers for retail prices between about $4,000 and $18,000, depending on your initial physiology, where they're based, and the individual surgeon's practice. Yes, that's an enormous range. I'm sorry. :-> A lot of the surgeons who do boob jobs for ciswomen (in both directions, though the embiggening is more widely advertised) also do trans chest contouring, so you can windowshop on some websites for that kind of surgeon if you want.

For obvious reasons I'm really hoping that by the time it becomes something I am actually seeking to schedule, the ACA will have forced insurance companies to admit that 'being transsexual' is not a preexisting condition that justifies refusing a medically-recommended treatment. Because wow would I rather have my insurance cover it ... but if I have to save up/go into debt, well, that's how it goes I guess.

The biggest modifier on cost based on your physiology is how much excess skin is going to be involved, which relates to starting breast size. The cutoff is somewhere in mid-B, ish, depending. Smaller than *handwave* they can do it through a small incision and minimally invasively; larger than it (and wow, am I not even a borderline case, being somewhere in the 38DD range) they (rot13ed in case some people find it gory) onfvpnyyl arrq gb erzbir zbfg bs gur rkprff fxva nf jryy nf gur gvffhr haqre, fb gurl phg n pvepyr nebhaq gur avccyr (naq yrnir vg nggnpurq gb bgure guvatf yvxr areirf gung tb fgenvtug onpx sebz vg) naq phg qbjajneqf sebz gurer gb jurer lbhe fxva vf npghnyyl fgvyy nggnpurq gb lbhe evopntr, gura erzbir gur oernfg vgfrys naq arngyl svg nf zhpu fxva nf vf arrqrq gb pbire gur erznvavat purfg, gura chg gur avccyr va na nrfgurgvpnyyl-pubfra cbfvgvba naq fgvgpu vg nyy qbja arngyl. If you have the bigger-breasts surgery variant, there will be an 'inverted-t' scar under the 'pec' contour, with a longish horizontal one and a short vertical going from it to the nipple.

Ideally, if you're doing it why I'm doing it, you go on testosterone for a while first so they can see how your furriness is going to come in; if you do it before you see where it'll be hairy you can end up with some rather hilariously-shaped chest-hair patches. Whereas if you know where it's going to fur you can take that into account to both make the final chest aesthetically pleasing and use the fur to try to mask the scars.

Some after pictures for the curious or interested.

#163 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 05:39 PM:

Elliott Mason, one of my cousins had a reduction and reshaping at 20 and describes her scars as her anchors. She still has the scars a decade later, but it's better than having the original breasts.

I often forget to do breast self-exams officially, but I do keep an eye or a hand on them. I used to freak out because I could feel a hard lump, but it turned out that was my ribs.

#164 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 06:07 PM:

Jacque @159: thank you. I've bookmarked the widget and will try it next time.

More generally on aggressive pre-emptive actions - not for me, but they should be covered by insurance.

I think that stress is real, and medically justifies varied responses to the same risk factors. That is the one big place where I part ways with kaiser-hospital style risk based medicine - not everything is a uniform checklist because our responses vary. So insurance should support different risk response profiles, as long as it reasonable from a medical point of view, and stress reduction is real and important.

That said, I kinda expect to get cancer because both my grandma and mom got it, but they both survived (and no BRAC gene) so I don't stress too much, dense breasts and all.

Because dense breasts= 4 times cancer risk isn't the same as 4 times aggressive cancer risk. Some cancers are not as big a deal. But I haven't dived into the med literature to figure out if I have false peace of mind.

Although this discussion is reminding me that I need to make some screening appointments myself. I'd rather have dental work done ( which is also on the agenda).

Ok, I need to go watch some sheep herding bunny action.

#165 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 07:03 PM:

The World's End was hilarious and well done.

#166 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 07:54 PM:

elise 137: Em @121: Making Light choir? Sounds like fun! Where do I sign up?

Probably in the OT in operation whenever we're coming up on a con a bunch of us will actually be at. I may organize it depending on spoons.

We will NOT be singing Spem in Alium.

Stefan 139: I didn't want to pay for a meal on the plane

I bring sandwiches from home when possible. Less possible on the way back, of course, unless I've been visiting my mom (who keeps wanting me to take yogurt, which TSA will confiscate).

Elliott 140: That's AWFUL. Sounds like research into making mammograms less unpleasant would save women's lives.

Men don't go for their prostate exams like they should, but those don't HURT.

P J 142: Yeah, I get the idea. Awful.

I understand that AAB men who are obese are at increased risk of breast cancer. Thinking about my current shape, and these mammogram stories, makes me want to eat nothing but celery for the rest of my life. Which wouldn't be long if I ate nothing but celery.

#167 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:20 PM:

Stefan just tweeted me this: a matryomin ensemble plays a boogie version of Ode to Joy. A matryomin, in case you don't know (I certainly didn't) is...well, watch.

Yeah. Wired as theremins. No kidding.

I'd say "only in Japan" (which produces like 72% of the world's total supply of weirdness) but someone would tell me that ACTUALLY the matryomin was invented in Russia (which would make sense, because both the matryoshka and the theremin are from there) and that there are ensembles all over the world (or some such), so meh.

Anyway, it's really cool! They don't seem to miss the lack of volume control, which kind of limits it as a solo instrument, but it works fine here.

Thanks again, Stefan, for a touch of the Whiskey Tango ACTUAL Foxtrot, which, as you know, I needed.

#168 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:25 PM:

More whimsy, though merely of the fun celebration variety: A wedding party setting out from a park, preceded by a bagpiper on a unicycle: video of pedaling wedding party (on flickr)

I was distracted from reading on my front porch by the uncharacteristic look of people heading past—local cyclists are not usually that dressed up. When I heard a blast of bagpipes from the park, I knew I should investigate.

#169 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:27 PM:

Xopher: Breast cancer seems to scale most linearly with female-hormone (estrogen and progesterone especially) exposure. AAB women tend to have more female-hormone exposure than men; therefore, more breast cancer. Obese men have more estrogen in their systems because of the hormonal effects (or co-occurrences) of certain kinds of obesity. Breastfeeding, especially extended lactation, lowers your risk in part because it suppresses periods (== hormonal cycles), as does pregnancy for the same reason. Trans men on hormones still have higher risks than cismen who do not transition, even after radical mastectomy, because they've undergone (especially in these days of prevalent late-life transition) more hormonal cycles. Trans women on hormones are more prone to breast cancer than cis men. Etc.

The breast-tissue cells seem to have something happen to them when they're exposed to hormones (especially but not limited to cyclical cones) that can trigger the cancer switch, as it were. Vanishingly small chances each time, but the more coin-flips you get the less likely it is they'll all come up "no". Or it might be cumulative, metaphorically putting marbles in a very large pickle jar until it fills.

But of course, it's in the middle of a really muddy biological complicated system, so nothing's as simple as a binary effect.

Prostate and testicular cancers are encouraged (as it were) by exposure to testosterone, as well; trans men don't get prostate or testicular cancer if they don't have those organs, of course, but hormone-treated trans women seem (on average) to be less prone to them than hormonally modified cis men.

(Man, I'm infodumpy today -- sorry if it's derailing)

#170 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:27 PM:

Nope. They were invented by a Japanese thereminist.

#171 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:36 PM:

Elliott, I appreciate all that information, actually. As someone who's had a cancer for which I had no known risk factors,* and another condition (avascular necrosis) for which I also lacked risk factors,† I'm still going to be paranoid. But I do thank you for the information.

If it takes cancer fear to make me lose weight (which will be a good thing for my health in many, many ways), I think I'll wallow in cancer fear.

*Never smoked, never drank heavily
†Never smoked, never drank heavily, never deep-sea dived

#172 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:37 PM:

For a moment, I took Xopher's "nope" in #170 to be a response to Elliott's apology for derailing at the end of #169. That was...slightly disorienting.

(Elliott, that's very interesting. More geeky facts! In an open thread! How could that *possibly* be derailing?)

#173 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:39 PM:

Xopher (171): Don't you just hate beating medical odds in the wrong direction?

#174 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:39 PM:

Re: Ronald McDonald House, I may well be wrong (or at least 20+ years out of date) about them. (Which, however, does not make me noticeably more eager to eat their food.)

Jacque #159: I had taken the tech's word for it that what she put me through was inevitable, given what was required.

The pain might well have been inevitable; the attitude certainly was not.

I made comments to that effect to the ultrasound tech, and she commented that no surgeon would ever do that.

Nor the ignorance. Leave aside for the moment that a technician is making sweeping pronouncements about medical practice. In 2013, a mammogram tech should certainly be aware of the actual options.

Harry Payne #126, Alex R. #161: "Making the necessary adjustments" doesn't work too well when they're walking me through a program I haven't used since Windows 98. More to the point, I've often had mentioning Linux throw a customer-support drone into brainlock: they just keep repeating "we don't support Linux", and never mind that "they" are an ISP. I generally have to escalate at least one tech level. Makes me wish that Shibboleet was for real.

#175 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:44 PM:

in the "WIN!" column for today:

My child is using her toy (but useful) brush-and-dustpan to sweep up the drifts of dusty doghair from the edges of our steps.

She works for candy -- and I have no shame. :->

#176 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 08:52 PM:

Mary Aileen 172: Yeah, I should have refreshed before posting that. I know you weren't actually complaining, but sorry anyway.

Ibid. 173: You know it! It's also why I find the fact that my type of cancer usually doesn't recur less than reassuring. I also hit 1/44,000 odds back in the 80s, and nearly died as a result. So I'm that character from Li'l Abner with the black storm cloud over his head all the time.

#177 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:09 PM:

Men don't go for their prostate exams like they should, but those don't HURT.

Some men report that they do. This came up in a men's issues group where someone asked, would you let a female doctor do your prostate exam? More than one man voiced a preference for a female because she would likely have smaller fingers.

#178 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:15 PM:

Re: the matroyomin - a couple of weeks ago I became obsessed with the matroyomin version of the traditional Russian folk tune, Ochi Tchornye. It was possibly the strangest thing I'd ever seen. I believe I may have attained a brief period of enlightenment after several viewings. It went from completely random and nonsensical to oddly calming.

Count me in for the Making Light choir. I've got a torchy, legit belt, but I also do a great straight tone and can blend with just about anyone. I only have relative pitch, but I can sight read.

#179 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:16 PM:

I guess I was speaking out of Gay Male Privilege.


I would NOT want a woman to do my prostate exam, for the same reason I think men should be barred from being gynecologists.

#180 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:26 PM:

Xopher: Do you think it's wrong for a gay man to act as a gynecologist? How about a gay man being a lesbian's gyn? Do the sexual interests of the patient impinge, those of the doctor, or both?

#181 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:33 PM:

Xopher, speaking as a female, I've had three gynecologists, and two of them were male. It's not a big problem.

#182 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:37 PM:

Xopher: I would NOT want a woman to do my prostate exam,

Suit yourself..

... for the same reason I think men should be barred from being gynecologists.

...but I'm glad you're not my gatekeeper.

#183 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:47 PM:

I haven't really thought about it in too much detail, Elliott, never having needed a gynecologist myself. But I was only semi-serious to begin with, as I hope was clear.

The issue (to the extent it's at all real) is "knowing how this feels from having the body type that feels it" (so AAB men would be disqualified by reason of not having vaginas, cervices, and uteri—if I were serious about this, which I'm mostly not) rather than sexuality. I hadn't actually considered that. Any doctor of any gender (or none) could potentially be attracted to any patient of any gender (or none). We expect and deserve self-control on the part of doctors of all kinds.

My reservations as far as having a woman do my prostate exam involve a silly phobia about long nails (would a doctor have long nails, Xopher? don't be ridiculous) and a less-silly phobia about my reaction to having my prostate poked. I have never had that certain reaction in the presence of a woman (well, there was one Eostar ritual, but there were men there too), and I would find it terribly humiliating (and vaguely guilt-inducing, like I'd have to explain that I wasn't harassing her or something).

I'm freaking myself out here. It's not that I don't think a woman can be a perfectly good proctologist; it's a disturbing identity thing for me. I can't explain further because I'm getting nauseous thinking about it.

#184 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:52 PM:

Lila, as am I! Don't want to gatekeep for anyone, and as I've said (after you posted) I was mostly kidding.

These "mostlys" are because I've heard a LOT of women complain about stupid male gynecologists "diving from across the room with a metal speculum that they kept in the freezer on purpose" which I know is an exaggeration, and that was 35 years ago and all. So the serious part is "I should think cis women and trans men would have an advantage in gynecology, since they're familiar with the equipment from having it themselves." But trans women and cis men should be able to learn about it.

I'm sorry I even made that offhand silly remark. It was probably thoughtless, and now I'm having to explain all kinds of stuff, and probably look like a total idiot and maybe am one.

#185 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 09:56 PM:

To be clear: I apologize for my offensive remarks about men gynecologists and women proctologists. While I intended them humorously, I didn't make that clear and they were thoughtless anyway. I'm sorry and I won't do it again.

#186 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 10:01 PM:

Xopher: all the **hugs** in the universe, and I'm so sorry I (indirectly?) made you feel nauseous. I was curious about exploring the edges of the parameter of the sensation you reported, but, um, we can totally be done now. :->

#187 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 10:13 PM:

re 167: And in one of those outbursts of awesomely weird awesome that is Youtube's specialty, I give you Caravan.

#188 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 10:17 PM:

Well, I obviously need to work on my communication skills.

Charlie is correct @155: it is illegal to give BGH and/or antibiotics to dairy cows in Canada (unless of course the cow is sick and needs antibiotics, in which case she is pulled from the line until her milk tests clear).

Organic dairy, produce, meat, coffee, chocolate, etc. etc. is perfectly legal and widely available in Canada.

I spent a few summers working at dairy farms when I was a teen. If never have to clean another udder again I will be ecstatic. Even so, I still prefer that to working on the sheep farm.

#189 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:07 PM:

Went and had a long nap. Woke up thinking, "Why the hell don't they use novacaine? I mean, the dentists worked this one out, like, a hundred years ago?"

Elliott Mason @162: between about $4,000 and $18,000

The lower end of that range is not un-contemplatable. And the higher end is actually lower than I would have expected.

The biggest modifier on cost based on your physiology is how much excess skin is going to be involved, which relates to starting breast size.

I would definitely be on the upper end of that range. I wonder how much difference it makes if one is not invested in keeping one's nipples. Quite a lot, I would expect. ("Yes, let's shell out thousands of dollars to preserve the nipple and the associated neurology." "Um, why? Since, you know, having the nipples in the first place is, like, a major part of the problem...?")

I imagine that tatooed-on nipples would be entirely sufficient for my purposes, and mostly then only to avoid freaking out random bystanders. Although a chest without nipples would look a bit weird.

you go on testosterone for a while first so they can see how your furriness is going to come in

This would be one advantage for me: I'm perfectly content with my fur occurring in its current configuration. :-)

Some after pictures for the curious or interested.

Yes. Please. That.

And I speculate that sex-reassignment chest surgery would set one up for a lot less of the post-mast side effects resulting form faulty lymph drainage.

Hm. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, Elliott; this seems much more reasonable now.

Mea @164: this discussion is reminding me that I need to make some screening appointments myself. I'd rather have dental work done

Boy, howdy, and no kidding. This mammo was much worse than my last root canal. I think it might actually have been worse than having my wisdom teeth removed. At least they give you drugs for that.

Xopher Halftongue @166: I understand that AAB men who are obese are at increased risk of breast cancer. Thinking about my current shape, and these mammogram stories, makes me want to eat nothing but celery for the rest of my life. Which wouldn't be long if I ate nothing but celery.

I'm wondering if this whole experience will provide some actual, effective, motivation for me to lose some weight. I could drop a good twenty-five pounds and still be quite sufficiently upholstered.

Question: what means "AAB?"

Elliott Mason @169: (Man, I'm infodumpy today -- sorry if it's derailing)

Please, no. Very helpful and interesting.

Elliott Mason @175: She works for candy -- and I have no shame. :->

Awwwwww....!! (Ah, for a way to stave off the day when she realizes what she's doing is "work," and not "play.")

Xopher Halftongue @184: These "mostlys" are because I've heard a LOT of women complain about stupid male gynecologists "diving from across the room with a metal speculum that they kept in the freezer on purpose" which I know is an exaggeration, and that was 35 years ago and all.

Actually, IME, my main issue with male gyns is less about empathy wrt the plumbing than it is about the power dynamic. The Godlike, All-Knowing Doctor + Male In A Patriarchal Society + Man In A Position Of Authority Over A Woman = Seriously Bad News. Age (and thus social generation) of the doctor in question is also a major factor.

I can concede the theoretical possibility of a good male gyn. But I also recognize a deep prejudice in myself. And largely based on personal experience.

It was probably thoughtless, and now I'm having to explain all kinds of stuff, and probably look like a total idiot and maybe am one.

There, there, luv. Sexual dynamic in medicine, with the associated power dynamic, is a real Thing, and is worth dragging into consciousness and talking about. Just look at your conclusion of your @183.

#190 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:11 PM:

Re #163: Yes, "anchor" is a decent description for the shape of breast-reduction scars. Mine were livid purple for the first few years; these days even the under-boob ones are basically skin colored, though a wee bit dark, and the ones around the nipple and from the nipple down are all but invisible.

I'm a little larger than I was immediately after the surgery, but much more aesthetically shaped even so. I lost a little sensation, but I will totally trade that for the first time I folded my arms over my chest and wasn't hitting myself in the chin with my wrists...

#191 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:19 PM:

Xopher, there isn't as much sensation in that area of a physically-female body as you would think. (Real sensitivity tends to be at the ends rather than in the middle.)
Fortunately, these days, speculums (speculi? specula?) come in plastic, which isn't quite so cold - but a good OB-GYN will have them at least at room temp! (Note that that isn't related to the gender of the doctor.)

#192 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:23 PM:

AAB means Assigned At Birth.

The first time I had a prostate exam, I told my doctor that I could see why gay men enjoyed anal sex. The sensation didn't appeal to me, but I could understand why it would appeal to someone else.

Which reminds me...

A man went to his doctor for a physical exam. They went through the various things done in a physical, and then it was time for the prostate exam. The patient bent over the table and the doctor proceed with the exam.

After a moment, the doctor said, "Well, I can already tell you that you're going to have to stop masturbating."

The patient said, "Why?"

The doctor replied, "Because it's making me nervous."

#193 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2013, 11:58 PM:

I'm okay with a male gynecologist as long as he understands that my coping strategy in that sort of uncomfortable situation is to declare myself Hostess of the Examining Room and do my best to put him at ease. I've had one male gynecologist who hada female chaperone in the room and she made me really nervous-- she looked disapproving and I thought if I seemed too at ease she would think me a harlot. My most recent exam had two in the room, one female and 'a little old school' as another staffer said, and one male who we brainstormed about it terms of what shit to give him when he walked in the room. I much prefer the latter.

Among those I've talked to, most people who go to gynecologists seem not to mind doctors who lack the anatomy; the theory is that they've extra-careful because they don't want to screw it up.

#194 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 12:23 AM:

Jacque 189: It wasn't so much the power dynamic as the idea of getting an erection in front of a woman that I found disturbing, and still do.

#195 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 01:10 AM:

Spokane won 2015's bid. Meanwhile, our masquerade presentation won "most humorous".

#196 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 01:13 AM:

Congratulations, Serge!

I'm sorry; I've forgotten what your presentation was to be, assuming you mentioned it. Can you describe it for me?

#197 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 03:15 AM:

Xopher, your unease with the notion of visiting a female proctologist seems entirely reasonable to me as an individual thing.

However, about male gynecologists: the absolute WORST, most abrupt, dismissive, and unsympathetic GYN I've ever had was female. I was 19, and having a punch biopsy for a mild cervical dysplasia, and it was while I was at college, so not my regular doctor. She would not tell me what steps she was taking as she took them, she'd just say "and now you'll feel a little pressure" or "a slight pinch." Slight pinch it was NOT, and her post-biopsy pain control suggestion was "have a margarita," when I was close to tears.

The kindest, most considerate GYN I've ever had - leaving out the amazing pediatric GYN I dealt with from age 14-17 - was a man, and one very near retirement, at that. He LISTENED to his patients. When I explained that I really didn't want to take Provera to regulate my cycles, he said "Actually, I don't prescribe that one any more. So many women told me how much they hated its mood effects that I took one cycle of it, to see - and it's now OFF my list. There are alternatives that won't be that awful." Bless him.

I have had good female GYNs and bad male ones - but it hasn't correlated with gender.

#198 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 03:37 AM:

OK, which film had appearances by Thora Hird and Lionel Jeffries, and included in the credits thanks to the British Interplanetary Society?

#199 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 05:10 AM:

Doctors, in general, are a heterogeneous lot. I had a GP for many years who was extremely good at what she did, but had an annoying tendency to talk down to everyone which I'm pretty sure was based on the area we were in ("this is a very poor area, therefore everyone in it must be poorly educated and probably also stupid", although I don't suppose she ever consciously articulated that to herself).

I eventually managed to move out to an area which was one step up (for which read "the drug dealers don't work openly, and you won't normally get any trouble if you're walking around the neighbourhood during the day"), and there I found an even better doctor. He was particularly good with mental illness, which was lucky for me as I used to get depression (and still do sometimes suffer from anxiety), but the thing I especially liked and still do like about him is that he's absolutely on the ball when it comes to pitching his explanations. He will rapidly assess not only how bright his patient is, but also how much medical terminology they're likely to know, and explains accordingly.

However, doctors have so much stuff they need to know that not even a really good doctor is always going to be on top of all of it, and this explains how this medical paragon managed to miss my asthma. (He kept assuming I must be right that I kept getting chest infections; it wasn't an unreasonable assumption. I was coughing horribly.) It wasn't until I had to see another doctor in his absence that it was finally picked up. The other doctor is not such a great listener and empathiser, but he's absolute mustard at anything respiratory.

On the other hand, the worst medical professional I have ever had to see was a locum at the same practice who treated me when I injured my arm in an accident. He was technically highly competent, and he packed me off to a physio who turned out to be very helpful, but nonetheless he pulled the arm about with absolutely no regard for the amount of pain he was causing. His attitude appeared to be "ah, this is an arm, it is not working right at the moment, therefore we must get it repaired" - no consideration at all for the fact that there was someone in quite a lot of pain attached to the said faulty arm.

A little rambly. Sorry. Anyway, the point of all this is that I haven't seen any obvious correlation between doctors' attitudes and their gender.

#200 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 08:02 AM:

Xopher, I'm sorry for getting snippy; you unwittingly hit one of my personal buttons (other people restricting my access to health care), which is emphatically My Problem, Not Yours.

Having read your posts lo these many years, I know perfectly well that you're not about that sort of thing. And I respect your right to choose whatever professional treats you with competence and courtesy and induces the least possible anxiety, especially given how fraught your medical history is!

In my own case, the only doctor I've ever felt uncomfortable with for gender/sex related reasons was an opthalmologist. He kept making flirtatious comments about my eye color and putting his hand on my knee. (Apparently middle-aged women are supposed to be flattered by this kind of crap?) Needless to say, I would not under any circumstances go back to him. (Alas, no witnesses.)

#201 ::: Lila got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 08:03 AM:

in the course of attempting an apology to Xopher.

#202 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 08:43 AM:

Congratulations Serge!

#203 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 09:14 AM:

Congratulations Serge and company!

#204 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 09:49 AM:

Congratulations, Serge. I saw it and the award was well-deserved.

#205 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 10:47 AM:

Jacque: Glossary note. AAB == Assigned At Birth, one way of referring to people's sex or gender. It's the one dealt to them upon entering the world, by other people.

For probably understandable reasons, some people object to terminology like "genetic sex" (Really? You've been tested?), "real girl/boy", "womyn-born-womyn", or "physiological sex". Talking about someone's assigned sex or their AAB is one way of trying to get at things one wants to talk about while admitting that the assignment being talked about is imposed from above and possibly incorrect from the individual's point of view -- though often powerful in terms of how the parents choose to socialize the child, etc.

#206 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 10:50 AM:

To add to the data on doctors - the best gynecologists I've had have been the two female nurse practitioners. The worst was probably the pediatrician who did not tell me before the appointment that there I was going to have my first pelvic. He may have told my mother, so maybe that was her fault for not preparing me. I also had a good exam by a female internist who was my GP at the time. Her specialty was gynecologic endocrinology and I'm sad she's either no longer practicing, or only practicing a few hours a week these days.

The worst doctor I've ever had was my male endocrinologist, who gave me conflicting, even bullshit info, never stopped haranguing me for being fat (he was treating me for Hashimoto's and PCOS) and even offered a fraudulent diabetes Dx so my insurance would cover a fancy new injectible that was "like a lap band in a box!" to keep me from eating. (that drug now shows up on the class-action lawyer commercials). He was also the endo for a friend I had with Thyroid cancer, and he gave her nothing but misinformation about the chemo and his office staff were completely incompetent, meaning that she did not request the right number of days off, and she wound up not qualifying for some disability pay. The second worst doctor I had was the female GP who, before any exam took place, asked if I wanted a lap band.

While you might think that female doctors are better able to handle lady issues with empathy, sometimes they base all things on their own experience, which may be mild. I have had nothing but problems with my Special Lady Times since the very beginning, and I was told repeatedly by the school nurse that cramps aren't "that bad", I guess because her periods never gave her any problems, that meant my being doubled over in pain was just an affectation. Sounds like Jacque's awful Mammogram tech was of that ilk.

#207 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 11:03 AM:

Dumb question (in that I'd feel dumb if I didn't ask it): Hugos are tonight, right? Is there going to be a web simulcast this year? The official site is utterly unhelpful.

#208 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 11:16 AM:

Thanks, Cally, Michael I, Mary Aileen and GlendaP... Our presentation was about red shirts, to the music of "Dumb Ways to Die". I was the red shirt who'd made a pass at the girlfriend of a Vulcan male going thru Pon'far,thus my showing up on stage carrying a Vulcan axe in one hand, and the other hand keeping my entrails from completely spilling out.

#209 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 11:19 AM:

The worst gynecologist I had was the one who told me the best way to get rid of my endometriosis and associated menstrual pain was to get pregnant. (Well, it DID work, but I had to go through a few more years of unpleasantness before we were ready to have a kid!)

The most amusing one was a younger man (maybe 35 or so) who seemed slightly embarrassed by the matter-of-fact attitudes my daughter and I had about birth control and sexual preference...

I'm very happy with my current female gyno, who is quite good about communicating with me and giving me enough information and time to make decisions.

#210 ::: Serge Broom was GNOMED ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 11:19 AM:

I have some Romulan ale for our hosts.

#211 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 11:36 AM:

I've had any number of doctors performing pap smears, but I only remember three: the one I had in college (male), and my last two (female).

The male one, beloved by the nurses, was fairly good; patients could relax a bit more because the nurses always provided really gaudy knit or crocheted cozies for the stirrups so you wouldn't freeze your feet.

The next-to-last doer-of-paps, female, who I ended up being stuck with for several years, otherwise good at her job, had the worst pap technique ever--you could (pardon the TMI) feel things scraping. Actively painful. Now I understand that the usual bad-pap complaints have more to do with dilation rather than actual acquisition of specimen, so this must have been just ... special. I got to where I really dreaded the exam.

My current doctor, also female, of twelve or so years standing, I can't even feel anything. Now that's *good*.

#212 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 12:39 PM:

I never got cozies on the stirrups. but I did get one who had scenic posters tacked to the ceiling.

#213 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 01:16 PM:

The NSA has pretty good phone staff.

Really-- they gave the man decent advice and bailed out from being trolled quickly and with dignity. Still, pretty funny.

#214 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 01:53 PM:

Congratulations, Serge!

Rikibeth 197: Yeah, those kinds of stories are why I don't actually seriously advocate a sex bar for those specialties. That GYN sounds like an amazing person and an excellent doctor.

Lila 200: Thank you, Lila, I appreciate that.

Elliott 205: "womyn-born-womyn"

Another vocabulary note: anyone who uses (as opposed to mentions) the quoted phrase to refer to real individuals can be safely assumed to be a TERF.*

*Elliott knows this means Trans*-Excluding Radical Feminist.

#215 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 04:09 PM:

Thanks, Xopher... I missed some of my cues, but we still managed to get a big laugh from the audience.

#216 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 05:17 PM:

I've been Summoned to have my first pap smear, and I am terrified. Haven't booked the appointment yet.
It's not the discomfort that scares me, or not primarily. I don't want it to hurt, but if it does, I'll probably be able to manage it.
What scares me is the gender problems. If I go for a pap smear I am officially, firmly and unarguably female. I am in the box labelled Girl, being treated like a girl in case I have girl-specific problems. My physical dysphoria is mild, but only when I can ignore the female coding of my anatomy. Gynecology codes me female. I have the fear.

#217 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 05:21 PM:

It codes you as physically female - they're not checking your mental gender. (My experience: slight physical discomfort, but otherwise it's pretty impersonal. If you're lucky, you get people you can joke with.)

#218 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 05:22 PM:

I've had a female GP perform a prostate exam, FWIW. Don't see any reason why she'd be worse at detecting prostate cancer than a male GP would be. (It's also not the most unpleasant medical procedure I've ever been through.)

On the other hand, I'm not so sure the numbers support the idea that all men should be screened regularly for prostate cancer, either via the PSA test or via digital rectal exam. Prostate cancer is extremely common and usually slow growing, and is sometimes best left untreated. As I understand it (as a non-expert but as someone who has a prostate and is interested in quantitative reasoning) there isn't much evidence that early detection prolongs life or improves quality of life. May be different for some people depending on specific risk factors, of course.

#219 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 05:41 PM:

Matt 218: Don't see any reason why [a female GP]'d be worse at detecting prostate cancer than a male GP would be.

I entirely agree, and as I said, that was absolutely not the point for me.

I agree with the rest of your comment.

#220 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 06:12 PM:

John and I painted our the outside of our whole garage today, despite kid non-napping. It was stressful and took longer than it would have if we'd had a childcare solution, but it was doable.

Though the second coat is going to have to either be tomorrow or after dark, given the timing. :->

#221 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 06:15 PM:

Two lines have just occurred to me regarding the various awful smear experiences recorded here:

My cavity, my cavity, she's scraping round my cavity,
I don't know if it's clumsiness or out-and-out depravity...

This may get expanded in the morning, but right now I am going to bed. Sympathy to all who have gone through medical yuck, which appears to be almost everyone.

#222 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 06:41 PM:

Duckbunny, I'm afraid I have no advice to offer that passes the five-second rule*. It's a sucky situation, and I hope taking care of your body doesn't mean hurting the rest of you.

*If I can think of it in five seconds, so can you.

#223 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 07:07 PM:

Speaking of the 2015 WorldCon, Spokane is less than two hours' drive from Moscow. If you go there to protest the anti-LGBT laws, try not to be there when the sun blows up.

#224 ::: Xopher Halftongue in gnomine domaini ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 07:09 PM:

Maybe that link was wonky.

#225 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 07:14 PM:


There's a link on the LonestarCon home page to the Ustream livebroadcast ( The ceremony is scheduled to start at 8 pm San Antonio time (9 pm Eastern).

#226 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 09:05 PM:

P J Evans @191: there isn't as much sensation in that area of a physically-female body as you would think. (Real sensitivity tends to be at the ends rather than in the middle.)

The kinesthetic sensations interior of the skin tends to be more pressure than tactile (which is why I managed to let one lover gnaw a hole in the wall of my vulva with his fingernail, without realizing it.)

I did, however, have one doctor for a while who managed to apply the speculum in a remarkably uncomfortable fashion. I don't know whether she had managed to pinch skin, or stretch it, or what the hell, but I spent the entire exam with the sensation of the right side of my vulva on the brink of tearing. These days, I would probably have made her reseat it, but since I was getting a colposcopy, the speculum was in some respects the least of my worries.

John A Arkansawyer @192: AAB means Assigned At Birth.

Oh. Right. I even knew that. Something about the context of weight made that slip my mind. Thanks.

Xopher Halftongue @194: It wasn't so much the power dynamic as the idea of getting an erection in front of a woman that I found disturbing, and still do.

Huh. Interesting. And here I am confronted with an experience for which I have absolutely no appropriate referents. (It's good to be reminded that even though we work to be compassionate and empathetic, there are experiences which we are simply unequipped to understand.) Thank you for sharing that.

Rikibeth @197: So many women told me how much they hated its mood effects that I took one cycle of it, to see - and it's now OFF my list.

Wow. That move, righ there, earned him a place in heaven, IMHO.

Janet Brennan Croft @209: The worst gynecologist I had was the one who told me the best way to get rid of my endometriosis and associated menstrual pain was to get pregnant. (Well, it DID work, but I had to go through a few more years of unpleasantness before we were ready to have a kid!)

0.o Wife of a friend who gave birth to their first last year underwent something like a year of therapy and surgery prior to getting pregnant, to deal with the endometriosis. I don't know anything like enough to render an opinion, but your gyn's opinion sounds way off, to me.

P J Evans @212: I never got cozies on the stirrups.

My current doc's office uses raggedy old athletic socks on the stirrups. My biggest problem with them is that it's impossible to get them into the right angle, so I always wind up with my feet perched kinda sideways on the rim.

Heh. Which reminds me: I also got a bone density test on Friday. An entirely unremarkable experience (thank Ghu!), but I did find myself giggling at the little triangle exclamation point sticker on the overhead bit; presumably to remind one not to whack one's head when sitting up. Also, having my feet strapped to the triangle majigger to get them into the right position was an odd sensation. Especially on the right, since that foot tends to splay outward. The tech was very forgiving of the low comedy I was compelled to offer in response.

duckbunny @216: Depending on availability and your tolerances/preferences, the discomfort can be dealt with somewhat preemptively by taking a dose of something like (rot13ed for the gnome's sake) genznqby an hour or so ahead of time.

As to the physical dysphoria around the girl parts, if your gyn is worth anything, it would be worth bringing this up during the consultation. Maybe make an agreement with him/her that, in the interests of your long-term health, the two of you together treat this business with the fantasy that, as a favor, you are bringing in a friend's body for the the check-up, because the friend is off [at an important job interview / performing in a concert / whatever fantasy particularly delights you] and can't be there herself. In your place, I might even be inclined to call the gyn ahead of time and pre-arrange this role-play. How your gyn reacts to the idea will tell you a lot about how clued-in they are around gender issues, generally.

#227 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 09:09 PM:

Michael I @225: Do you know if it's started yet? All I'm seeing in the frame is the Hugo Rocket, and the chat says that we lost the feed.

Shades of last year...?

Okay: "worldcon: be right back."

Technology is so cool, when it works....

#228 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 09:13 PM:

Duckbunny, I can't tell you how to feel about or understand yourself: but does it help you that, from your description, this stranger codes you as a man with some female parts?

Again, I don't know whether this idea is of any use, but perhaps there is a way for your female parts to have been meant to interact with your male ones in some way that is not threatening or unhealthy, maybe there's a way to be friendly to those parts, even if they got stuck so awkwardly on to a male person?

#229 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 09:18 PM:

Mine usually managed not to do that (and I never had any problems with colposcopy, even the time I spent a couple of hours as a paid guinea-pig for a teaching clinic with six doctors).

#230 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 09:57 PM:

It's in the middle of the Campbell right now (despite it being 3min before 9Central, which was when it was said to start)

#231 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 10:09 PM:

duckbunny, Planned Parenthood will perform Pap smears, and they have three boxes for gender on their form: male, female, and other. They will still give you a Pap smear if you tick "Other." Perhaps that might help?

#232 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 10:11 PM:

Duckbunny - I've had a variety of doctors (and physician assistants) over the years, and never had a pap smear be particularly uncomfortable. I didn't have a gender concern about it, but from a purely physical perspective, you don't need to worry. In a discussion like this, I think it's human nature for the people who've had the bad, outlier, experiences to speak up. The mundane just doesn't seem worth mentioning.

#233 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 10:14 PM:

Hugo-Ceremony-as-performance-art question -- is the big fuzzy glasses'd guy in colorful t-shirt and dark blazer the Designated Hugger? Perhaps I should recognize him but I don't.

#234 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 10:50 PM:

Patrick won best editor, long form. Yay!

#235 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 10:51 PM:

Warning to the gnomes: incoming traffic ...

#236 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 11:14 PM:

Jacque 226: (It's good to be reminded that even though we work to be compassionate and empathetic, there are experiences which we are simply unequipped to understand.)

I run into this all the time with women's and trans* issues.

Nancy 234: What, again? :-) Um...I mean, congratulations, Patrick!

#237 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 12:02 AM:

Since we're talking Hugos, here's this year's base design. It looks suitably heavy and I hope none of the winners dropped theirs.

#238 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 12:13 AM:

The best part about Patrick winning the Hugo this year is that TERESA WAS THERE! Finally! Excellent!

#239 ::: elise has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 12:14 AM:

No doubt for undue enthusiasm about Teresa having actually been there when Patrick won his Hugo this time. Which is worth being enthusiastic about. Here, gnomes, want a Nut Goody?

[Actually, for three spaces in a row. The gnomes were so pleased by the news that we're foregoing snacks this time. -- Rowoil Cuex, Duty Gnome]

#240 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 01:04 AM:

Congratulations to Patrick on winning the Hugo for Best Editor, Long Form.

Is it just me, or with the bronze base, could this year's Hugo award double as a defensive weapon? Also, if anyone is carrying them on board a plane (rather than checking or shipping), expect some really weird looks at security. Big chunks of irregular metal look weird on x-ray.

#241 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 02:20 AM:

Congratulations, Patrick!

#242 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 02:21 AM:

And congratulations, Teresa, for being there to kvell.

#243 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 06:22 AM:

Congratulations, Serge and Patrick!

#245 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 09:18 AM:

Duckbunny @216: Reasons like yours are why many people with female reproductive systems who do not identify as female don't get those body parts checked as frequently as they should, and are at higher risk for problems with said body parts. If you haven't already done so, I'd suggest locating a trans-friendly gynecologist; even if you don't identify as male, doctors who are used to treating folks with cervices who don't identify as female are likely to be generally sympathetic to your needs. (You may be able to find a provider via, or by contacting a local-to-you organization.)

#246 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 09:27 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @240: Chicon warned the TSA that (##) of awards that looked like this ____ were going to be leaving Chicago after Labor Day Weekend, probably a lot on planes, here's an example in its travel case to x-ray to see what it looks like.

Because even just the rocket is kind of alarming-looking to them. All winners were also provided a slip of paper with recommended talking-to-the-TSA wording to use, if flying out. (Something along the lines of, "I won an award last weekend, it's in my carry-on, it's a rocket and a base-that-looks-like ...")

I was under the impression that this wisdom had been passed on to the LoneStarCon team; it's a good idea for all future US-based concoms, methinks.

#247 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 09:30 AM:

Possibly of historical interest: because of stream breakdown, the only portion of Patrick's speech (or, in fact, anything since the end of Stanley Schmidt's) that went out live to those of us non-present-in-person was him raising it and saying "And I won this one with Teresa here to watch!" or whatever his actual wording was. And then the stream broke again.

If the concom has the footage archived it would be nice if nominees could choose to post their speeches or something.

#248 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 09:39 AM:

Elliot @220, with regard to painting the garage, if you got caught in the thunderstorm last night, you'll want to wait at least a couple of days (three is better) before you put on the next coat.

I know this because I was out with friends last night, and we were talking about coming over today and painting their newly-purchased outdoor shed, and our waiter overheard us. Turns out he'd been a painter in a previous life (also a casino dealer for ten years; not a young man, he), and he strongly advised waiting three days after rain before painting outside surfaces...

(We gave him a really good tip.)

#249 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 10:05 AM:

Nothing to do with the ongoing topics, but as this is the Worldcon edition open thread, it seems as good a place as any:

I have a neat idea for badge ribbons to hand out at next year's Worldcon, but no idea where to order such ribbons (so that I can get a cost estimate to find out if it's something I can do) or even what that kind of ribbon is actually called so that I can effectively google it. Where do those ribbons come from? I want to make my own to give away, darnit.

#250 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 10:12 AM:

CassyB: We didn't get rain last night; there was some the night before, but everything was sunned-off and very dry before we painted, so we're not worried.

Worst case, we paint it again in 3-5yrs (which Beka will be in favor of; as she said the instant she saw it partly painted, "But I don't even LIIIIKE blue it's not my FAVORITE COLOR you should paint the garage PURPLE!!!!eleventy!").

#251 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 10:35 AM:

Elliott, 250: I find myself strongly in agreement with your child. Purple is and has always been the best color in the world. I can think of no better color to paint something you'll see every day.

#252 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 11:27 AM:

Which leads me to ask why so few cars are purple.

In fact, I'd love to know why car colours congregate so heavily in certain parts of the spectrum. I don't know if other countries are different, but here in the UK the main colour ranges for cars appear to be blues; greyscale (generally the lighter end, ie white and silver); reds; and to a certain extent greens. Yellows, russets and purples are relatively uncommon. Beige had a vogue for a while among elderly gentlemen in particular, but I hardly ever see them now. Orange seems to have gone out with the Citroen 2CV, pink you see once in a blue moon, and I don't think I've ever seen a full-on brown, though you'd think it would be quite a practical colour.

Personally, if I were both able and obliged to drive, I'd have a car I could pick out anywhere. A nice bright Kelly green would be ideal; that's a shade you don't tend to see!

#253 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Mongoose #252:

No offense to the color preferences of you and TexAnne, but my longterm and ongoing attempts to classify and therefore predict driving behavior have suggested mightily that drivers of purple cars are more likely to exhibit totally random behavior than the rest of the driving population. Dunno why, but they are.

#254 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 11:58 AM:

Mongoose #252: At least in the US, there are strong fashion trends, both for the mass of cars and for the "rebels" who go for something different. The "mass" colors will be selected among fairly muted colors: As you note the darker blues or greens going to black, grays and silver, and white (though white has that cleaning issue).

Really eye-catching¹ colors tend to be someone showing off or "compensating", as in the classic bright-red sportscar or "Pink Cadillac". Just now, I suspect not as many people are in the mood for that.

Other colors can come from more general fashions of the time; for example, back in the 70's, you got a lot of avocado and some harvest-gold cars.

¹ Googling around indicates that the etymology doesn't support me, but a while ago I conceived a connection between the two meanings of 'tacky'. On the one hand, it means something that's physically sticky, that catches hold of your hand. On the other, it's something that does the same to your attention....

#255 ::: Dave Harmon has lunch with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 11:59 AM:

Egg salad sandwiches, anyone?

#256 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 12:05 PM:

Mongoose (252): You'd love my new car. I named it Kermit because it's a very bright green.

Around here, the vast majority of cars are monochrome. Light gray/silver* is the most common, followed by black and dark gray, then white. Those account for at least 3/4 of the cars on the local roads. Most of the actual colors are very dark, with navy blue and burgundy both fairly popular. I am starting to see more brightish colors around this year: royal blue is picking up and I'm seeing copper for the first time. And there's always been a smattering of bright red.

*which completely disappears in rain or fog, particularly since Long Island drivers don't like to turn their headlights on in the rain. Grump.

#257 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 12:09 PM:

Addendum to my #255: I wanted a bright color for visibility reasons, but green was not my first choice. I really wanted royal blue and wouldn't have minded waiting, but the dealer offered to knock another $1000 off the price if I took one of the cars they had on the lot. So I went with the green.

#258 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 12:37 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 246: I applaud Chicon for providing a sample to x-ray before a couple of dozen of them wandered their way through security checkpoints; I'd hope that made the experience less unpleasant for awardees heading home. One of my labmates has had fun carrying on scientific apparatus - we often use chinrests during visual perception experiments, since we like to keep the distance between the subject's eyes and the stimulus constant - it turns out that our more portable chinrests look really strange on x-ray. They're a chin cup (boring, radiotransparent, plastic) and a couple pieces of relatively thick pipe (very much radio-opaque) that telescope so we can adjust height. The latter component looks like things that Are Not Allowed on board an aircraft. Labmate got on his flight successfully, but did have to explain the device.

#259 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 01:12 PM:

Charlie Stross got a nice shout-out in today's edition of Doug Muder's invaluable Weekly Sift

#260 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 01:28 PM:

My car is red. I had wanted the bright turquoise ("blue raspberry") one, but the dealer only had it in the "sport" model and I just wanted the base. Red was my second choice and I'm actually pretty happy with it. If it had come in purple, I would have waited or found another dealership that participated in the Costco plan.

Many people out here seem to have silver, grey, beige or white cars, which in addition to being harder to see in the fog, look remarkably similar in parking lots. If I had infinite money that I was require to spend on stupid things, I'd get that purple/green iridescent paint and have it done in a dragonscale pattern.

#261 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 01:32 PM:

I like my nice bright shiny metallic green Eclipse. I thought about a nice bright shiny metallic grey car, but the last person I met who had one said she'd been hit five times in her Z3. Low-slung and pavement-colored--not a great combination.

#262 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 02:02 PM:

Our car is bright red - the only choices we had were bringt red, plain white or costs-a-lot-extra, so we went with the red - at least it's visible. They didn't offer green paint anyway. :-(

I really don't understand why so many cars nowadays are silver-grey. As others have already said, a colour better designed to make your car invisible as the light level falls, I really can't imagine.

#263 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 02:21 PM:

If I'd bought a Honda Fit instead (liked the car, *hated* the dealership), I would have gone for the "blue raspberry" (i.e., turquoise). The Fit *does* come in purple, but it's very dark. And they replaced the royal blue with navy this year.

#264 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 02:24 PM:

re: silver/white cars

Those of us who live where the summers get hot know the appeal of cars with reflective shells - far less load on the A/C (it's almost unbearable not to have or use it). My first car (bought for me in Nebraska) was black with a red interior. I couldn't even touch interior surfaces until the A/C had run close to fifteen minutes, meanwhile standing outside in the sun.

Heating isn't a problem in the winter regardless of color as the engine produces plenty.

Were I designing vehicles, I'd default silver or white with a broad band of metallic color on the sides that wrapped up across the top of the doors.

Also, if the motor is running, the lights are on. IIRC this is mandatory in Norway.

#265 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 02:35 PM:

@263 Carol Kimball
Also, if the motor is running, the lights are on. IIRC this is mandatory in Norway

Daytime running headlights are mandatory in Canada.

My Mazda is 'Phantom Blue Mica', which was not my first choice, but is a nice kind of teal.

#266 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 02:50 PM:

I pretty much think of myself as a boy with statistically unusual anatomy for a person of my gender. Generally that works for me. Sex is fine, because I only sleep with people who know I'm a boy, so they know they're touching a boy's anatomy, so it doesn't matter that it's an uncommon shape. Menstruating is rough, but a lot less so since I got a cup instead of pads. It's the difference between "My body is uncontrollably doing a girl-thing" and "I am a cool cyborg".

It is very lovely to find people being sympathetic and helpful about my need to draw fine distinctions. Expressions of gratitude!

#267 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 03:38 PM:

Nice to know the California Milk Processor Board has a sideline in Opium flavor. Note: this sucker is long.

They're also responsible for this example of short sexist fairy tale assholeiness and most annoying use of neither/nor, which annoys me more than I would have thought possible from the description.

#268 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Em at #249 badge ribbons.
I can't help you but I am reminded of something funny I saw once.
I worked a trade show during my temping days, and the customer (a big national association of something) bought EVERY COLOR OF badge ribbon, apparently just because they could. I swear there must have been exactly 256 of them and they must have corresponded exactly to the Microsoft palette. There was a spreadsheet saying which particular subgroup of the panelists were entitled to which one.

#269 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 04:00 PM:

Oh, it just gets better and better: the Internet Archive doesn't have a working version that I can find, but a web search for "" gives an even juicier example of "What the hell?" I wonder how much this boosts milk prices...

#270 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 04:33 PM:

Given the recen discussion, I think a bunch of folks here will appreciate 11 Things Guys Take For Granted.

#271 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 05:07 PM:

Em @249: Googling for "badge ribbons" got me stuff - but all UK based. Just tried again in Firefox and:

Badge Ribbons

Marco ribbons

Try those? The second one certainly offers blank ribbons, and the first offers custom printing.

#272 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 05:20 PM:

R.I.P. Frederik Pohl.

Damn. But . . . hell of a good run, man.

#273 ::: Stefan Jones, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 05:21 PM:

I'm not sure why. I was noting the passing of Frederik Pohl.

Some formatting thing I guess.

#274 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 05:29 PM:

A quick Google on images shows that most British police cars are white, with various high-contrast patterns of hi-vis paint added. These days, one or two rows of blue and yellow squared down the side, and the usual orange/yellow diagonal stripe pattern across the rear which a lot of emergency and maintenance vehicles use.

#275 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 05:37 PM:

Pohl was blogging as of three days ago:

I hope Elizabeth Anne Hull continues the work on his revised autobiography.


We know the ending now. A familiar one. But what a story.

#276 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 06:24 PM:

Dave Bell @ #272:

Swedish police cars now have a Battenberg stripe (yes, really, they call the alternating squares after the dessert) instead of the former "thin blue stripes" or (going far-enough back) the rather stark quartering in black and white. Mostly because the Battenberg is more visible than either of the other.

I don't think the next "small" Swedish police car will be a Saab, though (they used to have quite a few Saab 900s with the engine and drive-train out of Saab 9000s in them, the latter car is quite a few hundred kilos heavier, so the police 900s were, shall we say, quick).

#277 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 06:25 PM:

#266 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II

I'm not usually into "so bad it's good", but that was remarkable-- and more so that it's apparently a real ad in some sense rather than simply a humorous piece.

It might be an argument for keeping government out of advertising except that it's managed to strike the youtube commentariat silent.

#278 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 06:31 PM:

Dave Harmon @244: Man, you ain't kidding. Whoah. Yeah.

#279 ::: elise got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 06:33 PM:

I recommend that xkcd comic to the gnomes, too. Gets ya right in the feels, it does.

And would the gnomes like some lovely deep-fried pumpkin pie with cinnamon ice cream from the Minnesota State Fair?

#280 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 06:52 PM:

elise: cinnamon ice cream was made to go over blueberry cobbler. Trust me on this.

#281 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 07:18 PM:

HLN: Area neutrois observes fingernail moonrise and gets a lesson in relative visual effects.
I was up pre-predawn as usual, made sure that Jupiter was in its proper place, and then recalled that a thin crescent should be along sometime. I waited, and after a while noticed something so dim and ghostly perched on the horizon I was not entirely sure it was there; it was almost like a little barely-seen cloud against the black. But I kept an eye on it--and then I understood, as light burst forth and the crescent appeared seemingly all at once. I had been looking at the part lit only by earthlight, and as soon as the sunlit part was in sight, it overwhelmed that--unlike some evenings when the earthlight is stronger. I guess it's because that happens in the winter when that light comes from Antarctica, but now it's from the Southern Ocean, or Africa, or something. I'm not sure, this can get confusing. But it sure shows us how context determines not just the seeming value, hue or saturation of something, but sometimes whether we can make it out at all.
Over 27-odd years, I've watched the sun, moon and various planets pop out of the trees on the hill, and marveled at the variation in just where it happens. Not to mention how beautiful it is. Now I am being priced out of this place and am on the waiting list for a subsidized one. I figure there's a 25% chance of it facing east. Let's hope for the best.
Oh, and congratulations, Patrick.

#282 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 08:08 PM:

Unless there's a backlog, this is Frederik Pohl's last blog post:

Discomforting the comfortable to the end.

#283 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 08:33 PM:

Lila @277: One of the local ice-cream companies has a cardamom/vanilla ice cream that I tried recently. It was clearly needing to go over something, rather than just being eaten by itself. Peach cobbler, perhaps?

#284 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 08:48 PM:

Just looked at the LoneStarCon logo. It's flashing me. The star is flash… huh? Balloons dropping from the ceiling, confetti, a banner…


#285 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 09:47 PM:

I believe that Worldcon takes nice pictures of all the Hugo winners. Do these get posted online, and does anyone know the link? I'm not seeing one on LoneStarCon's Hugo page, nor on

#286 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 10:43 PM:

Our garage is blue because:

- We decided on white trim and saturated wall expanses.

- It needed to not clash horrendously with any of the vegetative greens at that end of the yard, the orange of the daylily blossoms that sproing up RIGHT IN FRONT OF THAT WALL in the summer, or the neighbor's house.

- both John and I like blue. In fact, in sorting through our available paint-chips to do the choosing, we kept gravitating to ... the two paint chips containing most of the blue shades we painted our LAST house. Confirming we really do like those colors a lot.

- we agreed it should be a strongly visible color (not pastel), not too grey, but not dark dark or too saturated (so as to read dark). So speaking practically, darkness 4 on any of the 6-shades-that-vary-by-how-much-lamp-black color chips we had.

- Of the chips on hand (limited only to Dutch Boy colors), we didn't really like any of the greens or purples on offer; some were good but too grey, others were good except kind of way too pink to be staring at for years, etc. And all the greens that didn't look pre-grimed for our convenience were kind of extra neon, which is not what we were looking for.

- We wanted to pick the garage color with a sort of aim to eventually repainting all the TRIM on the house in a darker/more saturated version of the same/a coordinating color, so we were now looking for PAIRS of colors we liked ...

So blue. As it happens. John strongly prefers blues and greys; I prefer purples and blues, like greys all right (as long as not depressing) and also like a lot of other colors.

Red was tough because we wanted to coordinate trim-color, and most of the reds we liked for trim turned either peachy or pinky when lightened towards 'garage' versions. Also, there really aren't a lot of good red or orange options in the currently trendy colors that both John and I like; we're Christmassy/ruby/oxblood/certain maroon prefer-ers, and those are not 'now' reds.

Yellow was a possibility, but again the rub was coordinating with house trim, as if the hot/saturated end of the chip that the trim would be was a color we liked, the lighter shades dropped to baby's-nursery pastels really fast, and we were not into that. Orange was even worse, as most of the oranges turned peachy or pinkish when lightened, or else were way too pumpkinny. Or too brown. Orange is tough when it comes to what John and I like to look at. Best to avoid it as fraught entirely.

There were a couple of purples that I liked and John could have lived with on the trim, but their paler counterpart shades were just wrong. And we're painting the garage FIRST, so ...

So, well, blue. As it turns out, a nice sunny robin's-eggy kind of blue that on the chip was lighter than I wanted, but on the garage is just exactly right. In twilight it makes that entire end of the yard glow and turns on all my happy places. Two notches on the paint chip darker is a nice vibrant medium blue, not 'dark' exactly but far from 'light', neither too tealy nor too navy-ish.

(Our car is beige, because that's the color of the used car on the lot that had the features we wanted -- specifically Honda Naples Gold Metallic. Which is almost precisely the same color as Toyota's Driftwood Pearl, because my in-laws' Prius is Driftwood Pearl, and if it's parked directly next to our car you can just about tell in good direct sunlight that our car is faintly yellower)

#287 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 11:37 PM:

As far as I can tell from just driving, i.e. this is anecdotal evidence, entirely unreliable; every third car in California is a silver-grey Toyota. MY car is a silver-grey Toyota. Makes it tough when you forget where you parked your car in the Target lot. I do have a sticker on the rear bumper which helps distinguish it from its multitude of cousins. Had I purchased it new, I would have chosen a different color, but it was 3 years old when I got it.

#288 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 11:46 PM:

duckbunny & lorax: If you haven't already done so, I'd suggest locating a trans-friendly gynecologist; even if you don't identify as male, doctors who are used to treating folks with cervices who don't identify as female are likely to be generally sympathetic to your needs.

I'm keeping a close eye on this conversation because, despite the fact that I'm not generally opposed to the idea of being female (once I dispensed with the most troublesome bit), the idea of causing my upper thorax to become more male-like has increasing appeal for me.

Googling the phrase [boulder trans doctor] turns up Boulder Valley Women's Health, which also serves trans folks, and offered up an article in the local paper.

Melissa Marsh, OASOS program coordinator ... said the services offered beyond hormone therapy at Women's Health are particularly helpful because reproductive health issues can be some of the most difficult to address for transgender people.

"If they're going in for gynecological services, they're going to have to talk about the fact that they identify as male and they need a Pap smear. That's so awkward," Marsh said. "I can't even tell you how much joy the fact that they offer so many services brings me."

So there are providers out there who are clued-in. (I'm kind of surprised they're so thin-on-the-ground in Boulder.)

#289 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 04:16 AM:

Further to 282 ::: Stefan Jones @282: There's a link from there: "Farewell..." It reads:

"Frederik Pohl
Nov. 26, 1919—Sept. 2, 2013

We’re saddened to tell his friends and readers that Fred went to the hospital in respiratory distress this morning and died this afternoon.

Please stay tuned. We’re teary and shell-shocked right now, but we’ll have more news soon. And Fred left a thick file of things he wanted to tell you, so we’ll likely keep posting for a while."

So it looks like there will be a few more posts yet.

#290 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 04:28 AM:

duckbunny: Seconding the recommendation to see someone who is comfortable with trans* patients and gender dysphoria. There are medical professionals out there who fit the bill, it can just be hard to find them. You can also interview doctors before you let them do any sort of exam - a good doctor should be willing to sit down with you, if briefly, to make sure that you and they are a good fit. Good luck with your search.

#291 ::: Marek ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 04:49 AM:

Mark Liberman of the Language Log posts an extensive quote about the futility of teaching composition style.

It neatly sums up for me something I have mused about for a long time: that all the "writing advice" blogs on the Internet are teaching you to hate writing.

#292 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 07:04 AM:

k8, 290: Interviewing doctors is a good idea, but most US insurance won't pay for the visit if you don't have a specific thing you're going in for. Probably most people have some niggling little thing they can claim--mine is asthma maintenance.

#293 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 08:58 AM:

Open-threadiness and pre-emptive gnome-feeding here; this is my famous casserole recipe. It is what I mainly live on at the moment, since I am not a mongoose of means, but there are much, much worse things one could be living on. I thought I'd share it.

You will need the following:
Some chickpeas. The quantity is fungible; I use enough to cover the bottom of a large saucepan before they're soaked. If you find you have too many, you can always turn the rest into hummus.
Some onions. The canon is two large ones, but adjust according to the size of your onions. I had to use four today.
Some mushrooms. Chestnut or portabella mushrooms are ideal (we're going for umami here), but white ones will do. You'll want about six or seven large ones, or equivalent.
Some carrots. I buy mine in 750g bags and use the whole bag. That's a little over a pound and a half, for Americans.
Some celery. One regular head, two if they're small.
Some parsnips. Like the onions, either two large or adjust for size.
Some flat-leaf parsley. (I use a lot; it really does give it zing. You can buy it here in 100g packets, and, yes, I do use the whole lot.)
Some oil suitable for frying.
Some cumin and coriander. These are important; do not be tempted to omit them. You don't taste them in the finished article, but I guarantee you will know if they are not there.
Some stock cubes, of your choice.
Some tomato purée.
Some nut butter (I use cashew; peanut butter would also work, but avoid sweetened varieties).
Some Marmite or other yeast extract.
Some rosemary (optional).
Some black pepper.
Some salt.
A really big saucepan suitable for frying, with lid; a knife and chopping board; a wooden spoon; and, unless you're feeding the multitude, a large container in which you can store it in the fridge.


Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. In the morning, drain, rinse, put in clean salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

Peel and chop the onions. Go and do something else for a few minutes until your eyes stop watering. Wipe the mushrooms, chop those too, and add them to the onions. Heat some oil in the large pan and fry everything until it is soft, stirring occasionally. While you are doing this, start preparing the carrots; top and tail them, then slice into rounds.

When the onions and mushrooms are soft, add ground cumin and coriander to the pot and fry for about half a minute. If you use pre-ground spices, I recommend two heaped teaspoonfuls of each; if you grind them yourself, they'll be fresher and you shouldn't need so much. Then add 1 litre (about 2 pints) of cold water and stir. By the time the water is boiling, you should have finished preparing the carrots, so throw them in.

This is a good point to add the other flavourings. Exact quantities will depend at least partly on how salty everything is (and I still end up adding salt, because I have low blood pressure and therefore need more than most people in order not to feel randomly faint); as a guide, I use two stock cubes, about a tablespoonful of tomato purée, a heavily heaped teaspoonful each of the Marmite and cashew nut butter, and a good shake of rosemary (maybe 2-3 teaspoonfuls). If you have difficulty getting yeast extract, you're basically looking for something quite salty with a "dark" savoury taste, so you could use soy sauce or miso, or a combination of the two. If you're not vegetarian, anchovy paste would also be a reasonable substitute.

While everything's simmering, chop the celery. Add it to the pan, bring it to the boil again, put the lid on and simmer it some more. Now chop the parsnips; I chop them into rounds and then further chop the larger pieces, so that there aren't huge awkward chunks which can be a nuisance in a modestly sized bowl. Put those into the pan, give it a bit of a stir, bring back to the boil, replace the lid, simmer again. At this point you might want to go and sit down for a few minutes and check your e-mail or whatever.

Now chop the parsley. Check the pan every now and again to see if everything is cooked. When it is, add the parsley, the chickpeas, and maybe about a teaspoonful or two of ground black pepper, according to taste. (I used to use peppercorns, but it is the absolute devil to fish them all out again afterwards and life is too short.) Cook for just long enough to wilt the parsley.

Eat and enjoy. This recipe makes enough to provide about 9-10 main-meal-sized portions for one mongoose of moderate appetite; since most other people eat more than I do, I'll go with "serves 8".

#294 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 09:09 AM:

#291 : Marek

Based on that post Richard Lanham's Style: An Anti-Textbook seems to be one long strawman fallacy.

#295 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 11:04 AM:

Current car: Toyota Matrix, silver. I was buying used; the choice was between that and a black one. I don't know what-all colors are available in new Matrixes (Matrices?). I know how unpleasant a black car can be on a sunny day, and iirc their were some other differences in features in the silver car's favor.

I name my cars. The Matrix is Silver. Why, yes, I do sometimes exclaim "Hiyo Silver, away!" at the beginning of a trip.

The previous car, for 15 years, was a Cayman Green Ford Escort wagon. In their heyday Escort wagons were among the most common cars around. I once walked out of Krogers and asked myself "Which of the 6 Cayman Green Escort wagons that I see is mine?"

So, yeah, not really looking for distinctive cars when I shop. Looking for sturdy little workhorses that will haul a load to Pennsic and run economically for a long time.

#296 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 11:22 AM:

Open threadiness:

This post on the F-secure blog describes the kind of malware tools routinely sold to police and governments. Obviously, there is nothing at all that prevents these same tools being used by private criminals, nor is there anything inherent in the tools to prevent their use for illegal or evil purposes. The surveillance tools can't know whether they're being used to gather information to prosecute a murderer or to pre-emptively arrest the ringleaders of a political protest.

#297 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 11:57 AM:

When I was little, my mother had a bright yellow car; it was simple to locate in any parking lot. Then she got a Ford Taurus station wagon in silver, I think the first year Tauruses were available. I got very, very good at remembering where we had parked, because if I didn't we could wander all over trying to find the one silver Taurus among the masses.

Currently I have one black car and one white one, the white one specifically because The Boy DID NOT WANT another dark car with a dark interior, and we were at the dealership one day for other reasons and they had a white car, with a standard transmission, from the previous model year, during a sale. It was kind of meant to be.

#298 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 12:07 PM:

Mycroft W @87: Never tried it on a tablet, but ADOM's a pretty basic application--I don't see why it shouldn't run if the terminal software is at all decent. I killed a bunch of (mostly) Trollish Elementalists over the weekend, just for the heck of it.

As for Nethack, I think my problem with it is that it builds a complex world by shoehorning special cases together (as opposed to what Dwarf Fortress does, which is create a complex world with internal consistency that adds up to interesting emergent behaviour). It just doesn't feel right, and I don't go back to it or Slash'Em nearly as often as I do other roguelikes. I'd rather play Omega, even, with its bizarre-and-flaky inventory and combat systems.

@car subthread: There are times when I really miss my old mint-green Taurus (the one we could never get matching touch-up paint for--the similar colour from GM was visibly too dark, at least to me). I think they only offered that colour for a year or two before it vanished from the market, and it was easy to spot in a parking lot. My current car is beige, alas, but then I didn't pay for it (it was my late grandmother's).

@surgery subthread: I identify as agender, but happen to have female plumbing, and some of this is hitting rather close to home. :(

#299 ::: E. Liddell was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 12:14 PM:

For the first time, likely because I don't post very often. I have some dried apricots . . . ?

#300 ::: E. Liddell was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 12:15 PM:

Or, more accurately, my first gnoming notice was gnomed.

#301 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 12:34 PM:

We currently have one beige Toyota Corolla (bought new, can't remember why we picked that color), one white Camry hybrid (only Camry hybrid available at the time we bought it), and one white Corolla (bought used, that was what was available).

If I were buying a car now and could pick my color, I'd go for something bright. Yellow or red, by preference, although a bright blue (not navy) would be okay too. But in the negotiation process with the rest of the household, I suspect I will never get one like this.

#302 ::: Carol Kimball may have upset the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 12:47 PM:

Cascade of error messages while composing a post.

O beloved gnomes, should those fragments slam at you, please gently delete them. I have SPORTea by the gallon(s).

#303 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 12:58 PM:

duckbunny @266: Menstruating is rough

I can only image the brain-splodey my mother would have suffered, had she seen the Snoopy-dance I did after my hysterectomy.

Bruce E. Durocher II @267 & 269 One wonders if the CEO's video game designer wannabe offspring talked hir into loaning out the company's PR department.... The production quality is about on a par with some of the lamer fan productions I've seen.

Dave Harmon @270: 11 Things Guys Take For Granted

Well, 10 of those are things I summarily opted out of, and the eleventh is one I'm seriously considering. But the price of that is that the only men outside of fandom who show any interest in me at all tend to be drunken vagrants.

Angiportus @281: neutrois

Not a coinage I'd encountered before, but I like it. I presume it would be pronounced "new-traw?"

made sure that Jupiter was in its proper place

Which begs the question: what would you have done if it wasn't? (Sorry, sorry! I'm in a, this morning.)

All: I can't tell you all how grateful I am for the support and reinforcement you've given me wrt my mammotic adventures. And, interestingly, this discussion, and in particular, the contributions of the non-standardly-gendered folks, have...well, potentially opened a door to me I hadn't even realized was there.

One of the reasons I tend to be shaped like a potato is that, whenever I think about Getting In Shape, the Shape in question rather...mismatches the options I have available to me. I often see someone on TV who tickles the, "Wow, I'd love to have a physique like that!" Invariably, that person is a man. (The latest example is T. J. Thyne* on Bones.)

And then the thought process goes like this: "Oh, yeah, I'd love to be built like that—oh," when I remember the two litre-sized bags of suet that hang off my chest. Which means it that can't happen, no matter how much work I put into getting in shape. Net result: I'm shaped like a potato.

Last night, though, thinking through this whole weekened, and the conversation on this thread...maybe I can. Or at least, get close enough to have a shot.

Wow. Thank you, guys.

* And, just to be clear, I did five years of Tae Kwon Do, and there was a guy in my dojo who was built very much like that, so I do have a concept of how much work goes into building a frame like that. When one is young. Ghu knows what it would take to get there at my age.

#304 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 01:05 PM:

Powerful story here (with permission):
The Eggs of 113.

The first (immediate) resonances are with Ursula K. LeGuin's The Diary of the Rose, as the two are almost bookends. One of the patients' visualizations of a guy as a "hairy pancake" has been floating up in odd moments for decades. There's a third short story whose title/writer I can't call up, about a fellow whose belief structure manifests poisonous snakes. The professional he consults (who wrote the story) doesn't believe him until he brings in a dead one. No known morphology, no differentiated internal organs, and teeth like a dog's. It may be the one ur fvgf ba va uvf ongu that does him in. He's found collapsed over his sink, frantically having groped for a bandaid, which might have saved him as he believed them a universal panacea.

I have been intensely visual since earliest consciousness (high functioning Aspie blah blah blah) and have cherished the notion of a process/device that would make what's vividly in my head accessible to whoever's around at my (and only my) wish. Short term, long term, permanent, ephemeral, don't care (that would change immediately were someone to manage one). Sadly, were I able to do it, the safest thing would be to never, ever show it off due to its immediate and enthusiastic adoption by the Thought Police. The worst I can think of is if the method only partly worked, like synthetically-generated hormones almost like the real thing. This brings us back to Mongoose's & LeGuin's Pavlovian devices.

I've been doing passively-assisted deep breathing exercises in 20-30 minute segments for about five years that I realized were indistinguishable from meditation. Since The Eggs of 113, it's not uncommon to feel the gentle weight of a rosewood egg in my palm (interesting which side it shows up in). I know exactly what the carving looks and feels like (a barrette I had in the 70's), both a tactile and visual delight. Recently it's looked solid, though deeply incised, but the weight is somewhat lighter.

Hofstedter's GEB's cover in my edition had a carved cube on its cover (or artistic rendering thereof) with light projected through each way to give G, E, B. If my egg has some openings through to a hollow center, a light shining through might produce lovely patterns - different Islamic arabesques? What if I can direct my consciousness into the center and let the incoming light show tickle over my face? Or the backs of my hands as I turn them to get the visual as well?

Can anyone point me to the Yikes! Snakes! story?

#305 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 01:29 PM:

Erik @ 47.
Typing in the source code helped considerably less than you would think. It did give me the vocabulary, and the names of the rooms. But it wasn't quite clear at first how actions happened.

That it was all in FORTRAN didn't help. And that I was just learning how to program.

#306 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 01:50 PM:

I was idly looking at a car brochure a couple of years ago (we were shopping for a used car and were in a dealership), and noted that the model (a fairly high-end vehicle) came in 8 colors (shades, rather) - if I recall correctly, they were distributed something like: black, charcoal, thundercloud grey, faintly blue-tinted metallic grey, silver, champagne beige (faintly golden metallic), platinum, and white.

I prefer colors, myself - our two current vehicles are shades of red (one is a nice plummy red, the other is best described as dark cherry), and we have previously owned a red car, a silvery green car, and two blue cars. Plus one in champagne beige, and a white one that my husband owned before we met.

On a completely different note, I have seen various medical practices use different things to cover stirrups, but my favorites were the oven mitts used by one clinic. It seemed very homey.

#307 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 02:04 PM:

HLN: Area woman has just made her second batch of tzatziki, and thinks she has the proportions right this time. The first batch wasn't bad, but had too high a yogurt:cucumber ratio and was a little too garlicky (yes, there is such a thing).

Having learned from the first batch, area woman added the yogurt and garlic to the bowl of chopped cucumber slowly, tasting as she went.

#308 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Carol Kimball @304: The Eggs of 113.

Wow. ::boggle::

'Minds me of a dream I had when I was in sixth grade. I was wearing a shapeless frock, barefoot, and was in chains. I was being led down a rough stone corridor by a guard in black. At last, I was brought to a heavy oaken door, which was opened. I was led into a warm office, and placed in a big leather chair before a desk, behind which sat some vague "Authority Figure."

"So," Authority Figure asked, kindly. "How is it going?"

I remaind silent, and was eventually taken away.

Long after I'd had that dream, I pondered that, in the emotion-sense of the dream, maybe Authority Figure really was kind, and wanted to help me. But I was to scared even to say anything.

#309 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 02:33 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #179: My (white female) physician does my prostate examinations. Are you saying that I should dump her for a male physician?

#310 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 02:52 PM:

Before we cut the cord there is some time
to know the places where all choice is plain
and there is neither complete loss or gain
nor any hiding underneath the grime
for anyone. The world is in its prime
we find it easy to remove each stain
nor is it hard to to show or to explain
the value given to each song or chime.
While each one waits to hear just how the day
will be reported by the wisest folk
we will not rush unseeing to remark
upon the rules that bound all work or play
nor those we take to be some kind of joke
that leave us gasping at return of dark.

#311 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 03:00 PM:

Fragano: The discussion has moved on considerably from that question.

#312 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 03:32 PM:

Jacque #311: Fair enough.

#313 ::: Dave Lebling ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 03:48 PM:

@305 and earlier, a day or more late.

Andrew Plotkin is right that Original Zork took Colossal Cave's tropes and turned a few up to 11, and this was especially true of direction mapping and on purpose. When half of Original Zork became Zork 1 we turned the "North, North" nastiness down quite a bit, although we left a lot in the Maze.

We also tried to avoid "Oops you're dead!" traps and puzzles you had to be able to see the future to solve. We were still working on that when they turned the lights off...

#314 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 03:59 PM:

HLN: Local man has electrician install power to the garage he (with good help from his father) built this year. Man notes that having space for storage and work has greatly improved the supply of round tuit, so maybe the entropy which has been affecting his vehicles can be reversed.

(Oh, and car colours: Black 1982 BMW, black 1998 Jaguar. I don't do new cars.)

#315 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Roy G Ovrebo -- or new colors? ("They can have any color they like, so long as it's black.")

#316 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 04:45 PM:

I've heard that, when the Dalek going around the worldcon crossed paths with writer Seanan McGuire on her scooter, it got out of her way.

#317 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 04:49 PM:

Dave Lebling writes .... and I'll just pause here a moment to think "How cool is that?"

A: Very much like the cool of having my favorite fiction authors pop up to comment on their works.

Thanks for stopping in to comment. I'm a huge fan, and I've introduced another generation to the joy - after we finished playing Zork I-III together, my son now wants to write his own text adventures. (It may be a while yet before he has the stick-to-it-iveness.)

#318 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 04:56 PM:

@Roy: If you don't mind . . . what did it cost to wire your garage?

I have an electrical panel in my garage (doubles as the ground floor of the house) with a single pair of outlets adjacent.

I'd love to have more outlets ("points" for those across the pond) to plug tools into. I have no idea what this sort of thing runs.

(You could write your answer in text and ROT13 it...)

#319 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:04 PM:

The other night I found myself hankering for take-out Chinese food. I was kind of in a hurry. I passed on the good-by-pricey and long-wait-time place and . . . sigh . . . went to the Safeway Deli counter.

You know the joke about fast food that has an ingredient that makes you forget how bad it was by the next time you are in the mood for it?

Well that sure as fricking hell won't happen again with Safeway Deli Chinese food. My revulsion over that garbage is now ingrained in every cell of my body.

I just need to decide whether to throw the leftovers away or give them to the dog.

#320 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:17 PM:

Stefan Jones @318:

I doubt that the price I got in Norwegian Kroner will have any relevance at all to what it'll cost you...

#321 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:21 PM:

Stefan Jones @319: Safeway pseudo-Chinese? I might recommend a flamethrower. (/snark)

#322 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:26 PM:

Stefan @ #319:

Don't do it! The RSPCA will have your hide as a wall hanging.

(Not to mention your figgin placed upon a spike.)

#323 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:29 PM:

@Roy: Hah! Quite true.

I suppose it wouldn't cost me anything to have an estimate done, but I picture myself coughing and blanching and leaning against the wall in shock as the electrician rattles off figures, embarrassing the both of us.

#324 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:42 PM:

Another SF hazard becomes reality:
The developers of a new building in the City of London have paid almost £1,000 to a businessman whose car partly melted in sunlight reflecting off the building's windows..

The building is also scorching paint on the building across the way. I seem to remember a Larry Niven story....

#325 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:43 PM:

Fragano @ 310: elegant! I always appreciate a well-turned Petrarchan sonnet.

At the risk of going from the sublime to the ridiculous, CN (the friend whose blog I linked a little while ago in connection with gender issues) repeatedly gets hits via search engines from people who are searching for... something entirely unconnected. So I've just written this for them. Some words are ROT-13'd to avoid alarming the gnomes.

I keep a small blog, the political kind,
and update it whenever there's stuff on my mind;
I link it on Facebook and some people read,
and they may even comment - a pleasure indeed.
But some search through Google and show on the log,
and I'm sure they weren't looking for my kind of blog,
for, though K-engrq sites are abundant and free,
yet the mountains of cbea are elsewhere, don't you see.

They're all very welcome; it's not that I'd gripe,
but I just can't believe half the search terms they type.
I'm sure when they visit they all throw a fit,
for my blog isn't relevant, even a bit,
to their interests erotic (quite specialised, too);
it's not that I mind, but it's not what I do.
Why, you've only to read it; I'm sure you'll agree
that the mountains of cbea are elsewhere, don't you see.

Perhaps, now they're here, they may settle awhile
and read some of my thoughts, if they're keen on my style;
and maybe they'll learn of the things I find strange,
the good that I hope for, the bad that needs change.
They may even roll it around in their head
and blog for themselves when they've gone where it's led,
but somehow I doubt it - for mostly they'll flee,
since the mountains of cbea are elsewhere, don't you see.

#326 ::: Mongoose is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:44 PM:

O gnomes, there's plenty of that casserole.

(Ironic that I ROT-13'd a couple of words to avoid exactly this!)

#327 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:58 PM:

Dave Harmon @324: From the article: "The developers say they are trying to rectify the problem which they are blaming on the position of the sun at certain times of day."

When your "problem" is a natural phenomenon that occurs regularly with short intervals and predates your species and the whole planet it evolved on, you really shouldn't try to shift the blame.

#328 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 06:06 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo #326: Indeed. To quote one of our hosts, "the sky isn't evil".

#329 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 06:13 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 324: I recall a Clarke story involving na hacbchyne fbppre ers naq n fgnqvhz shyy bs crbcyr jub'q oebhtug zveebef gb fuvar yvtug vagb uvf rlrf.

#330 ::: Dave Lebling ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 06:23 PM:

Clifton @317: Not sure how old your son is, but there are several languages designed for writing "Interactive Fiction." The best known is Inform (see It has been used by authors as young as 8th grade.

#331 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 06:31 PM:

I wrote a short text adventure in Inform: "Radley Manor."

If you have the Inform package, you can download the file and play it:

Source file:

Compiled file:

You play a kid who has batted the gang's prize baseball through the window of an abandoned (?) house.

#332 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 06:33 PM:

#324: There is a building on the Oracle campus in Redwood Shores, #600 Oracle Parkway, with a huge concave wall or mirrored windows.

The light is concentrated on a smear, rather than a point, of the parking lot. I can't say if it gets warm in there, but when the sun's angle is right it DOES get very bright. A sort of "epiphany" effect.

#333 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 06:39 PM:

Buildings that need to be redesigned after construction:
Disney Hall, the Frank Gehry-designed concert hall in downtown Los Angeles, had to have part of its skin sandblasted: the people living nearby got tired of being blinded by reflected light every day. (I'll let all y'all look it up to see what kind of problems it might cause.)

#334 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 06:51 PM:

I recall a not-very-good eatery in which each booth had a light fixed overhead, in a parabolic surround which focused in on a spot on the table, which had become permanently heat-damaged by the time I got there. On the plus side, those who drink coffee could keep it warm by setting it there.
Jacque 303: neutrois, I am not sure how it's pronounced, I read it somewhere. Along with "Left Hand Path", "thing-oriented" and "neuro-atypical", it was...needed. I think "metagender" is a synonym but not 100% sure.
If Jupiter had come up missing I might have told myself the sky was cloudier than it looked and crawled back in bed. Then again, I might have panicked. I've been rediscovering it ever since 1975.

#335 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 07:11 PM:

Xopher's Comment over on the Song of the South thread, regarding the Derry Air being the oldest tune in western Europe raised a faint memory with me of ESP, telekinesis, time travel and the flooding of the Mediterranean basin.

If these threads of recollection are correct, then it must be somewhere in Julian May's Many Coloured Land. There may have been some issue with the time signature being incorrect in the modern version?

It was twenty or thirty years ago that I read this trilogy and the books have long gone, but the collective memory of the Fluorosphere is strong! Can anyone confirm/deny my fading recollection?

#336 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 08:33 PM:

Braxis #334: There may have been some issue with the time signature being incorrect in the modern version?

For this part, you have probably folded in the history of Greensleeves. IIRC, that was originally an Irish drinking song, and a mistaken time signature (from around the period where they were inventing time signatures) turned it into the haunting melody we know.

TMCL did strongly indicate that the prehistoric "situation"¹ was the origin of the "fairy" mythos., and I faintly remember them recognizing one of the "exotics'" songs. There was a bit of incredulity about the prehistoric stuff being remembered, from the characters themselves... but unbenownst to them there was in fact at least one being who would live through the intervening period.

¹ I originally wrote "mileu", then I remembered that the society of the future end of the timegate was called the Mileu.

#337 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 08:49 PM:

Braxis #334: PS: Pretty big for a trilogy -- there were 5 Pleistocene books, and 5 more for the Mileu itself.

Off on a tangent, I remember a panel where Katherine Kurtz claimed blame for the modern proliferation of trilogies, having set the example early with her Deryni series.

#338 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 09:07 PM:

Dave H., #115: Wow, that's a pretty and unusual moth! And a good photo of it as well.

However, I was distracted by the ad next to the picture, which was a weight-loss spam ad with the text "Lose 26 pounds in 3.5 weeks" -- and an animated gif showing a cartoon woman in a bikini who appears to be fluctuating, not over 26 pounds' difference, but more like 126 pounds. (26 pounds is something on the order of 1 women's clothing size.) No wonder people have no concept of what any given weight actually LOOKS like. [/grumble]

Cheryl, #118: Grrr... and unfortunately, all too typical. I was looking for the Oatmeal cartoon about that to link it, but I can't find it.

Xopher, #179: FTR, the best and most empathetic gynecologist I've ever encountered was male. He was the only one, male or female, who ever verbally acknowledged that a pelvic exam is uncomfortable and apologized for the necessity.

and @194, that's a perfectly cromulent reason for personal reluctance.

Em, #249: Here's the first source that came up on Googling "badge ribbons custom". There was a whole page of others, if this one doesn't suit.

Mongoose, #252: Many people in the southern US choose white or silver cars because of the heat-reflective aspect*, since it's so hot here for much of the year. Also, people who are heavily invested in a sports team (college or pro) will sometimes go so far as to get a car in one of their team's colors -- maroon is popular around Houston because of all the Texas A&M grads, which means that there are also a lot of maroon cars on the used-car market. And copper/dark orange is more common in TX than in many places because of UT. (Oddly, this doesn't hold up for the brighter orange of the other UT, the one in Knoxville.)

Anne S., #295: A friend of ours also has a silver Toyota Matrix. She named hers "Argent Smith". I haven't had a car that I could choose the color of for well over 20 years -- and while I used to name all my vehicles, somehow I fell out of the habit a while back.

* Also, I refuse to consider cars with vinyl seats any more (cloth only), and I insist on having a stretchy velour cover on the steering wheel, so that I can actually touch it when I first get into the car.

#339 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 09:13 PM:

John A., #328: But that was a Harry Purvis yarn, and thereby falls into the category of "tall tales".

Note: I am still playing catch-up from having been entirely offline during Worldcon.

#340 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 09:37 PM:

re 337: Do they even make vinyl seats these days? I remember that back in college the car I had, a Fiat 131, had black vinyl seats which utterly delaminated. So my father The Omnicompetent One made new seat covers out of the acres of leftover fabric from the satellite test chambers, said fabric being black velvet. It was wonderfully comfortable, if not exactly in the highest of taste.

#341 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 10:06 PM:

Lee #338: Sorry about that, it's a freebie account on an image-hosting site. That sort of thing is why I use AdBlock Plus myself. Alas, I haven't found an equivalent for my iThings. Looking up the moth, I found that the caterpillars are also pretty spectacular (orange with white spots) and eat grape leaves. The latter point suggests that the moth probably wandered in from one of the vineyards outside of town.

Re: car colors, orange cars aren't too common here in C-ville either, despite orange (with blue) being the VSU color.

#342 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 10:18 PM:

Lee #338: PS: What's That Bug published my submission. They found my letter "amusing", but looking at other posts, they seem to be much amused lately.

#343 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 10:22 PM:

We had one similar show up on the front porch in Texas - on the red brick wall. We identified ours as a Vine Sphinx (I think it's the same kind as yours), and opted not to tell the people with the vineyard next door.

#344 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 10:37 PM:

Thanks for the links for badge ribbons! I was so focussed on thinking that there must be an Official Name for them that I didn't bother googling the obvious. My next character points will be put into the Common Sense skill tree.

There'll be three ways to get 'em in London, all three very easy (though one will require satisfying a pre-existing condition; the other two are much simpler.) I've never had ribbons to hand out before, so I'm kind of pumped about the idea. I hope I get to meet some of you in person to hand them out.

#345 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 11:01 PM:

C. Wingate @ 340: That depends. Young Elvis or Old Elvis?

#346 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 11:05 PM:

Fragano 309: By no means.

#347 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 11:21 PM:

Dave Lebling: Indeed, I was using Inform 7 to help him with a first try (i.e. I was writing most of the code) on his first effort at age 9, a couple years ago, before he lost interest in that project.

I recently worked through most of the Inform 7 manual and many of the examples to get a grip on it. It's very interesting from a software language design perspective, not just IF.

Anyway I think his biggest difficulties are mostly the difficulties bright kids often have with persistence, and especially with his reach exceeding his grasp. (He could probably successfully write something simple, but doesn't want to do something simple.)

#348 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 12:01 AM:

Some asshole named John Ringo, who is apparently a writer of some sort, is going around claiming that the only reason Scalzi won the Hugo for Redshirts is that he's been sucking up to the "hasbeen liberal neurotics" who control the Hugo voting.

His phrasing really makes it sound like he's one of the RSHD's lickspittles. Another author to cross off my list, not because his work is necessarily garbage based on that, but because I don't have so much money that I want any of it going to loser dipshits like him.

#349 ::: Xopher Halftongue wins a gnomination ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 12:02 AM:

Probably for cussin'.

#350 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 12:05 AM:

@340 C. Wingate
So my father The Omnicompetent One made new seat covers out of the acres of leftover fabric from the satellite test chambers, said fabric being black velvet.

I had forgotten until I saw your post: I once made seat covers for a vintage Mercedes Benz, out of the owner's saved up old denim jeans. I designed them so that the pockets were on the interior sides, so that he could use them to keep his cigarettes and other doodads handy.

Must be 20 years ago now. They turned out kind of cool looking, if I do say so myself.

#351 ::: Cheryl has been gnomulated ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 12:07 AM:

Sorry. For naming the car make and model, maybe? I have chicken soup...

#352 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 12:18 AM:

Both my cars have been pavement-colored, but subtly different pavements. I'd express a preference for brighter colors-- I'm supposed to like them best, after all-- but honestly, the cars I have are the cars I like. Well, consecutively, not concurrently have. Milady Buick was a nice sandy-wet-sidewalk color and Young Miss Dent is a champagne-tinged silver.

Once the car's mine, I grow very attached to it as it is; the name is part of that, but not the necessary part. I couldn't figure out Young Miss Dent's name for weeks, including a day-long trip to Alpha and another back.

#353 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 12:51 AM:

My most recent car is Very Dark Blue, largely because the other option was the color I can only think of as Ticket-Me Red.

#354 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 12:58 AM:

Loathesome monster Ariel Castro is dead. Killed by another inmate? Suicide? Too soon to tell.

I am wondering what it would take for a society to prevent people like him from turning out like they do. Would it be worse than having people like him around? I suppose the answer depends on how much we know about the human mind in general and personality development in particular.

#355 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 02:06 AM:

Re: automobile colors

At the risk of outing myself as a Very Shallow Person, the reason why I currently own an SUV rather than a Prius is paint color. You see, when I decided that my 50th birthday was an appropriate time to replace my 200K-mileage station wagon with something new, I set my heart on a Prius (being a self-respecting Bay Area Liberal Nutcase) but with one reservation: it had to be a Non-Boring Color. Alas, by my interpretation, the only non-boring color that Priuses come in is red. And I was car-shopping during the period of minimum Prius availability (due to excess demand). Evidently it was not possible to obtain a new red Prius anywhere in California or reasonably contiguous states for love or money.

With my heart thus broken, I decided to re-think my entire car buying strategy and start from scratch. At which point, common sense took over and I asked myself "What kind of idiot are you that you think you can fit an entire luxury medieval campsite into a hatchback sedan?" So I tossed my two most awkward need-to-pack items into the back of the station wagon (the 5-octave folk harp and the 6-ft long 15th century bench) and drove to the Honda dealership to ask if I could test-pack an assortment of models.

The Element was the only vehicle either of my awkward items could fit in easily. And among the color options were several Non-Boring Colors. They almost had me settling for Tangerine, but I told the salesman to pretend very very hard that if he couldn't get me kiwi-green that I'd walk out without buying anything at all.

In retrospect, I would not have been happy with a Prius -- even now that I have an actual Serious Commute on those days when I have to drive. I love my Large Box On Wheels ... and I'm so glad I didn't settle for a gray-scale car.

#356 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 02:41 AM:

I plan to be at the Worldcon next year.

May I just remind folken than membership rates will increase at the end of September.

Maybe there should be a Making Light badge ribbon. I wonder if there are other blogs with a strong enough sense of community to make the idea useful.

#357 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 03:02 AM:

@348: Cue the chorus of "Oh no, John Ringo, no." In eight-part harmony.

#358 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 03:30 AM:

Loncon: we live about 60 mins by public transport (suburban train then Docklands Light Railway for those who are interested) from the ExCel. I really really ought to get to this.

Think the last one I got to was Baltimore in 1998 (on my way to a wildlife disease conference in Wisconsin). I turned up in Baltimore without having booked any accommodation, which was unwise, but just after the Help/Info desk person had finished shaking her head and telling me I'd be "very lucky" to find anything, a woman wandered up and said to her that they had one spare place (half a double bed) in a suite the costumers had booked and could she put up an ad about it - timing!

Right, that's on my year planner before I book myself for any ultras on that weekend.

#359 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 04:24 AM:

Dave #337 If the late, great Douglas Adams can spread his trilogy over five parts, I'm more than willing to allow lesser authors to do the same .

The Deryni! Another great read from my teenage years. I wonder if they would be worth revisiting now?

#360 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 04:58 AM:


This John Ringo?

#361 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:14 AM:

Xopher @ 348... So *that* is who David Gerrold meant in his FaceBook comment about authors who piss on another writer's Hugo.

#362 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:22 AM:

Tracked if down. The time signature memory comes from the author's introduction to a later edition of the Many Coloured Land:

The problem of the atypical meter is ingeniously attacked by Gilchrist, who suggests that Miss Ross might have erroneously transcribed the tune in common (4/4) time rather than the 3/4 or 6/8 rhythm of the majority of old Gaelic songs. If the rhythm is thus changed, and certain prolonged notes shortened, one does indeed get a typical Irish ditty of rather appalling banality. Gilchrist claims to see affinities between the transmogrification and two other songs, 'The Collen Rue' and 'An Beanasal Og'.

Being a musical ignoramus, this means little to me, but it would be interesting to hear the re-timed version and judge it's 'appalling banality' for myself.

#363 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:54 AM:

I really want to go to LonCon. But I need a job in order to do so. (Well, I need a job anyway, but I've had no success so far trying to find one, what with the economy here being in such a shocking pig's ear and all that.)

Does anyone here know how I might get into ghost-writing? I think people might quite like to read my work as long as it had the name of someone important on it.

#364 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 07:20 AM:

Not the hero's threshold, not the headlong quest,
Not the endless journeying to sail into the West;
Instead, the sleepless vigils to keep the peace at night,
To watch upon a mountaintop for beacons set alight--
This too is courage, the patient strength of stone
Guarding Pendragon's sword for all those years alone.

#365 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 07:36 AM:

Xopher @348, and here I was thinking that the whole novel slate this year was excellent and award-worthy. Silly me.

I did end up voting for Redshirts, but (no fault of Scalzi's!) it wasn't an easy choice; Throne of the Crescent Moon did wonderful worldbuilding from an unfamiliar cultural perspective; 2312 was a vast sweeping epic done right, and who doesn't like a Bujold romp with biting social commentary just hidden beneath the surface? Heck, I don't normally like horror, but I got sucked into the "Newsfeed" trilogy, too!

I guess that makes me a hasbeen liberal neurotic, huh?

#366 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 07:55 AM:

Mongoose #325: Thanks. That's a nice little piece itself.

#367 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 08:04 AM:

Xopher #348: As someone who didn't vote for Redshirts, an excellent novel among excellent novels. All I can say is that John Ringo really has a hard time walking with his head up his arsehole.

#368 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 08:53 AM:

Xopher @348--For someone who is fairly new as a writer on the SFF scene, Scalzi does very well indeed*. He's also a dig-in-and-get-involved sort, and not many people as new to the field would be likely to not only run for but be elected president of SFWA not just once but twice in a row. He has moved into the place and appears to fit in as if he'd been around for a long time. He's also not afraid to take stands on issues when it might be easier to just STFU.

You also have to be careful about taking him on in a fight; when it comes to making a fool of an opponent, his jujitsu is incomparable.

One can easliy see how others might find this aggravating. (Especially if one's own work tends to run on in a specific niche that might not produce such wide-spread acclaim.) I shouldn't wonder if there are other writers who've been around a while who find themselves watching the Scalzi Phenomenon and gritting their teeth a bit when they smile, but most of them have enough sense to, if not get over themselves, at least keep the soul-destroying envy away frm the bright lights of the intertubes.

*Not an accident. He may be fairly new as a writer in the SFF field, but he has a large amount of professional experience as a writer, including the bits about carefully studying what his client wants and delivering good stuff in a timely manner. He is therefore hitting a lot of readers in the squids, as Elizabeth Bear might say, and when you hit a lot of people in the squids in the right sort of way, your books do well. He knows how to do Good Commercial Stuff, and how to take being edited, and how to engage with an audience and how to to sell himself; these were part of his skill kit before Agent to the Stars went up on his website.

#369 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 10:02 AM:

Xopher @ 348: It's not surprising: he and his ilk were a major reason I gafiated from that bar. They've only gotten worse with time; I suspect hardening of the oughteries ("I oughter had this, I oughter had that.."), with a soupçon of deeply bitter frustrated Mittyness. Not too many people know that Himself, although he completed Ranger training, never deployed in a war zone due to a training accident. Frustration in a wanna-be leads to some mighty bad thoughts.

In comparison, Dave Freer, who saw actual combat, never glorifies war and indeed, focuses on the gritty details that make it very un-glorious.

But at least now I know which Author it was who ran afoul of David Gerrold.

#370 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 10:05 AM:

Clifton #347: Has the kid seen this strip?

There's also a nice one there for the "Fail better" riff.

#371 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 10:23 AM:

Ginger @ 369... he completed Ranger training

Meanwhile, when we recently adopted dog Ranger, he had already trained himself with walking on three legs. It's funny watching him lift his missing hind leg to mark his territory, and sometime he tries to do it with his other leg then realizes this isn't going to work. (I guess that makes him better trained at urination than some folks.)

#372 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 10:33 AM:

Looking at the slate this year, I thought there was a good chance Redshirts would take it -- because it's a Love Letter to Fandom (which often win), and also a really clever, involved metanovel about how we consume stories, with examples drawn from a Thinly Disguised Fandom that almost all the Hugo voters are familiar with (and many love).

Even for people who didn't vote for it in first place, a lot of people probably put it 2nd or 3rd, and Bob's your uncle. Or Scalzi's.

#373 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 10:35 AM:

Dave @356

I made a Making Light badge sticker last year in Chicago, but you had to know what it meant to know what it meant, as it were. I think a ribbon is a fine idea.

#374 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 11:49 AM:

Heather Rose Jones @355 - One of the things my car has to be able to carry is my tent frame - pieces of wood up to 12' long. Silver had to have a roof rack added. Fortunately the dealership was willing to throw this in to the deal.

#375 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 11:55 AM:

David Harmon @ #370, great advice there.

A similar view of the advanced beginner's difficulty, in the realm of martial arts:

"Commonly, students' ability to see their errors and technical failings
increases faster than their ability to correct them. Then the instructor
faces the problem of discouraged students who believe they are actually
getting worse through training rather than better....An analogy that may
help the intermediate student is that of 'carving a cube into a sphere'.
Training is the process of chopping off corners. Initially, the corners are
lage and easy to see--as is progress. Later, each corner cut off reveals
three new corners, albeit smaller ones. This process is endless, and while
an advanced student may appear to others of lesser experience to be a
perfect sphere, the individual is often painfully aware of the many corners
that still need polishing."
--Elmar T. Schmeisser, "The University Dojo" in
_Martial Arts Teachers on Teaching_, Carol A. Wiley, ed.

#376 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 01:14 PM:

Julie L. -- I saw what you did...and it's beautiful.

#377 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 01:30 PM:

For Miss T, appropos of absolutely nothing: dreaming hamster.

#378 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 02:37 PM:

Elliot Mason@233, that would be the indefatigable Chris Garcia, whose Hugo Hugging antics have become something of a tradition in recent years.

I had a great time at the Con this year, even given that I was completely unable to attend any parties or gatherings aside from the GoL, but I do want to send extra thanks to iamnothing and GlendaP for helping to put that together, it was fun! Oh, and a special note to Chip, whom my wife wanted to thank for being such a pleasant seat neighbor during dinner but who was unavailable when we headed out that evening.

My thoughts on this year's con, and notes from the 16 (!) panels that I annotated this year will be available over on my Google+ page at staggered intervals over the next week. Of special note: I have GIFs from the "Chiropractor Please!" panel that often include Teresa laughing uncontrollably in the background! In the normal course of things I would wait to post those until this weekend, but I think I'll go ahead and get them up tonight, instead.

...I wonder what the odds that this mess of a comment will get gnomed are?

#379 ::: Skwid has been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 02:38 PM:

As I expected I would be, honestly.

#381 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 04:02 PM:

I have just had to buy and install my first Cone of Shame on a pet (beagle), and let me tell you, his discomfiture is comedy gold. I do feel sorry for him -- it's genuinely annoying and he has no idea why it's necessary. But his annoyance and inconvenience is so funny!

#382 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 04:18 PM:

Is this the Russian version of "but some of my best friends are gay"?

#383 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 04:21 PM:

John Ringo is one of the things that prompted me to write some of the fiction that I did, some of which is available at The Spontoon Islands Website. Essentially, why does a competent soldier have to be a right-wing thug? So I came up with a commando-type in the 1930s (in an alternate and furry universe) who has a whole bunch of different motives. I don't think it's that good a story, but compared to Ringo's Ghost, I reckon he's an OK sort of bear.

There a story of him, set in WW2, called Castle of the Wolf where things get a bit supernatural, complete with spear and magic helmet.

I'm tossing around some other ideas for NaNoWriMo. Maybe a descendant in modern London, getting entangled with a Soviet sleeper cell, and rumours of multi-billion dollar fraud in the building for the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Whatever I do, the soldiers won't be like John Ringo's protagonists. I don't think much of his standard corrupt politicians. To me, they're just boring.

#384 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 04:48 PM:

Elliott Mason @380--We have done the Cone of Shame on both Simon, The Best Dog in the World (East Nashville division) and on Black-thumbed Jemmy Casey, Pirate Cat of the Cumberland. Simon was woeful and downcast, except when he was using the cone to sweep cats out of his path, or when the edge of the cone got caught on the steps. The cat, however, was in a state of such perfect feline dignity that the collar almost became invisible. Almost.

#385 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 05:04 PM:

Elliott @ 380, fidelio @ 383: surprisingly, I've never had to do that in seventeen years of cat ownership, but I have had to administer first aid to felines more than once, and that can get interesting, to say the least. Klinsmann was one of those topologically impossible cats who could wriggle out of any bandage, even the Vetrap ones which are supposed to stay on anything up to and including a galloping horse. (The manufacturers clearly had not tested their product on the sort of cat who appears to be able to liquefy all its bones temporarily while you're not looking.)

And then there was the late, deeply lamented Minsky, a large tabby of outstanding intelligence and gravitas. He once managed to graze his jaw somehow, and I was at rather a loss regarding how to put a surgical dressing on it until I suddenly got the idea that an old pair of nylon tights could be cut down to make a perfect cat-sized balaclava which would hold the dressing in place. The old boy was not best pleased; normally he was pretty good about anything medical, since he genuinely seemed to understand that he was being helped, but this was a serious affront to his dignity. He kept looking at me as if to say, "Oh, stop making such a fuss - it's just a scratch, and you know I heal quickly!"

I knew that, yes. But, as I gravely explained to him, I didn't want to risk him getting it infected and having to go to the vet, which both of us were perfectly well aware he would be even less pleased about. I think he took the point, in the end.

#386 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 05:11 PM:

Why "Cone of shame"? Is it because the animal appears ashamed to human eyes when wearing it?

#387 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 05:21 PM:

I'm not finding the etymology in a quick google, but here's a TVTropes link with lots of examples in pop culture (Dug the dog in Up actually calls it that on screen) and a hilarious pic-set of animals wearing them and being funny.

#388 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Guthrie @385, it's a reference from the animated movie "Up", in which a dog refers to what vets commonly call an Elizabethan Collar (or E-Collar) as the Cone of Shame.

#389 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Elliot Mason @372 - Just so. Scalzi wrote an amusing and easy to read novel that referenced a much beloved TV series that is currently being re-made on the big screen and talked about the fandom associated with it in a way that made people reading it feel smart about it*. You can have a problem with that making it best novel, but we don't need to seek outside the work itself to find an explanation for it winning.

* A novel that makes room for people who think TOS is kind of silly as well as those who love it. Or indeed those who feel both.

#390 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:10 PM:

Ah, thanks. Now I wonder if my friend who used that term today on facebook has actually see the movie or copied the name from somewhwere else?

#391 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:13 PM:

The terminology preceded the movie; I know I was familiar with it in the 80s (though some families I went to school with called them 'lampshades' instead of cones of shame).

#392 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:34 PM:

I'm happy about how the Gathering of Light at LoneStarCon 3 turned out and sorry that not everyone could attend. The food at El Mirador, the restaurant that GlendaP picked, was excellent.

#393 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 06:42 PM:

Xopher, #348: Ye ghods. He got points from me for a classy response to OH JOHN RINGO NO a few years back, but this looks rather as if the book in question really does represent his personal attitudes about women. CWAA.

Chris, #353: I believe it was the Corvette which at one point had an available color officially named "Hello Officer Red".

#394 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 07:37 PM:

Not found on a Google search, and "not defined yet" according to Urban Dictionary.

#395 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 07:41 PM:

Christ What An Asshole, posited to be a legit punchline for any Atlantic cartoon.

#396 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 08:12 PM:

Russ 360: Yes. Even worse, also the John Ringo Lee links about in #393.

Cheryl 382: No, it's the Russian version of "but he isn't being executed; he is being shot." Speaking differences that make no difference as if they were important. Just to be explicit, Putin is engaging in Soviet-style doubletalk here, because he wants to be a new Stalin. Or maybe worse.

#397 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 08:37 PM:

Julie at #364, that was lovely.

#398 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 08:47 PM:

The Spontoon thing is mildly puzzling to me. Not for any normal reason, but because around 1979-80, I put a somewhat sarcastic kaption kontest in my D'APAzine, and one of the entries was "Spontoon!" A couple of years later, I used it as the title of an engraving I did showing a ship coming near an island in the middle of nowhere with nothing on it but a big clock. Then, some time after that, I became aware of the Spontoon shared setting.

Can someone tell me when that started? Was it just a coincidence that someone uttered it at me? It was a coincidence that I used it for an island, at least. Th*nks in advance.

#399 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 08:54 PM:

Like Fragano @367, Redshirts was not my first choice, but I agree it is an excellent novel among excellent novels. Also, like last year's winner Among Others, it is a novel where ethics matter. Yes it's fun and it's meta, but that's not all it is about. Some critics seem to have missed the messages about love and kindness. Too bad for them.

#400 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 09:00 PM:

iamnothing @ 392... Thanks for arranging the Gathering of Light.

#401 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 09:02 PM:

John Ringo's (triggery words ROT13d) znpub crqbcuvyr encvfg character in that series isn't just a Gary Stu...he's a Gary Stud.

#402 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 09:14 PM:

#395 Elliott Mason

...legit punchline for any Atlantic cartoon.

I thought it was New Yorker cartoons....

#403 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 09:15 PM:

@396 Xopher Halftongue

Well, yes. I was being sarcastic. He's certainly using the classic hypocrite's trope. Gay people in Russia are under siege, and his response to criticism is, "but, Tchaikovsky!" Because enjoying the music of a long dead composer means you're not really calling an open season on 10% of your population.

#404 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 09:34 PM:

Stefan Jones @124
I've had one of these frauds CALL me, say he was from Windows, and ask me to give him access. I asked him if his mother knew what he was doing and whether she would be proud of him.

*guffaw* Can I share this? With attribution?

Dave Harmon @152

Thanks. Very awesome.
And as it turns out, just in time to post on Book of Face to someone who quoted Edison's "The most certain way to success is always to try just one more time."

#405 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 10:17 PM:

Aaaah! The "Chiropractor Please" panel! I forgot all about it. And when I was checking whatever time it was on, I missed it completely. Sigh.

Oh, well, I had a good con anyway: I got to do Kaffeeklatsch with Steven Brust and John Scalzi and Phil Foglio, and I got to see Brandon Sanderson read (having missed no fewer than three signings by him here in Houston) and Jo Walton; to say nothing of the Gathering of Light.

Also I went to the "Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok" concert by Sassafrass and it absolutely blew me away. If "a capella polyphonic music about Norse myth" sounds even slightly appealing, do yourself a favor and check these guys out. (They have a DVD coming out of their performance at Balticon, and I'm planning to buy it -- and nominate it for Best DP Long!)

#406 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 10:58 PM:

Lila @375 -- oddly enough, I went to high school with Elmar Schmeisser. He used to borrow six SF books each morning, and hand them back to me at the end of school having read them. He was an odd duck, and I'm actually not surprised to see he's made a Name for himself in martial arts -- more likely that than in playing the bagpipe, which he also did way back then.

#407 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 11:03 PM:

Lin@404: Of course.

#408 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 03:49 AM:

Kip W @398

A cursory check of the website suggests the Spontoon Islands setting started as a zine in about 1997. So I doubt that there was any connection with your art. There is an admitted influence in the Talespin Disney cartoon series from 1990: somebody wanted to do furries and seaplanes in a "safe" setting. And there is alse Tales of the Gold Monkey: live action from 1982.

Geographically, the Pacific is very different, but the Japanese are still invading China.

#409 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 04:48 AM:

Xopher @ 396: I think he wants to be Tsar. In fact, I think he probably is Tsar, in practice. I've been saying for a while now that the wheel in Russia has come full circle.

#410 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 10:14 AM:

Mongoose #409: The problem with people who want to be kings, is that unlike them, actual royal lineages have some constraint from tradition, and even a relationship with their subjects. Respecting that is how the British monarchy got to keep most of their stuff, even as they lost most of their power. The wannabes just want the power, but they don't have the roots to support it.

(Checking in from NYC -- I'll flame later (maybe on the DFT) about the last-minute changes that mean I'll be catching lunch with only one of my HS friend instead of a get-together with the whole group.)

#412 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 10:46 AM:

David @ 410: in western countries, yes. In Russia, not quite so much. (Warning: this is likely to turn into a Wall of Text, because Russian history is one of my Things. I'll try to keep it brief.)

The most fundamental difference between Russia and its western neighbours was that all the other countries developed a strong aristocracy very early. These days one doesn't tend to think of an aristocracy as a particularly good thing, but in fact it was a vital step on the way to democracy, because the aristocracy had enough power to keep checks and balances on the monarch. (You've only got to look at the Magna Carta here in England; that could never have happened in Russia.) And once you've got that idea of a number of people who are less powerful as individuals banding together to keep someone with more power in check, it does (unlike money) eventually trickle down the system. OK, we're still dealing with classism in the UK to this day, but if we had never had it, we'd be like Russia, so I consider it the lesser of two evils.

So why didn't this happen in Russia? The main reason was that members of the aristocracy (such as it was) couldn't amass enough resources to develop a significant power base. Partly this was due to the appanage inheritance system, which meant that land was divided equally among any heirs (at least if they were male), which tended to create smaller and smaller subdivisions of land. Also, there was the sheer geography of Russia, which meant that any group of aristocrats who might easily have banded together in a more compact country had difficulty in doing so, either because they were too far apart or because communications were poor (often both). Not only that, but tsars throughout the ages were given to summarily relocating aristocrats who gave any trouble; even if they were given a holding equivalent to the one they previously possessed, they were now too far away to be a nuisance.

The net effect of all this was that Russia had an aristocracy which owed its position to the grace and favour of the tsar of the moment, rather than being solidly established (and this was, at times, reflected in some pretty demeaning rituals of allegiance which the aristocrats were expected to go through). Ivan the Terrible refused to take Elizabeth I of England seriously as a proper monarch, not because she happened to be a woman, but because even at that point in history she did not have the absolute power that he had, and considered as his right. Whereas in the west there was already a well-established idea that the ruler had a responsibility towards his or her subjects, that was completely absent in Russia. Russia was effectively the tsar's personal fiefdom in which he (or sometimes she) could do whatever they happened to fancy. Granted, some tsars were just basically more pleasant and reasonable people than others and didn't actively mistreat their subjects. But you couldn't guarantee that, and, besides, none of them seem to have had a great deal of interest in actively making their subjects' lives any better.

This, as far as I can see, is the model that Mr Putin is going for, right down to the whole "let's pick on some minority in an attempt to unite everyone else" thing. Tsars did that with depressing regularity; the only thing that changed was which minority was being picked on this time.

#413 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 11:11 AM:

Does Putin have substantial popular support? My impression is that he is broadly popular in Russia, but I don't know enough to be entitled to an opinion. In particular, I gather the press is quite controlled there, so who knows what the average Russian thinks? (For that matter, the US press isn't explicitly controlled, yet a foreigner would get a hell of a weird image of what most people believed by watching CNN, and an even weirder one by watching most TV shows.)

Is there good data on Putin's popularity in Russia?

#414 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 12:37 PM:

albatross @ 413: I don't know, but I can find out easily enough. My best friend is half Russian and stays in touch with a number of relatives who still live there.

He's actually the reason why I know about Russian history. I once asked him why he was so often inclined to be gloomy, and he replied, "I'm Russian. If you had three thousand years of horrible history behind you, you'd be gloomy too!"

While I suspect his gloom is more of an individual than a national characteristic (after all, he has lived in England all his life), I was sufficiently interested to read up on the history to see if it was as horrible as he said. And, oh, wow, was it ever.

#415 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Kip, Antonia, #398, #408: Maybe it all came together spontooneously.

#416 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 01:19 PM:

Mongoose @ 412 : Russia was effectively the tsar's personal fiefdom in which he (or sometimes she) could do whatever they happened to fancy.

Thanks for that explanation! It gives some background to the impression I've got from reading a few books about Russian conduct in various wars: The army and navy (and indeed the whole country) were just a plaything for the tsar. Play with it, break it and throw it away; order a Fabergé egg when that gets boring.

#417 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 02:02 PM:

Mongoose @ 412 re: Tsars
This was my independently-formed take on them, too.

Didn't King Leopold of Belgium think that the Congo was his private preserve? Presumably he treated his resident Belgians differently?

Leo has always seemed an anomaly (perhaps he felt a kinship with the Borgia Pope?*), but I don't know enough to look deeper. Recommended reading, anyone?

*Oops, I was thinking of Alexander VI via the superb Ex Urbe .

#418 ::: Carol Kimball is waving pastry at the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 02:03 PM:

Possibly from fussing too much with links.

#419 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 02:16 PM:

My best friend is talking to his contacts, and in the meantime I've had some useful and thoughtful input from a friend who is Serbian rather than Russian, but very well up on the situation in Russia. His name is Stefan Račić, I quote him with his permission, and this is unedited. Obviously, English is not his first language, hence the occasional error.

I'd say fairly popular. First, the average Russian of today is economically much more well off than at any point in the past... errr... century or more? Second, the overall repression was much worse during the communist era so, by Russian standards, he's actually quite moderate and reasonable. Of course, there are always people who want to think outside of the box, improve the situation and challenge the norms and, in Russia, those are not precisely tolerated, but still, it is very important not to judge the people themselves too much, especially if we don't know their history and what they've been through. The situation in Russia is not perfect, many people still have a long way to go 'til they become truely open-minded (for lack of better world), but looking at them as "the others", the enemy, someone as less civilized than we are can only make them feel even more alianated and see us as the opposing side. I have seen to many examples of propaganda trying to make Russians into a modern-day Boogey man and I don't think that is the right way to go.

#420 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 03:05 PM:

And, at a slight tangent, a friend has just posted a link showing Mr Putin drawing a cat's bottom. As you do. *blink*

He draws even worse than I do. There's hope for me yet!

#421 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 04:24 PM:

Mongoose @ #420

As drawings go, that's something of a cat-ass-trophy.

#422 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Moose @ 421: that pun is... purrfection.

#423 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 05:17 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 417: Didn't King Leopold of Belgium think that the Congo was his private preserve?

I'm no expert on Congo, but as far as I know, it more or less was.

#424 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 05:26 PM:

In defense of that cat drawing, I think if you wanted to leave school children with an amusing recollection of your visit, that was genius. You don't have to draw well to do it, it will appeal to children's love of things that are silly (and potentially a little smart-ass, but not excessively so)(and maybe naughty, without being naughty enough to cause a real uproar), and it makes you look like a fun, not such-a-bad guy.

When we look at Putin's PR, a lot of it seems weird, but I suspect among a lot of Russians, it doesn't--just as Mongoose's friend points out--they're going to have a different angle on him. Compared to the long procession of Soviet leaders--old, gray, often ailing through the 1970s and 1980s, the bare-chested guy on horseback, who is also the guy who does martial arts, looks fit and lovely and modern. The man who examines polar bears and tags tigers is interested in wildlife and nature (maybe not enough to really do much about Russian environmental isses, especially when money is involved, but so what else is new?) and is willing to gets hands-on with things instead of sitting at a desk and reading reports and waiting for flunkies (possibly unreliable) to tell him what's going on.

I think he's looked carefully at the efforts at PR by all the other world leaders (and crowned heads) and tried to pick what would work for him in a Russian context. We aren't the crowd he's playing to, and we don't have the issues about our leadership that the Russians do, either.

#425 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 06:04 PM:

Antonia @408 - ahh, Tales of the Gold Monkey. I loved that show (and the crush I developed on the lead - hey, I was 14! - probably had something to do with it, as well). If I watched it now.... well, it was a Bellisario production, he did better than most at the time. (Although Stephen Collins isn't what he used to be, sadly.)

#426 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 06:08 PM:

Coming out shortly:!authors/ciya

All I can say is that it isn't a work of political science.

#427 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 07:17 PM:

Ursula Vernon has posted an amazing poem.

#428 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 07:21 PM:

Also, my daily lowercase-"w"win: the principal of my kid's new school posted in the email newsletter that they wanted volunteers to organize their school library. Play with BOOKS? That they'll let me ALPHABETIZE? Where can I SIGN UP!?!

So I emailed back. And she's excited! And I'm excited! I may get to fondle a whole school-library's*-worth of books! And organize them!

Still fizzing with happy. I love being useful. And I thought the Fluorosphere might be somewhere that others present would understand my squee fully. :->

*possibly a very small school library. Still!

#429 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Antonia T. Tiger @408: Thanks for that! I was hoping somebody both helpful and knowledgeable was lurking nearby.

Angiportus @415: urg

#430 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 08:10 PM:

Fragano (426): Woo-hoo! Book!

Elliott (428): Yay!

#431 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 08:11 PM:

Open thready:

The Toronto School Board issued new guidelines for the accommodation of transgender students this week. One of the guidelines states that students have the right to use the washroom that "best corresponds to the student’s gender identity, regardless of the student’s sex assigned at birth."

It then goes on to say that "students who wish to use pronouns other than the masculine or the feminine (such as ‘zhe’ and ‘hir’) need to be accommodated equally".

So, my first thought was, more or less, "cool! Go TO!" (which, for a Montrealaise, isn't nothing).

Then Doretta Wilson had to go and be ignorant: "This has gone beyond ridiculous… We are men and women, whether or not we are transgendered," Ms. Wilson said. "We identify somehow with one sex or another; we’re not neutered."

Considering her position (executive director of the provincial education policy think tank Society for Quality Education), one can only hope she tries to educate herself before making such statements again.

#432 ::: Dave Empey ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 09:03 PM:

I'm afraid this is a very long shot, but can anyone ID an old Making Light post for me by the following description? It concerned a review of a romance novel which featured a protagonist who'd lost his/her memory and the ridiculously silly things the protagonist did. In the comment thread of that review, which was not on Making Light, iirc, the author of said novel showed up herself, and gave a gracious and funny response to the review. I know this is extremely vague, but can anyone help?

#433 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 09:17 PM:

Dave Empey (432): The book was Carla Cassidy's Pregnesia. It's been mentioned here at least twice:

I only found it because I remembered the author's first name. (And her last, but I wasn't sure enough of that to use it as a search term.)

#435 ::: Dave Empey ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2013, 11:28 PM:

Woot! Making Light and Mary Eileen rawk! Many thanks.

#436 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 12:43 AM:

#218 ::: Matt Austern @218

Having just lost my Wombat to aggressive prostate cancer after an eight year off-and-on battle, I will pass on his recommendation. Get the PSA test. It's an indicator that might give you more warning than no PSA. Until a better test comes along. The thing to watch out for is the panicky doctor who wants to slice and dice just based on a rise in PSA. A rise in PSA says "get more testing, get a second or even third opinion."

Jacque @226
so I always wind up with my feet perched kinda sideways on the rim.

So I'm not the only one that happens to. I had a couple of [jerks] one-off doctors make it seem like I was warped somehow.

PJ Evans @333
And the cooling bills of nearby buildings went thru the roof.

iamnothing @392
I loved the restaurant. The flavors were not the ones I'm used to, and thus were well received. Thank you to you and GlendaP

Fragano Ledgister @426

Elliott Mason @427
Thank you! I think it was someone here who led me to Digger. Which resulted in my doing a bit of fan-boy at her table at worldcon. And also buying her two part book, Black Dogs. Awesome writer.

Elliott Mason @428
Oh Yes! I remember the day in high school when I found out I could volunteer at the school library and get credit for it!

#437 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 12:44 AM:

Mongoose @412: because Russian history is one of my Things.

One is thus moved to enquire what are some of your other Things?

(Wow, I'm short on sleep. Took me three tries to figure out where "other" should go in that sentence....)

#438 ::: Lin Daniel is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 12:45 AM:

I won't offer the gnomes anything right now, as anything I touch comes with a cold virus or three. *achoo* But when I get my sourdough starter going, I can offer sourdough banana bread.

#439 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 12:50 AM:

ah. backtracking showed me that my bug of sneezing and clogged head led me to the foul usage of thx with bang. *sigh*

#440 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 01:30 AM:

I hesitate to suggest a teaspoon of starter to jumpstart your immune system. (It's a fast way to check its sourness.)

#441 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 03:20 AM:

Sorry to have missed you all at the Gathering of Light; we had a good friend visiting from Dallas and spent most of our time with her for the first few days.

On the Hugo nominees, I liked Redshirts, and I think Scalzi did a lot of interesting things with it, but I thought Blackout was a stronger novel. Bujold delivered another good novel, of course, with all the attention to detail that I'd expect from mil-sf (:-) as well as the plot and character development that that sub-genre so often ignores. I haven't yet read the two novels that were in too-inconvenient-for-Kindle versions of PDFs. For novelette, I thought Seanan's In Sea-Salt Tears was the best of them, but it really only works if you've read the rest of the series it's set in, while The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi is a standalone story that's definitely Hugo-worthy (as is Cat Valente's Fade to White.) I think I preferred most of the fan art to most of the pro art; there was a much broader range of subjects and media, while most of the pro art was book covers in the same sub-genre.

Has anybody seen a summary of what happened at the business meetings? I got to the preliminary one where some Objections to Consideration got done, but I didn't get to the later meetings to see the conclusion of the surviving proposals.

#442 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 04:17 AM:

Elliott @ 428: yay! That is totally squee-worthy.

Cheryl @ 431: someone urgently needs to give this woman a lesson about gender. She certainly isn't speaking for me when she says "we identify somehow with one sex or the other", for a start (and I'm aware I'm not the only one here who doesn't identify with either). Good on the schools, though - that's encouraging.

John @ 434: I suppose they'll want to be putting shorts on Michelangelo's David next?

Jacque @ 437: I have an unfortunate tendency to try to get into All The Things, all at once, but Things on the same sort of level as Russian history include early music, mathematics and renaissance Italian. I translate poetry, for instance this from Dante's Vita Nova. (And yesterday I had the pleasure of being able to help someone translate a short piece of verse from Romanian; he provided the metre and a bog-literal prose translation, and I worked it up into an appropriate piece of English verse. I love doing that so much. It's kind of like literary killer sudoku.)

#443 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 08:31 AM:

AKICIML time: My house is an utter and total ruin inside.

I am not a particularly good housekeeper and I've been living here by myself for long enough to have accumulated a metric buttload of mess, and I don't have it together to turn it upside down all at once.

It's a little better than it was last year (thanks to my wonderful wife, from whom I am separated, giving part of it a thorough makeover*), but it is still very messy and not terribly clean.

I had a New Year's resolution not to live in a pig sty, and I'd like to fulfill it. I'd also like to refinance it, and my understanding is you do better in the assessment with a clean house. So there's that, too.

So: How do you fix a house that's both very full and very messy? How do you even start?

(If possible, I'd like to start with the kitchen, so I can do more cooking, but cleaning the whole place is the goal.)

*Yes, she doesn't live here and she still cleaned it up. It was the best birthday gift ever. I told you she was wonderful.

#444 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 08:52 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @443

What worked for me (though it is a work in progress, depending on my energy and time) was to find the linchpin on which everything else rests. In my case, it's the kitchen/dining table (which actually resides in the living room, but oh well).

If I can take everything off the table once a day (putting "everything" where it belongs in the process) and wipe it down, then I can work outward from it. Once I have that routine underway, then I add sweeping the floors to the routine, working outward and picking stuff up around the edges. Each day the edges go further.

I can sweep the floor while my tea is steeping, so that helps. I'm not getting up to sweep the floor--I'm just not sitting down for a few minutes after pouring the hot water.

These routines might not help you, but they might give you ideas.

(Speaking of which, it's time to go engage in said routines.)

The other key for me is not to try to change all your habits at once and not to kick myself if the routines get disrupted, but just start over again.

#445 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 09:44 AM:

Seeing PNH's particle titled Kim Stanley Robinson on Gene Wolfe, I had the awful feeling that Gene Wolfe had died, and KSR written an obituary.


#446 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 10:04 AM:

Blackout's problem, when it comes to winning a Hugo, is that it has zombies in it, and is also the third book in a series. Fairly large proportions of the Hugo votership will look at it, go "Horror, ick," and not try (even those who pride themselves on trying to get through everything in the packet). I adored it, personally, on about eighteen different levels, and it's really NOT a 'zombie novel,' it's a post-apocalyptic political thriller with zombies in, but there was no way it was going to get to plurality quickly with that many people just opting out of it.

#447 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 10:43 AM:

John @443:

What has worked for me - and I am not someone who is naturally clean and tidy in terms of physical spaces (my computer is frighteningly organized) - was the Unf--- Your Habitat tumbler. It's very good for helping to not get overwhelmed, and the before and after shots people post (along with, usually, how long what they achieved took to achieve) are very good for me in terms of "well, they managed it, I can do it too."

Start by making your bed every day.

#448 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 10:44 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @443

Some other good tips on tackling big cleaning projects like this!

Set a timer. Don't try to do too much at once.

Set up three boxes -- keep, think about, and trash. Put the "think about" box in another room for a week and then go through it after you've got all your "keep" stuff rearranged.

Good luck. I've been two years in my new place and it's time for a big purge like this already.

#449 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 01:18 PM:

FWIW: Goodwill and recycling make getting rid of stuff psychologically easier.

#450 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 03:39 PM:

Cheryl @431: Considering her position (executive director of the provincial education policy think tank Society for Quality Education), one can only hope she tries to educate herself before making such statements again.

One could be tempted to drop Ms. Wilson a note predicting enjoyment of the day Ms. Wilson realizes the incompleteness of her own education. Erm.

John A Arkansawyer @443: So: How do you fix a house that's both very full and very messy? How do you even start?

1. "If you use something, clean it and put it away when you're done. Then clean and put away one other thing."

2. Pay attention to when you're most likely to clutter. For me, it's when I'm (a) tired, (b) late, and/or (c) too impatient to pull my head out of [obsession du jour].

3. "How do you eat an elephant?" "One bite at a time, and ask a lot of friends over to help." Invite bunch of friends / pack of local college kids over over for a cleaning/pizza&beer party.

4. Put four boxes at the door of every room (a) "trash", (b) "lives in a different room", (c) "donate", (d) "make a home for". Whenever your eye falls on an item that snags your attention, either put it away, or put it in one of the boxes. Whenever you leave that room, collect any contents of box (b) and take to appropriate room and put away.

#451 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 07:44 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @443:

I just did what I hope is my final move, six times in four years. Honestly, I don't recommend it, but it does clean things up.

Cleaning up a messy house is very much like moving. Only without having to hire and pay for movers.

I use standard sized boxes, in this case the cubic foot or banker's box. They stack much better than a random assortment of whatever you happen to find. They also hold more than paper boxes, as I've transferred the contents of a paper box to a banker's box and had space left over. I have an assortment of other sizes of box, simply because some stuff won't fit in a banker's box. But even the "other" boxes are of a standard size (1.5 cubic foot movers boxes), and half a dozen "picture/mirror" boxes in different sizes.

>Pack it.
>Inventory it as you pack it. (optional) I found taking pics of the layers and then a pic of the box label to be a fast way to inventory.
>Clear a corner and stack everything in it. I pallet stack (also called cross stacking) things, as that style of stack supports more weight for longer. Pallet stacking works best with standard sized boxes.
>Rinse. Repeat.

If you can identify stuff to get rid of, do so. Otherwise, just pack it. Get it out of the way.

Clean the house. Make repairs. Get yourself refinanced.

Unpack. Slowly. Repack like stuff with like, with a better inventory.

Once all the stuff is packed, and before you unpack, admire the space. Enjoy the space. Wallow in it. When you unpack, keep in mind the marvelousness of those clear spaces, and work to decorate those spaces, not bury them in the clutter all over again.

In this last move, I got all my stuff out of all the storage spaces, garages, back rooms, sheds, and brought it all here. I now have a living room full of boxes. I have one corner that I have worked very very hard to keep in its final "clear" configuration. Whenever I find I'm moving a box into that space "for now", I immediately move it back out. No! This space is to be kept clear. It makes weaving in and around the boxes in the other areas more difficult, but I have *one* space clear dammit, and it will stay that way. I'm about to finish clearing out another area, and the same will happen. It will not have boxes moved into it, even to sort.

If you want a pic of pallet/cross stacking, I'll post a pic of mine.

#452 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 09:09 PM:

Is this the thread where medical things were mentioned? (Yes, I know, that's all of them.) Anyway, I believe medical insurance was mentioned, and I just wanted to say that over at Balloon Juice, an expert on medical insurance is putting up a series of informative posts. This is today's:

#453 ::: Older is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 09:10 PM:

Hmph. Gnomed. And I don't cook any more. However my sweetie has been making the most delicious apple tarts with our over-abundant apples. Care for some?

#454 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2013, 10:53 PM:

Blackout contains an important element, one indeed essential to the plot, which despite being a fairly well-established SF trope I found to be completely and utterly incredible in that setting. It broke my suspension of disbelief. (Which was not broken by the zombie virus, so I dare say it was not unduly fragile.)

If you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about; if you haven't, with luck the above is not a spoiler.

#455 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 05:52 AM:

Open-threadiness: local mongoose is now feeling rather silly.

Why? Well, you see, this morning an acquaintance on the Book of Face started spewing a lot of vitriol about his compatriots, apparently sparked on this occasion by the way the election's going. (I say "on this occasion" because he does it regularly, on account of being "the idiot who praises, in enthusiastic tone, every century but this and every country but his own".) My first thought was "oh, here we go again", but this was immediately replaced by "wait, he hasn't called them liars yet... please call them liars, I want to see the Epimenides paradox in the wild!". So I posted about this, obviously filtering him off the post and not identifying him, for I am not a cruel mongoose. (We don't have friends in common. He fell out spectacularly with the last one we shared.)

And then up pops my old friend Gaz and totally explodes the Epimenides paradox.

How so? Well, Gaz argues, if Epimenides simply says "I am a liar," that's fine. You have a watertight paradox. But, in fact, Epimenides the Cretan says that all Cretans are liars, and that's where the hole is. He certainly isn't telling the truth, because that would mean he was lying and the paradox would follow. However, he can perfectly reasonably be lying, and we have to deduce he is... provided that we assume that the truth is not "No Cretans are liars", but "Only some Cretans are liars (and, obviously, Epimenides is one of them)".

I am kicking myself very hard, because this should have been so blinking obvious.

#456 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 06:34 AM:

@455 Mongoose

Martin Gardner loved this paradox and the related Prisoner's Dilemma, et. al.

#457 ::: Mongoose sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 08:01 AM:

Carol @ 456: Martin Gardner was all kinds of wonderful. His books were what got me into recreational mathematics as a small child.

#458 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 08:43 AM:

Gaaark, sorry! I forgot to take out the "sees spam", having posted two spam alerts (and a third just now, as it happened; "Harriet Vonarx" is a persistent blighter).

#459 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 09:05 AM:

'Well, Gaz argues, if Epimenides simply says "I am a liar," that's fine. You have a watertight paradox.'

That's still open in much the same way -- if Epimenides sometimes lies, and truthfully says so, there's no paradox. Or if the statement is 'I always lie', then someone who sometimes lies can lie and say so.

'This statement is a lie' gets to the root of the paradox, I think.

#460 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 10:16 AM:

And the two-guards thing, where one guard is a Truthteller and one is a Liar (in the always-lies sense), is actually a binary-math problem.

#461 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 10:18 AM:

Mongoose: since others have covered Epimenides and Martin Garner, I'll just be the one to say "Mikado FTW! (And also I will put in a word for Raymond Smullyan, who's the one who got me into recreational logic.)

#462 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 11:10 AM:

And then Epimenides helped Harcourt Fenton Mudd short out a robot.

#463 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 11:20 AM:

Arrgh. GARDNER. And sorry for the missing ".

#464 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 11:24 AM:

But while Epimenides' statement can perfectly consistently be false, he cannot make it false just by saying it. So if in fact, up to now, Cretans have always told lies (this isn't plausible, of course, but one can construct parallel examples which are), and then Epimenides says 'Cretans are always liars', we still have a paradox - what he says cannot consistently be true, and as a matter of fact, independent of what he says, isn't false.

#465 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 11:30 AM:

James @ 459: true. Or then there's the two-part, ouroboros version of the same paradox, which has always been my favourite version:

The sentence below is true.
The sentence above is false.

Lila @ 461/463: I adore G&S in general. And, yes indeed, Raymond Smullyan is also a lot of fun. I discovered him a little later; I think someone bought me a copy of What is the Name of this Book? when I was around 12 or 13. I still have it.

#466 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 12:02 PM:

Thank you all for the good advice.

Lin Daniel's advice at #451 (possibly a sign I should burn some books? Hmm...) brought about an epiphany: Most of my stuff--books, records, and CDs, mostly--is still in boxes. I may have too much stuff for this house.

#467 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 12:13 PM:

#443, on cleanup:

Here's my accumulated wisdom on how to keep stuff.

  • Everything shall have a place where it belongs. It doesn't have to be a sensible, decorative, or convenient place, but it has to be that thing's place.
  • If you have more stuff than places to put it, acquire boxes, shelves (depending on how retrievable you want it to be), or maybe even cabinets. All of these increase the number of places available.
    • Moving-style boxes are good for long-term storage; small boxes like shipping boxes or the clear plastic ones you can buy are good for collecting small objects that would otherwise spread out widely.
    • Shelves are good for stuff you want to get at. Shelves are good for stacking boxes on. Shelves turn useless blank walls into storage space. When in doubt, buy shelves.
  • Keep everything off the floor, unless it is in use or furniture. (Boxes count as furniture.) Floor space is your most widely useful and mentally-refreshing free space and should be valued. It is especially helpful for sorting pieces of the remaining mess. Keeping things off the floor also makes it less tedious to keep the floor clean.
  • To organize existing mess:
    1. Choose a bounded space: one wall of a room, one set of shelves, one desk.
    2. Clear everything off that space (disposing of definite junk as you go) onto your nice open floor (or other available work surface if appropriate).
    3. Clean the emptied space and removed objects of dust and grime (have a conveniently available vacuum cleaner).
    4. Sort the objects however suits you.
    5. Fill the cleared space with objects which you decide belong there.
    6. Whatever you removed and didn't put back is now a smaller, cleaner, more sorted mess. Put it anywhere but the floor.
    Even if you don't throw anything out, the results will usually be smaller due to being more neatly organized.
#468 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 12:26 PM:

The problem with the Epimenides paradox is that it depends on an excluded middle (it demands the statement must be either true or false with no qualification), which may be doable in formal logic, but certainly not in human discourse. And this paradox is only one reason why it's unclear that it's actually doable in formal logic, either.

#469 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 01:01 PM:

I always just figured the Cretan who declared all Cretans to be liars was lying about being Cretan in the first place.

#470 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 01:25 PM:

Ah, liar-and-truthteller puzzles!

One of my favorites is this: There are three gods, one of whom always lies, one of whom always tells the truth, and one of which sometimes lies and sometimes tells the truth at random.

They will answer any question with "yes" or "no," but they will do so in the language of the gods, which you do not understand.

What is one question you can ask them by which you can determine which is which?

#471 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 01:57 PM:

Kevin, #467: Shelves turn useless blank walls into storage space.

So do bookcases. :-)

My problem is that I also have a lot of art, and therefore want a fair amount of "useless blank walls" for the display thereof.

#472 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 02:01 PM:

Looking at Patrick's Sidelight "If there's one thing I want to come out of what happened to me, it's for the phrase 'don't feed the trolls' to be scrubbed from the annals of received wisdom," I note that the most recent comment in the associated comment thread (posted circa 10 hours ago) is a borderline-illiterate all-caps rape threat.

#473 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 02:15 PM:

I noticed that too. I'm torn between being upset at the comment, and hoping that it will at least prove to some of the commenters above it that the situation really is as bad as she says.

#474 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 02:32 PM:

When approaching cleaning and decluttering:

Don't expect perfection from yourself.

I'm . . . inordinately proud of this:

A corner of my study / dining room which is essentially empty! There's a paper recycling bin that moves about, and a dog bowl that's there for the moment. But nothing permanent!

But just above it:

A cluttered sill. There is stuff there that has been there since a day or two after I got the house in December. And I'm still not sure what to do with it. It is mostly ephemera: A postcard, a bumper sticker, a moldering Buck Rogers Big Little book, a State Quarters map album thing.

I suspect that this sill has Child in Omelas like properties. It must be there for the rest of the house to be relatively uncluttered.

#475 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 02:55 PM:

The phrase "don't feed the trolls" comes from an earlier time, circa thirty years ago, when everything was gated communities -- AOL, CompuServe, GEnie, Prodigy -- with one account to a customer, each associated with a credit card, or Usenet (which, then, was a small town where everyone knew everyone).

There, you knew the people. You knew that when Uncle Toby started talking about the Siege of Namur there would be no stopping him, and he would attempt to turn every conversation to the Siege of Namur. Therefore, when Namur came up, if some newbie sought to reply one of the old hands would say, "Don't feet the energy creature."

Then, trolling would be someone stopping by the Windows support forum to say, "Why don't you get a real computer?" The purpose being to derail conversation.

Then, trolling was an attempt to make the conversation in some thread be about the troll, rather than about the topic. What was called a troll then, today we might call a contentious person. Then, ostracism from the community was a real punishment.

Now, threats of physical violence, anonymous harassment from throw-away addresses (one person could have dozens--hundreds--thousands--of sockpuppet accounts), those aren't trolling. Those are crimes. They should be reported as crimes, and treated as crimes. Not ignored.

Meanwhile: on messageboards, strong moderation. If you don't want people covering the walls with graffiti, breaking windows, and mugging tourists, there has to be a cop on the beat.

#476 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 02:56 PM:

Lila 461, 463: I knew a Gardnerian Witch once who claimed to be a "Martin Gardnerian." Can't remember that motto, though she also had a button that said "Earl Stanley Gardnerian - Celebrate the Mysteries."

Mongoose 465: My favorite is Russell's demolition of naïve set theory, which involves the set of all sets which are not members of themselves.

#477 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 04:21 PM:

Interesting perspective on Worldcon and how lots of it is not in touch with what young people are doing lately.

#478 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 05:17 PM:

A Minecraft joke that seems made for Abi: Flowers in Hell.

#479 ::: Dave Harmon's been gnomed. ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 05:21 PM:

Probably for a Reddit link, just to a bit of silliness.

#480 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 05:36 PM:

It seems to me that DNFTT is still useful advice, but it's limited in scope. Don't reward asinine attention-seeking behavior with attention, or you're liable to get more of it. That doesn't invalidate the fact that some bad behavior goes far beyond asinine attention seeking behavior, and needs a different response. In meatspace, a nutcase ranting on the street corner, even ranting about vile ideas, should be ignored, whereas a nutcase threatening to rape or murder passers by shoudn't be ignored, he should be arrested.

#481 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 05:50 PM:

Jim Macdonald @475: Thank you. I knew there were situations where "do not feed the trolls" was good, applicable advice. And I read the sidelight, and accepted the author's contention that it was not good advice for those in her situation, but I hadn't yet resolved the conflict between those two evaluations of "do not feed the troll". Not all on-line communities are the same, across time and across different groups of participants. I think us old-timers sometimes fall into the trap of thinking all on-line interaction is the same, even though we should know better.

And on preview, Albatross is right; not all bad behavior is trolling.

#482 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 06:53 PM:

Xopher: I love it!

re trolling, what Jim said. DNFTT is an appropriate response to concern-trolling and other deraily sorts of things in an open forum or comment thread; it is not at ALL appropriate as a response to abuse or threats directed at an individual.

If there's a parallel situation in the individual realm, it's the annoying (but not abusive or threatening) person who won't stop texting or leaving phone messages. As Gavin DeBecker said, if you finally respond to such a person after x messages, what s/he learns is that the price of getting a response from you is x messages, and round and round it goes.

#483 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 06:56 PM:

So I follow the link to UfYH, and what do I find but a commentary on PG13 language on "Welcome to Night Vale"?


#484 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 07:01 PM:

Nicole @480, I've only just discovered "Welcome to Night Vale" and now I'm seeing posts about it everywhere. My life is colliding with people's posts! Halp!

#485 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 08:04 PM:

Jim @#470: Is this one of the ones for which the correct question is "If I were to ask [one of the other gods] if se was telling the truth, would se say 'yes'?"

#486 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 08:06 PM:

I am old enough to remember when DNFTT was good advice, and to agree with Jim Macdonald that threats of physical violence and rape are criminal offences that need to be reported to the public authorities and dealt with by proper judicial means. Free speech means that people have to be free to speak. That includes being, as Franklin Roosevelt would have put it, free from fear.

#487 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 08:20 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz: I'm not usually into "so bad it's good", but that was remarkable-- and more so that it's apparently a real ad in some sense rather than simply a humorous piece.

Oh, they're real all right--if you look at the rest of them (I have a very long bus trip to and from work, so I tend to load up the tablet with stuff from YouTube and watch it along the way) you'll see that they both have a budget and someone behind the scripts that thinks the difference between a hand grenade and PMS is that a hand grenade only goes off when you pull the pin. For some perverse reason I kept thinking of the infamous health pamphlets handed out to UK soldiers in WWII that started "You may have noticed, between your legs..."

Jacque: One wonders if the CEO's video game designer wannabe offspring talked hir into loaning out the company's PR department.... The production quality is about on a par with some of the lamer fan productions I've seen.

Those are the live-action ones. The 3D animated versions have money behind them--and a designer whose esthetics do NOT match mine.

#488 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 09:47 PM:

Just got back from The World's End.

I knew I'd love it. I knew it would be over the top. I was not prepared for how over the top it would be - it kept pulling out unexpected tops to go over! - nor for how very much I would love it.

I also saw a trailer for About Time and was squicked the eff right out by the hot mess of banal day-to-day male privilege illustrated as SFnal superpowers and all the consent issues that naturally leads to. I can hope the point is that the main character learns that this is indeed squicky, but I will not be along for the ride, thanks. Ew.

Also, I've kinda had it up to here with the supremacy of the father-son relationship. It's an important relationship, but it is not the only one that matters, Hollywood! Look, Pacific Rim was about a father-daughter relationship - adopted, at that! - and that was cool! Can we please try mother-son relationships, too, and not have them be reviled as "momma's boy" or "oedipal"? Wouldn't that be awesome?

#489 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 10:44 PM:

Concerning trolls. I used to frequent the blog of a (male) college teacher who was pretty much a feminist, at least in his words--he helped a lot of readers think better about the gender mess, some parts of it anyway, and attracted a few others good with words. But there were always a few men who thought feminism was all about the wife getting all the money on the divorce, and a few women who thought men were just eeeeeeevil. Those, some of the rest of us managed to keep in check. But then, when he confessed to a very checkered past--including one event that almost got someone killed--it hit the fan. Out of the woodwork came people with nothing better to do than dump on him, and others who were nothing but uncritical sycophants. He didn't get a moderator, and he sure could have used one. He spent more of his time/energy on other writing projects, and what had once been a helpful and interesting site devolved into a wasteland inhabited only by trolls. A moderator could have gotten rid of these without feeding them--maybe. But it didn't happen, and when this fellow turned out to not have mended his ways after all, betraying family and students both, he went down in flames. (I'm not going to name this guy, I don't have the ROT 13 thing but he is notorious now.) A properly moderated, de-trolled blog couldn't have prevented all that, but even so.
These trolls were not purveying threats or being dangerous; they were just being pests, so it was a "do not feed" situation. But I express gratitude to you several who have helped show us the difference--and I hope that the proper authorities can do what a moderator can't, and the true criminals can be halted in their tracks.

#490 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 12:05 AM:

Carrie S #485

You're on the right track.

#491 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 03:34 AM:

My perception of the breakdown of DNFTT is something like this:

When the conversation was taking place in only one place (like a comment thread on Making Light), then Teresa had a very handy rule: we can tolerate one troll, but once there are two, they'll start egging one another on and must both be taken out.

But as Scalzi points out, there are a lot of metacommentary communities out there now. Although they're neither an objective good nor an objective evil in themselves, they change the dynamic enormously.

I noticed it first in RaceFail, where there were the main conversations and the side LJ's where people would collect the emotional energy of their subcommunity before going back to the main conversations. There's Metafilter, with which this community has had an occasioinally challenging relationship. There's Reddit, some of whose subreddits are veritable trollcanteens. There's Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc, etc. In each of these cases, the dynamic where the "food" (attention, emotional energy) is in the same place as the content of the conversation has been broken.

When you add trolling to that change (in the sense of commenting to disrupt, kind of a conversational equivalent of stroking a cat the wrong way), you get what we have now: a dynamic where people gather their energy in a like-minded community, descend on the "content" conversation, then retire back to their like-minded community to exchange high-fives and plan the next raid. Outrage and upset are gratifying, but the status of the disruptor is at least as dependent on the cleverness of their commentary and its conformance to the raiding community's shared values.

#492 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 04:04 AM:

Dave Harmon on the previous Open Thread: I recently heard a guitarist/lutist who was using loops to back himself

The cellist Zoë Keating is doing interesting work in that direction. She composes intricate pieces with interweaving melody lines - which she then plays by herself, live, using a set of foot pedals connected to a recording/playback system to tag parts of her performance as she plays them and call them back in as needed.

#493 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 04:45 AM:

"I don't have the ROT 13 thing" will provide that (guvf cneragurgvpny jnf ebgngrq gurer), though it's not quite as handy as a plugin.

#494 ::: James Moar, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 04:47 AM:

For referring to possibly this blog's favourite website. Do the gnomes like inari-zushi?

#495 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 05:47 AM:

Angiportus @ 489: that is a sad story, and one I can relate to.

I used to belong to a fan forum; I don't think it would be fair to say whose fans. At the time I joined, this person wasn't very well known and there were just a few people on this forum who all ended up getting on very well. I still have several friends I originally met there. The person whose fan forum it was would drop in occasionally and say hi, but he neither moderated it himself nor appointed anyone else to do so. I suppose he didn't see the need.

After a little while, we started getting the odd troll; I recall one person in particular who showed up out of the blue and started telling us all what we should and should not be posting about (in the off-topic thread, no less). That was irritating, but manageable among ourselves. I ended up being the person who took the newcomer to one side and explained that you don't walk into a room full of people in real life and start telling them what to talk about, so you also don't do that on the Internet. The point, apparently, was taken. There were a few others, dealt with in a similar way by other people. We had a kind of unspoken consensus that you should assume anyone causing trouble was socially inept rather than malicious, and address them as such, until proved otherwise. Generally speaking, that worked.

Until one person joined the forum who was socially inept to the point of being actively dangerous in an online community, and, heaven help me, I'm afraid I was the one who introduced him. I had no idea how toxic he could be online, and I thought it would be a good idea for him to make some more friends. This is a person who has no concept of the idea that he might possibly be wrong about anything (he's even told me straight out that, unlike every other human being who ever lived, he had a perfect memory; strange how he was nonetheless in the habit of forgetting where he had put an item down ten seconds earlier!), and, therefore, if anyone challenged anything he said or even had the temerity to be upset by it, they were clearly out to get him. I'm afraid I thought contact with other people might moderate his attitudes somewhat. It didn't.

So we're already dealing with occasional trolls, and although the old socially inept trolls are now settling in pretty well, some of them are still a little prickly, and this isn't being helped by the fact that the forum is now big enough to attract the occasional genuinely nasty troll. And then this chap shows up and starts pontificating, and after a while people say things to him like "I'm not sure that's right" and "Couldn't you have put that a bit better?". He sees that as a threat, because of course He Is Always Right, and starts kicking back. And guess who scents a fight and starts stirring? Yup. The most recent specimens of trollkind to arrive on the scene.

The forum went up like a hydrogen bomb. The old guard, me included, desperately tried to do damage control, but without official backup it wasn't going to happen, and eventually, having done all we could, we left en bloc. He Who Was Always Right also left the forum, completely unaware that his name was now mud (because, of course, none of this was his fault, was it? It was all these foolish inferior people over-reacting, naturally) and absolutely convinced that certain individuals had it in for him because they couldn't stand being wrong. (He even tried to tell me I should stop being friends with one of them. I told him not to be such an overbearing idiot, and I'd choose my own friends, thank you very much.) To this day, several years later, I understand he still thinks those people are out to get him. Personally I suspect they've all done their level best to forget he exists.

The moral of this awful story is: you do not actually need a great deal of malice to blow up what was previously a really nice forum. It only takes a lack of moderation, a very small amount of carefully directed malice, and at least one person who can't do basic social interaction properly. The rest will take care of itself.

Moderation in all things, say I!

#496 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 05:48 AM:

How weird. James Moar's gnomed comment shows up in his VAB, but not in the main thread (at this time.)

#497 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 06:16 AM:

Jacque @ 495: Jim was talking about how they've tried to implement a 'white-list', but have not managed to make it work.

Perhaps the white-list is working, but only applied to 'view all by'.

#498 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 08:55 AM:

I'm not sure how much this overlaps with abi's point about the trolls rallying offsite, but there are also some topics that trigger an intense, irrational anger and hatred in some fraction of the population. If you step on one of those, you can get *hundreds* of irrationally hostile and hateful people responding to you. And this looks like a real problem for any kind of police response. It may be reasonable to get the police to find one crazy online stalker who keeps sending you rape and death threats. It's going to be *really* hard for them to find a hundred, and eventually the mob of crazy stalkers will learn how to get right up to the line of what will get you in trouble with the law, without going over. That will still be a horrible thing to be on the wrong end of.

#499 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 10:40 AM:

Jacque (496): That's the way it always works. I've taken to popping over to the VAB and reading the comment there when the gnomes haven't released it yet.

#500 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 10:41 AM:

#497 Rob Rusick

The View-All-By picks up everything, wherever it might be, from any poster whatever. This includes messages that have gone to the spam bucket (so when folks try a VAB on a recent spam that got through they can see a horrifying list of other spams, even if they've already been caught and killed, provided they came from the same apparent email address).

#501 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 10:57 AM:

I didn't *think* I posted often enough to make any whitelist (to say nothing of my inability to decide which email address to use....)

#502 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 12:15 PM:

WRT trolls and such - I'd predict that a profession may bloom for private investigators specializing in tracking down such miscreants. If you can't lay a criminal charge on them, a civil case might be much easier to bring.

#503 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 04:49 PM:

Steve C., #502: I have long been convinced that most of these twerps aren't nearly as computer-savvy as they think they are, and that a crowdsourced attempt could easily out them despite their belief that they are protected by Net anonymity. What hasn't happened yet is the development of a community devoted to outing the criminal trolls -- the ones who make rape and death threats.

#504 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 05:16 PM:


Do feed the trolls - to crocodiles...

#505 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 05:59 PM:

Belated HLN: Local man finds that it takes a VERY long time to get through on Verizon's phone help line but it takes a fairly short time to get through using their web chat help. Local man finds this ironic.

Not that Verizon was able to fix the specific problem. Apparently the power is out on the electrical circuit that includes the phone box. I assume there is some sort of backup but the power has probably been out on that circuit much longer than any reasonable backup could deal with.

#506 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 06:48 PM:

I was out walking in Manhattan with a friend, and looked up and saw a giant ad for Victoria's Secret above Herald Square (in case you don't know, that ad space costs an arm and a leg, if your arm and leg happen to be made of platinum). It said this:

You'd think an ad agency would have someone capable of checking punctuation. You would be wrong. 'Body' is apparently a new line of their product, so not pluralizing it as "Bodies" isn't wrong. But grocer's quotes AND a superfluous apostrophe in one ad is...impressive.

I took a photo which I'll link to in a separate comment in case it's gnomed.

#507 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 06:50 PM:

Taken with my phone, and not edited or even cropped. I swear.

Above Herald Square

#508 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 07:11 PM:

Michael I (505): You actually got Verizon's web chat "help"* to tell you something useful? I'm impressed. The times I've tried to use it, they just told me to call them. If I had wanted the frustration of trying to call them, I wouldn't be asking their web chat!

*not grocer's quotes

#509 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 08:05 PM:

I just tweeted these. I've edited them slightly, as I'm not under any restrictive character limit. Here, for your enjoyment,


10: Tried to promote military uses of gravity, but farmers of the day couldn't deliver enough weaponized Granny Smiths.
9: Was accompanied for years by lookalike nephews, J-saac, M-saac, and N-saac.
8: Instead of "Theory of Gravitation," he had originally intended to pen a science fiction extravaganza, but was advised to "write what you know."
7: Never actually won the Nobel Prize for Gravity!
6: Would try to impress his name on acquaintances by urging them to visualize a NEWT ON his head.
5: "Sir" in his name was actually self-awarded, and was always accompanied by "air quotes."
4: He once dropped an apple on a man in Reno, just to watch him make that "Ow! My head!" face.
3: He personally founded a small town in Massachusetts.
2: Hated goddamn figs!

And the #1 Amazing Fact about Sir Isaac Newton:
1: Recanted Law of Gravity on his deathbed, and everybody floated off into space!

#510 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 08:13 PM:

A necessary early step to stopping threats by anonymous people would be changing the law to make them felonies, and make them federal.

Else you have your local police, understaffed and undertrained for the task, attempting to track down someone across multiple jurisdictions for what might be a misdemeanor, or possibly not illegal at all. ("Revenge porn" isn't currently illegal; the MySpace suicide

#511 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 09:13 PM:

Kip 509: I would follow that Twitter account. If I knew what its @ was.

#512 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 09:39 PM:

Xopher, you already follow me! I'm @kiptw.

I've been waiting patiently for the plaudits to come rolling in. Must be some sort of technical glitch, and they'll all show up at once.

#513 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 10:08 PM:

Lee @471

My plan for wanting wall space for bookshelves and art: attach slider to bookshelf, normally used for sliding door. Attach art to slider. Books behind are reference. When I want then, I slide art over.

Alternately, put door on bookcase. Attach art to door. This only works for smaller pieces.

Stefan Jones @474

All but the Big Little Book can be put in a file folder, labeled, filed. Why yes, I have a file called "Odd Bits of Paper". I review contents every so often.

#514 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 10:36 PM:

Xopher Halftongue: I was out walking in Manhattan with a friend, and looked up and saw a giant ad for Victoria's Secret

In college I was once walking back late night from a movie on campus to my dorm. The Quad at the UW is level with the ground on the north, south, and east sides, but the west side has three steps, a flat stretch, and then three more steps. It was near the end of the quarter, when all the art majors who have their eyes on being the next Oldenburg have their stuff out, and looking up I saw a TEN FOOT TALL fabric mistletoe sculpture slung on a wire hanging high between the towers of two of the Quad buildings above the flat stretch. I stared up at it, and as I went under it swiveled around and kept looking at it while walking backwards.

Remember that second set of stairs I mentioned above? I didn't.

#515 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 10:37 PM:

The Empress Hotel in Hong Kong had a restaurant with art that crawled along the walls. It was suspended on wired from tracks that ran in and out of the dining rooms, and the pieces crept slowly from one chamber to another. Of course I didn't get a picture of it.

#516 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 10:45 PM:

Kip 512: Well, good. Then I had good taste before, too.

I think those are hilarious. I read them aloud to my friend. The bit about figs really got to him.

I assume you cut the Huey reference for reasons of space.

Bruce 514: Ow.

#517 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 12:03 AM:

Kip: I have a cousin known as Fig. Last name of Newton.

For the life of me, I can't remember what his real first name is. He hasn't gone by it since before I met him.

#518 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 03:56 AM:

Xopher @ 506: one day I walked into a greengrocer's shop and spied the following notice:


I have to admit that I was quite impressed, in a weird way, at the number of errors which had been shoehorned into that five-word sentence: one of spelling, one of grammar, one of punctuation and one of logic. (The logical error was that the nuts were not, of course, individually priced. The individual pricing referred to bags of nuts which were priced by weight.)

#519 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 05:00 AM:

Mongoose @518 et al.: I recently caused my spouse to choke in grammatical horror by asking some babies, "Childrens, is you hungry or is you ain't?" My spellchecker just helpfully corrected that first word by inserting an apostrophe, of course, and presumably the suite of horrors could be completed by adding emphatic quotation marks somewhere.

#520 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:11 AM:

#518 ::: Mongoose

I'd say that was a factual error rather than a logical error.

#521 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:50 AM:

Now I've been earwormed with

Tell me, O octopus, I begs,
Is those things arms or is they legs?
I marvel at thee, Octopus:
If I were thou, I'd call me us. --Ogden Nash

(And of course Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?)

#522 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:58 AM:

Mary Aileen@508

What I actually got from the web chat was an appointment for a visit from a Verizon technician. It was the technician who diagnosed the problem.

#523 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 08:03 AM:

Serge: Heureux anniversaire.

#524 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 08:06 AM:

Mongoose #518: It could have been worse. Suppose it had said "All nutmeats, is priced individually"?

#525 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 08:19 AM:

Lila @521, I find Ogden Nash full of earworms.

#526 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 12:27 PM:

Michael I (522): That's still I lot more help than I ever got from Verizon's web chat.

#527 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 03:30 PM:

Catching up after an absence (to read other stuff on the internet...) - some leftovers from thread 186 for me:

I am quite honestly surprised that the subthread about clones and genetic tweaking in SF got all the way talked out without anyone mentioning: Dune and its gholams and its strong genetic-engineering/breeding-for plots.

ObSFRef for self-driving autos, specifically "walk out into the street and they avoid you" in Italy - The Mote in God's Eye, though those each had at least one version of MotieOS installed.

And the comment about not having realized there were Venetian specialty island suburbs - Lackey/Flint/Freer's Venice series, for one, added that to my mental potpourri. SF is _edumacational_!

--Dave, will get to this version of the thread in a bit

#528 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 04:26 PM:

David @527, thanks muchly; I'd entirely forgotten Dune's gholams. (Probably because God-Emperor of Dune hit the wall with extreme prejudice and I never read further...)

And I'm still soliciting the names of good clone stories, bad clone stories, good clone movies, bad clone movies... <smile>

#529 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 04:33 PM:

wrt Clones: Anybody remember Quark? "She's the clone!" "No, she's the clone!"

#530 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 05:31 PM:

Bruce @514: I know those stairs (UW grad, fall 1996). You have my sympathies. Also I am glad you survived the fall, because going down those things unawares and backwards? Eeeeee.

#531 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 06:16 PM:

You only need the first two for the gholas. Fortunately. (I hit the wall with 'Children of Dune'.)

#532 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:15 PM:

(Spec script for the new Doctor Who)

TUTANKHAMUN: So, Doctor, since you know the future, does My Majesty's reign last long? Will I be known to all time?

DOCTOR: No. I mean, yes. Yes, you'll be known to all time, but no, you don't get a long reign, sorry.

TUTANKHAMUN (understandably upset): Well, that's...well. Will My Majesty's tomb at least be suitable? Will I have a pyramid?



DOCTOR: No pyramid, and your tomb will be lost for many centuries.

TUTANKHAMUN (crushed): Oh.

DOCTOR (hastily): But your grave goods will be spectacular!


DOCTOR: No, I really...

TUTANKHAMUN: Doctor. You have told me that my reign will be short and my tomb will be lost. Take me in your magic box and show me the grave goods which are to console me for these terrible things!

DOCTOR: Well, all right.

(CUT TO: Interior, Tut's tomb. GOLD everyplace. SARCOPHAGUS to the right. To the left, the TARDIS, whose door opens, and Tut and the Doctor emerge.)

TUTANKHAMUN: Well, I am impressed. That is, My Majesty is impressed.

DOCTOR: Glad to hear it. Back in the TARDIS.

TUTANKHAMUN (ignores that, walks over to sarcophagus): Is this my sarcophagus? My Majesty lies dead within?

DOCTOR: I'm afraid so, yes.

TUTANKHAMUN (places a hand on the sarcophagus, and addresses it in meek childlike tones): Are you...are you my mummy?

#533 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:21 PM:

It occurs to me that this year's Worldcon was more difficult to navigate than Chicon. At least for me it was.

Basically there were four clusters of rooms in the Convention Center for the main programming. Moving within a cluster was straightforward. Moving between the clusters not so much. Except for one pair of clusters that was fine in one direction but not the other.

Although at least one of the connections would have been easier if all of the escalators were working.

#534 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:30 PM:

Michael, for context, what mobility challenges are you dealing with? If that's too personal, please ignore it. I'm asking because Chicon, while a PITA for those of us (like me) without mobility challenges, was outrageously difficult for those with, so it's useful information.

#535 ::: Xopher Halftongue is gnominated! ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:31 PM:

Not for a Hugo, alas.

#536 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:41 PM:

The gnomed comment was asking Michael about his level of mobility or challenges thereof, for context. Not sure what about it set off the detectors.

#537 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 08:48 PM:

(No, I didn't see that one coming.)

#538 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 09:23 PM:

Confusion in the Hugo rules.

Mary Robinette Kowal's novelette "Lady Astronaut of Mars" received enough nominations to have made the ballot, but was ruled ineligible on the grounds of it having been originally released as an audiobook -- despite the fact that the individual stories in a different audiobook had previously been ruled eligible in their print categories.

That could just be different committee interpretations of the same rules. What makes the incident shameful is that nobody had the courtesy to TELL her about this. She found out about it at a post-Hugo party, where the full nominations list was being passed around -- with her story crossed off.

Words fail me.

#539 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 09:32 PM:

Very Cool:

"The 8 Best Fake Storefronts & Phony Building Facades In New York City"

Speakeasies, secret restaurants, and clandestine tutoring centers!

#540 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 09:44 PM:

Aw, crud -- net neutrality is under attack again.

Appeals court skeptical of FCC’s Internet access rules

#541 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 09:44 PM:

Just a WaPo link.

#542 ::: Stefan Jones, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 09:55 PM:

Linked to a cool Scouting New York column.

#543 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 10:14 PM:

@527 David DeLaney

In re clones: has anyone mentioned the Farscape episode "Eat Me"? Rather a disturbing take, and it had repercussions for the rest of the season and into the next one.

#544 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 03:19 AM:

Read TNH's Particle on rejection letter comments: now have a strange desire to read a story about "cow towing"...

#545 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 03:37 AM:

Soon Lee @521

There is probably a close-enough in one of the James Herriot books. My father once told me a story of a cow, an awkward birth, and a German PoW who was working on the farm. They eventually got the calf out. Rope was involved. Cow and calf were both OK.

It was the occasion when he picked up some German phrases which you would not find in a polite dictionary.

#546 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 05:05 AM:

Not cows, but that puts me in mind of a shaggy dog story originally told to me by my English teacher, who had an apparently infinite supply of them to trot out whenever we finished whatever we were doing in class five minutes before the bell went.

There was once a young man who lived in a small community on a remote island. Ever since he was a little boy, he had been fascinated by the ballet, and through sheer persistence and determination had taught himself all the moves. Now, at the age of eighteen, everyone agreed that he could dance like a Nureyev, but there was no way he was going to be able to progress on this little island, where there was not even a corps de ballet. He would have to go and make his fortune as a dancer elsewhere.

But his community was very poor. He could afford to take the ferry to the mainland, but, once he was there, there was no question of even getting to the nearest airport, let alone affording a flight to the nearest place with a reputation for good ballet, which happened to be London. All his friends, relatives and neighbours were sympathetic, but there was nothing they could do to raise such a large sum of money.

Our dancer was understandably dispirited. One morning he was sitting on a rocky crag looking out to sea, wondering how he was ever going to make it off the island, when a pigeon fluttered down and landed beside him.

"Morning," said the pigeon. "You look a bit down in the mouth, if you don't mind my saying so."

"You talk?" asked the dancer.

"Obviously. Just keep it quiet, all right? I don't want to end up in a circus. Wouldn't have said anything, but you looked so miserable I thought I'd ask if there was anything I could do to help."

"Well, er, that's very kind of you, but I'm not sure there is," replied the dancer, and proceeded to tell the pigeon his sad story.

"Oh, but there is!" exclaimed the pigeon happily, bouncing up and down and flapping her wings in excitement. "I know exactly how to help. I just need to talk to my friends. In the meantime, what you need to do is go and build a raft, and also get some string. Lots of string. The more string you can get, the better."

"OK... well, thank you, that's very kind," replied the dancer, a little puzzled. The pigeon immediately let out a loud coo, and dozens of other pigeons came flying down and settled around them. The first pigeon started cooing excitably, clearly explaining the situation, while the others listened and nodded.

So the dancer built a raft and brought as much string as he could find, and the pigeon told him to hammer a row of nails into the front of the raft and tie a long length of string to each nail. Then every pigeon picked up the free end of one of the strings, the young dancer launched the raft, and the pigeons hauled it across the ocean all the way to the Thames.

Needless to say, this attracted some attention from the local media, who were having a slow day. The young dancer soon found himself in the papers, and the pigeons, of course, were given all the food they could eat after the Mayor made a special exception for their heroic efforts. A rich couple who loved ballet came forward to offer the dancer a room while he was settling in, and the next day they took him along to the Royal Ballet to meet the director.

The young man, full of both nervousness and pride, proceeded to show the director everything he could do. It was the ballet performance of his life: his movements were graceful, his leaps athletic, his landings perfectly controlled.

The director watched and nodded. "That's impressive," he said. "And you say you're entirely self-taught?"

"Yes, sir," the dancer replied. "Everything I know, I learned from watching and imitating."

"That's even more impressive. But..." he beckoned the dancer over and showed him a copy of last night's paper, "you're this young man, aren't you?"

"That's right," replied the dancer, puzzled.

"Then I'm terribly sorry to have to break this to you, but I'm afraid I can't take you."

"What?! But why not? You said you were impressed!"

"Oh, I am," replied the director sadly, "but how could I ever employ a dancer who was pigeon-towed?"

#547 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 07:35 AM:


No particular mobility challenges.

(On further thought there was really more than one connection between clusters that was straightforward. Even so, LoneStarCon navigation was definitely more confusing to me than ChiCon navigation.)

#548 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 09:52 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Yesterday, local man celebrated his58th birthday with some weeding, running errands, reading, receiving many wishes, going out for dinner with his wife, and finally with the watching of "Time Tunnel" episode "Chase Through Time", in which our merry bunch chase after Tunnel-hijacker Robert Duvall from today to the 16th century all the way to 1,000,000AD, where men are silver, women are golden, and everybody wears a stupid skullcap, except for the Hive Masters, whose heads are too big for skullcaps. Oh, and by the way, local man is now 4 years away from being the same age as Ricardo Montalban in "The Wrath of Khan".

#549 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 11:56 AM:

Serge: ... and two years less nine days older than this local woman.

#550 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 12:37 PM:

Hi. Resurfacing briefly to tell what's been going on.

My mother died last week; some of you will remember my periodically discussing our struggle to deal with her progressive dementia over the last four or five years. Back in May she had a "classic" stroke that left her left side paralyzed and swallowing impaired, and that meant she was getting even less out of life, not being able to even get out of bed without help. I came to visit then, and miserable as things were, had a good visit with her.

In the last month, my brother had finally gotten her moved out of the bigger facility she was in into a smaller and more home-like place; this was as close as we could get to moving her home which was what she had been wanting and saying for years. It might be that freed her to let go. At any rate, she gradually largely stopped eating and drinking. She died a day before I could get there, but my brother had told her that my daughter and I were both on the way to see her and she understood and was happy about that. As it turned out, it was her time, and she couldn't wait, so I'm OK with how that worked out.

We had our private goodbyes to her last week, and will have a memorial service at Friends Meeting here this week. I'm sad, but very calm; I seem to have changed a lot in the last year or two. The only annoying side is that it will involve dealing with my father, who my brother would like to have at the service, but even though I normally have nothing to do with him I am happy to put up with it to make my brother happier.

Anyway, I'm back here staying with my brother at her house, still trying to sort out most of her things. There's been a little progress since four years ago, but some of it reversed by my brother moving in here last year to take care of the house, and needing to fit in all of his things. The day before yesterday I moved and sorted boxes and did a quick inventory of 31 boxes full of her books, mostly modern Japanese literature through the '70s. That's just scratching the surface of one of the collections; there are other book collections, collectible teddy bears, art ranging from classics (19th century oil paintings, Goya etchings) to kitsch, antique silver, and probably more that we haven't even found, all mixed in with utter junk - junk mail, random tchotchkes, and salvaged bubble wrap intermixed with old family letters and records. (This is what's still left after earlier passes through it throwing out lots of the junk.)

I see the collecting-hoarding trait very clearly in most of our family, including me. Every time I come back from one of these expeditions, I look at my junk and vow to go through and dump out a bunch of it. Typically that lasts a few weeks and then I'm mentally tuning it all out again and it starts to build up further.

For those dealing with similar problems and wanting to understand them better, I highly recommend the book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Gail Steketee and Randy Frost. It's something along the lines of an anthropological study - short on prescriptive recipes, but insightful into the mental processes involved.

#551 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 12:42 PM:

One last comment to duckbunny, lorax, k8, Jackie, Mongoose, et al:
Even though I normally identify as cis-gendered heterosexual male, that long conversation about body image and physical arrangements contained some bits that felt really helpful to me too. Things aren't always that straightforward, for reasons I'm not comfortable going into, so thank you all again.

#552 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 12:54 PM:

P J 536: YAY! I got one! Thank you.

Especially considering the utter lack of response that comment has otherwise (so far; early days yet) elicited. I'm taking it for a stony silence with glaring, which is, to the incorrigible punster, also incorriging.

Cheryl 540: Not clones in the biological sense. "Equal and original," with the full memories of the parent being in both subsequent beings.

Mongoose 543: *stony silence with glaring*

Clifton 547: I'm sorry for your loss, but happy for her release. I hope the clearing-out will go better than you expect.

#553 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 02:07 PM:

Clifton (547): My condolences to you and your family. Good luck with the clearing out process.

#554 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 02:42 PM:

Lila writes in #521:

(And of course Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?)

If memory serves, a Phil Foglio story involving an amorous robot was entitled "R.U.R. Or Are You Ain't My Baby?"

#555 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 03:06 PM:

Clifton -- your description of your mother's stuff is very much like what I've been working through with my parents' stuff -- I'm just going through some boxes, and it's over 15 years since my father died. 19th century silver -- check. Goya engraving -- check (plus about a thousand others -- my grandmother was a print dealer). 19th c oil paintings -- check. Old check stubs -- check. Household accounts book from 1855 -- have you got one?

I have used it as an occasion to recycle a lot of my junk, but I still have a lot.

#556 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 03:39 PM:

@552 ::: Xopher Halftongue
Not clones in the biological sense. "Equal and original," with the full memories of the parent being in both subsequent beings.

Ah. Not what was wanted, then.

#557 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 05:04 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @532: Ahem.

#558 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 05:11 PM:

Clifton, my condolences.

All this talk of clean up *stuff* prompted me to put the supposedly neat areas of my house in order. I was up until 1am, picking up and putting away. Eh, who needs sleep.

#559 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Jacque 557: Thank you.

#560 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 05:40 PM:

Xopher: :-)

#561 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 05:42 PM:

Condolences & hang in there Clifton.

Having to help clean up the horde-mess of TWO deceased family friends* convinced my parents to gradually downsize. They've asked not to get presents, in fact.

* One friend had a cottage she'd rented, or bought, down the hill from her country place. Her own home was neat, but this shabby dwelling was *packed*. It was on a slope over a creek. I suggested to my parents that a gentle push during flood season might be all that was needed to make the place a problem for people downstream . . .

#562 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 06:25 PM:

Bill Higgins @ #554: Nice!

Xopher @ #532: I would have groaned but I was too busy hiding under the bed having Empty Child flashbacks.

#563 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 07:42 PM:

Jacque @ 549... A belated - or is it an early one? - Happy Birthday.

#564 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 07:57 PM:

OK, let's try this again, since my post of yesterday wasn't de-gnomed.

Scouting NY has a post up with pictures of eight phony or misleading storefronts (and one building facade) in NYC that hide . . . secrets!

#565 ::: Stefan Jones, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 07:58 PM:

Well, crumbs.

I don't know what got it flagged, but my attempt to post about a cool Scouting New York feature was gnomed.

#566 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 08:19 PM:

It had indeed been released. #539 above.

#567 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 08:39 PM:

Armed criminal gang steals house from innocent family

There are times that, for all my middle-aged boringness, I wonder if there is really any way to make things substantially better that doesn't involve tearing the whole rotten structure down.

#568 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 08:40 PM:

Thanks all for the supportive comments! Slogging onward here.

Xopher @ 552:
I think you've summed up how I feel about it myself. It would be selfish of me to feel too bad about it on my own behalf, when she had been miserable for a long time. She was a good person, though deeply taxed by her illness, and I hope she has moved into clarity.

Tom Whitmore @555:

No 1855 accounts book, but on the last visit we found a young woman's diary from the mid-1800s, including her account of meeting Abe Lincoln, and this visit I found a small box full of Egyptian antiquities collected in 1873, which might include some genuine ones. (The same box had letters from the Kelsey Museum in Ann Arbor, thanking my mother for the donation of several papyri and a type of amulet they didn't have in their collection, and I'm guessing those probably came from the same family trove.)

My cousin in Cincinnati, who's been cleaning up his parents' estate as well as my mother's twin's estate in England, has let us know he now has a small warehouse full of antique furniture waiting for any of us who want to come and pick some out. He wasn't speaking metaphorically.

(Speaking of clones, as we were, my mom's identical twin was an even better collector and worse hoarder than my mom; the book Stuff I mentioned comments that if one twin has the trait, their identical twin almost always will too.)

This visit I've mostly been going through the more mundane stuff, with an eye to getting the place more usable for my brother. The living room is now largely accessible; the dining room/study/library has been half-overhauled and the clean half now holds all the book boxes moved from the living room, stacked so that they and the shelves behind them are all accessible. I really have no idea what else we may find in here once we start going through the boxes moved into the basement and garage. Maybe John Dee's translation of the Necronomicon will pop up next.


I keep saying I'm knocking off for the day and then find myself doing some more. I really need to quit it, go sit zazen, and then think about dinner. Or go running. Or both.

#569 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 11:50 PM:

"Lake Mary police chief, Steve Bracknell told The Huffington Post Shellie Zimmerman, called Lake Mary Police around 2:10 p.m. to report that her estranged husband had threatened her and her family with a gun and battered her father. Bracknell said George Zimmerman was detained at the scene and the investigation is ongoing."

Damn. How'd that happen?

#570 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 05:45 AM:

Very tangentially to John Cage, the piece "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz" by John Stump has always been considered unplayable. Here is the score, to demonstrate exactly why this is the case.

However, some musicians just love a challenge. You have been warned.

#571 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 08:35 AM:

Happy Birthday, Xopher!

#572 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 09:01 AM:

Mongoose #570: "Remove cattle from stage?" Oy gevalt!

#573 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 09:11 AM:

Serge #571: I second that emotion.

#575 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 10:02 AM:

Seconding the happy bday for Xopher!

#577 ::: fidelio is begnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 10:14 AM:

With birthday wishes that happen to include an exclamation point and a Youtube link.

I have a peach pie with a lattice-topped crust here, most excellent gnomes.

#578 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 10:44 AM:

Many happy returns, Xopher!

#579 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 11:00 AM:

Happy birthday, Xopher!

#580 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 12:04 PM:

Hippo Birdie, Xopher!

#581 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 01:01 PM:

Many more, Xopher!

#582 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 01:21 PM:

Ah, Gods, it's Sept 11 again, I don't want to think about it, I don't want to think about it... wait, there's something nice about today, isn't there?

Happy birthday, Xopher!

#583 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 01:32 PM:

Bonne fête, Xopher!

#584 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 01:35 PM:

Yes, it is good to have something nice about the day. Happy Birthday X-H!

#585 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 01:50 PM:

Happy Birthday Xopher!

#586 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 02:17 PM:

Happy birthday Xopher! And maaannyy mooooore!

HLN: Late-summer/Autumn flowers are gorgeous around here, both in back fields and local hiking trail. Local dog shows more appreciation for ground scents.

Local man working with vet to find an arthritis medication that will last into the evening so she can take evening walks again. Still to do: reschedule physical therapy for self, as shoulder is again acting up occasionally.

#587 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 02:31 PM:

Happy Birthday Xopher!

In other good news, the FG is getting our marriage license this very afternoon. The ceremony is still on for the afternoon of Sept. 20th, with more family and friends to join us than we might have originally expected.

#588 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 02:38 PM:

Happy birthday Xopher!

Also, a *yay* for Ginger and the FG!

#589 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 02:42 PM:

Oh, congratulations, Ginger! I'm so happy for you!

#590 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 02:54 PM:

AKICIML: How long does Jello keep in the fridge? A few days? A week? A month? Until the heat-death of the universe?

#591 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 03:01 PM:

my experience is a few days - the gel starts to break down after that.

#592 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 03:07 PM:

Happy Birthday to Xopher, and continuing congratulations to Ginger!

HLN: Local woman misses being empaneled for a criminal jury by the skin of her teeth. "The last person empaneled was the one right before me," she says, "and I was number 62 out of 65." She reports mixed emotions: "On the one hand, jury duty is one of the great protections of our freedom, and I'd have done it without complaining (much). On the other, if I read the indictment correctly, this one is pretty open-and-shut, and if the state can't make its case, they bloody well deserve to lose. They don't need me for nuanced interpretation, and I have other plans for the next week."

#593 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 03:20 PM:

P J Evans (591): Thanks.

#594 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 03:31 PM:

Happy birthday to Xopher, and many well-wishes to Ginger and the FG.

#595 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 04:30 PM:

Happy Birthday, Xopher! And Yay, Ginger and the FG!

#596 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 05:41 PM:

Happy Birthday Xopher! Congrats again to Ginger & FG!

#597 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 05:43 PM:

Thank you for the birthday greetings, everyone. It's a tough day for me, as you can imagine, but your kind wishes make it easier.

It really is good to have friends, especially excellent ones like you all.


#598 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 05:47 PM:

Happy birthday, Xopher.

In memoriam LDH, whose birthday this also was.

#599 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 09:11 PM:

Congratulations to Ginger and the FG.

#600 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 09:30 PM:

Happy birthday to Xopher; congratulations to Ginger and the FG :)

AKICIML: I have written a song which informs me that it must be performed as though it were a showtune; unfortunately, I do not know anybody on social media or in meatspace who can write music for showtune-style songs. Some manner of help would be appreciated

#601 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 12:13 AM:

Congratulations Ginger!

Happy Birthday Xopher! (at least, it's still your birthday on my coast)

#602 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 05:46 AM:

I wonder what Ben Franklin would have said if he'd been told that in the future, a high proportion of people would have the equivalent of almost free printing presses and post offices in their homes.

#603 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 06:00 AM:

Nancy, 602: "GIMME."

#604 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 07:00 AM:

Probably, but Franklin was a very smart guy. I'm wondering whether he would have had a second thought about people getting deluged with advertising.

#605 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 08:12 AM:

*tosses rose-petal confetti towards Maryland*

#606 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 08:14 AM:

Nancy Lebovitch @604--As a newspaperman, who grasped the economic necessity of ad sales for his business model, he'd probably have been rubbing his hands.

#607 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 10:20 AM:

Some of Loncon 3 is paying attention to 1939, including encouragement of costuming. There will be a Retro Hugo Awards Ceremony for 1939, with scope for 1939 Formal Wear and 1939 futuristic clothes. There's a film clip from the time out there, possibly tied to the 1939 Worlds Fair showing future fashion.

The prompted me to do a little looking-up. Some of the retro and vintage fashion you can get hardly gets back to the 1970s, but there is late 1930s stuff out there. If you wanted a hall costume, rather than full formal, it might not be too difficult.

I have a few old photographs. For a hot summer, shirt and trousers. Wear braces, ideally non-elastic and attached by buttons inside the waistband. The waistline is high. I already have a panama hat I picked up in Tesco a few years ago. I think I could manage something.

The Gentleman's Gazette looks back at 1939 They offer a free ebook if you sign up for their newsletter.

I think I might have the most problem with shoes.

One practical problem is carrying stuff. It's a slight anachronism, but Indiana Jones used a Mk VII gas mask bag as a satchel. The webbing strap was replaced by leather, and you can find both originals and replicas. About 10 inches by 12 inches by 4 inches.

Of course, most of us gentlemen would need a different haircut. But have a look around at the styles, and maybe you can find something that fits in the next time you get new clothes. And, maybe frustrating, perhaps nobody will notice.

Oh, here's that fashion prediction from 1939.

#609 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:03 AM:

Dave @ 607: I have a friend who is a professional historical costumier. I'll mention that to her; she may enjoy doing late 1930s clothing. (Usually she's 1900s-1910s, but she will happily do any period.)

If I get there, I won't be in costume, on account of Man Stuff being too hot and Woman Stuff being absolutely wrong for my shape unless I seriously corset it (hot again). A pity. I like costume. But 30s/40s Woman Stuff was all terribly wasp-waisted, and I've got an androgynous figure which would do 20s Woman Stuff brilliantly but not 30s.

HLN: local herpestid has pretty much cancelled today due to rather spectacular (though not truly serious) ill-health during the night. What is weird is that it has left me with bruised ribs, as well as a muzzy head. I know I was feverish, but I have absolutely no clue what I did to bruise my ribs. Thankfully I'm a lot better now and should be doing the normal mongoose boing by tomorrow.

#610 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:15 AM:

I amazed myself a few days ago when a restless night of bad sleep in my daughter's bed (at her repeated insistence ... and with her waking me up repeatedly just as I'd managed to nod off) left me with painful lumpy cramps in one of my mid-back muscles, the one that goes roughly from the spine below the shoulderblade up towards the arm, um, complex. Thingie. I think it's a lateral, but I Am Not An Anatomist, so don't quote me on that. :->

#611 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:37 AM:

Mongoose #609:

Actual bruises (purple stuff) or just the feeling of bruising? Because if the latter, I've had it too. Soreness is persisting after a week at random times. Seemingly my rib cage connective tissue is inflamed. (Doctors seen for root cause, tests performed, results so far negative for anything serious-sounding.)

Nice hot soaking bath seems to help.

#612 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:45 AM:

Mongoose @609

My mother was a bit young in 1939 but I think she would recognise your problem. By the sound of it, her figure was worse, and sufficient corsetry would have cost the country a couple of Spitfires. But the photograph of when she completed her training as a nursery nurse, it suggests that the wasp-waisted shape was rare.

The full flying outfit would be dreadfully hot, but I had a look at pics of Amy Johnson, and she didn't look wasp-waisted.

#613 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:47 AM:

Elliott @ 610: ouch!

joann @ 611: *checks* Just the feeling of bruising, unless the purple stuff hasn't worked its way to the surface yet. Inflammation of connective tissue would make a great deal of sense, as I'm rather prone to that kind of thing (the problem with my wrists is basically a form of chronic inflammation), and, without wishing to stray into TMI territory, I'm pretty sure that last night's episode involved some temporary inflammation of other stuff in the vicinity.

And that suggests that if it doesn't go away I should take ibuprofen rather than paracetamol, because it's an anti-inflammatory as well as a painkiller. I'll also try the nice long hot bath - grazie!

#614 ::: Mongoose is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:50 AM:

...possibly for mentioning pharmaceuticals. And there I was, being so careful to convey my gratitude in Italian and all that.

I'm still feeling a bit too drained to decide on a suitable recipe, but I have a fair amount of Emmental cheese. Do you like Swiss cheese, O gnomes?

#615 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 12:16 PM:

A week ago I had pain in the same place, diagnosed and successfully treated by my massage therapist as a dislocated rib. If that hadn't worked, I planned on heading for a chiropractor.

Best guess: an hour or so of bad posture, leaning on an angle in front of my monitor when too tired, exacerbated by sleeping funny*. Memorable muscle spasms woke me up.

Gentle back twists and stretches have calmed the guarding muscles and prevented recurrence.

Sincere sympathy extended -

*not related to the Python's Silly Walks

#616 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 01:34 PM:

Okay, so it's been raining pretty steadily for the last day or two. Deployed my handy-dandy matte board bag (60" x 40", complements of my guy at Guiry's) to ride to and from work on Wednesday.

Didn't go to work yesterday because I wasn't feeling well. Enjoyed listening to the rain while I was snoozing.

Last night, though, it rained & rained & rained. And then it rained. And then RAINED. And then it RAINED And then it RAINED & RAINED & RAINED & RAINED & RAINED & RAINED. Was still raining when I got up (actually somewhat on time, for a change).

It takes me twenty minutes longer than usual to kit up to leave the house. Peddling to work, it seems that the mountains have decided to migrate east, based on the color of the mud in the parking lots. I'm used to seeing trash strewn about by the wind. No so much used to seeing it washed around. Turns out I'm just south of one of the major water corridors through Boulder. Outwash from the creeks, I'm used to. Startling to see the shopping center's landscaping gravel spread across the parking lot, though.

As I'm peddling past the gas station, I look over, and see a firetruck fueling up. You know you're in a different order of situation when you see that the truck is towing a trailer carrying a Zodiac.

Banks of red mud (which says it's from the mountains) in the street gutters.

Finally get downtown, lock my bike, head inside—to discover the sign on the door saying that our offices are closed due to imclement weather. (Or, as a local drugstore had it on their sign some years ago, "inclimate weather.") I go in, just to be absolutely sure (having peddled all the way downtown, after all). Run into one of my coworkers, who is the only other person who didn't get the Memo.

We stand around and chat, and he tells stories about being in the Rocky Mountain Rescue patrol during the Big Thomson flood, back in '76. Good news is that we're getting help from other counties, and National Guard support has been called in.

Head home, my usual route. Decide to backtrack and take an alternate route when I discover that the southmost lane of Iris (which would the one I would be using) is currently a milky red class three rapids.

Make my grocery stop, get home.

My downstairs neighbor is on the stoop, saying she is flooded out. She needs sandbags. So I say I'll call the management company, see what they can do to help.

Come in, put groceries away, pick up phone to call, find voicemail. It's my doctor's office, cancelling my appointment this afternoon because they've closed their office. (I laugh, because that was the other call I was going to make.)

Management company says they're busy, as one might guess, and they're not sure what roads are open, so it'll be a while, but they'll send somebody out.

Settle down, let Gertrude out to play, make myself some nice hot cocoa and toast (yum!), start watching The Road.

Hour later, phone rings; it's the management company. It'll be a bit, but we're on the schedule.

Go down to tell my neighbor help is coming.

And she completely blows me off. Won't deal with the managment company. Won't even answer the door to them. And this only after I insist that she put her phone call on hold for a minute so I can give her my update. She's angry at me. Meanwhile she's whining that she needs sandbags, because the rain's gonna start up again later today.

I mean, WTF!?

So I say okay, I go back upstairs, call the management company back, tell them, "Don't worry about us, she's being an asshole about this. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, might stop by, but don't break your back trying to get to us."

I mean, SHEESH. UN freakin' believable.

#617 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 01:41 PM:

From the wonderful linked piece by Henry Farrell:

Morozov certainly has the capacity to write a good and serious book—it would be nice to see him try.

Put that into the past and past subjunctive and it would be one of the most tragic epitaphs ever.

#618 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 01:43 PM:

Jacque @615: What do you mean, the sandbag fairy won't just make them magically appear when needed?

#619 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 01:55 PM:

Thanks again to all who wished me happies on my birthday. It helped make it a much better day than it would otherwise have been.

#620 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 02:05 PM:

Jeremy: No, it's worse. The right sandbag fairy doesn't just appear. Jeez. Some people's children....

#621 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 02:05 PM:

Jeremy Leader @627, not anymore, because Jacque's neighbor irritated the Sandbag Fairy. (NEVER get on the wrong side of the Fair Folk...)

#622 ::: Mongoose is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 03:59 PM:

Jacque @ 615: words fail me. I hope at the very least you get an apology when she realises how badly she's behaved.

#623 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 04:01 PM:

Ack, sorry, not gnomed this time (although still gnomed from a few comments back). Neeeeed sleeeeeep (and will get it early tonight, too).

#624 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 04:14 PM:

Jacque, I'm assuming you're in the Boulder area; your weather has made top-of-the-newscast national news. Stay safe, ok? No swimming in the streets...

#625 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 04:51 PM:

Jacque, I'm glad to hear you're OK and not bobbing around in the fire department's zodiac with the piggles.

As for your neighbor, well, bless her heart.

#626 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 05:26 PM:

Also, Dave @ 612: sorry I didn't reply before! Uniform's a possibility, I suppose - probably a male one, since my hair's much more 1930s man than 1930s woman. (It's not really either, but under a hat it passes for a man's cut of the time, whereas under nothing on earth would it pass for a woman's.)

My figure's not bad in any way. It's just non-standard. I am not overweight, and thankfully no longer underweight either. I'm just the sort of shape that needs to be looked at twice for people to decide what sort of chromosomes I was issued, that's all.

#627 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 05:56 PM:

for your high-concept silly pun fix.

#628 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 06:06 PM:

Erik @ 626: silly puns with added cuteness! What could be finer?

#629 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 07:16 PM:

I know there a few Portland-area folks here.

Just a reminder that the Mini Maker Faire runs this weekend,10 am - 5 pm Saturday and Sunday.

It will be set up in the north OMSI parking lot.

I'll be stuck in the Oregon Rocketry booth, way in the back corner.

#630 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 07:56 PM:

Stefan @628 - alas, we are going to Mt Angel for Oktoberfest on Saturday and then to a company picnic on Sunday. Maybe next year we can make it there.

#631 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 08:00 PM:

Mongoose @625 -- (without the other problems) your haircut would pass as female under at least one thing on earth -- a wig!

#632 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 10:54 PM:

Anyone for a round of What's That Spider?

Caution: this is a close-up, crisp photo of a spider showing decent anatomical detail. DO NOT CLICK if that would be upsetting to you.

There's a beaut camped on an eNOOOORmous classically-spiderwebby web (orb weaver style?) in my breezeway. His body is about half an inch long, legs of course increase it visually.

I only got good photos of its belly, because it was hanging with its body to my house (so it was hard to get my camera back there, and harder to get it to focus clearly -- I wish I'd thought to play around with my manual focus mode). All the spider keys I could find on the web show only photos of the back, and diagrams of the eye layout.

I live in Chicago, Illinois, in the city proper, if that helps narrow the decision space. If you're playing the game for real, there are more photos on flickr than the two I linked; keep clicking the right arrow and it should cycle through.

#633 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 10:59 PM:

Sure looks like an orb-weaver to me. This time of year they're about at maximum size (and they get pretty large under good conditions).

#634 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:10 PM:

ASlso: The IgNobel Prize winners for this year have been announced! Some of them are real doozies.

#635 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:11 PM:

For a link and excess enthusiasm, methinks.

#636 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:14 PM:

I recited this to my wife, Paula Helm Murray, after seeing it in my twitter feed. She said I should post it here. May have shown up before; if so, my apologies.

From direforest ‏@direlog

I have deep-fried
the plums
that were in
the icebox

thank you
for visiting the
Ohio state fair

For bonus fun, this is what showed up the first time I hit "paste":

Koala chlamydia

Further deponent saith not.

#637 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 11:52 PM:

Jacque @615 - Huh. While I'm often the first and loudest to complain about our management company, for Reasons and Good Ones, I'm astounded at your neighbor's attitude. I mean, whatever our grudges, don't we want to incentivize their doing right?

I was just on the phone with B. D. tonight. Seems the weight of water on the roof of our parking structure BROKE SEVERAL RAFTERS. No beams have actually come down yet, but when our next door neighbors alerted us (#308, the end unit with the view of that garage), I went right the hell down to move my car as well as that of the downstairs neighbor, for whom I'm performing house-sitting duties.

Note to all: Always leave your house-sitter an extra car key, if you leave your car, because emergencies happen.

Anyway, B.D. assures me that crews will be out tomorrow and they'll get right on it, as weather allows. I've had my differences with him, but I've got to give him credit for this: his first question was, "Was anybody hurt?" No, no one was hurt; no beams have fallen yet. And now if/when they do, they will not land on and damage cars.

Meanwhile, the neighbors at #308 ran around alerting everyone else they could think of. I saw E. from 108 moving her car too.

John went to work downtown this morning, took the car and all, but he called me around noon to tell me he was coming back home. "There's only two of us in the office anyway," he said, "and besides--"

Then he paused because the outdoor emergency warning system suddenly began to shriek sirens on his end of the line.

"And besides, that."

He got home safe.

Everyone I know of got home safe from roller derby practice last night, and scrimmage tonight was cancelled. From Facebook, I see most of the skaters' reaction to a canceled scrimmage was to start drinking early. Here's the fun part: Despite the rain, some 10 adults and 4 kids came out to last night's new recruit Q&A event. I just sent them the welcome email - I hope they all got home safe to get it. I am in awe of their dedication - and they aren't even part of the league yet. Woah.

#638 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 12:31 AM:

...and NOW the parking structure roof has caved in.

Thank goodness for alert neighbors. The couple in 308 have saved us from a potential nightmare, no doubt.

#639 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 12:37 AM:

I'm having a Moment of Insufficient Comprehension here. Well, here, specifically.

The second half ("Anger is never a primary emotion") bothers me in a few ways.

1) I don't think it's just my possession of a Y chromosone, but I have felt instant blinding anger. Stand upright, slam my head into the open cabinet door, punch it. THEN have my first actual thought. That's pretty primary.

2) It seems like the author is trying to replace anger: "So I want to submit that what we ACTUALLY feel is fear, disappointment, isolation, sadness, resentment, and self-doubt. "

I feel like anger is good, anger is strong, and anger can get things done. None of the things that "we ACTUALLY feel [sic]" is useful, strong, or active.

3) Plus my kneejerk reaction to being told what I actually feel is ... well, anger. Even if the piece isn't aimed at me.

What am I missing? Is this really an exhortation to sit down, calm down, be well-behaved and ladylike?

#640 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 01:24 AM:

I hope everyone in the Boulder area is and stays OK.

#641 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 03:41 AM:

Sandy, #639: On the one hand, it is often (but NOT always!) true that anger is a secondary emotion. An example frequently used is that of the parent whose child is out much later than expected, with no word as to why. The parent is terrified with worry for their child's safety... and in many cases, when the child shows up safe and sound, that fear and worry immediately morph into anger.

On the other hand, anger about injustice can most certainly be a primary emotion! Furthermore, anger can be extremely constructive if properly directed. And I am absolutely with you about the whole "what you REALLY feel is X" thing -- that's patronizing and dismissive.

I don't think it's an exhortation to be calm and ladylike, though; the impression I got is that the writer has over-generalized from a useful insight ("anger can be a response to another feeling, and sometimes it's really helpful to figure out what that other feeling is") to a One True Way argument.

#642 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 04:28 AM:

Sandy @ 639: I agree with you. I don't easily get angry, but when I do, it can be extremely constructive. Anger, as you say, gets things done. The key for me is letting it go as soon as it's got the things done, because it has a very short shelf life and goes horribly rancid if you let it sit around for too long.

On the other hand, I once managed to be blazingly angry about something for three days, get All The Things done as a result... and then go straight into a reactive depression. (I won't go into details, but I had been quite spectacularly badly treated by someone who should have known better.) I don't recommend that one either.

#643 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 05:58 AM:

There is a lot of 1920s and 1930s costume shown in drama on British television. Early 1920s in Peaky Blinders, a scattering in Downton Abbey, Poirot and stretching into WW2 with Foyle's War.

I'm not sure that any of them can pin down a specific year, but how many people wore a new suit every year?

But anyone thinking of hall costumes for Loncon 3 can settle down to some good TV, and say they are doing research, looking for the general feel of things. There are so many bits and pieces of design which have lingered, such as an Oxford collar shirt, and so many details to avoid, like those tight-legged pants.

And a TV show, a British one at least, doesn't require every character to be proportioned like a fashion model.

Oh, add to the list of inspiration those TV adaptations of Lord Peter Wimsey's exploits, and a lot of other inter-war crime fiction. Though a lot of them seem to end up more 1920s than 1930s, even if the timing is a bit adrift of the books.

And Doctor Who is always in-period.

#644 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 06:27 AM:

Jacque @615

I'm left wondering how much in life that looks like good or bad luck is actually whether other people wanted to help or not.

#645 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 08:21 AM:

Sandy B @ 639: I think she's trying to have a "go deeper" moment in a very shallow pool. I blame the pool, not her.

This week, the Onion has done 9/11 right. Only one of these three pieces is funny, and vicious. The rest?


And on a totally unrelated subject, here's a little shot of hope. Too little, too late? Maybe not. I think I might make a sign.

#646 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 08:34 AM:

Sandy B. #639, Mongoose #642:

That "anger is never a primary emotion" is quoting a single source, and yeah, it's just wrong. Anger is part of the flight-or-fight complex for crissakes, of course it's a primary emotion! What is true is that, being so primary, anger can be a conversion target for any of several other emotions -- most obviously fear, but also shame, guilt, and various other pains.

Being hurt, in the most general sense, is obviously a primary stimulus for anger. But that "hurt" can be in a wide variety of forms. (Including empathic hurt, which is where "justice" comes in.) Frustration counts too....

#647 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 08:46 AM:

I agree. Anger is definitely a primary emotion. It is not necessarily secondary to fear or terror or anything else, though like any other emotion it can be.

#648 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 11:18 AM:

A companion piece to Henry Farrell's wonderful article, on economists and corruption.

#649 ::: John A Arkansawyer is sleeping with the gnomefishes ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 11:21 AM:

If you follow the link it contains, you'll find something terribly unpalatable. Hm. Let me offer you a nice slice of ham instead.

#650 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 01:52 PM:

Mongoose @623: Neeeeed sleeeeeep

You should come to Boulder. I took the day off Wednesday because I was exhausted and couldn't wake up. Once I'd had my toast and cocoa yesterday, I went to bed. Finally got up about an hour ago. I'm theorizing that some Nefarious Government Agency is testing the idea of seeding rainclouds with some sort of narcoleptic drug....

Cassy B. @624: Stay safe, ok? No swimming in the streets...

Jim would have been proud of me: On my way in yesterday, I passed Lake 24-Hour Fitness. I wasn't even tempted to shortcut through it. Not least because I know for a fact that there's a substantial Pooh-trap for Hephalumps in there somewhere. (The warning posts and caution tape had evidently been washed away.) (Some joker, a few weeks ago, decided he wanted to splash that puddle. Destroyed the front end of his BMW. His case for a lawsuit was rather undercut, though, when it was determined that he was driving without a licence, due to a previous DUI.)

Some of the mud patches I encountered at the corners did require...careful navigation....

fidelio @625: As for your neighbor, well, bless her heart.

::GRIN:: You've quoted, nearly verbatim, a nun of my acquaintance.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @638: ...and NOW the parking structure roof has caved in.

For those playing along at home, we've been having Roof Issues for some years now. I'm sure this is going to do Fascinating Things to our collective budget. And we were only just starting to dig out from under the last mess.


(And who in the name of Creation builds flat roofs in climate with snow in the first place???)

#651 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 01:59 PM:

OMG! There's a big, bright, glaring thing in the sky!! Run for your lives!!eleventy!!

#652 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Jacque @649

(And who in the name of Creation builds flat roofs in climate with snow in the first place???)

Architects? (Somebody I knew in my schooldays, who wanted to be an architect, was not so good at Maths and Physics.)

But a quick Google suggests that buildings in snowy area have a less-steeply pitched roof. If the roof is built for the weight, it's probably safer during the thaw.

#653 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 02:59 PM:

My acquaintance with Areas That Get Lots Of Snow suggests that the roofs are usually steeply pitched so that snow is less likely to stay on them at all. (See, for example, Norway. In the US, they're usually called A-frame buildings.)

#654 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 03:03 PM:

For the weather geeks in the crowd: Boulder rain gory details.

#655 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 03:25 PM:

Oh! Maybe someone here would be interested:

Nickelodeon is starting the new season of "The Legend of Korra" (sequel to "Avatar: The Last Airbender") tonight. 7:00 Pacific time . . . can't reliably tell you about other time zones.

(Tonight only is two episodes / one hour.)

#656 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 04:27 PM:

Jacque @651: The evil Daystar, it hurtsss ussss!

#657 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 04:32 PM:

Stefan Jones @655: And for those without cable, you can also quite legally watch the episodes later on Nickelodeon's website, at some delay I am not yet certain about. They are not available indefinitely (I think last year it was most-recently-aired 5 or something), so must be watched along with the season somewhat, but are definitely not available first thing in the morning after airing.

This summer they aired a miniseries called Republic City Hustle that are young Mako/Bolin backstory, in a very different and (to me) appealing animation style.

#658 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 04:42 PM:

Jacque @ 650: I have a flat roof. We get snow here (quite a lot, sometimes, though we admittedly don't get it every winter). Amazingly, my roof has never leaked, but next door's certainly has.

Can't stand the blamed thing.

#659 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 04:50 PM:

#657: I like capturing broadcasts. One so I can watch on my nice big TV, Two so I can have them around.

Comcast, at least, also put Korra episodes up for free on their On Demand service. Nickelodeon's rebroadcast schedule is unreliable; those VOD episodes were all that let me get a complete season one.

I did not know about that miniseries! I'll have to check it out. Where does it fall, timeline wise? (I actually haven't watched Korra, season one! Just waiting for the right time . . .)

#660 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 05:43 PM:

Jacque @650: For those playing along at home, we've been having Roof Issues for some years now.

Now, to be fair, the Roof Issues we were focused on were those over our actual living spaces. (If I were a comic artist, I'd draw a one-panel illustration of me at my desk holding up my electic tea kettle to fill from the drips from the leak just behind me and to my right.) Our carports seemed to be the strong links in the chain, up until now.

But both homes and cars had these damnable flat roofs that were supposed to drain through a limited supply of drain spouts, and apparently didn't. And are supposed to rely on a certain minimum load-bearing capacity that the whole campus seems to lack. ARGH.

How'd your basement neighbor do in the end? I don't think our neighbors in 108/107 got water, but I haven't spoken with them today.

Apropos of nothing much, is anyone else having to type in all their name/email/URL again despite having checked the "Don't make me type this again" box? I am pretty sure I have all the relevant javascript allowed.

#661 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Stefan Jones @655: Thanks for the heads-up. I knew it was starting at some point, but not that it was today.

#662 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 07:00 PM:

Nicole, #660: That happens to me at random intervals, sometimes between one comment and the next, but generally once I've re-entered the information it stays entered for a while. I've been figuring it for the result of some type of reset on the server end.

#663 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 07:08 PM:

Stefan Jones @659: Mako and Bolin are youngish teenagers, so definitely closer to Korra than TLA. It's their 'street rats with a heart of gold' phase, and how they got where Korra met them.

#664 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 07:12 PM:

Having just watched the "Republic City" miniseries, I'd say it doesn't have any major spoilers for "Korra" season 1.

#665 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 08:27 PM:

Dr. Paisley @#636: I thought the state fair treat would be deep-fried plums on a stick?

Mongoose @ #658: I am in Ottawa. I once worked in a building with a steeply sloped glass front, might have been close to 45 degrees. Snow and ice accumulated on it just fine; then tons, literally, would hurtle down. The first winter, a canopy had to be built to protect the entrance from the slides. A lot depends on snow character, temperature cycling, and insulation. We get lots of thaws most winters, resulting in alarming icicles. I have seen ten foot icy swords of Damocles here. Sometimes, downtown sidewalks have to be closed due to what is overhanging them.
If you reliably have cold, snow, and no or few thaws, then you can do things differently. A flat, snow covered roof is well insulated, more so than an ice covered roof.

#666 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 10:14 PM:

Well, finally managed to wake up after sleeping all day AGAIN. Geez. Lovely to be able to do, but I've got, like, art to finish, you know?

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @660: both homes and cars had these damnable flat roofs that were supposed to drain through a limited supply of drain spouts, and apparently didn't.

I speculate that in some (many?) cases, the drains were just completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of rain. I'm used to hearing rain on the north side of my building sounding like somebody's spraying it with a firehose. I'm not used to hearing that going on continuously for an hour or more. I also speculate that enough cruft was knocked out of the trees that the litter clogged the drains. And, of course, our lovely mansard roofs providing a nice 18" rim for the "swimming pool" effect. ("Mechanical engineering? Yeah, I've heard of that.")

As of the 3pm HOA email, three carports have caved in.

Our maitenance folks did finally get to us; there was much hammering and clanking and rapid-fire Spanish going on outside through the afternoon. I did overhear my downstairs neighbor in conversation with one of the guys; wasn't able to  evesdrop  pick up any detail on the conversation.

It's telling that she's not the only downstairs unit with rolls of carpet parked outside the entry-ways. This whole corner of the complex is suboptimally designed for drainage; the "ground-level" sides of the units are all in little swales just perfectly designed to catch runnof. In many ways, our building is the least bad of the bunch because the lawns on the downhill sides are at least level with the street beyond, rather than being actually enclosed by embankments. She actually is relatively lucky, in having hard-wood floors. When I was down there yesterday, it looked like she actually had the water pretty well taken care of.

Just peeked out the window as some of our clean-up elves were walking past—carrying armloads of big honkin' carpet fans. Few minutes later, guy came out of the kitty-corner building with a LARGE carpet cleaning machine. Opened the drain valve and a gush of brown water came out. I said, "Ew!" and he grinned back at me. They were apologetic that they couldn't get to us sooner because, you know, roads.

i think we're generally lucky because Boulder is generally on a grade, and at least large volumes of water go romping through and then are gone, unlike those midwestern states where it just moves in and stays awhile.

I'm under the flight path for the Boulder Municiple Airport, and there's been LOTS of heavy-duty air traffic in and out.

Judging by what I saw yesterday, the street sweepers are going to have their work cut out for them.

Rumor has it we have another wave coming in the next day or two, although the weather models have been less than reliable with this whole thing.

is anyone else having to type in all their name/email/URL again despite having checked the "Don't make me type this again" box?

Yeah, I've had that happen a couple of times in the last week.

#667 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 10:32 PM:

re 652: The potential issue with steeply sloped roofs in snow country is that the snow won't stay on them, hence the the array of snow eagles on the collegiate Gothic slate roof of my high school. The bigger advantage of a pitched roof in that wise is that there's a better excuse for having adequate trusswork in the first place.

re 666: In one of the torrential downpours of the last two years one of the internal downspouts at the office was overwhelmed and started spewing water out of a vent pipe tucked underneath the stairwell outside the office kitchen.

#668 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 10:53 PM:

Jacque, I've seen commercial buildings with (reinforced) concrete-block walls and sort-of-flat roofs behind parapets remove entire blocks for drainage as part of the construction. It doesn't mean the drains won't be overwhelmed - but it does provide more exits for the water to get off the roof. (They do this on the back walls, where it doesn't show from the street.)

#669 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2013, 11:31 PM:

Some years ago, I went to work one (relativey) warm and rainy winter morning right after a very hard freeze, to find firetrucks in my company parking lot. Seems that the drains from the flat roof had frozen solid, and the warmish rain had melted the approximately two feet of snow that had accumulated on the flat, parapetted roof.... and all those tons of water having nowhere else to go insinuated itself through the roof and collapsed all the drop-ceilings onto the soaked carpeting, desks, computers....

The firetrucks were there to pump the remaining water off the roof. (The owner had happened to have come in early that morning and had thought fast. "Who has pumps that can handle high volumes of water? Ah..." Probably kept the damage from being even worse that it was.) Melted soggy ceiling tiles are nasty, by the way...

The roof drains were subsequently re-engineered and significantly widened.

So, yes, flat roofs can have some real problems with water disposal.

#670 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 12:37 AM:

"Republic City Hustle" was short and sweet. Yeah, the art and animation style were very nifty. Not anime, not "western." A fusion.

#671 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 12:50 AM:

Oh, for the love of Pete. Turns out now that the PA I had my yearly check-up with coupla weeks ago not only lost my pap, meaning I have to go back in (was supposed to yesterday but, well, flooding) to get it again. She also screwed up on the dosage of one of my scrips. (Don't they put that kind of thing in one's chart?) And now I discover (after finally having extracted it from the clutches of the PO) that she called in the wrong version of my other prescription, as well, which means I get to go through the whole song-and-dance of calling in the prescription, waiting for delivery, and then somehow obtaining possession of it. Again. (Thankfully I have a couple of weeks worth on hand.)

What? Did I, like, offend the medical ghods or something?

And now I'm finding myself feeling really rather less than confident about dealing with this PA in the future. Which is frustrating, because I thought she was generally good to work with. Details matter, ya know...?

#672 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 01:10 AM:

Interesting with that Boulder rain link. A meteorologist friend of mine had different numbers for the average and for the rain-to-date (~15 inches for annual and 11.87 inches rain over a day and a half) which puts a different spin on the subject. Could be different parts of Boulder, even, since that area is rife with microclimates.

It's weird hearing about places you've been that have turned into temporary rivers, if not washed away entirely. In this case, I'm talking about Denver itself.

#673 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 01:29 AM:

Oh yeah, do we have microclimates! (Boulder Bubble, anyone?) Completely different between where I am now in N Boulder, versus where I grew up in S Boulder, 5 miles away. Actually, I'm given to understand that's why they sited the National Center for Atmospheric Research here.

#674 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 02:43 AM:

We just had an apartment building (fortunately empty) in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, collapse after getting two inches of rain in twenty minutes. The building had stood since 1880.

#675 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 03:00 AM:

One forgets how heavy water is.

#676 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 04:36 AM:

They have microclimates where I come from, too. I was born in the beautiful, scenic English Lake District, where it's quite easy to find the lines where two microclimates are bolted together. There's one on the top of Bannerigg, the infamous hill between Staveley and Windermere (and if you wonder why I should call it "infamous", try cycling over it). It's extremely common to go from sunshine in Staveley to torrential rain in Windermere; again, they're only about five miles apart.

#677 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 08:22 AM:

Cassy B @669: We were at the Illinois Railway Museum for their big bash Labor Day Weekend, and one of the members of our party remarked surprisedly at two local (modern) firetrucks parked near the tracks in the employees-only marshalling-yard area. OLD firetrucks would just have been part of the theming/collection.

Another member of the party mentioned he had earlier seen them using the firetrucks to fill the boiler tanks on the working steam engines they were using to haul people around recreationally that day. Presumably they have their own ignition-suppression procedures for accidents, because when they shut down the steamies for the night (1 hr before museum close), the firetrucks left.

Jacque @673: The local radio station up in my mom's neck of the woods (NW California -- no, norther and wester than you're thinking, all the way up in the corner) gives weather reports for eight specific places in the region, and the numbers are often really distinctive. Garberville is in a perched valley, surrounded on all sides by mountains but itself at a much higher elevation than any other town in the area, and it's consistently 10-20 degF warmer than the other towns, too.

Chicago doesn't vary quite that much, but it does vary -- the city proper is generally warmer than the farther suburbs year-round, and even a few miles from the lake is a harsher (hotter in the summer, cooler in the winter) climate than next to the shore and the first couple miles inland.

#678 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 12:41 PM:

I found out yesterday that the flooding is all up and down Colorado's Front Range (what, not Wyoming's? maybe they just haven't noticed yet?). My sister lives in the hills outside Fort Collins, where at least things aren't presently on fire. On the other hand, thanks to all the fires they've had already, there's not much holding the hills together, and mudslides are possible. One of her daughters moved back in temporarily so she will be able to get out if need be (can't drive yet, since her recent stroke).

Elliott Mason @632: Sometimes you can force a particular focus by half-clicking (if your camera does that) while pointed at a wall or other surface at the distance you want, then turning to your intended subject and clicking. Sometimes. Also, sometimes, after a while one gets frustrated and uses the manual focus after all, which requires finding it all over again.

#679 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 12:42 PM:

There are microclimates in the San Fernando Valley - there's an east-west line in the extreme west valley, around Sherman Way, where the Santa Anas usually dissipate, and a north south line around the 405, which is also the area where the Santa Anas dissipate. (If they're blowing east of that, over into Burbank, that's another thing.)

#680 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 01:27 PM:

Jim Macdonald #674: Well, the article says The building in Bethlehem has been abandoned and exposed to the elements for the past few years. That's no way to keep a 133-year old building standing....

#681 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 02:27 PM:

PJ, 653: I don't think A-frame buildings means buildings with steep pitched roofs. At least not in California. An A-frame building is on that looks like nothing but a steep pitched roof, with no vertical walls below. They were populsr for a while back in the late sixties-early seventies, and are inextricably linked with rya rugs and Marimekko fabrics in my mind.

Here's a picture.

#682 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer gnomed gnomed gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 02:28 PM:

Only one URL, and a whole paragraph of normal text. The gnomes are pretty enthusiastic these days, aren't they?

[That URL included "" which made the gnomes think "Possible commercial link." -- Boristo O'Mires, Duty Gnome]

#683 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 02:56 PM:

I was trying to avoid the finer details. (Some of them, the roof doesn't go all the way down, but the beams do, and they have vertical window-walls behind all those beams. It's not bad looking.)

#684 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Oh boy, I have never been so grateful that I live on the second floor. All four buildings in my corner of our complex had flooding in the ground-floor units. Not an inundation, mind you. Just enough to ruin everyting within a foot of the floors.

Our management really responded well, though. There was a team of about twenty guys out helping pull carpet and such. (Not sure how the cost for this is going to wind up being allocated, since it's strickly speaking not the perview of the HOA.) And, of course, homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding. Apparently there will be some FEMA funds coming, however.

The scary part is that the flooding we got wasn't, as far as I can tell, flood water. It was just the rain, which completely overwhelmed the (already less than optimal) drainage.

Meanwhile, the sky is turning gray, and has been spitting for a while. Lots of nervous looks skyward.

#685 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 04:40 PM:

Oh, and did I meantion, half the US air cav fying overhead? THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP This is one of those days to be really glad I don't live in the mountains, either.

#686 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 04:44 PM:

Ack. Open-thready rant approaching at Warp 9.

I am directing a production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. For those not familiar with it, it is a tragedy, and the ball is set rolling downhill by a chap called Normanno who thinks he's being helpful. There's another chap called Raimondo (probably a priest, and that's how we're interpreting him) who spends the entire opera trying to calm everyone down and bring the best possible outcome out of situations as they start going pear-shaped; he mostly fails, although he does manage to stop two of the protagonists from murdering each other (probably along with a few bystanders).

Close to the end of the opera, Raimondo's saintly patience finally snaps, and he rounds on Normanno and says, "You! This is all your fault!" and gives him a well-deserved dressing-down. It doesn't help Normanno's case that he's caused Raimondo himself to act on the basis of false information, thus inadvertently adding to the disaster.

The scene where Raimondo turns on Normanno is only short, but for me it's important. Normanno is keen and loyal, but he is not the sharpest pencil in the box, he's given absolutely lousy advice to his boss, and it hasn't yet occurred to him that this advice (and the concomitant deception) is the cause of the whole tragedy. He needs to have it pointed out to him, and the audience needs to see how he reacts when that happens. His reaction tells them everything about who he is.

And, for me, that reaction is utter shock and horror. He was trying to help! He was trying to give good advice! And, instead, at the point in the proceedings where he gets called out, we've already got one blood-soaked corpse, one insane bride, and one badly shaken protagonist staring at the wreckage of his family fortunes. (We still have more corpses to come, because this is Opera, but hey, this is quite bad enough so far.) As soon as I started thinking about Normanno, I thought, "he must commit suicide when he understands what he's done." Not that this is Raimondo's intention - he just wants to shock him into taking responsibility for his actions. Raimondo is going to be as horrified as anyone when the body is found.

So, I have been very carefully jigging all the stage directions to bring us inevitably to the point where Normanno rushes offstage in the middle of Act III and shoots himself. I've had to think about how to show the audience that Raimondo knows X piece of information which directly incriminates Normanno (which had to be set up much earlier in the staging), and all kinds of other stuff like that. I've thought about those two minor characters far more than the principals, if truth be told.

And now - now! - I recheck the conductor's list of cuts, and I discover that he's cut that scene with Raimondo and Normanno.


#687 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 05:17 PM:

My commiserations to those in Boulder. I can imagine apartments flooding from just too much rain. Once I had seen enough houses over the years, and gotten my own place, I've realised that lots of house builders just don't pay much attention to the site and how they build the house. As long as it's set square and doesn't fall down that'll do. Never mind if there's earth banks at one side of the garden the fall into it or poor draininage or so on. End result, flooded homes, yet it should be avoidable.

#688 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 05:59 PM:

guthrie: Yeah, you can believe that, if I ever buy a house, the engineering is going to be researched to the Nth degree.

mongoose: Sounds like you need to go all Raimondo on the conductor's ass! (g,d&r)

#689 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 06:32 PM:

Jacque @ 688: oh no, it's my fault; we all agreed in advance that the conductor would be responsible for the cuts and I'd work to that. I'm just frustrated, that's all. I suppose I was so sure it wouldn't occur to him to cut out that scene that I didn't think to check before doing all the work on it. Goodness knows what I'm going to do with the blighters now, but that Normanno is going to shoot himself one way or another, even if I have to go on the stage myself and hold up a big sign. *grin*

Also, if you ever buy a house, do not buy one like mine. The flat roof and its concomitant disadvantages I've discussed before, but the general construction is also rather alarming. Let's just say it was easier to put the cat flap through the wall than it was through the back door. There isn't a brick in the place. (Well, not quite. Lodger and I did find half a brick on the floor of the boiler cupboard. But the walls are constructed out of plasterboard and cladding on top of a steel frame.)

On the other hand, I am on the side of a hill. And this is a good place to be. I can heartily recommend it!

#690 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 06:34 PM:

but with coffee Haagen Dazs!

#691 ::: Jacque, nevermind, gnomes! ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 06:36 PM:

Got it sorted before I even noticed!

#692 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 06:57 PM:

Portland's Mini Maker Faire is great fun. I admired the yarn car, marveled at lacy creations from 3D printers, dodged robots, ran into friends, and met Stefan Jones for the first time.
A very mini Gathering of Light?

#693 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 08:13 PM:

Last Open Thread I mentioned Emma Bull's Bone Dance and Finder, and bemoaned the absence of e-book version of the latter. People here might be interested to know that Finder actually is available as an ebook (multiple formats) and is only $2.99.

#694 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 08:20 PM:

For people who do have flood insurance, be aware that the insurance companies tend to define "flood" very narrowly. "No, no, that wasn't a flood, that was wind-driven water!"

#695 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 09:00 PM:

janetl, #692: Would that have been this yarn car? (It was in the Houston Art Car Parade a few years ago.)

Open Thread Question: What would people here think about a $10 "Voting Membership" level for Worldcon? This would not give you all the perks of the Supporting Membership (such as copies of the PRs and the program book), but would allow you to nominate and vote for the Hugos, and (with further payment of the voting fee) also allow voting in the Site Selection. I just keep looking at the numbers on the Hugo balloting and thinking that it's absurd for this supposedly-prestigious popular award to be decided by (possibly) fewer than 500 people.

#696 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 09:21 PM:

Jim Macdonald (694): Or the one that's biting people around here: "The damage to your house wasn't caused by the flooding, it was caused by earth movement!" That is, the floodwaters scoured away the ground, which undermined the foundation and caused the building to crack/collapse. But the flood wasn't the immediate cause of the damage, so flood insurance doesn't cover it.

#697 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 09:26 PM:

Mongoose #689: Despite the prior agreement, you can still go back and say "um, this scene? It's kinda pivotal...". He might or might not be able to restore it, but you can at least ask.

#698 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 09:50 PM:

Hopefully I'll have time to actually see more of the Mini Maker Faire tomorrow; I was stuck in the rocketry booth the whole day! Another volunteer and I helped about 25 people build rockets.

And it was neat meeting Janet. Just the second Lighter I've met (aside from my cousin and old college friends).

#699 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 10:59 PM:

Regarding the name/email address/URL boxes: Sounds like others have reported occasional need to repopulate them? For me, they have been consistently blank for weeks upon weeks now. I have no idea anymore what changed.

Jacque @685: Oh, and did I meantion, half the US air cav fying overhead? THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

Every time I hear it I've been trying to catch a glimpse. Finally saw it in the late afternoon: looked like a giant leaden shoe with two rotors, one fore and one aft.

I have not actually seen any maintenance workers this end of the campus, and the only change to my poor carport is a helpful line of caution tape warning residents away. You can still walk by and look at it, if you haven't yet. I've been assuming -- and your report bears this out -- that higher priority damage has received more immediate attention. I'm glad, and my heart goes out to your neighbors.

(I still haven't had a chance to talk with my garden-level neighbors yet, but I'm hopeful; the line of buildings is sort of high ground, sloping down to the parking lot of the condo campus to the south. The properties are on a level at the main road, but by the time you get all the way east, there's like a three foot difference between them. I hope the water all drained away from these buildings and left my neighbors safe and dry.)

The good news we discovered today: Our storage unit at (one of) the SecurCare facilities did not flood in the slightest. Bone dry. Maybe one or two overhead drips onto the tops of closed boxes, but the boxes were never sitting in water. We were lucky; all the units directly behind the office flooded, as did the office itself. A lot of equipment and property was lost.

Today's RMRG v. BCB roller derby bout was canceled. Not sure whether tomorrow's practice will happen. When I heard about the cancellation, I had this odd feeling--I should have felt "ok, well, that leaves the weekend free," but instead I felt "THEY CANCELLED THE WEEKEND." Friday night I had to keep reminding myself that the next day wasn't going to be Monday.

#700 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 11:12 PM:


Now there's a vision of Hell.

#701 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2013, 11:16 PM:

Lee @695: There has been serious opposition to that idea, in part because the Hugo Voters Packet contains electronic versions of stuff worth much more than that. It's not a simple fix, politically.

#702 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 12:13 AM:

mongoose, 689: we had a brick chimney in our house but we took every brick of it out after the earthquake and used it to build a patio. It was a nonfunctional chimney, as it had been poorly made back in 1890 or whenever and by the time we moved in it was highly dangerous and had been in disuse for at least thirty-forty years.

Other than that, the house is wooden studs, sheetrock on the inside (was plaster a long time ago), and clapboards on the outside. I like it better than masonry, which is much more likely to fall on my head when the next earthquake comes, and more deadly when it does.

#703 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 12:36 AM:

Lee @ 695:
I do believe that it is the same yarn car.

Do you mean a $10 membership that lets you vote for the Hugos, but you don't get the reading packet? Without the reading packet, I'd never be able to do an informed vote on the short story/novelette/novella categories. I'd worry that a fan would be tempted to pay the $10 to vote for their beloved author's short story, and not actually have any knowledge of the other 4. I do read the whole thing before voting. (OK, not always the whole thing. I have, in a few cases, read for awhile, and then moved on to the next.)

#704 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 01:11 AM:

Mongoose @689: that sounds pretty similar to standard US single-family construction, except here the frame is tradionally wood, and here in Southern California, the exterior is usually stucco (tar paper, chicken wire, and a couple coats of a sandy plaster/cement substance).

If you're lucky, the frame is redwood, which termites avoid.

In cold climates, there's a layer of rock-wool or glass wool insulation between the frames; in SoCal, only recent energy-saving construction does that.

Around here, brick is mostly used as a decorative facade on the outside of the wood frame structure. It doesn't always respond well to earthquakes.

When we were house-hunting, my father-in-law's big bugaboo was flat roofs, because he'd owned a business with one. I think he re-roofed twice during the decade or so from when I met him until he sold the place.

#705 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:17 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: Bruce @514: I know those stairs (UW grad, fall 1996). You have my sympathies. Also I am glad you survived the fall, because going down those things unawares and backwards? Eeeeee.

Well, (since I graduated Summer 1983) the film program was under that weird state law that forced the programmers to be extra clever which meant the showings were always packed, which meant Kane 120. Since I was walking back to Haggett I fell upstairs, rather than down. Not as bad as down, but I spent a lot of time being glad my head didn't hit the bricks when I went down.

#706 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II has been Gnomed for falling. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:19 AM:

Tuna-fish sandwich on a Sesame bagel, with American cheese?

#707 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:29 AM:

Tom & janetl: I agree that the reading packet would have to be one of the perks you wouldn't get with this membership. Remember, though, that the reading packet is a relatively new thing -- for decades, people who wanted to vote for the Hugos had to buy or otherwise find access to the nominated stories on their own. People with a no-packet voting membership wouldn't be any worse off than every single one of us was as recently as 10 years ago.

(Side note: This, BTW, is one of the reasons I've rarely voted for the Hugos. Even with the voter packet, I hate reading things just because I'm supposed to! This year I didn't even download it, and last year I cast only 2 votes -- for Digger and for Seanan McGuire's CD.)

While it's certainly admirable for people to put in the effort to read all the nominees, I don't consider it to be a requirement. If somebody wants to vote for their favorite author's story because they like it -- whether they've read any of the others or not -- what's wrong with that? Sure, it's not the ideal of people Doing Their Fannish Duty, but I'll bet you a dinner that there has never been a year without a significant number of votes cast on exactly that basis.

#708 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 02:58 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @699: looked like a giant leaden shoe with two rotors, one fore and one aft.

You mean one of these? I've also seen some of these, though without the distinctive monogram. I gather a number of the mountain communities are completely cut off, and they are using these things to airlift folks out and supplies in.

And boy oh boy, is Longmont a mess. (They're about ten miles northeast of us.) That thing I said about Boulder being on an incline? Longmont, not so much.

I still haven't had a chance to talk with my garden-level neighbors yet, but I'm hopeful

When I was out putting up signs today, I heard "tink tink tink" coming from the patio side of your building, so I went to investigate. (That sound, coming from my area, means they're taking up flooring.) Turned out it was one of your garden-level neighbors, out on her patio, happily plinking away at a block of alabaster with a hammer and chisel. And I didn't see any of the maintenance elves over there, so I gather your building proper got away with minimal flood damage, at least from the bottom up.

Turns out there may actually be some insurance money for the roof damage, though, and I'm assuming that would include the carports. And, yeah, at the moment they're dealing with those mostly by telling people to get their cars out until we're sure which ones are structurally sound. My guess about the leaf-litter blocking the drains seems to have been borne out. The sad irony is that this was on the list of scheduled maintenance to happen in the next month or two. Our board president was actually reasonably cheerful; it seems the finances have been turned around enough that this isn't going to crater us. At least, that was my understanding.

Meanwhile, Boulder does have good drinking water, though we've been requested to use water sparingly ("Don't need to water your lawns just now, folks."*), as we're missing some redundancy in the system ("increased turbidity in the reservoir"), and the waste water system is under a bit of strain, as one might expect. Turns out a major pipeline did not break, as the news reported yesterday, but there do seem to be "unprecedented flows and systemic anomalies."

Props to the PO. Far as I can tell, absolutely no delays in mail delivery. Went out to get my Netflix DVDs, and was greeted at the door by Mr. Furry Nigel, who said, "Maaoooorrr," which I took to mean, "My daddy left the window open for me to come and go, but it's all the way over on the other side of the house, and I'd have to walk through all that wet grass to get to it. So, you know, I'm Lost and Abandoned and Starving. You should let me in and feed me. Really, it's the only proper thing to do." And, of course, my ankles got stropped for good measure.

But Daddy got home shortly thereafter, so with the application of the local servant-monkey-in-standing's knuckles to the appropriate door, Mr. Furry Nigel was again granted access to his domain. And then he got loved on by two humans. Simultaneously. So it all worked out in the end.

* The lawns—leastways, the ones that aren't marshes at the moment, are, um, GREEN.

#709 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 07:58 AM:

Jacque/Nicole (or others): list of people who've made it out safely?

#710 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 04:48 PM:

career advice question. I have a hard-working young friend who wants to work in traditional publishing -- currently freelancing at several epub outfits. I've seen her copyediting work, and she's really good (an eye for detail, pays attention to the author's intentions, asks questions, knows her stuff). What should she be doing towards moving from where she is to where she wants to be?

#711 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 09:20 PM:

Checking in - I have been back home for a few days now, and as predicted am viewing my accumulations of junk and stuff with horror. I hope to turn some of that horror into action before it is deadened into either despair or complacency.


My brother and I attended the Sunday service at the Corvallis Friends Meeting, and we then held a very plain and simple memorial service Wednesday night at Friends Meeting, both in the traditional Friends' form of "waiting worship" where the worshipers simply wait in silence for the spirit to move them to speak. I hadn't attended meeting since childhood, and I found it very soothing. It was very fitting and entirely what my mother would have wanted, and there were some very moving tributes to her. (It also felt entirely in keeping with the spirit of my Zen practice.)

Together with my brother, I wrote a memorial program for her memorial service. Putting into words what stood out about her and what I appreciated about her definitely helped.

#712 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 11:01 PM:

Carol: I'll have a better sense of the state of the county tomorrow from work.

#713 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2013, 11:26 PM:

Thanks, Jacque. I periodically check for databases and come up zilch. There are a couple people I think are safe but would like confirmation about, but I don't want to add any more load to the system.

#714 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 12:23 AM:

Mongoose@609, hope you're feeling better. It sounds you had like the flu I got a couple of days ago.

The rest of you, get your flu shots early this year. Some of you can even get the nasal version which is trying to protect against four strains instead of the usual three, but it's usually limited to people aged 50 and under.

#715 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 01:30 PM:

More on the floods: This video was taken from two blocks around where I grew up; just about exactly the same as '65, only better engineering and less damage.

At the beginning of the video, you can see the rock embankments just to the left and right of the running water. Back In The Day, that was just dirt, and it washed away.

#716 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 02:03 PM:

We had a recent power outage of several minutes. The current resumed at exactly noon, so the digital clocks were flashing the correct time when I went to reset them.

#717 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 02:27 PM:

Nicole: Congratulations on the survival of your storage unit!
I lost several things in mine, in the 2010 Nashville flood (even when the water is only 12" or a bit more it can wreck things pretty badly) but everything in a plastic tub came through fine.

I'm glad you were spared the excitement of sorting out a flooded unit, though.

Jacque--Everything you say re-affirms my belief in the immense hubris of builders and developers, who are all too often either blind to, or convinced they need take only the most minimal steps to deal with natural drainage patterns.

#718 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 02:54 PM:

The guy I was most concerned about got power and phone back, and just called from Peaceful Valley.

He's going to be boiling water for some time, as the well that usually draws from about 40' down now has a reach of 18" - the ground is that saturated.

When I was a kid half a century back and neighbors were laying out foundations just down the Middle St. Vrain, my dad pointed out that according to area surveys they were planning on cementing over springs. They said, won't be a problem. Guess what?

#719 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 03:10 PM:

fidelio: Or just don't understand what they're dealing with. At least until the first time. I'm impressed that that creekbed seems to have held up without discernible damage. There are a lot of flood-mitigation features around town, mostly rolled together into bikeways+creekbeds.

The underlying substrate under our buildings is all bentonite clay, which is notorious for its, um, properties.

I speculate that back when these buildings were built, the walk-out porches actually had maybe a foot or more of elevation over the surrounding grounds. That much would have fended off this storm quite handily. But since construction, the ground holding the buildings has subsided/compacted/eroded/what have you to the point we're at now.

Over the twenty years I've been there, I've observed a foot or more of subsidence around the building just to the west of us. And that's just half of the life of the complex, so the change is probably more.

~Overhearing chatter in the lunchroom; it appears one of my coworkers actually got fished out of the drink by a helicopter up in Longmont. The kids staffing those 'copters are, I hear, very young and very serious. (Well, young from the vantage point of 50+, where everybody under 45 looks like they're twelve.)

#720 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Breaking News:

Active Shooter DC Navy Yard

Looks bad...prayers and candles...

#721 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 09:34 PM:

Aha! I finally had the wit to c&p that weird error message that has caused me to double-post. Here it is: "" (the last dot is in the original."

#722 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 11:08 PM:

HLN: watching the Hugos is hazardous to your knitting (at least I've now done 8-or-so inches worth of knitting, and have about 1/2" of knitting to show for it ... )

#723 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2013, 11:19 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 716: We had a recent power outage of several minutes. The current resumed at exactly noon, so the digital clocks were flashing the correct time when I went to reset them.

Thank you for sharing that. How lovely!

#724 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 12:58 PM:

Overheard coworker conversation:

cwA: "Manager says do it this way."

cwB: "I thought we were supposed to do it that way."

cwA: "No, this way is how Manager wants people to do it."

cwB: "Then a bunch of people are doing it wrong."

cwA: "Well, then send me a list."

cwB: "Okay, I'll go compile it."

cwA, shouting after cwB, who's heading back to desk, "Don't stress out about it. We're not flying Black Hawks, here. It's not like we're piloting Chinooks!"

cwC: "Do we get pilot training for Black Hawks and Chinooks?"

cwA: "Wouldn't that be awesome?"

Or: "Perspective: How It's Done."

#725 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 02:19 PM:

Jacque @715:

Some of the places that the videographer stood to film (like the pedestrian bridge that has water flowing over it) are amazingly unsafe. That water may have the power to undermine the foundations or just tear the bridge off the top.

#726 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 02:43 PM:

jnh: A good point. I would have been more worried if that bridge hadn't been design in response to a nearly identical event fifty years ago.

#727 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 02:47 PM:

...and it should be noted that the person isn't actually standing on the bridge.

#728 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 03:00 PM:

Here's the bridge:

#729 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 03:18 PM:

Ah yes, the Shithooks. Universally derided until you need one, and then you really need one.

Thirdhand story (civilian military stories aren't "no shit, there I was", they're "I heard this from a guy who was swapping 'no shit, there I was' stories in the bar when he heard this").

Fighter jock (CFB Penhold, probably, or Cold Lake) was flapping his mouth off as to the superiority of his bird (as fighter jocks are wont to do). Especially aiming his barbs at the Chinook guys. One of them says back, "Okay, you think you're bird is so shit-hot? I'll race you, any time you want. How about, I don't know, 1000' AGL, according to the tower radar?"

So, the next day, there they are. CF-18 end of the runway, Chinook on the pad. Tower says go, on goes the afterburner for full carrier-style takeoff; straight up goes the chopper.

Guess who was buying the beers that night?
(Also, guess who spent a lot of time working on profiles to work out exactly where "straight up" meets "40° climb angle"?)

I have sympathies for the Chinook drivers (even if I will use the alternate term, especially living as I do in the land of the Chinook). The work they do, compared to the credit they get, is commendable.

#730 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 03:38 PM:

Well, I know one person directly who is Deeply and Profoundly Grateful for Chinooks and Chinook drivers. And not least because of that "straight up."

#731 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 03:48 PM:

Mycroft, #729: This has given me the giggles for fully 10 minutes. Absolutely classic case of two-dimensional thinking! (And now I'm remembering the JAWS scene in Wrath of Khan.)

#732 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 05:28 PM:

The 32 Metronomes thing at io9, which I was led to by Tom Freeland at North Mississippi Commentor, where he blogs about the law, garden produce, food and drink neepery (Teresa would love his recent hot sauce experiements), local culture, and life in and around Oxford, Mississippi.

#733 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2013, 11:32 PM:

...which of course leads inexorably to Bohemian Gravity.

#734 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:04 AM:

Kurt Busiek linked to this story. It's hilarious.

#735 ::: David Goldfarb has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:06 AM:

Linked to the wrong blog, I guess. I made chili yesterday; it has chocolate as a secret ingredient, and the heat level came out just right.

#736 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:32 AM:

David Goldfarb: I was laughing so hard I was hyperventilating by the time I got a few paragraphs in. I couldn't make it to the end for a while because after the bit about 'Teddy Bears' Picnic' I was laughing too hard to breathe at all.

I think "Dogs in Elk" has just been topped.

#737 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 04:32 AM:

David @ 734: oh, that is made of awesome! I'm hugely grateful for the belly laugh, as my current medication is making me feel weird at the moment.

#738 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 05:34 AM:

Open threadiness:

I'm not sure if it indicates that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice or just that I'm getting old, but when I gave my lectures on ethics in clinical trials research this week, my worst examples kept feeling outdated.

The students are maybe 21, 22, so they were in primary school when Vioxx was released. They were 6 or 7 when Werner Bezwoda made up data showing ultra-high-dose chemotherapy+bone marrow transplant worked for breast cancer. They weren't born at the time of the Cartwright enquiry or when William McBride, the hero of thalidomide, was disgraced.

Anil Potti and Scott Reuben are still just about within what they regard as current affairs, but most of the examples in medical ethics are to them as the Tuskegee experiment is to me: evils of history that take an effort of imagination to find relevant.

[I haven't linked because the gnomes would fret, but the Google can find all of these if you're curious]

#739 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 05:37 AM:

David Goldfarb #734, #735

That is indeed made of awesome.

I too made chili with chocolate yesterday (and a little Campari for deglazing). The heat level was a bit low, but everything else worked well and there's always hot sauce.

#740 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 07:20 AM:

HLN: local herpestid is the beneficiary of fortunate coincidence.

"I keep my gate locked almost all the time because I have a neighbour who once tried to kill me," they told HLN. "It was nothing personal, which is actually the scary bit. She has some of the more spectacular mental health issues one can get. I was, however, expecting a parcel, so I unlocked it yesterday and made a mental note to do the same when I got up this morning. However, at the moment I'm on some medication which is seriously messing with my head, so I forgot.

But I had to have lunch earlier than usual due to an appointment. Just as I was going back to the kitchen with the crockery, I saw someone trying to deliver the parcel, so I ran out, apologised and collected it. The parcel contains the materials for my Open University degree course. It would have made life quite difficult if that had been delayed."

Local herpestid plans to spend the afternoon giving thanks.

#741 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 09:55 AM:

First there was Queen.
Then there were the Muppets.
And now...

"Bohemian Gravity"
(with an Einstein sock puppet)

#742 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 11:06 AM:

thomas #738: Clearly you need some new examples. Andrew Wakefield comes to mind. And I bet the tobacco industry still has something handy that's not too rusty.

#743 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 01:01 PM:

David Goldfarb @734: That was hilarious, thanks for linking.

HLN: Area woman receives urgent phone call from partner; finds out that said partner's mother is in hospital (in Ukraine), likely not long for this world. Area woman is understandably bummed out, mainly for the loss of her not-yet-MIL, and begins calling/emailing the wedding party to cancel the festivities. "It's one of those hiccups in life," she said with a fatalistic shrug. "We still have 6 months to use this fantastic license, and nothing was reserved except the parents' hotel room and the brother's airplane flight/limo, all of which are cancel-able." Although disappointed to have to postpone the nuptials, she admitted that she still gets a vacation all next week. "There's so much to do around the house, this will be a very timely vacation."

#744 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 01:18 PM:

Ginger, surely only postponing the festivities to a better time. {{FG|Ginger}}.

#745 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 01:18 PM:

GInger--I'm so sorry to hear this. My best to you and your Fabulous Bride-to-Be especially--it's a hard thing to go through.

#746 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 01:22 PM:

Ginger, sorry to hear about your not-yet-MIL and the necessary postponement of your nuptials. Good thoughts directed at her and your soon-to-be-spouse.

#747 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 01:32 PM:

Sorry to hear about your MiL, Ginger.

#748 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Ginger, my condolences to the Fabulous Girlfriend (should I be writing "Fabulous Fiancée"?) and also to you. Will she, or you both, be able to get to the Ukraine to say goodbye?

#749 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:35 PM:

Cassy B @ 748: The FF (Fabulous Fiancee) is heading out for Ukraine ASAP. I'll stay here, take care of the animals, and get some sleep.

MiL is at least in hospital and being cared for; it's just very likely that this is the end.

#750 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:39 PM:

Ginger, while I'm very, very sorry for the circumstance, I'm glad that the Fabulous Fiancée will be able to jump the visa hoops quickly enough to get out there.

#751 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:42 PM:

Dang, Ginger. Good thoughts to both of you, and strength.

#752 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 02:55 PM:

Hugs to both of you, Ginger.

Take it from me: tell her go now, go fast, have no regrets.

#753 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 03:05 PM:

WRT visas, as long as US citizens are staying less than 90 days, we do not need one. All she needs to do is make it to the airport in time to get her flight, out of JFK.

PJ Evans @ 744: You are correct -- only postponing things!

#754 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 03:09 PM:

Today my kid went to school (it is yellow day, and the garment is Very Yellow) in a cropped sleeveless top I knitted for her in May 2011. It fit loosely down to mid-thigh and was a quasi-dress (the kind you wear with pants or leggings under, unless you're Zapp Brannigan); now it's just barely to the waistband of her pants and noticeably a little snug in the armpits.

Guess it's time to retire it to the too-small boxes; I suppose 2 years is a great run for a handknit for a kid her age. Still, kinda sad -- it was one of the first Really Successful garments I knit for her (both in that it looked professional when done, and in that she voluntarily wore it).

I like the sleeveless-with-loose-torso model for making her stuff with longevity; aim about 3-4" bigger around than she currently is, and knit until it's near the knees, and as she grows into it it'll still 'fit', just as a different cut of garment. Also, if they're cotton they're wearable all summer alone and then in winter over a thin turtleneck or similar.

#755 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 03:09 PM:

Serge Broom @741: Neener neener, I got there first! :-)

#756 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 03:18 PM:

Jacque @ 755...

Nyah nyah!

#757 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 05:07 PM:

Dave Harmon #738. Andrew Wakefield's fraudulent research was published in 1998. That's 15 years ago. Brian Deer revealed the problems in 2004. I suppose he wasn't struck off until 2010, which is recent.

#758 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 05:26 PM:

Ginger @ 743: really sorry to hear that. Glad FF is able to go and see her, though.

Elliott @ 754: when I was six years old, my mother knitted me a Thing. It was a well-made Thing, it fitted me, and I was happy with it. It was also 100% pure wool.

Well, in my experience pure wool does one of two things. Either it shrinks... or it stretches. This particular Thing stretched. And stretched. And stretched. We finally gave up on it when I was twelve, by which point I was competent to unravel it and re-use the wool.

I've now got a green wool jumper with the same attribute. I was woefully underweight when I bought it, so it was too big. I'm now (thankfully) a lot larger, and it's still too big. It also gets a little longer every year.

I like wool.

#759 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 05:28 PM:

Ginger @743:
I'm so sorry to hear the wedding is delayed, and for such a sad reason. But the way you're dealing with it certainly underlines the quality of the marriage.

Elliott Mason @754:
Since we have two kids, we have not just a "too small" box, but also a "too large for the younger one" box. (Less so now that their tastes have diverged.)

The boxes are stored in the younger kid's room. "Too large for the younger one" is blue, and "too small" is red.

#760 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 05:51 PM:

abi @759: We received a succession of hand-me-down kidstuff boxes from a family with three kids whose youngest is about 2yrs older than ours (we announced gestation right when she was going to truck them all out of her storage and off to a thrift store -- score!).

Because I got frustrated with the lack of truth-in-labelling of little-kid and baby stuff, I laid out batches and attempted to divine a ground-truthed sizing quantum system. As she gets too big for them, they get folded and reboxed by 'my' size, which often encompasses a range of on-the-label sizes. And as she grew, I could then open the boxes I'd previously sorted and boxed -- put the 'size 2' stuff in the basement and open all the boxes marked 'size 3'.

Whoever uses them next, whether it's us (knock wood) or someone else, will I hope find the system reasonable and useful.

#761 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 06:31 PM:

Apropos of nothing -

This is a few years old, but I've just found it, and it's awesome, so I wanted to share: Bobby McFerrin makes the audience his instrument.

#762 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 07:17 PM:

Ginger, so sorry for the delay and for the reason behind it. Hugs to you and your FF.

#763 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2013, 09:36 PM:

Open Thready: Anyone ever filk "Mary Sue" to the tune "Peggy Sue"?

#764 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 12:39 PM:

@761: Oh, now that's creepy. I was just thinking about that this morning as I was getting ready for work. (Yes, yes, I know, confirmation bias. But still.)

#765 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 01:01 PM:

Arrr, it's Talk Like a Pirate day, maties!

#766 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 01:30 PM:

"Mary Sue got married not long ago..."

So, why did I immediately think of the sequel? And to whom? And are things going to live Happily Ever After?

#767 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 01:34 PM:

Arrr! A package came in the mail with an unexpected gift: some lovely Pirate Queen earrings and an etched agate pendant with pirate symbols. Just the thing to wear to celebrate Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Avast, ye lubbers, and all that. Arr!

#768 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 01:36 PM:

Jacque @764: If it helps it not feel creepy, how about thinking of yourself as part of the Great Filkish Distributed Processing Project?

#769 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 01:49 PM:

The Pope keeps at it. Charles Pierce thinks he could be as upsetting as John XXIII.

#770 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 02:09 PM:

Elliot Mason @754 & 760: my daughter (now 2.5) has turned into a long/skinny child, with short legs and a long torso. That means that clothing often does not fit her within the assigned age/size bracket. I also have a large selection of currently-too-large clothing (I buy ahead at consignment sales for insanely cheap prices). So, every couple of months I select a currently fitting outfit and go compare the pieces against items in the box of "next size up" things. Some of those then get promoted to current wear.

I only move items out of current wear when they no longer fit well enough to be useful - this usually bears no relationship to the marked size. She definitely has several items she wears as shirts/tunics that began life as dresses, as well as some stretchy capri-length leggings that once were loose-fit full-length pants. And then again there are the pants with large-size waists that she outgrows by length before her waist ever gets large enough to hold them up....

#771 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Catching up:

Happy birthday Xopher. I'm glad for such good things on 9/11.

WOOHOOO to Ginger and FG!

and should I be gnomed for the *bang*, I'm still waiting on a new oven to make sourdough banana bread... but soon....sooooooon.

#772 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 03:11 PM:

@764 Jacque

Well, there's always "great minds think alike"?

#773 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 03:33 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 627

I am Otter.


(so, ok, I'm reaching)

#774 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 03:51 PM:

Yarr! Apparently Krispy Kreme will give ye a free donut if'n ye order it like a pirate today, or a dozen if ye show up dressed like a pirate.

I'm not actually that impressed with their doughnuts, though the glazed ones are good while they're still hot and melty. My standard for them was the Italian-immigrant doughnut shop that was around when I was a little kid. The shop was later replaced with a Dunkin' Donuts, which are at least pretty decent for commercially-uniform fare.

In other news, the flu turned out to actually be pneumonia, which the hefty antibiotics have mostly fixed by now. I can haz fun cough syrup, but I switched back to dextromethorphan for daytimes because the codeine was making me groggy. So yarr, ah'm not actually goin' out pillagin' fer donuts.

#775 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 03:56 PM:

Bill S., #774: That's not enough to outweigh KK's quality issues. Now if Dunkin' Donuts were to get on board with the idea, that might be different...

#776 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 04:21 PM:

For some time now, I've been posting lists of the US dead from Afghanistan (and theoretically Iraq, but there haven't been any new ones there in quite a while). This started as something done at the church where I sing, and when the person who had been doing it had to stop, I took over collecting the information (and my friend Lenore has taken over reading it during the Prayers of the People).

Then I started posting it on Facebook, and later Twitter, in slightly different form.

I do this to remind us that there are real human consequences to US engagement in foreign conflicts, real people with names who will die (and that doesn't even touch on the thousands who are damaged physically, mentally, and emotionally, and whose lives will never be the same). Also, I do this to honor the's a Wiccan thing. Whatever we may think of the war, these people are dying for us: either for a just cause, and we owe them a debt of gratitude; or for an unjust one, and we owe them a debt of remorse.

There's only one this week, which is good, but probably no consolation to his family. You can ignore this completely, pray for them and their families if you are prayerful, or just say their names aloud and think about it, exactly as you please.

I call to remembrance the following US Serviceperson, who has died in the war in Afghanistan:

Robert E. Thomas Jr., 24

Total US deaths in Iraq: 4486 and in Afghanistan: 2272
Along with the tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians and service personnel.

#777 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 05:08 PM:

oliviacw @770: Whereas Beka was a chunkmeister of a Godzilla child -- she almost always had an inch or two of surplus length in sleeves and trouser-legs when she sized out of it on waist, right up until she neared her 4th birthday and suddenly lengthened. She's right now only 4ish inches taller than she was at month 36, but gaaaaangly, and suddenly all the assumptions about how long trouser legs should be are actually kind of in the right ballpark.

Also, her head circumference has been 1" smaller than mine since she was 26mos old -- goodbye cutesy awesome tiny-kidlet animal hats … but I knit, so it's actually useful; I can try them on myself and if they're a bit tight, Bob's my uncle.*

* NB: No relation to my actual Uncle Bob, of which I have one. John (whose father is English in origin) used that turn of phrase ALL THE TIME when we'd just met and refused to explain what it meant and wow was I confused for a long time.

#778 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 06:54 PM:

On the subject of flat roofs (flat rooves?), I worked in a building that had issues with flatness and drainage. Every year, the building owner would send a crew up and repair the roof. Every winter, we'd start taking bets as to where the new leaks would be this year. One year, one of my co-workers had to work under a tarp, said tarp allowing the waterfall to flow past her desk and into a 55 gallon drum. (I have no clue why they didn't also move her, as she worked under this tarp for two weeks or more.)

One year, some bright people put plastic trash containers up in the rafters. At the end of the rainy season, they took them all down. Or so they thought. Later that year, the a/c guy had to get up into the rafters to check out the ducting. He found this container up there and pulled it down. Not simply water, but water that had been up there for several months, collecting grunge. A/c guy was *not* happy.

The building owners finally arranged to completely replace the roof. The entire second floor staff worked two four-day weeks, M-Th one week and T-Fr the next. Crew came in, stripped the roof down to the open sky. Rebuilt the entire thing, put in new metal things around all the pipes sticking out, really did a great job. Following winter was one of the worst for oodles and oodles of little leaks all over. I later found out they just replaced the roof, they didn't adjust the angle of flatness so the water would flow better.

#779 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 07:13 PM:

Today's six-second dose of loopiness:

Marlo Meekins is a real master of the Vine form. Nutty little satires about Disney cartoons, Anne of Green Gables and the like.

#780 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 08:18 PM:

and that's what I get for not reading the whole thread before posting

Ginger: whoohoo on marriage, boohoo on delay. *hugs* for my...err.

#781 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 12:10 AM:

Stephan, forgive my cluelessness, but when I open your link, I get a flashblock screen that doesn't do anything when I click on it. What am I doing wrong?

#782 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 12:21 AM:

The Giant Rubber Duckie is now in Taiwan. Photo.

#783 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 12:54 AM:


You should get a short looping video.

I've tried playing the video on my system at work, and here at home. It worked find in both places.

Perhaps you need Flash player or some other add-on?

#784 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 09:04 AM:

Sandy B.@763: No, not that I know of, but how about

Read your fic one summer day
flashed those vi-'let eyes their way
and oh they wanted you forevermore
I'm not one that reads around -
swear my tastes stuck to the ground -
but though I never did read you before,

I said hello Mary Sue, goodbye heart!
Sweet Mary Sue, they're so in love with yoooou!
I knew, Mary Sue, you'd play all parts
so hello Mary Sue, goodbye heart!

Saw your hair, they heard your voice,
believe me they had got no choice
wild horses couldn't tear the plot away
Thought about a moonlit night
The Captain's arms around you tight
That's all I need to read for me to say

We-ell, hello Mary Sue, goodbye heart!
Sweet Mary Sue, they're so in love with yoooou!
I knew, Mary Sue, you'd play all parts
so hello Mary Sue, goodbye heart (goodbye heart)
- hello Mary Sue; they're in love with you, yes,
hello Mary Sue, goodbye heart!
(Right from the start I said hello Mary Sue, goodbye heaaaaaaart!)



#785 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 09:12 AM:

Stephan: Hmm. Well, thanks anyway. I'll ask my in-house sysadmin when he gets home from work.

#786 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 12:26 PM:

Here's a take on Talk Like A Pirate Day that would be right at home in these parts.

("As with every year I remind my dear readers that it is talk like A Pirate day, not talk like Every Pirate day.")

#787 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 07:37 PM:

So I flamed out on Facebook again. Despite, basically, preaching to the choir.

Opinions on whether this is remotely convincing to anyone who's not The Choir?
- - -
So. Starbucks and open carry enthusiasts.

Here's my moment of anti-gun hype for the year. Because, you know, it's been long enough since ... oh, pick a gun massacre... Aurora. Newtown. Columbine... that we should be able to talk about this stuff rationally.

In 2011, 2/3 of the murders committed in the US were committed with guns. So if I'm worried, at all, about being murdered, I'm worried about being murdered with a gun more than in any other way.

Guns make it much, much easier to kill people- intentionally, accidentally, suicidally or homicidally- than any other tool. That is why armies give their soldiers guns and not, say, knives.

Guns, to first order, don't make you safer. Their direct effect is to make other people less safe. There may be a second-order effect where people are scared and respond by staying away from you.

Only 1/3 of Americans own guns and only about 20% own more than two guns. That means roughly 200 million Americans somehow manage to survive, every day of the year, without a gun at ALL.

What I'm saying is, you have the right to a gun. You also have the right to decide when to bathe. There are people who push the boundaries on cleanliness, and that's why we have phrases like "Con stench."

People pushing the boundaries on guns are demonstrating that same level of social skill, plus the ability to kill or injure ... say, five to thirty people in a hundred yard circle within half a minute.


#788 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 08:20 PM:

Sandy B. @ #787, that reads like venting, not argument. So... I don't think so, no. No one is likely to listen to "you're the problem."

Here's a longer post by a friend of mine that covers some of the same areas and is aimed specifically at the "Guns will make you safer" argument. Not totally sure it'd be effective against a hardliner, but from what I've seen, hardliners on this topic are not acting rationally and rational arguments aren't going to reach them. They're terrified and/or feel out of control, and guns are the tool they use to feel more in control. That's not really susceptible to argument.

#789 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 08:38 PM:

Sandy B @787: in a word: No.

The last sentence throws away any possibility that someone not in the choir will listen to you. Up until then, you had a chance.

#790 ::: Jeremy Preacher is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2013, 09:21 PM:

I have both peanut butter and honey, in negotiable proportions.

#791 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 04:22 AM:

Here in the UK, guns are tightly controlled. If you do see a gun here (and that's uncommon), nine times out of ten it will be in the possession of someone who is being paid to shift a large amount of cash or valuables from A to B. The police can carry a gun if necessary, but it very seldom is. I've seen armed police officers probably twice in my life, and on both occasions my immediate response was to freak out ("why are they carrying guns? - what sort of threat is there round here that I ought to be running away from very fast?").

That doesn't mean, of course, that criminals never get hold of guns, but it does mean that when they do, you can get stories like the following. A few months ago, our local paper carried a dramatic photograph of a small handgun along with the standard what-are-things-coming-to headline. I was sufficiently interested to stop and read the story. Turned out that a bunch of criminals had been fleeing from the police, and one of them had deliberately thrown away the gun so that he wouldn't end up with a firearms charge if they were caught.

And this is one very good reason why we have a much lower murder rate over here than in the USA. Of course if someone's determined to kill someone, they'll find a way. Gun control doesn't stop premeditated murder. Nonetheless, it's a great deal easier to prevent people from being killed in the heat of the moment if you don't allow people to wander around with lethal weapons as a matter of course.

#792 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 06:37 AM:

Mongoose @791

I can guarantee that you will see guns on the streets of London at the junction of Pall Mall and St. James Street. Most of the time there are two guys standing around with assault rifles near the SW corner. Short haircuts, snappy dressers, you'll recognise the type.

#793 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 07:40 AM:

Dave @ 792: I don't often visit London because of my asthma, so I haven't seen those. I suspect they'd make me freak out a little, as well.

#794 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 11:11 AM:

Woke up this morning to the wife saying: it looks like there's an owl in the pool. And sure enough there was an owl in the overturned kids pool, using it like an oversized birdbath. It was moving strangely, kind of cat like, and had the same sort of wet animal head look. And as the designated wildlife and icky thing handler, I'm wondering if I'm going to have to go help this extremely pointy thing out of the pool.

But no, it was just having a bath, and flew out when it heard a noise.

#795 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 11:21 AM:

Personally I think that US troops should be issued toaster ovens. They're lethal: You can beat someone to death with one. You can strangle them with the cord. You can turn it on and throw it into the bathtub with them. And the sharp edges!

(Actually, many years ago, one of the safety posters you used to see on base read, "The most dangerous weapon in America isn't a gun," with a picture of a car. It was part of the auto-safety campaign, which came about when someone saw that the biggest source of fatalities among US troops wasn't hostile fire but rather automobile accidents. That got a bunch of us to saying, "Then Uncle Sam should issue us a car....")

#796 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 11:54 AM:

O.K., this isn't the most vital question on the Internet but it is annoying. I just updated my iPad to iOS 7, and shortly thereafter went to look up a word at the Merriam-Webster online site. The site gave me the word and promptly asked if I wanted to post about it at my Facebook site, and gave me a box to do so with my FB info. I WANT TO KILL THIS DEAD! What damn Facebook/ iOS settings do I need to change to stop this NOW! I thought I'd tweaked my settings enough at Zuckerberg's horror to stop it finking me out as I browse, but something seems to have changed for the worse after this update.

#797 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 12:01 PM:

Some new movie trailers are out. There's something very familiar about them:

"There is a pestilence about the land. Nothing is sacred."

And, apparently from the same busy director...

"You know the penalty for harbouring a known criminal?"

I think that second one might fit with Jim's history of religion.

I do wonder if one harassed editor makes all the trailers you see for Hollywood movies.

Gurl'er fcbbsf sbe Zbagl Clguba zbivrf, Ubyl Tenvy naq Yvsr bs Oevna.

#798 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 12:33 PM:

Just thinking out loud, but there's a thing that would make my ML browsing easier when I'm using my teleo-phone gadget, and that's a button near the top of the front page that just takes you to the bottom of the latest Open Thread.

I, of course, have no idea what it would take to put one in, or whether the hosting software frowns on such Kip-oriented convenience, and will understand fully if one hasn't appeared by the time I hit 'send.' And I'm totally not standing next to the mailbox waiting for a Western Union delivery boy on a scooter to show up, honest. Because I'm a grownup.

#799 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 12:34 PM:

(On my regular browser, I make my own convenience by setting a bookmark in the bookmarks bar to the last comment I've read, and updating the bookmark as needed. Uncle Lumpy taught me that one, at the Comics Curmudgeon. Sigh.)

#800 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 12:39 PM:

Kip W @798, if you are a user of an iThingummy, there is a paid web browser that has this as a feature. It's called iCab Mobile and I like it very much for a variety of features; it feels like a proper web browser. I think the one I use the most is the "go to bottom of page" menu item.

#801 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 12:55 PM:

While we're venting, I use an oldish iMac (slab-shaped all-in-the-monitor, but one of the first such) with 4GB of memory and it just updated me to the latest iTunes.

The thing hangs like a chandelier every time I click ANYTHING. Try to scroll down my list of podcasts? Here, have 30sec of hang. Want to click INTO a podcast to see the episodes? 25sec+. Etc. Everything in the universe causes it to hang, and if I let it sit there for a while and quit beachballing, then right-click the dock icon, it offers me Force Quit and not regular Quit, because -- guess what! -- it's still hung, it just LOOKS un-hung.

Most annoying. I can't even explore the features to decide which new stuff I like and which I hate because the whole thing hangs so hard it's irrelevant (it's not irrelevant, it's an hippopotamus!).

I'm not finding any discussion of this on The Interwebs. I've tried running it with nothing else running, right after having rebooted the computer, and Hang Ten city. Is 4GB just a tiny amount of ram now?

(curmudgeon curmudgeon)

#802 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 01:02 PM:

For some stuff, yes, it is. (I'm running with 2GB and XP, and I have stuff that dies with an out-of-memory error.) There's a certain tendency to assume that all the users have the latest hardware.

#803 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 01:28 PM:

Lin @ 780: No worries -- I knew you meant well, and it still counts, because things are only delayed.

Update, for those following along: the FF made it to her hometown in time; Mom is still alive although very very sick indeed. It appears that she's had a stroke; this, on top of her dementia and her recently-broken hip (a few months back), means that this is very likely the end. I am sure that she is receiving excellent care as this town has a large university, with medical school. Still, the FF is taking turns with her sister and family to sit by Mom's side.

eric @794: If you should ever have to rescue an owl, the pointy bits to be most careful with are the ones on the feet. Their claws are sharp and loaded with all sorts of bacteria. Wrap said bird in a large towel, like a burrito, and you will be safe. (Any raptor, actually, watch the feet most of all. For wading birds like herons, watch the beak: that's a stabbing instrument and they have excellent beak-eye coordination, being hunting birds and all.)

#804 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 01:31 PM:

I'm getting an error any time I try to post to ML this morning that says, "Firefox can't find the file at"

The posts are appearing anyway, but I'm not being taken back to the thread.

Is this happening to anyone else?

#805 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 01:39 PM:

Jim, 804: Yes.

#806 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 01:42 PM:

me, 805, got it again. ( If you reload the error page, it double-posts.

#807 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 02:19 PM:

Elliott @ 801: Well, I'm running Windows 7 on this machine, with at least 8GB, and just got the latest iTunes yesterday. This morning it popped up two windows in rapid succession asking if I wanted to update my iPhone to IOS 7 and then froze after I closed the first one with "Not right now". After 10 minutes it still was incapable of responding and I had to open the Windows task manager to kill it. NOT IMPRESSED.

#808 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 03:08 PM:

Mongoose, #793: I think he's talking about these guys.

eric, #794: That is COOL. Did you get pictures?

Elliott & Clifton: Thank you for letting me know that I don't want to upgrade to the next iTunes yet. I usually wait anywhere from several weeks to several months just to make sure that the release bugs are out of it. (I don't use iTunes all that much, especially on my desktop machine.)

And now I get to see whether I'm getting Jim's error...

#809 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 03:10 PM:

And I didn't. I'm running Firefox 23.0.1 with Windows XP.

#810 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 03:22 PM:

Lee @ 808: oh, those chaps! I'm a bit slow at the moment; these pills are still spacing me out.

Not getting Jim's error here either. I'm running Chromium (which as far as I can see is identical to Chrome, but it's the open-source version) under Ubuntu Studio.

#811 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 04:01 PM:

I got no error on Firefox 24.0 on the current MacOS (10.7.5).

#812 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Lee @808: From what I can see of it, they've actually added some functionality I'm going to enjoy (when I get to use it). I only ever use my iTunes to manage podcasts and load them onto my player, period, so any functionality for movies or music or whatever I'm never going to see.

They've removed some of the Mystery Meat Navigation unlabeled-abstract-icons aspect of the icons at the top next to the title of the podcast, which I am very in favor of. However, they have ALSO apparently decided that the only way anyone would ever want to sort the left-hand-column of all your podcasts is ... in the order you subscribed to them? It initially loads alphabetical and then flashes as it resorts them this way, so there miiiight be a setting somewhere for me to realphabetize them again, but if so it's not in any of the menus across the top white bar of my monitor (which I can occasionally get to respond to me in a timely fashion, as it doesn't involve reloading all the cover art ... from China ... by mulecart ...)

The new iPhone thing/os version/whatever has freaky look-and-feel changes; my kinda-mom had just upgraded when we went over for Friday dinner and if you tilt the phone slightly the background image MOVES, as if it's outside a window and faraway or something. There's a setting to turn it off if it gives you motion sickness, which is considerate of them, but because this is Apple (We know what defaults you should always use! Because they're the BEST defaults!! Wag wag wag), it's hard to find the setting if you don't already know where it is.

#813 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 06:21 PM:

Open threadiness: Thought my friend Jan Underwood's new novel could interest this crowd, as the (deceased) protagonist is a Classics professor, and one of the characters is Virgil. I liked it— it's funny and satirical — but of course I'm biased. Here's a review.

#814 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 06:25 PM:

D'uh! The title is "Utterly Heartless". It's set on a college campus today, and is a mash-up of fantasy and mystery.

#815 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 06:58 PM:

Keeping you and the FG and her mom in my thoughts. I hope that this doesn't involve months of misery dragging on, as it did for my mom, but turns into a clear recovery or a peaceful end. It's hard to know what the right wish for all of you would be, but I wish you all well.

#816 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 07:08 PM:

Elliott Mason@801: "Is 4GB just a tiny amount of ram now?"

I have a two-year-old iMac with 4GB of RAM. It runs the latest iTunes without noticeable trouble.

Thus, RAM is unlikely to be a factor in your trouble.

#817 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 07:16 PM:

Is anyone getting the posting errors (#804/805 above) not using Firefox 24.0?

#818 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 07:51 PM:

It may be a Mac thing - it's not happening on my PC. (OTOH, mine did a WinXP restart this morning, for no apparent reason.)

#819 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2013, 11:27 PM:

Open thread (although maybe it could go on the trans thread?) -

I cycled through several emotions while watching this. It's kind of vicious satire, and I'm not sure it will reach the people who need it most, but : It's Your Fault. Warning for rape triggers.

#820 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2013, 09:27 AM:

Jim, 817: Yes. I upgraded yesterday, after I got all those errors in a row.

#821 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2013, 05:16 PM:

HLN: Seen yesterday, a shiny black Mini with the license DRTH CPR

#822 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2013, 09:49 PM:

Coincidence? Sexism? Plagiarism? You decide.

#823 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2013, 11:39 PM:

Re: the owl. No pics, the camera was downstairs, and I wasn't. I did think for a moment that a soaked owl having a bath would make a good meme picture though.

Ginger: I was aware of the danger from the claws, mainly because I had a long conversation with a falconer this summer. He was discussing what his little 1 and 2 lb birds would do to your arm, as compared to a friend of his who flies golden eagles. ( a good chance of going through your thigh. They're big birds). I didn't realize about the bacteria, but I guess any bird foot, and especially one that perforates prey, would be a bacterial nightmare.

This is only the third owl I've seen here. I suspect that there are a lot of them, since I hear them hoot at night. We do see hawks and bald eagles all the time though, as they're more active in the daytime. Strangely enough, we've never lost a chicken to a raptor, though I think we came close once. I heard a clattering in a tree behind me, when an eagle dropped out of the tree and flew about 15 feet over my head. You don't really realize just how big they are, until you see them up close.

#824 ::: eric is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2013, 11:41 PM:

Talking about raptors from the iPad. I suspect extra spaces.

There a little bit of orzo left over from dinner.

#825 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 12:43 AM:

Just finished watching Shuffle, an incredibly sweet movie that puts a StFnal spin on narcolepsy.

#826 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 04:33 AM:

Similarly cats, I imagine. My feisty little cat, who is nearly 16 and showing not the slightest sign of her age, has never been very careful with her claws; she's not malicious, but she doesn't seem to understand that humans puncture rather easily. She doesn't even have to break my skin to raise weals that last for two or three hours.

Admittedly my skin is rather sensitive, but if she ever did more than scratch the surface I think I'd be seeing a doctor.

#827 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 05:26 AM:

I'm using firefox 24 and linux mint 14 and have had no posting errors.

#828 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 01:15 PM:

Mongoose #826: Yes, and for much the same reasons. My understanding is that cats have at least one bacterium in their claws that's actually a species symbiote, the one causing cat scratch fever.

#829 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 01:29 PM:

My cat was very good about that when she was playing at disemboweling my arm - her claws (and her teeth) didn't break the skin. It was the other times that I got holed.

#830 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Mongoose @26 -- cat bites are more dangerous than scratches. When our beloved Mabel started biting Karen, the infections that resulted required Urgent-Care antibiotics. One vet suggested euthanizing her, and another said we could remove her fangs -- neither option was acceptable. We solved the problem by getting her thyroid irradiated, which returned her to her usual non-biting but dominant self. We got another couple of years from this.

We lost her this month to large cell lymphoma, and miss her dreadfully -- the second cat loss this summer. The other three are trying to take up the space, but it's not the same.

#831 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 02:13 PM:

Tom @830, my condolences on your loss.

#832 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 04:16 PM:

Long time lurker, very infrequent poster, linking his View All By after a change of email address.

#833 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 05:27 PM:

Tom @ 830: very sorry to hear this.

#834 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 05:44 PM:

I just saw "In a World", which I highly recommend. Very well acted, and incredibly funny in some places.

If it's possible without burying the thread in spoiler-avoiding ciphers, I would be interested in sanity-check reactions to one scene, though, from anyone else who has seen the film: Jung qvq bgure crbcyr guvax bs gur fprar jvgu Trran Qnivf gbjneq gur raq bs gur svyz, jurer fur qrfpevorf ure znfgre cyna. V unq nobhg fvk qvssrerag, zbfgyl artngvir, ernpgvbaf gb vg -- gb gur fprar, abg gb gur cyna -- naq V'q nccerpvngr bgure natyrf.

#835 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 07:47 PM:


A friend took this picture in a taxicab in Bangkok. Three of the prohibitions are obvious: no weapons, no sex, no pets. The leftmost one, however, has us stumped. No Baphomets allowed in taxis in Bangkok? Much amusing speculation later, no closer to actually finding out what that icon is intended to prohibit.

Anyone know? Or can suggest a good way to find out?

#836 ::: Xopher Halftongue is with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 07:48 PM:

Probably because my comment had a link to Twitter, which is a sure-fire gnomulation. I have tomato/taponade/cheddar on a wrap sanniches.

#837 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 09:18 PM:

I really wish there were a way to tell Netflix that when I am browsing all "Sci-fi and Fantasy," I DO NOT WANT to see any movies also cross-listed under "Horror." Sorry. Not into rubber monster flicks. But I can't find ANYTHING ELSE because there's so much of it. :-/

#838 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 09:37 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @#834: I have tomato/taponade/cheddar on a wrap sanniches.

Am I the only one that sees "taponade" with an extra "m" and thinks "bad thing to happen to a heart"?

#839 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 10:00 PM:

Re particle: is there a way to clearly discern whether Goodreads has deleted any of my reviews?

#840 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 10:04 PM:

Elliott, #835: Yeah, that's a conflation that annoys me as well. While it's undeniably true that monster movies fall into the category of "fantasy" by virtue of having monsters, I would split that out into a sub-category of "dark fantasy".

One time, many years ago, I had a guy respond to my saying that I read a lot of science fiction by telling me that he loved science fiction -- he'd read everything Dean Koontz had ever written! *eyeroll* That was as bad as the people who get all surprised that I don't believe in flying saucers.

#841 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 10:46 PM:

This is to remind you that Joss Whedon's "Agents of SHIELD" premieres tomorrow night.

#842 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 10:47 PM:

Xopher #834

It's apparently a water buffalo.

Explanation for why water-buffalo are prohibited here.

#843 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 10:51 PM:

More things forbidden in Thai taxis:

Smoking, drinking, durian fruit, blowjobs.

#844 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 10:59 PM:

I didn't think that a water buffalo would even fit in a taxi.

#845 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 11:10 PM:

Water buffalo is apparently a slang term for stupid person/country bumpkin.

#847 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 11:35 PM:

Jim, #844: Interesting. I thought it might have some bearing on this incident, but it doesn't sound as though the person who used the epithet is from that culture.

#848 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 12:01 AM:

Okay, that makes sense.

#849 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 12:01 AM:

Looks to me like the karaoke is an amenity offered, rather than something forbidden.

#850 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 12:12 AM:

My appreciation, Jim!

#851 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 12:34 AM:

You're right, David. Looks like they're offering DVDs (or maybe a DVD player) and Karaoke in that cab.

(It's just that while I don't think I'd mind three-ways in a cab, I'd definitely forbid karaoke.)

#854 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 05:09 AM:

Ginger @851, I thought of that, too. Some of the songs from that show are remarkably sticky.

#855 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 05:19 AM:

Tangentially, this reminds me that it is forbidden to die in the House of Commons, a fact which has always amused me. Of course, people do occasionally, but if it happens, it is always reported that the unfortunate individual died on their way to hospital, or something of the sort.

It occurs to me to wonder how the incident would have been reported if Guy Fawkes had succeeded.

#856 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 07:39 AM:

Jim Macdonald #842: Durian fruit actually makes sense, for the smell. And it would be common enough there to be worth mentioning.

#857 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 11:31 AM:

My enthusiasm for using Google's free products diminishes as my my experience administering their paid products grows. Go figure.

#858 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 01:00 PM:

John A Arkansawyer #856

What was that apropos of?

#859 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 02:26 PM:

Jim @ 857: My life. Just my life. My terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad life as a middleware administrator. And, come to think of it, not being allowed to die at work. They know what they're doing, the managerial class, forbidding that.

#860 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 03:13 PM:

re 858: Meanwhile I have just put together a new workspace on my main machine for the fourth time in as many days because the development environment decided that I wasn't allowed to even look at one specific file--just that one.

#861 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 06:11 PM:

I have been looking over my late Mother's sewing machine, a 1956 Singer 99K, and then Loncon 3 did a tweet on the Masquerade.

(It's engineering, honest.)

And my brother was taking photographs at the big Asylum steampunk event in Lincoln, the weekend before last.

I am getting silly ideas.

#862 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 06:22 PM:

A sewing machine, particularly the non-computerized kind, is a marvelous piece of Victorian high-tech.

#863 ::: Paul Woodford ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 09:28 PM:

Re "Amazon-Owned Goodreads Deleting Reviews Wholesale": that link sent me scurrying to negative Goodreads reviews I wrote on books by Cory Doctorow and Neil Gaiman. My reviews are still there, and I'm a Goodreads starred reviewer. Naturally I'll keep a close eye on my reviews now, and I'd leave Goodreads in a heartbeat if I have reason to think they're becoming Yelp-like, but for now I have reason to doubt the implication they're pulling negative reviews to protect Amazon book sales.

p.s. I wanted to post this comment in the appropriate thread but couldn't find any way to do so. Apologies for posting it here.

[Moved. (Regret unable to maintain date/time stamp.) -- JDM ]

#864 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 11:10 PM:

Pseudonymous sore-head in Portland, OR posts flyers with lists of residents who get food stamps "and who vote."

So, if an out-of-control truck from the rendering plant rammed into the crowd at a Tea Party rally and smashed "Artemis of the Wildland's" arms and legs and the poor sap was thoroughly disabled and had to go on public assistance, he'd be OK with having his voting rights taken away?

#865 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 11:22 PM:

I wonder if it's related to the people who think that those living in public housing shouldn't be allowed to have pets?

#866 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 05:42 AM:

Re 863-4: somewhere recently, I have blessedly forgotten exactly, I saw some guy yelling about how that surfer dude on food stamps was going to use government assistance to get rich AND THEN NOT PAY ANY OF THE MONEY BACK.

How can you be literate enough to type on the Internet and still not know how taxes work?

#867 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 06:10 AM:

#863 ::: Stefan Jones

I wonder whether the information on those posters is accurate, and if so, how it got leaked.

Wasn't there another similar news story within the past year?

#868 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 06:59 AM:

Paul Woodford #862: It's worse than that -- I'm not a member, but hopping around a few links from where the sidebar item dropped me (looked like the middle of a discussion), I find that they changed their Terms of Use (with no announcement) to forbid both reviews and shelves that refer to the behavior of the author. Then they started deleting same without notice. And possibly continued to do so, even after pseudo-apologizing "oh, sorry we didn't tell you about the new policy, in future violators will get a warning first."

In short, they have utterly failed to recognize the difference, or the connection, between hosting a community versus maintaining a customer base. Also, they've definitely been "learning the wrong lesson"/"solving the wrong problem" from their recent ruckus....

This actually ties directly into the "Google isn't ruining you memory" sidebar: They are trying to censor certain ideas and positions from the community itself, by not allowing people to discuss them or leave warning markers for others.

#869 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 08:30 AM:

Point of possible interest: Popular Science is shutting off online commenting on their web site. The reason?

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

#870 ::: C. Wingate is stuck in Gnomeregan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 08:32 AM:

I have to get in a WoW reference sometime.

#871 ::: C. Wingate sees that the gnomes aren't up on gaming culture either ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 08:33 AM:

They look overfed, not that I'm inclined to split my lunch with them.

[The gnomes are totally up on gaming culture (particularly the part of gaming culture that markets "WoW Gold" or "WoW Cheats" or "WoW" anything by spam). Thus the letter group WoW (capitalized thus) causes them to invite the post to tea. -- Borin Hieroiot, Duty Gnome]

#873 ::: Paul Woodford ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:08 AM:

Dave Harmon #867: I am concerned, and I'm keeping a closer eye on my Goodreads reviews. My bookshelves have innocuous titles, but there is one labeled Did Not Finish. I guess if that's what they're after they'll hit that shelf first. If they do I'll have to find another book community. Mind you, I find the idea of "Amazon-owned Goodreads" deleting reviews plausible ... it's just that I haven't seen it happening personally.

#874 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:09 AM:

C. Wingate #868

Popular Science needs strong moderation.

#875 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:17 AM:

Further on Charlie's #868 and the "politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise":

House Republicans block National Science Laureate

But last week, Larry Hart, a representative of the American Conservative Union, sent a letter to House Republicans claiming the laureate would be appointed by President Obama, and "will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases.”
#876 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:20 AM:

#872 ::: Paul Woodford

I see negative reviews at amazon, which suggests they don't have a general policy against negative reviews.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of changes at amazon I'm not too pleased with-- "look inside the book" has become very rare, and I can't find the lists of books that people recommend anymore.

If amazon has deleted those, that's a huge amount of work lost.

#877 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:36 AM:

Jim Macdonald @873: However, strong moderation is very expensive (if not volunteer, as it is here). I heard an interview with Arianna Huffington on On The Media recently talking about how they deal with comments. Apparently they have a lot of software, AND 30 full-time moderating employees, and it still wasn't enough.

So now they've required real names on comments. I don't think that'll necessarily have the effect they're looking for, but they're not interested in what I think. :->

#878 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:36 AM:

Serge Broom @871: One of my "too good to be true" discoveries, not quite ironic, is that there's a new toll road in Dallas: President George Bush Turnpike.

#879 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:25 AM:

Tom Whitmore #877:

It is, alas, not all that new. It's a mile or two north of my mother's house, and I've been cursing at it every Thanksgiving for yonks. Only driven on it once, though.

#880 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:28 AM:

Goodreads deleting reviews:

As I understand it (I am not a member of Goodreads, but I am a member of LibraryThing, another book cataloging and discussion site where it's been discussed), the shelves and reviews that were deleted were those that were based on the authors, rather than the content of the book. So "This author attacks anyone who gives her a bad review, avoid" would be nuked without warning or backup; "This was a terrible book" would not. Presumably they want to make sure authors don't face repercussions from aggressively promoting their work on Goodreads, but from reading the guidelines it looks like something like "I actually enjoyed this book but can no longer recommend it after learning about the author's extreme homophobia" would also be deleted.

The Goodreads discussion of the issue is at .

#881 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:28 AM:

BTW, I can finally report that running OSX 10.7.4 and Firefox 24 does not seem to produce any posting weirdnesses, if anybody is still exercised about all that.

#882 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:58 AM:

TexAnne @ #865: I saw some guy yelling about how that surfer dude on food stamps was going to use government assistance to get rich AND THEN NOT PAY ANY OF THE MONEY BACK. How can you be literate enough to type on the Internet and still not know how taxes work?

Maybe he's got the idea that when people become rich they don't pay anything back in taxes if they can help it. I can see how the behaviour of the already-rich might have given him that impression.

#883 ::: Bernard Yeh was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 12:02 PM:

A comment of mine on this open thread was gnomed on Monday but not yet released. Since it was just a 'view all by' new-to-old-email linkage post, and not part of an ongoing conversation, I didn't immediately follow up with an "I've been gnomed" comment. The moderation message suggests that blocked non-spam comment postings would get approved w/o needing such a message, but I guess the ratio of spam to quality meat is too high.

All I've got is some iced green tea and left-over pizza, if that would be acceptable with their Lownesses.

#884 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 12:12 PM:

Bernard, your comment wasn't gnomed--it was taken by the Moveable Type filters directly into the spam bucket. I don't normally see those since they don't go to the moderation queue. It was 2600 spam-comments back, and has now been restored.

#885 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 12:21 PM:

lorax, #879: Presumably they want to make sure authors don't face repercussions from aggressively promoting their work on Goodreads

I am having a very hard time finding any similarity between "aggressively promoting their work" and "attacking anyone who gives them a negative review". If Goodreads thinks those two phrases are synonymous, that's their problem right there.

Paul A., #881: That's an excellent point. Personally, I find the "getting rich off government assistance" bit harder to understand.

#886 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 12:38 PM:

Amazon/Goodreads is reacting to some high-profile (though poorly-researched or entirely false-to-fact) negative press in Nathan Bransford's blog, Salon, and the Huffington Post. Never mind that those pieces were followed up by back-pedaling and corrections.

Most of this is ultimately fueled by an anonymous hate-site called "StopTheGoodReadsBullies" that itself uses false accusations, lies, half-truths, out-of-context quotes, threats, bullying, and slander against its chosen enemies. The trolls appear to have won this round.

#887 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 12:42 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 877... Bush Père has a road named after him? Better that than Junior, I guess.

#888 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 12:53 PM:

Serge Broom @ 887: In retrospect, I'm sorry Bush Senior didn't get a second term. (In '92. It would have been unfortunate in '84.)

#889 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 12:53 PM:

For weather geeks and Colorado Front Range residents: Colorado’s exceedingly rare flood in 3 maps.

#890 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 12:59 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 888... Not me. If Bill & Al had not won in 1992, I wouldn't have decided to become an American Citizen because I'd have figured out sanity wasn't in the cards anymore.

#891 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 02:19 PM:

OtterB @854: They certainly are. I still find myself breaking into "Oh Where is my Hairbrush" at odd moments. I hope my step-daughter (to be) can use the videos for the young ones to come -- they're all VHS videos.

In other HLN, area woman suddenly finds herself fostering four kittens, of approximately three weeks in age. A friend of a friend (you know how that goes) rescued them after MomCat met an untimely end, and has delivered them unto her. "Luckily for me, I knew exactly where to find my kitty condo," said the woman. "All four are black and white (aka tuxedo) kittens, and they are clearly in climbing stage already. They have dined upon milk replacer and very wet canned food, to their great pleasure." When asked the obvious questions, the area woman admitted she had sought assistance in finding homes for them, as she promised her fiancee that the population would shrink over time. "I hope I hear back soon from the cat people," she said with a grin, "Or else I'll hear it from the FF."

#892 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 02:35 PM:

Ginger @ 891... "I hope I hear back soon from the cat people,"

Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell?

#893 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 02:44 PM:

No, Serge. Novice Haim.

#894 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 02:46 PM:

Lee, 855: I'm a prime example of "getting rich off government assistance" - or at least, getting moderately well off.

For 10 years, there was definitely several occasions where only the help of doctors and psychiatrists - which I couldn't pay for, because my illness was such that I couldn't work - kept me alive and uncommitted. Unfortunately, that was all it did.

But then there was that month in the hospital - again, which I couldn't pay for - that finally broke the back of the illness (and worked out that what the previous doctors were doing was "not the treatment that would work for this version"). 2 months after that, I had a job and a hobby job. 6 months after that, my job was in my field. Three years after that, I took my current job, which is both very productive (from a global perspective) and generates a lot of taxes for the government.

I probably still won't pay back everything in my lifetime - in taxes. In terms of paying back my country, yep.

#895 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 02:48 PM:

Argh. Lee@ 885.

#896 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 02:56 PM:

Serge Broom @ 890: And that would have been a pity. On the other hand, an actual Democrat (from, you know, the Democratic wing of the party) might have been elected in 1996. That would have been nice.

#897 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 03:07 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 896... I myself consider Bill & Al to be Democrats, especially Al and did you know he was a Star Trek fan, but I digress. As for getting a more Democratic Democrat... We might have had one in the White House in 2004, but my Party excels at tearing its folks down and at doing the Other Guys's dirty work. (eah, I campaigned for Howard dean.)

#898 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 03:41 PM:

Why do people keep snickering about the "Atlas Shrugged" Kickstarter? As far as I can tell, Kickstarter campaigns in general and this one in particular are fairly shining examples of Objectivism.

The people who want to make the movie are saying, "We, the artists, would like you to pay us directly to make art." It's entirely up to the public whether to pay or not; no one is being threatened with anything beyond not getting the movie they want, and those of us uninterested in Ayn Rand's oeuvre can ignore it totally. People who do pay, if there are enough of them, will be getting a product for their money, i.e. the movie.

Where's the charity? Where's the begging? Where's the freeloading?

#899 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 04:14 PM:

Yeah, if Clinton had lost in 1992 the Dems would have concluded he wasn't conservative enough.

#900 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 06:06 PM:

Carrie S @ 898... In my case, it's because I associate Kickstarter with altruism, with a few pinches of selfishness ("Yes, *I* want that!"), while I see Rand as all about selfishness.

#901 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 08:39 PM:

Serge @ #841 -

I thought Agents of Shield was enormous fun. Clark Gregg's performance was, as expected, spot on, and the story was up to Whendonesque standards.

Kinda curious about the Tahiti thing.

#902 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 08:43 PM:

I am liking it. I hope later, non-pilot episodes will be allowed to be a little less perfectly on-the-nose and obvious in their dialogue, and perhaps to even have a storyline (instead of just introducing all the characters, which is of course necessary).

Some great performances and some that I hope can become great with Whedon's usual sense for talent (and ability to warp it into character onscreen). A seriously high percentage of people he's picked to work with have become some of my favorite people to watch act, so I'm trusting for now.

I do desperately wish every single female character (except the agent at the start -- Hill?) hadn't been forced into at least one crazy-sexy HEY LOOK I AM A WOMAN AND I AM HOTTTT setpiece/visual. Pacific Rim has apparently spoiled me.

#903 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 08:52 PM:

Mycroft, #894: IIRC, you're in the UK, so that's kind of apples and oranges. In this country, you'd have been abandoned like a piece of garbage and become at best a drain on the taxpayers for however long it took you to die.

Carrie, #898: We snicker because this is a case where the free market has already spoken -- and what it said was, "Don't quit your day job." But they refuse to accept this outcome, which is one of the core principles of their philosophy; instead, they're whining and begging for MORE money that they didn't earn with the first 2 parts. It's like a little kid saying, "Well, Dad said no, so I'll ask Mom now."

#904 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 09:25 PM:

But they don't get a product for their money, right? They still have to pay to see the movie. It's pure altruism. Working, functional altruism, exactly what Rand preached would never work, and/or that it was stupid.

The less funny part is that Randroids being by avocation amoral, they're probably thinking of it as exploiting the stupid they still think they're right.

#905 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 09:52 PM:

I think all the snark I've seen here on the AS kickstarter thing could be compressed into the single phrase "I don't like Rand or her followers" with no loss of information.

#906 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:10 PM:

I wish the folks who said they were going to "go Galt" would hurry up and do it.

#907 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:11 PM:

albatross, there's little I can say to that that wouldn't be disemvowelled, except: obviously there is quite a lot being said that can't be captured that way, and if you don't see it, check your eyes and brain.

#908 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:19 PM:

albatross @ 905: I'm not sharing in the snark, but I'm still okay with that general description of my feelings. I'd rather say that I don't like her philosophy, but she and her followers make it rather easy to conflate the two.

(In that way it is very unlike libertarianism. Most libertarians I know are very sweet people and anti-war as hell.)

I got some valuable things from her. Not many, but a few.

#909 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:21 PM:

Oh my goodness, I just found out about Starring: the Computer and I am already diving into it. Makes me want to go watch old movies just so I can screencap stuff and send it to him. :->

#910 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:25 PM:

Ok, I got that from C. Wingate in the Inaccuracies thread and forgot, but still! Well worthy of OpenThreading.

Oh, and if you need a good giggle, this post from Getty Critics (they catcall bad stock photos -- because their day job is picking GOOD stock photos for clients) really built from sentence to sentence for me, until I was nearly weeping.

#911 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:50 PM:

albatross, #905: And you'd be wrong. The snark is coming from the recognition that they're being fucking hypocrites.

#912 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 10:51 PM:

albatross @ 905... S y cn rd my mnd nd knw th rl rsn why pstd ths. Cn y rd th fllwng?

p yrs

#913 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:15 PM:

I would like to request a truce overnight. Albatross has been part of Making Light for a very long time, and this is too close to a dogpile for my peace of mind.

#914 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:57 PM:

Right behind TexAnne. This isn't our style here, folks.

And look! There's a shiny new Open Thread!

#915 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 12:07 AM:

Ugh . . . this thread is full of pantry moths.

I suggest rubbing yourself with bay leaves before heading over to 188.

#916 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:00 AM:

I don't care for the views of Ayn Rand, and I don't care for the idea that the preferences of the "free market" are all that matters.

However, they're not the same thing. Many "free market" ideologues are fond of Rand, but she wasn't really one of them. If you look to Rand for a robust defense of the superiority of "market" heuristics, you will search for a long time. Rand was much more about the innate superiority of a small cadre of creative doers, as she saw it. Rand's heroes are heroes because they're superior people, not because they prevailed in some messy "market" process.

My point is that not everybody who you disagree with agrees with one another. Rand was wrong. The ideology that claims the decisions of the "market" are always also wrong. But even leaving aside Rand's recorded personal hypocrisies and betrayals of her stated crazypants philosophical views, I don't see why she would have had a principled objection to Kickstarter. As far as I can see, it fits perfectly comfortably into her worldview. There's certainly nothing "altruistic" about it, unless you have a very odd notion of what that word means.

#917 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:11 PM:

If you typically get nothing back for your Kickstarter contribution (which is my understanding of how it usually works), how is that not altruistic? You think something should exist in the world and put money toward it with no hope of personal gain.

Now if the the stupid Randroids* who are making the movie are offering a percentage of the gross, that's another thing entirely. If they're offering a percentage of the profits they're running a con.†

*That's Rand worshippers (the only people who would think making a movie out of AS was a good idea), not libertarians generally, and I apologize for the redundancy of the adjective.
†Accounting tricks ensure that movies virtually never make a profit on paper; this is why people negotiate for a percentage of the gross, which the filmmakers/studio are motivated to quote as high as they can.

#918 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:13 PM:

Annnnnnd the ohnosecond: 'con' here stands not for 'convention' as is usual here, but 'confidence game'. There are things that are both, but AFAIK no one is going to RandCon.

Whoa, icky shivers at the kind of people who would show up at an event like that.

#919 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 06:16 PM:

Xopher, #917: Your understanding of Kickstarter is a bit off. There are indeed a lot of Kickstarters that don't "make", but in those cases you have not actually made a contribution -- your card is never charged. For the ones that do make, you most certainly do expect to see something for your money! I have so far backed 1 Kickstarter that didn't make and 3 that did; of the latter, I have the promised item already for one of them*, the second** should be in my hands by the end of the year, and the third*** may take a little more time because some of it involves chemical research. If that last one doesn't come to fruition, it's because providing venture capital is always a bit of a risk, not because I didn't expect to get anything back.

* The special Kickstarter-supporter-only edition of the first "Watson and Holmes" comic.

** The hardcover Digger omnibus edition.

*** A set of drinking glasses and straws which will change color in the presence of date-rape drugs. Not that I'm so worried about this at my age, but to give to my partner's daughter.

#920 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:41 PM:

So are these more like an advance purchase (that is, for example you gave about as much as the Digger book would cost if you bought it) or like a premium for donating (like public radio; you would have donated considerably more than the actual value of the item), or some of each?

#921 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 08:43 PM:

Xopher @920, it depends. The person setting up the project gets to decide what the rewards are.

When I backed Poorcraft, my $10 pledge got me a physical copy of the book ($10 cover price), signed by the author and artist, mailed to me (no extra charge for the postage), plus a high-resolution PDF version. An obvious good deal for something I was planning to buy anyway.

When I backed the Fate Core RPG, my $10 got me early access to development drafts, plus the finished versions of the books in PDF form (some of which were later made available for free). The lowest pledge that would’ve gotten me a physical product was the $15 pledge, which includes a copy of the Fate Accelerated Edition book ($5 retail). Not as obviously good a deal.

#922 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:28 PM:

Xopher, #920: As Avram says, it's some of each. Have you ever actually looked at a Kickstarter page? Here's the one for the Digger Omnibus project. Scan down the page and you can see the various contribution levels and what you got for each one. Don't forget to check out the stretch goals, because some of those added value to some of the contribution levels.

Also, it should be noted that some of the money raised (beyond the original goal level) will be used to hire a couple of assistants, so that everything can be finished and sent in a timely manner. IMO that's a perfectly legitimate use for some of the funds -- certainly some of the amount you pay for dinner at a restaurant goes to cover employee salaries and overhead.

#923 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 09:46 AM:

You think something should exist in the world and put money toward it with no hope of personal gain.

How's it not personal gain?

I think there should be a Curse of Chalion movie. If there were a Kickstarter for it, I'd back it in a hot second. And even if I then had to pay for a ticket when I went to see it, I would still have gained, in that there was an opportunity for me to do so--if I hadn't backed it, the movie wouldn't have existed in the first place. I want that movie to exist for me, for my own enjoyment; if that's not gain, what is?

Heck, there's a Kickstarter campaign on right now to make a new Star Trek series. People who are contributing are doing so because they want more Star Trek. I don't think that's altruism.

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