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December 4, 2013

Open thread 191
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:57 AM *

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
—Robert Frost

I love this. But it’s a tough read in winter. So when an answer started knocking around my head, I scribbled it down.

But once the gold is gone,
As daylight follows dawn,
The summer fades to fall,
And autumn’s pleasures pall.
Then darkness comes at last,
When all that’s bright is past.
But we endure the black,
Because the gold comes back.

Of course, this mostly serves to illustrate Frost’s own point: we must inevitably decline from the first blush of perfection. What follows is inferior. Sequelitis comes to us all in the end. But illustration is a form of participation in its own right.

Also, open thread.

Continued from Open thread 190. Continued in Open thread 192.

Comments on Open thread 191:
#1 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:51 AM:

I might just go and see the second part of The Hobbit in the cinema, but I cannot escape the sensation that it has been horribly padded out.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 03:05 AM:

Almost definitely. The first one certainly was, and regrettably so. (Radagast, sigh.)

#3 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 03:44 AM:

I am reasonably certain I will see enough of The Hobbit on Tumblr to satisfy all my desire to see it. And if not there is always the wiki synopsis. Really, that is what I do to keep up with a lot of sci-fi culture these days. I want to get the jokes but the movie or show would just take too much time.

#4 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 04:50 AM:

day late-breaking
nip of wind
dusk quick-falling
foliage thinned

naked branches
stripped of leaves
hanging over
hanging eaves

standing out
against the sky
tell me winter
-time is nigh

#5 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 05:21 AM:

"Nothing gold can stay"?

Why, what a thing to say!
No metal is less base
nor better holds its place.
This ring upon my finger
has lingered and will linger.
In Greece, it was a stater,
a noble some years later.
The ring you wear for me
was Scythian filigree.
What laid these golden ova?
Some ancient supernova.
These rings have kept us whole
through forty winter's toll.
This sentiment is truer:
both love and gold endure.

#6 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 05:22 AM:

Pendrift @4:

Oh, now, that Yeah. That works.

#7 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 05:24 AM:

oldster @5:

Now, that just makes me grin. Good one.

#8 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 05:25 AM:

When it was announced The Hobbit was going to be a trilogy of movies I was sure it was going to be excessively padded. Seeing the first part, it's not so much a movie of the Hobbit as a prequel to the LotR movie trilogy using the Hobbit as most of its source material. (And prequelitis is perhaps worse than sequelitis.)
But we still have our tickets booked for part two (first showing locally is a family member's birthday).

#9 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 05:28 AM:

I ended up watching the first part on DVD, with my brother, not long after my father died. And there was some pretty blatant show-off-the-3D in there, not even story-telling.

There are scenes in LotR, such as the Ring dropping, which would work well in 3D, and others (Gandalf in Bag End) which would be difficult. But, while there is a certain amount of gosh-wow-what-a-place all through, it doesn't drag down the story to a snail's pace.

The Hobbit has an excess of equivalents to the tottering stairway of Khazad Dum. And they're not as restrained.

Still, this does have Stephen Fry, and watching one in 3D in a cinema might be worth doing. Past experience suggests that PJ will get silly over the Battle of the Five Armies. Despite the Ride of the Rohirrim he still did the Elf and the Heffalump.

#10 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 06:50 AM:

Dave Bell@9: the Elf and the Heffalump

...went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat...

Sorry, I think the rhythm just caught something there.

Thinking of the Hobbit films as very impressive fanvids works well for my enjoyment of the first and my anticipation of the second. It gets me past all the should-have-beens and should-have-dones.

#11 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 06:57 AM:

Also, thanks to abi, Pendrift, and oldster: the verses together made a nice start to my online day.

#12 ::: Brother Guy ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 07:12 AM:

I must go down to the Cineplex, for the Hobbit II is nigh;
And all I ask is a tall tale and a friend to see it by.
And a real kick from a dwarf's song, and a white beard shaking
on a Gray Mage with a gray face as a dark dawn's breaking.

I must go down to the Cineplex, for the call of the running joke
of a hobbit's fears and a hobbit's luck, and a ring not yet bespoke;
And all I ask is a palantir that is used for scrying,
and enough left of the Tolkein text to keep fans from crying.

I must go down to the Cineplex, to see Smeagol brought to life,
To see Jackson's way cutting plots away with CG-crafted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a hobbit lover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long film's over.

#13 ::: Brother Guy ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 07:15 AM:

Tolkien. Tolkien. Tolkien. Tolkien. Tolkien. Tolkien. mea culpa.

#14 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 07:15 AM:

As my second daughter said, "I can't wait to see the fan-edit where they cut out all the parts that weren't in the book and make one tight movie."

#15 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 07:59 AM:

There is always An Unexpected Parody, which seemed a bit overdone, until I saw the movie.

#16 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 08:00 AM:

Brother Guy, applause.

At first in palest green
The dawn of spring is seen
Unfurls to summer's leaf
Then autumn's golden sheaf
At turn of year the chill
And dark can sap the will
But stillness can be zen
Thus we begin again

#17 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 09:16 AM:

Samuel Delany has been named one of SF's Grand Masters.

#18 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 09:18 AM:

Speaking of the Hobbit... We have a sandwich place here called Baggin's. No, it's not located near a Seven Elven store.

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 09:19 AM:

Partway along the path that all must tread
wrong turning taken in the dusk and muck
no hope to find the proper road ahead,

so easy then to say that truth had fled
give up on life, along with all my luck,
partway along the path that all must tread.

While many voices echo, no words said
could quite convey how badly one was stuck,
no hope to find the proper road ahead

darkness around, the human world abed,
so easy then the mortal form to shuck
partway along the path that all must tread

where none could scream from simple weight of dread,
no light could come from passing car or truck
no hope to find the proper road ahead;

the only message was "you must fall dead,
the world goes on; no one will give a fuck."
Partway along the path that all must tread
no hope to find the proper road ahead.

#20 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 10:03 AM:

I have no seasonal poetry to offer. I wish that I could show you all a sweatshirt I painted - the wheel of the year as a dogwood tree in each season, with the roots forming a Celtic knot in the center.

I'll go see the second part of The Hobbit in a theater if I can find it shown in 2D. 3D would likely make me dizzy. Yes, it will be padded, but I expect there will be moments that I'll love.

#21 ::: David Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 10:32 AM:

Brother Guy, that's brilliant!

I wish I could say that I was looking forward to The Hobbit, but I think Peter Jackson failed to get the spirit of this one exactly wrong in much the same way that he got the spirit of LotR right.

#22 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 10:32 AM:

I'm hoping it won't be too bad, but I'll see it anyway. :)

Meanwhile: girlfriends who can cook. That is all.

#23 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 10:35 AM:

I'm hoping it won't be too bad, but I'll see it anyway. :)

Meanwhile: girlfriends who can cook. That is all.

#24 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 10:44 AM:

David Weingart @21, that's pretty much exactly what I've been saying. I think PJ is using the Hobbit to work out his frustration at never getting to make the Filmarillion (as it were).

To be fair, The Hobbit as written is unfilmable, and as a Piece Of Filmic Tolkienian Lore I have been mostly fond of this so far, but I, like Lila@14's daughter, would like to see a cut-down version that fills one movie and is Just The Story.

#25 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 11:04 AM:

I wonder if people will be able to make the same joke with "Smaug" that they did with Part One - that, when Gandalf says "Run!", you know you can step away for at least 5 minutes, go to the bathroom, refill you soft-drink cup, come back and you won't have missed anything.

At least, that doesn't happen whe the Doctor says "Run!"

#26 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 11:52 AM:

while i like po
and adore the rhythms and meters hereinthis
(alas and alack) have
neither the mindset (right...)
nor the time
to contribute to this
shared joy
of bringing lightness

keep hanging lanterns filled with hope

to the growing gloom

#27 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 11:59 AM:

Bassoon Concerto in B Flat, K. 191. "[T]he most standard piece in the entire bassoon repertory." (No bassoon jokes, please; this is Mozart.)

#28 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 12:15 PM:

While I enjoyed the LOTR movies, I've had zero desire to see the Hobbit films. Part of that was (I think) that Middle-Earth had been sufficiently explored in Peter Jackson's earlier films, and part because I never read any of the source material.

I think familiarity is an ever present issue with film franchises. How many times can you plow the same ground?

#29 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 12:31 PM:

I'll go to the new Hobbit, but mostly as an animated John Howe and Alan Lee show rather than 8 chapters of the book or whatever (which would be, what, 90 minutes worth?)

#30 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 12:47 PM:

The LOTR movies were an entertaining, quite passable adaptation. A sort of Comics Illustrated version of the books. Faithfulness to the books aside, a quite astonishing feat, those films.

Hobbit I made me distrust Jackson, and the trailers for Hobbit II make me wonder if I should despising him.

Really. Crude and abridged as it was, Hanna-Barbara's goofy cartoon was a better adaptation than what we've seen of Jackson's.

I might see Hobbit II at the super-bargain early bird matinee.

#31 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 12:52 PM:

Robert Frost
kept getting lost.
A pious poet laureate,
he blessed himself before he et.

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 01:00 PM:

Oldster #31:

My own effort in that vein:

Thomas Carlyle
was unspeakably vile.
He felt it was his duty
to mar with toil all beauty.

#33 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 01:20 PM:

Fragano #31--

Excellent--I *do* like a good Clerihew.

Bilbo Baggins
defrauded dragons.
Tramping barefoot through a blizzard,
he had harsh words for a wizard.

"Sir Peter Robert Jackson," anyone?

#34 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 01:40 PM:

Theophylact, #27: That's a lovely concerto! Having been re-reading Digger (because I just got my omnibus edition), I find myself thinking of it as the sort of music wombats would enjoy. The posting notes provide a link to an archive site with free mp3 downloads, which might interest some other folks as well.

#35 ::: phiala ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 01:41 PM:

Bringing down the tone considerably, since this has digressed into Hobbitry, Nick spent some time over the weekend wandering the house screeching,

Smaugdor was a man!
Smaugdor was a dragon man!
Or maybe he was just a dragon!

He claims he never got as far as burninating the countryside, but I'm skeptical.

#36 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 01:41 PM:

WRT The Hobbit: In the trailers, I'm afraid the Dwarves always parse to me as Klingons.

I plan on waiting until all three are out on DVD, and watching them in a binge. I figure I can finish a couple of sculptures, thereby. And that way I can scan past the boring bits.

#37 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 01:57 PM:

Bach's Crab Canon on a Moebius strip.

I would say something intelligent and insightful about this, but I'm still too busy squeeing.

#38 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 01:58 PM:

"Sir Peter Robert Jackson"
Filming hobbits?
Forego the crack, son!

#39 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:01 PM:

Abi -- that's been one of my favorite poems for years. Thanks for the visit.

I can't post my seasonal poem because it's too long.

Of course we'll go see the Hobbit. And complain mightily about everything wrong with it.

#40 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:07 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 30... Wasn't it Rankin-Bass?

#41 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:13 PM:

@Serge: YES! Rankin-Bass.

I shudder to think of what Hanna-Barbara would do to Tolkien.

#42 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:24 PM:

Lee @34: Digger omnibus! I love omnibus editions. Time to upgrade and pass on my individual volumes to someone else who will appreciate them.

#43 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:29 PM:

Hobbits! Meet the Hobbits!
They're a modern Middle-Earth family
From the old Town
On the green Shire
They're a page right out of Fantasy!

#44 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:37 PM:

One of these days, I'll have to look for "Lord of the G-strings". Mike Ford had given a decent rating to its throbbit quest.

#45 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:38 PM:

An article about the English language as it's used in Death Metal:

Normal English: “Commuting to work”


#46 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:50 PM:

Victoria, 26: Bravo!

#47 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 03:09 PM:

The first Hobbit movie was a mess of a Tolkien movie but had some terrific Tolkien scenes. I'll go see more on that basis alone.

Also, of course, I am a junkie for visual spectacle. It does not cover all sins -- but I can ignore a lot of sins for a good architecture panorama.

#48 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 04:10 PM:

TexAnne @ 46


(and now I've got this image in my head of someone from the Black Turtleneck Society* half drunk and doing a spastic head-banger routine while shouting "free verse!" Horned hand gesture optional.)

My head is in a very strange place right now.

* something a grad student who wrote poetry called poetry readings while I was an undergrad in college.

#49 ::: phiala ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 04:13 PM:

You all will be pleased to know that I earwormed myself with #34 while inflicting it on you all.

#50 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 04:34 PM:

For a Chicago winter, today's weather is rather disturbingly Pacific-Northwest-like: 50s and so humid there's a fog hanging in the air that feels like breathing in a steamy post-shower bathroom. It's about a breath from being falling fog, and I've NEVER encountered that outside the Pacific Northwest before!

(Of course I'm taking advantage of the chance to walk around outside with no coat on, I'm weirded out, not careless)

#51 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 04:39 PM:

My fave this-end-of-seasons poem is Cat Faber's "Jack Frost" (which also has a tune):

I garb the mourners for summer's demise,
I am the least of the faery
I am the trickster more clever than wise;
Untutored, unfettered, unwary.
I am the leaf-painter, sometimes I deign
To make lace that will melt in the morning.
I herald a harvest of blessing and bane,
A promise I bring, and a warning--

Life is a carousel, laden with mirth;
Reach for the ring as it passes!
Harvest time's bounty turns swiftly to dearth;
Fill up your bowls and your glasses.
The leaves they are burning in colors so rare;
The wind picks the brighest for wearing,
But winter she dances with stars in her hair,
Turned-away, cold, and uncaring.

Summer was hot, it was golden and bright,
But death there can be no denying.
Make your own warmth now, and make your own light,
For the cold of the winter comes crying.
The dead who forsook us are gathering near,
As Hallow's eve opens the portal;
The wind walks beside you to breathe in your ear,
"Remember, O man, you are mortal."

It appears to not be on YouTube; as it is one of the few things I can kinda accompany myself on guitar (and the guitar bits are essential, IMHO, to the harmonic structure of the tune) I might have to video myself and post it.

#52 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 06:17 PM:

me for the ee cummings,

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer's lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seem
(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
-when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays
screaming hills with sleet and snow:
strangles valleys by ropes of thing
and stifles forests in white ago?
Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind
(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
-whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,
it's they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
bites this universe in two,
peels forever out of his grave
and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
Blow soon to never and never to twice
(blow life to isn't:blow death to was)
-all nothing's only our hugest home;
the most who die, the more we live

Lila @14, "the fan-edit where they cut out all the parts that weren't in the book"
what a wonderful idea - a sort of reverse director's cut. I'd buy that.

Alan @8, agreed - I became reconciled to the bombastry and gloomy prefiguring, by thinking of it as prequel to LOTR rather than The Hobbit as such. It's still mostly fun, and I loved the LOTR movies so much it's a pleasure to be back in that world. Our Scout troop is having a LOTR marathon to alleviate the depths of winter..

#53 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 06:22 PM:

Elliott Mason @50: For a Chicago winter, today's weather

The weather scheduled for Chicago seems to have been delivered to Boulder, instead. We're currently at 8.8°F. Overnight low predicted to be -6°F.

Thank you.


#54 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 06:29 PM:

We need a cold winter in New Jersey.

This is because the bark beetles have been migrating north and destroying the pine forests here. If it gets to -8F, they die.

That hasn't happened in NJ since 1997. Not a single night when it got to -8. To a transplanted Michigander like me, that barely qualifies as winter at all.

#55 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 06:41 PM:

Xopher (54): Transplanted Atlantans like me, however, are grateful. (Long Island, New Jersey--close enough)

Is one night at -8F enough to kill the bark beetles? I could live with that.

#56 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 06:48 PM:

Oldster, I admire anyone who can use supernova and stater in rhymes.

I'll be seeing Hobbit 2 regardless of reviews or trailers (none seen yet). I just hope Jackson didn't remove Beorn.

#57 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 06:52 PM:


Ah, that's where our expected weather went.

The last few days have been clear and bright, with lows a little below freezing and highs a little above. I don't exactly like wearing long underwear, but there's something comforting about the familiar: having lived almost my entire life in the northeast, the last few days are what I expect of December, even though I know I don't live there now.

#58 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 07:00 PM:

Mary Aileen 55: That was my understanding from the report I heard. But: science, journalism :: oil, water. So I'm not sure.

#59 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 07:18 PM:

Vicki @57: The last few days have been clear and bright, with lows a little below freezing and highs a little above.

Oh, so you've got our weather, then. (Musta been a system crash in the routing center.)

#60 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 07:20 PM:

As Memory Serves, it rarely got below 0 F on Long Island. Coldest I've ever experienced was -5 F, in the Adirondacks.

Jersey might have to put up with pine beetles. :-(

#61 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 07:23 PM:

It hit -5 in Atlanta at least once while I still lived there (late '70s, I think). It doesn't normally get below the mid-20s, though, and that not for long.

#62 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 07:48 PM:

Xopher: I feel for you. We've had a string of mild winters here that have failed to knock back the flea and mosquito populations. Ugggggh.

#63 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 08:07 PM:

Allan Beatty @56--

Thank you! I don't write poetry, but something about Making Light occasionally makes me want to give it a try.

#64 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 09:49 PM:

All that is gold does not wither:
Though Goldengrove's leaves be lost,
The force through the fuse drives them hither
From deep roots unmentioned by Frost.

(with apologies to Robert Frost, J.R.R. Tolkien, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dylan Thomas, and anyone who happens to read this)

#65 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 10:12 PM:

Q. Pheevr: BRAVO/A!

#66 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 10:41 PM:

I just realized I have a part-written song that might be apposite to this seasonality jazz. Herewith, the first verse and chorus (which is all I have).

There are songs of winter's beauty;
Jingle bells and country joys.
In the city, snow brings duty.
We get out tools instead of toys.
I go out and shovel sidewalks,
Wade to work through knee-deep slush:
No, I've never been on a snowy sleighride.
But who cares? I'm in no great rush.

Oh, city winters
When the streets are white with salt and not with snow.
Oh, city winters;
Though the wind bites deep, I know I'll never go.

That much came to me, complete with tune, fairly quickly, over a decade ago, and I still haven't managed to verse it more lengthily. Someday, perhaps. I'm kind of pleased with it, because it's still the first and only time I've managed to write a song whose syllables don't March. A. Long. A. Brup. Tly. With. Ev. Ry. Note. Of. Mel. O. Dy ... not that that feature's clear in plaintext, but whatever. :->

#67 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 10:53 PM:

abi @ 0: do you know Susan Cooper's "The Shortest Day"? It's all over the net, but I just found her reading it; IMO Lurtsema's reading was better, but he was a performer and there's something special about the author reading her own work.
It has been interesting seeing the Frost and your pictures after singing a set of short Estonian poems about Fall; Torvis has some very effective settings.

David Weingert @ 21, et al: I reread The Hobbit (for the first time in ~40 years) when the first movie was coming out -- and was dismayed I hadn't remembered how silly chunks of it were, and how overly-weighty some of the prose was. I wonder whether Tolkien would actually have approved of bits of the movie -- e.g., de-tweeing the elves -- even if he probably would have detested most of it.

#68 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:24 AM:

December 5 marks the 6th anniversary of abi becoming a moderator of this community.

Thanks, abi!

#69 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:36 AM:

Once in a while I'll run into, online, someone who might be called a Greenhouse Dismisser. Not a denialist. They see the handwriting on the wall . . . and think it has drawn a happy face.

"Heck, I hate cold weather!" "Think about the increased growing season! There will be bumper crops in Canada!"

It is hard, really hard, to explain in face of that kind of blithe Babbitry that winters are good. Hard frosts kill off insects, churn up the soil, and put weeds in their place.

#70 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:40 AM:

Also the assumption that the only physical difference between the US and Canada is climate.

#71 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 05:28 AM:

Intellectual Property, Jewish Ethics, and Aaron Swartz

This connects the Jewish legends about the sins of Sodom (greed and cruelty backed up with law) with American property law.

I think there are some further connections with immigration law and the Travesty thread.

#72 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 05:34 AM:

This just in about the law and sense of proportion.

Not quite as clean an example as it might be, but still....

#73 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 07:08 AM:

Westralian December

The east wind springs its ambush out of plains
Where rivers withered, disappeared and died.
A scent of grit and distance still remains.
Face into it, and all your tears are dried;
(Likewise your eyeballs, sinuses and more.)
And gold? Well, out of that immensity,
From beds of streams that vanished long before
The mountains rose above the Tethys Sea,
The gold formed in some supernova's core
Flows on the wind, as dust, insidiously,
And gilds our fringe of green along the shore.

#74 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 07:16 AM:

Serge @68:
December 5 marks the 6th anniversary of abi becoming a moderator of this community.

Bless my trochees and iambs, so it does. And this thread is a very good example of why I am glad of that fact.

#75 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 08:55 AM:

Stefan Jones @#69
"There will be bumper crops in Canada!"

Speaking as a Canadian and the daughter of a geographer, I say to these people "nertz" and "google the phrase Canadian shield."

#76 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 09:39 AM:

This review makes a plausible case for the DVD extended edition of the first Hobbit movie actually being an improvement (and admits this sounds unlikely):
(I've not seen the DVD version myself.)

#77 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:05 AM:

PJ Evans @953y: "Sounds vile." Oh, thanks. I should correct one thing, though, it was apparently unflavored gelatine, not Jell-o, in the faux cheesecake I prefer to the real thing. Perhaps now it won't haunt your dreams.

Reminds me, I saw "Tammy Faye's House Party" on cable one time, and she and her hangers-on made, and enjoyed, "Mock Apple Pie," the recipe I used to see on boxes of Ritz Crackers. No apples in it, of course. To use a phrase from Marshall Efrom, "Just pie."

#78 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:07 AM:

And may I just say, I love it when an Open Thread is so new that it loads quickly and refreshes quickly. Then one gets used to it taking longer and longer still. I guess it's true what they say, about nothing gold staying. And coming back.

#79 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:24 AM:

Unflavored is better.
Actually, what you want to use jello as a flavoring for is mock divinity. It's egg whites and jello and - I'd have to check the recipe for the rest. (Sugar, probably.)

#80 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:28 AM:

About other anniversaries... I hear that Heisenberg and Walt Disney both were born on this day in 1901.

#81 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:28 AM:

Open threadiness: How do you weigh yourself in space?

Like this.

#82 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:33 AM:

The Canadian prairies might (though it's definitely only might*) be one of the areas that comes out ahead in a global-warming scenario. Saskatchewan in particular has a lot of farmland south of the Shield, but a fairly short growing season. Warmer temperatures could quite likely extend the season and lead to higher yields.

Saskatchewan is also having a bit of an oil boom at the moment (as is North Dakota to its south). So I can see why their premier is pushing hard for the Keystone pipeline; it'll increase demand for their fossil fuel industry, and the results of burning the fuels might help their agricultural industry. And they're nowhere near a seacoast that would be affected by sea-level rise, and have average temperatures well below that of many other regions. (Too bad for those other regions, though....)

* The big wild card in this scenario is water, precipitation being somewhat scarce, and often erratic, in much of the province. Changing climate patterns could potentially lead to more useful water, or more droughts or flooding. It's hard to tell for sure what's going to happen with moisture systems long-term at a local level, and whether the changes would overall make crop production better or worse.

#83 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:35 AM:

I hear that Heisenberg and Walt Disney both were born on this day in 1901.

Oh, great. Now I have no idea where Heisenberg was born.

#84 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:52 AM:

From Twitter #NSApoetry:
This is just to say
I have incidentally eaten the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast


#85 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:52 AM:

So my parents return from holiday this evening. Also their house which I am occupying has just had a flood alert for high tide tonight. After panicking, I checked the environment agency map and local geography and if correct the closest it will get is both ends of the street*, and several hours after they get back. Nevertheless I am having a ground level damage mitigation sweep and have checked my go bag. That's where the ugly pair of trousers has been hiding!

* Yes both ends, as one backs onto a drainage channel and the other onto the river. In between is higher ground fortunately.

#86 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 11:16 AM:

James Moar @ 83: You made me laugh out loud, thanks!

Loving all the poetry in this thread, too.

My eye continues to heal, although still rather blurry (and will remain blurry as the macula heals). I'm back at work this week, taking the bus rather than drive. I consider myself lucky to have the option of riding a bus from home to work. The hardest part has been staying awake all day, and not just napping whenever I get sleepy.

My son's 18th birthday is this weekend, and we are having a large party with family and friends. We are all happy he has safely made it this far...

#87 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:25 PM:

James 83: Stealing that, thanks!

#88 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:58 PM:

... and the road has been closed to vehicles. Since the town Christmas lights are up and the Indian Takeaway is open, a friend has suggested an impromptu street party, while it's still low tide.

#89 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 01:51 PM:

Ginger, congratulations to you and your son on the journey! How has he been doing lately? I assume that it has been a good sign that posts about alarums and excursions have grown less frequent in the last few years?

#90 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 02:14 PM:

Ginger... Glad to hear things are improving.

#91 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Clifton @ 89: Indeed, the alarums and excursions have subsided! This time last year, he was depressed and angry (old injuries resurfacing, as they do for children of abusive environments); a change in medication and some focus in therapy have allowed him to regain his cheerfulness. He is the main force behind the party planning, in fact, although he is not yet organized enough to be handling all of the planning.

Our big battle now is to get him to understand how college will benefit him in his chosen area of interest (music production) versus a for-profit company that promises "jobs" and "networking" along with "training" that he can complete by himself at home for a lot cheaper. We think he is burning out on the academics that he doesn't like, and doesn't want to have to take in college.

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 02:43 PM:

James, #83: *snerk*

One of the things I love about Making Light is that people here make that kind of joke. Regularly.

#93 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 02:53 PM:

Ginger, glad to hear your eye is improving. And happy birthday to your son.

Re burning out on academics he doesn't like, we had a similar issue with our daughter. Could a gap year work for him? In retrospect, we should have looked harder at one (though things have settled down for her now).

#94 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Possibly a bored underachiever?

#95 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 03:07 PM:

I have been floating the option of a gap year, and yes, I think we all agree on his underachieving abilities, and boredom. When he likes something, he does very well at it, in sharp contrast to those things he doesn't like (or classes taught by teachers he doesn't like). He is certainly more mature this year, and more motivated, and some of his recent comments may be a sign that he needs a vacation, as do we all, this time of year.

#96 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 04:45 PM:

Ginger: Sometime later this year - now would not be a good time - maybe we could arrange for your son to talk to my daughter about the business. She studied music production in college along with composition, recently got her MFA in multimedia and installation music, and is now, among other things, working audio in NYC both in theater and live music settings. (She just got a possible offer of a really neat computer programming job doing creative data visualization software, thanks in part to troubleshooting their software earlier this year as part of a theater show she was working on.)

I think it's true from what she's said that doing college classwork won't necessarily break you into the music production field - there's a big apprenticeship and "paying your dues" aspect to it - but also that most places which promise "networking" and jobs don't really have that to offer. The right college may offer a much better set of industry connections than a trade school can.

#97 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 04:54 PM:

I've just heard on NPR that Nelson Mandela has died. It's a great loss to the world, but his contributions to freedom, equality, and peace will endure.

#98 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 05:14 PM:

One of the true giants of the 20th century. Nelson Mandela.

#99 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 06:11 PM:

It may be that all of us here have a slight, indirect, connection with Nelson Mandela on our bookshelves.

Have we all read this man's words?

#100 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 06:20 PM:

Gentles all, I say ye, Nelson Mandela!

"Shine, South Africa, shine..."

#101 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 06:29 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ #58 & 54
Mary Aileen @ #55

I do not know about the pine beetles that are in New Jersey, but I have read about the Mountain Pine Beetle in Colorado because it is part of life here.

According to the linked extension article "30 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) must be sustained for at least five days." So... a great deal colder and for a longer time would be needed to kill off our problem. Though I have read elsewhere that if the cold snap happens early in the season before the beetles can winter harden then almost moderate temperatures of -10F can kill them off.

I suspect that the beetle is probably Dendroctonus frontalis, the Southern Pine Beetle, based upon a quick googling of destructive pine beetles in NJ. More searching and I have found that they are probably extending their range northward due to climate change, but it is unclear if a cold snap would slow their advance or not. Like most animal issues the exact direction of causality is mysterious. It could be that the trees being more stressed in summer are more vulnerable rather than it being strictly an issue of cold in winter.

#102 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 06:55 PM:

The passing of Madiba has me in tears. I've just read Fergal Keane's obit (, which is good BBC journalism.

All I can think of is Ecclesiasticus 44 i-vii.

#103 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 07:07 PM:

It's probably both stress in summer (weakening the trees) and not quite enough cold in winter (not killing off the beetles).

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 07:10 PM:

HLN: local woman has unpacked new computer (SQUEEE!), gotten second hard drive installed, and verified that it turns on. It's quiet.

(Gaming computer, bought through Costco. Which means window in one side panel and lights in various places on the case. Also speed and memory.)

#105 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Mishalak 101: I don't think winter temperatures in New Jersey have been below -30F for five consecutive days since the ice age, so maybe it's a different beetle, because the winters used to keep them out, and no longer do.

Fragano 102: I thought of this. He's one of the ancestors now, and I will honor him as such.

#106 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 07:52 PM:

Stefan at # 69: The climate change dismissers puzzle me, because they tend to be the same people who would be alarmed at a lot of brown-skinned climate change refugees trying to move into their area from further south.

#107 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 08:15 PM:

Xopher #105: That was beautiful.

#108 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 09:05 PM:

#106: I don't think we're talking about people who think things through, or make connections.

Climate change refugees will get labeled as frauds and freeloaders. Drought and dying oceans will be called a natural cycle.

When the problem gets too big to ignore, they'll call for a capital gains tax cut, and allow people to use food stamps to buy fans.

#109 ::: cheyanne ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 11:12 PM:

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

#110 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 12:16 AM:

My initial reaction to the "DC Comics: Bad at Math" particle was to recall when Marvel claimed that 10% of 2,000,000 was 200, and to figure that DC couldn't be worse than that. But I think the linked comic strip makes a decent case that they are.

#111 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 01:35 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @ #105

Oh it certainly is a different beetle. We have the Mountain Pine Beetle in Colorado. The Southern Pine Beetle is not, off the top of my head, found north of New Mexico.

I just was not able to find specific information about what the temperature limits of the Southern Pine Beetle are. Though one of the top results for Dendroctonus frontalis and temperature was a paper finding that in the majority of their range temperature was not a factor, but it was probably in northern areas like New Jersey.

#112 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 05:51 AM:

Hi Abi - it occurs to me that you may be interested in this article on Black Pete. I wonder if you agree with the journalist's assessment of the national consensus, you being on the ground and all.

#113 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 07:05 AM:

I very rarely discuss Zwarte Piet outwith Dutch contexts. There's really too much cultural baggage around it, both for the Dutch and the non-Dutch. And that baggage is profoundly different, so it's hard to say something and have it heard in the same context that it is said.

(Relatedly: my children are forbidden from being painted as Zwarte Piet. They can be Witte Piet and wear the Pietenpak, the extravagant suit, but they may not put on the paint. They're not Dutch, and in our non-Dutch home contexts, it's completely out of the question to ever have done such a thing.)

Also, it is not a discussion that one can genuinely understand without genuinely understanding both viewpoints. And getting to understand the Dutch viewpoint (by which I mean cultural-Dutch, not ethnic-Dutch; I know black Dutch people with complex views on the subject) requires a journey through what, to non-Dutch people, is quite problematic territory. I can't see any way to do this that would reward the effort enough to compensate for the risks of getting it wrong.

What I will say is that very few of the primary school children dressed in Piet suits yesterday were wearing makeup. Fewer than in previous years at the same school. But that's just an unscientific sample at one school out of four, in one village out of many, in one province out of twelve. I have no statistically significant information.

My gut feel is that Zwarte Piet will just be Piet within my lifetime. But it's not a topic that I'm prepared to discuss in this context any further than I just have.

#114 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 09:42 AM:


If the topic ever comes up with your neighbours, suggest green make-up as an alternative to black.

#116 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 11:30 AM:


Abi - thank you very much for talking about it at all; that was a very considered response. I apologize for putting you on the spot and undoubtedly making you uncomfortable. You have added to my thoughts on the subject, and I'm more than happy to drop it.

#117 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 11:31 AM:

Clifton @96: That sounds awesome, thank you for offering.

On Madiba's passing, I turn to Ecclesiastes 3:
3 לַכֹּ֖ל זְמָ֑ן וְעֵ֥ת לְכָל־חֵ֖פֶץ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃
2 עֵ֥ת לָלֶ֖דֶת וְעֵ֣ת לָמ֑וּת עֵ֣ת לָטַ֔עַת וְעֵ֖ת לַעֲקֹ֥ור נָטֽוּעַ׃
3 עֵ֤ת לַהֲרֹוג֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִרְפֹּ֔וא עֵ֥ת לִפְרֹ֖וץ וְעֵ֥ת לִבְנֹֽות׃
4 עֵ֤ת לִבְכֹּות֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִשְׂחֹ֔וק עֵ֥ת סְפֹ֖וד וְעֵ֥ת רְקֹֽוד׃
5 עֵ֚ת לְהַשְׁלִ֣יךְ אֲבָנִ֔ים וְעֵ֖ת כְּנֹ֣וס אֲבָנִ֑ים עֵ֣ת לַחֲבֹ֔וק וְעֵ֖ת לִרְחֹ֥ק מֵחַבֵּֽק׃
6 עֵ֤ת לְבַקֵּשׁ֙ וְעֵ֣ת לְאַבֵּ֔ד עֵ֥ת לִשְׁמֹ֖ור וְעֵ֥ת לְהַשְׁלִֽיךְ׃
7 עֵ֤ת לִקְרֹ֙ועַ֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִתְפֹּ֔ור עֵ֥ת לַחֲשֹׁ֖ות וְעֵ֥ת לְדַבֵּֽר׃
8 עֵ֤ת לֶֽאֱהֹב֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִשְׂנֹ֔א עֵ֥ת מִלְחָמָ֖ה וְעֵ֥ת שָׁלֹֽום׃

(in English:)
To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

It has been a season of loss -- my FF's mother, my old friend's father, among others -- but there will be reason to rejoice amid the sadness. Birthdays, births, and weddings go on, despite our losses.

Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest living human beings of our modern times. We were lucky to have shared this earth with him.

#118 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 03:01 PM:

abi @ 113

Thank you for the example of how to say, "I can't do this helpfully here, so no."

That's a response I find very hard to make and to get right.

#119 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 03:06 PM:

"Santorum is wrong to compare Obamacare to Apartheid because unlike Obamacare, many Republicans supported Apartheid."
- Frank Conniff of MST3K fame

#120 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 05:10 PM:

cheyanne -- welcome, and looking forward to more of you here!

#121 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 10:10 PM:

Dave @99, thank you for that link, had not known about the Robben Island bible.

I visited Robben Island as a boy in 1967, saw prisoners labouring in a quarry, Madiba most likely among them; but all I remember is a memory.
In the Orthodox church, we say of the dead, may his memory be eternal. For the troublemaker Rolihlahla Mandala this much is sure.

#122 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 10:23 PM:

I remember when he wore a Springboks jersey to support the Springboks against Australia. Rugby, the White and Afrikaner game, and one of the flashpoints. He was saying, you are us, too.

May his memory shine forever.

And in news of other incomprehensible sports, Australia 9/570 declared, England in reply 8/130, Second Test, Adelaide. The world has been returned to its proper foundations.

#123 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 11:40 PM:

HLN: Tomorrow I shall be a vendor at a craft faire. Outdoors. The high/low projected is 44º/28º. I have no idea where my wool socks (from when I lived in Denver) are, and my current pair* of shoes is, shall we say, inadequate.

It's going to be fun.

*Yes, pair, singular. When you have kids, your shoe size tends to change, which means all my former shoes have long gone to other homes. And I'm only slowly getting pairs... which causes problems when you realize that your current pair is completely shot and you don't have a backup.

#124 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 11:41 PM:

Combining two subjects already discussed on this thread, I note that Frost's "Stopping by the Woods On a Snowy Evening" can be sung to the same tune as "Far over the Misty Mountains Cold" from the first Hobbit movie.

#125 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 12:53 AM:

B. Durbin, #123: Oh, dear. Is there someone you can send to look for a pair of shoe-boots (aka winter boots with a fur lining, intended to be worn like shoes) in your current size at Goodwill and bring them to you at your booth? There is nothing more misery-making than having to sit outside for hours in the cold in inadequate clothing. Also, make sure you have a thermos full of something hot -- tea, coffee, hot cider, soup, it doesn't matter what -- and drink a cup at least once an hour.

Erik, #124: Now that's an earworm I don't mind having at all.

#126 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 01:00 AM:

Arizona gets occasional outbreaks of pine beetles. Lots of trees do die, but the strongest survive, and in the end, it helps the forest. However, our forests are generally massively overgrown. For whatever that data is worth. Not sure of the situation elsewhere.

(Also, if you have a tree in your own yard that you want to protect from bark beetles, the best thing you can do is water it regularly. A healthy, well-watered pine tree can often repel beetles by producing lots of of sap.)

#127 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 02:23 AM:

BTW, if you haven't got your two-foot tall Darth Vader (poised for strangling subordinates with the Force), you can now find them in the Christmas section at McGuckin Hardware.

#128 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 02:59 AM:

Darth Vader lawn gnomes?

#129 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 04:49 AM:

Erik Nelson @124

Hernando's Hobbit-way?

#130 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 06:10 AM:

TomB @ #128

I find your b'zugda-hiara disturbing

#131 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 07:57 AM:

AKICIML: my youngest daughter will be presenting a poster at the American Geophysical Union in a few days. She's an undergrad, and this is only her second professional conference, so this is a big deal to all of us.

I'd like to get her poster framed after she gets home, but it is HUGE. 42 by 64 inches. The custom frame places I've found seem to top out at 62 inches.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

(Incidentally, her research involves using infrared and visible-light images from CRISM and HiRISE to establish correlations between surface texture and mineral composition on Mars.)

#132 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 09:00 AM:

B. Durbin @123, if you see this before you leave for the craft fair, try to get some chemical hand-warmers/feet warmers. They're generally available at places like K-Mart and Target and Walmart in the sporting-goods section, and they'll help. Thin little packets of chemical warmness you tuck in gloves or shoes. And my memory says they're only a buck or two (it's been a long time since I've bought them, however).

Lila @131, I went to the framing URL my husband uses for his artwork, and the maximum length+width they support is 90". So you may have to construct your own frame. Are you handy? If you go to the big-box hardware store (or lumber yard) nearest you and look at the mouldings, some of them will be appropriate as frames after staining or painting. You'll need to get them miter-cut at the store; don't forget that you (probably) only want a tiny overlap over the poster so the lengths you'll be buying will be closer to 43" and 65" or even 44" and 66" (depending on how wide the moulding you select is). If it's a big-box hardware store they should be able to cut glass or acetate to fit. Don't forget to get something for a backing-board; a frame that big needs support. (really heavy cardboard; really light plywood; stiff plastic (more acetate?)....

More general musings than specific help, I'm afraid, but it might give you a place to start.

#133 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 09:05 AM:

Lila @131 addendum; On further experimentation, allows one dimension to be 64" for at least some of their frames (I didn't check with all), but the total length+width has to be under 90". So you could conceivably order a 64" x 8" frame and a 42" x 10" frame and end up with framing material for a 64" x 42" frame and a bonus 8" x 10" frame. But you would NOT get a backing board or glass/plastic front; you'd need to figure that out separately.

#134 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 10:11 AM:

Lila @ 131: This may be a dumb question, but: Have you called around to local framing shops? (I have the impression you've been searching online.) There may be one in your area that does custom work like this.

#135 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 10:42 AM:

Lila@131: I once mounted a very large poster by treating it like a mirror -- got a piece of acrylic cut to size, sandwiched the poster between it and a large piece of cardboard, and used bathroom mirror mounting hardware to attach it to the wall.

#136 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 10:51 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 69 ...
"Heck, I hate cold weather!" "Think about the increased growing season! There will be bumper crops in Canada!"

Indeed -- the car makers will be delighted... (Wait, did you mean something else?)

#137 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 11:02 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft, I like that idea!

John A. Arkansawyer, I have not checked with the non-chain framing places yet, but I will.

Cassy B., I'm not handy enough to build a frame, alas.

I did find these, which are plenty wide even if the thing is landscape-oriented:

Thanks for the advice, all!

#138 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 11:09 AM:

Lila @ 131 ...
I'd like to get her poster framed after she gets home, but it is HUGE. 42 by 64 inches. The custom frame places I've found seem to top out at 62 inches.

When I was working as a framer (a picture framer, dammit!), we did get pieces in that were easily that size, or larger. It's absolutely possible to find a place that will do it, but also likely to be both flaming expensive and extremely heavy (between that much glass, and a frame that won't flex).

It might be worth looking into plaque mounting the poster (I haven't used the place at the link, but their site seems to show max sizes of 72x48).

I have several pieces that have been plaque mounted, and the results were (and are) good -- it's been something over a decade now, and they're still going strong.

Plaque mounting is obviously not archival in any way, and if that's a concern, you'll want to go with more traditional framing techniques.

#139 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 11:24 AM:

xeger, that does look like a good option, but alas, too pricey at that size for our budget.

#140 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 11:34 AM:

Lila @ 139 ...
xeger, that does look like a good option, but alas, too pricey at that size for our budget.

It may be worth looking around -- my local supermarket does the same sort of thing via their photo department for a remarkably reasonable price.

That said, might also be worth checking your local craftsy store to see if they sell frame components separately, on the build-your-own side of things.

#141 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 12:27 PM:

Lila @131

Do you know somebody with a good camera? 42 x 64 is almost 2:3, the ratio of 35mm film, and if you can set it up, flat wall and camera on a tripod, you might get a good enough image to get a readable large print. Cameras are digital, but that aspect ratio is still there.

Mind you, the print will be expensive, and it will depend on text sizes, but roughly half the size is possible. And pixel resolution would be a little better than most computer monitors.

Even if you don't print it, having the digital record would be useful.

(And, so obvious that I didn't think of it at first, how was the poster printed. There must be a digital copy that the poster was made from. How would the cost of a smaller print, and framing of that, compare to the cost of framing the poster?)

#142 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 12:36 PM:

Universities, at least in this country, normally do their printing in-house. If that's the case here, the university print shop should still have the original file, and they may do a student and/or staff discount. (I know this because I've been involved in the printing of academic posters before.)

My advice: talk to the nice people at the university print shop, or, if there isn't one, at whatever print shop the university uses. Even if the print shop isn't in-house, universities need so much printing doing that you're likely to get a favourable rate if you go through the university.

#143 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 01:17 PM:

HLN: Local person reads paper on runes at Medieval Society Undergrad Colloquium, feels proud of self. "I have some doubts about how original the underlying idea actually is, but I came up with it out of my sources instead of taking it from someone else, so that's okay," said person, and mourned the fact that they missed the chance to submit an undergraduate abstract to the Kalamazoo medieval studies conference, because that would have been *awesome*.

#144 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 01:19 PM:

Printing was done in-house. I'm sure I could get a smaller one, but I'd rather rig the actual one for hanging, since she's quite enamored of it. I think the hanging rails are the way to go, perhaps with some mylar window film or similar to give a degree of strength and protection. It's not archival, or even long-term, but she'll always have the digital version for that.

#145 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 01:52 PM:

I'd suggest getting it dry-mounted (most framing shops can do this, although something the size of a conference poster might be a problem for some). It'll give the poster rigidity, but it won't be too unmanagable (but I wouldn't take it outside on a windy day).

I've printed my own conference posters for the last few years (yay for the banner printer that lives in our closet), so the only thing I'd note is that the ink+paper combination usually used for conference posters isn't particularly archival. If it's up anywhere it'll see sun, it'll probably fade in a year or two. Unless AGU requires glossy printing for posters, at which point it's probably good for decades with current ink/paper combos.

#146 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 03:10 PM:

Don't know if they require it, but it is in fact glossy.

#147 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 04:47 PM:

Xeger @ 136... Some people never tire of making bad pnus.

#148 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 04:52 PM:

Serge Broom @147: So true! Axle anyone.

#149 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 05:20 PM:

Lila at 146: Which tells me that the paper is better quality than what I usually print my conference posters on. You may not be able to get it dry-mounted at that point, but your local framing shop can advise you better than I can (having not dry-mounted anything myself since high school; I'd be a little worried that the glossy stock might melt or deform given the heat of the dry-mounting process).

#150 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 05:36 PM:

As for seasonal verse, I prefer this one--linked only, because it's too long:

The gist: "Frack, it's cold. Let's party! Party with the rich, party with the poor, party in the city, party in the country, party in the palace, party with the stranger just come in off the road, everybody party!"

And here is IMO the best performance of it:

#151 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 05:41 PM:

OK, people who tweet, something odd just happened to me. Second try at this; I decided it had too many identifiable details the first time.

Twitter conversation. Someone enters it to pronounce something crap. I ask why they think so; they don't respond immediately, and I refer to them and say I find their assertion that the work in question is crap baffling. They come back and say (basically) that the author had an agenda. Then they added that "once you start talking about me in 3rd person it's time to take me out of the convo."

I was kind of startled by that. I said that it was only because "@[their Twitter tag]'s" was shorter than "@[their Twitter tag], your." They reiterated wanting to be dropped from the conversation...then came in with one more response in the conversation.

I think that's a species of Flounce, and that the real issue is that the person didn't like having their assertions challenged or even questioned.

But the question is, is it actually rude to refer to someone's Twitter tag in the third person in a conversation when addressing someone else? This person is followed by several people I respect, so they're not just some kind of cranky jerk.

#152 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 05:58 PM:

D. Potter@148

Although if you're not careful the joke will just fall flat.

#153 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 06:10 PM:

This moose is just tyred and exhausted.

#154 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 06:17 PM:

You all spoke truth today.

#155 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 06:34 PM:

Ah well. I should know better than to tread on tire puns.

#156 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 07:21 PM:

Xopher, that's...a tricky one. A lot of people use Twitter @names as a convenient shorthand way of referring to a person, but the way Twitter handles those, a lot of people take it as deliberately trying to bring a tweet to someone's attention. So there's a lot of fuzzy disagreement on whether a tweet saying "I know @fadeaccompli recommended this game" is just referring to me, or referring to me and also poking me to see if I want to respond, or addressing me directly.

That said, unless the person is on a private account, anything they say on Twitter isn't private, and directly referring to things other people said on Twitter--even while not responding to them personally--is pretty standard. So I am inclined to think that you did nothing wrong in discussing what they said in a perfectly public location, with their name attached, and they can be part of that conversation or not as they like. I honestly don't know what they mean about taking them out of the conversation, though; maybe they would rather not have their @name included on tweets that aren't addressed to them personally?

One of the problems of Twitter is that it's still new enough to not have a lot of established etiquette, and the limited character space makes it even easier than any other online format I've seen yet to misread tone or lose nuance. Which is a damn pity; I love its use for quick and casual drop-in/drop-out public conversations between multiple people.

#158 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 11:38 PM:

D Potter @ 155... Why? I thought it was rather groovy.

#159 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 12:04 AM:

#157: For a brief moment I read this as "of interest to knitters and otters."

* * *
My morning dog walk takes me down a street a few neighborhoods over. The street-side mailboxes there all have a flyer:


You can see it at the link below:

Pretty sure this has nothing to do with a found bunny. The phone number area code is for the Bay Area. I'm not going to call it except as a last resort; I picture a high pitched modulated tone coming over the line, and then everything fading to black until I wake up shuffling up the ramp of a Harvester Saucer.

Is there band or something associated with this? Didn't get any google hits.

#160 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 01:20 AM:

Fade, I think this person was just in a bad mood and snarled at us undeservedly. And yeah, "take me out of the conversation" meant "stop @ing me" (so it wouldn't show up in their mentions).

#161 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 08:17 AM:

Serge Broom @ 158 ...
D Potter @ 155... Why? I thought it was rather groovy.

Indeedy - pump up the volume

#162 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 08:24 AM:

Huh. While searching for the link in my previous post, I found this documentary on House which is quite neat.

#163 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 11:02 AM:

Stefan @159, so did I! But then, I am just back from the central California coast, where I saw sea otters :-)

#164 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 12:38 PM:

Interesting that the bunny has what looks like an umbrella logo on its haunch. Perhaps the number goes to Travelers Insurance.

#166 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 02:07 PM:

Xopher, from what you've said, I can understand where the other person is coming from. It's tough to begin what you think is a conversation, albeit a slow one, and return when you can to find that the person you talked to has picked up your idea and used it to talk to someone else rather than you. Twitter doesn't make it easy to do anything if you can only check a few times a day; almost every conversation I see on Twitter ended hours before I saw it, and I've been reprimanded for adding anything. My conversations have to be slow because I can't leave Twitter running in the background at all, and I wouldn't like it if my effort to engage someone not only was ignored in terms of communicating with me but was coopted into that person talking to people who are obviously more important than I am.

I don't think that the way you acted was malicious, only that circumstances and Twitter conspired to convey that this person doesn't matter to you except as a discussion point to those who do. If that's what you meant to convey, then you're fine. If not, the extra characters of 'your' will acknowledge that the conversation includes the other person and invite further discussion.

#167 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 02:29 PM:

Fanfic rec -- from 2010, a Lensman/Big Bang Theory crossover:

In which Dr. Sheldon Cooper finds a ray gun-toting, scantily-clad Karen Kinnison in his room, and is distinctly unimpressed.

#168 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 03:41 PM:

A tweet over at emptywheel links to this: a Chimu telephone that's about 1200 years old.

#169 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 04:07 PM:

Sarah @ # 167 -

That was great - thanks for sharing.

#170 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 07:12 PM:

Diatryma, from my point of view, the comment, not followed up by explanation even after a question, looked like a driveby.

I was saying that a particular movie was clearly SF. The person came into the conversation and said "No it isn't. It's luddite crap." (IMO being anti-technology doesn't mean it isn't SF, but that's a whole other conversation.) Frankly, I thought that was pretty rude to begin with, but I responded politely.

You know, the more I think about this, the less I care what that person thinks of me. Perhaps I'll block them, in fact. All their entries to the conversation were in the range from prickly/nitpicky to outright rude.

#171 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 07:54 PM:

This came out of private conversation with a moderator when I needed help on the Dysfunctional Family thread. These points are appropriate to extend my gratitude here.

> A smart move has been hanging out on ML, where a significant subset understand dealing with tangled skeins of interactions. No black/white solutions, but a full spectrum (ha) of tradeoffs.

> There's constant reinforcement to prepare without obsessing. One example: Jim's med-prep posts (and abi's followup on her family fire-training - I will never approach a potentially hot door without her guiding the back of my hand to it).

> Daily, people whom I respect triage for best use of minimal spoons, not limited to dysfunctional situations.

#172 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 07:58 PM:

Arrgggh . . .

A question for bakers out there.

WHERE in an oven should a thermometer hang?

Front? Back? Any particular shelf?

I'm not sure whether to trust my either my oven thermostat or my little add-on thermometer.

I burned the bottoms of a flat of cookies this afternoon.

#173 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 08:17 PM:

Stefan, I'd hang the thermometer from the shelf your cookie sheet will rest on if there isn't room to sit it on top of it.

Your thermometer could have died the death, too.

Sympathies on the burned cookies. I like mine thin and well-toasted but not carbonized.

#174 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 08:23 PM:

I've always hung mine from the middle of the rack that I habitually use. I never rearrange my oven trays, so I've always got a rack dead in the middle.

#175 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 08:29 PM:

Part of the problem may have been that I was mixing cookie sheet types.

I put the "dark non stick" one on the bottom, thinking it would be cooler there. (The directions call for 375 F for shiny, 350 F for non-stick.) That is the one with the starting-to-burn cookies.

#176 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 09:12 PM:

In general, the heating element is at the bottom of an oven -- so lower areas are (I believe, but might be wrong!) hotter. And the primary place where heat is likely to escape is at the top of the door, again making the top more likely to be (slightly) cooler.

If you can add a small fan (please, not anyone who posts here) to the oven for convection heating, the heat gets a lot more even.

#177 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 09:14 PM:

Xopher, I don't deny that the comment was rude, but if I reply to something on Twitter in the morning, it's going to be six and a half hours before I can see that anyone replied at all, let alone reply myself. You obviously know this person best, including the details of your interactions, and you know what's best for your own happiness.

#178 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 09:53 PM:

Harking back to the swearing subthread, my late father-in-law was a ham radio guy, one of those with the tower full of antennas in the back yard. One of his oft used swears was

3 dits 4 dits 2 dits dah

Saying that in a room full of people will find you all those who speak Morse code, because they'll be chuckling. Translation: sh*t

#179 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 12:21 AM:

Well, our very much alive Aleppo Pine from Living Christmas has arrived and we have just fed it a small bag of ice. We will decorated it tomorrow. Here's hoping we can keep it alive through the holidays!

#180 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 12:26 AM:

I'm a little nervous because neither of us has a good track record keeping plants alive. We've got the tree as far away from a heat register as possible and we are not keeping more than 3 weeks. I'm hoping the email reminders to water will do their part. I'd really like to stay out of the dead tree carcass industry and there's just not enough storage space in this apartment for a fake tree the other 11 months of the year.

#181 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 12:31 AM:

You shouldn't have too much trouble. In this weather, unless your place is very warm, water about twice a week, just to keep the soil damp around the roots. (I have some oak seedlings I'm keeping an eye on.)

#182 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 01:27 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 175: I rarely use two racks -- no big on baking cookies -- so I keep a pizza stone on the bottom rack. Once the oven has heated up including that extra thermal mass, I think it keeps a more even temperature.
One of these days I'll get a spiffy convection oven!

#183 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 01:30 AM:

@182: Sigh. "not big on baking cookies".

#184 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 05:22 AM:

So, I'm getting tsuris from my development.... Some time ago, they said "one of these months we'll redo your kitchen, including replacing the rotten floor. You'll have a week's notice."

Well, I got a flyer in my door Friday evening, ~ 4:30. They wanted me to have my kitchen cabinets cleared out by Tuesday. With an ice storm coming over the weekend (which as I write, I'm still not sure how badly it will be messing things up). Remembering that I have to get the dog to the kennel too. And the development office was closed Saturday, so I couldn't ask any questions. They are offering an apartment to stay in, which they say is done up like a hotel room, but no information about where, much less if there's wi-fi, and I'm supposed to pick up the key Monday evening. Oh yeah, the work is supposed to last until Friday.

After consulting with Mom, and considering the prospect of having my kitchen stuff piled in the living room during a potential power failure, I decided to tell them "No. This is not sufficient notice, and I am not ready." But I'm still torn and tempted to try and get everything packed up in time.... :-( Any comments?

#185 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 06:15 AM:

On ovens:

"Fan-assist", as we call it, has become something of a default here in the UK in the new-oven market. The one we had in this house was a bit old when we arrived, and needed a replacement a few years ago. It was either a not-very good DIY job or a professional working dirt cheap. I won't say I matched pro-standards, but I did the job according to manufacturer's spec, with adequate ventilation and proper electrical connection1.

Buying a new oven is not hugely expensive, but a lot of people would really struggle to raise the money.

1) UK regulations require a qualified electrician to do a permanent installation, so ovens are sold with a 13-amp plug on the power lead, which is just short of 3kW total. If your arrangements are done right, you can get at the plug/socket without trouble. There is a fuse in the plug, and so you do need to be able to get at that easily. The old oven needed the oven removing to get at the plug/socket. Half a meter of extra wire would have averted that. And the old oven was supported on a sheet of plastic-coated chipboard which totally blocked air-flow and showed signs of heat-discolouration. I re-built the support frame, but it's annoying to know how to do the wiring right, and not have the paperwork2.

2) Some 40 years ago, it did need an electrician to do some basic checks. Had you used the right wire sizes? Testing for short circuits. That rig lasted 30 years. I doubt, the way the old oven was installed, that the wiring would have passed any basic check.

#186 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 06:23 AM:

HLN: After high winds and floods on Thursday (no damage here) the electrical power went off about 3am Sunday. 11 hours later, the electricity company had a palletised generator running at the local transformer ("sub-station"). Nobody knows when a permanent fix will be made.

The winds messed up a lot of electrical supplies, and the tidal surge overtopped the flood defences on the Humber bank and the Trent. It was lucky I had a gadget that provides a wi-fi connection via 3G. Around here, on;y one mobile phone network gives a useful 3G connection.

The local chip-shop uses gas.

#187 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 06:33 AM:

HLN: in the past three hours, I have had two calls from companies offering solar power systems which will work on north-facing roofs., with claims of heavy government subsidy which will guarantee profit.

Since the companies doing this block CLID and don't give useful contact details, it is hard to distinguish them from crooks.

I have done enough with a camera to know that there is at least a 10-fold difference in incident light levels between a north-facing and south-facing roof.

Frankly, should the government want to check on who it's handing a subsidy to, I figure I would be put in the same class as a Nigerian politicians widow, or a keeper of Romanian cattle.

#188 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 09:09 AM:

Actually, Dave Bell @187, the current data says for nontropical customers west-facing is better than south-facing -- you miss some in the morning, but the sundown is apparently more intense.

#189 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 11:01 AM:

HLN: Local weekend bathtime is survived. No guinea pigs were drowneded, despite strident protestations to the contrary.

Dave Harmon @184: But I'm still torn and tempted to try and get everything packed up in time.... :-( Any comments?

Were it me, I would contact them earliest possible Monday, and hold them to the week's notice. I would say, "I can have my place ready by Friday afternoon, per development's instructions dated [date]. I will contact you if I am ready sooner. If this arrangement does not work with your schedule, please contact me and we can arrange a different date." If there are textual communications, and if you still have it (this is why I keep copies of everything), I would include a copy of the development's original communication on the subject.

#190 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 11:12 AM:

Dave Bell @ #185

Ah yes, the dreaded "Part P" of the Building Regulations. Considering some of the bodged work I've seen performed by "professional" electricians, it's a great pity you can no longer do a proper job of it yourself (without contracting an authorised person to inspect the completed work once finished and issue you with a compliance certificate). "It all makes work for the working man to do" as the saying goes (not to mention several layers of bureaucrats).

The really annoying part of it all is that you can take all the courses on electrical installation, pass the exams, and still not be permitted to do the work (because you're not registered), and a friend of the family who works for the power company and has all the certifications (and more) required is also prohibited from working on his own house wiring!

ObSheesh: Furrfu!

On the cooker front, you are now allowed to do your own installation, provided that you don't need to alter the fixed part of the supply wiring - so you can connect it to an existing 30A isolator but are not allowed to install the said isolator.

(It comes under section 2.8 "Non-notifiable work" in the latest regs.)

#191 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 04:02 PM:

Stefan Jones, a clever idea I've seen elsewhere is to toast trayfuls of either coconut flakes or white bread crumbs (whichever you'd rather use) and use the toasting to find the hot and cool spots in your oven. I don't know if insulated pans would move the spots, or merely delay their appearance, so you might need to do it twice.

oldster, your #5 makes me very happy and I sent it to my sweetie.

#192 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 04:53 PM:

Life imitates a Charlie Stross novel:

Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents.

#193 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 05:11 PM:


"Okay, Johnson, so let me get this straight. You and McCormick have spent the last six months of work time playing World of Warcraft on work time?"

"No, wait, boss, I know a way we can spin this as a good thing...."

#194 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 05:28 PM:

Since the ice storm fizzled, I wound up deciding to pack my kitchen stuff up today (I had Mom and a friend helping) and get the work over with. I did complain about the short notice.

#195 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 06:09 PM:

Charlie Stross notes, with some displeasure, that life imitates a Charlie Stross novel:

#196 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 06:54 PM:

You know, it's entirely possible that Charlie gave them the idea.

Nah. NSA isn't smart enough to read Charlie Stross novels. And if they did, they'd be more likely to get it right (and, for example, realize that they had a serious humsec (if that's the right word) problem).

#197 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 07:07 PM:

HLN: Local woman has mailed all the things.

All. The. Things.

#198 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 07:34 PM:

re 173: Thanksgiving was made that much more interesting by the discovery that the newly purchased instant read thermometer was 30 degrees F out of calibration. Fortunately it was reading high, so we caught it without cremating the turkey.

#199 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 08:02 PM:

Open-Threadiness: Random Exhibition Title Generator.

Highlights include:
- "Alchemical Ground: Constructing a Praxis of Damage" (Discworld, anyone?)
- "An Overwhelming Dissent: The Politics of Sameness" (future title of my book on counterculture)
- "Extravagant Charm: Defying the Local" (the anti-housing-cooperative exhibit?)
- "The Bureaucracies of Sustainability: A Juried Show of Too Many Dinner Parties"
- "Extravagant Rubbish: Daring to Defy the System"

#200 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 08:57 PM:

So, we got everything packed up. I get to sleep tonight in my own bed, then tomorrow night I come home from work to the apartment they've set up for me (I supplied food and other supplies.) As it happens, that apartment is the one below me, opening to the opposite side of the townhouse building. (That is, I'm my own downstairs neighbor.) Good point of that, I can use my own wifi. Bad point, I get the construction noise....

I'll probably be more sporadic than usual this week, since I'll be on the iPad.

#201 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 09:01 PM:

Lin Daniel #178: Way way back in my seafood-cannery days, we had an electric hoist and we used to spell out dirty words in Morse by jerking on the chain. I don't remember any of it now but it was one of the ways we kept sane.

#202 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 09:35 PM:

HLN: While the craft sale was a definite fizzle, I did make enough on the fudge sales to justify the making of said fudge, and since I was already going to make that much gingerbread, and those were the only perishables, it could have been much worse.

And we do have a line on an indoor venue next year, from some folks who came by and saw us all shivering there.

#203 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 09:55 PM:

Well, I am big on baking cookies, but it has never occurred to me to use two racks at once. Timing is everything if the cookies are to come out soft and chewy, and I expect baking sheets at different heights would need to be taken out at different times, which I couldn't keep track of.

#204 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 10:00 PM:

Allan Beatty @203: The way we always did it when my grandmother was managing it was load Tray 1, put in oven. Load Tray 2 (and don't need to hurry about it); put in oven appx halfway through Tray 1's bake time. Load Tray 3, and by the time it's ready to go in, Tray 1 is done, so take it out and put in 3. Put cookies to cool on wire lattice racks, rinse off Tray 1 in cool sink water to get it back down from 300+degF to room temperature-ish, then load it; by the time you're done, Tray 2 can come out. Etc.

This was our Christmas-Cookie machine system (for rolled-and-decorated sugar dough), with which literal pounds of dough could be gotten through fairly expeditiously. I think one year we had something like twelve dozens of cookies on improvised cooling racks all over the kitchen by the time we were done (minus the 'broken' and 'imperfect' ones we'd eaten already, of course -- cook's portion!).

#205 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 10:05 PM:

we used a similar system, but ISTR we only baked one sheet at a time. (While the first sheet bakes, you load the second. And so on.) Not much slower, but we generally only made five or six dozen cookies. (Chocolate-chip oatmeal, with chopped walnuts. One batch.)

#206 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 10:11 PM:

My mother's system for her very big Christmas baking is to swap the cookie sheets halfway through. I think we have two in the oven, two on deck, two cooling, and sometimes two in the process of being filled. I like helping with the last batch of chocolate powdered sugar cookies and it's easy enough with two pairs of hands.

#207 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 10:26 PM:

B. Durbin, #202: We went by 1st Saturday Arts Market here, and it was cold and gloomy and miserable. Probably not as cold as you were, but the artists were definitely suffering. At least it wasn't a damp cold.

#208 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 12:12 AM:

I'm done with cookies for the year, but will take this into consideration in the future.

Next up: Three, maybe more, Espresso / Chocolate cheesecake / pie! Boing Boing ran a recipe a few weeks back.

I should really invest in a pizza stone.

#209 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 01:33 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Local man all too briefly meets Patrick in Santa Fe during book launch of anthology "Dangerous Women".

#210 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 11:26 AM:

There's an America's Test Kitchen recipe for gingersnaps that IIRC involves not only swapping the two pans, but also *turning them around*.

Now, for extra added hyperlocal color, imagine me doing all this carefully-orchestrated and totally timed stuff while reading Charlie's _Rule 34_.

#211 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 11:57 AM:

My mother/grandmother always ran two pans of cookies at a time.

Halfway through, you swapped top for bottom and end for end.

Six or eight pans (three or four sets) going -
When you were waiting on what was in the oven, you cleaned up or started the next batch.

#212 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 12:33 PM:

Making Light has spoiled me for interactions with ordinary people on the web.

When the evil character (Eric) Renard was assassinated on Grimm, they showed news reports and a long shot of the burning car, but didn't show the engineered "accident" or his dead body or anything. On another site, I posted this:

Yay! Renard is dead!
And by the way, he left me five million dollars, but I can only get it out of Nigeria if a BELOVED AMERICAN PARTENR will let me use his bank account to transfer it in. If you will do this IN THE NAME OF JESUS CRHIST I will love you forever and let you keep half.
Well, Renard also left me this bridge in New York. Wanna buy it?
Yet you believe Renard is dead. SMH.
I thought it would be clear what I was saying. Possibly it was to most people. But I also got this response:
OMG. What's your asking? Wait a minute... Is this a real bridge or just a piccy of a bridge?
I assumed he was pulling my leg, so I replied:
The actual bridge, of course! The owners are in fiscal disarray and have to sell. Isn't it beautiful? You can charge whatever tolls you want.
Also, call this 419 number to get $millioins depostited in your acoouncts! (You do get it, right?)
But then someone else posted
this is a SCAM doont give anyone your account number
Well, facepalming ensued. I then spelled it out, explaining that these other things were well-known to be scams, and that I didn't believe Eric Renard was dead either.

If that's the level of discourse, I think I may stop posting on that site entirely.

#213 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 12:48 PM:

They have relocated us on a renovated floor at work. This floor has been "improved" (cough) on an open plan model. This means we all have squat little cubes - even the managers - no privacy, and can hear everything that's going on anywhere. They have installed a white-noise generator, but as the department nearest a conference room, the elevators and the lunch room, my little data-entry intensive team is pretty much doomed to interruption.

Mostly, I don't care - I've worked in far more public cubes and have no expectation of privacy at all. However they've installed a large TV on the wall directly behind us, complete with two mini sofas perpendicular to said TV. The volume is on at a very low level, which I can hear as a steady murmur when the rest of the office isn't screeching around like crazed gibbons. I don't understand the purpose of said TV. It's not as if anyone in this division has the time to go sit on the couches and watch it. Furthermore, the couches are perpendicular to the huge TV in a tiny space. There is a large breakroom on an adjacent floor with three TVs should anyone wish to spend their off-time with a television. There are little monitors in the elevators showing mostly truncated advertorial garbage. Each and every one of us as a smart phone or tablet that we can watch if we're not busy and want to veg in front of some random content.

When I brought the annoying murmuration of the flatscreen up to the admin team, they said to settle in for a week and then we could decide if the volume was "too much". You know what? It is too much. I know right now. I don't give a shit if it's at only 4 decibels, there is no actual reason for us to be exposed to television every damn minute of the day. I will give it a week, and then I will ask for the thing to be muted. If they refuse to do that, they can move me to a quieter corner of their brilliant open plan office.

#214 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 01:00 PM:

nerdycellist 213: Perhaps this might be of help if they continue to be utterly insane.

#215 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 01:09 PM:

When I have multiple cakes or trays of cookies in the oven, I use the technique that Carol describes in #211. I start cakes on the middle rack, then move them down and turn them around when more pans go in.

The burned-bottom cookies resulted after I moved a "dark" tray to the bottom rack . . . perhaps a bit too soon. I always assumed higher=hotter.

The dark bottom cookies were perfectly edible BTW. My co-workers are swinging by the cube to eat them this morning . . . no complaints.

#216 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 02:23 PM:

If there are so many cookies being baked, how come none of them end up here? ;-)

#217 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 02:27 PM:

Stefan, FWIW, I've never had an issue with cookies burning on the bottom since I switched to using professional-weight half-sheet pans (mine are Chicago Metallic) instead of the sort you tend to find at places like Target and the baking aisle of the grocery store. Sturdy, don't warp, have good solid rims so you can use them as jelly roll pans (my kid made a buche de Noel in them) or bake bar cookies in them. Stand up to heavy scrubbing, no worries about coatings.

Because I am lazy and don't like scrubbing pan spray residue, I also use baking parchment. It was around $40 for a box of half-sheets from a kitchen supply place, which is a fair outlay, but that represents at least five years' worth of parchment (possibly ten!) for my rate of use - and I do things like putting a sheet of parchment under the frozen French fries or the Bagel Bites, not just under cookies. And it's much better than the stuff on rolls that curls and fails to cooperate.

Yes, I know about silicone baking mats. Yes, cheaper than a box of parchment and reusable. But mine had an encounter with some metal skewers, and for most purposes other than tuile cookies, the parchment works as well or better and is amazingly convenient.

That said, the process folks have described above of swapping and rotating trays is a good one. Especially good if your oven behaves inconsistently. I really ought to calibrate my oven, as it hasn't really matched the thermostat since I replaced the heating element, and I have an in-oven thermometer to calibrate it by, but it's a nuisance-y, fiddly adjustment and I've managed to calibrate my expectations instead.

#218 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 02:29 PM:

I do the two rack cookie sheet swap. I usually start the sheet on the bottom rack (the hotter one IME), then turn it end for end midway through its time and move it up top to finish, putting the next sheet on the bottom rack at the same time. The turning corrects for uneven ovens.

I would not recommend this technique for people with ADHD.

#219 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 02:45 PM:

Open thready sort of question - has Girl Genius settled down to something a bit more sensible than the infinity sides all piling on top of each other it was a year or more ago? Preferably with closure of some of the thousands of dangling plot points. If it has I might read it again, otherwise, wait for another year.

#220 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 02:50 PM:

I'll second the recommendation for pro-quality jellyroll pans + parchment. I bought a couple of NordicWare ones with my birthday gift certificates and I am thrilled. They were cheaper than all the fancy insulated, non-stick, whatever gimmick cookie sheets and they're much more versatile. I don't have to fuss about putting them in the dishwasher or using metal utensils on them. I still have a giant roll of parchment I purchased at Costco last year, but when I'm done with that I'll probably go with the sheets - unless I get the silicone mats for Xmas.

I have an apartment oven which is a standard size but not of the highest quality. I had to dangle the oven thermometer off the far left side of the top rack to test the pre-heating, which showed that the knob on the oven was wobbly by about -25 degrees. If I'm making two cookie sheets at a time I have to remove the thermometer before I start lest the bottom sheet knock the thermometer off the top rack. Still, switching the cookie sheets in the middle of the cooking time gives me a pretty consistent batch.

#221 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 03:04 PM:

Lenore: Speaking as a person with ADHD, the secret to staying on top of the sheet pan rotation is a good timer, set to the halfway point of baking.

For most people's home kitchens, a single timer will be fine - or, if you need two, you can always make use of the stove's built-in one plus the one you probably have on your phone. When I was working in a place that had two deck ovens and an electric range with an oven in it, we had a four-track timer (one-, two-, three-, and four-beep signals) and, after some contention with the boss about how to assign timer tracks to tasks, I went across to the hardware store and bought adhesive house numbers, so the top oven was ALWAYS Timer 1, the bottom #2, the range oven #3, and timer #4 was reserved for things in the mixer or on the stove top or otherwise not-oven.

After that the only distraction that I faced from the timer was that the two-beep signal beeped in the precise cadence of the synth track on New Order's "Love Vigilantes", and I would get earwormed.

#222 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 03:23 PM:

#219: There are many well-regarded webcomics I've never gotten into because of the complexity-explosion issue. Girl Genius is one of them.

* * *
I have a couple of rolls of parchment paper in the house, but didn't think to use them on Sunday. Next time . . .

One thing I love: "disposable" aluminum cookie sheets. I bought them at Dollar Tree years ago. They're smaller than the usual sheet, and are essentially made from super heavy duty aluminium foil. They have neat little circles to show you where to plop the dough. They work really well and clean up easily. I've been using and reusing the same three for about four years now. They've become warped and wrinkled enough that I could recycle them w/o guilt.

#223 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 03:27 PM:

guthrie: Not exactly; in fact, it might be more like all the threads were dropped in a heap and a fresh knitting project started (which may eventually knit in all or most of those loose ends, one hopes.)

The following won't spoil too much (I hope), but I'll rot13 it anyway: Ntngun tbg chyyrq guebhtu n xvaq bs gryrcbegngvba qrivpr ol bar bs ure rarzvrf, ohg cynaarq naq rkrphgrq na rfpncr, va gur pbhefr bs juvpu fur qvfpbirerq gung frireny lrnef unq cnffrq qhevat gur vafgnag bs gryrcbegngvba. Rhebcn unf punatrq fhofgnagvnyyl qhevat gung gvzr. Fur'f fgvyy gelvat gb svther bhg whfg jung nyy unf unccrarq va gur vagrevz, jung gur fvqrf ner abj, naq juvpu fvqrf ner sevraq be sbr ng guvf cbvag.

#224 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 03:37 PM:

Warm fuzzies for us today. We put up a chair on Freecycle (it's a good chair, but we have more furniture and less space than we need), and ended up also getting rid of a stack of footstools, a lamp, and an ancient laptop. They're going to someone who just got out of a toxic relationship and basically has nothing. I love Freecycle.

#225 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 03:38 PM:

Sighted in Scientific American: "Not everyone who has an excessive amount of amyloid plaque develops Alzheimer's, and at the moment, there is generally no way to predict whom the unlucky ones will be." Am I wrong that that should be "who"? I mean, if I change it to first person, it becomes "I will be," not "me will be," yes? (I'm also seriously not in love with the perfect-bound spine.)

Xopher Halftongue @212: If that's the level of discourse, I think I may stop posting on that site entirely.

I'm sure your evaluation is correct, but to be fair, I've posted what I thought were fairly obvious jokes here, and had them responded to in all seriousness. Likewise, I've responded seriously to what turned out to be jokes.

nerdycellist 213: A coworker, who works in a completely different part of the floor, was up here using the scanner across the cube wall from my desk. After fiddling away for a while (chattering the whole time), she says, "I don't know why you don't have some soft music playing up here." I chimed in, "Because I would crush the device that was causing it to dust, in very short order." "Why!?" "Because some of us need to, you know, concentrate....?" Okay, I wasn't quite that snide. But, you know.

#226 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 03:45 PM:

Jacque: I agree with you about who vs. whom.

#227 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 03:50 PM:

And it's nice to see something positive being brought forwards for a change rather than set back: Same-sex weddings to begin in March

#228 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 04:10 PM:

Jacque 225: It should be 'who'.

And yeah, but...! "If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell"? Well, OK, the site has an international membership and not everyone's first language is English, but even so.

#229 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 04:36 PM:

Xopher: As it happens, there are a number of residents in Boulder County who are currently in the market for new bridges, so it's not quite as cut-and-dried as it might be (though one hopes the size and transport issues would be a clue). :-)

#230 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 04:49 PM:

Jacque at 225:

I think you've got the right pronoun form, but for not exactly the right reason. The who(m) is the complement of be, not the subject, so if I change it to first person, what I get is "The unlucky ones will be we/us." The more formal register of written English would use we there, and thus who rather than whom for the corresponding interrogative or relative pronoun; less formal registers that would prefer us there don't generally use whom at all. So either way you slice it, you get who.

#231 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 05:32 PM:

I like good grammar as well as the next person, primarily for aesthetics and for clarity. Whom doesn't do much for the former anymore, and it never really did anything for the latter.

#232 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 05:58 PM:

I've often regarded "whom" as kind of a show-offy (showy-off?) construction. I can't hear it without thinking of this (approximate) exchange between Gilligan and Mr. Howel:

Mr. H: "[something something it was done by] whom!"

Gilligan: "Well, I don't know, I just know it wasn't meem!"

#233 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:06 PM:

"I never would have predicted that the unlucky ones would be: them!"

I agree with Q. Pheevr's analysis, which shows why "whom" sounds wrong in all registers, but also shows why it is defensible.

#234 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:45 PM:

Oh, dear. I just reShared something on Facebook (a collection of handshakes between contrasting world leaders*), only to discover that it was on Little Green Footballs.

Some years back (the last time I looked) LGF was the home of slavering anti-Arab racism. Has it changed? If not, I really don't want to link to it even for something good.

*Well, except the contrast between Thatcher and Mugabe wasn't all that sharp.

#235 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:49 PM:

Thanks Clifton #223, I think I'll stay away a while longer then.

#236 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:27 PM:

Speaking of Susan's adventures after Narnia, I have a hard time believing that this hasn't come to ML before but if it has I cannot find it:
Elegant and Fine

#237 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:39 PM:

Xopher, the owner of Little Green Footballs has supposedly changed his slant to some extent: Why I Parted Ways with the Right. I don't know if the site still features anti-Arab bigotry, but there was a post a few days ago calling out commenters for racism against Martin Bashir.

#238 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:08 PM:

Jacque & David, #225/226: I took one of those online "grammar test" things the other day; while most of the questions were dead easy, there were a few I had to think about, and one where the answer I knew they wanted just sounded wrong. It was a pick-one test, and the question was whether to use "who" or "whom" in the question "____ did you see at the store?" Other cues indicated that they were looking for "whom", so that's what I put and it was right -- but there is no way I would ever use "whom" in that position, no matter in what context of discourse. I think this represents a case where the usage is shifting, and "whom" is largely being abandoned. Other opinions?

#239 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:53 PM:

Lee @238, I perceive "whom" as correct there, though a bit pretentious, because it could be rephrased as "you saw whom at the store?" to which the answer is "I saw her/him/them at the store."

#240 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:57 PM:

Got a 500 Internal Server Error. Seeing if the comment posts anyway...

#241 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 09:28 PM:

Whom is accusative case, not that that helps anyone who hasn't studied Latin -- it is the direct-object form of the word. Most of English's nouns don't inflect anymore, so it sounds really odd to have a word that does, but.

"Whom did you see at the store?" is a whom but a gotcha, because if you diagram the sentence (and I am very unusual in my age cohort to even know what that looks like, thanks to my sixth-grade teacher), turning it straight-wise-round actually makes it look something like, "You saw whom at the store?", which I really want to read aloud in a sort of argumentative Brooklyn accent. :->

#242 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 09:46 PM:

I saw Abi's Parhelia link about Susan's further adventures just as I was posting a link to a story about the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations dragging on into the new year. One of the implications, not mentioned explicitly in the story, is that countries involved in the negotiation that still have "life+50 years" copyrights (including Canada, Japan, and New Zealand) won't have to extend them another 20 or more years just yet, as the current TPP draft would require them to do.

And that means that in those countries, works by authors who died in 1963 will go into the public domain at the end of this month. Those authors include Narnia creator C. S. Lewis.

So, for at least a little while, folks from those countries will get to play, create, and publish in Narnia however they want, in whatever medium they want, without worrying about takedowns or the limits of fair use. At least, until TPP gets ratified, when the powers that be may banish them back to our world.

#243 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 09:57 PM:

I know that the Sonny Bono copyright act didn't re-copyright things that had already fallen into the public domain; is there language in the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would re-impose copyright? Because I always thought that you couldn't stuff public domain works back into the copyright bottle.

#244 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 10:05 PM:

Cally Soukup @243: It was done with Sherlock Holmes (well, half of Sherlock Holmes, the later stories), in the UK, because of legislature we made them impose because of implications of Bono.

I think It's A Wonderful Life used to be out and is in again?

#245 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 10:30 PM:

Elliott @244

I sit corrected. I hope they don't do the re-copyright thing again.

#246 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 11:02 PM:

Followup to Cally and also to my @244: Because I was feeling very [citation needed] about that on reread, I went and found a post with good links to actual legal cases and a little more explanation of what went on. Holmes is a really good case study to look at, because of precisely when it was written and how very many derivative works have been created from it, both for profit and without, so a lot of people squawk when something changes about it.

#247 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 11:25 PM:

Jacque @225, from the times I fell for a joke that was patently obvious in retrospect, I've concluded that you can, indeed, kid a kidder.

#248 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 11:40 PM:

Almost Human is holding up as intelligent engaging SF series. The only thing I'm worrying about is that it's on Fox, which has a history of canceling any intelligent, engaging SF series.

#250 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:31 AM:

Allan: thank you. I am reassured.

#251 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:28 AM:

If anyone here is interested in prompts for fanfic, here's one: Steampunk NextGen, with a clockwork Data. I'd post it on Yuletide, but I understand that if you suggest things there you also have to write, and my muse doesn't work to order like that.

#252 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:52 AM:

Kevin Reid @249

Oh, the Narnia-Susan.

I was getting confused, and wondering what was fanfic-special about Susan meeting her grandfather.

In the Narnia books, do we ever discover who Susan's grandfather is?

#253 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 07:55 AM:

Dave Bell @252,

In the Narnia books, do we ever discover who Susan's grandfather is?

If memory serves, and it's been decades since I read the books, Susan's grandfather (that the kids are sent to live with to avoid the Blitz) is the grown-up "Magician's Nephew" of the eponymous book.

I don't think the origin of the Magician (who made or found the magic rings) was ever revealed

#254 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:00 AM:

The old man is indeed Diggory Kirke of The Magician's Nephew, but he is not the Pevensies' grandfather, just a family friend. Neither Diggory nor Polly (nor, indeed, Peter, Edmund or Lucy) is ever shown or mentioned to have any children, which makes sense because Sex Is Evil.

All right, no, that's not fair, but there's still a distinctly monastic cast to all the Friends of Narnia.

#255 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:14 AM:

Open threadiness: family lost in Nevada found, all safe. They did the right thing--stayed together near their (overturned) vehicle, built a fire, waited for rescue.

#256 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:11 AM:

I hear that Peter S Beagle will be taking his showing of "The Last Unicorn" to George RR Martin's Cocteau Theater in Santa Fé on January 25.

#257 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:31 AM:

Huffington Post has begun requiring commenters to have a FaceBook account.

In other news, I have canceled the daily HuffPo newsletter that has appeared in my inbox from the first day they had one, and written them a carefully worded huffy letter.

In still other news, I have used the F word on Twitter in mentioning the event. I've tried to keep my use of the word sufficiently rare there that it might even shock somebody, but what with context and all, it's probably passed unnoticed.

#258 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:33 AM:

Pevensies. Pensieve.

I suppose if I'd ever read Narnia, I'd spot other little tributes in the Harry Potter books.

#259 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:49 AM:

me @232: The memory finally surfaced; I think it was the ghost episode. Mr. Howell wants to know who put his "polo pony" in a tree.

Elliott Mason @241: if you diagram the sentence (and I am very unusual in my age cohort to even know what that looks like, thanks to my sixth-grade teacher)

Obref: Nate Bucklin

#260 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:52 AM:

Neither Narnia nor Susan (Wodehouse/Sayers crossover), but check out Green Ice if you have a little time – it collates two similar yet very different fictional worlds in a way that is logical and ultimately poignant. The fic was written for Yuletide 2004, so apologies if I’m coming off like someone telling you about this great new band called The Beatles.

#261 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:03 PM:

My daughter is, unbidden, setting up what will probably be her first full-blown 'tea-party' style let's-pretend. With plates, a modeling-foam fancy cake, and a bowl of real apples. And chairs around. She got various stuffed toys out of her room to be guests, and then said in her most matter-of-fact voice (while positioning her toy dog), "And we need a puppy under the table, to clean up what gets dropped."

This may say something about my household. I am trying really hard to suppress my snerfling so it doesn't draw her attention. :->

#263 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:25 PM:

My misleading-but-true statement about Narnia is "everyone from our world either renounces Narnia or dies."

#264 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:30 PM:

Kip@258, I'll grant you Diggory, but pensieve is clearly just a pormanteau of 'pense' (to think) and 'sieve', and a play on pensive (reflecting serious deep thought), to get to "filtered serious thoughts". I doubt that Rowling had any thoughts about Pevensies >- pensive.

I know that from Goblet of Fire on, she needed an editor, but her choice of names for people and things is pretty spot-on all the way through.

Any references to Narnia can be explained by Britons of a certain age being guaranteed to have read at least "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe", and anyone even vaguely interested would have read all of them.

#266 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 02:52 PM:

Soon Lee:

Thus proving the common right wing claim that Obama is in bed with Communists....

#267 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:42 PM:

Mark Evanier would like to see a production of Damn Yankees with Christopher Walken as Mr. Applegate.

Clearly, this is the best idea anybody has ever had.

Write your congressman!

#268 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:42 PM:

Merry Christmas...sigh.

The furnace, which is eighteen years old, is dying. It looks like we're going to be buying a new one. The low tonight is going to be 8F. I'm headed out to the hardware store for space heaters...

#269 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:39 PM:

Lori Coulson, good luck. I discovered during a power outage that I can get a LOT of warmth from a hot water bottle tucked into the blanket I'm wrapped in, and, if you heat the water in a kettle, it'll retain useful amounts of heat past overnight and into morning.

#270 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:49 PM:

Sarah @260: I read that, and I remember having the strong reaction that it was a reasonable Lord Peter Wimsey fanfic but that it utterly destroyed the Wodehouse elements, in much the same way that pouring cold water over a soufflé that was baking would destroy it.

#271 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:31 PM:

Oh my.

I would just like to propose a vote of thanks to SamChevre for commenting on this thread, thereby bringing it to my attention. I think it may be the most awesome thing I have seen anywhere on the Internet all year, and, today, after yet another visit to the doctor to see how I was doing on the medication, I sorely needed it.

Poetry therapy FTW.

#272 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:41 PM:

Mongoose @271:

If you run out of that thread, you can always go on to this one.

If we don't see you in a week, we'll send a search party...

#273 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:04 PM:

In other squeetastic news, it was Decided (a) that Beka needs to have an adequately-armored tablet that is primarily for her use (though she will not be allowed unfettered 24/7 use of it, of course), as distinct from MY tablet, which is a lifeline, a prosthetic, and the only thing that can get me off the desktop so John can use it. :->

Initially we got a hand-me-down Kindle Fire (the not-as-new edition), and John was going to set it up so it could be regular Android -- Beka already has a bunch of games on her Google account, so limiting her to a walled garden of limited options will not be popular.

John managed to 'brick' the Kindle while trying to do this. It will not turn on. We're not sure why. For a while we were thinking of getting a broken-screen-but-otherwise-fine secondhand of similar model and performing a motherboard-ectomy and transplant, but since he's not sure why the last one bricked he's a little chary of possibly having it happen again.

So he looked around online and decided I get to have a shiny new-generation Nexus to replace my old Nexus, which will get a silicone anti-bashing case and become the kid's tablet. AND THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING. Also muppetflails.

It came today. I'm installing all my apps on it and generally basking in the newness and preciousssss and so on. Also upgrading its OS. As you do.

I can read e-books while she's having Tablet Time! I can use it without having to worry whether her silly don't-actually-turn-off apps are grinding its battery to nothingness! It has a camera on the back AND the front! And (I have not tested this yet) there's at least a possibility that its cameras aren't total steaming piles of uselessness! (seriously, the old Nexus camera took horrible pictures in any circumstance whatever. I come from a photography family, I know how to vary setups to figure out what the strengths of a crap camera are, and this thing HAD no good setup that I could find. Everything looked muddy, pixelated, weird-ass color, and blurry. Always. Wow this is a long parenthetical.) There are a variety of apps that expect that The Thing You Run Apps On will (a) have a good working camera attached and (b) always have internet at all times. (B) isn't fixing, but if (a) could be? I could actually take on-the-spot pothole pictures (etc) for making my internet requests of 311 for city repairs. It would be awesome.

#274 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:12 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 268 ...
The furnace, which is eighteen years old, is dying. It looks like we're going to be buying a new one. The low tonight is going to be 8F. I'm headed out to the hardware store for space heaters...

Ugh, my empathies! That was me, last year.

FWIW, I was quite surprised at how well the infrared heaters did at keeping a space that was entirely too large for them tolerable.

#275 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:34 PM:

abi @ 272: *squee*

I'm about a third of the way down that thread and have just, with a mighty effort of will, managed to tear myself away from it because I must go to bed. Will resume reading in the morning. Thank you!

#276 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 07:46 PM:

Thanks for the good wishes! Space heaters acquired, house is currently maintaining a 68F temp, so we should be ok...

Installation of new furnace is Monday (if they can get it to us earlier they will) and I've applied to my credit union for financing. The CU says they'll have an answer to me in 48 hours.

So we're good for now.

#277 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 07:56 PM:

I need book gift recommendations. For a 4th grader (9yr old) who is a voracious reader. He's enjoyed Terry Pratchett in the past (Wee Free Men and Bromeliad Trilogy). Also Artemis Fowl, Roald Dahl, Swallows and Amazons, HP, and many many others (though, he hasn't gotten through LOTR or Foundation). I'm not up on where YA SFF is right now, (other than knowing that Hunger Games is not really where I want to go). Long is good, at least so that it has a chance of distracting him for more than 24 hours.

So I'm wondering. Boneshaker? Leviathan?

#278 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 07:58 PM:

#212 ::: Xopher Halftongue quoth
"Making Light has spoiled me for interactions with ordinary people on the web."

Well, for me, Making Light was my first experience with having conversations with other people on the web. So maybe I'm spoiled.

#279 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:17 PM:

Eric @277: Dragonbreath! It's a whole series, tho each book is shortish by post-Harry Potter standards. Highly entertaining for readers of any age who can handle vocabulary, and snark.

#280 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:18 PM:

Adddendum to my last: that site, for some reason, is out of date enough that it only shows 4 books in the series. There are 10 now, but I wanted to be online-retailer-agnostic. :->

#281 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:19 PM:

eric @277: If he hasn't read them, Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, starting with So You Want to Be a Wizard.

#282 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:19 PM:

Eric #277: possibly Westerfield? Besides his "Uglies" series, there's the Midnighters trilogy. I've been warned that the former series gets pretty dark as of the third book, and Midnighters gets a bit rough near the ending.

#283 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:49 PM:

Eric @277: I'd highly recommend Philip Oppel's Airborn series (and his other somewhat steampunk books), Philip Reeve's various rather grim series, Mieville's Un Lun Dun, Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series of 7 -- there's a lot more out there, but those are all books that would have really floated my boat back when I was in 4th grade. That's when I was reading Freddy the Pig, E. Nesbit, Edward Eager and the like. Also from the classics: Tove Jansson's Moomin books. A lot of the classic stuff still reads well.

#284 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:53 PM:

Eric (277): More suggestions: Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising Series, Lloyd Alexander, Rosemary Sutcliff if he likes historical fiction, L.M. Boston's Green Knowe series.

#285 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:56 PM:

eric @277: Seconding the Young Wizards recommendation. I'm also fond of:
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede (the first of the Enchanted Forest books, about a princess who runs away to get herself a dragon)
Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (the first of the Chrestomanci books, set in an alternate England with magic, where a young orphan and his older sister who go to live with a distant relative who is a powerful magician)
Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey (start of a YA Pern trilogy, about a girl who runs away from an abusive home to become a musician, with mini-dragons)
To Ride Pegasus by Anne McCaffrey (a book of short stories introducing the Talents universe, about people with paranormal abilities)
The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (two books set 500 years apart, where the first one has a princess and a horse and magic and a dragon, and the second one has the same country being colonized by an England-analogue who considers magic to be myth)
The Black Unicorn by Tanith Lee (the start of a trilogy, about the daughter of a sorceress, who has a talent for fixing things)
A Wrinkle in Time by Ursula Le Guin (the start of a series about the Murray family that's hard to describe but hopefully you know how it goes anyway)
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (the start of The Dark is Rising Sequence, about an 11 year old boy who gets drawn into a quest that draws from ancient British myths and legends)

Dealing with Dragons will be good right now, the others might need to wait a while.

Amazon lists 12 books for 9-12 year olds that are sci-fi or fantasy and have received the Newbery award. They'd probably be another good place to start.

#286 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 09:02 PM:

shadow song #285: This is certainly a simple braino on your side, but A Wrinkle in Time and sequels are by Madeleine L'Engle. L'Guin did a lot of cool books, but not those.

Trivia for some: she also wrote several mainstream novels, which is why my bookstore has AWiT in regular fiction...

#287 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 09:08 PM:

David Harmon @286: dammit, i knew there was a reason that seemed subtly wrong. getting my l-space-g women writers confused.

#288 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 10:02 PM:

And then I managed to misspell Le Guin's name, probably because of the same sort of mental overlap... Thus fulfilling the First Law of Corrections. :-)

#289 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 10:08 PM:

And speaking of Le Guin, A Wizard Of Earthsea et seq. are classics....

#290 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 10:21 PM:

Madagascar has the plague.

I can't be the only one who finds this a reversal of the natural order of things.

#291 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 10:23 PM:

I'll strongly second Susan Cooper's "The Dark Is Rising" and Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydain", as well as Dragonsong/ Dragonsinger/ Dragondrums.

I'd also recommend Tamora Pierce, particularly (given the age) the Alanna and Keladry books.

Also Kipling.

#292 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:42 PM:

I'll second Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, which I adored at about that age, and the The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

I'm very torn on Anne McCaffery's work - between the ages of 10 and 17 or so, I read and collected pretty much everything she'd written until that point (which lives in my parents' basement now, occupying a rather impressive amount of shelf space), but I've been absolutely unable to read any of her work in a decade. I give it a lot of credit for getting me in to reading SF/Fantasy, but, to steal a phrase from Jo Walton, the Suck Fairy has been to town on McCaffery's work for me.

#293 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:08 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe, I find that the Suck Fairy has waved her wand over most of McCaffrey's work for me, but that Dragonsong and Dragonsinger still hold up well. (Dragondrums was never that great, but it hasn't gotten any worse.)

A somewhat less-famous one that I liked at that age: The Broken Citadel, by Joyce Ballou Gregorian. Portal fantasy, with elements of prophecy and... no, spoilers. Also with a plot-significant ballad that I now recognize as a filk of Matty Groves, which wasn't in my knowledge base when I was a kid. And it's reasonably long. Its sequel, Castledown, is even longer - I remember this because we had a requirement that year to read 100 pages per week and do a book report, but if you read one book of 500 pages, you were off the hook for five weeks for the price of a single book report. Castledown was at least 500 pages in hardcover, and I jumped at the chance to cut down on stupid school busywork and have more time for reading the books themselves.

I didn't like it as much as the first one, though.

#294 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:13 AM:

For a nine-year-old, a lot of YA is going to be on the high end of things. Sarah Prineas' Magic Thief books are middle-grade, Tamora Pierce stretches from middle-grade to YA, Justine Larbalestier has How to Ditch Your Fairy if he's into that. Lynne Reid Banks, all of that. Second the Wrede and the Oppel. Bruce Coville! His books are really fun to read aloud. Rick Riordan, the Warriors books, these are books I see kiddos reading a lot. Kate Milford's THE Boneshaker, not Cherie Priest's Boneshaker.

It's tough to make recommendations for this age; there's a pretty wide range of reading ability, to say nothing of the comprehension range, and, "I liked this book when I was a kid," can mean, "I read this book when I was twelve and got it when I was fourteen but I think of it as a kid's book," or, "This was inexplicably shelved in Children's." There's a lot of pre-YA-breakout 'YA' that translates to 'things Important People read in junior high or so' rather than 'books written specifically for a younger audience'.

Iowa has a pretty good Children's Book Award list and I've had good luck finding books from there.

#295 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:21 AM:

My daughter, who is ten and a half, is reading Rick Riordan's books and is enthralled with them. I may read them myself.

#296 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 01:44 AM:

For Diana Wynne Jones, in addition to the Chrestomanci books, some of the other early books are excellent, especially Power of Three and Homeward Bounders. I think the settings of Dogsbody, The Ogre Downstairs, and Archer's Goon have probably dated too much. More recently, the Howl's Moving Castle set are also good, but sillier.

If you ever see Ruth Manley's 'Plum Rain Scroll' or its sequels, grab them: it's quite similar to Lloyd Alexander's Prydain only Japanese instead of Welsh. Unfortunately, they are not only out of print, but hard to find and expensive.

#297 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 02:26 AM:

Elliot Mason @273

I must remember that US phone systems are different (And, O Best Beloved, always check network coverage for your area before taking out a service contract) but many modern mobile phones can act as a mobile wi-fi hub giving a broadband connection. Whether it's strictly according to contract is another matter. (This tech is known as Mi-Fi.)

Here in the UK, the O2 network is pushing some wonderful hardware deals, but locally its coverage sucks. I have a couple of Mi-Fi units (I lost the first, bought a cheap replacement on eBay, and found the first) and I shall unlock one: they were both sold by the 3 network, which does have enough coverage for if I lose power, but it isn't the best coverage around here.

I am thinking of changing broadband supplier. The current service is getting bad. Yhe actual phoneline provides 2 megabits ADSL. Their network, some of the time, struggles to provide 100 kilobits.

Nobody here need worry: I own my own domain name, and do not depend on ISP services for anything save a small amount of web space.

Oh, and the old Nexus camera is a low-res beast provided for video phone purposes. There are apps that let you record stills and movies, but exposure control sucks. The 2013 version adds an adequate camera on the other side, comparable to a mobile phone camera.

I blew my tech budget on a proper camera.

#298 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 02:55 AM:

Thirding the Young Wizards series, which IMO is superior to Harry Potter for various reasons not least of which is that they have more of a "real-world" setting. Nita and Kit have to balance their wizardly activities against maintaining "normal" young-teenage lives. I also really like the ethical structure of the wizardry system.

I heartily recommend James Schmitz's Telzey Amberdon stories, fairly recently re-released by Baen Books. In fact, pretty much anything by Schmitz holds up well.

You may also want to look at older "classic" SF that wasn't originally written for children, such as Asimov's Robot books and Clarke's short-story collections; much of it works well now for younger readers, although you do have to check to make sure the Suck Fairy hasn't been at it.

#299 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 07:40 AM:

Open Thread:

I know there are some bookbinders/people interested in bookbinding here so I wanted to pop in and mention that if you have the ability to watch BBC television you may be interested in yesterday's Tudor Monastery Farm (11th December; a quick check shows it's Episode 5 of the series), which had short sections on (and a genuine recreation of) printing and binding using 15th century technology.

Actually, I can imagine the whole series would be of interest to several people here and heartily recommend it.

#300 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 07:47 AM:

Take a look at The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West. Book 4 was one of my recent assignments for Learning Ally, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Atmospheric narration, engaging characters, interesting magic system, extremely fun to read aloud. (Or to read silently, if you're in love with the sound of language.)

I'm currently reading The Whatnot by Stefan Bachmann, which is the sequel to The Peculiar. Steampunk! With Faeries! But it's very dark, and probably a bit gruesome for a 9-year-old.

#301 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 09:17 AM:

Dave Bell @297: many modern mobile phones can act as a mobile wi-fi hub giving a broadband connection. Whether it's strictly according to contract is another matter. (This tech is known as Mi-Fi.)

Only if your phones have data plans; ours do not. Our phones make phone calls and do texts, and we pay a la carte (because we use them very little, so it adds up to about $20/1.5mo, which is far cheaper than any monthly plan on offer from any carrier in our area, with or without data).

Also, I try to leave the tablet with wi-fi off when my daughter is using it, because it both keeps her from stumbling into the play store and installing Ghu-knows-what malware-esque stupid thing masquerading as a children's game (and WOW are there A LOT of them), and also having wi-fi off makes a lot of the in-game advertisements just go invisible, which is another major plus for us. Some apps will not work without network, which is disappointing.

I wish the Nexus Android had built into it more ways of password-protecting stuff, like 'turn on wifi' and 'enter the Play store'. None of the childproofing apps I've found that do stuff like that, let her play most of her games at all (because they limit the kid to a tiny walled garden).

#302 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:10 AM:

Rikibeth (293): I'm the other way around. I encountered Castledown first, in high school, and adored it. The Broken Citadel was a slight disappointment, probably partly because I was spoilered by reading the sequel first. The third book, whose title I'm blanking on, was definitely not as good as the first two. Your experience notwithstanding, I would hesitate to recommend these to a nine-year-old without knowing a lot more about hir reading level, though.

Diatryma (294): Excellent point! Some of the books mentioned are definitely pinging my "too old/hard for a generic nine-year-old" meter, although an accomplished and enthusiastic reader might find them just the ticket.

#303 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:24 AM:

It is finals season, and, once more, I am learning stuff that surprises me. Here is a sample:

'Adam Smith’s idea of the “invisible hand” is a famous term used as a metaphor for the divine agency, which is sometimes thought to be behind the invisible natural events, also known as “acts of God”.'


#304 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:43 AM:

A little more about Susan-- it's interesting to read the stories next to each other because the writers have different takes on What Lewis Got Wrong.

Do you think it's fair to say that Lewis intended Mark Studdock as a criticism of bad concepts of male grownupness?

#305 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:44 AM:

Something I read and liked at that age is the Swallows & Amazons series by Arthur Ransome; in my childhood it was unobtanium, not in print in the US and only available to me in random selection of what UK-published editions turned up in used bookstores.

Language slightly archaic (which was not a downside for me); interesting window into a time-not-ours that was the present of the setting, between the wars in the UK. Lots of adventures, but realistically fantastic ones.

#306 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:59 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz (304): I can't access that entry; all I get is a generic LiveJournal page.

#307 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 11:03 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz (304): I can't access that entry; all I get is a generic LiveJournal page.

(Apologies if this double posts. I got an internal server error the first time, and it doesn't seem to have gone through when I checked.)

#308 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 11:42 AM:

Have Joan Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase books been mentioned yet?

#309 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:30 PM:

Rikibeth @290: There have even been some cases of the plague in America

Ahem. :-)

#310 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 01:03 PM:

For a nine year old, I like some more gentle introductions to fantasy themes, like The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Half Magic by Edward Eager, and Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer.

#311 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 01:17 PM:

oliviacw @ 310: The Egypt Game. What a wonderful book! Note to self: Buy this for the daughter for Christmas.

#312 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 02:01 PM:

Eric @277: I was reading a lot of Andre Norton's stuff at ~9-10, but I'm sure the Suck Fairy has gotten to at least some of it by now . . . It was also at about that age that I got my hands on a copy of Joan Vinge's Psion in a YA edition. And I nth the recommendation of the Robin McKinley books.

Mary Aileen @ 302: The third book was called The Great Wheel, IIRC. I think part of the reason the series didn't work so well as a series was the sudden transition from child protagonist to adult protagonist between the first and second books. That trilogy wouldn't be my first choice to recommend to a child either, although there's nothing specifically wrong with it.

#313 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 02:10 PM:

Nancy, #304: That post appears to be friendslocked.

#314 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 02:35 PM:

O hai. I iz back from visiting teh LOLcats.

LOL. w00t. kthx! I haz a happy nao. (Possibly a rather fragile happy, but I'll take what I can get right now.) That thread confirms my beliefs that a) LOLcats are seriously underrated; b) ML is made of the highest grade of awesome; and c) poetry is good for the soul.

As many things on this site do, it has also made me think. You see, I've written formal poetry since I was a wee mongoose cub, with the exception of a few years at school when I was told not to because it was "too difficult" (despite the fact that I'd been happily writing it, and getting good marks for it, up to that point). During this period, I had to write free verse. Now it's not that I dislike free verse on principle - indeed, some of it I like very much - but there is a very deep level on which I Just Don't Get It. So, in order to appease the powers that be at school, I wrote prose and cut it up into short lines, and for some reason I continued to get good marks for it. I felt as though I was totally cheating.

These days, and especially now after the inspiration of that thread, I would like to stretch myself a little. Right now I am looking at The Naming of Parts, which I think is a frabjous poem. (All right, it's not totally free verse; there is some very clever use of repetition, for instance. But it's close enough.) I can tell it's good. I can understand what it's saying. What I can't grok is why it is good poetry, rather than good prose-cut-up-into-short-lines. I can see that it is good poetry, but I can't analyse that in the way that I could with, say, a sonnet. And until I can wrap my mind round that, I don't think I shall be able to write free verse... well, not real free verse, anyway. Only the kind I did at school because I wasn't allowed to express myself in the way that came most naturally.


#315 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 02:50 PM:

Mongoose @ 314: I haven't ever taken that poem apart, but on a very quick glance, the rhythm appears to be built largely out of contrasts between iambic and anapestic feet. I'd call it unrhymed rather than free.

#316 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 03:10 PM:

Mongoose @314--

the majority of the lines seem to have five stressed syllables, which is a kind of metrical structure, though a minimal one.

As to your larger question, sc. "what makes a string of words poetry rather than prose?", I confess to having no idea how to answer it.

When I am feeling less humble, I think that there is no good way to answer it, and that those who pretend to do so are practicing intellectual scams and cons, like an adolescent's game of "what things have cooties and what things are cool." You can find agreement within a particular in-group, and indeed the agreement is part of what constitutes the in-group (we are the people who find *this* sort of thing cool). But there's really no deeper fact of the matter than "in the year 2013, in Evanston HS, cuffed trousers are considered irretrievably uncool by the following social circle." So too, in the year 1940, in the circle of Frank and Queenie Leavis, xyz was considered poetry, and other things were irretrievably gauche.

But when I am more humble, I consider that I am probably like the color-blind person in a world of colors, listening to people confidently label one thing red and another thing green, where they are attuned to some genuine distinction in the nature of things that is forever beyond my sensitivities. It's part of why I don't do poetry.

#317 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 03:52 PM:

oldster, #316: Many years ago, I saw an opinion that what distinguishes free verse from prose-cut-into-chunks was that the former consists of planned departures from a metrical scheme, while the latter is random. I have no idea how true that is or isn't, but it stuck with me. (IIRC, I read it in a Mod Squad novelization, which may be one of the reasons I remember it -- it was such an odd place to find something like that.)

#318 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 04:21 PM:

Lee @317--

Interesting proposal, but does that mean that for every instance of free verse, the author could specify *which* metrical scheme it was that they had departed from? "You might think my free verse was a departure from iambic pentameter, but it's not: it's actually a departure from anapests! You didn't hear any anapestic beat in my poem? Exactly--that's how wide a departure it was!"

Ulysses Grant said that he only knew two tunes: one of them was Yankee Doodle, and the other one wasn't. Not all of us are so fortunate; there are times when I hum tunelessly, without it being clear to me that I am misrepresenting some *particular* tune. I might be departing from Yankee Doodle, or from Dixie, or from Take Five.

And what sort of departures leave us with free verse? "In this piece, I started with iambic pentameter, and then departed from it to make free verse. Some critics have noted that my departure left me with lines consisting wholly of dactylic hexameters, and concluded from this that I am not writing free verse. But I am! It's a planned departure from iambic pentameter! "

Then there are the problems in the other direction. Churchill habitually fell into poulter's measures (fourteeners) in his prose: "The Stone Age may return now on the gleaming wings of science." Why prose and not poetry?

I don't know--I think I'm with Mongoose in feeling that I Just Don't Get It.

#319 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 04:32 PM:

Sad Business Dept:

I just got a call from a realtor in Northern Virginia who is working for Fannie May, in regards to the effects of our late friend, Marilee Layman.

He has just come into the matter, and the apartment was foreclosed after almost a year of idleness. He called me, having found my name and number, to see if I knew what might be done about all her possessions. The place is just as she left it. Her van is parked down below. There was a note from "Rick" saying he'd shut off gas and such, but no number.

The agent, Don, doesn't like the idea of calling a trash firm to come and treat everything as junk to be harvested, and his concern touches me — particularly as I look around me — so I would very much like the word to go out to fans, perhaps especially those in the NoVa/DC area, but to anybody with an idea of how to proceed.

My own half-baked thoughts were that we might dispose in the ordinary way of clothing and impersonal items, maybe even books. Her crafts, perhaps, could be sold and the proceeds given to charity. Her van could be donated, unless someone wants to buy it for an equitable-low amount (and the money donated to charity — medical or fannish or I don't know what).

If anybody knows of a family or friend(s) who should benefit by this sad windfall, I'm open to suggestions. Am I in charge of this? I don't know. Should someone else be? I've never done this before.

I asked Don what sort of deadline we were looking at before the wheels of bureaucracy take over. He said 30 days, 45, maybe even 60 before an edict comes down and automatic procedures kick in, so that's not a lot of time.

I have a contact number for him. Should I run it here? Or would it be best for us to deal with him through a designated spokesperson? I'll hang onto the number for now.

I'm not able to access Usenet at the moment. My system stopped letting me on a few months back, and I didn't care enough to try to figure out what its problem was this time. Can someone reach Keith Lynch? He's fairly local and helped when she was in the hospital. What other DC fan or fans would be good to talk to? Who's Rick?

What next? I'm kind of lost here.

#320 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 04:35 PM:

ps: Forgot to say that any mementos or keepsakes we might want to retain out of all this should perhaps be sold for a reasonable price and the money kicked into designated charity. I have this idea of charity in my head because maybe it seems a little ghoulish otherwise. I could be mistaken, of course, and will listen to cooler or less confused heads.

This can't be the first time something like this has happened. Is there a manual yet?

#321 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 04:44 PM:

Kip, can I boost this to the front page?

#322 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:02 PM:

Kip said yes by Twitter, so I've done it.

#323 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:14 PM:

Poetry/prose There's something that some songwriters can do (Lee Gold and Seanan McGuire, in filk, for example) that both causes awe in me and drives me up a wall in envious frustration.

For a good number of their songs (almost all I've ever seen, in Lee Gold's case), if you take out all the line breaks and add reasonable punctuation, they don't look out of place -- no inside-out sentences to get the rhyming word in the end position, or forced syntax to preserve meter. It's just fluid, reasonable, conversational prose -- that ALSO rhymes and scans precisely to the tune chosen.

ARRRRRGH, I say! Admiringly. And enviously. In the "I want to hate them a little" kind of admiration.

#324 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Mongoose @ 314

If further poetry therapy is indicated, another of my all-time favorite threads may be found here.

Acquaintance with Christian hymnody helpful, but probably not necessary.

#325 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Elliott 323: I managed that with a sonnet once. I told a little story from my life at a Fanoclasts meeting, and only a couple of people in the room noticed that it was a sonnet (or, I think, a poem at all, but perhaps my memory is flattering me).

Unfortunately the poem itself has been lost. Maybe it will be found in mummy wrappings in a thousand years.

#326 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:41 PM:

SamChevre @ 324: thank you! I'm extremely well acquainted with Christian hymnody, so I'm looking forward to that one. I shall bookmark it for next time I need my spirits lifting. Unfortunately this may turn out to be tomorrow; fortunately, it's good to know that if it does, there's immediate therapy to turn to.

#327 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:43 PM:

Elliott @ 323, Xopher @ 325: that is exactly the reason why my mother loves Browning's My Last Duchess. It absolutely reads like natural speech.

#328 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 06:09 PM:

Local cat sez "Oh, hai, some doodz in my base, paintin' my wallz. He haz a bukkit."
Me: "Stay here, get pettinz, stay away from walls and bukkit."

Local Cat, so far, is falling for it, but meanwhile I've put cardboard in front of the wet paint. It was just touching up a spot, while the painters are dealing with painting the place they had to replace the sheetrock after electricians and Plumbing Adventures ate various parts of it, but we've been herding the cats and ourselves into various rooms to deal with various things being repaired or painted. Smaller Cat is saying that she's going to hide in her base, because she ain't goin near that d00d with a bukkit, even though he's gone now.

#329 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 07:10 PM:

Thanks for the recommendations. What doesn't get under the tree will probably wind up in the library request queue, perhaps with a quick skim first. (as an aside, I totally understand library privacy, but I'd really like a record of what he's been reading just to tune this sort of thing)

Dragonbreath 1& 2 is on order for 6yr old. It'll make good bedtime reading, from what I've seen in the previews. If our sides don't hurt too much. I'm sure the older one will borrow and consume it as well.

I'm bouncing between Dark is Rising, Young Wizards, and Chronicles of Prydain for the 9yr old. Kind of leaning toward the first. Early British legend sounds good.

Earthsea and Wrinkle in Time, older Asimov, a couple of Heinlein juvies, are on the shelves already, as yet unread by him. I'm going with the just laying around approach to the classic sf. It's much more effective than pushing it.

He's read a bunch of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson novels (at least 3 on the shelves now), but I'm not sure which others. The Moomins showed up last year (or the one before).

Swallows and Amazons (and sequels) is at risk of needing to rebought due to overuse. Several are missing covers with increasingly sketchy paperback bindings.

Last year, we gave the youngest (3 yrs) Stuck, by Olivers Jeffers. It had _everyone_ laughing by the end.

#330 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 07:22 PM:

Elliott, #323: Christine Lavin does that too. I've noticed that many of her songs are basically meditations that flow perfectly as prose, but also happen to rhyme and scan.

I've managed it at least once with a sonnet, which can be read aloud in the rhythm of natural English and no one will notice that it's a sonnet unless you come down PLUNK on the line-endings.

#331 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 08:18 PM:

A lot of neat particles have shown up in the last few days; the Susan who doesn't just wither and turn sour (as in a previously-referenced fiction) was especially interesting -- not absolutely convincing (I don't assume that an upper-class type with monarchical experience would understand responsibility the same way), but interesting.
      However, I have a question about what looks like Malekith's real mistake. (rot13 just in case -- I don't \think/ this is a spoiler.) Vs ur qrfgeblf gur avar jbeyqf, jurer qb \nal/ bs gur qnex ryirf yvir -- rira orsber gurl ernyvmr gurer ner ab jbzra? Unf Zneiry erjevggra gur ovgf bs Abefr zlgubf gung V fxvz sebz Jvxvcrqvn gb znxr Finegnysurvz gur cevzbeqvny punbf sebz juvpu gur bgure jbeyqf rzretrq, vafgrnq bs bar bs gubfr rzretragf? Be qvq V zvff fbzrguvat nzvq nyy gur unzzre guebjvat, funcr vyyhfvbaf, rgp.? Sbe gung znggre, qb jr xabj gung qnex ryirf ner frkhnyyl qvzbecuvp fhpu gung abar bs gur jneevbef jrer srznyr?

eric@277: has he read the 3 sequels to Wee Free Men? They just kept getting better (although the last one may be a bit much for age 9 -- depends on whether he's better socialized than I was at that age).
      I found Leviathan et al to be second-rate writing, but that may be just me -- I don't think I've thought much of any of W's prose -- and the story certainly moves along interestingly.
     Boneshaker et al might be too old.
      The Invention of Hugo Cabret didn't have all the let's-make-this-interesting-for-adults-too bits the movie put in; don't know how he'll react to limitations of print if he's seen the movie (which did have a lot of great Melies visuals).
      IME, the Suck Fairy hit Andre Norton's prose, but the stories are still good; I'm partial to Galactic Derelict (my first) and Ice Crown (may be too old).
      Vigorously Nth the recommendations for Duane; he probably won't get the moon scene in the 2nd book, but you may be able to tell him why it matters. (wrt followup -- Duane vs Cooper depends on how good he is at cultural stretch; Cooper makes no concessions even to the time she was writing in (40+ years ago), but the plotting is less frantic.
      IMO Schmitz is mostly rather retro (aka "a dirty old man"), but YMMV (and-but beware of Baen extensions -- I thought The Wizard of Karres was AWFUL).
      I think almost any Jones YA could work, except Fire and Hemlock -- that really needs a few more years (or extraordinary wisdom for that age).
      John Bellairs may suit; they have a vaguely musty feel (as if set decades before written?) but interesting plots and atmosphere (and Gorey covers...).
      He might like Russell's Wasp (talking about older not-planned-as-YA): fast-paced and irreverent, and not as political as Laumer (which I first read about the same time, but that was age 14).

#332 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 09:16 PM:

And in other news: are would-be startups being played as would-be authors are?

#333 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:52 PM:

Guess who was mentionned in the editorial of the latest Locus?


#334 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 12:56 AM:

HO, Ho, ho!

An acquaintance has created a festive board game for Christmas, "Krampus Quest." 2-4 players race to collect the most naughty children.

Available as a free downloadable PDF!

#335 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 02:43 AM:

@333: In what capacity (aside from the presumed general excellentitude)?

#336 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 03:53 AM:

Jacque @335:

Liza Groen Trombi (Locus Editor-in-Chief) is my best friend from high school. She mentioned that we saw each other at World Fantasy.

She didn't mention that I spent most of the con suffering from crippling social anxiety, alternately paralyzed with shyness and angry at myself for not making it work somehow. She helped me out of a couple of social holes, dropping me into very pleasant social groups, where I had a good time before subsiding back into my swamp.

It always amuses me that the two of us ended up in fandom by entirely separate paths. (We went our separate ways after high school, lost touch, and didn't meet up again until Worldcon in 1995, when we freaked Martin out by still having all the same hand gestures.)

#337 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 04:18 AM:

At 12:40 UTC I shall be settling down in the local cinema to watch a certain movie in 3D.

I have mixed feelings. I didn't get to see the first part in a cinema, because of a burst of ill-health and the commitments of caring for my father, and I only watched the Blu-Ray in the aftermath of his death. It felt bloated. It was riddled with obvious show-off-the-3D sequences which hardly advanced the story.

And 3D? How will I react? Headaches? I am not as confident about driving after dark as I used to be, not since that car accident. At least I have just had my eyes checked.

I spent yesterday working up a ladder. I expect a comfortable seat at the cinema; I paid extra for that.

#338 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 07:56 AM:

Fragano @303 Oh dear. No, the invisible hand is not providence.

Poetry vs Prose. This got debated briefly in my creative writing class. Our tutor waffled a little (she is a bit too nice and unwilling to declare things failures) but said that free verse retains some structure and rhythm that prose doesn't have.

Me, I don't think there's a sharp dividing line. There's rhythmic, metrical and even rhyming prose* and there's poetry with less structured elements than that. Most stuff is clearly one or the other, but the pieces in the middle depend on context, presentation and intent, and we may even disagree with the author**.

* I've suggested a couple of times to other students to try putting some line breaks in especially lyrical prose pieces.
** My work for the free verse exercise deliberately lurked in this middle zone.

#339 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 08:00 AM:

Abi @ 336... There's a photo of you among the con's report.

#340 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 10:58 AM:

Some here may be interested in or amused by a slice-of-life photo I shared on G+ today. I need to wear elbow-pads to sleep in because of my Mysteeerious Elbow Thing (I'm seeing a neurologist in Jan), but thy don't quite fit right, so I am engaging in a bit of modding.

#341 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 12:26 PM:

Oh, Fluorospherian harmony hounds and arrangement-lovers: there's a new season of The Sing-Off on free Hulu! (Available to US viewers until Jan 23; I don't know if it works elsewhere)

This is an eliminate-one-group-per-ep competition show, but has for me two advantages: they're genuinely competing on skill in a skill I can judge (each acapella group makes their own arrangements as well as performing), and the "Draaaaahmahhhh" sections are very limited and skippable. There's a setup 'get to know the band this week' edited package before the performance, which one can skip, and after the performance the judges make for the most part really interesting, technical, and on-point commentary.

If you want just the performances, go to 'clips' on that link and you can see just the performances without anything else.

A curated menu of low-commitment tastes, for those interested:

* Vocal Rush, the only high-school group in the competition, kills the traditional spiritual Bottom of the River with maturity and amazing vibe.
* Street-Corner Renaissance, a group of exclusively older black men, reinterprets Bruno Mars' That's What Makes You Beautiful into a flawless doo-wop version.
* An episode-starting all-groups-sing mega-arrangement of a medley of "party anthems".

This season's new-thing, which I kind of like, is that the groups in each half of the show prepare an arrangement to a given 'side' of a battle song; one group from each half will be up for elimination, and sing head-to-head in competing arrangements simultaneously. Example (from second episode, so kinda spoilers if you care).

I am so, so happy to have new Sing-Off to watch. I've been mainlining it and sniffling and just immersing myself in harmonygasm. Also, this season the eps seem to be airing near-daily, which makes for less intolerable I HAVE NO NEW SINGING IN MY LIFE waits.

#342 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 12:36 PM:

Re e-cigs (particle): "They just put out harmless water vapour". At least so I keep hearing. Well, no. They put out a fair amount of whatever perfumes they flavour the e-cig with, and it's enough that, at the bridge table at least, they set off my perfume allergy. That is clearly not as bad as real cigs, which I can smell (and react to) on your clothing from two tables away (especially when they have a 5 minute "smoke break" they have to run for, meaning they slam it down) or for 20 feet behind when they're wandering down the street with the lit cancer stick in their hand down by their side, but it's not "harmless".

Unfortunately (for me at least), the ACBL has taken a stand. It's "no cigs in the playing area" (not that they can find a hotel that would let people smoke anyway) moved to "no e-cigs in the playing area, either", but

players...find it difficult to cope with heavy scents of perfume and cologne...Some can become ill in the presence of such scents.
" considerate of those who are sensitive to perfumes and colognes" (my emphasis)

Oh dearie, how *nice* we have to be. I "become ill" - I get blinding headaches, and eventually will get a cough triggered by it that will lead to permanently irritated throat (which triggers coughs...) One of my partners *is losing her sight* - perfume causes blood vessels in her retina to pop. We'll hope that this quiet reminder can become a little stronger in time.

#343 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 01:39 PM:

Elliott Mason@344 - I don't know how your Mysteeerious Elbow Thing works, but I've had occasional tennis elbow problems in the past (from Bad Mouse Ergonomics problems, not actual tennis) and about 5 years ago the NYTimes had an article on exercises that help, in particular the Thera-Band FlexBar, a bendy rubber bar that's able to put the right direction of twisting and stretching forces into your elbow. It was about $15 at the Big Online River website (which has pictures), and it helped a bit for that and shoulder problems.

#344 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 02:46 PM:

re the e-cigarette regulation:

I suspect some of the push to regulate e-cigarettes is the years of pent-up desire to regulate normal burning cigarettes, which was successfully prevented by political pressure (lots of smoking voters plus deep-pocketed tobacco companies). This is illogical, but organizations aren't logical, even when their member humans mostly are.

#345 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 03:26 PM:

If e-cigs just "put out harmless water vapour", how is it that they deliver nicotine to the users' lungs? And isn't that nicotine still present in the "harmless water vapour" that misses the users' lungs, and is inhaled by those near-by? Vapor strikes me as a somewhat inappropriate delivery mechanism for psychoactive drugs administered in public.

#346 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 04:37 PM:

I still can't access my email. I thought it was my computer at first, but I've found out that there's an ongoing outage at Yahoo. Yet another reason to get rid of my Yahoo mail. Only spoons between me and that now.

More shockingly, apparently I was wrong about Yahoo trying to get out of the email business by making it less and less convenient to use. In fact the new CEO (or something) has said she wants to use improvements in email to attract new users.

They think these changes are improvements. The jawdropping cluelessness of this just stuns me. How could anyone think going from being able to have several folders/emails open at once to NOT being able to is an improvement? And that's just one of the fuck-you changes they've been making.

It's much more horrifying as incompetence than as malice.

Details: I see a screen with a bunch of text that looks linked, but the links don't go anywhere. If I scroll down I see a big bold message that says "Your screen elements are hidden from view. Press Esc or move pointer to the center of the screen to return to Mail." Needless to say, those measures are not effective.

#347 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 05:10 PM:

My vexation with e-cigs is that the pre-teen kids in our area have heard the message that they're "harmless" loud and clear, and a number of them are well on their way to nicotine addictions that are going to be an absolute bear to kick later on in life. If they can.

So I hope they're keen on spending their pocket money on nicotine capsules for years to come. Which makes me look askance at the "tobacco money is driving the e-cig ban" argument, too. There's money in every nicotine delivery system, because it's an addictive drug, and addicts spend money to feed that addiction. E-cig manufacturers know this, just like cigarette manufacturers do.

I get it that existing nicotine addicts would like to not get lung cancer. But I'd rather that non-addicts don't necessarily get hooked, either. Particularly not ones too young to exercise long-term judgment.

And I'm finding the hectoring tone of e-cig supporters pretty much exactly as tiresome as they find the hectoring tone of e-cig opponents. The idea that their opponents could have valid concerns, rather than just being overly moralistic or pointlessly authoritarian, seems to be absent from most of the commentary that I run across.

I don't say this stuff out in the wilds of Twitter because I'm not prepared for the kind of ruthless, unproductive mockery that raising such concerns will bring. (And if it comes up here, I'm out of this conversation faster than you can say Zwarte Piet.)

#348 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 05:30 PM:

Reaction to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

It does seem a better movie than the first part.

While there are shots which take advantage of 3D, and a very few which very clearly have a 3D purpose, there isn't any strong dependence.

It didn't feel bloated, but it could be cut by an hour without damaging the story. If you recall how Jackson depicted Moria, just substitute a dragon for a Balrog, and some really fanciful still-working dwarven-tech furnaces which go from cold to pouring molten metal in a few minutes.

(Yes, the movie has a big cast.)

We get to see Legolas, doing all the fancy elven orc-fighting that he did in The Lord of the Rings, but it didn't feel as clear.

Most of the extra stuff is either explicitly off-stage in the book, or referenced in the LotR appendices. There is one scene which is a plausible gap-filler, part of a chain of discovery, and a character who is completely from outside of Middle-Earth.

I started to get eye-strain neck-tension after about two hours. I am not going to rush for 3D movies, though maybe a paid of clip-on 3D filters (polarised) would be worthwhile. But there are few movies which appeal to me as movies.

#349 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 05:35 PM:

Bill Stewart @343: I don’t have a formal diagnosis yet, but my occupational therapist (who I was sent to with a ‘prescription’ for tennis-elbow treatment) says it’s definitely not tendonitis and he thinks probably it’s the goes-through-the-elbow-nerves having some kind of problem. The padded elbow socks help me because there are two things I do that aggravate the Thing: pressure against the ‘funny bone’ region, even very light pressure; and keeping my arms bent at an acute angle for extended periods of time. Things like putting my fist under my chin and my elbow on a table are both at once, of course. The socks (a) pad out the ow-spot and (b) remind me to straighten my arms, because keeping bent in ‘em is mildly uncomfortable for long periods.

#350 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 05:35 PM:

That article talks about "breathing out clean nicotine vapour." Nicotine is not "clean" - it's one of the most toxic substances known. And possibly the most addictive; cigarettes are the only drug/delivery combination that addicts more than half of the people who try it once.

I don't want to breathe nicotine vapor, or have it accumulate in my presence. I don't necessarily think e-cigs should be banned entirely, but they should definitely be age-restricted (but maybe my perspective is colored by being in New Jersey, which age-restricts energy shots; if you do that, I can't see any excuse for letting kids buy nicotine in any form).

#351 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 06:18 PM:

Dave Bell @348:

...pouring molten metal...

(Yes, the movie has a big cast.)

I see what you did there, though I'm not sure whether you intended to. And I'm straining to forge a follow-up metallurgical pun.

#352 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 06:45 PM:

@351 Surely any puns would be over-wrought.

#353 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 06:59 PM:

Any number are about to brazen it out.

#354 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 07:27 PM:

So your movie experience wasn't unalloyed joy?

#355 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 07:28 PM:

I think I just smelt a rat.

#356 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 07:34 PM:

I'm sure we'll hammer out some specimens.

#357 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 07:36 PM:

Are we having fun yet, ore what?

#358 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 08:03 PM:

As I slave away in the word mines, I encounter nuggets of lexical pyrites that are, ahem, stunning. Here are a couple:

Augustine held a groundbreaking viewpoint because he saw God as in control but most importantly, enjoyable. He expresses that God is in existence for the benefit of humans.

It was not until he attached the 95 theses to the church door of Wittenburn that he paved his way into being a religious mogul.

#359 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 09:43 PM:


I see e-cigarettes as a kind of harm-reduction policy w.r.t. smoking. I think you are running into the two problems with responding to vices with harm reduction:

a. Reducing the harm to the person involved in smoking, drug use, prostitution, underage drinking, etc., means decreasing the incentives for people to avoid doing those things.

b. Legalizing, decriminalizing, or offering help (needle exchanges, say) creates a mixed-message, which some people will take to mean "this isn't so bad, it's legal after all" instead of the more accurate "this is a bad idea, but we're tired of arresting people for it, since it doesn't really seem to help."

I don't know a good general solution to the dilemma. I usually prefer harm reduction kinds of policies, but they're not cost free. And I think it's often a little too easy to bash people who oppose them (or even have reservations) as puritans, rather than recognizing that they do have costs and maybe people just disagree about how the costs and benefits sum up.

#360 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 10:14 PM:


I see e-cigarettes as a kind of harm-reduction policy w.r.t. smoking. I think you are running into the two problems with responding to vices with harm reduction:

a. Reducing the harm to the person involved in smoking, drug use, prostitution, underage drinking, etc., means decreasing the incentives for people to avoid doing those things.

b. Legalizing, decriminalizing, or offering help (needle exchanges, say) creates a mixed-message, which some people will take to mean "this isn't so bad, it's legal after all" instead of the more accurate "this is a bad idea, but we're tired of arresting people for it, since it doesn't really seem to help."

I don't know a good general solution to the dilemma. I usually prefer harm reduction kinds of policies, but they're not cost free. And I think it's often a little too easy to bash people who oppose them (or even have reservations) as puritans, rather than recognizing that they do have costs and maybe people just disagree about how the costs and benefits sum up.

#361 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 12:24 AM:

abi @336: I am bemused by your reports of social anxiety. :-) On the one hand, it doesn't seem out of character for you (in a way I'm not sure I can articulate well; basically in my mental model of you, being shy is not inconsistent, if you see what I mean?). But on the other hand, you are so supremely socially "ept" in this context, that it seems oddly inconsistent. (Though I get that social eptness here is a different kettle of greeps because you have the ability to hold back and refine your message carefully and thoroughly until you're satisfied with it, before you make it public.)

And on the gripping hand, it is also often true that those who seem particularly gifted at a skill are often so because they've had to study extra hard to overcome their individual obstacles.

Anyway: It pleases me that Liza is/has been good for you. And I can make a very entertaining mental movie Martin's freak-out about your common gestures. "No, she's the clone!" :-)

#362 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 03:45 AM:


You do know that I live in the Netherlands, right? It's the country where pot is illegal, so please don't have more than five plants, and for your personal use, OK? Or just go to a brown cafe. (The term there is gedogenheid, tolerance).

I work in Amsterdam, and my lunchtime walks often take me through the red light district. I see the lingere-clad women in their narrow windows, waiting for customers, and I both know that it's better that they're there and visible and that few of them are Dutch or there entirely willingly.

(See also, bicycle helmet laws, which we've certainly touched on here on Making Light.)

So, yes. Harm reduction. I'm acquainted with it. And I'm not looking to ban e-cigarettes; I'm saying that they are not "not harming anyone", that seeking to regulate them is not "a moral absurdity", that it's neither a "micro-tyranny" nor based on the feeling that e-cigs are "cheating". In other words, I assert that people with concerns about them have a rational position, just as I respect the fact that vapers have the rational position that they'd like to manage their addiction in a fashion that doesn't destroy their entire respiratory tract and possibly kill them into the bargain.

But I'm not asserting it very loudly, because e-cig advocates have taken the position that the things I quoted above constitute acceptable discourse in a nuanced conversation. It makes a discussion about balancing the needs of addict population with the desire to keep people from joining that population except under [culturally variable conditions] very difficult. And I resent that fact, because, as I said above, there are costs to the way that this is currently being handled, and it would be nice to be able to discuss them.

And this is one of the concerns of the vapers, who feel that the regulations are being pushed in without sufficient consultation, based on inaccurate or misleading information. And I would love to talk about that. But not in this atmosphere, not in these terms.

And that pisses me off.

#363 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 04:10 AM:

Jacque @361:

Your mental model of me is unsurprisingly accurate.

The exception: I can actually wing it very well in conversation; when Liza plopped me down at a table with a bunch of people (including Elizabeth Bear and Toby Buckell, both of whom I did want to meet in person), I had a delightful time. And I like to hope that the people around me did too. They certainly laughed when I joked, and spoke when I listened, you know?

What I struggled with was getting to that point. Walking into the bar full of people who already knew each other and were having a grand time without needing me there. Going into the darkened banqueting hall in my fancy scarlet dress and lace shrug, knowing I had to find a table to sit at on my own. (Again, Liza to the rescue! And now I've met Joe and Gay Haldeman.)

(Wry joke: I went to WFC only knowing three people in person. But those three people were PNH, Liza, and Charlie Stross.)

I have plans for how to handle things at the next Worldcon. Among other things, I'd like to hold the Gathering of Light early in the con, so that I have a bunch of faces to go with the names I already know.

And if it doesn't work out? Well, not everyone's a con person.

#364 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 08:59 AM:

Abi @ 363... Glad that Liza was there to help ease you into those conversations. Needing such help is a situation I'm all too familiar with.

#365 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 09:41 AM:

HLN: Local man notices that "swiping" the iPad home screen to the left brings up a screen with his apps. Local man feels a bit foolish for not realizing this earlier.

(iOS 7, so not completely certain this works on earlier versons.)

#366 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 09:52 AM:

In regard to PNH's particle on Kim Stanley Robinson: How distressung that even The New Yorker has sucky comments.

#367 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:11 AM:


OK, apparently my Yahoo problem was coincident with the global outage, not caused by it.

This morning I've discovered that I can access it via IE (ieee!) but get the same problem via Firefox.

Could Firefox be cacheing a corrupted CSS for Yahoo or something? If so, how can I fix it?

#368 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:24 AM:

abi @ 363: ah, yes. That sets off a few pings of empathy. Cons can be quite daunting to the highly introverted.

I went to a Blake's 7 con once, and I had the good sense to go with an extroverted friend so that I would not be overwhelmed. EF is a writer, mainly of westerns, and at that point she had about ten or a dozen of them in print through some cheapskate publisher that paid her a flat rate of £100 per novel. (I think she could find a better publisher, but at least this one will now reliably pay her up front.)

At the dinner, we found ourselves sitting with one of the guests, Scott Fredericks, and this was where the flip side of going round with an extrovert demonstrated itself. EF got into enthusiastic conversation with Scott, telling him all about her books, while I could barely get a word in edgeways. I'd pretty much accepted that I was going to be playing the role of Interested Listener all evening when Scott suddenly turned to me.

"And what about you?" he asked. "What sort of thing do you write?"

I blinked. "How on earth did you know I was a writer?" I asked.

"It's your turn of phrase," he replied.

And this, my friends, is why I think Scott Fredericks is awesome.

#369 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:30 AM:

#365 ::: Michael I, re: swiping iPad screen

That works as far back as the iPad2. I learned that trick in J. D. Biersdorfer's [iPad2] The Missing Manual - O'Reilly has a whole string of them. Invaluable resources.

#370 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:46 AM:

Never mind my last. Apparently it was due to accessing Yahoo Mail through Yahoo Messenger (which I keep only because it lets me access YM without typing my password every time, a Bad Practice that I don't intend to continue). When I logged completely out of Yahoo, went to Mail, and logged in with my remembered-with-difficulty password, all was well.

Still leaving Yahoo, but this isn't their fault, unless you count the delay because I thought it was due to the global outage.

#371 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 11:04 AM:

Today, I am a Christmas tree. Trying to keep the kid playing with me and not bugging her dad, who's trying to have a Last Productive Weekend Before We Go Out Of Town bout (and freakout).

#372 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 371... Today, I am a Christmas tree.

Pine-ing for the fjords?

#373 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 12:29 PM:

Oh, Serge, fir crying out loud -yew can be such a sap.

#374 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 12:34 PM:

Don't treat Serge like he's just committed treeson! Not like he just dropped an F-baum.

And Elliott, you're a good guy. You should definitely take a bough. Some people may needle you about this, but they're homophobic bigots: making fun of your ornamentation.

#375 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 01:17 PM:


Discussion of dolls on the Marilee thread reminded me of this, but I didn't think it was appropriate to post there.

I don't suppose anyone could point me in the direction of some resources where I could search for someone who does antique doll repair? Is there a database of such people? I have my great aunt's doll she brought with her from Scotland, and I'd love to have her restored, but I've no idea how to find reputable places.

Searches for 'doll repair', 'doll museum', and even 'doll hospital' didn't return anything encouraging. I'm thinking of contacting the McCord Museum and asking if they can provide contacts, but I hate the phone and cold-calling is very difficult for me. Even if I pre-write a script, I won't know the right questions to ask.

Any help would be appreciated!

#376 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 02:47 PM:


Newfoundland and Labrador RCMP have enlisted the help of Elf on a Shelf for their "Don't Drink and Drive" campaign.

(I was distracted for a few minutes trying to read the names of all the books on the shelf...)

#377 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 02:53 PM:

Cheryl, what sort of doll? China, celluloid, wooden?

I collect Hittys, and have a smattering of small dolls (china heads, porcelain, stuffed...), so I may be able to refer you to some of the doll lists where someone can help.

#378 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 03:09 PM:

Lori, 377: Did the book get named after the dolls, or vice versa? And does anybody know whether the Suck Fairy has been at the book? (Golly I hope not. I loved it so.)

#379 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 06:40 PM:

So, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The High Frame Rate thing was very cool. It made the fast action sequences smooth and visually comprehensible. I never felt that "too much to take in" feeling.

The story . . .
. . . jryy, nyzbfg nyy gur jnl guebhtu V jnf guvaxvat "Guvf vf zhpu yrff rtertvbhfyl fvyyl na nqncgngvba guna gur svefg bar." Gurer jrer fgvyy ceboyrzf. V xabj Gbyxvra uvzfrys unq abgrf ergpbaavat gur ybat jne jvgu Fnheba vagb _Gur Uboovg_, ohg gur Juvgr Pbhapvy nqq-ba fgbel jnf whfg gbb zhpu. Nmbq, Obyt, npghnyyl anvyvat qbja Fnheba nf gur Arpebznapre, gur eriratr qenzn j/ Gubeva . . . arrqyrff cnqqvat. Htu. Ohg V jnf rkcrpgvat gung, evtug?

Gura V fnj gur ynfg 20 zvahgrf. Bu, tvir zr n sernxvat oernx. Vaqhytrag ivqrb-tnzr fglyr rlr pnaql gung qvqa'g znxr nal frafr. Yhqvpebhf.

V qvq yvxr Ynxr Gbja. Gur rynobengvbaf gurer jrer unezyrff. Avpr frgf, tbbq punenpgref.

To some things up:
Peter Jackson didn't take *liberties* with The Hobbit; he got it passing-out drunk, dressed it as a clown, and photographed it in bed with a she-warg.

#380 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 08:45 PM:

Stefan Jones @379 -- you are aware that that should be "to sum things up", right?

#381 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 09:24 PM:

HLN: Area retiree witnesses scary unplanned physics demo, and is glad to have emerged unscathed.
Switching to 1st person--I was in the northern sector of the city, waiting at a bus stop, and saw a firetruck about to turn onto my street from a cross street some 100 feet away. It looked like it had a yellow hose trailing behind it--I didn't quite believe it, but as it started to turn I saw a good 150 feet of hose dragging, with a metal fitting on the end starting to bounce around. My scattered but better-than-some knowledge of science suggested I get behind that bus shelter right away, and I did, faster than I'd thought a person with 2 bad knees could move. As the truck completed the turn into the lane closest to me, the end of the hose whipped this way and that. It did not come near the bus shelter, but it hit the kickstand of a parked motorcycle about 80 feet farther down, causing it to fall over. Despite at least one other vehicle honking like mad, the truck went on its merry way. I don't know how far it got before the driver(s) caught on.
Another witness came over, with the owner of the motorbike, and we exchanged details. Then my bus came and I left.
Situational awareness, people.

#382 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 09:38 PM:

HLN: One of my cats is wholeheartedly constipated, and is currently at the vet, where the situation is being remedied.

On the one hand, I'm rather concerned about the cat -- on the other, it's really, really hard not to make bad jokes about the situation.

#383 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:03 PM:

#382:::xeger Is this where I should hope that everything comes out well?

Had a similar situation with my schnauzer a few years back. Pepper was repeatedly circling the coffee table and panting. She would try to settle and then get right back to her perambulations. Her stomach looked as if a small nerf basketball had settled there. Fearing bloat (highly unlikely in a schnauzer, but not 0% chance), I ran her to the emergency vet clinic. By the time the vet came to see me, she mentioned that Pepper had (quite noisily) lost quite a bit of her girth and the xrays showed only constipation. As we left, Pepper found the nearest grassy spot and left something that should come from a dog 10 times her weight. My guess is that the trip to the e-vet clinic and a walk around the perimeter may have produced the same results for far less money. Then again, I have always been grateful for the spectacular job they do under less than great circumstances.

#384 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:33 PM:

TexAnne, the Suck Fairy has only given Hitty: Her First Hundred Years a localized swipe with her wand - do you remember the black minister? The thick, Uncle Remus dialect is kind of wince-making, but the character's still sympathetic.

However, if ordering a new copy, make sure NOT to get the abridged edition they've come up with. Original or nothing!

Rumer Godden's various doll books have also held up remarkably well. And I discovered that it's possible to buy Tottie-like "Dutch dolls" (now made in China) from RevWar re-enactor supply catalogs!

#385 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 11:48 PM:

@377 Lori Coulson

Cheryl, what sort of doll? China, celluloid, wooden?

She's celluloid, I think? She looks like she could be bisque, but then she's quite light when I pick her up.

I'm afraid she's in rather sad shape. Her neck is broken and her head no longer attached (I have some of the broken pieces, as well as the detached eye assembly).

She is wearing Scottish dress: a MacDonald kilt (quite properly, though the pin is lost); a sort of onesie that makes up shirt and shorts; a black velvet Prince Charlie jacket and matching Glengarry bonnet; removable black Mary Janes and socks. Her hair is blonde, short, and rather flat, I'm afraid.

The back of her neck says "Our Pet, Germany, 210".

She came with a wee travelling trunk, which makes me think she used to have more clothes.

I've uploaded some photos, though not of good quality, I'm afraid.

I'm in Montreal, so geography will play a part in whether I can access any experts.

Thanks so much for your help!

#386 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 12:40 AM:

Mongoose @368: And this, my friends, is why I think Scott Fredericks is awesome.

I think this is entirely and utterly grounds for finding Scott Fredericks to be awesome!

At the dinner, we found ourselves sitting with one of the guests, Scott Fredericks, and this was where the flip side of going round with an extrovert demonstrated itself.

Oh dear. I am reminded: Back in the olden days (when I still thought I was an introvert), I chanced to fetch up in the hotel restaurant at Sunday lunch at a MileHiCon. With me were Susan Crites and The Clone, Caro, and maybe a couple of other people. As we were getting settled, Ed Bryant came in, and was gathered into the group. We had gotten seated and were waiting for our menus when GoH William Tenn showed up. Chairs shifted, and he was given a seat. Next to Susan, as it happened.

Orders were taken, conversation proceded, food was brought, and we settled down to our lunch. Mr. Tenn, however, was having trouble getting the mustard bottle to disgorge any mustard onto his ham sandwich. Susan, who was waxing loquacious about something or other, glanced over, and without the slightest pause in her discourse, took the mustard bottle out of his hand, picked up his butter knife, and began slathering mustard on the ham of his sandwich.

Mr. Tenn was, as one might expect, somewhat taken aback. The rest of us were just kind of sitting there, not grinning, waiting to see what happened next. After a moment, Susan noticed the change in tone around the table, paused in her tale, and finally registered what her hands were doing. "Um," she said, putting the knife and bottle down very carefully, "Sorry." Turning bright red, she turned to Mr. Tenn. "I have small children you see, and whenever I see someone having trouble with their's a reflex, really...." she just kind of trailed off.

Mr. Tenn retrieved his butter knife, and began adjusting the applied mustard more to his taste, maintaining what was left of his dignity. The rest of us, of course, burst out laughing.

#387 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 02:01 AM:

Follow-up from previous open thread:

I found, in my freezer, a pound of cottage cheese which I had lost track of. Better than it rotting someplace, but what do do with it?

I found, in my bread machine's instruction manual, a recipe for "Cottage Cheese and Chive" bread. The 1 lb. tub had enough for two loves. I had one slice freshly baked, with butter. It was pretty good!

In tangentially related news: While digging out recently purchased bags of cream cheese, I found a bar which I had purchased last spring and which had fallen behind some condiment containers.

I peeked inside the foil wrap. It was . . . not pretty. I sealed the mess inside of a bad and tossed it. I'll toss the bag tomorrow.

#388 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 02:18 AM:

Abi, albatross:

Although I think banning e-cigs is probably a mistake, I do think it's being done for public health reasons related to the ones Abi suggests, but I will go further.

A common public-health view is that the commercial tobacco industry and its marketing and influence over governments are an unnecessary evil, responsible for huge misery, and with no redeeming features. Tobacco companies are hostis humani generis, common enemies of humanity, like terrorists and the NSA. The goal is to see them wiped out, with tobacco reduced to grown-your-own or co-op farming, and the strategic question is how best to do this without too much harm to current smokers, farmers, or innocent bystanders. I'm basically of this persuasion, though I am more concerned about impact on civil liberties than the median anti-smoking advocate.

From this viewpoint e-cigarettes are tricky. On the one hand, e-cigarettes are roughly as effective as nicotine patches in getting people to quit cigarettes (though probably less effective in getting them to quit nicotine) and so should be supported. On the other hand, they are easy to market as 'safe' smoking (even though do they have real health risks) and the concept of 'safe' smoking makes it harder to get rid of unsafe smoking.

My personal view is that they should be sold the same way nicotine patches are, but I do think attempts to ban them really are motivated by long-term public health concerns.

#389 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:33 AM:

abi #347:

My vexation with e-cigs is that the pre-teen kids in our area have heard the message that they're "harmless" loud and clear, and a number of them are well on their way to nicotine addictions that are going to be an absolute bear to kick later on in life. If they can.

Dropping in a reply before properly catching up:

abi #347: So I hope they're keen on spending their pocket money on nicotine capsules for years to come. Which makes me look askance at the "tobacco money is driving the e-cig ban" argument, too. There's money in every nicotine delivery system, because it's an addictive drug, and addicts spend money to feed that addiction.

The amount of money varies vastly. I'be gone from buying 7 packs a week (call it $55) and a big box of nicotine gum (another $55) most weeks, to one $15 e-hookah every three weeks or more (haven't had enough cycles to really stabilize it), and maybe one box of gum a month. Even assuming the same people get the money, I'm paying perhaps 10% of what I was.

Big Tobacco is looking at something that can kill it, the conversion of nicotine addiction from a sale crop to a cheap device. You'd better believe they're not going down without a fight.

#390 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:58 AM:

Jacque @ 386: what a wonderful story! I had a much-needed laugh.

#391 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:58 AM:

Jacque @ 386: what a wonderful story! I had a much-needed laugh.

#392 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 10:12 AM:

Stefan @379

Would you mind copying your Desolation of Smaug post over to the spoiler thread? (Un-rot-13ed, of course.) That way I'll actually remember to read it once I've seen the movie; otherwise it'll be lost in the Open Thread never to be seen again.

I'm rather proud of myself for applying the willpower to not read it, though.

#393 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 10:38 AM:

Jacque, that would have been MHC 10. I was there, but not in a spot to have known what was going on at the table. Su's told the story, but in less detail. Well, scratch that. I remembered less detail.

I really do miss her. I hope we can swing a meeting next time I'm in the large rectangular state.

#394 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 12:31 PM:

Dave H., #389: That's interesting. We haven't had a lot of exposure to e-cigs, so at this point my primary response to them is, "Anything that stops people waving lit cigarettes over the merchandise is an improvement." (Not such an issue at cons any more, but still one at outdoor events such as Austin Celtic Fest.)

#395 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 12:46 PM:

Just had an idea, wanted to toss it out before I head out to play pool:

The Wiki format would be ideal for displaying legal codes. The History list would provide a built-in framework for showing changes and significant decisions over time, with additional details provided on the Talk pages.

(Naturally, for most users the wiki would be read-only. ;-) )

Feel free to tell me where this has been done already. If it hasn't, the American Constitution would provide an ideal proof-of-concept page.

#396 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 12:48 PM:

I am exceedingly dubious about the 'e-cigs are less obnoxious to those around the smoker because what is exhaled is unnoticeable' because when my sister was living with us, she would go to the (glass-enclosed) back porch to vape, and walking through it afterwards stank of clubbing. :-/ Quite possibly, e-cigs make LESS offensive output-not-into-the-vaper's-lungs than cigarettes do, but the value is nonzero by any measure.

The real experiment would be switching my heavy-smoker dad to vaping, and buying a massive thorough housecleaning for him; right now, if I or my daughter go over to his house for more than half an hour, our clothes have to be taken off and shoved in the laundry immediately upon returning to our house, and sometimes we have to hair-wash immediately, too, to avoid gassing my husband with stink. He can't even go over to Dad's house at all; his lungs start seizing up.

#397 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 12:49 PM:

It's an idea I like, and there have been times I wished for it. ('What was the previous description of this county boundary?' is one that I've wished for 'history' on.)

#398 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 02:35 PM:

Re: Hitty Her First Hundred Years

I second Rikibeth's recommendations, the abridged version is to be avoided at all costs (and the illustrations in that one DO suck). You definitely want the original.

The dolls are named for the book. They vary in materials, hand-carved wood being the most expensive. Making clothes for a six and a quarter inch doll can be challenging too.

Cheryl, that looks like a composite doll meant to be a copy of her more expensive bisque sisters. Her coloring is in very good condition, and I do think she is repairable and worth doing so.

#399 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 03:13 PM:

@398 Lori Coulson

Cheryl, that looks like a composite doll meant to be a copy of her more expensive bisque sisters. Her coloring is in very good condition, and I do think she is repairable and worth doing so.

Excellent, thanks! Now all I need is to find a place that can do it.

#400 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 03:36 PM:

Oh! Peter O'Toole has died.

He was my very first movie star crush - the voice, the eyes! And now he's gone, at 81.

#401 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 03:39 PM:

Angiportus @ 381: have you seen Steve Martin's Roxanne? Rockies-edge volunteer firefighters instead of Gascon cadets; "Boys! ... the ladder! ... is up! ...." (gasped as he runs down the street waving his arms after the departing truck). Glad that the real-life version didn't catch you.

#402 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Cheryl @ 400... Goodbye, Mr.Chips.

#403 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 05:24 PM:

Open-threadiness: this is a (public) status update from one of my friends. English is not his first language.

"This luggage reclaim is boring ! Neither the janitors do not sing Schubert nor the passengers!!!"

I am now happily imagining a world in which people spontaneously sing Schubert at luggage reclaim points. I think it would be a better world than the one we have.

#404 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:43 PM:

Xeger at # 382: One of my cats is wholeheartedly constipated.

Wrong organ, it's the whole colon.

#405 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:58 PM:

TrishB @ 383 ...
#382:::xeger Is this where I should hope that everything comes out well?

*snicker* Indeedy (although I'm still waiting for it ... )

Had a similar situation with my schnauzer a few years back. Pepper was repeatedly circling the coffee table and panting. She would try to settle and then get right back to her perambulations. Her stomach looked as if a small nerf basketball had settled there. Fearing bloat (highly unlikely in a schnauzer, but not 0% chance), I ran her to the emergency vet clinic. By the time the vet came to see me, she mentioned that Pepper had (quite noisily) lost quite a bit of her girth and the xrays showed only constipation. As we left, Pepper found the nearest grassy spot and left something that should come from a dog 10 times her weight. My guess is that the trip to the e-vet clinic and a walk around the perimeter may have produced the same results for far less money. Then again, I have always been grateful for the spectacular job they do under less than great circumstances.

Yikes! I'm glad that turned out well! That does remind me of various James Herriot stories, most of which could include "animals do their best to make vets seem foolish" as a punchline.

Allan Beatty @ 404 ...
Xeger at # 382: One of my cats is wholeheartedly constipated.
Wrong organ, it's the whole colon.

Would you prefer "Is demonstrating remarkable intestinal fortitutde"? ;D

#406 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 07:53 PM:

I would gladly contribute e-cigs to the local post awful's package sorting dept. Mail seems to be ok, but every package delivered to my door reeks of cigarette smoke. *cough*

#407 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 09:01 PM:

Kid has now been productively amused for an hour or so by the process of making Confetti Crayons: take (cheap, by preference; real Crayolas no longer melt as cleanly, though they do color better) crayons and de-wrapper, then chop coarsely. For bonus style points, sort into 6-10 color families. Then fill some mold (I got some cheapie dollar store long-ice-stick molds; you can also use hearts/stars/whatever) with a limited but varied assortment of color chips, and melt to approximately 135degF by some reasonable-to-you-method.

I tried doing it by floating the trays in baking dishes of boiling water, but there weren't enough joules in the water; now I've got the de-facto bains marie in the oven, whose lowest setting is 170; I'm letting them come up to temperature and will shut it off.

Heating too hot will lead to a layer of dense pigment on the bottom, a layer of clearish wax on top, and real crayon only in the middle.

These are going to be the classroom giftmas presents for her schoolmates this year, perhaps wrapped in a colorful ribbon in pairs.

#408 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 10:12 PM:

@403: I have not (yet) sung Schubert at the luggage carousel, but I have been known to burst into excerpts of Bach and/or Handel at my workplace.

#409 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 10:46 PM:

Joan Fontaine passed away.
She was 96.

#410 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 12:40 AM:

Crossing threads, some would say that Elliott's kid made crayon salad.

#411 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 01:37 AM:

Cheryl @ #385, those are very disturbing photos, in a "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" kind of way.

#412 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 02:04 AM:

Teka Lynn @ 408:

Now I want to participate in a flashmob singing Schubert at an airport baggage claim...

#413 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 02:32 AM:

@411 Linkmeister

Cheryl @ #385, those are very disturbing photos, in a "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" kind of way.

I know, eh? Especially the eyeless head... I was thinking Hannibal, but you're right, Baby Jane is a better fit.

#414 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 09:37 AM:

Also, Tom "Billy Jack" Laughlin left the world yesterday. A recognizable name, anyway, though not coequal. Not my best birthday ever.

Nor the worst. That would have been my tenth birthday, in 1966, when I came home from school (late, as the bus was stuck behind a house inching down the road while my large intestine sent increasingly urgent dispatches to my brain) and ran in, eager to see if any presents had arrived. Scooping up the package from my grandmother, I dashed into the bathroom just as Mom said "Walt Disney died."

#415 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 11:15 AM:

Linkmeister @411: Thank you, so much, for that reminder. I had forgotten how disturbing that movie was. Even the Wikipedia synopsis was...! ::shudder:: Particularly ironic, once Mommie Dearest came out.

Kip W: Well, thanks be to all the ghods of Time and Space, Spider Robinson did not die on my birthday this year.

#416 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 01:42 PM:

WTF Department: Went online to find a number for my local police. The [nameoftown] website is the first find on Google, so that's good...except that the page is "Your Online Resource of [sic] Law Enforcement Career Information."

What the hell? We're not just talking career information for the local police, but information on how to become an FBI or Secret Service agent, or a U.S. Marshall as well.

Not what I was expecting. To get to the actual local police, you have to go to [nameoftown] Right. Remember when .com actually meant it was a commercial website?

#417 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 01:56 PM:

And it links to an essay mill. The text on the site appears to have been written by an untalented high school sophomore, and proofread by no one. For example, of the FBI it says "...despite the fact that the currently employee almost 35,000 people..."

#418 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 04:04 PM:

I am actually fairly happy about someone who died on my birthday, albeit many years before I was actually born. To wit, Adolf Hitler.

#419 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 04:52 PM:

RE: The Nelson Mandela funeral, more specifically, the photos in the news here in the USA, I found this. (Found via The Weekly Sift, Doug Muder's rather excellent news commentary site.

#420 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 05:28 PM:

I learned from Dad not too long ago that I was born at exactly midnight between December 15 and 16, and Mom was given a choice as to which would be my birthday. I'm guessing she went with the 15th because that's the day she did all the work.

Jacque, it was a good day not to die.

#421 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 06:24 PM:

I don't know if you've seen the Wholock video, but more importantly the vfx breakdown. Can it really be fan-made? Surely if you can do that to those you can do anything to anything!

(A little sad because I came here to mention it to Melissa Singer, but now see that she left over a year ago. Ah well, tempus fugit* I guess.)

(abi@347 sorry again for being thoughtless)

* but fruit flies like a banana

#422 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 07:11 PM:

Russ @421: Occasionally YouTube gets things that are made by film students, clearly a recurring class assignment to cut a new trailer for an existing movie that gives a completely misleading idea of what the movie is about -- an alternate-reality version of that movie. The good ones I've seen are West Side Story as a zombie thriller (special effects painful; editing good) and "the feel-good hit of the summer, Kubrick's Shining!"

#423 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 07:28 PM:

Eliott Mason at 407:

at my school the preferred method for melting wax for candle making was:

Electric hot plate, on an extension cord so that it's possible to pull the plug from a distance if things get out of hand.

On the burner of it, wax is melted in a can within a larger can of water, for instance a tennis ball can within a coffee can.

I am not sure how this would work for melting within a mold without mixing too much though.

#424 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 07:45 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #422: and my favorite, Scary Mary.

#425 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:01 PM:

I remember doing sand candles (from crayons) in first grade. They just did the kettle over the stove, which strikes me as a fast way to set things on fire.

#426 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:06 PM:

I remember when my mother was melting wax, she put the container (usually a clean empty can) into a pan of hot water. It's safer, anyway.

#427 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:17 PM:

Orchid Mantis: the "flower" from Hell.

#428 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:51 PM:

Erik Nelson @423: This situation is complicated by the fact that my mold is made of plastic whose top survivable temperature was unknown to me when I started the process, but known to be 'lowish'. Boiling water was almost certainly ok. 350degF in the oven was almost certainly not.

I also own some silicone ice trays that are more ovenproof, and also metal molds that can take whatever my standard kitchen equipment can dish out.

Some methods of getting a moldful of lumps melted but not overmelted involve preheating an oven to Quite Hot and only putting them in for a few minutes; I was attempting the 'perfect poached fish' method, achieving a temperature in a water bath or air mass and leaving it there until equilibrium was reached.

Because all my apparatus have, um, largish wiggles in their dial-accuracy, results were erratic. The toaster oven has the best thermostat, so I ended up doing that for some of it ... but its small size and the fact that its heating elements are either ON or OFF led to some unauthorized schlumph in my mold material, because although the average total temperature was under 140, apparently certain areas were strongly over. (I only paid about a dollar for a set of three trays, so I'm not too upset except in my EVERYTHING IS USEFUL packrat reflexes; I was considering them largely disposable)

Also, apparently this brand of cheap crayons starts to stink up the whole kitchen well BEFORE it melts usefully, which was, um, suboptimal.

But I have an whole assortment of confetti crayon half-rods made, tied together in pairs, labeled, and baggied to go to school tomorrow so WINNNN.

#429 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:56 PM:

I should note that as someone with a faint acquaintance with molecular gastronomy techniques and equipment (from a huge variety of cooking shows), I am tempted to observe that probably the most perfectly foolproof method of making confetti crayons is to vacuum seal your chunks into your mold and put 'em in a sous vide bag in an immersion circulator for several hours ... but that involves a more involved Someone Else's Kitchen than I have. :->

#430 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 12:18 AM:

Elliott Mason at 429: As someone who actually owns and uses a circulator and vacuum sealer, you could do that. It'd be a little problematic, since you get the best heat transfer when the only thing between whatever you're heating (steak, crayons, whatever) and the water is the vacuum-sealed bag. Immersing molds in a water bath doesn't work all that well; I tried cooking creme brulee custards in mine last weekend and never got them hot enough, but I think that was mostly an issue with the ceramic ramekins I used.

#431 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 09:53 AM:

Russ @421

We don't quite realise just how much can be done with even a cheap desktop computer these days. All the video clips are available in digital form and the editing and effects are mostly pretty standard. Compositing is not so usual, splitting out actor and background, but it needn't be hugely difficult.

It's impressive, and there are student discounts on the professional software, and it wouldn't surprise me if this were the work of a film student, but it doesn't need anything exotic. These days, HDTV film-making is within the reach of an amateur with a serious hobby budget. Have you seen how much a train-set or a fishing rod can cost?

#432 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 11:05 AM:

A tenured professor at University of Colorado-Boulder is being forced out because her longstanding, extremely popular, extremely effective sociology course on the nature of deviance includes a lecture that has several (volunteer) TAs roleplaying as different 'status' prostitutes to demonstrate that even in particularly low-status professions, stratification exists and is perceived by participants.

Her school keeps saying (a) that in a "post-Penn-State" world, clearly this is an unacceptable thing, and (b) she should have gone to the Institutional Research Board and followed their ethics for using human subjects. Despite that it's not research and that all the 'subjects' serving as actors volunteered. :-/

#433 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 11:29 AM:

We made candles once in Scouts, using milk cartons as the molds. I don't remember the melting procedure or material, but recall that each was filled with crushed ice before the wax went in, resulting in very holey candles — like cheese, but the holes weren't round, and the light did interesting things in them.

#434 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 11:35 AM:

It sounds like it's time for a new administration, since the current one clearly doesn't have a clue.

#435 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 12:00 PM:

Eliott and Lila --

I also like Ten Things I Hate About Commandments, which only falls below "Shining" in that it's obvious from the images that it's Ancient Egypt and not an American high school, whereas someone who'd never seen or heard of The Shining might well take the re-cut trailer at face value.

#436 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Lila @427: And right next door is the Mantis shrimp. "Yeah? Who you lookin' at, huh?"

#437 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Elliott Mason #432: That's horrible. It's also truly dumb.

#438 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:14 PM:

I've finished marking papers for the semester. A few items brought themselves to my notice, and I thought I'd share them:
From David Hume’s perspective, people were out to service themselves and were only concerned with themselves.

Discipline derives from the maternal instinct provided from exterior factors in a person’s surroundings.

John Locke was a 17th century English political theorist whose theory makes America.

Plato sought to correct the mistakes of previous philosophers and believed people were to easily persuade.

Mohist, people follow Mozi’s beliefs, contend that by having a universal set of standards, it would promote the utilitarian idea and distinguish social disorder as well as a standard for people to live by.

Kant is not a fan of conducting a revolution, he feels this is contradictory to oneself, and civil disobedience is condemned.

Also, life expectancy and internal illnesses are as well past down.

Some places, even do not have lights, or the water supply is miles away due to lack of irrigation from the monetary deficiencies of their country.

Blogs are opionion of a preson and sometimes the writing it not facts.

To consolidate government, a democratic regime must be installed first and foremost.

A Neo-liberal thought of the 1980’s brought a global movement of classical liberalism which reached the depths of Latin America.

Poor votes are essential components to win campaigns in Latin America.

Taylor uses the concept of Honduras banana worker to further illustrate this point.

Causations for poor to contract representation within clientele networks are caused by: state formation and democratic suffrage, political economic theories, and fundamental ideologies, and ethno-cultural identities; and also by a need for socio-economic development.

#439 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:34 PM:

Elliott Mason at 432: Wait, what?!? - I've dealt with Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) for years, across three institutions, for a variety of different human subjects work, and any IRB I've ever heard of would look at that and say that classroom instruction wasn't their remit. This isn't an issue of consent, which is really what IRBs deal with for human subjects, or of subject safety - it's much closer to acting or theater, and that certainly doesn't require IRB approval. No professor would be asked to get IRB approval to get several actors to come in to do exactly what the article described; there might, in this age, be a request from the university administration to give students the right to skip that class if they felt they would be made uncomfortable, but it's not a human subjects issue at all.

If I was at that university, I'd be extremely reluctant to do any research (note that my research boils down to "put subjects in little dark rooms and make them bored for science" - my consent forms pretty much say that the worst possible side effect of being a participant is boredom or mild eyestrain, 'equivalent to watching TV for several hours'). Given the administration's views - their IRB might be perfectly reasonable, but when the administration wants to confuse their personal opinions with the actual laws and regulations, that's not a good place to be as an academic. If I was at that institution in any research capacity, I'd be going on the job market right quick, because the level of confusion and incompetence there is ridiculous. I wouldn't be able to trust the administration to understand the role of the IRB (or, for that matter, anything else that supports research with human subjects); given their angle on this, I don't think I'd be able to trust them to support faculty or TAs in any sort of teaching/pedagogy/grading dispute.

#440 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 01:17 AM:

So... PAX (the Penny Arcade Expo gaming convention) was roundly criticized last year for compounding their history of (among other things) insulting trans people by saying on stage that they regretted apologizing for a rape joke. Since then, they've been trying to overcome their past insensitivity and create a more inclusive and welcoming environment.

They have a fairly decent harassment policy, that's a good start. Now, they have just announced the next step in becoming a more inclusive convention: all future PAX events will feature the "Roll for Diversity Hub and Lounge".

That's right. To get all those marginalized folks to feel included, PAX set up special diversity ghettos for them.

On a related note, "Roll for Diversity Hub and Lounge" sounds like it's missing a corporate sponsor's name at the beginning.

#441 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 01:56 AM:

shadowsong @ 440 ...
... all future PAX events will feature the "Roll for Diversity Hub and Lounge".

So... what do you get if you roll a natural 20...

#442 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 02:09 AM:

xeger @441: To mix metaphors, I believe a natural 20 means you win the "oppression bingo" game.

#443 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 08:21 AM:

Jacque @ #436, thanks for that video! My taekwondo teacher (whose favorite animal is the mantis shrimp) loved it too.

(My favorite animal is the leafy sea dragon. This is probably telling.)

Fragano, your students' writing is curing my Dunning-Kruger syndrome about my GRE essay score.

I got nothin'. You get that much clueless in one place, some kind of black hole phenomenon results.

#444 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 08:48 AM:

It's been reported that Bitcoin is crashing, which may be an exaggeration. The price went up pretty fast, to around $1000, and it's dropped back pretty quickly to around $500.

I expect it to drop more, but it may settle at a value that still makes it useful.

And the guy who scrapped a BitCoin-loaded hard drive (there was a BBC report) may not have lost so much after all.

Maybe I should design and print off an "I owned a BitCoin" certificate, instead of sending Christmas Cards. Like some of the dodgy Victorian US share certificates, it might have collector value.

Not One Bitcoin in Tribute!

#445 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 09:46 AM:

Mr Stross of this parish has a few rather pointed things to say about Bitcoins in his most recent blog entry.

#446 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 12:32 PM:

Mongoose @ #445: I love the comment citing as a nickname for Bitcoin, "Dunning-Krugerrands".

#447 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 12:36 PM:

I'm going to use my Bitcoins to buy Dutch tulip-bulb futures.

(I'm kidding. I have no Bitcoins.)

#448 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 01:25 PM:

What to do with your fire ant colony.

#449 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 01:52 PM:

Those of you who don't usually follow Ursula Vernon's LJ might enjoy her piece on Editing

#450 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 01:59 PM:

Shadowsong @440. This article says:

the space is intended to achieve four things: provide a place to find out about diversity-related happenings at PAX events; educate attendees on diversity within the games industry; provide education and training on diversity issues such as maintaining inclusive spaces; and highlight diversity-related business in and around the geek community.

and a spokesperson said "We have a limited number of slots, and the booths are free. In addition, since all of our content is spread out at the show rather than ‘tracked’, the hub will also be a resource for people to find the diverse sessions, events, and exhibitors."

So I don't know. Are they hamfistedly trying to move from being a terrible example to the gaming community* to being a net gain for diversity by visibly setting aside a space for resources, training and outreach, or are they stupidly going "games here, diversity here, so you can all stop complaining"? Or something of both? I don't see it as a step backwards, but then again they would have to work really hard at being idiots to do that.

* Insert continuing argument about what that means if anything here

#451 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 02:51 PM:

TNH might be interested in this from Nature News: some confirmation of the hypothesis that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder -- they've found the guilty T-cells.

#452 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 03:04 PM:

Thomas @451

Interesting, but when TNH reported, a few years ago, on the variety of possible drugs for treatment, only one of which worked well for her, I did wonder if the narcolepsy label covered a single problem. They have a particular hormone in mind, and they might end up with something which works for a lot of people, but will TNH still fall down when she laughs?

I have seen a few similarly dramatic claims made about my medical condition. And after this long, there may be nothing left within me to "cure"

#453 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 04:48 PM:

David Bell,

Actually, I really did just mean Teresa might find it interesting. The only practical implication of the research in the near future is that diagnosis might be less of a pain than she described in her case.

#454 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 05:47 PM:

Gender-swapping in kidlit: Bilbo Baggins as heroine. Complete with some rather nice art of Ms Bilbo. I think this is quite wonderful, especially since it's child-led.

#455 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:35 PM:

Bilbo is way too thin in that picture, though. She should be corpulent, at least at the beginning of the journey.

Did you know that Tolkien says (in the Appendices*) that his two main heroes were actually named Bilba and Froda, since -a was a masculine suffix in their language? He claims to have changed them so they'd sound more masculine to our ears.

#456 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:38 PM:

Sorry, forgot the footnote.

*"The answer, my friend, is in Appendix N; the answer is in Appendix N."

#457 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:41 PM:

Extra Credits has a great episode about Community Managers in videogames, a role that partakes somewhat of the forum-moderator skillset but also some other things.

#458 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:47 PM:

Xopher: yes - that is also mentioned in the appendices to LotR.

#459 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:51 PM:

LotR is the one with Appendices. Those are the ones I was referring to.

And because there's such a lot of story in the Appendices, and Peter Jackson has the rights to LotR, we won't be rid of him anytime soon. Sadly.

#460 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:52 PM:

And Sam's real name is Bam, and the Shire is really "Suźa," and hobbits have 3' long scaly pink tails and . . . sorry, got carried away.

#461 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 07:33 PM:

Bilba and Maura, if I recall correctly. "Frodo" is a semi-translation of his name, like Meriadoc/Merry for Kalimac/Kali. I don't remember if Pippin's real name was something other than "Peregrin", though.

#462 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 08:53 AM:

Xopher @455 Initially I thought she was too tall, which might be why she look thin. Measuring she is about six heads high which is short but not hobbit short to my mind*.

Having said that, the no-nonsense stare looks to me as a post-adventure look, even if the clothes say 'just popping out of Bag End for a walk'.

* Correct proportions of fictional beings being generally unknowable.

#463 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 12:40 PM:

I don't think 'Peregrin', which has a Latin root, can possibly have been Pippin's real name. Likewise Paladin, Gerontius and so on. I can't remember, though, if Tolkien actually gives any real Took names. (Brandybuck names are generally real, I think, except 'Meriadoc', which has been altered to preserve the pun.)

#464 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 02:30 PM:

It looks like Berkeley's Dark Carnival bookstore could use more business from locals.

#465 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 02:39 PM:

Well, Ardalambion claims that Pippin's actual name was Razanur Tûc, nickname "Razar", which means "small red apple". Hence Pippin/Peregrin.

#466 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 03:09 PM:

NeilW @462

The Dwarves in the Hobbit movies don't really look right. Gimli in LotR worked well, and I think a Part of the difference is that we rarely see that character apart from people of normally heroic human height.

In the Hobbit movies it's mostly dwarves and the hobbit as a group. You might also be limited by shooting in 3D: can you use the same line-of-sight tricks? I don't think you get the subtle reinforcement of the size differences. And, after Fellowship, you have a mental image which helps sustain the feel when the hobbits get split from the men.

Now, as for that drawing of Bilbo, I felt the overall effect was too slightly built. We know what a pretty hobbit maiden is supposed to look like, and while Rosie Cotton might be exceptional, the film version is a starting point. With that as a guide, I do think that the head is a little small. I suppose you could class the rest as Hollywood size-selection.

When I think of the reasons for making the gender-change, I do wonder if a Rosie Cotton body shape would be better. Rosie and Sam suggest Hobbits are not thin, even if Bilbo and Frodo come across as on the slender end of the normal Hobbitish range.

#467 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 05:24 PM:

There was some fairly strong feeling on the Book of Face, where I originally found the article. While everyone liked the article, a lot of people found the image decidedly failsome - not just the excessively slender build, but also the hairless legs, and the fact that (as one person pointed out) she appears to be wearing a corset.

I agree with all those points, but I must admit I still like the image, despite its flaws. Why? Because I just love the face. You would absolutely not mess with Ms Bilbo.

#468 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 05:53 PM:

Patrick -- I have to disagree (with your hovertext) that the video for the Vienna Teng song in your Sidelight is "simple." It's brilliant and beautiful, and the dancing (especially the couple and ensemble work) is wondrously complex and jawdropping. Especially when it's not particularly showy, which is most of it.

#469 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 06:01 PM:

Re Bitcoin:

It's worth distinguishing the ideology of Bitcoin's inventor and biggest fans from what it actually does, and distinguishing that from what the underlying protocol could do.

Bitcoin as a protocol isn't actually bound to any of the complaints that Charlie raised, except for the one about coin mining/transaction processing having a big carbon footprint. (If I were a lot smarter, I'd work out a way to do a Bitcoin-like protocol where you solved some useful problem to mine coins....)

You could run a Bitcoin-like protocol designed to keep the money supply expanding at a stable 3% forever. You could run one that was really anonymous (the current one is awful for anonymity in many ways--you basically publish a transcript of every transaction ever for the world to see), or one that would only accept transactions to/from accounts that were linkable to someone's true name. You could run one that collected taxes, for that matter. All that stuff has to do with what the people processing the payments and mining coins (you do them together, until the money supply hits its peak) agree to require or accept, and some definitions written into the code they're running.

#470 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 06:59 PM:

Mongoose @467 What we really need is a whole bunch of Ms Bilbo pictures. Dozens and hundreds of them. Then we can pick the ones we like.

Bilbo in a corset? With the shire being a bit 19th century England that's not completely impossible.

#471 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 07:26 PM:

Lila #443: Have you seen what the game Aquaria did with them? One of the tougher creatures in the game....

Xopher Halftongue #455, Neil W #462: I don't recall how Tolkien described them, but most depictions I've seen of them were proportionately stockier and thicker-limbed than humans -- more like human dwarves than midgets or "pygmies".

In any case, I'm fine with the gender-swapping, but that artist has simply drawn a human girl of mid-teens, dressed for an hike. I say it's Fantasy Fail.

#472 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 07:48 PM:

Dave 471: In any case, I'm fine with the gender-swapping, but that artist has simply drawn a human girl of mid-teens, dressed for an hike. I say it's Fantasy Fail.

I agree. It's also reminiscent of the old "caveman" cartoons that showed caveMEN as thick and brutish with sloping brows, and caveWOMEN as looking exactly like modern women (well, stylized quite a bit, but no sloping brows or anything).

#473 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 08:17 PM:

Stefan Jones #460: I thought Sam's real name (for Tolkienish values of 'real') was supposed to be 'Ban', short for 'Banazir'.

#474 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 09:51 PM:

#473: I remembered it as "Bam," but it has been quite a while since I read the appendices!

#475 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 10:25 PM:

albatross @ #469

Okay, we shall create a currency that can be regulated by governments, be taxed, expand at a (mostly) sensible rate, and is acquired (mostly) by solving some sort of useful problem, and is virtual... So we have now created Federal Reserve Notes without the option of turning them into a physical representation. Why?

#476 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 10:45 PM:

re recent Particles:

The reconstruction of St. Nicholas is fascinating -- partly because I recently did a concert of music wrt him (including the Britten cantata) but mostly because of the much wider nose, mouth, and lips compared with the icons. Is it horribly politically incorrect to say the reconstruction looks more African? I know that "African" covers a very wide range (and am not sure I'm not being cued by the skin tone -- I wonder how the reconstructor derived that?), but it seems possible that he could have had ancestors from all over, considering that he was born at the east end of the Mediterranean at a time when that area would have seen people from many parts of the three abutting continents.
       Is the contrast stronger because most of the icons are Russian? Nicholas is also revered in Greece; do the Orthodox churches closer to his birthplace than Russia do icons, and if so are those of him more like the reconstruction? cf how Jesus would not have been the ethereal type popularized (IIRC) by Flemish Renaissance painters in something like their image (removed geographically as well as temporally).

The reflection on winter deserts was wonderful (in multiple senses of the word); I've known of Joshua trees ever since reading "And He Built a Crooked House" many decades ago, but I don't remember ever seeing a picture of one before -- let alone of a ]family group[ like that.

#477 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 10:59 PM:

CHip @476: as I said on the Book of Face, the nose is the main feature which might give rise to that impression, and it's largely a guess, based on measurements of a drastically broken nasal area. It doesn't at all match the icon images, but I don't think that proves much - they're probably based on a set style. I think that race would be more reliably judged on the actual bone measurements than on a facial reconstruction based on them, which necessarily involves considerable guesswork as to the soft tissues, the skin and hair coloring, and the hairstyle, as well as the fleshiness or gauntness of a person. The bones themselves would be better than the measurements, of course. Races are a social construct, but there are still measurable differences in the average relationships between various bones. Or so I understand. They had a forensic anthropologist - why didn't anyone ask that question? Or did they, and they just didn't publish the answer?

Just to clarify, I have no particular preference as to how this comes out. I just don't like answers based on inadequate science.

#478 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 03:27 AM:

The St Nicholas reconstruction was done nearly a decade ago, and the article does link to "deeper" reporting. But there's been a chain of exposure to such facial reconstructions on British TV, climaxing with Richard III. With the context of TV series such as Meet the Ancestors I might even be a little too inclined to take the reconstruction at face value.

The broken nose is a problem. So is the existence of different sets of claimed relics. The provenance is alway going to be unreliable.

#479 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 10:11 AM:

Well, that was an interesting piece of spam in my inbox. The subject header was "IMPORTANT INFORMATION from TARGET", and it went on to discuss an alleged security breach that could have compromised the credit and debit card information of anyone who had made a Target purchase using their card in the past few weeks. None of the usual language cues were present; I think they must have swiped an actual "compromised data" announcement to use as boilerplate. If I weren't so fucking paranoid about stuff like this, I might have been fooled.

The giveaway? Every single link in the text pointed to something at "" on mouseover, although the link text was for legitimate government and commercial resources -- state departments that provide information about how to fight identity theft, how to check on your credit record, etc. My partner did a Whois lookup and discovered that this scammer has apparently bought an entire IP block under the name, and that all the contact addresses are at EXCEPT for the abuse-reporting address, which is at He suggests that this means they're collecting the addresses of people with enough snap to spot the scam for selling on as malware targets. After all, if the jackals can kill the sheepdogs first, the sheep will be much easier to slaughter.

#480 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 10:18 AM:

Lee: better yet, there was a real security breach at Target between Thanksgiving and early December. 40 million customers.

Merely corroborative detail intended to lend an air of verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

#481 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 12:03 PM:

Everything you say is correct, BUT...

I used to work in email on the anti-spam provider side, and still keep in touch with a number of email industry players. is a major ESP (Email Service Provider), formerly known as Bigfoot Interactive, and bought by Epsilon (the big credit dossier company, which is not a malware company but slimy in many other ways, but I digress.)

It is common for major companies to outsource their customer emails to ESPs, especially massive blasts like this one, because if you don't know the ins and outs of email - like spending your whole life on it - it's very hard to get a high proportion of it delivered to the Gmails and Yahoos of this world, let alone the zillions of other email providers. If you urgently have to send emails to 40 million people you haven't emailed before, you can't just slap up a new mail server and start blasting because you will be blocked as a spammer before you can get much out.

Then it's *also* become standard practice for the email provider to have the links in the email go through dedicated webservers on their own system - that "" - so they can tell who clicked on stuff to respond to it and can provide massive reports on the "metrics" to their customer, in this case Target.

Even banks will do this. Hundreds of email and security specialists regularly tell them why it is a terrible idea to condition your customers to click on links in any random email they get, but they do it anyway because they're idiots, and because they're not the ones inconvenienced when somebody gets defrauded. (Hell, the banks can turn "Identity theft protection" into a profit center.)

Thus, even though everything about it screams "Suspicious" and "Fraud" this was almost certainly a legitimate mailing from Target, and probably does mean your name is on Target's list of the 40 million compromised accounts. Sorry.

#482 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 12:48 PM:

Clifton #481:

And I can confirm that Target uses bfi as their remailer since I get tons of sales offers from them winding up in my spam bucket. (Just checked to make sure I had no little credit notices, but I was lucky--I bought the stuff I bought a week earlier.)

#483 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 12:51 PM:

Stefan Jones #474: 'Bam' leads me to think of this:

#484 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Hmmm. I bought stuff in Target last week--in the compromised period--and haven't (yet) gotten an email about it. Could I have paid cash? I almost always buy enough to use a credit card, but perhaps not this time. I'll have to check my receipts. (And now I'm trying to remember exactly what I did buy last week. Hmmm.)

#485 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 01:42 PM:

I figure I'll find out if I was there in the affected period if I get a new card in the mail. My credit union finds it less troublesome to issue new cards at the first sign of an issue than to deal with the aftermath of ID theft.

#486 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 01:42 PM:

Clifton, #481: When I see a link that the link text says goes to a government website* but the mouseover says goes somewhere entirely different, I no longer trust anything else in that e-mail, period. So if I really am on Target's list of the compromised accounts, what should I do beyond monitoring my band account history very closely for a while?

Also, how the hell would they have my e-mail address? I've never had a Target credit card and have never given them my e-mail. Plus, the thing addresses me as "Dear Guest" -- legit e-mails from a company with which I have an account always address me by name.

* Link says, mouseover says Other links in the e-mail, purportedly to,,,, and, all go to the exact same address on mouseover. No, sorry, that's a fucking scam.

#487 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 01:56 PM:

B. Durbin (485): Ironically, when I had fraudulent charges on my card last December (triggering an alert email to me on Christmas Day), they were at this Target--although I was provably 600 miles away at the time. I suspect my card number was swiped at a local restaurant a week or so earlier, but the pattern* of charges looked to me like a Target insider/employee had to be in on the scam.

*Buy $300+ worth of stuff, then immediately try to charge another $300 precisely. The latter charge triggered a scam alert and was denied on the spot.

#488 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 01:57 PM:

When news of the Target security breach reached me, I briefly panicked.

I knew I'd bought some things at Target recently, but when? And what? And how did I pay?

Thank goodness for online credit card statements! Whatever I did buy there, I paid for with cash.

#489 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 02:10 PM:

I'm not arguing that it's not insanity for them to do that; it is purely madness, and hundreds of people have told them that it's weird and scammy and all around a bad thing to do. (ESPs in general and I'm sure Bigfoot in particular.) I'm just saying that's the way they do it; if you look at a lot of mass-marketing and commercial email you will find a lot of that, and even for links to sites that are totally unrelated. But really it's worse than that for some of the other use cases - what is the thought process behind Paypal, or your bank, sending out email with a link for you to click on to their login page, when anybody could send out identical mail pointing to their own page to collect your financial logins? It's insanely reckless.

The sad thing in fact is that you and your partner are in a tiny tiny minority of people who actually know enough to check that kind of thing and find it justifiably suspicious; I would like it much better if 90% of their recipients checked it and went "Like hell I'm clicking on that!" Outrage is a totally appropriate response. But evidently most people don't even notice, which has a lot to do with why so many people get scammed online....

FWIW, the news article I saw said that it's credit cards used at the registers in the stores which were compromised, not those which were used for online shopping at Target.

BTW, if you don't have an account with Target and they don't have your email address, that's yet another reason why you might be getting the email via Epsilon. Among their other diversified creepiness, Epsilon is in the "e-pending" business - matching up people's name and/or address info and/or credit card numbers with their alleged email addresses via the huge accumulated databases of personal info they've hoovered up. (Often incorrectly.) It's like the commercial version of the NSA out there, and it's really frickin' depressing to think about how prevalent this is and how few people get righteously outraged about it.

Tangentially this all reminds me I've really got to call up Wells Fargo and explain to them that my Gmail address does not belong to the person who gave it to them for his account, and that they really ought to make some effort to verify the email address for an account before they start emailing loan information and bank account information to that address. Can you say "Corporate negligence", boys and girls? I knew you could. Cf. XKCD on Reverse Identity Theft. (This process works for first name + last initial too, and I thank the Holy Claws of Klortho that Clifton is not a more common first name.)

#490 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 02:27 PM:

I occasionally get email for my mother, as we have the same first initial and very very uncommon surname, but it's because she has acquaintances who assume c[lastname] must be her, not because she's giving out the wrong address.

#491 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 02:54 PM:

There's a woman out there with the same first and last name as mine, but her middle name is 'Anne', not 'Aileen'. My main companies-for-use-of email address is with Verizon, incorporating my initials and last name; hers is apparently the same as mine but with numbers in. I get emails intended for her on a semi-regular basis, usually from individuals but at least once it was a hotel-reservation confirmation. Depending on my mood--and how important the message looks--sometimes I'll reply pointing out that I am not her and this is not her email, please try again.

#492 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 03:21 PM:

I send out between thirty and fifty emails a day on average at work, replying to people who have filled in requests for quotations either on our company website or through a third-party aggregator. ("Fill out this inquiry and we'll see all appropriate venders get it" -- that sort of thing.)

An average of three to five emails a day bounce, because the person filling out the form doesn't type in their own email address correctly. (Yes, that's about 10%.)

My favorite is the type, because those are easy to fix; I routinely strip out the www before sending the email and it goes just fine. But a remarkable number of people conflate their work email addy with a home email addy, so you get "" because their home addy is "" but their work addy is "". Those take a phone call to straighten out, if I'm lucky. Or scrolling through the company website (if they have one) trying to find any contact information at all....

That's not counting the simple typos, which if I'm lucky are obvious -- micheal for michael, .cmo for .com -- and if I'm not lucky are completely unguessable.

Why, yes, I'm venting. Can you tell....?

#493 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 04:26 PM:

Neil W @ 470: I am running on minimal spoons at the moment, or else I would totally be firing up the GIMP and creating all kinds of Variations on the Theme of Ms Bilbo.

#494 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 05:18 PM:

Clifton #489: I'm not arguing that it's not insanity for them to do that; it is purely madness

It's also lazy, as IIRC the company could easily give the remailing vendor a subdomain of their store domain, such as "". Or at least a suitably named sibling domain -- "" at least looks better than "".

#495 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 05:24 PM:

This moose gets regular wrong number calls at Ork, because we have a block of 1,000 numbers on the local exchange and Large Government Department is on the same exchange and has headed notepaper with their switchboard number printed on it, followed by the city (area code) and exchange and a dash. People scrawl 5 digit internal numbers after the dash and hand them to the public. Moose direct dial number is a remarkably well used set of their 5-digit extension numbers, so I have the script down pat "No, you need to dial (3 digit exchange) (4 digit main switchboard number) then it will ask you for the extension number and you can dial that. No problem. Bye."

#496 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 05:52 PM:

Dave Harmon:
You are correct - some of the better run companies do insist using your former suggestion, via NS delegation, and the better run ESPs try to prod them in that direction. That one provides at least a little accountability.

W.r.t. your latter suggestion, while it might look better, the underlying problem is that the end user has almost no way of telling what domain or domains may be plausibly related to the supposed sender. (Again, you would think banks might set good examples, but they are notoriously bad offenders for sending from domains that have no clear relation to the company's primary domain.)

To make an example by taking your example literally, is apparently registered via "" to "". Hmmmm.... that doesn't sound sketchy in the slightest! On the other hand, and are registered to "davidharris@NYC.RR.COM" aka "". is registered through a "Whois Privacy Protection" service, so you can't even tell who it belongs to - "Nobody here but us chickens!" - while is registered to CDN Properties Inc. in Panama City, Panama. Hey, "" is free - for $10, that could be you or me!

It's a frigging mess. There is no sanity or safety out there, and while millions of people are getting ripped off each year, anybody who bitches about this kind of thing to the responsible parties will just be told they're being pedantic and fussy and nobody really cares. Not that I'm frustrated or anything....

#497 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 07:50 PM:

Okay. Tonight's big project: making Benjamin Wolfe's vanilla metal pound cake. I have vanilla extract. I have twelve beans. I have sugar that has had six beans sitting in it for a while, but might not be vanilla sugar yet. I really hope this works.

#498 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 08:15 PM:

Cassy B @492 But a remarkable number of people conflate their work email addy with a home email addy, so you get "" because their home addy is "" but their work addy is "".

At least I'm not alone in this. I keep giving people an erroneous home email address of "name-on-home-account" It's happened often enough that I think I need to ask the work IT person to create an alias for me with that name. I don't have a problem going the other direction, for some reason.

#499 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 08:20 PM:

Lee @486:
* Link says, mouseover says Other links in the e-mail, purportedly to,,,, and, all go to the exact same address on mouseover. No, sorry, that's a fucking scam.

The big question: Do all the links have the same alphabet soup? If yes, you're right - it's a scam. If no, it could be legitimate and badly designed.

#500 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 09:01 PM:

Otter B @498, you are FAR from alone in this; it's probably the single most common error (other than simple typos or domain switches (it's comcast.NET and rogers.CA, damn it!)) that I see. If your IT department will accommodate you on the additional alias, it will make your life easier, and be less frustrating for your email interlocutors! <smile>

#501 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 10:10 PM:

So, just out of curiosity, how big has Bitcoin become? I saw one graph that said 12,000,000 were in circulation, which would indicate a value of around $7.2 billion. Not chicken-feed, but compared to daily commerce, it's a fraction of a fraction.

So, is there more ink about this than it's worth?

#502 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 11:02 PM:

Chris, #499: Yes, they do. Or at least they have large chunks of the alphabet soup in common; it was about 60 characters long, so I was doing a chunk comparison rather than a strict letter-by-letter, and all the chunks matched up. Plus, the attempt to hide the alphabet-soup URL behind a legitimate-looking corporate or GOVERNMENT address just screams "scam".

Even if the original letter was for real, I see no reason not to think that hackers might have seized on it and established their own address on the officially-blessed domain, and are now blithely sending out copies of the official e-mail (which would explain why it doesn't trip the "user can't write in English" trigger) with their own URL substituted for every legitimate one in the official version.

#503 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 02:53 AM:

Re: the email subthread, there is at least one other student at my school whose legal name is identical to mine, down to the very character, first middle and last. I... have gotten a lot of emails meant for her, since our school addresses are first initial + first four letters of last + (13 [mine] | 15 [hers]) I only hope they don't manage to mix up our diplomas. This does not match my father's problems, however, as his work address for a while was his first name, which is a common last name, at [university].edu...

#504 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 07:18 AM:


New Mexico declares that same-sex marriage is ok.

"It's the end of the world."
- the town drunk in 'The Birds'

#505 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 07:29 AM:

Clifton #496: Well yes, you describe all the reasons why I said an "also-ran" domain "at least looks better"... because that's all it's got. Not that I don't still see them, often from companies who really should know better.

#506 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 07:51 AM:

A federal judge has overturned Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling it unconstitutional due to its violation of due process and equal protection.

#507 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 08:56 AM:

Lila... Great, isn't?

#508 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 08:59 AM:

Argh... Word missing above...

That is great about Utah. I expect that Ginger is now laughing maniacally as all our heterosexual marriages collapse from the onslaught. :-)

#509 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 09:02 AM:

Internet ate my followup.

That is great, about Utah. I expect that Ginger is now laughing maniacally as all those heterosexual marriages collapse from the onslaught.

#510 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 09:04 AM:

In considering the unexpected Utah decision I think it unlikely to be sustained. Utah is in the 10th Circuit which, while not a particularly conservative court, neither is it likely to be a court that would be bold in pushing a legal principle in the face of public opposition.

#511 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 09:28 AM:

Mishalak: even a legal principle like equal protection or due process?

#512 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 09:39 AM:

I understand that Salt Lake City's mayor vowed to stay up all night if necessary so that as many people could get married as possible.

#513 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 10:38 AM:

Making a comment so when I get off the airplane and wake up again in Toronto I can just search the last-1000 for my name and know where I was ...

Ahhh, the fun of travelling away from my bookmarks and prosthetic strategies. :-> See you all on the flipside.

#514 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 11:17 AM:

Safe journey, Elliott.

#515 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 11:25 AM:

Speaking of Target, as a form of corporate apology for the credit card hack everything at all Target stores is 10% off Sat Dec. 21 and Sun Dec. 22 for all customers. Just found out, figured I'd share.

#516 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 11:50 AM:

Safe journey, Elliott.

#517 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 11:52 AM:

Cally @515, What do you want to bet that an unusually high percentage of shoppers taking advantage of Target's apology-discount pay cash? <wry grin>

#518 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 12:17 PM:

"But we endure the black,
Because the gold comes back"

Latitude 53.5 N, sunrise was at 8:48 am, solstice at 10:11 am MST.

For those in the northern hemisphere, happy sunreturn. To those in the south, may the day be as kind as it is long.

Thank you for the poem abi, and to everyone here for your conversations. You've brought light to many of my darker days.

#519 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Cath @518, thank you. Here at 51 degrees plus North, it is much needed.

#520 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 01:51 PM:

And this also marks the first day in four weeks that my wife is back in this time-zone. A cause for double celebration!

#521 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 02:10 PM:

The Salt Lake County AG said he could see no reason that the county clerk should not start issuing same-sex marriage licenses immediately. That, more than the decision itself, rocked me back on my heels. Utah?

And what does that make it now, 18 states that recognize marriage equality?

#522 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 02:25 PM:

Lee @521

Yes, that is remarkable.

And it suggests that the State Government is unlikely to appeal the decision. If they were bringing an appeal, you would expect a little sluggishness, at least of the "It's the weekend!" sort. Which raises the question, who has standing to bring an appeal?

With the example of the Gay Sex law in India, and who their Supreme Court allowed to bring an appeal, we could speculate wildly. If somebody did follow the Indian example, and an anti-gay preacher was given standing to bring an appeal, it straight away raises the First Amendment issue of separation of church and state.

Though Utah provides a precedent for the state saying, "No, your church cannot do that."

#523 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 02:46 PM:

Mary Aileen @491 et al, there is another person with the same first name, last name, and date of birth as me, who attended the same hospital as I did when I was young. We found out about this when I got his X-Rays.

#524 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 03:03 PM:

Really should NOT have reread The Atrocity Archives this time of year.

Creepy, confused dreams where the Target data leak gave access to Christmas shoppers' souls, and entering a contest on somehow signed me up for the US version of The Laundry, and I had to analyze the NSA-collected metadata to find the evil plan, which may have involved Bitcoins turning out to be evil mathematical entities from off universe possessing their owners at the moment of the Winter Solstice,* and establishing a Nazi and/or Libertarian hell on Earth.

So thank you so much for that, Charlie Stross, my subconscious, and probably last night's ice cream.

*Which took place just as the ISS was passing over Britain. Coincidence? Perhaps.

#525 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 03:26 PM:

Xopher, #524: Wow, and I thought my dreams were weird! Mine don't normally have anything approaching that level of plot in them, although they do have lots of WTFery. OTOH, I also rarely have actual nightmares (which I define as dreams with strong negative emotional content); even my anxiety dreams are generally more frustrating than frightening, so I guess that's something to be grateful for.

#526 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 03:26 PM:

Xopher, I think you might want to follow that dream up by reading Overtime on The Filler of Stockings awaits.

#527 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 03:37 PM:

I cleaned it up and made it a lot more definite. It was more a blob of scary-wary, mathy-wathy, creepy-weepy...stuff.

#528 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 03:59 PM:

From which you can tell that Xopher and I have been watching Doctor Who reruns. Specifically, "Blink".

#529 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 04:13 PM:

Well, that was interesting. Jumped into a conversation on Twitter with a trans friend and a TERF...who turned out to be more of a derf. Kept trying to come back with "clever" responses, but when I hit back everything that came over the net (SWIDT) she resorted to obscene name calling.

Looking at her tweets, it's clear she's an often-banned troll, and that her obscene insults are generated according to a formula. Not entirely sure she's not a bot.

#530 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 04:26 PM:

Xopher, that's a disturbing dream, but once you've let it settle a bit, you may get a good story out of it. The best story I've ever written was originally inspired by a dream.

Anyway, last night one of my atheist friends wondered why she hadn't heard so much about the "War on Christmas" this year. I said, isn't that an American thing? She replied, no, we do get it here too sometimes. Can't say I'd really noticed. So she decided to declare war herself by militantly not running up a huge debt on her credit card while combatively eating mince pies. Naturally, I considered it my Christian duty to retaliate by equally militantly spreading peace and goodwill in all directions and offering her my gingerbread recipe.

We concluded, entirely amicably, that cake should be considered essential for a good war. I think the world would be a better place if this were made a universal axiom.

#531 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 05:44 PM:

I've been watching flashmob videos on YouTube, started with the one which re-created The Night Watch in a Dutch shoppin mall.

There seem to be a lot which use the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th. This is officially the Anthem of Europe, used by the Council of Europe and by the European Union.

Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

It's rather less bloodthirsty than most national anthems. And there's a half billion people in the EU.

All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.

I reckon that's better than confounding their knavish tricks, whatever the colour of the rocket's glare.

#532 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 05:45 PM:

Mongoose 530: Xopher, that's a disturbing dream, but once you've let it settle a bit, you may get a good story out of it. The best story I've ever written was originally inspired by a dream.

Unfortunately it's rather derivative. Stross's Laundry universe has the math-as-magic, civil-servants-defeating-extrauniversal-menace thing. He also wrote, just a couple of days ago, a blog post denouncing Bitcoin as an economic evil, designed to bring about a Libertarian hell on Earth.

As you may have guessed by now, I'm quite a fan of Mr. Stross (though the universe Glasshouse is set in is really my favorite), so ripping him off isn't something I'm willing to do! The fact that I wouldn't have the chance of a fart in a hurricane of getting away with it is, of course, irrelevant.

#533 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 06:10 PM:

Xopher: yes, but it's how you do it. My finished story was actually a long way different from the original dream; it just took some of the elements and recombined them.

Come to think of it, I really ought to start doing that with my dratted train dreams, and then maybe they'll stop. It's not that I don't like trains. I actually do, despite the fact that diesel fumes mess with my asthma. It's just the fact that these beastly dreams are so repetitive. At least a couple of nights a week I end up at Nameless Station with Unnecessarily Complex Escalator System, which I think is fairly close to London, and have to catch my train from right over the other side of the station. Last night the train was packed solid.

I'm travelling on real trains on Monday. It will be a lot more straightforward, and, with reasonable luck, pleasant.

#534 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 09:14 PM:

I hope Elliott's travels went better than mine. I arrived at the airport at just past 10 this morning, for a flight scheduled for 11:05. On the way in I noted that it had been delayed to 11:30. I went up a level to Southwest's ticket counter... find a bag-checking line that had overflowed their ticketing area and now crossed the entire terminal more than twice over. There were easily more than 500 people, in a line half a mile long.

So we waited for two hours in that line, and then waited another hour and a half to eventually see someone to rebook our missed flight. Rebooking was difficult because guess what? Most of the flights are full.

So instead of a nonstop today, we get a plane change in Tampa tomorrow; instead of arriving at 3 in the afternoon today we arrive at 8 at night tomorrow. And that's assuming we make a connection with only about half an hour's layover.

Also the bus line that goes right outside our door straight to the airport doesn't run on Sundays, which means we're out another forty bucks for shuttle fare. (And another $1.25 to take the bus back home.)

Our flight tomorrow takes off at 2. I booked a shuttle to arrive at our place at 9 AM. If we end up sitting around in the terminal for four hours before we can board, so be it.

#535 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 09:24 PM:

To reassure those who offered good wishes: we got here safely, if several hours later than scheduled (due entirely to winter weather's effect on airplanes), and with distinctly LESS tsuris than might have happened from an additional time period with a bored small child in an airport lounge.

Which isn't to say it wasn't grueling, because it was, but still. Dayenu.

Also, gander sauce: Beka got frustrated when an even younger kid kicked the back of her seat repeatedly in the plane. :->

#536 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 09:41 PM:

Cath @ 518 ff: is anyone not familiar with Susan Cooper's "The Shortest Day"? Cooper reads it and talks about its circumstances. I didn't know that she'd written it specifically for Langstaff; Robert J. Lurtsema recited it on the first Revels recording, so my mind's ear hears it in his leisured tones.
      For that matter, has anyone else read the rest of Magic Maker (Cooper's book about Langstaff)? I would be fascinated to hear other people's reactions. (Yes, elise, I remember you asking me whether he was always that uncollected without a script. I didn't have the nerve to tell Cooper that story even after the hair-raising one she gave at our stop on the book tour.)

#537 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 07:10 AM:

Today we have shaming of food. Yesterday,
We had crash diets. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have how to detox by juicing. But today,
Today we have shaming of food. (This dessert
Satisfies body and soul with its spicy sweetness,
And today we have shaming of food.)

These are saturated fats. And these
Are sugars and starches, which you should not eat.
This is salt, which is bad for high blood pressure,
(Which in my case I have not got. I tell them
How much individual dietary requirements vary,
Which in their case they have not got.)

This is gluten, which will certainly kill you
Even if you are not coeliac. And please do not let us
See anyone eating fast food. You can all cook quite easy
If you have any brains in your head. (The timid
Order takeaway by phone, never letting anyone see
Any of them eating fast food.)

And this you can see is margarine. The purpose of this
Is to replace butter, as you see. Opinion has shifted
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Vital research. (And rapidly backwards and forwards
I am beating butter and sugar to make a new form of cake;
I call it vital research.)

They call it vital research: you can follow it easy
If you have any brains in your head: like the fats,
And the sugars, and the gluten, and the various awful diseases,
Which in our case we have not got; and the food police
Silent in disapproval as my mixer beats backwards and forwards,
For today we have shaming of food.

#538 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 07:12 AM:

Mongoose @537, I like that :-)

(And *waves*)

#539 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 07:37 AM:

Andrew @ 538: thank you! *waves back*

#540 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 08:30 AM:

Mongoose: brilliant!

#541 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 09:11 AM:

Mongoose: big grin!

#542 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 09:18 AM:

Mongoose @537: Thank you!

#543 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 09:20 AM:

Thank you all!

#544 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 10:22 AM:

That was great, Mongoose. It's right in line with the purpose of the original, too, which is especially neat.

#545 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 11:09 AM:

Mongoose #537: Wonderful.

#546 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 11:21 AM:

So now we're police-taped inside my in-laws' house in Toronto. The ice storm last night brought down a lot of branches, including onto the car in our driveway and leaning on some power lines. The way the hazard tape is tied precludes all exit on foot from this address. Luckily we hadn't any plans. :-> I have a quantity of schmaltz from last night's chicken dinner I could make cornbread with ... If there were any cornmeal in the house! Oh well.

Numma is entertaining the kid for now, dayenu. And all the ice-coated trees are amazingly beautiful. I'm sure the relevant authorities will get to us when they've handled all the more urgent cases, especially as this street (currently closed) usually has a quite major bus line running up it.

#547 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 11:40 AM:

#546 ::: Elliott Mason

So now we're police-taped inside my in-laws' house in Toronto.

I expect interesting and diverting posts when I see your name, but this ...

Please feel no necessity to top it.

#548 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 12:01 PM:

Mongoose: Good Reeding!

#549 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 12:15 PM:

Elliot @ #546

The Joy of Cooking "drop biscuits" with schmaltz are excellent. I often do that with 2/3 rye and 1/3 barley flour, but that's a legacy of my wife's former wheat issues.

#550 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 12:26 PM:

Looking at Avram's phosphene on zero-indexing, I was more struck with "that's how we did it in assembler", than the argument from BCPL. Many processors have base and index style instructions, making start with zero index very natural.

#551 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Lila @ #511
Mishalak: even a legal principle like equal protection or due process?

Yes. It is not an issue like the independce of the court where they would go to the matresses to defend it. The more conservative members will inevitably find some point of view where this is not an equal protection or due process question and halt this. After all this is the 10th circuit, not the 9th.

#552 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 02:58 PM:


The van that was supposed to deliver me to the airport never showed up this morning. The driver, who confirmed the reservation with email and phone, didn't return calls.

I waited, too long. By the time I decided to drive to the airport and eat the cost of airport parking it was too late. ("Too late" in the way of airlines; my flight wasn't scheduled to leave for another 20 minutes when I got to the service desk.)

So, I'm on a red eye flight, and had to eat a $50.00 change fee.

But since I can take public transport this evening, I saved the $55 van fee plus tip. Which was going to be generous.

As of a minute ago, I've received no responses to phone calls and emails to the van service. Sheesh.

#553 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 03:18 PM:

Mongoose (537): Wonderful!
Sympathies to all with travel woes.

#554 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 03:27 PM:

Even weirder dream. This time a family of giant teddy bears (adults ~7ft) returned from exile on Mars to assume the throne (of what?). Everyone was tremendously relieved at their gracious willingness to do so. BBC showing diplomats greeting the teddy bear family at the airport (or spaceport?), announcer sounding like the end of the Cuban Missle Crisis. Didn't actually see a screen banner saying "Constitutional Crisis Averted," but next time I tell this story I'll claim I did.*

Meanwhile, on the same dream TV, saw an ad for a TV series about two teenage sisters, one popular and evil,† one smart and good. The producers were trying to get Mary Steenburgen to play the smart one in the movie. Must involve time travel, because Steenburgen doesn't play that kind of cliché crap anymore.

*Spoiler: No, I won't really. But if I put it in a story (and THIS one isn't obviously derived from someone else's universe), I'll add that bit.

†Not sure if she was mean-girl evil or serial-killer evil. It's a fine line anyway.

#555 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 03:34 PM:

Xopher gets all the good dreams.

Some of mine have interesting setups (like getting a jet pack from my father, who'd bought it from QVC, or visiting a North Korean tourist trap*) but swiftly end up with me stuck on a large and puzzling mass transit system.

* The main attraction was a stage spectacular similar to Starlight Express, but instead of people on roller skates playing choo-choo trains, the actors, dressed as warships, were swimming around a large tank, singing revolutionary operas.

#556 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 03:38 PM:

The dream I remember from last night wasn't tightly plotted or especially interesting to relate, but I found it richly enjoyable while I was having it. I was working some office job, but with immense flexibility. I had a key. It seemed to be on a campus, so there were always people outside. I had a nice window, though it was not visible from the brutalist grey cement architecture outside. Only drawback was having to stand on train tracks while unlocking the door, but the train was quite well behaved. I'd go back.

#557 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 03:48 PM:

Stefan, usually I don't have any dreams that I remember on awakening. Not sure why I've been having vivid and memorable ones lately. If I've been doing something different I'd like to know so I can keep doing it!

#558 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 03:53 PM:

Xopher: melatonin does that to me. I wonder if something has changed recently about your hormone or neurotransmitter balance?

#559 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 04:06 PM:

Xopher: don't suppose you've started or discontinued a medication, or changed the dose of one?

The most vivid (and disturbing) dreams I've ever had were when I was on steroid eyedrops. Runner-up: when I was on Zoloft, I usually didn't have any dreams I could remember at all (and I usually have a few wisps that I notice as i wake up), but if I missed a dose, I'd get industrial-strength nightmares.

The prednisone eyedrops dreams had more coherent plot, though.

#560 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 04:15 PM:

When, several weeks ago, the kid got to have a sleepover with her cousins, I got to sleep myself thoroughly out for the first time in forever (insert song cue from Frozen).

I was rewarded with a dream like my dreams USED to be, a way I had almost forgotten could be had. Plotty dreams, like Xopher's of late, and with cinematography, too. Welcome! Except that to was the kind you wake up from groggily and go right back into a variation of every time you fall back to sleep ...

And it involved a large, homicidal (really, because sentient) theropod rampaging his toothy way through a number of downtown office buildings and recognizable locales while I tried to stay far enough away to be safe.

I'm going to be using presence or absence of 'fancy' dreams as an enough-sleep self test, now. If I ever get to have another. :->

#561 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 04:47 PM:

Nicotine patches will induce extremely vivid dreams. It must be something with the way it interacts with neurotransmitters.

Lately I've been having some type of what I guess would be an anxiety dream. I'm on the road (driving or walking) and need to get someplace else. I face all kinds of obstacles -- the road ends or I have to walk along a steep cliff, or there are buildings in my way.

#562 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 04:52 PM:

Lila, the only thing I can think of is that I might not be as well hydrated as I usually am. Hmm, also might be more sleep-deprived; that could lead to the alarm going off in the middle of a dream, instead of when I'm already climbing out of deep sleep.

#563 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 05:20 PM:

Benadryl, taken before bed, tends to induce bizarre and portentous dreams which I have virtually no recollection of on waking.

#564 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 05:49 PM:

The most coherent one I had that I could remember later involved people living in a dome/tunnel habitation and going outside only with space-type suits. SO the radar goes off and there's an incoming airplane (not the scheduled delivery) with, as it turns out, some government official who's there to make sure everyone has the correct religious attitude. He gets jumped on and tied up by, effectively, everyone in the group, loaded on the plane, and the pilot given the all-clear. Because this habitation is somewhere on the Canadian shield, trying out strategies for a Mars habitat, and not wearing a suit, even if you're a visiting government official, makes you legally dead.

#565 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 06:06 PM:

So nobody's been by to deal with the downed limbs ear our house, but I don't blame them: a good chunk of the city has a power outage, and we don't, so I think it most fit to be triaged into the "fix it later" pile as we sit here with power, heat, and internet (because the internet comes through the phone lines, not the cable, which is out; neighbors have no phone/net/TV because all theirs come from Rogers. We have no cable, but lots of kid-friendly DVDs thanks to my sister-in-law.

#566 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 06:30 PM:

Steve C., #561: Your anxiety dreams sound very much like mine! Mine always take the format of "I'm trying to get something done, but Stuff keeps Interfering". There's no transportation, people I ask for help don't hear/ignore me, equipment doesn't work, I keep getting hit with distractions that have to be dealt with Right Now, familiar locations change their structure and I have to fight thru crowds -- that sort of thing. Oh, and about half the time I'm naked, but it's the "nobody notices or cares" kind, not the "everybody points and laughs" kind. Once I managed to thwart some kind of crime (a kidnapping?) while naked, working with some media star (who it was I can't remember now), and we were given a coupon for a free dinner at a fancy restaurant by the grateful authorities, and that was when the "can't get it done" meme kicked in, so I never got to sit down with the media star over dinner.

#567 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 06:37 PM:

Mongoose, that is so good that I've saved it (with link to your site) as a document so I can take it out and re-read at pleasure.

HLN: Went to a "stuff swap" yesterday (you bring stuff and you take stuff and stuff that nobody takes gets donated to charity.) I managed to not only score a beautiful black leather coat but a pair of high-heeled black boots IN MY SIZE. Which is 10W, so that never happens. (Technically these boots are medium, but they're leather and they aren't pinching, so they've either been pre-stretched or the lathe is wider than standard.) This could only be more perfect if the boots were shorter; as it is, they are a "sometimes" shoe and I'll still have to get a winter pair.

But beautiful leather coat for literally nothing but some videos I did not need. Merry Christmas to ME.

#568 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 07:06 PM:

Lee @ #566 - That's pretty much it with me as well. Trying to get something done, and it seems straightforward to start with, but I can't ... quite ... get ... it done. Gee, it's a lot like work. :)

I've had some of the naked dreams (or just wearing underwear) and I'm always amazed in the dream that I'm in such a state of dishabille and no one seems to care.

#569 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 07:09 PM:

Oh, recurring dreams - I have had hundreds of dreams about tornadoes. I blame The Wizard of Oz.

#570 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 08:45 PM:

@531: I took part in my first flashmob on Saturday. We sang the Hallelujah Chorus at the food court of one of our local malls.

#571 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 08:50 PM:

Speaking of dreams, a fellow student in my Illustration class did a painting of one of her nightmares, where the tornado is coming and she's trying to get her family into the shelter, but they're just meandering around like idiot sheep. She did a fine job of it. I never had the dream, but now I have the image.

#572 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 08:51 PM:

Speaking of dreams, my dream is a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2014 to you all, and here's my Christmas card which I hope you'll enjoy.

#573 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 08:55 PM:

Speaking of dreams, here's one that was old even when I first related it here a couple of years ago, but it occurs to me that it's even more apt as a holiday card for my virtual friends here at ML.


It's decades ago; I still recall this dream:
I'm standing at a picture window in the night
Across miles of snow, even and white
Bright pinpoints alternately fade and gleam.

Each one — I know this — is a radio station
Sending signals out through chilly air.
Every one a voice that asks "Who's there?"
Piercing darkness in my imagination.

My signal, too, flies on its way
I won't know where or if its journey ends
But hopefully its words will reach my friends
And if I'm lucky bring, to night, some day.

Signals wax and wane through winter night.
I can't see you, but I'm warmed by your light.

#574 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 10:29 PM:

Yay Mongoose! That was wonderful.

We humans are really very silly.

#575 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 12:35 AM:

Mongoose #537. Yay, on both form and content

(and I applaud as a serial Reed-pasticher myself)

#576 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 01:18 AM:

I've been sending New Year's blessings in the mail. As I find this community valuable, I thought I might leave one here as well. Various cultures have (arguably) believed that to write, with intention, is all that is needed to direct power; in that spirit, if it be your will, person reading this:
may this coming year be joyous for you; may the now-returning sun cast light upon you and upon those whom you love

Happy Solstice, all :)

#577 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 01:36 AM:

573, Kip W.

May I use/forward this? Attribution please?

#578 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 08:29 AM:

About to take my wife in for surgery to her right eye.
Cataract removal then corrective-lens insertion.

Good thoughts welcome.

#579 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 08:38 AM:

You and she have them, Serge. May it go smoothly, and may the light shine on her.

And talking about dreams and memory:

Waking This Morning, Forty Years After

All things unravel, ties and sureties
The most, to leave one thing alone -
Mere whisperings that might be in the trees.

And that was all. But there are no degrees,
No graduation there, no subtle tone;
All things unravel. Ties and sureties

Dissolve like dreams. Like dreams? But no, for these
Are dreams that stay, outlasting teeth and bone.
Mere whisperings that might be in the trees,

And forty years, or forty centuries,
Collapse. The dreams, and only they, live on.
All things unravel – ties and sureties

The most. What else remains? What memories?
That slit trench might have been a grave – my own.
Mere whisperings that might be in the trees

Were death, or nothing; and all sense agrees
That they were nothing, yet this stands like stone:
All things unravel. Ties and sureties –
Mere whisperings that might be in the trees.

#580 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 08:44 AM:

Serge, best wishes to her and to you!

#581 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 09:30 AM:

Serge @ #578

Best wishes to both of you and I'm sure she will be astonished at the improvement. (Having had the same treatment on both eyes this year I have gone from a maximum focus of about 10 inches to normal distance vision (and extremely cheap reading glasses for computer/close work).) I just have to unlearn the habits of a lifetime, such as "can't read this, take glasses off and hold it at nose distance - Oh, that doesn't work any more".

Worst part of the operation is having to stare at the (much too bright) light and keep your head still.

Results are absolutely worth it.

#582 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 09:36 AM:

Kip and Mongoose: very nice!

Serge: Yikes. She's in my prayers, FWIW.

Merry Christmas / Happy Solstice / Happy Holidays, everyone!

#583 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 09:59 AM:

Blown away by the poetry...

Serge Broom #578: Good thoughts headed your way....

#584 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 10:04 AM:

I hope everything goes well, Serge.

#585 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 11:01 AM:

Serge, here's to a routine, boring operation, no surprises, followed by unclouded vision. Do let us know if she shouts "MY GOD! I CAN SEE FOREVER!"

Dave Luckett, that's very tasty; not fast food, to be sure. Thanks very much.

Carol, I don't see why not. For attribution, "by Kip Williams" will do. Should it say ©? It first appeared in an open thread here in January '11, I think. It was a real dream. I used it for a fillo in AZAPA once, in the seventies.

Now, before I forget it, I want to work on another one that came to me while I was doling out pills to myself.

#586 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 11:10 AM:

My mom had cataract removal this fall; she said it made an astonishing difference. And she got to choose her vision in each eye!

#587 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 11:27 AM:

Sending good thoughts your way, Serge. My wife is going to be doing the same thing Real Soon Now. She's not pleased with the idea, but it's becoming necessary.

#588 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 11:49 AM:

What everyone has said re: cataract surgery. Best wishes for what should be uneventful, followed by unforeseeable (ha) results!

#589 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 01:00 PM:

Serge, good luck to your wife! My mother had cataract surgery two weeks ago, and was pleasantly surprised by how rapid the procedure really is. She also did not have any pain or discomfort, only some blurriness from corneal edema (an expected result of surgery). She is now adjusting to her new lens, and monitoring her other eye for cataract.

My eye is beginning to regain some ability to read -- although I need large letters with lots of contrast -- so this is very rewarding progress. The gas bubble is tiny, and the macular pucker is clearly healing, so I can't complain. I am still riding the bus to work, and I remain thankful that I have that option.

The kittens are much larger than they used to be, and just as hungry/active as usual. Brady is apparently succeeding in fighting off his cancer, and has regained some more weight, as well as red blood cells. Cleo and Junie B are happy and well-fed. The dogs continue to do their splendid jobs of protecting the house, keeping me company, and exercising my arm (by requiring me to throw the ball). The FF is happy, and looking forward to the first grandchild, due in March. Our wedding plans are being discussed, with new options for location, time, and personnel. All in all, although it was a stressful summer and fall, we are in decent shape.

We wish everyone a safe and happy end-of-year and holiday season.

#590 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 01:24 PM:

Dave Luckett, that is very beautiful, and haunting.

#591 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 01:41 PM:

This morning's treat: a coworker brought in "ninja-bread cookies." :-)

#592 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 01:43 PM:

Thanks, everybody. Sue is doing ok. She's been told not to use her computer, which also means no reading so she's stuck watching movies with a towel covering that half of her face because her right eye and the glasses' lens aren't made for each other anymore, *and* her pupil is quite dilated. It's my understanding that her eye will become farsighted. That means new glasses, but that'll have to wait a few weeks because she'll then go thru this again for her left eye. Since Sue can't got out with a towel, not being a galactic hitchhiker, we'll go to the eyewear place tomorrow after the followup and have them pop the right lens off. Thanks again.

#593 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Ginger... Glad your own eye is doing better.

#594 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 02:01 PM:

@dreams: Last weekend, I was in a walled medieval that was being beseiged by an army. I somehow persuaded the rulers of the city to let the seigers get their engines right up to the walls. Meanwhile, I got them to instruct the townsfolk to all go to the walls, armed with food and trade goods. Then I snuck out, went around the the commanders of the commanding army, got them to get their best musicians and dancers ready for when they pulled the wall down.

Then, once the wall came down, there was everybody, all arrayed and ready to par-TAY!! A good time was had by all.

#595 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 02:18 PM:

Serge @ #592

Excellent news.

On personal experience the iris will remain dilated for rather longer than you think and the eye will be a bit sore after that. (Everything will be too bright for a while until the iris resumes normal service - dark sunglasses are recommended.)

If there's too much difference in focus between the two eyes, taking the unwanted spectacle lens out may help but will not give you stereo vision (because the images the brain receives will be considerably different sizes and it won't be able to fuse them together in order to provide depth perception. (This is a real nuisance when trying to use a soldering iron, I can tell you!))

Everything will be sharper, colours will be brighter, and all-round wonderful (apart from the need to use spectacles for close work if you picked distance lenses, or driving if you picked the reading/close work option).

I am extremely pleased with the result of my own operations, and wish I'd had them done a few years ago (except that the tech wasn't as good then, of course).

#596 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 02:29 PM:

Elliott Mason @560: I got to sleep myself thoroughly out for the first time in forever ... I was rewarded with a dream like my dreams USED to be

I've noticed pretty consistently that the vividness and coherence of my dreams are directly proportional to how long I've slept. I dream all night, but early on, they are vague, incomprehensible mish-mashes of sensory noise. They slowly refine through the night. It's only once I've been down for a solid eight hours or more that I get the technicolor, high-concept stuff.

Kip W @572: here's my Christmas card

Shades of the Cat in the Hat Comes Back, wot?

Also: yay! to good eye news! (Good eyes are good!)

#597 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 02:50 PM:

Serge at 592. I'll second the suggestion of popping out the corresponding lens of the eyeglasses. Any optometrist shop could do that. That's what I did when I had cataract surgery last year. I had to wait over a month before I could get fitted for new glasses.

#598 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 03:24 PM:

Cadbury... Janet... Thanks again. I don't think I'll be totally relaxed about this whole thing until tomorrow, when the doc peeps at her peeper again and gives her the thumbs-up.

#599 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 03:43 PM:

Serge @578

I had this surgery, Easter 2012. It makes a big difference.

I did have a follow-up at the end of September this year, because of clouding of the lens capsule. They zapped it with a laser. Some laser treatment can be difficult, but this was pretty easy.

Here in the UK, it's routine to use a lens which matches the eye, correcting at least some defects. It cannot correct astigmatism, but it makes a big difference.

#600 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 04:06 PM:

The topic at hand reminded me of something I've wondered about -- has anyone in the vastness of fandom done audible recordings of fanfic? If so, can someone give me directions? If not, I may just have a project to start. (Obviously, any fanfic would need to be recorded with the permission of the fic authors.)

I have vision problems that are neurologically based, with a side order of chronic iritis, complicated by dystonia that pulls my head backwards and to the side. There are days when I see perfectly fine, and there are days when I resort to text-to-speech programs. These leave a lot to be desired for fanfic, though they're useful enough if I'm trying to get the weather report or the news.

I can't be the only fan with this problem. So ... any projects out there right now?

#601 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 04:33 PM:

Cygnet, there is a good bit of podfic (audio recordings of fanfic) on Archive Of Our Own. Go to , where you can search by fandom and/or many other characteristics, and enter "podfic" in the "additional tags" field of the "Work Tags" section.

#602 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 04:53 PM:

"A Smartypants Scientist Makes An Easy Analogy About Our Planet, And Now I'm Scared":

The difference between linear and exponential.

#603 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 05:26 PM:

Dave Bell @ 599... Thanks for the tip. Regarding the lens, they could have gotten Sue one that'd apparently have made it possible not to need glasses anymore. But $2000 a peep was far beyond our affordable range.

#604 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 05:50 PM:

Apparently, there are only 22 countries Britain has never invaded:

22 countries

#605 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 05:53 PM:

Rob Hansen @ 602 -

While Suzuki has the math right about exponential growth, he very carefully didn't say that the human population is growing at an unchanging rate. The best estimates by demographers show the human population peaking at around 10.5 billion later this century.

Which isn't to say that is ideal, or that we shouldn't do anything about it. But the best evidence is that our current population won't double.

#606 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 05:55 PM:

re 550: Back in the ancient days when I dealt with C I was not the only person I knew who called it "assembly with control structures".

#607 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 07:05 PM:

Serge @ #603

Um, yes but the dual focus lens is something of a bodge and both distances (near and far) are not as sharp as with a single focus lens.

I picked the distance vision option, since I was used to wearing glasses for close work and this would make more sense for cameras and optical instruments, plus it tends not to rain indoors. The current state is that I can read the eye test chart down to a fairly ridiculous level (much further than with previous spectacles) and closest focus is four feet or thereabouts. Two pairs of "reading glasses" from the local supermarket (+1.5 and +2.5 diopter) give me everything I need - at least, everything I've needed so far - and without glasses on I can use an SEI Photometer which has previously been an impossibility due to the infinity focus and rigid eyecup.

In this case, cheaper is better, at the cost of having to carry a pair (or two) of cheap spectacles.

#608 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 08:35 PM:

Steve C. #605: The best estimates by demographers show the human population peaking at around 10.5 billion later this century.

The problem is, that isn't necessarily a "peak" -- it's liable to be the top of an S-curve, where exponential growth runs hard into a Malthusian constraint.

#609 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 08:37 PM:

Cadbury @ 607... Good points. It's not as if wearing glasses is a novel experience that would impede her lifestyle or her work.

#610 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 09:16 PM:

Cygnet, #600: Over on AO3, I occasionally see fics with a "Related Works" link that leads to a podcast, so at least some people seem to be doing it for some things. The protocol appears to be, leave a comment asking the author for permission to do a podcast.

... and I see that Lila, who is much more knowledgeable than I about this, got there ahead of me.

#611 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 09:51 PM:

Serge, belated best wishes for Sue. Glad it sounds like all is proceeding well.

#612 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 09:55 PM:

HLN: Local youth now gainfully employed on a permanent basis. "Work is exhausting!" she exclaims in astonishment before adding, "but it's great to have something to do."

#613 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 10:16 PM:

Jacque @596: I know I've seen that book, but don't remember details. The source for the pink snow was some slides Mom took of snow in Denver in the 40s, and the processing made the snow pink for some reason. As kids, we used to love to see them. Over the years, they gradually lost their pink tone.

The source for the caption was a cartoon I drew a long time ago in which the falling snow was green. I consulted with my daughter on whether she thought pink was better. (Yellow was right out.)

#614 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 10:20 PM:

Lila @ 601 -- Awesome, I read stuff on A03 all the time, and I never noticed that they had podfic.

Hmm. Given the breadth and depth of the knowledge of this forum ... does anyone know of any device other than a keyboard that would allow me to type quickly and efficiently? I've seen experimental devices now and again (fancy gloves, etc.) but haven't found anything I can buy off the shelf.

The ideal device would be something that I could use while lying flat in bed, with my hands on either side of me.

I have decent use of my hands, thankfully, but my shoulders, neck and back are in permanent rigid spasm, and typing for any length of time is difficult. There really isn't any comfortable position I've found for using a standard keyboard. Lying on my back with the keyboard on my stomach works best, but it eventually causes pretty significant pain in my neck and shoulders.

I haven't found a speech to text program yet that has any degree of accuracy or speed, and manually fixing the errors is worse than just typing.

#615 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 10:34 PM:

Cygnet, something like this? The two halves will only separate by a few inches, but it might be better than a standard keyboard. There are lots of other split keyboards; perhaps one of them would be adequate.

Alternatively, there are people and organizations that exist specifically to come up with hacks and mods for various disabilities. This group does workshops for OTs, PTs and others on building and modifying switches etc.--maybe there's something similar in your area.

#616 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 10:45 PM:

Cygnet one more potentially useful link!

#617 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 10:59 PM:

Cygnet @614: Maybe a split keyboard? A chording keyer would probably be ideal, but I can't find any commercially available ones - they all seem to be DIY.

#618 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 11:22 PM:

Cygnet @614, there’s a company called FrogPad that used to make a chording keyboard, also called the FrogPad, and a Bluetooth version called the iFrog. They seem to have a “FrogPad 2” in the works for “next year”, but I don’t know if they’re actually going to deliver.

They currently ship what looks like a decal that goes on an Apple trackpad, but that won’t work for touch-chording. If you’re going to have the pad down by your side when you type, you’re gonna need real keys.

I used to own one of their old FrogPads (or maybe it was the iFrog one, I forget), but I gave it to Soren DeSelby. I just tried finding old ones on eBay, without success. If you do find one, keep in mind that they came in left-handed and right-handed versions.

#619 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 11:37 PM:

Thanks for the links.

Lila, the link you provided me led to this -- It's pretty close to what I need, only I need something split into two parts (one for each hand.) I don't know Braille, but I'm sure I could pick it up pretty easily. Bet if I search I can find one that could be split apart, or something similar.

I'm not at the point where I absolutely need an adaptive keyboard, but I have a feeling I'm getting there. My disability was cancelled by the private insurance provider who covered me for a year, and plan B is to make a living selling doll accessories on eBay, so anything that increases my productivity will have a direct affect on my bottom line. (With enough productivity, I CAN make a living on eBay -- before I started having so many health problems, I was selling a couple grand a month in doll stuff addition to holding down a 50-60 hour a week job.)

#620 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 11:39 PM:

CHording keyboard. Thank you for that terminology. Exactly what I need. Now I just need to find one ...

#621 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 12:54 AM:

Are there any hackerspaces nearby? Or schools (High, Vo-Tech, Community College or other) that might have someone who does soldering available? One of those keyboards that slides apart pretty much has to be made with wires or other flexible conductor between the two halves. A clever techie could detach the two halves, extend the wires enough to get the two parts down at your sides, and clean up the "split ends" neatly.

#622 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 02:52 AM:

Cygnet at 619: I'm thinking that a chording keyboard might be the best option for you (that, maybe coupled with a trackball, since you mentioned that you're most comfortable lying on your back). I haven't played with a chording keyboard in about a decade, but I was able to find the latest incarnation of the one I remember from my wearable computing days. Here's a link: Twiddler chorded keyboard. It's decidedly uncheap ($200), but it was the preferred tool of the various wearable computing researchers I worked with. Another option might be a Frogpad, although I know nothing about it beyond what their website tells me.

Since you said you're more comfortable on your back, do you have a good way to comfortably view a screen? If you've got a screen perpendicular to you, there are prism glasses for letting you view it while reclining. I've used these glasses to let research subjects see a screen when they're in an MRI, but they're actually designed for something much closer to what (I think) you've described.

#623 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 06:09 AM:

So Alan Turing gets a Royal Parson today.

He's dead, and he was a victim of the ugly bigotry of his time.

The previous British Government went to the trouble of making a Formal Apology in Parliament. There was a debate, putting on record his huge contribution to victory in the Second World War. The politicians were willing to stand up and take credit for doing so.

But the current mob are being a bit shifty about it. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, is tweeting that he is glad, as if he had nothing to do with the decision. And that's just plain wrong. While it is called a "Royal Pardon", the decision is made by politicians. So David Cameron is "glad", but he is letting the bigots think he didn't do anything.

I do wonder a little about the legal types who are saying why a Royal Pardon is inappropriate, but the arguments they make don't sound crazy. What are Royal Pardons for, they ask. And how many convicted homosexuals were convicted for consensual activity, how many for what we would still call rape. The records, they say, are incomplete.

That's a fair question. Do you want a Royal Pardon for one of those priests of the sort the Catholic Church has taken so much stick for hiding? But the potential bigotry is apparent when you ask how many that might be?

"We cannot pardon these people because some real criminals might be pardoned." That attitude isn't particularly laudable.

It's all a rather distracting can of worms. I wonder what they are trying to hide.

#624 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 06:14 AM:

Weather so terrible that an Oxford restaurant owner tells #pm he hasn't seen damage on this scale since the Bullingdon Club visited in 1986. (From Twitter)

The Bullingdon Club is notorious. And at that time, David Cameron was a member.

#625 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 09:08 AM:

Has anybody seen Mikenesses before? A cartoonist self-caricatures in the style of other cartoonists. There was an article on NPR that led me to his page, and it also has a link to his book (available as a PDF).

#626 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 09:48 AM:

Turing doesn't need a pardon, because he did nothing wrong. The bigots who drove him to suicide do.
Is there something other than a pardon that negates/sets aside a conviction as wrong?

#627 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 10:10 AM:

I always enjoy reading this sort of thing: Christmas mascots in other countries. If Rankin-Bass was still in operation they'd have years of material for stop-motion holiday specials:

#628 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 12:53 PM:

Rob Hansen (#604): Guatemala, which is one of the 22, would beg to differ. Every map produced in Guatemala includes Belize, which, until 1981, was a British colony.

#629 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 12:53 PM:

Rob Hansen (#604): Guatemala, which is one of the 22, would beg to differ. Every map produced in Guatemala includes Belize, which, until 1981, was a British colony.

#630 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 12:55 PM:

We have an interesting backyard visitor today, a Coopers Hawk. He has been in a tree surveying the bird feeders since before 10AM this morning. He left briefly and Mom refilled the feeders thinking he had given up...

I think he just went to some nearby tree where he could observe until Mom was back indoors. So far none of our regulars have come anywhere near the feeders. The blue jays are having great fun screaming at the intruder.

Consensus here is that his regular hunting area may be under water, as we've had flooding near the river after the weekends torrential rains.

#631 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 02:47 PM:

Ginger, #625: OMG, #93. That is all.

#632 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 02:48 PM:

Kip W@613, I've seen pink snow in Colorado mountains. Some kind of algae does it, and you don't eat the pink snow either.

On split keybards - if you've got room, you can just use two regular usb keyboards, and Windows or Linux will do the right thing. (May help to get a matched set so your hands don't get confused, and you may need a USB hub if your PC doesn't have enough ports.) My late friend Hugh Daniel used to do this; kept his shoulders at a more natural angle.

One interesting chord keyboard I've seen was called "Half Keyboard"; the model for Palm Pilot was a small version of the left half of a qwerty keyboard, and you hit a shift key to get the right half instead, so there was no significant learning involved unlike most chordboards. They also had a software version which would let you do either half on a regular keyboard, but unfortunately that was designed for Disabled People With Insurance, so it cost a few hundred dollars. I've seen YouTube videos on learning to do one-handed typing on a regular keybpard (your hand goes over the middle), and there are small Bluetooth keyboards for tablets etc. that might make this a bit easier.

#633 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Lori Coulson @630: Neat! My mother-in-law once had a Cooper's Hawk visit with an interesting hunting technique. It would wait for a mourning dove to settle on her feeder, then fly at it from the side away from the house. The poor dove would panic and fly into a window, then fall to the ground, stunned. Feast for hawk! It could barely carry the dove, which was close to its own size. This happened at least twice while she was watching. Apparently the local doves were not too bright.

#634 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 03:30 PM:

HLN: Area woman and family, on Day Three without power after this weekend's ice storm, are now sheltering at her youngest brother's house. The latter lost power again minutes before their arrival, but "only" for sixteen hours. All are now blissfully warm and clean. "Only cats Connie and Bazinga are unhappy, since she's in an unfamiliar environment and he isn't sure what to make of her invasion of his territory. No claws have come out, though, which is a good start."

#635 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 04:37 PM:

In preparation for this trip, I figured out a new knitting project to bring along. Not too complex, but neat enough I wouldn't get bored with. Only one yarn. Minimal notions. None of the kinds of project-features that cause me to flail and abandon.

I sketched a thorough diagram, with inches marked. I photographed it and put it on Ravelry so I'd have it if I lost the paper. I both printed out my lace chart and put it on my tablet computer. I even knit some, serving as a gauge swatch. Measured. Mathed. Wrote accurate stitch/row numbers on paper pattern. Put paper in zip-top bag with project.

Then, on the night before the flight, I took it all to our regular Friday dinner, both to show off and to knit some on it. The following morning, in last-minute packing, I put the zip bag in my carry-on. No problem! I took it out at the airport, successfully reached the first change a to a next a section point ... And discovered the paper pattern diagram missing.

And I hadn't re-archived it after the math ...

Argh. I put it away as too emotionally upsetting to deal with in an airport, and now I've finally re-mathed it. Woohoo!

I have also electronicized the NEW diagram, dammit.

#636 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 05:02 PM:

Sue had her cataract surgery's followup this morning.
The doctor said all looks normal.

I'm not sure what 'normal' means for someone who shares facilities with a Dr.Song.

#637 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 05:58 PM:

Mongoose, way back at #454: Returning to this topic because something else made me think about it. Having just re-read the conversation sparked by the link -- did you notice that all of it was about the wrongness of the illustration, and none at all about the content of the article? It was as though looking at the picture made everything about the content invisible by some kind of contagion.

So I'm going to re-link to a re-blogging of the article with a different illustration, and see if that makes any difference in what people see.

#638 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 06:40 PM:

That illustration looks even less like a Hobbit heroine.

Reading that article made me think of the "hero-is-male-by-default" issue that Anita Sarkeesian's most recent "Feminist Frequency" video. Without explicit feminizing markers (like a bow) an otherwise non-gendered hero is by default assumed to be male.

Yes, Bilbo is explicitly male, but because the author of that piece was able to make him a girl simply by changing the pronouns means that the maleness was not inherent in the character, was not necessary for Bilbo to succeed in his/her quest.

#639 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 06:45 PM:

Lee #637: I did comment briefly on the gender-swap idea, but the thing is, the article itself was "nice but unremarkable" to this crowd, on account of preaching to the choir:

A 5-year-old kid insists on editing the story; OK, sometimes they do that. Good on the parent for being flexible enough to go along. If we didn't know the issues with gender representation in pop--fic, the article gives a run-down -- and most of us know it's at least as bad in spec-fic. Indeed, LoTR is a classic "problem child" there, so obviously ripe for the switcheroo, and as noted various fan-writers and fan-artists have stepped up to that plate over time.

#640 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 09:12 PM:

Cookie monster tweets:

This is just to say

me have eaten
the cookies
that were in
the cookie jar

and which
you were probably
for snack time

forgive me
they were delicious
so yummy
and om nom nom

(yes, this was a real tweet from Sesame Street)

#641 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 09:16 PM:

and re keyboard discussion: I had to re-up car registration at one of the MD MVA kiosks, which involves a lot of typing on a keyboard.

Which does not have a numeric pad.

Good grief have I gotten used to having one. It wasn't quite torture but having to all but hunt and peck the numerals was irritating.

#642 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 09:29 PM:

I had a job for several years that involved typing lots of addresses (on an IBM terminal with no numeric keypad). I'll still use the main keyboard for that kind of mixed stuff, but if it's mostly numbers, I'll use the keypad.

#643 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 10:03 PM:

janetl @ 626

Is there something other than a pardon that negates/sets aside a conviction as wrong?

So far as I know, the only thing the executive can do to set aside a conviction as wrong is to issue a pardon.

The courts can issue (what is in Virginia called) a "Writ of Actual Innocence." That's what Cuccinelli got for Haynseworth. (Cuccinelli was a rare Attorney General--he thought clearing the innocent was critically important.)

#644 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2013, 10:13 PM:

Today's mail brought a letter from one of my insurance companies.

The dense legalese, deciphered (unencrypted? is there a term for figuring out boilerplate?) was to the effect that any changes in marital or family relationships now defined legal by the State of Colorado would apply to family and/or spouses as originally defined by my policy.

Happy dance -

#645 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2013, 12:30 AM:

Merry Christmas, where applicable!

#646 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2013, 01:11 AM:

Sam Chevre #643, janetl #626.

Read David Allen Green's take on it. Apparently there is a UK Act that allows convictions under this law to basically be annulled if they would not be crimes under current law

A recent statute - the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 - provides a scheme where those who had been convicted of the section 11 offence (and similar offences) can apply for their entire criminal records to be removed if the facts of the case would no longer count as a crime. It would be as if the offence had not been committed at all. These are not pardons – they go much further: the 2012 scheme removes the taint of criminality altogether, and with no fussing about not affecting the conviction or the sentence.

That is, this approach is different from a pardon in that it agrees that the acts should never been criminal. The current law is only for living people, but he argues that it could easily be extended.

#647 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2013, 01:17 AM:

Today I made marzipan cookies. First time. They are delightful and not as fussy as a French almond macaroon.

#648 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2013, 02:54 AM:

Serge @636 - For many years a Dr. Song was the mainstay of the tenor section of our choir, Presumably not the same Dr. Song; ours was a small town southern Ohio gynecologist. He's retired, and moved to Florida.

#649 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2013, 03:23 PM:

as required
as wanted/needed

Thank you all for being you and making my life better.

#650 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2013, 09:39 PM:

Re: Keyboards -- I've found a split keyboard with a 20" cable between the sides on eBay, so that may work.

It's out of my price range for now, but I may have a bit of a windfall coming in the next few months. If so, it might be something to consider.

A chording keyboard or a braille keyboard with big keys would probably work better, however -- I'm playing with a few apps on my phone that might work that are intended for the blind. I tend to pick up things involving manual dexterity pretty quickly, so I'm not worried about learning a new keying style.

Lots of options to consider.

As far as the monitor goes, I live in a fifth wheel, and the head of my bed is in a pop out. Means the ceiling's only about three feet over my head. It should be easy enough to attach a monitor to the ceiling -- my father's a welder, and very good at making mechanical gadgets from scratch, so he can probably rig something up. It would be handy for watching movies, too, and for video chatting with family.

(I am not, I might note, bedridden. I get around fairly well. My legs work -- my shoulders, neck, and back are all screwed up, however ... The most comfortable position for me to type is simply lying down, with my hands by my side.)

#651 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 05:15 PM:

And the strange dreams continue.

In the latest one, I was a king, and had a furious argument with one of my nobles (played in the dream by a friend who I have, in fact, had some disagreements with lately). I was so angry that later on I intercepted one of his servants* (played by Lenore's cousin Eliza, who just finished playing a servant in a Shakespeare play), and heartlessly ate his cinnamon toast.

Cruel, I know. Deep down I'm a vicious, evil person.

I might add that I'm not elaborating this at all. In this case, all the details (yea, even to the cinnamon toast) were in the dream itself.

*She was actually in some distress, because he'd asked her for cinnamon toast some time earlier and she'd forgotten. She was hastening to him with it; I suggested that I could tell him that it was my fault. Hey, I was king.

#652 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 12:06 AM:

Xopher @651
It's good to be the king.

#653 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 01:33 AM:

So I just recently discovered, quite by accident, that the tune I had known as "The Carol of the Bells" is really a Ukrainian folk tune called Щедрик (Shchedryk) and is not a song for Christmas at all but New Years'. I love the tune but hate the inane English lyrics, and like it much much better when sung in Ukrainian.

#654 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 07:16 AM:

Lee @637 ...all of it was about the wrongness of the illustration...

Guilty. So here's what I might have said if I weren't looking at the pretty pictures:

Bilbo is independently wealthy, with no regular work, no close family members, and in general no responsibilities. Although not as much the case now, in the 30s* when The Hobbit was written family relationships and work were strongly gendered. As a husband or a father, Bilbo would be less likely to run off on an adventure on Gandalf's say so. (As a son he might well do). So much less as a wife or mother and a daughter running away on an adventure would be a very different story. So Bilbo's unusual lack of strong relationships and responsibilities also allow a change in gender without transforming the story and the society she comes from.

Added to this is the lack of any romantic subplot or plot. Even today it would be difficult to write such a story without the gender of the characters being relevant.

So Bilbo-as-written is not strongly gendered by the plot or story in modern terms. Simply going-on-an-adventure is not an exclusively male trait, so he is male-by-default rather than male-because-the-plot-requires-it.

There's something about class going on as well, but I'm not sure how relevant it is so won't say anything about it until I finish re-reading.

* The Shire being an unmechanised rural society resembling an idealised 19th century England, work and relationships might be more or at least differently gendered than (my concept of) the 1930s version.

#655 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 08:53 AM:

re 653: From what I gather (and it's a bit hard to puzzle out) "Shchedrik" was never a folk song in its own right, though the musical figure it's based on has folk origins. But I believe that the music we have, even the Ukrainian version, is otherwise entirely Leontovich's creation. Certainly the Ukrainian text (which is a bit of a tongue-twister) is sung to music note-for-note the same as what is sung in English.

One of the last great unmined troves of Christmas carols is found in the Ukraine. For whatever reason they've never caught on in English translation. I particularly have a fondness for "Nebo i Zemlya" ("Heaven and Earth") but my poetry skills aren't quite up to making an English version.

#656 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 01:04 PM:

Note for cyclists, esp. bike commuters:

There's a new kickstarter up for a dynamo-driven bike-light by Dirk Strothmann called "Magniclight" (that's enough info for you to find it without my putting in a link).

The cool thing about these lights is that the dynamo is entirely contact-free. If your rims are metal, then the permanent magnets in the dynamo induce an eddy-current in them, and this in turn interacts with the dynamo to generate electricity. The rims don't have to be steel--non-ferrous metals work fine, e.g. my aluminum rims.

The lack of contact means much, much lower rolling resistance (of course there has to be some, or it would be a perpetual motion machine). And the lights are plenty bright, especially the rear one.

Dirk made a first batch of these last year on an earlier kickstarter project. They work! I rode mine for several months, and then my bike got stolen, grrrr.

This new batch is improved by having the "Standlicht" function, i.e. they have a capacitor that stores up some juice to keep the light turned on when you are stopped at an intersection. Very good feature for urban commuters!

He is also revising the lens-shapes to bring them into line with Germany's stringent requirements. (Roughly the idea is: don't blind other drivers by shining lights in their eyes. That's probably good policy in a civilized country that respects bikes, e.g. Germany, Netherlands, etc. Here in the uncivilized US of A, I am quite happy to shine lights in drivers' eyes if it increases the chance that they will see me and not run me over while texting, chugging their Slurpy, and swatting the kid in the back seat.)

The design is very cool, and Dirk seems like a decent guy--we have corresponded on several occasions. He delivered solid product on the last campaign, so I think he'll come through on this one as well.

#657 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 02:40 PM:

oldster: Kickstarter claims that no projects match that word. :(

#658 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Oldster @656, do you mean Magnic Light?

Carrie S @657, dirk strothmann kickstarter bike light was enough for Google to find it.

#659 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 02:59 PM:

Neil, #654: Simply going-on-an-adventure is not an exclusively male trait, so he is male-by-default rather than male-because-the-plot-requires-it.

Yes, exactly. Janet Kagan wrote an introduction to the NESFA Press publication The Best of James H. Schmitz in which she talks about the "default setting" for protagonists, and how this is a trope Schmitz frequently subverts; many of his strongest characters are female, and their being female is not made the point of the story -- they just are. (To paraphrase the words of John Campbell, he "granted his female hero and went on from there".) If you gender-swap the pronouns for Bilbo in The Hobbit, you get much the same kind of tale, in which a woman Has Adventures that do not revolve around her being a woman. Never mind what she looks like; it's what she's doing that matters.

#660 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 03:01 PM:

Testing a hypothesis about that "Internal Server Error" message.

#661 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 03:03 PM:

Avram @658--

Yes, that's the one--thanks for embedding.

#662 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 03:07 PM:

And I was right. When I got the message, I backed up, copied the text of my post just in case, went back to the front page, and refreshed. No post. But instead of reposting, I made my test post above -- and lo and behold, when that went thru, my original post showed up as well.

It appears that when the "Internal Server Error" shows up, the post has just gotten stuck in the tubes (so to speak), and you can shake it loose by making a different post to that thread, and not end up with the dreaded double-post.

#663 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 04:18 PM:

Here's an hour long video about what it's like to have a learning disability-- and it's a low-tech approach, with the teacher taking things just a little too fast and aggressively for normal adults. He uses a few minor aids like a low-quality photograph and some barely decypherable jumbled text.

It's mostly about the emotional stress of being expected to do things beyond your ability, and includes some useful suggestions like "If someone doesn't know how to do something, being bribed or threatened won't make them know how to do it. There is no substitute for competent teaching".

#664 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 05:52 PM:

HLN update: Area woman is pleased to report that power returned at her house early this morning, 140 hours after it was lost.

#665 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 06:44 PM:

Carol Witt (664): Yay for power restoration! That's a long time to be without, especially at this time of year.

#666 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 07:56 PM:

Area family held christmas dinner and gift exchange yesterday, once power was back on and spouse released from hospital. Gifts appear to have been well received. I tried out the frying pan today on some leftovers.

#667 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 08:23 PM:

oldster @656: There's a new kickstarter up for a dynamo-driven bike-light by Dirk Strothmann called "Magniclight"

!!! ::bounce! bounce! bounce!::

OMG!! I've been waiting for this ALL MY BIKING LIFE. I've kicked in.


non-ferrous metals work fine

?? Now here's where we find out that Jacque was not paying attention in electronics class.... I thought non-ferrous metals don't do the magnetism thing...?

Now, the next question: does it get mounted onto the frame in such a fashion that sticky fingers won't relieve the bike of it, or does one have to remember to take it in with one when, say, going into the store? (And if it does have a permanent mount, is there a way to turn it off?)

#668 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 11:47 PM:

Jacque @667--

I'm no expert on these matters either, but as I understand it, there's a magnetic field associated with every electrical current. So if you can get electrons sloshing in it, then you can set up a magnetic field around it. (That's why you can make an electromagnetic by pushing current through a copper wire).

The phrase to investigate is "Eddy Current", e.g. in Wikipedia:

"Eddy currents are created when a conductor experiences changes in the magnetic field. If either the conductor is moving through a steady magnetic field, or the magnetic field is changing around a stationary conductor, eddy currents will occur in the conductor."

So the wheel's rim is the conductor in this case, which has currents induced in it by its motion next to the magnets of the generator. But then its own magnetic field interacts with the generator to spin it as the wheel spins. I cannot fill in all the details, but I can say it works just fine.

You might also look up "Eddy Current Brake" to see the inverse of this process, i.e. the use of a non-ferrous rotor as a brake-disc, slowed down by its interaction with a magnetic field.

And for a cool, simple demonstration of the fundamental phenomenon, you can look for videos of a magnet being dropped through a piece of copper tubing. The magnet induces a field in the copper; the induced field counteracts the field of the magnet itself (by Lenz's Law), and the magnet falls at a visibly decelerated speed.

The version that I own had an easy on-off attachment so that you could take the light with you when you park. (There's a bracket mounted on with screws that stays on the bike, but the light itself has a quick-release attachment to the bracket). Dirk said in an email that he might look into tamper-proof screws for the brackets as another security measure, but I see that's not part of the kickstarter campaign.

The version that I owned did not have an on-off switch, and I doubt if the new one will either. There's no real need to turn it off, both because it causes so little friction, and because any time you are on a moving bike it is desirable to have lights on, day and night. (I guess if you have a stealth mission to ride somewhere in complete darkness you can always remove the lights).

#669 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 11:53 PM:

C. Wingate@655: Thanks for the additional info.

#670 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 11:58 PM:

Lee@662: My 669 got an Internal Server Error...but it posted to the thread...but it's not showing up on the Recent Comments pages. I wonder whether yours did similar -- posted to the thread but didn't get recorded under "Recent Comments".

#671 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 11:59 PM:

#653 & #655
The Ukrainian version is translated as "The Swallow", and is quite different from "The Carol of the Bells". I can't find the English translation online, but I have it, and will post it if anyone wants it. It's quite beautiful, IMHO.

#672 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 12:03 AM:

There are Ukrainian lyrics in the original, transliterated, and translated on the Wikipedia page: Shchedryk (song). And there's a nice video of the Bel Canto Choir of Vilnius singing it here.

(The double-barrelled links make me want to post this to the "test the gnomes" thread. Fingers crossed...)

#673 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 12:04 AM:

Kudos to the gnomes on their increased powers of discrimination lately.

#674 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 12:14 AM:

I had never heard of the non-Christmas Ukranian lyrics to that tune...until Christmas dinner, when my uncle showed them to me. And now they're showing up here. The world, she is strange sometimes.

#675 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 01:09 AM:

David Goldfarb: To make matters even weirder, I heard that Wilhousky was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, of all people, when he wrote the lyrics. "The tinnitabulation of the bells bells bells" is an odd place to get Christmas lyrics, but heck, that poet is responsible for the name of a football team, so stranger things have happened.

#676 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 01:22 AM:

oldster @668: That's why you can make an electromagnetic by pushing current through a copper wire

Oh yeah: cf transformers. Duh.

This whole concept tickles me no end, because the idea has been niggling at the back of my brain for years. Heh. Yet another of my "inventions" that somebody else gets the fortune for. :-) (You know I invented the synthesizer, right? Or at least the concept. :-> ) ("You know you don't get the credit for just coming up with the idea, right?" "Quiet, you!")

I guess if you have a stealth mission to ride somewhere in complete darkness you can always remove the lights

Or apply duct tape. %-)

#677 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 11:32 AM:

Note to Jim Macdonald: I just sent you an email to your address. I should have sent it sooner.

#678 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 03:13 PM:

Hah! It seems my mental telepathies are working better than usual. From today's Magnic Light update, their funding is going better than expected so:

We would like to make a new tool and add a permanent mounting option which is fixed with security screws and can only be demounted with a special tool. Actually the adapters have a click mechanism- so they can be put on and off in seconds. If you leave your bike at public places you should take the lights with you to prevent theft.
#679 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 03:19 PM:

Read particle as: "Why brilliant engineers are terrible procrastinators."

Jokes all obvious, except the ones I'll make tomorrow.

#680 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 04:26 PM:

How to talk to people who don't read SF about SF.

I think I do this already. Characterization is the big thing that hooks me into a story, so I tend to talk about the characters.

#681 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 04:31 PM:

My dear friends, I owe you an apology.

I've just been up in the Lake District for a few days with my parents. I was hoping to be able to get online during that time, so that I could wish you a very merry Christmas, or, alternatively, the compliments of the season, whichever is more congenial to you. I failed to do that, so my greeting is late; had I known, I would have written it before I set off. Apologies, as I say.

I left home in a bad state. I've mentioned here more than once that I am mentally ill at the moment, and this greatly magnified my usual worries with respect to the cat. (I've left her before, for similar lengths of time and in the same circumstances; I always fret a little, but on this occasion I was in quite a state.) Add to this forecasts of severe weather, and the discovery that several trains were badly delayed when I arrived at the station, and I think it's fair to say I was not heading north in a state of unalloyed seasonal peace and joy, much as I always enjoy seeing my parents. Another thing, which I promise you is relevant, is that because of the forecast I had not bothered trying to put my fallen fence panel back up. It had already blown down once and I had succeeded only in propping it up; I hadn't the strength to haul it back into its proper notches. When it blew down again just before I left, I decided I had better leave it till I got home again, otherwise it would only fall a third time.

Well; the journey up turned out to be no more than a few minutes delayed, and in other respects quite trouble-free. We were all horrified to discover on the news that a large number of other travellers, especially in the south, had fared a great deal worse. There had been widespread floods, high winds leading to fallen trees on tracks, and other chaos. The storm arrived at my parents' house not very long after I did, but the area where they live is safe from flooding, and although the winds were very high, no trees fell.

I have had a peaceful and cosy few days, during which time I began to feel very much better. The return journey - carried out, apparently, in a lull between two further spells of bad weather - went like clockwork, and I stepped in through the front door just over half an hour ago, to be given a warm and purry welcome by the cat. She was fine, but she'd been missing her human. I picked her up, gave her a cuddle, and assured her that her human had been missing her, too.

But do you recall the fence panel? Well, when I arrived at my front gate, I noticed to my initial alarm that the padlock on the gate had been picked. Whoever had done this had neither stolen the padlock (which they could quite easily have done) nor fastened it again. They wanted me to see that it had been done. The lock was hanging there, open.

No, they had not burgled the house. Someone had decided to use one of their more ethically dubious skills to a completely ethical end. They'd broken into my front garden in order to repair the fence for me. I haven't a clue who they were, but let this stand as an expression of my delighted gratitude.

Tomorrow I'm going to catch up on reading everything here since I left on Monday, which should be an entertaining task. For now, I'm just going to say that I hope each and every one of you has been as pleasantly surprised and encouraged as I have been over this Christmas season so far. Good things to all of you!

#682 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 04:38 PM:

My dear Mongoose, I am so very happy for you. May this be a foretaste of 2014.

#683 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 04:41 PM:

Mongoose: Awwwwww!!! Santa Clause, FTW! :-)

BTW, I owe you email.

#684 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 05:18 PM:

Mongoose re: fence

Someone broke into my car on Christmas. They pulled out and looked through everything - even dumped the old repair receipts (an unlikely place to stash Kruggerands), but took nothing, unless it was a few quarters from the parking meter stash. The dimes were left.

There were a number of items valuable to me, not least of which is an ergonomic adult-sized snow shovel handle with a child's scoop jury-rigged on it, just my size. Perhaps if our temps hadn't been in the 50s (F) that might have been attractive.

The driver's door was left ajar, but as they'd turned off the dome light the battery was still happy to start the car.

Blessings of the season, indeed!

#685 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Yuletide rec! Hitchhiker's meets Bernard of Clairvaux.

#686 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 05:45 PM:

Mongoose, #691: Now that was someone expressing the spirit of the season. How lovely.

Question for the Encyclopedia Fluorosphericana: When and where is the first usage of "cromulent"? I just ran across an article claiming that it was coined by the writers of The Simpsons, and I know that's wrong (but apparently quite popularly so, according to Google). I'm sure I picked it up from David Gerrold's book about writing "The Trouble With Tribbles" back in the 1970s, which suggests that the actual origin is probably a bit older than that.

#687 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 08:57 PM:

Lee #686: Say, what? I never heard of this "ironic" usage before, I always thought it was just an archaic way to say "satisfactory" or "sufficient".... <rummaging>

However, I find to my astonishment that the word is not listed in my 1989 Webster's Unabridged Encyclopedic Dictionary. I guess I didn't get the memo....

#688 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 09:53 PM:

Lee: I had Gerrold's The Trouble With Tribbles when I was a kid and read it many times. I don't recall Gerrold using the word "cromulent"; in fact I have no recollection of seeing that word at all until someone on Usenet quoted that Simpsons episode. I am strongly inclined to believe the online sources that state it was invented there.

#689 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 10:22 PM:

Lee #686, Dave #687: I've checked the OED online. It has no listing for that word.

#690 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 12:17 AM:

Lee @686, my OED (best birthday present EVER) does not list the word cromulent, nor do I remember David Gerrold using it (but I'm not going to go dig my "Trouble with Tribbles" out of the crawlspace to check it, because lazy).

The Simpsons episode is the first I recall hearing it.

#691 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 04:14 PM:

My constipated cat passed away last night -- the obstruction turned out to be an aggressive adenocarcinoma. Thanks to my vet, I had an additional week at home with my cat, and was holding him when he passed.

2013 has been a right b****rd of a year in so many ways, and I'm thankful that it's nearly done.

#692 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 04:27 PM:

xeger, I'm so sorry.

#693 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 04:33 PM:

xeger, I'm very sorry for your loss.

#694 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 04:33 PM:

xeger, I'm sorry for your loss.

#695 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 04:34 PM:

My sympathy; don't be surprised if you occasionally have your cat checking in on you.

#696 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 04:44 PM:

I'm so sorry, xeger.

#697 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 04:46 PM:

Xeger, I'm so sorry. I'm glad ypu had the week to say goodbye, and the peaceful end. {{Hugs}} if acceptable.

#698 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 04:52 PM:

xeger, my sympathies. That extra bit of time is special, and I am glad you had a vet that could give you that while keeping the cat fairly comfortable.

#699 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 04:55 PM:

xeger, I'm sorry. I know how you must miss your cat.

#700 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 05:15 PM:

xeger, that's just awful. My sympathies.

Jim, thanks a million for the quick and useful response! I've sent it forward with my supporting comments.

#701 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 05:22 PM:

xeger, #691: My condolences on your loss. It's never easy, but it's even harder when it comes unexpectedly like that.

May the new year be better.

#702 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 05:49 PM:

xeger #691: My sympathies and condolences.

#703 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 05:49 PM:

Sorry to hear, xeger.

#704 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 06:08 PM:

My condolences, xeger.

#705 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 06:11 PM:

I could have sworn I'd seen "cromulent" in Sayers, but maybe not. Now my brain haz an itch. Can anyone think of what I might be thinking of?

#706 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 06:12 PM:

xeger, my condolences.

#707 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 06:19 PM:

HelenS@705: "The glassblower's cat is bompstable," perhaps?

#708 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 06:33 PM:

I found something that illuminates another side of Patrick's Particle, Why brilliant engineers are terrible prognosticators (which doesn't actually discuss why brilliant engineers are terrible prognosticators).*

Cliff Stoll's 1995 Newsweek column, regarding hype about the future of the Internet, has in recent weeks become a favorite chew toy of Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Vance Crowe offers A Rabid Defense of Mr. Clifford Stoll.

But I don't fault him at all for getting it wrong back in 1995. The world just seemed so less certain. He was one of the few privileged people that had enough coding experience to understand how computers worked- to imagine that people would almost magically learn and adopt computers and the internet would have been a stretch. I understand his predictions and as someone who talks with clients about what is coming in the future... I understand very clearly the dangers of being either too bullish or bearish. [...] He took that gamble and he lost; but we should not hold him to that, it just isn't fair and it is a waste because Clifford Stoll is a great and kind man. [...]
Mr. Stoll made these guesses about the future because he thought he was helping, because he thought he knew something that other people didn't. He knew that others might not like what he was saying but he did it anyway. I respect and admire anyone willing to take chances because our lives are just a series of chances that we take. How the odds shake out can make us look brilliant or foolish. We should be grateful for anyone willing to take chances on our behalf.

* Also, I wouldn't call Cliff Stoll an engineer exactly; "astronomer" is somewhat more accurate, thought he may have functioned as an engineer from time to time, as many of us do.

#709 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 06:54 PM:

Xeger, my condolences.

#710 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 08:09 PM:

Sorry to hear the news, xeger. I am glad the vet could arrange a final together.

#711 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 09:03 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 708: In my read (speaking as someone who went cold turkey on Usenet \twice/ in the 1980's) Stoll was and is right about the fraction of crap on the Internet; however, like some other engineers people like to dis, he was unwilling to assume that hardware would improve (in performance and price) so radically, such that real info (e.g. newspapers) could be accessed on the net. cf Heinlein building a plot around having to enter navigation data from books rather than it all being online -- I don't know whether Starman Jones predates core memory, but certainly what passed for "mass storage" at that time has been laughable for decades.

#712 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 09:22 PM:

Lee @686, are you sure? I just searched through a PDF of Gerrold’s Tribbles (it looks like a more recent edition than the paperback I had as a kid) for “crom”. No hits.

#713 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 09:30 PM:

I just bought a 32GB flashdrive. I'm still being croggled by the idea of that much memory in something the size of my thumb.

#714 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 09:35 PM:

@xeger 691
I am so sorry for your loss.

#715 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 09:45 PM:

Xeger, so sorry for your loss.

#717 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 10:00 PM:

And Atlantis scores another dipshit point by having everyone pronounce 'Pasiphaë' "pacify." I can't imagine what people might think if they're not looking at the subtitles; the evil, violent, murderous pacify. Gaak.

#718 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 10:01 PM:

Got one of those Internal Server Errors. Trying Lee's theory.

#719 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 10:32 PM:

Xeger, sincere sympathy.

#720 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2013, 10:47 PM:

Avram, #712: On further rumination (aka "letting it stew in the back of my brain and see what bubbles up"), I may have been thinking about either "croggled/becroggled" or "crottled greeps". But if I'm wrong, damn that's a shame. I would love for Gerrold to have invented the word.

P J Evans, #713: I know. I haven't yet gone beyond an 8-gig thumb drive in my belt-pack, but I have a 32-gig SD card in my camera -- which would record the entire Art Car Parade without a blink, or take as many pictures as I wanted to of the Western National Parks during a 2-week vacation.

#721 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 04:37 AM:

Xeger, me too. If I ever get to talk to God - we're not currently on speaking terms - I'm going to ask why, and if I get told it's because of the fall, I doubt if my rejoinder will be properly respectful.

#722 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 08:36 AM:

I''m so sorry, xeger.

#723 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 09:10 AM:

xeger, I'm sorry for your loss.

#724 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 11:03 AM:

xeger, my sympathies.

#725 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 12:12 PM:

xeger, condolences. So sorry to read that.

#726 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 12:31 PM:

Lee (720): In 2008, I bought an 8GB SD card for my new digital camera. After a five years, including a ten-day trip to Alaska, a few shorter trips, and a lot of craft photos, it's still less than half full.

#727 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 03:15 PM:

CHip #711: Like most SF authors, Heinlein sometimes resorted to using the technology of his own time, except in space (if that). See also the vacuum-tube robots from Door Into Summer, and Manny's capabilities in The Moon is a Hard Mistress. (Playing with the Warden's air conditioning? really...)

#728 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 03:20 PM:

Xeger, our sympathies to you on your loss.

#729 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 04:09 PM:

You know what's really amazing about these SD cards/thumb drives? It's not just their storage capacities; it's their processing capacities.

Unfortunately, where there are processors there are security concerns.

"Today at the Chaos Computer Congress (30C3), xobs and I disclosed a finding that some SD cards contain vulnerabilities that allow arbitrary code execution — on the memory card itself."

#730 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 05:02 PM:

I have one program with a 'to go' version that runs on a thumbdrive, allowing you to use it anywhere you can access a computer (for the keyboard and monitor). AFAIK it doesn't have the ability to write to the computer itself.

#731 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 05:27 PM:

Remember Stephen Hill, the gay soldier who asked a question during YouTube's Republican debate? The one who was booed by the audience and none of the Republican candidates objected? The one whose question was flippantly dismissed by Rick Santorum, the biggest asshole of 2012?

Well, here's a more extended profile of him. He's kind of...magnificent. I'm a fan.

#732 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 06:48 PM:

xeger, my sympathies.

#733 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 08:29 PM:

No, I thought of the glassblower's cat is bompstable passage, but that wasn't it. Thanks, though.

#735 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 09:18 PM:

Open threadiness: My Little Raptor

Link is to tumblr

#736 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 09:21 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @734 -- but then the Doctor comes along, and many of those tenses become a lot harder to manage.

#737 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 10:19 PM:

Remember a month or so ago I was searching for a dual-alarm clock that did not include a radio? I found one and finally set it up today. I have a feeling it's going to be annoying: it's somewhat difficult to turn an alarm completely off, and only slightly easier to reset it for the next day. Much too complicated to achieve when I've just woken up.

So I'm back to the drawing board. I could just use a second clock; I have identified online a travel clock that should be simple to use, only lights up when a button is pressed (so I wouldn't have two clock faces staring at me), takes normal batteries, and doesn't tick.

However! One nice thing about the new clock, the dual-alarm one, is that it's easy to reset the time; it goes forward as well as back, so you don't have to go allll the way around to turn it back an hour. If I had a single-alarm clock that was that easy to reset, I wouldn't need the second alarm.

I think this is my next new clock.

#738 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 01:24 AM:

@xeger 691
I am so sorry.

#739 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 02:39 AM:

It's getting close to GAFilk. Anybody up for a Gathering of Light this year?

#740 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 04:32 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @731: Rick Santorum, the biggest asshole of 2012?

Oh. Okay. I finally got the joke. Um. ::turns pink:: *giggle*

#741 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 09:51 AM:

My watch allows me to set something like three alarms, and it's enough to wake me in the morning. I'm fairly adept at shutting it off.

Back in the 60s, I had an electric clock with an alarm that could be shut off for 24 hours or just plain off. It had the most jarring, heart-stopping buzzing sound ever. I set it to the wee hours the first and only time I ever required its alarm, and discovered the sheer awfulness of its 'wake up' sound around 4 am, and shut it off before it killed me.

The next morning, I also discovered that it would go off for 24 hours and then buzz again, also at 4. I saw then that there were two positions to put the shutoff switch in.

The morning after that, I realized I'd chosen the wrong position for the switch. I unplugged the clock, which never ran again. Apparently it was miffed that I'd defeated it. It was sort of a pity, as I liked the clock well enough otherwise, and it had only cost me a dime.

#742 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 10:42 AM:

Kip: there's a "ghost in the machine" story (poem?) in this, surely?

You bought it for a dime? Malignant djinn takes frustrated unjuiced time out on you? Were I caught in the gears and spring of an old clock (yeah, yours was a later version) I'd sure be prickly when I got out. If it were Arabic, would it want to default to the hours of prayer? Is your 4 am sunrise in Mecca?

Or perhaps it starts with the spirit slightly resetting its alarm, so it looks like you miscued it. Escalates from there to what you've described.

And for the horror wind-up (ha) finish, where did it go when you succeeded in completely releasing it?

My grandfather had an ancient alarm clock with an an obnoxious hammer-and-bells alarm that we kids used to take apart and reassemble. Eventually we'd "fixed" it to total paralysis, possibly as a younger cousin had missed getting a gear back.

The scenario in my head has the escaped spirit happily taking up residence in a softer, more melodious bicycle bell, which gains slightly in volume (loudness? size? loudness and size?).

Not jelling. Ideas are the fun part. Getting them coherent is where the effort is (tip of hat to those of you who make them work). If any of this sparks anything, my blessings.

Incidentally, I used Kip's Radio poem up at #573 (with permission & attribution) as the base for my holiday greetings, to fine feedback. Thanks again, Kip.

#743 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 01:08 PM:

oldster @ #668:

"Eddy Current Brake" sounds as though he should have been some 19th-century American public figure; a famed orator, perhaps, or the founder of a college.

#744 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 02:39 PM:

People with alarm clock problems: Do you have a cell phone? Mine offers me five different alarms and five different reminder settings. All very easy to set/modify. And to "hit snooze" I need only grab the phone and squeeze. So easy, I can do it in my sleep 8-))

#745 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 02:53 PM:

Older (744): I do have a cell phone--a smart phone, even--but I want a *clock*.

Trying to make one item do too many different things makes me cranky, at best.

#746 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 03:06 PM:

So I'm smack in the middle of the Hunger Games trilogy (yeah, it took me this long to get into the books because of all that juvenile TEAM [BOYS NAME] bs going around, and now I feel myself veering into TEAM [BOYS NAME] territory) and just received a late Xmas present of a book I have been looking forward to reading for some time about the Nazi occupation of Poland. I cannot hop from fictional to non-fictional dystopias without some sort of palate-cleanser. Sadly, there is a dearth of sherbety goodness in my TBR pile at the moment. As luck would have it, I will be visiting Mysterious Galaxy tomorrow morning to start my 2014 out right - with more books. So rather than re-reading Pratchett or Adams, I can read a whole new funny nerd book. Any good dark-humor F/SF books come out in the last two or so years?

#747 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 03:16 PM:

Mary Aileen, I suspect a dumb cell phone makes a better alarm clock than does a smart cell phone. I agree about too many functions. I have the dumbest phone I can get, and it serves very few functions for me, but one of them is "alarm clock".

#748 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 03:25 PM:

"Any good dark-humor F/SF books come out in the last two or so years?"

I was very happy with _The Corpse-Rat King_ and _The Marching Dead_ by Lee Battersby. (Two-book series.)

#749 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 04:47 PM:

Older (747): Until last spring, I had a very basic, very dumb cell phone. But after Sandy, I realized that I need some way to get online when the world goes to sh*t around me. Hence, the cheapest possible smart phone. The MP3 player aspect is nice....

I still miss my flip phone, though. Someone should make a flip-style smart phone. I'd buy one in a heartbeat.

#750 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 04:53 PM:

Carol K, no problem. It warmed my heart when I got one.

Interesting ideas. Perhaps they'll percolate.

A side benefit of working for an answering service for a while (another being that I pretty much knew what time it was throughout most of the day, without looking) was that I could leave a slip of paper with a time on it and get a wake-up call at whatever time I wanted.

When I gave notice and went to another job (they called me and offered more money), I ended up working both jobs for a while. For 29 days in a row, I was working at either one or both places. I was getting so frazzled that one day I stumbled home and flopped face-down on the bed. Ten minutes later, the phone rang, and I thought it was my wake-up call to go back to work. It was actually another operator calling to see if I'd take her shift. I believe I said no.

#751 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 05:42 PM:

Nerdycellist, you might look up Ursula Vernon's "Nine Goblins" written as T Kingfisher. I've been after my library to buy it.

#752 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 06:14 PM:

I've just discovered that I am an unrepentant Human Exceptionalist (at least as far as killing and eating go), despite having been a vegetarian since July 1978.

For example, while I think that guy who ran over the ducks because they wouldn't get out of his way behaved very badly, is callous, etc. I do not, however, feel that "mowing down kids" is "next."

This is what PETA said about it, and I FB'd it to ridicule it; I have no patience for PETA, who don't appear to love animals so much as they hate people. PETA has the same relationship to vegetarianism as the Westboro Baptist Church has to Christianity.

I got a surprising amount of flak for it. Some otherwise sensible people said they thought it probably wasn't a "big step" from running over ducks to hit and run, or deliberately running children over.

I think this is crazy. I have many friends who quite deliberately cook and eat meat, including some animals that are quite adorable living (even...DUCKS). I don't give them any flak for this. I could not possibly be friends with someone who cooks and eats human children. Human adults,, kidding. Eating human flesh is really right out.*

So I think it's a pretty BIG step. And that means I regard humans as more important than other animals, which makes me a Human Exceptionalist.

So be it.

*TMI: BX, bar'f BJA syrfu vf na rkprcgvba. V unir phg zlfrys (nppvqragnyyl) naq fhpxrq gur oybbq (qryvorengryl, gb pyrna gur jbhaq naq/be gb xrrc sebz znxvat n zrff—naq lrf, V xabj gung guvf vfa'g n tbbq jnl gb "pyrna gur jbhaq." Vg'f n grzcbenel rzretrapl zrnfher). Jura V hfrq gb ovgr zl anvyf, V qvqa'g nyjnlf fcvg bhg gur ovggra ovgf, rvgure.

#753 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 06:36 PM:

Xopher, that's a ridiculous argument for them to make. Also, I agree with you. (Including your TMI. It's probably safe, since it's all your own germs.)

#754 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 06:44 PM:

HLN: Local woman contracts slight cold on Christmas Day, fights it off successfully by the weekend, has major relapse on New Year's Eve. "I don't think I'm going to finish unpacking my apartment tomorrow as planned," she remarks. "I'm already behind, and I doubt I'll be up for much tomorrow."

Compounding the suckage, local woman's return to work on Thursday will probably be in the middle of a snowstorm.

#755 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Mary Aileen @749: Someone should make a flip-style smart phone. I'd buy one in a heartbeat.
<nerd> If they made it with Star Trek TOS communicator styling, I would be right there with you. </nerd>

#756 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 07:03 PM:

I'm with Mary Aileen and estelendur on flip phones. I kicked and screamed quite a bit before going to a smartphone (finally switched because it saved money every month).

I do have my text-message beep set to a Star Trek (TNG) communicator noise.

P J, thank you. Nice to know I'm not the only one.

#757 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Xopher, you'll like the annotated excerpts from Utah's RFP for an outside counsel to help with their appeal.

(I've always thought that flip-phones should come with communicator sounds built in.)

#758 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 09:11 PM:

I suspect that Fluorospherians might enjoy the New Years Midnight Special.

"Folk music and farce, show tunes and satire, madness and escape"

Live streaming here:

The show will end 5 hours and 49 minutes from the time I hit post, more or less, and it'll go back to a classical music station.

#759 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2013, 09:40 PM:

A friend gave me, for Christmas, a dog-poop-bag dispenser made to look like a Star Trek:TOS communicator!

#760 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 06:43 AM:

Bad argumentation on PETA's part, but I do see a difference in killing an animal to eat and killing an animal because it mildly inconvenienced you. Doing it to a group of them in front of unsuspecting onlookers nudges up the creepy factor.

I'm less concerned with any one animal (other than the cat I'm adopting), and even with any one species in particular (other than human beings), than with the ecosystem as a whole, but that's my theology, not my emotions.

#761 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 12:16 PM:


I think that's a combination of your being a human exceptionalist, and being aware that many other humans are. I don't have to believe that humans are different in kind from all other animals to realize that many other humans do think that, or to realize that many animals, not just humans, treat members of their own species differently from other kinds of animals. ("Species" is a fuzzy concept, and my idea of "are these two animals of the same kind" might be different from the animals', without that meaning that they didn't have such a concept or behavior.)

#762 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 12:59 PM:

John 760: Bad argumentation on PETA's part, but I do see a difference in killing an animal to eat and killing an animal because it mildly inconvenienced you. Doing it to a group of them in front of unsuspecting onlookers nudges up the creepy factor.

Oh, I do see a difference between those things. One is much more reprehensible. That wasn't my point. I just also see a huge difference between callously and creepily running down a group of ducks and doing the same to a group of children. That difference is massive. I believe it dwarfs the difference between killing animals for food and killing them for convenience.

I'm less concerned with any one animal ... than with the ecosystem as a whole, but that's my theology, not my emotions.

Mine too. Humans are the only species with the power to destroy (or at least alter very much for the worse) the entire ecosystem.

Vicki 761: True, but while my logical argument is based on my awareness that other people treat humans as different in kind, I also believe that it's right and proper to do so. Factually, there is continuity between a bacterium and a human. But I believe we should treat humans differently, because we are human.

#763 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 02:25 PM:

Xopher @ 762: Oh, I'd go further than a "massive" difference. I'd call it a difference in quality, not quantity.

#764 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 02:27 PM:

John, the fact that you and I see it as a difference in kind is what makes us Human Exceptionalists.

#765 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 02:53 PM:

Xopher, #764: Let's see if I can articulate this...

There's definitely a difference between killing an animal to eat and killing/torturing an animal because you can, for fun.

There is also a demonstrated correlation between people who kill/torture animals because they can, for fun, and those who do the same to people.

I think perhaps the difference between your position and the PETA claim is that you are talking about Human Exceptionalism and they are talking (clumsily and in an over-generalized way) about Sociopathic Exceptionalism -- the attitude that "only I matter, nobody else is real".

To paraphrase John Stuart Mill, while it is not true that killing animals for fun makes you a sociopath, it is true that many sociopaths start out by killing animals for fun. And there is no good way to tell into which category a given kills-animals-for-fun* type falls.

* I specifically exempt hunting from this paradigm, because even though hunting can be described as "killing animals for fun", it just feels different to me. Atavistic rather than sociopathic, if that makes any sense.

#766 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 03:04 PM:

Lee, I don't disagree.

I would make one further distinction, though. Subsistence hunting is one thing, and sport hunting is another. I have no problem with people hunting animals because they need (and plan to eat) the meat. But...well, to make it absolutely clear, the English upper-class foxhunt ("the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible") is clearly reprehensible. A bunch of rich guys popping pheasants is somewhere between, and it makes a difference to me whether they eat the pheasants or not.

I wouldn't hunt pheasant, not because I think they should have equal rights to live, but because I won't eat their flesh, and therefore it's wrong for me to kill them. It's wasteful, if nothing else.

If I were still actively drumming, I might feel some obligation to kill a deer myself at some point, because many of my drumheads are deerskin (deerskin has a better sound than ANY other material, natural or artificial). I don't have the right to have the illusion that deerskin drumheads grow already attached to drums. I compromised by honoring the animals (and trees) who gave their lives to give me drums, but I'm not sure that really fills the bill.

#767 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 03:07 PM:

Xopher @766, does it make a difference to you whether the people shooting the pheasants plan to eat them, or just whether someone will eat them? The former doesn't happen very often, whereas the latter does.

#768 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 03:12 PM:

If the pheasants are left to lie, or thrown out with the trash, the hunting of them is reprehensible. If someone eats them, that's vastly better. I think it's better still if the actual hunters will be the eaters, but only a little.

#769 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 03:20 PM:

Ah, but I may have missed part of your point. No, it wouldn't be OK for me to hunt them and give them to someone else to eat, because I'm a vegetarian, and I'd be, in some sense, asking someone else to do something I wouldn't do myself.

It's all moot anyway, because I'm as unsafe with a gun as Dick Cheney, but in my case I know it and refrain. The ADHD makes my pointing discipline horrible, and while I probably would get better with practice (I acquired point sense with a sword pretty well), the practice itself is too other people, which is always a worse risk from my point of view.

And also, if my aiming ability with other devices is anything to go by, I could probably hunt 100 times without ever killing anything (except possibly a fellow hunter). And that's WITH trying.

#770 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 04:04 PM:

Lee, if you were raised the way I was, one reason it "feels different" may be the hunter's ethos of valuing a quick, clean kill--a far cry from the kind of animal torture I associate with psychopathy/sociopathy. "Never knew what hit him" was more or less the ideal.

I was also very much raised with "if you're not gonna eat it, don't kill it;" catch-and-release fishing was not a thing in my family, except insofar as you caught something toxic or too small to eat.

I'm not a hunter, but my father was, and he had a hard time finding people he was willing to hunt with, because to him the game laws, as well as unwritten rules such as the above 2, were practically sacred.

#771 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 05:09 PM:

Like Xopher, I'm a long-standing vegetarian. I don't have a problem with other people eating meat; after all, there are plenty of people who don't function well without it, dietary requirements being the individual things that they are. What I do object to, and object to quite strongly, is cruelty in farming. If someone is rearing an animal for the purpose of being eventually killed and eaten, I think the very least they can do for it is to ensure that its life is as happy as possible while it is alive. (This is exactly why I have just pointed my parents in the direction of my friend Henry and his pigs. Henry's pigs, up to the moment where they are slaughtered to be turned into pork products, must be among the happiest pigs in these fair isles.)

To articulate a general principle from this observation and some of the other posts, I think that if someone is going to kill an animal, they have an obligation towards it. This obligation consists in a) ensuring that the killing is strictly necessary, and b) ensuring that the animal suffers as little as possible during the entire process (which I take to cover the time from the decision to kill the animal to the moment of its death, this obviously being a much longer interval for a farm animal than for a hunted wild animal).

This is why I don't object to the use of animals in medical research provided that there is good evidence that what is happening actually does parallel what would happen in humans (this is by no means always the case), but I vigorously object to the use of animals in cosmetic testing. Medical research on a rabbit may well save lives. Cosmetic testing on the same rabbit almost certainly won't. It's nice to have a good choice of personal care products to use, but I don't think extending that choice to yet another product is worth any animal's life.

#772 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 06:02 PM:

Yuletide fic rec, specifically for the librarians in the audience: WorldCat Chat.
The Library of Congress is bored during the shutdown, so she goes to her internal chat channel (the one the politicians don't know about and couldn't disconnect) to talk with other libraries around the world.

#773 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 06:17 PM:

The thing that may bother me most about PETA: How klutzy and clueless their messaging can be.

Two words: Sea kittens.

#774 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 08:28 PM:

Lee #772: I like it!

In other, alarming, news, Webcomicsnation has gone down, presumably as a delayed result of its founder's death. (link is to the forums at TVTropes).

#775 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 08:53 PM:

nerdycellist @ #746, It's not at all dark, but it's certainly humorous: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. It's very very current tech-wise, too. I enjoyed it very much.

#776 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 12:37 AM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

#777 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 12:53 AM:

Mongoose @771: I once watched a video from a humane slaughterhouse. I didn't share it around, for fear I'd make a bunch of accidental vegetarians, but I figured that if I'm going to eat meat, I shouldn't shy away from the process. One of the things that struck me was the owner saying that the first animals he put through the process were his own, because if he couldn't stand to do that, he didn't have any reason to be in the business.

Incidentally, if all slaughterhouses worked on the principles I saw in the video, the anti-cruelty groups could be glad their job was done. It was definitely done on the principle of "they never knew what hit them" and the workers were being as un-alarming as they could be, under the circumstances.

There's a place up in Northern California that's trying to go back to whole-farming practices (animal rotation, grass-fed beef, and no antibiotics unless specifically necessary). They apparently built their own slaughterhouse and put viewing windows in, to show that they're willing to be honest about it. Bet their beef costs the earth, but I'm glad they're there.

#778 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 01:44 AM:

On the "weird dreams" thread, I was having one this morning when I woke which had several parts. The main dream involved a strange situation in which when a bunch of objects were thrown on a table, they'd produce a particular distribution pattern. This was repeatable. After a while, when they were thrown on the table they'd arrange themselves in three dimensions, with most of them floating above the table. A researcher tried moving a few of them. This resulted in changing time at one particular point -- since each object had come to represent a particular person at that point, and moving the object moved the person in either time or space. This caused a huge temporal crisis at that point, and all sorts of weird things happened that I don't remember. I do remember explaining to Teresa that the story that we were currently living in, which involved this, was actually written by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, and that this explained just why it was as convoluted and dangerous (for the characters in it) as it was.

It was a very interesting dream to start off the New Year....

#779 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 02:25 AM:

xeger @ 691: That's really awful. You have my complete sympathies.

It sounds exactly like what killed our dear cat Newton last year, a tumor which had wrapped completely around his intestine constricting it; I felt terribly guilty for not having recognized sooner that he had virtually stopped eating. We only had a little over a week from when we finally noticed something was wrong until he died; we tried to make him feel as good as possible during that week, and it sounds like you did the same with yours.

#780 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 06:11 AM:

One aspect of slaughtering animals for meat is that putting the animal under stress reduces the quality of the meat. There are elements of modern farming which do not help with that. While a cow is a big beast, and can be dangerous if something scares it, even a well-run slaughterhouse can be drawing animals from a wide area, and the transport increases stress.

One argument for eating meat is that animals convert stuff we cannot eat, such as grass, into something we can eat. That isn't a universal. The modern factory farming methods depends on crops from land which will grow stuff we can eat.

And, despite all the advantages in quality and efficiency which come from treating livestock humanely, there are still businesses and people who don't get it. It is, I suppose, related to the sociopathic tendencies of corporatism.

#781 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 12:06 PM:

I learn from Scalzi that today is PNH's birthday. Happy birthday!

#782 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 12:17 PM:

Happy birthday, Patrick!

#783 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 12:31 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #773

See also: their decision, a few years ago, to put up one of their "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" billboards in January. In Toronto. I may have looked up at the smug model in her studio shot and screamed: "Liar! If you were here beside me right now and those were the only two options, you'd kill Bambi's mother with your bare hands!" Or I may only have wanted to scream that.

#784 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 12:36 PM:

Clifton @779

Cats don't tell you they're ill until things get very bad. I lost a big fluffy cat because he'd dropped from 15 to 8 pounds but it didn't show under all that fluff. He'd stopped jumping in my lap a couple of years prior, being highly offended that I'd brought another cat in the house, so I didn't feel how thin he'd gotten. I still feel a bit guilty about not paying attention, as it was a treatable condition if caught early.

#785 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 12:40 PM:

On a more cheerful note, happy birthday, Patrick.

Also, the "dire legal notice" only shows copyright thru 2012.

#786 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 06:24 PM:

Clifton #779, Lin Daniel #784: Cats don't tell you they're ill until things get very bad.

If then -- when they're sick or hurt, they actively hide it.

My Gremlin's death was a similar story to Lin's, in that she'd been quite fat for some time, had always been abundantly furry, and I wasn't in the habit of picking her up or carrying her around. I didn't notice when she stopped rolling over on her back... so I never saw the developing tumors on her belly, until it was much too late.

#787 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 06:25 PM:

And another Happy Birthday To Patrick!

#788 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 07:02 PM:

Happy Birthday Patrick!

#789 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 07:45 PM:

I hope everyone back east stays safe and warm.

I am glad I put hatch batteners in everyone's stockings last week!

#790 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 08:26 PM:

Is there a typography geek in the house?

I would be grateful for a little help with a question you will probably find not-very-interesting.

#791 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 08:50 PM:

Is there a typography geek in the house?

I would be grateful for a little help with a question you will probably find not-very-interesting.

#792 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 09:34 PM:

The first one looks like Garamond or, more generally, any old-style font. Caslon is another one,Palatino would be close, and I have one called 'High Tower Text' that's also close (Win7, Office2007Pro).

#793 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 10:34 PM:

The first one is definitely Century Old Style. I put some effort into researching that. Garamond is similar, but differences are notable in the lower case "a", and more subtly in the "g" and "u". (What's the name of the little stroke that comes out from the circle to the left on that style of lower-case "g"? That's the point of difference.)

I'd really like to know the name of the font used for the condensed bold headings such as "OF HUMAN MEMORY". Nothing I've been able to find is an exact match.

#794 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 10:43 PM:

Waist, I think. But I don't have anything immediately handy to check with.

#795 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 10:49 PM:

Might be Franklin Gothic Condensed, it's the nearest I can find.

#796 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 11:37 PM:

After some further research, looks like it's Alternate Gothic #1. Alternate Gothic is a condensed/bold version of Franklin Gothic.

#797 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 12:25 AM:

Happy birthday, Patrick!

#798 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 04:36 AM:

#760 ::: John A Arkansawyer
Bad argumentation on PETA's part, but I do see a difference in killing an animal to eat and killing an animal because it mildly inconvenienced you.

I see a difference as well, but it is not going to stop me buying some squirrel traps to start making a dent in my backyard population. I am tired of the damage they do to my yard.

#799 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 09:15 AM:

Xopher @ 765/Lee @ 766

I hate killing animals; I butchered my own for years, but I hate slaughtering. It's one of the reasons I don't hunt.

I'm curious if you'd include in "subsistence hunting" pest control. Foxes, for example--no one I know has any intention of eating them, but they can wipe out a flock of chickens in a couple nights (I lost several flocks to foxes and coons). I have no problem with killing foxes if they will otherwise eat animals you would eat.

#800 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 09:32 AM:

Mongoose @771: It might be of interest to you to know that the reason for testing of cosmetics is to prevent re-occurrences of the blinding caused by mascara. Please don't let the seeming triviality of cosmetics fool you into thinking nothing serious could happen if the wrong substance gets into an eye.

That said, I do understand your reluctance to impose painful or potentially painful conditions on test animals. All testing in the US and UK is strictly regulated, meaning that it must pass an approval process designed to weed out the trivial or meaningless repetitive studies.

My job is to ensure that animals are free of pain or distress, unless it is specifically justified and approved (which is rare, and adds extra monitoring); that all personnel who handle animals are properly trained in scientific and husbandry techniques; and that all studies are properly monitored (before, during, and after the approval process). We have a lot of regulations in the US, and I understand the UK is much more tightly regulated. This all adds up to better research in the long run.

I'm not saying you're wrong to have reservations, only that you might not have all the information in this regard. I hope this helps allay any concerns you may have about animal research, whether it's medical or cosmetic, but I understand if you remain concerned about the appropriateness of such testing. It's always worthwhile to take the time to listen to people's concerns, and to educate rather than argue.

#801 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 09:46 AM:

SamChevre #799: apparently, some Chinese Wal-Mart customers had no intention of eating fox meat either. However ..

#802 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 10:19 AM:

SamChevre @799, for me that's not something where I could say I'm okay with it on anything other than a case-by-case basis; while in your case I'm sympathetic the difference between your situation and ranchers shooting endangered wolves because of fears that they might attack calves (where my sympathy is entirely with the wolves) is one of degree, not of kind.

#803 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 11:21 AM:

AKICIML, frozen North division: Is there something one can use on snow shovels so that snow doesn't cake on them? Some kind of spray, perhaps?

#804 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 11:23 AM:

me (803): Oh, wait, looks like cooking spray or WD-40 should work. I don't have the former, but I should have some of the latter around here somewhere.

#805 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 11:25 AM:

When I hit Preview on #804, NoScript threw up a warning. (#803 was fine.) (And so was the preview on this one.)

#806 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 11:38 AM:

Mary Aileen: I was going to tell you that Pam cooking spray was traditional, but your google search beat me to it.

I'm posting this mostly to see if that warning shows up.

#807 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 11:40 AM:

No warning here, in spite of using NoScript.

#808 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 11:52 AM:

Mary Aileen @803 You can also rub wax on the (dry) shovel - easiest with a block of wax, but you could use a candle in a pinch.

#809 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 12:16 PM:

Beeswax is fairly soft, and you can get a ring of it (or possibly another soft wax; haven't checked lately, but they USED to be beeswax) cheap at hardware stores. Look in the plumbing department. It's used to make a seal between the toilet and the floor and costs a buck or two.

In any case, it's wax, it's soft, and it's inexpensive. Though not as easy as WD-40 or Pam.


#810 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 12:52 PM:

OtterB (808)/Cally Soukup (809): Wax sounds good; I'll have to look for that. Thanks for the tip.

I'm guessing the NoScript problem was related to my link in #803, since none of my other comments (with no links) have had a problem.

#811 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 01:56 PM:

Ginger, my understanding is that the argument against animal testing for cosmetics is twofold:

1. There are better methods of testing that are more reliable for human safety than animal testing, but animal testing is still required by law and/or regulation. (I have heard this but have no idea whether it's actually true.)

2. Since cosmetics are not essential, it's not worth having them AT ALL if you have to test them on animals; in this view, if mascara can't be allowed without animal testing, "ban mascara" is a better solution than "do animal testing."

If the facts in #1 are true, then only an outmoded regulatory regimen is still mandating animal testing, and the place to fix that is the legislature and/or appropriate regulatory agency. I have a certain amount of sympathy with #2, but that's partly because I hate makeup, on pretty much anyone (barring concealment for disfigurement, which a) I won't do for myself and b) doesn't generally involve mascara), so my esthetic influences my politics there. I certainly wouldn't go so far as to ban mascara on those grounds alone!

At any rate, cosmetics are quite unlike medicines. The balance of good and harm works out much differently.

#812 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 02:43 PM:

If I'm wanting to keep the attention of a group, theatrical emphasis of my eyes helps (I rarely wear makeup).

I read that eyeliner does the same job as mascara for an audience further than three or four feet out.

When I verified this (thirty years ago?!), I kept my eyeliner and threw out my mascara.

#813 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 02:55 PM:

Xopher @811: Number 1 is not correct, although it is something researchers do hope for, someday. There's no scientific substitution for animal testing yet. In addition, all food, drugs, and cosmetics are still required to undergo safety testing, per regulation. It's not just mascara, although that's one example of what can go very wrong.

Number 2 is certainly a reasonable alternative, although I would point out that banning things generally leads to criminal activity. I'd rather campaign against the use of mascara (or other items that require testing where people are more concerned for the animals due to potential pain/distress issues); the power of social disapproval against using these items would -- or so it seems to me -- be a better method of sanctioning them*. Finally, I think people would prefer to use alternatives that didn't require animal testing to prove safety. Of course, YMMV.

*Disclaimer: I don't wear any makeup at all. WYSIWYG.

#814 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 03:00 PM:

Elseweb I have just had occasion to tell someone that his high-school girlfriend Echo said hello. "Actually," I said, "she said HELLO HELLO HELLO Hello hello, but I summarized."

Ginger, good to know that about regulation. Next time I hear that argument I'll challenge it. And yep on the criminal activity...but if mascara is banned it's REAL EASY to enforce it!

#815 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 03:11 PM:

Whenever I see a cosmetic product (and I'm including things like shampoos, skin lotions, etc) that advertises some novel ingredient/scent/etc and also claims "not animal tested" I always wonder how they know it's safe? Was it tested on humans?

But with "all natural" and "not animal tested" as key words, I bet I could sell a skin cream made with "all natural urushiol" -- until the FDA rightfully shut me down.

#816 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 05:14 PM:

On reading Avram's link about array indexing, I could not help but be struck by the similarity in structure of a couple of narratives in the comp sci community: the one the author seemed to be engaging with wrt array indexing (things are the way they are because it's rational, and we don't have to look any deeper than that), and the typical narrative about gender imbalance in CS (things are the way they are because it's rational, do you hear me, and we can't do anything about it). I'm not sure if that was the author's (or Avram's, for that matter) intent, but it's interesting nonetheless.

#817 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 06:51 PM:

#813 ::: Ginger
There's no scientific substitution for animal testing yet. In addition, all food, drugs, and cosmetics are still required to undergo safety testing, per regulation.

How do some cosmetic/beauty products avoid animal testing? Is it by use of only ingredients that were tested in some previous cosmetic and so only products using a novel chemical need to do testing? Or do they have some other workaround?

#818 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 08:03 PM:

Mishalak @817: It's my understanding that using previously-tested compounds does relieve them from additional testing. Those ingredients fall under a "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) category.

#819 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 08:29 PM:

Conservative NC city council member resigns. In Klingon. Fans really have taken over the world, haven't we? Even though the mayor was not amused, I am.

#820 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 09:47 PM:

In my family, we have an official Birthday Song, which I created using necessity and parts of the dead body of William Tell. It goes a little like this:

Happy birthday yesterday!
Happy birthday yesterday!
Happy birthday yesterday!
HAPP-y birthday yes-ter-day!

Happy happy happy happy
Happy birthday yesterday!
Happy happy happy happy
Happy birthday yesterday!…"

Repeat, or not. Needless to say, this one goes out to Patrick.

#821 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 12:06 AM:

My copy of Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett has this line on the cover:

"Not tested on animals. You'll be the first!"

I think that pretty much sums it up...

#822 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 01:28 AM:

Trying to shake loose an "Internal Server Error" post.

#823 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 01:29 AM:

Aaand this time it didn't work, so re-posting.

SamChevre, #799: Killing pest animals isn't the same thing as killing them for fun, so that doesn't slot into the same space as hunting at all for me. (With, however, a similar caveat to lorax @802.) In fact, culling deer herds counts much the same way even if the hunter doesn't take the meat.

The particular combination that makes me twitchy about "what's this one going to do next?" is (1) killing for personal enjoyment (2) because they can (3) in a deliberately inhumane way. Xopher's original example, Mr. Ran-Over-The-Ducks, definitely hits all three of those points.

Tom, #819: That's hilarious! But I must take issue with the mayor's response. In the list of things that can be described as "an embarrassment to North Carolina", this isn't even a footnote to a footnote.

#824 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 07:09 AM:

SamChevre #799, lorax #802: There are basically two sorts of "pest control". One is fending off opportunistic invasion, as exemplified by cockroach, mouse, or rat control. But the other basically amounts to a crowding problem: We've staked out territory that used to belong to, e.g., wolves or foxes, or else their population is trying to expand into our territory.

Technical solutions for crowding are fundamentally limited -- the animals are smart enough that passive defenses like fences aren't enough. Humans do have the greater power, so we get to decide what we're willing to put up with, and how harshly we will enforce our boundaries.

#825 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 09:27 AM:

Dave Harmon: the use of guardian animals (e.g. donkeys, llamas) can cut down on the need for killing coyotes, foxes etc.

Of course, this may also run into the "no-kill shelter" problem: if your farm is guarded, the foxes and coyotes may just move over to the neighbor's farm where there are no guardians, and give your neighbor the task of shooting them.

#826 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 10:47 AM:

Keep sendin' 'em down the road until they get to the coyote shelter.

#827 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 786, Clifton #779, Lin Daniel #784 ...
My Gremlin's death was a similar story to Lin's, in that she'd been quite fat for some time, had always been abundantly furry, and I wasn't in the habit of picking her up or carrying her around. I didn't notice when she stopped rolling over on her back... so I never saw the developing tumors on her belly, until it was much too late.

It's so easy to see changes with hindsight -- but we live with them every day, and it's much, much harder to notice gradual changes (the apocryphal boiling frog story, for example).

#828 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 04:03 PM:

Ginger @ 800: thank you - that is both helpful and reassuring.

My aunt, who visits Nepal whenever she can, brought back a packet of organic cinnamon tea which she gave me as a Christmas present. I'm sure it would do my cold good, but I haven't yet been able to muster the courage to try it.

It's the instructions on the label, you see. They read as follows:

Best Preparing Tea: First boiled the water and then put one teaspoon of tea leaves for each cup into the pot. Pour the just boiled water into the pot. Let the tea leaves screw for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar if necessary to taste.

You know, that is more than I ever wanted to know about the habits of tea leaves.

#829 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 05:38 PM:

Mongoose #828: that is more than I ever wanted to know about the habits of tea leaves.

Or cinnamon leaves? Maybe that's why the bark's so curly...

#830 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 06:12 PM:

Home safe, with trip far less troublous than it might have been for (a) flying into an airport experiencing snow (b) with a not-quite-5yo kid. Which is to say, there were annoyances and frustrations, but OH it could have been SO much worse.

Especially since our house experienced ~12" of snow while we were gone. Our next-door neighbors with whom we are friendly have also been out of town since the 26th, but their grandpa (who lives on the next block up) has clearly been snowblowing their walks and their driveway (which goes to our side door -- convenient!) and OUR walks too. Or, at any rate, someone was, and he's a good candidate.

John's out at the garage now seeing how bad the alley is; if it's reasonably simple to get the car out we may go retrieve the dogs tonight. If there's going to be a lot of shovelling they can stay 'at camp' till tomorrow.

One new-to-me travel annoyance came at the beginning. Toronto's Island Airport (Billy Bishop is its proper name, or YTZ) is a very short piece of Lake Ontario away from shore. They're digging a pedestrian tunnel, but it won't be done until next-summerish, so the main access is still via a very short ferry ride. This means on most trips to see Beka's grandparents, we take a taxi (or a train) to an airplane to a boat to a car (or bus), which is exciting and multimodal.

However, today, there were high winds and massive chop, so the passenger level of the ferry (on top) was closed on the grounds that even a few-minute crossing would probably lead to unacceptable seasickness prevalence. This means that all the people crossing to and from the airport did so on foot, on the car level ... exposed to the elements. It was taking a really long time to load and unload, so there were about a third as many ferry trips as usual, leading to long waits and congestion-based inefficiencies on both sides.

Luckily, on our trip, a large charter bus was heading to the island empty, so the port authority workers decided all small children (and necessary attendant adults) got to ride in the bus, for shelter from the cold and wind.

So today we rode a bus ON a boat to get to the airplane. And I didn't have to continually remind my daughter not to huck her Cabbage Patch baby doll over the railing into the lake, for which oh so much thanks. :->

#831 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 07:00 PM:

Netflix Quantum Theory

The vexing, remarkable conclusion is that when companies combine human intelligence and machine intelligence, some things happen that we cannot understand.
#832 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 03:09 AM:

Elliot Mason @830

That airport story may make it into one of my tales, though warped beyond all human recognition.

#833 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 11:17 AM:

Found this linkwalking: How to give your kids everything but a sense of entitlement.

I think she might be a bit confused between "gratitude" and "investment", but there's some interesting bits in there. Responding to picky eating by involving the kids in food prep, also strange "games" at a Lego store....

#834 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 12:11 PM:


The "Tiger Mom" lady is now touting cultural superiority theories.


#835 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 12:30 PM:

Antonia T. Tiger @830: And welcome to it. :->

#836 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 01:00 PM:

Impressively, enough snow fell overnight in my area of Chicago that it was hard to tell that the sidewalks were clear with only scant loose powder 24 hours ago. The forecast map had us in the 1-3" area, but it looks more like we got 2d5 or so.

The snow is due to keep falling (it's still going) until sixish in the evening, at which point the wind will pick up and the temperature will fall off the table. John's out shovelling "while I still can," as he says; our neighbor's dad is out front already with the snowblower doing their long driveway. We have a hand-me-down snowthrower (John calls it 'the electric shovel'), but it's already too deep for ours; our neighbor's dad clearly has a more oomphy (and gas-powered, so cordless) model, since it's biting into nearly knee-high berms with abandon.

Still not as impressive as these ones (which dig paths like this in a nature reserve in Japan), but the day we need one of THOSE in Chicago is still, I hope, far off. (hint for non-clickers: if you have to use a long-armed digger to bring the snow DOWN to where your thrower can reach it? You have a LOT of snow)

I'll take it day by day (depending on her sleep, my awakeness, and the morning's conditions), but we may well be taking advantage of the Chicago Public School's policy of allowing any absences Monday to be automatically 'excusable', as the high is slated to be -8. Fahrenheit. And it's supposed to hit that peak about 9AM ... Probably a good idea to stay indoors all day, especially as there will be wind chills down into the -50s Fahrenheit.

#838 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 02:09 PM:


Elliott: BRRRRRRR!

#839 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 02:21 PM:

Elliott Mason @836,

Re: really tall drifts -- the most I've had to deal with here in the Chicago suburbs is about a 4' snowdrift (that's about a meter and a quarter). I have a heavy-duty dual impeller snowblower. (Funny story; a year after we bought it there was an early-season heavy wet snow; I was sailing along clearing my driveway and the neighbor was stopping every five feet to clear his snowblower. When I finished my driveway, I went over to clear his (he'd made virtually no progress) and he asked what make and model I had; the next day a delivery truck rolled up to his door....)

Right, anyway, a few years back we had 4' snowdrifts in my driveway after an 18" snowstorm. My snowblower handled it fine, but the intake chute is only 18" high, so I had to tunnel into the drift, pull back, let it collapse (or help it to collapse), tunnel into the drift... lather, rinse, repeat. But it was still SO much easier than doing it with a shovel.


#840 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 02:33 PM:

Odd electrical question: I've been looking at lamps online; most of them say something like "takes up to a 60 watt incandescent bulb or 15 watt compact fluorescent". Presumably the thinking is that those are roughly equivalent in terms of lumens. But is there any particular reason one couldn't use a stronger CFL bulb, as long as it's less than 60 watts? I can't think why not, but I don't know much about such things so I could easily be missing something.

#841 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 02:48 PM:

I can't think of any reason why you couldn't put a brighter CFL or LED light in the lamp; as far as I know the "60 watt" rating is mostly because of the wiring, and also sometimes because of the heat that the bulb puts out. CFLs and LEDs are not going to overload the wiring, nor are they going to scorch your shades. Sounds like someone got equivalent-unit happy, and didn't stop to think. The only problem you might have is space considerations, but if you can fit it in there, I'd say you're good.

#842 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 02:51 PM:

Cally Soukup (841): Thanks. That's what I thought.

#843 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 03:06 PM:

Mary Aileen:

I've been using 23w "100w"-equivalent CF bulbs in many of our 60w lamp fixtures for quite a few years now with no problems. Less than half the juice and nearly twice the brightness, what's not to like?

If there is no ventilation at all around the base - where most of the heat comes from in the CF bulbs - I suppose they could get a little hot, but generally I don't think that's likely to be an issue since overall they'd be putting out less heat than a normal incandescent.

#844 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 03:18 PM:

Mary Aileen at 840: My understanding is that, like Cally Soukup said at 841, it's mostly a power draw and heat dissipation issue. I wouldn't worry about it - a 43W CFL is going to draw less power than a 60W incandescent, and will (I'd guess) still put out less heat. The only issue I've had with CFLs is that some of the big ones (the 23W ones and larger) don't quite fit in the same space as the incandescents, but it's usually doable, if a bit tight. We've got a couple of big floor lamps that take 2x 150W incandescents each, and 2x 23W CFLs just *barely* fit.

#845 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 03:43 PM:

Something you probably already know: don't put CFL bulbs into a dim-able fixture unless they're specifically dim-able bulbs, or unless you always and only leave the fixture on "high". They make a godawful smell when they let the magic smoke out....

#846 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 04:31 PM:

Clifton (843)/Benjamin (844): Thanks. I've used 23 watt CFLs in a ceiling fixture rated at 60 watts max with no problems; it makes sense that it would be the same with a lamp. As Cally said, sounds like someone got equivalent-unit happy with the lamp descriptions.

#847 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 05:48 PM:

Stefan 834: Abusive parent, and now racist bigot Amy Chua can bite my ass. I hope her kids a) survive, b) avoid being an asshole like her, and c) never speak to her after they become independent adults.

#848 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 05:51 PM:

(I wondered what my tweeps were going on about, and now I know. I thought she was a jerk when she published that Tiger Mom bullshit (basically a guide to emotionally abusing your children until they don't dare do anything other than exactly what you want). Now she's much, much worse.)

#849 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 07:56 PM:

While they are considerably more pricey, LED lights come in "dimmer compatible" models.

I outfitted my kitchen's recessed ceiling fixtures with these; Costco had a "deal" last winter. Being able to illuminate the kitchen to "blazing" levels using only 64 watts is kind of a kick!

#850 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 08:21 PM:

For years I've felt the most wonderfully overblown ad ever made was the one that Stan Freeberg did for Campbell's The Great American Soups, featuring Ann Miller, a ton of tap-dancers, a wad of cash for that time, and a total lack of the sponsor's name. (Sorry Glee: nice try though, and if we had cable I'd consider watching you just because of this ad.) I've finally seen an ad that puts Freeberg's soup ad to shame.

A bit of background: I gather that Kirin Beer has had the reputation in Japan of being a sort of "Animal Beer." (Budweiser recently cut a deal to brew it for the U.S. market, if that's a clue.) In an attempt to advertise their way out of the situation they've been doing a series of ads under the campaign slogan "NODOGOSHI DREAM OF DREAMS" in which folks write in their dream and Kirin makes them come true: Salaryman goes into the ring with a Sumo wrestler and that sort of thing. Japan still uses the 15 second ad, but I understand that the majority of the "Dream of Dream" ads were in the 30 second category. At least they were until Kazuhiro Ishida wrote in with his list. I would love to have been in on the meetings for this: I imagine the discussion before they decided "Screw the expense and film it all" must have been epic. There are three versions: a 6+ minute version with finished wirework which was given a theatrical premiere and which I have been unable to find with subtitles, the 3 minute version above, which I lead with because it has The List, and a 1 minute version which must have been done to try to recap the expenses somehow. Sales are supposed to have climbed to #1 in Japan, which only seems fair.

#851 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 08:40 PM:

Correcting to be polite: one e in "Freberg".

#852 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 09:04 PM:

Elliot @ 836:

Cincinnati appears to be scheduled for the same weather system a few hours after you're subjected to it. On the plus side, it should have stopped snowing by morning rush hour. On the minus side, that's probably going to be the warm point of the day.

Since I need to be physically present in the office tomorrow, I have made myself a new piece of outerwear. Essentially, it's an overskirt, designed to be worn under my parka but over everything else from the waist down to my ankles. The outer layer is rip-stop nylon (for wind and water resistance) while the inner layer is polar fleece (for warmth). The whole thing seals in the front with velcro running the whole length. We'll see how effective it actually is tomorrow.

In HLN, local woman continues to adjust to using her new tablet for most things. "Typing's not the easiest, and I want to keep some things on a real computer, but it is nice not to have to wait for the laptop to boot up just to surf." Other reports say that by "surf", local woman actually means "read fanfic and look at pictures of cats".

#853 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 09:47 PM:

Bruce @ #850, that commercial is amazing!

#854 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 10:07 PM:

Bruce @ #850

I like the Freberg commercial for prunes, guest-starring Ray Bradbury.

#855 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 10:15 PM:

I really, really dislike the low-spoon symptom, "not accurately making short-term memories." It means when I'm tired, stressed, or repeatedly interrupted too much, I can pick up something Important to go do something Important with it, and hours later discover that I have no idea where it is, because somewhere earlier I was walking around with one hand full and needed a spare hand, so the object was placed somewhere with no record made of even the fact that it was put down.

In potentially unrelated news, now I don't know where my tablet is. And I'd sure like to have it to go to sleep with tonight ...

Off to go look in all the places with Likelihood Indexes in the first three tiers, again, since checking the fridge and other Likelihood Index 4 (fairly unlikely) options has turned up empty.

#856 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 10:27 PM:

Better linky
(yours linked to comment 850, not the video!)

#857 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 11:32 PM:

Singing Wren - In Portsmouth, I'm a couple hours behind you. Last time I looked out it was still raining and in the 40's, but the wind is getting noisy and it's supposed to drop to 9 or so degrees by morning. I deliberately overheated the house today to hopefully get through the next couple reasonably comfortably.

#858 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 11:32 PM:

Singing Wren @852: Colorado is on the western edge of that system, so we're not getting the liquid nitrogen spritz the same way you are. Nevertheless, the temp tomorrow at 7am is supposed to be on the order of 0°. I'm feeling a burning need to get some exercise; e.g., walk to work.

My plan: normal shirt and pants. Sweat pants over pants. Full length caftan over this. Regular under-parka warmy shirt over caftan. Extra warmy shirt over that. Parka. Regular headband over ears. (Maybe parka hood over this.) Extra scarf over ears and neck. Hijab-oid cloth over head and torso.

Back-up plan: the bus.

#859 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2014, 11:35 PM:

Oh yeah and: this is the one time of year I could really dig having a burqa.

#860 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 12:54 AM:

It's cold in Minneapolis. And the lights are flickering again. We lost power the other night. Let's hope it stays on tonight.

#861 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 06:55 AM:

Elliott Mason #855: Might be a little late for the occasion, but if it's an iPad you can use "Where's my iPad" from the Apple site to make the device get noisy. There may be an equivalent for Android, I don't know much about how that side works.

#862 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 07:00 AM:

Also, XKCD has a strip for the gnomes (and mods). Regex golf, and meta-levels thereof.

#863 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 01:51 PM:

Elliott, I hope your tablet turned up. I can't count the number of times I've lost my cellphone in the house and had to use the landline to find it. (My phone plays "The Exorcist" theme -- not because I like it, but because it gets my attention.)

Fibro does the same thing to my short-term memory. I've reached the stage that when I do something, I write it down. I have a little calendar I take everywhere with me, and a Dayrunner at home that I write everything I might need to remember in it (Like when the dogs had their last rabies shot and the number on the rabies tag, for I know that the dog will lose the tag before three years are up, and one has to enter the tag number every year when you get the dogs new licenses.)

It makes me feel SO stupid -- it wouldn't hurt so much if I didn't know that once upon a time I didn't need to do this...(grinds teeth in frustration).

#864 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 02:02 PM:

Is there an app for making cleverly-hidden-before-vacation thumb drives shout out their location?

#865 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 02:11 PM:

#863 ::: Lori Coulson re: short-term memory loss

You're not stupid. On the contrary, you're wise to have noticed that it's happening and to have programmed your work-around.

The more you need it, the longer and stronger the habit of using it will be.

Most of us will have our brains go wonky if we live long enough. Feels like a definite win from here.

#866 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 02:19 PM:

I wasn't sure whether to bother posting this, but Carol #865 tipped the balance. Today, a lot of my last few years' frustration with life seems to be summed up in a song from my youth: Look what they've done to my song, Ma.

#867 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 02:20 PM:

Sunday I was fixing the weed-whacker* shaft, for values of fixing which include hacksawing off the frozen portion of the spool head so I could replace it with a new spool.** I was using my cheap and handy hemostat to pull some crud out of the joint in the shaft. Ten minutes later I wanted it again and it was gone, even though I had never left the work area. Usually this just means I put something down in the wrong place and put something else on top of it, but when I had cleared up the work area and put all the tools and parts away, it was still gone. Arrgh! It was only a couple bucks but occasionally it is incredibly useful - there are good reasons I keep it with the ratchet set. So yes, vanishing items.***

My grandmother had a tongue-in-cheek theory that in such cases the items fall through a wormhole in space-time and may eventually fall back out again, and this is why they turn up a week later in plain view. It seems as good an explanation as most. I hope the wormhole your tablet fell into is of shorter duration.

* Yes, I'm trying to deal with overgrown grass and weeds for the New Year while most of you are dealing with X feet of snow and wind-chill. That's just part of the dharma of living in the tropics.
** This didn't actually work because the captive bolt on the new head turned out to have a different thread pitch than the widget on the end of the shaft which it needs to screw into, and I couldn't readily get the old widget off to screw the new widget on; both of these have reverse threads, so they're not easily substituted. Arrgh again! Either more reflection and ingenuity or much more hacksawing will be needed to avoid replacing the whole thing, preferably the former.
*** And in fact I know that somewhere we should have an entire other weed-whacker shaft which could be plugged in to replace this one. Where did it go and how could something that size not be obvious, even in the mess under the house? Arrgh x3! I have no idea. And yet I think I have a unusually good memory in many respects; it's just that keeping track of objects doesn't seem to be one of them.

#868 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 02:42 PM:

Question, O assembled literary beings: are the microbes in Wells's War of the Worlds an example of a deus ex machina? How about Tolkien's eagles? Is Tolkien's "eucatastrophe" simply a synonym for a "good" deus ex machina? Inquiring critics of the relevant Wikipedia articles would like to know.

#869 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 02:43 PM:

David -

And this has reminded me of a poem whose attribution (and possibly line order) is lost in my misty past:

Baba Yaga sits in my chair,
Drinking my tea,
Reading my books,
Writing my poems.

I believe the poet was met at a MileHiCon back in the 80s. I've got a fairly good visual of her, an older woman with an odd disorder that made her skin a dusky blue, but that's it. Elizabeth ... (?)

#870 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 03:10 PM:

867: Our household's term for that is "Zen Cosmic Sinkhole."

#871 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 03:15 PM:

Carol Kimball (869): Evangeline Walton?

[Once again NoScript tried to filter this on Preview. Almost certainly something about the presence of a link, since that's the common element between this time and last time.]

#872 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 03:42 PM:

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Thank you!!!

#873 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 03:45 PM:

Stefan Jones at 864: "Is there an app for making cleverly-hidden-before-vacation thumb drives shout out their location?"

Of course there is--Santa gave one to a family member this year. However, you do need to attach a tag (about nickel-sized) to the item you want your smartphone to find and that's not very practical since you probably can't predict what you're going to lose. One suggestion on the package was attaching the tag to your cat's collar--useful if you have a cat that's clever at vanishing.

#874 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 04:16 PM:

I'm not quite sure how you define it, but both the eagles and the microbes do just show up out of nowhere to save the day. I guess one difference is that microbes are commonplace things which you already knew were there, whereas the eagles are somehow giant eagles capable of lifting dwarves, hobbits, and one wizard. But Tolkien is *full* of surprising stuff that shows up around the next corner, which saves the day or plunges the party into danger, and then kinda vanishes off the horizon: Rivendell, Goblins, Wargs, Eagles, Bjorn, Spiders, Wood Elves, the thrush and Bard, Tom Bombadil[1], Glorfindel, Gandalf coming back, Yet Another Really Big Spider, that ghost city that owed Aragorn's ancestors something, the palintirs, etc. A big part of the fun of his writing is that you're wandering through this huge, rich world full of ancient, powerful, freaky, unimagined stuff, which you just happen across every now and then.

[1] Who really did seem to be some kind of pagan god of the woods or something, married to a river goddess of some kind.

#875 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 04:19 PM:


Around here that's the "Sentient Black Hole" -- it always eats what you're looking for (that's why you can't find it), and sometimes coughs up an item you stopped looking for many moons ago instead of the one you want.

The only reliable way of getting it to regurgitate whatever it has eaten is to acquire another of the item that has disappeared. Once you bring the duplicate into the house, the missing one reappears.

865 Carol, thank you! I needed that.

#876 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 04:19 PM:

Contradicting David Goldfarb in #851, just to be polite:

Two E's in "Freberg."

#877 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 04:22 PM:

875: we absolutely have one of those Sentient Black Holes. Last thing it held onto until we bought a replacement was a set of needle-nosed pliers.

#878 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 04:41 PM:

re 874: It's a little harder for me to argue the Tolkien examples, but Well's microbes are, after all, the whole point of the story. Wells could perhaps be accused of inadequate foreshadowing, but there's nothing intrusive about the way the bugs appear. They don't fix the plot where it's broken; they are where the plot has been headed all along.

My standard default example in a modern work is the way Dr. Manhattan functions in the conclusion of Watchmen. His sudden decision, and his omnipotence, are all that make the story end the way it does; but since his character is essentially arbitrary, and he has tended to be a passive actor for a very long time in the story, I can never get past the reading that Moore forced that decision upon the character because he didn't have another way to keep the plot from going off in a different direction, so the blue guy is invoked just as if he were in Euripides.

#879 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 04:55 PM:

That explained the three glass cutters my father had - one of them was buried in sawdust under the bench saw.

#880 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 05:03 PM:

Bill@876: :-P

Okay, yeah, but not together. (Also: two not three.)

#881 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 05:12 PM:

albatross 874: My theory is that Bombadil is a chthonic deity, which is why he can't leave that little area. It's not just none of his business what happens off in Gondor etc., he physically can't leave, and probably can't think about distant events for too long.

Lori 875: The only reliable way of getting it to regurgitate whatever it has eaten is to acquire another of the item that has disappeared. Once you bring the duplicate into the house, the missing one reappears.

If the item is part of a pair, or a two-part larger item, getting rid of the other part also works, though there is a delay in that case for trash collection. For example, I had ONE GLOVE that I finally discarded, at which point the other glove reappeared; after not being able to find the top of my music stand, I discarded the base, at which point the top rematerialized.

This is what leads to my tendency to NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY, which is what means that I may end my life in a pile of left gloves, music stand bases, and the lids of refrigerator containers that no longer exist.

Fanfic on the general form of "The Game of Blood and Dust" is left as an exercise for the reader.

Much less amusingly, yet another loudmouthed Russian shithead has been making horrifically violent proposals about what to do with gay people. Trigger Warning for abi and perhaps others on this.

I really, really hate these people. I reserve my truly violent wrath for the people who've been carrying out their wishes, rather than the stochastic terrorists themselves...much as I hope they get their karma too.

#882 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 05:31 PM:

Regarding disappearing stuff: Yeah, that's my life. I also see odd variations at the bookstore: I often joke that we need dimensional pockets to fit in all our books, but then I keep finding half a shelf of "old" books (shelved ten and twenty years ago) in a section I weeded last month, and I wonder if we already have them.

And then there's the ordinary store stuff... like customers who carry around a book, decide they don't want it, and stick it onto the shelves in another section. On another floor. When we're being polite, we call those folks "gremlins".

#883 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 06:33 PM:

C Wingate @868, 878, albatross @874,

I see the microbes in The War of the Worlds as a deus ex machina because they solve the issue where the protagonists could not, never mind that that was where the story was heading.

To some extent the same is true of Tolkien's eagles, but in this case the protagonists have already accomplished their primary quest successfully, and getting out alive afterwards is (very) nice to have, rather than the point of it all.

The way Tolkien defines "eucatastrophe" in On Fairy Stories is quite different to all this. It relies on things turning out all right in the end, but not on how come they turned out all right. A final success based entirely on the protagonist's known abilities, and perhaps a smidgen of luck, can still lead to eucatastrophe.

J Homes.

#884 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 06:34 PM:

A friend and I used to have a wormhole. It was so long ago that I can't remember exactly what it was that went down it, but certainly there was something that kept disappearing at one end and appearing at the other. Something like rubber bands, or paper clips, or that kind of thing.

Now if we could only have harnessed it, it would have been really useful, since it went between Sheffield and Edinburgh. The rail fares are quite preposterous!

#885 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 06:58 PM:

I went and bought* four more thumb drives. I plan on writing down their "I'm away on vacation" location on a note and posting it in plain site. But the location will be in the form a clever riddle of some sort that only I will know.

If I die during the trip, this will hopefully provide my heirs with some entertaining puzzle solving.

* For those in Oregon / Southern WA: 16 GB, $9.99 at Fred Meyer. Which is pretty good deal yah?

#886 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 07:12 PM:

My tablet reappeared (embarrassingly right next to where I last remembered having it, in plain sight on top of a flat clear surface), and as a bonus, I now have somewhere to go with the kid tomorrow to get her thoroughly tired out and me some actual grownup conversation!

Which is good, as the schools are closed again tomorrow, and so is the YMCA where we would otherwise have had her first swim lesson of the new session.

Apparently one of the 'scheduled' activities is taking bubble liquid out in the yard and blowing bubbles to watch them freeze, which sounds like a hoot and a half -- as long as performed right near a house all kids can flee into for warming in between. :->

#887 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 07:34 PM:

Elliott, is it possible that someone took it and put it somewhere "safe," then moved it back when they realized?

In any case, glad you found it.

#888 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 08:04 PM:

Carol Kimball: Do you know if that poem was published anywhere? A friend of my wife's would absolutely love a copy.

#889 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 08:19 PM:

Lori, #863: My cellphone's default ringtone is also "Tubular Bells", because I do like it. For a while it was the theme from GalaxyQuest, but that one didn't cut thru ambient noise as well as it needed to, and I'd miss calls when I was in a loud environment. The chimes are more noticeable as well as pretty.

Carol, #864: Most of us will have our brains go wonky if we live long enough.

Amen, sister! I now have the same kind of cheesecloth memory that I used to laugh at my friend Dan for having. I have some decent work-arounds, but it's still really, really annoying.

C. Wingate, #868: Off the top of my head, I would disallow Wells. The idea that alien life would have trouble with our bacteria is something that makes logical sense -- it doesn't just come out of nowhere, which is one of my criteria for deus ex machina. Tolkien's Eagles come closer, although they are at least slightly foreshadowed in The Hobbit and there is some mention of the fact that Gandalf is on friendly terms with their leader.

Elliott, #866: If it were as cold here as it is up there, I would absolutely go outside and blow bubbles to watch them freeze. That sounds like amazing fun, at least for a few minutes!

Speaking of things being lost, I seem to have lost a post to this thread from the early afternoon. No need to go looking -- what that generally means is that I went to the preview page and then got interrupted and backpaged without actually having hit Post. And it wasn't important enough to warrant reconstructing.

#890 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 08:24 PM:

Xopher: I only wish. It was me, in my morning no-brain, and then me again unable to see it despite checking the general area repeatedly.

In re Fun Things To Do In Too-Cold Weather, our local freebie rag has a columnist posting neat videos. From home, because he didn't go in to work today (see: dangerously cold). He froze vodka, among other things.

There are also amusements under the #Chiberia tag on the birdie-place.

#891 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 08:55 PM:

#888 ::: Clifton [...] Do you know if that poem was published anywhere? A friend of my wife's would absolutely love a copy.

I've never been able to find it. It's definitely by Evangeline Walton. If anyone can turn up documentation please let us know! I found several of her books of fiction on line after Mary Aileen set us straight, but no poetry.


Photos of the frozen bubbles? I've never heard of this, it's tickling me beyond measure.

#892 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2014, 09:20 PM:

A google image search on

frozen soap bubble
turns up all kinds of beauty; a regular google search gives instructables and videos.

#893 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 01:18 AM:

Carol: If you've never read her quadralogy retelling the Maginogion, you should; it's amazing.

#894 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 01:34 AM:

Clifton: I was waffling about it, now I definitely will.

#895 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 06:56 AM:

Elliott Mason #890: I only wish. It was me, in my morning no-brain, and then me again unable to see it despite checking the general area repeatedly.

Totally been there. I've developed tricks to try and "reset my eyes" to get around that sort of block. Mostly just things like closing my eyes for a few seconds, or trying to shift as far as I can toward "soft"/wide-angle vision.

#896 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 10:23 AM:

Dr Manhattan solving the plot problems by fiat seems more like a god *inside* the machine. Though I thought the movie had a more plausible and well-thought-out ending than the book did.

#897 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 01:20 PM:

albatross @ 896... I thought I was the only person who thought that the movie's ending tied things up better than the comic-book did.

#898 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Nice short post on the impact of misogyny on the internet by Connor Friedersdorf. The article also describes privilege without using the word at all--pointing out how Friedersdorf had simply had no idea what kind of messages prominent women often received online until he guest-blogged for Megan McArdle.

#899 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 01:44 PM:

The "write things down when you do them" OR "write down anything you may need to remember" came from one of Tom Clancy's books, "Debt of Honor" I think.

The key to the solution of the problem presented in the plot is the behavior of Ryan's wife, who is a surgeon, who often says, If you don't write it down, it didn't happen.

I happened to read that when my memory problems were in their infancy and thought, "Ok, I CAN do that!" But I still miss being able to get to the information without the work-around.

#900 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 02:16 PM:

re 896: I haven't seen the movie, but it seemed to me in the book that Dr. M suddenly switched at that point from doing things because Jon felt like doing them to doing one particular thing because Alan Moore needed him to do it.

#901 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 03:33 PM:

(Winking into existence, Hi All!)

A loosing-of-small-necessary-things sentient black hole lives at my house, too; like my wretched driveway it's almost certainly a family heirloom/probable family curse. Dad called the phenomenon "Well, I'm either blind or stupid again."

I currently have six pairs of cheap reading glasses on my computer desk, four of which showed up after I bought a three pack at Marshall's (although only two of those three are among the six; one has been missing since the day I bought them). Since I haven't had a need to cut wire lately I know the exact location of four bull nosed and two needle nosed wirecutters in three sizes; the certainty is that when the days are long enough for chicken pen building I will not be able to locate any of them, even the two which are neatly stored in the metal tool box and the one-of-each in the tool cubby on the kitchen shelves.

I have no idea where the tiny bull nosed ones I use to close-trim wires when I'm building bead things has gotten to; I had to use a rat tailed file to clean up the bracelet I made for my son's fiance this Christmas. And now I can't find that to put it back where it belongs.

I do know exactly where my twelve and sixteen ounce fiberglass handled claw hammers are. It is not where I prefer to keep them (especially since both are out in the weather) but they are apparently where they prefer to live. I've been able to find them the last several times I've needed them, and that being the case they can stay in the hermitages they've chosen.

When I absolutely can not find something, I sometimes resort to photographing places I can't see, holding my little pocket digital at arm's length above my head or as far as I can bend and stretch below my knees and then searching the pictures under maximum magnification in iPhoto. I never seem to get around to having a memo pad and a writing utensil at the same time but I always have a camera, and that's become my auxilary brain.

I am, of course, supposed to be doing two other things right now but had reached my saturation point for reading Making Light and not checking in.

(Three things. Three. Suddenly we are out of Layena, and that means what gets lost today is the two hours it takes to make a run to the nearest feed store, plus my illusory control over my budget).

#902 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 03:43 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 830: Somebody on the ferry was being sensible?!? Bureaucracy loses, for once. (I've been through that airport in a calm November; I was too busy visualizing the tech I'd been sent for to think about what access would be like in Edmund Fitzgerald weather.)

C. Wingate @ 868 (and following) microbes aren't a supernatural force and aren't pulled out the author's ass when he got stuck. These days you'd get an argument about whether ET life would be so different that pathogens would be ineffective, but that's advanced for Wells. Also -- after reading the other responses I'm wondering whether Wells was subtly comparing Martians with Europeans invading other parts of Earth and having trouble with endemic diseases that the locals had learned how to cope with; IIRC Wells was relatively leftish, but I don't know how he stood on colonialism. Is that a sufficiently wild guess for today?

abi @ Parhelia: several fascinating links; in this weather I'll have to be wary of making that cyclist's mistakes, and the chicken was just ... just.
      I'm not sure about Bratton. The few TED talks I've seen were more about offbeat approaches that might or might not be technically useful (e.g., Amanda Palmer, Michael Moschen); while I feel for an honest physicist who was told he needs more pizazz, are TED talks in general tilted toward the sort of together-we-can-levitate-the-Pentagon woo-woo that he's seeing? Do they not seem capable of getting more people thinking about the \possibility/ of doing tech? (cf the shortage of engineers in the U.S.)

#903 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 05:57 PM:

Hey, everybody, SURF'S UP!

(i.e., New Open Thread. Like, what are we doing in this dumb old Open Thread, man?)

#904 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 07:09 PM:

We found some mold behind the wallpaper in this thread.

You do NOT want to be here when we start sanding.

#905 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 07:17 PM:

'Sokay, I have a dust mask. From sanding the paint in the bathroom. (You don't want to sand the ceiling if you can avoid it.)

#906 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 08:07 PM:

Are they all gone yet?

#907 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 09:04 PM:


#908 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 05:51 AM:

<tumbleweed rolls past camera>

#909 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 07:40 AM:

...weary stagehand with pushbroom sweeps up tumbleweed and glitter. &%#@ glitter...

#910 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 09:15 AM:

My friends call glitter "the herpes of craft supplies" (e.g. "Hey, you've got some herpes on your collar, there.") because it is very contagious and nigh-impossible to eradicate.

#911 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 05:42 PM:

<Strange hooting noises from out of shot.>

...and will the animal wrangler kindly get that goddamn Barred Owl out of here?

#912 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:18 PM:

::rustle:: ::rustle::

#913 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:24 PM:

{stage whisper] Is it safe to come out now?

#914 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:38 PM:

Cadbury Moose (911): The owl's been barred from the set?

#915 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:40 PM:

::trips over leftover tumbleweed::

#916 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:42 PM:

<Helps Mary Aileen up and offers her a cocoa-dusted truffle>

#917 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:45 PM:

::clears throat::

Over the rainBOW...!

#918 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 11:53 PM:

CHip @902: C. Wingate @ 868 (and following) [..] IIRC Wells was relatively leftish, but I don't know how he stood on colonialism. Is that a sufficiently wild guess for today?

One account I'd read suggested War of the Worlds was inspired by accounts of British forces putting down Maori in New Zealand with a Maxim gun.

Wells speculated what would happen if a similarly technologically advanced power landed in the heart of the British empire (Martians:Britains::Britains:Maori).

I agree that salvation by microbes is not a deus ex machina. It might derive from awareness of how the British were debilitated by local diseases in the territories they were trying to control.

#919 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 02:11 PM:

Rob Rusick @918 You were either misinformed or are mis-remembering the details, large-scale direct conflict with Maori was over before the Maxim gun was in service.

Maxim Gun 1884
NZ Wars 1845–1872

Maori (who generally had good supplies of muskets) were tactically defeated by muzzle-loading artillery, and strategically by a society that could maintain a professional force effectively indefinitely.

Africa is a more likely location for the claim.

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