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October 10, 2013

Open Thread 189
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 01:43 AM *


Today, the 10th of October, is the 127th anniversary of the introduction of the tuxedo.

Tuxedo Park, New York, forty miles from Manhattan, was home to some of the richest and most powerful folks in America. It was a true gated community. J. P. Morgan, William Waldorf Astor, Emily Post, and Herbert C. Pell (among many other notables) lived there.

At the annual Tuxedo Ball held by the Tuxedo Club in Tuxedo Park, on the 10th of October 1886, young Griswold Lorillard, heir to a tobacco fortune, shocked the fashion world by wearing a short-cut jacket rather than the traditional long tail-coat expected for men’s formal evening wear.

That short coat was the talk of the town—and soon the fashionable young men of society were throwing caution to the winds in their mad rebuke of their fathers’ dress.

When, in 1889, a gentleman wearing a “Tuxedo” (as the rig came to be called) was admitted to the New-York Metropolitan Opera’s Dress Circle, Griswold’s fashion revolution saw its victory.

Continued from Open Thread 188

Continued in Open Thread 190

Comments on Open Thread 189:
#1 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 02:03 AM:

Well. Someone's up late.

#2 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 02:05 AM:

#1: make that two someones.

#3 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 02:20 AM:

Obviously preparing for Viable Paradise.

#4 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 02:35 AM:

Are there any known pictures of the first Tuxedo? I'd be interested in seeing how it compares with current ones.

#5 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 03:00 AM:

Indeed, Tom #2, exactly what we're doing.

So anyway, this penguin walks into a bar. And the bartender says, "You look like you're wearing a tuxedo!" And the penguin says, "How do you know I'm not?"

(Reportedly the first tuxedo jacket was the same cut as a fox hunter's formal jacket, only in black cloth rather than red.)

#6 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 03:45 AM:

The English fox-hunting tradition depends on two coats/jackets. The hunting coat is black or red, and at this time of year, still pre-season, a tweed hacking jacket is usual.

Riding jackets in general have a cut suited for riding, including a flared skirt and a long centre vent, What shift there has been since the first tuxedo, I don't know, but riding jackets also have a longer length than the usual sorts of modern jacket.

So I am a little dubious about the idea that the first tuxedo was a black hunting coat, but that daring young man could easily have owned one, making the experiment easy.

Both Sean Connery and Roger Moore as James Bond cam be seen to wear hacking jackets in some of the movies. It is, in effect, a form of English sports coat.

#7 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 05:29 AM:

In Sweden, a tuxedo is a smoking (I thought it was a frack, but that is White Tie, rather than Black Tie, so, smoking it is).

Not quite as hilarious as reading about the "fracking" people do to extract oil, but it does make "No Smoking" signs in fancy places somewhat hilarious.

#8 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 07:25 AM:

Now I want to get a hedgehog and name it Griswold Lorillard.

Alas, it is illegal to keep hedgehogs in Georgia.

Perhaps a pocket Yorkie.

(No, seriously, I have enough pets. And I would never acquire a living thing just so I could name it. Well...maybe a plant.)

#10 ::: nnyhav ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 08:38 AM:

"When, in 1889, a gentleman wearing a “Tuxedo” (as the rig came to be called) was admitted to the New-York Metropolitan Opera’s Dress Circle, Griswold’s fashion revolution saw its victory."

Well, I s'pose 'tis proper attire for Verdi's 200th birthday.

#11 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:27 AM:

A Tuxedo is un smoking in France as well.

That's what the velvet lapels are for--unlike a self-faced lapel, they can be easily replaced when they get holes burnt in them.

#12 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:56 AM:

Lila @ 8: I originally wanted to name the two ginger kittens Mandelbrot and Feigenbaum, but my ex-spouse objected on the grounds that they would feel like an idiot if they had to shout either of those names out of the back door.

Personally, I thought it was entirely appropriate to name kittens after two pioneers of chaos theory.

#13 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 10:03 AM:

Mongoose @ 12
That says a lot about your ex. I think Mandelbrot and Feigenbaum are perfectly suited to yelling out the back door due excellent meter.

Now, if I were only a pet person, I'd steal your idea.

#14 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 10:57 AM:

Salon: Ex-GOP insider unloads: Blame “neo-Confederate insurrectionists” for shutdown! Lots of interesting comments, including noting that Clinton was "the best moderate Republican President we ever had", and highlighting Gingrich's role in the last shutdown.

#15 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 11:09 AM:

Dinosaurs are writing erotica? (Link didn't work.)
[Consults search engine, wonders whether waking up was good idea] At least this one place I worked acquired a tuxedo kitten for the office, who grew into a big fat old tuxedo furbag. He disappeared after being let outside--those idiots went thru 3 cats that way despite the cautions of wiser minds--and he is still missed, at least by me.

#16 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 12:09 PM:

it is also Double Ten Day.

I don't have anything more to say than that but I feel I should add some text here so as to reassure the gnomes I am not exactly a spammer.

#17 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 12:25 PM:

Mongoose @10: Absolutely appropriate. Although I have to say that in my experience, for causing chaos, hand-reared lemurs in the house are even more effective than kittens*.

*More three-dimensionally mobile and more liable to poop everywhere.

#18 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 12:25 PM:

Dave harmon @ 14... I like this quote of his.

"...I am not an Obama partisan. I have many bones to pick with him, including the healthcare bill. If your intent was to insure as many people as possible, you’d have single payer..."

Like that goes so well with his former Party when Democrats propose something like a single-payer system.

#19 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 12:38 PM:

(ddendum to my 17): And they have grasping hands...

#20 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 01:46 PM:

dcb @17 &19--I am contemplating the results of certain felines in my household having grasping hands and I find I need to lie down and have a quiet weep.

One rearranged the kitchen counter to suit himself the other night, taking out a large jar of tutti-frutti/rumtopf in the process. What he could do with hands...

#21 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 02:31 PM:

That sounds messy, fidelio. I'm glad my local Feline Overlord is generally pretty mellow (except for being a Shouty Cat). My parents, on the other hand, have a polydactyl feline (she looks like she has thumbs) and if said cat wasn't elderly and arthritic, she'd probably be working on world domination. Or at least on spreading political ideology.

You see, she's named Chairman Meow.

#22 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 02:47 PM:

Benjamin @ 21: my late, lamented, superintelligent tabby had his own LiveJournal for a while under the name of chairman_miaow. (I can no longer get into it, since I've forgotten the password.)

When I say he was superintelligent, I do not use that word lightly. He proved it a number of times, but the most spectacular occasion was when he decided he was going to convince my former lodger, who loftily refused to believe that a cat was capable of being particularly intelligent.

Outside my house there is a paved footpath, and on the other side of that footpath there is another row of houses. At the back of this row of houses, there is what I grew up referring to as a "ginnel" - a narrow alleyway, in this case unpaved - and on the other side of this ginnel there are the backs of a third row of houses.

So this cat saw the lodger approaching and inclined his head in such a way as to signal, "Follow me, human." The lodger did so, out of curiosity, and the cat led him up the ginnel and stopped by one of the back gardens, where there was a dog. The dog saw him, ran up to the fence and started barking its head off. The cat calmly walked along to the garden diagonally opposite, where there was another dog. Same thing happened.

The cat then positioned himself squarely between the two dogs, so that they could see each other... and then darted back to the end of the ginnel and just sat there looking smug while the two stupid dogs stood there barking madly at each other, as if to say, "See? I did that!"

The lodger came in and reported the whole incident to me, suitably chastened. "What was so remarkable," he observed, "was that he'd obviously planned it all out in advance. I had no idea cats could do that."

To be honest I don't think most of them can. But this one was a bit of a feline-stein.

#23 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 03:05 PM:

fidelio @20: Sounds messy. The late sister of our present feline overlady once jumped up and pretty much into the fridge (where the wonderful foods come from, such as cheese, and cauliflower leaves). She would have got in properly except for the solid front of the salad crisper compartment. Hate to think what she would have done with opposable thumbs. And I'm sure her sister too would open the door and then the cheese box, given half a chance.

(And the lemurs went outside as soon as they were old enough, to see other lemurs and grow up learning they were lemurs)

#24 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 03:27 PM:

Mongoose @22 and dcb @23--I am reminded of the stories told about the late Snufkin, who cohabited with Maureen Kincaid Speller and Paul Kincaid. He could open the refrigerator, and unless active steps were taken to secure it against his depredations, often did so...

#25 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 03:35 PM:

I'm reminded a story told by a friend who was owned by two cats and two dachsunds.

The cats weren't strong enough to open a pizza box, and the dachshunds weren't tall enough to get on the counter. So surely it was safe to leave the kitchen for a few minutes after the pizza was delivered...

Solution? Cooperation! The cats pushed the pizza onto the floor, where the dogs tore open the boxes, and all had a feast. Except the humans, who had to make do with peanut-butter sandwiches.

#26 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 05:04 PM:

Open Threadiness: Mercury Seven astronaut Scott Carpenter just died. He was 88 years old.

#27 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 05:44 PM:

My cat Phoebe, age 11, was diagnosed with mast cell cancer in May. After a splenectomy, she tolerated chemo with no side effects at all. Until a few days ago, when she started a rapid decline. I said good-bye to her this afternoon.

I have other cats, but she was my baby. Also the second cat I've lost in 16 months.

#28 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 05:46 PM:

Glenda, I'm sorry for your loss.

#29 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 05:47 PM:

Glenda, much sympathy.

#30 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 05:55 PM:

Glenda, much sympathy.

#31 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 06:09 PM:

Lots of sympathy from here too, Glenda, from another survivor of recent cat loss.

#32 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 06:58 PM:

Glenda, I'm so sorry.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 07:11 PM:

GlendaP: The loss of a cat is always hard to bear. You have my sympathies.

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 07:15 PM:

I'm currently attending a conference in Jamaica where the front-page news in today's paper was the death of a former deputy prime minister who was one of the most affable politicians I've ever met, and who was also an excellent jazz pianist. I can't help reflecting that had this been in the US there would have been insects crawling out from under stones to condemn him for having been a lifelong socialist (British Labour Party variety).

#35 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 07:36 PM:

GlendaP, my condolences. It's always a hard choice.

#36 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 07:40 PM:

I'm sorry for your losses, Glenda. And I'm glad your cats had you, and vice versa.

#37 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 07:54 PM:

The BBC has published details of the lost Doctor Who episodes recovered.

The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World

#38 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 07:59 PM:

Glenda, sorry to hear about the cat. I hope you feel better soon.

#39 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 08:27 PM:

GlendaP: My condolences.

Mongoose #22: People joke about their cats going for world domination, but an old boss of mine told me about a cat that repeatedly used a highway to assassinate other neighborhood pets, by luring them onto it.

Another cat he told me about was one of the 10% who are immune to catnip. The local catnip patch was in his yard. Easy path to at least neighborhood domination: "Invite" the other cats back to his place, let them get stoned out of their skulls, then beat on them.

#40 ::: J. Random Scribbler ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 08:40 PM:

Glenda, my condolences as well. No matter that we knew all along that they'd go someday, no matter how ready we thought we were when their time drew near, it still hurts.

#41 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 08:56 PM:

My sympathies, Glenda.

#42 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:06 PM:

Glenda, I'm sorry for your loss.

#44 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:12 PM:

Glenda: it always hurts to see them go. My sympathies.

#45 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:12 PM:

A tomcat that belonged to some friends of mine would find and socialize a feral kitten and add it to the household every time the humans got another dog.

#46 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:29 PM:

My sympathies, Glenda.

#47 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:50 PM:

there was an article in the news about a cat in London who knew how to ride the bus and what stop to get off at to eat the scraps behind a fish store.

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 10:03 PM:

My parents had two cats, from the same litter by quite different otherwise. Once, during 'frisk the cat' season, one came to the door and asked to be let in: not carrying, so was let in, went over and checked the food dish, then walked over to the cat door, stuck her head through it, and pulled it back into the house with a bird in her mouth. Another time one of them, in very dry, staticky conditions, walked up to my father and carefully touched him with an extended claw.

HLN: woman turned on computer this morning and found that it couldn't get past the BIOS. Hard drive failure. Currently on netbook, will be installing new hard drive (and more memory) tomorrow.

#49 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 10:16 PM:

Glenda, my sympathies on your loss. Mast cell is one of the nastier kinds, and I'm glad your Phoebe was given a little more time with you, although clearly it was not enough.

Kitten chaser, for those who need one: as you may recall, I agreed to foster four orphaned kittens, who are now 5-6 weeks old and full of energy. They have charmed the FF as well as the Ex, and one of my technicians at work, so I have homes for three. They are still quite small, but have taken readily to soft food along with kitten milk replacer.

I am now on furlough, so I am looking forward to doing a few more things around the house (that didn't get done while I was on vacation), as well as watching kittens grow.

#50 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 10:40 PM:

Personally, I'd love to a fly on the wall at the writers' meetings.

#51 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 10:40 PM:

Love to be, I mean.

#52 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 11:07 PM:

Glenda, I'm sorry for your loss.

Germane to the thread opener, I am currently sewing a tailcoat for my five-year-old's Halloween costume. This ought to be interesting, since the pattern, though "for kids", still had to be sized down.

(He'll be The Big Bad Wolf. The three-year-old will be Little Red Riding Hood.)

#53 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 11:18 PM:

B Durbin @51 (He'll be The Big Bad Wolf. The three-year-old will be Little Red Riding Hood.)

Suddenly I'm picturing a five-year-old singing "Hello, Little Girl" from Into the Woods. Anyone have any brain bleach...?

(Sounds like a cute costume set.)

#54 ::: Cassy B. has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 11:19 PM:

I guess the gnomes like Sondheim, too. I have chocolate chip ice-cream...

#55 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 11:47 PM:

Julie, I doubt it. A kindred soul maybe, but that's not how Fragano would put it.

#56 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 12:40 AM:

I'm sorry for your loss, Glenda.

#57 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 01:03 AM:

Thanks, everyone.

I've spent the evening cuddling my other two and looking at cute kitten pics.

#58 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 01:54 AM:

I am sorry to read this, Glenda.

#59 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 02:20 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe mentioned his parents having a polydactyl feline. Polydactyly is a long-running program by our feline overlords to develop opposable thumbs so they don't have to depend on apes to do all their work for them.

#60 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 03:22 AM:

Glenda: sympathies and a virtual {{{{{hug}}}}} if it's of any use at all.

fidelio: I'm very glad ours isn't strong enough to do that.

Cassy B. @25: That's teamwork!

P J Evans @48: A timely reminder for me to start backing up more regularly again (you'd have thought I'd have learned that lesson after two catastrophic HD failures, but it's so easy to get complacent again).

#61 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 04:09 AM:

my sympathies, that first too-quiet morning is a hard one.

P J Evans @48 dcb@58: if you need more incentive, what I thought was a memory error- well, what started as a memory error -- cascaded into the hard drive. Got a new laptop, recovered most files. Which could almost sound good, but it's more like getting most of the sand out of your shoes.

#62 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 04:58 AM:

Dave @ 39: that's terrifying. Fortunately, my feline genius, though undoubtedly the boss of all the other animals in the neighbourhood, was an entirely benevolent tyrant. He never picked fights. If another animal insisted on fighting him, he'd do his best to convince them it was a waste of time, but if they still wouldn't back down he'd prove it. I've known him break up fights between two other cats. He was very strong and had excellent reflexes.

Basically, he'd let anyone onto his territory as long as they behaved respectfully towards him and the other feline members of the household. If they didn't, well. He wouldn't actually hurt them, but I do recall one cat who made the mistake of hassling the highly-strung ginger girl who is now my one remaining cat. This cat ended up upside down in a flower bed, being looked at. When he tried to get up, he'd just be batted back into position. It was psychological warfare at its finest.

#63 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 07:23 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #45: Aww. I like that kind of feline genius better.

#64 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 07:24 AM:

Any idea why he decided to wear the short coat though? Was it born out of necessity and his position in society led to its adoption, or was it actively rebellion on his part.

#65 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 07:36 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @45: Well done that cat!

Mongoose @61: Wow! We had a peacock once that used to get fed up with the red junglefowl cockerels fighting. He'd stride up, position himself between them and deliver a peck in each direction to make it clear that "this is to stop, right now!" Of course, he had the distinct advantage of being a lot larger than they were.

#66 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 09:12 AM:

GlendaP: I'm sorry. Their physical size is so small compared to the space they can take up in our lives.

#67 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 09:29 AM:

GlendaP, my sympathies for your loss.

#68 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 10:03 AM:


If recursively summing the digits of a decimal number n yields 9 as the final result, the number is divisible by 9 (that is, n = 0 modulo 9).

#69 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 10:25 AM:

You think that's feline-canine cooperation? Try this:

B's bedroom was over the kitchen, and one way to reach it was through a trap door in the kitchen ceiling. The pets, two dogs and a cat, had been getting into the garbage. The garbage can was now kept tightly capped, in the cabinet under the sink, behind a door that the family knew could not be pulled open by any of said pets. But they were still finding the can on its side, and its contents strewn over the floor.

One afternoon, when B was home alone in his bedroom, he heard a noise, and looked down to see the cabinet door burst open, and the cat leap out. To do that, the cat had had to slide behind the refrigerator, on another wall, slip into the gap that led into the cabinet space, and work his way through all the other cabinets to get to the one under the sink.

Then he had to hurl himself at the door with enough force to overcome the latch.

Now the big dog went into action. He grabbed the handle of the can in his mouth, and carefully pulled the can forward, until it was just balanced on the edge of the cabinet floor. Finally, he gave a sharp tug, so that the can keeled over onto the kitchen floor, and its lid popped off.

They feasted.

#70 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 10:43 AM:

GlendaP I'm sorry you lost a friend.

#71 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 11:08 AM:

fidelio @ #24: He could open the refrigerator, and unless active steps were taken to secure it against his depredations, often did so...

My parents' last cat was really good at pulling doors open, and they had to install a latch on the refrigerator to stop him raiding it. But he once got himself trapped in a cupboard that opened outward, because if pulling the door didn't get it open he was out of ideas.

#72 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 11:26 AM:

# 25 and 68: That reminds me of a time years ago when my sister an I shared a house. We had three dogs - one perpetual puppy that looked like a golden retriever (wasn't - pedigree didn't branch much), one classic black lab and a bouvier des flandres that could be purely evil. One night, these three canine geniuses figured out how to open the refrigerator and they had a lot of fun. I sure didn't cleaning up the food they pulled out and the mess they made as they discovered somethings are not intended for dogs.

Then, a few days later, to prove it wasn't a fluke they did it again. Then I invested in a child proof latch for the fridge and it never repeated itself. Though there were suspicious marks on the lower part of the fridge door...

#73 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 11:47 AM:

GlendaP, late but sincere condolences.

#74 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 12:15 PM:

HLN: Local man sees Gravity, anxiously sifts Internet in search of spoileriffic discussion forum.

#75 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 12:28 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 73... Thumbs up or down?

#77 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 01:05 PM:

Serge @74, C @75, I am amused by these two posts coming in sucession, as five years ago a Norwegian gull stole part of my thumb!

#78 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 01:13 PM:

Andrew Wells @ 76... Ouch.

#79 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 01:31 PM:

HLN: Local woman is bemused to see her kids in an Of Montreal music video from 1997. Had forgotten how adorable her kids were back then.

#80 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 01:43 PM:

Serge @77, yes, that's pretty much what I said at the time. (Well, what I said may have been a little longer ... )

But it was worth it, because it was an immediate prelude to seeing a White-Tailed Sea Eagle :-)

#81 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 02:20 PM:

I work for a state agency which is entirely federally-funded. The state government managed to scare up enough cash (on the theory that they WILL be repaid) to keep us open these past two weeks.

I am about to go to a meeting with our director where she'll explain which people are being furloughed next week, and how we're going to handle all the things that need to be taken care of without these people.

I expect there to be vigorous discussion.

#82 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 03:10 PM:

Serge, #74:

Oh, thumbs up, certainly.

But I have certain reservations, which I will mention here in a spoiler-free way:

1. As I have written elsewhere, if you are the slightest bit inclined to see Europa Report, which has just come out on DVD this week in the U.S., try to see it before you see Gravity. Here's why.

2. Under their extravehicular-activity suits, Hollywood actresses do not wear what astronauts wear under their own suits. Also, Hollywood actresses are remarkably speedy both at donning and doffing various types of space suit, even without assistance.

3. There is fantastic attention to astronautical detail in the suits, sets, and spacecraft. However-- as other observers have noted, mostly in spoiler-filled discourse-- the principles of orbital rendezvous are rather implausibly twisted.

Nevertheless, it is a fabulous space movie.

#83 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 03:20 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 81... I won't be able to see "Europa Report" before "Gravity", alas. I saw the ad for the former at George RR Martin's Cocteau Theater and they both look good.

#84 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 03:57 PM:

Jerboa starring in Dramatic Little Monster.

#85 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 04:09 PM:

fidelio @80: Urg. Hope it works out as well as possible.

#86 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 04:20 PM:

dcb @84: About 23% of the agency furloughed, with nearly all of uppermanagement and those support units not directly involved in claim processing. Not great, but it could be ever so much worse, and we're hoping it won't be.

We get congressional inquiries on cases regularly; someone uggested that the answer to such inquiries should be "We're sorry, we can't answer that, and it's your fault."

#87 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 08:00 PM:

If anyone was thinking of taking a peek back into the political thread, don't bother. It just Godwinized.

#88 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 08:02 PM:

Thank you to whoever it was that mentioned/recommended Psychonauts (I can't remember person or thread, I'm afraid). Even if it is evil and has stolen my time.

#89 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 08:10 PM:

Not really, and that line is going nowhere.

#90 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 11:20 PM:

@70: The two cats in my life have had different philosophies about opening doors which are already open a crack. Percy hooked a claw around the door and pulled it toward him to open it. Zachias goes up to the door and pushes his nose against it, opening it that way. But neither one figured out how to open the door the other way.

#91 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:07 AM:

On cats and doors: Cleo has taught herself how to open the one door with a lever handle. She also taught herself how to open it from either side. As a consequence, if the other cat is out in the sun room to eat his meal in peace, I have to lock the door to prevent her from getting to his food. She also attempts to open the usual round door handles, and I fear for the future should she ever figure that one out.

#92 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:27 AM:

I forget if I read about it here, or way back when on rassef, but wasn't there a fan who decided to breed Siamese cats for both polydactyly and intelligence? As I recall, it didn't take many generations for it to become a little freaky... she had a web page, I think, but Googling for polydactyl Siamese intelligence doesn't get me anything like what I'm looking for.

#93 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:49 AM:

Cheryl @91

I am not sure that the cats are Siamese, but this is what Leslie Fish is doing.

#94 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:57 AM:

I pass through Tuxedo Park when I take the train up to my parents' place up near Port Jervis. I knew there was a connection to the suit, and something about a club, but not the full details.

I always pictured the club as an isolated country place that the elite travelled to for the occasion. Never knew Tuxedo Park was an estate sort of place; it is so isolated! But I guess that is the point.

I believe there's a SCA event or Ren Faire held up there.

#95 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 07:51 AM:

Theophylact @67:

A neat variant on that, which I conjectured to my teen last week, is that if you express the number in Base 8, the number is divisible by 7 if its digits sum recursively to 7.

It's neat because you can also make it work for binary: you chop things up into sets of 3 digits and sum recursively: you need to get things to sum to 111 for divisibility by 7.

(Proof left as an exercise to the reader.)

#96 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 07:56 AM:

(Mostly because the margin is too small to contain it, of course)

#97 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 08:17 AM:

praisegod barebones@95

So this means that we won't be able to verify this theorem for several centuries?

#98 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 08:30 AM:

pgbb, #94: That's because binary and octal are so closely related (8 being a power of 2). If you have a long binary number, you can convert it to octal almost as fast as you can write by mentally grouping the digits (right to left) by 3s and writing down the octal equivalent. Conversely, you can convert an octal number to binary by converting each individual digit to its binary version.

I wonder if "digits in a number Base X sum to 1 less than the base = number divisible by 1 less than the base" is a general formula? I'm in a rush this morning, though, so I'll leave the testing for someone else.

#99 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 09:09 AM:

Cheryl @91: That's Leslie Fish's cats, all right. Some of her foundational stock was Siamese, but Maine Coon brought the polydactyly in, and she'll take any stock that's smart enough for her standards. She initially selected for large heads (figuring extra space for neurons was good), and then started raising her kittens in really enriched, play-based, puzzle-y environments and keeping only the smartest one or two out of any litter.

Even her culls are really freaky-smart and teamworky, by now ...

#100 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 09:20 AM:

I wonder if "digits in a number Base X sum to 1 less than the base = number divisible by 1 less than the base" is a general formula?

I wondered this, too, while laughing over "proof won't fit in margin".

#101 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 09:29 AM:

Allan Beatty @ 86... I peeked and see that Abi has made clear there's a containment policy in effect. Thank goodness.

#102 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 09:52 AM:

Carol Kimball (99): That's been discussed around here before, and the answer was Yes. I'll try to dig out a link to the earlier discussion this evening, unless someone beats me to it.

#103 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 09:55 AM:

It seems strange to say that anyone is "shocked" by a garment of unusual cut. And not very unusual at that. It's not like the young man showed up barefoot or in assless chaps.

#104 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 10:57 AM:

Lee #97: Yup -- in base 16, you cast out fifteens, and so on. Learned that one back in high school (my math teacher was also the computer teacher).

While you can't cast out zeros for binary, the equivalent there is "parity", which is 1 iff the original number has an odd number of 1 bits. Parity is equivalent to summing the digits and discarding all but the low bit.

#105 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 11:17 AM:

@94, etc.: Summing the digits is equivalent to subtracting multiples of (b^n)-1 (where b is the base, and n is which digit you are "demoting" to the ones place). (For example, in base 10, if you replace 100 with 1, you are subtracting 99, and if you replace 500 with 5, you are subtracting 5*99.)

Since b=1 (mod b-1), b^n=1 (mod b-1) for all n, therefore, (b^n)-1=0 (mod b-1), and subtracting multiples of it cannot change the value mod b-1.

If you started with a nonzero number, the repeated summing procedure won't actually get to zero, it will get to b-1 instead, but that's the same thing mod b-1, so it still indicates divisibility by b-1.

#106 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 11:36 AM:

@92 & 98

Merci! That's who I was thinking of. I wonder if being owned by one of her cats would fall under "so cool!" or "somewhat terrifying"?

#107 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 11:46 AM:

The most exciting cat story I have is Sheba, who plays fetch with her foil balls. She'll be obsessed with playing for a couple weeks, during which time the house will accumulate a dozen or so balls made up by various of her humans, then she'll lose interest for six months or so, but other than that I haven't see any example of cognitive brilliance out of our cats.

The puppy, on the other hand, is obviously a thinker, but there are no stories yet.

#108 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:05 PM:

Cheryl @105: She only adopts out her (sterilized) culls in pairs or threes, because one of hers in a household containing only 'normal' other cats gets really bored and frustrated quickly.

#109 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:13 PM:

I'd like to meet Leslie Fish's intelligent, dextrous cats, although I'm also getting worried about the imminent rise of our new feline overlords!

#110 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:30 PM:

She only adopts out her (sterilized) culls in pairs or threes...

I will face my temptation.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the temptation has gone there will be nothing...
Only I will remain.

#111 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:39 PM:

Andrew Wells @108: They (and she) live on a compound in fairly remote Arizona, so they're not an easily-accessible tourist destination.

#112 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:41 PM:

@107 Elliott Mason
She only adopts out her (sterilized) culls in pairs or threes, because one of hers in a household containing only 'normal' other cats gets really bored and frustrated quickly.

Well, that definitely tips it over into the "terrifying" category. Three super-intelligent polydactyl cats against ordinary me? Feline overlords indeed!

#113 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:44 PM:

I've spent enough time around a wide range of cats to have a certain amount of trepidation where superintelligent (or even dangerously clever) cats are concerned. I'd love to observe cats that clever, but I'd rather not be owned by them. Local Shouty Cat is enough of an overlord for me.

#114 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:05 PM:

Alex R: Yeah, I'm carefully not thinking about how I could manage to get a pair of kittens happily and safely from Arizona to Pittsburgh...

Our cats are eight and a half; it's time to get a kitten anyway!

#115 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:11 PM:

The "casting out" yielding 0 of n-1 for base n being a test of divisibility is one of the really interesting fun bits of math. I don't know if anyone's proven that the casting-out of one less than a power of the base number is a similar test of divisibility, but it seems likely from the result in octal mentioned above -- it's probably of fairly limited use, but it might make a nice small math paper for someone who's interested in developing the proof. It's trivial in certain cases (where the number of digits is a multiple of [the number of digits in the power to which the base is raised], it's just making the power the base), but it's not so obvious in a longer string. (Resists temptation to go off and play with the math....)

If you can see a simple counterexample, let me know, okay?

#116 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:18 PM:

Carrie S. @ 113

Shipping live animals is easy. Just Google it!

#117 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:28 PM:

I've read the Parhelia about the Daily Mail bein caught lying about the European Court of Human Rights.

For starters, the Daily Mail is a hard-right newspaper. History is not always reliable, but ownership has been in the same family since it was founded, and there is a consistency in the newpaper's political atitudes. So I don't feel it unfair to point out that the newspaper supported the fascism of the 1930s, whether in Britain, Spain, or Germany.

Meanwhile, Britain was one of the countries which wrote the European Convention, and founded the European Court, all as part of the post-WW2 reaction to the Nazi abuse of the German legal system. It was a collective European declaration of "Never again!".

Fast-forward to 1998. In that year came the Human Rights Act, which required British Courts to take into account the Convention, and the rulings of the Court, when they interpreted British Law. It also required legislation to be drafted to take the strictures of the Convention into account, and required the Ministers responsible for new law to make a declaration that they had done so.

It was soon apparent that British politicians has a less than obvious understanding of what the Convention meant.

We now have a very vocal anti-Europe campaign in the UK, intended to get us out of the EU, and which lumps together a variety of distinct things as "Europe!", about which they routinely promote lies and scare stories. Senior members of the Government, such as the Home Secretary are talking openly about abrogating the European Convention after the next election.

Even Russia has signed up to the Convention.

While there are differences in the language, there is a considerable overlap with such things as the US Bill of Rights. And these things can all be traced back to Magna Carta. But, because it might stop a bunch of authoritarian thugs from treating us like slaves, I suppose the old fascists have reunited to oppose it.

Now that the European Court has made an official statement pointing out the lies which the Daily Mail has published, and there is an argument about the proposed Royal Charter for the press (which does seem to have flaws), I intend to lay in a good supply of popcorn.

#118 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 02:43 PM:

Dave Bell @116: It surprises me how many Europeans have forgotten why European integration is a good idea:

#119 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 02:46 PM:

My sister Pat and I once shared a table with Leslie Fish at a Pegasus Awards banquet. She told us a story about her cats setting an ambush for some cat-harassing jays, using a half-grown kitten as bait to lure them in. They sounded frighteningly smart then, and that was probably over 15 years ago.

Anyone else going to OVFF this year, by the way?

#120 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Johan Larson @102, he was moving in 19th Century upper class society where fashions were very narrowly defined (especially for men) and slow to change (especially for men).

#121 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 03:08 PM:

John @116, I fully agree. I am not a great fan of European integration; but anything that helps to keep the peace in Western Europe for 68+ years has to be a good thing.

#122 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 03:18 PM:

This update from Leslie Fish seems like something the Fluorosphere would find interesting. (If anyone can find the link referenced in her comment, I'd very much like it.)

#123 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 03:38 PM:

Anne Sheller @118: I am definitely going, though I have yet to find a suitable carpool companion (yikes).

#124 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 03:38 PM:

Ah, Glenda, you have my condolences.

#125 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 05:10 PM:

Newspaper headline:
Mortal shells strike near chemical weapons inspectors’ hotel in Syria

I suspect someone let autocorrect do its thing without bothering to check the result.

#126 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 06:21 PM:

About a third of a century back, I recall establishing that that thing that works for 9's in base 10 also works for 15's in hex. I may have tried it for a few other bases as well, but don't recall. Haven't been back there since--I've got some cognitive/memory problems that make it hard to hold onto math. Even though I discovered/devised hex by myself when I was D. There's folks that are just no good at math and then there's folks that would be but they have intermittents or shorts in their wiring.
Sympathies to those who have lost furry friends and congratulations to those acquiring same. Me, I can't afford one.

#127 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 06:43 PM:

Oh, I would love a pair of Leslie Fish's cats! I really miss my superintelligent tabby.

He only ever once opened a door that he shouldn't. I responded by picking him up, giving him a cuddle, telling him what a very clever cat he was to work out how to open the door, and then asking if he'd please not do it again.

And he didn't.

#128 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 07:09 PM:

On the topic of intelligent cats, I thought I'd been owned by some smart cats but nothing tops these two.

(Link goes to a youtube video. I don't recommend watching it while ingesting liquid.)

The two of them haven't figured out doorknobs, but they open unlatched doors, sliding pocket doors, and cabinets, can get dresser drawer open to retrieve toys inside (including the top drawers from the top of the dresser), can get under boxes left upside down on the floor, and both fetch jingle balls. They can also open many types of plastic food containers.

I have to tie my closet door shut (it doesn't latch) to keep Mocha from getting in there. If he gets in, he pulls all the clothes off the hangers just because he can.

#129 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 07:21 PM:

It seems like this should get as much attention as possible, so I'm mentioning it here. There is an infinite amount of wtf in that final email response.

#130 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 07:27 PM:

My parents' cats, the same ones that brought the bird through the cat door and discharged the static, could open drawers that they could reach. Walk into the kitchen, discover dishtowels on floor, and check drawer for cat (usually black-smoke Sammy). Harry had a cupboard in the utility room she liked. Sammy had a thing for heights, inside and out.

#131 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 08:09 PM:

Is the cat discussion reminding anyone else of André Norton's "Star Ka'at" series?

#132 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 08:09 PM:

Following up on my #101, I'm not finding the earlier ML discussion I remember on casting out nines and other numbers, but looks like it's already been addressed well right here.

#133 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 09:00 PM:

Russ #128: Bora Zivkovic, the blogs editor from Sci Am, who seems to be liked and trusted by the bloggers (at least up to now), just tweeted

Sorry for delay, hard to find ppl on a long weekend. I contacted bloggers with info. Not all info available yet. Public statement later.

So it's at least possible that adult supervision is being resumed at Sci Am.

#134 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 11:20 PM:

I think there's a proof that
11 x 11 = 121
In any base greater than two. It should follow from that algebraic expansion.

The properties of (base-1) in base n are probably similar. I am not enough of a mathematician to attempt it though.

#135 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 01:25 AM:

PJ -- The red tabby in the video I linked to has an absolute obsession with boxes, bags, baskets, and anything else she can get in. I have found her in drawers more times than I could count!

When she was about five or six months old, I hurried out the door with my laptop bag, got in the car and reached inside for my keys.

The inside of the bag was unusually furry and warm. She weighed so little at the time that I didn't notice the extra weight.

I can't count the number of times I've picked up a box or shopping bag and went, "Why is this so heavy? Oh. Cat inside." That tiny little kitten grew up to be twelve pounds.

#136 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 02:31 AM:

Anne Sheller @ #118, that story is told in the pages linked to by Elliott Mason @ #98. There are a couple of similar tales told there as well.

#137 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 02:55 AM:

Google's Plan To Shove You In Ads
"Google announced Friday that it will begin featuring users’ photos, names and comments in the promotions it serves up online, both on Google properties and on the more than 2 million sites that tap into its advertising network."


#138 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 03:17 AM:

Thinking on from my own post @108, I've just realised that these cats might be reading Making Light. So what I meant, of course, was that I for one welcome the rise of our new feline overlords, and will be a good and loyal human servant ...

#139 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 03:42 AM:

Theophylact #67

Here's the song that taught me that axiom when I was nine.

The fact that there is currently no educational math show equivalent to Square One makes me sad. The fact that you can't get official high quality DVDs of it anywhere makes me even sadder. Thanks to that show, in fifth grade I was able to provide a definition of "tessellation" when my teacher didn't recognize the word.

All the songs were just amazing, and they stick with me decades later. Comedy music has a long history of "honest" love songs, but this one from Square One is my favorite; hilarious, with bonus math lesson.

#140 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 04:21 AM:

One of the politically awkward points about intelligence in humans is that, while genetics has to have something to do with it, family environment is involved too. There are measurably smart parents who create a sterile and uninspiring environment for their kids.

Politically, the parental element, especially when it is labelled "genetic", is a great excuse for not "wasting" money on education. While a chunk is in our genes, it's certainly worth making the effort to inspire children.

And most of this effort needs to be made from the earliest days. By the time they start school, it may already be too late.

This is one of the reasons I am rather glad that we have the BBC, here in the UK. Yes, you have Sesame Street, but we have a whole TV channel, Cbeebies, aimed at this age group, and with a lot of material designed to stimulate young children.

It's never going to be enough, and parents trapped by poverty and unemployment are going to struggle to add to that stimulation. But it's there.

Yet, despite that start, we're told that we are at the bottom of international comparisons of literacy and numeracy, and older people score better than the young, which is unusual.

I wonder what schools have been doing wrong for the past twenty or so years. One feature in that time had been the pressure on the school to score well in standardised tests. The Politicians are now insisting that all schools should be above average.

That might make sense, if they were to say that the average they set as the target was, for instance, that of 2008. But that isn't what they say.

As for the newspaper results on these shocking results for numeracy and literacy, there's all the usual statistical deception and inadequacy in how the figures are presented. Nobody is saying what the difference is between the worst and the best, and (more subtle) there is nothing about the error range possible. Old people are smarter, but the difference between old and young is one part in 2500.

One radical proposal I have seen is that schools should stop teaching calculus, and put the effort into probability and statistics. When there are so many instances of figures being abused in obvious ways by those in power, it's a tempting idea, but do we really expect to get a change in education which goes against the interests of Government, Media, and The Mob?

#141 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 04:40 AM:

Dave Bell @13:

Speaking as the parent of a newly-effloresced middle schooler, let me tell you that a lot of the work of making a kid an academic success (and thus "intelligent" by most measures we use in society) is not complete by the time they start primary school.

The amount of adult time and attention that goes into making sure the kid is appropriately fed, rested, bathed and dressed, at the right location at the right time with the right books, and has completed all of his homework with an acceptable level of attention is pretty staggering. I'm certainly staggering as we do it.

Running a household that has the mental, emotional and physical space to do this is very much easier with money. We each only work one job, so evenings are available for tutoring and coaching in study skills; we have the energy to spend those evenings doing that; we have enough space that the child can have somewhere quiet to study.

This is not to discount CBeebies, which both of our kids adored and learned a lot from. But I gotta tell you, I look back on those days with fond nostalgia sometimes.

#142 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 04:56 AM:

abi @ 140... I'm certainly staggering as we do it

Writer Daniel Abraham and his wife Kat, when asked why they have only their 7-year-old-daughter who's joked about coffee as a non-newtonian-liquid, have responded with words to the effect that they wouldn't have the energy to nurture two kids.

#143 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 05:08 AM:

When I ask the mother of my younger godson & his brother - currently 5 and 7 - how she is, she almost always replies, "Strangely tired;" to which my standard reply is, "And why is this strange?"

#144 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 05:45 AM:

My nephew is four years old, has Down's Syndrome, and is a sunny, sweet-natured, adorable, but above all very energetic little boy. I recently went to stay with my sister and family, and experienced his constant boing at first hand for a few days. It was fun, but... tiring.

"Where does he get all that energy?" I asked my sister.

"He drains it from his parents," she replied.

It made perfect sense.

#145 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 08:34 AM:

Mongoose @143: I've known for some time that children are energy vampires - it's the simplest explanation for why they have so much energy while the adults around them have so little.

#146 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 09:20 AM:

Dave Bell #139 - the thing is, the scores of people in their 50's and teenagers that people are comparing, are actually very close indeed, so there isn't any clear need to worry about it. But then as you note the newspaper presentation of it all is pants.

REgarding how education is, is going, and what might be done to improve it, Gove's adviser Cummings wrote a paper on it:

There are many, many things wrong with it, and some useful points. Interestingly, there are charts suggesting that, over the last decade with teach to the test, that exam results are uncoupled from the results you expect from general surveys of ability. Which makes sense if you are teaching to the test; you gain ability at completing set narrow tasks and lose more general abilities.
Cummings work also claims, without any evidence, that Sure Start and the like don't work. Apparently the Tory government shut down the funding to the body which was monitoring how Sure Start was doing, so that's not exactly fair.

Older people may read Cummings paper and remember ones like it from the 50's or 60's, with the white heat of technocracy promising to use science to make everything better.

#147 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 11:28 AM:

Henry Troup @ #133: Yeah. It's called the Binomial Theorem.

#148 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 12:04 PM:

Dave Bell #139:

One of the politically awkward points about intelligence in humans is that, while genetics has to have something to do with it, family environment is involved too. There are measurably smart parents who create a sterile and uninspiring environment for their kids.

This is much of the difference between "genetics" and "heritability". Parents who screw up nurturing are failing heritability no matter how stable their genetics are.

guthrie #145: over the last decade with teach to the test, that exam results are uncoupled from the results you expect from general surveys of ability.

See also Goodhart's Law.

(Hmm. It seems my "view all by" is split, with only 86 of my posts (including some older ones) attached to this address -- presumably, the rest are at my older address on the same site.)

#149 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 12:35 PM:

Russ @ 128

What the fuckity-fuckin-fuck is wrong with that guy?

That's a rhetorical question by the way. The so-called male is question is obviously suffering from a combination of sexism, racism, and the sort of very small "instrument package" that would make any scientist insecure.

#150 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 01:12 PM:

Tom W.@114, Henry Troup@133, et al.: Re-read chris@104?

#151 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 03:31 PM:

"Niagara Falls? I told you we should have turned left at Tuxedo Junction!"

#152 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 03:58 PM:

David G @149 -- the problem for an off-number of the exponent isn't actually addressed by chris's comment, at least directly. It's slightly more complex than that. For a simple question (I haven't played with it, so I don't know!) does casting out 99s indicate divisibility by both 9 and 11? Since divisibilty by 11 is indicated by the sum of odd and even digits in the number in question, this could be a useful bit of information. (And that aspect of 11-divisibility is also base-independent, because of the binomial expansion referenced earlier.)

#153 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 04:13 PM:

Here's the latest from SciAm

#154 ::: SummerStorms was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 04:14 PM:

while attempting to post a link to the latest from Scientific American regarding the situation discussed upthread.

I can offer butter-pecan ice cream.

#155 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 04:53 PM:

Alex R @148: Sexist and racist, yes, very plainly - but could we not conflate anatomy with character?

#156 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 07:24 PM:

HLN: Local woman completes photoshoot of artwork to be displayed at MileHiCon next weekend. Good news: the job is done. Also, took about as long as anticipated. Bad news: job took about 4x the energy local woman anticipated. "It's amazing how much exercise is involved in running up and down a half-flight of stairs twelve times turns out to be." Local woman is now feeling thoroughly squashed. "I could have lived without schlepping all that stuff outside, and then carting it all back inside. Especially considering the," she coughs, "quality of the images produced."

Local woman garners the perhaps not-mind-blowing insight that the intelligent way to approach this would have been to photograph each piece, individually, as it was finished. Of course, this would presuppose finishing each piece in a reasonably timely fashion, istead of leaving touch-up and that last coat of varnish to be done in a batch in a mad panic at the very last possible minute.

Also: local woman concludes that she hates product photography.

#157 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 08:03 PM:

Tom Whitmore @151:
For a simple question (I haven't played with it, so I don't know!) does casting out 99s indicate divisibility by both 9 and 11?

If you do it properly, yes. You have to work in two-digit blocks, so that you're actually doing it in base 100. At that point, it works exactly the same as 9s in base 10, for the same reason.

Example: 57024 (=9*11*576)

#158 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 09:18 PM:

Dave Bell @#139
I've heard a lot of suggestions that calculus be removed from the curriculum, and a lot of suggestions that statistics should be added. Usually the two suggestions go together but I've heard other candidates for what should replace calculus or be dropped for statistics. I'm unsure if they are good ideas. On one hand its true that calculus is one of the least useful branches of math in day to day life and as it is currently taught not very good at building mathematical reasoning (something with more proofs would be better). On the other hand knowing calculus is a huge bottleneck for a lot of fields that require math, there's a reason Newton needed to invent it to explain gravity. Probability/statistics is arguably one of these fields. You can teach people some rather useful tricks for not being misled by statistics without using calculus, but actually understanding even basic probability theory often requires the use of calculus concepts like limits.

#159 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 09:29 PM:

#151: For a simple question (I haven't played with it, so I don't know!) does casting out 99s indicate divisibility by both 9 and 11?

Assuming you mean something like "starting with a base 10 number, break it into 2-digit chunks (starting from the right and allowing the leftmost digit to stand alone if necessary), add up the sum of all chunks, repeat until answer is 2 digits or less" the answer will be congruent to the original number mod 99, so yes, if it is divisible by 3, 9, 11, or 33, then so was the original number.

Similarly, casting out 9s also works as a test for divisibility by 3 -- if you end up with 3 or 6, then the original number was divisible by 3 but not by 9.

Since divisibilty by 11 is indicated by the sum of odd and even digits in the number in question

At first I thought I found a counterexample, but if instead of "the sum of the odd digits and the sum of the even digits are equal" you use "the sums differ by a multiple of 11" as the criterion for divisibility of the original number, I think it would work.

And, like you say, that seems like it will generalize to b+1 for any base b. On the other hand, (b^2)-1 is always (b-1)(b+1), so you could also use the 2-digit-chunks method to test for divisibility mod (b+1). It's not immediately obvious to me which would be easier in general.

3-digit chunks would preserve value mod (b^3)-1, 4-digit chunks (b^4)-1, etc. In general if b and n are relatively prime I think there must exist some k<n such that breaking into k-digit chunks, adding, and repeating will preserve divisibility mod n, because b must have finite order in Z/n, but that's advanced enough that I'm not completely sure of it.

Is this too much math?

#160 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 09:30 PM:

Not a double post, just crossposting with someone with a very similar name. Honest.

#161 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 09:44 PM:

Area man caramelizes onions in slow cooker starting Friday, is very satisfied with the result on Sunday.

"I really was just too busy to take them out," AM said. "But they're really almost black now, and still soft and moist. A slow cooker is really the way to go when caramelizing onions!"

AM says this is the perfect time to caramelize onions by the slow-cook method. "It's cool enough to run a slow cooker without misery," he says, "but warm enough to leave the windows open." He had his slow cooker on a marble slab next to his living room window. "Last year I did my caramelizing in November, and everything (sheets, towels, clothing) in my house reeked of onions until I washed them. This year there's a smell in the house, but not on everything."

AM plans to use his caramelized onions in his famous tofu pâté at Thanksgiving. "Obviously I don't need a whole potful for that," he admits, "but caramelized onions are yummy things in many dishes, including..." AM began to list various ways to use them, but your reporter got bored and wandered off.

#162 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 10:23 PM:

HLN: area woman buys mushrooms for half price at supermarket and decides to have mushroom pizza. No basil or oregano in house, so pizza is seasoned with thyme and garam masala (onion/garlic free). Result is very tasty.

#163 ::: Beowulf has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2013, 11:02 PM:

The post was about math so maybe some pie will help. It was also about education, but I suspect school lunch would cause it to disappear forever. Sorry about the delay with your dessert, real life called me away immediately after submitting my last post.

#164 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 12:15 AM:

Allan Beatty @86: If anyone was thinking of taking a peek back into the political thread, don't bother. It just Godwinized.

But in between, Leah Miller continues to be Really Interesting.

#165 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 12:20 AM:

Elliott Mason @98: That's Leslie Fish's cats...Even her culls are really freaky-smart and teamworky, by now ...

One can't help but wonder: is this really a good idea? I mean, forget Skynet.... (Although extinguishing the human race seems like a bad bet, given that they're prone to making all that lovely food.)

#166 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 12:33 AM:

Cygnet@134 - An "open thread" is also likely to attract cats. (My cats, alas, are currently spending their days locked in a bathroom while we have construction being done on our floors, (or - long rants omitted - not currently being done on our floors.) The two cat carriers are in that bathroom, and the smaller cat really likes sitting in the smaller carrier most of the time.)

Another recent cat-and-container sighting: we stopped in at the San Francisco zoo when we were going through the city this weekend, and the baby tiger there had a mostly-demolished cardboard box that she was playing with. When we first saw her this spring, she was a bit larger than a housecat; she's now well into Labrador retriever territory.

On childrens' energy levels - they've actually got the same energy as adults, but much lower mass, so much higher velocity and faster acceleration.

#167 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 05:45 AM:

Put my cat into a carrier and she will yowl and swear constantly until you let her out. Put a box in the room, however, and she will immediately go and sit in it of her own accord.

Cats are strange.

#168 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 08:11 AM:

Mongoose #165: Exactly how can you tell that your cat is swearing?

#169 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 09:03 AM:

me @ 121

Ok, finally found the link; here is the link to Leslie Fish's fundraiser for an orchard.

abi @ 140

You are scaring me; I had this idea that once ours got bigger (like middle-school age) it would be less energy-draining than four pre-schoolers.

#170 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 09:27 AM:

Fragano @166: cats have a remarkably broad range of vocalizations, and to add to that they've spent the past five or ten thousand years under a selection pressure for human compatibility -- which includes being able to get us shaved apes to do what they want.

Also, if you'd ever heard a cat swearing, you would be under no illusions as to what was being expressed. (It involves hissing, growling, and a general sense of "you wait until I get out of this thing, food ape: I'm gonna rip your face off and shit down your throat!")

#171 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 09:39 AM:

Thanks to my daughter's Gunga hosting an all-cousins sleepover last night, I GOT TO SLEEP ALL NIGHT and wake up when I wanted. Hosanna in the highest!

Plus we had a kid-free, two-adults chore afternoon last night that was hella productive on a bunch of stuff that backs up because we're too tired to tackle it, or is strongly not aided by kid-presence. There was an surprisingly relaxed vibe to some of the chores ... because I wasn't constantly interruptng them every ten minutes to handle Kid Stuff. I got to sort through the empty spice bottles, find all the right bulk spices to go into them, and fill the bottles -- in one go! Amazeballs!

Now if I can just figure out exacly which few colors I want to put in the dark-and-rainbow swirl-skirt dress I just cast on, this morning shall be perfect. Time to hike up to the attic and dig through the yarn boxes and put a few more boxes of yarn up there, newly boxed yesterday in newly-bought boxes -- luxury! Target ishaving a sale on Rubbermaid in 'Halloween colors', if you don't care if your boxes have orange lids.

#172 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 09:52 AM:

SamChevre @167 I had this idea that once ours got bigger (like middle-school age) it would be less energy-draining than four pre-schoolers

In my experience (my kids are now 19 and 21) it's energy draining in different ways. With preschoolers you have to be constantly "on", as Elliott describes @169. With middle schoolers there's less that has to be done Right This Second, but it's more demanding mentally because it requires more strategic thinking about when you need to intervene and when you need to stay out of the way. I still needed to pick my battles, as I did when they were younger, but some of the battles were bigger.

#173 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 10:50 AM:

Charlie #168: I've heard angry cat vocalisations a time or two.

Ours just got home after half a week spent in durance vile while we were off in Jamaica at a conference. I gather, since I was at work when she was picked up, that she was not altogether happy.

#174 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 10:51 AM:

The 10 most disturbing facts about racial inequality in the U.S. justice system.

And the 11th disturbing fact: that these numbers, skewed by racism, are then used by bigots in defense of racism. It's a vicious cycle.

#175 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 11:13 AM:

Agatha the Cat Genius often utters angry vocalizations when Rocky the Idiot Cat tries to impose his idea of playfulness upon her.

#176 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 12:30 PM:

And Siamese cats swearing is very tonal, much different from other cats I have owned.

The first time I heard it, was when Pyewacket, in leash and harness, had been taken outdoors for his first walk in the snow...

He was not amused.

#178 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 01:16 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 175... It makes no mention of Jeff Wayne's version of the story? Humph.

#179 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 01:30 PM:

I hear that today is Chris Columbus Day.
Why a mediocre film director gets celebrated in such a manner, I have no idea.

#181 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 04:57 PM:

Tomorrow (October 15) is the anniversary of Sir Ian Hamilton being relieved of command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. It seems like right day for this--one of the best songs about war I know.

#182 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 05:33 PM:

Fragano @ 167: I think Charlie covered it very well at 169. When you live with a cat, you definitely get an idea of what they're trying to tell you.

Superintelligent Tabby didn't swear often, but when he did, he made it count. On one memorable occasion, we had about two feet of snow. Cats tend to excrete at the edge of their territory, and he, being Local Boss Cat, had a rather large territory, so to get to the edge he had to leave the garden, which normally meant ducking under the fence.

So there's all this snow on the ground, too deep for a cat to walk normally in. The old boy - who was fifteen at the time - eyed it up, squared his shoulders, launched himself into it, and set off swimming towards the gap under the fence. It was only when he got there that he realised he hadn't fully thought the situation through. He didn't know how much snow there was on the other side of the fence, he had no way of finding out, and if it had drifted he risked being buried.

He was not pleased. He stopped, turned round, looked at me - still with a clod of snow on his head - and said "Mwap!" I had no difficulty at all interpreting that as "Dammit!"

I called him in and set up the litter tray. He didn't like litter trays and wouldn't use them unless he absolutely had to, but this was an emergency. And he knew I understood he wasn't being a wimp.

#183 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 06:20 PM:

Circling back to the original opening topic:

Before Griswold Lorillard, what did people call black cats with white shirtfronts?

(Or am I the only one who uses the term 'tuxedo cat'?)

#185 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 06:48 PM:

I Have No Account And I Must Retweet:

from @LeVostreGC:

Whanne Adam dalf and Eve span
What did the foxe saye?

#186 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 07:26 PM:

HLN: Area man sees streaky flashes of light after gym. Tells friend who yells at him "get thee to an opthalmologist."

Fast Forward to: Area man has a tear in his retina. The opthalmologist's office will get precertification tomorrow, then call AM, who will go in and get lasers shot into his eye. This should keep the retina from detaching altogether.

Area man is rather upset, and his eyes hurt from the dilation. Area man would like good thoughts if possible and prayers from those who pray.

#187 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 07:46 PM:

Argh, Xopher. A tear is about the only thing my father's retinas haven't done yet. Good luck with the lasers and any other treatment they do-- if they do the bubble thing, take a little while to brainstorm work you can do in bubble posture. The last time Dad's retina went walkies, he worked on chainmail a lot because it was in the right place anyway.

I'm glad you found it early. Eyes are serious business.

#188 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 07:50 PM:

Fragano @167: Some cats stick to a handful of common vocalizations, but many have extensive reportoires. My 16yo, Carrie, is quite expressive. Although she's almost solid black, I suspect Siamese ancestry, because of her body shape, her voice, and her intelligence.

#189 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 07:52 PM:

Xopher, so glad you're getting it dealt with promptly.

#190 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 08:22 PM:

That's thanks to my friend Lenore. Many of you know Lenore. She's the one who made me go to an opthalmologists right away.

#191 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 08:47 PM:

Xopher, all good wishes and prayers headed your direction. Good for Lenore for good advice, and good for you for following it.

#192 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 08:55 PM:

Xopher, kind thoughts and whatever mojo I have directed your way (since you ask). Hooray for prompt diagnosis & treatment!

When my martial arts teacher had eye surgery (good outcome, too long a story to tell right now) he found audiobooks a considerable comfort. There are excellent audiobooks of many of the Discworld books, the Aubrey & Maturin books, the Spenser mysteries of Robert B. Parker (read by Joe Mantegna), and the Dresden Files novels (all but one read by James Marsters). I also really enjoyed "Holmes on the Range" by Steve Hockensmith. Maybe someone could run by the library and stock up for you?

#193 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 08:59 PM:

My best wishes, Xopher...

#194 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 09:11 PM:

Lila @182
I was going to say jellicle, but apparently that term is from the 30's.

#195 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 09:24 PM:

Xopher, I've told Mojo-bear, whose mojo is generally focused on job hunts and the Red Sox, but he is a kind and accommodating bear, and some of his mojo will go towards your eyes.

I tweeted a few pictures of him recently, if pictures of a cute teddy bear aren't contraindicated.

#196 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 09:37 PM:

Xopher, good thoughts being sent. For what it's worth, they can do amazing things with lasers to repair retinas these days.

#197 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 10:03 PM:

Xopher, a friend of mine had that happen several years ago. The eye doctor fixed it with a laser, and all was well.

For those of you following along at home, if you suddenly have funny light flashes, or a dark area in your field of vision, see an eye doctor immediately. An optician can get you referred to an opthamologist right away. Here's more info..

Oh, joy. WebMD says that being near-sighted increases your risk. In an eye exam, I can't see the big E.

#198 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 10:07 PM:

Cassy B. @195: We are truly Living In The Future. No flying cars, but you can fix eyes WITH LAZORS. I first realized this in high school when my sorta-cousin (our moms were Lamaze buddies, we got raised together a lot) crushed her spine in a skiing accident and was walking two weeks later. She was just pissed she was forbidden from roller coasters and diving into swimming pools headfirst (she was on the dive team until her accident) for a full two years. I was just in awe that THEY FIXED HER and gave her 3 PLASTIC VERTEBRAE. Like, 'broken back' was the ultimate classic trope in all the fiction I've read for 'reason to be stuck in a wheelchair all your life'! Living in science fiction, yeah.

#199 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 10:15 PM:

Elliot @197, yes, I think we take medical science just a little too much for granted.

#200 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 11:10 PM:

Xopher -- my Karen got ring cataracts from an OTC nasal decongestant, and may have to have laser cataract removal -- so I'm sending you best wishes around the retinal detachment. Eye stuff -- brr!

We really do live in the future around medical tech. Not everything gets Fixed, but most stuff gets Better (right, T?). Despite how bad the US system currently is, there's a lot of hope. I have many friends who would be dead without what's possible now, and I celebrate their continued existence.

#201 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 11:51 PM:

Best of luck Xopher!

* * *

It is frustrating seeing relatives die or become disabled due to conditions that will likely become treatable in a decade.

#202 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 12:22 AM:

Lila, #182--I don't know who made up the term "tuxedo cat" before I ran across it, but it seems to be an extreme example of the countershading found in many wild species, for instance tigers and leopards with white underneath, or at least paler than the back. Penguins and orca whales seem to find a maximum- contrast black and white color scheme useful for camouflage in the water. But giant pandas, now, that's a mystery.
The fuss made over clothes has to me always seemed extremely weird. The outrage over a new type of outfit, and the becoming-mandatory of the same item a bit later, appear two sides of a very silly coin. People can decorate themselves however they want, I don't give a rip, but when somebody uses it to hassle other folks, that needs a rework. I have for some time suspected the fashion industry of being a mechanism designed to just get people to buy new stuff every season, and so I shop at thrift stores and so on.
Best wishes to Xopher and anyone else facing a medical crisis.

#203 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 02:42 AM:

Xopher, best wishes for a full, speedy and painless fix.

#204 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 03:37 AM:

I am not sure if it will be a bit late, but I have found that an Android tablet/smartphone has some good tools for Text-to-Speech, if you have ePub-format ebooks. Cereproc sells some good voices, the TTS is apparently part of Android, and the Moon+ Reader works well.

The Kindle reader doesn't do TTS.

My last laser eye surgery was very easy, but I have had my retina zapped, and it isn't fun.

#205 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 03:57 AM:

Xopher: I'm going into the hospital myself on Friday, so I'm wishing us both good luck.

On another matter, I think I've finally convinced an old friend to look around here, so everybody be charming and warm and brilliant and witty and stuff, O.K.? And you should all put a sweater on because I'm cold.

#206 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 05:41 AM:

Best wishes and prayers, Xopher. Glad you caught it sooner rather than later.

Angiportus @ 202: indeed. As far as I can tell, there are two kinds of fashion. There is the democratic variety, where people gradually take to wearing a particular style because it turns out to be more comfortable/practical for what they're doing than whatever they were wearing before, or because it's just been invented and they think it looks cool, or for whatever other reason. And there is the oligarchic variety, where there are a few top designers who basically dictate what is going to be "in" this season.

The two types of fashion coexist. I have no quarrel at all with the former, but I have been deeply suspicious of the latter all my life. It took me until I was in my teens to convince my parents that I should be allowed to choose what to wear rather than simply have clothes put out for me (it doesn't help that my dad doesn't care what he wears, and still to this day puts on whatever my mum brings him after his bath), so I passionately hate being told what to wear by other people.

Bruce @ 205: I'm wearing a cardigan - does that count?

#207 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 08:07 AM:

Tom Whitmore @200, you can get cataracts from OTC nasal decongestants?!?

#208 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 08:43 AM:

Xopher @ 186

Good wishes and prayers for rapid and complete healing.

On the subject of teaching young children, and the endless questions--my wife wrote a piece on it just today (actually, published today--she's been working on it for awhile)--Seven Million Whys

Last weekend, I went on a longish bike ride with "Buggle"--the 6 year old. He noticed the strips in the road for the traffic light controls, and spent the rest of the 35 mile ride looking for them at every light, asking why some lights have them and some don't, why sometimes it takes longer than others for the light to change once you are on the strips, and so on. It's fun, but very demanding on attention, to try to explain traffic engineering to a 6-year-old.

#209 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 09:38 AM:

Xopher #186: Good grief! Wishing you the best.

#210 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 09:41 AM:

GlendaP #188: Our cat just gets very loud, and a bit yowly. She also gives us very dirty looks.

#211 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 09:48 AM:

Xopher: Yikes! I'm glad you caught that in time!

#213 ::: Serge Broom has been GNOMED ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 10:03 AM:

I knew I shouldn't have invoked the Golden Girls *and* Joss Whedon.
I have some peaches for our moderators.

#214 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 10:12 AM:

Further to John A Arkansawyer @ #180:

If you do follow John's link, don't neglect to... well, I wouldn't recommend actually reading the comment thread, necessarily, but take a moment to appreciate its existence.

#215 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 10:29 AM:

Xopher, best wishes! Good on Lenore, too.

#216 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 10:48 AM:

Good luck to Xopher and Bruce E. Durocher II. May you both heal speedily and well.

#217 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 10:55 AM:

Good wishes and prayers, Xopher.

#218 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 11:14 AM:

Just chiming in with some positive vibes for Xopher and Bruce! Take care, you two!

#219 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Argh. Elliott stole my line. Xopher: May the gods be with you!

#220 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 11:41 AM:

Good luck to Xopher (lasers are frikken' awesome, and you done good to listen to Lenore), as well as to Bruce (I've got a flannel overshirt on).

#221 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 11:46 AM:

Xopher and Bruce, may all be well with you soon.

#222 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 12:35 PM:

Lions and tigers and boxesOh, my! (Sorry, video may have ad.)

#223 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 12:38 PM:

Internet-famous cat uses its words.

#224 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 12:49 PM:

I break my lurking...

Xopher, all the best! I hope the treatment is effective and not too troublesome!

Regarding cats, I grew up with cats. Spouse tells me I have many catlike mannerisms, too... (which I consider awesome :) They definitely do train you to understand their commentary, and we've had a few good laughs (followed by pissed off cats - don't like being laughed at!) at cat communication. My favourite was when the younger cat did a "PRRrrrRRT?" at the door to be let in, instead of yowling. The other one, determined not to be out-cuted, one day says "PRRrrrRRrrrRRT?" Was the most adorable thing EVER!

Regarding food, I thought people here might be interested in a news article from Science magazine on the first use of spices in European cuisine - 6100 years ago! (Stone Age)


#225 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 12:57 PM:

Mongoose, #206: At least in America, the democratic style of fashion traces back fairly directly to the Great Maxiskirt Debacle of the 1970s. Women had been dutifully shortening all their skirts as the miniskirts got shorter and shorter, and then when all the designers said, "Oh, this year all the skirts are going to be mid-calf and you will have to throw away your entire wardrobe and buy all new," women said not just no but HELL no. And ever since then, while there are definitely still trendy seasonal looks, there's been a lot more acceptance of women simply wearing what suits them. And if I can't find what I want in the stores, I have several online sources that carry the style of things I like to wear.

Xopher, good luck with the reattachment.

#226 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 01:34 PM:

Xopher & Bruce Durocher: good fortune to you both! Prayers coming up. (Not that I have any special pull with the Almighty. But as a friend of mine says, Prayers are one of the ways we care for one another.)

At 14, I dimly recall, I thought fashion was important. Now, I wear what I like, and what's comfortable. Age has its perks.

#227 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 02:41 PM:

Xopher: Good luck, and I am so glad this got caught in time. Thank Lenore for all of us.

Bruce Durocher: Good luck to you as well; it's nice that we have all this swell modern medicne and stuff, but having to use it? Bleah!

#228 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 03:35 PM:

It wasn't just women who said no to maxi skirts, as I recall.

#229 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 04:03 PM:

Xopher #186: Sympathies, glad you caught it (well done your friend in telling you to get it looked at) and good luck for effective treatment and a speedy recovery.

Bruce E. Durocher II @205: Good luck to you as well!

#230 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 04:06 PM:

Xopher, #190:

That's thanks to my friend Lenore.

Is this your friend Lenore that I know? Haven't seen her since 1978, but it's nice to know that she's looking out for you.

One day I will visit Hoboken again.

#231 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 05:03 PM:

I have been spending the last few weeks getting my late Mother's sewing machine running. I ended up shortening the sleeves on an old shirt. The results are good. I do have short arms, and taking the cuffs off, shortening the sleeve by a couple of inches, and sewing back on, makes quite a difference. The first sleeve was a bit of hassle, the second went much faster with a few tweaks to the machine.

I think I have been used to having too-long sleeves because that's what comes with a big enough collar.

I didn't do that good a job, but I decided to invest in Sewing for Dummies.

#232 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 05:20 PM:

Hey, it occurs to me to ask: will anyone else be going to World Fantasy Con?

#233 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 05:23 PM:

Knitting content: I am not-quite-a-quarter done with a dress for my kid. I'm really liking how it's working up; it's a fairly simple to follow pattern, and the colors I sort of randomly grabbed really look on-purpose.


I'm still not quite a quarter done, and the skirt width at bottom is starting to seriously exceed 1/3 of my desired total finished circumference. Eeeeeek.

I hate having to rip out something I love because it's not working so I can start it over BUT WORKING and meanwhile incorporate a few 'and if I did this THAT way it would be easier the whole time' modifications.

It's like my lizard brain can only see ALL THE STITCHES I AM THROWING AWAAAAAAAAAAY (and it's a lot). Sunk Costs Fallacy, let me show you it.

#234 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 05:41 PM:

abi @ 232... Alas, no World Fantasy Con this year, and no worldcon next year. (sad face)

#235 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 05:46 PM:

abi @232: yes, I will be at WFC. Am currently trying (not very hard) to avoid organizing a pub crawl.

#236 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 06:00 PM:

Kip, #228: Very likely, male gaze being a thing. But I believe this still counts as one of the first times that women got up on their hind legs and told the male-run fashion industry to FOAD, and made it stick.

#237 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 06:15 PM:

Cassy B @207 -- I was wrong. It is a prescription decongestant, but it's one that's generally thought to be very safe: Flonase. It's a steroid reaction, and one of Karen's doctors was completely surprised to hear about it (another said "Oh yes, that is a problem"). It also shows up if you start typing in "flonase c" on Google as the 4th item down, in my search pattern.

abi @232 -- I'm not going to WFC. Many other people are...

Best wishes to everyone at VP! Tell Karen I said hi, if you're still there. This will make her wonder how broad my influence is....

#238 ::: Tom Whitmore visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 06:17 PM:

Probably for mentioning a prescribed drug. I won't offer the gnomes any of it! But I am about to roast a nice leg of lamb -- are the gnomes carnivorous?

#239 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 07:00 PM:

Thank you, everyone, for good thoughts, and good thoughts coming at you, Bruce!

I had the procedure. It hurt, but not as much as I feared (and not enough to make me flinch back from the laser, thank gods). They had to dilate my eye a lot because the tear was on the periphery of the retina (which also made it more painful, because the nerve clusters are bigger toward the edge...or something like that, I was too nervous to listen in detail).

So now I'm resting and taking it easy. Hence the brevity here.

Bill, I think so. I'll ask her.

One funny thing that I'll mention here: after the procedure, everything out of that eye looked pink. A few seconds of "Oh no! Blood!" later, I realized that the argon laser was very bright and very green, and my green receptors were fatigued, making everything pink. I remember this from the old green screens; I would get up from them into a very pink world.

I'm going to lie down now. Thanks again for all the good thoughts.

#240 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 09:24 PM:

Mongoose: I'm wearing a cardigan - does that count?

As long as you aren't commanding the Light Brigade, yes.

All the rest of you: thank you very much! (And buy original art--unlike the yayhoos who wait for my wife to post original Magic art on eBay, put in a bid, withdraw it, then send an e-mail offering half the bid. That bites.)

#241 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 11:08 PM:

50 Intellectual Jokes.

Some I'd heard before, some I hadn't. I got all but two, and I'm fairly sure both of those were computer jokes -- just too techie for me.

#242 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2013, 11:32 PM:

Lee #240: Hmm. They're nominally from separate people, but the networking jokes make it clear they were from a forum, as they fit right into a routine (but yeah, esoteric):

"I’d tell you a UDP joke, but you may not get it. Or I could tell you a joke about TCP, but I’d have to keep repeating it until you do get it. Really, I prefer IP jokes; it’s all in the delivery."

The hotdog jokes nail down that it was a forum, because that's a classic routine.

Also, the Bechdel test joke as given fails the Bechdel test, because the women don't have names.

#243 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 12:01 AM:

One piece of quasi-top-down fashion I appreciate was "business casual" coming out in the 1990s, as I was moving to Silicon Valley. I find cotton pants much more comfortable than wool, and Dockers came out in time to let me not have to wear suits very often when I was consulting. I'd still wear ties on the first visit to sales people or bankers, and then adjust to local custom, which was almost always no tie. (Jackets were a different matter; they're a fashion that's appropriate for inadequately heated office buildings in London in the 1800s, so they made sense in San Francisco much of the year, but not in the warmer areas around it.) And black jeans were pretty much always acceptable.

On the other hand, the fashion for pleats was really annoying; they look good on people with skinny waists or fat hips, but really fail on people with fat waists and non-fat hips.

#244 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 01:00 AM:

To my mind, fashion serves two intrinsic functions (aside from the extrinsic function of "get the consumers to run out and buy new clothes as often as possible"): aesthetics, and signalling.

The aesthetics is people making their appearance pleasing, to themselves or people they care about (or people they're trying to impress, but that verges on signalling). It has all the usual artistic questions about pleasing to whom, whether there are rules, when to break or re-write the rules, etc. It can be an individual thing, or part of a conversation where one person's attire can sometimes be seen as a comment on someone else's. Fashion designers, to be fair, are participating in this sort of aesthetic conversation, along with all the other things they're doing.

Signalling is about telling other people something you want them to know about you. For example, bankers wear dark suits to say "see, I look like a respectable banker, just like all the others; I certainly wouldn't do anything foolishly individualistic, with my attire or your money". Software developers dress so as to say "I'm valued for my knowledge and intelligence, so I don't have to dress up, see!" A banker in a t-shirt would make customers nervous that maybe he wasn't conforming to other norms, like banking regulations and accounting standards. A programmer in a suit makes people think "why is that programmer dressing to impress? maybe to compensate for insufficient skills?" There's also plenty of signalling of group identity, whether it's punks in buzz cuts, Doc Martins and ripped black t-shirts (it amazes me to see that look is still current in some circles after nearly 4 decades!) or fashionistas in this year's latest trend. And that temporality has a signaling function as well, signalling to other afficionados "I'm sufficiently connected and motivated to know what is in this season (and wealthy enough to buy it)." Or in the case of the punks and other fashion resistors, the look says "I reject the phoniness of the fashion industry!"

This then intersects with the idea of "cool", and that people who try too hard, aren't. So the fashion industry periodically picks up some "look" based on people who don't care about the fashion industry (punks, truckers, lumberjacks, etc.). And so you get fashionistas trying very hard to look like they don't care what they look like, but in some very particulary way that's trendy at the moment.

Hmm, that turned out longer than I expected!

#245 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 03:54 AM:

Bill @247

I am keeping my eyes open for pants that would look OK for a late 1930s look. No pleats, high-waisted, and a loose fit to the leg, all seem hard to find with modern fashion. I might, in the end, if my sewing skill develops enough, make my own.

The way things are going with pants legs, fashion might see a return of knee-breeches and stockings.

There's been a list announced, here in the UK, of the best-dressed Britons of all history. Top of the list is David Bowie. While he was sometimes startlingly extravagant, he has been known to wear a suit and tie.

#246 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 04:12 AM:

Because my kid sometimes has odd ideas about what she wants to watch via Netflix streaming, I have now seen (several times) the Sonja Henie film It's a Pleasure (because there's skating in it).* I like the skating too, but I also found myself fascinated by this window into another time. It is set roughly contemporaneously to its making (1945), and OH MY BOB all the men's pants go up to their ribcages. No wonder, I realized, that 'all old men' stereotypically wore their pants there when I was a kid in the 80s; it was the style they got used to when they were young and hip, and they just kept it forever.

The film is also interesting, should you have a spare couple of hours and want to engage anthropologically with the period, for costume in general, but especially for the way the dialogue is written and delivered. I'm sure in any period most of a random sample of movies made will have clunkers and phoned-in performances, but the WAY they were phoned-in, I found interesting. YMMV.

Also, in case you were curious, Shirley Temple's Heidi is way less twee and unwatchable than I'd feared it was (thank goodness).

* For those curious, the plot is basically the same one later re-used for, inter multi alia, The Cutting Edge. Nobody chirps "toe-pick!" and its stakes are much lower than the Olympics, but it rhymes really strongly.

#247 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 07:06 AM:

Jeremy Leader #244: As I recall, the classic Dress For Success had a great deal of discussion on both aspects of that, with regular updates to keep up with social changes involved.

The one I read had a story about a customer representative who got transferred to the Midwest or such conservatively-dressed area... from San Francisco and environs.

#248 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 07:22 AM:

Dave Bell #245: ... the best-dressed Britons of all history. Top of the list is David Bowie.

You've gotta know the rules pretty well, before you can play with them and make it work!

#249 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 07:39 AM:

Tom Whitmore @237, thanks for the information on the prescription steroid decongestant (unnamed in courtesy to our Gnomish Underlords). At my last eye checkup a few weeks ago, I was told I had the very beginning of cataracts, so I'm a little paranoid on the subject and I was concerned that one of my hayfever medicines might exacerbate the problem. I'll remember that about steroid reactions for the future. My eyesight has always been poor, and I have recurring nightmares about going blind....

#250 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 08:42 AM:

Elliott Mason, a good friend of mine once lived in an apartment with three copies of Rise Up Singing and I think three of The Cutting Edge. I was there when the made-for-TV Cutting Edge 3 came out, though I didn't see the marathon of the first two. I will have to tell her about this one.

Also on the list: watching more Shirley Temple. I really liked what I saw back in my childhood.

#251 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 08:46 AM:

Dave Bell @245: Trousers are fairly easy to sew, in my experience; it's adjusting the fit properly that's a challenge, and having someone around to help with that can be a good thing. Or a good set of mirrors.

#252 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 09:07 AM:

Jeremy Leader @244--another part of the signalling aspect of clothing is enforcing class differences. We don't think about that as much these days, although there are clear group differences, as you noted.

In Griswold Lorillard's day, these class differences were a major function of clothing styles. Reading 19th-century etiquette books that go into any details about clothing is relevatory, I find. When you wore gloves, what kind and color you should wear, the rules about hats, necklines, uses of fabric and appropriate colors.

We see vestiges of this still in the rules for riding costumes at organized equestrian events and competitions, and at some clubs in the context of golfing and tennis--the rules at Wimbledon about white tennis costumes only, for example. British rules about courtroom wear and full academic dress are other vestiges, of course.

Readers of Georgette Heyer may recall the bits about the rules at Almack's--men weren't allowed to cheat on wearing proper full evening dress there, which to the Lady Patronesses, meant knee breeches*, instead of long trousers, which were a more modern, upstart fashion that (they were signalling) should be reserved for day wear and informal activities only. Young Griswold would have been out on his ear if he'd tried that with the Lady Patronesses!

THese things aren't as much about current fashion--which colors are in, which cuts are preferred, which accessories are the must-have item--as they are about an ideal group norm. In the era when people powdered their hair (or wigs), there was a wide range of styles which came and went. But having the hair powdered was a social norm that said things about class and status, as well as personal preferences. Charles XII of Sweden and Benjamin Franklin as the US Ambassador to France choosing to reject that norm sent certain signals, as much as the extremes of the macaronis did.

*Of an appropriate fabric--no leather riding breeches would be allowed to slip through.

#254 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 09:57 AM:

Lee @ #98 (and now somewhat outdated, but I occasionally like digging through archives, electronic or paper-based):

I wonder if "digits in a number Base X sum to 1 less than the base = number divisible by 1 less than the base" is a general formula? I'm in a rush this morning, though, so I'll leave the testing for someone else.

Yes (although I do have a vague recollection of having written a proof-sketch for ML, a few years in the past). Ah, yes, I did.

#255 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 09:58 AM:

Xopher, #239 (and 186, 190, 230):

Bill, I think so. I'll ask her.

The password is "Hobbits."

The picture here may also be of interest.

#256 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 10:04 AM:

@233 Elliott Mason
The problem you're having comes from using a thicker yarn than the pattern calls for. That's why your-stitches-to-the-inch don't match the pattern's. Thicker yarn, means the skirt will be larger than you think it should be according to the pattern. Essentially, you scaled the pattern up a size or three.

If you want it to be a certain finished circumference/size, you'll have to do one of two things: 1)frog the whole thing and re-do the math in the pattern to adjust for thicker yarn (i.e, cast on fewer stitches and knit fewer rows among other things). 2) get yarn in the right weight and start over.

If you don't want to frog or start over with new yarn, keep going and consider it a Knitting Adventure as defined by the TLAR* School of Design. This is standard for people who decide to alter things on the fly instead of strictly following the pattern as published.

Having altered every pattern but one on the fly, I've been where you are. Right now I'm playing around with a Pi Shawl. My edits are as follows: do a semi-circular shawl, make up my own lace patterns between each scheduled increase by playing around with yarn overs and knit/purl 2 together combos.

I knit for the math as much as anything.

* That Looks About Right

#257 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 10:12 AM:

Serge @ 253 -

While the words are indeed Watterson's, the artwork is by Gavin Aung.


#258 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 10:14 AM:

Victoria @256: Sort of. Actually, it's thinner; I'm getting 22sts/4" instead of the pattern's 18. However, I've adjusted using The Skary Mathz (multiply most stitch counts by 1.22 and fudge). I decided on my own to put additional short-row turns in there too, which had the fun side-effect of making the skirt massively hypercircular. Oops. So now I'm doing it with the regulation number of turnings instead (but doing the colorwork from the other end so I can strand it along instead of HAVING to do all those beautiful, tedious end-buryings as I go). Also, to amuse myself, I massaged the turnpoints so they're loosely based on the Golden Ratio, because trumpet-flowers are beautiful and fractality amuses me.

I'm fairly good with patterns/recipes that boil down to "Do (algorithm) until (condition); then continue with (next thing)." Conditions can include "desired stitch count reached" and "it's long enough". It's fun being somewhat dyscalculic and doing knitting, which is basically making stretchy graph paper out of string, with decorative patterns. Any time I have to rely on bare numbers I need to figure it several ways, write it down, and in a pinch have someone check my work to make sure the numbers haven't been having a lovely samba when I wasn't watching and switched places ... And even then, sometimes, I get partway through the garment and discover the ground-truthing doesn't work. This skirt is likely to shrink in blocking somewhat in the vertical-to-original-knitting direction (because of the yarn I'm using), but not THAT much. So, rip-it, rip-it.

Then there's the days I can't accurately count how many stitches are on my needle. THOSE are fun too.

I think I'm really going to like this skirt/sweater 'recipe' once I've done one mostly to their pattern and gotten to own it; sideways-worked is good for me because there are fewer seams (the seaming, it burnsssss ussss!) and also it looks amazing for far less work, in things like striping or variegated yarn.

I mostly knit with unravelled recycled yarn from thrift store sweaters, primarily cotton, so I do a lot of adjusting gauge, or else I just swipe the concept of a sweater and make it up anew from a recipe I'm comfortable with, bolting on the technique or decoration I liked from the pattern.

#259 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 10:21 AM:

Steve C @ 257... I stand corrected. I thought the art looked different, but assumed it might be because that Watterson's style having changed since Calvin & Hobbes left us.

#260 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 10:54 AM:

Bill 255: Yep, it's definitely her, and she remembers you.

#261 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 12:59 PM:

Xopher, glad to hear the procedure went smoothly.

Bruce E Durocher II, all the best to you.

Serge/Steve C, thanks for the link to zenpencils; I enjoy it but haven't been there recently.

#262 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 01:00 PM:

With what fresh words of choice or soft regret
are we to fight our battles now that time
has tolled against us? The dull weight of grime
obscures our vision, but no sort of debt
to past or future could hurt or abet
the heart of purpose as we seek to climb
beyond this moment. Past the normal slime
where there is neither injury nor fret,
you see us crawling, searching for one spark
of ordinary kindness that might lead
the normal person from their weary plight,
relieve our hearts from burden of the dark,
reward with honour the most worthy deed,
and grant assurance of a renewed light.

#263 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 01:03 PM:

I often enjoy The Onion, but this one really hit the nail on the head for my husband and me.

Chipmunk's Plan For Future Better Crafted Than That Of 8 Out Of 10 Americans

Sample grab: "Researchers stated that the striped 7-inch mammal displayed a degree of foresight and determination far exceeding that of the average U.S. citizen. In contrast to most Americans, the chipmunk was said to routinely work toward meaningful goals in an orderly and decisive manner without procrastinating for days on end, melodramatically sighing and complaining, or becoming immediately sidetracked by emails or online videos."

#264 ::: OtterB is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 01:06 PM:

Link to The Onion. I did check it on preview.

You could share my slice of SMOG pie (that's steak, mushroom, onion, and gruyere) from Dangerously Delicious pies.

#265 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 01:06 PM:

fidelio, #252: I've heard it said that a lot of Sherlock Holmes' profiling deductions* were based on strictly-enforced class differences in clothing, and that he would have a much harder time of it in a modern setting where many of those lines have been blurred.

Also, I admit that I'm a complete ignoramus about male formal fashion, and consider both the square coat and the tail coat to be variations on "tuxedo".

* The ones that were about people's social class, occupation, etc. as opposed to the ones about things that happened.

#266 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 02:26 PM:

Cassy B -- the particular cataracts that happen from steroids are unlike other cataracts -- they're "ring" cataracts, which form around the outside of the lens (I think -- they're circular, anyway, rather than linear) and are fairly easily identified. They also don't get worse quickly, so once you know you're having the reaction you can stop the steroids before they get bad enough to need medical intervention, if you're paying attention. Watch out for not seeing well at night.

Which, as Xopher's story that started all this implies: it's a really good idea to pay attention and ask questions when something odd happens. Mostly, it's nothing. Occasionally, it's crucial. And it's a fractal-level problem to separate which is which, from a non-specialist's viewpoint.

#267 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Steroid-induced cataract may be circular, but they are apparently located at the back (posterior capsular cataract): link to a PubMed abstract on it.

#268 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 03:02 PM:

By the way, if anyone is interested in seeing pretty pictures of cataracts, this page has a lovely set of photos. Don't go if eyes make you feel squicked out; there's no surgical photos that I could see, just pictures of eyes with cataracts.

#269 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 03:03 PM:

I hear that the Shutdown is in the process of being shut down.

#270 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 03:46 PM:

I read on Huffington Post that the Republicans actually changed the rules on Sept. 30 just to prevent members of the House from being able to to even present a motion for a clean CR. That right is now held exclusively by the House majority leader.

That's just... abominable.

#272 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 04:01 PM:

Cheryl @ 270... They must be really stupid to think that this change couldn't one day be used against them.

#273 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 04:12 PM:

Serge Broom #272: Unfortunately, I suspect they think they're in an endgame, where they can "win forever" and make sure all those dirty liberals know their place in the New Pecking Order.

After all, won't the American PeePuhl rise up and shower them in rose-petals, for stopping the dastardly Obama from spending "their" money on poor people?

#274 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 04:23 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 273... they think they're in an endgame, where they can "win forever"

I rest my case.

#275 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 04:33 PM:

#272-274: I've wondered how many of them really ARE premillennial dispensationalists, and how many are just along for the ride. It seems like a bad idea to let people who think there is no future do the planning for it.

#276 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 04:50 PM:

Fragano @ 262: I always like your sonnets. That one particularly spoke to me, since I'm really not having an easy time of things at the moment.

#278 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 05:40 PM:

So hanging around here I've over time absorbed the idea that I should read John Scalzi. One sometimes forms worthwhile intentions that one doesn't act upon right away. Anyway, I started with Old Man's War the other day and I haven't had a good night's sleep since.

Thanks. This stuff is great.

#279 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 05:44 PM:

Serge, #272: That's been the hallmark of Republican finagling for at least the last decade and a half. We said, "Do you really want to see those powers you're giving Bush II in the hands of a Democratic president?" and they stuck their fingers in their ears and said "La-la-la, we can't HEAR you!" They honestly never expected to be out of power again... and they still don't believe they are, hence this shutdown nonsense. Of course it's okay to give the House majority leader that kind of power, because he will always be a Republican!

#280 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 05:51 PM:

Lee @ 279.. The awesome arrogance... And one wonders about their calling themselves 'conservatives' when they go about making changes that are more far-reaching than allowing two same-sex persons to get married.

#281 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 06:18 PM:

Hey Fragano #262,

You gave me goosebumps.

(That is to say, "Thank you".)

#282 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 06:56 PM:

#280: Maybe there's a "dictatorship of the proletariat" vibe there, where they have to behave like monsters to bring about an original intent small-government paradise.

The benefit, for true believers, and the horrible flaw, for democracy and everyone else, of that sort of thinking is that they can never be wrong. Failure is the fault of the RINOs, or the press, or not sticking to principles.

This kind of thinking ultimately fails, but it can cause horrible damage along the way.

#283 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 07:33 PM:

Elliott Mason @246: It's not just fashion. Old men wear their pants high because they no longer have hips that will hold their pants up. To my chagrin, I am now apparently an old man for trouser purposes, and have had to go back to wearing a belt unless I'm wearing one or two special pairs that will stay up on my snakelike hips.

Chagrin, because I've always worn a belt, and recently have had tingling on the outside of my left leg, and the doctor said try going without a belt. So I did, and enjoyed the reduction in how much futzing around I had to do several times a day. And now I have to wear a belt or devote a hand to keeping the pants up there. Faugh.

#284 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 07:34 PM:

Unless I'm wearing one or two special pairs…

That's right, kids! If your pants won't stay up, just wear two or more pairs! Would I lie to you?

#285 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 07:37 PM:

Soon Lee #281: Thank you.

#286 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 07:39 PM:

Mongoose #276: Thank you.

#287 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 07:43 PM:

That's why my mother sometimes referred to my father as 'shingle-butt'. It isn't that the hips go away, it's that the stuff behind them does.

#288 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 09:11 PM:

Kip, #283: I'm reliably informed that this is why many older men wear suspenders. And you can make a lot of different statements with suspenders -- they're like ties, that way.

#289 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 09:50 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 282... they can never be wrong

People who think that way make me very nervous.

#290 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 10:00 PM:

Earthquake in the Phillipines (BBC pictures).

#291 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2013, 11:11 PM:

One of the statements you can't make with suspenders is "I don't tuck in my shirt." Another is probably "I don't wear button-down shirts." As a guy-in-T-shirts with a wedge-shaped body whose belts have been losing the battle for about 20 years, I'm trying to figure out a way around this. I may just have to pull the pants up and let the old-guy gut do the... umm... lifting. Like my one experiment with a comb-over, the terrible thing about this is that it might work better than not doing it. [I was saved from the comb-over by a stray gust of wind. It FLAPPED and I had a reason not to do it.]

#292 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 02:25 AM:

AKICOML- books, mmmmm, books edition:

Area woman is wondering what three^h^h two bookstores are ought not to miss in London. "Much as I could spend the whole weekend with books, they can more easily visit California than I London."

#293 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 03:45 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @292

Area woman is wondering what three^h^h two bookstores are ought not to miss in London.

Assuming you mean the London in England, Foyles was always an experience. Apparently it's been modernised, and may have less of the charm it used to have

#294 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 05:38 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @292 - Charing Cross Road isn't what it used to be but I think it still has some fantastic second-hand bookshops. Foyles has indeed been modernised but is still huge and labyrinthine and well worth a visit. If you're at all interested in lefty/anti-war politics then go to Housmans. Oh, and Stanfords is a travel book and map shop that can bankrupt you in moments if you don't keep a tight grip on your credit card.

#296 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 10:13 AM:

As of a couple of years ago, yes Charing Cross road, just up from the National Portrait gallery, had some very nice 2nd hand shops, with books of all price ranges, from a pound or two to hundreds. And many topics of course. Make sure to look in the cellars of them as well; a couple of shops have cheaper but more delightfully random and interesting books in their cellars.

Other than that, there's charity book shops in various burghs of the city, with good selections. There are subject specific bookshops to be found in various parts of the centre, I'm afraid I can't recall any off the top of my head, I'm sure there's some to be found near Charing Cross road, but at various distances up or down it. I am sure local guides will be available somewhere.

#297 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 10:19 AM:

Here is an enormous list (from 2011) of London bookshops.

#298 ::: James E is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 10:21 AM:

who were apparently so taken with my big list of London bookshops that they snagged it for themselves.

#299 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 10:38 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 290: The damage and injuries from the 7.2 earthquake in the Philippines look bad, and I see there was a 4.7 aftershock a few hours ago. I confess that it makes my thoughts turn to the magnitude 8 to 9 quake that the subduction zone along the San Juan de Fuca fault is going to give the Pacific Northwest one of these days. I've scheduled work to have my house bolted to the foundation, but that's kind of like opening an umbrella in a hurricane.

#300 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 10:58 AM:

"She's half-Navajo, the other half is New York."
- overheard by local man at the office today

#301 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 11:40 AM:

janetl @299: Actually, being bolted to the foundation can cause more damage to your house and posessions (depending how it's constructed) than allowing it to float freely and having it lifted back onto the base afterwards. The town of Ferndale, in CA, is largely stick-built frame construction, none of it attached; the town owns a house-lifting crane, and all the houses have structural rings built in up high to be lifted by. Earthquake, every house askew; crane goes by, neighborhoods are fine (bar a little broken glassware). If they were fastened down they'd have shaken themselves to bits long since.

#302 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 11:42 AM:

Serge Broom @300: My mother usually describes her ethnicity as "New Yorker." The kind of New Yorker who will limit that descriptor to 'Manhattan' and insist that natives of all other boroughs call themselves by their boroughs-name instead. :->

#303 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 12:16 PM:

It's not my ethnicity, but I do think of myself as living in South Philadelphia rather than Philadelphia. When I moved here, I had to work to stop thinking of myself as living in the state of Philadelphia.

#304 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 01:06 PM:

"Franklin, where were you when I needed you? You should have heard what I suffered in there."
"Oh, I heard, all right. Along with the rest of Philadelphia. Lord, your voice is piercing, John."
- 1776

#305 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Modeling what consent culture would look like.

#306 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 07:36 PM:

Jacque #305: I wish that had been around 15 and 20 years ago....

#307 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 10:32 PM:

Lee @288: I'm not entirely against suspenders, but I haven't seen a pair I want to wear, and having worn overalls a fair amount of the time, I can pretty well say in advance just how much more additional rigmarole would be in store for me every time I had to …well, you know.

#308 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 10:37 PM:

I suspect suspenders are a little easier to deal with than overalls.

#309 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 10:48 PM:

Speaking personally, when wearing suspenders you unhook the back and carry on, then reach up between your shoulderblades when you're done to retrieve the back-bit, and reattach it to your pants.

This is aided by the suspenders having a NON-STRETCHY last bit (the stem of the Y, as it were) in the back, if possible. I'm sure you can all imagine how I discovered the benefit of that feature (which mine lacked, at the time) ...

Suspenders got me through the last ~6weeks of gestation, when the belly was sensitive enough it didn't like to have a belt on it. I got up to a 46" waistband to go with my 28" inseam -- the shortest, fattest man-pants Old Navy stocks on the shelves without special-order! I became seriously spherical, though interestingly I 'clocked' as more and more masculine throughout the process. I just looked tubby and bottom-heavy with a teeny-tiny non-proportional head, probably because I was wearing button-down shirts, suspenders, and short-fat-man pants. Plus winter coats, of course.

#310 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2013, 11:11 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 301: Very interesting! Could you point me to more information? I couldn't find anything.

#311 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 02:15 AM:

Odaiwai, James E, Guthrie:
Thanks! Yes, the London of Londons. With the jetlag and the work of getting ready I'd almost forgotten to ask about this. Many bookstores aren't what they were, but here I don't have to compare each to it's earlier self, just to my memories of having read about browsing UK bookstores.

#312 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 05:47 AM:

odaiwai @ #293:

Foyles is indeed muchly modernized. Gone are the days where you would browse books in a section, hand them over to the section desk and be given a numbered ticket, with the total price listed, continue on to another section, so on and so forth, until at the end of the book-purchasing spree you descended unto the street level of the store, there to hand your tickets over to the till operator, who would, on your behalf, sum them up and once you had paid carefully stamp them with a "Paid for" stamp.

You could then retrace your route through the bookstore and exchange each ticket for the books it represents.

These days, you browse and pay as you go, as it were (or pay at the tills on the way out). Also seems the section staff is now less well-versed in the contents of the shelves, but I must admit to not having put this to the test in the last ten years.

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ #311:

Ah, in London now?

#313 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 05:56 AM:

Lee, #265: what Americans call a tuxedo is what we in the outer wilds call a dinner suit, and it is - get this - called "informal", on the formal-informal-casual continuum. (A dark business suit is said to be acceptable anywhere a dinner suit can be worn, but "acceptable" is not quite the same as "equivalent".)

"Formal evening dress" for gentlemen means white tie, stiff shirt, kid waistcoat and tailed coat, a rigout now only worn by conductors of major orchestras for full-dress recitals.

Or one may wear mess dress regimentals, if entitled, of course. (Of course!)

#314 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 06:55 AM:

Dave @ 313: my friend the Star Tenor was once required to wear white jacket, white bow tie, stiff shirt and cummerbund for a concert.

Now there are certain fairly specific problems with asking him to do this. One is that he's the kind of person who could manage to rumple plate armour (and I feel for him, since I am likewise). Another is that he is a small, wiry man with an extremely energetic singing style. I always say he sings as if he's on his bicycle (and I know for a fact that he sometimes sings while he is actually on his bicycle, so it's no surprise). He uses his whole body. I mean, it's not that he flails around dramatically or anything, but you can tell he's getting a workout up there.

So everyone walks onto the stage, I take one look at his rig-out, and I think... that's going to be trouble. And it was. They were singing Handel, which tends to need plenty of oomph anyway, and, as ever, he gave it his all. And as he sang, this blessed cummerbund gradually worked its way up his rib cage. If he'd been any taller it would have untucked his shirt as it rose, but there are advantages to being a tiny tenor. By the end of the concert, it was at chest level, his hair was all over the place, and the general effect was as if he'd just cycled through a hedge. He must have been really uncomfortable.

The Orlando Consort have got it right. They normally sing in black trousers, black shirt, very fancy waistcoat and no tie. It's a really smart look, but there's nothing to constrict or ride up. Singing clothes need to be practical as well as posh.

#315 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 07:40 AM:

Dave Luckett #313: I have had mess kit explained to me (almost exactly 37 years ago, as it happens; by chance, I passed the church where the wedding took place and pointed it out to my wife this past weekend).

Like formal dress for men it has its origin in the Europe of the eighteenth century. It is interesting that a mode of dress manages to hold its grip for a quarter of a millennium.

#316 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 07:59 AM:

Mongoose @ 314 re: concert wear for the performers

Fancy vests/waistcoats/weskits are a great choice.

A pianist commissioned a reversible vest for which I enlarged the armscyes - didn't take much for greatly enhanced range of motion.

Both fronts had buttonholes, and I connected two sets of buttons so that it could be worn lapped either way.

One side was a solid purple, the other bright stripes cut on the bias (diagonal). Black pants - I'm not sure whether his shirt was black or white.

They are also an inexpensive way to change the look. A GLBT chorus in Denver went for them as they present gender-neutral. I suppose the front laps could be a subtle clue to orientation. A unisex (is this an acceptable term for this application?) solution would be to butt the front edges & use frogs or toggles. Oversize short decorative zippers?!

#317 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 09:02 AM:

janetl @310: I don't have many details, I just know it's the entire town's attitude towards earthquakes. It may help that they already own the crane and have been doing it this way for literally a hundred years ...

The biggest awesome-est most earthquake-survivable Japanese buildings are built to shimmy (big slidey things between the building and foundation) -- these are massive skyscrapers or big wide convention centers we're talking about -- so clearly they like the concept too.

Also, the Ferndale CA houses are built to TAKE falling slightly sideways off their foundations on a moderately regular basis; ordinary construction might not be. But this has been their earthquake plan since well before WWI.

#318 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 09:52 AM:

Carol @ 316: that sounds amazing! I like the idea of frog fastenings; they'd work very well.

#319 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 10:09 AM:

Elliott Mason @317: I knew about the value of skyscrapers being built to shimmy, but imagined that the best course for a small 1.5 story wood frame could be quite different. Falling several feet off of the foundation seems like a worse shock that shaking in place.

#320 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 10:27 AM:

It's not at all unusual for a house to slide off its foundation (if it isn't bolted) during an earthquake. The garage usually fares worse than the rest of the structure - it's weaker due to clear span and that large opening for vehicles.

#321 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 11:34 AM:

Hmm, I think the only time I've worn a white bow tie was for my graduation ceremony, when I got biffed on the head with a several hundred year old cap (In the late 90's Scotland). Fortunately I had inherited a white tie from my grandfather who had been to a variety of the sort of ultra-posh do's where you did need a white tie and all the other gear.

Kathryn #331 - when you say The London I think of all the fictional ones, not the other places called London that are found on a map. I wonder what that makes me? A bookwork probably.

#322 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 11:47 AM:

Ingvar M #312

I went into Foyle's in 1995, expecting the old-fashioned system; while that had been gotten rid of, the organization of the shelves was indeed such that one really did need a native guide: books were separated out by publisher. Which was a bit of a problem. Do they still do this?

#323 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 11:55 AM:

PSA/HLN: local woman finds that the sturdiness and stability of covers for irrigation sprinkler valves in no way matches that of sidewalk grates and manhole covers. Local woman's foot went a foot deep into water.

"One moment I was walking along, the next I was flat on the ground with my foot stuck in a hole," says woman. "I am now fine except for mild scrapes and bruises, but will never again trust certain bits of infrastructure."

Area husband is nominated a Hero of the Revolution for walking home for car, to save woman from walking several blocks in a drowned shoe.

#324 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 12:31 PM:

joann @ #322:

Honestly, I have no idea. Certainly they don't do per-publisher splits in fiction (they do rough genre divisions). In computing, I think they MAY do it, but that my be an artefact of there being relatively few publishers for whatever I was looking for when I was last there.

I also have not been in Foyles this side of 2008, I think, opting for instead visiting Forbidden Planet when I'm in the general area.

#325 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 01:00 PM:

Ingvar @312,
Yes, for the next couple of days.

#326 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 01:38 PM:

There is also highland formal, with the jabot, silver-laced cuffed coat, and kilt with the dress sporran and stockings with the sgian dubh. I see that when Princess Mary of Denmark (nee Mary Donaldson) was married to Prince Frederick, her father wore this version of formal dress to escort her to the altar.

For mine, it is the most becoming and romantic of all male formal attire, and I much regret that I am not entitled to wear it.

#327 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 02:27 PM:

I'm pretty sure I was in Foyles 3 years ago and it was split up by subject, because I was after some archaeology books and they were all in the same bit of shelving.

#328 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 02:33 PM:

Dave Luckett #326 - frankly nowadays you can wear the kilt etc as much as you like, no matter your background. So if you feel like it, go ahead and splash out on it.

I'm not a professional scotsman, but I have hung out with a wide variety of people wearing kilts, including people who wore their grandfathers or great grandfathers sporran made out of an animal head. It's sufficiently egalitarian nowadays, with tartans being made up to suit whatever occaision you like, that nobody cares whether or not anyone is 'entitled' to wear the kilt and accompanying outfit. Mind you I've not seen such an ensemble as you describe for a while; I think people just aren't buying or wearing it as much.

#329 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 03:05 PM:

Duluth Trading makes suspenders to be worn under an untucked shirt, and also suspenders that attach at the side rather than the front and back.

Wilde said all clothing should hang from the shoulders, you know, and high-waisted trousers with suspenders are popular with swing dancers because they allow very free movement. I have enough hips to hold my pants up but I still notice the difference.

Has anyone here tried the pants from Old Town Clothing ( The Vauxhalls look right, but they're a bit rich to order from the US on spec.

#330 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 03:30 PM:

I live in Scotland and see formal kilts a plenty at formal occasions. Not a with a jabot though usually and sometimes there's an extra cape-y thing (highly technical term obviously)

#331 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 04:19 PM:

Dave Luckett @326:

There are plenty of non-clan tartans that even the purest of purists will not begrudge you.

#332 ::: jude ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 04:46 PM:

Re kilts: since most Official Highlandry was made up in the 19th century anyway, I don't see why anybody who *wants* to wear the rig-out should feel they can't.

Conversely, for anybody who doesn't want to but is feeling pressured (I can think of a couple of guys I know who have been leaned on to wear highland dress to weddings, and really weren't comfortable with it) I offer my Dad's argument against - that the modern kilt is a symbol of bourgeois capitalist imperialist oppression with which no rational person should collude. This is quite largely true, even though it's not his real reason for not wanting to show his knees in public.

#333 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 04:48 PM:

I remember the Foyles of the early 90s; I think I never suffered the labyrinthine multiple-tills payment system but I remember a lot of the stock as still being sorted by publisher. I also remember watching as a member of staff, behind the counter, yelled at length at a customer who had misunderstood the shop layout.

#334 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 06:27 PM:

How do suspenders to hold trousers up compare with belts? I've never tried suspenders, no particular reason to, but presumably they do the job.

#335 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 07:43 PM:

Elliott Mason, on "short and fat" - in spite of being 6' tall, I usually wear pants that are 44 waist, 28 inseam if I can find them, though I'm usually stuck with longer ones.

My brother-in-law tends to wear suspenders under an untucked shirt. He grew up in Hawaii, and usually wears Hawaiian shirts, and wearing suspenders over them would look kind of odd. (And since he's convex rather than concave, suspenders do a better job of holding up pants than a belt does.) I'll wear suspenders with formal wear, where the pants have suspender buttons in them, but I find the clip-on suspenders tend to pop off, usually when I'm doing something inconvenient like picking up a heavy object.

#336 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2013, 09:42 PM:

Flying Cars! Well, road-drivable planes, anyway. The Terrefugia's been in the news for a while; the PAL-V is a newer, more helicopter-like vehicle from the Netherlands.

(Hmm, looking at the article again, it's actually from 2012. But still, *flying cars*!)

#337 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 12:06 AM:

Bill Stewart @335: My dad's the opposite, he's 6'8" and when he's sitting down, his head is the same distance off the chair-seat that mine is (I'm 5'6"). He's ALL leg. I have no idea what his inseam measure is but it must be fearsome.

#338 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 01:08 AM:

Guthrie, #328: I see plenty of men in formal Highland kit every time we go to a Celtic festival. And yes, it is extremely attractive and flattering to most builds.

#339 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 04:18 AM:

Guthrie @321,
I'm in London but am not sure which tourism thoughts of mine come from read recommendations and which from half-remembered fiction set in London. I'd been so busy getting ready (for the business side of this trip) I'd done nothing to update my thoughts/knowledge of London.

#340 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 06:34 AM:

Throwing up for five minutes and producing a tablespoon of results is discouraging. Doing so at 2 a.m. is worse.

#341 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 07:24 AM:

Magical realism: Subnormality haz it. ZANADU.

#342 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 07:38 AM:

Also, Jim's protein-folding sidebar leads to a very cool site with much weird and wonderful stuff: frex, an article on the Codex Seraphinianaus with lots of color plates, and an artist's depictions of mental illnesses as mythological creatures.

#343 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 10:16 AM:

Thanks for the additional data on suspenders. I might get a pair — just for experimentation, mind you.

I wore a tux in a Neil Simon show once, and it certainly flattered my figure. It probably helped that I was also wearing a rug on top to make up for that small patch of flesh-colored hair in back. It may be the only time I portrayed a character younger than my chronological age.

#344 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 01:04 PM:

(A random facebook posting this morning decided to turn into a poem. So I thought I'd share.)

133 Messages (read)

I am terrified of my e-mail in-box.
It swells and looms like an oncoming storm front.
Or like a brushfire -- I try to clear fire-breaks.
To sweep away the jumbled, dead, dry detritus
of a life that grows faster than I can trim it.
A question, a request, a stranger who wants something from me
that I need to think about.
An invitation I don't yet know if I can accept.
It sits there, until the event is long since past.
A reminder to check a reference in a publication for a friend.
She'd do it for me, after all.
A conversation, suspended in mid-thought
Because a deadline came due.
And when the deadline was past, so was the memory of the thought.
It drifts upward.
Out of sight.
Out of mind.
Becoming part of the pressed, layered strata of my fossil bed.
Somewhere, in the middle of those layers, archaeopteryx lies splayed
Caught in mid-flight and flattened
Between an expiration notice
And an invitation to tea.

#345 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 02:27 PM:

oh, nice!

#346 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 02:28 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @344 <applause>

#347 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 05:14 PM:

I'm wondering if there's a name for that feeling of uncertain dread you have when you open your work email after being away for a while?

#348 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 05:28 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @344 Oh, yes.

#349 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 05:44 PM:

Dave @ 341: I really enjoyed "Zanadu". Now I want to visit an empty house that leaves me little notes with weird but strangely appropriate definitions.

#350 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 05:57 PM:

Steve C @347:

I don't know, but I get it every morning after only being away overnight. (Colleagues in multiple time zones. It kind of never stops.)

#351 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 08:09 PM:

HLN: Woman finds wonderful new apartment out of the flood zone. "It's a longer commute than I really wanted," she remarked, "but I'll never find anything else this good for what I can afford to pay." Woman plans to move in slowly over the course of November. "I need to pack faster," she said. "I wasn't expecting to move until December, but I couldn't pass this up."

#352 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 08:47 PM:

Note for those interested: adding 1/4c cocoa powder to Alton Brown's recipe for granola bars (somewhat redacted to change varieties of fruits/nuts involved and such) gives VERY GOOD results.

It wasn't even particularly good cocoa powder, but yum.

#353 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2013, 09:49 PM:

Mongoose #349: Yeah... but we each get our own chances at magic, and all different.

Subnormality does a lot of cool stuff, some of which I don't even have words for. A lot of it is overtly SF/Fantasy, but even the more everyday tales tend toward magical realism (and introspection). The "strip" ranges from sweet to cynical to seriously creepy.

#354 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 01:30 AM:

Heather Rose @ 344: Seriously fantastic. Also, quite true!

#355 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 02:35 AM:

HLN update: Local woman is having serious second thoughts about the wonderful apartment she found. Local woman is also up far too late stewing about it. But if she backs out now, local woman is out a lot of money.

Can I just say, "Arrrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!"?

(It really is a wonderful apartment. But there are drawbacks, some minor, some potentially major, that I didn't register in time.)

#356 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 05:14 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 355... I'm sorry to hear.

#357 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 05:18 AM:

Steve C @ 347... abi @ 350... My work-provided Blackberry is set up to show all work emails - some of them 12 hours into the future as they come in from India - as they come in so there's no morning dread for me.

#358 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 08:22 AM:

Mary Aileen, good luck. Moving is stressful under the best of times, and in your circumstances it's got to be exponentially more so.

#359 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 09:20 AM:

Serge, Rikibeth: Much gratitude.

Swinging wildly from euphoria to despair in the space of a few hours is not normal for me. And I hate it.

(The situation will probably be fine--I hope--but now I'm all stressed and very under-slept.)

#360 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 09:38 AM:

Bay Area woman chances on a choir service in St. Paul's.

#361 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 11:42 AM:

Further Hyperlocal Update: I'm feeling much better about things after speaking to the real estate agent again a few minutes ago. The huge potential problem is...not an issue.

Now if only the other tenants in the building aren't psychotic, I'm in business.

#362 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 12:34 PM:

Why students should not write essays when stoned:

On the opposing side of the legalization of marijuana they see Marijuana as a drug that is placing negative verdicts on the young and they are also seeing it as a harmful drug that is influencing the society negatively. On the other side of the argument we see that other individuals believe that Marijuana is not a negative impact on the society because it does not have any harmful entities tied to it and it would also bring an abundance of currency to the state that it is in.

#363 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 01:32 PM:

Fragano @ 362 - At least you can be pretty sure they just didn't download it from somewhere. I think.

#364 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 01:33 PM:

HLN: Local woman makes off with old family photographs from her parents' house. "They were being kept in a non-climate-controlled garage," she says. "I worried all summer about them sitting in the heat and humidity, and I finally located the box they were in."

The box contains not only photos she'd seen before (from the 1940s through the 2000s), but also contains her grandmother's high school yearbooks: 1945, 1946, and 1947. "The standard yearbook message in the mid-40s seems to have been 'Best of luck to a swell kid,'" says local woman. "Everybody really did use the word 'swell' constantly."

I'm fascinated by the yearbooks, and sad that my grandmother's memory has deteriorated to such an extent that she probably can't remember most of the people and stories referred to in the yearbook signatures. Then again, she's losing memories in a "last in, first out" order -- the older the memory, the more likely she can still access it. She did recently tell me a story about her first job at age 15, scooping ice cream in a local shop. So maybe she would see these yearbooks and happily remember her high school years. (They seem to have been genuinely happy years; she had many friends sign her yearbooks with much more than just "Best of luck to a swell kid," and she was elected president of her school's very first student council, which to me implies she was generally well-liked.)

I'm going to scan as many of the old photos as I can, and I'll see about scanning at least the most interesting yearbook pages, too. I'd like to set up an online photo database for family members, so they can look at the photos and add comments, stories, locations, dates, identifications of people whose faces I don't know, etc. It could be a neat family history project.

#365 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 04:55 PM:

An amazing graphic story: All the Books in the World -- Except One. Probably particularly poignant for many here....

#366 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 05:32 PM:

Not just Highland, but any kind of national dress is supposedly valid formal wear.

Oh, and suspenders as opposed to belt - I quite like them and use them on occasion. A belt just squeezes you around the middle, while suspenders actually do lift your trousers.

#367 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 07:08 PM:

Tom Whitmore @365: In my case, the book is one that was my mom's, and it was a present to her from my uncle (who died before I was born) who inscribed it to her in letters made of little men. In the course of a series of moves, I decided it could go, and it's been nagging at me for the last thirty years now.

#368 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 07:20 PM:

Well, I signed the lease this evening. No turning back now.

I'm feeling pretty good about it at this point. Hopefully I'll be calm enough to sleep tonight.

#369 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 08:05 PM:

If you, like me, didn't see what was the point of making movies in 3-D, go see Gravity.

#370 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 08:13 PM:

Following up on Allan Beatty's comment at 369, Gravity is worth seeing. That said, if you, like me, have a strong fondness for the realities of modern space exploration, I might suggest a flask with your alcohol of choice. Or whatever gets you through an hour and a half of serious dramatic tension.

This vision scientist notes that he'd have preferred to not see it in 3D (it's cute, but there are limits to the depth planes permissible by the technology; couple that with focal distance and stereo fusion issues and it's a gimmick at best - save your $6 and see it in 2D).

#371 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2013, 10:23 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 368: May your move go smoothly, and your new landlord be a good 'un.

#372 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 12:39 AM:

Kip W. @367 -- I don't have a specific one, but many. As an opposite example, last year I found a book my grandmother had inscribed to another important woman in the printmaking world of the 1930s (probably a presentation copy). I might have figured that it might exist, but I would never have thought to look for it.

#373 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 02:33 AM:

Turkey has legalized Q, W, and X. It doesn't make a lot of difference to Turkish speakers, but it's really good for Kurdish speakers and other ethnic minorities, who haven't been allowed to spell their own names properly since Turkey "modernized" spelling under Ataturk, changing from an Arabic alphabet to a Roman-with-accents one.

#374 ::: Bill Stewart offers the gnomes some extra letters ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 02:35 AM:

Hi, Gnomes!

#375 ::: Mongoose spies spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 03:24 AM:

HLN: local herpestid would like this year's crop of fleas to return immediately to whichever circle of hell they originate from.

"I can even provide a handbasket," they told HLN. "I understand that's a traditional conveyance. But it's the middle of October and normally they've all been gone at least a month by now. We need a good sharp frost or two."

The fleas were unavailable for comment, being too full to talk after treating local herpestid's left ankle as a convenient free all-you-can-eat buffet. Local herpestid was last seen looking hopefully at the weather predictions for minus signs and trying to channel Ned Stark.

#376 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 03:24 AM:

Ack, sorry! I did it again. No spam here - that was on another thread. Forgot to change the name. *headdesk*

#377 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 06:42 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 373:

ML's Turkish correspondent comments:

'The local joke, echoing the Prime Minister's complaints that Turkish protests during the summer were inspired by the 'interest-rate lobby' (a phrase whose anti-Semitic overtones have drawn some comment), is that this represents a capitulation to the 'scrabble lobby'.

It's also worth noticing that progress here may (it's not entirely clear) be less than it seems: since legal documents all have to be in Turkish, and Turkish still doesn't contain these letters, there's some doubt as to whether a Turkish citizen can be registered as having a name containing one of these three letters. For what it's worth the issue doesn't just affect Kurdish speakers, but also foreigners with names like 'Qwerty' and 'Xerox' who wish to become Turkish citizens.'

#378 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 07:23 AM:

#373 ::: Bill Stewart

Making letters illegal is kind of thing I'd expect to only see in parody, but then, making music (in general) is the kind of thing I'd expect to only see done by a villain in a children's book.

Oh, well.

#379 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 07:36 AM:

Praisegod Barebones @ 377,

Do they have some method of transliteration? Because it's not just the hypothetical "Xerox" or "Qwerty" that have problems, but the very real Walters, Quincys, and Alexanders. (If Prince William of England were to have make a state visit, how would the newspapers have spelled his name?)

Granted, in America we have issues with transliteration; look at the twenty or so valid spellings for Khadafy/Qaddafy/Kaddafi.... But that's a problem of going from one writing system to another, without shared letter-forms.


#380 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 08:41 AM:

I believe anyone named "Qwerty" should be granted US citizenship on demand.

#381 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 08:47 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #378: What if your alphabet doesn't need them? In Spanish, as I learnt the alphabet more than half a century ago, the digraphs "ch" and "ll" each occupy a place, while "uve doble" (w) was only grudgingly included as it is only used in foreign words (e.g., the names "Washington" and "Wellington", pronounced, in Spain, "Vashington" and "Vellington", with some Spaniards, on hearing them, spelling them "Vaxintón" and "Velintón").

Of course, I'm still amused by my uncle Eugenio's questions to me about the Royal Navy nuclear submarine "Tírilis" which had docked in Gibraltar for repair, causing a major scandal in Spain. I realised, after a while, that he was referring to HMS Tireless, and explained to him how the name was pronounced in English. His friends at the bar, he said, wouldn't understand that. Reading the name in the paper, they'd pronounce it "Tírilis".

#382 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 09:05 AM:

In re the Turkish letters thing, I wonder if this will impact Mr. Erdogan at all? Since if you asked a lot Americans to spell his name based upon pronunciation we'd probably end up with something like "Erdowan" ...

#383 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 09:41 AM:

I am reminded of Ella Minnow Pea, in which various letters of the alphabet are progressively made illegal.

#384 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 09:42 AM:

Nothing wrong with an alphabet that doesn't use all the letters (though I wouldn't mind sf about a culture which used the IPA-- Heinlein's speedtalk isn't quite it). My issue is with a country which makes some letters *illegal*.

#385 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 11:41 AM:


This makes me think of the main character in _The Peace War_, a black kid raised in a medevial-technology-level Spanish-speaking community named "Wili Wachéndon"

#386 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 12:00 PM:

I'm not sure how keen I'd be on IPA. Even in English, there are mutually intelligible dialects that would "spell" the same words differently using IPA. For instance, in some, but not all, dialects of English, the two words "pen" and "pin" are homophones, and would be spelled the same. (in my dialect, I'd spell them /pɛn/ and /pɪn/, but I've heard them both pronounced /piːn/ in my mother's birth dialect). Similarly, in some dialect, "then" and "thin" is a minimal distinguisher between /θ/ and /ð/ phonemes.

I'm not sure there's a good solution to the problem of a general phonetic alphabet for languages which have regional pronunciation differences/dialects.

Unless, of course, you posit that your IPA-using SF culture doesn't have dialects or other regional differences.

What I've wanted to see is an SF culture which uses phonemes which are impossible for humans to produce, such as nasal plosives (caused by a temporary stoppage of airflow through the nostrils), or are inaudible to the human ear. How a linguist or diplomat deals with the issue in talks and negotiations would be interesting.

#387 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 12:05 PM:

Buddha Buck @386 What I've wanted to see is an SF culture which uses phonemes which are impossible for humans to produce, such as nasal plosives (caused by a temporary stoppage of airflow through the nostrils), or are inaudible to the human ear. How a linguist or diplomat deals with the issue in talks and negotiations would be interesting.

If you haven't read Janet Kagan's Hellspark, I recommend it.

#388 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 12:07 PM:

Elizabethan English had flexible spelling-- an IPA-writing culture could presumably have the same.

I assume people who wanted to "speak" an alien language that included non-human sounds would use keyboards or some more advanced tech. Or there would be "close enough" sounds that people could make without external aids.

Mieville's Embassytown dealt with the problem of people talking with two-mouthed aliens by having paired linguists. (from memory)

#389 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 12:12 PM:

Mongoose, I love Ella Minnow Pea! It's particularly amusing in that book that they're trying to come up with short pangrams, and never come up with the shortest one* I know, which is "Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow."

I once created a whole multi-episode arc in a roleplaying game just so that at the end someone could say that in a context where it made sense.

*To count, it has to be a sentence that is at least grammatically parsible and coherent. This one is a pretty odd thing to say, but qualifies. And it's only 29 letters, repeating only a, o, and u. It's hard to get shorter than that without losing coherence.

Irish doesn't use j, k, q, v, w, x, y, or z. They use the other 18 letters a lot.

#390 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 12:37 PM:

Buddha 386: I'm not sure how keen I'd be on IPA. Even in English, there are mutually intelligible dialects that would "spell" the same words differently using IPA. For instance, in some, but not all, dialects of English, the two words "pen" and "pin" are homophones, and would be spelled the same. (in my dialect, I'd spell them /pɛn/ and /pɪn/, but I've heard them both pronounced /piːn/ in my mother's birth dialect).

This is why Michiganders say "ink pen" (to disambiguate). It didn't make sense to me until I studied linguistics. And they don't do it in writing; I think it's rather unfriendly of someone editing a transcript of an interview with a Michigander to leave in the word 'ink', as someone did in an interview with Eminem I read years ago. But the decision about that is complex.

I'd be extremely unkeen on IPA in English. English writes the way it does for some good reasons (and some bad ones). For example, spelling 'electric' with a final k (or whatever that is in IPA) and 'electricity' with an s in the penultimate syllable is just plain stupid and loses something important.

And frankly I like the fact that we spell 'shun' and '-tion' differently, and 'affect' and 'effect'*, and 'marshall' and 'martial'. I know I'm probably in a minority on this.

Nancy 388: Elizabethan English had flexible spelling-- an IPA-writing culture could presumably have the same.

Well, the whole point of IPA is to be inflexible...unless you mean that everyone just writes their own dialect, and no one spell-checks any more. That would add the stigma now applied to various accents to communications in writing as well. I can't see this as a plus.

*Yes, in careful speech those are different, and in some dialects, and when 'affect' is used in its jargon sense it's quite well distinguished from 'effect'. So what? It's another argument against IPA, actually, since people would spell both words in a variety of ways depending on how colloquial they wanted to be!

#391 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 12:51 PM:

Cassy B. @ 379: despite my flippancy, I'm well aware that this is a practical problem for people with names less singular than, say, 'Praisegod Barebones.' Some might even suspect me of being a member of the aforementioned 'Scrabble Lobby' myself.

#392 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 12:51 PM:

Albatross #385: That's the result of the Spanish known to the author being Mexican (had it been Caribbean -- Puerto Rican, Dominican, or Cuban -- it would have come out more like "Guíli Guachendón").

#393 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 01:29 PM:

I'm not saying the IPA as alphabet would be likable for everyone (my ear isn't that sharp, though I'm sure it would be sharper if I grew up in that culture) or ideal, just that it's interesting to look at the consequences.

I'm assuming that people would mostly write in their own dialects, though I'm sure there would be higher and lower status dialects and this would affect people's choices.

#394 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 01:50 PM:

Buddha Buck @386, in China Melville's Embassytown (rot13 for minor spoiler) gur nzonffnqbef unir gb gnyx gb perngherf gung fcrnx ovcubavpnyyl (gjb zbhguf cre perngher; obgu fcrnx fvzhygnarbhfyl sbezvat qvssrerag cubarzrf gb perngr jbeqf; erpbeqvatf ner abg pbzceruraqrq ol gur perngherf fb gung gevpx jba'g jbex). Gurl fbyir guvf ol univat gjb nzonffnqbef, rnpu fcrnxvat unys gur jbeqf fvzhygnabhfyl....

#395 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 01:52 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @388, that'll teach me to reply before I read through the thread.

#396 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 02:08 PM:

Praisegod Barebones @391, I'm the one that should apologize; I should have seen the flippancy. In my defense, it was first thing in the morning and I wasn't quite awake...

#397 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Today in "Gosh, Making Light should really hear about this," I present to you an iOS platformer game that teaches the player about the history of typography:

#398 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 02:59 PM:

Oh, clicky link:



#399 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 04:17 PM:

Xopher @ 389: "Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow."

Squeeeeee! I love pangrams, and I've never seen that one before. I shall now be carefully grateful in a way that will not overexcite the gnomes.

Apparently there was once, somewhere, a headline that ran "Cwm fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz" about some graffiti on a riverside rock face, but to be honest I've never been happy with that one. Anyone who paid the least bit of attention in O-level geography knows that a cwm and a fjord are two totally different formations.

#400 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 04:20 PM:

The very first issue of Games magazine I read had in the letter column "XV BC fjord whelk quiz gyps T-man", but that one requires a fair amount of unpacking. (A worker for the Treasury Department goes on a game show, where he fails a question about Norwegian sea snails in the year fifteen before the current era.) Xopher's pangram is definitely one of the best I've seen.

#401 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 04:32 PM:

Xopher @389, I've been working on constructing a pangram with "quartz sphinx" in it, off and on, for a few years now. This is far more elegant than any solution I've come up with.

#402 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 04:40 PM:

HLN: Local man is peeved at Chrome for updating and losing all his prefs, cookies, bookmarks, search engines and other things that are supposed to be saved to the local drive.

Local man supposes that it's Google's way of telling me they'd really rather have me signed into their browser.

#403 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 04:50 PM:

On the Amazing Cats of Leslie Fish

A great time ago (two Internet ages) I met Leslie Fish at a convention. At least at that time she seemed completely convinced (I did not think she was pulling a joke on the young and credulous fan) that she had telekinetic abilities and could move small objects with her mind. She was similarly convinced that in her part of Arizona either Elk or Deer had their rut in the spring so as to have young during the cool and wet fall and winter. I have repeatedly searched for any reference to this by any biologist and have yet to find any report or anecdotal report of this anywhere. (If it is true I would be quite interested to be pointed in the direction of papers or stories. It would be facinating if true.)

Those were to two most memorable subjects of the chat I had with her. She is undoubtedly nice and interesting since so many interesting people like her, but I would treat anything she said of how intelligent or dexterous her cats were with the same intellectual caution that I use when receiving historical information from a person convinced of the reality of ancient astronauts building the pyramids.

She may be accurately conveying the reality of her feline adventures within the limits of good storytelling or she could be exaggerating.

#404 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 07:03 PM:

Mishalak @403: I was partly responsible for waifing her to the 2000 WorldCon, and I can't disagree with anything you've said. In addition, she insisted on keeping a loaded firearm near her person at all times and warned me not to accidentally get between her and it (for example, when it was on the nightstand of the bed we shared) or she might reflexively harm me for the subconsciously perceived threat. Then she turned our room (we were not the only two designated users of it) into an unofficial all-night smoking filkroom and consuite to hold court in and I had to find somewhere else to sleep ...

That said, I have heard stories of a pair of her culls' adventures after adoption from someone I know to be a credible witness on the subject, and they're definitely very intelligent in a fairly uncatlike way, and very teamwork-oriented.

#405 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 07:04 PM:

Cassy B@394

A somewhat similar situation occurs in "Close to Critical" by Hal Clement.

Nygubhtu va guvf pnfr vg'f n uhzna naq nyvra jbexvat gbtrgure gb pbzzhavpngr gb n guveq vagryyvtrag fcrpvrf.

(Naq vg jnf n erfhyg bs na nppvqragny penfu ynaqvat engure guna n cynaarq qryrtngvba.)

#406 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 07:16 PM:

Waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex Bud.

Mix Zapf with Veljovic and get quirky béziers.

#407 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 09:06 PM:

I don't remember where I got the sphinx pangram; I certainly didn't invent it myself. Might have been from Willard Espy.

Mishalak 403: the reality of ancient astronauts building the pyramids

Well, they were aliens with snakes in their heads. I guess they count as astronauts, though they also traveled by stargate.

Stephen 406: Waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex Bud.

A letter shorter! It has a name, though not an extraordinary one (your other one isn't nearly as elegant). Adding another short pangram to my list.

#408 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 09:34 PM:

Xopher @407 (re Stephen Sample @406) -- using a bit of modern slang (not uncommon in the 21st Century) one can eliminate the proper name quite simply: "Dub waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex."

#409 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2013, 09:48 PM:

Xopher @389: Years ago, I came up with "Fix my quartz block when pigs do jive." Not a beauty, but it was a letter shorter than what was in the Guinness book at the time. I never sent it in because by the time I was motivated enough, they had something better anyway.

The one with BC I consider illegitimate for using abbreviations. Might as well just make up words. (Or get cute like the Saturday Review reader who sent in "Baby knows all his letters except D, F, G…" Eh, you finish it.)

In other lettery thoughts, I'm all for them allowing more diphthong letters in English, like X, which has two sounds in it. There was a -ps- letter that Claudius let into the Roman alphabet, according to Graves. If they made up a few more good ones, we could get more bang for our 140 characters in Twitter, see.

#410 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 12:04 AM:

#407 ::: Xopher Halftongue: Well, they were aliens with snakes in their heads. I guess they count as astronauts, though they also traveled by stargate.

Well to be totally pedantic the the slave laborers of the humans with alien worms built the pyramids. So I would still say the Egyptians built them even in the Stargate universe.

Actually, that might make for interesting fiction. Even in a universe where ancient astronauts are real Erich von Däniken is still a fraudulent plagiarist. Sort of a Gilderoy Lockhart of SF.

#411 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 02:29 AM:

OtterB, #387: Seconding the recommendation for Hellspark. One of the most fascinating linguistic mysteries I've ever seen, plus a murder mystery and a first-contact story all wound together. It taught me how to "take a step back" from my own culture, which has proven to be a valuable skill on occasion.

Xopher, #390: I continue to be astounded by the things you seem to have heard growing up in Michigan. I guarantee you none of the people I knew there would have said "ink pen" -- that's a formulation I never encountered until moving to Tennessee. (And to get the actual pronunciation, it should be spelled "ink pin".) The Michigander dialect I grew up with makes a clear distinction between "pin" and "pen".

Elliott, #404: Sadly, none of those anecdotes surprise me, especially the last one.

#412 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 06:04 AM:

Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of pangrams in English and several other languages. Just reading the translations is an excellent way to get your morning bowl of surreal flakes.

#413 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 07:10 AM:

Mongoose #412: Hmm. I note that "sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow" is credited to Adobe InDesign as a font-demo load.

I see that all the shortest English ones depend heavily on the language's libertine habits: if not initialisms and such, then local names for the wildlife, topography, and customs of various non-Anglophone regions. Not to mention abusing our tolerance for fragmentary clauses and sentences....

(Personally, I consider a pangram or suchlike pretty dubious if it needs to be translated for native speakers.)

#414 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 09:13 AM:

Dave Harmon @413: I've long sought a ... well, a pangram-like item that also includes the numeral 1, a capital I, and a lowercase L, so I can see what they look like in various fonts. A font-testing text, I suppose.

#415 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 11:28 AM:

Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow

I don't think I've seen that one before. Although it does remind me of "Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz", probably because sphinx and quartz are both pretty useful words for pangrams if you can fit them in.

The jackdaws weigh in at a relatively dismal 31 letters, though. Three As and two each of I, O, and S.

(Jackdaws are a type of bird, in case you're wondering. IIRC they actually are fond of shiny objects, although whether this extends to quartz sphinxes is more speculative.)

#416 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 11:56 AM:

chris @ 415: I'm now experiencing the flip side of the mild becrogglement I had when I discovered that bluebirds were real (and indigenous to certain parts of the United States). I'd always thought they were a cute folkloric metaphor for happiness.

Jackdaws are pretty common here in the UK, or at least they were (I don't see them quite so often these days, but that may at least partly be a function of living with a cat; magpies will venture into my back garden, but then they are very bold). You're quite right about them liking shiny things, but they might possibly get bored with a big quartz sphinx, as they couldn't steal it and take it back to their nests.

#417 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 01:20 PM:

HLN: Area man takes new telescope to public viewing night, pleased that it functions flawlessly. AM also realizes that having six telescopes is too many and must sell one of his optical darlings.

#418 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 02:47 PM:

Steve C@417

Or you could just buy another telescope. Then you'd have one for every night of the week.


#419 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 02:50 PM:

Mishalak @403: She may be accurately conveying the reality of her feline adventures within the limits of good storytelling or she could be exaggerating.

You know, it's interesting that you say that; there's something about the tone of her stores that just feels...embellished.

See also: Hi hi! Good to meet you at the con!

#420 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 02:50 PM:

HLN: The Rainbow's End household now has a Siamese once more in residence -- his name is Luciano, and he has quite a vocabulary.

The house apes have learned his vocalizations for "feed me NOW dammit," "I'm lost," and "where is my litter box." The first 24 hours (Monday) were a little rocky as it took us awhile to figure out which vocalization meant what...

He goes for his first vaccines on Monday. He's a Virgo baby, having been born on August 29th.

#421 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 03:00 PM:

HLN: After much angst and agonization, and having allocated insufficient prep time, local fan survives submitting art to local convention artshow. Said fan was duly astonished when informed that one piece won "Judge's Choice" award. Fan has made small (well, really small) effort to refrain from annoying passersby with excessive strutting and preening. Additionally, four pieces sold, neatly making back cost of hotel (or, would have done, had fan not also bought a piece of art).

All in all, local fan is well pleased.

#422 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 03:04 PM:

Michael I @ 418 -

I hadn't thought of that argument. (Or 12 telescopes, one for each month)

#423 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 03:05 PM:

Oh yeah, and: on the topic of The Graying of Fandom: Not in evidence at MileHiCon. Youngest I saw was eighteen months. Oldest was probably eighty-ish. But in between, the age distribution was pretty darn even, with maybe a slight bulge in the 20-60 range. Even better, some clans had (at least) three generations present.

#424 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 03:17 PM:

Jacque, #421: Congratulations on your art sales! I never expect to sell any pieces in an art show -- I mostly put them in as an attempt to generate interest in my dealer table -- and am always pleasantly surprised when it happens.

#425 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 03:30 PM:

Jacque (421): Congratulations! When I put art in a convention art show, I always figure I've done well if I make back my entry fees. Making back the cost of the hotel is even better!

#426 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 03:45 PM:

Open Threadiness:

Some of you might remember that I've been dealing with automotive and financial issues (strongly coupled) and that my Jeep needs a new engine. Has needed one, in fact, since April or before. I haven't driven it farther than the half-mile from home to the mechanic's since April, and that was one trip, to drop the vehicle off once I finally had the $500 in hand to have the engine torn down for the warranty claim ('01 Jeep, purchased by me in '11, aftermarket warranty).

I've moved since purchasing the vehicle, and somewhere in the move the binder containing all my various records for repairs and oil changes went AWOL. I've had to go searching, and so the vehicle has sat, sans engine, in a spare bay at my mechanic's while I hunted around to find or reconstruct service records from a variety of local auto shops. One of the most difficult things was trying to decide which of three storage locations might be most likely to actually house the missing binder, and alternatively, which auto shops in town I had used for servicing the Jeep in case I didn't find the binder and had to go ask whether the shops still had copies of my records.

I believe I finally have everything together, and now I need to convince the warranty folks to reopen the repair claim and to honor the warranty by replacing the engine (and covering assorted other minor repairs). The warranty expires in 4 days. If this work isn't paid for by the warranty, I can't afford it out of my own pocket, which would mean I'd be stuck paying $240 a month for a large lawn ornament. Not to mention that since the car I have been driving in the interim is not in fact mine and its owner really needs it back, I would also lose my ability to hold a job easily as most decent jobs in this area aren't on bus lines anymore. And I would still owe $500 to the very good friend who pressed a check into my hand back in July with admonition to get my Jeep fixed and pay him back once the warranty company returned the money to me in covering the claim.

I need all the good mojo I can get for this to go through without a problem.

#427 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 04:04 PM:

@233 Elliott Mason

Knitting content: I am not-quite-a-quarter done with a dress for my kid.

That's a really cute dress! I've printed the pattern out for my Mum, who is always happy to have a new project (!), however, I was wondering if you can help me? I think that this is a translation from the original Norwegian, and has a few hiccups in it. Can you help me figure out the meaning before I give it to my Mum? Keep in mind that I do not knit myself, I was just brought up in a Knitting House.

Where it says "I.e 4 needles means 4 needles knitted with Angora, at the top of the dress. You work the colour stripes at the same time, but don´t worry about them when measuring. Never do more than 4 Angora needles between each colour stripe", do they really mean "needles"? Or should that be something else, like "stitches"? It's confusing, because they use the word stitches properly elsewhere in the pattern.

Also, in what... direction (I guess is the best word) is the dress being knitted? It doesn't look like it runs top to bottom, to me. When you cast on that first row of 105 s, is that the length from nape to calf, where the buttons will go? And then you continue knitting all the way around, I guess?

One more thing: since I probably won't be able to get Pickles brand yarn here, could you tell me what weight the yarn is, so I can pickup something comparable? I can't find the info on their website (or I just don't know where to look).

Merci beaucoup pour ton aide! I think your daughter will have a really lovely dress, once you are done!

#428 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 04:13 PM:

Cheryl: I think in that particular case it means rows. This is actually a really simple pattern, you can get by by counting garter bumps and going by how many color-stripes to keep it symmetrical, plus using inches. It's very adaptable to other sizes or gauges, as long as you've got a good gauge swatch in garter stitch (and don't get too ambitious about how many short-row turns you put in the skirt -- that way lies super-hyper-circularity!). I'm getting a bit more stitches to the inch than they want with a light fingering on size US 3 needles, so standard sock yarn should be fine.

I'm adjusting by having multiplied the initial cast-on stitch count (which is back-neck-to-hem length) by 1.22, and going by the inches in the patterns instead of rows, which is what they said to do. Also, I adjusted the increase-for-shoulders (and decrease, etc) by doing three groups of five stitches plus a single three-stitch one, which gives me about the right number of total stitches (multipled by 1.22, as noted).

#429 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 04:16 PM:

Cheryl: Oh, and an adjustment I did that you might want (unless your mum really enjoys weaving in ends constantly) is to start the color-stripes at the top TIP of the triangle instead of at the hem -- you have to mark the spot ahead of time (do the counting up from the hem of all the turning-points) but it is TOTALLY worth it to me to be able to strand the yarn along at waist height instead of burying two ends for every flippin' triangle of color.

In that case, the short-row algorithm runs "Start knitting with relevant Colored Yarn at Point X, and knit to hem. Purl back from hem to first turning-point marker; wrap-and-turn, knit back to hem. Purl to second turning-point marker; etc, until your purl row is 'knit back to where you started the color'. Then instead of wrap-and-turn, you turn the work over and pick up the torso color and knit down across the top of your whole color triangle, knitting back to finish the garter-bump.

If your mum hasn't done short rows before I'd love to email-correspond with her about it, if she likes email.

#430 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 04:27 PM:

Lee 411: Not sure what that 'seem to have' means. I did hear those things. My memory isn't that fallible.

I grew up in Okemos and went to college (that's "university" to any Brits who may read this) in East Lansing. The Okemos school district straddled the border between the burbs where the faculty and staff of Michigan State University lived, and distinctly rural farming communities (it was years after leaving that I finally realized there was a class divide in my school...but then I was on the privileged side of that, so of course I didn't realize what it was).

My parents are from Chicago. They distinguish 'pin' from 'pen' by the vowel, and so did I, from the very first. When I heard people in junior high and high school saying "ink pen," I noticed it. And they were not people who had just moved there from TN!

Not sure where you grew up that you didn't hear it. It actually makes sense if it's a Southern thing, because a LOT of poor whites from the South settled in Michigan after the Civil War.

Mongoose 412: Hmm, I doubt that a comprehensive list is possible, since you can always invent new ones. The "perfect" ones may all be used up, but I'm not sure even of that.

Dave 413: I note that "sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow" is credited to Adobe InDesign as a font-demo load.

It says "used by." That's not to say they invented it.

(Personally, I consider a pangram or suchlike pretty dubious if it needs to be translated for native speakers.)

Hear, hear.

chris 415: I remember my Baum! Never heard of Jackdaws before reading him.

Jacque 421: Congratulations! That's great.

#431 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 04:32 PM:

416: Does anyone know if the real bluebird is actually the source of the legendary bluebird (as in Maeterlinck's play, The Blue Bird, where it is indeed a symbol of happiness), or if it is a coincidence? (Or might the real thing even be called after the legend, like, say, the Komodo dragon?)

#432 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 04:48 PM:

@428, 429 Elliott Mason

Cheryl: I think in that particular case it means rows.

That makes much more sense.

standard sock yarn should be fine

The Craft Yarn Council site shows sock yarn as Category 1, Super Fine. Does that seem right?

Oh, and an adjustment I did that you might want (unless your mum really enjoys weaving in ends constantly) is to start the color-stripes at the top TIP of the triangle instead of at the hem -- you have to mark the spot ahead of time (do the counting up from the hem of all the turning-points) but it is TOTALLY worth it to me to be able to strand the yarn along at waist height instead of burying two ends for every flippin' triangle of color.

My Mum has a trick for that: she carries the yarn behind. I think this is how she does it. Youtube seems to have a few demos of this technique, if that particular video is not good for you. Unless that's not what you meant?

If your mum hasn't done short rows before I'd love to email-correspond with her about it, if she likes email.

My Mum generally has 4 or 5 different knitting/crochet projects going at any one time, and has since I was young. I can't tell you for sure if she's done short rows or not, but I wouldn't be shocked.

Alas, my mother does not do computers. I have tried to show her a few things (15 years, but she can now use the bank machine!!), but sometimes I think she would be less befuddled if I used Harry Potter's wand.

#433 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Congrats on your art showing, Jacque! John and I were at MHC for most of Saturday, but we never managed to make our way into the art show. Which I now regret.

#434 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 05:46 PM:

Andrew M #431: Well, the bluebird, or rather bluebirds, are certainly the source of their own common name!¹ They are particularly pretty songbirds (and apparently helpful in the garden), so an association with happiness seems natural.

¹ Taxonomists are lucky that the common name stayed within one genus; compare Black-eyed Susan, or "bluets", which pretty much refers to any small blue or blue-white meadow-flower.

#435 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 05:54 PM:

Day 3 of my training somehwere on the East Coast...

Without consulting each other, some of us showed up wearing a red shirt.
Nobody died.

#436 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 05:56 PM:

SummerStorms @426: good luck in negotiating re. the warranty.

#437 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 06:29 PM:

Dave Harmon @434: I'm confused by your comparison of "Black-Eyed Susan" to bluets - in my experience, flowers called Black-Eyed Susans are more commonly yellow with black centers, as in the Rudbeckia hirta.

#438 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 07:06 PM:

Jacque @ 421: congratulations! That's awesome.

#439 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 07:14 PM:

oliviacw #437: The only common factor is that those are both common names which refer to many different flowers; the link I gave for "Black Eyed Susan" lists three other plant families, plus "a number of other members" of the Rudbeckia genus.

#440 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 08:21 PM:

oliviacw #437, addendum: Yeah, my phrasing was confusing in #434, sorry.

General: As I may have mentioned, for some time now I've been using nicotine gum to hold my smoking down to a pack a day. Last week, I saw what was described as an "e-hookah" (a bigger version of e-cigarettes) and decided to try it. (Brand name is "eVoodoo".)

Given that it cost about as much as two packs of my cigarettes (American Spirits, somewhat more expensive than most) the second¹ question was, would it last long enough to replace two packs of cigs? As it turns out, the answer is "hell yeah!". This thing has been going for most of a week, replacing nearly all of my cigarettes (I've smoked maybe half a pack in that time, because reasons), and some of the gum to boot.

¹ The first question of course, was "will it actually substitute for cigarettes". Obviously, it passed that test. Though for quite a while, I had to stop myself from trying to light it. ;-)

#441 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 08:22 PM:

This has been making the rounds on FB. Incredibly beautiful.

Spontaneous Beethoven

(Apologies if seen before)

#442 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 08:23 PM:

Likely for discussing a suspicious product and/or brandname. I can offer some mac-and-cheese with various veggies fried into it....

#443 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 08:50 PM:

Quite Fluorospherian: Last summer, a Spanish bank decided to sponsor a flashmob for their 130th anniversary. It is classy. It is uber-classy. And awesome. Especially the way they chose to let it trigger.

I love how many of the passersby are singing along by the time the choir shows up ...

#444 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 08:53 PM:

Cheryl @432: That craft yarn council chart is very strange to me. It has 'lace' include fingering? Fingering is fairly coarse for what I'd consider 'laceweight', and almost all sock yarn I've seen is sportweight or fingering.

I'd say you could make that dress out of anything marked Craft-Yarn-Council 2 or 3 with some adjustment of needle size (which your mum is probably a past mistress of).

The reason I suggest starting the color bits at the thin end is because if you do them at the thick end, you'll be stranding along four colors for distances of well over 20 rows, which is insane ... if you strand them along at the narrow end it is much more manageable, and also not right out at the hem where it'd show.

Some people hate end-burying less than I do, though, and the start-at-the-hem color method does have the advantage that it's very easy to explain in the pattern and to keep track of while you're knitting.

#445 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 09:11 PM:

Mishalak @ 403 -- I can say with great confidence that the rut for elk and deer in Arizona is September and October, just like anywhere else. I'm about 30 minutes from Payson, right under the Mogollon Rim. It's elk and deer central here. I think there's more elk living in my neighborhood than people.

We even get elk on the porch.

That said, in the spring and early summer, when the females give birth, they will whistle to their offspring. A cow elk looking for junior sounds quite a bit like a bull in lust. It would be easy to mistake that for the rut. Many people don't realize that cow elk whistle too.

#446 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 09:12 PM:

Steve C., 441 and Elliott Mason, 444: Great minds think alike!

#447 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 09:20 PM:

re 439: I suspect some of the other Rudbeckia species get called "black-eyed Susan", and the black-eyed Susan vine is a thing unto itself, but the other things on Wikipedia's list fairly cry out for "citation needed".

#448 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 09:52 PM:

@444 Elliott Mason

Merci pour l'info!

(not being chichi, just trying to avoid bothering the gnomes)

#449 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 11:08 PM:

OK, so some new deep and abiding idiocy has taken root at Google, and now if you log out from one GMail account and go to log into another, it does not forget your first login. Indeed, it apparently tries to assemble a menu of alternate logins, apparently on the assumption that you're the only person who ever logs into your machine, and you want all your various identities linked together. OK, well, what about a public access machine at a library? What if I don't want everything tied together? Isn't that the point of having multiple accounts? I'm now reduced to opening up different browsers to keep things sorted, and it's a good thing I have less identities than browsers available.

#450 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 11:13 PM:

Wait, is it just giving you a dropdown box with your different logins to choose from? Which browser are you using?

Because Firefox does that with Gmail on my laptop, but it's because I have Firefox set to remember my logins and passwords for Gmail (and certain other sites). It isn't anything specific to Gmail itself.

#451 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2013, 11:18 PM:

Xopher, #430: What I'm saying is that I can't imagine where you would have lived in Michigan to have heard those things, not that you didn't hear them. I lived in Michigan (Detroit area) for 16 years and never heard a single person say "ink pen", and neither have any of the other Michiganders I've encountered since moving elsewhere, and that includes people from all over the Lower Peninsula, including one from Okemos when I was at Vandy. But the thing that really prompted my comment is, several times you've talked about how "Michiganders" say this or that Southernism, and every time it's completely counter to my experience. If people in the area where you lived talked that way, it must be very localized indeed.

Steve C., #441: ISTR seeing that one before (the kid in red climbing the lamppost for a better view seems familiar), but well worth watching again if so.

#452 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 01:20 AM:

I hadn't seen the Beethoven flashmob. Lovely. One thing I do wonder: the chorus didn't seem to be singing the lyrics from the beginning, but something different. Anyone know for sure what they were singing?

#453 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 03:52 AM:

Steve C. @441 & Elliott Mason @443: thank you for that! It's a good one.

Just in case anyone missed it when it came around some time ago, I still think this one is the best: Copenhagen Station Bolero - I also really like the oe they did on a train Classical Special train - enjoy the music

#454 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 05:43 AM:

re 450: What's changed is that there doesn't seem to be a way to reduce it to the default state of asking for a user ID and password. Before, if it were left logged in, it would present that account and ask for a password, but if you said "sign in as another user" it would forget everything. Now, there doesn't seem to be any way to get it to do that; it appears to be trying to set up a menu of accounts to log in from. Even if you take the option that appears to be intended to make it forget, it doesn't do that; it doggedly remembers the first account.

#455 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 06:16 AM:

The current version of Opera does some weird stuff with bookmarks, a completely changed UI for getting the functions, and I was reluctant to make the switch. But some sites are starting to get awkward.

I am still trying to figure out how to organise the new system. And how to replace the ROT-13 tool I was using, which rather depends on the old-style UI.

One thing which is looming is that Firefox is going to drop plug-ins, which is going to mess up No-Script.

I am going to be a bit grumpy for a while.

#456 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 07:05 AM:

Dave @ 455: why is FF dropping plugins? Surely that'll just mean everyone who uses them will change to another browser? (Personally I don't know where I'd be without AdBlock Plus and WoT.)

#457 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 07:24 AM:

Mongoose @456, Dave Bell @455: I think they're only dropping plugins (Flash, Silverlight, Java etc) as distinct from extensions like AdBlock Plus, Greasemonkey and NoScript. At least, I hope so, or I will be joining you in grumpiness.

#458 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 08:38 AM:

They're dropping Flash? But then I'll have to use another browser to play with my trains... *shamefaced expression*

(Explanation: there's a game called TrainStation of which I am inordinately fond. What can I say? I like trains. Always have.)

#459 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 08:42 AM:

James E @457: They can't do that until Netflix manages to get itself off Silverlight, which has been about to happen Real Soon Now for over 3 years.

#460 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 08:53 AM:

Here and here is a bit more detail on it all. TL;DR version: Chrome is ending support for plugins. Firefox is not, but it is disabling them by default.

#461 ::: James E is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 08:55 AM:

possibly as punishment for including a whopping two URLs in a post.

[It's not the quantity. It's the quality, in this case, the format, of one of the links. —Idumea Arbacoochee, Duty Gnome]

#462 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 09:51 AM:

My friend Bill Harrison died today. I still remember Jim Whitehead "introducing" me to Bill (my life had been entwined with Bill's family for years by that time) by calling me brilliant (which is odd, since Jim was normally such a good judge of character). And I remember Jim saying that Bill, Frank Stanford (a great poet), and I had all been adopted and that explained our Romantic outlook on life.

(And now I am the only living person named in that paragraph. That's happening more often these days.)

(And yet they're much more alive than I am.)

He's best known for the novel The Roller Ball Murders and the screenplay Rollerball, but genre readers will also find In A Wild Sanctuary to be of interest. He was a good writer and a good guy. I'm sorry I didn't get up to see him last weekend.

#463 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 10:29 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @462, my condolences on your loss.

#464 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 12:08 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @462: My sincere condolences on your loss.

#465 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 12:20 PM:

Thanks, y'all. And my apologies for the tone of self-pity.

#466 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 12:30 PM:

No need to apologize for self-pity when mourning a deeply felt loss. Self-pity, it seems to me, is entirely appropriate. Part of what you're mourning is their relationship with you, after all.

#467 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 12:53 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @462: Condolences from me as well. And it's a real loss, losing a friend; don't feel any need to apologise.

#468 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 01:36 PM:

dcb, #453: I love that Bolero! It's a very abbreviated version -- the original is 8 x AABB with a coda, while this one just does one AB that's quiet and one AB that's loud and then goes to the coda. But that's about the right length for a performance of this nature, and it gives the feel of the full version.

And the Peer Gynt is a nice choice for a train ride. I may have to add that movement to my Meditation playlist.

John, #462: My condolences on your loss. And what Cassy said.

#469 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 01:53 PM:

Dave Harmon: Hooray! I love it when someone switches over to an e-cig, because that means that instead of a whole plethora of carcinogens, you're getting the one toxin (nicotine) instead, which I consider a clear win.

#470 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 01:53 PM:

All @ various: Loving the music videos.

John @ 462: Please accept my condolences as well.

#471 ::: B. Durbin is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 01:54 PM:

For replying to Dave Harmon's comment. It probably had Words of Power.

I have pink pumpkin.

#472 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 02:10 PM:

HLN: Area woman hospitalized with collapsed lung that is stubbornly resisting re-inflation. Despite medical staff's insistence that chest tubes HURT, woman reports no pain. She says, "I feel fine. Aside from occaissional shortness of breath, my only complaint is boredom."

#473 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 02:36 PM:

GlendaP, wishing you a speedy recovery.

#474 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 02:41 PM:

Glenda, I'm glad to hear that at least you're not in pain! Get better!

#475 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 02:42 PM:

Lee 451: Well, it was Eminem (isn't he fairly iconic for working-class white Detroit?) who said it ("I have to sit down with an ink pen and work it out") in that interview where I said the word 'ink' should have been edited out. I don't think it's all that localized. Maybe it's the pre-internet, and largely pre-cable TV, time period? For reference, I went to high school in the 1970s.

It IS interesting that we have such different experiences. I heard 'ink pen' all the time, growing up. It wasn't just a few kids.

John 462: I'm sorry for your loss. And your tone struck me as saddened and entirely appropriate to the subject matter. I didn't get self-pity from it at all.

GlendaP 471: Good gods. I hope you get better quickly. I will NOT hope for the cessation of your boredom, because...well, not feeding that thought-form. Good thoughts coming your way.

#476 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 03:04 PM:

John @462 -- condolences from here too, and another voice saying you were appropriate.

Heal well and quickly, GlendaP!

#477 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 03:10 PM:

Lee and Xopher: "Ink pen" brings up the memory of how mystified I was the first time I encountered that term. I grew up in western New York State, and don't recall ever hearing anyone say "ink pen" until I moved to Cincinnati as a young adult. Plenty of people there said it, and I remember wondering why on earth anyone should need to specify a pen that used ink, given I'd never heard of any other type.

Just a random data point, apropos of nothing in particular.

#478 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 03:33 PM:

John @ 462: condolences. It is always sad to lose a friend.

Glenda @ 472: oh my! All the best for a speedy recovery.

Another random data point: when I was at school, my classmates said "ink pen", not to distinguish "pen" from "pin" (which would have been unnecessary), but to refer to a fountain pen or cartridge pen in order to distinguish it from a ballpoint. Being a ferociously logical child, I had trouble with this. After all, ballpoints also use ink; it's just a different type.

#479 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 03:52 PM:

When I heard/read* 'ink pen' as a kid in Atlanta, I thought they were differentiating it from 'pig pen'.

*I may have encountered the usage only in books (dialogue); I no longer remember. It certainly wasn't a common usage in my circles.

#480 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 03:53 PM:

Mongoose, 478: Hmmm. I don't know when you were in school or to what extent the tools commonly in use differed from those in my school. Fountain pens were very unusual by the time I was in school (1969-1982); we mainly used ballpoints and felt-tips, with the occasional roller-ball pen when I was in high school. Pens with pointy metal nibs were rarely seen outside of drawing classes, although when I was in high school fountain pens did see a temporary resurgence in popularity and availability, as kind of a fad item. My move to Cincinnati came only five years after I graduated from high school, but I have no idea whether the use of "ink pen" in that area had any genuine relationship to differentiating between types of pens.

And yes, like you, that would've offended my sense of logic as well.

#481 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 04:12 PM:

GlendaP, #472: Yikes! Get better soon!

Xopher, #475: I know nothing about Eminem except his name, so can offer no opinions there. I left the Detroit area in 1972, just after my sophomore year of high school. I'm starting to wonder if it might not be an urban vs. rural difference; it is true that everyone I knew in Michigan (and pretty much the same with expatriates I've met since) was "city folk".

SummerStorms, #477: If you were hearing it as "ink pen", with the short-e sound, I can understand your mystification. The people I've known who used it (as I mentioned to Xopher above) said "ink pin", with a short-i sound, to differentiate it from a sewing pin. "Safety pin" was already differentiated.

Mongoose, #478: That usage actually makes some sense to me, in that a cartridge pen was the kind that invariably leaked all over your fingers, making you very aware of the ink in a way that a ballpoint pen wouldn't.

#482 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 04:14 PM:

SummerStorms @ 480: I'm talking about primary school, specifically junior school (in the infant school, you had to use a pencil). That would have been 1971-75. I seem to recall that we were still stuck with pencils in the first and second years of junior school (as a result of which I grew to loathe them with a passion, and am only now starting to accept that pencils occasionally have some merit for writing as well as for drawing), and then in the third year we were obliged to bring a cartridge pen. (Specifically a cartridge pen, not a regular fountain pen. Apparently at nine years old we couldn't be trusted not to get ink everywhere. I'd been filling a fountain pen at home for some time by that stage.)

So I had a cartridge pen, which I didn't particularly like; as soon as I arrived at grammar school, where you could write with anything within reason, I brought the fountain pen and used it for the rest of my school career. Most of my classmates used cartridge pens; there were a few who used a ballpoint, but not a majority. It was only after I started having trouble with my wrists that I switched to a rollerball, because it has such a light action.

It is one of my lasting regrets that the lovely fountain pen I was given for my 18th birthday was stolen out of my top pocket by a particularly dexterous thief on a bus. If I still had that, I would without question still be using it. It had a beautiful action.

#483 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 04:25 PM:

I love cartridge pens, and have a rather nice one, as well as two or three disposable ones. I also have a couple of old-style fountain pens I inherited from my parents but I haven't used them. (One needs its bladder replaced -- anyone know how to do that and where to get what I need?) But I didn't discover cartridge pens until around 1979, which is when they appear to have made a resurgence in popularity on my side of the pond. Up until that point, kids in my school were all using either pencils, ball-point pens, or felt-tip markers (Flair fine points were quite popular).

#484 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 05:01 PM:

It depends on exactly what pen needs a new sac; I'd look over at the Fountain Pen Network forums. As a general rule, there are very few pens that can't be repaired; it's more an issue of how much it'll cost to do it. Simple sac replacement and cleaning is usually pretty inexpensive (and doable yourself with a modest amount of tools). There's a huge community there interested in fountain pens, ink, repairing pens, paper... you name it, someone there is interested in it. I've been reading and commenting (infrequently) there for a few years now. It's a big community, but extremely helpful.

My own interests generally gravitate toward modern Japanese fountain pens, since I've miniscule handwriting and keep a lab notebook by hand.

#485 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 05:04 PM:

Dave Harmon@434: Well, 'bluebird' is certainly a natural thing to call them, but they didn't have to be called that, so it remains possible that when European settlers first saw them they said 'Good heavens! We've found the bluebird!'. There does seem to be a legend of the Blue Bird (generally written as two words, interestingly) which goes back quite a way.

#486 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 05:05 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe, thank you for the information!

#487 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 05:49 PM:

The Eastern Bluebird, which would have been the first one encountered by English-speaking settlers in North America, isn't actually all that blue - it's got orange and white as well. (The male Mountain Bluebird is entirely blue.) It would have made just as much sense for people familiar with the European Robin to call it a "blue robin" (and apparently that name was used in colonial times as well). So "bluebird" certainly isn't a foregone conclusion; after all, we don't have a "redbird" despite several decent candidates for the name (like the Northern Cardinal and the Scarlet and Summer Tanagers). I think it's quite plausible that pre-existing stories influenced the choice of names.

#488 ::: Mongoose should go to bed ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 06:39 PM:

I know I'm tired when I read "tanagers" as "teenagers" and have to look again.

That's interesting; didn't know there was more than one type of bluebird. Are they related, or just two similar-looking species with the same generic name (like European and American robins)?

#489 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 07:17 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer #462: My condolences. Losing a friend is a very hard thing. I've lost a few good friends in the past few years and mourn them deeply.

#490 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 07:41 PM:

lorax @ #487, actually cardinals are commonly called "redbirds" in the Southeastern U.S. Far more often than they're called "cardinals", in the part of Georgia where I grew up, at least.

Mongoose, the Eastern bluebird, Western bluebird and Mountain bluebird belong to the same genus (Sialia sialis, Sialia mexicana and Sialia currucoides respectively).

You can search by genus and/or species at for a great deal of information on all three.

#491 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 07:45 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer @ #462: I'm sorry for your loss.

Glenda P. @ #472: best wishes for a fast recovery!

#492 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 07:48 PM:

Has this knitting story made the rounds here yet?

#493 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 08:08 PM:

Glenda P #472: May your recovery be swift and without pain.

#494 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 08:08 PM:

Glenda P #472: May your recovery be swift and without pain.

#495 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 08:12 PM:

Eek! Double post.

Okay, there is a mystery that has puzzled me for several years. Why do my students keep writing "being that" when they mean "since" as in, for example, "Being that Aristotle believes that the best form of government is one in which the middle class dominates, he is obviously biased in favor of rule by people like himself"? It strikes me as clumsy and, frankly, rather unpleasant.

#496 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 08:49 PM:

Fragano (495): 'Being that' meaning 'since' sounds normal to me. Perhaps it's a Southernism?

#497 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 09:19 PM:

Fragano @ 495: There's also "seeing as how". I love that phrase.

#498 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 09:59 PM:

Fragano, #495: Yes, that's an idiom. I'm not sure from whence it arises; were I writing that sentence, I'd be more likely to start with "Given that" -- or, as you suggest, "Since". But the sentence as written sounds okay to me, just a bit clunky.

#499 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 10:10 PM:

"Being" might be short for, "It being... that..."

#500 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 10:13 PM:

It’s a kind of formal throat-clearing, a bit of fluff to stick at the front of a thought to make it sound more like the sort of thing they think formal writing sounds like.

#501 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 10:34 PM:

Lee 481: The point is that in dialects that disambiguate with 'ink pen', the vowel in 'pin' is the same as the vowel in 'pen' (that is, native speakers of those dialects do not distinguish them or perceive a distinction when made by others). I've listened closely to some such speakers. Some of them appear to make the distinction but not hear it (or perhaps these were people who learned that others couldn't hear it and said 'ink pen' to disambiguate for others). Others pronounce both words with a ih-eh diphthong.

Have I mentioned that 'disambiguate' is one of my very favorite words? It and 'pathognomonic' are consistent contenders for the title.

#502 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 10:41 PM:

For the information of anyone who may care: the "Global Cyberwar Mapped In Real-Time" Diffraction demands that you register before being allowed to see it. Free registration or not, I am disinclined to acquiesce to that request. If someone felt like providing a brief summary of the article, I would certainly read that.

#503 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2013, 10:45 PM:

Lee #502:

It's with some explanatory text.

#504 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 12:25 AM:

Does anyone know if there is a French equivalent of the Urban Dictionary? I want to track down some slang that French Wiktionary and French Wikipedia aren't helping with. Supposedly the word "neo" as part of a URL is gravely insulting to French WW II veterans, and I'm curious whether there is some basis to this or whether one complainant just has a burr up his cul.

#505 ::: Allan Beatty is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 12:29 AM:

I don't think I used a Word of Power, but I linked to a page that probably does.

(Sometimes it just happens. —Mortlock Senyavin, duty gnome.)

#506 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:12 AM:

I was able to see the map and article at that site without being asked to register for anything.

#507 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:16 AM:

Xopher, 501: Nope, in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky -- where I first encountered the term "ink pen" -- "pin" and "pen" do NOT use the same vowel. So it isn't a matter of distinguishing one from the other; at least not there.

(For the sake of reference: I lived in that area from age 23 to age 35.)

#508 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:18 AM:

Allan Beatty:

There's La Parlure and Le dictionnaire urbain, though neither seem to be as comprehensive as the Urban Dictionary. I didn't find néo in either.

Here in Montreal, I think I've heard néo used to mean "newbie", more or less, but nothing worse.

That doesn't mean much. I'm not really up on WWII slang, and there's a significant difference between France and Quebec french anyway.

Sorry I couldn't be more help.

#509 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 05:44 AM:

The people in the Sabadell "Ode to Joy" clip are singing Schiller's words translated into Catalan by Joan Maragall.

#510 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 09:03 AM:

Dell Cotter @509: Today, you are why I love the Fluorosphere. :->

#511 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 10:08 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 495

"Being that" sounds natural to me (Appalachian Tennessee upbringing), so I suspect it's a Southerism. If I were speaking at ease to my family, I'd much more likely say "being as", though.

#512 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 10:30 AM:

Yes, and 'seeing as how' is close enough that it's also used in my family. (My father's father was from NE Kentucky.)

#513 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 10:37 AM:

P J Evans (512): 'Seeing as how' sounds natural to me, too.

#514 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 11:09 AM:

"Being that", "given that", "seeing as how", etc.... yep, they all sound perfectly normal to me. My personal choice is generally "given that", but I've used all of the others in conversation depending on where I was and with whom I was speaking. Also, I think I've used all of them in writing informal blog posts, Facebook comments and occasionally as part of dialogue in my fiction.

#515 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Woot! The library's disaster recovery company called last week to say they had eight boxes of our materials that they had freeze-dried* during the Sandy cleanup a year ago. The director went out to their facility today to investigate. As I had hoped, it is the materials that were in the bottom drawers of the local history cabinets. And most of it should be salvageable! The historic photographs† themselves should be okay, although they'll need new albums. Similarly, the newspaper clippings** seem to be fine but will need new files and folders. We did lose some slides, but I'm not sure anyone had ever looked at those.

It'll be a lot of work to get everything back in place--the director's line was that I*** now have guaranteed employment for life--but this is seriously wonderful. Most of those photos were irreplaceable.

*a standard preservation technique for books and papers
†the things I chiefly mourned
**photocopied to acid-free paper for long-term preservation
***I'm in charge of the local history collection.

#516 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 12:13 PM:

Tomorrow - actually, today, now - is Sally-my-wife's sixtieth birthday. We have been married just shy of thirty years.

I am deeply, deeply content that it is so.

The day after, we are having six of our oldest friends - the friendships also go back thirty years - to dinner. It will be a very old-fashioned dinner, which I shall cook - prawns and asparagus with hollandaise (it's spring, here), standing rib of beef with yorkshire pudding (of course), roast root vegetables and greens, and a dessert of chocolate torte birthday cake, berries and orange whipped cream.

And wine. And brandy. And port. Talliancich vintage, 1978, Swan Valley.

I shall reflect on how very good life is. I am looking forward.

Rejoice with me.

#517 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:04 PM:

Happy birthday to Sally from here in Nashville, Dave, and congratulations to you both on the upcoming anniversary.

#518 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:04 PM:

I am told that, in Colorado, the distinction between "pin" and "pen" disappears south of Pueblo. I dimly recall hearing the term "ink pen" back in my earliest grades of grade school.

John A. Arkansawyer @462: What Fragano said. I have a couple of friends that I lost unexpectedly, some years ago now. I'm kind of surprised at how often they come to mind.

Glenda @472: If you cross paths with Spider Robinson, you should trade stories with him. Apparently he's experienced this repeatedly. (And would doubtless concur: Not Fun.)

Mongoose @482: Specifically a cartridge pen, not a regular fountain pen. Apparently at nine years old we couldn't be trusted not to get ink everywhere.

Based on a story a friend told, I speculate that the reasoning wasn't so much nine-year-old tidiness that was at issue as nine-year-old restraint. A fountain pen evidently has a mode wherein it can be used as a miniature paint-ball gun. (What provoked the story was the quote, "My pen has gooshie but it won't splat." The gooshie being the little lever used to suck up ink.)

SummerStorms @483: I love cartridge pens

Jon Singer is wont to cut custom calligraphy pens from them. He's a lefty, but has the fully-lateralized hand position, as opposed the hooked position taught to so many of his age-mates. Therefore, off-the-rack calligraphy nibs are 90° off for him.

John A Arkansawyer @497: There's also "seeing as how".

"Being as how...." A colloquialism. Why? Because. Mix it up. Add a little flavor.

Lee @502: the "Global Cyberwar Mapped In Real-Time" Diffraction demands that you register before being allowed to see it.

Odd, I didn't have to register, either at home or at work (although my antique work browser choked on it).

At home, I was presented with an ad offering to let me subscribe, however. Had to scroll the page around to find the "make this go away" link.

Dave Luckett @516: W00t & congratulations!

#519 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:24 PM:

Dave Luckett @ 516: That is so wonderful. All of it. The birthday, the anniversary (happy happy to you both) and the dinner menu which has me positively drooling.

Jacque @ 518: Yeah, now that I think of it, when I went to the Global Cyberwar Map I did get that splash overlay offering the opportunity to subscribe, but IIRC it had one of those "x" things at the upper-right where I could click to make it go away. I did so, and then promptly forgot I'd ever seen it, as so many sites have those these days that I just get rid of them and barely notice.

Also, regarding handwriting... I've known a couple of lefties like that. And then there's me: Right-hand dominant, but largely ambidextrous for most things, and although I write with my right hand, for some reason I often do so with an odd slant that makes it come out looking as though I'd written with my left. (Which I actually can do, albeit slowly.) My handwriting in general looks awful with either hand, EXCEPT when I write very slowly and/or do calligraphy. I think when I'm doing calligraphy, my brain thinks "oh, art" rather than "oh, writing" and that makes all the difference in the world.

I've never actually tried calligraphy left-handed, though. I may have to experiment, just because I am now curious as to the kind of result I'll get.

#520 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:29 PM:

"Being that" sounds normal to me, and I grew up in the NYC suburbs. As a being that absorbed much more English through reading than through speech, it could still be a Southernism or similar: I could have read it in Mark Twain or something.

#521 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:34 PM:

What I originally came here to talk about: I'm thinking about examples of "A costs less than B" which I know, intellectually, but are still surprising. Generally, they're "living in the future" things, but not always.

A microwave oven costs less than a tank of gas.

A laser costs less than a mouse ball and two rollers.

Any other examples?

#522 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:36 PM:

... buying GM and Ford together, by market cap, would cost you less than buying Google.

#523 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:42 PM:

For the software project geeks: It Could Be Worse

SummerStorms: I, also, am a sometime-lefty. I'm naturally right-handed, but in 1969, I saw Tiny Tim on the Tonight Show, and Carson asked about Tim having taught himself to write with his left hand. Being All About Being Different in those days, I thought, "Hm, that sounds like an interesting thing to do."* I never got fluent with printing, but I eventually got to where I could write cursive nearly as well as with my right.** Not knowing any better, I just used the same grip as I do with my right, only flipped. So I have the same issue with calligraphy pens that Singer does.

Interestingly, I'm now apparently just ambidextrous enough that it has affected my brain lateralization. Went to a well-recommended acupuncturist for a while, and didn't get any discernible results. She finally got around to asking me: "Are you right- or left-handed?" Apparently it does make a difference.

* I'm middlin' convinced that I got straight As in Latin because I did all my translations left-handed. I have visions of my Latin teacher squinting at my paper, fending off a head-ache, and thinking, "Okay, that looks like enough words...."

** Early on, I took up the habit of learning new hand-skills left-handed because, if I can do it with my left, I can automatically do it with my right, while the reverse is not true. To this day, I mouse left-handed. Which is useful, because that leaves my right hand free for actual writing.

#524 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Sandy B. just reminded me: I picked up "bein' as how" from a friend who grew up in rural Kansas.

#525 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 02:11 PM:

Sandy B. @ 521:

"When I was young I never expected to be so poor that I couldn't afford a servant, or so rich that I could afford a motor car." - Agatha Christie

#526 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 02:16 PM:

When I was a child I was perhaps more right-hand dominant than I am today, but I did have a tendency to use whichever hand was closest to the task I needed to perform, and I enjoyed experimenting with doing things left-handed just to see if I could. Then when I was seventeen, I sliced my right index finger nearly down to the bone, going through an artery and damaging a nerve. I was home alone at the time and managed to stop the bleeding and get myself bandaged, then dial a wall-mounted rotary phone to reach my father's office -- Mom had gone to pick him up from work, since his car was in for repairs -- and tell them to skip the supermarket and just come get me for a trip to the ER. I did all of this left-handed (and can still recall how odd it felt to dial that phone with my off hand).

I had to get stitches, and for several weeks my right hand ached enough that I switched to doing a lot of things left-handed. By the time I regained full and comfortable use of the right, those habits were ingrained enough that I've never really lost them in the thirty-odd years since.

One of my best friends is left-handed, and being around him seems to have influenced me, because I find myself doing more and more with my left hand when we've spent time together. Interestingly, he has his home computer set up for right-hand mousing, while I've actually moused with my left in work environments where that made more sense for the arrangement of the desk.

#527 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Sandy B. (520): I see what you did there. Very clever.

#528 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 02:28 PM:

My mother is right-handed, my father left. We'd travel a lot when I was growing up, which meant a lot of meals at roadside diners and the like. When eaters of opposite handedness eat side-by-side, they have to sit with their off-hand sides together, or their eating interferes with each other. So where I sat determined which hand I ate with more than my own handedness.

I ended up learning to eat with either hand, but I tended to have a preference for left-handed eating, despite being otherwise generally right-handed.

This is changing, as now I have a strong preference for holding (and thumb-operating) my smartphone Kindle App in my left-hand, while eating with my right. It's been a while since I recall reading a paperback while eating, so I forget which hand I used to hold them in.

#529 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 02:31 PM:

Jacque @ 523: that's interesting! I was originally assumed to be right-handed by default, but in fact I don't have (and probably never did have) a clear-cut hand dominance. There have always been some things I've preferred to do with the left hand and others with the right. When I write left-handed, I'm slower than with my right hand through lack of practice, but I can do it perfectly well. (Interestingly, I adopt the hooked position naturally with that hand.) This turned out to be fortunate on the infamous occasion when I badly gashed the ball of my right thumb and couldn't use it for the next two weeks. I still have the scar.

When I first got a computer that used a mouse, I assumed I would probably use it right-handed, because that's the hand I write with. After some twenty minutes of driving myself nuts, it occurred to me that I might be better switching it over to the left. Bingo. I've used the mouse with my left hand ever since.

I've taken a full scientific test, and I come out as very weakly right-handed (in fact, about as weakly as it's possible to be), but for all practical purposes I'm what I like to refer to as "ambisinister". That means there are some things I can't do with my right hand and others I can't do with my left. Most things, though, I can do with either hand, which is useful.

#530 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 02:33 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man has intercultural exchange with co-worker hailing from across an ocean when local man explains what the comparison of a task to the herding of cats means.

#531 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 02:46 PM:

Sandy B. at #521 -

A 55" flatscreen TV costs less than a colonoscopy.

#532 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 03:01 PM:

I'm quite strongly right-handed, but playing musical instruments at an early age gave me more fine control in the left hand than many right-handed people have. There are a number of things that I can do with my left hand if I have to that don't feel "wrong", just a bit more awkward. Writing, however, is not one of them, nor is mousing.

The game room in my college's student center had a 2-player video game called Anti-Aircraft. Images of planes crossed the top of the screen; each player had a cannon down at the bottom, with 3 buttons that controlled the angle of the shot. I was absolutely unbeatable at that game... as long as I was playing with my left hand. I used to challenge the fratboys just for fun, "let" them have the right-side cannon, and beat the shit out of them.

The one place where I have a really strong preference for my left hand (and ear) is using the telephone. I cannot for the life of me understand how my partner can use his cellphone with either hand and ear; even contemplating doing that right-handed feels so alien and weird that I've never been willing to make the attempt.

#533 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 03:22 PM:

HLN: local herpestid got a lovely e-mail this morning from a complete stranger regarding this short story.

"It's heartening," they told HLN, "but in a sense it's also frustrating. Knowing that people appreciate the work I do just makes it more infuriating that I can't find anyone to pay me to work, in whatever capacity."

They might have gone on at greater length, but at this point their cat distracted them by climbing onto their shoulder and purring in their ear. Local herpestid reflects that cats have their uses.

#534 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 03:25 PM:

HLN: Local woman has just spent the middle of the day making about 6 dozen cookies shaped like little skulls to take to OVFF tomorrow. Since local woman was up all night working and should go to choir practice tonight, local woman needs to fall into bed for a couple of hours Real Soon.

#535 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 03:30 PM:

@531: Was a colonoscopy formerly a moderately-priced thing? I have no idea.

#536 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 03:43 PM:

I'm strongly right-handed, and strongly left-eared. This works out well, since I can hold the phone with my left hand and take notes with my right.

My grandmother was completely ambidextrous, which led to some confusion when she was in the hospital one time. They wanted her to sign some documents, and when they handed her the pen, they asked her what hand they should put the pen in, for some reason. She just said, well, what hand do you want me to use? They tried to use that as a datapoint toward a dementia diagnosis.

Of course, this is a same hospital that kept trying to have conversations with her, in french (my Nana was from England), while she was wearing neither her glasses nor her hearing aid. They would then try to use those no-doubt bizarre conversations for a dementia diagnosis.

They seemed really really determined to pronounce her demented.

#537 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 04:18 PM:

Mongoose @529 and others - I've usually responded, when asked, that I'm ambidextrous, but my handedness is more task-related. I can write with both hands and eat (and use a knife) with both hands, etc., but there are tasks where one hand dominates, and it's not the same hand in each case. I deal cards lefty. I golf and bat righty. I have a lot of leftys in my family, so much of that is probably due to who I learned the task from. It was telling to me, however, to discover one day while sitting down to the table and chatting with someone already there that I'd picked up my silverware and had been passing utensils back and forth between my hands as I talked; my brain wasn't sure which hand was going to get the honors.

#538 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 04:51 PM:

SummerStorms @526: My most recent experience of enforced off-handedness was when I put Mr. Fuzzy Logan in with the girls without giving them a chance to get properly acquainted first. They, of course, decided that he needed to die and I, foolishly, rescued him barehanded, with predictable results.

(SQUICK Warning!) What was impressive was the force needed to pull his lower incisors out of my flexor wrist tendons. Even more foolishly, I didn't scamper off to the doctor right then to get shot full of antibiotics, so of course the injury became infected. (I finally decided, three days later, that a doctor visit might be a good idea.)

My right hand was basically a blunt instrument for the next month. It's amazing how much technology is required to make up for one functioning hand.

Blessedly, I made a full recovery and, in fact, had nearly full function back by the time the hand specialist's office got around to calling me back to see if I wanted physical therapy.

But that was one time when my ambidexterity came in particularly, um, handy.

Mongoose @529: "ambisinister"


Lee @532: I'm quite strongly right-handed, but playing musical instruments

Kara Dalkey (formerly of Minneapolis) is left handed, and a bass player. I've watched her deal with using right-handers' guitars by just flipping it over and playing with the strings "upside-down." I gather that some left handers actually string their guitars upside down, so that the thinnest one is on top. I imagine keeping the chording straight is a challenge.

The one place where I have a really strong preference for my left hand (and ear) is using the telephone.

Oh, ghods, me too. I can go right-handed if I have to, but it's really uncomfortable, and seriously cuts into my audio processing capability.

Cheryl @536: They seemed really really determined to pronounce her demented.

If I was your Nana, I would task an especially burly minion to give that hospital a Stern Talking To.

Clarentine @537: I'd picked up my silverware and had been passing utensils back and forth between my hands as I talked; my brain wasn't sure which hand was going to get the honors.

During a period when I was doing a lot of writing left-handed, I was at dinner with friends (Jon Singer among them), felt something slightly odd, and finally looked down to realize I'd been using chopsticks left-handed for the last half hour without realizing it. Been a long time since I was coordinated enough to do that.

#539 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 04:55 PM:

Re handedness: I consider myself "ambiclumsy". I'm the left half of a mirror twin; I'm left-footed and probably should have been left-handed, but was trained right. Which makes me nominally right-handed, but clumsier with my right than most righties. With my left, I'm somewhat more dexterous (ahem) than my dexter-twin sister, but not nearly so much as a standard lefty. I can mouse with either hand, but have never actually tried writing with my left (that just occurred to me; I wonder why I never did?).

(I really, really wish someone had mentioned to me that lefties have an advantage in fencing; I should have learned to fence left-handed.)

So, ambiclumsy.

#540 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 05:09 PM:

@538 Jacque

If I was your Nana, I would task an especially burly minion to give that hospital a Stern Talking To.

Well, my aunt is neither burly nor a minion, but when presented with this "diagnosis" on her next visit, she let them know exactly how much crap she was not going to be taking from them.

Fortunately, Nana was transferred to her small local hospital after that, where the staff were lovely. She had needed surgery the small hospital couldn't do, so was in the larger one only for 4 days or so - which, now that I think of it, means she was also medicated and in pain for those conversations.

Yep. No possible reason for mental confusion other than dementia there!!

#541 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 05:29 PM:

Sandy B. @ 535-

@531: Was a colonoscopy formerly a moderately-priced thing? I have no idea.

It's a much more moderately priced thing outside the US.

#542 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 05:39 PM:

The Colonoscopy Will Not Be Televized.

#543 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 06:58 PM:

Happy birthday to Sally, and congratulations to Dave on approaching thirty years of marriage.

#544 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 07:01 PM:

I'm truly uncomfortable with "being that" as a replacement for "since". It strikes me as dialectal and clumsy, not to mention as of a piece with my students' tendency to inform me of their concerns with the way the government is "ran".

#545 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 08:10 PM:

The flash mob reminds me of a Kliban cartoon from Playboy, years ago (full page, color) of two cowboys riding through the desert. Behind each cactus, rock, tumbleweed, a musician in formal dress is playing an instrument. "I tell you, I keep hearing Beethoven's Ninth!" says one of the cowboys.

Something about the telescopes (fun fact: three or four blocks from here, one of my suburban neighbors apparently has a little observatory back of their house) reminds me of a line cowboy singer Dusty Drapes had in a radio ad (KFML) for Celestial Seasonings herb teas, back when they were a local company: "There's eleven of 'em: one for every day of the week."

#546 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 08:55 PM:

Dave Luckett #516: Congratulations! Do you believe in nominative determinism? Because it sounds like you're quite a lucky man!

Fragano Ledgister #544: Probably because (as Jacque noted) "being that" and "seeing as how" are very colloquial, and probably don't belong in a school essay. "Given that" probably counts too, unless they're using it in the proper rhetorical sense. The question is whether you're in a position to dock them for colloquialisms, or have to pick your battles more narrowly.

#547 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2013, 11:32 PM:

Why the Zombie Apocalypse would be a bust.

Humans may be no match for zombies, but zombies are no match for many forms of wildlife, from bears and coyotes down to carrion-eating bacteria. So just hunker down for a few weeks and it'll be all over.

#548 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 12:00 AM:

I grew up with phrases like "being that" and "seeing as how" and "given that" starting sentences fairly often, so it didn't occur to me that they'd seem unnatural, unlike some of the vowel sounds occasionally used by my family members* :-) And Latin having been taught in my junior high school, the ablative absolute construction feels sort of like those phrases in that it lets you start sentences a bit more indirectly that you might otherwise choose to do.

(*While it may be a truth universally acknowledged that people think the ways of speaking they grow up around are normal, my father's mostly neutral midwestern US accent had occasional bits of probably-Okie in them that clashed with the rest, and that weren't the way my mom pronounced the same words.)

#549 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 12:11 AM:

Lee@547, in Mira Grant's "Feed" and following novels (which are great political thrillers that also have zombies in them, and I say this as somebody who doesn't generally like the zombie subgenre), the entirely-not-named-after-Tallis-Kimberley zombie virus is pandemic, and any mammals over about 40 pounds are prone to becoming zombies if injured. So bears and coyotes may not just be hunting the slow zombie humans; it may be zombie bears and zombie coyotes and zombie Bambi hunting the tasty humans and ignoring the non-tasty zombie humans.

#550 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 01:01 AM:

HLN: Area woman is displeased with the weather that was delivered over the past 26-or-so hours, as it is markedly different from what she'd ordered. As a result, the shipping department at Meteorological Phenomena, Inc. is now firmly on her excrement roll.

Finding her fingers a trifle too chilly for comfortable typing, AW has decided to opt for going to bed with extra blankets and most likely in the company of two cats, who are similarly displeased by the weather if not to quite the same extent or for the same reasons.

#551 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 03:10 AM:

Jacque @ #523, a left-handed friend of mine who expected to spend a lot of his working life using a ten-key office calculator taught himself to use it right-handed in order to free up his left hand for writing down the results.

#552 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 04:10 AM:

Linkmeister @551

I use a mouse left-handed, although I am right-handed. It started with my first mouse-capable computer, which had a 5.25 floppy drive on the RHS of the all-in-one keyboard unit. I decided to keep my mouse out of the way of that, and the habit stuck.

#553 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 04:40 AM:

Bill Stewart @548

I have been cited as an example of that accent mixing.

Loretta Rivett, a sort of Henry Higgins of Lincolnshire accents, grew up in the same village as I did. My parents came from two other parts of Lincolnshire.

My father grew up on "The Cliff", in the village of Snitterby. That fixed his accent.

My mother was from the Humber Bank area, the village of Barrow-on-Humber. That's an accent influenced by Yorkshire, because of the traditional trading links using the river. Her mother used to take the New Holland ferry to Hull to do her market-shopping.

North Kelsey is in the Ancholme Valley. A different accent again, and I speak with a mix of all three.

If you want to hear a Lincolnshire accent, check Youtube for "Guy Martin", the motorcycle racer. He's from Kirmington, so his accent is different again.

Partly TV, partly population movements, these differences are fading. But they are still there. We still carry echoes of the Danelaw in our mouths.

#554 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 06:13 AM:

Bill @ 548: And Latin having been taught in my junior high school, the ablative absolute construction feels sort of like those phrases in that it lets you start sentences a bit more indirectly that you might otherwise choose to do.

I see what you did there.

#555 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 06:17 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ #544:

I read "Being that ... thus ..." as a formal (or possibly faux-formal) way of stating a proof. I agree that it is not something I would normally say (or write) unless I was stating a proof, but if I was stating a proof, I probbaly would start it with "Being that" or "Given that" (depending on if I am starting my proof off an axiomatic basis or off a hypothetical).

#556 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 07:03 AM:

I'm extremely left-handed with several exceptions. I eat American without a knife and British with one, both leftie; but for whatever reason I've always used chopsticks in my right hand. And as I am about as right-eye-dominant as they come, so I can't shoot with anything, because I was always given the one left-handed version of pellet guns or whatever.

#557 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 07:22 AM:

Lee #547: That article's assuming a "minimal" zombie, with basically no defences besides motion.

But consider most movie zombies are strong enough to kill humans hand-to-hand, at least in groups. The large predators may be happy enough to chew on a zombie, but if the zombies can chew back....

Well, the birds are fragile and very vulnerable to infections. The "big" cats might find that slashing and even disemboweling is not making the desired impression, and of course their claw bacteria are useless.

The trampling and kicking herbivores might do better, depending on how much damage a zombie can take before going down for the count, but that basically applies to the big ones. Alligators and crocs are likewise big enough that they could rip zombies apart. So are bears, but those are smart enough that shambling corpses would likely put them off their lunch.

But of course, all this assumes that the zombies have no special abilities of their own. "Scientific" zombies might well be able to infect other species, while "eldritch" zombies might have a corrupting touch -- or power over carrion-eaters! And of course if the zombies retain even part of their human intelligence, all bets are off.

And then there's the issues with the insect and microscopic contingent: If the zombies are basically "crazy people with gangrene", then yeah, they'll shortly rot away, but they'd also be easier to kill by any other means. Likewise if the body has to be, say, fresh enough to respond to electrical stimulation.

If they're thoroughly dead meat that's nevertheless walking, then a bunch of questions come to mind -- exactly what is the animating principle, and what limits does it have? How much body does it need anyway, what sustains the motion, what resources is it dependent on?

The answers will be very different depending on whether you're talking Steven King, Charlie Stross, African magic, alien implants, vengeful revenants, or what-have-you....

#558 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 08:24 AM:

World War Z* zombies, sadly, would not fall prey to animals; they're lethally poisonous to basically everything if eaten. Animals flee them, and even bacteria can't eat them, so they don't rot away.

On the upside, humans are the only species susceptible to the infection, so at least you don't have to worry about zombie elk.

*: The novel version; I have not seen the movie.

#559 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 08:26 AM:

Ingvar M #555: "Given that" makes sense to me as a statement of proof following from a specific assertion. It differs from "being that", which to me is dialect rather than standard English.

I teach a course called "Scope and Methods of Political Science Research" (I call it "Listerine and Methods" and a good number of my students really don't get the joke). Many of my students, on their essay cover pages, write "Scopes and Methods" and seem aggrieved when I strike out the second ess in "Scopes". They seem to think I'm making a monkey out of them.

#560 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 08:39 AM:

#559 ::: Fragano Ledgister

Ah, a big grin at this to start the morning.

#561 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 09:12 AM:

Fragano @ 559... They seem to think I'm making a monkey out of them.

"But you *are*."
- Bette Davis to Joan Crawford

#562 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 09:37 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 559: The fact that so few of your students "get" the joke frightens me.

The fact that you made it gives me joy.

And the monkey thing? Why do I have the feeling that might walk the edge of something that is probably a whole different issue with many of them? (Nevertheless, I suppose I needed to clean this keyboard anyway.)

#563 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 10:17 AM:

I have an AKICIML question:

What are some questions designed to help well-meaning but clueless older people that they need to learn some new ideas?

The best one I've got right now is "What is intersectionality?"

#564 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 10:32 AM:

Will you please move, mountain?

Sigh. Good luck with that.

#565 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 10:44 AM:

Fragano @ 559: the intrusive S at the end of words where it doesn't belong is very common here (where "here" is specifically this city, but it may also be true in other parts of the UK).

This caused one particularly notorious incident. There is a pub, not very far from me, called "The Fairway", because it's next to a golf course. It has a big sign up on the wall which reads "The Fairway" in letters two or three feet high. Nonetheless, it's frequently referred to in the area as "The Fairways".

Well, one ambitious (and, I suspect, new) landlord went to the trouble and expense of having a large free-standing sign painted with the name of the pub. Unfortunately, what they had painted on it was "The Fairways". That sign lasted all of two weeks and was then taken down and never seen again. I suspect someone from the brewery put their foot down.

On the other hand, if it's units of distance or sometimes time, the S is often dropped from the plural. One frequently hears "five mile" and occasionally "three hour".

#566 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 11:32 AM:

John A Arkansawyer: Even a lot of people who know (and fight) the patriarchy haven't heard of kyriarchy yet.

Also, 'consent culture'.

#567 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 11:34 AM:

John A Arkansawyer@#462: Well, damn. I didn't know Bill Harrison as well as you did, obviously, but I was in one of his creative writing courses at the University of Arkansas, way way back in the day.

Condolences on the loss of your friend.

#568 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 11:34 AM:

I'm a right-handed Leftie.

#569 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 11:39 AM:

Debra @ 567: Damn! I knew that program pretty well from the early eighties on. When were you there, if you don't mind saying?

I know there are a lot of complaints about MFA programs, and a lot of them are spot on, but that one seems to have done a good job. Its graduates are good-to-great writers who mostly ended up in appropriate jobs without illusions.

#570 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 11:45 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 566: "Consent culture" is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. "What are cis* and trans*?" is another good one. Maybe also "What is the difference between neoconservatism and neoliberalism?"

I want to cast a broad net, so I'm torn between "Who is Ke$ha?" and "What is the best thing about the video to 'Call Me Maybe'?"

#571 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 12:29 PM:

John A Arkansawyer:

Turns out my husband hadn't heard of "heteronormative" before it popped up in his alumni magazine. I suddenly had to explain all kinds of stuff.

#572 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 12:54 PM:

OK, well, I wasn't going to be the first person to point it out, but since nobody else has... PNH's new sidelight is the same as the phosphene at the top of Avram's list.

#573 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 01:24 PM:

One of the problems I have with student language usage is that I keep hearing that they were taught to write the way they speak. I want to find the idiots who promote this idea and thrash them. I keep pointing out to students that what I want is for them to produce a standard written English comprehensible to English speakers from anywhere rather than just to the people of their acquaintance.

The intrusive ess in "Scopes" really bothers me. I can't tell where it comes from. On the other hand, they can see, when it is pointed out to them, mistakes they make from mishandling compound sentences (a student asked me to look over an essay this morning preparatory to turning it in this afternoon and had managed to construct a couple of sentences that had singular pronouns referring to plural nouns, and one with a series of plural nouns referring to a singular verb because a subordinate clause was in between; "So you is satisfied with that?" I enquired). It isn't that they are dumb, but they have been taught some bad habits. I keep harping on a central idea: written English is a formal system with formal rules that should be followed in order that anyone in the English-speaking world, not just your BFF, can understand what you intend. Sometimes I think I'm pounding my head against a stone wall.

#574 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 01:28 PM:

Mongoose #565: Dialect is fine as dialect, that is as the speech of a locality or specific group. It's when people mistake it for the standard language, that is the form used by educated people across localities that it becomes troublesome.

#575 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 01:29 PM:

Fragano @ 573...

My own pet peeves.
"Where are you AT?"
"For God's sakeS..."

#576 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 02:05 PM:

Fragano @ 574: yes, absolutely, and this no doubt explains the clash over the pub sign. The pub has always been officially called "The Fairway". People locally have taken to adding the S. Now that's fine... locally. But if you're giving directions to someone from outside the area, and you tell them to get off the tram at the stop near The Fairway, they're going to be confused if there's a sign up saying The Fairways. They'll wonder if there are two pubs.

The representative from the brewery is probably not local.

#577 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 02:12 PM:

Fragano (573): One theory about the intrusive 's' in 'Scopes': They're trying, probably unconsciously, to make it parallel with 'Methods', which does have the 's'.

#578 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 02:28 PM:

Fragano: I think the "write the way you talk" advice comes from the experience of teachers who, faced with an incomprehensible essay, ask the student to explain it to them, and when the student does so (intelligibly), ask "why didn't you just WRITE THAT?"

Serge: My mother, who taught high school English, consistently replied to "where is/are x at?" with "Right behind that 'at'!"

#579 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 03:06 PM:

I think I was very lucky. My parents spoke somewhat formal English relative to the more lax elements in our local dialect, despite having been born and raised right in the area. Both were bookish types, which may explain them at least to some degree. In any case, when I was learning to write effective prose, all I really had to do was remind myself to write the way my nuclear family spoke at home.

#580 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Serge 575: No, no, you're mispunctuating. "For gods' sakes" is quite correct!

Seriously, there are dialects in which 'where at' is perfectly correct. They're just not the standard ones.

#581 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 03:28 PM:

SummerStorms @507: When I first encountered the term "ink pen" it was (or I assumed it was) to distinguish it from other forms of pens - specifically, ballpoints. Would that have been the case where you were? I suspect there are two meanings: that one, and the one Xopher is refering to (which I've heard about before) to distinguish "pin" and "pen" in areas where those two words are pronounced with the same vowel (which they are not in any British dialect with which I am familiar).

Mary Aileen @515: That's FANTASTIC news!

Jacque @523: "To this day, I mouse left-handed. Which is useful, because that leaves my right hand free for actual writing." Finally, somebody else who does this! I've had so many weird looks over the years, because back when I got my first proper computer I decided to mouse with the left hand so I could type with the right - particularly for editing, when I'd be moving around the screen/page a lot. I keep the buttons as would be expected for using the mouse right-handed; that way if I'm doing a LOT of corrections, I can switch to my right hand if I want to (or if e.g. my husband needs to use my computer for some reason).

#582 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 03:56 PM:

Mongoose @565: On the other hand, if it's units of distance or sometimes time, the S is often dropped from the plural. One frequently hears "five mile" and occasionally "three hour".

I don't think those are wrong in standard usage in the right context; they're correct if the entire distance is an adjectival phrase. "It's a five mile hike." "A three-hour tour". If the distance or time unit is the relevant noun - "The store is five miles away", then I'd expect to see the "s" in standard usage.

#583 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 04:08 PM:

The Chicago Bears play at Soldier Field, not Soldier's Field. Though you'd never know it to hear people talk. I always want to ask if they've been to Navy's Pier....

"That needs washed" drives me up a tree. Of course, my local dialect includes "Are you coming with", so I really can't throw stones. And when did "Any more" start meaning "Nowadays"? I only use "any more" in negative phrases: "we don't do that any more". Not "Any more, we've started to do this."

#584 ::: Mongoose spies spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 04:18 PM:

lorax @ 582: that's correct, and I should have clarified further. Round here, you can regularly hear people saying things like "it's about five mile away". Which is one correct option in the local dialect (though "five miles" is equally so), but not in standard British English.

Cally @ 583: when I first saw "any more" used in the positive sense, I literally could not make sense of it. It was rather as if someone had tried to use "pas" on its own in a French sentence to imply a positive statement. The implied negative was too strongly ingrained for me to parse it. Once I finally worked out what it meant, I developed a work-around: when I see "any more" on its own in a sentence, I mentally substitute "these days" and it works.

I am still doing that. Mind you, you never hear positive "any more" on this side of the pond; it's purely an American idiom as far as I know.

#585 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 04:21 PM:

It's not quite what Mongoose is describing with the pub sign but it's common in British English to stick a possessive S on the end of businesses - Smith's, Tesco's, Ford's. I have a notion, unbacked by anything so crude as evidence, that this has its roots in 19th-century industrialisation when Brown's shipyard or Colville's steelworks would literally belong to Brown or Colville. Be interested to know if American English does this or if anyone has any idea where it comes from.

#586 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 04:32 PM:

It was only with the greatest difficulty that I stopped myself from a very audible squee in a restaurant just now! A very kind friend was at Viable Paradise last week, and picked up a copy of Teresa's "Making Book" and asked her to sign it for me. Teresa inscribed it for the luminous Janet L.

#587 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 04:44 PM:

The one I've been hearing lately that annoys me is "whenever" used in a context where I would just say "when", e.g., "Whenever you're 5, you will start Kindergarten", or "Whenever you get to the top of the ladder, I'll pass you the bucket".

#588 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 05:00 PM:

Yaaaarp. Mongoose does not spy spam in this thread. Sorry. Mongoose probably ought to stop making spam reports until they get their head straight again.

#589 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Cheryl @ 587: I have the same problem with "yourself" used instead of "you" in an attempt to sound more formal and "businessy". (Hint: it doesn't. Well, not to me, at any rate.) I have no problem at all with it if the speaker is Irish or Scottish, because it's a recognisable part of several dialects from those countries. But that's a rather different kettle of fish.

#590 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 05:16 PM:

Mongoose @ 589: I don't know. Let's try it and see.

(Turns to face no one in particular.)

"Fuck you!"
"Fuck yourself!"

I guess you're right. They both sound businesslike to me.

#591 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 05:26 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer@569: I knew that program pretty well from the early eighties on. When were you there, if you don't mind saying?

It was during my undergrad years; by the time you were there, I was in grad school up in Philadelphia.

#592 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 05:36 PM:

I think people frequently say "myself" in order to avoid figuring out whether they should say "I" or "me." Same with using "that" for people ("She's the one that you should ask") instead of "who" or "whom."

I've certainly been known to put a possessive S on business names, but I think I only do it on ones that used to take that form (e.g., Bartell Drugs used to be Bartell's -- I seem to remember my mother occasionally saying "Nordstrom's"). One midwestern-ism my inlaws used to use was the unadorned possessive plural surname for the house of friends -- e.g., "We were at Stevensons' for dinner."

#593 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 05:42 PM:

Mongoose @ 565: On the other hand, if it's units of distance or sometimes time, the S is often dropped from the plural. One frequently hears "five mile" and occasionally "three hour".

"That'll be five pound."

I've been weirded out by "at all". When buying museum tickets: "Are you a member of the National Trust at all?"

I suppose the right answer would have been "Not a bit".

#594 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 06:03 PM:

As a child, my local dialect pronounced "often" with a stress on the "t", which I was told came from a Polish immigrant influence (no idea if that's accurate). "Redding up" the house, and "washing your hairs" came from the Pennsylvania Dutch and Mennonite communities.

#595 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 06:22 PM:

John @ 590: *splorf*

Roy @ 593: oddly enough, that one doesn't bother me. But then I was, at one point in my life, mixing with a lot of Irish people, and they said it. (This is why I'm fine with "yourself" for "you" when spoken in colloquial conversation by someone with a brogue, but it grates on me when it's used by someone trying to sound hyper-formal.)

Speaking of Irish idioms, it bugs the heck out of me when someone who is trying to imitate them (in speech or writing) gets the "after" + gerund construction wrong. I've known good writers do this. If you are after having your tea in Ireland, you are not just about to have your tea. You've just had it.

#596 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 06:23 PM:

@594: Jane Eyre says to Mr Rochester, "There, sir, you are redd up and made decent."

#597 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 06:37 PM:

James E @545 - the possessive 's on the end of business names that appear to be personal surnames does happen in the US. Sometimes it is formally part of the business name, sometimes people append it verbally as kind of a back-formation. In the realm of departments stores, for instance, Macy's is the official name of the business. The department store Nordstrom, on the other hand, does not have the possessive form but for certain at least anyone who grew up in the Seattle area like me (where Nordstrom is headquartered) is going to refer to it as Nordstrom's. I'm not quite sure if people in other parts of the US refer to it that way or not.

#598 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 06:46 PM:

I'm fine with "needs washed". It just seems like part of the charming flexibility of language. Besides, I like science fiction, and I should think that includes being comfortable with deducing meaning from context.

What makes me crazy is "X needs to be punished". The rest of us may need to punish X, but that doesn't mean punishment will do X any good.

#599 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 06:52 PM:

Albertson's grocery stores officially became Albertsons to avoid dealing with apostrophes. The wimps.

Here in Portland we have the splendid Powell's Books, founded by Michael Powell, and still owned by the family.

#600 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 07:03 PM:

We interrupt this open thread to bring you this high pitched noise:


Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer.

We now return to your regularly scheduled open thread.

#601 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 07:05 PM:

Orycon is coming up on November 8th. Anyone interesting in a meeting of the light? I'm willing to play coordinator. Dinner Saturday evening? Or luunch on Saturday or Sunday?

#602 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 07:06 PM:

Nordstrom used to be Nordstrom's Shoe Store.

#603 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 07:09 PM:

You mean it isn't really Nordstrom's? Everyone I know calls it that.

#604 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 07:28 PM:

JanetL @601 - I had not been planning to attend Orycon, but I would be interested in joining up with a gathering of light. I could do anytime on Saturday, or Sunday afternoon/evening (but not lunch).

#605 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 07:31 PM:

Karen and I will be at Orycon, but I'm not clear on our schedule. I'll watch for info here! I'm usually terribly busy at conventions, for various reasons, and now that I'm heading a division at Sasquan I'll be spending some time recruiting.

#606 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 07:40 PM:

oliviacs(597): Not just surnames. Craft store chains: Michaels really does have the 's', but "JoAnn's"* is actually 'JoAnn'.

I always thought it was Nordstrom's, too. Guess I never looked that closely at the sign.

*Everyone I know uses the 's'. Me included.

#607 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 08:06 PM:

Another one with the s - even if it isn't there. (Penney's?)

#608 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 08:16 PM:

Serge #575:

"Where (are) you at?" is dialect, and fine in its place. If I find it in an essay, I mark it down.

As Xopher said, "For God's sakes" is clearly a case of malpunctuation.

Mongoose #576: Exactly. It could be worse, we could be writing in Spanish. In that language (in which standard usage is regulated by national academies and by the Royal Academy in Madrid) it is possible for the standard form to be wrong -- the Diccionario de la Real Académia states that the adjective for person from Jamaica is "jamaiquino" rather than "jamaicano", which, to put it bluntly is like making the standard English term for South Asian a four-letter word beginning with pee.

Mary Aileen #577: You may be right. It sounds most uneuphonious to me.

Lila #578: After an episode during which a colleague ran down the hall because a student was screaming at me since I kept, as calmly as I could, explaining to her that what she had written was confusing and unclear and what she intended did not matter as all I could go by was what she had written I have established a clear policy. The moment a student begins to say "What I meant was.." I stop him or her and say "It doesn't matter what you meant to say, I can only go by what you put on the paper." I then preach a little sermonette about the purpose of writing being to communicate, and that if you can't get across what you mean then you're not communicating your knowledge and ideas.

#609 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 08:25 PM:

Nordstrom's? JCPenney's? At least Sears already sounds plural.

#610 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 08:30 PM:

I had to check, but Kohl's and Kohll's both use the apostrophe. (I was in Omaha for years before I realized these were different chains, one a department store and one a pharmacy.)

#611 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 08:34 PM:

Or Kohl's and Kohll's if you want to get fancy with HTML, not that it looks any different in the font on the preview screen.

#612 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 08:40 PM:

Kohl’s and Kohll’s (that should teach me not to type HTML entities from memory).

#613 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 09:30 PM:

Cally, #583: I can deal with the "needs washed" format, but it still sounds peculiar to me. I had a friend for a while who used it extensively, and apparently some of it sneaked into my own usage without my realizing it; as my partner hates it far more than I do, I've since managed to eradicate it again.

"Where are you at?" sounds backwoods to me. I am always surprised when an educated person uses it, although I don't comment on it.

oliviacw, #597: I so rarely have occasion to refer to Nordstrom that I don't know whether I use the "s" or not. I would suspect that I do, because damn near every other department store I've ever lived around does -- Penney's, Macy's, Foley's, Hudson's, Dillard's, etc. -- so I'm used to that sound being on the end of a department-store name. Sears has it without the apostrophe, as does Neiman-Marcus. Cain-Sloan is the only one I can think off offhand that didn't, and I think they're long gone.

Mary Aileen, #606: I think Hancock's has the "s" formally as well.

#614 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 09:39 PM:

We voted today (advance voting, which we do whenever possible). I made a token protest about the Texas "photo ID" requirement being unconstitutional, and the poll worker tried to tell me that this was a FEDERAL requirement! Needless to say, I called him on it in no uncertain terms -- but I think this should be reported, and I don't know where to do so. 1-800-OUR-VOTE goes to a "this number is available" message. Suggestions?

#615 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 10:26 PM:

dcb @ 581:> No, the term "ink pen" was what they used when referring to ANY pen, including both ballpoint pens and felt-tips. (And in any case, ballpoint pens DO use ink, so my logical side isn't sure what differentiation would be involved anyway. Pens use ink; if a writing implement is using something other than ink, to my mind it would be either a crayon, paint marker or pencil.)

If you're thinking about the difference between a fountain pen and a ballpoint, be aware that in that place and time (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, 1987 - 1999), I only saw a fountain pen used on perhaps three occasions by anyone other than myself. But everyone said "ink pen". Also, pin and pen used different vowels there.

Cally Soukup @ 583: "Are you coming with?" was normal dialect where I grew up, (western NY state) but when I first encountered "That needs washed" upon moving to Cincy, my reaction was, "Huh?" However, like Lee (#613), it did sneak into my speech as well for a time. I think it's gone now...

James E @ 585: I recall that many people in my grandparents' generation (born between the late 1890s and 1910 or so) did in fact tend to tack a possessive "s" onto the end of business names the way you describe. It wasn't universal -- in that they neither did it will all business names nor did all of them do it with any of them -- but it was common enough to have stuck in my memory. My parents and most of their generation did not carry on the habit, nor did my own... with a few exceptions such as saying "I bought this at Penney's" (or "Zayre's") when the store we meant was actually "J.C. Penney" or "Zayre". See earlier discussion from others and adapt as needed.

#616 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 11:03 PM:

Mongoose @ 565: I heard myself say "twenty-five foot" the other day. And you know? I didn't feel a thing.

I routinely say "foot" instead of feet when I'm estimating a length. I've never said it, I don't think, of inch, yard, or mile (other than Eight Mile Road. I had the damnedest time believing those directions were real, and quizzed the person giving them on where the name came from). I don't think I say it about time, but I do say it about volume with gallon and weight with pound (rarely). I think got that from my late father, about whom I just dreamed.

Mongoose @ 595: Maybe I should have said they both sound like someone means business.

Lila @ 600: That is great, isn't it?

many @ many: I had to look it up to see it isn't Kroger's. Dang. I routinely write them checks that say that.

HLN: Area man enters third day without email, considers calling Earthlink yet again. "I doubt they'll ever admit my credit union and the Visa corporation told them the truth, but I can keep calling and checking up on their progress."

#617 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 11:19 PM:

Summer Storms @ 615: I also hear "Do you want to come with?" a lot. And...there's a problem with "needs washing"? I use variations on "that X needs Y" in all but the most formal speech and think it sounds rather good.

I use "given" in math more than "given that", but the other way around in most other situations. I suspect that's because I'm more often describing nouns--an operator and a set, most recently--rather than clauses.

For instance, I would say, "Given your belief that..." and "Given that you believe..." In math, I might hypothesize in the same pattern using "assuming" rather than "given", but I wouldn't use it--I don't think I would--in everyday speech.

Lee @ 613: It's such a thing in New Orleans that natives are sometimes called Yats, which I learned from a book I was put on to here, Poppy Z. Brite's Liquor: A Novel, which I never tire of re-reading.

And when I looked up yat a moment ago, I discovered something I had not known before.

#618 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2013, 11:52 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer @ 617: The phrase I and others have been talking about isn't "needs washing" but rather, "needs washed". There's a "to be" implied between the two words, but it isn't there, and its absence is jarring.

#619 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 12:12 AM:

HLN: Area woman's bizarre and unwanted superpower confirmed.

AW can place an object on any flat surface (table, countertop, etc.) and object will invariably slide sideways until it reaches the edge and can fall to the floor, usually in the messiest, loudest or most inconvenient way possible.

Given a choice, area woman would prefer to exchange this ability for something more useful.

#620 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 12:29 AM:

Lee @613: It actually isn't "Penney's", it's officially "J. C. Penney".

#621 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 12:33 AM:

Summer Storms @ 618: Ah! I missed that distinction, possibly because it's one I don't make. I say "needs washed" or "needs done" and so on myself, and I never noticed the absence. I wonder where I picked "that X needs Yed" up?

#622 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 12:37 AM:

Just got this one (twice):
Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

I'll try and send this, but I'm not sanguine. If it works, I'll send the actual comment (anticlimax though it will be).

#623 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 12:41 AM:

Hmm. Okay, here we go. (And the same error message comes up.) This time, I'll split it up. First part:

Fragano @559: “…when I strike out the second ess in "Scopes". They seem to think I'm making a monkey out of them.”
It must be quite a trial for you.

#624 ::: Kip W [keeps losing posts; gnomes not suspected] ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 12:45 AM:

Eh. I give up. Any minute now, it'll tell me I've sent too many messages or something. Night, Mrs. Calabash.

#625 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 12:47 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @570: I've been finding PBS Idea Channel on YouTube to be a helpful introduction to a bunch of pop culture stuff I wasn't familiar with (plus tying them into philosophical Deepness). Entertaining and brainy.

Ooooooh! "This is what a Tumblr is and why people use it; this is what Reddit is and why people use it NOW DO NOT GO TO 4CHAN EVER."

Reddit has taken over a lot of the functions I used to use Usenet for, but not all of them, and I find it kind of unusable for my personal needs, alas. It is nevertheless A Thing that someone who aspires to current cultural literacy needs to at least be aware of.

Oh, also, "TVTropes exists. Now don't click on it unless you have a spare hour to piss away."

#626 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 12:47 AM:

Probably for excessive enthusiasm.

#627 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 02:49 AM:

Allan 609: At least Sears already sounds plural.

I always thought of it as a third-person singular verb.

#628 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 07:33 AM:

Kip W. #622:

That error comes from using curly quotes (pasting in the character rather than using the HTML entity).


To use curly quotes, follow Q. Pheer's advice from that same thread,

#629 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 09:05 AM:

Lee @614, I suggest checking with your local League of Women Voters. They aren't the people to report it to, of course, but I bet they can tell you who is.

#630 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 11:09 AM:

John A., #616: Was that Eight Mile Road in the Detroit area? Part of the road-grid there was named that way, and a few of the names are still in common use, although most of the roads have alternate "name" names. Eight Mile Road is so called because it was... wait for it... eight miles out from wherever they were measuring from. It's also called Vernier. Seven Mile Road goes by Moross some of the time. I don't remember what alternate names Nine Mile and Ten Mile have, but I do remember a car-dealer jingle from my youth that started out, "Get on the right track to Nine Mile and Mack...". I'm pretty sure that all of these, originally, fit the adjectival-phrase definition, and had hyphens in the names.

David G., #620: Huh, proving the point, I guess. Although I could have sworn that the "s" was there on the building when I was a kid...

#631 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 02:07 PM:

Question for cat people. Is my cat abnormal? Or, at least, is she any more abnormal than one would reasonably expect of a cat?

What specifically prompts me to ask is that I've just realised she hasn't been to the loo (as it were) for at least nine hours. She's recently decided that she likes nothing better than sitting on my shoulder, the back of my office chair, or both at once, depending on her mood and exactly what I'm doing. And she's been up there since some time before 10 am; it's now just gone 7 pm here.

I've known for a while she had what appears to be an enormous bladder capacity for a small cat; there was, for instance, the notorious occasion when she very carefully filled one of my shoes right to the brim. (I was, in a weird kind of way, impressed. She managed not to spill a drop. Even so...) But I didn't realise she could hang on for all that time, and I wouldn't have thought it was very good for her.

I suppose if nothing else, it proves she's not diabetic.

#632 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 03:06 PM:

Area Man is thrilled to not miss the yuzu season this year. Area Man missed it last year due to Area Man and Area Women studying for their respective Qualifying Examinations. Area couple bought about 8lbs this morning; planning to ship a healthy box of them to Area Man's Brother in Boston.

#633 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Mongoose @631: Cats produce extremely concentrated urine. They excrete a lot of waste per unit of liquid. I've never timed mine, but nine hours doesn't seem unreasonable.

#634 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 04:12 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe, every time I hear "yuzu" I am inescapably reminded of this.

(This is episode 5 of "5 Rangers". It gets a great deal weirder than that.)

#635 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 04:12 PM:

Mongoose @631, I wouldn't worry about nine hours, especially for a female cat, and especially if she produces a lot when she does go. "At least once a day" is what our vet told us when our male cat had a urinary blockage (which we fortunately caught before it could do any damage to his system - he's on special food for life, but is otherwise fine.)

#636 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 05:26 PM:

Lila, that might be the strangest thing I've seen on youtube in a while.

#637 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 06:02 PM:

Mongoose @631, I wouldn't worry about nine hours. One of my sister's cats has repeatedly gotten herself trapped in a closet while my sister was at work (this despite the fact that my sister is very, very careful about her cats) and the cat, in the closet for an unplanned nine to ten hours, has never had an accident in there.

#638 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 06:21 PM:

GlendaP @ 633, lorax @ 635, Cassy @ 637: thanks for that; clearly she's not as unusual as I thought. She's actually never had a day's discernible illness in her life, and she'll be sixteen next month, so she's pretty robust.

#640 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 06:39 PM:

There's a new Hyperbole and a Half!

#641 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 06:49 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz, I don't even know what I saw, but I know exactly which of my friends to inflict it on.

#642 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 07:24 PM:

Jim @628: Ah. Interesting. It must have happened when I temporarily stashed my message in TextEdit. Although I didn't think I did that the first time, but only after it had barfed on it once. And also, the first half of the message also contained quote marks and had spent time in the same place. Gah.

I don't know. But if I stash anything in a doc in TextEdit, I'll change it to plain text, at least. Let's see if the message from before works this time, using that. (Looks at the post.)

On second thought, I think I'll just delete it. It's gone off, and the humor has leaked out.

#643 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 08:09 PM:

Kip W #623: Indeed it is.

#644 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 08:30 PM:

Nancy and Benjamin: there's always this, which has been linked here before by the illustrious TNH, but it's been a while and some of the current folks might have missed it.

#645 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 09:53 PM:

Well, I'm out of the hospital, sore but a going concern. I have an etiquette question, however, and could use some advice. As some will remember, I do film reviews from time to time, usually at my LJ. I just saw a new trailer online that is two and a half minutes of Wrong, and I Have Issues which might interest folks here. The last time I did a trailer review here was for The Spirit in a thread that crashed and burned, so I hate to tempt fate again and suck up all the air in the room. If I do a LJ and put a link here, would that be O.K. and not look like I'm trying to milk googlejuice through the fence? I *do* have a Google+ account (one test post) or FB (are you kidding) account I could post to, but I suspect either of those would annoy the Gnomes if I post a link here. Figured I'd ask before slamming my opinion down...

#646 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 10:03 PM:

Bruce: glad you're out of the hospital and I hope recovery proceeds apace. (No opinion to venture on the other matter.)

#647 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 10:15 PM:

Lila, thanks for the outsider art.

Here's something a bit more classic-- it rewards repeated viewing, possibly interspersed with dual n-back

#648 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2013, 11:36 PM:

Lila, was that a Saturday Night Live sketch?

#649 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 12:28 AM:

Nancy@639: I was going to be prejudicial and say that it looked like a particularly odd Eurovision Song Contest entry, until I saw the notes and realized that it is.

#650 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 01:17 AM:

Mongoose @ 631: From time to time, one of our cats has gotten shut into a room or closet before we leave for work, and not been released until >9 hours later. They've never had an accident, or rushed towards the litter box when released.

#651 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 08:28 AM:

Mongoose @631: My little cat pees twice a day (I'm pretty sure about this, 'cos I work from home most of the time and her litter tray is about six feet from my desk). Yes, it amazes me as well. The time for me to be concerned is when she starts going back the the tray repeatedly (= idiopathic cystitis).

Bruce @645: Very pleased to hear you're out of the hospital. Regarding a link to your LJ, I don't see why not; it won't be the first time someone here has linked to their blog.

#652 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 09:34 AM:

Yay! Susan Krinard's story "Freeze Warning" is now available on It's a prequel to Sue's contemporary fantasy novel "Mist". You can read it HERE.

#653 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 10:09 AM:

Xopher, according to Wikipedia, it was more or less the Norwegian equivalent of one. Then it went viral.

Nancy @ 647, second link gives me an error message; video in first link is WAY catchier than it has any right to be!

#654 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 10:26 AM:

Bruce Durocher #645: Glad you're out of durance vile.

#655 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 10:35 AM:

Music video response to the news from Saudi Arabia:

No Woman, No Drive

#656 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 11:59 AM:

Lila @655: I don't have a video, but my response is: "No Woman, No Thrive."


#657 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 12:00 PM:

The ever-awesome Ta-Nehisi Coates is on a roll the last little while, reading about WW2 and post-war Germany and comparing with the Civil War and slavery.

Read them all; today's is plunder becoming a system of governance.

Judt is not wrong to focus on property. Theft is the essence of atrocity—if only the theft of dignity and life. Indeed, were I forced to to offer one word to sum up black people's historical relationship to the American state, "theft" is the first that would come to mind. Theft of labor and theft of family in slavery. Theft of life through lynching and pogrom. Theft of franchise in half the country. Theft through mortgages for some and contract loans for others. Theft through unemployment insurance for some, and debt-peonage for others. Theft of tax dollars which support "public" libraries that do not want you, "public" pools that will not have you, "public" schools that will not teach you, and "public" universities that will riot at the sight of you.
#658 ::: Eric K ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 12:04 PM:

For those among Making Light's readership who know some French, I was just blown away by Stéphane Beauverger's Le Déchronologue.

This is an alternate history set in the 17th century Caribbean. The narrator is French Huguenot privateer/pirate, and a former revolutionary. As readers, we never learn much about the actual time travel. We see only its effects from the outside, and we see those effects through the eyes of a very shrewd sea captain.

The nautical parts have all the charms of something like Master and Commander. And the premise is taken quite seriously, down to little details like how much a 17th-century sea captain treasures modern preserved food, and the use of batteries as a currency.

The chapter numbers are out of order, and the whole book is a series of flashbacks and flashforwards. This works better than you might think—if there's a critical clue in chapter 3, and you don't want to spoil it too soon, just put chapter 3 towards the end of the book.

Beauverger loves his material enough to give his readers all the fun details we might hope for: a duel between two captains, one carrying a sword and the other an automatic pistol; a pirate vessel playing the 16th-century "Flow my tears" over loudspeakers as it arrives in port; the Déchronologue itself, with its cannons that fire time; and a set-piece battle between 17th-century ships and a modern naval vessel.

But as much as Beauverger loves the tropes of alternate history, he subverts them ruthlessly, by the simple device of taking them seriously. No story that pits Caribbean privateers against a modern naval vessel, for example, will end well. There's no reason why time travelers have to be heroes; they may be ordinary flawed human beings with too much power—or even fanatics dreaming of a better future. The Caribbean, at its best, was a pretty nasty place much of the time.

Le Déchronologue won a stack of prizes ("le prix européen Utopiales, le prix du Lundi, le prix Bob Morane et le Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire"). It deserves a wider readership. Unfortunately, I don't think it has been translated.

#659 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 01:20 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo @ #593:

I would have thought that "not in the least" would be the typical answer.

In general:
For the next two weeks I will be ex-pating in the Bay Area rather than in London.

#660 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 02:19 PM:

The Lou Reed link seems to be borked. It brings me back to the ML front page.

#661 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 02:53 PM:

We found out yesterday morning that the FF's mother had had a final stroke, and passed on. She had been released from the hospital, and was under the care of FF's older sister.

She was the daughter of a Ukrainian Orthodox priest (one of 17 kids); later in life, she attended the local Catholic church until she was no longer able to go. If the Catholics on ML feel like adding her name to the prayers at your church, please pray for Dozia Kurylas, who leaves behind three children, 8 grandchildren, and lots of nieces/nephews all around the world.

I have yahrtzeit candles, so we lit one for her.

#662 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 03:00 PM:

Lou Reed link worked for me, elise -- try it again.

#663 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Ginger (661): Condolences to FF and her family. And to you.

#664 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 05:41 PM:

I have just finished watching Puella Magi Madoka Magica, an anime series, and itis one of the most amazing pieces of fantasy fiction I've consumed in a really, really long while. Emotions that are genuine and not artificially dramaticized; both within and criticising/deconstructing a popular genre (Magical Girl stories); several enormous twists that even to talk about vaguely would spoil them; characters that initially look thin and then suddenly are living, breathing humans instead of the usual stereotypical caricatures.

Actions have consequences. It has some of the best good-parenting moments I've seen in visual fiction. It has visually stunning moments that not only had I never seen before, I had never imagined seeing, and had to go back and watch again to fully parse. The music is amazing too.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. Viewable free, legally, on 12 ~1/2hr episodes, not a major commitment of time. Most enjoyable if you've seen some anime first, but I think it would work reasonably well for people who know spec-fic but not anime. There are sometimes scenes after the final credits, or before the opening credits.

#665 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 06:51 PM:

Ginger @ 661: my condolences.

#666 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 07:01 PM:

My damned TV has developed a gray band across the middle of the screen. Coupldn't fail when I had money, of course. Dammit.

Ginger 661: Sorry for your and FF's loss.

#667 ::: Xopher Halftongue is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 07:01 PM:

Given the number, I suspect diabolical involvement.

#668 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 07:16 PM:

My condolences, Ginger.

#669 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 07:23 PM:

Ginger: my condolences to your FF and family, and to you.

Xopher: I guess in the interim you could just draw a mustache on the band part and pretend you're watching that one episode of The Tick.

#670 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 07:27 PM:

Ginger: My condolences to you and the FF.

#671 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 11:07 PM:

Ginger #661: My condolences and sympathies.

#672 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2013, 11:10 PM:

Ginger: Condolences to you and the FF.

#673 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 07:42 AM:


My condolences.

#674 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 09:29 AM:

GInger 2661--My condolences to your FF and to you.

#675 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 09:59 AM:

Bruce Durocher @645: Being out of the hospital is a goodness

Ginger @661: Condolences

#676 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 11:13 AM:

Perfect summary of current events

Though it's not like the US government of 30 years ago was any great model of incorruptibiltiy or transparency, either.

#677 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 11:37 AM:

Someone mentioned the local New Orleans dialect over the weekend, complete with a link to the Wikipedia article on Yat, which mentions New Orleans' native son, the great cartoonist George Herriman.

Today he's the front-page article on the English-language Wikipedia. (Link is to actual article, rather than front page, as the latter is mutable.) If you are unfamiliar with his works, most notably Krazy Kat and the endlessly irascible Ignatz, you've missed out. I remember the television series from the early 1960s, complete with endless complex Southwestern landscapes.

#678 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 11:37 AM:

I finally watched Cloud Atlas. I both understand the objections to it and think it's a great piece of art. I really enjoyed it and will probably watch it many more times.

Also, I'm seriously crushing on Ben Whishaw at this point. I thought he was cute as Ariel in The Tempest, but now I've really lost my heart.

#679 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 11:43 AM:

I meant to say: CA also passes both the Bechdel test and the Russo test.

#680 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 12:51 PM:

My partner and I will be at Austin Celtic Festival this coming weekend. Austin folx, if you're there, drop by and say hi! We're generally at the far end of the right-hand group of vendors, close to the beer booth for the main stage.

#681 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 12:58 PM:

Jim's two most recent diffractions strike a chord with me.

Let me explain. I've been trying to get a job for quite a while now. Here in the UK, there aren't enough jobs to go round; for every vacancy at any given time, there are about 5 unemployed people and 13 underemployed people. Those are government figures. Nonetheless, in the teeth of their own evidence, the government insists on regarding anyone who is out of work as a "slacker" and a "scrounger", and seems to go out of its way to make life even more unpleasant for such people than it already is. In particular, I could have the very small amount of benefit on which I live taken away at any time if I do something like miss a Jobcentre appointment (even if I didn't know about it, or there was some other good reason), or for various other arbitrary "offences". One person had their benefit taken away because they were not looking for work. And why were they not looking for work? Because they had been offered a job and were due to start in two weeks. I'm not coping at all well with unemployment; being blamed for something over which I have no control fries both my justice circuits and my logic circuits.

That's the background. OK. So one thing I do is to translate poetry - like this, for instance. It therefore occurred to me that a) the English translation in the Schirmer edition of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor is so bad that I want to throw it at the wall, b) I could do better, and c) given that the awful Schirmer translation is still in circulation, I should be able to make some money out of doing better.

So I made a few enquiries, and found someone who actually does this kind of thing. He told me that the way to approach it is this. First, translate an entire opera (not just a few sample arias). Then send it to the English National Opera and tell them they can use it free of charge. Then hope to goodness they'll commission you to do another one.

Well, to hell with that. If it were just the odd aria I might consider it, but translating an entire opera is not a tuppenny job. It's several weeks' highly skilled work, to the value of thousands of pounds. It's not even as though I would just have to consider the normal factors involved in poetry translation (which I tend to think of as a kind of literary version of killer sudoku). There are also extra constraints on a translator due to the medium. For a start, operas tend to contain a number of passages where several people are singing different things at once, and in the original text the vowels often harmonise in various places. That kind of thing needs to be kept, or, at the very least, one needs to ensure they don't jar. And then there are the high notes; you don't want to risk breaking the soprano by giving her an impossible vowel at the top of her range. (Being a decent operatic soprano is not a tuppenny job either.)

Our Prime Minister is absolutely right that we need to get rid of the "something for nothing" culture, but he's dead wrong about the set of people who are taking advantage of it.

#682 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 03:24 PM:

Here's another data point in the discussion of possessive 's on business names. The company name is N. K. Hurst, but several of their packages say Hurst's.

#683 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 03:25 PM:

Ginger, my condolences. I'll add her to my church's book on Friday.

#684 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 03:40 PM:

John #563:

It seems like something like this would be generically useful. As you get busy with your life and your work, it's easy to miss all kinds of stuff, and it would be convenient to have some way to try to catch up other than Google and Wikipedia.

#685 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 04:16 PM:

Ginger @661, sorry for your loss.

I showed up to just say I appreciate this community and what I learn here.

I was trying to explain why I hate it when a publically held company borrows money and uses it for a share buyback. It's doing nothing but impoverishing the company and enriching the shareholders. It's a blowout scam, as mentioned by TNH lo these eight years ago. The limited liability company pays the price, the shareholders get the rewards.
Tha[mumble] you!

#686 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Hugs and condolences to Ginger and her FF. I hope your FF's memory of visiting her mother may be a perpetual consolation to both of you.

#687 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 09:10 PM:

Anyone here who likes Ursula Vernon's writing but doesn't follow her blog may not know that she has a new pen name (T. Kingfisher) and an e-published novella (Nine Goblins) now released under it. $3.99 from Smashwords or Amazon/Kindle. Those familiar with Elf vs. Orc, this is in the same world as that, but earlier. Sings-To-Trees the elven veterinarian/animal rehabber shows up.

#688 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2013, 11:48 PM:

Thanks to all; I feel I should add more information about my partner's mother, because she did a lot more in life. Not only was she the first daughter in a family of 17 kids, she suffered a traumatic loss of her left hand at the age of 16, but then went on to obtain her Candidat in Engineering, married (obviously), raised three kids while working full-time as an engineer, and did this in the Soviet Union during the years when just about everyone maintained their own gardens and livestock, with one hand. I can barely keep up with my one son and two hands, as I said to my FF, and so I can only admire her determination to succeed.

#689 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 01:45 AM:

She sounded like a remarkable person, Ginger. Condolences.

#690 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 02:50 AM:

Ginger: My condolences. May her words last long.

On a completely dissonant note, computer-wise folks here, am I correct that if I click on a link that opens in a new tab, and the page in the new tab turns out to be a gigantic ad, and if I attempt to close the tab all that happens is that the page immediately sprouts a pop-up, and the pop-up offers two buttons labeled "Leave Page" and "Remain on Page," and clicking the X on the pop-up does nothing but make the pop-up jiggle and flash, and I can't even shut down my damn browser . . . am I correct that shutting down my computer as I do normally and restarting using the On button on the CPU tower is what I want to do and I do not not NOT want to click that "Leave Page" button? Because it gives me the heebie jeebies.

Also, why the hell aren't ads like these illegal?

#691 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 02:51 AM:

Ginger, condolences to you and the FF.

#692 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 02:57 AM:

Wow, I see the dystopianism of the DSM-5 has now achieved both Particle and Phosphene status.

#693 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 02:59 AM:

I have just been reminded why I have stayed away from German-engineered or -built automobiles.

I now drive a 2005 Mini built in the UK by BMW. Recently the passenger airbag sensor alarm has gone on and stayed on. It's annoying, but more than that it stands out on the dashboard's mileage gauge, so the car won't pass a safety check unless the inspector's too lazy to get into the driver's seat and check the blinkers, etc.

The car needs to be inspected and get the new decal by October 31. I took it in to the Mini dealer (nobody else appears to want to take this chore on, maybe because they don't want to be responsible for airbag failure) and had an estimate -- $1,700. Getting at this thing apparently means taking the seat out, investigating/replacing the sensor and programming the new one. And maybe adding sprinkles of pixie dust. For that price, I should demand pixie dust.

German monopolies stink.

#694 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:14 AM:

Jenny Islander @690, you should be able to kill your browser process via Task Manager (Windows) or Activity Monitor (Mac), if you cannot do it by normal means. Rebooting seems a bit more drastic than absolutely necessary.

While I've run into intrusive ads, I've not yet run into any that are THAT sticky; that spawn pop-ups and especially pop-ups that don't honour the 'close window'. It sounds virus-y to me, but then it's not the sort of thing I know lots about.

#695 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:42 AM:

I've run into them, and I'm pretty sure I used the hard reboot method to get rid of them.

They're definitely malware.

#696 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 08:15 AM:

Mongoose @681 - My problem with the plan...

First, translate an entire opera (not just a few sample arias). Then send it to the English National Opera and tell them they can use it free of charge. Then hope to goodness they'll commission you to do another one. part 2, where you let them use it free of charge. If you need to do the work on spec to get commissioned then that's the way it is. But you've done the work and they're using it. They should pay you a fee.

And I say this knowing a conductor who has told me about the enormous pressure on budgets on operas and orchestras and choirs at the moment in the UK.

#697 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 09:47 AM:

Neil W @ 696: yes, that is also my problem. They should.

What I think I'm going to do, once I get my head a bit more together, is have a little chat with Star Tenor about this. He did a stunningly good translation of Bach's St Matthew Passion, and some of the people for whom he originally did the translation are pushing for him to publish it. That might turn out to be a better idea than submitting it on spec.

#698 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 09:58 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 690: What pericat said -- I've used this technique for any suspicious ad or popup and it helps prevent the malware from loading.

#699 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 10:58 AM:

To say I am looking forward to seeing this is an understatement.

"X-men: Days of Future Past"

#700 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:16 AM:

I have to say that while I find translations of opera libretti essential for understanding the story, I think the translation should convey the meaning of the lines to the exclusion of all else.

This is because I am ideologically opposed to opera being sung in any language other than the language in which the opera is written. Mongoose, you say translations that capture the feel of the original are difficult; I would say "impossible." The sound of the words is part of the music!

I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness about this. I'm opposed to Beethoven being sung in Catalan, too. And to Peter Grimes being sung in Russian (or any language other than English).

"WORDS MATTER," he cried in despair. "Both their sound and their sense. Will no one listen?" *collapses sobbing, and is covered with snow*

(Another point, which would tend to oppose opera being sung in the local language even if it's the original: if it's in the local language, they act like you should be able to understand the words. Not with opera singers singing it! Hitting the back row of the "poor gays who have to see everything" tier (17 floors above the orchestra) doesn't leave much room for comprehensible articulation. But then, I need subtitles even for NCIS, so my POV may be skewed.)

This is not to say that, if an opera company should make the reprehensible decision to do an opera in the local language, that someone ought to refuse to translate it. And I also believe that that someone ought to be fairly compensated.

But I can just picture some idiot opera company director deciding that Akhnaten is just too difficult, and having some unfortunate person translate the Middle Egyptian text into English. (Note for those who don't know: Glass's "operas" use text picked for vague significance and mellifluous sound, rather than having anything at all to do with the story being conveyed on the stage. Translating Akhnaten would make it more confusing, not less; the text is from Coming Forth By Day, and isn't the story of That Criminal, as he was called by the people in his own time.)

#701 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:24 AM:

Xopher: I'm on your side, as both a singer and an audience member. But as you say, we're vastly outnumbered at least on the latter front.

#702 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:28 AM:

I suggest the use of supertitles for audience members who want to get the text in real time. Audience members who cannot read should be home with the babysitter (or content to just let the music flow over them).

#703 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:55 AM:

"We've told him all we can. We can't even tell him we've seen his future self. He's interacted with his own past. He could rip a hole in the universe."
"But he's done it before."
"And, in fairness, the universe did blow up."

I just watched "The Impossible Astronaut". It's much easier to understand than it was back in 2011, when it was my first Matt Smith episode of "Doctor Who". By the way, I loved seeing the older self of Mark Sheppard's Canton Delaware being played by William Morgan Sheppard, his real-life father, also known as Max Headroom's Reg the punk who'd try to get kids interested in reading.

#704 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 12:18 PM:

Xopher @ 700, Lila @ 701: I used to feel exactly the same until I discovered that excellent, singable translations were possible. I vividly recall sitting through an utterly dire translation of The Merry Widow in my late teens, and ranting for weeks afterwards about how operas should be sung in their original language.

Yes, the sound of the words is important; that's why translating an opera (or, for that matter, the St Matthew Passion) is such a difficult task. Get it even a tiny bit wrong, and it'll clunk horribly. It's an unforgiving medium.

But it isn't the only one. What about the works of Stanislaw Lem, which frequently rely heavily on wordplay and whimsical use of language for their effect? Yet those have been translated, and wonderfully so. What about La Disparition by Georges Perec, a novel written entirely without the use of the letter E? The E-lessness is as much part of the novel as the (surreal, but perfectly intelligible) plot, and must therefore be respected in any translation. Well, that's been done too. The English version is called A Void.

For that matter, what about Dante? When I am confronted by a poem like the one I linked earlier, the most important thing about it is that it is a poem. In order to translate it with the respect that is due to it, I have to produce a poem, unless the purpose of the translation is specifically to produce a word-for-word crib (in which case, the result won't even be normal English, since things like the word order are likely to vary). I have to aim to respect both the form and the content. It's no good if I just produce a woolly paraphrase that isn't much like what Dante was trying to say, but it's equally no good if I produce an accurate, literal translation that is not a poem.

The point I'm trying to make is that it can be done, and it's worth the effort to do it. But I'll agree with you both up to this point: if it can't be done well, it should not be done at all.

#705 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 12:25 PM:

I don't know, Mongoose. Composers sometimes pick the language for its sound; that's why Mozart wrote some operas in German and others in Italian.

It's kinda like if someone decided they love Carmen but hate strings and woodwinds, so they reorchestrate the whole thing for brass and percussion. While this might be interesting, it's not quite Carmen anymore.

(Actually, now I want to hear the Toreador Song played by an oompah band.)

#706 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 12:29 PM:

Not to mention that there are some things you can't do in English. There's an art song where the woman is saying goodbye to a lover who has done her wrong; at the very end she switches from 'du' to 'Sie' (informal to formal). There's just no way to do that in a reasonable number of words in English. I suppose you could work in the word 'sir', but that's fairly lame.

There are, of course, nuances that are succinct in English and take a lot of words in other languages. I'm told the concept of "alone but never lonely" is difficult to convey in Spanish, for example.

#707 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 12:36 PM:

Re possessives of store names which aren't formally spelled that way: I always thought of it as a sort of understood possessive. We might, for instance, say "I'll meet you at Kroger's" and mean "I'll meet you at the Kroger store."

#708 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 01:27 PM:

There's also a question of translating the cultural expectations when one is working with opera. I'm sure that the purists would find David Scott Marley's translations of various comic operas problematic -- but "The Riot Grrrl on Mars" (from "The Italian Girl in Algiers") and "Bat out of Hell" ("Die Fledermaus"), among others, are a great deal of fun. And isn't that what comic opera is about?

#709 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 01:46 PM:

Open-thready observation: It is astonishingly difficult to find a dual-alarm clock that is not also a radio. Or a hideously expensive bedshaker.

#710 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 02:14 PM:

Xopher @ 705/6: you can get round the "du/Sie" thing easily enough by using "thou", as long as you don't mind sounding rather archaic. Whether or not I'd do that myself would depend on when the song was written and what sort of overall effect I was going for in translation. (These two things are somewhat related.)

Tom @ 708: I haven't come across those, but you've definitely piqued my interest.

The cultural side is a fascinating thing, and it doesn't just apply to opera. It's frequently encountered when translating novels or poetry, because the culture of the original audience is not the same as that of the translator's target audience.

Here's a concrete example. The Don Camillo stories of Giovanni Guareschi are rooted in the culture of a very specific time and place. The original readers would have been familiar with that culture. English readers, in general, are not, and have to deduce it from the translation; where that is absolutely not possible, the translator very occasionally supplies a footnote.

Now, one of the characters in these stories is called Smilzo. The original readers, and anyone else who knows Italian, can see that this isn't a name. It's a nickname, meaning "lanky". If they're imagining the characters in their heads, they'll automatically see him as a tall, skinny chap, in contrast to the much more solid Peppone (the mayor). But if you don't know any Italian and you don't have anything else to guide you, you lose that bit of information. For all you know, it's just a name.

Guareschi's translator, rightly in my opinion, chose to lose the bit of information and leave the name as "Smilzo" (without a footnote), rather than translating his name as, say, "Slim Jim" (or, for that matter, Peppone's name as "Big Joe", which is exactly what it means). They judged, as I think most people would, that it was more important to get across the idea that these are Italian stories about Italian people than an interesting detail about the general build of the mayor's principal sidekick. Start turning the characters into Slim Jim and Big Joe, and you may as well be in Chicago rather than the Po Valley.

That's an easy example, because it's so clear what needs to be done. But many such examples are not nearly so clear-cut, and therein lies a good deal of the joy of translation.

#711 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Tine Thing Helseth's all-women brass ensemble, tenThing plays Carmen

#712 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 02:38 PM:

Well, I have to admit that that's charming. They're really good.

But they're playing an arrangement, you see. Not accompanying singers and claiming to be presenting the opera.

I should add here that I don't think opera in English (or presenting it with a brass band instead of an orchestra, for that matter) is a crime against humanity or anything. I just think it's not...quite...right.

#713 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Mongoose 710: But 'thou' does sound archaic, and switching to 'you' would just make English speakers think you forgot that you were speaking forsoothly, not that the speaker suddenly adopted a formal tone.

#714 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 02:53 PM:

Mongoose, speaking of the uses and misuses of translation, have you ever happened to see Petr Weigl's movie Winterreise, which uses Schubert's song cycle in an odd sort of way?

Indeed, has anyone here at ML see this?

#715 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:01 PM:

Mongoose @710:

you can get round the "du/Sie" thing easily enough by using "thou", as long as you don't mind sounding rather archaic.

I don't think you could, actually. Many English speakers, at least in the US, have an idea that not only is "thou" archaic, but that it was more formal or respectful than "you" (which is of course exactly backwards). I think this is because many people encounter it only in the context of the King James Bible, used to address God, and think that of course you'd be extra-respectful addressing God! So either you'd risk most people completely inverting the meaning of the change, or drive people who actually know the usage up the wall.

If I had to do this I'd have her switch from addressing him as "John" to "Mr. Smith".

#716 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:06 PM:

Mongoose @710, actually, most people I know seem to think "thou" is formal. Probably because the only place it is preserved for most folks is in church, and you wouldn't say "hey, you!" to God, now would you? (Never mind that the word Jesus used in the Paternoster translates, I'm told, to "Daddy.")

#717 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:11 PM:

Mary Aileen @709: No intention of being hlepy here, just curious: have you looked at the iLuv? I have this one; it is a dual alarm (two alarms) and each can be set to use either an alarm, the ipod, or the radio. The bed-shaker option is a plug-in, so it can be turned off or disconnected altogether.

#718 ::: Ginger has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:12 PM:

All I have for the gnomon is one grapefruit and several bottles of Perrier (your choice of lemon or grapefruit-flavored).

#719 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:15 PM:

Lorax @715, that'll teach me (again) not to read downthread before posting....

#720 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:20 PM:

lorax 715: If I had to do this I'd have her switch from addressing him as "John" to "Mr. Smith".

Really? When the original doesn't use a name for him at all, but just calls him "you"? When in fact IIRC it's not even clear what gender the addressed person is?

I think that would be just as bad in a different way.

#721 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:28 PM:

re 700 et al.: I'm somewhat in sentiment with the original language thesis in general, but exceptions are rife. I've been around The Magic Flute several different ways, for example, and while I wouldn't reject a German production it seems to me that it gains a lot on an American stage by being sung (and spoken) in English. Wagner, I think not so much. I sense something of tension between the dramatic and aesthetic experiences, but also, in the case of Wagner at least, there is the problem that it's not so much a case of the sound of the language (though that is in a sense part of it) but the problem of doing a translation which doesn't sound, well, trivial. In the case of hymns it is done as a matter of course and nobody worries about the aesthetics except in the target language.

#722 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:30 PM:

Ah. I hadn't actually considered the idea that anyone thought of "thou" as more formal than "you", but you're all quite right. (This is because I'm so well used to languages which have a "tu/vous" set-up that I've just automatically slotted English in alongside, especially since I'm also very well used to Shakespeare and lute songs, in which English really does behave like that.)

#723 ::: Mongoose is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:33 PM:

Not sure why. I did mention the Bard of Avon and lute songs. Are gnomes especially fond of Elizabethan entertainment?

I'd offer Orange Omelette for Pimps and Harlots (which is, of course, also very nice if you don't happen to be in either category), but I'm out of eggs. There are bananas.

#724 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:33 PM:

Even my LARPer circles tend to get thou/you backwards, and stealing archaisms is what we do.

My current favourite is the way that Empire* uses different time periods as one of its primary methods for visually distinguishing nations. It's not the only way - the Freeborn are a bit Arabian Nights, the Urizen dress like pastel Jedi - but it is a significant aspect. The visual impact of straight tunics and wrapped shins is very different from slashed doublets and tight hose, even if like me you couldn't name the periods they're from. They look different. And that saves you from basing your cultures on different places from similar times and being accidentally racist**. It's not something I've seen done elsewhere, and I like it. If we're going to steal from other cultures, it is less rude and less likely to be horrifically insulting if all the people we steal from are versions of us.

*The latest offering from Profound Decisions, who previously brought the world Maelstrom and, overlapping both, Oddyssey. Maelstrom was 1600s, muskets were the revolutionary new technology and you were allowed to be a pirate. Oddyssey is set on Atlantis, where Egypt and Rome have honour battles and you are allowed to make blood sacrifice to Dagon.

**What did the six-foot-tall samurai badgers wear in seventeenth-century Japan? Why do we have one culture to cover the entire Far East, whilst the French revolutionaries, the Venetian aristocrats and the Swiss artisans are all different nations?

#725 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:39 PM:

fidelio @ 714: No, I haven't, but it sounds interesting. I must ask Star Tenor if he's seen it. He sings quite a lot of Schubert. It's what he does if he's offered a pianist to accompany him rather than someone playing a more baroque-period instrument like a harpsichord.

#726 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:43 PM:

So duckbunny, have you got a link for that? Because that sounds like a LARP I'd like to try and get some more info on.

#727 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:44 PM:

and re 706: I'm not so sure that is so. For the average listener, the choice between understanding a song and understanding about it is substantial. Hearing the shift in formality is perhaps, in some sense, superior to knowing that it's there.

I do have to say that listening to an unfamiliar opera on the car radio on Saturday is really a very unsatisfactory experience for me, by and large. About a month ago there was a production of someone's Moby Dick which, if it wasn't entirely to my taste, at least made dramatic sense to me-- because of course it was in English.

#728 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:51 PM:

Carrie S: Profound Decisions make their home here, while all the information you could desire on the world and game of Empire is located on the wiki.

#729 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:53 PM:

The "thou" inversion is most strongly the fault of the RSV, which retained the second person familiar for address of God only and used modern usage for everyone else.

Equating "Abba" with "Daddy" is illustrative of the perils of these connotative translations, as the difference between the latter and "Dad" is strong even though both are familiar; then there is the difference between those and "Pop" or "Papa". Aramaic is not my language but it would not surprise me that the language does not have a more formal form of address than "Abba".

#730 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 04:07 PM:

C. Wingate @727, Equating "Abba" with "Daddy" is illustrative of the perils of these connotative translations

Interesting; I was told that "Abba" was the familiar form, and similar in connotation to "Daddy" in English. I heard this some years ago from a minister who spoke both Hebrew and Aramaic. Since I speak neither, I relied upon her expertise. But it's entirely possible she was overstating the matter to shock us all out of our complacency.

Does anyone know what an appopriate (connotation-preserving) translation of "Abba" might be?

#731 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 04:26 PM:

C. Wingate @727: Oh, now I wonder if the RSV was the translation where I once read the little foreword about translation choices, and found them saying that they had retained "Thou" when addressing God explicitly because of its greater formality and respect. And even in high school I knew enough about the history of the English language* to hit the wall over that. Because they were clearly WRONG and if a Bible translation could be that WRONG then what else might they be wrong about?

...that was when I decided I needed to learn ancient Greek so that I could read the text myself and not depend on anyone else's translation to understand the text properly. Alas, if it were only so simple.

* Okay, also because of explanations in Quakers in a Michener novel or two, but I digress.

#732 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 04:28 PM:

I don't know any Aramaic. I do know some Hebrew, which is related. The Hebrew word for "father" is ab, and I understand that abba is indeed the familiar form.

I'm proceeding with caution here, because it's a long time since I've used my Hebrew, and I'm very much open to correction from anyone who's more fluent and/or uses it regularly. But it seems to me that "Daddy" is a valid translation.

If you see the word ab in a sentence where it's used as a description (say, for instance, a sentence telling you that David was the ab of Solomon), then the natural translation would be "father". But if it's in a sentence where Solomon is speaking to David, then to translate it as "father" sounds old-fashioned and overly formal (although many translations of the Bible do just that), because nobody these days actually addresses their father as "Father". It's much more natural to have Solomon say, "Dad, can I...?" or whatever.

So if ab translates as "Dad" when you're rendering speech, it makes perfect sense to translate abba as "Daddy".

#733 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 04:43 PM:

Ginger: My condolences to you both. Sounds like she was a remarkable woman and will be remembered, and remembered well, for a long time

Xopher Halftongue @700: But having the opera in your own language can make it more accessible. Yes, I can (and do, when necessary) read surtitles, but personally I get more from the opera if I can understand most of the sung words without needing to look up all the time and miss half the acting - because for me it's the singing - instrumental music - acting combination that makes the opera. So a good singable translation is really great. I've also see some pretty awful surtitle translations.

#734 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 04:43 PM:


It's certainly not perfect. I just can't think of a better way of doing it in English, which is more or less your original point. (And I didn't know that the original character didn't have a specified gender; I was basing it on your speculation about working in the word "sir".)

#735 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:00 PM:

I guess what I'm getting at is more that the concept of "familiar" itself is something that doesn't translate that exactly. I wouldn't assume that Solomon would have spoken to his father with the same level of breezy informality that "what I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys/see you later, can I have them, please" implies.

#736 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:17 PM:

I know what the Aramaic alphabet looks like, as a refugee intro-to-the-U.S. handbook I did the art/assembly for was translated into it. This is helpful if you need "don't put a cheap empty pan on a hot burner" or "babies are less apt to fall out of windows if they've got screens on them". The drawing made it clear that the screen should have been on the window, not the baby, for those willfully misunderstanding.

The closest we got to Ab/Abba was showing parents supervising computer use and helping with homework.

Oh, wait. That was Amharic, not Aramaic.

They use a similar alphabet but they're not the same language.

Never mind. /Emily Litella voice

#737 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:24 PM:

Mongoose @724--IMDB tells me this production was done in 1994, and is properly Die Winterreise. I had a post up about it over at my Livejournal back in July, to which I cannot link here at work. As is typical of Weigl's work, it is very beautiful to look at. It does not use the plot of the poem cycle, which some find Wrong.

#738 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:26 PM:

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the JoCo Cruise Crazy II cruise, and one of the performers was M.C. Frontalot. I really, really wish there had been surtitles, because I only understood about one word in six of what he was singing. The little I understood sounded fun and clever, but mostly I was hugely frustrated by my complete lack of being able to parse rap accent/dialect.

#739 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:33 PM:

Ginger @ 661 -- My condolences to you and especially the FF on your loss. Such a wealth of stories lie behind your brief summary!

Separately...I somewhat regret being too busy this weekend with painting and dragonboat racing to have made timely contributions to the passing thread about "come with" and "be at". So I'll only note that having done a fair amount of research on the topic of Verb + Adprep[1] constructions across the ages in Indo-European languages, I tend to view usage like this as the re-invention of meaningful units that are far too useful to be left to the mercy of prescriptive grammar. Looked at from a more functional point of view, "at" in "where are you at?" behaves almost like an intensifying particle, though clearly derived from a spatial preposition converted to adverbial use. And "Are you coming with?" is just the latest in the regular re-invention of nuanced motion vocabulary formed by combining basic verbs of motion with particles indicating directionality or manner. (Most people would be perfectly happy with similar constructions using "on", "off", "in", "out" -- we're just not as used to hearing "with" used adverbially in this way.)

[1] "Adprep" being a useful fuzzy category for non-inflected spatial-relationship words that may in specific instances behave as adverbs or preposition or even separable affixes.

#740 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:35 PM:

MC Frontalot thankfully has a lot of lyrics on his website, which once I've read through them make his songs singalong-with-able (like It Is Pitch Dark, whose chorus is "You are likely to / be eaten by a Grue. / If this condition seems particularly cruel / Just consider whose fault it could be? / Neither a torch nor a match in your in-ven-toh-ry")

#741 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Probably because I included a link whose format looks hinky in general.

#742 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:37 PM:

Ginger (717): I hadn't looked at that one, but it's exactly what I don't want. (It also costs twice as much as I was hoping to spend.) I am aware that most, if not all, clock-radios can be used just as a clock, ignoring the radio. But what I want is just a clock, with no radio at all. I found this one, which will probably do. But it's the only one I can find! Why is that?

Maybe I'll just use my travel clock for the second alarm. That was my original idea.

#743 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:39 PM:

In Somerset they say "Where's it to?", "Where you to?", "...where it's to."

Of course, they also say, as I can faithfully record from my second day on the job, "I 'ear you caught the place afire last week."

There's an accent, is what I'm saying here.

#744 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:45 PM:


Any ham radio operators here?

Any advice for someone about to take their first ham radio course and then test for a license? (This is sponsored by my CERT team, in an effort to increase the number of licensed operators available in case we have to use ham radio for an extended time in an emergency, e.g. after a hurricane.)

I have this book on hold at my public library.

#745 ::: Lila communicates with gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 05:47 PM:

For a post mentioning amateur communication via radio and containing a link to a commercial site named after a Brazilian river.

#746 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 06:32 PM:

Xopher, #712: Point of order: the orchestra at the opera is playing "an arrangement" too. It's just a different arrangement. Beyond that, I emphatically do not have a dog in this fight.

And why are all the cats trying to climb into my lap at the computer today? That's atypical.

#747 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 07:32 PM:

Well... I am going to have a lot more time for Making Light in between applying for employment. It also happens to come when I have a mildly dire rhinovirus that I probably caught at the local SF convention. I am now going to take more drugs to combat cold symptoms, have some chicken soup, and then... Then I have to figure out the rest of my life.

Leave food donations at the plague stone.

#748 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 07:38 PM:

#445 Cygnet

Thanks for the on the ground observation. It can be really, really hard to search for a negative. The deer or elk (I cannot remember which one she said it of, I think deer, but it could have been elk) rut in the spring information was given in the context of a "government is stupid because" speech so I did doubt it, but sometimes the strangest things turn out to be true.

#749 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 07:46 PM:

What do Rand Paul and lazy high-school students have in common? They both plagiarize from Wikipedia. Not that it'll get any coverage elsewhere.

#750 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 07:56 PM:

Jenny way back at # 690: You can sometimes shut down those leave page/remain on page pop-ups less drastically. Turn off Javascript in your browser, then you may be able to X out the offending page. Turn Javascript back on and resume looking at all your other open tabs.

#752 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 08:52 PM:

I heard about that at a couple of places elseweb. I think it's best described as 'did you really think you could get away with it?'

#753 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 09:09 PM:

Mishalak: That totally sucks.* I'm afraid I have no more useful comments, other than wishing you good luck in finding a job which will make the one you lost look totally lame.

* (Or as a friend of mine used to say, more dramatically, "That blows dead polar bears.")

Speaking of bears, did everybody here see this? ("It doesn't take much to make me happy", from the Blogess.) I think it might have made me laugh harder than the classic "Dogs in elk", especially when reading excerpts out loud.

#754 ::: Clifton is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 09:11 PM:

Possibly for passing on some creative obscenity from a long-ago friend, but more likely for posting a couple links to a blog URL. It's pretty hysterical, though, you should check it out.

I still haven't had my lunch though, so I got nothing to share with the gnomes.

#755 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 09:13 PM:

Wow, you gnomes work so fast that you got my post degnomed before I could even post about it. I demand a rematch!

#756 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 09:26 PM:

Clifton @ 753: Roosters. And squid. And bears. Oh, my!

#757 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 10:45 PM:

Elliott Mason @664 -- thanks for that. Just finished watching, and wanted to ask if you'd noticed that the music over the "coming next" segment is Dead Can Dance's "Saltarello", from the same album (AION) as "Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book" -- which is an apposite musical reference for that particular series. Naq na vagrerfgvat Ohqquvfg/Puevfgvna frg bs vqrnf ng gur raq, jnfa'g vg!

#758 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:13 PM:

Ginger @661: I’m sorry.

fidelio @677: A museum in Newark had a stunning exhibition of original comic page art, with copious examples from the greatest names in the field (McCay’s art is HUGE), and I was struck by the fact that all the Herriman pieces they had seemed to have the names of other famous artists on them — they came from the collections of his colleagues.

Mongoose @681: Maybe offer it free for use in a limited window of time? After that, they pay. If someone else uses it, they pay. If it’s printed…

Hey, how about a good English version of Hary Janos? My vocal score only puts it into German.

Janny Islander @690: On a PC, I’d [ah! just saw #694 never mind the PC part of my previously written answer.]. On a Mac, I’d do command-option-escape to kill the program that’s showing it. Both solutions can lead to loss of something you were doing in another browser tab, but you wouldn’t have to reboot. I have used this option in the past, cursing as I did. If it doesn’t still work, my apology.

#759 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:23 PM:

Tom Whitmore @757: I am not nearly as familiar with Dead Can Dance's discography as I'd like; I need to go hunt that down.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica spoilers rot13'ed: vg ernyyl fhpxrerq zr va jura gur perqvgf frdhraprf punatrq ... ERCRNGRQYL. Vg'f yvxr orvat tvira gebyysnpr ernygvzr ol gur frevrf perngbe, va gur orfg cbffvoyr jnl. :-> Nyfb, vs lbh tb onpx naq jngpu gur rneyvre perqvgf frdhraprf, V guvax nyy gur fbatf (juvpu fbhaq xvaq bs yvxr trarevp perqvg-frdhrapr cbccl guvatf) ner sebz Ubzhen'f cbvag bs ivrj? Va er Ohqquvfg/Puevfgvna, V ernq guebhtu gur Znex Jngpurf guernqf (tbbtyr Znex Jngpurf Znqbxn Zntvpn naq vg fubhyq pbzr hc, ebg13 xvyyf yvaxf) naq vg jnf cbvagrq bhg gung vs Fnlnxn vf phyghenyyl-ohg-abg-qribhgyl Fuvagb va ure zvaqfrg, juvpu vf abg hapbzzba va Wncna, gura jung Xlhorl qvq gb ure jnf rira jbefr bs n ivbyngvba guna hf Jrfgrearef jbhyq rira frr vg nf, gurerol zbgvingvat ure pbzcyrgr ybff bs nyy ure fuvg jura fur sbhaq bhg va Rcvfbqr 3. Gubfr guernqf nyfb unir genafyngvbaf (genafyvgrengvbaf, ernyyl) bs nyy gur Pelcgvp Tylcuf, zbfg bs juvpu ner jvgpu anzrf ohg abg nyy bs gurz.

Apparently there are two sequel/prequel/related/AU/interlaced (it's complicated) series of manga, of which Puella Magi Orico Magica is one and I don't know the title of the other, and another anime coming out in the same world with 'Revolution' in the title?

#760 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:34 PM:

Elliott, I appreciate that! If I'm ever in a position where I'm likely to hear him again, I'll bone up on the lyrics first. I'm sure it will make it a much more enjoyable experience. (It turns out that the song I caught enough lyrics of to recognize was the grue one.)

I kind of did that by accident for Jonathan Coulton's songs; the first or second night out there was a karioke (no matter how I spell that it looks wrong) of just JoCo songs, and so I got to hear people sing four hours of his songs, many of them songs from his new album which I hadn't heard yet, WITH LYRICS BEHIND THEM. He's a pretty clear singer, but it did help some with his non-acoustic set.

(Why can't sound people understand that I want to hear the singer over the band?)

#761 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:50 PM:

Never thought I'd find myself suggesting "karaoke" for ML's spelling aid, but you're right -- it does look odd no matter what.

#762 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:50 PM:

Oh, and while I'm on anime recommendations, since I seem to be gulping down series willy-nilly this week:

Sword Art Online is a mindblowing piece of SF. Teaser/premise: a full-VR-immersion device has been built-and-marketed, and big noise is made about Grand Release of the first game really written natively to use it, a sprawling epic RPG. And then the game's (psychotic) creator locks it down with players inside: you can't logout from inside, you can't remove the helmets without killing the player, and if you die in the game you die for real. And then we follow events within the game and BOY HOWDY does it get awesome. Many implications are explored. Emotions (in fact, ALL THE FEELS) are had. Lord of the Flies meets Neuromancer in a MMORPG doesn't even begin to convey the awesome of this anime, but it's a half-decent elevator pitch. I laughed, I cried, I want to read/watch everything this guy's ever created. Stream it legally via Crunchyroll, or use another method of your choice. 25 eps, ~30min each.

Polar Bear's Cafe is a whole other kettle of fish (or cafe-full of large charismatic mammals). It's set in a restaurant owned by a polar bear, and one of the regulars is a slacker panda teenager/twentysomething who got a job at the zoo ... as a part-time panda. It's hilarious and fun and filled with Japanese puns (which the subtitles do a great job of cueing/explaining for those like me who do not speak it). There are also humans; the presence of enormous speaking non-anthropomorphized animals in the world is not in any way explained or treated as weird in-world in any ep I've seen so far. The animation and art is really interesting and fun: they get a lot of expression out of nonhuman facial features. A fluffy comedic palate-chaser, lots of fun and not much commitment. Stream via Crunchyroll. 50 eps, ~30min each.

#763 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:51 PM:

For links? no idea.

#764 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 11:53 PM:

Bruce@751, Werewolf video...

Huh. Hadn't seen that before. Do you know how serious a pilot it is?

(Pleased by the credit at 17:46, of course)

(Web searching turns up: it was a zero budget project, totally speculative, but clearly having fun.)

#765 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 12:59 AM:

Elliott -- have you seen Speed Grapher? It's another very odd anime series -- kinky noir, not for children. Not hardcore, but very strange in terms of moving around who's good, who's evil, and who's just crazy. Link is to Funimation's streaming version. I bought the DVDs after getting one in a trade.

And everyone here has seen both the OVA and TV of Read or Die, right? That's just a link to Wikipedia, but there are several ways to get it. The opening of the OVA features a powerful character trashing the White House only to ask the fleeing Secret Service people whether it's the Library.... Some wonderful bookish references throughout.

#766 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 01:28 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @706: So what's the succinct English for that?

Cassy B. @716: The Greek is "Πάτερ", which is just "Father".

#767 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 08:24 AM:

Regarding Teresa's "Is this how it's done these days?" particle:

To the best of my knowledge, that image is an expression of the spontaneous acclamation of fandom; it was created by one of Mark Oshiro's fans who ran an awareness campaign in the run-up to the award season. I don't recall Oshiro himself ever using it.

#768 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 09:56 AM:

Continuing Paul A.'s comment: I voted for Mark Oshiro, a fanwriter whom I read regularly and whose work I enjoy very much, and I never saw that image. But:

As far as I can tell, Mark's devoted readership skews younger and poorer than the regular WorldCon-going contingent. Yes, commenters and community members at Mark's pages regularly reminded us to get us out and voting for Mark (and other writers and artists we love, too). I'm not going to speak for the entire community. I'll say, for myself, that those reminders were necessary to me. I am a fan, I belong to fan cultures, and I buy SFF novels and recorded TV shows. My delight is part of the spontaneous acclamation of fandom. Nevertheless, it might not automatically occur to me to buy a supporting membership in a con I'm not actually interested in attending. I appreciated the reminders that I could vote too, for the books and publications and fansites that I love. So I did buy a supporting membership, and I did read as much of the Hugo packet as I could in order to vote thoughtfully, and I did vote. That's not ballot-stuffing, that's traditional getting-out-the-vote.

#769 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 10:05 AM:

Got an "Internal Server Error" trying to post something fairly lengthy. Trying this short one to see if it's a general problem with the site.

#770 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 10:16 AM:

Tried the long one again with the same result. Only <strong> and <em> tags, one Cyrillic letter, no links (but it gets an error, rather than going to the gnomes). Comment was longish but not immense.

#771 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 10:23 AM:

Failed again. Can our esteemèd mods offer any insight or assistance? I have the comment saved in a text file.

#772 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 11:04 AM:

Xopher, did the post contain a true right-quote (curly quote/smart quote) three or fewer characters from a carriage return?

If so -- try posting with straight (typewriter) quote marks, or replacing the right-quote with &rdquo;

See discussion above around #628

#773 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 11:21 AM:

No, all the quotes are straight quotes. I typed them all except where I quoted from David, and his are straight quotes too. Oh, some Greek is in there...but as I quoted it from David, and his comment didn't blow up...

Trying again. Then I'll try retyping every quote in the comment to make absolutely sure (they LOOK like straight quotes now).

#774 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 11:31 AM:

"The amount involved, nearly $60 million, means that the 26 victims (let's not call them claimants here) will receive approximately $2.3 million each (less attorneys' fees, I suppose) in "economic" compensation as well as certain (as yet unidentified) "uneconomic" considerations from the university"

Hmm, was this written by an attorney? Why yes, it was. "Less attorneys' fees, I suppose?" When, on average in these cases, those fees start at 50% of compensation and go up (whether it's a contingency case or not)?

Seethe over.

Re: apostrophes: and then there's "l'Affaire Eaton", of course.

#775 ::: Mycroft W lives with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 11:36 AM:

Probably because it was very slow to redo because I forgot to put in the address, and left for the day.

#776 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 11:43 AM:

Retyping the quotes got a different error:

Gateway Time-out

The gateway did not receive a timely response from the upstream server or application.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

This may simply have pre-empted the other error. This did spin for a while before giving the error.

Next try: transliterating the Cyrillic character.

#777 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 11:44 AM:

David 766: So what's the succinct English for that?

For what, David? 'Alone but never lonely' is more succinct than it can, I'm told, be put in Spanish, which uses the same word for both 'alone' and 'lonely'. That's not just a vocabulary item,* it's a whole cultural assumption.

I remember having a conversation with a Greek-American woman and a gentleman of Hispanic extraction, on the topic of having a newborn in the parents' room. They viewed this as desirable, and I came to see their point, though my cultural assumptions were that everyone would try to keep the baby in a separate room, with a baby monitor in case it got into distress, to enable the parents to live without whispering and tiptoeing. They assumed that parents would want to be as close to their baby as possible at all times.

What was more interesting was when we started talking about older children, IIRC because I cluelessly asked "so when do you think it's desirable for kids to have their own room?" They clearly indicated that they would have felt lonely if they hadn't had a sibling to share with. Everyone I grew up with either had or wanted their own room. "Having to" share with a sibling was considered a mild hardship (by these rich (by national standards) white kids).

You see, the metamessage of the culture I grew up in was "You're alone." If you do well alone, you do well, and if not...not. Now the environment I grew up in was largely a midwestern, white-northern-European-descended one, but I also grew up in a Closed family structure: doors were left open only when no one was in the room, in general, and everything else that goes with that. So maybe that metamessage was more hyperlocal than I thought (though see above about how all the kids I knew wanted their own rooms).

The Greek is "Πάτερ", which is just "Father".

While Greek is the original language in which the Gospels were written, there's already a linguistic and cultural translation that has gone on by the time it gets to Greek-speaking people. As you know. Hard to know what he actually said, if he said it at all.

Do you know what First Century Greek children would have called their father?

*As you are almost certainly aware, English has the largest vocabulary of any modern language, and the second-most in history, after Ancient Greek. So most of the time English is going to make vocabulary distinctions that another language lacks, rather than the other way around. This is, of course, NOT true of grammatical distinctions (examples: keyword aspect, and the Russian use of the instrumental case with and without s).

#778 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 11:46 AM:

Wow. It was the Cyrillic character. At least in that position, a single Cyrillic character appears to cause an error. (That character IS the Russian word for 'with'; I wasn't experimenting on purpose.)

#779 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 11:55 AM:

Beats heck out of me, Xopher. That error is well up-stream from the gnomes.

Given that all of these errors are of recent origin, while folks here have been using Cyrillic characters and curly-quotes forever, I suspect a change to the backend over at Moveable Type.

(Note: Cyrillic characters may get you gnomed anyway, but the Duty Gnome will soon release the post after a delicious meal of borshch and caviar.)

#780 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 12:22 PM:

Seems likely, Jim.

#781 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 12:41 PM:

Jim: borshch

OMG YOU SPELLED IT RIGHT! Yilyenna Petrovna would have been so proud! (She was at great pains to explain to us that the common American pronunciation/spelling of borsht was WRONG WRONG WRONGITY WRONG.)

#782 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 12:54 PM:

I suspect the common American version came in via Yiddish, which adds another language (and another transliteration) to the mix.

#783 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 01:43 PM:

Apropos of not much, except food and late October: look at these cool Halloween bentos my friend Natakiya made!

#784 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 03:18 PM:

My kid has been to her first Real Ballet Class (age-appropriate for 4yos, but including significant Vocabulary Word content and actual real technique with the proper names). Her main complaint, and it was a LOUD complaint, was that the class was JUST TOO SHORT (at 30min). I think I don't have to worry that she won't be willing to do the work. :->

#786 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 03:42 PM:

Lila @744

I am thinking of getting the basic Amateur Radio licence, here in the UK. There's a local club, and a lot of the stuff needed for the Foundation Licence here is stuff I only need to revise. Getting involved with a club would seem to be universal advice. One thing different here in the UK is that they still expect some knowledge of Morse Code.

Part of the knowledge at that level would be applicable to CB and the like, but I remember confusing other CB users with outbreaks of NATO spelling alphabet. Still, in an emergency situation it helps to know and use the basic procedures, whatever sort of wireless thingumajig you're using.

Though sometimes... (Youtube clip from Airplane)

#787 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 04:51 PM:

Well Clifton (@ #753) one bear deserves another. In Canada even bears are friendly. Seven second YouTube that I first saw linked on tumblr.

#788 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 04:54 PM:

Re 767/768: I have a lot of writers on my friendslists in various (more text-oriented than Tumblr) fora. When they have been up for a Hugo, it's not at all uncommon for them to talk about it, including providing information about the voting process. None of them have ever been shy about saying they hoped they would win, either. I don't see any significant difference between that and this except for the medium of expression.

I don't know Mark Oshiro from a hole in the ground, and never encountered the picture. If I had seen it, it might very well have encouraged me to go take a look at his blog -- and that, not the picture in and of itself, might have influenced me to vote for him. What's wrong with that? I think it's called "making an informed decision". (NB: I did not vote in the Best Fan Writer category this year.)

The idea that you shouldn't be able to toot your own horn when you're up for a prize of some sort strikes me as a form of false modesty -- one that I associate with elementary school, although that's just my personal impression.

Xopher, #777: Even privileged white kids who grow up having a room to themselves often end up learning how to share quarters when they go off to college. Some of them take to it better than others.

Jacque, 781: Nitpick -- the most common American spelling appears to be "borscht". That spelling yields roughly 1,250,000 results on a Google search -- and putting in the one you wrote gets Google-corrected.

#789 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 06:17 PM:

Lee: Yeah, well, okay. But my point stands: JIM SPELLED IT RIGHT. :-)

#790 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 10:29 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @777: No, I don't know offhand what ancient Greek children would have called their fathers. I can point to a hapax legomenon in the Iliad: "παππάζω", which is "call someone 'πάππα'". I tried to post this comment earlier in the day, and ran into the same timeout errors that other people (such as Xopher himself) reported. I wonder if the problem is non-Roman letters too close to the end of a line? Xopher said he had a problem with Cyrillic, and I now with Greek. Let's see if this one posts.

#791 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 10:29 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @777: And let's test this: "call someone 'πάππα'".

#792 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 10:30 PM:

Hm, that one worked. Odd.

#793 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 10:53 PM:

Jacque @781: As I said recently in another context, you seem to be confusing the Russian word "borshch" with the Amerenglish word "borscht."

Sort of like how people 'correct' Rachmaninoff's name to "Rachmaninov" because it's in line with current transliteration guidelines, despite the fact he had his name legally changed to Rachmaninoff on attaining US citizenship, and had it spelled that way in every context over which he had control, including his gravestone. Or how people spell Cliff Edwards's stage name "Ukulele Ike," despite the fact he himself spelled it "Ukelele Ike."

Obviously, there's a right way (now, though it was more open to interpretation back then) to spell "ukulele," but there's also a right way to spell "Ukelele Ike."

(Related tangentially: Ask TNH about "derringer" vs "Deringer" some time.)

#794 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 10:54 PM:

Jacque #789:

What did you expect? The gnomes are, one and all, gormands.

#795 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2013, 11:12 PM:

Kip W @793: To quote Commander Data, "One is my name. The other is not."

And I realize the irony of me chiming in on this, when the name I grew up with (and the name of the STREET I grew up on) was entirely made of nobody-can-spell-it, and then when I got a chance to pick a new first name I ended up with one with four completely legit spellings, each of which have famous people who spelt it that way ...

#796 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 01:26 AM:

HLN: Area Man and Area Women, along with three other Area Graduate Students, spend three hours carving two pumpkins. Area Man ends the evening covered in copious quantities of fine pumpkin crud. Area Man notes that a Dremel tool and a cutting bit are great for doing smooth routing and peel-stripping, but make an ungodly mess.

Here's what Area Man looked like after the carving was done for one pumpkin. Covered in pumpkin dust

Here's the final product - a glowing brain, with commentary provided by a well-known member of the field. Brain pumpkin and commentary head

#797 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 02:51 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @796: Our attempts this year are not quite so ambitious in scope, but we like them. :->

#798 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 03:49 AM:

The lab that my Amazing Girlfriend and I are part of has a long tradition of ambitious pumpkin carving projects. We're psychologists, but no one has ever argued that we believe in a sane, balanced approach to this tradition.

#799 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 08:15 AM:

Kip W@793: that Chekhov is in bookshops under C and Tchaikovsky is in music shops under T annoyed me intensely as soon as it was pointed out to me. (But then I got annoyed yesterday when ordering a 16oz latte. Why don't they call it a 1lb latte? I evidently have a fetish for putting things in canonically normalized forms.)

#800 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 08:51 AM:

So... Rand Paul tries to help Cucinelli's campaign by quoting almost verbatim passages from Wikipedia's entry about "Gattaca". Maybe it's just me, but when he said "in the not-too-distance future", I was disappointed that he didn't then go on to tell us about Joel, a guy in a red jumpsuit, and about his robot friends.

#801 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 09:06 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 742: That is much nicer than the iLuv (whose radio I never use). I could see myself getting one of those Timexes. Thank you (exclamation points elided to avoid annoying or bothering the gnomes).

#802 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 10:10 AM:

Ginger (801): You're welcome. The only problem I can see with that Timex are the multiple one-star reviews complaining that it's too lightweight and easy to knock over. And a lot of other reviewers really loved it.

#803 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 10:42 AM:

1-pint latte, surely. So you don't confuse it with a half-liter latte, I guess.

#804 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 10:45 AM:

Success! An illuminating brain!

#805 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 10:54 AM:

Anybody doing a fun Halloween costume this year?

#806 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:21 AM:

Carrie S @805,

Homemade minion costumes

(I'm the monocular one. My husband is binocular.)

Also brought homemade minion rice crispy cookies to the party.

#807 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:25 AM:

Names--it's nice when there's a standard form.

There's a Czech writer/activist from the 1400's (in modern Czech Petr Chelčický), fairly important in the history of non-resistance and communalism, whose name is written in at least the following ways:
Chelcicky, Chelciki, Chelciky, Cheltschitzky, Helchitsky, von Cheltschitz, Tscheltschicki

It makes researching his influence on others rather tricky.

#808 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:27 AM:

PJ Evans@803: huh, it never even occurred to me that it was fluid ounces, as these are uncommon here in Britain and are defined differently than in the US. According to this site the fluid ounce is 'no longer legally authorised' in the UK, but I see elsewhere that fl oz is permitted as one of the 'units permitted as supplementary indicators under The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006'. Metrication over here is either a great British compromise or a bloody mess with obsessives on both sides of the argument—"Why won't people look at the issue rationally?" / "Back off, Brussels!", depending. Jam and marmalade used to come in 1lb jars. Now they come in identical 454g jars. Progress?

#809 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:33 AM:

In the US, we get stuff where the prominent marking is weird-number-of-ounces and I know it's really in liters (or ml). Everything is marked in both customary and metric, but some things are routinely metric (2-L soft drinks, 750 ml liquor).

I once described the situation at work (to my boss) as 'a metric shitload of work', with the explanation that a metric shitload is 10 percent larger than the customary version.

#810 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:52 AM:

Yes, we in Canada have almost 30 years now of getting 454g blocks of butter, 355ml cans of drink, etc. You're still allowed to offer beer in oz, though (almost nobody uses pint(**) except as a "name for a size", because the drinker expects the real 20 oz, and the seller would really prefer to serve the fake Southern 16 oz version. Oddly enough, many places in the last couple of years have settled on an 18 oz compromise "pint")(*).

I recall a discussion years ago in the Monastery about the difference between an "American assload" and an "imperial arseload" (with sidelights into "metric buttloads").

(*) Oddly enough, "authenticity" (at least in places with more than "Bud *and* Bud Light" on tap) seems more important than consistency. So you see 18 oz draws for most beers, but 500ml Erdinger and Hoegaarden, and suchlike. The correct value for Guinness, though; the company gets really huffy if you do it wrong.

(**) 808, 803, 799: from the discussion, even if he was thinking fl oz, 16 oz is by no means a "1-pint latte" - at least not to Steve w/Book.

#811 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:59 AM:

Steve with a book @ #799:

Because the 16 oz are not a weight ounce, they're volume ounces, so it would be either "1 pt latte" or a "0.8 pt latte" depending on what pint you subscribe to.

PJ Evans @ #809:

And there I thought the Metric Shitload was roughly 0.6325 Imperial Arseloads. :)

#812 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 12:05 PM:

Elliot Mason@762: The first part of Sword Art Online is quite good. Unfortunately, the second part . . . Well, saying that it "jumped the shark" is an understatement--it's more like they held a steeplechase and used the sharks as hurdles. (My opinion may not be entirely unbiased, since there's also something in the second part that's triggering for me, but I have yet to come across anyone who approved of that second part.)

In terms of generally mind-blowing anime, Mawaru Penguindrum would be my pick of what's come out in the last couple of years. Only Kunihiko Ikuhara could come out with a show involving invisible penguins, a girl posessed by a novelty hat, the ghost of an Antarctic researcher, parallel universes, another girl stalking her teacher, and a mystery MacGuffin that might (or might not) be able to transform the world, and make that entire mishmash of elements work. Did I mention the thematic commentary in the form of PSA ads in the subway? Like Utena, it's cracked but brilliant.

#813 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 12:13 PM:

I mostly think and work in metric, but with just enough imperial thrown in to cause confusion. I'm afraid I'm the person who goes to the haberdashery stall and asks for two metres of three-eighths elastic.

The haberdashery stall appears to be used to this, though, so perhaps it's not just me.

#814 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 12:15 PM:

The manufacturing infrastructure for bottles/caps, cans et. al. is already in place. It's cheaper to change small type on the label than redesign the automated glass-blowing or can-punching or cup-fabricating machinery.

That's why "454 gm butter".

No one who makes containers is going to throw tens of thousands of [monetary units] at shifting up or down when shipping containers, shelf placement, etc. accommodate a standard size. Consumers are twitchy about changes, too.

#815 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 01:04 PM:

Steve w/b, #799: Why don't they call it a 1lb latte?

Because a 16-oz latte doesn't weigh a pound. Fluid ounces are a measure of volume, not weight, and are not connected to avoirdupois ounces.

and @808: If you think the fuss over metrification is bad there, you should hear the screaming here whenever somebody has the temerity to suggest that America should catch up to the rest of the civilized world!

I had thought that the adoption of the 2-liter soda bottle would have made a dent, but a while back I was in a grocery and heard someone asking the clerk to get down one of "the BIG 2-liter bottles" off the top shelf... meaning a 3-liter bottle, which has the same shape but is larger. So apparently the term "2-liter" has been taken, at least in some quarters, to be a description of form rather than substance.

And your marmalade will come in 454g jars only until the manufacturers figure out that they can charge the same price for a 450g jar, or even 400g (like soft drinks for a 1/2-liter bottle in place of a 20-oz one).

#816 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 01:58 PM:

Lee 815: Because a 16-oz latte doesn't weigh a pound. Fluid ounces are a measure of volume, not weight, and are not connected to avoirdupois ounces.

Well, they match for water. "A pint's a pound the world around" does actually work for water. How close is beer to water? I don't know. Does NOT work for oil or alcohol or anything that isn't almost entirely water.

#817 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 02:04 PM:

Or, you know, coffee. Fun as it is to contemplate "latte" as a kind of beer.

#818 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 02:23 PM:

My favorite units mismatch is that Napoleon wasn't especially short. It's partly that "The Little Corporal" was an affectionate nickname, but also that the French and the English had different sized inches.

#819 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 02:28 PM:

Lee #815 - on the marmalade jar, I presume also that there will be time required to locate a cheap source of smaller jars and change all the equipment around so that it works with smaller jars.

Although it makes me wonder how long a rebellion by older folk especially could stop them carrying that sort of thing out.

Regarding "Sword arts online", i've read the manga in scanlation I think, and it was pretty good; nothing that hasn't appeared in SF novels before, but well enough done. It would be a good gateway to more SF-nal things for someone who hasn't had much exposure. As for the anime, I have no idea, not seen it.

#820 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 03:02 PM:

Xopher @816: Except that the rhyme I learned was "A pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter"...

I've no idea whether this is true. As far as I'm concerned a thousand cm3 of water is a kilogram in mass.

#821 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 03:13 PM:

Duckbunny @820, I don't know where you live, but a US pint of water is 16 fluid ounces and does in fact weight one pound. (I gather from above posts that pints vary in size depending on where one lives.) Eight pints to the gallon, so a gallon (of water, or milk, or similar-density liquids) weighs eight pounds (in the US).

#822 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 03:17 PM:

Xopher @816:
To be more precise, one US fluid ounce of water weighs 1.0431756 avoirdupois ounces.

#823 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 03:19 PM:

yeah, "a pint's a pound the whole world round" ... as long as your world is the United States. Imperial - that is, "real" (at least if you're drinking beer) pints are 20 oz (where the "pound-and-a-quarter" line comes from). As I said above, if you're *serving* beer, you like creeping Americanism.

#824 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 03:19 PM:

821 and earlier
It may help to understand that the US gallon is the British customary wine gallon. (The US never got the Imperial gallon and its parts.)

#825 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 03:36 PM:

The names of US traditional units are fun. I prefer the logic of the metric system, but I would miss all the wordy play between gallons, quarts, pints, cups, (fluid) ounces, tablespoons, teaspoons and so on. I have often thought that the way to go metric (with extra confusion, I must admit) would be to have metric pints and metric pounds. So a metric pound would be exactly 500 grams. And maybe bring back "grave" as a synonym for kilogram. And maybe add a unit. 1/3 liter is a "glass".

"Don't you short me, I want a metric pint of beer, not an American one!"

#826 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 03:37 PM:

#816 Xopher:

How close is beer to water?

Depends on whether you're drinking Bud.

#827 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Meanwhile, a few of my favorite local breweries actually sell half-pint pours. I think by that they mean 10 oz pours, not 8 oz pours. (And now I'm second-guessing my assumption that their pints are 16 oz.) It's lovely for people like me, who want to try all the delicious craft beers but just cannot drink that much alcohol in one go. I wish everyone who sold draft beer would sell it by the half-pint --- sometimes I just don't want a whole pint, even if that's 16 oz instead of 20.

(I gather half-pint pours are common across the pond, but in the U.S., most bartenders/servers look at you like you are insane if you ask for half a pint of beer. As though you'd asked for half a hamburger.)

(Also, yes, most of the local breweries sell flights, 4-5 little sample glasses of beers in a row, and I quite like to do those too. But sometimes there are only a couple of new brews on tap, not enough to fill out a flight.)

#828 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 04:24 PM:

I hadn't realized that a British pint was 20 ounces. Is that because an Imperial gallon is bigger?

In unrelated news, this is very cool. It shows the gzip compression of the first three stanzas of "The Raven," and because gzip works by creating pointers to repeated text, the structure of the poem is reflected in the action of the algorithm. There's a video. It's just really cool. (There's a video, but it's silent and doesn't autoplay.)

I bet "The Bells" compresses to about 20 words.

#829 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 04:40 PM:

Caroline @827: Many UK beer festivals offer third-of-a-pint. Which is great for me, because I'm small and I really don't like to drink more than about three pints, even over a whole afternoon and early evening. That's nine different beers in thirds, versus only six in half-pints. There's a large chain, J D Wetherspoon, which sometimes offers "three thirds for the price of a pint" on its real ales, and I've seen this occasionally in other pubs. I always appreciate it. It does, as you noted, require that there be several real ales on tap at any one time.

Xopher Halftongue @828: Yes. Eight Imperial pints in one Imperial (proper!) gallon.

#830 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 04:48 PM:

dcb 829: I'm anti-Imperialist myself.

#831 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 04:50 PM:

HLN: Local man glances over a book on Bayesian Statistics left behind by a former co-worker. Local man notices that each chapter of the book begins with a quote from the Wheel of Time series. This amuses local man.

#832 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 04:52 PM:

Under the category of, "It's a different world out here ..."

I live in a fifth wheel travel trailer in the middle of nowhere in Arizona's high country. My dog alerted me to a 5 or 6 foot gopher snake in the compartment that houses my trailer's black water tank.

My reaction? "Good. Fewer mice." Also, "So that's what the cats were staring down the heat register at."

He's a very pretty snake. The ones around here are mint green and brown, colored somewhat like an Andes Mint.

The dog, however, is a lot less thrilled ...

#833 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 05:18 PM:

Jim Macdonald @826: No, no, as Mae West sagely noted, it's best to pour Budweiser* back in the horse.

*The Anheuser-Busch product, as opposed to the beers produced in České Budějovice and called Budweiser.

#834 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Xopher @ #828, Green Eggs and Ham should come out to 49. I've heard (though I can't vouch for it) that Bennett Cerf bet Dr. Seuss he couldn't write a kids' book that had only 50 words in it.

#835 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 07:15 PM:

guthrie, #819: Just to drop from 454 to 450 grams they wouldn't even need to change the jar, only to recalibrate the filler equipment slightly. 4 grams is so little difference that most people wouldn't be able to see it. To drop down to 400, yeah, that would probably require retooling.

Jim, #826: My partner and I use the phrase "American-beer iced tea" to describe the beverage one gets in some restaurants which looks like iced tea but has no actual tea flavor.

#836 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 07:43 PM:

Xopher #830: And thus in favour of the American standard of giving short measure?

#837 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 07:45 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 796: I enjoyed both the pumpkin and the philosophical commentary. The latter seemd somewhat in the vein of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

#838 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 08:21 PM:

Fragano 836: And thus in favour of the American standard of giving short measure?

Are you making sport of my height (or lack thereof), sir?

#839 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 08:46 PM:

Xopher #838: Certainly not.

#840 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 09:14 PM:

So interesting to see Fenella Woolgar playing a minor character in a Poirot story on Masterpiece Mystery...since she played Agatha Christie on Doctor Who.

#841 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 10:18 PM:

Not a lot of trick-or-treaters tonight, but more than we've had in previous years. I'm glad the rain cleared up this afternoon.

Almost all the kids who came by were either black or Latino. Some of this may reflect the neighborhood demographics -- a lot of the white householders around here are retirement-age -- but I'm pretty sure some of it also reflects that minority parents haven't bought as far into the panic about trick-or-treating as white parents have. Most of the kids were either with their parents, or the parents were lurking in the background; that's not much changed from what I remember growing up.

#842 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:22 PM:

Cally Soukup @ #640:

You might be interested in this set of photos from a reading-and-signing Allie Brosh did recently. I particularly commend to your attention the last photo in the set, showing a gift she received from one of the fans who attended.

#843 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2013, 11:35 PM:

I'm so glad that Allie Brosh is writing again. Her stuff is honest and insightful.

#844 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 08:32 AM:

Today's xkcd seems to be on a subject of interest to a number of people here:

(I can't figure out how to make that a live link, sorry.)

#845 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 12:03 PM:

Xopher @ 816: If a pint were a pound, a gallon would be 3632 ml; Wikipedia says it's 3785. (My recollection was 3800+, but I haven't had to use the number in a very long time.) This means that a pint of dry wine is closer to a pound than a pint of water; from my homebrewing days, the specific gravity of dry wine is around .99 (and even dry cider is a bit less than 1.0), while beer is always over 1.0 because 20-25% of the sugars aren't fermentable. A latte would be ... interesting ... to calculate; how much of what-percent-fat milk does it have? (My SWAG is that the difference in gravity is no closer than the third decimal place, and probably in the fourth.)

wrt various comments on festival samples of beer: most U.S. festivals have very small sample glasses (4oz? less?), but that gets replenished endlessly where the one Great British Beer Festival I was at was selling samples individually. (The local Real Ale fest does this also, but they sell quarter-pints where the GBBF sold halves and fulls only.) I prefer to get tastes of a lot of types (many beers at festivals are best categorized as "interesting"), which means I have to keep hunting for waste buckets. This is something not everyone has learned; at a fest many years ago I saw a couple of women stare in horror at the line coming up the stair from the basement and onto the main floor, then giggle snarkily and squeeze past it when they realized that for once it was the line for the men's room instead of the ladies'....

#846 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 12:27 PM:

Re units of measure: This is why I refer to the units (still) in use in the U.S. as "Old English", since they aren't even used in England anymore. Part of my forlorn effort to shame the USA into using Metric units before NASA loses a spacecraft with people aboard []

#847 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 12:37 PM:

My parents have some pans with volume marks up the inside. They're calibrated in quarts, but each mark is half a quart. This annoys me far more than it should.

#848 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 01:03 PM:

I hear there's a shooter at LAX.
Mythbusters Grant Imahara and Tory Bellecci are tweeting about it.

#849 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 03:23 PM:

Sriracha Factory feeling some heat -- someone is trying to shut them down based on a smell complaint, though a country judge denied a restraining order that would have shut them down during their processing season.

The Oatmeal would be a logical defender for them, has removed his E-mail address from his website¹, telling readers all non-business messages need to be posted to his Facebook page, which I can't do because I'm actively avoiding them. The plaintext link is, because I'm not sure if the gnomes dislike Facebook as much as I do.

¹ Sadly, I can't blame him --between his edgy comics and his grammatical ones, I can only imagine what sort of vitriol he was getting.

#850 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 03:23 PM:

Possibly for references to the Book of Face.

#851 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 06:08 PM:

St Francis was a gentle soul
who had a lot to teach us;
he loved creation as a whole
and nearly all God's creatures,
and yet I think that even he
would hesitate to love the flea.

The flea is hard and black and small
and sucks the blood of mammals;
it loves to feast upon them all
from tiny voles to camels.
That's bad enough, as you'll agree,
but then it feasts on you and me.

It creeps inside your sheets at night,
which seriously rankles;
it enters where your socks are tight
and gnaws you round the ankles;
whatever type of bod you be,
you're just a buffet to the flea.

And if you spy the flea upon
your arm or leg or torso,
with one swift leap it may be gone -
just like the frog, but more so;
then lands again on neck or knee
and so continues on the spree.

But if you should be quick enough
to catch the little blighter,
you'll find it's singularly tough
and armoured like a fighter;
unlike a spider, fly or bee,
it's very hard to crush a flea.

You drown the bug; you squirt the cat
as Words of Power you utter;
you fumigate your house or flat
until it makes you splutter;
you douse the rug in TCP
and chuckle with malicious glee.

You think at last you've won the fight
and now you are in clover;
tomorrow there's another bite,
for summer isn't over.
When winter comes, it pleases me,
for frost will freeze the frightful flea.

And yet in parting I must say
that, though they make me crabby,
they never fazed in any way
my wise and noble tabby.
He licked them off his fur, did he -
if flea eats cat, then cat eats flea!

#852 ::: KristianB ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 06:37 PM:

Has this been mentioned yet? Norwegian TV to show nine hours of live knitting:

#853 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 07:05 PM:

Magenta Griffith @844: (I can't figure out how to make that a live link, sorry.)

My technique is to type out most of the HTML first:

<a html = "" ></a>

If I recall correctly, the 'a' means 'anchor'.

Typically if I'm posting a link I have a copy open in another browser tab, so I copy the address line when I have that tab open, then go back to the composition window and paste the address between the "".

Then between the >< I type the description I want to give the link (usually some variation of 'this is the link').

Down at the bottom of the page, just above the 'Spelling reference', there are examples of HTML tags; you could copy and paste from there and replace the web address and linked text in the example.

All that said, what you did is fine — I have no problem copying the link and pasting it into a new browser tab.

Apologies if this became 'mansplaining'.

#854 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 07:07 PM:

Magenta Griffith @844

And yes, apt cartoon for the room (exclamation mark)

#855 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 07:07 PM:

The complaint about the smell seems to have come from the son of a city councilperson.
I'll admit that being downwind of a salsa factory can be sinus-cleaning: I worked less than half a mile from one for a few years, and we never knew whether it was going to be onions, chiles, tomatoes/other vegetables, or just simply tasty.

#856 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 07:24 PM:

Rob Rusick: that "html" should be "href".

#857 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 07:29 PM:

Will we need a spoiler thread for the movie opening today based on rsn Sctt Crd's book? I think the ending of the book is pretty well known.

#858 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 07:30 PM:

Mongoose: bravo!

Re Sriracha, although I love the product, I can well imagine it might make the environs hard to live in. Pepperspray is a weapon, after all.

#859 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 08:18 PM:

Regarding the Sriracha smell issue, it's worth noting that Irwindale is one of several "industry friendly" low-population "cities" in the eastern San Gabriel Valley (the most honestly-named being the neighboring city of Industry). Irwindale has a residential population of about 1400 people in an area of 9 square miles or so, but based on the Wikipedia list of top employers, they've got a daytime population at least 7000 people working there.

My impression is that politics in such cities, with a large tax base and relatively few voters, tends towards the odd and incestuous (moreso than local politics normally does). Given PJ Evans' mention @855 that the claim originated with the child of a council member, my suspicion is that there's some sort of conflict between factions in the city government, or maybe Huy Fong Foods declined to offer expected (or previously agreed to?) favors after they moved to town. Or maybe they just smell worse than I imagine?

I know I used to regularly smell their factory in Rosemead, it didn't seem particularly offensive. In Irwindale I've smelled the brewery, the dog food factory, and the bakery (not a corner bakery, their building is bigger than CostCo), all of which are noticable, not always the most aesthetically pleasing of odors, but never seemed unreasonably bad, but I guess I haven't been close enough to Huy Fong Foods to smell it.

#860 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 08:18 PM:

Allan @ #857

I saw the trailer for said movie last night. From the dialogue in the promo, it appeared that the screenwriters have messed up one of the key points of the book situation.

#861 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 08:41 PM:

Hi Fluorosphere, just a little shameless-self-promotion, I'm extremely happy about my first-ever rave review, from Meredith Sue Willis.

#862 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 10:05 PM:

PJ Evans #855: The complaint about the smell seems to have come from the son of a city councilperson.

But then they've got an ex-councilperson saying "I live next to the factory, and I don't have a problem!". Which makes me suspect that Jeremy Leader #859 is on the right track.

#863 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2013, 11:37 PM:

Thanks for the smile - I enjoyed your poem very much.

#864 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 01:29 AM:

An FB friend (white male, late 50s or early 60s) had the following situation occur on Halloween (I'm quoting verbatim; please see through to the heart of what he's saying):

Tricker treater tonight a young black teen he looked 13 showed up at my door with no shirt and a plastic full size replica of a pistol stuck in the front of his pants. Very polite even showed me it was a toy when I asked.He was with a mixed group of kids black, white Hispanic boys and girls. I hope he stays close to that group this is a 95% white, republican, conservative, NRA zone. White kids with toy rifle dressed like commandos probably safe black kid dressed like a "gangster" I worry for him.
I asked him if I could bring this to a group of people who might have some insight, and he replied:
[Xopher] if you think it brings some insight go a head. I was just kind of dumb struck, nice kid he held the door so I could pass out treats to every one but I couldn't think of what to say that would have done any good at the moment so all I said was be careful. Old chubby white guys have little cred. Too many very public ones are idiots!
It goes beyond that, I'm afraid. Even if he knew who this kid's parents were (and I'm guessing they didn't know what his Halloween costume was going to be) he couldn't very well tell them their son was endangering himself in his (my friend's) neighborhood; I can't imagine a phrasing that wouldn't come off as a threat, albeit a veiled one.

It is, of course, much too late to do anything about this particular situation; that kid is either home safe now or not. But should it occur again, or some similar situation...what can an "old chubby white guy" do? From the kid's point of view, of course, he was just cosplaying a gangster...and Trayvon Martin was just going out for snacks.

And I know that the right solution is for racist coprocephalics to stop shooting innocent black teens. If the RCs were to drop dead into the bargain, the world would be a better place. But in the absence of a lethal airborne virus that only kills racist coprocephalics, we still have to keep our innocent black teens alive.

And now I feel like I'm saying "he shouldn't have been dressed like that, for his own safety." Which echoes victim blaming of another kind. And I don't want to go there, either.

What on Earth can be done here?

#865 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 02:50 AM:

Mongoose @851: Yay! Wonderful! I just hate fleas. Good poem.

#866 ::: GC80 ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 04:09 AM:

John M. Burt @846: I expect (as Ezra Steinberg has pointed out several times on metrication-related sites) that if the USA went metric, the opposition in the UK to completing metrication would crumble overnight.

#867 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 06:44 AM:

David Goldfarb @856: Rob Rusick: that "html" should be "href".



The risk of 'mansplaining' — getting it wrong.

#868 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 08:04 AM:

Xopher #864: I think probably the most he could reasonably have said would have been "kid, stick close to your crew here, for real", and let the ambiguity there hang.

Also, I get a little grumpy when I see teenagers trick-or-treating with candy bags -- it seems to me that's old enough that they should be watching the younger kids, instead of mooching candy. Not that I said anything last night (and we've got a lot of fresh immigrants/refugees, so I'd cut those some slack), but "kids these days". (JK about that last, there were teenagers who did that when I was a kid, and it made my parents grumpy too.)

#869 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 08:07 AM:

GC80 #866 - typing this in the UK, I don't see that the US going metric would affect us at all. If anything, we'd say "Who wants to be like the USA" and carry on using mixed measurements whenever possible.

#870 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 08:32 AM:

As to teenagers trick or treating -- I see it quite differently. When I see teens and young adults at my door squeeing about the tiny cans of playdough I put in their bags I am pretty happy about it. (1) they're cute and extra polite. (2) every kid that's trick or treating isn't drinking on the levee.

The little playdoughs are the most popular treat I do. I do them every time I can find them.

#871 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 09:28 AM:

#867 ::: Rob Rusick

Errors are a risk in all explanations-- actually they're a risk in saying anything at all.

#872 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 09:35 AM:

Mongoose: superb poem. Although I'm distressed that the weather hasn't shut down this season's angst (yet).

Meter, scansion, delightful (sometimes unexpected) wordplay, a developed theme, clever closure. We don't see more of this because people can't do it - or aren't willing to work past the initial impulse. I know several folks who declaim poetry to honor events, and I have to remind myself to get into the(ir) moment, paste on a smile and try not to flinch at the extra syllables and not-quite-felicitous word choices.

I skip poetry. ML is slowly turning that around. My pupils dilated when I saw the short lines under your name. I was not disappointed, and my expectations were high.

#873 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 09:36 AM:

mongoose @851, that's both amusing and well crafted. Have you considered submitting it to some place either light-verse-oriented or pet-oriented?

#874 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 09:54 AM:

Mongoose--thank you for an good laugh, at the end of a week which desperately needed one.

Trick-or-treating is huge in our neighborhood--and there are plenty of teenagers. I don't mind--they are polite. We also have a parade--a real parade with a brass band and giant puppets. A friend's comment: "It's hipster overload, and an entirely pagan festival." The racial interaction is odd: this is a historically working-class white neighborhood, with a pretty solid history of racism. On Hallowe'en (and no other night of the year) half the people on the street and trick-or-treating are black; everyone is fine with that SFAICT. (Note that this is a small neighborhood--3 blocks by 5--and the neighborhood next to it is historically working-class black. Trick-or-treaters go between the neighborhoods, hence the racial composition change.)

#875 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 10:50 AM:

My census tract is the most diverse by country-of-birth in the entire US, and walking around is very much a rainbow experience.

However, most of the kids I saw on Halloween were non-white. I'm guessing most of the paler kids on my block went to trunk-or-treats instead, of which there were several on offer; interesting, none of the ones I heard about were at churches, though the local NPR's feature on the phenomenon implied it was primarily an evangelical-echo-chamber, don't-let-weirdo-atheist-commies-give-my-kids-candy thing.

#876 ::: sara_k ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 10:50 AM:

I don't mind the teenagers who trick or treat as long as they are wearing costumes. A hoodie and a backpack didn't count until this year and then only if they had Skittles. A pillowcase and school uniform don't work either. I tell them I only give to kids with costumes. They usually look sheepish and move on. Sometimes they try to make up something "I'm Snoop Dog" or "I'm Rubio" and I laugh and tell them to go home, work on the costume some more, and come back later. Sometimes they do come back later. Usually their friends laugh at them and they all leave laughing.

I give homemade costumes double treats. The lady down the road gives a special extra treat (pencils, rulers, etc) to kids who say thank you.

There is an older lady around the corner who gives out religious tracts with a penny taped to each one. The next morning the sidewalk between our houses is littered with the complete treat. My kids collect them, recycle the tracts, and keep the pennies.

#877 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 11:14 AM:

Mongoose: Good, funny poem.

I think 13-year-olds are within the nimbus of childhood, sufficiently that if they ToT I don't look askance.

sara_k, I had a Pagan friend who collected the tracts and pulped them for homemade paper - which he used for spells.

#878 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 11:15 AM:

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words. There is a flea in front of me, drowning in the little bowl of water I keep on my desk for the purpose*, as I type; but I'm finding very few of them now, thankfully. With reasonable luck we'll get a good frost soon.

*This one actually had the good grace to jump in there of its own accord. Sometimes you do win some.

#879 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 11:53 AM:

Mongoose: really enjoyed the poem. Good luck vanquishing the fleas. We've been battling case-bearing clothes moths for the past three years, but seem to be winning - much reduced numbers this year (and they don't bite, just ruin clothes etc.)

Magenta Griffith @844: I cheat - I copy-and-paste the example HTML tag just above the commentary box, replace "" with the URL of the page I want to link to, and replace "Linked text" with the words I want to appear. Whenever I try to do it by simply typing the code, I get it wrong...

Interesting to hear all the ToT stories. Xopher, I don't have a good suggestion.

HLN: Lloyd parkrun's third Anniversary celebrations went off very well this morning, with a record number of runners (177) and a great variety of costumes (we had a Halloween theme) including a gorilla, a television (old style), a skeleton and several zombies. Area woman, Run Director and Event Director, presided as a witch. Prize for best costume went to the zombies with zombie dog (the dog tipped the voting, but didn't get to eat any of the prize, which was chocolate).

#880 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 12:20 PM:

Mongoose: Whenever I think about Don Camillo translations I think about the guy who did a website using one of the early blogging/website systems (Geocities?) and who got permission from the family to put ALL the English translations online since their English sales were effectively nil. He crapped out after retyping six or so, and I cuss him out every time I remember that of the 300+ stories about the Little Village only about 180 were printed in the USA. People keep telling me about collections printed in the U.K., but I gather they tend to cut the sketches, which is sad.

(I have a collection of St. Trinian's illustrations which includes sketches of a trip to Italy for the Girls. One of which features a Girl who has just knocked on the door of a church to find a *perfectly* done Don Camilio peering out.)

Andrew Plotkin: Werewolf video...Huh. Hadn't seen that before. Do you know how serious a pilot it is?

No idea: I was visiting a page where a cartoonist had posted "Hey, everybody, my friend was part of the crew that shot this!"

On other matters, I have GOT to get a T-shirt (or nightshirt--thank you pain insomnia) that says "" when I go browsing. I was trying to find some info on "Conference at Cold Comfort Farm" and I hit the Goodreads page for it. From what I've heard, it is a short novel which depends on your having read CCF first. You would be disheartened at the number of reviews starting with a variant of "I read this because it was supposed to have been funny and made into a funny movie and it just stinks!" or words to that effect.

(I admit to some curiosity about the novel Gibbons wrote about demonic possession, but unless I get more info I'll stay at the curiosity phase.)

#881 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 12:38 PM:

sara_k #876: There is an older lady around the corner who gives out religious tracts with a penny taped to each one.

Ooh, way to double down on the cluelessness. You'd think someone would at least tell her that these days, you need a quarter just to get their attention. :-~

Mongoose #851: Ahh, so that's from recent experience? Last week Gremlin brought home a pack of juvenile fleas, which pretty much stayed on her crotch but laughed at the flea comb. I got a couple of Capstar pills from the vet to kill the ones on her, plus spray for carpet and assorted furnishings. (One pill beforehand; when they came back before I'd finished spraying, the other pill afterwards.)

#882 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 01:46 PM:

@851 Mongoose & @881 Dave Harmon

When my cats had fleas a couple of years ago, my vet gave me Advantage. One little dollop in the back of the neck once a week, and I was done.

I asked about spraying my furniture, and she said it wasn't necessary, something in the Advantage made all the fleas in the house die, and that certainly seems to have been true - after the first couple of days, I never saw another one.

I sprayed my mattress with Raid and bought new pillows anyway, just to make myself feel better.

Also, joining in the kudos for the poem!

#883 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 02:53 PM:

Mongoose @851
Very nicely done! Not too short, not too long, and philosophically apt. I used to have to pick the things off myself and my bedding and our cats, and tried various things (killing them with pliers, dropping them in an ashtray with alcohol in it) and the best I found was a glass or cup half full of suds with some water at the bottom — easy to do, and they can't jump off the suds. Their efforts just doom them faster. Heh. Heh heh heh heh heh.

Bruce E. Durocher @880
A used book store that went out of business a while back happened to have a number of Don Camillo volumes, and I got back most of what I read as a kid, plus the last Don C. book, in which he meets the flower children. I really like those stories, though they're not uniformly humorous. Some are merely sad, much like life. A careful search online will reveal that the family of Giovanni Guareschi (not remembering if that was a pseudonym or what) put a goodly sampling of the tales online. If they're not still up, try the Wayback Machine.

(ps: A friend had an ancillary book or something that came out when Rocky et al were still on TV, and it spelled it WABAC, which makes it a good computer joke, circa 1960. I regret that most do not know how to spell it.)

#884 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 03:59 PM:

During Fleapocalypse 2010, I got pretty good at catching fleas and discovered that the best place to put them was packing tape. Stick flea to tape, continue searching bed for flea-shaped things, fold the entire thing up and toss it.

#885 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 04:33 PM:

Bruce @ 880: I don't have any St Trinian's books, though I do have the Molesworth tetralogy, which is of course also illustrated by Ronald Searle. I'd love to see that drawing. My Don Camillo books do have sketches in them, but I don't know whether or not they have all of them.

Cheryl @ 882: Frontline, which I use, is supposed to do that, but for some reason it hasn't been as effective this year since about August. I blame the weird weather. It's been the warmest autumn I can remember.

Kip @ 883: yes, I sometimes put a drop of detergent in the water to reduce the surface tension, but I don't make a whole pile of suds. This is because I have to be a little careful with detergent on my skin (blinking allergies).

Diatryma @ 884: oh, excellent idea! Fleapaper rather than flypaper. I must try that.

Oddly enough, I also had a Fleapocalypse in 2010 (at least, I think it was 2010). This was because Little Miss Cat was not getting on at all well with Loud Noisy Lodger, so I couldn't get near her all summer to squirt her, because she'd be out in the garden hiding from him. (My lodger was the sort of man who can't even sit in a chair without making a noise. I'm sure you know the type.) Anyway, the fleas got into my slippers and drove me crackers, and when it got to the stage where I could hardly get my shoes on for bites I decided enough was enough and drastic action had to be taken.

So I put the slippers in the microwave.

Take warning from me. Do not do this. Slippers do not microwave well. I mean, don't get me wrong, it definitely killed the fleas, but sadly it also killed the slippers, and if I hadn't moved with unusual rapidity it would also have killed the microwave.

If this ever happens again, they're going in the freezer instead.

#886 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 05:05 PM:


So, today one of my neighbors asked me for dog poop. With assistance from her daughter (who seemed to have better English), she explained that this to burn in a "prayer" for casting off spells. While their appearance read as roughly Hispanic to me, she also said something about how in her religion she couldn't keep a dog (which smells to me of Islam), but that was also why dog poop was the most powerful way to break spells.

Some of you folks are way more "up" on spell culture than me: So, is this actually a thing, or is it more likely to be meant for something darker? (The elder woman actually asked for this once a few months ago, back then I was thinking of secular mischief, and didn't respond.)

#887 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 06:30 PM:

I was able to knock out a flea infestation by sprinkling a lot of diatomaceous earth where I'd been getting attacked.

#888 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 07:06 PM:

Computer skillz:

_ Total Newbie
_ Unskilled
_ Unskilled and unaware of it
_ Skilled enough to be really dangerous
X Skilled enough to use your fucking online job application system

#889 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 10:41 PM:

They warned us of the dragons.
If we disturbed the eggs and bones, the Wise Ones told us,
the dragons would return and take terrible vengeance.
We were curious, so we dug.
They were wrong.
The bones and eggs were mere stone, harmless memories of forgotten beasts.
There were no dragons.

They warned us of the dragons.
Their curse is on the gold, the Wise Ones told us. It drives men mad.
We were hungry, so we dug.
They were wrong.
The gold was only metal, like any other gold.
There were no dragons.

They did not warn us of the dragons.
It is just fuel, the Wise Ones told us. Burn it
and bring prosperity to to the world.
We were ambitious, so we dug.
They were wrong.
The world bakes and swelters in the breath of things long dead.
We woke the dragons.

Summer is coming
It will last a thousand years.

#890 ::: thomas was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 10:42 PM:

Intentions: poetic

#891 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2013, 11:31 PM:

thomas, re: intentions
...and successful. I am liking this trend.

#892 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 12:51 AM:

Allan Beatty @857, given the heat surrounding Mr Card and his work, and the professional relationship they have with Card’s publisher, I would not expect Patrick and Teresa to welcome a big, attention-getting, flame-attracting thread about the movie.

#893 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 09:17 AM:

Getting back to letters:

Letters of the alphabet were actually abolished after the Russian revolution.
(this according to the listing of foreign alphabets that's on the inside cover of the Random House dictionary)

Anyone ever see The Wonderful O by James Thurber?

#894 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 09:50 AM:

Our fleas have apparently evolved a resistance to Frontline (pretty much all the fleas in our area have this), Advantage, Advantage II, and Vectra. Capstar still kills the adults that are actually on the host, but does nothing against eggs and larvae. Some sprays seem to knock the eggs & larvae back temporarily, but new ones hatch in a couple of weeks.

We are also vacuuming and washing dog bedding periodically, but apparently not as often as we need to. No fleas on us, but they're still showing up on the dogs and cats. We seem to be able to knock the numbers down somewhat, but not to zero.

Maybe they're bringing in fresh troops acquired on outdoor walks; if so, maybe a hard freeze will enable us to get the job done at last.

#895 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 10:28 AM:

My grandparents had a copy, so I met it early. (I have one, somewhere in one of the boxes....)

#896 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 10:28 AM:

Lila, 894: I've had good luck with salt around the baseboards; they ingest it and boom, chemistry wins. Also, when you vacuum, change the bag/empty and scrub the cup immediately.

#897 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 11:00 AM:

Erik @ 893: I have a copy; it's bundled with The Thirteen Clocks. Lovely stories, both.

#898 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 11:00 AM:

Kip W: I really like those stories, though they're not uniformly humorous. Some are merely sad, much like life.

I have often thought the "civil and with the band" story would make an outstanding entry in a horror anthology movie.

A careful search online will reveal that the family of Giovanni Guareschi (not remembering if that was a pseudonym or what) put a goodly sampling of the tales online..

I don't believe it was a pseudonym, although after all the political adventures he suffered I'm sure he wished for one sometimes. I'll have to do more searching online: I got so annoyed that the one guy had gotten approval from the family (official letter and all) and then booted it so badly that I just threw up my hands and said "the hell with it."

Mongoose: I don't have any St Trinian's books, though I do have the Molesworth tetralogy, which is of course also illustrated by Ronald Searle. I'd love to see that drawing.

Well, there are two collections out there which supposedly feature ALL the Girls. (I, of course, managed to buy the one that's considered the worst.) Did you ever see the fan fiction online that had Molesworth reporting on a trip to Hogsworths? The author had added in some of the St. Trinian's illustrations to great effect, specifically the ones where they took over a steam locomotive... I just need to hunt for a suggestion as to which collection has the most stories, buy the thing, and quit grumbling.

#899 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 11:02 AM:

The fine poem gets me thinking. We welcomed the internal combustion engine, and one reason was that it spelled an end to the nastiness that follows horses. One or two horses, a stable of them, don't make the world all that much worse, but livery stables on every block generated quantities of foul-smelling urine-soaked straw that found its way out into the street where it was pounded into a fine powder (along with other equine waste) that was picked up by the wind, making an airborne dust that no window known could keep out.

Oh, yes, they were happy to see a finish to that, and the first quantities of exhaust were slight, and vanished into the fresh air, never to be smelled again. Who'd guess that we could fill up the gaseous ocean we live in? Who suspected it would all come back and sicken everything around? Just the crazy alarmists, and nobody listens to them, except in retrospect.

The dinosaurs laugh.

#900 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 11:06 AM:

My other favorite Thurber 'tale' (well, they're not about fairies) is The White Deer, which has my all-time favorite chapter of a prince's quest to defeat a notorious dragon and win an enchanted sword. Best I not spoil it here, but the years I spent looking for my own copy of that book did finally pay off, and it didn't let me down.

There's also the musical mud.

#901 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 11:29 AM:

Bruce @ 898: Did you ever see the fan fiction online that had Molesworth reporting on a trip to Hogsworths? The author had added in some of the St. Trinian's illustrations to great effect, specifically the ones where they took over a steam locomotive...

No. Oh, my. Must locate and then inform best friend immediately!

#902 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 12:41 PM:

As you may have heard, my wife and I were guests at the Vatican Observatory last week, where I gave a talk and learned about their work. K flew home.

I have been engaged in a rather manic project. Brother Guy and I rode the train from Rome to spend All Saints' weekend in Florence. We bought the card-that-gets-you-past-the-museum-lines-but-expires-in-72-hours, and have been racing to make it all worthwhile. Saturday was a four-museum day, a personal best. We permit ourselves a lunch or a gelato between museums.

I may not be a Renaissance Man when I get home, but my feet have walked through the entire Renaissance.

I have now seen eight museums. It seems wrong to keep score that way, bu at least I can say I have seen a lot of what Florence has to offer to the tourist.

I saw Guy off on the bus. I am alone here for a couple of days. Florence has more museums I could see. But what else should I do?

#903 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 02:06 PM:

Bill, 902: Find a café, order coffee, and contemplate what you saw. I don't know about you, but too much great art at once makes me slightly high--take the time to let it all settle in.

#904 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 02:20 PM:

Kip W (900): Someone else who loves The White Deer! The Thirteen Clocks is wonderful, and The Wonderful O has its charms*, but The White Deer is my favorite.

*especially poor Ophelia Oliver

#905 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 04:52 PM:

Everyday things under the microscope. Including, oddly enough, a flea.

Well, no wonder it's so difficult to crush those things. At that scale it looks like some weird fantasy monster wearing full plate armour. But they drown, oh yes, they drown... *mwahahahaha*

#906 ::: Mongoose is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 04:54 PM:

Not sure whether it's for the link or the Evil Laugh (TM). Anyway, I have some very large chocolate chip biscuits - almost certainly far too big for an individual gnome, but they're soft baked so I'm sure they'll slice up easily enough.

[It's the Evil Laugh. Really. -- Morisl Cecorl, Duty Gnome]

#907 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 05:33 PM:

With fleas, a lot of it is that lateral flattening. It's also hard to crush a piece of paper lying flat on the table. I've had decent luck using my fingernails, but the packing tape is much easier.

#908 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 06:45 PM:

Seconding Nancy Lebovitz's recommendation of diatomaceous earth at 887. Another option is borax; a couple of decades ago when it seemed like my entire apartment complex was fighting that battle, that's what the manager used. Inexpensive, and far less toxic than flea powders/sprays. Sprinkled thoroughly over carpets and upholstery; vacuum out in a couple of hours; vacuum bag disposed of immediately; repeat every week for about three weeks. (The other thing I learned then is that the [expletives, many, deleted] fleas can hitchhike their way in on your shoes or socks or pants, if it's a bad year for them - I couldn't figure out how they were getting on my indoor-only cat in a third floor apartment.)

(The two years I lived in Hawai'i with my then-husband and three indoor-outdoor cats? I used to joke about wanting to wear flea collars on my ankles. We evicted ourselves and the felines for a few hours to use *outdoor* Spectracide on the carpets every three months, the cats wore flea collars (this was before such miracles as Advantage and Frontline), and they got bathed every couple months or so. Which was another sort of adventure - one cat was rather... against being bathed, at all.)

#909 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 07:21 PM:

Erik @ 893: I have, although I prefer "The Thirteen Clocks" -- maybe it has a better sense of weird? (Or maybe I knew enough about Story at age

#910 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2013, 07:31 PM:

Used to have roaches, and sometimes still have ants, and here's something I do when they're in the kitchen. I have a squirt bottle with diluted detergent in it (like Joy or some such, a good squirt of it and the rest is water) and a bit of that administered externally breaks through the barrier and drowns them in their exoskeletons. Best of all, it's not a nerve agent or deadly toxin — wipe it off, and you've just cleaned part of your counter or whatever.

I used to use a spray bottle, but those clog up after a while. Squirt bottle (like a water bottle) is much better.

It's also useful for a quick dish or hand wash, or counter cleaning. It uses much smaller amounts of soap at a time, and they are still entirely adequate to the purpose.

OH. Incidentally, here is proof (from bOINGbOING) that lawyers are not only people, but they are often people I'd love to have in my corner when push comes to shove. A Tennessee Lawyer Responds to a Prosecutor's Sniveling Objection to being Called 'The Government'. If my cousin's busy, I want to be represented by this Justice fellow! (Seriously, the lawyer's name is Justice.)

#911 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 08:16 AM:

glinda @ 908: I shall have to find some of this diatomaceous earth. I've never seen it for sale, but I'm sure I can track it down via the Internet.

I've never yet met a cat who was not against being bathed. If I had to try to bathe the current feline incumbent, I'd want a full set of motorbike gear before I started. She has Opinions, and she tends to enforce them with extreme prejudice.

#912 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 08:26 AM:

Tabitha, one-time feline of this household, was remarkably placid about being bathed, the one time I had to do it.

She was officially recorded as "a very well-behaved cat".

#913 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 08:47 AM:

I once had a kitten with ringworm. The ointment was icky, so I bathed her at least once a week. This resulted in a cat who tolerated baths, which was helpful as she had the sort of long, fluffy coat that can get ratty looking with just licking.

#914 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 09:57 AM:

Mongoose -

I second (third?) the recommendation for diatomaceous earth. It is one of the main ingredients in my flea-killer of choice, Flea Stoppers, which you can find online at the Large South American River. I have a terrible allergy to fleas, and the bites are painful to me and last months. I still have scars from flea bites I received when we moved house in 1986. The fussyness of powdering the house with this stuff, waiting and vacuuming up is more than worth it to me. We bought the 5 lb container when we adopted Ardala and had a crazy flea outbreak and have used it at least twice a year since. We still have some left. I'd send it to you, but we had a minor outbreak two months ago, probably from hitch-hikers out of someone else's car and I'd like to keep it around for emergencies. (and maybe sentimental reasons? I don't know.)

It's totally safe for pets and people, but if you're prone to walking around barefoot, be aware that the first week or so after you've put it down your feet will get totally dry.

#915 ::: Incoherent ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 12:00 PM:

Mongoose #911: dunno about the UK, but here in the US diatomaceous earth can be found at gardening supply sources (in my experience: nurseries, hardware stores, etc), sold as an organic "crawling insect killer".

It's very effective on the little green caterpillars that go after my gooseberry bushes each year.

#916 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 12:38 PM:

I am grateful to everyone in a manner that will hopefully not alarm the gnomes.

#917 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 12:52 PM:

HLN, back garden edition:

The potatoes are all in now (a month or two late. I'm blaming kiddo soccer season). Normally the rose fingerlings can be described as small, but a lot of them. This year, there were just a lot of them.

We harvested and ate an 8 quart pot of chard yesterday, and if you know where to look, you can tell that we harvested. Volunteer chard is still going strong into November.

We found 4 edible cucumbers and a few zucchinis still going. I'm unclear how these warm weather plants are still around.

Our last bantam cochin hen is laying, and her first egg was roughly the size of a robin's egg (7g). Slightly bigger than my thumbnail, and maybe 1/3 the size of the other bantam eggs (30g), which in turn, are quite small compared to full sized chicken eggs (70g). (weights from my kitchen scale)

One of the other new layers, an Easter Egger that looks like a Welsomer, has decided to do the Jemima Puddle Duck thing and flies out of the run every day to lay her eggs in the tall grass well away from the run. No foxgloves though, nor a fox. Not the brightest bird in the flock.

#918 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Mongoose @ #916:

It may well be purchasable as "cat litter". IIRC "Fuller's Earth" is partly diatomoceous earth and that's the may component of "clay" litter.

An alternative possible trade name is "kieselguhr" (although I suspect the hit rate on that outside German-speaking areas and the Nordics is low to non-existent).

#919 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 03:41 PM:

Diatryma #907: I learned from watching a vet do it that the way to crush a flea is to roll it hard between your fingertips.

Re: cats and bathing, my understanding is that it's completely a matter of whether the kitten was bathed regularly -- if so, they will accept, or at least not freak out over, baths as an adult.

#920 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 03:46 PM:

@919 Dave Harmon

I was taught to snap them between my thumbnails, like lice.

It's the "snap" that tells you if they're really fleas/lice (my grandmother said), rather than some other bug.

#921 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 04:33 PM:

I've been seeing diatomoceous earth sold at my local Walgreens here in CA as a bedbug killer; looked at the container; it seems to be pure diatomoceous earth without other insecticides.

#922 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 05:05 PM:

I believe I got diatomaceous earth at the same garden center I was working at. It's a fine powder full of what are, to fleas (and roaches) edges so sharp that they break the barrier to the exoskeleton, and the rest is death magic.

Take a pinch of it and look at it under a microscope. it's composed of buttzillions of skeletons of, well, diatoms. I do believe they are fossilized. Hard to believe we use such a wondrous thing in ways so prosaic. Anyway, those little things can look cool close up.

Google [images]:
diatomaceous earth microscope view
for an array of the miniscule glories of diatomaceous earth.

#923 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 05:52 PM:

Lila, #894: Have you tried Revolution?

Kip, #899: There's a reason that when my partner and I drive past a freshly-manured crop field or a stockyard, our catch-phrase is, "Smell that fresh country air!"

Mongoose, #911: Many years ago, I took in what was obviously a dumped just-past-kittenhood cat that glued itself to my ankles on the way back from the apartment laundry room. As I had 2 cats of my own already, my first step was to bring the visitor into the bathroom and wash her thoroughly with flea shampoo. Not only did she not object, she purred thru the entire process. I think it was because she was getting human attention. She also ate an entire large bowl of kitty crunchies in less than 4 hours, and passed no solid waste for a full day. I'm sure she was on the edge of starvation when I brought her in. I found her a good home.

#924 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 05:59 PM:

Lee: yep. That was the one before Advantage, IIRC. The half-life on these growth regulators seems to be about 3-4 years at best. Maybe because we've had several mild winters in a row; the fleas may be getting in an extra generation per year or something.

#925 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 06:50 PM:

Lee @ 923... "Smell that fresh country air!"

Great. Now I have the "Green Acres" theme song eating up my brain.

#926 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2013, 11:28 PM:

Lee @923: When we'd be driving near Greeley and go past some rather redolent feed lot, Mom would say "smell that money." We kids picked it up, but since there haven't been many feed lots around where we've been, we've more or less dropped it in recent years.

#927 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 05:43 AM:

Mongoose @851 Loved the poem!

Kip @922 - Yes aren't diatoms beautiful…

Techniques for fleas left indoors at the beginning of winter, which might keep breeding*:

If you have rugs or carpet, after cleaning, brush in some diatomaceous earth. It will kill any fleas in the carpet, but you especially want to get a residual dusting underneath to kill any of the worm-like larvae that may hatch down there. You can vacuum off the surface after a few hours, it won't get it out of the underlayer.

Oh, diatomaceous earth should indeed be the kind from garden stores, not pool suppliers - supposedly that kind isn't as sharp.

If the living space isn't super-warm, and especially if you and pets will be away for awhile, or overnight in another room, try a heat trap. Plug in a night light on a baseboard outlet, and put a shallow bowl or tray with water and a little soap under it. Dish soap for instance. Doesn't need soap bubbles; the soap destroys the surface tension of the water, and it can rush into their breathing tubules so insects drown.

In warmer weather, when an unfortunate space had been abandoned by cats because of fleas (which therefore all went for me), I kept a 5 gallon bucket of soapy water outside the door, and rolled up my jeans and wore waterproof sandals when I had to go in there. Then stepped into the bucket as I came out. Not fun, but got rid of lots of fleas quickly.

*That's the occasional way I can get flea trouble here in this drier climate, unlike Oregon, where after the cat walked across the desk, it looked like a salt shaker had been there, white eggs everywhere.

#928 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 06:59 AM:

About intelligence in cats:

When I was a kid, Mom and Dad used to have these arguments about who hadn't latched the bedroom door properly, so Mom's cat Domino got in. (Dad was allergic, so there was some excuse for him.)

Then they saw him reaching up, and with both paws, turning the doorknob.

All that mattered to Dad was intelligence. After that he wasn't only a dog person.

That cat matched the kitchen floor. And Mom and my sister and I would be busy getting dinner, and he'd be sitting in the middle of the floor. And we'd step on his tail, he'd yowl, and be picked up and "Oh poor Domino" ed, and fed his dinner to get him out of the way.

He never succeeded in training us to always feed him his dinner first, I think.

After a while, Dad, watching from the living room (this was the old days), noticed that if we didn't step on him, the cat would yowl when we were nowhere near him! And get his dinner.

Konrad Lorenz thought that the ability to lie was a proof of intelligence, and that dogs but not cats were smart enough to lie.

#929 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 08:49 AM:

I read in a long-out-of-print, otherwise-forgettable book that megadosing up on B1 (thiamine) will make the fleas stop chewing on you long enough to bug-bomb the place. It worked.
HLN: Area retiree makes long-overdue visit to a favorite bridge that recently turned 100. Retiree was relieved to find it in apparent good shape, and pleased to reflect that it wasn't just a flash in the span.

#930 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 08:50 AM:

Kip W @922:

I followed your directions. Amid the lovely magnifications was a little cartooon of a tiny superhero punching out a flea.

#931 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 11:31 AM:

Thomas #889:


#932 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 11:34 AM:

Shameless self-promotion department, hyperlocal news division:

Please take a look here:!ledgister-oneill/c20mc

Also here, along the Great South American River:

#933 ::: Fragano Ledgister is a babe in Gnomeland ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 11:36 AM:

Apparently for inserting two URLs in a row-ho-ho. It's a fair cop, I put them in deliberately. They were not canned luncheon meat. Honest.

#934 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 11:38 AM:

Apparently, one can be seized by their Lownesses for imitating Norman Mailer. But I've stabbed no one with a penknife I assure you.

#935 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 05:19 PM:

fidelio @930: I went and looked. I hope Mongoose saw that.

#936 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 06:24 PM:

Kip @ 935: I did indeed. Wonderful, isn't it?

#937 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2013, 11:45 PM:

"Hwaet" may have been misinterpreted for a long time.

New hypothesis: instead of being an interjection, it's an intensifier for what follows.

#938 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 12:29 AM:

So I can continue to mentally parse "Hwaet" as "Dude" then, but just more like "Duuuuuude" than "Dude!. Good to know.

#939 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 02:35 AM:

#932 Oh, very nice.

Fragano poems in real (well, virtual) books!

#940 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:46 AM:

One thing I haven't yet done during the extended discussion about fleas, and will therefore do now, is specifically express my gratitude to everyone for the validation. You didn't know you were doing that, did you? Nonetheless, you were, and I'm no less grateful for it because you didn't know.

This is what you were all helping to fix. My ex-lodger continually implied that fleas were due to some unspecified failure on my part, because a well-run household should never be affected by them. He would go on and on about how he never even saw such a thing as a flea until he came to live here (note: the only reason he was living here was kindness on my part, since he'd lost his business and had to sell his house), and he'd had a dog when he was a boy and blah blah blah. What I actually think happened was that his mother, who seems to have been a particularly competent person, had an efficient way of dealing with fleas so that he never encountered one. Very possibly it was diatomaceous earth, but I'll never find out, since he was one of those people who simply took it for granted that his mother kept everything running smoothly without ever enquiring into what she did to make that happen. (When he first came to live here, he couldn't cook and had no idea where to start. I asked him, in astonishment, if he had never watched his mother. "Well, no," he replied, "of course not.")

So it has been incredibly refreshing to have a long conversation with a group of people whose attitude is "fleas are just something that happen if you have animals, and here are some good ways to stop them happening". You all rock.

#941 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:48 AM:

Just a note that the cuteness-turned-up-to-11 baby owl is a Saw Whet Owl. (Not Saw Hweat, mind...)

I've had the privilege of helping band them and they are even cuter in person. The adults are not really that much larger than the one pictured.

#942 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 08:17 AM:

DaveL @941, which baby owl would that be? I think perhaps a post got misplaced by the software... (not, of course, by our hardworking gnomes!)

#943 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 08:38 AM:

Cassy B, it's in the Particles.

#944 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 08:43 AM:

Mongoose @940: When we had a kid old enough to be macking on the dogs, I freaked out (because all the things that actually work around here are apply-to-fur neurotoxins that take a week or so to be safe to lick for mammals) and asked a friend of ours who has Multiple Animals and works for a vet what we should do to prevent flea infestation.

She looked shocked and said, "There are no fleas in Chicagoland!" I am equally shocked, because HELL YES if there are squirrels and raccoons and possums (all of which visit our yard regularly) how in HELL are there NOT fleas?!? But apparently her animals have never had a flea treatment, in over 20 years, and have just happened to never bring any home.

So we've been flying without a net, figuring to carpetbomb our soft furnishings in case of disaster ... and no disaster yet. Though I keep side-eyeing any itchy spot on me or the kid SO HARD.

#945 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 09:00 AM:

Mongoose #940: Yeah, dealing with fleas is pretty much par for the course for pet owners. (Still aggravating, though.)

It's actually a special case of a more general issue regarding diseases: Modern societies have most disease well enough controlled, that when it does show up, we tend to think of it as an intrusion, something going wrong with our ordered world. In fact, it's simply that there's only so much that society can do to protect us from the more fundamental hazards of the natural world.

In that vein, please everybody, make sure your pet is getting both an external hold-off med such as Frontline, and a dewormer such as Heartgard. Both are monthly and somewhat expensive, but worth every penny.

#946 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 09:59 AM:

Mongoose @940. Fleas are a thing. A non-fun thing, but a thing, and some years they are a worse thing than others.

I have just managed to make myself grateful for this year's fleas though, because I ended up reading a bit about typhus and the history of the louse.

Also, just to confirm your feelings (in case you needed that), your ex-lodger was a dimthoughted, shallow dillweed.

#947 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 10:23 AM:

fidelio @ 946: your ex-lodger was a dimthoughted, shallow dillweed.

Yes. I'm afraid he was. Dillweed... I like that one. He's been gone since January and I am still in the process of recovering from some of his behaviour.

#948 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:03 AM:

No fleas in Chicagoland?! That's where we moved to where I dealt with my first super-duper flea party. They had been dormant in the carpet of our new home and decided to hatch and cause mayhem when our cats arrived. We did not do the diatomaceous earth thing - my parents dealt with it by using all sorts of chemicals (and flea dipping the cats. that was fun) that I can still smell if I think about it.

As for the heart guard, every year we asked our vet, and every year the vet said not to bother in SoCal. Multiple vets in various places. So Ardala always had a spot-on for fleas, but never a heartworm medication.

#949 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:18 AM:

Ah, yes, the wonderful (NOT) days of flea dips.

The dogs were easy to do, and there were only two of them. But we had combined households, and then acquired a couple of strays, so we had nine cats.

We had a large bathroom, so we rounded up the cats and closed the door. Then Jan and I started filling the bath with water and adding the dip. The cats were standing on the vanity across the room, and when they heard the faucet running they leaped en masse at the closed door.

Picture Hokusai's "Big Wave" as a solid mass of agitated cats...and as they hit they slid down the door.

Jan and I collapsed on the floor laughing. It took awhile before we could sober up enough to actually dip them.

#950 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:20 AM:

Nerdycellist @948: As for the heart guard, every year we asked our vet, and every year the vet said not to bother in SoCal. Multiple vets in various places.

LA is where my husky Kai developed heart worms, back in the 80s. Rare, but not unheard of. She sure didn't get them in Germany, where she lived before. Kai survived the treatment -- intravenous arsenic, which kills the worms but not the dog, it is hoped -- but she was never the same.

#951 ::: Tracie is Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:23 AM:

I'm just going out for lunch. Would Their Lownesses like me to bring them some fried chicken and a side of fried okra?

#952 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:47 AM:

The picture of the cat-wave caused me to laugh so hard my asthma kicked in!

#953 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 12:03 PM:

Mongoose, #940: Just as a datapoint, I've had cats since I was in my early 20s, and in all that time have only had a couple of run-ins with fleas. But it should be noted that my cats never go outdoors; I think it's much harder with dogs because they have to be let out or walked regularly.

Lori, #949: That made me laugh just reading about it.

#954 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 12:09 PM:

Before this open thread goes the way of all open threads, I'd like to see if Macdonald can be convinced (along with Doyle, whose particular English major insights would be of great use in this case) to watch and comment on The Monk, a 2011 French version of Matthew Lewis's novel, with Vincent Cassell as Ambrosio. It's available via Netflix, which is good because I don't see it showing up at a theater in the North Country, even as close to Montreal as they are, since it has been out for a couple of years.

I'd even get him the Netflix subscription, if necessary.

#955 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 01:10 PM:

It would not at all surprise me if there were a link between flea likelihood and climate, either direct or via host species.

In which case, some people referred to in these parts are likely to be surprised by global warming.

#956 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 03:25 PM:

Cats generally clean off fleas by grooming, so they're less likely to bring them inside, although fleas can hitch a ride on the family dogs or on humans.

It's interesting that Southern Cal is considered so inhospitable to heartworm; I wouldn't have assumed that myself. They are carried by mosquitoes, so even indoor animals can get them if they're allowed access to screened windows that are large enough to allow mosquitoes through.

In any case, I've dealt with fleas by using borax, topicals, and in the old days, the flea bath (although I never tried to do all the cats at once, I did have five young cats and it took me two days to wrestle all five. I had to repeat this weekly for two months. Then the flea dips arrived and saved us all.)

Fleas live off of the host, which means it's easy to miss them coming inside on the cat, dog, or human; they can then live inside the structures and furniture until feeding. Vacuuming regularly (and disposing of the vacuumate immediately); washing bedding/blankets/etc regularly, and the use of anti-flea medications is what I do to keep them at bay.

In rare cases, fleas can overwhelm cats' innate grooming abilities; in those cases, the cats can become severely anemic from blood loss.

In other cat news, the four kittens are growing rapidly, as kittens do. Charlie escaped down the stairs last night, and was glared at by Cleo while she (Charlie is a female) investigated the litter box. I scooped her up before Cleo could get really mad, and she purred all the way back to their room.

#957 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Open-thready question for the Fluorospherian collective mind (with apologies in advance for extreme length):

I'm revamping certain elements in my resume again, and I could use some help figuring out how to organize it. How far back to list employment, what to put in, what to leave out, etc. Read on if you think you might have ideas.

I actually do have an extensive skill set. I'm good at writing, editing, proofreading, correspondence, scheduling, coordinating meetings, data analysis, calendar management, customer service, and a host of other things. I'm well-versed in Microsoft Office and other software, I know my way around the web (I've been a webmaster) and have good telephone presence. I'm a jack of many trades, and a master of some.

I've been in the workforce since 1982, but I have no intention of going back that far in listing my work experience. I worked a lot of restaurant and retail jobs back in the 80s and 90s, which are pretty much irrelevant to the type of work I'm looking for now. I also worked in layout and paste-up for a daily newspaper and my local Pennysaver, both of which were positions I held only briefly and almost 30 years ago, so I won't be listing those either.

Most of the paid non-freelance work I've done in the past 15 years involved temporary employment through staffing agencies. (Once you get on that particular merry-go-round it can be notoriously difficult to get off.) Three positions went permanent, but I left the first after a couple of years in order to relocate to a different city. I didn't stay with either of the other two very long because they were essentially bait-and-switch situations wherein the job descriptions and expectations changed dramatically not long after I accepted permanent status. Both deteriorated into toxic environments rather quickly, to the point where returning to temp work was actually preferable. So I've been listing the first (which I left in 1999) on my resume, but omitting the other two.

I spent more than a decade (ending in 2004) actively involved in a civic organization devoted to leadership training and community service, in which I held a number of local offices and served two terms as a state officer. I've taken to listing that experience as part of my work history, as I do feel it is relevant to my work ethic and skill set despite my not having been paid for the work.

I have done various types of freelance work (copy editing, proofreading, typing, web research) since 1998 and I also list this in my work history. Additionally, I have a gap from September of 2006 until early in 2011 when I did not work outside the home except for a couple of months spent waitressing part-time. During this period I was a full-time in-home caregiver to my elderly father who suffered from ailments that rendered him incapable of living independently and looking after himself. I cooked, cleaned, kept house, took him to appointments and activities, and saw to his health needs... and I also engaged in the aforementioned freelance work and even took a university class during the same period.

I'm trying to find a job -- almost any* desk job, right now, even if it's temp -- but I'd really like to get one that isn't a temp gig. So what I'm trying to figure out is the best way to present and maximize the best of my history and information, while omitting or minimizing anything that has the potential to be seen as negative. I'm even having trouble with order and placement of the elements, in terms of my skill set and within my work history as I have multiple things whose timeframes overlap (like my freelance stuff with other jobs, or my civic involvement overlapping with both).

If anyone wants to offer suggestions, they'll be much appreciated. If you'd like to see an example of my resume as it currently stands, you can email me at summerstormsfic AT gmail DOT com with your email address and I'll send you a copy so you can see what I have and offer suggestions.


* I really dislike telemarketing, and I won't do collections.

#958 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 05:50 PM:

I've lived in Los Angeles for 11 years now and never seen a mosquito, which is probably why the vets told us we could skip the heartworm meds. They did advise if we were going to take her further north that we might want to look into it, but we didn't take any road trips longer than Julian and San Diego with Ardala - and both of those were mosquito-free places as well.

#959 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 06:08 PM:

Fake movie trailer that's been running through my head today:

<portentous voice>In a world gone mad, one man can make a difference.

Two men cannot.

Three is right out.</portentous voice>

#960 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 06:33 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 959... From "The Missals of Navarone"?

#961 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:01 PM:

SummerStorms @957: IME, the thing that should drive the organization of your resume should be the description of the job you're applying for. And the more specific you can be about what you want, ironically, the more likely you are to get it. (Again, IME.)

The way I've gone about it is to take the job posting, and basically take each bullet point and fill it in with examples from my work history. Then, at the end, I list employers plus dates, going back only ten-twelve years. List volunteered skills as you would any other part of your work history.

You can see the resume that got me my current job at the website linked from my name here, with /resume/ appended.

The trick is not to show that you can do Everything EVAR, but rather to show that you can plug into the specific slots they're trying to fill.

In the case where you're sending a blind-application to a company, the same principle applies. Figure out what job you want, and apply for that job.

#962 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:37 PM:

@941 (my own post, sigh). The "baby" Saw Whet owl in TNH's particle link is actually an adult (according to my wife, who is something of an expert). She also commented that "it looks very annoyed."

#963 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:44 PM:

SummerStorms: Seconding Jacque's comments. Yes, including the relevant volunteer work is good. Don't downplay the people skills even if the job description you are applying for does not have a lot along those lines. Anyone who is a good communicator, can train others, or who can be responsible for a budget will outshine someone who has the same technical credentials but lacks the "soft" skills.

#964 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:45 PM:

fidelio @954 I do like the last line of the plot summary "But Satan has not said his final word... "

I was going to make some sort of wisecrack about Making Light Movie Club. But then it sounded like a good idea. So maybe I should track down that film for myself.

#965 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 07:48 PM:

Jacque @ 961: I'm probably going to have to use multiple resumes for multiple situations, including those when I actually HAVE one particular job I can apply for. At the moment, however, I'm trying to come up with the best general resume that I can, for use in replying to a lot of blind ads that don't offer a whole lot in the realm of detail. I often don't actually know the particulars of the job or jobs they're trying to fill, which means that I have to try to list as many skills as I can in the hope that something will hit whatever target the employer has set. (I don't know if the vagueness of job ads these days is a local phenomenon or more widespread, but it's driving me nuts.)

I've been using a resume that highlighted my skill set first, followed by work history with the work I did in my time as a state officer in a civic organization included under work experience, because I've been advised that most employers never even bother looking at volunteer activities and other things one has pursued outside the workplace or school, at least in light of potentially contributing anything positive to a candidate's ability to do the job. At this point I'm debating the possible wisdom of moving my skill set to a position following my work history. Is that advisable?

#966 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 09:22 PM:

SummerStorms @965, as someone who has done some resume reviewing, what works for me is a section near the front entitled something like "Key Capabilities" that lists your major skills, then a "Work History" section that gives employers chronologically with a briefer description of each employment since you don't need to describe the skills in detail. Especially in a case like yours where there are gaps and overlaps, lay the sequence out as clearly as you can so that it doesn't look like you're trying to hide something.

#968 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:07 PM:

Huh. Real empty in here.

I'm going to set up some recycling bins, OK?

#969 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:56 AM:

Stefan Jones @968: I'm going to set up some recycling bins, OK?

You know passersby are just going to throw spam in those bins, right?

#970 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 07:35 PM:

Elliott Mason @664: Thanks for the rec of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Excellent series. (I wound up buying the extended version of the closing theme off of iTunes, too.)

#971 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 08:19 PM:

That's better than having spam all over the place.

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