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June 1, 2014

Open thread 197
Posted by Teresa at 09:25 AM *

Widely disseminated science joke from the early internet:

An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician find themselves in an anecdote—indeed, an anecdote quite similar to many you have no doubt already heard.

After some observations and rough calculations, the engineer realizes the situation and starts laughing. A few minutes later, the physicist understands too. He chuckles to himself happily, as he now has enough experimental evidence to publish a paper.

This leaves the mathematician somewhat perplexed, as he had observed right away that he was the subject of an anecdote, and deduced quite rapidly the presence of humor from its similarity to other anecdotes; but he considers this anecdote to be too trivial a corollary to be significant, let alone funny.

Continued from Open thread 196. Continued in Open thread 198

Comments on Open thread 197:
#1 ::: Stephan ZIelinski ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 09:36 AM:

And the computer programmer, inadvertently demonstrating a common issue with "multitasking", tweets "Let's all get back into the car and and see if we hit a tree again."

#2 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 09:49 AM:

I am a mathematician by education, but an actuary by profession.

You can tell an extrovert actuary because they look at your shoes when they are talking to you, rather than at your own.

#3 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 10:03 AM:

Andrew Wells @ 2

No no no. That's the accountant version. You can tell an extroverted actuary because he's talking to you.

If he were normal, he'd send you a memo.

#4 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Jay Lake has passed away.

Back in 2008, I was at the worldcon in Denver. I was staying at the hotel across the street from the con center. After I got into the hotel's elevator, a distinguished older gent came in on a lower floor. Further down, Jay Lake did too and I said hello to him. He asked if he knew me. I said "No, I'm just a fan." Lake said, "There's no such thing as just a fan." At which the older gent - one Robert Silverberg - said "I'm a fan too."

That's my Jay Lake story.

#5 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 11:29 AM:

Speaking of programming, this popped up on my FB feed yesterday.

Programming sucks

Way exaggerated, but a core of truth.

#6 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 11:48 AM:

Teresa, are you implying that this joke you offer is Joke Number 197?

#7 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 12:42 PM:

I don't think one can appreciate the full flavor of this unless one has known or knows at least one mathematician very well.

Had me laughing out loud.

#8 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 01:24 PM:

It's all in the way you tell it.

#10 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 01:31 PM:

Steve C @ 5

Thanks for the link; that is a very-on-target article.

#11 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 05:43 PM:

Theophylact @ 9: But all the open threads here are gold!

#12 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 07:01 PM:

Serge Broom, if not for context, I sure would have said that was your Robert Silverberg story.

#13 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 07:20 PM:

John M Burt @ 12... Or one could say the story is about fandom at its best.

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 07:34 PM:

Go through the shallows, then out past the wreck
until you reach the point where water burns;
you’ll know it clearly by the sharp returns,
then note the ship, the one with golden deck
and figurehead of angel with wry neck,
you’d sign up on her as one does who yearns
for urgent journeys. Yet as each child learns
there are no funds left to support the cheque.
Still without vision no one would begin
a single enterprise, and we’d remain
stuck in the mud, unable to set sail.
Instead we face each whimsy with a grin,
allow the facts of chance to come out plain,
and turn our faces right into the gale.

#15 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 08:49 PM:

Fragano, applause.

#16 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 09:37 PM:

I was struck by a notion the other day and found myself without anybody to express it to. So I thought I'd save it for the next Making Light open thread. Here it is.

The Cooperative Extension System (100 years old this year!) doesn't get enough respect.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the Cooperative Extension people are the folks who take small amounts of federal research money, funnel it through land-grant colleges and turn it into informative pamphlets (or, modernly, .pdf files) on every basic agricultural question or conundrum that citizens are likely to encounter in their farming, gardening, and landscaping lives.

In the 1970s my mother used to order Cooperative Extension gardening pamphlets through the mail. In most counties, there's an office where you can stop in and pick some up, or seek more detailed agricultural advice of many kinds. And, of course, these days the Cooperative Extension pamphlets from most states are available on the internet. It's pretty much impossible to Google anything to do with domesticated plants and not find a Cooperative Extension result that speaks to your question with authority, brevity, and clarity.

Of course there's politics and corruption in it, if you look hard enough; you'll find plenty of advice, at least, that boils down to "this expensive chemical spray is effective" and says little or nothing about alternatives that may be healthier, cheaper, or more effective. But that is, essentially, a quibble.

So here's my notion: One could use the Cooperative Extension Service as a conversational litmus test for insanity and/or blind zealotry among persons whose politics include elements of hostility toward government and government services.

I've described myself as anarchist or libertarian for much of my life, and I could craft an ideologically "pure" objection to the Cooperative Extension Service without even breaking a verbal sweat. But, as I slide into that stage of middle life where people (sometimes) relax their politics and (sometimes) take up gardening, I find that I just can't be bothered to do it. If I did do it, I wouldn't agree with myself. In a moment of self-reflection after about the twentieth time I appreciatively perused a Cooperative Extension publication, I found myself thinking "How big of an a**hole would somebody have to be to take ideological issue with this?"

Doubtless other people feel the same about other collective projects that I might yet balk at. I'm not sure I can think of one, though, where the cost is so low, the service provided so good, and the fundemental object (grow more, grow better, grow smarter!) so universally unobjectionable.

#17 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 10:09 PM:

"All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?" -- Reg, in Life of Brian.

I live in a city with the state's Land Grant College, and I suspect that the local Cooperative Extension doesn't get enough respect even here.

Cooperative Extension offices have been producing publications for 100 years now, and most of their work was done before the computer age. I would suspect that most CE offices have extensive archives that could be fascinating to look through.

#18 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 10:52 PM:

Another paean for the unsung Cooperative Extension Services!

#19 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 10:55 PM:

Serge Broom #4:

*facepalm* I remember you telling that story & remember the Silverberg quote, but it completely slipped my mind that the other person in that story was Jay.

I only met Jay once, last year at an open dinner when he was in New Zealand. I nearly met him in 2010 at Worldcon but was too shy to introduce myself. He was in mid-conversation & I was lurking in the background. Then the group conversing walked away & I wasn't brave enough to follow. I am grateful for second chances and the opportunity to spend time with him. There is less colour in the world today.

#20 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 11:05 PM:

Daniel Boone #16: Try this idea on for size: People don't normally make moral decisions based on ideology. Rather, they tend to choose their ideology based on their moral framework, then use it to justify their moral decisions. At most, the ideology may be used to extend the moral framework beyond what the person already had worked out for themselves (hopefully but not always consistently).

Moral frameworks, in turn are based on almost everything except ideology and other intellectual exercises: emotional biases (including temperament, early imprinting/training, and later developmental changes), prior experiences, existing social relations (family, tribal, dominance, etc.), and social influences both accidental and purposeful. Stuff like sermons, demonstrations, and even non-violent resistance, all count under social influence, and/or attempts to reorder social relations. (So does textual influence, especially "inspirational" or "authoritative" texts.)

#21 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 11:06 PM:

Where I lived in west Texas, the local extension agent had a column in the newspaper.

My brother works for the ag extension (ornamental horticulture, mostly) out of Davis.

#22 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 11:11 PM:

Theophylact @ 9: My high school chemistry textbook recounted that technique, in a less jokey fashion, observing that it had in fact been done—twice: once to see if it would work, and a second time to make sure the first time wasn't a fluke. (It didn't say where, but I'd bet on the same Berkeley lab that gave us most of the transuranics.) The yield, it said, was just barely enough to measure, and it was actually more useful to make mercury out of gold, because the mercury you got that way was isotopically pure and could be used for some sort of precision measurement. I forget the exact details.

This anecdote seems to have sunk into my id: even now, more than ten years after I gave up the practice of chemistry, one of my brain's stock anxiety nightmares is the one where I am explaining to a generic-fantasyland autocrat that yes, it is possible to make gold out of base metals, and in fact I know how it is done, but regrettably it would cost more money than there is in the kingdom just to build the machine required.

#23 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2014, 11:52 PM:

AKICML, UK Edition: What's a council depot?

#24 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 12:25 AM:

Why You Truly Never Leave High School

Bias warning: I've suspected for a long time that there is something deeply broken about the modern school system, and this article fits right into my ideas about that.

#25 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 01:31 AM:

Jenny @23

"Council" generally is the Local Authority, US county or municipality equivalent, and the depot is the base for non-office workers: highways, garbage disposal, that sort of thing. It's where they keep and maintain vehicles rather than typewriters.

#26 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 01:59 AM:

@Dave Bell no. 25: Thanks! We call both the department and their equipment/physical plant "Public Works." (West Coast dialect, Alaska variant.)

#27 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 02:55 AM:

Fragano #14:

It little profits the hero who embarks
Upon a voyage in a ship of gold
To recognise, too late, that he’s been sold
A pup: the damn thing won’t float long, and sharks
Are circling. The captain’s sage remarks
About the angel figurehead, that bold
Conception, seem irrelevant, and cold.
Acidic seas, hence golden hull. What larks!

Regrettably, gold’s soft, and tends to sink.
It’s beaten, at the last. A silken shroud
Restrains more than a mast, or so you’d think.
And are the scuppers really lined with mink,
Or is that mould? Oh, hero, be not proud
You’re mighty only for the time allowed.

#28 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 04:14 AM:

Fragano Ledgister #14 & Dave Luckett #27:

Thank you.

#29 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 06:29 AM:

We towed her back to port, that ship of gold,
And sang the ragged heroes down the plank
While bilges overflowed. The water stank
As much of grief and weariness as mold.
I swam beneath the angel figurehead
And offered brine and mussels. She declined
(Some ships will not be guest-friends with my kind),
But told me of the voyage in their stead.

"The captain had a map, but part complete.
We followed it, and found the place they sought.
The heroes sang and feasted, fucked and fought,
Then won the real prize: they learned defeat.
Now, knowing failure, they can do some good
And sail to greater seas in ships of wood."

#30 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 08:57 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @14, Dave Luckett @27, abi @29,

Ye gods and goddesses, I love Making Light...

(Thank you, all three of you.)

#31 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 09:39 AM:

Zack @ #22: Yes, the fact that 198Au is the only stable isotope allows you to make isotopically pure 198Hg. Its green line at 5460.7532 ångströms was for years used as a length/time/frequency standard. It has since been superseded by hydrogen maser, rubidium, and cesium standards; as a clock, the last is accurate to one second in 300 million years.

#32 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 09:50 AM:

From Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics: "Gold, in elemental form, has been employed for centuries as an antipruritic to relieve the itching palm."

#33 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 10:32 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @14, Dave Luckett @27, abi @29: bravo!

#34 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 10:52 AM:

Fragano, Dave, abi: Wow

#35 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 10:59 AM:

Open threadiness wrt the whackjob who shot up Isla Vista:

I've been thinking a lot about the role media amplification plays in inspiring these mass shootings. It feels extremely unhealthy to me to have all the obsessive discussion of this sad nutcase's creepy video and ranting and planning and all.

This article by Zeynep Tufekci catches some of this. On one hand, inspiring messed up people to do awful things seems like a hell of a bad idea. On the other hand, I'm not sure what evidence exists for this kind of effect. And on the gripping hand, our news media already seems to spend an unhealthy amount of time spinning and evading to avoid giving the clueless goobers the wrong ideas in many other areas, and I generally don't think that's a win overall.

#36 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 11:07 AM:

Open Threadiness: Nature is LOUD.

#37 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 11:13 AM:

Lila: Yeah, and the downside to my neighborhood having a lovely diverse bird fauna (because of all the mature trees) is that the dawn chorus starts at 4FUCKING30am. Usually if I'm not already awake it's not enough to wake me, but if I am ...

#38 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 11:19 AM:

Also, it just started raining in that "it is very hot and muggy and then a cold front and so humidity falling straight down" way. I watched a robin in our neighbors' yard briefly taking a bird bath in the raindrops (spreading wings, shimmying) before deciding it wasn't going to stop and he'd rather be somewhere drier. :->

#39 ::: lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 11:55 AM:

albatross, #35: OTOH, at least we're now having the conversation about institutionalized misogyny and the rape culture in a lot of places and with a lot of people that were brushing it off prior to this. Some people's entire purpose in life is apparently to be the bad example that nobody can ignore or shove under the rug.

Tangentially related: I've been re-reading some of my Georgette Heyer books lately, and one of them was Powder and Patch. And ye ghods, has it had a visit from the Suck Fairy! The misplaced pride and bad communications between the young lovers I can deal with, because learning about that sort of thing is part of growing up, and they do learn. But OMG, the advice they're both given by people old enough to know better! "Lie to your lover" on both sides, and "ignore consent and force her because that's what women want" on his. Not just once either, but over and over again. I can still read the underlying story as an amusing piece of fluff and an illustration of "be careful what you ask for," but some of the bloom is decidedly off it now.

#40 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 12:26 PM:

And I wish my browser would stop wiping my sticky information whenever I close it. That was me above, despite the all-lower-case typo.

#41 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 12:53 PM:

OP: This has been bouncing round my Twitter time-line for a while so some of you may already have seen it:

Three Bayesians walk into a bar: a) what's the probability that this is a joke? b) what's the probability that one of the three is a Rabbi? c) given that one of the three is a Rabbi, what's the probability that this is a joke?

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 01:19 PM:

Lin Daniel #15: Thank you.

Dave Luckett #27 & Abi #29: Those are amazing!

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 01:21 PM:

Soon Lee # 28, Cassy B #30, john #33, albatross #34: Thank you.

#44 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 01:40 PM:

Pointer back to Open Thread 196

#45 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 02:04 PM:

Thank you, Fragano, abi, and all who commented.

May I say that this is the only place I know of where you can answer a Petrarchan sonnet with another, and have it capped by still another, all within twenty-four hours.

Come to think of it, it's the only place I know of where anybody cares about Petrarchan sonnets.

#46 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 02:12 PM:

Just got back from seeing "Maleficent." Pay no attention to the critics that pan it, it was a romp and I liked the plot twists on the original.

#47 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 02:22 PM:

Not only, "Fragano, Dave, abi: Wow" like albatross said, but where but here would those verses be interwoven with discussions about turning mercury into gold (and vice versa), the Cooperative Extension System, mathematical jokes, birdsong...

#48 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 02:42 PM:

Fragano, thank you for the image and symbolism of the ship, and Dave, thank you for reminding me that poetry is a conversation. I've been too long away from versification.

Cassy, albatross, dcb, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Where there are three, there could easily be four or more. Just sayin', sonnetrists...

#49 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 04:39 PM:

So I've done two stupid things and I wonder if there's a way to fix one or both of them without more effort than they're worth.

The first stupid thing was letting my old shell account with my old blog on it lapse before taking a proper backup. I have a backup of the shell account, but I'm having a hard time making it see the right Perl for that version of Moveable Type to bring it up.

I could fix that, given time. But now, the second stupid thing:

I let my new shell account with my new blog on it lapse before taking any sort of backup.

So here's my question: Does anyone know of an automated solution for pulling the content from an old blog from (which is a backup! of sorts) into a new blog? Either in a quick-and-dirty way or in a nuanced, human-meditated way, or some way at all?

I'm not terribly mad at myself for the screwup, but I am anxious to start blogging again, and I'd like to put those back up first.

#50 ::: Walter Hawn ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 04:39 PM:

Since this is an open thread: Does anyone recall the name of the fellow in Ron Goulart's continuing run of very shorts in F&FS, many long years ago? It's been itching at my brain for a week, now, and I fear to Google it, as I know from experience about the SF rabbit hole.

#51 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 05:20 PM:

Are you thinking of Reginald Bretnor/Grendel Briarton's Ferdinand Feghoot series, Walter? I think the G may have been confusing you.

#52 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 05:37 PM:

Re. gold as medicine, yes it has been used as such for centuries, albeit based on rather out of date models about how the world worked, but there's at least one cautionary tale. Pasting from my blog:

A paper I found in the British Medical Journal suggests that Diane of Potiers, a 16th century French courtesan and mistress of Henri II, died from drinking gold preparations.
Her grave was desecrated during the French Revolution, and a sample of hair taken and preserved. A few years ago ICP-MS was used to find that it contained large amounts of gold. Well, large for someone’s hair anyway, and the hair was much thinner than normal, which is a known symptom of gold poisoning. Even better, it is recorded that she drank potable gold, thinking it was an elixir of youth, as indeed it was thought of since at least the 14th century."

They also found some mercury, suggesting that the gold had been collected or purified using mercury; either way you don't want to go drinking too much gold.

The only slight drawback of making gold from isotopes is that you spend more money on the electricity for the accelerator.

Regarding the particle about hoarders and collectors, aren't collectors merely hoarders with an organised aim?

Lee #39 - I found that I do indeed have my grandmother's paperbacks of Heyer in my attic, can you recommend one to start off with?

#53 ::: Walter Hawn ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 05:48 PM:

Tom Whitmore @51 -- um, yassss. (I do hate that my brain has such spasms of late. Why it fastened on Goulart is a question I will leave unresolved.) Bretnor! Of course. Feghoot forever! Thank you. Now my brain is free to it itch on other topics.

#54 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 06:00 PM:

Walter Hawn, #50: I was going to guess Lefty Feep, but it turns out he's a Robert Bloch character.

Look over Goulart's ISFDB entry. Maybe it will jog your memory. He wrote a lot of series.

ISFDB is a boon to civilization. It isn't celebrated enough. We should have a holiday. And the people who maintain it should get garlands. Or something.

#55 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 06:01 PM:

Lila and her family are at the edge of Fermilab, with Cally. Must go play tourguide.

#56 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 06:13 PM:

RE gold-as-medicine, a friend sent me a link to this astonishing pile of newage:

Yes, Starfire water is INFUSED WITH ETHERIUM GOLD! And spinned for several hours to create vortices!

From the label:

"This water is amplified with a psionic wave oscillation tuned to the Unverses's frequency, helping to synchronize you with the heartbeat of our Earth. STARFIRE WATER(tm) is treated with Sacred Sound Resonance Transmission(tm) to vibrationally transform you on the deepest molecular level. All together, we've created the worlds' finest premium, alkaline performance, "living," hexagonal super-structured water."

#57 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 06:19 PM:

Stefan Jones #56: Arrgh! All it needs is some quantum....

#58 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 06:32 PM:

#58: They're probably saving that for STARFIRE WATER PLATINUM, which costs twice as much and is twice as hydrating because they add MULTIPHASIC QUANTUM PLATINUM and spin it in TWO directions simultaneously so the water is fooled into . . . Oh Glob, I should really stop, they might hire me.

#59 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 06:41 PM:

In the vein of "poems about ships", though not necessarily in the vein of "really gorgeous sonnets", because I've yet to have a sonnet behave itself:

"Death of a Sailsman"

A ship is beautiful at night,
when snow and ice the rigging trace;
with the moon and stars the only light
on a sailor's fall from grace.

His hands were turning stiff and blue
where they gripped the slick mainbrace;
the ropes, they twisted 'neath his shoe -
there was horror on his face!

He fell! and wished with all his might,
(as his innards were turned to goop)
that he was home and tucked up tight,
not splattered on a sloop.

#60 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 07:34 PM:

I had what feels like an epiphany. Checking here to see if it sounds plausible outside my head.

A friend on Facebook was asking why Game Of Thrones gets spoiled a lot and [his examples] he's never gotten hit with spoilers about Agents of SHIELD, Godzilla, or the new Dresden book.

My theory is that soap operas, and especially GoT, trigger the "this is important news and we must spread it" part of the human mind. Don't ask me what part that is, but I'm sure it's in there.

I think "especially GoT" because these are rulers and it matters a lot what happens to the ruler. Elephants fight; grass gets trampled, and so forth.

I may try a Petrarchian later, if I have time; Shakespearian is a twitch reflex for me, but I've never finished a Petrarchian .

#61 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 09:01 PM:

HLN: Local woman, putting some packages thru the barrel-drop at the post office, manages to slam her right index finger between the barrel and its frame. Ice has been applied, and she has hopes that this will keep the already-visible bruise and swelling from becoming too much of a nuisance.

Guthrie, #52: The ones I keep returning to over and over again are A Civil Contract, The Quiet Gentleman, The Unknown Ajax, and Venetia. The Grand Sophy is mostly fun but has an ugly splat of anti-Semitism in the middle of it. The Masqueraders is mostly a romp, as is False Colours. Cotillion has a nice "good guy wins out over handsome scoundrel" arc that makes it very popular with modern readers. I do not recommend The Reluctant Widow because of its treatment of the heroine.

Stefan, #56: Egad.

#62 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 09:23 PM:

Further to the conversation:

A hero doing good? I never heard.
They always seem to sulk in tents, or fail
To blow a horn (except their own), or sail
Beyond the sunset. They perform absurd
Abstractions: nothing useful, in a word.
In fact, the useful and the good entail
Exactly what they aren’t. The Holy Grail,
The Golden Fleece – quixotic is preferred.

At last, it comes to windmills, but the tilt
Is run in lists no ship can ever bear.
And so she founders, for her hull is built
Of neither wood nor gold, but crafted air,
Like Mad Tom’s horse, or hurricane. The guilt
For shoddy craft is ours: we sang that air.

#63 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 09:51 PM:

Sandy B. #60: This seems reasonable, and I tend to agree with the theory.

#64 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 10:05 PM:

I learn more about poetry here than I ever learned from my abortive attempt at taking a poetry class. This is fun. The class was not.

Thank you, Fragano, Dave, abi, Em.

#65 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2014, 11:34 PM:

I'm back from the Three Hour Tour of Fermilab, worth every minute. And the Hour Tour of American Science and Surplus, where it was fun to watch Lila and co make discoveries.

They're great people, with excellent taste in obscure post-modern vaudeville shows.

And then I come back here and find more excellent poetry. All in all, a very fine day.

#66 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 12:08 AM:

Excellent Gathering of Light, epic shopping expedition to American Science & Surplus, amazing tour of Fermilab (still can't believe that part), fine Chinese food and conversation so good that we kept it up until the waitstaff started pointedly turning out the lights in the aquaria. Thanks, Bill! Thanks, Cally!

Now I ded from tired. *splat*

#67 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 01:41 AM:

@Guthrie no. 52: I sneered at romance novels until I had to clear out my late mother-in-law's book room and wondered how such a down-to-earth woman could be so into something so . . . frilly. So I sat down with a stack of her Heyer paperbacks and kept reading and giggling until my butt went numb.

My favorites tend to be the ones that most obviously stick a pin in romance tropes. Any book that has the masterful, overbearing, handsome, rich, and ever-so-slightly dastardly lover running home to his mother to cry into her lap because he was a complete jerk while trying to woo the ingenue and now she is never going to speak with him again is aces IMO. (Her response, quite genteelly put, is relief that he has gotten over his cranio-rectal inversion.)

In no particular order, and not telling you which one has that scene in it, I recommend:

Frederica (mad genius children, independent women, baffled bachelors, and large dogs)
Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle (a secret author of Gothic novels and the bubbleheaded fangirl she is unfortunately stuck with)
The Nonesuch (a classic love triangle played for laughs, except when it isn't)
Black Sheep (the ardent young lover, his dissipated uncle, and two or three ingenues, except not in the least)

#68 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 02:23 AM:

John @49:

I don't think there is anything ready-to-hand. There's a bunch of libraries for various languages, especially Perl, which do generic screen-scraping, though, and I'll bet you could adapt one of those.

#69 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 03:39 AM:

Jenny, #67: The Nonesuch, while not one of my own top favorites, is nonetheless the one I'd most like to see adapted into a musical comedy of manners. Because the way the parts are laid out, the fortyish aristocrat (bass) and the well-bred spinster (alto) are the hero roles, while the beautiful, spoiled ingenue (soprano) and the meddling dandy (tenor) are the obstacles to be overcome. This is a complete inversion of the way voices and roles are normally assigned in a musical, and would be all kinds of fun to watch.

#70 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 04:45 AM:

Apologies if you see this on another list I frequent. There appears to be some issue with post visibility and/or arrival there--maybe my post went through, maybe it didn't. Anyway.

AKICML: This is morbid and gross. It's so morbid and gross that I decided not to google it, not wanting to see any images. However, with the number of writers here, I thought somebody would probably know or know of a site free of visual squick that could explain the topic.

Say somebody dies suddenly in a house with the doors and windows shut. For reasons, nobody comes to deal with the body. The utilities are off. Spring is well underway, summer will be hot, winter more or less begins in December, but prolonged freezing won't occur until February. Local humidity is generally high. About when would this corpse enter the period of dry decay?

#71 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 05:03 AM:

Jenny: After seeing your list of favorite Heyers, I had to go chase down this short fic. Put down your drink before clicking the link.

#72 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 05:51 AM:

Hm, I am reminded by Em in #59 that there should be a "Travelling Sailsman" problem and a lot of debates in computer science would be gone if "Stationary Salesmen" were the default, rather than "Travelling Salesmen, Stationery or not".

#73 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 06:31 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 70

Not a writer, but grew up on a farm. A basic timeline in warm weather:
Week 1: progressively more gross
Weeks 2-3: stably gross
Weeks 4-8: progressively less gross
Week 8+: not attracting flies any more

You can about double the time for each stage in cool weather (temperatures from 60 on a warm day to 30 on a cold night--a Tennessee winter). If it's stably freezing cold, I don't know--that didn't happen in Tennessee.

#74 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 08:03 AM:

Josh Berkus @ 68: That's what I'll probably do if I don't find something prewritten. I've written a screen-scraper or two in Perl myself. It just seems this must occur often enough that someone somewhere has hacked up a solution.

I hate to think it's come to me having to be someone, after all these years.

#75 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 08:16 AM:

Jenny Islander #70: "Scholarly" info on corpse decay comes from police forensic research, involving "body farms". If you can find their papers... well, I can't promise no pictures, but they won't be shoving them in your face just for shock, and there will probably be tables.

One spoiler (so to speak) for your particular scenario: If the house is well enough sealed, there might not be any (appropriate types of) flies available. (If they can get in, they will, following the smell.) I think that would prolong things significantly, and gas in the body cavity would have potential to make the scene really gross. Also, in high humidity, I don't know that you're actually guaranteed to reach a "dry" stage.

#76 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 08:31 AM:

Other Heyers I have enjoyed:

False Colors: Identical twins, social calamities, doughty old ladies.

The Toll Booth: Mysterious lurkers, highwayman in love, caves. Also a slightly improbable love-at-first-sight thing, but if we reject the good while we search for the perfect we will have very little to read.

#77 ::: cj ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 08:36 AM:

Lee, #69: I'm already imagining a big ensemble number entitled "But Her Uncle Is a General"...

and #61: I know I *shouldn't* like A Reluctant Widow as much as I do, because poor Elinor is really jockeyed into a ludicrously untenable position and doesn't get enough of a chance to push against it, but the rompiness of the whole thing overwhelms me whenever I read it. Plus, more large dogs.

#78 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 10:19 AM:

Jenny Islander @70 - Bill Bass, the founder of the UT body farm, has written several books. They're kind of anecdotal, but you may be able to find some info there. There's also Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial, and Death, which made me decide to be cremated.

#79 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 10:32 AM:

Jenny Islander @70: You're very unlikely to have dry decay (aka mummification): that requires high heat and low humidity. In your scenario, which has happened often enough in Real Life, the body decomposes rapidly -- if you want some idea of gross (as in general but also as in "ew") details, feel free to email me at (ROT-13'd) arvirg2@nby.pbz. In any case, bacterial decomposition begins within hours, and the body degenerates over time until there's not much left besides bones. Freezing temperatures will stop the deomposition process, but it will start again once the temperature comes back up, which can be essentially on a daily basis, if the house warms up in the sunlight.

If you want dry decay, your body needs to be in the attic, or in a tightly-sealed room with a running dehumidifier.

#80 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 10:34 AM:

Thanks for the lovely sonnets (two Petrarchian, two hybrid and equally lovely); I might try later if I feel up to it (as a side note, I can't recommend the Fever Diet as a weightloss technique, even though the claims ("Lose six pounds in three days! Never feel hungry!") are technically true).

I went to Michigan State University, which got its start as an ag school and is still a good one (you like those Yukon Gold potatoes? MSU research). It participated heavily in the Cooperative Extension Service, which IIRC was more than just producing pamphlets; I seem to remember they sent experts out to solve some pretty dire crop problems, but it's all a long time ago now and I'm not sure my memory is accurate.

I do remember that when a bunch of professors and grad students formed a bluegrass band ("by day, Charles McClure, Professor of Mathematics; by night, Farley the Bluegrass Fiddler!") they called it, what else? the Bluegrass Extension Service.

#81 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 10:46 AM:

Apologies for parachuting in like this, but I believe the Open Thread is a not-inappropriate place to do this.

I'd like to, well, not *disagree* with something Patrick said a couple months ago, but rather, point out some related information and inquire of the Fluorosphere if it qualifies as 'prior art' or not.

Patrick said "the electronic Hugo voter packet goes back only to 2006, when John Scalzi organized the first one on an entirely volunteer basis."

For the 2000 WorldCon, Alexandria Digital Literature (and in particular, myself), worked closely with the Hugo Awards committee, and was, in fact granted access to the Final Awards list *before it was released to the public*, so that we could contact all the short fiction nominees. We presented them with a contract to buy non-exclusive electronic publishing rights for a period that ended the day the Hugos would be announced.

About 75% (I'd have to pull some taps and unzip some files to find out for certain now, I think) of the authors eventually granted us those rights.

We published those works in multiple formats, sold them on our site, and provided special access codes to the Awards committee which allowed members of WorldCon to access the stories at no charge.

Prior to that time, some of the stories would be available online; usually magazines that had published shorter works would put them online; sometimes authors would post them on their web sites; and the WorldCon web sites had started having pages that contained links to the works that could be found online. But I believe the AlexLit anthology was the first time any third party had attempted to collect the majority of the works and present them as a packet.

I do distinctly remember requesting to attend the pre-Hugo cocktail party. The gate dragon said something along the lines of 'who are you and why do you think you should get to go,' to which my response was "Because I've published more of this year's nominees than anybody else."

Now, I saw this an event in the evolution of electronic publishing that followed on the *truly* visionary Nebula winners CDROM released by Brad Templeton in 1993 (Nineteen Ninety Three!!!! Amazing!)

But, whether the AlexLit anthology invalidates Patrick's statement depends a lot on how exactly one defines "electronic Hugo voter's packet." Being somebody with an oar in the water, I decline to attempt same. :)

[We even had the anthology for sale in the dealer's room. I'd provided a couple of book dealers with serialized certificates; you paid the dealer, they gave you the card, you took the code to the AlexLit site and picked up your stories.]

#82 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 10:48 AM:

@Cally & @Lila (#65 & #66). Is there a description or summary of what you did/saw on your Fermilab tour? I got to visit Fermilab just after the recent Chicago WorldCon, but I'm pretty sure mine wasn't The Usual, and I'm hoping to compare them. . . .

#83 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 10:52 AM:

It appears I spelled Professor MacCluer's name wrong.

#84 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 11:16 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 80: I went to MSU, too. Not all ag-related research is good -- remember the chocolate cheese from the dairy school store?

#85 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 11:19 AM:

Dave, not yet. All photos currently reside on daughter's computer, and none of us has written anything yet.

#86 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 11:29 AM:

Ginger @ 79

Is "dry decay" mummification? I thought it was the "bones with bits of tendon and hair" stage--AKA, "you can touch it now." You got that in a Tennessee summer, which is fairly humid.

#87 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 11:58 AM:

Pagining Elliott Mason: Is this the baby sign author you were referring to?

#88 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 11:59 AM:

Ohnosecond: Paging. Not "Pagining."

#89 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 12:13 PM:

Dave: Umm, let's see. Bill talked about how high-energy particle physics is done; about static targets and particle collisions; about how to make neutrinos, and Minnesota and South Dakota neutrino targets. We went up to the top floor and looked at the map, and to the window and looked at the ground. Quarks, Higgs bosons, and CERN, the tunnel mockup and how the magnets work to bend the beam in a circle. The copper radio-frequency particle accelerator. Astronomy. Down to the basement: the really cool Cockcraft-Walton particle generating machine (seriously, do a google image search; it's straight out of 1930s SF).

Lots of computing equipment (though we didn't visit the actual main computer center). The control room, with the panels of safety keys so the beam isn't run when anyone's inside the tunnel, and also plenty of snark, Geiger counters and oxygen masks.

And finally, Feynman diagram art. All in all, about 3 hours of fascinating stuff. Though I was sad that the Foucault's Pendulum is no longer there.

#90 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 12:20 PM:

@Lee no. 71: Oh, perfect. I grinned a schadenfreude grin. They deserve each other.

#91 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 12:20 PM:


#92 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 12:34 PM:

The Andy Duncan link is good, but the King link in it has an interesting light on recent discussions about the numinous. I'd heard of "Letter from Birmingham Jail" but hadn't previously read it; does anyone else feel a certain chill from "A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God."? Over the past decades I've had a bellyful of people using the "law of God" as an excuse for defying any law they don't like; all of his subsequent argument reads like a more-eloquent rendition of what I hear from so-called "family" groups every time an outcast (out-caste?) group moves a little closer to equality. (I see this a lot; the local paper is a bit too ready to print letters from Kris Mineau, the head of the Massachusetts "Family" Institute.) I can see reasons why King felt this paragraph was necessary at the time and/or in a letter addressed particularly to people holding religious authority, but from this temporal perspective I wish it hadn't been the opening to his strong arguments. (And I wonder whether he was ever aware of the irony of decrying anti-Semitism while idolizing his namesake, who I have read was a vicious anti-Semite even by the standards of that age.)

I would pass the article on minimalism to my wife, a professional organizer, only if I wanted another medical emergency to deal with. The claim that organizing is sneaky hoarding is ... contentious; part of organizing is recognizing what still has potential use (and how strong a potential), versus what can go. I suspect that organizing helps that process, if only by giving a less-fragmented view. (cf the Simak story "Leg. Forst.", in which magic organizing spores show an over-avid stamp collector just how many sets of tongs he has. (No, that's not a spoiler, just the setup.))

Inquisitive Raven @ 196::842: IIRC, post-brewing yeast is merely enspored (sporulated?), not dead; when I was a homebrewer, my landlady would make bread with what was left after I racked off the beer before bottling. Has "nutritional" yeast been further processed (boiled, pulverized, ...) to permanently deactivate it? Does anyone know whether Vegemite would make bread rise if I washed the salt out of it?

odaiwai @ 196::844 -- that sounds like an especially effective set; not quite a Dostoyevskian/Dicksonian trio, but James and Henry could balance active vs intellectual.

albatross @ 196::874 -- would you want Loki from Dogma? (I wouldn't -- too impulsive, and wimps out in the clutch.) The only other Matt Damon role I can recall is the tasteless kid brother (bit part) of Julia Roberts's boyfriend in Mystic Pizza.

various @ 196::, re Dinklage as Miles: AFAIK, Bujold's vision of Miles has typical proportions (except for perhaps the head); see, e.g., the NESFA Press covers, which were to her specs. (Did you know Bothari was supposed to resemble James Mason?) Dinklage is talented, but would be physically unconvincing for the role. (e.g., Miles can move fast when the situation demands).

TNH @0: reducing it to an already-solved case?

Lizzy L @ 7: I don't particularly know any mathematicians-as-such, but I've run into enough cases to appreciate the story.

Fragano @ 14: thank you; I need that reminder occasionally.

Dave Luckett @ 62: Have you read "The Dance of the Changer and the Three?" I tend to your viewpoint (cf the end of Niven's "Not Long Before the End"), but widening the definition of "hero" could be a Good Thing.

sorry I missed people at Wiscon; I was being too much of a hermit, partly in hope my voice would hold together. Having presbyphonia doesn't work well with a concert (which went OK) the week after a convention.

#93 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 01:30 PM:

janetl 84: Indeed. And, may I add, *gag*. Do you know, I knew people who just loved that stuff?

As for research...well, if you don't try some things that don't work, you're not trying enough things.

#94 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 01:36 PM:


If you believe there is such a thing as morality outside of what the law says, then there's the possibility for the law to be in conflict with morality. It seems to me that your complaint is ultimately with the Massachussets family institute's version of morality, rather than the notion that just laws are laws made by man that square with moral laws. Similarly, if you think God made moral laws, then you can think that the laws of man sometimes don't square with God's laws. But again, I don't think that tells you much about the content of God's laws, a point on which even religious people don't all agree.

#95 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 01:45 PM:

Jacque @87 (completeness, in case this subthread is interesting to others later): Yes, that's the gentleman whose works we found most useful.

#96 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 01:46 PM:

Em #59: Very nice!

#97 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 01:57 PM:

Theophylact, #9:

The funniest line in "How to Make Gold from Mercury" is the nonchalant

Discard the neutrino. We have no need of it.

As though you have a choice.

#98 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 02:07 PM:

Xopher Halftongue 93 & janetl 84

I didn't *love* chocolate cheese but I did like it. Haven't had it in a decade. One problem people had with it was that it looked like fudge and they expected it to taste like fudge, rather than less sweet chocolate cream cheese. My understanding is that the current version is sweeter.

When my father (MSC '42) attended his first Patriarch Reunion in 1992, he was delighted that immediately after checking into the hotel, he and some fellow patriarchs were whisked away in a University car to the Dairy Store for free ice cream. Priorities, after all.

#99 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 02:18 PM:

Jenny, #70: If you don't get a satisfactory answer from your online inquiries, you might try contacting the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee (aka "The Body Farm"). Determining the answers to questions like that is what they do, and that's one I'm sure they've been asked before.

cj, #77: The thing that really pushes my buttons about The Reluctant Widow is that all of Elinor's perfectly valid and understandable qualms about being pitchforked into a risky and potentially-lethal situation are brushed aside as "female hysteria". No one, not even the servants, ever so much as acknowledges that her observations might have some validity. It would take very little tweaking to change that book into a gaslighting-horror tale; the only reason it isn't already one is that the author was standing over it with a whip to make it come out right.

In a way it's a shame, as Francis Cheviot is one of my favorite "not what he seems at first glance" characters, and my distaste for the rest of the book means I don't re-read about him very much.

CHip, #92: What I got from the "minimalism" article was a combination of new-convert enthusiasm and one-size-fits-all evangelism. While I do somewhat envy those who can reach a level of Stuff which permits of the style of home decor I that think of as "spare and elegant", I have long since recognized that I will never be one of those people. And yet, I do go thru my Stuff and cull periodically, so I'm not all the way to Hoarder level. My basic reaction to the article was, "Nice work if you can get it."

#101 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 03:20 PM:

janetl 84: Indeed. And, may I add, *gag*. Do you know, I knew people who just loved that stuff?

As for research...well, if you don't try some things that don't work, you're not trying enough things.

#102 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 03:23 PM:

Argh. Stupid phone. Stupid Xopher.

Sorry folks.

#103 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 03:55 PM:

The 70th Anniversary of D-Day is rushing up. Veterans of that campaign in Normandy are getting thin on the ground.

A few days later it it is the first anniversary of my father's death. He was a farmer, kept at home using his skills, though he did volunteer for ARP.

My Grandfather, after serving in the trenches in WW1, joined the Home Guard in WW2. He told me a few funny stories, but he knew what the reality would have been like.

#104 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 03:58 PM:

Lee @99 and Chip @92 - This reminded me immediately of The premise is that wealth gives you options and so allows minimalism. The more minimal you go, the more risk you're taking on that given sufficient (and often not extreme) wealth can get you out of. If you lack the wealth, the risks have much more dire consequences, and so the less wealthy, paradoxically, can't afford minimalism.

#105 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 04:25 PM:

Never done a Petrarchan before. Worth a try.

The dragon came at dawn, as dragons do,
Arising in the east, and, like the sun,
Set light to all the rooftops, one by one.
It chased the fleeing folk and ate a few,
Then settled down to wait for you-know-who.
The knight rode in at midday, at a run,
Rode straight to battle, fought, and nearly won.
The dragon ate his horse, then off it flew.

At sunset, footsore, following the smoke,
I came to offer help. What was aflame?
And who was hurt, or missing in the gloom?
We doused the roofs; I healed the wounded folk.
Now mothers bless their children with my name
The knight's, meanwhile, just decorates his tomb.

Also, a snatch of something I can't figure out what to do with. Anyone?

The one who makes the cut is not the one who binds it;
The one who hoards the gold is not the one who finds it;
The one who sows the grain is not the one who grinds it;
The one who saves the babe is not the one who minds it.

#106 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 04:45 PM:

Abi #105: Lovely.

The one who bakes the bread is not the one who eats it;
The one who smiths the hoe is not the one who wields it;
The one who carves the door is not the one who guards it;
The one who gains the land is not the one who rules it.

#107 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 04:52 PM:


I see the point of the linked article--sometimes you keep stuff around because you think you might need to replace it. Certainly, when I'm traveling, I pack a lot of my potential needs in the form of a credit card I can use to buy, say, a raincoat if I need it.

But there's also a pretty unhealthy relationship between me and my stuff, one I can see that has tracked through times when I had little money, and when I had more than I needed, and now that I'm doing OK but not flush with cash. Even when I was broke, most of the crap sitting around in my apartment wasn't stuff I was keeping to cover potential problems in lieu of money. Mostly, for me, it was lack of attention--I had (and have) stuff sitting around that I would need to spend some thought to decide what to do with, and I've usually got other things (worthwhile and not) to spend my attention on. And I can see my kids with this same sort of unhealthy relationship, not wanting to let go of *broken* toys (sometimes throwing a huge fit about throwing out something that is broken).

And I have, over time, managed to throw out a lot of the stuff I used to keep around. This was overwhelmingly a good thing, in terms of the amount of space available in my house, and how pleasant it is to be in my house.

I'm not remotely into a minimalist lifestyle, and probably going to an extreme like the guy who was profiled will only work for a small number of people, but it felt like the article you linked to was sort-of dismissing the whole idea as some kind of rich-peoples' fad or something, and I don't think that's quite fair.

#108 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 04:58 PM:

SamChevre @ 86: Well, dry decay is the end process of decomposition which is initial decay --> putrefaction --> black putrefaction --> butyric fermentation --> dry decay. In other words, once all the wet stuff is gone, the dry stuff decays slowly into something that could pass for a mummy. The process is variable, depending on temperature, humidity, access of insects/animals, etc. If the environment is humid, you get more putrefaction and fermentation, because the bacteria have a more hospitable environment. If you have a very dry, hot environment, you tend to get a more true mummification of the body, with much less putrefaction or fermentation (and depending on the circumstances, "less" could equal "none at all".) Warmer temperatures tend to support the entomological factors, which can strip the softer materials from the bones in a much more rapid period of time. And so on.

Having made everyone queasy, here's the unicorn chaser: my son graduated from high school yesterday. My parents couldn't be here, but they were able to watch the live streaming video, which they greatly appreciated (and we will make a quick visit to them this weekend for more celebration). A dinner followed, with close family and a few friends; the restaurant he chose happened to have its regular Monday Night Jazz program in the main dining area, so we had a lovely music program to go with our delicious dinner. I posted a picture of the happy graduate on my FB page, for those of you who have friended me.

#109 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 05:21 PM:

Ginger @ 108: Congratulations on the graduation!

#110 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 05:47 PM:

Lee #61 - thanks.
I now have a memory of people drawing similarities between Bujold's "A civil Campaign" and Heyer, presumably "A civil contract".

#111 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 06:37 PM:

I have chutneyed myself with an idea for a stuffed animal that I will probably never make, because (almost?) no one but me would understand the joke without a lot of explanation:

Sandra Boynton's album Philadelphia Chickens* opens with a chorus line of cows singing about, well, being cows. At the midpoint of the album, another group comes on stage chattering excitedly about "this is our big, big chance!" and begins to sing "Cows" again. They are repeatedly interrupted by a heckler shouting that "You're not cows!" They finally trail off in confusion and admit that "...technically we're not cows" "We're aardvarks!" They then start to sing a parody of "Cows" about being aardvarks, only to be stymied by none of them knowing what sound an aardvark makes. Other than "a lovely intermission song", which they then sing.

So now I want to make an aardvark out of cow fur. I already have a pattern!

*If you're not familiar with this, you should go buy it. Really. Everyone should own this album.

#112 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 07:08 PM:

Discard the neutrino. We have no need of it.

And the neutrino, which in your case you have not got.

#113 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 07:25 PM:

abi #105: That's the hardest thing, and you did it.

Let's face it, the Petrarchan does not come easily and naturally in English. I'm told the finely-interlaced rhyming is easier in Italian, although I wouldn't know. But you made that one flow as naturally as conversation, without a single forced foot, and I had to go back over it to see the rhymes. It's perfect - that change of pov octet to sestet exactly fits the form. But best of all, it says something. Of course your earlier work does also. But this one is just so... neat.

Dammit, "neat" isn't what I mean exactly. It sounds so colourless, so mundane. But there's an aspect of neatness in poetry. Spareness, elegance, yes, that's part of it. But the idea of everything there, everything in its place, everything fitting exactly that's more, well, neatness than anything else.

And that was neat.

#114 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 07:28 PM:

guthrie, #110: Bujold's A Civil Campaign is definitely a Regency romance in structure, although she fits it neatly into the overall structure of the Vorkosigan universe as well. But I remember reading it for the first time -- getting to the end, thinking for a moment, taking another look at the cover art, and saying, "OMG, she wrote a Regency!" The similarity of names to Heyer's A Civil Contract is a not-uncommon source of confusion among people who like both (it's much too easy to say the wrong one, although context usually makes it clear which one is meant), but the plots of the two aren't really much alike.

#115 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 07:46 PM:

Just want to put in a word for two of my favorite Heyers, Friday's Child and The Convenient Marriage. Both of them feature younger heroines, both of them have Cinderella wish-fulfillment aspects, and they may not be to everyone's taste, but I find they both have interesting things to say about autonomy mixed in with the usual romp aspects.

Also, Ferdy and Gil in Friday's Child are so clearly a couple (and there's lovely fanfic on AO3), and Richard Armitage reads the audiobook version of The Convenient Marriage, which is a treat in itself.

#116 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 08:01 PM:

Cally@#89: Thanks. Okay, fairly similar. I've told friends that touring Fermilab was like being on the set of a bad '50s SF movie. "If they built a set for the movie where the lab looked like that, I'd be going 'Oh, please, the real world doesn't LOOK like that!' Except that at Fermilab, it does. Mysterious Cubes inside Chambers with thick doors with thicker glass. Boxes that Hum and Buzz with blinking lights and cryptic hand-lettered labels. And, of course, the things that have Rings and Globes to harness the Invisible Energies."

Obviously you got to see the Control Room, looking way too much like the bridge of the Enterprise, if you saw the Panel of Keys. I thought that was awesome. Hundreds of keys for hundreds of doors, but not stored on pins or pegs, but stored in switch locks. With the designers THAT concerned about ensuring nobody could possibly be in the tunnel when they Threw The Switch, how can you possibly believe that anybody trapped in the tunnel when the beam turned on wouldn't be Mutated Horribly and become some kind of Unspeakable Monster or Uncontrollable Mutant, instead of merely dead?

Was the "Bill" you referred to William Higgins?

#117 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Indeed it was Bill Higgins, Fermilab tour director extraordinaire.


#118 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 09:25 PM:

CHip #92:

Neither Vegemite nor Marmite will make dough rise, not even if you wash the salt out. They are yeast extracts with no intact yeast cells remaining. You need live yeast cells to consume the sugars, either by respiration or fermentation, both processes producing the carbon dioxide* (CO2) causes dough to rise.

I've never eaten nutritional yeast (now I want to) & don't know if the yeast cells are still intact or live. OTOH yeast for brewing/baking is live and also contains additives that help them survive the activation process when you add them to warm water with a bit of sugar in it.

*Carbon dioxide is why soda bread works.

#119 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 11:55 PM:

Congraduations to your son, Ginger!

#120 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 12:06 AM:

I see what you did there (and second it).

#121 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 12:23 AM:

So, I just got an email notifying my of a comment on a Blogger blog I used to have before Google took over and fucked it up so much I lost access to it. This is to my Yahoo account, the only email I had at the time.

So I look at the comment, which is, of course, spam. I click the Delete link, not expecting much. I'm immediately told that my current Google account (which I was logged into and which is linked to the Gmail account I'll be switching to RSN) doesn't have access to that blog, which isn't really surprising. I log out of it and try to log in with my old email.

To my surprise, it gives me what looks like a very reasonable password recovery process. I give it my email (the Yahoo one, associated with the blog) and it promptly sends me a password recovery email. I click on the link provided, and get a page where I can just enter a new my NEW Google account, the Gmail one, the one that doesn't have access to that blog. (They're not changing the password to the BLOG, only to the Google account.)

Clear on that? They'll only change the password if it WON'T give me access to the blog. They'll only change the password I DON'T need to change. They will not change the password on the account associated with the email TO WHICH THEY SENT THE PASSWORD RECOVERY LINK.

So: Google is fucking stupid, and they fucking own our fucking lives.

#122 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 02:17 AM:

Speaking of graduation... Glenn Glazer recently wrote -"I've found that if you have to ask 'what was he thinking', the answer is probably 'he wasn't'."-

Soon after that, someone else mentioned attending the Air Force Academy Graduation at Bolder, and described Vice President Biden as "hugging all the fit-looking young woman graduates". Later discussion revealed that he didn't hug quite all of them, and did hug at least one male, but even so.... In a group that size (c. 1000, how many women is unclear) I'm pretty sure a considerable number of them would strongly prefer to have control over whether they were hugged or not , and it seems to me that the VP went a bit too far in his "they have to do it, whether they want to or not, because _I_ am initiating it" Attitude/assumption.

So far, I've not seen anyone else -- journalist or OnLine political or feminist commentator -- remarking on this. Not that it's A Big Deal (like the recent scandal about rapes at the Academy), but it strikes me as something that people at his level really ought to think about. (I suppose the VP's intentions were fine -- he was simply expressing his enthusiasm & appreciation -- but I'm suggesting that he should have thought-through the possibility that other people might consider his action a violation of _their_ Personal Space limits.)

#123 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 04:26 AM:

The nurse yesterday declared my wife's lungs free of pneumonia.

#124 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 04:33 AM:

Praise be to Asklepios, Serge, and thanks to his servants!

#125 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 08:24 AM:

Don Fitch #122: It occurs to me that Biden benefits hugely from the "known asshole/eccentric" trope.

#126 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 08:25 AM:

Soon Lee @ 188 et al on yeast

Nutritional yeast is also inactivated (AKA dead) and can't be used as a leavening. The difference is that Marmite et al are killed by adding salt, which breaks down the cell walls; nutritional yeast is just heated, which doesn't.

"Brewer's yeast" is a tricky term, because it can mean two things: one is the yeast used for brewing, and one is the leftover yeast from brewing, heated and dried like nutritional yeast (and thus of no use for brewing.) The nutritional brewers yeast can be quite bitter from the hops in the beer.

The best way to try nutritional yeast (IMO) is on popcorn or in scrambled eggs, preferably in both cases with a tiny bit of soy sauce. (Yes, this probably marks that I grew up in a hippie-influenced household, but it's still delicious.)

#127 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 10:03 AM:

I went to my third child's elementary school graduation last night. Technically, he's the garndson of my patner, but I changed enough diapers back in the day that I feel entitled to claim him. I usually do not show emotions readily, but to my astonishment, I found myself in tears . . .

#128 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 10:29 AM:

Xopher... Thanks indeed!

#129 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 10:33 AM:

Well, I'm moved. Ish. Mostly.

Most of everything I own is tucked into storage in a corner of my mother's basement, excepting my bed and one bureau, which are now in my childhood bedroom, which measures some 7.5 ft by 9 ft (2.3m x 2.7m). Oh, and a night table. I spent a considerable amount of time using a s/w called "Sweet Home 3D" trying to figure out how to make the entire rest of the apartment fit into a 21ft by 12 ft (6.5m x 3.6m) space. Obsessive measuring and some judicious pruning (tossed an old couch I always hated, etc.) got everything, furniture and boxes, tucked in (with some extra space for the fridge, which we will be using).

In the middle of the move, my mother had a medical emergency - a pretty serious infection. She's always suffered from eczema, which is exacerbated by stress, so when she had a flare up, we just put it down to the move. But it wasn't going away, in fact it was moving higher and higher up her leg, which was also swelling, which was unusual. So, Monday morning, she went to the clinic. They promptly flipped out and sent her to the hospital ER. I couldn't go, because I had to be here to let the techs in for phone/internet, so I hopped over to get my cousin, left her with my mum at the ER door, then came back here to wait while they hooked her up to IV antibiotics. I really wish it had been otherwise, because neither she nor my cousin understood much of what the doctor was saying.

Anyway, after about 4 hours my aunt was able to pick them up and bring them here - my mother has an IV port in her arm, and has to have Cefazolin administered via something called a Homepump, which I am supposed to connect every 8 hours, even though I wasn't there to see the nurse demonstrate it.

It went OK Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, but Wednesday afternoon I somehow ended up with air in the tube. So I clamped it, and called the 24 hour 800number to speak with a nurse. She told me I had to have a nurse look at it. Lovely. So, off we went to the CLSC, where another nurse took care of it and showed me how to fix it if it happens again.

More air this morning, but at least I was able to fix it.

Oh, and usually my mother takes my cousin to her hospital appointments - Cousin has chronic idiopathic acute anemia, so has to have a blood test every Wednesday and RBCs every Thursday, so since my Mum can't really drive, I'm doing that.

All of which means that I haven't gotten back to the apartment to clear out the last few things and clean it. Fortunately, I have the time (my lease hasn't actually run out yet), but geez.


I will take a moment to say good things about my movers. They showed up on time, took really good care of my things, put them exactly where I said to put them (important to make it all fit!), and did it all pretty much within the time on the estimate. During which, they were unfailingly pleasant, polite, and helpful. They even grabbed a chair we were trying to throw out and tossed it to the curb for us. So, if you're in Montreal and looking for movers, Montreal Van Lines has my recommendation (if that means anything).

I noticed also that the supervisor was really good to the workers - two of them were new, and he was taking the time to show them how everything worked: this is how we do the paperwork for this, this is how we use the straps, this is how we wrap a glass-fronted cabinet. And when it came time to tip, he said, "you don't give that to me, it's for the guys! I'm the boss, I don't get the tips!". So, nice guys all around.

So, here I am, tucked into a corner of the dining table on my laptop. We woke up early so that I could give my mum her IV, then I took my cousin to her blood test. When I got back here, my mum was back in bed, so I figured it was a good time to absorb some of the light of the Fluorosphere.

Oh, and my mother's cat hates my cat with the power of a burning sun. Thank goodness mine is a furry zen master - he just serenely goes about his business while she spits venom at him.

TL;DR: Moved. Stress. Coffee. ::thunk::

#130 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 10:34 AM:

There was a story discussed here about a bunch of clueless girls going drinking at a bar with a bullet hole in the door. I felt like that last night.

Philadelphia. A store with "deli" in small letters on the sign and BEER in very large letters. About five men hanging out by the door drinking out of paper bags. I just want a soda.

I go inside and there are about seven men and one or two women inside. They are drinking out of small clear plastic cups. The entire counter has security glass down it with no line of fire to the inside. One of the guys is yelling and someone else is trying to calm him down, repeating "There are outside people here!" I'm just trying to keep my "Your business isn't my business" field up. I got out with my soda, unslain.

Between this and the takeout place with a sign saying you're not allowed inside wearing a hoodie or a mask [!?!], should I be worried for my friend? I was helping her move in. Across the street from this place.

(Should I mention that the entire neighborhood is black, or does that kind of follow from "bad neighborhood in Philly?")

#131 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 10:38 AM:

Cheryl: There are not enough **hugs** in the world, but here's a few more to stock up with, at least ...

#132 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 10:51 AM:

Serge, I rejoice as one who has had pneumonia. Happy joy to you, times two.

#133 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 11:03 AM:

Wishing you lots of energy and grace.

Sandy B
That has some commonalities with my old block 10 years ago. (I didn't live there when the bar at the end of the block was rowdy enough that the block had a betting pool on the time of the first fight, but I heard plenty of stories.)

The thing is, neighborhoods like that are often safe for the people who are part of them. The key thing is to become part of the neighborhood, rather than an "outside person."

#134 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 11:32 AM:

Kip W @ 132... Thanks. Hers didn't require hospitalization, but pleasant it was not.

#135 ::: academic ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 11:46 AM:

Sandy B @ #130. Yes, I would be worried for your friend. I have lived in such neighborhoods for many years, and no, they are not safe.

Watch for: meth addicts, who are especially violent and unpredictable and crazy. If someone is acting erratically and has a face that is covered in sores or is (look this is gross but true) falling in on itself, that is probably a meth addict. You cannot easily escape these people--and if you see many of them, if possible, help her find a new place to live, stat.

Drivebys happened in my neighborhood periodically. To find out if that is a concern there, ask the local police rep for the area (often a community organization will have a police rep name, you can also call the local non-emergency line). Newspaper crime reports generally focus on better neighborhoods.

If the people nearby are *stoners* that would be different. But those folks do not usually worry about bullets, smell of pot, and have distinctive social markers (which I can explain if there is interest). Coke and meth are, in my experience, the scarier drug cultures to watch for. (Heroin can be, but it varies.)

#136 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 12:28 PM:

Sandy B @ 130: The more powerful stimulants, in and of themselves, cause a lot of violent behavior.

Don Fitch @ 122: I'm happy to have the president or vice-president hug me whenever we're both engaging in a public activity. It really doesn't matter who they are. Ask my friend from New Orleans who's got a great shot of herself with W's arm around her.

#137 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 01:30 PM:

A former housemate was found unconscious in the hot tub last night. Never before have I been so grateful for Amtrak's weird schedule; I was back in town less than twelve hours after I got the call (eight of those were train ride).

I don't know how to mourn. It would be so much easier if there were rituals and ceremonies for grief outside the funeral. But I'm here for the chosen-family who found her, at least.

#138 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 01:46 PM:

estelendur: I'm sorry for your loss.

#139 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 02:02 PM:

estelendur: My sympathies.

#140 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 02:14 PM:

estelendur: I'm sorry for your loss.

#141 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 02:30 PM:

Cheryl #129: Sympathies for your trials, but congratulations on getting through the move regardless!

estelendur #137: Ouch, my condolences. I'm guessing he died of hyperthermia?

The relevant PSA: Hot-tubbing alone is risky, as it's way too easy to miss your stop and overheat. (Alcohol makes it downright dangerous.) The big differences between a hot bath and a hot tub are: 1) The hot tub has much more water (more thermal mass) and 2) The hot tub usually keeps the water hot while you're in it.

#142 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 02:31 PM:

Lee @ 114: ...I remember reading it for the first time -- getting to the end, thinking for a moment, taking another look at the cover art, and saying, "OMG, she wrote a Regency!"
And Komarr is a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, in which he meets Harriet Vane. So delicious.

Don Fitch @ 122: A friend of mine helped out at a political event, and she has a picture of herself hugging Joe Biden which is one of her treasured possessions. She raved about what a nice guy he was, and definitely wasn't hugged "against her will." She also doesn't qualify as a fit young graduate.

#143 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 02:53 PM:

Dave Luckett @113:

I realized fairly quickly that I could paint myself into a heck of a corner with a Petrarchan sonnet. I'd say I deliberately chose large word-clusters for the two rhymes in the octave, but actually, the first line-ends came of their own accord. They just had a lot of friends too.

There are a couple of infelicities of phrasing I'd rather have done without; "you-know-who" in particular breaks the tone of the rest of the work. And I let myself get backed into too many flat verbs like "came".

And I can't seem to resist a final couplet, even when it doesn't rhyme.

None of which is meant to discount your praise. I'm just all too conscious of the failings of the work. As I tweeted last night, I am so far out of practice with sonnets. It's like having to go out in the field and catch the language horse before I can ride it again.

But it's fun to be doing them, and doing them in good company.

#144 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 02:55 PM:

estelendur @137:

I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope you and her chosen family can find a way to support one another through this time.

#145 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 03:03 PM:

estelendur -- the way I read your post, I cannot tell if your friend is dead yet. Is she?

There's still some hope, if she isn't. Lots of possibilities, but I can't say any more without knowing the circumstances. I send you what strength I can to deal with the actual circumstances, and hope that all will work for the best outcome. The situation without a death, but with uncertainty about what's going to happen, is worse for many folks than knowing.

#146 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 03:18 PM:

Serge Broom #123:
Glad to read the good news.

Cheryl #129:
Strength to you.

Sorry for your loss.

SamChevre #126:

I bought a packet of a local "nutritional" yeast on the way home & did an impromptu tasting: active dry baking yeast, active dry wine yeast, and "nutritional" yeast taste similar to each other. I describe it as nutty & (sorry) yeasty. I also tested to see if "nutritional" yeast had any activity. It doesn't. Only the active dry baker's yeast & active dry wine yeast were able to be revived.

Conclusion (in agreement with you): "nutritional" yeast can not be used to make dough rise.

Making Marmite (or similar) requires simmering & reduction, which explains its dark colour & also lack of live cells; the heat kills yeast cells.

abi #143:
I am in awe of people who can write poetry (don't have the knack myself), so really appreciate when poems get posted here.

#147 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 04:02 PM:

pace Sayers:

If that is home where storms distress me not
then you were never home: I cannot stay,
wings furled, hands clasped, when you have whirled away
from rest, from sleep, from every peaceful lot.
For you no slumb'ring rose; you burn too hot
to let the world spin shieldless for a day,
to let the tide come in; your burden may
be lessened, but not settled, nor forgot.

Yet neither is my home the starry sphere,
and Heaven's gate is closed to me for spite,
for all my aims have lately been denied.
I cannot sleep, nor lay my sword by here,
I have a purpose, enemies to smite--
yet what rest I may take is by your side.

Like Harriet, I had a heck of a time with my sestet. But once I had the first sentence, I found the use of "wings" and "smite" to be...fortuitous. This is not a great sonnet, but I think it has some good bits.

#148 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 05:27 PM:

abi 105: A lovely Petrarchian! And a good example of the form, in shape and mood, as well as an excellent metaphor for...well, your work here, for one thing, as well as its probable result.

Sorry I was too busy ranting about Google yesterday to give your sonnet the attention it deserved. I only had energy for minor comments else.

estelendur 137: I'm sorry for your loss and for the shock to those who found her.

abi 143: It's so amazing to read your self-crit here. I didn't notice any of those flaws, nor did they stick out when I went back to reread after seeing you list them. I'm not sure the final "couplet" is a flaw at all, since it's in the mood and POV of the sestet. Strikes me as entirely appropriate.

In fact on rereading I detect an echo of Owen's "Parable of the Old Man and the Young" in the rhymes near the beginning. Accident, or subtle foreshadowing of the result of the brave battle?

#149 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 05:40 PM:

A more direct answer to Dave @62, and my second Petrarchan (I think; the rhyme-scheme of the sestet may disqualify it):

I sail a ship whose hull is crafted air,
Created in the drydock of the heart
Where all our words and wishes have their start,
Whose shipwrights build with love and carve with care.
They christened her with tears, that she might bear
Both tragedy and joy. There is no part
Of her that's shoddy, cheap, or dull. She's Art:
The craft that carries hope, delight, despair.

The frequencies of voice and radio,
The waves of wifi signals and the flow
Of current through the wires are all her seas.
Her cargo is what makes us humankind;
Her ports of call are every human mind;
Her voyages are poems such as these.

#150 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 05:52 PM:

Carrie S! I love the echoes of Sayers!

Also, I realize that I've not said how much I enjoyed Em @59. It's like a vivid montage of snapshots. A good piece of work.

Xopher, you are all kindness. I knew when I started writing the poem that the knight was, well, toast; I'm not surprised that it came out in the language. But it wasn't intentional as such.

#151 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 08:32 PM:

Soon Lee @ 146... Thanks. Some people recommended breathing exercises, but the nurse apparently said it wasn't necessary.

#152 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 08:41 PM:

abi #149: Um, wow. I'm in no wise qualified to judge poetic structure, but I do get mood and, um, connections? Implications? The first one struck me as a wry tweaking of fantasy tropes. This one was moving -- in fact, I'm wiping away tears. (All the Mysteries make me verklempt....)

QFT: Her cargo is what makes us humankind;
Her ports of call are every human mind;

#153 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 09:36 PM:

In #116 Dave Howell writes:

Obviously you got to see the Control Room, looking way too much like the bridge of the Enterprise, if you saw the Panel of Keys. I thought that was awesome. Hundreds of keys for hundreds of doors, but not stored on pins or pegs, but stored in switch locks. With the designers THAT concerned about ensuring nobody could possibly be in the tunnel when they Threw The Switch, how can you possibly believe that anybody trapped in the tunnel when the beam turned on wouldn't be Mutated Horribly and become some kind of Unspeakable Monster or Uncontrollable Mutant, instead of merely dead?

No, pretty much we're only worried about, you know, regular death.

(Don't let me damp your vivid imagination, though!)

It's been a big week for Fluorospherians around here. On Saturday Jo Walton and Ada Palmer came out to Fermilab from the city, between stops on Jo's epic book tour. We ended up in the Main Control Room you described, and visited with the Operations crew. I needed to make a phone call.

In mid-call I became aware that singing had erupted. Ada was performing "Somebody Will" for the operators. Wow.

Jo seemed doubly pleased with herself, both for showing Ada Fermilab, and for showing Fermilab Ada.

On Monday, Lila and her daughters turned up, accompanied by local guide Cally, as described above (#55, 65, 66, 89). They were great fun. Again I enjoyed myself, as I always do when I am the center of attention and I get to do most of the talking.

Can't help feeling wistful, after everyone has gone, about how much I might have learned if there had been more time to listen to them.

But Fermilab is a marvel. I love to share as much as possible of it, when people come visiting. (Carefully watching for signs of glaze-over.)

#154 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 10:05 PM:

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Bill Higgins/PowerPoint presentations are my OTP. :-> You always find so many amazing things to say and great connections to knit together into an astonishing new whole.

#155 ::: Walt Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 10:22 PM:

A friend is trying to identify an SF book he read a long time ago.

His description: Somewhere in the 1973-1975 timeframe, I read a science-fiction book from the library in which Earth is invaded by dog-like aliens, who are astonished that plants and animals coexist peacefully. On all other planets they know of, one has wiped out the other. I haven't a clue what the title or author might be.

And a couple more "vague memories": As I recall, it was the only book by that author on the shelf. So it's not likely to be a hugely popular writer. There was a scene where one of the aliens was alarmed by a human brandishing a tomato.


Can anyone here help figure out what book he's talking about? (He has already told us that it is not Invaders from the Infinite (1961), by John Campbell, Jr., which someone else suggested as a possibility.

Thanks for any hints.

#156 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2014, 10:54 PM:

My ex-roomie had a hoarder's breakdown a few months ago. When he first moved to Honolulu, he used to prowl the streetside trash. (That stopped after a while, thank Ghu). He found an eroding, delaminating styrofoam bodyboard and brought it home. Stored it in the storage shed out back, where it blocked access to tools. It was irreparable, useless, and never used. After swallowing my anger for years, I asked him if he could get rid of it, since it was in the way. He had long ago bought himself a new bodyboard, so it wasn't as if I were asking him to give up bodyboarding.

Reaction: over-the-top fury. How DARE I mess with HIS stuff? When the house was full of MY stuff? I started crying, he stalked off ... and threw away the body board half an hour later. Apologized a day later.

He was an easy-going guy. I had never before seen him that angry. Over a bit of useless trash. That he had not bought, never used, and had ignored for years. Hoarding is a sickness.

#157 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 12:25 AM:

Walt Farrell @155 -- rings no bells with me, sorry.

#158 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 12:36 AM:

abi #149

Yes, it's Petrarchan: the abbaabba rhyme-pattern of the octet is required, and there may only be two rhymes in the sestet, but the pattern is not set.

Thinking cap on...

#159 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 12:38 AM:

Oh, and I should have said: it's very, very good.

#160 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 06:07 AM:

Balloons and art are held aloft by air,
By crafted air, no more. Someone inflates
The merest wisp. The same is true of States -
The Ship of State’s an airship. Yet beware,
That air is hot. A principle is there:
By heat, expansion, flame, one elevates.
A bag of breath is thus inspired. The weight’s
Inconsequent, if there’s sufficient flair.

Perhaps, but flair is not some passioned rant,
Some darkling flame that burns, but makes no light.
Such ships are lucifers. Of gauzy adamant
Her envelope, not lead. Nor is her flight
As windy chance dictates. Undeviant,
She steers true to her star, and shines as bright.

#161 ::: Stefan S ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 07:57 AM:

I delurk to delight in such conversation as your wits make, and to say I love your talk, the Fermilab, the meth neighborhoods, WisCon, the math jokes, Joe Biden's hugging, unwieldy golden ships and the aftermath of heroes. Oh, muses! Or, in a different way:

this is just to say

i have inhaled
the sonnets
that were in
the textbox

and which
you were probably
for practice

forgive me
they were delicious
so apt
as I scrolled

abi @149: I am moved. So nice. Chills. QFT (I know, it already was. I will too):
Her cargo is what makes us humankind;
Her ports of call are every human mind

#162 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:15 AM:

Thank you, everyone, for your sympathy. Former housemate drowned, we believe . :(

I would like to add my voice to those praising the poetry. It is beautiful.

#163 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:38 AM:

estelendur, <hugs>

#164 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 10:19 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 153... So nobody ever came back as Doctor Manhattan?

#165 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 10:37 AM:

estelendur: please accept my belated condolences! What a terrible thing to have happen.

#166 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 11:25 AM:

Dave Luckett @158: the abbaabba rhyme-pattern

If you change your mind,
I'm the first in line
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me—

Huh? Oh, sorry....

#167 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 11:31 AM:

A notice for SF Bay Area Fluorosperians, to be shared as appropriate.

House share available:

I am looking for a quiet, responsible, congenial person (or two people) with whom to share my home and yard in San Pablo. The house is 940 square feet, 70 years old. You will have exclusive use of two bedrooms, a living room, dining room, and one bathroom. I will use the rear bedroom in the house as my office. It has a separate entrance onto the yard, and will be isolated from your space by a closed, lockable interior door.

My living space is in a detached studio behind the house.

Your kitchen space is not shared space, but I will be using the laundry facilities in your kitchen. We can pre-arrange how that will work. We will also share the yard and two parking spaces.

The neighborhood is lively and friendly. You will be close to a library branch, a post office, a large Asian food market, banks, and so on. The street is near I-80, and one 20 minute bus ride away from the Richmond BART station.

I am a quiet single person with a dog and a cat.

Rent is $1250 and includes garbage but not the other utilities. Pets are possible but it strongly depends on how many and what kind. I am looking toward an August rental.

If you are interested, or you know someone who might be, let me know here.

#168 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 11:32 AM:


Someone did, but he had a bad case of the blues...

#169 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 12:17 PM:

Michael I @ 168... With Rorschach at the sax?

#170 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 02:08 PM:

Rorschach can't play a wind/brass instrument, he'd have to take the mask off for that. Bass, maybe.

#171 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 02:47 PM:

To continue the maritime metaphor:

We navigate by methods good and fair,
our science has been tested and found true
for many seasons; the hard-working crew
have full and thorough trust in our good care.
So do not worry at the changing air
in certainty that we have paid our due
before the mast.The storms we have been through
are the best measure of how much we dare.
Yet each adventure has its own sweet trap,
since we dare not refuse to face the test
so must discover just how little sure
we really are of what is on the map
and what we know, but must face all with zest;
for all that matters is that we endure.

#172 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 03:35 PM:

Lizzy @167, I may be interested. (Quiet geeky couple, two well-behaved cats, relocating to the Bay area in the next couple of months if this job pans out.)

#173 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 03:44 PM:

Persephone, is your entered email address a working one? If so, I can connect you with Lizzy via email.

#174 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 04:15 PM:

abi @173, yes, it is! Thank you very much.

#175 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 04:49 PM:

You have mail, both of you.

#176 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 05:46 PM:

Open threadiness... with thread. Someone has proposed a plausible use for those mysterious Roman dodecahedrons.

#177 ::: martin schafer ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 05:47 PM:

155 I have a feeling that it might be Christopher Anvil but I can't think of the title.

#178 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 06:43 PM:

If the spirit of open-threadiness may absolve me of extending first-novel bragging allowances to a second occasion ...

I have just sold the second Alpennian novel, The Mystic Marriage, sequel to my debut novel Daughter of Mystery. (Both to Bella Books.)

I am now gathering some hard-learned lessons from the first book in preparation for the second, in hopes of avoiding some of the "no one will ever hear about or read my book" despair this time. It's been hard taking the expectations picked up from hanging out with mainstream sff folks and applying them to the small press experience where Things Are Different.

#179 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 07:07 PM:

Only at Making Light is it possible to get rickrolled into watching a xavggvat video.

(ROT13 employed to avoid spoiling the fascinating potential solution to the technological mystery.)

#180 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:15 PM:

Debbie #176: It's certainly an interesting use for them; what I don't see (admittedly, I'm not a knitter) is how the hole sizes or other distinctive features of the RDDs actually translate to (or constrain) the measurements of the result.

Obviously, the overall size matters, but otherwise, what makes the RDD, with its specific hole pattern, more useful for that particular task, than a simpler brass plate with knobs and holes?

#181 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:30 PM:

abi @105.2:

Who minds the babe can help it dance or cower;
Who grinds the grain can hoard or give the flour;
Who finds the gold can buy or break the bower;
Who binds the wound with skill has healed the hour.

#182 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:40 PM:

Debbie @#176 there's further discussion at Above Top Secret which I had never encountered before. My wife, a classical archaeologist by training, is also skeptical. Some of the findings, like wax residue on some, seem incompatible. But, nothing proven.

#183 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:43 PM:

Okay, ATS is a bit woo-woo; the discussion of these is rational, but I might use incognito mode going there.

#184 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:49 PM:

I'm looking forward to it - Daughter is really quite good! (I had trouble getting my mind away from Alpennia after I read it.)

#185 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:53 PM:

Would wax help to waterproof the result, maybe? (I am also not a knitter or an archaeologist, and will happily be told I am totally off-base.)

In other open-threadiness, my provincial government (and my MNA, who introduced the bill) just made me very happy, which makes a nice change from "embarassing me completely".

#186 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:54 PM:

#182: It seems to me that if I possessed a finely-made item like that in a world full of candles, the day would inevitably come when I would press it into service as a candle holder, regardless of its original design purpose. The more so if I had inherited it from an ancestor without also inheriting the skill in fabric arts to use it properly.

#187 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 08:59 PM:

Re #176: not particularly plausible.

The fact that all the fingers get stuffed inside is bad enough; I have *never* seen a glove pattern that had the same number of stitches for every finger, and five is far too few. Plus, the Romans didn't actually have knitting (though they had something similar).

I'm willing to buy that it's a knitting nancy, but not one that's specifically dedicated to making gloves. The primary reason for that deduction seems to be that the holes are different sizes, but it's not actually the size of the holes that determines the size of the stitches; it's the spacing of the pegs, which is the same all around.

#188 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 09:03 PM:

Abi at 175, thank you.

#189 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 09:18 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @178, congratulations.

Seconding P.J. Evans @184 that I'll look forward to it.

Actually, thank you for the reminder of the existence of Daughter. I was part way through it when I set it aside to read a couple of library books that had to be returned, and it had slipped my mind. That's a problem with e-books that I don't have with physical books.

#190 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 10:01 PM:

Dave 158: Really? I was taught that only two patterns were allowed: CDCDCD and CDECDE (and the latter has three rhymes in the sestet). Was I taught too narrow a definition of the Petrarchian?

OK, now I have to write one. Where did I leave those spoons...

#191 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 10:26 PM:

And you wouldn't want pegs with big knobs on the ends if you were knitting on the pegs.

#192 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 10:42 PM:

187 - It's a very fun and inventive video, but I'm not buying it either. That's a pretty ratty pair of gloves, and painfully produced. A toasty pair of woven wool or fur mittens, removed briefly when dexterity was needed, would be preferred. The dodecahedrons seem relatively challenging to create, and why would you invest that time and craftsmanship in order to be able to produce those gloves?

#193 ::: Walt Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 10:47 PM:

Martin @177: Thanks; I'll suggest that to him. (And Tom @ 157: Thanks for trying.)

#194 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2014, 11:15 PM:

Rabbit mittens, with the fur inside and the skin outside, would be relatively easy to make for any culture that had knives and needles.

#195 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 12:41 AM:

TNH's Particle on states dependent on federal money is really bad statistics -- it's impossible for me to tell what metric they used to determine the order of the states (it's not any one of the three numbers they give for each state); they use "per capita" wrong (it's probably per thousand population); and it's a bit of a mishmash. I expect their numbers are close to right, and do point out an interesting disparity between what those states say and what they do -- but this article doesn't do the topic any justice at all.

#196 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 12:51 AM:

re: the dodecahedrons, I'm a knitter, but haven't made gloves yet. Given the flaws in the thumbs of the mittens I've made so far, that wasn't too bad for a first effort! ;)

I'm not invested in the theory, but it was a fun proof of concept, and IMO has more bang for its buck than some others that are much more long-winded ( -- sorry for the url, embedding links is hard on a tablet). Another major argument against the glove theory is that at least one of the similar objects is an icosahedron, which has the markings and knobs, but only one hole. Unlikely it's for mittens!

#197 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 01:06 AM:

Non sequitur for the open thread: ebooks.

There was a book I wanted to read that was ebook only; I bought it on kobo, and downloaded the kobo reader program to my computer and phone, and it synchronized properly and it was neat, and I read on my phone while on public transit.

Then I downloaded a free epub from a website, and discovered that the kobo reader program will only read epubs from its branded store, so I had to find a different reader program - which couldn't read the epubs from the kobo store because of DRM.

Then I tried borrowing an ebook from my library, and I found out I had to use adobe something or other and log in to authorize devices, or a web-based reader interface, and those were my two options.

Is the ebook landscape really that scattered, or do I just have incredibly bad luck and hit a few incompatible books in a row? Am I missing something here? I've only downloaded a half dozen ebooks and already they're scattered across three different reader programs.

#198 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 01:18 AM:

E-readers are supposed to be able to read un-DRMed in various formats, if you believe the various websites (like Wiki) that list what they can handle.
I have Calibre for the desktop, but stuff you buy from Kobo (or other bookstores) winds up in their own system somewhere, and I don't know where it is.

#199 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 01:42 AM:

If you get a non-drm'ed .epub file, there are ways of loading it into most of the big names. How well it reads and how stupidly the formatting comes out is another matter. And DRM is a whole succession of non-overlapping armed camps, unfortunately.

#200 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 01:45 AM:

I've got a Kobo; Adobe Digital Editions is the program, and it's generally fairly easy. There are a couple of hoops to "authorize" your e-reader, and then it looks a lot like a black version of itunes, where you can drag stuff from the library to the e-reader listing on in the left-hand pane. To get stuff INTO the library, drag and drop from file folder. I mostly use Calibre for changing e-book format rather than library management, so I'm not sure how similar it is.

#201 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 02:00 AM:

Oh, it really is that scattered :(

Do most people just stick with their choice of branded store then, for the easy experience? I have heard people talking about how great and convenient ebooks are, so I have to conclude they're doing something different than I have been so far...

(Note: I don't actually have an e-reader device, only programs that can read ebooks on my laptop and phone.)

#202 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 02:12 AM:

I have to admit that at the moment I mostly use ebooks from Project Gutenberg. I just did a two-semester class on Victorian Literature (much more interesting than I'd expected, and I suspect that's due to the professor, who was amazing, rock on Patrick McDonagh) and the advantage to ebooks there is that you save many dollars which you'd otherwise have spent on Norton Anthologies and Critical Editions of books which are available for free*. I don't tend to actually buy e-books, since there's so much really good public domain stuff kicking around out there.

Oh! I get fanfiction off of AO3, too. To date, I've only used three programs, and that's only because I really like the Mobipocket Reader program for reading on the laptop. I could get away with just the Adobe one if it wasn't for that.

*Anthologies and critical editions are super-handy, and honestly I'd love to buy them, but I could afford to pay tuition OR buy textbooks, not both. Anyway, searchable text is a student's best friend, and Norton doesn't seem to offer ebooks of its anthologies yet.

#203 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 04:13 AM:

70 years ago it was D-Day, the Allied landings in Normandy, the opening of the Second Front, the Liberation of France, there are all sorts of labels.

The towns and people caught up in the campaign, fought over until the breakout, had a bad time of it. But, within the year, Germany had surrendered.

There are so many things that would not have happened without the two Great Wars of the twentieth century. We have had Peace since, armed and watchful against new threats but still Peace.

And, disturbing thought, today we remember and all the past suffering seems to be limited to the soldiers. It's the veterans who are being honoured, not the people who were fought over.

Meanwhile, we have a Parliament for Europe, talking rather than fighting, and some very questionable Parties elected to that Parliament which are uncomfortable echoes of the European past which led to those wars. They seem to have forgotten what War is, and why their predecessors in the ruling elites set up an alternative.

War is a Racket, and when we forget the civilians, even when we think of the soldiers, we give the Racketeers the chance to come back.

#204 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 04:28 AM:

On the Amazon-Hachette conflict - Stephen Colbert has discovered that Amazon's policies are "deterring customers from buying books by Stephen Colbert. And as any longtime viewer of this show knows, that’s me.”

There's much actually interesting discussion in the SF Chronicle article, and his conclusion is “This means war!” It should be fun to watch this evolve.

#205 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 04:49 AM:

I live. Apologies for my lengthy unscheduled absence; I have not been well. I've kept up some kind of presence on the Book of Face, but haven't had the energy needed to join in the general scintillation over here.

And it turned out to be such a silly thing! You see, from about the middle of March I started to notice I was tired all the time. I went to the doctor and had a blood test (much praise for the nurse, who managed to do it in such a way that I scarcely felt it), and this established that I do not have anaemia and that my thyroid, liver and kidneys are all in tip-top working order. (I wasn't surprised about the liver and kidneys, but I had been worried about my thyroid, since my father has an underactive thyroid and I thought it might be running in the family.) So I said "what now?", and the doctor replied, "I shall take you off the sertraline and see if that helps." This seemed like a good move, since I was wanting to come off the stuff anyway; so I have been weaning myself off it gradually, as one should.

And... nothing happened. If anything, I was still getting worse. Last week I didn't make it out of bed once before 10 am, which is extremely unlike me, and when I did I was still shattered.

And then I dug out my sleep mask. The sleep mask I normally wear in the non-winter months because I am light-sensitive, and I don't like being woken up in the small hours by the rising sun. I've now been using it for a week, and the results have been nothing short of dramatic. Clearly all that was wrong with me was that I'd been suffering low-level sleep disturbance in the early morning, so, although I thought I'd been sleeping late, I hadn't been getting any benefit from it, and I had accrued a sleep debt the size of a small planet. It's now down to about the size of a suburb, and I think I should get rid of the rest of it tonight.

So why wasn't I wearing the mask in the first place? Because the fatigue set in before I would normally have started wearing it, and so I thought I would leave it off in order to help me wake up at a sensible time. Duh. *headdesk*

TL;DR: your Mongoose is a bally clot, and in future years will be starting with the sleep mask on the first of March. And now I'm back, I have been delighting in the poems in this thread, and I have one of my own to offer:

The sign says "TOILET". Honestly, that's all;
inside, there's one just like you have at home.
It doesn't segregate by chromosome.
You can be male or female, large or small,
abled, disabled, trans or genderqueer.
There are some signs in pictures, text and Braille,
room for a scooter, a convenient rail,
and everything says "all are welcome here".
Should you require assistance, pull this chain,
the red one (you can reach it from the floor
if you should fall), and we'll attend to you.
Now listen. We can do this on a train
that reaches eighty miles an hour or more,
so why not with a stationary loo?

#206 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 06:26 AM:

Mongoose... Glad that was resolved.

#207 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 08:40 AM:

mongoose: Brilliant poem! And hooray for a solution to the horrid fatigue!

#208 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 08:56 AM:

Mongoose #205: Lovely poem. And good news.

#209 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 10:16 AM:

Dave Bell #203: I've started reading the "War is a Racket" article, and early on found a champion quote from the good general:

There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.
Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?

#210 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 10:20 AM:

Mongoose #205: Hmm. <Dave goes to look for his own sleep mask>

#211 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 10:53 AM:

It hadn't occurred to me before this, but most of my sonnets have been of a bastard form I don't see in my book. Twelve lines, likely as not divided in three stanzas of four, each in ABBA rhyme, finished with a rhyming couplet.

Shakesparch? Petraspeare? I'm sure somebody's named the thing by now, so I doubt they'd name it after me.

#212 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 11:15 AM:

Hey, new protest happening against the NSA surveillance, with buttons on various websites:

#213 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 11:52 AM:

Critics persnickety
Nitpicking Piketty
Looking for rickety
Premisses used

Critics can stick it, he
’s nobody’s chickadee,
Split they may lickety
Buzz off, defused.

#214 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 11:57 AM:

And, from the hamper, a little theme song:

Everyone loved the King of DC
Handsome and brave, looked good on TV
Led the free world in happiest days
And proved that politics pays!

They called him Gipper, Gipper,
Twinkly and cheerful
People like me
His eyes wouldn’t see.
We knew that Gipper lived in
A world of his own, there,
Sealed in alone, there,
Up in DC.

Though in his time, the ethics might stink,
Washington shined, when Gipper’d but wink
Words that would make his side scream today
From Gipper’s mouth were okay!

For he was Gipper, Gipper,
Everyone’s grandpa
No one 'd read
A prompter like he’d.
They wish that Gipper, Gipper
Was still smiling in there,
Covering sin there,
Under DC!

[ttto 'Flipper,' but if that's not apparent, then it doesn't matter]

#215 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 11:57 AM:

AKICIML, medical edition: What are hydrating things people can drink that are not water or juice?

My mother is improving steadily, so that's good. She's napping right now, so I'm sitting down with some coffee and Making Light. We went to the hospital for a follow up yesterday, and her PICC had to be moved. It took four different nurses (including a Professeur Infirmière, which translates to [I think] "Teaching Nurse"? Or "Nursing Teacher"?) eight tries to get the needle set. Thank Ghu my Mum is not a needle-phobe.

She's dehydrated - her skin tents all over the place. She refuses to drink a glass of water; when she started taking daily meds, she went out and bought the smallest glasses possible. I think they're maybe a shot and a half? And even those, she won't empty. She takes the fewest swallows possible in order to get the pills down, and that's it.

Her liquid intake for the day is: one morning coffee, one after-lunch tea, one after-dinner tea. Point final.

She says she doesn't like water; she doesn't like juice, and thinks milk is disgusting. Neither of us like soft drinks. So, I'm looking for suggestions for liquids I can persuade her to actually drink. I know she used to drink sweetened lemon-water (less lemony than lemonade), but stopped because she decided it was too much sugar. Maybe I can make it with Splenda?

Oh, and if anyone can point to a good online resource showing that dehydration makes needle-sticks more difficult, I'd love to show it to her. She's insisting she's never heard of such a thing and doesn't believe it.

In other news: my bed is assembled. Yay! No more mattress on the floor.

#216 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 12:02 PM:

Cheryl@215:Coconut water (not coconut milk) could be worth trying.

#217 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 12:18 PM:

Cheryl #215: Broth and variations!

You probably don't want them too salty, but small amounts of salt may help her retain the water. V-8 (or just tomato juice) is also one of my favorites, and may not register as "juice==bad" for her.

Caffeinated drinks won't help much, and may be counterproductive. However, there are lots of nice herb teas out there.

#218 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 12:32 PM:

On beverages -- there's been a big revival of shrubs -- sipping vinegars, most of which are actually fairly sweet, which one dilutes with water (still or fizzy). Another possibility -- plain or lightly flavored fizzy water. I moved from sugared sodas over to Talking Rain (and then to a Sodastream) without difficulty, personally.

But then, I like water, and I drink a lot of it.

#219 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 12:55 PM:

Cheryl @215, iced teas of various kinds? Passion tea mixed with lemonade is nice (Starbucks sells it but you can make at home). I like a squeeze of lemon and a sprig of mint in water or in weak iced tea; I don't think it needs to be sweetened but you could.

#220 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 01:00 PM:

Cheryl #215: PS: You might mention to your mother that if she gets badly enough dehydrated, the doctors will consider that to be a threat to her health, and IV fluids are not much fun.

#221 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 01:05 PM:

Dave, I believed that about caffeinated drinks for a long time. But recent studies have shown that, while caffeinated drinks hydrate less (because of the diuretic effect of caffeine), they're still a net positive for hydration (that is, the diuretic effect is not enough to overwhelm the hydration provided by the water).

We're talking about iced tea, cola drinks, etc. here, not 5-Hour Energy.

#222 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 01:13 PM:

I second the coconut water. It hydrates very efficiently, and it tastes - to me, at least - exactly the way water ought to taste. (I don't like water either. To me it doesn't simply taste of nothing; it tastes negative, if you follow me. Whatever is in coconut water restores the balance.)

#223 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 02:07 PM:

Cheryl, #215: Have you tried adding a little plain lemon or lime juice (a couple of slices' worth or less) to her water? Sometimes people who dislike plain water can handle it better if it's got a little flavor to it, and at that level of dilution you don't need to add sugar.

Unsweetened flavored fizzy-water is my go-to replacement for soft drinks, so if she doesn't like sodas she probably won't care for those either. You might try flavored teas, of the fruity or spicy variety; IMO they don't need sugar and are less likely to trigger the same aversion as juice because they're lighter-flavored and not too sweet.

Is she likely to be more willing to make an effort if you explain to her that the dehydration is a serious threat to her health?

#224 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 02:24 PM:

Cheryl, will she eat fruit?

If so, go for fruits with high water content -- watermelon being one.

#225 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 02:47 PM:

Cheryl @ 215 -- if she has a PICC line, quite honestly, IV fluids may be the way to go. There would be no more arguing with her and it might even help keep the PICC line from plugging up. Speaking from experience (recent septic kidney infection) IV fluids via picc line are easy, particularly if you don't want to eat or drink anything.

#226 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 03:15 PM:

@215: I would probably approach the situation head-on in a battle of wills, with the results you'd expect, so I won't give any advice on how to handle the situation.

Can you get her to EAT her water? Lettuce, carrots, apples, anything else that's water in a thin shell of fiber?

#227 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 03:18 PM:

Cheryl, people with deliberately low fluid intake are often concerned with wetting themselves, embarrassed about bedpans, etc.

You might want to look at this from the other end, so to speak.

If part of her care plan is regular ambulation, a trip to the toilet while someone's there to wrangle her I.V. pole could be built in.

#228 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 04:11 PM:

Open-thready question: what does TL;DR mean? Tks, which means "thanks."

#229 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 04:12 PM:

I tried the squeeze of lemon-in-water today; it got a grimace and a refusal to finish the glass. I tried adding Splenda, but she didn't like that either.

Hydrating her via the PICC would work short-term, but she needs to keep herself hydrated long-term, so I need something that will work for her for that. I'll see if I can pick up coconut water when I run to the store.

She doesn't like anything fizzy. I'll try the iced tea - I have some decaf Tetley I bought for a pregnant friend, I can make it with that. She definitely won't drink fruity teas.

Oh, and she doesn't have an IV pole; I hook her up to the Homepump at intervals for her antibiotics; outside of those times, her PICC is tucked up in a 'sleeve' and she can move around freely.

She loves watermelon, I'll pick up one of those. She might eat an apple if I slice it paper-thin.

Thanks very much for all the suggestions!!

#230 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 04:22 PM:

Brenda Kalt #228: what does TL;DR mean?

It stands for "Too Long; Didn't Read". When you're calling it on your own article or comment, it implies "here's the summary, if you don't want to wade through my wall-of-text".

#231 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 04:26 PM:

Brenda Kalt (228): TL;DR* is short for 'too long; didn't read'. I believe it originated as a dismissive comment directed at long posts; nowadays it seems to mean 'here's a summary of my long post'.

*often pronounced 'teal deer'

#232 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 04:27 PM:

Brenda @ 228:
TL;DR = "Too long; didn't read."

When used straight-faced in a response to anything but the most epic digressive schizoid rant, in my humble opinion (IMHO!) "TL;DR" is a confession of idiocy or at least complete disengagement by the (non-)reader.

On the other hand (OTOH!) people do use it ironically sometimes, even on their own responses. I've sometimes written a long impassioned essay-length comment on something or other, and followed it with "TL;DR version:" and a one-sentence summary of the meat of what I'm getting at.

#233 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 04:37 PM:

"Somebody Will" is wonderful. Thank you.

#235 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 05:41 PM:

This Vox article very nicely captures my best guess about how we'll deal with global warming. (Badly, if at all.)

US politics[1] deals very badly with long-term problems, tradeoffs that hurt now to improve the future. We also tend to have our policies captured by the most successful and well-established companies and industries--both our politicians and our media are subject to being captured to the point that they'll tell you the sky is orange if that's what the powerful people are saying. And international agreements that impose substantial pain on everyone and create a huge incentive to defect seem extremely unlikely to work out, so even if we finally really address AGW, I doubt we'll have much effect.

The article pointed out that, in general, the richer countries (most, but not all, of the top polluters) will basically have the resources to weather what we can expect from a 4 degree C average temperature rise. Even a lot of unanticipated stuff can probably be adapted to, given a lot of wealth. We got through the depression and WW2 while we were *way* poorer and less technologically advanced than we are now, so we can probably adapt to things two or three times *that* rough without collapsing. But the implication of this is that, assuming the climate changes in the way the models predict, a really large amount of our wealth (mostly channeled through government programs and insurance payouts, but also through private losses in property values and such) will be needed to deal with that stuff. We're going to be poorer than we would otherwise have been. And this will happen all over the world, though some countries (like China and India and Bangladesh) will have much bigger problems to address, with smaller resources. In general, poorer and more southern countries will get hit hardest.

One consequence of this is that our willingness to help those poor countries that are getting hammered by climate change will likely be much diminished. If we're looking at massive record deficits and unpopular budget cuts at home in order to pay for remediating the damage caused by climate change, we aren't going to be sending a whole lot of aid overseas. Nor are we likely to be spending as much buying stuff from overseas.

I can imagine an even nastier feedback loop here. Climate change makes you much poorer, puts a big strain on your government budgets and your private economy. You adopted expensive measures to decrease CO2 emissions many years ago, when you were richer, and now you're paying 30% more for energy than you would if you started burning coal again. There will be a pretty big incentive to go back to burning coal. If you're trying to become a rich enoguh country to afford the kind of stuff you'll need to do to respond to climate change, you may prefer to keep burning coal now (and thus get richer).

The only realistic way I see for us to address this is by better technology. Solar and wind power have gotten a lot better and cheaper, but still are very expensive (and solar is heavily subsidized) and variable. Nuclear power is expensive and unpopular.

If we had a really appealing alternative to CO2 emitting power sources, something that cost less than burning coal or natural gas and worked as well otherwise, I think we could pretty rapidly drop our CO2 emissions. Among other things, we could subsidize purchase of the new technology the way we are solar panels now, to much bigger effect. But barring that, I expect we're going to run the experiment of seeing what happens to the planet when our CO2 emissions keep on going, average temperature rises 4+ degrees, and the ocean continues to acidify.

[1] Probably other countries' politics, too, but US politics is what I know.

#236 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 05:52 PM:

Boy, do I know that one, Cheryl. My mother's favorite activities all involve being outside and getting sweaty, and then she comes inside, takes two sips of water, and wonders why she starts feeling awful. And when anyone discusses it with her, she is absolutely insistent that she just drank two whole glasses of water, despite the family members standing there ready to testify otherwise. I don't have any suggestions for your mother's taste issues, as it's not really the issue with mine, but what has worked for me wonderfully well is drinking WITH her. If I walk up, hand her a glass of something, and request that she drink it, it's only a prelude to extended and frustrating argument, but if I sit down next to her with two poured glasses and have a conversation about something else entirely while drinking my own glass, she will start drinking. Habit, politeness, subliminal suggestion - who cares as long as it works! I hope you find a solution that works for you.

#237 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 07:35 PM:

albatross #235: Unfortunately, I think you're being unduly optimistic, certainly more so than Mr. Klein. You think your wealth will let us fend off the changes... I don't. The bumper-sticker's at least 20 years old, if not fifty: "... you cannot eat money". Or drink it, or breathe it.

As best I understand it, 2°C would already be a disaster. 4°C is an existential threat to humanity.

Most of the measures that would defend our own coastlines are themselves resource intensive -- earthmoving machinery, pumps, construction all run on fossil fuels. And what happens to those projects when simply feeding the workers becomes an issue, or when the weather gets bad enough to actually interfere with the work?

And where Klein says "the GOP has gone off the rails on climate change", I'd leave the last three words off. Global threat makes people crazy, and the GOP has decided that they're the party of crazy. But they're a symptom... living under threat makes people crazy, and the GOP is just the current expression of that. That craziness is another threat in itself, and can easily scotch any attempts to deal with the real problems. What happens to those projects, or any coherent action, if the Tea Party or their successors declare that it's all the fault of the immigrants/blacks/Jews/scientists, and if the government won't hunt them down, the "patriots" will? If the oil companies decide that the American government isn't really legitimate after all, because they started "interfering with private property"? Or if the TLAs decide that this obsession with global warming is the real threat to America? Or if the craziness reaches a new level, and some demagogue starts pushing The Sheep Look Up as a manifesto?

Of course, that's mostly American craziness: What happens if China or Russia or India -- or even the US -- decides this is their big chance to gain territory, or wonders if global warming could be cancelled by a nuclear winter? (BTW, I wouldn't bet on it.)

#238 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 07:57 PM:

Me #237, erratum: "you think your wealth" should of course have been "you think our wealth" -- like it or not, I'm part of "the America problem".

#239 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 08:01 PM:

Cheryl @ 229: I really like iced mint tea. No caffeine, and it doesn't need sweetener.

janra @ 201:Oh, it really is that scattered :(

Absolutely. The goal of each e-reader company is to have you only buy their books for their gadget, through their store, preferably with their DRM. (All hail to Tor for going DRM free!) I suppose I can't blame profit-driven commercial companies for doing that, but I do resent it anyway!

One of these days, maybe someone will introduce a lightweight tablet with electronic ink that runs various e-reader software packages? Pretty please?

#240 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 08:31 PM:

Janetl - I have a Kindle, which can read a few Kindleish formats and PDFs, and I have a Windows machine with Calibre software on it. I've never actually bought an ebook from Amazon, nor registered the Kindle with them; after starting with Gutenberg, and free downloads from various authors or SF publishers who support them, and the annual Hugo nominee packets, there's been plenty to keep me busy. Calibre takes care of translating the formats (PDFs are annoying to read, because the purpose of PDF is to make a model of black or colored ink on specific shapes of dead trees, and scaling a letter-sized or hardback-sized dead tree page down to Kindle-size makes the letters to small and jaggy to read, so I end up setting the Kindle to rotated-90-degrees mode and reading stuff half a page at a time, grumbling at the publisher through the entire process, or else giving up and reading on the PC.)

#241 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 08:35 PM:

Cheryl - besides watermelon, or maybe iced or herbal tea, does your mother like beer enough to drink non-alcoholic near-beers? Or iced coffee?

#242 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 08:54 PM:

#239, janetl: I was hoping that wasn't the case. *sigh*

#240, Bill Stewart: that's great up until there's a few specific books that were recommended that you want to read that are only available in DRM'd e-book format. I've read various free PDF ebooks before on my laptop and those were no problem because they were free and PDF, and I have no problem reading on a screen.

#243 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 10:30 PM:

@241 Bill Stewart

Cheryl - besides watermelon, or maybe iced or herbal tea, does your mother like beer enough to drink non-alcoholic near-beers?

Neither my mother nor I can stand to so much as smell beer.*

Or iced coffee?

I could try that one.

*This is not a judgement. Others are free to responsibly enjoy as much as they like.

#244 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 10:53 PM:

I'm told that Calibre has add-ons for un-DRMing books. I've only ever purchased a relative handful of e-books (like half a dozen, which could possibly be held in a hand for purposes of my metaphor), and the rest came from archive, Google Books (which seems to have choked back somehow), and Gutenberg, as well as some other PD places whose names are bookmarked in another browser. If I want to read something they want to charge me for, I still have the mutant ability to check it out from a library or find it used and peruse it away from the reader. (I've also scanned some of my books that were just too important not to have — Ten Ever Lovin' Blue Eyed Years with Pogo, for instance, and The Pooh Perplex, which I could be fairly sure I'd want to read again and again.

A real joy of having a reader is that I can read things that have never been bound as books, like my old Live Journal entries or Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (still a work in progress, theoretically).

Just had a big interruption. Not sure if I was going anywhere else with this. I declare victory!

#245 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 11:10 PM:

#237 ::: Dave Harmon

Here are my guesses-- things could get very bad, but I do expect material science to keep progressing-- at least some protections against the rising seas will get cheaper.

I'm not terribly worried about the Tea Party. I could be wrong, but I think their belief in amateurism (experience with politics means you're tainted) undercuts them a lot. Other populist/xenophobic movements could be a serious problem.

Big demographic shifts because of changes in where it's fit to live bumping up against national borders are going to be a huge problem.

#246 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2014, 11:36 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 237: I figure the Tea Party is running out of funds. After all, the Chinese have spending limits.

#247 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 12:41 AM:

Climate change has cut our rainfall here by a third in the last thirty years, and our wheatbelt is contracting. As a result, farmers, among the most conservative of the electorate, are clamouring for something to be done about it, and even a conservative government is not in denial.

This season, and the last, hasn't been bad. But the trend is clear.

This is the time of waiting for the rain.
It yet may come. It may. Perhaps tonight.
This is the time for sky less infinite:
That God, repenting infinite disdain,
Might grant surcease, forgiveness, life again.
This is the time. And if that aching light
Remains as pure, as clean, as well it might,
What then? What else? We bear the pain.

Or watch, while others bear. The wheat is sown,
And once again, slow-dying hope. Again
There’s one more family, packing up alone -
But then, they hear. Five generations’ gain
Will fall to dust the endless wind has blown
Not yet… not yet! The wind has brought the rain!

#248 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 05:05 AM:

I'm not an American. No disrespect to those of you who are, but I am, on the whole, grateful for that fact; America is a rotten place to be poor (although the UK is rapidly becoming equally rotten), and there are too many irresponsible people wandering about armed to the teeth.

However, I do have a lot of American friends, and over the last few days I have been unable to get away from all this hoo-ha about the American POW whose name temporarily eludes me (Bergdahl, is it?). It seems to be yet another in a long line of instances of Mr Obama being viciously attacked for doing things that previous presidents have done and not been attacked for, or even been praised for.

I don't think Mr Obama is perfect. I think if I were American I would vote for him because he's a better choice than the opposition, but that's as enthusiastic as I get about him as a politician. (As a person, he strikes me as very agreeable, but that's a different matter.) However, I am fed up to the back teeth with the apparently unceasing torrent of childish racism that is directed at him. It's unfair and unnecessary, as well as unkind.

So this morning I snapped, and I wrote this. It's called The Racist and the President.

Your ancestor was slave to mine;
for you to lead is out of line,
for White is Might by right divine
as God revealed by secret sign.
And yet how generous and fine
we are! You know you shouldn't whine;
we loosed your chains and let you shine
in our reflected light. Resign!
Your ancestor was slave to mine.


My ancestor was slave to yours:
I have forgiven ancient scores.

#249 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 05:23 AM:

I can de-DRM ebooks in Calibre and store them in Dropbox. Books that don't need de-DRMing (such as Tor, small press, or public domain ebooks) also go into Dropbox. I do that on my desktop PC.

Dropbox has apps that you can load onto various ereaders, tablets, and phones. You can use your home wireless to sideload the ebook into the Dropbox app and then open with whatever ereader or ereader app you are using.

If your devices don't have wireless, or your home isn't set up for wireless, I think you can do this via USB cable. Not sure how that works. The folks at Mobileread would know. Do consult that website if you need help.

I have recently subscribed to Scribd, on my Android tablet. Netflix for books. Spotty collection, but still worth the monthly fee. Oyster provides the same sort of service for iOS devices. Both services have books that the local library does not carry in e.

#250 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 09:37 AM:

Hoorah, poetry! Particularly Dave Luckett and Mongoose @246, 247.

AKICIML: I'm trying to think of an appropriate gift for a friend and his wife, who have been incredibly and unexpectedly kind. One friend suggested tea or coffee, and that would work for his wife I think, but he doesn't appear to have opinions about caffeinated beverages. Therefore: any (fiction) book recommendations for an anthropologist whose last-read science fiction was apparently Neuromancer and who finds dystopias fascinating?

#251 ::: Stefan S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 10:05 AM:

Mongoose @248; I guess for me it's hard to separate anti-Obama racism from the regular political-party in/out-grouping; indeed, that very ambiguity could be an insidious cover for much racism, or regular dislike that, when taken for racism, widens the political gap more than it otherwise would. Troubling. I'm cis/white/male so i presume my blind spots are many. Also *his* ancestors weren't slaves here in the US, which makes the poem jar a bit to me, but maybe my consciousness of that fact speaks more about the struggle than the fact itself.

albatross @ #235: Thoughts echo my own, and seem to tie into abi's connected intermittent thoughts on limits, responsibility, and future. I must admit that my current thought-future is more Bacigalupi "Windup Girl" than anything else, because of how strongly I responded to that narrative. A less equal world, poorer and harder in many ways, especially the idea of not even knowing what one is missing. (Reef? what is a reef?)

#252 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 11:06 AM:

estelendur: how about either The Telling or Always Coming Home by Ursula K. LeGuin? Neither is a dystopia, but they both have strong anthropological content (the author is the child of two anthropologists).

I found the world-building in Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl fascinating, but the title character's lack of agency nearly made me abandon the book. Ship Breaker, also by Bacigalupi, was better, and the fact that it's a YA book precluded some of the squick-inducing sexual abuse of the former.

If the folks in question are in their 40s or 50s and at all connected with the gaming/pop culture threads of the 80s, I heartily recommend Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

#253 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 11:15 AM:

Lila @252, I'd mentioned Always Coming Home previously and he did not evince any interest, alas. Also they are remarkably disconnected from American pop culture of any decade, as far as I can tell. But thanks for the suggestions!

#254 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 11:18 AM:

@estelendur no. 250: Definitely Always Coming Home. It initially presents like an anthropologist's notes on a dreamy California utopia, but as the book unfolds it becomes clear that the Kesh have created the most livable, humane society possible given the conditions they face, which are a post-apocalyptic toxic nightmare to an outside observer; the antagonists are definitely dystopians. Also the Singularity happened and nobody jumped on board. Look for the edition with the Kesh song collection, if there is still such a thing available (back in the day it came with a cassette tape).

#255 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 11:21 AM:

estelendur @ 250: Then how about A Million Open Doors, by John Barnes?

#256 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 11:54 AM:

Open Threadiness: Bill Watterson makes a guest appearance in Stephan Pastis' Pearls before Swine comic strip.

#257 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 12:24 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #245: "Materials science"? Exotic composites and even nanotechnology are certainly useful for a lot of things, but they need energy and infrastructure to produce too. And the problem with holding off the sea is sheer scale.

If anything, I'd hold out more hope for biotech sequestration of CO2, but regardless of safeguards, any such tactic would fall squarely under Klein's "geoengineering is insane". Unfortunately, we may actually be in that much trouble. Slightly less insane would be repurposing fission plants for wholesale condensation of CO2, but you wouldn't want that near human populations, or anything flammable. Pity the existing fission plants are mostly placed to serve some city's power needs.... (And then you need to do something with the liquid CO2, which is still an unsolved problem in its own right.)

#258 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 01:19 PM:

Hyper-Local News: Woman has had a complete meltdown over caregiving, lack of employment/funds, and the realization that the move from NYC to Seattle cost her more emotionally than she had expected. (The major thing is the lack of the musical community she had, which is slightly startling to realize that singing is more important than sex, but there you go.) Friends are helping, but she is drained. Suicidal ideation has been thwarted by learning that her partner would kill himself if she killed herself, which rather defeats the purpose of making his life easier. Partner is continuing to deal with his post-stroke health issues, but is incredibly supportive.

And Mongoose @205: A friend just put a blackout blind up in our bedroom. We took this apartment (after having to leave our original home in Seattle abruptly) because of the amount of sunlight that came in, but the ambient light from the courtyard plus the southern exposure apparently has kept me from sleeping soundly for the past ten months.

Who knew?

#259 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 01:26 PM:

(Coming in very late ...)

Soon Lee, apropos #118: true, Marmite and Vegemite contain no live yeast. But I find that putting a dollop of the stuff in the bread maker (yes, I am lazy and use a machine to do the hard work) makes for a wholemeal loaf with a very crisp, malty-tasting crust and a slightly yeasty zing to its flavour. Strongly recommended. I leave out the salt completely and put in about twice as much Marmite -- so about 10g for a recipe that calls for 5g of salt (although I'd usually only put in half that in the first place -- most bread recipes are too heavy on the salt for my taste).

#260 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 01:51 PM:

Cheryl, what about ice cream, sherbert, snow cones, shaved ice, etc? Or if she objects to the sugar content therein, frozen lemonade or lemon-water, or diluted fruit juice pops -- you could make 'em yourself. You could even smash up fruit with a high water content and freeze it -- strawberries work great for this.

Other thing I'd observe is that dehydration severe enough to cause skin tenting also causes people to be cranky and not think clearly. (I get wicked stubborn and generally bad tempered when I'm dehydrated.) Rehydrating her via PICC for a few days might improve her mood and general feeling of well being, and therefore, perhaps, make her more willing to drink.

Is it possible she has reflux? When I'm not taking antacids, even a small glass of water (or food, or anything by mouth) will give me a miserable acid attack and it does, indeed, make me reluctant to drink.

#261 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 01:52 PM:

Velma 258: I'm sorry for your meltdown, and glad your suicidal ideation has been thwarted (someday I'll tell you what thwarts mine, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet).

I confess I'd had an idyllic image of you meshing effortlessly into Seattle's music scene and Seattle fandom. All I can say now is that I hope it will work out better than it has so far, and that I'll keep a good thought FWIW.

#262 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 02:08 PM:

Velma @258: I hope the blackout curtain helps restore some strength for you. I wouldn't mind putting three up in the bedroom here. If my sister was still in Kirkland, I'd commend you to each other, but she's in Olympia now, where she's playing viola in a volunteer orchestra. Things are uncertain, but so far, so good. Have you thought about singing at retirement-type homes? Some of them even pay. I've seen a couple where the piano was in tune and not abused.

Like Xopher, I'll keep the good thought going. I wish the best to you both.

#263 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 03:10 PM:

Velma @258:

I'm so sorry to hear that you've been struggling so much. If prayers and good wishes can help, you and Soren most certainly have mine in abundance.

#264 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 04:43 PM:

Stefan S. @251 - President Obama's paternal ancestors were not slaves. However, I recall seeing somewhere that there was a slave somewhere in his mother's ancestry, back before 1700. Apparently a lot more white Americans than most realize have a little black ancestry; it took several decades before a clear distinction was drawn between white indentured servants and black slaves, and people intermarried, ran away, and "passed" more than was possible later. At any rate, for the racists it doesn't matter.

#265 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 06:10 PM:

Velma, I've never met you but I know your voice so very clearly from Making Light and am grateful for your existence. You have all my sympathy for the huge pressure you're going through and and all good wishes for things to improve. If staying alive for each other is what you've got to keep going on, then go with that. You are an inherently worthwhile person.

#266 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 06:23 PM:

Recently, there was some discussion here of moderate conservative sf writers, and I'd like to post a list in a discussion elsewhere. Does anyone remember who they are?

#267 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 06:48 PM:

Zora @ 249: Sounds like you've got an excellent system for managing ebooks!

What I love, lazy creature that I am, is reading an ebook that loads onto my ereader automatically as soon as I buy it, and synchs as I read so that if I'm standing in line at the store, I can open the book on my phone and continue reading at exactly the same spot in the text. These are the features that keep people tethered in the various ebook walled gardens.

#268 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 07:53 PM:

It was the longest that it's been in years,
almost to my waist, a weight of braid
and summer coming on. So it was now the time.
The hairdresser was late—she had
forgotten the buttercream
(when you have friends of many talents,
and they do house calls,
why not take advantage?)

We put on Tangled for the kids
(a very apt choice, I later realized)
and braided up my hair.
A quick confirmation, two cuts,
and then the trimming
and shaping,
the hair darkening as we reached the depths
unseen by the sun of years.
And now the gray looks less like dust
and more like the hint of frost,
and now for the first time in years
the weight of obligation is gone.

Oddly enough, the braids
weigh less than an earlier cut
as yet unsent.


HLN: Woman gets awesome haircut. And apparently this is the best mood-improvement she could have done.

#269 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 08:33 PM:

AKICML: OK, my TV is definitely dying. It has a big dark patch (not all the way black, just anything that appears there is significantly darker) and lines all across the screen. Getting very hard to watch most things.

So. Can't afford to replace it. It occurs to me that my laptop has an HDMI port (I've used it to play videos on the TV). I don't know that much about HDMI; does it go both ways? Could I hook the HDMI cable from my cable box into the laptop and watch videos on the laptop screen?

#270 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 09:31 PM:

So, It occurred to me that it was about the time of year for fireflies... so I went out after dark, and indeed, they are out and about. Not too many of them as yet, but definitely there.

Oddly, I'm still finding myself explaining to kids where my dog Gracie went. Have I been that shut-in for the last 5 months? I probably was -- I was pretty exhausted, and it's taken me a while to get back into walking around the area. (Also there was snow, and then rain.)

#271 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 10:51 PM:

Xopher: I think HDMI will function only as an output from your computer. Pretty sure.

#272 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 11:11 PM:

Xopher, have you looked at Goodwill? Mine has TV sets that would have been considered pretty advanced a short while back for something like ten or twenty dollars. Same with the DAV store and others. The VCR I got to replace my old one that died cost a sawbuck. I taped the receipt to the side so I'd remember. Just a thought.

#273 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 11:30 PM:

Clifton, it appears you're correct. Kip, that's a good idea.

#274 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 12:07 AM:

I'll second the notion of TV shopping at Goodwill (or similar thrift shop). First-generation 480p flatscreens are easy to find there. Usually "kitchen sized," but sometimes you'll find a "big" 32" 720p set (which was "OH MY GOD!" technology to me a few years ago).

#275 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 12:48 AM:

I want to upload a photo I took with my cellphone (Samsung Galaxy S3) to my Flickr account. There's supposed to be a way for me to do this, but I can't find any control either in my Flickr app or on the Gallery app to do it. IME this usually means it's there, but hidden somewhere that I would never think to look for it, or called something that makes it not obvious. Help?

#276 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 01:24 AM:

Not poetry, but serving the same function for me right now:

You know how holograms work? Well, not how they *work* but how they end up. You can cut them up, shatter them into tiny pieces, and you'll still be able to see the image they record. Holograms can be badly made and broken in such a way that you can only see part of the image, and they only work right if you look at them using the right kind of light.

Douglas Hofstadter says, though using different words, that we all carry imperfect holographs of each other in our heads. We all live in each other's minds as incomplete fragments viewed with light not entirely of the correct wavelength. After we die, these fuzzy and fragmented images are all that's left of us.

You can't put a physical hologram back together to restore the image if it wasn't recorded correctly in the first place. But we can show each other our holograms of each other, and re-record, de-fuzz, and expand our fragmented, degraded images. After someone dies, that's all we can do. It isn't a perfect process; but neither is it nothing.

#277 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 02:10 AM:

Just to see what would happen, I logged in at Hotmail (Outlook Yayzors Outlook Awesome Cool Land dot com).

Now, back when I unloaded my Hotmail address, the message on the screen, I thought, said that if I cleaned out my inbox and clicked here or there or something and didn't touch it for a while, they would forget me. So I followed the instructions. That's been, I dunno, months now? A while.

Oh, hey, look, they still remember my old address and password, and YIPPEE, they also know my meatspace name! And display it! So helpful!

"Welcome to your new Outlook inbox." NO.

Logged out, never going back.

#278 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 02:46 AM:

I know that a lot of the stuff I post here probably makes real programmers roll their eyes, but ISTM sometimes that the companies with the biggest market share are answering questions I never asked and assuming that I have problems when I don't, hence their attempts to provide Radio for You, the Viewer!

I want to read messages from people and send messages to people, and do it more quickly than paper and stamps will allow and with more editing ability than a phone call. And I want to do it in such a way that sometimes I can be in the sphere that used to require letters headed "Dear Sir," and sometimes I can be in the sphere that used to be known as chatting over the back fence, and the two spheres won't connect unless somebody who is determined to give me a bad day decides to connect them. That's it. That's all I want. What does Outlook keeping an empty inbox for months with my meatspace name on it do for me? Anybody who manages to get in will see my meatspace name and the e-mail address I used to use for my personal things, and have a place to play in, as me, that I didn't even realize was still there. I might never have realized that it was still there. This is kind of the opposite of help.

#279 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 03:05 AM:

Xopher - There are USB dongles you can get that will let you watch TV on your PC. Some are as cheap as $20 (e.g. from DealExtreme), but I don't know if all of those do cable or how compatible they are with the version of cable TV you have.

#280 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 06:24 AM:

Jenny Islander #278: This sort of corporate behavior is not about helping you send E-mail.

Partly it's about making sure the Corporation gets its cut no matter what -- after all, you might take a knock on the head and want to use the address again.

But on the flip side, consider that if they well-and-truly delete the account, that means someone else can pick up the address....

#281 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 07:54 AM:

Cheryl @215/229: You say she hates fruit teas, but how about herbal? I have, for example*, peppermint, chamomile, chamomile-and-spearmint, fennel and anise, liquorice and cinnamon, cinnamon and clove, fennel and liquorice, lemon-and-ginger, peppermint-and-liquorice. Then there's rooibos tea and flavoured rooibos (mint, lemon, spiced, cinnamon, etc.). These are all naturally caffiene-free, and taste good cold as well as hot, so could be prepared as iced tea. Note: the liquorice-containing teas should not be drunk in large quantities if you have high blood pressure.

* I have more than 100 different herbal, rooibos, flavoured green and flavoured black teas in my collection - I love being able to choose exactly which flavour I want.

#282 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 11:03 AM:

@281 dcb

Cheryl @215/229: You say she hates fruit teas, but how about herbal?

She won't. At the mention of them, she screwed up her face like a kid with a lemon. She won't even try them.


I'd forgotten how hard it is to get my mum to try something she's never had before. She sits there saying she doesn't like it, even though she's never tasted it in her life before. It was very hot yesterday, and is supposed to continue that way for the next several days, so I would really just like to tell her to DRINK SOME FREAKING WATER PLEASE.

Which will not be helpful.

She's supposed to get the IV out tomorrow and switch to pills; maybe I can convince the nurse to tell her that she has to drink more - my mother is much more inclined to listen to Authority than she is to me.

I do thank everyone for the suggestions. Watermelon went OK, since she's always loved it, but she worries about it being too sweet. I have to find low-sugar, high-water things for her to eat, and hope that she likes them.

#283 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 11:14 AM:

Cheryl, if she listens to Authority, then don't hesitate to invoke it. You might be doing this already, but just in case you're not, the construction, "Nurse says…" or "Doctor said…" could be useful.

#284 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 11:20 AM:

Cheryl #282: Watermelon went OK, since she's always loved it, but she worries about it being too sweet.

Worries? I can understand not wanting to pig out on sugar, and can at least imagine not liking overly sweet tastes, but this throws me -- what exactly is she "worried" about?

#285 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 11:50 AM:

@284 Dave Harmon

Worries? I can understand not wanting to pig out on sugar, and can at least imagine not liking overly sweet tastes, but this throws me -- what exactly is she "worried" about?

Her mother was a type 2 diabetic, and so are two of her older sisters (as well as the one who died a few years ago). So my mother worries about becoming diabetic, and this comes out as not wanting to eat too many sweet things.

Unfortunately, they were/are all badly managed diabetics, so she doesn't really have a frame of reference for doing it right.

And before anyone suggests attending a Diabetic Clinic - they have a particularly excellent one near here, and she will not go. "I already know all that. They're only going to tell me to eat food I don't like."

#286 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 11:56 AM:

Would she listen to NASA?

This picture came from the Hacker's Diet, that got it from a NASA presentation on what humans need if they're going to Mars.

As I said before, any conversation I can imagine having, if I were in your shoes, would end up in a war of wills. So I'm probably providing you ammunition for a gun you shouldn't be shooting.

#287 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 12:15 PM:

They're much more likely to tell her how much she can have of the stuff she does like. And then they'll tell her she needs to drink more fluids, because dehydration is hard on the kidneys, and she really doesn't want that.

#288 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 12:56 PM:

I found a swell, extra heavy duty cutting board in a "moving sale" pile:

I thoroughly sanitized it (bleach, soap, microwaves, sunlight), but wonder it I need to do anything else, like rub some kind of preserving oil into it.

#289 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 12:59 PM:

Well, that's weird. The submission form assumed my "I found spam" name variant was the default.

I did not find spam.

#290 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 01:14 PM:

Cheryl, caffeine is at most a very weak diuretic, and the increase in urination it might produce is far outweighed by the hydration benefit from drinking its vehicle (tea, coffee). Caffeine is also the most powerful performance-enhancing drug legally available, with the fewest side effects and the greatest dosage latitude, and it would surely be banned from competition were it not traditional.

#291 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 01:46 PM:

A random query for any American Doctor Who fans who may be here. I'm currently rewatching the best of the classic series (at least I *think* I've got far enough to be rewatching - I would have been 8 when these episodes were first broadcast, so my memory is understandably hazy) and have got as far as Planet of Fire. Now, to my non-sensitive ears, Nicola Bryant's accent sounds.. forced, is perhaps the polite way of putting it. Yet Wikipedia suggests she successfully maintained the fiction that she was American for some time. Does this sound plausible to you?

#292 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 01:56 PM:

Some random queries about new turns of language (some of which I first saw here)

What does it mean to "give props to" someone? What is a prop?

Why do people say "wait for it..." before delivering the punchline of a joke? Did this originate with some talk show host or stand-up comic?

What does bog-standard mean? Why a bog?

#293 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 01:58 PM:

Lee@275 I'm not sure about flickr, but other similar applications you would open the image, and choose share from the action menu. Is this not working for you?

#294 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 02:09 PM:

Erik@292 I've always assumed that "bog standard" derives from the british slang "bog" for toilet (the phrase isn't really new... I've been using it for at least 20 years). As to the others, I have no idea.

#295 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 02:09 PM:

What does it mean to "give props to" someone? What is a prop?

As I understand it "props" is short for "proper respect" or "proper acknowledgement" or the like.

#296 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 02:45 PM:

Cheryl, does she like cucumbers or pickles? What about cucumbers and tomatoes (and onions, if you like) marinated in italian salad dressing?

If she's worried about calories too, show her the calorie content on an average dill pickle. They're basically a no-guilt food.

#297 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 02:56 PM:

According to Urban Dictionary, "Wait for it" has been popularized in the show Ii>How I Met Your Mother.

#298 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 04:34 PM:

The Urban Dictionary describes "Wait for it" as revived by that TV show. I did some digging, and it's a very old pattern, and looks to go back to WW1 at least, and comedy drill acts in general, where somebody would do the drill movement early, and the drill sergeant would declaim, "Wait for it!". I think I saw it in "Dad's Army" once, and it does rather depend on an audience who knows enough to spot the error. I wouldn't be surprised if it was in "Carry On, Sergeant"

And what about Bilkp?

#299 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 04:52 PM:

Re: my mother's hydration

She will eat mini-cucumbers, if I slice them up very thin (she has a thing about thin slices). She's not a fan of dill pickles.

The Hacker's Diet image will not make sense to her, since water is obviously not drunk in pounds.

In good news: the IV is out! Ding Dong! No more getting up on short sleep to take the bulb out of the fridge, wait for it to warm up, set it up with her spending the whole time with her telling me I'm Doin It Rong, watching it obsessively for air ("That's a bubble!!" "That's not a bubble, it's a droplet on the outside" ::wipes:: "See?". 5 minutes later: "I see a bubble!!" Lather, rinse, repeat), removing the bulb and injecting the saline ("Bubbles!!!")... all over. Yay!! ::Kermit arms::

Is yoghurt hydrating? She loves it and the nurse said it would help her digestion, and I made sure she's allowed dairy on her new oral antibiotic, so I got her to eat a small bowl of it with dried cranberries mixed in (please do not mention how sweet yoghurt and cranberries are - what she doesn't know won't hurt me).

Oh, and I asked the very busy clinic nurse about getting my mother to drink more water. She was the only one on duty on a Sunday, so didn't really have time, but did offer a quick, "Sure, water's good! Drink more!" We'll see if that helps.

Oh, and about the war of wills: yes, that would happen, and it wouldn't help, so I'm trying to get around it.

#300 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 05:01 PM:

Erik 292: I believe 'props' is short for 'propers' which is short for 'proper credit'.

#301 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Cheryl, #285: You've probably already thought of this, but... does the diabetic clinic have any literature that your mother could read, or that you could read to her? Because as long as you're fighting the conversation she's having with them in her own head, you won't get anywhere.

Jules, #293: Aha. Turns out I needed to scroll down the page after hitting the Share button on the gallery. There was no indication (slider bar, etc.) that I needed to do so. Thanks!

#302 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 05:21 PM:

Lee@275 you should be able to 'Share' (icon is 3 dots in a triangle, one of them joined to each of the others by lines) from the Gallery as Jules @293 says.
Or from the Flickr App, select the icon of the camera from the top menu. This shows you the view from the phone's camera, ready to take a photo/video (by touching the big white 'biutton'). Select the photo (from the phone's camera roll) that it is displaying next to the big white button, this will give you a list of all the locations on the phone where it has found photos.

It's easier than having to write it out makes it look!

#303 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 05:37 PM:

The phrase "wait for it" invokes memories of various stereotyped Sargent-majors in 50's/60's UK military comedies*. Along with "you 'orrible little man" and "you bleedin shower" they would be prone to shouting "SQUAD ATTEN -wait for it,wait for it - SHUN"

It is possible that some Anglophile writer brought it over the pond and re-purposed it. Or it might be a co-incidence.

*and then later lampooned in 80's show "It Ain't Half Hot, Mum" **

** Which was basically "Are You Being Served" only in a jungle...
with amateur dramatics and racism...
and slightly camper.

#304 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 06:03 PM:

Jules @291: not plausible, if I'm not misremembering -- it's been a long time since I last watched Planet of Fire.

#305 ::: narmitaj ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 06:36 PM:

@ 292 Erik Nelson "What does bog-standard mean? Why a bog?"

It means basic, lowest standard, normal, ordinary, even rubbishy. But it's not really known why or where it comes from, though it has only arisen in the last few decades. The Phrase Finder discusses it here, including dismissing the theory that it is an amendment of "box standard" (and also dismissing the theory that the approving term "the dog's bollocks" is a corruption of "box deluxe").

#306 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 06:42 PM:

@Cheryl no. 285: What Lee @301 said. If your mother is arguing based on what she thinks Authority says, giving her written proof of what Authority actually says, with Authority logos, all shiny and everything, may help. While I understand that this may feel weird and wrong, it may also be time to explain the situation to a nurse and have her put on her Authority hat and come and give an Authority lecture, especially if she can give a good impression of the Authority of your mother's formative years.

#307 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 06:46 PM:


Lettuce is apparently 98% water, so salad might be good. What about celery (the only non-fattening "food" if the tales of the energy used in chewing it is greater than its usable calories)?

Here in rightpondia there are flavoured waters (Volvic lemon and lime is very nice and available as "Diet" as well as sugared) intended for hot days. (Obviously this would not be a cheap long-term solution, but might give you a starting point.)

#308 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 06:53 PM:

OK, so for once Hoboken's Radio Shack DID have answers (maybe because I got the manager this time). He said IOGear makes a device that will let me connect my laptop to a USB port on my laptop, and watch my cable that way. He said RS doesn't carry it, but Office Depot (a few blocks away) might.

I needed to look at the cable box first, so I went home. To try to find out more, I Googled for it. I started with "IOGear HDTV to laptop" (minus the quotes), which is what he wrote down for me. Neither that nor any of the other search strings I tried (and I tried many, with various things in quotes, using minuses to negate things I didn't want to see, etc.) showed me anything but devices to go FROM the laptop TO a flatscreen, which is vastly more common but not what I need.

Either there's no such device (and yes, I tried a couple of searches without "IOGear" in them), or Google's being stupid again ("oh, he probably meant this more common thing instead of the thing he's very explicitly asking for"). Anyone have insight into any aspect of this?

(Optimum does provide an app to watch TV on the laptop...over WiFi. My internet service is spotty at best, so I don't want to think about taking TV programs over WiFi. The cable box never seems to have a problem.)

Oh, and one other annoyance. IOGear offers a technician to answer questions online. They let you go all through the process of putting up your question and providing your contact information and THEN tell you they charge for this. Perhaps I'm simpleminded and everyone already knows everyone charges to answer questions about their own products, but this bugged me. I closed the tab.

#309 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 07:00 PM:

Cheryl, Cadbury @307 made me think of TrueLemon, which is a little bit of powdered (and de-sugared) lemon juice in a packet, intended for tea I think. A packet will add just a tad of lemon flavor to some water.

#310 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 07:03 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 277: I see what that's annoying for you. My sympathies. I've actually opened an Outlook account recently. I considered Not Being Evil, then laughed at my naïveté about marketing and went with the devil I've known and loved.

Loved to hate, I grant you. It's a thin, thin line.

#311 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 07:29 PM:

A friend of mine who got promoted just in time for a bad-looking summer mentioned in passing he was there for this story.

I've known him for thirty years and I'd never known that particular fact about him. I don't know why I'm surprised that this came as a surprise. And now I'm going to worry about him all summer long, just like always.

#312 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 08:06 PM:

Hm. Let me see if I've got this right, Xopher - you've got a cable box that you'd like to hook up to your laptop in order to use it's screen as your TV? Depending on how recent your cable box is, what you're looking for is either an HDMI input for your laptop, or an analog video input device for same. The latter is usually in the form of either a USB video converter, or a USB TV tuner with an auxiliary input. A quick bit of searching says that the cheap USB video inputs are roundly hated (the drivers are usually abominable). The USB TV tuners will be better (I used one in my dorm days), but they usually start around $60ish, and good ones seem to be $80-100.

#313 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 09:29 PM:

Cheryl, are you sure you're not my sister? I know you can't be, because I don't have one. And because my mother didn't have an IV line this past week. But my mother never wants to take more than a sip of water, no matter what symptoms of dehydration she has, and she says all the infuriating things your mother says.

With my mother, part of the problem has to do with her bladder. When my mother finally overcame her embarrassment enough to consult a doctor, he diagnosed "minor stress incontinence," and advised her to limit fluids and work harder at holding it. (A previous comment mentioned that she might be embarrassed about bedpans or needing help to go to the toilet now that she's sick. But it might not just be that.) She's been limiting fluids for decades. It feels like the only thing she can do to control something that feels out-of-control, shameful, and anxiety-provoking.

#314 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 09:57 PM:

Adults should be embarrassed to read YA books.
Summary: a person who, by her own admission, does not read YA fiction displays her complete lack of understanding of YA fiction -- and then says there's something wrong with US for disagreeing with her. She also appears to think that those of us who read and enjoy YA fiction read nothing else.

I think this just begs for a recommended-reading list. I'll open with the entire Young Wizards series by Diane Duane. Next?

#315 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 09:58 PM:

The Dark is Rising series.

#316 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 10:08 PM:

The Wizard of Earthsea.

#317 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 10:10 PM:

Everything by Diana Wynne Jones and Robin McKinley.

#318 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 10:29 PM:

@288: Mineral oil. Especially if it feels "dried out". Vegetable oil is fine also, if you frequently wash and re-oil. (I asked a group of friends once and an Awesome Housewife said "I re-oil twice a year with mineral oil, and yes it's on my calendar."

#319 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 10:30 PM:

Continued from previous post. )

#320 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 10:32 PM:

Lee @ 314: See Sandy B. @ 318 for my suggestion. I think it's a lot likelier to work.

#321 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 10:39 PM:

The July Cooks Illustrated (cover illo: peaches, back cover has beets) has a bit on 'spoon butter', which apparently is better for wooden utensils than straight mineral oil - it's mineral oil and beeswax.

#322 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 11:02 PM:

Lee #314: Scott Westerfield's Midnighters trilogy. Also Heinlein's "juvies" are still good.

#323 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 11:47 PM:

YA? Ooh.

Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books. The Macdonald Hall books by Gordon Korman. Holes. The Westing Game (which, as a bonus, has a puzzle to solve!). Anything Madeleine L'Engle wrote, but I'm particularly fond of The Arm of the Starfish. I really liked "Divergent", which as a bonus is a movie right now.

I joke that I don't read anything whose title is "Blabla: A Novel", because if I can't tell it's a novel on my own, it's failed at being a novel and succeeded at being pretentious about it.

#324 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2014, 11:48 PM:

Oh, for an edit button. I forgot Margaret Laurence's "A Bird in the House", which is a short story cycle.

#325 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 12:13 AM:

Ruth Graham appeared on NPR to explain her reasoning, and came across as a twit.

Someone on Twitter, paraphrased: "Why are people wasting their time on kiddie stuff when they could be reading a book about the rich inner life of an English professor with marital problems?"

#326 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 12:20 AM:

The author of that piece is a lit snob, who wouldn't want any genre fiction to sully her doorway either.

I'm just happy that people read, for pleasure. That's uncommon enough in this world. We've done a lot of YA reading lists here before, and she's unlikely to be swayed by our thoughts in any case.

Never mind the Nobel Prize winners in literature who have written children's books (Kipling, for example). Never mind just about every other award having some winner write a good YA/kid's book. She's just trolling for reactions. And I would rather recommend good stuff to those who might actually read it (go check out Tove Jannson's Moomin books, especially Tales from Moomin Valley for some really powerful short fiction, or Walter Moers' really weird novels).

#327 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 12:31 AM:

#314, Lee:

Can't those lovers of the literary genre use their oh-so-much-more-sophisticated minds to come up with something more original to say? That entire screed reads like every anti-genre rant I've ever read, with "YA" inserted in the [genre name] placeholder spot.

On the other hand, book recs! yay! (I've just finished book 2 of the expanse series and can now read Abaddon's Gate, which was recommended in I think the Hugo thread. Also, Ancillary Justice, recommended in the same place, was a fantastic read.)

#328 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:42 AM:

@Cheryl, off Xopher no. 309: Yes! And their lemonade is powdered lemon juice and stevia. Their pink lemonade is colored with beet extract (I called and asked). We use these powders to disguise the taste of plain water, at 5 packets to every 3 quarts. It's very easy to drink a lot of either one. Perhaps they would appeal, as being basically just lemon juice diluted a little bit and made milder with something that is not sugar?

#329 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 06:58 AM:

Em #323: The Westing Game

Oh, I'm embarrassed I didn't remember that, given I just saw it at my bookstore and raved about it to my boss.

Anything Madeleine L'Engle wrote,

Whoops, be careful about that. It turns out she also wrote some adult fiction, even "spiritual" and "trials of life" books, which are at least above YA level, and in some cases likely not suitable for young readers. (Her Amazon listing has 80 entries!) Sample blurb for one of those:

In this third volume of the Genesis Trilogy, Madeleine L’Engle takes us on a new journey. And It Was Good reflected on the marvel of new beginnings; A Stone for a Pillow tells the story of Jacob, one of the Bible’s earliest pilgrims, and follows his, and Madeleine’s, inner and outer journeys.
In Sold Into Egypt, we trace a new journey, that of Jacob’s favored younger son, Joseph—a journey on many levels: the abduction from Canaan country to pagan Egypt with its slavery and sophistication, from poverty to riches, from insignificance to the power of privilege and leadership, from the foolish arrpgance of youth to the seasoned wisdom of maturity, from parochial narrowness to the authentic human-ness which comes with hard lessons learned and relationships restored.
Madeleine L’Engle joins Joseph on this journey as she herself moves through grief. With the loss of her beloved husband, she traverses the barren desert of bereavement. And just as Yahweh was Joseph’s strong companion in the desert journey, in the house of Potiphar, in prison, and in his rise to power, so God was with the author of this book and, she assures us, he will be with us as we, too, move toward the human-ness of true maturity.

#330 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 07:04 AM:

Dave at 329: I've learned something! Okay, then - "a large chunk of what she wrote".

My roommate teaches grade 5/6, so I get the scoop on a lot of great books. They read The Westing Game this year, and it lead to sentences like "Miss K, if we do ten minutes of math, can we read a chapter? PLEASE?"

#331 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 09:27 AM:

Lee @ #314: Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.

And very on topic: zefrank, of "True Facts About the Octopus" fame, on yucking other people's yum.

#332 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Because I am not, really, a nice person, may I suggest to the Fluorosphere that we cease and desist from indulging the urges of people like Ruth Graham to denigrate all other genres than their own? If nothing else, I am reluctant to concede to them possession of any sort of high ground they haven't personally earned.

Let's not call it "literary fiction". Let's call it what it is: mimetic fiction--you know, the sort of thing that's striving to Hold the Mirror up to Nature and all that. That's leaving aside the Experimental Fiction and Magical Realism and all the rest--because most of these kvetchers mean mimetic fiction, really and truly.

Either it's all literary, because it's written words, or (if we mean "enduring rather than ephemeral") it's often too soon to tell.

#333 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 10:12 AM:

Lee @ 314 et al

I read the Slate piece, with substantial annoyance--but still thought it had a bit of a point. It seemed to me related to the Vandana Singh essay currently linked in the Sidelights.

In both cases, the argument could be stated as "The Mayor of Casterbridge[1] is a better novel than anything by Nora Roberts[2]."

That's probably true; it's also almost completely beside the point. A lot of the time, I want something where things actually work out in the end, and I can keep track of what's going on without any work.

In the great YA literature list, I'd nominate Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain and Tamora Pierce's Trickster series.

1)My nominee for "best novel ever"
2)Whose books I enjoy, and was introduced to by someone who's also not at all the stereotypical romance novel reader.

#334 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 10:15 AM:

It snarls and growls, what Ruth Graham writes,
And yaps and howls, and hopes to bite,
But has no teeth and is short of sight.

And when it's done it huffs and sneers
And hopes to see you quake in fear
As it sniffs and chokes and fights back tears.

That some can have so much fun
And read of spies, or far red suns--
It's just not fair! It's just not done!

So quick to pen Ruth Graham darts
And grits her teeth to show her smarts
And make you see what is not true art.

Could it be just a stunt or sham?
How can it be that dear Ms. Graham
Has not read Green Eggs and Ham?

#335 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 10:51 AM:

WRT Ruth Graham's inanities, and also SamChevre's observation @333: "A lot of the time, I want something where things actually work out in the end, and I can keep track of what's going on without any work."

My mother still recalls her introduction to the works of D.E. Stevenson (a cousin of RLS, and therefore also a Lighthouse Stevenson). It was the 1950s, a hot, stressful un-airconditioned summer which had been full of 2-hour-plus drives back and forth between Hometown and St. Louis on old US 66 for eye doctors and orthodontists and other things, and then by herself with three children and an agitated fox terrier to Oak Ridge (and boy, if you want scary office politics, try Oak Ridge in the 1950s, where the Summer Institute people were not spared in the slightest). They were back in Missouri, and getting ready for another long un-airconditioned drive to Mississippi to see my father's family. She hit up the library for reading material, and told a friend who worked there "I just want something pleasant where people are nice to each other". She ended up with Charlotte Fairlie and came back for more.

Nowadays. D.E. Stevenson would, like many another female author, be dismissed as a romance writer, because she wrote light novels which often have a love story embedded in them somewhere, although not always the protagonist's love story. I'm not sure that I would describe Miss Buncle's Book as anything but a comic novel which ends in a marriage, and another, Anna and her Daughters, is a bildungsroman of a sort, with a female protagonist (because young women have to grow up and figure out their lives too!).

But a woman wrote them, and they often have one or more couples paired off by the end, so they must be romance novels. /literarysnark

I know why we sort books into genres--it's so people who want to read someting else like that Brad Thor novel they liked don't end up with If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, unless they really want Calvino after reading a bit of it. But I do wish the people who write (and especially read) in different genres would learn to play well together.

#336 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 11:27 AM:

I have been uneasy about the "literary" label ever since the first Mexicon, held in Newcastle, which was fun enough but used that label in a way which left me confused.

It's still a label, and I find it hard to attach to it any useful meaning. And the politicians and teachers all to often seem to want it to mean something dream-crushing. O, brave new world that has such people in it! Yeah, right. And meanwhile we have such people as Jo Walton.

#337 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 11:39 AM:

"It's still a label, and I find it hard to attach to it any useful meaning."

This is the way genre labels usually go.

(Even if they made sense at one point, the genre evolves out from under them sooner or later. This rarely causes a label change.)

#338 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 11:39 AM:

Re "literary fiction" -- when I was working in a bookstore, I started calling that category "unadjectived fiction," because that's what the shelf said.

And really, that's what the authors in that group (and the critics who like it, etc) want to do: they want to center themselves as the only ones who get to use "fiction" without a qualifying adjective.

An illustrative parallel might be to those dominionist thinkers who insist that they are "Christians" with no adjective or denomination, because clearly aren't all Christians one? By which they mean, THEY are the REAL Christians and everyone else should differentiate themselves with adjectives that make them less real.

I admit, with my gender history, I start longing for an equivalent terminology to cisgender. I'm not sure mimetic works; it's a $10 word and any label you have to explain won't catch on quickly. But unadjectived Fiction needs an adjective to make it the equal of all the other fictions. :->

Fond Memories of Vagina (or, as mentioned previously, the bad marriage of an English professor) is definitely central to the conception of that group of works.

#339 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 11:48 AM:

fidelio (335): I adore D. E. Stevenson. Light, well-written, and soothing--perfect for low-spoons reading.

#340 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 11:51 AM:

I like the way Graham Greene classified his book-length fiction: "Novels" and "Entertainments".

#341 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 11:53 AM:

Em @323:

I joke that I don't read anything whose title is "Blabla: A Novel", because if I can't tell it's a novel on my own, it's failed at being a novel and succeeded at being pretentious about it.

The subtitle may be intended as an aid for shelvers, rather than readers, in some cases. There was a vogue a few years back for novels with titles that sounded like niche nonfiction ("A Guide to the Birds of East Africa" is one I remember); slapping "A Novel" on that tells the overworked shelvers "don't put this with all the other books that say Guide To Birds on them, but with the other books that say Novel". I can't tell you how many times I saw that one in the birding section of used bookstores, even with the subtitle.

#342 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 11:59 AM:

janra @ #201:
I mostly use a dedicated hardware reader (a Kobo, as it happens). My normal purchase flow for ebooks (primary shopping sources: Baen, Google Play, Humble Bundle, Kobo store, Smashwords) is "buy the book; next time I am home, sit down in front of the computer where Calibre is; download the thing; If needed, open in Adobe or the Kobo app (then stop the app once it's been downloaded properly); load into Calibre and de-DRM as needed; shift onto hardware reader".

This takes 10 minutes, every few weeks, since the time-consuming things (plugging the reader in, wait for Windows to recognise it, clicking on dialogs, ...) don't take that much longer for "more than one book" and by amortising that time across multiple book transfers, the amount of sighing per ebook goes down.

It is still, to me, more convenient than paper books, especially when it comes to "reading while travelling". Simply going for an ebook reader instead of physical books means 5-7 kilos less for a two-week trip.

#343 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 12:03 PM:

HLN: Area woman, having recently become aware of the requirement for US citizens abroad to file a report of the balances of all accounts on which they have signatory authority, spends the day completing the full seven years' filing to put her into compliance with the amnesty program.

(Area woman files her taxes on paper, and has therefore not been aware of this rather badly publicized requirement before recent discussions here caused her to do some rather stressful investigation.)

Area woman falls over in a very tired heap, still muttering numbers, hoping that the people who check these things will regard her good-faith effort to get the whole damn' ball of wax into the right shape...kindly. Or, at least, instructively rather than punitively.

Because aargh.

#344 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 12:07 PM:

I've been listening to podcasts for several years now, and noticed in Apple's players (all I have used) a sea-change in default behavior regarding them. On my stick-of-gum-style iPod Nano, for podcasts, autoplay was forbidden: every time an episode ended, I had to pick up the device, wake it up, and tell it to play another episode. When I switched to an iPod Touch (with a newer OS), autoplay for podcasts became compulsory: there is no way to tell it to play only one episode and stop.

Now I'm on a secondhand iPhone 4 (with ceullar data turned off to turn it into an iPod touch, sort of). The newest iOS update, which my old IPod Touch could not run, has stripped Podcasts out of music; you must now install a separate Podcasts app. Ok, fine. It has an interesting change to autoplay. I can now choose the DIRECTION of my autoplay (oldest to newest or newest to oldest), and if I tell it Sleep Timer, I can tell it to stop after just this one episode it is playing.

Otherwise, autoplay is still compulsory. Except when I'm playing Welcome to Night Vale.

And I almost wish I were making this up, because it would be tidily creepy, awesome, and diagetic to the show. But I'm not. When I play an episode of Night Vale (and ONLY Night Vale, out of the over fifty podcasts I listen to regularly), the player stops after just that episode.

I am fascinated. :-> I wonder if there's a "stop the player" special code they managed to encode into their audio files somehow, either on purpose or by accident?

#345 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 12:10 PM:

The movie and TV show The Odd Couple gave me an idea:

The Unger Games

12 neatniks stay with 12 slobs to see who will be the last person to crack up under the stress. The winner gets free housecleaning for a year.

#346 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 12:31 PM:

Paul Lalonde @ 104: I hadn't thought of that aspect at all. I suspect the article also overstates, but it's definitely worth remembering.

various on Bujold: there should be no surprise that A Civil Campaign was partially a Regency novel, but I suspect a lot of people skim past front-of-book dedications (whose place is taken in many genre books by laundry lists of thank-yous) to get to the story.

Don Fitch @ 122: I have spread but did not originate the meme that "What was he thinking" is a punctuation error that should be "What -- was he \thinking/?"

zora @ 156: that's more complicated than hoarding ]sickness[. Unsolicited advice, regardless of intent and tone, can come across as an attack if it hits the recipient's filters wrong.

Dave Luckett @ 160: a pity so few politicos understand that -- and that we probably can't keep them from office until they do. (cf the Apollo 16 scene in Deep Wizardry.)

Mongoose @ 205: one answer to your sonnet may be density; making everything that way in space that must accommodate many people can cost. (I take health issues first to Harvard Vanguard, a chain of fairly substantial clinics; their facilities are universal, but distributed (at most 2 in one place), which may not cost much extra if they need plumbing everywhere for other functions.) But we've-always-done-it-this-way is certainly part of the answer.

Cheryl @ 215: I drink tomato juice on airplanes (a notoriously dehydrating environment) -- but I'm hypotense so the added salt is a bonus rather the problem it may be for your mother. (I was going to suggest herb teas but see that's already a lost cause.)
      From experience (a parent going through slow-motion kidney failure) I second cygnet@260's comment on dehydration and ]irrationality[. I could occasionally dutch-uncle the parent on the ride home from another hospital stay brought on by lack of self-care, but I'm not sure how you'd do it given the higher level of continuing medical attention in your case. For what it's worth, you have my sympathies; caregiving upwards isn't easy.

Anne Sheller @ 264: I suspect that many African Americans whose main heritage is post-slavery would find a slave ancestor given perfect documentation; slaves were commonly spoils of war, so some of them had probably already fathered children whose lines stayed in Africa past emancipation. IIRC, Obama's father was east-African, which may make this less likely for him (but more likely for African-Arabians?).

estelendur @ 276: a lovely realization, warmed by thoughts of how many ways Oliver Wendell Holmes would take it. (A piece in The Autocrat at the Breakfast Table talks about the difficulties caused by there being 6 people in each 2-person conversation: each has a self-image, an other's-image, and the Truth "known only to God".)

Lee @ 314: I second all the recommendations, but DWJones covers a lot of ground; if you really want to get to someone (assuming they're actually convinceable, which this person doesn't seem to be), hand them Fire and Hemlock, a wrenching retake on "Tam Lin".

#347 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 12:46 PM:

Hm ... that's an ungenerous poem, and I wish I hadn't entertained the idea long enough to write it.

On the plus side, I have renewed respect for Dr. Seuss. Writing a poem with mostly* one-syllable words is not particularly easy, and he managed it well.

*I'd misremembered this as "only," but Green Eggs and Ham does contain the word "anywhere."

#348 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 12:56 PM:

Elliott: Being a chronic binger, I love Netflix's (yes, compulsory) autoplay feature. But: if you let it autostart two eps in succession, it stops five minutes into the most recent ep with a dialog "Continue playing?" ::sigh::

This is, however, an improvement over the previous, which was that it would stop five minutes in to any autostarted ep. Which is not, for the record, autoplay.

I wonder how hard it would be to program it to lay down cookies to time your pausing and starting behavior, to get a statistical sense of the user's rhythms, and then time the appearance of the "Continue Playing?" dialog based on that.

#349 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:11 PM:

Re Open Thread:

This beautiful gif from Google. While there's room for critique, I think, of wish fufillment as well as the equation of 'sanitary' with 'healthy', I am captivated by the lights, the dragons, the tiny pirate ship, and the tophat whale. (Perhaps this is a child who had Just-So stories read to her...)

Erik Nelson @ 292 -

Not UK myself, but the first thing that came to mind was the phrase "bog Irish", akin to "poor white trash". I suspect that's where the original 'bog as toilet' came from, but I wasn't there, so can't say for sure.

There are several American variations on 'bog standard' - the most polite is "that'll pass for government work".

#350 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:12 PM:

SamChevre, #333: I agree with your summary of the argument, and I think it aligns well with my observation that she seems to believe that those who read and enjoy YA fiction read nothing else. One wonders how narrow the field of her own reading might be.

Also, making comparisons of that sort invites questions like "by whose definition" and "for what purpose" and "under which set of circumstances". Leslie Fish says it well in a different context.

fidelio, #335: WRT "something where people are nice to each other," Ursula Vernon just put up a very thoughtful post about perferring to read about people who are kind. (Note: so far I have not heard ANYONE say they didn't like The Goblin Emperor. I have a feeling it's going to be one of my next purchases.)

And yes, it's funny how sticky the "romance" label is for anything written by a woman, even if that's not the main axis of the story.

#351 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:31 PM:

Lee @ 350

I'm curious--did you see the similarity I saw between Graham's essay and Singh's?

Elseweb goodness: anyone who hasn't read Ta-Nehisi Coates' article arguing for reparations should do so. Anyone who has read it should read this little piece by Betsy Phillips; it's one small vignette of slavery as the pervasive background in history.

#352 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:34 PM:

Lee @350 o far I have not heard ANYONE say they didn't like The Goblin Emperor

I adored The Goblin Emperor, but FWIW I have heard several people say they bounced off it or struggled because of formality of language in the opening scene and/or complexity of names and naming conventions.

#353 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:37 PM:

I do wish people would stop making blanket condemnations any genre/flavor/category of writing. I suspect that I've read an example from every single one that I adored. That includes both YA and "literary" fiction. I recognize that my wish is highly unlikely to be met!

I just finished The Goldfinch. I think I started it on Saturday afternoon. I read all day Sunday, and finished it this morning. I'm in a daze, but maybe I'll have managed to have some coherent thoughts about it in time for book group on Tuesday evening. Diana Gabaldon's latest Outlander book, Written in my Own Heart's Blood is winging its way to me from Powell's Books. Stumbling from one giant tome to another. The last thing I read before The Goldfinch was volume 3 of the Saga comic, so that was a lighter snack—and a delicious one.

#354 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:39 PM:

I sometimes think of 'academic fiction'. It's not the greatest label, but it is a label that makes sense in my head.

Velma, I'm sorry things are hard.

Also, it's interesting to see different YA lists. This list looks nothing like what the Alphans might come up with, and I'd add a serious caveat to McKinley as well (Dragonhaven was the kind of bad that ruins future and past books). I'm more likely to give sets of books that have interesting conversations-- not just Twilight because it's important but also Sunshine and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and Vampire High and-- there was a vampire anthology, yes, that had some amazing stories in. Not just 'some Tamora Pierce' but 'these specific ones, and then this, and then these two stories because she's responding to herself'. I'd point out the many ways that people converse in fiction.

#355 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:40 PM:

Frequently seen as 'close enough for government work'.

#356 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:44 PM:

Steve C @ 345... The Unger Games? I *like* that.

#357 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:52 PM:

On "bog standard" - I've heard it, and used it. I always imagined it as being derived from "if it were any lower, it would be underwater."

An example of the way I'm used to hearing it is "In America, running water is bog-standard in houses."

#358 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 02:05 PM:

lorax @ 341 : That's something I hadn't thought of, and is an excellent point.

janetl @ 353 : The Outlander series! I am looking forward to the next one so much, though I really need to re-read "Echo in the Bone" first to remind myself what's happening. It's been so long!

#359 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 02:07 PM:

CHip @346, thank you. :) *finds Autocrat on Project Gutenberg*

keranih @349, it is a very charming Doodle.

Diatryma @354, ooh, yes, works that are in conversation with each other and so on: this is something I would like to see analyzed more.

#360 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 02:28 PM:

abi @343: Sympathies.

Robin McKinley: I liked Dragonhaven - I've liked all her books. But not all of her books are YA.

#361 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 02:36 PM:

#354 @ Diatryma -

Can you expand on how Dragonhaven didn't work for you (or, didn't work that badly)? It was not Hero and the Crown, true, but once I got past the first-person pov, I liked it rather well.

On the "works in conversation with each other" theme - I would not mind someone tackling, in a somewhat straight line, James' Smoky the Cow Horse, Farley's The Black Stallion, OHara's My Friend Flicka, Henry's King of the Wind, Johnson's The Sweet Running Filly, Lackey's Arrows of the Queen and Cherryh's Rider At The Gate. With notes about Dragonriders, etc.

#362 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 02:56 PM:

abi @343, aargh indeed. I really hate finding out about things that I was apparently supposed to have known long ago. Best wishes that you have now dealt with the problem for good.

#363 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 02:59 PM:

keranih @361:

I'd add The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West and Piper at the Gate to your list.

#364 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 03:04 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 363:

Oh, I did love those! But I left them off, along with Blaze and Stolen Pony and Black Beauty, because of the animal pov vs human pov difference. What do you think?

Although, I suppose to track all the threads to CJC's Rider one needs to mention Piper.

#365 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 05:25 PM:

T-shirt encountered outside:

They're not
the same.

#366 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 05:28 PM:

Keranih, I had just discovered her just-started blog and read that, so I had a pretty good sense of her voice as her. Then the twenty-five-year-old* revising his twenty-year-old's* accounts of what happened when he was fourteen* sounded exactly the same. Scenes were repeated multiple times, each less compelling than the last-- the big dragon with the helicopter was in there three times, twice as, "So you've heard about this amazingly awesome thing," and once as, "So he did this, whatever." Same with said dragon landing in the middle of the town. There's so much rambling that the story collapses.

Then she does the same thing in Shadows-- I couldn't actually figure out the timeline until a few dozen pages in because the narrator kept bouncing around to what had happened before. Then! Just as things get interesting, when she finally snaps and shows some emotions, we get a three-page interlude involving magic, politics, charms, and her dog's collar.

I reread Sunshine, which before Coldest Girl in Coldtown was my gold standard for vampire books, and Sunshine does the same things, just less and there's a better story to hold itself up when the prose itself has completely failed.

Somewhere in there, I read Pegasus and was upset that it ended so abruptly; a woman I knew said, as if it were obvious, that it's a trilogy... but there's no sign of it whatsoever. I do not trust McKinley any more. I will believe in this trilogy when it is completed and not a moment before.

Dragonhaven is the book that showed the pattern so completely, at least with prose. I refer to many of her recent books as needing a blog-and-Dragonhaven-ectomy. I would still be dissatisfied with them had that book never happened-- perhaps I'd call for a Shadows-ectomy-- but the flaws remain, named or not.

*or whatever

Also, this is all for me as the reader. Many other people still like McKinley's books.

#367 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 05:51 PM:

# 361 @keranih--

I'm not Diatryma, but I can say that I found the voice and narrative choices in Dragonhaven actively hampered the story-telling. There was too much discussion, too many digressions and reiterations, too much summarizing of otherwise interesting plot elements -- the voice itself bogged down the story, to the extent it took me a week to finish it.

Also, I felt that McKinley left a bunch of story on the table, untold. Which seemed a shame, for such an interesting premise (imported biological dragons and their management in the western US). I'm a long-time McKinley fan, but after Dragonhaven, I feel burned.

As an aside: In fanfic-fandom, there's a yearly challenge called Remix, where writers sign up to have one of their stories remixed by another writer, assigned at random. The results can be spectacular, because the point is not slavish duplication of the original text, but a re-invisioning that can really challenge the original in interesting ways. (It is by way of putting fanworks themselves through the same transformative process that we subject "canonical" texts to.)

It occurs to me that I'd love to remix Dragonhaven, and tell the story that I wish McKinley had told.

#368 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 05:56 PM:

#366 @Diatryma -- sounds like we had much the same response.

My original review (to which I can't post a link because I'm at work and LJ is blocked) noted that the narrative voice of Dragonhaven sounded a great deal like RM's own LJ -- and, honestly, IMO, this is not a feature.

It's so disappointing.

#369 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 06:22 PM:

Lee #350:

I loved the Leslie Fish lyrics. Applicable to a wide range of discussions where the subtext is "I'm better than you" or "we're better than them" or some similar thing.

It seems like a really large fraction of books I read, including very action-packed books involving war or violence, have one or more important romantic subplots, and often quite a lot of the plot is driven by them. I wonder if you can substantially change readers' perceptions of whether these are romance novels by changing the apparent gender of the author on the cover.

#370 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 06:44 PM:

SamChevre, #351: I went back and re-read the essay, thinking specifically about your question. And no, I didn't get that at all -- if anything, I got the inverse of it. Singh is saying that we need more diversity in our reading (or at least in the things available for us to read), while Graham is saying we need less, need to limit ourselves to what she deems suitable. Could you expand a bit on what you saw as a similarity?

keranih, #361: I might also add Dun Lady's Jess by Doranna Durgin to your list. It adds an entirely new layer to the conversation by having the main character be a horse transmuted into human form by passing thru a worldgate, with attendant difficulties.

#371 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 07:52 PM:

Em #323: I joke that I don't read anything whose title is "Blabla: A Novel", because if I can't tell it's a novel on my own,

lorax #341: The subtitle may be intended as an aid for shelvers, rather than readers, in some cases.

And this shelver frequently finds it damn useful! Even worse than titles like Gould's Book of Fish¹ are "biographical novels", which are often otherwise indistinguishable (title and cover art) from actual biographies.

¹ First I misremembered the title as "Gould's Book of Finches" (two degrees of association there :-) ), then I discovered that Wikipedian print-spam has infected the B&N store, too. :-(

#372 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 08:02 PM:

Elliott Mason #338: Yup. "Literary" fundamentally means "related to books and writings". Trying to restrict that word to the particular genre favored by Old/Dead White Men In Ivory Towers, is very much a power play: Specifically, an attempt to claim an otherwise-unmarked state as a privileged norm.

And pretty much all the arguments we've been reading lately about how "we only take 'the best'" works out as pan-bigoted in practice, apply in spades.

#373 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 08:20 PM:

To be specific, 'literary fiction' is a name given to a specific genre that is privileged not to be considered a genre at exactly the same way white European-descended people are not considered to have a race. (These days they admit it's a race, but it's the unmarked case.)

I use the word 'privileged' advisedly. It has "born on third base, thinks it hit a triple" syndrome, as well as the lack of awareness of privilege that is itself a privilege. It considers itself superior by virtue of the position it has in academia, while not recognizing that that position is the result of the privilege in the first place.

If we said the same dumb things about them that they say about us, we'd have to say things like "No, my novel is NOT literary fiction. It's not about a suburban couple whose marriage deteriorates after the tragic death of their young son. It has a plot, and dialogue, not just internal monologue. And it's not utterly bleak and without hope, so it's already disqualified from the 'literary' canon."

But let's not.

#374 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Lee @ 370

I was thinking especially of the section of Singh's essay from which I've quoted key excerpts below:

[W]hen I first read it, I got to hear the voices of writers from diverse backgrounds, from Native American to Caribbean. I got to see the universe through multiple lenses that boggled my mind, made me at times uncomfortable (trying to stand in someone else’s shoes should not always be easy) and expanded my imagination. My fellow writers had taken the contradiction implied in the quote above and showed how you could unbuild the standard issue edifice of science fiction with the intelligent adaptation of old tools and introduction of new ones. Add some non-Euclidean structural elements, and put the whole thing together with a different aesthetic, an alternative logic, and you have a very different, far more interesting building. Wander through it, look through the windows and try out the furniture, and it might well leave you a little changed when you leave...

In the multidimensional space of possibilities, we can uproot the origin of the usual 3-d coordinate system and reposition it so that we have the view from different places, different races, genders, body types and abilities; we can, to expand on this lovely mathematical analogy, add new axes, throw away the old Euclidean straight lines and use curvilinear coordinates. Perhaps surfing this space of possibility holds the promise of freeing us from that terrible, invisible, insidious thing: the colonization of the mind, which remains well after the colonizers have gone home....

To read good speculative fiction from multiple perspectives is to get a little drunk on unfamiliar liquors, so that one can no longer walk straight and oblivious through the pathways of one’s unexamined assumptions. We need to intoxicate the imagination. How else than through speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy that has realized its transgressive potential?

And of the section of Graham's essay excerpted below:

But the very ways that YA is pleasurable are at odds with the way that adult fiction is pleasurable...YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way...

These books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple. YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering. These endings are emblematic of the fact that the emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction—of the real world—is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction.

Both seem to me to be saying that "good" fiction should help you see differently--see the diversity and complexity of the world--and neither golden-age Western-in-space sci-fi nor YA books do so.

It's a critique I can see, for some values of "good." I like brain candy at times, but I think there's a benefit to reading Nightfall and The Left Hand of Darkness and The Mayor of Casterbridge that you don't get from the 10th Pern book, or the 10th Louis L'Amour book. Sometimes--really, usually--I want the ease and pleasure of Pern books; I don't think they are likely to change the way I see the world, which some books can do.

#375 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 08:31 PM:

For YA that is not part of science fiction/fantasy, I enjoy Gary Paulsen and Julian F. Thompson.

#377 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 09:03 PM:

YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way...

There speaks one who hasn't actually read any YA books, or at any rate nothing beyond the Sweet Valley High or Babysitter Club series.

Speaking of YA novels, how about Daniel Pinkwater's Young Adult Novel (sic), along with Alan Mendelssohn, Boy From Mars? You want books critical of the typical teenage (and adult!) perspective, he's got 'em. Also funny as hell, with several dashes of genuine insight into life. I recently introduced my son (12) to Pinkwater's books, and he was totally taken with them.

#378 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 09:36 PM:

John @ 376: I did say I was joking - I don't actually abide by the rule, precisely because I WOULD be missing out big time! Thanks for the recommendation.

#379 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 09:40 PM:

SamChevre #374: It's a critique I can see, for some values of "good." I like brain candy at times, but I think there's a benefit to reading ...

Yeah, but that's just another facet of Sturgeon's Law, where "good" is defined as "challenging". There's a reason why junk food is popular, and the same applies to fiction in any genre.

#380 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 10:58 PM:

On the usage"...: the novel" — I was working for a small book company, years ago. They distributed books they imported from other countries, and published books on horticultural topics. Many, but not all, of the books they imported were also about botany or gardening. This was so long ago, that I was doing data entry of descriptions of books to add to the catalog. I noticed one that someone else had entered: "Black Beech and Honeydew", by Ngaio Marsh. It was categorized as Forestry. I recognized Ms. Marsh as a mystery writer, and found that categorization highly unlikely. Turned out that it was her autobiography. I imagine it sold better when it wasn't printed in the Forestry section of the catalog.

#381 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 01:27 AM:

Although the usage Blahdiblah: A Novel may be useful to shelvers, catalogers, and indexers, it has been around since the 17th century, when it began to be used to distinguish novels from romances. Indulging in the usage today is usually just cutesy. Or pretentious.

#382 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 01:27 AM:

Although the usage Blahdiblah: A Novel may be useful to shelvers, catalogers, and indexers, it has been around since the 17th century, when it began to be used to distinguish novels from romances. Indulging in the usage today is usually just cutesy. Or pretentious.

#383 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 01:28 AM:

Urrrrp! Sorry about that.

#384 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 02:48 AM:

SamChevre, #374: Okay, I see how you got that. I think what makes the difference for me is that I perceive Singh as saying, "This is why I read what I read," and Graham as saying, "This is why you should read what I read, and should be ashamed of doing anything else." And I'm not sure it's entirely coincidental that the descriptive version comes from a person of color while the prescriptive version is from a white person.

What really struck me about the Singh essay was her statement that for a long time she simply accepted that there were no people who looked like her in SF -- that she had to "de-colonialize" her brain before she could write about protagonists who were like herself. This is indeed a strong argument for reading things that will stretch your worldview, but I don't see that it's a requirement for reading "good" SF so much as a suggestion that we read "different" SF. I think that in some ways reading YA books written for a different audience may serve the purpose as well or better, and in fact I've added one of Singh's YA books to my wishlist.

#385 ::: JulesJules ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 04:46 AM:

Lee@384 - or ti put it more briefly, the fundamental difference is that Singh isn't suggesting anyone should stop reading white male authors.

#386 ::: Nelkat ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 07:59 AM:

De-lurking just to say how much I'm loving all the poetry in here. abi@149, I want to quote this everywhere.

Thanks, everyone, for brightening a dull day at work with your amazing wordsmithing skills. :)

#387 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 08:22 AM:

Lee @ 370:

Haven't read that one, thank you for the pointer!

In looking at the intersectional nature of human & horse lives, I think that Ash's Stallion Queen series needs to be included, and definately SM Charmas's Motherlines, etc.

(And the aim was to identify something that I would like to read, after someone else went through the effort of reading, research and writing. Not to volunteer. :))

cofax @366, Diatrym @365 - Thank you both.

It's been more than a year, but on my last re-read, I remember a long gradual shift in the voice of the narrator. Not as strong a shift as I would have expected if the protagonist had been making the record as he went along, but still present. I do remember the repeated phrasings, but put that down as an example of how many people talk, rather than an error in editing. *shrugs* Eye of the beholder, ear of the reader, and all that.

My own 'break' - if you want to call it that - with McKinley came when I read The Blue Sword - *after* The Hero and the Crown. Sword, I feel, simply wasn't in the same class, and I haven't re-read it since.

(It is by way of putting fanworks themselves through the same transformative process that we subject "canonical" texts to.)

Ah. And of course, because these are fellow fanwriters, all the authors of the works that have been transformed are supportive and celebratory of all the ways that their works have been rewritten, yes?

#388 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 09:20 AM:

cofax @376:

PS: re I'd love to remix Dragonhaven, and tell the story that I wish McKinley had told.

There's a phrase, wait, it's on the tip of my tongue...what is it...oh, yes.

You should totally write that.

(I myself would love to see more of the biology/environmental impact of preserving this charasmatic species. I would love to hear if there was something from the debris of dragon scales that encouraged a bacteria that ate a lichen that fed a rodent that preyed on an insect that ate a bush that housed a bird that spread a seed.)

Or, you know, even without. You should totally write that.

#389 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 09:27 AM:

While it is true that they don't change my life, stretch my brain, or hold my actions up to the mirror to be judged, sometimes I'm in so much pain that I want a book whose message is "All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well."

Even--or perhaps especially--because I don't believe that to be factually true. The best I currently hope for is that for me, all will eventually be over. This, alas, leads to a life that involves a great deal of time spent gritting my teeth and not accomplishing anything. Depression sucks.

(My go-to book for comfort reading is B.J. Chute's Greenwillow.)

#390 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 10:21 AM:

Xopher Halftongue@373

It has "born on third base, thinks it hit a triple" syndrome, as well as the lack of awareness of privilege that is itself a privilege.


I couldn't have put it better. I trust everyone on here is familiar with Iain Banks's scorching article on LitFic types writing SF in the Guardian a few years back? It did bring a wry smile...

#391 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 10:40 AM:

James Harvey @390, thanks for the Iain Banks essay; I'd not seen it before.

#392 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 11:04 AM:

James Harvey @390: ...and then sometimes the opposite happens: someone writes an sf boundary-breaker without even realizing it:

I am reliably informed (by his daughter Hillary) that Daniel Keyes wasn't even thinking "science fiction" when he wrote "Flowers for Algernon," and was taken rather aback at the sf community's response to it.

#393 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 11:19 AM:


There's an irony there somewhere, since my guess is that romance and mystery novels outsell literary fiction by a pretty big margin. At any rate, discussing how my favorite books are better than yours and that's why my kind of people are better than your kind of people is ultimately pretty boring. Better to point out what's exciting about our favorite books, and maybe manage to share some enthusiasm.

#394 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 11:25 AM:

Open threadiness, literary/SFF edition:

How many really good books or series in SF are in some sense responses to (or expansions of the ideas in) Star Trek?

The obvious example is Banks' Culture series. Also, _The Mote in God's Eye_ drew on some imagery from Star Trek.

What else?

#395 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 11:45 AM:


That's a wonderful anecdote!

#396 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 11:58 AM:

albatross @ 393: The irony of it is that literary fiction, which doesn't sell well at all, is seen as privileged over genre fiction, which sells a hell of a lot better. There's some truth in it, but the brute force of the market doesn't talk, it swears.

The analogy I think of is the poor, pitiful geek, so terribly abused by the educational system, now pulling down a quarter-million dollar salary in San Francisco and helping to destroy what made one of America's greatest cities great, with no sense of irony whatsoever.

#397 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 12:08 PM:


Better to point out what's exciting about our favorite books, and maybe manage to share some enthusiasm.

At the risk of saying "but they started it!", this needs some reciprocation. The number of SF&F fans I know of who think the "canon" of literary fiction is worthless or boring is vanishingly small: even if their reading is limited to A Tale of Two Cities and To Kill a Mockingbird. Whereas the victory of The Lord of the Rings in the UK's Book of the century public poll was met with nothing but incredulous teeth grinding by the Great and the Good, who, despite their squawking, had either never read it, or never read it remotely critically - a courtesy they would have extended to every literary fiction genre writer as a matter of course. Jeez guys, just read Tom Shippey if you can't think for yourself.

This leads to a large number of amusing situations: by any measure surely a Classic must be work of sufficient universality and quality that it speaks to multiple generations. LoTR manifestly does this, and their inability to see it is laughable. It is the most important of the fantastical reactions to combat experience in the World Wars: more so even than Gormenghast or Slaughterhouse-Five

Also witness the cogs currently grinding with TV and cultural critics as they try to grapple with the manifest fact that the best written TV series at the moment, with the best characters, dialogue and plot can also have dragons, zombies and magicians in it! But surely these two are mutually exclusive!!! I have to praise it and belittle it at the same time!! How can mediaeval fantasy have these strong female characters!! Arrrgggh my brain is melting!!

#398 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 12:09 PM:

I'm not crazy about Dragonhaven-- the first long chunk was very slow and repetitious. Once the narrator finds out more about dragons, it gets interesting.

Has anyone else read How Fiction Works? I only read about half of it, but the general idea seems to be that the current idea of literary fiction has its own history, iirc is largely based on Flaubert, and can be undercut by many examples from books generally accepted as classics.

#399 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 12:19 PM:

John A Arkansawyer: I think not selling well is supposed to be a feature rather than a bug. "Too good for the customers", as it were. Bonus irony in the frequent pointing out in literature class that, e.g., Dante and Chaucer were scorned for writing in the vernacular; Shakespeare pandered to the groundlings; Dickens was a hack who wrote serials for magazines, etc.

#400 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 12:22 PM:

keranih @364:

Indeed(!) and by the way, have you read Judith Tarr's A Wind in Cairo?

It's a fantasy, but Arabians! What's not to like?

#401 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 12:28 PM:

James H., #397: The literary canon is not the same thing as contemporary lit-genre fiction. The canon is largely books which have withstood the test of time, and can therefore be reasonably assumed to have something of genuine value to say, even if it's only by virtue of being the first to say it in that way. I do find much of the canon to be turgid, but that's a function of the way writing has evolved (and a matter of personal taste), not something intrinsically wrong with it.

The contemporary genre called "literary" is subject to the same amount of Sturgeon's Law as any other genre, and much of what gets the critical buzz is indeed boring and lacking in long-term value.

If I had to make a guess at which lit-fic work of the last 10 years is likely to be considered canon-worthy 100 years from now, it would be Brokeback Mountain; most of the other books currently garnering critical acclaim will be lost in the mists of antiquity, and rightfully so. Fond Memories of Vagina just doesn't have a lot of staying power to recommend it, especially when it's already been done.

#402 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 12:28 PM:

Bladiblah: A Novel can also mean, approximately, "Okay, yeah, this is a genre work, but the author sells well enough to be respectable, so we're going to call it a Novel instead of a Mystery." I'm thinking of Robert Parker's later books, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it on other mysteries as well.

#403 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 12:43 PM:

James Harvey @ 397: [Lord of the Rings] is the most important of the fantastical reactions to combat experience in the World Wars: more so even than Gormenghast or Slaughterhouse-Five.

Mmmmmaybe. What about Catch-22? Or Gravity's Rainbow? (The first just killed me as a teenager, whereas the second one stopped me in my tracks about a hundred pages in and didn't kill me till my twenties.)

Lila @ 399: I think that's technically known as "bullshit". Not what you're saying, but what literary writers tell themselves. And not all literary writers, but the ones who write perfectly comprehensible fiction that just doesn't sell.

#404 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 01:11 PM:


IMO, the only prize worth fighting the "SF isn't real literature, only litfic is" war over is the readers who might come to read some new and interesting books--including both litfic readers who might enjoy SFF and SFF readers who might enjoy litfic[1]. Otherwise, it's just dick-sizing and cheering on our own team, and I get enough of that in the rest of my life.

[1] And obviously, these aren't mutually exclusive, nor should they be.

#405 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 01:16 PM:

Open threadiness:

Connor Friedersdorf on how we decide whom to call terrorists, and why it matters.

#406 ::: CN ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 01:21 PM:

The phrase "government work" in most factories I have been in (quite a few) refers to a project in which the worker involved is using factory machinery and materials to build something for his own personal use. As an example, I frequently used the lathes/milling machines of a factory in which I was employed to build parts for a vintage rototiller I was rebuilding.

#407 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 01:32 PM:

I think the significance of Lord of the Rings is that the war inspired the fantasy world. Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five solidly contain the war which inspired them, even as they go beyond the reality.

I doubt that the latter two books could even have existed without their war. Tolkien, to some extent, needed two wars, but he certainly did something very different.

#408 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 01:44 PM:

I know that I, for one, would be more comfortable in these "litfic looks down on SF and that's really kinda shitty" conversations if I didn't also read romance.

#409 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 01:57 PM:

abi (408): A-men!

#410 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 02:26 PM:

abi @ 408: I can read that two ways. Do you mean that there are romances which are clearly literary fiction? Or that literary fiction looks down on romance? Or possibly both? I'll contain my multitudes if you'll contradict yourself!

(That last sentence is an attempt at a joke. I have no idea whether it's funny or not. As often happens, John Barnes has done it better.)

#411 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 02:29 PM:

CN @406, that's not a usage of the phrase I'd heard before.

Looks like you're new here. Do you write poetry?

#412 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 02:36 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @410:

Yes and yes, but that's not what I mean.

What I mean is that I have read more than one SF fan in this past week treating romance as a genre, and romance readers, far worse than anything that SF fans here have complained about.

Which rather takes the edge off of my sympathetic ire.

#413 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 02:58 PM:

Abi: oh yes. Oh yes. Very much oh yes. I used to be one of those people, and then I read a ton of Nora Roberts while finishing my master's thesis and coming to terms with my complete failure as a human being* and that led me to... everything. Including Courtney Milan, whose honor I will defend at dawn if necessary even if she never wrote anything other than the sex scene in The Duchess War.

*How does one refer to one's past mental narratives when one's present narratives of the past have become healthier?

Many people know intellectually that other people have myriad reasons for reading what and how they read. But most of us cannot believe it emotionally. This genre is worthless trash, that genre is a bunch of Twilight ripoffs, YA means Heinlein juveniles because that's what you read when you were twelve (does that make Auel middle-grade because I was ten?), this is porn for women, this is masturbation for academics, that's politically correct ranting about how horrible white people are, that's a bunch of gun nuts playing out their personal Rambo fantasies with terrible covers.

I was about to say that as long as you can say why you like something, there's the conversation worth having, but then I realized that my mother can't do that most of the time. We read some of the same books and unless she's just finished them that day, she retains very little of what I want to talk about. That's okay. We eat for different reasons, we eat different things for different reasons, we like different things for different reasons, and thinking is the same way.

Also, don't diss romance because you don't have a leg to stand on.

#414 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 03:02 PM:

keranih @387: Ah. And of course, because these are fellow fanwriters, all the authors of the works that have been transformed are supportive and celebratory of all the ways that their works have been rewritten, yes?

Generally, yes, less because these are fellow fanfic writers, than because the authors all signed up voluntarily to have their stories remixed. IIRC, however, you're allowed to designate one or two stories as off-limits for remixing. If someone were to remix your story in such a way as to, hmm, disrespect you -- well, (a) you signed up for it; and (b) you can always complain privately to your friends. I'm sure it's happened, but I haven't seen anyone really melt down publicly over it: the sensitive snowflakes tend not to sign up for Remix.

I've participated a couple of times, and the results have always been entertaining, and occasionally surprising.

You should totally write that

I suppose I could: I wonder if it's ever been nominated for Yuletide?

#415 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 06:03 PM:

abi @ 412... The first time my wife went to a worldcon as a professionaly published writer (as opposed to her going as a fan), when she'd say that she wrote romance, the negative reactions tended to be from the female writers of 'real' F/SF. Mind you, that was ten years ago, and there are now plenty of romantic tropes in the real stuff these days. (There was one male writer who was quite disrepectful, but I silently gloated when that writer later went on to praise manly John Huston's "The African Queen", which is a romance novel thru and thru - except that, when Bogart takes off his shirt to make it easier to remove leeches, nobody ever thought of comparing him to Hugh Jackman.)

#416 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 08:44 PM:

I haven't noticed many bookstores with a separate "lit-fic" section (except maybe for classics); it tends to be part of the general fiction section, which includes any fiction that doesn't have a more specific genre section (almost always SF/mystery/horror, romance if the store carries it, children's, YA these days, sometimes religious fiction.) The lit-fic authors and readers know who they are, of course, but seem to treat themselves as the 1%, Authors as opposed to merely writers who write books intended for entertaining reading, with genre fiction being by definition Not The 1% (which would be part of Sturgeon's 90% if they were aware of Sturgeon.)

#417 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 10:04 PM:

Lila #399: I heard an Australian author who writes... well, I can't label it anything but consciously literary fiction: accounts, shall we say, of formless angst and guilt... tell an audience of graduates and undergrads at one of our Better Universities that he was very happy that his last outpouring of soul had sold less than 1500 copies, although it had taken a number of literary awards. He said he only wanted his work read by an audience that appreciated the finer things.

I stand witness that I actually heard this. I further say that this audience actually took him seriously - or seemed to. I mean, they didn't burst into raucous laughter, and there were nodding heads and reflective expressions. (I could see that, because I was facing them.)

In my pusillanimity, I also refrained from ridicule, and even notable dissent. I mean, my eyeballs might have bulged slightly, but they didn't roll, and I may have made a faint motion suggestive of gagging, but I didn't make a noise. I was only there more or less to make up the numbers, anyway, and I had already been reflecting on that fact for a full day or more.

I can't say that he was practising to deceive. I don't know that it was merely sour grapes. For all I could tell, he really meant it. But was this, also, art?

It was the nearest thing that I have ever experienced to true contact with an alien mind. John W Campbell would have approved. I guess.

And hence I can say that I have experienced the true power of the consciously literary mindset to move me.

#418 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 10:19 PM:

In other news, the USDA wants cheesemakers to stop aging cheese on wooden shelves, because the shelves aren't absolutely sterile.
I guess no one at the USDA eats real cheese.

#419 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 10:29 PM:

Dave @ #417, I guess moving you AWAY counts as moving you!

#420 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 12:17 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 416: My favourite bookstore not only shelves literary separate from fiction, it's the largest fiction section, and takes up the main centre aisle of the store.

Of course, it includes modern literary fiction works, AND all the novel-shaped classics, which rather muddles the question of what counts. And the bookstore ALSO has a tendency to slip in more literary-style genre writers into it.


My complaint about DragonHaven was less the voice, which didn't feel inappropriate at all (Then again, I don't read her blog much), but that it was in fact two separate stories set in the same place: the main one, and the so-called Epilogue, which is after all 50 pages. I like the main story, even with its hyperfocus and repetition, more than the sequel novella, even though the latter expands a lot more on the world and worldbuilding in a way that is usually what I look for in a book.


Abi @ 412: AGREED. (Although the SF fans I saw denigrating romance were also showing signs of explicit sexism, and therefore not to be taken as anyone I care to listen to, I am aware they're not the only ones who do so and have done so.) I tend to challenge anyone who thinks a romantic **comedy** can't possibly be a worthy read to try Jennifer Crusie's Faking It. It's not Shakespeare ... but it tends to resemble a certain number of his works (the ones that make one laugh and end with people marrying) in ways most literary fiction, and SF, does not. And has some truly clever banter that also resembles same.

#421 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 01:21 AM:

PJ Evans @ 418... is this where we reenact Monty Python's Sermon on the Mountain?

#422 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 05:29 AM:

I'm trying to remember whether it was a Borders which made a distinction between Fiction and Literature. The difference was whether the author was dead.

#423 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 07:08 AM:

Sounds like a british comedy threat. "I'm gonna move you from Fiction into Literature."

#424 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 07:48 AM:

re 422: It was Borders. I think John Updike did actually get exiled/exalted to literature even when he was still around.

#425 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 08:16 AM:

When I was a teen, I remember the sudden startle when I realized that Barbara Hambly covertly wrote Romance novels with fantasy premises - Romance with the serial numbers filed off. (Also, mystery and Lovecraftian horror, all in the same novel.) Only recently did I figure out how deep her knowledge of the great Hollywood films was, and how that influenced her.

It took me even longer to realize that chunks of Anne McCafferys novels were from that genre too, though even as a sixth grader, I knew the sex scenes in The White Dragon were from something else.

#426 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 08:58 AM:

cofax @414 - That is good to hear. The opt-in policy...on the one hand, shame that pro authors don't get that. On the other hand, there goes The Trojan Women and The Aeneid. Upsides, downsides.

Lori Coulson @400 -

Oh, yes, through several paperback copies! And yes, that's perfect, now I have to check out Dunn Lady's Jess!

#427 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 09:21 AM:

My experience is the same as Bill Stewart's. Some bookshops have a Literature section, but that is for books about literature or classic texts with notes. Contemporary 'literary' fiction is shelved along with popular fiction. I remember a time when it was not so, but even then the term used was not 'literature': rather, a distinction was drawn between 'fiction' (i.e. the highbrow stuff) and 'popular fiction'. I suspect the distinction was largely abandoned because it was too hard to police; while some books clearly belong on one side or the other, there are a lot with which it's uncertain.

I find in these discussions people often oppose 'literary' and 'genre', and neglect the vast amount of fiction which is neither (i.e. not sold with a specific genre label, but not taken seriously by critics or nominated for literary awards).

#428 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 09:30 AM:

I was once in a bookstore (Scribners?) that had a small section labeled "Classics" which contained the sort of books that are assigned to High School seniors (Dickens, ...) and one of the books therein was by David Sedaris.

#429 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 09:36 AM:

My only issue with Romance as a genre is that it tends to be stocked with heterosexual activities. I have read lesbian romances for years with great pleasure, as they tended to be the better written of the lesbian fiction available. Mysteries abound, and are also well-written; the one thing lesbian fiction seems to lack is a steady source of good F/SF, which is why our own Heather Rose Jones is a beam of light.

#430 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 10:15 AM:

Ginger @ 429: You are hip to A. M. Dellamonica, right? This story really blew me away, both as SF and as a story of human solidarity: The Cage

That's all I really know by her, but it's enough to say something good.

#431 ::: CN ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 11:29 AM:

OtterB, I used to post here years ago, but have been unable to do so for awhile.

I can just barely read poetry, and don't usually get it, unfortunately for me. I wish I could write it.

#432 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 12:25 PM:

Ginger @ 429... That is less the publisher's fault than a result of most of its readers's preferred sexual activities though.

#433 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 12:34 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @430, I totally didn't sit here and devour that short story here at work when I should have been, oh, WORKING, so I can't possibly say what a charming story that was....

#434 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 12:36 PM:

Seconding thanks for the link to "The Cage." Must go leave a comment.

#435 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 01:33 PM:

Andrew, #427: Oh yes, and the edge cases. We've had this discussion for a long time in the context of SF vs. fantasy, but it's easy to have in the context of genre vs. non-genre as well. It is not helped by people like Margaret Atwood.

I suspect that the lit-snobs would dismiss your "books that aren't genre but don't get attention from the critics either" as "B-list".

Ginger, #429: The fic rec community fancake on Dreamwidth is having a "femslash" theme this month, and there's been quite a lot of good stuff up, ranging from courting/romance to explicit. You might want to check it out.

#436 ::: Sten ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 01:50 PM:

Serge @ 432: Lots of people who prefer to perform heterosexual activities nevertheless like to watch adult movies with non-heterosexual content. Why would readers be different?

#437 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 02:29 PM:

Lee@435: Indeed, there are edge cases between genre and non-genre, but I was rather talking about edge-cases, within the non-genre field, between literary and popular. (Other permeable borders are that between adult and youth, and that, within youth, between children's and Young Adult.) In each case there are certainly books that lie clearly on either side, so it's not as if the distinctions had no meaning; but there are plenty that don't.

And yes, I'm sure some literary types would dismiss the mainstream-but-popular field as B-list. But I find that genre fans often neglect it as well, and this does sometimes distort discussions. I have seen people argue as if the norm was for a book to be assigned to a definite genre, and then literary fiction is for some strange reason treated as an exception to this. But really, there is a vast mass of fiction, including 'literary' works but by no means confined to them, which is not assigned to a specific genre; and then there are some special cases where books are assigned to a genre, because there is a dedicated community of readers in that field.

#438 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 02:34 PM:

Sten @ 436... Maybe readers tend to be more 'conservative'. My wife wrote a space opera where the main character was a woman from a culture that treated women as second-class citizens and yet she made it to starship captain because part of her mind harbored the personality of a dead male relative. I'm not sure which of those elements led to the book sinking like a stone.

#439 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 03:04 PM:

Ginger @ 429

Thanks for the kind words! I agree on the scarcity of good, well-written lesbian SF/F. I need to become more systematic in drawing up lists of my own recommendations in the field (because I'm awful at being able to come up with titles and authors off the top of my head but I feel like I have a responsibility to be able to do so). It isn't that there's none, but once you add in personal preferences for this theme/setting or that plot/character type, you can intersection yourself down to fewer than half a dozen books in a lifetime that have really hit the sweet spot.

And I'm going to say something I'm rather hesitant about expressing: it's not that the stories aren't out there. Sf/f is a fairly minority interest in the larger lesbian writing community but there are plenty of self-published books and fan-fic that fall in the category. It's the requirement that they be well written. There's an awful lot of just plain pedestrian prose even from the professional publishers, to say nothing of the self-published. Not bad necessarily, just ... not good. My own sneaking suspicion is that if a lesbian writer can write truly stunning prose, too often they'll succumb to the temptation to actually make a living by that skill, which generally involves leaving the lesbian characters behind. I can't imagine having successfully pitched a 5-7 book historic fantasy series where all the primary characters are in lesbian relationships to anyone but a small specialty publisher. And that means abysmal press, distribution, and sales compared to a mainstream publisher and an awful lot of knee-jerk assumptions on the part of potential readers who might otherwise enjoy the stories. If I were trying to earn a living as a writer, I couldn't do it with the stories I want to write. And that sort of thing, I suspect, accounts for a fair amount of the lack of good lesbian sf/f.

#440 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 03:24 PM:

Serge, I'd put the lack of gay romances on the publishers more than on the community, but my part of the community is totally okay with gay romances, so. Because the romance is a central part of the story, or can be handwaved to be a central part of the story, and because Romance Is [characteristic], there's not as much diversity there as I'd like. Sort of like thinking it's not SF if it doesn't have spaceships.

But again, I am not part of the greater romance community. I don't have any particular insight into publishers vs readers vs expectations of both.

#441 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 03:27 PM:

Cassy B/Lila @ 432-433: See, it is charming, and it's also the sort of story that can make me cry like a baby. Solidarity forever and all that jazz. Like the ending of the novella of "Beggars in Spain", Like "Sonny's Blues". Like that.

#442 ::: Mary Aileen notes an oddity ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 03:52 PM:

A post by John A Arkansawyer is showing in the Recent Comments list as being on this thread right after Diatryma's #440. But I'm not seeing it here, and clicking on it takes me nowhere.

(On Preview, I see that that post is now down at the bottom of the thread, where it should be. Posting this anyway for the diagnostic value, if any.)

#443 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 04:12 PM:

CN @431, welcome back.

#444 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 04:54 PM:

I don't see a lot of fiction with gay male romances either. I think HRJ's formula applies there too. Also, there's a lucrative market in porn, and while the "quality" measures are different, avoiding rookie errors that make the reader stop and notice the writing is still important.

I've tried writing porn. I get sidetracked by the characters and plot. Last one I tried ended up not having a sex scene until chapter FOUR. I gave up.

#445 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 04:55 PM:

Diatryma @ 440... I'll have to ask my wife about the greater Romance community.

#446 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 05:04 PM:

Diatryma @440

When looking at the reception of non-heterosexual romance among the general readership, keep in mind that you can't generalize the reception of gay male romance to the reception of lesbian romance. I don't know if you were making the distinction or assuming that there was no distinction, but my experience is that in discussions of genre literature, the unmarked adjective "gay" invariably means male. Heck, 90% of the time, if you see a literature-related event, website, or social-media group advertised as LBGTQ, it will really mean "gay male but we won't actually kick you out if you're not".

(I have once again followed my rule that when the parenthetical comment exceeds the non-parenthetical part, just eliminate the parentheses. Except then I added this statement.)

#447 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 05:39 PM:

keranih @ 361: I also bounced off Dragonhaven. My best guess (recalling from reading ~2 years ago) is that I found too many setups (~"it's this way to make the plot go"), and a narrator who acted more childishly than his calendar age (where I'd have expected him to be grown up quickly given the environment/responsibility). (wrt other responses) I haven't read RM's LJ, but it sounds like she didn't distinguish between personal rambles and a story -- maybe she didn't cut away enough of not-an-elephant?
      wrt conversation, what about Tepper's Grass in that sequence?

albatross @ 369: a fascinating thought (re swapping adventure/romance label by changing the envelope). An extreme example: Dickson's Tactics of Mistake as a romance?

SamChevre @ 374: Graham's essay began with such an offputting tone that I didn't have the stomach to get to the section you quote -- which is a good thing, because I can't afford to throw my computer across the room. Graham apparently doesn't recognize Sturgeon's Law; she's condemning all YA based on the 90%, and suggesting that all literary fiction is in the 10% based on it not having a wrapup. Giving a new perspective is good, but few readers can survive having their perspectives wrenched around ALL THE TIME. I also wonder how much Graham-defined literary fiction just confirms her naturalistic view of the world, rather than dragging her to a new perspective.
      I shouldn't go on so long after so many other people have chimed in -- but I assumed answering this nonsense wasn't necessary in a paper I wrote in 1971, so I'm a bit irritable.

James Harvey @ 397: good point on groupthink. (Of course, they don't \know/ they're being Orwellian....)

abi @ 412: From what I read about the genre, so much of romance (at least in the U.S.) is such Extruded Romance Product (drop in the required elements for the very specific strain and omit all the messy bits it bars, cut to length, and slap on the strain's required ending) that people may not realize there's anything better than wordwooze (cf Leiber, The Silver Eggheads) out there. (There's a story that Laser Books was shut down because Harlequin couldn't cope with readers actually buying according to the quality of the work and/or the author's track record, and the resultant variable sales. Granted that Harlequin may be lowest-common-denominator rather than a median.) People who haven't learned how widely tastes vary may be stunned to find ]peers[ appreciating what seems unappreciable. (Some of us have learned the hard way not to be stunned by anything; see my recent response to your comment about the numinous.)
      OTOH (wrt to the abuse you saw), we know that "SF fan" covers a variety of types, from the saintly down to anus vulgaris.
      And I'm not sure how much longer SF will be in a position to talk; I'm finding less and less non-formulaic work on the new-book shelves at my local SF store.

Dave Luckett @ 417: Your Eric (channeling Tony Miles) had something to say about that; so did Poul Anderson in "The Critique of Impure Reason" -- although his typical ose-epic style makes his mockery of other approaches a little hollow.

HLN: our solar-electric system is finally up and running! (After the installation, there was inspection, the fixes for what the inspector objected to, the replacement of the electric meter with one that ran both ways, and a service call after we threw all the switches and the inverter said it couldn't find the panels.) I have been ridiculously pleased to see that our lifetime kWH consumed (as displayed on the electric company's meter) has gone down on bright days; that and a little set of moving blocks indicate that we are in fact feeding power back into the grid (and getting credit for it) as promised. I don't expect the panels ever to put out more than the 2.8 kW they've approached as it's a small setup due to a hipped roof, but it's \something/.
      My wife told my mother-in-law that I was going to geek out about this worse than I did about the Prius (that she prodded me to buy). Different strokes (cf above)....

#448 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 05:57 PM:

Dave Luckett @ 417/literary fiction

It seems to me that “literary fiction” is in a large class of things, which I find interesting, and some of which I enjoy. I’d call the class “things for people who are familiar with and like that sort of thing.” So in the comestibles category, in whisky, you have Laphroiag; in food, you have foie gras and Szechuan ma la food; in cocktails, you have things like the Angostura Sour (bitters and lemon juice) and Fernet Branca (imagine drinking an extremely bitter version of Vicks Vaporub). In the entertainments category, you have the books and movies that are much more enjoyable if you already know a lot about the genre they are in: Tennyson and Pope with their pervasive allusions to mythological/allegorical figures, Twain’s “Story of a Good Little Boy,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Redshirts”, “The Princess Bride.” Literary fiction seems to me to be this, for the “like concentrating on structure, narrator/POV, form, internal vs external narrative” class; if you like reading books the way that a college or graduate literature class reads books, these books are the sort of books you will really like.

Note for all the above, these are going to be connoisseurs’ items; if they are appealing to the broad public, they aren’t what you were intending. The foundational assumption is that this is great given the right background knowledge and experience.

Note that this definition of "literary fiction" is something rather different from "canonical literature;" it's the sort of fiction that's specifically designed to require and reqard the tools learned in literature classes.

Xopher @ 444

I wouldn't give up--you could always be one of my favorite authors. (Uther Pendragon on nffge, who has among other things a great description of the economics of conglomerates, a decent summary of Schweitzer's theology, and a story using all the possible verb forms for the future in English).

#449 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 06:04 PM:

The Russian government is working to prevent ordinary life for homosexuals-- jobs, homes, and organizations are being targeted.

Any ideas about ways to apply pressure to the Russian government and/or get other countries to accept refugees?

Discussion from last year about possible methods, also mention of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the USSR permitting Soviet Jews to emigrate.


Lesbian sf: Rituals: Rhasody of Blood by Roz Kaveny. Just one book, but very lesbian and has enough good stuff in it for half a dozen ordinary novels.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott-- more or less mainstream fiction, but massively weird. I think of it as a real world dystopian existentialist cheerleader novel.

#450 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 06:41 PM:

I do tend to use 'gay' and 'lesbian' interchangeably for romance, largely because I read according to what shows up at the library and am thus limited to the straight stuff. I've had a couple recommended to me, but often with the caveat that oh hey historical, we all know how those sodomy trials end up, so the ending may not be as happy as one wishes. Still, the people I know who read romance are so thrilled to see... well, anything Courtney Milan does, really. I have my bubble. I like my bubble.

As for extruded romance product, yes, but let's remember that Sturgeon's Law specifically references science fiction. I have read way, way, way more bad SFF than bad romance in my life, and I will freely admit that it's because I haven't been reading romance long enough for my tastes to change or to run out of the really good books. And Nora Roberts, who one would assume is in fact the extruder of extruders, gets shit done. I don't like all her books and am not reading her latest fantasy trilogy, but her heroines consistently and realistically save their own damned selves. She writes beta males and female smoke jumpers and women who fight back and teams, oh teams, and female friendship.

When I started reading romance, I didn't see any of that in 'my' genre. Because 90% of my genre is extruded dragon product or extruded spaceship product, same as anything else on the shelves.

#451 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 06:43 PM:

SamChevre, #448: Note that this definition of "literary fiction" is something rather different from "canonical literature;" it's the sort of fiction that's specifically designed to require and reqard the tools learned in literature classes.

And if this is the case, and Graham is talking about the same sort of thing when she says "fiction for adults", then she's overgeneralizing from the subset of "people who have learned to use and enjoy the tools of literary analysis" to "everyone over a certain age level".

I should perhaps note that I've encountered SF which was every bit as plotless and incoherent as I've learned to expect lit-fic to be, and I don't like it any better just because it has an SF label on it.

#452 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 06:47 PM:

Xopher, if your porn keeps getting sidetracked by plot, you may have m/m romance on your hands, and that's highly publishable (if mainly small-press). Chapter Four is a GOOD place for the first sex scene in a romance! (Mine was in Chapter Six.)

#453 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 06:58 PM:

Would "Hornblower" be considered cannonical literature?

#454 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 07:01 PM:

Diatryma @ 450... "extruded romance" is the name of my next rock band.

#455 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 07:34 PM:

SamChevre 448: I have to admit, I'm kind of floored that you would entertain anything within miles of the border of gay porn. This community never ceases to surprise me.

Nancy 449: I've been struggling with that sense of helplessness too. Now that any organization can be tagged as a "foreign agent" (spy) by a bureaucratic stamp in Russia, and all LGBT and LGBT-friendly organizations are on notice that they may be so tagged at any time, Russia has become the kind of hellhole for LGBT people that Germany was for Jews in about 1933...except that LGBT people, especially the young ones, often don't have the support of their families either. I disagree with Foxman; it's not at the 1940 stage of Nazi Germany, but this is where it starts. And Putin has continued the pattern in other ways, too: annexation of portions of a neighboring country with substantial numbers of speakers of the annexing country's language is also familiar.

Just saw yet another picture the other day of a gay teen who'd just been beaten bloody by Putin's version of the HJ. Two friends were comforting him, but they were surrounded by guys in camo with police helmets and nightsticks. I don't know whether this was the last picture of the three teens alive or not, because the article (once I reluctantly clicked through) didn't say anything about the picture at all.

It's possible the guys with the nightsticks were actually police, but in Russia the police are at best no help at all to LGBT people. It's inconceivable to me that that ring of camo'd thugs was there to PROTECT those teenagers.

I don't know. I don't have the spoons to organize demonstrations. If there are any, I'll go and sing

Россия, Россия с ума сошла
Долой, долой Путина
outside the Russian consulate. I can't think of anything with real effect to do. I pointed out to a friend that even Putin's death (even if of natural causes, minimizing the martyrdom effect) wouldn't help that much, because the gangs of thugs who lure and torture gay teenagers (in some cases to death) think it's their own idea, and would keep right on unless the Russian government miraculously decided to join the 21st Century.

This is why I spend big parts of any day when I think about this fighting off utter despair. That and other topics that are not appropriate for this venue keep me pretty depressed, adding to the burden of my own deeply shitty life.

Rikibeth 452: Unfortunately it also had a vampire in it, and at the time Twilight was...well, when I became aware of Twilight I decided I really couldn't write a vampire story.

#456 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 08:17 PM:

I can't find where I posted a short-short story about The Candle Man here, but lo!, via bOINGbOING, it's a real life-sized, melting candle man.

So there's that.

#457 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Xopher, your #444 made me laugh out loud.

Do you have any fiction posted anywhere? Because I would like to give it a shot.

I wonder if people who aren't in the straight-cis-white-male demographic are more open to diversity in protagonists, since we have to accept protagonists who aren't like us ALL THE DAMN TIME if we want to have anything to read at all. (If I am wrong in assuming that hardly any romance novel protagonists are ugly fiftyish women, someone please let me know and I'll increase my romance intake.)

(And yes, I do write fanfic with middle-aged, not particularly attractive female OCs as protagonists. Only one of the viewpoint characters of my original novel fits that description, though.)

#458 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 10:29 PM:

Serge@454:"Extruded Romance" is probably opening for my spouse John's favorite hypothetical rock band, "Erroneous Spike and the Sexual Frustrations".

#459 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 11:14 PM:

Lila, only on a site I'd hesitate to link to here. Perhaps we can arrange to exchange emails, and then I can send you a copy of the story in question.

#460 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 11:22 PM:

...and looking at it now, there are errors I wouldn't make today. Sigh.

#461 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 01:22 AM:

Xopher, I remember reading the first few chapters of that vampire story, and liking it a lot - and there are plenty more vampires out there in fiction-land than Twilight. I'd check out the m/m romance publishers.

#462 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 06:41 AM:

John A Arkansawyer@403

Mmmmmaybe. What about Catch-22? Or Gravity's Rainbow? (The first just killed me as a teenager, whereas the second one stopped me in my tracks about a hundred pages in and didn't kill me till my twenties.)

I confess to having read neither, though Catch-22 has of course been on my list for years. Just on cultural pervasiveness though, I would say that LotR increasingly wins out: I sense that, if anything, it's cultural star has been in the ascendancy (Peter Jackson obviously has something to do with this), whilst Catch-22's has been waning a bit. They both tower like giants.

The interesting thing though is that Catch-22 is critically perceived as a book about the Second World War: unsurprisingly given the story. I'm not sure LotR has historically had critical insight and engagement - and if it has it has been of a dismissive, "oh it's just a lot of recycled Beowulf" variety. It's only when you connect Tolkien's Catholicism, experience on the Western Front, and the fact that drafts of LotR were sent to Christopher Tolkien on active service that a massive driver becomes apparent (or at least that's how it worked for me).

#463 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:19 AM:


The literary canon is not the same thing as contemporary lit-genre fiction.

Exactly so: you've hit the nail on the head. The odd thing though is that much of the critical establishment (the sort of people who in the UK write book reviews in major papers and appear on the BBC) don't seem to understand this. It's just a seamless continuum from Samuel Richardson to Salman Rushdie.

I think though that the dividing line is not an either/or. "Canon" is simply "literature from probably dead people that has stood the test of time", regardless of genre. The "lit fic" genre is something else. One of my greatest tutors put it this way. There is a divide in English literature (and I do mean English here - I am insufficiently educated on American literature) that occurs at the end of the nineteenth century. It's perhaps best illustrated by reference to a couple of key authors.

Thomas Hardy, though living until 1928, stops writing novels with Jude the Obscure in 1895. He is writing in the tradition of Dickens and Eliot, but most importantly he seems to me to be writing bestsellers that dominate the literary landscape (and made him quite a bit of money). But he is finished by 1895. Henry James (OK I have read some American writers) is largely done by about 1903. It is the end of an era.

By 1908 you have EM Forster's Room with a View, and by 1914 Joyce, Woolf, and Lawrence are arriving on the scene. And they, for me, are writers of Literary genre fiction: writing literature-as-art for a self consciously smaller, middle class, educated, intellectual elite. There is no attempt here to write serialised blockbusters for a wide audience. Why is this? I don't know, but I suspect some combination of:

- an increasingly broad literate public allows for more fragmentation
- the end of serialised novels in periodicals
- the end of the Victorian/Edwardian era with WWI must to some extent shatter the cohesive social milieu which such fiction inhabited.
- a growing respectability of the novel as a form, built on the achievements of the previous century allowed people to take a more rarified view of the novel, and themselves, as "art/artists"
- Snobbery, both academic and social, valued nice prose, description, characterisation, experimentation over vulgar plot and storytelling.

Even now the "literary novel" is a shorter form than almost any other - my favorite example being Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day, which, though painfully beautiful in its writing, remains for me an unfinished authorial experiment. It's essentially the first three chapters of a fifty chapter nineteenth century novel. But once the author has created (wonderfully) the characters, emotions, setting etc the tedious business of actually sustaining a story for 700 pages is seen as superfluous.

#464 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:22 AM:


IMO, the only prize worth fighting the "SF isn't real literature, only litfic is" war over is the readers who might come to read some new and interesting books

Agreed, but things like Game of Thrones are probably doing more than anything else to break down some of these barriers.

#465 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:22 AM:


IMO, the only prize worth fighting the "SF isn't real literature, only litfic is" war over is the readers who might come to read some new and interesting books

Agreed, but things like Game of Thrones are probably doing more than anything else to break down some of these barriers.

#466 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:38 AM:

James Harvey #462: The big difference is that Catch-22 is overtly tied to the war and the soldiering experience in general. Among other issues, it's liable to fail impromptu keyword filters: "oh, I'm not interested in WW2...". LoTR¹ is certainly informed by the war, at least as far as the plot and atmosphere goes. But it's set within a world that's deep and engaging in its own right, rooted from Tolkien's linguistic expertise. That world has plenty of room for any number of other stories, unconcerned with WW1, WW2, or any other war -- and that's why LoTR has far more staying power than Catch-22. (Compare also: Gaiman's Sandman epic, against pretty much any title or era of the super-hero comics.)

¹ Also Narnia, but that's a lesser work; as many here have noted, if you're not a child, the preaching tends to get in the way of the story.

#467 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:43 AM:

CHip @447 -

what about Tepper's Grass in that sequence?

...It's in there. Oh, yes, in there. (And it's apparently not a sequence anymore, but a web.) Which also weaves in Moon's Heris Serrano trio. And ties back again to various "animal mind meld" stories of much further back (Norton, some Kipling, etc) and then forward again to some of P.C Hodgell's GodStalker work.

And also needed, imo, as part of the American lit canon, is Steinbeck's The Red Pony - which I read long before I was ready for endings that weren't "happy ever after". (I was reading Kjelgaard, I was okay with stories where some things died, just not with stories where it destroyed characters.)

And that reminds me, re: TNC's reparations article - I haven't seen anyone bring up Steinbeck, and TNC's masterful manipulation of the reader with the material about the boy and his pony. Which makes me wonder if they make people read Steinbeck in pre-journalist school any more.

#468 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:51 AM:

Xopher: myname at markandmyname dot com.

#469 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 08:02 AM:

CHip @447 - re: 'cutting away everything not elephant'

That phrase is new to me - I'm familar with Michelango's "cutting away everything not angel" version, but no packyderms. Is this a writing thing? *plans to steal quote*

#470 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 09:08 AM:

Dave Harmon MASTER OF UNDERSTATEMENT@466 wrote of Narnia:

the preaching tends to get in the way of the story

Oh yeah. Sometimes crashingly so, some times disturbingly and unpleasantly so IMO. You couldn't be more right.

#471 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 09:33 AM:

James Harvey #463: How would you consider the cases -- to stick with purely British writers -- of Somerset Maugham, Arnold Bennett, and A.J. Cronin? All are contemporary with the writers you mention, all are writers aiming at a popular middle class audience, and all three would fit into the LitFic category today. Unlike Forster, Woolf, Joyce, and Lawrence they aren't read today. In the case of Maugham that is, I think, a bit of a pity.

Your argument also leaves out the complicating case of Kipling who was writing both in the late nineteenth century and into the early twentieth. He has managed to hang on almost in spite of himself.

#472 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 09:37 AM:


I know that I, for one, would be more comfortable in these "litfic looks down on SF and that's really kinda shitty" conversations if I didn't also read romance.

Well of course, even with SF&F, I have been accused (with some reason) of proposing a heirarchy of acceptability...

Outside SF&F I also read (occasionally) detective fiction, Clancy-esque military thrillers, gay fiction, historical fiction, literary canon and lit-fic amongst others. I don't know which of these is beneath the contempt of SF readers! Probably Tom Clancy, who I still remember as a brilliantly plotted and memorable author I'm afraid. Sorry.

Obviously there is some overlap on the Venn diagrams here, but I have to say that lit-fic is one of the most variable to read, with some exceptional highs but the most disappointments all round. I can remember trying to read the Booker-winning The Sea by John Banville and just... ...grinding... ...a... ... ... halt in his prose. I never finished it. It's not like I can't cope with demanding material. Beowulf is not simple, especially in Old English. Piers Plowman is demanding in more ways than the Middle English dialect it preserves. I don't actually think that Middlemarch, or Tess of the d'Urbervilles or War and Peace are that easy. But they are all a walk in the park compared to Joyce, Woolf or other equivalent twentieth century bores.

#473 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 09:50 AM:

Fragano Ledgister@471

How would you consider the cases of Somerset Maugham, Arnold Bennett, and A.J. Cronin?... ...Unlike Forster, Woolf, Joyce, and Lawrence they aren't read today.

Regrettably, to add weight to your point, I haven't read them, so am unable to comment. I do also wonder quite how much Joyce and Woolf would be read these days if people weren't forced to read them by syllabuses and critical opinion. Beyond those audiences, I never see people reading Ulysses on the Tube. Whereas I see Dickens and Austen and Trollope all the time.

Lawrence I think is a different case: he's isn't an excellent technical writer with no story to tell, he's a pretty slapdash author with some fun stories. How he ever go let into the lit fic club is beyond me: probably Lady Chatterley's notoriety wins him his place.

Your argument also leaves out Kipling

Not sure if he has managed to hang on? Beyond If and Disney's Jungle Book, does anyone read him any more? I perceive him as being viewed, in British cultural circles at least, as a sort of slightly embarrassing Elgar-like apologist for Empire these days?

#474 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 10:03 AM:

To all + mods. Apologies for the shotgun of replies today, rather than consolidated postings. In mitigation:
- I have limited windows for interaction, so you tend to get bursts
- I grew up on Usenet and CIX: so tend by habit to respond individually to individual posts in a conversational style derived from threaded discussion, rather than the Facebook-single-thread-here-is-my-digested-view-single-post approach
- my witterings today have mostly been too long to be digestible unless broken up anyway
- I've just made it worse by writing ANOTHER post :)
- at least I'll probably stop talking soon and you can have a moment of peace!

Seriously, let me know if I'm getting the interaction style wrong here folks - though my time constraints and wordy style are unlikely to be very mutable.

#475 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 10:07 AM:

James Harvey @473

Re: Kipling

He's had a visible strong resurgence among the sort of people who like mil scifi. The world being the quasi-cyclical thing that it is, certain world events have made his subject matter more relevant recently than they were in, say, the 1990's.

I'm not sure that he ever went out so much as those who liked him stopped saying so outloud in the presence of people who equated his writing with the evils of colonialism (an inaccurate and unhelpful oversimplification, imo, but I hit Kim, The Cat Who Walked By Himself and Bagherra at the wrong age to be in the least little bit objective.)

#476 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 10:44 AM:

James @474:

We have highly variable styles about replies; some combine, some don't. Either is acceptable. Consistency is pretty optional, too.

Since our comment threads regularly run into the triple digits, you can trust that we're pretty comfortable with verbosity in all of its forms. As long as the content is respectful, engaged, and engaging, we'll put up with a lot. And if there's a problem, I'll be happy to set you straight right.

#477 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 10:49 AM:

James Harvey @#474: I'm not a mod, but some people do individual replies and some people do big consolidated replies, and as far as I can tell both of them are followable. Do what works for you. :)

#478 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 11:05 AM:


Thanks: that's interesting and I totally hadn't picked up on it.

#479 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 11:48 AM:

James Harvey: Can't speak for the mods, but speaking for myself: as long as you're polite and interesting, you can do any damn thing you want. :-)

#480 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 01:40 PM:

CHip @447:
From what I read about the genre, so much of romance (at least in the U.S.) is such Extruded Romance Product (drop in the required elements for the very specific strain and omit all the messy bits it bars, cut to length, and slap on the strain's required ending) that people may not realize there's anything better than wordwooze (cf Leiber, The Silver Eggheads) out there.

I've bolded the place where I sighed.

The question is, where did you read about the genre? Because as some of the people who read, rather than just read about, it have mentioned, there's a whole lot of romance that is not extruded anything.

In which aspect it bears an entirely canny resemblance to SF&F, about which many people say many similarly-shaped things to those that you have gone on to say about romance. And those things they say are true of many of the SF&F books that are even now being published, by the Big Six, by many smaller publishers, and by the authors themselves.

These things are true of both genres because a certain proportion of the time, a certain proportion of our readership wants books that are "just like the last one they read but different". (And books that are a safe bet are a totally legitimate thing to publish, buy, and read. Sometimes you feel like a challenge, sometimes you don't.)

But the selfsame readers may very well also be reading challenging, complex, unexpected works in the genre at other times. And yet SF as a culture judges romance as a culture by its most predictable works...and then demands to be judged otherwise itself.

#481 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 02:30 PM:

James Harvey #473:

Not having read A.J. Cronin is not a problem. I've never been sure why anyone ever read him. Arnold Bennett is a slightly different matter. Clayhanger may slip back into the canon someday. Or maybe not. Maugham was a decent storyteller, and Ashenden, at least, was enjoyable by me in my teens.

Kipling is a complicated case precisely because of his association with empire as you note. The problem is that the man could write, and in Kim produced a truly immortal boy's adventure that manages to evoke a different, vanished world beautifully and with real sympathy. Don't just take it from me. Edward Said has a very similar take. He's also an excellent short story writer, though there have to be more ten-year-olds than just me who gagged at 'the Ethiopian was just a n...' It's hard to equate a writer who could throw himself into the Other as thoroughly as Kipling with that sort of crude racism.

#482 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 02:32 PM:

abi and other romance fans:

Can you recommend some good starter books for people who might like good romance novels, but don't know where to start? What books in that broad genre do you think are especially good or fun, and also accessible to people who haven't read a dozen previous romance novels?

#483 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 02:39 PM:

Re: sometimes you want a challenge, sometimes you don't:

I have specific books I reread (sometimes many, many times) when I'm too tired or stressed out to want anything demanding. I find that many series books serve a similar need--the up-front cost to decide to read yet another Honor Harrington book, say, is relatively low, since I basically know what I'm getting into.

#484 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 03:11 PM:

As someone who has read A. J. Cronin and some Forster, I think it clear that the literary establishment (however you define it) simply doesn't see Cronin et al as literary, rather as good middle class entertainment with a moral to the story. Whereas FOrster etc seemed to be writing in a simply more literary fashion.
Perhaps it in part comes down to how much of an effect the authors in question had on other authors. I don't recall reading about anyone inspired to write literary fiction by Cronin, for instance, whereas Woolf and FOster and suchlike are often used as inspiration/ groundbreakers within the genre of literary fiction.

#485 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 03:12 PM:

albatross @482

Madaline Brent, particularly Golden Urchin and Moonraker's Bride. First person late-Victorian novels on an astonishingly repeatable formula over which Brent (note: pen name) layered a variety of individual tweeks. A degree of mystery and will they/wont they always involved. Romance, not erotica. Strong characterization, solid young female leads, as well as well rounded older female characters who were the heroes of their own stories. Not free of believable moral conflict, but everything generally turns out well in the end.

Note: part of the formula is what I read as an appreciation for the variety and breath of experience of humanity in the British Empire at its height. Others may well see that as appropriation/exotica fetish.

#486 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 03:15 PM:

albatross (482): To start with authors already mentioned in this thread:

Nora Roberts is usually a good bet, although I find her fantasy-tinged romances less than convincing. She has a few zillion* books; her recent Bride Quartet (beginning with A Vision in White is excellent.

Jennifer Crusie is also good. Faking It is a great place to start, or Welcome to Temptation.

*more than 200 at last count

#487 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 03:24 PM:

keranih (485): I second Madeleine Brent (which I believe is a pseudonym for Peter O'Donnell, author of the Modesty Blaise books). Note that they are long out of print. Try your library, or used booksellers.

#488 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 03:24 PM:

albatross @482 re romance recommendations. It will depend partly on what you like in the way of settings/activities, e.g. I personally don't much care for glitz (high society, Las Vegas casinos, etc.) while I do like outdoors, and so if two books were equally well-written, I'd like the outdoor-themed one more. Here are a few I would recommend.

Northern Lights, Nora Roberts. All Nora Roberts books are not created equal. She has some that are pretty much traditional romance, some (like this one) that are romantic suspense, and some that have supernatural touches to them, plus the J. D. Robb mystery series. I suggest this one, set in Alaska, because my husband enjoyed it as much as I did. Or, I could second Mary Aileen and say I enjoyed the Bride Quartet quite a bit - straight romance, not romantic suspense.

High Risk, Vivian Arend. This is more erotic romance with a mystery subplot. The author is Canadian and it's the first of a series about a search-and-rescue team in the Canadian Rockies.

Animal Magnetism, Jill Shalvis, or others in the same series. Light entertainment, but I enjoyed it. One of a series centered around an animal hospital in Idaho.

Trust Me, Jayne Ann Krentz. Krentz is a prolific writer who can border on the interchangeable-characters-and-plots. Some of her series I'm indifferent to. Some I enjoy and reread regularly. This is an older one, and one of my favorities for the interaction between the main characters.

#489 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 03:51 PM:

This is cinema rather than books, but consider in how many different ways you can label Casablanca.

I am not sure how significant that is as a way of looking at the film and its quality, but I'm inclined to think it has some significance.

#490 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 04:24 PM:

I'd actually go with a few Nora Roberts thrillers: Tribute, Blue Smoke, and High Noon. I started with her SF crime books, the JD Robb ones, and then worked backward through the thrillers.

Jennifer Crusie is great; I recommend Bet Me, Agnes and the Hitman, or Anyone But You depending on your mood. She has some really good romantic leads-- they fix things. I want a Jennifer Crusie man in my life.

Susan Andersen hasn't written as much, but I do like hers in general. Worth checking out.

Julie James writes books that are only romance because there's a romance plot. Smart, funny, sarcastic.

For historical, because hooboy historical, I put Courtney Milan so far on a pedestal she cannot be seen. I wouldn't start with her, though. My instagrab historicals:

Julia Quinn's books range from 'ridiculous and good' to 'ridiculous and bad'. I'd go for... hm. Honestly, pick any two, one recent and one not. Skip the very recent Smythe-Smith ones.

Elizabeth Hoyt writes outside the Regency, which is refreshing and disorienting. I liked her Four Soldiers books best so far, but the Maiden Lane books have Batman.

Tessa Dare's Surrender of a Siren was my introduction to her, and I liked it a lot. She's up there with Milan for me.

And there's Milan. I wouldn't start with her, actually. I think that you better realize what she's doing when you've built up some expectations. It's sort of like the first time you read a space book *without* FTL. There's no reason to expect it as a convention, and yet it's mindblowing.

#491 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 04:27 PM:

albatross, Mary Aileen: Faking It was my first Crusie, and I liked it, but I wish I had started with Welcome to Temptation. If you like Connie Willis, you will probably like Welcome to Temptation; the opening, in particular, has a very similar feel. Ain't She Sweet, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, is also probably a good place to start with contemporary romance. Both Phillips and Crusie write funny, snappy contemporary romances. I also like Ruthie Knox and Victoria Dahl.

If you are looking for something more sentimental, Morning Glory by Lavyrle Spencer (I probably spelled her first name wrong, my apologies for that), which is about a very poor rural couple during the Depression, would be a good choice.

If you want Victorian/Edwardian England historical from a 21st century perspective, Sherry Thomas, Courtney Milan, and Meredith Duran are good picks. For late Regency/early Victorian, Loretta Chase, especially Mr. Impossible, Lord of Scoundrels, and The Last Hellion, is terrific. (Lord of Scoundrels consistently comes up at the top of the list of all-time favorite romances, but I like The Last Hellion, which has a very screwball comedy feel about it, and Mr. Impossible, which is set in early nineteenth century Egypt and has a heroine who is working to translate hieroglyphics for the first time, better.) For true Regency, you can't beat Georgette Heyer; for a first-time reader, I would recommend maybe Venetia, or Sylvester. Miranda Neville is a more contemporary writer who also writes excellent Regencies, as is Mary Balogh. I would say Neville's (and Heyer's) books are more comic, for the most part, and Balogh's more dramatic, but some early Baloghs are also very funny.

For m/m romance, I like Josh Lanyon (Come Unto These Yellow Sands would be a good place to start), Harper Fox (her Tyack and Frayne series involve a psychic and a policeman living in either Cornwall or Devonshire), J.L. Merrow, and Z.A. Maxfield.

#492 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 05:08 PM:

I am in an odd position for someone who's written a romance novel and had it published: I bounce off of MOST of the romance I try to read, unless it's Georgette Heyer, or unless it's written by someone I've known since their days writing fanfic and who's since made the transition to published original romance.

I'm not a big fan of contemporary romance (well, and it takes a lot for me to like mimetic fiction with a contemporary setting, too). I suppose I ought to try historicals set in periods I know less well than the Napoleonic era, because poor research bounces me out fast -- but the problem I've run into taking that approach is much worse: consent issues. I saw Loretta Chase mentioned above; I'm really, REALLY wary of her after reading The Devil's Delilah, which a reviewer at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books praised to the skies for its hero with a "strong moral compass", and the remorse he feels when he "kisses the heroine in a way that is less than gentlemanly" -- without mentioning that this way includes throttling her in anger before kissing her very much without her consent. Oh, and earlier threats to spank her for failing to behave the way he wants her to.

Honestly, the Marquis of Vidal in Devil's Cub was less upsetting than the guy in The Devil's Delilah, because Vidal backed the hell off.

Authors I've never had this problem with: Charlie Cochrane, Lee Rowan, Elin Gregory, Erastes, T. L. Arkenberg. (And the up-and-coming Kitty Gamble - she's only sold one story so far and it hasn't come out yet, but WATCH her, I predict she'll do brilliantly.)

Do any romance readers have suggestions for me on how I can find mainstream romance that won't upset me, short of making a trusted friend read every damn title first? After The Devil's Delilah, I don't feel like I can trust review sites to warn me.

#493 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 05:36 PM:

Albatross @482:

My romance recommendations hew pretty closely to what used to be called "historical fiction."

Roberta Gellis is at the top of my list. Start with either Roselynde or Bond of Blood. She also does a mystery series where a medieval madame is the detective.

Sergeanne Golon's Angelique

If you'd like a little time travel mixed with your romance, try Diana Gabaldon's Outlander.

Bertrice Small's The Kadin and Skye O'Malley. IMHO, her earlier works are much better than her later ones.

Sharon Kay Penman's Sunne in Splendor.

Rosemary Hawley Jarman's We Speak No Treason and The King's Grey Mare.

For contemporary works, you can't beat Nora Roberts. One of my favorites is Honest Illusions. Stage magicians who are also cat burglars -- and the male lead is a David Copperfield clone.

#494 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 05:46 PM:

Rikibeth, by "mainstream" do you mean contemporary?

If so, again Nora Roberts, The Witness, Chasing Fire (smoke-jumpers), and The Search(canine search-and-rescue).

Roberts donates some of the proceeds of her books to supplying canine law enforcement officers with body armor.

#495 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 05:55 PM:

Actually by "mainstream" I probably mean "het", as all the authors I mentioned above as Rikibeth-safe write primarily GLBT romance.

I know I tried at least one Nora Roberts, one with Roark, and I hated him, so, again, wary!

I have yet to find any heroes in het romance novels who seem as fundamentally decent and likable as a protagonist in a Dick Francis mystery. Are the smoke jumpers compatible with that standard?

#496 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 05:55 PM:

Vidal also was shot by the young woman, who is very much not a delicate flower. (They show up, much older, in An Infamous Army.)

#497 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 05:56 PM:

My romance recommendation?
Susan Krinard.
("You're married to her.")
That doesn't mean she's not talented.

#498 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 06:16 PM:

P J Evans: Good point! Heyer's narrative allowed Mary to shoot Vidal without getting punished for it. Chase's heroine was supposed to be independent and feisty and the hero was supposed to admire that as well as finding it aggravating, but it still felt like there was an icky "taming" narrative underlying it. In Devil's Cub, it was Vidal getting tamed. To Leonie and Avon's great approval. (I love Leonie SO MUCH, you guys.)

Serge: ALSO a good point. :) The trust level, it is there.

Shameless self-promotion: if anyone thinks that a bisexual, polyamorous m/m/f romance set during the Napoleonic Wars would appeal to them, the one I wrote is Love Continuance and Increasing, under the name Julian Griffith. I wrote it very much in the spirit of Ursula Vernon's desire to read about people who are kind.

#499 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 06:32 PM:

Rikibeth... 'Julian' wrote two books? I'd better order the other one.

#500 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 06:43 PM:

No, Serge, it's the same book. I actually haven't written anything for a year, due to health issues. I have a couple of short stories out, though - "Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant" in the Storm Moon Press anthology "Turning the Tables", and "Lost and Found in the Pacific" which was part of last September's Charity Sips (short-shorts) at Samhain. "Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant" features a British naval officer and a lady Barbary pirate captain, and "Lost and Found in the Pacific" is a romance between two airmen in WWII, sort of inspired by the crash of the Green Hornet described in Laura Hilliard's book "Unbroken". (Also sort of inspired by The Steadfast Tin Soldier. Ideas come from funny places.)

#501 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 06:45 PM:

@Rikibeth: I would have urged you to give Chase another try with Mr. Impossible, but your comment about Leonie at 498 suggests our tastes are just fundamentally incompatible; I really don't like Leonie. Maybe it's because I read Devil's Cub years before These Old Shades, and my reaction to Leonie was always colored by her initial response to Mary. (I really like Mary, though surely she deserves better than a cold-blooded killer like Vidal.) Anyway . . . the scene you describe in The Devil's Delilah didn't leave much of an impression on me, though I can say that Rupert Carsington, the hero of Mr. Impossible, is a truly stand-up guy who has nothing but admiration for the heroine's intelligence and (in his eyes) hotness. And he teaches her to shoot.

#502 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 06:48 PM:

Rikibeth @499, I don't think I knew Julian Griffith was you!(Perhaps I did when I first heard of the book, but if so, I'd forgotten by now). I thoroughly enjoyed Love Continuance and Increasing. Are there more?

Also re consent issues ... that's often a problem in romances. Roark doesn't squick me but I can see how he could; he's mellowed some in later books and is less quick to take over. (Not said to persuade you to try again, just to say that it's not an inevitable trope in Nora Roberts.) Books where the heroine gives in to the hero's bullying as "taking care of her" annoy me. Ones where she's bullied or belittled by her family and it's supposed to be cute annoy me even more.

#503 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 06:59 PM:

etv13: Rupert Carsington sounds appealing! Maybe I will give Mr. Impossible a try. Amusingly enough, my viscount teaches his young bride to shoot, though it's not played out onstage, only the discussion where he offers, she's surprised, and he encourages her; after all, his occasionally formidable mama does so, why shouldn't she?

I read These Old Shades first, so it was the young Leonie I loved right off. It strikes me, however, that she could have done a better job with Vidal; you're absolutely right that Mary deserves better.

#504 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:08 PM:

For SFnal readers who suspect they might be allergic to romance, I liked Diana Gabaldon's time-travel romance series much better when I started with the second (Dragonfly in Amber), because that feels more sfnal*, with infodumps filling in necessary background of Things That Happened In The First Book, and a plot that rollicks along smartly.

When I finally read Outlander, it was deeply disappointing -- because it "reads" more like a romance novel, to me. Something about the protocols involved hits me somewhere between 'bored' and 'squick', though I'm not certain I can describe it. When it becomes clear in less than a chapter that the Entire Point Of The Book is to couple up a main character with someone who is compatible-in-a-limited-number-of-tropey-ways, I lose interest really quickly. If this sounds like you, start with Dragonfly in Amber and read through about the one whose title starts with Drums (the rest drop off again in terms of having any content that interests me).

The only reason I didn't fling Bujold's Komarr against the wall in chapter 1 was (a) Ekaterin's internal voice was far more complex than in many of the suchlike books I've tried, and (b) IMPENDING MILES. Miles always brings plot, and I was willing to give it a few more chapters for that. I did like watching it all come together, but felt really disappointed at the amazingly brick-tastic telegraphing from Page 1 that we were looking at THE FUTURE LADY VORKOSIGAN, FOR REALSIES THIS TIEMMM! It felt like the author herself put spoilers up front and center instead of trusting me to READ THE BOOK, y'know? It may affect my experience that I'd heard her read "the first chapter" of her then-upcoming book several months earlier and it started with the soletta explosion instead.

* Dragonfly in Amber really does read more like the-kind-of-book-I-like, because it puts you amidst a moderately complex plot with things that happened to the characters a while ago cropping up realistically, revealed in pieces. Plus the time travel is done well! I was so amazed and pleased that her (doctor) main character (nurse in the first book, 30 years earlier in her personal timeline) doesn't know medical stuff that's post-her time but contemporary with the writer's time. People in the past who realistically don't know things they couldn't know yet make me SO HAPPY in historicals.

#505 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:09 PM:

OtterB, I'm glad you liked it! See upthread, two other stories out, no more. Or... I'm also VelveteenThestral at Archive Of Our Own. You might be entertained by "Counsel and Consolation", which was the last thing I wrote before the health issues set in - it's Hornblower's Major Edrington/Fitzwilliam Darcy. :)

If you (or anyone) wants to read a spinoff short story from Love Continuance and Increasing that didn't sell, poke me at my name at gmail. It's a lesbian romance featuring one of the minor characters from the novel, and the novel's heroine has a supporting role. I have some ideas about how it could be expanded into a novel, and I'd welcome input.

#506 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:16 PM:

I mentioned Faking It, above, and I see it's been seconded. (Welcome to Temptation is officially the First story in the family series, and Faking it the second, but you do NOT have to read them in order. I didn't.)

I did alright with Julia Quinn, at least, What Happens In London made me laugh the amount it was meant to.

A caveat to another person's recommendation: I Loved Elizabeth Hoyt's The Raven Prince, but I've bounced off almost every other book of hers I've read. (And for the same reason I am most likely to bounce off any modern romance romance: the sexual attraction/tension/deeds actively interfere with the story instead of being integral thereto).

Amy Raby's first book, Assassin's Gambit, pleased me very well -- it's a crossover with fantasy (Set in a Rome-like empire) but explicitly focused on the romance tropes.

One I loved for its feeling much more genuinely historical than many "Historicals" but recommend only cautiously is Laura Kinsale's Shadowheart. I have two reasons for being cautious: One, it's the ONLY romance I have ever liked which starts with a rape (Also the only rape scene I've ever seen where I understood his motivations enough to forgive, AND where the woman manages to assert her own power before it's over.) But I know for a huge majority of people that's an instant no (as it usually is for me). Second, the relationship has a decided BDSM twist (fem-dom), which seems to have squicked roughly half her otherwise-dedicated fans.

#507 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:38 PM:

Mongoose @ 248:

Not sure I have words to say how ... yeah. absence of words. That poem. (I finally got new printer cartridges yesterday; am going to print that out and hang it on the cork board over my computer, because... yeah. words. missing words.)

#508 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 07:58 PM:

Catching up after over a week of crazy busy dealing with bureaucratic paperwork for Section 8, apartment inspection, other things... and now have been in flat fibroflare for several days. Seems to be a pattern of mine; I interact, then vanish, then can't catch up... *wry*

Anyway: thanks to all for the romance author recommendations. I've read all of Heyer I could get my hands on; in high school I was very much into Victoria Holt. Mary Stewart, of course. I'm glad the library system now lets us have wish lists as well as hold lists, because otherwise I'd be dealing with an intimidating deluge of books. New books, new authors, squee!

I'm a sucker for historical novels, whether romance, mystery, or just historical. My grandmother had a bunch of Thomas Costain's works (so do I, thanks to the early Internet booksearches). And my father had one of Kenneth Roberts' books, Northwest Passage. They're somewhat dated, but I love them anyway, y'know? (Along with H. Rider Haggard's Ayesha books...)

Lori Coulson @ 493: oh. my. ghods. Someone else has read the Angelique books. When I was 14, I was staying for a week with an aunt who had most or all of them, and devoured them all. IIRC there are consent issues, which I didn't notice at the time, but they're definite page-turners.

Also, seconding the recommendation for the Penman Sunne in Splendor books; a friend got me reading them a couple of years ago.

Serge @ 497: And the library has several of them. *grin*

Rikibeth @ 487: Our library doesn't have it, but I've put in a purchase request. (May or may not happen, I know they're under severe budget constraints.)

#509 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 08:34 PM:

I adore Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, and I did start with the first one. I'm reading the latest now!

I second (third? fourth?) Jennifer Crusie, especially the titles mentioned above. I didn't care for her collaborations with Bob Meyer, as they feature manly violence, which clashes with witty repartee and romance for me.

Elizabeth Peter's "Amelia Peabody" series starts with Crocodile on the Sandbank which is a romance and a mystery. The later books are mysteries. I adore Amelia's voice!

Madeleine Robins wrote some Regency romances before writing her wonderful fantasy novel (The Stone War) , and starting her Regency Noir series (Sarah Tolerance). The one called The Heiress Companion has the delightful innovation of a young woman who is not dependent on anyone or in any need of saving at all.

I'm very fond of Jane Austen's novels, too, which are absolutely romance novels.

#510 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 08:37 PM:

Glinda, drop me an email? My name at gmail.

#511 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 08:59 PM:

HLN: area man is just over a month into his new part time job and thinks it's going well.

"Poking at software until it breaks is more fun that I'd thought it would be," he said. "Both Xopher and abi provided valuable comments beforehand, and I'd like to thank them. Yesterday at lunch one of my co-workers said that if I'd claimed to have ten years' experience at testing, he'd have believed me. That was gratifying, and without them I seriously doubt it would have happened."

Area man noted also that both Xopher and abi warned him about developer resentment, but that in his particular situation he's fairly insulated from the developers, so that hasn't been much of an issue.

#512 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 10:16 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 511: Welcome to the QA side! If one's mind is shaped a certain way, it is so much fun to break software. If you haven't already read it, Testing Computer Software by Cem Kaner, Jack Falk, and Hung Q. Nguyen is wonderful. Elizabeth Hendrickson's Test Heuristics Cheat Sheet is a great prompt, too.

#513 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 10:30 PM:

Further historicals -- I don't like many, but I do like Dorothy Dunnett's Francis Crawford of Lymond series, and not just because it's constructed like the Lensman books: two starter novels which actually end, then a four-volume novel that has cliffhangers at each nominal endpoint. Her amazing ability is to write so that I could put a book down for six months and still remember exactly where I was when I picked it up again. They're not light reading, at all -- but they are amazing romances in the best of senses. They do have rape and incest as important parts of the plot, for those who need warnings.

#514 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2014, 11:11 PM:

David 511: Yay! I'm glad it's working out.

#515 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 12:51 AM:

Glinda... Glad to hear!

#516 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 01:06 AM:

In regards to lesbian/non-hetero F&SF, I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Tanya Huff. Her series that starts with Sing the Four Quarters has that protagonist as explicitly bisexual from the get-go, and one of the world features is that political marriages can be for any gender pairing if children are not required.

That book was published in 1994, and Huff is a pretty mainstream writer in the fantasy community. Mind you, she may be pretty much unique for all I know, but it's interesting that her authorial voice is similar to Mercedes Lackey, the other fantasy writer people tend to cite when they're talking about LBGTQ in fantasy.

#517 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 01:19 AM:

Lyda Morehouse's Archangel series should be in here somewhere.

I like Isabel Cooper's books, too - fantasy/romance set, I think, in the late Victorian or very early Edwardian years.

#518 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 02:29 AM:

Chase's Lord of Scoundrels has... well, it's one of the books I cite when I say that books in which the heroine shoots the hero are going to be *good*. N=2. So. It's actually an unbalanced book and it feels dated, but the hero ends up with a bullet in him.

For consent issus, avoid Putney. I'm still reading her, but I think she's the one who wrote the no-seriously-in-what-world hero.

Balogh! Balogh is great for disability. She has some fixations-- everyone does-- and I'll happily trade a waltz per book for heroes and heroines who have physical disabilities and that's just part of them, not their Tragic Past, not their thing to overcome, just, you know, one thing to have a cute scene about. She's less good with intellectual disabilities and I'm not sure where I'd put her on mental illness other than PTSD, but it's rare enough to find a character with a physical disability who is allowed to get pissed when people are helpy.

#519 ::: Incoherent ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 02:51 AM:

keranih #485, Mary Aileen #487 --
FYI, many or most of Madeleine Brent's books are back in print and available from Powell's books.

Re: Jenny Crusie's books -- While I like Faking It, my favorite is Bet Me. In addition to the alpha and beta couples, it has a lesbian character whose love life and relationship problems, while not central to the plot, do get some attention. It also has (to my delight) a main-ish character who qbrf abg raq hc va n creznarag eryngvbafuvc naq vf cresrpgyl unccl jvgu gung bhgpbzr.

Also, it has the bridesmaids from hell, cooking lessons, great shoes, a kid who wants to be an ichthyologist, the infamous Krispy Kreme bondage scene, and a cat who is gur ervapneangvba bs Ryivf.

#520 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 03:25 AM:

I went back and read that scene in The Devil's Delilah, and the kiss is by no means entirely against Delilah's will, and the only throttling is in Jack's imagination -- he thinks he'd like to throttle her, and immediately afterwards, he thinks he'd like to throttle himself. By contrast, Mary has to shoot Vidal to get him to back off.

I don't want to overwhelm albatross or anyone else with recommendations, but ' . . Judith Ivory's BlaCk Silk and The Proposition are both good. I can't bring any non-consent Putneys to mind, but The Rake (hero is a recovering alcoholic) and One Perfect Rose (hero is dying) are both quite good.

And then there are Jo Goodman's westerns. I particularly recommend Never Love A Lawman, and The Last Renegade.

#521 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 03:34 AM:

On second thought, though, The Rake is probably one of those books like Heyer's Cotillion, or what somebody upthread said about Courtney Milan -- best appreciated by people with some familiarity with the genre.

#522 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 07:12 AM:

Incoherent @519 -

I did not know that! Thank you! (Now, why on earth did they not do an ebook version? Silly publishers.)

B. Durbin @516 -

Tanya Huff is on my list of "books I make other people read first" due to her tendency to fold in incestuous desires into the romance. I loved the Valor books (some of the best in the genre) and the Nelson supernatural mysteries, but there are many others I won't touch. The Quarter series is one of them.

#523 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 07:31 AM:

I liked Outlander well enough to put it in my "give to the wonderful ex-wife" pile but not well enough to find out if there was a sequel. Now that I know there is one or more, I'll keep my eyes open.

#524 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 09:09 AM:

etv13, are you certain we're talking about the same passage? Because I just pulled up my copy and went to my notes (I was leaving furious annotations all over my Kindle copy) to find the scene. Chapter Sixteen? Because:

"You hellcat," he growled.

She felt his hands close around her throat, but she was immobilized. She could only gaze helplessly into the pitiless depths of his darkened eyes. Then his mouth crashed down on hers and all was darkness.

As for the next bit, well, arousal is not the same as consent.

This is the sort of thing I mean when I say that perhaps I'm not meant to be a romance reader. My needs seem to go against the genre tropes.

And, yes, Mary had to shoot Vidal to get him to back off. But the narrative was very clear that, at that point, Vidal was acting in a villainous manner. It was right at the beginning, setting him up as a Rake to be Reformed.

When a review praises the hero's "strong moral compass", it's a nasty surprise to find him doing what I quoted above. Which is why my trust level around the genre is really low.

#525 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 10:04 AM:

Rikibeth @524, you might find the reviews at Rosario's Reading Journal helpful. She reads and reviews a lot of books, probably more romance than anything else, though she also reads some urban fantasy, mystery, other fantasy/SF, etc. I don't remember her specifically noting consent issues in her reviews, but she's downgraded books or did not finish for jerk hero, unrealistic motivations/behavior, etc. And the reviews tend to be detailed enough, though not too spoilerish, for me to tell if there are major tropes I don't like.

I see, looking at her site, that she recently reviewed The Goblin Emperor and loved it.

#526 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 10:26 AM:

Thanks, OtterB. Broken link, though?

#528 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 12:13 PM:

Speaking of which, I'm halfway through The Goblin Emperor and really liking it so far. It reminds me a bit of a C. J. Cherryh plot setup, where the hero is totally out of his depth, but the main character isn't as self-pitying as Cherryh heroes tend to get in that phase of the story. Still waiting to see how things will develop. Plus, as discussed here, "people being kind."

I would never have recognized the author as being Sarah Monette from the writing; the style is understated, dialed back a bit from the virtuosity of Melusine's multiple viewpoints and narrative voices.

#529 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 12:46 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @523:

The Outlander Series:

Dragonfly in Amber
Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone
Written in My Own Heart's Blood

#530 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 12:56 PM:

I've been seeing enough recommendations for Courtney Milan that I'm almost tempted (particularly since a couple of reviewers have compared my own book to her writing -- which I have taken as quite complimentary). My main problem is that I feel like I've already consumed two lifetime's allotment of het romance and I keep holding out for books that are more personally validating. Alas for my reading tastes, contemporary romance does absolutely nothing for me. I need either my history or my fantasy, and I'm picky about the latter. Though, I suppose, given my limited reading time, there are worse things to be than overly picky!

#531 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 01:06 PM:

By my lights (disclaimer: romance allergy), partway through Drums of Autumn it became clear that what I was enjoying about the story and what Diana Gabaldon expected me to be enjoying were completely incompatible, and the books got more like Outlander and less like Dragonfly in Amber.

Thinking about it, part of my objection to Outlander is it spends a lot of the setup time on being a "recent-times, our-world setting, people stuck in an unhappy marriage having unhappy things happen in their life" litfic novel, which I strongly dislike.

If you want to enjoy Ms. Gabaldon's mad skilz but are dubious about "romance-novel" content and protocols, reading Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager make a nice time-travel historical novel duology, and enough of a grounding in the world that you can branch out to read others in the series and see if you can handle the romancey-ness after you already care about the characters.

There are consent issue things that happen in these novels, but largely perpetrated by Bad Guys (sometimes with blinking neon I! AM! EVIL! signs on their foreheads).

#532 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 01:34 PM:

Heather Rose Jones (530): I did pick up a Courtney Milan book this morning, after seeing all of the recommendations here. Also a Julie James, after Diatryma's rec in #490. And I think I need to re-read Mr. Impossible (again) now.

As if I didn't have enough to read, including at least three new romances cued up on my Nook.

#533 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 02:02 PM:

While reading this thread, the topic of m/m romance was on my mind when I stepped out to the Mall for ice cream, and saw a flyer for this.

#534 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 02:48 PM:

Lori Coulson/Elliott Mason @ 529/531: Thanks! After all that help, I hate to say that I've misremembered and didn't read that book after all. However, I now know not to let it pass by if I find it heading my way.

Jacque @ 533: How odd! I just picked up Bill Morgan's The Typewriter Is Holy at the library yesterday evening.

#535 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 03:08 PM:

@Rikibeth: We are definitely talking about different scenes. I found mine by searching for "throttle."

@Mary Aileen: I am re-reading Mr. Impossible now. (Well, okay, I'm at work, waiting for a meeting to start, and it's down in the car, but you get the idea.)

I read a couple of the Lord John books, and liked them, but the Outlander books themselves don't sound like my cuppa -- and Jamie when he appeared in the Lord John book I read was not likeable at all.

#536 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 03:53 PM:

I got some physics in my engineering today. There is no reason in the math why my idea [near-perfect nonreflective coating] wouldn't work. The map is not the territory, don't eat the menu, and so forth.

Also, given that hundreds if not thousands of people have spent years of their lives on antireflective coatings, it is pretty unlikely that I am the first person to think of it.


#537 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 06:04 PM:

Some people here might find this interesting/useful: Kobo have released the ePub spec they use across the devices they support.

(Disclaimer: I'm not a disinterested observer, what with them paying my wages.)

#538 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2014, 09:59 PM:

Sandy B@536
NASA development in 2011. Extremetech article from 2013 that's probably the same discovery.
I seem to remember seeing an article this year about something similar but newer, though it could be my memory getting fuzzy about time, or could be yet another article that's really based on the original discovery.

#539 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 10:36 AM:

Yes, anyone reads Kipling these days...a lot of the short stories--some too grim to revisit, others delightful. I got hooked in the usual way when young, but didn't get into the short stories until someone pointed me to ".007", "Below the Mill Dam" and "The Ship that Found Herself". Which last would have been perfect if the newly consolidated entity had been proud instead of sounding humbled. "Thy Servant a Dog" is an interesting stylistic experiment. If I'd known the library was going to get rid of it...
I've got the same problem with colonialism and so on as everyone else, also the emphasis on stoic suffering/acceptance rather than defiance that I thought I discerned in some places, in the grimmer human-centered stories. But Kipling was a master of the Neat Little Goodie, the phrase one can mystify everyone else with--"By the Blue Gums of the Back Blocks!" and such bits as [all right, I'm going from memory here] "Elephants do not gallop. They move from point to point at varying rates of speed. If an elephant wanted to catch a train, he would not gallop, but he would catch the train." (animal abuse content warning for this one, "My Lord the Elephant".)
I've got a bit collection of his poems as well, and I hear that a new expanded one is out somewhere...

#541 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 01:31 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer @ 540 -

I'm reminded of William Tenn's hilarious story about porn. IIRC, aliens confiscated some human's micro-photos showing turgid amoebas undergoing mitosis, described in appropriately purple prose.

#542 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 02:04 PM:

That would be "Party of the Two Parts" and it's a classic.

#543 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 06:15 PM:

Dave Howell #81:

Thanks for chiming in. I had wondered about the slightly unusual wording used elseweb that (paraphrasing) the Hugo Packet "as it currently exists" was largely the work of John Scalzi. I had read about the Nebula CDROM at some stage, and had been wondering about earlier approaches to making Hugo nominees more available to voters.

#544 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 06:55 PM:

I still read Kipling too, and even Kipling criticism. There was a wonderful book called "The Good Kipling" which talks about how even people who liked him (in the 1970s and earlier) felt that they had to distance themselves from much of his work.

But then, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is not exactly free of racism.

It's important, I think, to look on Kipling as a nuanced writer who was one of the major signposts on the way to learning better how to treat people who were generally thought of as less than human at the time he was writing. He did a lot to bring out sympathy and complexity in the people he was writing about. It's important to read him in context. I won't even defend all of the Just-So Stories any more, personally -- but I'll still defend anyone who wants to read Kipling!

#545 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 07:07 PM:

"#540 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 12:14 PM:

Erotica Written by Someone with an Appropriate Sense of Privacy."

reminds me a little of Gorey's the Curious Sofa

#546 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 07:14 PM:

Diatryma @ 450: no, Sturgeon's Law does not reference SF; it was a response to someone who claimed that SF was unusual in its crappiness.
      I've read a "J. D. Robb" but nothing as by "Nora Roberts". I'll see if I can dig up some of the material I've read about ERP, but one of its characteristics is that it's published by specialists; Wikipedia says that Roberts moved to a general publisher in 1987.

Various on Catch-22: is it really being perceived as just about WWII? I recall an epigraph (possibly in a Haldeman book) about people mistaking it for fiction; AFAICT it's \still/ not fiction (cf "stop-loss" during Shrub's Big Bungle).

keranih @ 469: I hadn't realized the quote goes that far back; I've heard multiple versions of "cutting away everything that isn't an X", X=elephant stuck with me. In these days, ISTM that it is less likely to clash with associations than X=angel.

Fragano Ledgister @ 481: I had to replace a worn-out edition of Kim a few years ago ("had to" because I have riffs on it in at least two genres (Anderson and L. King)). I found multiple editions at B&N, including the one with the forward by Said -- who I would not have expected to speak well of it. (And I'd really love to know whether I was hallucinating an Americanized edition from 50 years ago, saying that Kim was "quarterback on the 11 and shortstop on the 9".) I'm not sure why Kim hangs on more than, say, Captains Courageous. (Yes, the viewpoint character is a twit -- and he gets knocked about until he learns to behave. Sounds like a very USian story to me....)

abi @ 450: okay, I'll be specific. I have read, in publications not utterly inclined to presenting fiction as fact (Harper's? Atlantic?) of romance lines (logos?) in which every work is utterly predictable: e.g., sex happens at {10,50,90,100.1}% of the page count. I admit that I have not done personal research. (I don't call noticing blocs of uniform covers in supermarkets "research".) I specifically said that this was a share, not the whole. Do you really see any part of SF being so formulaic since the departure of Roger Elwood? I admit that any sub-genre one doesn't ]appreciate[ may blur into uniformity not seen by its fans, but I would be fascinated to hear about any SF line with such precise control.
      And I think you're seriously overgeneralizing by saying that SF as a culture characterizes romance as a culture as anything; what I see in the conversations I have at conventions starts with SF-as-a-culture not existing. (Yes, some people were pissy about A Civil Campaign. I suspect that any Hugo nominee has people being pissy about it; I still think there was too much "How can I do anything without a man to help?" in Falling Free.) How many different people were producing the rude remarks you objected to, and what fraction of SF fans that you know of do they make up?

Rikibeth @ 495: I'm a Dick Francis fan (and have even found the ones by his son palatable); the fact that you haven't found any men up to that standard in romance anti-piques my interest in the genre.

Elliott Mason @ 504: there was a meme going around for a while that Bujold tended to be On and Off in alternating books; the sequence of Memory, Komarr, A Civil Campaign, Diplomatic Immunity supports this, but others don't.

janetl @ 509: would you actually call the Sarah Tolerance books Regency \romances/? How far does the term stretch? ISTM that the two I read were more like anti-romances, carving through some of the fluff thrown up by Heyer imitators -- but (as noted above) I've read very little labeled "romance".

David Goldfarb @ 511: I did QA for some years before moving to creating functionality; I can't speak for others, but my biggest concern in my career (now apparently done) was people who couldn't give me a reproducible case. I may have had more than the usual number of other people's bugs to fix (some stupidities took a decade to actually bite consistently) and become smug from it, but I wanted even my code to work as well as it could. YMMVMassively.

#547 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 07:56 PM:

guthrie #484: That's a good point. I've only read Forster's essays (Abinger Harvest and Two Cheers for Democracy) and not his novels, and found them worth reading. Ditto for Woolf, as I've only read A Room of One's Own.

#548 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 09:04 PM:

CHip #546: The one thing that was clear to me when I first read Kim forty-five years ago was that Kipling treated Indian society and culture with respect. All of the characters are real and human; not one of them, not even Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, is a caricature. You have a true sense of the world of late nineteenth century India, and of the Great Game, and Kim's involvement in it. Not to mention young O'Hara's development as a person.

#549 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 11:03 PM:

CHip: Quite a number of Georgette Heyer heroes meet that standard: the ones in The Corinthian, The Convenient Marriage, and Frederica come instantly to mind. So do Jonty and Orlando in Charlie Cochrane's Cambridge Fellows m/m-romance-and-cozy-mystery series. I'm in the middle of Loretta Chase's Mr. Impossible and Rupert Carstairs, as promised, isn't bad. Unfortunately I haven't had a good track record finding romance heroes who appeal to me otherwise. (Jamie in Diana Gabaldon's books? HELL NO.)

I've learned to stay FAR AWAY from anything where "alpha male" figures prominently in the reviews. It translates all too readily to "overbearing jackhole". Not my thing at all.

#550 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2014, 11:31 PM:

CHip @ 546: ERP?

#551 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 12:00 AM:

CHip @ 546: I didn't call the Sarah Tolerance books romances. In my remark @ 509, I said that Madeleine Robins wrote some Regency romances before writing the Sarah Tolerance books. Sarah is a private eye, and most certainly doesn't end up married. I've seen them called Regency Noir.

#552 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 01:42 AM:

CHip, one thing I've noticed in discussions of romance is that I have two general types of discussion: with people who read romance, we compare titles and authors, we talk about what we like and don't like, we dig deep into the material and chew on what we find. With people who don't read romance, I defend the genre from those who haven't read it and aren't interested in it.

So I am defensive, yes, and wondering why you wish to justify your negative comments on a genre you aren't interested in.

I can't speak to the general formulaicness of certain lines of romance, but I think a useful parallel would be the Goosebumps books. Those are also packaged, as I understand it, with fairly stringent guidelines. Those are YA. Does that mean that YA as a genre is irredeemable? Does that mean that every discussion of YA must address and either uphold or decry the genre's formulas? Nope, because the genre is bigger than that and everyone knows it.

I wish I could have a bunch of the romance readers here out to lunch or something. We've had the title recommendations before, but I never remember to write them down because most of my brain is going to the defense of books I like, books that got me through a tough time when I couldn't handle 'good' 'hard' 'quality' 'thinky' SFF, books that give me things to think about in terms of minority inclusion, sexuality, writing techniques, relationships, communication, everything-- and some of them are SFF. Let me squee over Courtney Milan (eventually I will stop, I promise). Let me talk about Nora Roberts' heroines as they go from strong but saveable to saving themselves to building teams post-saving to save others. That doesn't take away from anyone else's enjoyment of any genre.

(I wouldn't mind writing either Goosebumps or formula romance, actually. It seems like an interesting exercise and I think it would be fun.)

(As far as Sturgeon's Law goes, I've seen it paraphrased, "Ninety percent of science fiction is crap, but then, ninety percent of everything is crap." He was responding to critics of SFF not by denying the general quality of the genre but by pointing out that yes, and so do others.)

#553 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 03:37 AM:

CHip @546:

Do you really see any part of SF being so formulaic since the departure of Roger Elwood? I admit that any sub-genre one doesn't ]appreciate[ may blur into uniformity not seen by its fans, but I would be fascinated to hear about any SF line with such precise control.

Of course there isn't one. Instead, the formulaic writing is scattered among a variety of publishers, self- and otherwise, and substantially given over to the Amazonian "people also bought" algorithm. That doesn't mean there isn't a propensity toward the formulaic in SF/F, widely construed. It just means that no publisher has figured out a way to so blatantly monetize it. Because the two genre markets have evolved in different directions, as publishing is wont to.

How many different people were producing the rude remarks you objected to, and what fraction of SF fans that you know of do they make up?

There's a very vocal commentariat who object, with onerous regularity, to anything that includes emotional relationships in SF/F, particularly by female authors. Read what gets written about Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamour and Glass series, for instance.

But when we're arguing about whether it's a large group or a small group of an unstudied and unquantified population of [formulaic books/anti-romance fans], we're not going to come to agreement. Because no one sees the books they like as formulaic, nor the people who disagree with them to the point of exasperation as insignificant. Your gut feel and mine are never going to line up.

But apart from that, I'll go with Diatryma @552, who very neatly sums up the two types of conversation I have about romance whenever it comes up in the SF/F community. Including this one, willing adventurers like albatross excepted.

#554 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 07:21 AM:

Having grown up in an era when reading SF and/or comics was dismissed as the province of the socially inept who can thus be mocked in impunity, i'm not too keen on seeing any genre or social subgroup being dismissed out of hand.

#555 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 08:03 AM:

abi @546

There's a very vocal commentariat who object, with onerous regularity, to anything that includes emotional relationships in SF/F

I think it's a hair more complicated than that. (It always is, isn't it?) Did those same voices object in the same way to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

My sense is that romance has, at its core conflict, will the hero find love as opposed to will the hero escape the monster in the cave/under the bed or will the hero defeat the villian or will the hero solve the crime or even will the hero defeat himself.

(Bujold, to pull a random author out of the hat, has managed to do nearly each of these in the same series.)

People who primarily like stories about will the hero defeat himself or will the hero survive the wilderness and win glory (which are either the oldest story ever (Gilgamesh) or merely Jack London/Boys Own, depending on treatment) in a SF setting, told from a male perspective? I am not at all surprised that they don't fancy will the hero find love stories from a female pov.

And it's not like there's not enough the stories you like have cooties! and so do the people who write them! to go around. (It also seems nearly universal in application - if one group does not use it to smear a particular work or genre or author, surely another will.) That attitude seems like something we're not running out of any time soon.

TL;DR: all of your wrong opinions are wrong. Only mine are without flaw. ;)

#556 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 08:45 AM:

Most of the romance I've run into is bottom 90%, and some of the genre conventions are pretty jarring if you're not used to them. Especially if you think you have bought Fantasy Steampunk and you turn out to have bought Romance With Fantasy Steampunk Badly Glued On. I live in fear that the author will turn out to be someone I like who posts here. (Female Private Investigator in alternate 1900-ish America who finds out magic is real and then resolutely does not investigate her magic locket.)

I don't know if fantasy (frex) is the same way if you're not used to it; I was rereading some Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and the characters at one point wonder how a skull, with no lips or tongue, can speak. These days everyone's like "Yeah yeah, talking skull, WHAT DID IT SAY?"

#557 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 09:38 AM:

One of the most romantic movies I've seen in recent years is 2006's "Casino Royale".

#558 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 11:53 AM:

Sandy B., #556: Heh. I'm reminded of one time that I bought what I thought was a Regency romance, and it turned out to be a soft-porn bodice-ripper in a Regency setting instead. Which is not to say that I haven't read and enjoyed soft-porn bodice-rippers, but that's not what I want in my Regency romances, TYVM. Separate sub-genres.

There was also one mystery/urban fantasy/romance crossover that I liked, but couldn't understand the attraction between the main characters until I realized that I was reading it as Hard-Boiled Private Eye, and the "inexplicable, irresistible attraction" thing is a romance trope that wasn't fitting my concept of the book.

#559 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 01:11 PM:

CHip (546): I've read a "J. D. Robb" but nothing as by "Nora Roberts". I'll see if I can dig up some of the material I've read about ERP [Extruded Romance Product], but one of its characteristics is that it's published by specialists; Wikipedia says that Roberts moved to a general publisher in 1987. ... I have read, in publications not utterly inclined to presenting fiction as fact (Harper's? Atlantic?) of romance lines (logos?) in which every work is utterly predictable.

'Formulaic' does not mean 'bad'. It doesn't even mean 'utterly predictable'. Nora Roberts's first published novel, Irish Thoroughbred, was a Silhouette* Romance, one of those "utterly predictable" romance lines. It was published in 1981; I picked it up in a used bookstore the next year because the title caught my eye. It made me an instant Nora Roberts fan. Roberts has grown as a writer over the last 30+ years, but Irish Thoroughbred is still one of the few dozen of her 200+ books that I own, because it's one of the ones I still re-read with pleasure. Some of her later, more mature books, published by "general publishers", didn't even please me the first time through. The other Silhouette Romances that I read in the early '80s didn't stick with me in the same way.

*Silhouette was bought out by Harlequin some years later.

still CHip (546): And I think you're seriously overgeneralizing by saying that SF as a culture characterizes romance as a culture as anything ... How many different people were producing the rude remarks you objected to, and what fraction of SF fans that you know of do they make up?

And Not All Men are assholes to women. You know what? It doesn't matter.

#560 ::: Mary Aileen has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 01:12 PM:

Gnomed, probably for formatting issues. Would the gnomes like some cheese?

#561 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Speaker to Tall People ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 01:34 PM:

Sorry about that. I've put a few temporary filters in to try to reduce the amount of spam that's been getting through, and one of them caught one of your words.

#562 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 01:51 PM:

This might amuse Game of Thrones fans. George R.R. Martin's fan letter in a 1961 issue of The Fantastic Four:

#563 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 01:55 PM:

The series Fantastic Four began in 1961, but the letter was published in issue #20, which would put it most likely in 1963. (Sorry, can't help nitpicking.)

#564 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 02:31 PM:

"Will the hero find love" is a plot element I wonder if I could get right, as an author, but I don't see it as breaking a book. It seems to mesh with "can the hero live with himself when he sees the consequences of his choices", only the it's the opinion of another character, and not merely as a mirror.

As a thread of the story, the romantic element goes back a long way in SF. You can see it in the Lensman series, not that it was necessarily well done then.

And it is one way of getting two characters who are competent, and trust each other, and who worry about each other. I am maybe echoing the golden age of Hollywood, Bogart and Bacall perhaps, but it can be such fun to write.

No, you don't have to have a guy with a gun as a deus ex machina when the plot stalls.

#565 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 03:12 PM:

Mary Aileen, my Roberts protocol was to read backward through what the library had, aided by numerous two-book reprints. I checked the copyright dates as a way of evaluating what I was getting into, but I don't think I got past 1982 in general. And I can't read Irish Thoroughbred. Apparently I drew a line in the sand and my inability to say that title without a ridiculous accent and face butts up against it.

I've built myself a fort of books I read, authors I read, that neatly insulates me from a lot of the misogyny of fiction. I'd say that romance is where I go to find strong female characters who aren't punished for it, but then I remember urban fantasy and to a lesser extent paranormal romance, YA with its girl cooties, and the fact that I read a lot of female writers in general (someday I'll do that data analysis). I'm *not* engaged with SFF as a whole, nor do I want to be, nor do I think I can be because SFF is big. So is romance. So is YA. I'll stay in my corner reading books that I like and everyone else can have their corners.

#566 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 03:34 PM:

@563 Yes, Marvel's marking it as (1961) because the series started then -- they've restarted enough series that they need something like that to keep things straight.

#567 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 03:42 PM:

Diatryma (565): I will confess to picking up Irish Thoroughbred partly as a hold-over from my girlhood horse-books* fascination. And I'm sure that there's a lot wrong with it--I'd never recommend it to someone starting romance now--but it still works for me.

*Marguerite Henry! Walter Farley!

#568 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 03:54 PM:

One of the places in SFF that outsiders consider totally formulaic are the media tie-in books like Star Trek. Except those of us who read them know that they include things like How Much for Just the Planet and Uhura's Song that take a back seat to nothing.

I looked down on romances (except Heyer and Mary Stewart) for years until I started reading them in the early-to-mid-1980s. It was stress relief from graduate school and, just as important, I had gotten tired of much of the SFF I had been reading for years. In retrospect, it was the lack of relationships and the ubiquitousness of "male gaze" that I had grown to dislike in SFF, though I couldn't have articulated that then, and it wasn't universal although it seemed to me to be widespread. (I came back a few years later and discovered that Bujold and some others had started publishing and that the field was broader than I remembered, but that's a different story.)

Anyway, I discovered that the "category" romances were not an indistinguishable muck heap. The different lines had different styles and tones. The books ranged from unreadable (to me) to truly excellent. Some I enjoyed have since been visited by the suck fairy (arrogant alpha male, I'm looking at you). Some I have kept through multiple book-winnowings and still reread with pleasure. Several of the authors I enjoyed built an audience in category romances and spun off into single-title and then mainstream bestsellerdom. Nora Roberts, of course, but also Elizabeth Lowell, Jayne Ann Krentz, Sandra Brown, Eileen Dreyer ... I'm sure there are many others.

I wrote two myself, with my eye on a particular category line that I liked to read. Unpublished and no doubt unpublishable, but writing them was a good experience.

#569 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 05:22 PM:

How Much for Just the Planet and Uhura's Song

Also the Rihannsu books. :)

#570 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 05:52 PM:

keranih @ 555: you said: "My sense is that romance has, at its core conflict, will the hero find love as opposed to will the hero escape the monster in the cave/under the bed or ..."

I would argue that while solid romance and/or marriage is the one guaranteed plotline in a romance novel, the reasons for it and in fact the presence of the other plotlines are the real make-or-break between excellent and formulaic. *A* plot is going to be about how the two characters get together. But that is rarely the core conflict. Most often and at its best, it's how the two characters learn to work with each other to cure the actual source of conflict that is the real story.

Consider how many many stories outside the romance genre assume two characters will hook up at the end? Are their core conflicts all suddenly only about "Will they find love" because it happens to be one of them?

Or, another way: Bujold's Sharing Knife is, at heart, a Romance as well as a fantasy. Is "Will they find love" REALLY the core conflict? It turned some people off because it was prominent (Overall, an entirely different group of people than those turned off because of the May-December nature of it) but I think saying it was what they were about missed, um, a LOT.

#571 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 07:26 PM:

I've gotten old enough that from my viewpoint I'd call The Sharing Knife a May–October relationship. Enjoyed it very much.

#572 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 10:11 PM:

Allan, #571: *snerk*

#573 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 10:16 PM:

Lendra Rose @ 570 -

Oh, yes, indeedy, there is a broad range between "This X" and "This is good X".

I myself think that The Sharing Knife was a romance in a fantasy adventure setting. I have that series and have re-read each several times, but my favorite remains the last one, when the willthey/wont they has been resolved (and replaced with a B couple romance) and the two of them settle into solid adventuring.

And I don't mean the conflicts between the characters, I mean the conflict that drives the story. In the specific case of TSK, the conflict is not "will they fall in love" but "can they build a life together" - not the same thing, but far and away from "can they defeat the monster" or "will they solve the crime". So by my book it is romance, and Bujold is a sneaky rotten so-and-so for making me read romance when I had given up on it again.

#574 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 10:23 PM:

OtterB, Carrie S - Re: ST tie ins

Sing it. Plus Pandora Principle and the other Ford one, Final Reflection, and likely another couple I do not recall this moment.

(Re: Janet Kagan - one we lost way too soon.)

Any one with recs for the newer ST series? I never found any for DS9 that I liked enough to read past the first chapter, but I'd like to.

#575 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 11:01 PM:

Trying to unstick an Internal Server Error

#576 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2014, 11:03 PM:

[On the assumption that the previous post failed in its objective...]

Agreeing with keranih@573 that The Sharing Knife is about "can they build a life together". And specifically, "how can they build a better (extended) family than the ones they started out in?"

#577 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 03:08 AM:

CHip@546 -- "... Do you really see any part of SF being so formulaic since the departure of Roger Elwood?"

The wider SFF genre? As, in, SF-and-Fantasy? Yep. Particularly the Urban Fantasy sub-genre. Which really /is/ fantasy, and really is, in parts of it, pretty formulaic. But since many many of its authors create strong women protagonists who explore their various worlds with varying degrees of kick-assery, well, I'm willing to put up with some of the formula. Til I go find something else occasionally.

I imagine you actually just meant Science Fiction, of course. In which case, I'll respond: MilSF. (Which I mostly don't bother to slog through.)

#578 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 03:17 AM:

Having read more of the context, and also back a few hundred comments, I see CHip mean the specific "X Thing happens at X Point In The Narrative," in which case, no, nevermind me.

#579 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 07:33 AM:

Anyone know anything about FastPencil? A quick search at Absolute Write turns up nothing. I see that their "major outlet distribution" violates Yog's Law, but the free service doesn't appear to.

#580 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 09:20 AM:

Yes, anyone reads Kipling these days

Tom Whitmore@544
I'll still defend anyone who wants to read Kipling!

Heavens to Betsy! I don't want it thought that I object to people reading Kipling! The comparison with my original post with Elgar was a precise one: a hugely important composer who has (unjustly in my view) been tarred with a one-note Imperial brush. I'm glad if Kipling is finding a new audience: just surprised considering some of the critical views of him still around.

#581 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 11:09 AM:

Allan Beatty: May-Something? Mea Culpa, regardless.

There doesn't seem to be canoncial agreement on exactly what the older month is, and I would agree that Dag is not exactly one-foot-in-the-grave.

keranih: I don't disagree with any of what you said, and yet, I still feel as if there is something in the better romances - that usually the best stories are people who happen to meet another person of their romantic preference while trying to salve a whole other problem altogether, and learn to work with that person to solve the problem.

It's weird that i find myself defending romance so much; there are tropes in some straightforward romance genre fiction (Other than the Harlequin lines to which CHip was referring) that drive me batty and turn me out of otherwise highly recommended examples of the genre. And the same *kinds* of tropes in fantasy, the ones we get hackneyed and fall into by bad habit*? (And I try to avoid the worst of in my own efforts, probably in vain) At worst, they make me roll my eyes for loving the genre anyway and usually keep reading.

* There are other tropes that lose me fast, but mostly in the category of outright offensiveness: racial or gender or sexuality stereotypes. I don't instantly put a fantasy book down for containing the equivalent of "a Farm Boy** or Spunky Redheaded Girl(tm) you know will eventually become a hero/ine or a prince/ss", Where I am pretty much done with a book if I hit too much of the equivalently common romance novel trope "Sexual tension so strong we stop in the middle of Hot Pursuit to neck."

** Though admittedly, actual Farm Boy tropes seem to have got thinner on the ground since they've become so quickly mocked.

#582 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 12:42 PM:

#555 keranih My sense is that romance has, at its core conflict, will the hero find love as opposed to will the hero escape the monster in the cave/under the bed or ...

I passed up my knee-jerk response to point out that generally romance has as its core conflict "will the heroine find love". Or perhaps more open-mindedly, "will the protagonist find love". But then I was inspired by Lenora Rose (#570) pointing out:

I would argue that while solid romance and/or marriage is the one guaranteed plotline in a romance novel, the reasons for it and in fact the presence of the other plotlines are the real make-or-break between excellent and formulaic. *A* plot is going to be about how the two characters get together. But that is rarely the core conflict. Most often and at its best, it's how the two characters learn to work with each other to cure the actual source of conflict that is the real story.

And I think this is an important point. The thing that makes the romance genre different is not that a romance is present, but that a romance is present and framed as being an assumed background of the story. And that's largely marketing rather than the story itself. If a complex, multi-layered plot is marketed as a romance, then you go into reading it with that plot-dipswitch set to "how" rather than "whether". But in many cases the same story could be framed as other than romance and you'd be reading it for "whether" instead. It changes the reading experience in key ways but doesn't make it a different story.

My own historic fantasies are framed as romances because I wanted to give my readers reassurance on the "whether" question. I didn't want them angsting (or not giving the books a try) because they couldn't bear the thought of having the football yanked away from them at the last minute one more time. And believe me, there are books I haven't read and movies I haven't watched because of that fear.

Of course, there is a downside to that framing. I got told this weekend that Major Local SFF Bookstore will not carry my books because they don't carry romance. Which isn't true, of course. They carry all sorts of books that have more romance (and less fantasy) than mine. For those who are saying that LGBTQ content in SFF "isn't a problem" any more, I can't help suspecting that their response was more about lesbian-cooties than romance-cooties. But the surface excuse is that they don't carry romance, even when it has SFF elements, so there's a data-point for #NotAllSFFans reaction.

#583 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 01:28 PM:

Heather Rose Jones (582): Relatedly, in my experience the difference between Urban Fantasy* and Paranormal Romance*† is the emphasis. Urban Fantasy focuses more on the fantasy elements and less on the romance plot, and Paranormal Romance is the other way around. I like (some) UF and dislike the PR that I've read, but that's personal preference. I have read a few books** that hit both the Romance and the Fantasy marks for me, but it's very rare.

It's a very fuzzy line between the two subgenres, but I do see a real difference. So I guess I'm disagreeing with you, at least to some extent.

*as the term is usually used these days
†Paranormal romance used to mean any romance that wasn't straight contemporary or historical, so it included futuristic and secondary world fantasy settings. I think we've lost something in restricting the term to "my hot werewolf boyfriend". But that's a rant for another day.
**Mary Jo Putney's Stolen Magic springs to mind.

#584 ::: Wolf Baginski ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 01:28 PM:

It's sometimes very far from romance, and often rather ugly as storytelling, but the latest Feminist Frequency video, on women as "decoration" in games has been released. Did I say "decoration"? It's about women as sex objects.

I will be totally unsurprised if the numerous video clips from games are triggery for somebody here. There's also a certain connection to the fuss emerging from the E3 show, and at least some choices by the game design companies present there.

Where this does connect with the romance sub-thread is the reaction of some people to what gets labelled as feminist criticism. There's some seriously messed-up thinking going on. Of course there are the recent Lara Croft Tomb Raider games. There is Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect games, who can be customised into a female character, but all the other decoration (the video shows a clip from a sleazy bar) assumes male interest.

I don't see there being a Larry Croft, partly the history there, but I figure the writing and story would make sense of the character.

Anyway, you can find me on Twitter, where these things can provoke some pretty ugly responses. I think I am learning, but there are some very vocal gamer-types who are pretty frightening.

And if you're not sure of Lara Croft as a plausible character (I have some sympathy with that), perhaps you should look up Nancy Wake (Though there are bit of that Wikipedia entry that I want to check).

Game, movie, book, or whatever, aren't the characters always going to be a bit out of the ordinary?

#585 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 01:36 PM:

Mary Aileen, I think I've mentioned here that I think urban fantasy and paranormal romance are convergent evolution distinguished primarily by series structure. Urban fantasy has one central character and plot arc (if you're lucky; I am *tired* of shoveling plots*) over the entire series, while paranormal romance has different protagonists for each book, connected by the plot arc (n=2, plot arc existed and was resolved by the end of the series).

I only now realized that about the plot arcs. Huh. I'm going to have to think about that some more. Is it because urban fantasy comes from series that can potentially be endless, while paranormal romance comes from the romance convention of having sets of books related by something?

*Some years ago I commented to a friend that Jim Butcher's latest had been shoveling gunpowder and fireworks into a pile. Yes, it's going to be really cool when it goes off. But it's not going off anytime soon.

#586 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 02:26 PM:

Diatryma (585): My issue (which is my own) with a lot of paranormal romance in the old, broader sense, is that, for me, SF/F is the dominant mode. So if SF/F elements are present and aren't handled well*, I can't just sit back and enjoy the romance for what it is. On the other hand, if a SF/F novel has a romance element that isn't up to Romance genre standards, I can still enjoy the fantasy for what it is. Other readers have a different balance, of course.

*that is, to my satisfaction

#587 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 02:40 PM:

I'm the same way; I stalled out on Nora Roberts' latest romance series because oh no it was bad. Baaaad bad. Medieval Irish magical peasants eating potatoes with bad dialect and oh no that plot bad. But I find her SF crime books to be fascinating in *how* they aren't SFF as written by someone in the SFF community, not only the future being a moving target but having droids and VR gaming in the way she does. It might be that I don't take her seriously and can thus forgive her flaws and analyze them, rather than seeing every flaw as an attack on Quality Genre.

Hm. Lots of things coming up in back-of-brain with this discussion.

#588 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 02:58 PM:

Diatryma and Mary Aileen, count me as another who likes fantasy and likes romance but often has trouble with "paranormal romance." It's more than just a dislike for shapeshifters and vampires; I was aware of my reaction before those became such dominant tropes. Partly it may be, as Mary Aileen suggests, that if SF/F elements are present and not handled well (or, for me, are too cliche), I'm thrown out of the story. For some of them, I think it's that the authors use a SF/F background to justify the inclusion of romance tropes that I find annoying, e.g., the One True Mate. If done well enough, these can rise to the level of readable, but they very, very rarely get beyond it for me.

#589 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 02:58 PM:

Question I recently encountered: Person B owns a painting by artist A, who is long dead.

The painting was commissioned for, and appeared in, a magazine-- in this case, The Saturday Evening Post-- in 1947.

Later person C, now deceased, purchased the original painting from artist A, then left it to B.

Does B have the right to exploit the painting? Say, make and sell a nice print of it, or put a scan on the Web for free?

I imagine not. I think that the person possessing the painting doesn't necessarily own reproduction rights to the painting, but I wonder what is usually done by someone in B's position.

And I thought this might be a forum where I could hear from sensible people, or request links to sensible advice.

#590 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 03:04 PM:

I think a lot of these "micro-genre" distinctions are a combination of what I was calling "plot-switch settings" and what I tend to think of as "genre dialect". The first has to do with which elements are defaults and which are options. But the second has to do with writing with an awareness of, and in dialogue with, the existing (micro)genre. We've probably all read stories that use sf tropes but are written by people who aren't in dialogue with the existing work and its history. It doesn't make something a "bad" book, but it affects the flavor of the writing through and through, like the difference between a rosewater cuisine and a vanilla cuisine (not in the "bland" sense of vanilla).

If I pick up a story where the plot-switch settings are mis-communicated, I tend to feel betrayed. If I pick up a story where the genre dialect is not what I expect I'm more likely to bounce off with a "meh". But if I come to the same book without those expectations, I may very well enjoy it.

#591 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 03:16 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @582

I passed up my knee-jerk response to point out that generally romance has as its core conflict "will the heroine find love". Or perhaps more open-mindedly, "will the protagonist find love".

...not sure if using 'hero' rather than 'heroine' was of annoyance to you - by my read of what you've said, it seems that my phrasing struck you as deliberately excluding protagonists of the female gender.

I offer an alternative reading for a person's use of 'hero' rather than protagonist when reaching for a gender-neutral term - that of simply being unable to reliably spell 'protaganist' correctly twice in a row, and so reaching for what is increasingly a gender-neutral word in common speech.

(And I plead conditioning: my brother's daughters have not once described me as their heroine. As their obedient hero/slave, I must follow their preferences - even while my SIL frets over my horrificly bad influence on the scope of their possible futures (ie, to infinity and beyond.)

More on topic: if indeed romance is nearly always will the heroine find love rather than with the protagonist find love, while mystery & (to my read) SFF has largely shifted to "protagonist" rather than hero, then it seems that there are certain gendered expectations worked structurely into the romance genre. Which makes it extremely logical, imo, for many SFF readers to decide they don't want those expectations in their peanut butter.

RE: If a complex, multi-layered plot is marketed as a romance, then you go into reading it with that plot-dipswitch set to "how" rather than "whether".

I think this is very true, and is something that my sister and mom (both enjoy quite a lot of romance) both go into a story looking for - an assurance of that pay off at the end. It can not be a question of whether, it must be how.

Does this hold true for other genres? Is a story not horror if the monster wins? Is a mystery still a mystery if the detective does not solve the crime? (I would argue that the solving is the necessary part, not that the crime have been committed, and that it *is* necessary.)

Is it still a fantasy if the magic turns out to not be real? If the visionary really is a madman? If there are no fairies at the bottom of the garden? Again, I think that without the magic, the story is not a fantasy.

(Which reminds me of CJ Cherryh's Paladin, which was not, imo, fantasy, even though it is a favorite of mine.)

I think SF (vs SFF) is harder to put into a formula because the required element is harder to get a hand on - the utopia can be a dystopia. The equation can be unsolvable. The monster may be unstopable. The alien may be us.

So the charge of "corruption" of the SF genre by romance elements might be founded on the intersection of two traits not native to SF - the assumption of "how" vs "whether" *and* the gendered assumptions. One of these might be accepted by the reader, two together might just be too much different from what SF readers fancy.

And now I've talked myself into thinking that SF genre is somehow specical and superior. Please do point out the flaws in my reasoning.

#592 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 03:30 PM:

Bill Higgins @589 -- I am in no way a lawyer, and I suggest you contact an intellectual property rights lawyer. This is my personal understanding.

1. The owner of an original painting has no commercial rights to reproduce it and sell the reproductions. Particularly in the case you're talking about, some reproduction rights were purchased by the SEP, and what happens next depends on which rights were purchased, for how long, etc. -- the contract the artist signed with the SEP should state that, but I assume you don't have a copy of that contract. Assume they bought all repro rights forever -- that's what the industry default in those days seems to have been, certainly in the pulps. But the exercise of those rights -- that depends on who currently controls the SEP. It is a mire; don't go there unless you've got a lot of time to work things out.

2. Putting a low-res scan on the web is probably okay, if it's not done for commercial use. One can argue "fair use" for that, particularly if the person is even vaguely looking for a buyer. It's quite all right to send high-res copies of the picture to a prospective buyer.

3. In most cases, if the owner does try something the rights holder objects to, the rights holder will send a "cease-and-desist" order -- and the owner then gets to decide how to respond (generally, by ceasing and desisting, though it's possible to get lawyers involved and fight).

4. If person B does want to reproduce it, there's some way to make a good-faith effort to find the owner of the rights and pay an appropriate royalty; then set aside royalties for payment if no such owner is reasonably found.

5. Since the repro rights were sold in 1947, and the picture was probably produced in 1946 or 47, the arcanities of US copyright law may make it difficult to tell whether it's currently covered by copyright or not. I believe it depends on whether the copyright was renewed or not after its initial period. Research (and probably lawyer) required.

I'm sure there are others here who know more. This is a starting point.

#593 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 03:46 PM:

Oh -- one more thing about owning pictures, expanding from 592. In some cases, if the picture has appreciated in value considerably, you may owe the heirs of the artist money if you sell it. This varies, I believe, by state and country (California has laws about this, for one) -- and which jurisdiction actually has control around this is not something I have any idea how to determine. Here's Wikipedia on The California Resale Royalty Act -- other states are almost undoubtedly different.

#594 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 03:49 PM:

keranih @591 - re plot-dipswitch settings

Does this hold true for other genres? Is a story not horror if the monster wins? Is a mystery still a mystery if the detective does not solve the crime? (I would argue that the solving is the necessary part, not that the crime have been committed, and that it *is* necessary.)

I think it does hold true. In a murder mystery (note: specific micro-genre, not loose label for any mystery) the dead-person switch is set for "who/how" not "whether". For a more specific and practical example, one of the (few) problems I had with "Wakulla Springs" as sff was that I was expecting a "how" not a "whether". If there are no fairies in the bottom of the garden and it was all a make-believe game, the switches are set wrong for fantasy (in my reading). If a techno-thriller involve no tech that does not currently exist, then I wouldn't call it sf. For me, sf requires an irrealis dipswitch-setting of "on".

I guess this is an attempt to quantify "I know it when I see it". I don't think any of the genres or micro-genres escape the existence of these framings, switches, and expectations. But the ones we're used to taking for granted may be harder to define and quantify. And never underestimate the power of reader momentum to categorize an author's book as what they're used to seeing from that author rather than as something it might technically be a better fit for. (See, for example, the framing of Hild as if it were fantasy rather than historic and any number of already mentioned sf romances that have the "romance" serial numbers painted over.)

(Side note: my quibble over the use of "hero" was that the het romance framework very specifically includes a male and female protagonist but the default structure focuses on the female protagonist. In that specific context, it felt very odd to see language that implied that the focus was on the male protagonist.)

#595 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 03:50 PM:

keranih @591:

Actually, in the romance novels that I enjoy most, the story follows both of the characters, because it's about the two of them coming together. So both viewpoints get shown; both characters get screen time.

When it's heterosexual romance, that means there are male protagonists, working through their own emotional journeys alongside the female ones.

I think we're back to that statistic that when feminine representation crosses the line of about 17%, suddenly everyone perceives the situation as being female-dominated.

(As a woman who spends a lot of time in male-dominated contexts, that feels kind of nice. Like being able to identify with a character with similar experiences to me feels nice.)

#596 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 04:25 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @591

never underestimate the power of reader momentum to categorize an author's book

Freaking readers. What do they know? ;)

Abi @ 592

male protagonists, working through their own emotional journeys alongside the female ones that an emotional journey as a guy would chart it, or one that a woman imagines a guy would make?

I ask, because I have had some books pointed out to me as "see? Great female character! Smashes things, jumps in bed with pretty things, saves the day, equal representation!" and I'm all "I don't care if she has boobs, she doesn't feel/think like I do, so no, NOT FEMALE". (Characters written by women can do the same thing, just not in the same way.)


Don't have the reference, but I read several articles pointing out the tipping point for any minority/majority conflicts appears to be when the minority group rises (or falls) to about 17-22% of the total. Below that, the minority adapted to the majority culture, blended in, and most significantly, did not make demands for change in the majority culture. Or, at least, not able to make effective demands.

At the tipping point, the minority has enough numbers to a) find something like a common minority pov and b)be loud enough to not be ignored by the majority (who is probably not a monolith in the first place.)

But the minority is still not large enough to force change in a democratic, "lets see how many want this" way, and so the conflict doesn't get resolved. (The minority group doesn't get their way, which is what they want, but they don't shut up and stop pushing for change, either.)

At a more equal level (40/60 splits) the groups tend to have enough internal fractures to keep the squabble from focusing on minority vs majority.

It happens over and over again, and is part of the reason three different places can have the same group be a minority in three different portions, and have three different experiences of cultural stability. Having a minority group be 15% to around 40% of a larger group is highly unstable, and an excellent opportunity for humans to start shouting past each other.

(I seem to recall that the reason for the US politics crankiness is that partisans on both sides are now about 20% of the total, rather than the 5-10% of more historical times. So both sides feel like embattled minorities getting pushed around by a majority that can not make them shut up.)

#597 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 06:39 PM:

Speaking of the threshold of female representation... Lightspeed's "Women Destroy SF" special issue is now available. Lots of girl cooties.

#598 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 07:57 PM:

I don't have a lot of experience with either subgenre, but here is how I think of them. Elves driving Camaros: urban fantasy. Elves making out in Camaros: paranormal romance.

#599 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 08:11 PM:

Fans of internal rhyme may enjoy:

"The Cauldron of Verse" by J. Osner,

The poem (if it's successful) always functions on some level
as a metaphor for time: the reader's memory will integrate
the poem (if it's successful) so its meter and its rhyme make up
a cauldron through which filters reader's vision of experience:
the moment, just off-kilter, just opaque enough to shadow
(just concrete enough to straddle) future and the past which bubble
up through the poem (if it's successful)
and comprise the self you narrate to the world.

#600 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 08:25 PM:

keranih @591
Does this hold true for other genres? Is a story not horror if the monster wins? Is a mystery still a mystery if the detective does not solve the crime? (I would argue that the solving is the necessary part, not that the crime have been committed, and that it *is* necessary.)

Horror: No, because who the monster is depends on the point of view. Monsters plus gruesome actions equals horror. It doesn't really matter who wins.

Mystery: Yes, because if a crime happens it needs to be solved. If the detective/protagonist doesn't solve it someone else in the story must. A mystery novel where the crime is not solved would be either unfinished or classified as a crossover with the Literature genre.

I'll paraphrase Lois McMaster Bujold*. Mysteries are stories about justice. Horror novels are stories about fear. Romances are stories about getting to the point of happily ever after. Science Fiction and Fantasy are stories about cultures and politics (usually on a large scale) that are driven by either science or magic or some combination thereof.

Pure genre is easy to define - for a given definition of pure and a given definition of genre. Which is where sub-genres come into play. I find sub-genres allow the purists to split hairs. Although I was on a panel where we were asked to define "space opera" and all of us had very different, but still compatible, definitions. It's cross genre works where the problems arise. A lot of the genres have things in common which allows authors to borrow shamelessly in the name of experimentation**. Murder Mysteries and SciFi/Fantasy are really easy to mix up. Romance and SciFi/Fantasy not so much. (See OtterB @588 and Heather Rose Jones @590.)

Personally, I have a like/dislike relationship with paranormal romances and urban fantasies. It's not strong enough to be love/hate. I keep hoping both sub-genres will get the world building right (for my definition of right), but I'm mostly disappointed.

* I remember when the first Sharing Knife book came out. I read the Amazon reader reviews and they seemed to be split between "Yay! She's playing with genre!" and "Boo! Give me more Miles/Military SciFi/Space Opera!" More than one reviewer mentioned that they hated the romance genre, but liked the romance in the story.

** The Sharing Knife series read to me like a three way mix of Romance, Westerns, and Fantasy. Mostly because the majority of Fantasy on the shelves is Euro-centric and monarchy-based. The non-European, non-monarchy bits screamed "I'm a Western!" to me, who read a lot of Westerns in my teens and twenties. The Lakewalkers in particular felt like a cross between the Plains Indians and the US Calvary.

#601 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 08:38 PM:

The non-European, non-monarchy bits screamed "I'm a Western!" to me, who read a lot of Westerns in my teens and twenties.

It's not particularly "Western", in that Tripoint is Pittsburgh and the Lakes are the Great ones. :)

I do remember reading along and coming across a mention of raccoons; since I'm American, I just sort of nodded and went on and it wasn't till three chapters later that I went, "...wait!"

#602 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 09:51 PM:

Wolf Baginski @#584

My collection of biographies of SOE and related WWII people includes both Nancy Wake, and Vera Atkins, and Leo Marx, who all corroborate each other on many of the amazing people and incidents. Before Nancy Wake's own book, there was a 1960's bio on her, probably the Brandon Russell cited in Wikipedia. I no longer have that one.

Nancy Wake's obituary gave the title to that year's NYT obituary collection, "The Socialite who Killed a N**i with her Bare Hands".

OTOH, I have a book on William Stephenson, "Intrepid" which starts with the commonly known facts and then shows that his official bio was all "legend". To the extent that his parentage, education, age, etc. were all fudged in all official sources. At the end of the war, many files of SOE were condensed into a book, and ten copies were printed and locked in a safe. After reflecting for a year, Stephenson took them out and burned them. He decided there was way too much that could still be used to blackmail active political leaders and so on.

One of those who survived said something like "everything was forbidden and nothing was forbidden" about the crazy reality of SOE, Maquis, and related. I doubt those of us who didn't experience it really understand it, and I probably don't want to really do so.

#603 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 10:14 PM:

keranih 591: Is a story not horror if the monster wins?

I read this twice to make sure I'd gotten it. I'm not a horror fan, and I had the impression that it was a general rule that the monster wins. Perhaps this is conditioned by the endings of too many 80s horror movies, where the monster is apparently vanquished, and then comes back just before the closing credits and kills all the remaining teenagers/college students/camp counselors/soldiers.

If it's a general rule that the monster doesn't win, there may be some cases where I've been too hasty in deciding horror is not for me. "The good guys lose" is too general a feature of the real world to be what I want out of my fiction.

#604 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 10:38 PM:

I don't think a mystery has to be solved to be a mystery; I am thinking in particular of Qrnqurnqf by Ertvanyq Uvyy. It may be, however, that it sneaks in as a mystery because it is part of a series.

And I am with abi @ 595, in that most of my favorite romances give you at least as much of the male protagonist's point of view as the female's. Lots of Heyers are written that way, for example, although not all Heyers are romances. (Although I am by no means one of those people who, inexplicably to me, dislikes first-person narration, and nearly all such narrators are female. A notable exception being The Bro-Magnet, a romance in which the male protagonist is the narrator.) Having been female all my life, I am not in the best position to say whether those male points of view are particularly authentic; in the best books, they seem so to me.

Rikibeth, I am on tenterhooks hoping you will not discover something awful in Rupert Carsington's character that completely flew by me. Also, I think Jennifer Crusie's heroes are generally about as decent and engaging as Dick Francis heroes (though possibly far less athletic and energetic than most of them), and I absolutely adore Dominique Richard in The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand. He is said to be an arrogant bastard to his peers (although you don't really see it onscreen), but never to the heroine or his employees.

I need to stop with the recs, but I keep thinking, "Oh, oh! Here's another great one."

#605 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 10:39 PM:

Victoria, #600: I remember reading a "craft mysteries" anthology once in which several of the stories were actually descriptions of how the killer got away with it. I felt cheated; that wasn't the only reason the book ended up in the cull pile, but it was one of the major ones.

My impression of horror (at least, what's being sold as horror currently -- this was less true 30 years ago) is that what makes it horror is that there cannot be a happy ending. Either the monster wins, or it's defeated at a terrible cost.

IMO, SF/F is the most flexible genre; you can write pretty much anything in a SF/F setting and still make it work if you know what you're doing. This is perhaps easier to see in media. Star Trek (the show) was blatantly a Western with SF trappings, as was Firefly. B5 was a political thriller with SF trappings. GalaxyQuest was comedy/action/adventure with SF trappings. BTVS was a teen drama with fantasy trappings. And so on. A lot of my favorite SF books are mystery crossovers.

#606 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 10:55 PM:

Lee 605: My impression of horror (at least, what's being sold as horror currently -- this was less true 30 years ago) is that what makes it horror is that there cannot be a happy ending. Either the monster wins, or it's defeated at a terrible cost.

*nods* That's what I thought. *goes back to avoiding horror*

#607 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 11:34 PM:

etv13, I found Mr. Impossible slow at the start, but by the time I was done with it, I liked it pretty well. And Rupert Carsington is a mensch.

I was utterly won over when he did Certain Kindnesses for Daphne that I had already written a version of, in my start at a lady-playwright-and-Musketeer historical romance (otherwise known as "Rikibeth has never gotten over her crush on Kiefer Sutherland's version of Athos". I wrote my own scene to comfort myself when the painkillers weren't cutting it, and to see it in a published work gave me joy.

#608 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 11:48 PM:

Lee, Xopher: is Heart-Shaped Box not horror, then?

Rikibeth: I am relieved.

#609 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 11:53 PM:

So now I'm curious:

Are The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford and/or The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie romances (among the other things they clearly are)? I think the former is a work of genius and the latter is pretty damn good itself.

And that leads me to a second question: Can a story of a romance that failed still be a romance? Where that story is the primary plot line and involves the two most prominent characters?*

Which leads me to a third question: The same semester I suffered through Emma--how I hated that book!--I read Anna Karenina with immense and lasting pleasure. I now see that one way of understanding Anna Karenina is as a romance. There's the big one that fails. There's the big one that works. There's even the little one that tries to sputter to life and fails while mushrooms are picked. But is that the best way to understand it?

*And is the couple in a romance the protagonist? Are both members of the couple joint protagonists? Are they protagonist and antagonist? Is the romance itself the protagonist? Or is this a silly way to think about it?

#610 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 11:53 PM:

I have no idea what Heart Shaped Box is.

#611 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 12:07 AM:

Victoria @600

I’m not sure how my post @590 is supposed to support the idea that Romance and SciFi/Fantasy are more difficult to combine than Mystery and SciFi/Fantasy. Since I write Fantasy/Romance, I certainly wouldn’t be inclined to make that claim. What might be extractable from my comment is that if someone is writing Fantasy/Romance and is not fluent in both the dialects Fantasy and Romance, then they may have difficulty communicating with part of their target audience.

#612 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Xopher @610 -- It appears to be a song by Nirvana.

#613 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 01:30 AM:

@ Xopher, Tom Whitmore: Heart-Shaped Box is an excellent book by Joe Hill. I would have said it was horror, with touches of romance, but it doesn't fit the definition up-thread.

@ John A Arkansawyer: most romance aficionados would say it can't be a genre romance without a happy ending. Thus, books like The Prisoner of Zenda, though romantic as hell, are not genre romances.

#614 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 02:00 AM:

etv13, #608: I have no idea what you're talking about here.

When I say that the "horror = unhappy ending" thing was less common 30 years ago, I'm talking about stories like "Dune Roller" and some of the other things in my Alfred Hitchcock anthologies, which ping as horror to me but still end on at least a cautiously optimistic note. And yet even then... the Zenna Henderson stories that I think of as horror (such as "The Anything Box" and "Swept and Garnished") all have unhappy endings, though not necessarily gory ones.

#615 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 02:04 AM:

Secondary thought, not thought of in time: These days, I think I mark the distinction between "creepy story with an unhappy ending" and "creepy story with a not-unhappy ending" as being horror and dark fantasy respectively. I can handle dark fantasy, but I have a much harder time with horror.

#616 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 02:07 AM:

Secondary thought, not thought of in time: These days, I think I mark the distinction between "creepy story with an unhappy ending" and "creepy story with a not-unhappy ending" as being horror and dark fantasy respectively. I can handle dark fantasy, but I have a much harder time with horror.

#617 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 07:12 AM:

If horror has a general rule that the monster wins and if

the distinction between "creepy story with an unhappy ending" and "creepy story with a not-unhappy ending" as being horror and dark fantasy respectively largely holds...

then most of what I've been reading, and not really enjoying, has been dark fantasy, and I don't have much any real interest in horror.

On Westerns:

I am looking for suggestions for Westerns beyond L'Amour. I liked a great deal of his work, but would like to know if there is anything out there with L'Amour's love of the landscape and his forward striving characters but perhaps with more female or American Indian povs.

(Note: not really interested in ones that dwell on the evils of the settlers stealing land, military slaughters of peaceful villages, or cattle barons grinding down the lowly farmers.)

(Nor in the type that is a cross between a really formalistic Harlequin romance and a Mack Bolan escapist adventure, which is all that I could find there for a while.)

And perhaps with a bit less (on occasion) of the sense that L'Amour was working against a deadline and patched three different stories together into one novel without grinding all the welds down.

#618 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 08:17 AM:

etv13 @ 613: My daughter and I were talking in the car yesterday about some of the authors she likes--she just turned eleven--and one of her major complaints was how her favorite characters keep getting killed off (and therefore how evil the authors are). I maintained that the story comes first and sometimes that a character has to die, even a character you love. (This is not the southernism that some men just need killing, though it's not always unlike it, either.)

So "happy ending guaranteed" bothers me somewhat, just as the guarantee that evil will be punished and the scales will be balanced bothers me somewhat in various forms of mysteries, and I suppose thrillers.

But then I ask myself, "Happy ending for whom?" The book I mistook for Outlander has the woman narrator torn between two men. It has a happy ending, but not for all three of them.

I realize I may be asking Romance 101 questions here, but indulgence on that point will be appreciated.

Most of the romances that've fallen into my hands have been what seems to me to be fairly traditional in structure, though quite a few were cross-genre or unusual (to me, at least) in setting. I've read them and enjoyed them, mostly and to some extent, but they haven't made me seek more out, and sometimes they've downright pissed me off, like the romance-thriller where characters were killed and punished in near-exact proportion to their sex drives.

#619 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 08:35 AM:

re 614: I'm not sure I would class "Dune Roller" as horror. Stories Not for the Nervous is rather a grab-bag of an anthology, with a bunch of SF stories published out-of-genre, as it were, a bunch of non-SF suspense stories, a couple which might be considered mysteries, and a few hard-to-classify oddities like "For All the Rude People". Back when I was a kid reading the book at my grandmother's house (which thinking back was a strange place to find it: neither she nor my grandfather were much into books, and it was certainly wildly out of step with their taste anyway) my reaction to "Dune Roller" was definitely to take it as "skiffy monster story" which I kept as a separate pigeonhole from "horror" (e.g. The Screaming Skull).

#620 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 08:43 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ #609: Casablanca?

Lee @ #614: It takes very little horror to trip my "that's enough, thanks" switch, but I still admire the hell out of "The Noise-Eater". And like "The Prestige", it WILL NOT leave me alone.

keranih @ #617, not Westerns (mysteries in a modern-day setting), but you might like Tony Hillerman's works, in which the protagonists work for the Navajo Tribal Police.

#621 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 09:25 AM:

keranih @ 617: I haven't read a Louis L'Amour book in decades, but he was the first writer whose fight scenes I actually read, instead of just skimming until I knew who won. I remember as a teenager realizing that I could actually follow what was happening—it is hard to describe an action sequence clearly and concisely. If "Western" means something that fits precisely into the L'Amour mold, I haven't read anything like that in ages.

M.K. Hobson's novel The Native Star struck me as rather a western, with fantasy and some steampunk style. The two books following it struck me as horror, but you can read the first as a standalone.

Molly Gloss is a wonderful writer, and some of her novels are a bit of a western. The Jump-Off Creek is based on the memoirs and letters of women who homesteaded. The Hearts of Horses is a young woman breaking horses for a living just before WWI.

#622 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 10:24 AM:

karanih @617, it crosses genres, but have you read Emma Bull's Territory? It's a fantasy Western, set in Tombstone, AZ (it doesn't include the famous shootout), and it's excellent. It's got a great deal of love-of-landscape, and that's a particular landscape that's quite familiar to me (I lived in Tucson for eight years). Bull has also lived in the area, and she gets it right. One of the viewpoint characters is a woman, too.

#623 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 11:57 AM:

Carrie S. @601
It's not particularly "Western", in that Tripoint is Pittsburgh and the Lakes are the Great ones. :)

I thought like that, too, before I went to a wedding in Illinois twenty-odd years ago. The hotel bar's had wagon wheel, stirrup-n-spur, wooden barrel decor usually found in western bars and was called "The Frontier". Because, once upon a time, Illinois, Pittsburg and the Great Lakes were the frontier (for white settlers). Westerns don't have to take place in the USA's western states. The movie "The Last Samurai" was the Japanese Western in the same way that "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" was a Hong Kong Western. ("Hong Kong" films and their sub-genres were something I learned from a friend who had spent a lot of time in China teaching.)

When I say "Westerns", I'm thinking of standard tropes for the genre not the story's geography.

#624 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 12:00 PM:

Not a Western reader myself, but my father (who read voluminously in most genres) was a big fan of Clarence Mulford (best known for the Hopalong Cassidy series). If I wanted to try a Western, I'd start there. Also, Elmore Leonard is a reliable writer, and he started out with Westerns. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Lee Hoffman's Westerns - she's such a good (fannish) writer that I'd expect them to be good too.

#625 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 12:02 PM:

Western New York used to be The Frontier, way back when. I agree; "Western" is a set of tropes about frontier life, not restricted to the Western states.

#626 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 12:14 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @611
...if someone is writing Fantasy/Romance and is not fluent in both the dialects Fantasy and Romance, then they may have difficulty communicating with part of their target audience.

That's what I was trying to say. Thanks for saying it better.

Which is why I have issues with most paranormal romances. I'm reading them expecting the paranormal aspects to have the same rigor as straight fantasy -- especially when it comes to world building. But the ones who get both the romance side and the skiffyness of the paranormal right keep me hoping.

#627 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 12:49 PM:

My preference with horror is for good to win about half the time, and evil to win about half the time. Grey endings you have to think about are even better. I'm really fond of Tales from the Crypt for exactly that reason - stories are funny and short, and the show has some good ratios. Of course, it only really works if you count the stories where everyone is fairly evil and everyone gets screwed as a wash.

In recent years the "evil wins" ratio of the genre as a whole has skyrocketed, and I'm sorry for it. I still think the original Cbygretrvfg, a movie in which not a single person dies, is one of the best horror movies ever made.

Uncertainty about the future and the true nature of your situation are what makes horror intellectually engaging for me. Otherwise it serves as nothing more than a visceral source of endorphins, and I've kind of outgrown that.

My love of uncertainty meant that I had an unusual response to YA literature when I was myself a young adult (and my response to traditional romance would likely be the same). I didn't like the predictability of it. If I could tell within five pages who the main character was going to fall in love with and that the book was going to end with them together, it removed a lot of fun from the stories. I can't describe how amazed and delighted I was when I read a novel in a YA paranormal romance series where the girl told the boy to go away at the end, for completely reasonable reasons. She turned to the gorgeous guy she'd just been on an adventure with and said "Yeah, I have a responsibility to take care of my family. You're fun, but you're also really irresponsible and you don't have any direction in your life... and it's not my job to fix that. If you went and grew up on your own, maybe I'd give you another shot, but no promises." And then he basically said "fair enough," respected her decision, and left. Yeah, he said that he'd work on himself and come back, but there were no guarantees on either side. It was GREAT.

At 13 I'd already figured out that romances don't work out most of the time, and I actually wanted stories that demonstrated that while still offering hope and vicarious enjoyment.

I sometimes wonder what the book I'm working on will be categorized as, and whether or not publishing under a gender-ambiguous pseudonym would change anything. I feel like if a dude wrote a lot of stories about ambiguous relationships that do not always end happily set in a world of magical realism, they'd potentially be categorized differently.

#628 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 01:01 PM:

These are not the word you were looking for.

(trying to shake loose a 404-trapped post)

#629 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 01:03 PM:

...and since that didn't work, trying a repost:

Serge Broom way back @557 - I spent most of my first viewing of the 2006 Casino Royale grinning ear to ear and spinning around in my seat. Finally - finally! - the book got made into a movie worthy of what Fleming actually wrote.

(I started reading Fleming about the same time I was tossing my sister's Harlequins at walls, even if they were nearly the only reading material I had access to. I'm comfortable saying the Harlequins are to blame for my allergy to Romance. Though I do enjoy a good love story, I find I enjoy tragedy more.)

#630 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 01:18 PM:

Moment of embarassment: Something that I had slotted into "Paranormal Romance" is really "Urban Fantasy."

And I slotted it in there because of the "thud" of my disbelief hitting the floor. [Awkwardly, it is a Tor book; should I name names?]

My thinking was something like "If Too Stupid To Live is a romance trope, romance novelists probably don't worry too much when they save their heroes through utterly impossible means."

#631 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 01:29 PM:

Interrupting the flow of Western recommendations (*yes* to nearly everything everyone has said (yes, TSK is a Western, yes, its in the Midwest, yes, that's where the frontier used to be, yes, I loved the Hillerman books, Territory, The Hearts of Horses (and the The Dazzle of Day))

to plug Attica Locke's Losy Anna mystery novel The Cutting Season which I picked up on a whim yesterday and have finished. Wonderful sense of place and the South, and which accomplishes the rare thing (in my experience in literature) of making cross-race conflicts about individuals, and not one entire population steryotyped against another.

I'm going looking for more books by this author.

#632 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 01:30 PM:

Holy crap. Someone I know just posted this, and it made me so livid I have to rant about it.

I just got out of the hospital yesterday. Saturday morning about 5 or so, I was playing around on the computer and my chest started hurting. About a half hour later or so, it started getting really painful so I woke [my daughter] up and told her we'd probably need to go over to the ER. I stood up, walked out in to the hospital and **BOOM** - hit the floor in a dead faint. I don't think I've ever fainted before in my life, and I really don't recommend doing it because ouch.

Off to the free-standing ER, and after they ran some tests, they decided to transfer me to the hospital in [nearby city]. Long story short, after many tests including EKGs, an ultrasound of my heart and another chemical stress test - they say there's nothing wrong with me. The doctor who discharged me actually asked if I knew what indigestion felt like.


Almost certainly relevant: my friend is female, fat, middle-aged, and poor. (And lives in Texas.) What she isn't is stupid or hypochondriac. That doctor should be reported, because he's just encouraged a patient to ignore a potentially-serious medical symptom on the basis of gender, size, and class prejudice.

#633 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 02:20 PM:

And women are far more likely to die of an undiagnosed/untreated heart attack.
That doctor needs to get run through a recertification program.

#634 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 02:42 PM:

That doctor needs to be run through a belt line.

#635 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 02:46 PM:

Clarentine @ 629... If nothing else, Daniel Craig's "Casino Royale" was a definite improvement over the David Niven version. :-)

#636 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 03:31 PM:

Daniel Keyes, author of "Flowers for Algernon", has passed away.

#637 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 04:42 PM:

#617 ::: keranih

Seconding Tom Whitmore's recommendation of Elmore Leonard's westerns.

I've greatly enjoyed (more than once) his story collection When the Women Come out to Dance, which includes a couple fine westerns. I thought immediately of "The Honto Woman". Googling him shows that he wrote a lot more of those early on, including novels.

Off to a virtual visit to the library...

#638 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 05:40 PM:

Lee @ 632

It gets worse.

A CT tech asked her to verify her weight because - direct quote here - "There's a weight limit on my table and I don't want you breaking it".

The tech had, among other options besides basic decency, which was apparently beyond them, the choice of taking the word of the people who had weighed her already.

*incandescent rage*

#639 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 05:47 PM:

P J Evans @ 633:

And women are far more likely to die of an undiagnosed/untreated heart attack.

Nearly lost a friend to that, a few years back. Instead of being treated for what seemed obvious signs of "heart attack in female", she - wasn't. Despite fairly quickly recognizing what was going on, and going - by ambulance - to the ER. Several years and a few surgeries later, she's still not back where she'd have been if she'd actually gotten proper treatment, right away.

Prejudice factors in this case were poverty, age, and being female, AFAICT.

#640 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 06:51 PM:

keranih @ 631: I recently read Attica Locke's The Cutting Season, too, and really liked it. I've moved to a new city, and joined just about every book group in Meetup, so I'm reading books that I wouldn't have normally picked out myself. It's shaking me out of my rut. So many books, so little time.

#641 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 06:58 PM:

Rudyard Kipling wrote about fandom. Fiction fandom. Genre fiction fandom. Genre fiction fandom among males, and I mention the males because they were fans of Jane Austen: The Janeites.

#642 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 08:16 PM:

If police procedurals are a genre, why don't we have sales procedurals, farming procedurals, etc. ?

#643 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 08:30 PM:

If Tripoint is Pittsburgh, that must mean Graymouth is New Orleans.

#644 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 08:50 PM:

Not sure I quite buy all that, but Tripoint and Graymouth would in any case be on the former sites of Pittsburg and New Orleans.

#645 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 09:58 PM:

I'd describe them as a sub-genre of mysteries.

#646 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 10:02 PM:

Wasn't the 1940s movie "Naked City" the first police procedural ever?

#647 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 10:12 PM:

Xopher @ 644

More likely Morgan City than New Orleans; I can't imagine that the Atchafalaya wouldn't have captured the Mississippi by then.

#648 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 10:52 PM:

I never got a post-apocalypse-on-our-world vibe from Bujold's Sharing Knife at all; a post-something world, but not OURS. (None of the tech lying around, anyhow. if it's our world, that scarcity is even less realistic than some of the absurd rarities in Bull's Bone Dance) Are people genuinely suggesting it, or merely pointing out nearest-likenesses?

#649 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 10:52 PM:

Cally @ 647

Almost certainly within the first ten years post event. OTOH, it could just as easily have swapped back and forth three or four times.

#650 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2014, 11:25 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 548: an interesting point. IIRC, Hurree in particular plays up the caricature (especially to make fools of the pro-Russian spies) while making it clear that he's playing a part.

Rikibeth @ 549: I'm puzzled; you said that you haven't found decent male leads in het romance and now offer some. Did you mean contemporary het romance?

janetl @ 551: I don't know what I was thinking of; your 509 is clear. My apologies for misparsing.

Diatryma @ 552: Do you consider ERP to be a genre separate from "romance"? And why do you assume I am uninterested? What I have already said (twice) is that independent testimony points to a substantial amount of highly formulaic work; I don't know what fraction of the total this is, but my read is that it's more of the genre (in the widest possible definition) than Goosebumps is of YA.

Mary Aileen @ 559: there's a large difference between "some" and "not all". I don't expect that there will ever be a world in which any of my tastes are not subject to rude remarks.

kate @ 577: no, I meant the wider genre. I'm old enough to say "SF" when I mean everything. I'd been in fandom quite a while when WSFS formally caught up with decades of practice with a blanket statement including fantasy; I was just getting started on writing about SF (when there was very little fantasy) when people who had thought about it much longer than I had argued that "SF" was a sufficiently question-begging abbreviation ("speculative fabulation"?) to encompass everything.
      I suppose I should get in the habit of saying SFF to avoid genre arguments, although I'm not entirely happy with keeping up the insistence that there are two genres needing to be specified separately; I suspect that several good works can be found to bleed over any line that anyone tries to draw.

Heather Rose Jones @ 590: an excellent point about expectations.

victoria @ 600: Murder Mysteries and SciFi/Fantasy are really easy to mix up. Romance and SciFi/Fantasy not so much. I suspect individual perceptions and authorial skill both come into play in the success/failure of the mixture. I can see why mystery/SF could be an easy bleed, because many examples of both types depend on puzzles ("Who did it?" and "How do we get out of this mess?"). OTOH, SFF has been dealing with forming personal connections since (at least) Sturgeon; where does a reader say "This is too much X and not enough Y"?

Xopher @ 603: There are many examples of horror in which some people survive and the monster is vanquished; 'Salem's Lot, The Shining, or De Lint's Boshengro. Perhaps fantastic horror differs from mimetic horror, or popular horror from literary horror; I haven't read much recently and never read widely or discussed with people who have, so I can't say. Or possibly a connoisseur would dismiss my examples as "dark fantasy" (opposing a late friend who argued that Powers's Last Call was horror, but that was before DF was a common term -- cf Lee@615).

Lee @ 605: inverting your description: John W. Campbell used to argue that SF encompassed all other forms. Campbell liked to provoke ... discussion -- but others have argued similarly.

Arkansawyer @ 609: the definitions I see here suggest that The Last Hot Time is not balanced or relation-oriented enough to be a romance. (I sometimes call it a compressed bildungsroman if I'm trying to punch above my intellectual weight, but I'm not sure it fits that axis either.) I hope some of the romance partisans will answer your question.

lorax @ 622: Bull has promised that she will get to the gunfight in time (or sooner -- IIRC she said something about "the next book" when we were oohing over Russell's take a few years ago. I haven't heard anything public about even one more book, but I'm a long way from current on SFF publishing).

Erik Nelson @ 642: perhaps because there is a real problem, not just a (frequently-repeated) challenge? If they're all problems, perhaps because more hangs on the problem being solved? From my limited reading, ISTM that -- like one definition of a mystery -- a PP is about order being restored.

#651 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 01:05 AM:

CHip, I think that Extruded Romance Product is part of romance as a genre. I don't like dismissing or condemning any genre because it has extruded, formulaic, bad, or otherwise objectionable books. *Every* genre has those. Romance is the one that is most often held in contempt for it.

I think Cherie Priest had a definition of horror that I liked: horror is where the rules break down. Science fiction, fantasy, whatever, the rules might be different, but they hold. Horror is what happens when there's an impossible window in the hotel manager's office, when the sushi starts to control your mind, when a finger comes out of the drain, when a lit candle keeps you alive for a year. It doesn't matter what you think the rules are because they've just flown out the window and the gods between the stars are hungry.

#652 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 01:30 AM:

#490, Diatryma & #521, etv13: What it is about Milan's stories that make you say they're not a good place to start for those not familiar with the romance genre? Diatryma recommended them earlier, though not in a specifically romance novel context, and I have read a few now. (Two novellas and a novel, that is.) I am far from knowledgeable about romance, but I mostly appreciated them.

I'm not entirely sure what was intended by drawing a parallel to a space novel without FTL either, or which aspect of that is supposed to be mind-blowing.

#653 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 02:18 AM:

CHip, I meant "anyone except Georgette Heyer" when I said "het romance". I love Georgette Heyer. When I tried to read authors who came after her - whether writing historical or contemporary romance - I had TERRIBLE luck. Even when going by feminist-aware reviews. The one het non-Heyer I mention was recommended to me in this very thread, by etv13.

Like Heather Rose Jones, I greatly prefer my romance either historical or fantasy. This is not to say I'd turn down ALL contemporary, but it would have to come very highly recommended by a reader who knows a LOT about my tastes.

Apparently the sort of romance I want to read - according to my amazing beta reader, who used to read extensively in the genre and gave up because a lot of the tropes became too painful for her - contains active subversions of many popular tropes. Since this is not easy to find, it's why I write it myself.

#654 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 02:42 AM:

Because this is the best place I can think of to ask this question:

I have a rather large collection of old convention program books dating back into probably the 1980s. Some of them are from cons that don't exist any more. I can't guarantee any specific year of any specific con. Of late I've been looking at the amount of space they take up and thinking that I have better uses for it. Is there anyone or any place/organization that would be interested in this sort of thing, or should I just go thru them and snag the few which are autographed by somebody or of sentimental value to me, and dump the rest into recycling?

#655 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 02:44 AM:

Erik Nelson @642

I'm not sure that it is a "farming procedural", but there was a genre of farming-set fiction which, in Britain, switched to radio and TV. The books are what Cold Comfort Farm mocks, and both The Archers and Emmerdale started as farming-centred. There might be some overlap with the "western": not a frontier but a world where self-reliance can make a difference.

It's more often lightly fictionalised history, such as the stories of James Herriot, but farming seems to be out of fashion. I vaguely remember an American movie centred on a group of farm workers following the grain harvest north from the Gulf to Canada, which was something like a cattle-drive movie with combine harvesters. It might have been Wild Harvest.

The BBC has broadcast a few TV series looking at farming history with an entertainment angle, centred on modern people living in the style of a particular period, reenacting the farming year.

#656 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 03:57 AM:

@Rikibeth no. 653: While the quality is uneven, I like LaVyrle Spencer; in fact she's the only romance-labeled writer besides Heyer who I do like. Although her sex scenes are always in character, she does tend to go purply and eye-rolling in the narration. With that in mind, my recommendations:

Years, about the big taciturn Great Plains farmer and the nice young schoolmarm from the big city in the 19teens. The historically accurate 19teens. Potentially triggery material herein.

Morning Glory, my all-time favorite, about two people with nowhere to go but up in a Georgia backwater during the run-up to World War II. Do not watch the movie; it replaces Spencer's nuanced and sensitive characterization with broad stereotypes.

Forgiving is potentially triggery. A "lady reporter" comes to a Wild West boom town to start a newspaper and uncovers a hideous secret.

That Camden Summer returns to the early 20th century to tell a lightly fictionalized story of the beginning of the U.S. public health system, set against a background of entrenched misogyny. Again, there is potentially triggery material here.

Then Came Heaven is about loss: loss of certainty, loss of love, loss of place. The romantic couple build new lives out of what they have left.

Small Town Girl would be just another "country stars are shiny and hotels are great for sex, y'all" beach novel if the characters weren't so well rounded. I remember the male lead's mother with exasperated affection.

#657 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 04:15 AM:

Lee #654: considering that there are university libraries that have in their specialty collections fanzines* I produced in the 60s, I think you might be able to find a library with an appropriate specialty collection for your convention programs. I know there are some collections out there with some "history of science fiction" material, but I can't think of them right now.

*spirit duplicated and hectographed (because I could) with original multicolored art done directly on the masters with special pencils; then my parents gave me a mimeograph for Christmas.

#658 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 04:23 AM:

I think that there's a fair argument that Moby Dick is a whaling procedural.

#659 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 04:39 AM:

the invisible one @652: I don't feel as strongly about Milan not being for romance beginners as I do about, say, Cotillion. If you've read and liked Milan, that's great. But she does things with social class, character types (e.g., a bipolar hero), and issues (domestic violence, women in science) that . . . Okay, I'm in a bit of a quandary here, because I don't want to suggest that there's anything wrong with, say, Heyer or Balogh or Clare Darcy, but if you have a solid grounding in those, you'll have a greater appreciation of what Milan (and also Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, and Cecilia Grant) are doing with the genre and its conventions.

John A Arkansawyer: I just read The Pale Horse, and it was lovely, but while it has a romantic sub-plot, it is not a romance. Also, I don't find predictability a problem, so I don't mean it as a criticism when I say I knew how that romantic sub-plot was going to come out the moment a certain young woman was introduced.

I said it here before: I tend to be an anxious reader, and I find suspenseful plots a lot more bearable if the conventions of the genre assure me that all will be well in the end. Mr etv13 has been watching Dexter, and I can barely stand to be in the room. And if we're going to object to predictability, it's not like bad shit happening isn't all over a show like that, or Breaking Bad, or Sons of Anarchy, or Game of Thrones. I don't think people getting killed is artistically superior to people getting married, or that the demands of story compel the ending of Macbeth more than they do the ending of As You Like It.

#660 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 04:40 AM:

the invisible one @652: I don't feel as strongly about Milan not being for romance beginners as I do about, say, Cotillion. If you've read and liked Milan, that's great. But she does things with social class, character types (e.g., a bipolar hero), and issues (domestic violence, women in science) that . . . Okay, I'm in a bit of a quandary here, because I don't want to suggest that there's anything wrong with, say, Heyer or Balogh or Clare Darcy, but if you have a solid grounding in those, you'll have a greater appreciation of what Milan (and also Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, and Cecilia Grant) are doing with the genre and its conventions.

John A Arkansawyer: I just read The Pale Horse, and it was lovely, but while it has a romantic sub-plot, it is not a romance. Also, I don't find predictability a problem, so I don't mean it as a criticism when I say I knew how that romantic sub-plot was going to come out the moment a certain young woman was introduced.

I said it here before: I tend to be an anxious reader, and I find suspenseful plots a lot more bearable if the conventions of the genre assure me that all will be well in the end. Mr etv13 has been watching Dexter, and I can barely stand to be in the room. And if we're going to object to predictability, it's not like bad shit happening isn't all over a show like that, or Breaking Bad, or Sons of Anarchy, or Game of Thrones. I don't think people getting killed is artistically superior to people getting married, or that the demands of story compel the ending of Macbeth more than they do the ending of As You Like It.

#661 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 08:21 AM:

There are a lot of farming procedurals (#642) sold as children's books, but children's books tend not to be sold by genre (other than "children.") Crossing genres, you probably know of Farmer in the Sky which is farming procedural crossed with sf. You may not have heard of Three Bags Full, which is sheep herding procedural crossed with murder mystery (not police--the sheep are the detectives.)

#662 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 08:26 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 656 -

re: triggery

It might be just me, but this is not specific enough to be helpful. Can you give some more specific indication of the problematic content, and if the subject matter is depicted, depicted graphically, fetishized, or simply discussed? Some of those look like books I might be interested in, but not if the author is going to spend three pages describing the rape of a ten year old in loving, first person, detail.

A pair of characters discussing providing protection and medical treatment to an adult who was raped off stage, though, would be a different matter.

(I have quibbles with people using the word 'trigger' where 'squick' is a better fit, but most of my problem is that 'trigger' doesn't give me enough information to base a decision on. Need data, dadnabit.)

(While I'm on the topic, a side step into Hugo noms - jimmine cricket I wish I had had a clue what I was stepping into with GRRM's graphic novel Meathouse Man. But I don't think anyone has actually formalized a way to describe that.)

etv13 @ 599 -

I wonder if part of the reason 'ends in death' is seen as superior is because of the sense of completeness it gives to the story's conclusion. Marriage, I have it on good authority, is not actually the end of a person's life.

#663 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 08:31 AM:

Coming out from Tor Books in August, fantasy novel "Black Ice", by Susan Krinard - aka my wife. The cover can be seen HERE

#664 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 08:31 AM:

Like Lenora Rose @#648, I see the world of The Sharing Knife as sharing a geography, but not a (human) history, with ours.

And Adrian @661, it's always good to find someone else who liked Three Bags Full. I bought it from a thrift store and occasionally I think I must have hallucinated it.

#665 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 09:16 AM:

Adrian (661)/Lila (664): My sister-in-law recommended Six Bags Full to me a few years ago, since we both like mysteries. It's great. The sheep are both believable sheep and believable detectives.

#666 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 10:06 AM:

Lenora Rose @#648: I don't know if the Sharing Knife series is meant to be post-apocalyptic--though there are some hints in how the Lakewalkers came to be how they are--but the geography is certainly a match; I forget which book has the map in it, but it's pretty clearly the chunk of the US from the Great Lakes to the Gulf and roughly mid-Pennsylvania to as far west as one needs to go to show the mouth of the Mississippi. I remember being quite startled when I saw it and recognized how the rivers met at Tripoint.

#667 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 11:12 AM:

My sense of The Sharing Knife is that it's set in an alternate world with our geography.

Keranih @ 662: I think it comes from more of a general bias against comedy as not being "serious" enough -- the same reason comedies rarely win Oscars.

#668 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 11:20 AM:

Etv13 has it right about Milan: it helps to know the tropes she's subverting. The sex scene in The Duchess War wouldn't be anything special except that I had read so many other sex scenes and I know how they go. And then that one didn't! Magnificently!

#669 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 11:40 AM:

Isn't Liquor: A Novel a restaurant procedural?

I understand there's a whole genre of business procedurals in Japan. However, my understanding may be faulty.

#670 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 12:32 PM:

#660, etv13 & #668, Diatryma:

I'm kind of lost here. Is there a reason you're not being specific about the particular tropes being subverted and how and why this is important? (spoilers maybe?)

I mostly enjoyed the Milan stories I've read so far, so I suppose one of the things I'm trying to figure out is whether the tropes she's subverting are things that would turn me off when played normally, and thus whether or not I should explore other romance authors. (My prior experiences with romance novels turned me off of them for a couple of decades, and I don't know whether I had been handed a particularly terrible example of the genre or if the stuff that bothered me was typical.)

#671 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 01:27 PM:

etv13. #659: I don't think people getting killed is artistically superior to people getting married, or that the demands of story compel the ending of Macbeth more than they do the ending of As You Like It.

There is, however, a strong strain in our popular culture which says exactly that. Authors who write "serious" books are more highly lauded than authors who write funny ones. Funny songs are relegated to the category of "novelty" and get almost no airplay except on cult shows dedicated to them, like Dr. Demento. It's not unheard-of, but very rare, for a funny movie to win Best Picture. And so on and so on.

keranith, #662: One person's squick is another person's trigger. I know people who don't want to read a book in which rape is even mentioned, and with good reason.

#672 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 01:31 PM:

Lee @ 671... And comedians seldom win Oscars. Cary Grant never won one because he made everything he did look easy, whether it was comedy or drama.

#673 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 01:35 PM:

Lee @654 -- if you have the time and energy, try eBay before recycling them. Some old fanzines have gone well; and I know that folks from Norwescon are looking for the early program books from that con. And if you don't already have an eBay account, drop me a note (via linked website) -- they're giving both the newbie and the recommender credit this month.

#674 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 01:54 PM:

@keranih no. 662: All of the potentially triggery material I referred to in the listed books has to do with the male privilege-patriarchy-rape culture ball of slimy yarn. If that kind of thing makes your stomach hurt, avoid the three listed novels. I can't be specific about two of them without spoiling the plot, but one of the students in Years is a sulky and arrogant young brute who just gets worse as puberty goes on; he nzohfurf n lbhatre tvey ng gur fjvzzvat ubyr juvyr ure jrg haqreguvatf ner fghpx unysjnl hc ure yrtf naq unf ure qbja ba gur tebhaq jura bhe urebvar neevirf jvgu n ynetr fgvpx.

#675 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 02:09 PM:

The invisible one, part of it is that I don't want to spoil anything and part of it is that the best example is the sex scene from The Duchess War, which is my favorite sex scene in fiction ever. Basically, both characters have had a solo sex scene (which is vanishingly rare; some heroes get to masturbate while thinking of the heroine, and one or two Kleypas heroines I think, but it's Not Done) and then they are married and oh hey, two virgins, I guess this will be awkward.

And it is.

He lies there thinking how it was bad, how he can't say anything, how this is just how it'll have to be from now on. She speaks up and says that it's better when she's on her own-- oh no! She's said something, this means they have to acknowledge that it was bad. They have to talk about it. There is nothing worse in the world.

Then she offers to show him what she does. And after a little while, she asks for help. Then they have smokin' hot sex... because of open, honest communication about what they like and what they want.

And I mean. That. I didn't know I wanted that. I knew but no longer noticed that almost all the sex in romance novels is mindblowing, but the logistics are handwaved away. This was not only a really good scene but a how-to for it.

A lot of Milan's books are like that. They deal with agency and identity in ways that I don't always realize I'm missing.

(*might have talked up Milan too much; I don't want anyone to be disappointed.*)

#676 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 02:11 PM:

The Sharing Knife is definitely post-apocalyptic in that there was definitely an apocalypse long before the opening of the first book, one that destroyed all human cities and almost all humans.

I think it's debatable whether it happened to our world or any world that could reasonably succeed ours, though I certainly could construct scenarios that lead from this world to that one. Most would require that some oral-tradition distortion happened between the event and Dag's description of it.

#677 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 03:10 PM:

Serge @663:

Oooh! And cover quote by CJ Cherryh, too!

#678 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 03:36 PM:

Jenny @ 674 -

Thanks for the clarification, I do appreciate it.

(When you say 'male privilege-patriarchy-rape culture', I'm assuming you talking Walk to the End of the World style assaults on subordinate/non-enfranchised female adults, and not 'casting couch'/quid pro quo/Pretty Woman type issues of dubious consent. Is that right?)

Lee @ 662 -

I've never been raped, and I don't want to read about it, and I consider "I don't want it in my books" a good reason to not want it. Some things you just don't want rolling around in your brain.

Given the broad spectrum that "trigger" gets used for (and its not my field but I understand psycologists have issues with how the word is being used in colleges and common speech) I just prefer more information on content. [snips long example]

As you say - some people call it trigger, other people call it kink. People are weird.

#679 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 04:22 PM:

abi @ 677... Thanks. We were quite happy that CJ could do that.

#680 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 05:13 PM:

And in other news, the onslaught on higher education continues from the other direction, too. (via)

#681 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 05:15 PM:

Diatryma @ 675: Have you read Faking It? It was the first contemporary romance I had read in a very long time, and I was shocked (in a good way) by the first sex scene.

#682 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 05:57 PM:

For all you poetasters:

#683 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 06:56 PM:

@keranih no. 678: Just about. I get the impression that although Spencer writes about the days when men were manly and women were ladylike, she doesn't like them all that much.

#684 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 09:31 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 676
The Sharing Knife is definitely post-apocalyptic ... it's debatable whether it happened to our world or any world that could reasonably succeed ours,

I think the only thing The Sharing Knife has in common with the world we know is an artifact of inspiration. Bujold's five gods universe is set in a mirror image of Spain. Not everyone likes to draft maps and contemplate things like geologic underpinnings. I have a sneaking suspicion that if Tolkien had known as much about geology as he did about languages, he'd have recognizable plate tectonics visible in his middle earth maps. (Tolkien's mountain ranges that make 90 degree turns have always bothered me.)

Most of the fantasies I've read are set in and around castles and fortifications, which are usually located in mountains. That, to my genre trope checklist, means "eurocentric" and "monarchist". Fantasy that takes place on open plains or other non-mountainous regions sans castles are rare. I suspect with Bujold it was a case of write what you know, and she was more concerned with character and history than map drafting. Now Elizabeth Moon drafts her own maps for fun and profit - she's mentioned it on her blog. For her, being an ex-Marine, it's the soldiering that gets shamelessly borrowed. The first time I read "The Sheepfarmer's Daughter" I thought it sounded a lot like my dad's stories about going through Army boot camp and life as a soldier. Which was one of the draws for me. Up until Moon, all I'd read was high fantasy and shameless Tolkien ripoffs.

#685 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 11:32 PM:

Victoria @ 684: Well, Tolkien might not have plate tectonics, since it was a theory that was only accepted in the 1960s ... but otherwise, I do agree with your whole first paragraph as pretty much what I was getting at. There are no few worlds that pretty obviously borrow some chunk of our-world real estate but are actually fantasy worlds regardless. (Xanth was the most obvious and shallow, but even PTerry's Nation, which has a highly familiar world map, isn't quite in our world, though it should have been.) Thus, there's no doubt that the Missisippi and the Great Lakes were (Blatant) inspirations for her geography, and yes, there's no doubt there was a huge apocalypse, but I still say it has nothing like the feel of "Used to be our world".

I thought it was one of the stories that was riffing off Jo Walton's essay wondering why there are so many fantasylands based on Europe* and none based on America.

*And a few on Asian countries, the ancient Mediterranean, etc - and not enough of these either.

#686 ::: the invisible one ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2014, 11:53 PM:

#675, Diatryma: I did like that scene :)

Now trying to figure out if starting with Milan means that a lot of other romance will have holes in agency and identity by comparison. Hm. Or maybe I just don't have the background knowledge of the genre tropes and assumptions to understand what you're trying to say about it, because I feel like I'm still missing something fundamental in this conversation.

I'm not trying to derail or demand, so am not asking you to explain the genre conventions any further. (Unless you want to and the community thinks it's an appropriate discussion, then I'm happy to listen.)

#687 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 12:24 AM:

Our inbox now is empty. These e-mails,
As we predicted, were naught but Spam, and
Are sent off to aether, to mere aether;
And, like the senseless conceit of their message,
The urging to respond, the vast wealth dangled,
The rank misspellings, the hidden donor,
Yea, all which it promise, shall be wiped,
And, like a picture tube with pow'r removed
Leave not a dot glowing. It is the stuff
Poor sheep are fleeced by, and its crude come-on
Is deleted with this key.

#688 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 01:01 AM:

the invisible one @ 686: I don't think it's a matter of other books having holes in agency or identity so much as . . . Well, the closest analogy I can think of, and it isn't a perfect one, is this: my husband and I both watch Sherlock, and we both enjoy it. But I've read every Sherlock Holmes story Conan Doyle published, and he hasn't, so my experience of the show is different, and I think it's fair to say I get a lot more out of it. I know what A Scandal in Belgravia or A Study in Pink are playing off, and that makes for a richer experience. It isn't that there's anything wrong with the stories, it's that you can't appreciate the interplay between the show and the stories without knowing them.

#689 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 01:11 AM:

Kip W @ 687:

That is so good. I think it needs repeating. I'm going to repeat it, if you don't mind.

#690 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 08:15 AM:

On the flip side of the "used to be our world," the world of Wheel of Time doesn't have a recognizable map from our world, or a recognizable history in common--except that there are artifacts that are recognizably FROM our world (to us, but not to the characters.)

#691 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 08:21 AM:

keranih @ 662: I stepped into Meathouse Man, and quickly stepped back out. I just read the first few paragraphs of the text, and I cannot fathom trying to read a graphic novel based on that text. I don't want that imagery in my mind.

#692 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 10:02 AM:

Janetl @ 691 -

You haven't missed much, imo, in the graphic novel.

To be fair, the most graphic sex bits were all front loaded. After that, it just...staggered down into a pit of self-loathing and oh-poor-me.

It doesn't surprise me that the short story was published in the 1970's. It does surprise me that it was a GRRM story - he published Dying of the Light a year after this short, and while that was not all hope and cheer, it was at least full of characters who didn't hate themselves.

#693 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 11:11 AM:

Jon @ 682: Are there any poetasters here, aside from me? Most of what I've seen posted here has ranged from good to great.

Meanwhile, for the last few days I've been tempted to slap together some lyrics for "Getting Married on the Moon"....

#694 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 02:04 PM:

Heather Rose Jones: "For a more specific and practical example, one of the (few) problems I had with "Wakulla Springs" as sff was that I was expecting a "how" not a "whether". If there are no fairies in the bottom of the garden and it was all a make-believe game, the switches are set wrong for fantasy (in my reading)."

That was my take too. Excellent story, but it wasn't actually fantasy in my opinion.

keranih: Celia Hayes writes what I would classify as historical fiction, though it certainly feels like Westerns. Most of her books are dealing with a group of German settlers in Texas, though To Truckee's Trail is based on the Stephens-Townsend Party trip that developed the route through the Sierras. (Two notes on that: the first is that is *my* photo on the cover, since I had a nice photo of the Truckee River, and the second is that, as a native Californian, when the Stephens-Townsend Party reached the east side of the Sierras in October, there was a huge sinking sensation in my stomach, because it was obvious they were totally screwed.)

In regards to The Sharing Knife, Bujold has been pretty open about how the setting was directly inspired by her childhood around the Ohio River. I also note that "Ogachi Strand" is obviously playing off Chicago. I think it's a potential far-future version of this world, with technological-magical catastrophe messing with the geography.

#695 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 02:41 PM:

HLN: Local woman finally identifies source of squeak in her desk. Judicious application of WD-40 eliminates the noise.

"KILLITKILLITKILLIT!" she is reported to have said.

A passersby deduces that she had found the squeak somewhat annoying.

#696 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 02:55 PM:

Jacque, just so you know, WD-40 is a degreaser, not a lubricant. You might want to follow up with a judicious dose of silicone spray.

#697 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 03:07 PM:

WD = water displacement, I hear. It's a lubricant, but not quite as good as stuff made for the purpose. (Graphite, or actual oil, but not 3-in-1.)

#698 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 03:13 PM:

PJ Evans @ 697, thanks for the clarification. Jacque, what PJ said.

#699 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 04:16 PM:

Strictly, WD-40 is a solvent carrying water-protective stuff. The residue that's left is not much as a lubricant. The various lubricant sprays and penetrating oils have different pros and cons. Graphited oils are messy. Don't use silicone lubricants on electrical gear. Sewing machine oil is slightly different to 3-in-1 oil.

You can get very picky about the right oil for the job, but 3-in-1 oil will handle most domestic jobs. Save the WD-40 for stuff that's exposed to the weather.

#700 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 04:48 PM:

Dave Luckett @689, that's fine, and thanks for asking. I've already messed with it once, but now that I look at it, I think "a picture tube new unpowr'd," (comma included) suits it better.

#701 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 05:32 PM:

Dave Bell @ #699

WD-40 should not be used on moving parts as a lubricant. This moose recalls a tale (probably in The Monastery) about someone using it to clean a motorcycle drive chain that was covered in mud. The next time they inspected the chain it was rusted solid because the WD-40 had washed out all the grease without removing the water, and they were forced to replace the chain (also worn out due to the lack of grease).

#702 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 05:38 PM:

Also on tribological topics: Do Not mix Lithium grease with older types of grease. The two are not compatible and are very likely to form a gritty residue with abrasive rather than lubricating properties. If you don't know which grease was used the only safe approach is to completely clean out all the old grease and refill with a suitable modern variety - and label the equipment with the grease you've just used, ready for next time. (This particularly applies to old radio equipment with rotary transformers - the grease hardens over time and frequently prevents operation.)

#703 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 06:29 PM:

HLN (and also general showing off?): since May last year, area woman has been taking dribs and drabs of time (It's often 2-3 hours a week, and during some stretches, about that in two months) to slowly work on the mural in her son's bedroom.

Here;s the quick outline she started with:
wall paint and charcoal lines.

Here's where it currently stands:
With a bit of glare, alas

And some detail

and a close-up on everyone's favourite horse so far, albeit before he had a shadow or water reflection.

Area woman is so far pleased. Less pleased that in the last 2 months she's had 3 whole painting sessions, all of them working on sand, grass, and other background fussing.

But today felt good, and likely the next two weeks or so will include some more sessions. Next up; work on the grey mare and blue-roan foal and the short grass and flowers on the rise where they stand. (Then back to finickety background work, on the side wall you don't see in these shots).

#704 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 06:37 PM:

akiciml- music edition:
I'm looking for bumper (lead-in) music on jobs/work/unemployment. Three decades ago I might have used 9 to 5 or Dire Straits' Money for Nothing, but what would be the second decade of the 21st century equivalents?

[Also, sometime in the past year I saw a blog that had curated sets of songs by theme: they were the sort of awesomely thorough lists that many MLers must like-- what blog(s) might that have been?]

#705 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 07:09 PM:

AKICIML, story-telling edition:

Every autumn I engage in a public story-telling session called "Spooky Stories". It's the only time I nerve myself to go on stage....

Last year, I told a variation on Mr. Fox, or Bluebeard's Chamber. You know the one: "Be bold, be bold, but not too bold, lest your heart's blood should run cold...."

It was very well received, if I do say so myself as shouldn't.

I'd kinda like to tell something similarly traditional (and, of course, spooky) this year. Telling time should be between 5 minutes and 15 minutes (obviously, stories can be padded or cut as necessary). Anyone have any ideas they can point me to?

#706 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 07:12 PM:

Lenora Rose @703, that's excellent :D

#707 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 07:44 PM:

Lenora Rose -
Lovely! Bonus points for showing us progressions!

#708 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 10:07 PM:

Cadbury Moose @ 702 -

There are a lot of different greases around, with different thickener and oil combinations. For compatibility, your best bet is to match thickeners (Lithium with another lithium, for example). Going by the age of the grease may not help, as sodium and calcium, and various other types of thickeners are still produced and available.

(I work for a grease company. I never thought I'd have relevant professional expertise on ML! If anyone has specific grease questions, please feel free to contact me - the email address is my lj username, at juno dot com.)

#709 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 11:42 PM:

Cassy B. @ 705: An amazing number of Grimm stories contain some pretty gruesome stuff, and the less well known ones would probably do nicely. That would be my go-to to start, followed by Poe (Who's mostly too long - though the Raven clocks in at about 8 minutes), or the Monkey's Paw. Though Poe needs his language and therefore needs to be memorized, not extemporized.

Carol Kimball @ 707: I've been taking quite extensive photo records as I go and posting the most obvious changes to facebook as I go. Which is odd for me: I previously refused to post art pics to FB, other than the one I use as my wall.

#710 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2014, 11:43 PM:

Er, and lest I seem too egotistical, I did mean to add a general thanks for the kind words.

#711 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 12:26 AM:

I did a solo reading of "The Tell-Tale Heart" just before leaving Virginia, and at the risk of revealing my titanic ego, I really felt like the audience was with me. Started quietly in a quick (nervous) voice, with occasional tic. The story really tells you when and how much to crescendo. All through it, I was very reasonable, taking them into my confidence. Very gratifying, at a time when I was logistically unable to commit to a regular show. I prepared by putting the story onto cards at a large size with logical spacing to help keep me from getting lost. (I'd offer this, but it was in QuarkXPress, and the old qxd files don't work for me now. If you have access to the program, I could send them to you to see if they work for you. If, if, and if.)

Anyway, pretend that this paragraph is me going on for another five minutes on how well it went and how great I felt about it. The feeling has stayed with me.

#712 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 12:27 AM:

(Actually, there's a chance one of my older computers could open it. Must stop typing and go night night.)

#713 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 12:42 AM:

Cassy B, I'm very fond of the Vanishing Hitchhiker for spookiness.

#714 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 01:47 AM:

HLN: Local man reports feeling jittery due to having gone out on a limb and bought a plane ticket for LonCon 3. A hotel room is yet to be reserved; "sharing a room is preferred," he says.

(I don't think I have the hang of this HLN stuff.)

#715 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 02:48 AM:

Somewhat similarly to 714, local woman is staying at the youth hostel in Southwark, and trying desperately to work out how late-night public transit works on Friday and Saturday nights. Should anyone else be staying at said hostel and wanting to split cabs so as not to have to spend two hours on various buses for what is normally a forty-minute trip, local woman would be extremely happy to coordinate.

#716 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:25 AM:

@696–699: Hm. I wonder if a spot of Tri-Flow would do the job? Tricky part: the joint in question is on the bottom side of the desk surface. One needs must spray up to hit it.

Cadbury Moose @701: The joint in question is, in theory, not a moving part. Hence the, um, impatience with the squeak. Now that I think about it, rusting solid might be a fine solution.

Lenora Rose @703: We likes us some Friesians, so we? :-) (Fluffy feets! Fluffy feets!)

Cassy B. @705: Less spooky than snarky, but is Robert Service's Cremation of Sam McGee too long? Speaking of grease.

#717 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:26 AM:

Gah. "do we," not "so we." Can't type to save my life, today.

#718 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 08:47 AM:

iamnothing @714--W00t!

In other, non-related, hyperlocal news, woman engages in discussion with cat about the shortcomings of snuggling up to sleep in sultry weather. Cat indicated she, at least, was not convinced, but proceeded to go to sleep with belly exposed, suggesting she might be hotter than she realized.

#719 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 08:54 AM:

Grease sub-thread: Well, this is timely. While I knew that AKICML, I hadn't thought to use it for home repair. The hinge on the dishwasher in my "new" house makes a ghastly sound when you open the door. One hopes that it just needs lubrication. What do you suggest that I use?

Lenora Rose @ 703: Wonderful!

#720 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Eater of Spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 08:56 AM:

Just to note: if everyone flags every piece of spam in every spam wave, the Recent Comments section stops being about the conversation and starts being how the spammers win.

In other words, if we're haivng a wave of spam, just mention that there's a wave and I'll come clean it up when I have time.


#721 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 09:02 AM:

Lenora Rose @709 - Grimm, huh? I'll have to check out a complete Brother's Grimm and scout it out.

Kip @ 711, I once memorized The Raven, and could probably get it back in my head without too much difficulty. But I'm concerned that Poe has difficult Victorian language that won't come through effectively for an audience that has a fair percentage of middle-schoolers.

Rikibeth @713, we have a local Vanishing Hitchhiker; Resurrection Mary. I've thought about this, but I'd rather tell a story that's less likely to be familiar to the audience. (Resurrection Mary is trotted out on TV and radio nearly every Hallowe'en...)

Jacque @716, I'm not familiar with The Cremation of Sam McGee. I'll have to look it up.

I think in general I'd prefer a more traditional tale than a literary one, because I don't want to mangle some poor author's work. If you see what I mean. The stories are told without notes, you see. (It's story TELLING, not story READING...)

#722 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 09:09 AM:

5 Colonial-Era Drinks You Should Know - The description at the beginning about how drunk everyone was, all the time, may be wildly inaccurate. I'm no historian. However, I'm willing to trust the recipes (roughly), and enjoyed finally knowing what that character in a novel written long ago was actually drinking: syllabub, flip, etc.

#723 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 09:17 AM:

I seem to be playing the part of the Conservative Asshole on Facebook. After much typing and deleting here, I think what I mean to say is, "I'm going to vote not enough information, because I wasn't there. Maybe you should consider doing the same, being as the story happened in New York City and your profile says you live in California."

(Someone was fat-shamed, they say, at a convention, for "cosplaying." They were not actually wearing, y'know, a costume or even anything I would recognize as a deconstructed costume. Said person is a writer on the internet and their complaint has gone viral. Obviously, the only sensible thing to do is get people fired.)

#724 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 10:44 AM:

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute Saloon...
No, that's s different one - same author, though: Robert Service.

#725 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 10:55 AM:

Cassy, #721: Have you considered hunting thru Snopes? There are a lot of scary urban legends, even if you eliminate the ones that are based on not-so-thinly-disguised racism.

janetl, #722: [E]arly Americans were often tipsy — their incessant drinking a cultural extension of Old World beliefs that fermented beverages were safer than water. The colonial-era day didn't begin until after a dram of bitters or stiffener of beer. By the time the Revolutionary War began, the adults of the thirteen colonies drank an impressive amount of alcohol — the equivalent of several shots every day.

1) That "Old World belief" had considerable basis in reality. You never knew when your local stream had something like a dead carcass in the water upstream from you, and germ theory was a century in the future. Even today, there are parts of the world where drinking the water (without boiling it first) is an invitation to anything from dysentery to cholera.

2) Maybe this is just my general ignorance about alcohol speaking, but it doesn't seem to me that "the equivalent of several shots" spread over the course of a day is all that impressive an amount.

Sandy, #723: I'm going to vote "if you're going to bitch about people making decisions based on incomplete information, you should at least provide a starting point for research".

#727 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Lee @725 You know, I never even thought of snopes as a resource. Which is funny, because I use it as a debunking source all the time...

#728 ::: Claire sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Down with surveys! *g*

#729 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 11:21 AM:

To everyone who gave advice to help me out with my mum: thanks.

I did get her to eat blueberries and strawberries for a while, until she decided they were causing her loose bowels (strong antibiotics causing digestive issues? No! Never happens! Everyone knows that!).

Now that she's off the antibiotics, both IV and oral (Yay! Triple Yay!) hopefully I can get her to start again. She's been eating yoghurt every day, so I think that's helping.

She loves tomatoes, but insists that the ones grown in greenhouses don't taste like anything, and we won't have fresh ones here for a few weeks now. So I bought some that said "vine-ripened" on them, and told her that they're started in a greenhouse, but spent the last couple of weeks outside. I don't care that it was a lie, I got her to eat the tomatoes.

Tomato, avocado and cucumber salad was a success, mostly (must slice cukes thinner). Oh, and we have found a water she will consent to drink! PC Lemon Mist. I don't know if we can afford it long term, but whatever. I'm trying to get her to drink 3 bottles a day.

She still tires very easily, and seemed to be getting very frustrated with that (Why am I so tired?), and wasn't taking my word that she's still recovering, so at the follow up appt yesterday, I asked the doctor about it, and she told my mother, "Of course! You were very sick. It's normal for you to be tired and take a while to recover. Just take your time."

And that's the last follow up!! No more pills (except the regular), no more hospital, no more worrying that she'll lose her leg, or worse. W00t1

Again, thanks everyone for all the advice. I'll keep trying to get her to eat hydrating foods, and encouraging her to drink her water. Also, I should actually be able to get back to my old apartment and clean it.

Next: clean her stuff out of my closet so that I can put my clothes away (currently they are hanging on a garment rack in the basement).

#730 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 11:22 AM:

Cassy B @ 721: Ooh, Cremation of Sam McGee: That's a Good one. (It's a Canuck staple, but if you aren't Canadian - and Resurrection Mary strongly suggests not - likely more obscure.)

Don't underestimate the ability of kids to parse a few words out of their vocabulary, either. They tend to be better at it than adults, because it's something they do on a regular basis in reading.

Jacque @ 716: Most of the horses I was using as photo reference are Shires, (Making the project codename "pretty little horses" a mite silly) but even from that much fluffy feets I did do extra fluffiness to all the feathers and manes because why not?

Sandy B @ 723: I tend to prefer to hold off on judging until i have a couple sources of info for just this reason. 99% of the time, the full info is damning and the complaint about X-shaming or X-phobic behaviour or harassment is legit, but it rarely hurts to read more first before reacting.

fidelio @ 718: I have been noticing a decrease in nighttime cat cuddles corresponding to some of our warmer nights. I can't say i wholly mind, though it does add to my worry they feel neglected due to toddler.

HL Breaking news: Local toddler desperately wants Mommy to stop typing and get back to playing her octave mandolin for him. Local woman thinks this night be easier if he didn't express this by, among other means, stealing all the picks. She is also quoted as saying, "At least this way I do practice."

(This whole comment has been composed piecemeal between songs.)

#731 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 11:25 AM:

Cheryl @729: That sounds like it did work out as well as you could hope. Glad she's on the road to recovery, and good luck maintaining the hydration.

#733 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 11:39 AM:

Lenora Rose @730, ok, that's two enthusiastics recommendations for the Cremation of Sam McGee; I'll definately have to find it.


Oooh. A poem. I *like* poems. I can *remember* poems. And it's nicely spooky....

I don't mind telling you I'm from the Chicago metropolitan area; hence "Resurrection Mary".

#734 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 11:41 AM:

One that would fit, except of course for the "it's a story, not a fable" (oh, and maybe "it's a little gruesome for middle-schoolers") is An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Ambrose Bierce.

Ah, and it might be a little long, at that. Maybe too many strikes. But I've always liked that plot path, if you can do it to me without foreshadowing it from page 1.

I will continue the recommendations for Robert Service. His poetry is hackneyed and ultra-not-modern, but it's always a joy to *hear* and to *tell*, exactly because of the hit-you-over-the-head rhyme scheme and, of course, the good stories. And Cremation is a great rollicking tale. Not too spooky (which may even be a plus here), and (again, because of the lack of subtlety) very easy to memorize.

#735 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 12:00 PM:

Mycroft W @734, Just scanning over "Cremation", it strikes me as the sort of poem that's MEANT to be heard, not read silently. The doubled-rhymes give it a sort of verbal momentum, if that makes any sense...

#736 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 12:04 PM:

Cassy B. @721: Re: 'The Cremation of Sam McGee'

I would describe it as a cold and moody story with a surprising funny twist ending. It had been a favorite of my grandfather (a farmer on the Canadian prairie who knew something of cold).

#737 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 12:04 PM:

P J Evans 724: I first saw that in one of Charlotte MacLeod's mysteries written as Alisa Craig. It was one of the Grub-and-Stakers series, in which the club puts on a show based on the poem. (Our heroine, now grown up and married, plays the tiny tot as she alway used to do.) Hilarious skullduggery ensues. (The book is old-fashioned. I like it anyway, when I'm in the mood for fun fluff.)

#738 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 12:14 PM:


My reasoning on keepin' it vague probably doesn't hold up. Here is the original story. I looked at the twitter feed of MizCaramelVixen and had to go back, rough estimate, seven hundred tweets to get to the incident. Which was last Sunday.

I don't check Twitter that much; is it me or is she a very hard-working publicist for her own brand?

#739 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 12:21 PM:

AKICIML, whatbookisthis department.

This has been bugging me for a while, and I've finally cracked.

When I were a lad -- so, late 60's and in the UK -- I read what would now be a YA featuring a space voyage to the planet Imperator which, if I'm recalling correctly, was a Venus-replacement. Travel was in a spaceship that operated by magnetism (repel yourself away from the Earth) and had been designed by a Slightly Mad Scientist.

Because of Slightly Mad, he didn't have a proper crew but managed somehow to acquire (a) a bunch of escaping convicts and (b) the teenager or it might have been two who were the YA bit of the setup.

They got there and back. A convict might have been redeemed by then. The SMS might not have managed the return.

My google-fu has not helped.

Does anyone recognise this? Know the author, when it was written, anything?

Ta muchly
Chris the Hedgehog

#740 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 01:14 PM:

Sandy, #739: After reading the story and looking at the pictures, there is little doubt in my mind that it went down exactly as she said. It sounds as though this may have been her first media-con, so she was perhaps a little confused about what "cosplay" is -- but wearing T-shirts or other clothing with superhero logos is certainly also common at these events, probably even more so than actual costuming. And her outfit is certainly no more revealing than many I've seen at a Wizard's World con. If someone came up and said they'd had "complaints" about her, it was almost certainly because she was (1) large and (2) black. And frankly, I would wonder whether there actually had been complaints, or if this was just that one guy thinking she "looked like a hooker". Remember that "the lurkers support me in e-mail" is a tactic not confined to online venues.

is it me or is she a very hard-working publicist for her own brand?

And if she is? Does that affect her credibility in any significant way, or was that just a random slam-by-implication?

#741 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Lee @739

I'm going to play devil's advocate here just a hair.

Firstly, I agree that the costume as shown in the picture (net stockings and miniskirt) would have been okay in any costume venue that I've seen on regular days.

I also agree that the Venom, poson ivy and Avenger/Cpt A cosplayers were showing more skin - all three of them more than appropriate, imo.

However - the last three photos were taken outside, not inside the venue in the panel rooms. Nor was it indicated that those other cosplayers were dressed like that on the Sunday "Father's Day".

I think it's entirely possible that what was acceptable outside on Saturday (at the parade?) wasn't going to fly inside on Sunday, and that *that* - not race, not size - was the reason that the staffers approached the fan in question.

I wasn't in the heads of the staffers. God knows by the end of a 3 day con, people are exhausted and not speaking with the best forethought.

I'm sorry that this fan had a bad experience and I hope she puts it behind her and goes on to enjoy more cons in the future.

And - re a different thread about heavy people cosplaying - I am deeply saddened that when fans-of-size ask about 'who can I cosplay' that no one suggests the awesome Amanda Waller - aka the woman who can make Batman back down.

#742 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 01:46 PM:

Lee @732 - I can't do videos because I'm on dial-up. That wouldn't by any chance be a performance of Kathy Mar's "Flowers for Algernon", would it?

#743 ::: Xopher Halftongue sees spam at 735 ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 01:55 PM:

Anyone call out the spam at current number 735?

#744 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 02:01 PM:

doesn't look like it, and there are several others currently listed on the front page.

#745 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 02:25 PM:

keranih @741:
I'm going to play devil's advocate here just a hair.

I have a powerful aversion to that phrase. It's so often used before the most unpleasant blowups, though I am sure there won't be one right now, over this.

But if I were to mention something to you, as a relatively new member here, it would be that that phrase, and the habit that some people who use it have of arguing positions that they do not themselves wholly believe in, are not in the local culture.

Even if you aren't doing the thing—arguing to argue rather than from your own beliefs or hypotheses that you stand behind—I'm not the only one here with an acquired sensitivity to it. It might be one to use sparingly, if at all.

#746 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 02:30 PM:

abi @ 745

Thank you kindly for the pointer. And no, absolutely no desire for blowups, pleasant or unpleasant.

What is the phrase, then, in the local lingo, for something like "stepping back and taking a broader view" or "not advocating for either side but looking at the type of evidence/argument presented" or "if that was an argument against something I supported, I would have these issues with it..."

#747 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 02:38 PM:

Cassy B. @ 735: I myself am not big on any poem that isn't meant to be read aloud.

#748 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:07 PM:

When I hear "The Devil's Advocate", I think of the 1997 movie, where I thought for the 2nd time that Al Pacino, who plays the literal Devil, looked like my dad. (The first time was with "Dick Tracy".)

#749 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:12 PM:

keranih @746:
What is the phrase, then, in the local lingo, for something like "stepping back and taking a broader view" or "not advocating for either side but looking at the type of evidence/argument presented" or "if that was an argument against something I supported, I would have these issues with it..."

"One possibility is..."? Or, alternatively, the phrases you used above, if they are accurate. It's also very useful if you declare your interests/position up front, if you have one; hidden agendas rarely make for good conversation. And if you find yourself arguing in the abstract against people who are emotionally involved in the issue, it's also local custom to let it go. Please be mindful of that.

I'm not saying this isn't a place to bat ideas around, but it's not nearly so much of an "argue just to argue" shop as, say, the Whatever.

#750 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:19 PM:

Cassy B., if you're considering urban legends, you might be able to add enough details to make a really good tale out of the one that ends "Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?"

#751 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:24 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 747: For myself, I would rephrase that as I am not big on any poem that cannot be read aloud (and have the same or similar impact to seeing it on the page).

e.e. cummings, for instance, isn't meant to be read aloud, because how it plays on the page is a part of the presentation -- but usually can be, and still gain all the worth of his wordplay. Other poets in that mold can't, and they lose for it.

But other than that caveat, I agree, generally. The experience of hearing a good reader deliver a poem is quite something.

keranih @ 741: The issue about Devil's Advocacy aside (Which does not as a phrase men "Step back and take a longer view", and misusing it as such is actually part of what makes it worse), I see nothing on the SE:NYC site to suggest Sunday was a special family friendly day or any different from a cosplay perspective. The ONLY costume policy I could find in their rules (Other than those regarding weapons) was "Nudity is not a costume." Nothing said about Father's Day being singled out. The person who spoke to her said it was family friendly and talked about Father's Day, but that doesn't seem to be anything I can find from the official guide.

#752 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:26 PM:

abi @ 749

Ah, thank you kindly...

Let's give this another try, then...

Lee @739

I went to the link, and I had a few thoughts as someone who as both been responsible for dress & appearance at non-fannish events, and who likes a limited amount of dressup, but who is hesitant to support charges of bigotry as primary causes of conflict.

Firstly, I agree that the costume as shown in the picture (net stockings and miniskirt) would have been okay in any costume venue that I've seen on regular days. More than I would have worn, but within my standards of adult fannish proprity.

I also agree that the Venom, poson ivy and Avenger/Cpt A cosplayers were showing more skin - all three of them more than appropriate, imo, for any venue that was not actually waterside.

However - the last three photos were taken outside, not inside the venue in the panel rooms, where the complaints were made. Nor was it clear that those other cosplayers were dressed like that on the Sunday "Father's Day".

I think it's entirely possible that what was acceptable outside on Saturday (at the parade?) wasn't going to fly inside on Sunday, and that *that* - not race, not size - was the reason that the staffers approached the fan in question.

I wasn't in the heads of the staffers. God knows by the end of a 3 day con, people running the joint are exhausted and not speaking with the best forethought.

I'm sorry that this fan had a bad experience and I hope she puts it behind her and goes on to enjoy more cons in the future.

And - re a different thread about heavy people cosplaying - I am deeply saddened that when fans-of-size ask about 'who can I cosplay' that no one suggests the awesome Amanda Waller - aka the woman who can make Batman back down. If I had the hips and the tan, she'd be my character of choice to play.

#753 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:28 PM:

AKICIML, baking edition:

I promised to make my nephew-in-law a birthday cake (with a marzipan record on top, so we'll see how that turns out). His favourite is white/vanilla, so I was going to make this one. I've made it before, and it's a very tasty cake.

The only thing is, it's an awful LOT of very tasty cake. Does anyone have a handy way to convert it from 3 layers to 2? As well as the accompanying frosting recipe, I guess... Could I half it and make it one layer, do you think? I have a 26cm (10.2in) springform pan that might work for that.

Before my move, and before my mum got sick, I made my aunt a knitting cake and my mum a sewing cake. Now everyone wants me to make cakes for them.

I'm not that creative, seriously. I stole borrowed these two ideas from somewhere or other. I can't keep coming up with new ideas for cakes!

#754 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Rikibeth @750, I'm not familiar with that one; can you sketch it out for me? (or email me at (rot13) pnffl@obbxjlezr.pbz if you don't want to clutter up the board here....)


#755 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:35 PM:

And because baking and flamewars were mentioned in such rapid succession...Rainbow cake death thread

#756 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:35 PM:

Cheryl, make the extra cake and freeze it. Then you have cake already made for your next Cake Occasion. If you touch it up with a bit of simple syrup after defrosting, there should be no lack of quality.

Alternatively, you could use the frozen cake to make trifle for the next occasion where you need to bring something but not necessarily a decorated occasion cake.

#757 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 03:48 PM:

abi, keranih, there are several giant economy size cans of worms in this affair

One of them is the growing movement against overt sexism and racism (as recently seen around E3 and some computer game design choices), and one of the angles on that is that those things can be bad enough in media generally. So cosplay based on comics seems perilous.

I don't know that I would have classed the outfit as cosplay, but just what is wrong with it? That's my reaction. At most, it's not to my taste, but that's my personal problem.

#758 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:13 PM:

If I subtract the misuse of the phrase "cosplay" what we're left with is... a fan who was showing up to a large gathering of Our Sort hoping to feel welcomed, and ended up feeling bullied and excluded, and fired back with every weapon she had. (Happened to be 26,000 Twitter followers.) The chance that she was looking for a large, dramatic, public fight to pump up her reputation is not zero, but it might as well be.

Unless further information makes itself known, I was in the wrong here and I will conduct myself accordingly.

#759 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:24 PM:

In completely other news: (spreading from Facebook)
Doo dah pause doo dah
Camptown racetrack five miles long
Oh de do dah day.

What a terrible discovery I've made.

#760 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:32 PM:

keranih @752 I'm not sure the idea that the rules were stricter inside than they were outside holds water.

In my experience, the dress codes for conventions are very specific about what is allowed and what isn't - and in most cases, things that would be super sketchy to wear on the street are perfectly fine in the convention space.

For example, my home convention's dress code is "non-thong bathing suit" - Venom would be asked to put on a top of some sort, Poison Ivy and Captain America would be fine, and no one would even think of questioning the author's outfit.

If the author's skirt was riding up and showing her underwear, or if her boobs are hanging out of the neckline of her sweater, I could understand someone hassling her about it. As shown in the picture, it seems perfectly fine. And even if it was revealing, according to their own rules, the convention had no grounds to complain about her outfit.

If they want to restrict costumes to "family friendly" (aka "bodies are gross"), then they need to put it in their convention rules. And if they want to ban outfits like hers, they'll probably need to put in a private-middle-school-style skirt length requirement. They might get backlash about institutionalizing body shaming, but at least they won't get backlash about doing it arbitrarily.

#761 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:33 PM:

Sandy B @ 758

This commentary is on the general, not this specific incident (hence the edited quote)--I know exactly as much as has been posted here. But I think I finally see part of why the discussions on the revolt against racist and sexist behavior in fandom have been pushing my buttons as badly as they have.

[Person] ended up feeling bullied and excluded, and fired back with every weapon [they] had.

Been there; seen that; grew up[1] in the aftermath of an epic battle between "you can't break the rules we all agreed to" and "you can't punish me because I have too much support," where everyone brought out the biggest guns they had and shot in the general direction of their opponents. It ended up an entirely avoidable disaster.

Here's the thing; people whose first (or second) reaction is to bring out the big guns are dangerous. Any space where they are welcome is feels extremely unsafe. I try not to be one of those people.

1) I am not kidding; that fight happened when I was 4, and the repercussions still echo through my home world 30-plus years later; a good thousand people ended up damaged by the aftermath. The provoking incident? A disagreement over how big a purchase counted as "significant."

#762 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:37 PM:

And Rikibeth @756, ob:keranih@755 - But how long does it take the cake to freeze?!

#763 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:42 PM:

SamChevre @761:

One of the reasons for the "fire back with every weapon" impulse is that quiet complaints by women and people of color have a history of being ignored, sidelined, or shouted down. Sometimes one makes a high holy stink because experience has taught one that anything less will not be attended to.

(This is not unrelated to the experience that many women, including myself, have had where we have said something in a meeting and had it be ignored. Then when a bloke says precisely the same thing, the praise starts, but the idea is then "his". I am still fond of the colleague who used to do that, then respond to the praise with, "Yes, I thought it was a good idea when Abi said it.")

I'm sympathetic to your allergy to it; clearly you have reasons for it. I'm also sympathetic to the people who come out all guns blazing because they have allergies to which they are reacting, and reasons for them.

It is my sincere hope that when the institutions of our shared community become more responsive, this approach will seem less necessary to more people. Alas, we are not there yet.

#764 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:49 PM:

Lenora Rose @ 751: Point taken! I like cummings, too.

And some great prose needs to be seen and can't easily be read--consider the telepathic conversation game at the party in The Demolished Man. And the ebook of Dhalgren, I'm told, doesn't look like the printed page. That sucks.

#765 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 04:57 PM:

abi @ 763: I agree with that, so far as it goes. But the cost is that in giving voice to some people, others--not actual aggressors but innocent bystanders--get their voice removed. That's a problem as well.

This is what I was thinking when I said that perhaps a polite society is an armed society, this and also, "What if it just ends in more yelling and redistributed silence?"

#766 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 05:16 PM:

abi @ 763... I like your colleague.

#767 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 05:17 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @765:

It's an irreconcileable problem. In many ways, I'm glad it's not my problem to solve; I'm merely trying to explain it.

It's kind of axiomatic that no one community can hold everyone, simply because there are always shouters and people who can't stand shouting (as well as the more common examples of bigots and people they're bigoted against). But I do firmly believe that, although there will always be shouters, there is also a set of people who are reluctant shouters, doing so only because speaking has not worked. And that's a soluble problem. I hope, fervently, that we are actually going to solve it.

But if we don't (and until we do), I'm afraid I'm more willing to blame the people who won't listen to speaking voices than the ones who then choose to shout to be heard (when the alternative is to shut up, knowing that whatever the problem is is going to continue). This choice may very well be the product of the countless times I've been talked over, sidelined, and ignored in my life, in contexts where equivalent men have not. So be it; that's what experience is for: to influence one's judgment.

#768 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 05:32 PM:

HLN: Glucose monitor jabs are surprisingly painful little buggers. I salute those who have to do it long-term.

#769 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 05:44 PM:

The tale is old-retelling I’ll forbear,
That tale of heroes and their ship of gold
They sailed, it’s said, to islands far and old
Beyond the ken of man, where gods themselves forbear
To rule what here would be their daily care.
And those who sailed, ‘tis said, were heroes when
None saw, none knew, save only other men
Who like themselves had felt the curtain tear.

But I've a tale: a man with hair like foam
Who as a child did hear the tale from one
Who, scarcely knowing, saw that ship return
Saw men who’d seen too much come lurching home.
Those men whose deeds you’ll proudly tell your son
Were broken men who’d seen the water burn.

#770 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 06:00 PM:

I'm definitely one of those who is largely allergic to shouting. (Histories, here, matter a lot.)

For me, the distinction that makes a big difference is targeting. Bringing out the big guns and shooting them (with a backstop) at Sam, who was offensive and didn't stop when asked clearly and publicly? That I can deal with--it takes work, but I'll put in the work. Bringing out the big guns and pointing them in the general direction of Sam's town? That I have a much bigger problem with. Bringing out the big guns and shooting them them at Sam's town when you couldn't manage to ask Sam clearly and openly to stop? That will ensure that I avoid you and consider your cheerleaders a threat, world without end amen.

#771 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 06:13 PM:

SamChevre @769:

Wow. Will have to think on that one.

& @770:
I fear at this point that we are too far into separate and mutually opaque generalities, probably based on different perceptions of different instances, to add light to this heat.

#772 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 06:13 PM:

Re cosplay for visibly fat women: As a VFW myself, my first response is, "Whatever the heck you want; just cut the pieces to fit." If you want to cosplay as a canonically VFW, may I suggest Lady Kluck from Disney's Robin Hood or Captain Dola from Castle in the Sky? They are both awesome butt-kickers. You can also cosplay as a Tolkien dwarf or hobbit. (A Jackson!Tolkien dwarf, that is. Tolkien describes hobbits as "inclined to be fat in the stomach," but dwarves are "a tough, thrawn race.")

#773 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 06:19 PM:

Cheryl re: cakes

I'd make a half size and split the batter between two ordinary cake pans. You'll have to adjust the oven/timing, but you'll end up with two shorter layers which will give a more European-style of cake.

Using a sheet cake pan (cut off excess after baking if necessary) would look even more like a turntable. Too bad there isn't any way to make transparent fondant for the dust cover!

#774 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 06:28 PM:

abi @ 767: Yeah. I spend a lot of time thinking about those irreconcilables. It's a major topic of thought for me lately.

I've come to the belief that postmodernism is another power philosophy, just one that doesn't automatically privilege the currently powerful. And like you, I'm also willing to blame those who don't listen. But I'm also conscious that state changes can be rapid and disconcerting--all of which I'm okay with--and hard to stop at the point where you want them to stop. That's problematic for me. I'd rather go too far than not far enough, but I'd rather not go the wrong distance at all. Though that might be what it takes.

I'm also conscious that maybe that state of conflict postmodernism accepts as the norm maybe is the best we can hope for, but man! I really don't like that thought. I wish I knew more about neo-modernism (like where to find it). Maybe there's an answer there.

But I'm not a scientist of ideas, just a social engineer applying them.

#775 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 06:31 PM:

Put me down with the lot that says yes, sometimes you have to shout, but really you're going to get more and go further if you speak politely two or three times first.

Shouting might get you faster results, but we all know how lousy rush work is.

@760 shadowsong - While I don't think equating "family friendly" with "bodies are gross" is entirely helpful, I do strongly agree that any such guidelines must be clearly specificed and broadly distributed. That they were not, imo, greatly weakens the staff's position.

#776 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 06:46 PM:

Carol Kimball @773: How about sugar glass?

keranih @775: I admit, that was intemperate of me. I really do think "family friendly" dress codes boil down to "bodies are gross and/or sexy, I don't want to see gross things and children shouldn't see sexy things".... but that is an argument for another time, and including it did not add anything to this particular discussion. My apologies.

#777 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 07:16 PM:

I suppose you could use the lid from a cake carrier....

(I wish I had photos of some of the cakes my brother made when he was much younger. There was a telephone cake, shaped like an old-fashioned desk model, and one with a clenched fist sticking out of it. I think the telephone cake had several thin layers.)

#778 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 07:19 PM:

I thought about that, having made "stained glass windows" of it, but figured that creating and handling flat sheets would be too fussy for home workups. They've got to do large panes for movie fx, though, right?

Great minds!

Shameless self-promotion:
The (mostly) same free fashion sketching video clip as noted previously, this time with sound.

#779 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 07:45 PM:

Out this week on the Great South American River is a new monograph by your humble and obt. svt. Do all rush to buy it.

#780 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 08:24 PM:

@632 Lee

Lee - any update on your friend? Did she get in to see a primary provider for a checkup this week?

#781 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 08:34 PM:

abi @ 771

What I'm saying is I think akin to this, particularly point 2.

If they've been flaming assholes, go ahead and call them flaming assholes, preferably explaining why so that we can all appreciate the sheer astonishing flaming asshollery. But if they're in the same political party/religious organization/dance troupe as the flaming asshole, they're not fair game for the flaming asshole label on that grounds alone.

And now for something completely different (me @ 769). When I was a boy, we had two neighbors whose stories still stick with me. One was Mr Brown; he was old--he died when I was a teenager at the age of 90-something. He remembered his great-grandmother's stories, and had her diary, from during the War between the States. The other was Mr Hampton; he'd landed on Omaha Beach, on D-Day, and still was jumpy about guns and wouldn't handle one 50 years later, for fear that if startled he'd shoot before thinking--this in a country where everyone owned guns.

#782 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 08:51 PM:

SamChevre 769: Intriguing.

#783 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 09:18 PM:


The water steams now, enough to frost
the dirty glass behind the bedsheet drapes
and raise a band of reddened flesh across
the healer’s hands as she steadily scrapes
away listeria, e coli, staph,
a dozen others renamed in novel
forms - forgotten together with the math
to chart a geosynchronous oval.
She knows the true name of the biting fleas
And an incantation against the demon
dwelling below the roots of the September trees
the whole dusty length of the dry season.
She turns damp palms to the air, offering
everything, nothing, the sick child’s fretting.

(Shakespearean, I know, my apologies.)

#784 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 09:58 PM:

If any ML folks are at 4th Street Fantasy, don't hesitate to come by and say hi! (Hi, Elise!)

#785 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 10:26 PM:

Anne, #742: Yes, it is.

keranih, #752: First off, I want to thank abi for explaining the problematic nature of the phrase "to play Devil's Advocate". I might have tried to do the same, but I wouldn't have said it nearly as well as she did.

That said, Lenora Rose @751 has precisely pinpointed my next couple of questions, and moreover has gone and done the research. If there was any special sort of costuming restriction inside vs. outside the venue (which I've never heard of happening -- people are going to go in and out of the building all day long) or on Sunday/Father's Day vs. the rest of the weekend (again, weird and something I've never heard of happening), then that should have been prominently stated on the event's website, in the program book, and with signage around the venue, and there is apparently nothing like that in any of the official language of the event.

"Unwritten rules" that "anybody with a brain should have been able to figure out" are Just Not On as convention policy, no matter where you are. Neither does "family-friendly" mean "there will be no revealing costumes" unless it is so stated to mean; see the previous sentence.

and @755: Holy crap, there's a living illustration of Teresa's maxim that you can sometimes deal with one troll, but the minute you get two you have to ban them both or the whole thread will go straight to hell. Sheesh.

shadowsong, #760: They might get backlash about institutionalizing body shaming, but at least they won't get backlash about doing it arbitrarily.

I think you've nailed it. What turned this into a Major Issue was (1) the arbitrariness of the action and (2) that the victim refused to be silenced and slink away in shame as she was clearly expected to do.

(I'm still extremely dubious about the veracity of those alleged "complaints".)

Jenny, #772: I personally would cheer (and fangirl, and ask to take pictures of) any VFW of color who chose to cosplay Mrs. Frederic from Warehouse 13.

keranih, #775: My general rule of thumb is that I will ask politely ONCE. If I am then ignored or brushed off, I go straight to the tactical nukes. This is based on my own personal experience.

However, I find it difficult to argue against those who, having spoken up time and again politely and firmly and found that it did no fucking good, have decided that "speaking politely two or three times first" is a waste of time and effort. Also, I refer you to discussions of the tone argument (scroll down to the third section for the relevant bit).

and @780: I don't know whether they wanted her back for a follow-up or not. I do know that she reported the fat-shaming CT tech mentioned by Glinda @638. I encouraged her to report the doctor as well, but I don't know if she has. Apparently this hospital performs very well overall, and she is reluctant to put too much emphasis on what seem to have been a couple of aberrations.

#786 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2014, 11:55 PM:

I've seen some ugly cases of bullying by people who were adults before they were ever on the strong side of the power differential. If firing all the guns, in your youth, is the only thing that seems like it even has a chance of working ... you may never realize there is such a thing as a calibrated response. Or not until you're 30 years old and/or have done serious lasting damage to someone.

I didn't learn anything other than "1" or "0" until relatively late in life. I still sometimes default to that.

#787 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 06:53 AM:

keranih @752: And - re a different thread about heavy people cosplaying - I am deeply saddened that when fans-of-size ask about 'who can I cosplay' that no one suggests the awesome Amanda Waller - aka the woman who can make Batman back down.

Regrettably, in DC's 'New 52' reboot of their universe, Amanda Waller was recast as if played by Vanessa Williams (last I'd seen, anyway — I haven't been keeping up...)

#788 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 07:49 AM:

Lee @ #785: my husband works in public relations for a hospital. It's a lot easier for a good hospital to keep being a good hospital if employees/contractors who don't measure up to the hospital's standards get called on it, early and often.

#789 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 10:09 AM:

Rob Rusick @ 787: Waller's also cast as distressingly slim (And young) on Arrow, a show which didn't need its quotient of young slim people upped at all.

#790 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 12:55 PM:

Cassy B. @ #754:

Aren't You Glad You Didn't Turn On the Light? is one of the urban legends discussed by Snopes.

(And this is the open thread; few things would be regarded as cluttering it up, and this kind of conversation isn't one of them.)

#791 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 02:03 PM:

I know this is a very different approach to cosplay, but it always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling about a community when the response to "I'm fat, who can I cosplay?" is "Cosplay whatever character you love--the body types don't have to match."

#792 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 02:07 PM:

Paul @790, oooh, chilling. Yes, that could be expanded to a very spooky tale. Thanks!

#793 ::: P J Evans sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 04:12 PM:


#794 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 05:35 PM:

Paul, #790: That's an excellent point, and it also applies to gender. I see a lot of women at these events cosplaying male characters. Some of them "sex up" the costumes, others don't. Sometimes I even see a guy cosplaying a female character, and not as a parody either.

I also see a lot of large women who have not let their size put them off cosplaying a character they love. And I see fans of color cosplaying not just characters of color, but all kinds of characters. It's awful that any kind of "UR DOIN IT RONG" shaming happens, but clearly there are plenty of people who have decided not to let the chance of it stop them.

(Side note: I didn't recognize a white guy cosplaying Nick Fury at ComicPalooza until I asked and he told me. Even though the original comic-book character was white. Such is the power of modern media!)

#795 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 07:12 PM:

Oops. My comment above was supposed to have been a response to Adrian @791. My apologies.

#796 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 07:41 PM:

Has anyone here bought a screen door / storm door to install over a house door lacking one?

I measured my front door and frame (outer and inner) but am not sure which dimensions I need to fret over when selecting a door.

Also wondering if I really need a door (the extra insulation and ventilation might not justify the cost in Portland's moderate seasons) but it seems wrong to NOT have one.

#797 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 07:49 PM:

Whoops . . . the form remembered the wrong "Type your name here" value. No spam has been spotted.

#798 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 08:06 PM:

I have bought a screen door to replace one that was ripped off by 70 MPH straightline winds. The door will be labeled or special ordered by its dimensions, which are a little bit less than the inside measurements of the frame where it will go. I don't remember how much less. We wound up having to get one custom made because we had a standard width but a few extra inches in height.

#799 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 08:33 PM:

(finally caught up after a week awa)

Oh, my goodness, keranih and SamChevre -- those were some amazing microfictions.

#800 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 08:56 PM:

re: cosplay and "U R DOING IT RONG" -

Is this not just another version of the long time tension between represenation (ie realism) and interpetation (ie abstract) in art?

(Formal structured poetry vs free verse?)

(And thank you Elliot - I think Sam deserves extra kudos for following on a theme developed earlier in the thread)

And back to how to do cosplay "right" - my vote is like this.

#801 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 09:36 PM:

abi @ 658: that's an interesting bit of genre-stretching. Would you say (similarly IMO) that most Dick Francis novels are X procedurals (where X commonly was related to horse racing in early novels, but drifted in later ones)? Or do they not concentrate enough on the mechanics, as Moby-Dick does (in my limited recollection -- I was assigned it 45 years ago, did not get finish, and never went back)?

Diatryma @ 675: maybe I'll have to read The Duchess War; the first-sex-flubbed flashby in Pippin may be amusing, but there's no sense of how they get to the second (mindblowing) one.

Xopher @ 676: IIRC, Bujold makes clear early on that it's an apocalypse of wizards overreaching, a bit like the backstory of Gate of Ivrel but in fantasy. I'd be interested to see how you would connect it to the present day, since the mechanism for extinguishing revenants seems clearly fantastic rather than an orally-confused version of technology.

#802 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 10:00 PM:

Lee @ 794... I see fans of color cosplaying not just characters of color, but all kinds of characters

I don't think it ever occurred to anybody to crtticize China-born costumer Yaya Han when she went around as Wonder Woman. :-)

#803 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 10:09 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 796: I recall being told that a storm door in Portland is a waste of money. Because the weather is mild, the energy savings will take years to repay the cost of the door. I liked having a screen door, on a spring, because it made it easier to keep the cats and dog inside when I was carrying groceries through my front door.

#804 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 10:22 PM:

CHip @ 801 : abi @ 658: that's an interesting bit of genre-stretching. Would you say (similarly IMO) that most Dick Francis novels are X procedurals...

Yes! I read every single Dick Francis novel, but years ago. As I recall, after Francis moved on from racing, each novel had a protagonist with a new profession. He would be in the semiprecious gems trade, or a photographer, or a stunt man, or write survivalist books, and while reading the story you'd learn all about it. I imagined Francis finishing one novel, and then mulling over what he wanted to research next. Of course, the actual protagonist was kinda, sorta the same person every time, but with a different name

#805 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 10:41 PM:

keranih @ 800

I followed your link and got a huge grin. What a great dad!

#806 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 11:01 PM:

CHip 801: Well, first, why assume "present day" (or "our world," as I put it) means non-fantasy? There's plenty of cryptomagical fantasy, by which I mean fantasy in a world that looks just like ours except that a few people are aware that there's magic, demons, etc. and a subset of them can actually manipulate the various forces. The Dresden Files novels are a good example of this subgenre (and Chicago—or even more, the island of Demonreach!—is in a very good position to be where all the nasty wizard-overreaching was happening, come to think of it). So maybe Harry Dresden (or Bujoldian equivalent) really, really blows it, the gods depart, and the fae mark the remaining humans and enable them to kill the Harry-scattered demon-bits etc., before sealing all the gates to the Otherworld.

That one actually requires very little folkloric distortion.

But to take your premise (I never said technology, but I admit I was thinking along those lines), the "wizards" are people who have decided to enhance themselves with nanotech (or maybe it would have to be femtotech). They alter their bodies and brains and add a new sense or two. They set up their sense of the lifeforce in everything with a metaphor of ground and groundsense (I mean a perceptual metaphor, since the actual direct fact needs to be simplified down for a human brain to be able to grasp it). This sensing tech is carried in the blood, and written into the genes. The descendants of these self-modifying humans are emortal and have certain physical characteristics in common.

They decide that because they're now manifestly The Master Race, they should rule all other humans, and either accidentally on purpose blow hell out of the world. They survive, and a genetic ark of unmodified human DNA does too. All the regular humans die, and the Great Lake (Michigan appears to have been inundated in the SK world) is rendered lifeless. The scattered out-of-control nanotech keeps trying to build itself into a sentient human, and "repair" any animals it finds into human form, and remembers that it used to be the Rightful Ruler of the World.

At the peak of the main malice war, the now-Lakewalkers realize they're at risk for losing access to the technology that allows them to fight the malices; they rewrite their DNA and nanotech one more time to include phages for the nanotech, and repopulate the world with farmers from the geneArk. So that the phages won't be triggered accidentally, they requires blood and bone from two different people, and activation through the "ground" signalling mechanism (knifemakers do that last bit). They nearly lose the war, and do lose their technology and written history.

So that's one fantasy scenario and one technological scenario for getting from our world to the SK world. See what I mean?

Neither of them, however, is compatible with my own pet theory, which is based on events in the second book, and boils down to "malices are the absent gods trying to come back into the world."

#807 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2014, 11:41 PM:

Maybe not that specific subset, but I've been thinking something similar in regards to the Sharing Knife world, Xopher. Clarke's Law, after all.

#808 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 12:33 AM:

I definitely cosplay male characters as well as female. My favorite is Jack Harkness. I tried it the first time with men's trousers, but it didn't seem to get the Jack Essence across, so I switched to a pencil skirt and knee-high boots, without changing the rest of the outfit. Not sexed-up in the way "sexy X" Halloween costumes are, but my spin on what Jack Harkness would wear if he woke up in a female body. I have a lot of fun with it.

My MCU Loki was sexed-up, but it was intended as a Burlesque MCU Loki for a particular skit, so Loki-cum-Frank-N-Furter read very well from stage. All the other characters were genderswapped too, with varying levels of sexed-up going on. I have contemplated doing a direct MCU Loki cosplay without any attempts to make the costume more femme or more sexy; it's a GREAT outfit and I think it would suit me even though I'm not six feet tall, and my hair slicks back very effectively into Hiddleston's Loki hair. But it's a hell of a sewing project.

The male cosplay sewing project I'm more likely to undertake is the Eighth Doctor's green velvet frock coat and brocade waistcoat. Eight is blessedly not-tall, and the hair is even EASIER for me. It would read, and it's not as if I don't want a velvet frock coat ANYWAY.

...I don't so much choose my cosplays to match my body type so much as I choose them to work with my HAIR. My most usual female cosplays are Bellatrix Lestrange, River Song (the easy denim jacket outfit), and Idris, The Doctor's Wife. Because, as I discovered when dressing as Black Canary, wigs? WE HATES THEM, PRECIOUS.

There were many, MANY Whovian cosplayers at Arisia this past year. As a result, there was a huge group photoshoot. What I noticed and loved was that nobody turned a hair at genderbent or racebent cosplays, or snarked on body type. There might have been a little judging on who was most screen-accurate - Tenth Doctors who go to the trouble of tracking down the exact pants from the Gap that made the suit are much admired - but none on the bodies of folks showing their love by wearing the clothes.

#809 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 12:42 AM:

Xopher @ 806: Why are there so few artifacts around that suggest anything resembling our world, then? That for me is the kicker. Most stories intended as our-world-apocalypses already overdo the scarcity of artifacts compared to the sheer amount of detritus we leave about, but this one would outright erase them. Every book, every old tire, all the useless electronic parts and shells of cars, every landfill, and every twinkie. That's a heck of a lot to wave away.

#810 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 01:40 AM:

I'm watching the Blu-Ray of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The extras include a video-enhanced recipe for Mendl's pastry, and a history of the Society of the Crossed Keys, the secret order of hotel concierges.

I freaking love this movie.

#811 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 02:36 AM:

HLN: Local family headed out after an early lunch to do early shopping for next year's school supplies and then see the "Family Day" matinee of The Mikado at the opera. Family Day activities turned out to include a troupe of taiko-drumming kids (really good!) and Mikado performance included some wild costuming (three little maids in Harajuku-style fashions, chorus dressed as Japanese tourists) and fairly witty updates to staging and lyrics. After leaving performance, annual Friends of the Library book sale turned out to be starting today, next to the theater, so was followed by a pleasant time rummaging through used books (where local man met two old friends doing the same) and leaving with a small box full at dirt-cheap prices, followed by going out for a delicious vegetarian dinner and frozen yogurt.

All involved agreed it had been an entirely satisfying afternoon and evening.

#812 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 02:44 AM:

janetl @ 804 : His wife Mary, who it's been eventually admitted pretty much co-wrote the books, was the one who did the research. Quite exhaustively at that, including getting a pilot's licence when writing Flying Finish and going on to run an air-taxi busines. Which obviously then became background for a later book.

So, yes, one can rely on a Dick Francis book to be as accurate a procedural for its chosen subject as any novel can be, given the needed artistic licence.

#813 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 03:16 AM:

CHip @801:
that's an interesting bit of genre-stretching. Would you say (similarly IMO) that most Dick Francis novels are X procedurals [...]? Or do they not concentrate enough on the mechanics, as Moby-Dick does (in my limited recollection -- I was assigned it 45 years ago, did not get finish, and never went back)?

I don't know if you got to, or remember, the entire chapters in Moby Dick dedicated to the biology, classifications, and habits of whales? These chapters do not advance the plot at all, nor do they place firearms on ornamental protrusions superior to heating devices. They're interesting if you find them interesting, and they do set a pace that the end of the book can then accelerate from*.

I don't recall any Dick Francis books that do that. And yet, I'd say that many Francis books are procedurals, in that the action of the plot springs from, and is described in the context of, quite technical elements of a specialized activity.

* I found the ending well worth the middle bits. I observed at the time that, just as it is often said you can't read Paradise Lost without becoming, for the duration of the book, a little bit Christian, so you can't read the ending of Moby Dick without becoming, for the duration, as crazy as Ahab.

But maybe that was just me.

#814 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 04:46 AM:

abi, #813: The Jefferson Hunt mysteries by Rita Mae Brown could probably be called fox-hunting procedurals. There are large info-dumps about the history and customs of fox-hunting, which are fairly interesting until around the 4th or 5th book when they start repeating themselves. :-) I developed some other issues with the series around the same time, but I can still recommend the first 3 books with no reservations.

There's an urban-fantasy element to them as well -- the animals in the stories can all talk with each other, although not with the humans, and they take an active part in solving the mysteries.

#815 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 07:53 AM:

Am I the only one who, after reading the abridged version, wanted to read the original by S. Morgenstern, precisely for the details that William Goldman "abridged"? It seems there would be a market, however small, for that.

#816 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 08:02 AM:

Am I the only one who, after reading the abridged version, wanted to read the original by S. Morgenstern, precisely for the details that William Goldman "abridged"? It seems there would be a market, however small, for that.

#817 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 08:38 AM:

Buddha Buck @ 816:

I, too, was very disappointed to discover the original novel by S. Morgenstern had been lost forever....

#818 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 09:40 AM:

abi (813): I thought the chapter-long digressions in Moby Dick were the best part of the book. I was also the only student in my upper-level college Lit seminar who liked the book all the way through. This may not be a coincidence.

(And this after bouncing off the book by page three a few years previously.)

#819 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 10:21 AM:

Buddha Buck @816: That sounds like a wonderful opportunity for an author of fanfic, which I am not.

#820 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 11:04 AM:

One of my friends, who is the kind of person who not only catalogues his personal library but has opinions on the relative merits of Dewey vs LOC for the purpose, chose to catalogue his copy of Moby-Dick as a non-fiction book on the history and practice of whaling illustrated with several dramatized passages.

#821 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 11:28 AM:

SO Moby-Dick has infodumps - I wonder what would happen if those were stuck in appendices?

#822 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 01:15 PM:

I didn't mind the whaling parts of Moby-Dick; what drove me crazy were the detailed explanations of the metaphors. "In case you missed it, that whole "fire" thing...."

Going from memory here, as I have never cracked the book open again since I was assigned it in high school. There were only four pieces of assigned reading I hated in all my years of school (12 grades, 4 yrs undergrad, 2.5 years grad school and 2 years tech school): Moby-Dick, Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, and "The Red Pony". The common factor appears to be "couldn't find a single character I could stand" except for "The Red Pony" which, well, you can guess why an insecure, softhearted, animal-loving preteen would hate that.

#823 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 01:17 PM:

BTW, I nominate The Nine Tailors as a campanological procedural.

#824 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 01:27 PM:

In that case, Murder Must Advertise is an advertising procedural.

#825 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 01:33 PM:

Buddha Buck @816, I actually went to the library to see if I could find the original Morgenstern. I was maybe 12 years old. I thought Goldman might have been pulling my leg, but I wasn’t sure.

Later I discovered that he’d been pulling harder than I’d thought: Not only was there no Morgenstern edition, and Florin and Guilder were fictional, but the bits he describes of his family life were fictional too.

#826 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 01:40 PM:

I wrote to him (my edition said you could, to get the kissing scene). He had a form letter he wrote back, explaining that Morgenstern's estate still had things tied up.

I was about 14 at the time, and thought the correspondence was funny.

#827 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 02:08 PM:

Lila (822): I never managed to make it all of the way through Wuthering Heights. I tried twice, both times in my teens*. Fortunately, I never had to read it for a class. The class book I hated in high school was Catcher in the Rye. Ptui!

*In those days, if I started a book I finished it. The only exceptions were Wuthering Heights (never got more than halfway through) and Moby Dick (stalled out on page three in 11th grade, read it for class as a college junior).

#828 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 02:10 PM:

Avram (825): I looked for the original Morgenstern, too. Late teens for me. More recently, as a librarian, I got to break it to another seeker that there is no such book. He took a bit of convincing, as I recall.

#829 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 03:16 PM:


The original unabridged "The Princess Bride" by S. Morgenstern doesn't exist?


#830 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 03:18 PM:

(I too looked for the original S. Morgenstern)

#831 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 03:29 PM:

There is a perfectly real writer called Christian Morgenstern, presumably a cousin of S's, whose most famous work is probably the poem 'There is a ghost which eats handkerchiefs'. I think that because of this I was a bit confused by S. Morgenstern when I first came across him, mixing him up with the poet I already knew.

#832 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 04:39 PM:

Re Moby-Dick, I got the impression that the infodump chapters were there partly to tell the reader, "No, however big or weird or dangerous you thought whales and whaling might be, they're bigger, weirder, and more dangerous than that." I'd like to see an online edition with the infodumps reduced to hotlinks.

Re Wuthering Heights, I was able to see the literary merit in it when I took somebody's suggestion (was it somebody here?) to read it, not as a romance, but as the downfall of a deeply dysfunctional extended family. Still not my cup of tea, though.

#833 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 05:47 PM:

Lenora Rose 809: Every book, every old tire, all the useless electronic parts and shells of cars, every landfill, and every twinkie. That's a heck of a lot to wave away.


At the end of the Great Malice War, as the ancestors of the Lakewalkers were planning their final attack on the Malice Emperor, they put a few of their own people and the GeneArk into a protective stasis shell, which was, they hoped, proof against the Malice Emperor's nanotech assaults. When the Lakewalkers attacked, the Malice Emperor laughed and simply devoured them all.

But what he didn't know was that they had activated their internal phage nanotech, which would have killed them all had it continued to run in their bodies. As it was, it took all of them dying to kill the Malice Emperor. Realizing he couldn't defeat it in time, he twisted it into a curse (that is, a program of destruction) against "humanity and all its works." He died, and exploded (leaving the seeds of malices scattered), but his nanotech program ran its course, killing every human being, and breaking down every human artifact into its component molecules. Only the stasis shell, with its precious cargo, survived.

A thousand years passed, and the stasis shell opened. The only nanotech left in the world was in the bodies of the Lakewalker ancestors who had emerged from it, and they had lost the ability to create it or manipulate it save through the sensory metaphor interface.

I'll have to work on the Dresden version.

#834 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 06:05 PM:

Rats. "The only nanotech left in the world aside from the scattered malice seeds," of course I meant.

#835 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 06:11 PM:

abi: "He had a form letter he wrote back, explaining that Morgenstern's estate still had things tied up."

The 25th-anniversary edition of _The Princess Bride_ expanded on this legal backstory, and then the 30th-anniversary edition expanded even more. Funny stuff, as I recall. Apparently if you write and ask for the scene now, you get all three letters, chronicling 30 years of notional legal wrangling.

(Is that like a tiny slice of an alternate reality game?)

Tangent: Robin Wright was in a recent movie based on Lem's _The Futurological Congress_, except she plays herself -- an ageing movie star named Robin Wright. Does anybody know what the hell?

#836 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 06:12 PM:

Xopher @ 833: Glad to see you're having fun with this. I think it's a very long stretch to suppose this is what Bujold was doing, but it's a fun sort of fanfic. (I feel bad for needing to add this, but I will; this is all genuinely meant, no sarcasm presented).

#837 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 06:19 PM:

Oh, I'm doing this solely because it's fun. I think it's unlikely that LMB was thinking of nanotech or our world at all, really, except as a source of geography, and I really doubt she's read the Dresden Files.

(I'm also poking fun at the "retcon everything" school of fanwank. See entries under "midichlorians" and "Darmok.")

And while I assumed your comment was sincere, I also understand why you included the parenthetical clarification.

#838 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 06:32 PM:

JanetL notes: "I recall being told that a storm door in Portland is a waste of money. Because the weather is mild, the energy savings will take years to repay the cost of the door."

This weighs on my mind . . . but my house has a unique "feature." The thermostat is in the stairwell down to the entry foyer, which tends to be distinctly cooler than the rest of the house. And the tall foyer has a open "window" into the front dining room / parlor, which gets drafty.

I'm going to look at storm doors at Lowes today, and think it over.

#839 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 06:33 PM:

Soon Lee, #829: Here, have this shiny new Internet.

I got into a discussion with some friends today that reminded me of several threads here. The topic was whether or not it is a mistake to reference a pop-culture trope without having read or seen the originating source. My friends are all very firmly on the side that it is; I'm not convinced, but I'm at a severe disadvantage when arguing with 4 people who have watched Every Movie Ever Made. Opinions?

#840 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 06:39 PM:

"If a pop-culture trope has entered the common language, anyone can use it whether they've seen the source material or not, because no one gets to gatekeep the common language.

"If a trope has NOT entered the common language, than it's fairly obnoxious to use it in the presence of people who haven't seen the source material, since they won't get it. Indeed, it smacks of elitist in-group secret handshakes."

Suggested text.

#841 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 06:41 PM:

I may be mistaking what you mean by a pop-culture trope. Like "bored now" or "malaprop," right?

#842 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 07:15 PM:

I read Lee's #839 differently; it seemed to me to mean "be careful about citing tropes you don't know from the original context, because you might get them RONG." Like, for example, citing "good fences make good neighbors" as the moral of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall".

#843 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 07:34 PM:

On pop-culture tropes:
The healthcare people in Buffalo who put up a billboard where everyone was wearing the groups T-shirt, using the slogan 'You Deserve the RedShirt Treatment'.
Missing the trope badly.

#844 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 07:41 PM:

#845 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 07:47 PM:

Xopher @ 841: I've been using "Bored now" for quite some time. I had a vague idea it came from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Having never seen an episode, I had no idea what scene, or sort of scene, I was referencing.

Then, recently, I got into a Facebook disagreement with someone who responded to my attempt to reason with him in private by telling me I was a political hack, had no principles, and so on. After throwing my side of the conversation into the discussion, as I had (contrary to the impression he'd tried to leave) nothing to hide from it, I decided I was not only "Bored now" but in a mood to use a video clip to say so.

I got two things from hunting down and using said clip.

First, great satisfaction that I'd been saying that, appropriately, to various toxic pissants, and hopefully putting that image into their minds, without knowing I'd done so.

Second, that I'd made the right decision in never having watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

#846 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 07:49 PM:

(And now I wonder exactly what I'm doing when commenting on some absurd or bogus item with "Seems legit")

#847 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 08:10 PM:

John #845

"Bored Now" is used in BTVS by two different manifestations of Willow Rosenberg, once in Season 3 by Evil Willow (a vampire from an alternate reality where Buffy never came to Sunnydale), and once in Season 6 by Dark Willow.

The use by Evil Willow was used as light comic relief and character portrayal, showing how Evil Willow was different from the normal Willow.

The use by Dark Willow was a throwback to the use by Evil Willow, and was part of one of the most graphically shocking and violence scenes in the entire series, and was used to show how far Willow had fallen.

I suspect that most people who use "Bored Now" are referencing the Evil Willow scene and character. I also suspect that you saw the Season 6 Dark Willow scene.

Urban Dictionary's first entry for "Bored Now" references the first use, and the second entry references both.

#848 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 08:47 PM:

Yeah, John, Buddha is right (don't quote that out of context please). That scene was WAY over the top for Buffy. Usually the gore is confined to blood, bleeding, dessicated corpses, the occasional severed head. Nothing that graphic.

And it was an example of a main character completely losing it after an unbelievable provocation. It was something Willow took an entire season to get back from, because everyone, including her, knew it was absolutely beyond the pale.

Rot-13 for TMI: Npghnyyl, gurl gbarq qbja jung jbhyq unccra vs lbh pbhyq npghnyyl fxva fbzrbar gung jnl. Gurl jbhyqa'g qvr nalguvat yvxr vafgnagyl; rira tbvat vagb fubpx jbhyq gnxr n srj frpbaqf. Gung fnvq, vg'f dhvgr tbel rabhtu nf vf!

#849 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 08:47 PM:

Let's see if I can make a post without the false positive spam warning . . .

Glittery, rainbow-colored Unicorn Poop Cookies!

#850 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 09:00 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 847: The guy I was having the disagreement with was upholding the Fine American Way of verdict, then sentence, then trial, so I'm just as happy to have stumbled onto the Season 6 clip.

And now I'm wondering: "Dark" is worse than "Evil"?

Xopher @ 848: That scene was WAY over the top for Buffy. Usually the gore is confined to blood, bleeding, dessicated corpses, the occasional severed head. Nothing that graphic.

Thank you for reconfirming my first thought. I definitely won't be watching it.

Nothing that graphic? Man. It's one fucked-up world. Not you, Xopher, or any of us fish in the tank, just the water.

#851 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 10:02 PM:

Apropos of discussions happening elseweb, I'm getting really sick of hearing "Separate the artist from the work." It's starting to sound like a slogan some PR firm came up with. A PR firm hired by a group of loathsome, reprehensible writers who've discovered that their scummy RL behavior is, in the age of the internet, costing them sales.

John 850: Well, it's about killing vampires. They mostly need killing. If all they did was sip delicately offscreen from volunteers who remain perfectly healthy, killing them would be wrong, and the show would be rather dull.

But while there may be someone who will try to talk you into watching a show that you've decided isn't for you, that person would not be me. I don't think I could quite stomach the hypocrisy of that!

#852 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 10:06 PM:

Xopher @ 806 and 833: Wow!

Bjorn @ 812: I'd heard that Dick Francis' wife was a partner in writing the books. I hadn't realized she was the researcher. The results certainly seemed that thorough, especially when you remember it was pre-internet.

#853 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 10:24 PM:

Xopher @ 851: It's not the morality of presenting a story about killing that bothers me. That's a reasonable thing to do. It's the morality of a culture that bathes us in violence, most especially the visually graphic kind, that gives me the creeps. It's one thing when you have to actively choose it. It's another when my daughter sees it while turning the channels. I'd much rather she stumble on some nice, nasty, graphic, perverse, non-violent explicit sex.

That violence porn as default doesn't even register on our gauges seems to me a sign of a deeply sick society.

I say this as someone who, in his youth, saw his father skin and gut thousands of animals. That didn't bother me a bit. But seeing violence against animals as entertainment, even simulated violence? Can't stand it.

So we watch people die, night after night, in horrible ways.

#854 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 10:35 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer:

And now I'm wondering: "Dark" is worse than "Evil"?
Evil Willow was a demon inhabiting what had been Willow's body, basically unredeemable. Dark Willow was a human experiencing temporary psychosis after (as Xopher said) the most extreme of provocations. What she did was worse than anything we saw Evil Willow do -- although Evil Willow probably was capable of that and yet worse -- but then she came back from it.

(It may be worth noting that the Buffy comics have revealed her victim in that instance didn't actually die.)

#855 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 10:59 PM:

David 854: (It may be worth noting that the Buffy comics have revealed her victim in that instance didn't actually die.)

Two things about that:

1. Eww. That makes it worse.

2. No waitaminnit. The First was only able to take the form of dead people, and it appeared to Willow as Warren, didn't it?

#856 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 11:04 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @844, that's absolutely fascinating. I know he says he doesn't see a way to get back to commenting instead of harmonizing, but I want…

Stefan Jones @849, I *almost* want to make those.

#857 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 11:08 PM:

Hm. I think that 'Evil' in this context means 'the same character, but a different flavor' so not really the same character-- both Good and Evil Willow or Spock can exist and have some marker. But Dark Willow is the only Willow around-- the original one has changed. That makes her a much more profoundly wrong character (if 'original' is right).

I don't watch Buffy unless someone else is and I have seen only Evil Willow, but I do know that Dark Willow is a thing. I speak the dialect a bit. Perhaps my retconning the dialect is a bit off, but it works for me.

#858 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 11:18 PM:

I think you have it right, Diatryma. Evil Willow (also called "Vampire Willow") was a vampire from an AU where Buffy never came to Sunnydale, and all her friends got killed by vampires. In the main universe, after Warren pushed her over the edge, Willow sucked all the magical knowledge out of a huge pile of books (the letters actually left their pages and streamed up her arms into her head, turning her hair and eyes solid black) and "went dark."

#859 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 11:27 PM:

Xopher@855: I'd forgotten about the First. It's been a while since I read the comics, maybe he was resurrected somehow. Either that or it had to do with all the magic involved.

#860 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2014, 11:51 PM:

I have a Laundry Abuse question.

I've "found" in my closet three pairs of suitable-for-casual wearing jeans from a while back that now fall off me.

They're presumably pre-shrunk . . . can I try to shrink them more? Really hot water wash? Hot cycle drying?

#861 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 12:06 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 860: If they've been washed on warm and dried multiple times, I wouldn't expect them to shrink much more even with hot temperatures.

#862 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 12:25 AM:

Xopher, #841: No, that's what I'd call slang or idiom. Tropes are concepts. Mary Sue is a trope. "The cavalry comes over the hill" is a trope. "Love triangle resolved by the death of one of the suitors" is a trope.

They were talking about tropes originating in (among other things) The Godfather, which I have not seen and have no interest in seeing. Part of the argument was that without having seen it, I might not recognize where the trope originated and might therefore end up invoking subtext I didn't want to invoke.

John A., #850: BTVS was conceived as a literal interpretation of the phrase "High School is Hell". Oddly, it never really pinged my horror-meter, despite the gore and some really squicky story lines (do NOT let anybody tell you about Jenny Calendar!), possibly because I was paying much more attention to the character arcs for the main players, which were fascinating. Willow, in particular, was an obvious illustration of "power corrupts" with a side of "Gay Lovers Always Die" (another trope), and it's the latter which triggers the scene you found. None of which is to say that I think you should watch it! I was just a bit surprised, thinking about the show in the context of my well-established "I don't do horror" trait, to realize that I not only watched it but liked it.

It should perhaps be noted that I didn't start watching it until the musical episode, which was early in Season 6, and that made me incredibly curious about what all had led up to that particular situation. I'm not sure I'd have had the same reaction if I'd started from the beginning.

#863 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 01:11 AM:

I am also well known as a non-horror-enjoying person. I loved Buffy.

#864 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 02:07 AM:

Re: catch-phrases. (Lee #839 & others).

Normally, I would say that it's best to have seen the source material before using it yourself to ensure you don't get it wrong.

But I have also found myself using phrases because they were appropriate to the situation in question, only to find out (sometimes quite a lot) later that there was an originating source. I didn't know they were a thing, but there was often sufficient signal innate in the catch-phrase that knowledge of the source was not essential.

Re: Moby Dick.

The most recent time I read Moby Dick, I enjoyed the digressions; they provided useful & colourful background to the setting. But the first time I tried reading Moby Dick, I bounced.

(I also bounced off Iain (M.) Banks the first time I read him, but he's now one of my favourite writers. This all is a bit worrisome: I think of the kids forced to read "classics" in school as set texts at a time they may not be ready to appreciate them, with the consequence that they are put off for life. I don't have a good solution though.)

#865 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 08:23 AM:

Xopher@855, David Goldfarb@859

If I recall correctly, the official explanation for the apparent contradiction (Warren not dead even though the First appeared as him) was basically "Oops!".

If one wants to explain it, Warren could have gone into a state briefly that could be considered "dead" as far as the First was concerned.

#866 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 08:28 AM:

Xopher@855, David Goldfarb@859

If I recall correctly, the official explanation for the apparent contradiction (Warren not dead even though the First appeared as him) was basically "Oops!".

If one wants to explain it, Warren could have gone into a state briefly that could be considered "dead" as far as the First was concerned.

#867 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 08:35 AM:

Xopher@855, David Goldfarb@859

If I recall correctly, the official explanation for the apparent contradiction (Warren not dead even though the First appeared as him) was basically "Oops!".

If one wants to explain it, Warren could have gone into a state briefly that could be considered "dead" as far as the First was concerned.

#868 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 08:37 AM:

RE: catch phrases -

Because I haven't seen anyone else point at it - Humpty Dumpty:

"When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

A newer observation, about the cribhouse whore quality of the purity of the English language, is also apt, I think.

In fifty years, some of these phrases will be as obscure as the random bits of Latin and French with which Sayers peppers the Whimsy books are today. Others will be engraved in Supreme Court opinions. If we don't use them, when we can, how can we figure out which ones will last?

We've always taken a liking to some phrases and carted them along with us - see here for a really nice spoken word example of the source of some (many) English catchphrases that were novel at the time.

Re: Bujold's TSK series, and its relationship to our world...

I think trying to figure out what happened to the tires and the concrete is maybe going at it the wrong way. Middle Earth was not a post-apoc Europe, even though it had an earlier age of glory. It's not a future-perhaps-to-come - it is a past-that-never-was.

Likewise, I think TSK is set on a continent that had American Indians of various types, and some European (Scandinavian?) influxes, and then a magical disaster. The Lakewalkers seem to have more of a plains nomadic lifestyle, while I could see both a European and Eastern woodlands influence on the "farmers". The worldbuilding here is not on Tolkien's scale, but a) that's not what I read Bujold for and b) there's a lot of geography south of "Tolkien-level worldbuilding".

#869 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 08:38 AM:

Apologies for the triple post.

#870 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 09:19 AM:

Soon Lee @684

I think of the kids forced to read "classics" in school as set texts at a time they may not be ready to appreciate them, with the consequence that they are put off for life.

This, yes.

I am slowly working my way through Moby Dick and liking it quite a lot. Now.

When I was in jr hi, though, I was chewing through the Valdamor novels and before that Dragonriders and a whole lot of other books that featured spunky girls and underdogs defeating evil tyrants and similiar, non-complex themes.

If a bad guy wasn't completely defeated, or a good guy was implied to have serious flaws, I did not care for it. Mark Twain and I, for example, were not fast friends.

But the earlier books were what drew me into loving both reading period, and loving SF.

I think a solution could to put well written, engaging nonfiction texts into play as our basis for teaching students how to use the language to inform and persuade. Let poetry and literature be secondary sources, and deepen the links between painting, music, dance, and other forms of art with writing-as-literature. Those that love making art with words would still have an opportunity to do so, and we would not have disuaded another generation from enjoying getting information from words.

#871 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 09:28 AM:

AKICML: A friend just read Jo Walton's Farthing, and asked me if David and Lucy Kahn znqr vg fnsryl gb Pnanqn. Fur fnvq gung gur qvnel whfg fgbcf, fb gurl znl abg unir. V ernq gur obbxf nf gurl jrer choyvfurq. Zl zrzbel bs fcrpvsvpf vf unml, ohg V pregnvayl gubhtu gung gurl qvq.

She loved the book, and has ordered the next two from her Local Independent Bookseller.

#872 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 09:28 AM:

re 822: My distaste for The Red Pony came from its inevitable pairing with The Pearl. How many downer stories ought a middle school kid have to swallow?1

re 853: Yes, it's the violence porn that gets to me too, even when it isn't explicit.

1My brother's class had it worse: they read When the Legends Die. Yes, my middle school had an advanced reading program, which is how I got stuck with A Separate Peace twice.

#873 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 09:43 AM:

C. Wingate @ 872: What's called for, I think, is some stories that are neither completely uppers or completely downers. I'm not advocating teaching Anna Karenina--well, maybe I am--but that's a good example of a novel that shows the whole range.

But I've never seen high school kids as a whole reject, say, Stephen King or V. C. Andrews, or this objection widely made about "To Build A Fire". Perhaps a range of canon-credible relatively recent literature is most useful.

janetl @ 871: I assume gurl qvq, ohg vg'f orra n juvyr, fb V pbhyq or jebat. Vg'f cbffvoyr vg jnf fvzcyl yrsg bcra.

#874 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 09:48 AM:

"I love you like the Pilgrim loves the Holy Land, like the wayfarer loves his wayward ways, like the immigrant that I am loves America, and the blind man the memory of his sighted days."
- 1981's 'Four Friends'

Twenty years ago today, I became one of America's citizens.

#875 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 09:59 AM:

John Arkansawyer:

Yeah, I agree about the violence porn. Mainstream TV has brutal, often gory murders as a matter of course, and we mostly don't even notice it. I suspect this is an example of how hard it is for people to see the crazy/creepy/sick bits in their own culture--it just seems normal. (By contrast: put a naked couple lovingly having sex on prime time TV, and someone's losing their broadcast license and paying a great big fine.)


It seems to me that tropes are a kind of halfway-point between stuff that's become just a common turn of phrase in the culture and stuff that's really a literary reference to a specific book or movie. I mean, tons of people use phrases like "make him an offer he can't refuse" without ever having seen The Godfather--it's passed into the language and culture, the way phrases and themes from the Bible or famous literature have passed into the language and culture. I'm sure there are lots of folks who have never cracked a bible in their lives, but who toss out references to David and Goliath, or someone walking on water. This is just how language and culture evolve. Similarly, all kinds of people who have never read The Illiad feel comfortable talking about Trojan horses. And so on.

Now, there's a legitimate concern that you may import some subtext you don't want using those tropes. But I guess when I think of it, it seems like about 99% of the time when that comes up, it's in the midst of someone playing gotcha games in a conversation, and I frankly find those kinda boring. And I think it's pretty common for phrases or references to end up with a pretty different meaning in popular culture than you'd get reading or watching the original story they came from.

#876 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 10:05 AM:

Janetl @ 871: I believe there's a confirmation via passing mention in one of the sequels.

#877 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 10:52 AM:

C. Wingate @ #872, amen, amen. When I read Travels with Charley (as an adult, on my own) my first reaction was, "Why the hell didn't they teach THIS Steinbeck in school??"

(The answer probably involves having to deal with Steinbeck's very unflattering view of the South.)

In the Ignorant Use of Famous Quotations sweepstakes, the L.L. Bean catalog once had a baby blanket embroidered with "Good night, sweet prince"!!

#878 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 11:00 AM:

WARNING: Not meant for smothering.

#879 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 11:09 AM:

@875 albatross

I'm trying to remember an actual network presentation of a brutal gory murder - the most I can remember is pooled blood and someone bludgeoning something offscreen, with a dramatic soundtrack. Even The Walking Dead parcels out violence and (human) gore piecemeal. But that could be my blinders (as you say). Do you have examples that you're thinking of, which would be the equivalent of on-screen sex?

violence porn

This gets me more than the gore - the use of physical force against another person turned into an art display. It especially strikes me as off when a woman who routinely uses fists or firearms (instead of intelligence) is touted as an empowered example of a strong woman character, when a male character would be labeled a brainless thug. Likewise, a former brawler who reforms and takes up a more mature approach to conflict is growing stronger when they are a man, but has been 'depowered' by the writers if a woman.

#880 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 11:10 AM:

P J Evans @ #821:

I've encountered an edition of Les Misérables where the editor made a decision to extract every chapter that was gratuitous infodump and stick it at the end as an appendix.

This turned out to be practicable for, if memory serves, only two chapters (the essay on convents and the essay on criminal slang). Every other chapter-long infodump in the novel has, buried in it somewhere, a sentence or a paragraph or two that actually advances the plot.

#881 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Serge Broom @874, happy anniversary!

#882 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 11:33 AM:

Albatross @875, And I think it's pretty common for phrases or references to end up with a pretty different meaning in popular culture than you'd get reading or watching the original story they came from.

See "The Ugly American" for one prime example of a trope meaning the dead opposite of its literary meaning.

For that matter, as I understand it the phrase "moot point" has opposite generally-accepted meanings depending on which side of the Pond you live; in America it means "irrelevant" and in England it means "worthy of debate".

#883 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 11:39 AM:

this poem is a street thug
it mugs other poems in dark chapbooks
and rifles through their stanzas
for loose metaphors

(h/t to James Nicoll for inspiration)

#884 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 12:01 PM:

I think I might have read that one, decades ago. It didn't stick. (House full of books. Outside of the 'adult' stuff, on the top shelf, it was all available. I know I read 'Madame Bovary'.)

#885 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 12:06 PM:

albatross@875: Nitpick: the Trojan Horse doesn't actually appear in the Iliad. (Which I think supports your point; I'm not sure what text it does originally appear in, and in any case it isn't terribly well-known. It's in the Aeneid, to be sure, but it didn't start there. Yet it has become a well-known cultural reference point.)

Regarding out-of-context use of famous quotations; I've more than once seen gravestones inscribed with 'Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas, ease after war, death after life doth greatly ease'. Which sounds good - but in the original the speaker is Despair, who is trying to tempt the Red Cross Knight to commit suicide.

#886 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 12:07 PM:

Cassie B @ 881... Thanks! We celebrated last night - by going to a Mexican restaurant of course. :-)

#887 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 12:08 PM:

keranih # 879: I'm trying to remember an actual network presentation of a brutal gory murder - the most I can remember is pooled blood and someone bludgeoning something offscreen, with a dramatic soundtrack.

Isn't that enough?

#888 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 01:18 PM:

Andrew M. (885): Is it in the Odyssey rather than the Iliad? Note that I've actually read the Odyssey (but not the Iliad), and I don't remember either.

Is "I love it when a plan comes together" from The A-Team? I had been using that with no idea of the origin.

#889 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 01:23 PM:

Michael I, various: Actually that makes sense, since the First could appear as Buffy because she'd been dead (twice, actually, in terms of the metaphysics of that universe), even though she was alive at the time. So if Warren's heart stopped and was restarted, that would probably count (you remember Buffy just stopped breathing and was revived with amateur CPR, and that was enough to cause the Choosing of a new Slayer).

#890 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 01:36 PM:

@887 janetl

To have an emotional impact? Yes. To have an impact equivalent to two naked people having intercourse? No, not IMO.

And beyond that...what we see on TV is not real. (Duh, yes, yes, hold on, I have a point.) We fake a murder with mulage and makeup, then tell our kids "no, it wasn't a real murder, it was a story - it's not right to kill people. But this is just a story, not real - that man didn't really kill that woman."

We fake a love scene, with lighting and actors giving it their all, and then we tell our kids "no, it wasn't really two people in love and committed to each other, it was a story. Yes, people really have sex, but we don't go into their houses to watch. This is just a story, not real - that man doesn't really love that woman."

I'm not sure that's what we want, either - to teach kids that its okay to pretend to love someone when you don't, the way we teach them that its okay (or atleast better) to pretend to kill someone, when you really don't.

#891 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 01:38 PM:

Re catch phrases we don't know the source of. My father used to use the phrase "Tain't a fit night out for man nor beast" when it was storming, and said his parents used to say it.

I discovered when I went to a film festival in college that it was from a W.C. Fields movie, The Fatal Glass of Beer. Several times in the movie, Fields opens the door of an Alaskan cabin, for reasons I no longer remember, says the line, and gets doused with a bucket of fake snow.

My father was unaware of the movie. He would have been in his teens when it came out, so perhaps he saw it and had forgotten, or perhaps he originally learned the phrase secondhand.

#892 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 01:50 PM:

C. Wingate, #872: I think this ties back into the earlier discussion about happy endings being perceived as somehow inferior. These books are classics partly because they're downers. That makes them "serious" and "mature"; happy endings are kid stuff, like comic books. Ptui.

Lila, #877: More recently, the Republican Party taking "Born in the USA" as its theme song. If they wanted unrestrained jingoism, they'd have done better to look at C&W.

Cassy, #882: Similarly for "tabling" a topic. In the US, this means putting it temporarily aside; in England, it means bringing it up for discussion -- putting it on the table, as it were.

#893 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 02:10 PM:

I mean, tons of people use phrases like "make him an offer he can't refuse" without ever having seen The Godfather

And even more without having read Father Goriot, for that matter.

#894 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 02:19 PM:

Mary Aileen@888: On checking, I find it is in the Odyssey, in flashbacks; but the description of it at length will be in one of the minor Trojan War poems, which aren't generally read nowadays, and some of which are lost. (That's true of large parts of the Trojan War story.)

Cassy B@882: In my experience the American sense of 'moot' is taking over here as well now. And I don't think the traditional sense was exactly 'worthy of debate'; it was closer to 'undecided' (so you could debate about it, if you wanted to).

#895 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 03:42 PM:

keranih @800: The pipe in "Red's" teeth is what really makes it. :-)

#896 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 03:58 PM:

keranih @ 890: To have an emotional impact? Yes. To have an impact equivalent to two naked people having intercourse? No, not IMO.

Well, yes, I suppose so. But one makes me want to puke and the other doesn't. It's not the strength of the emotion, it's the vileness of it. That we are even having this conversation demonstrates what a vile culture we live in.

I remember the moment that put me over the edge. It was one of those routine, everyday killings on Law and Order, possibly the vilest of all broadcast network franchises (which takes some doing). The hero was a superhuman killer who disappeared in the middle of a crowd, having just fyvg bar puvyq'f guebng naq syrq jvgu nabgure. The casualness with which the aftermath was shown--just a body lying in a pool of blood, right?--made me flee the room. Since then, I've taken kind of a hard stance on this.

I realize our culture tries to produce good Roman citizens, willing to stick a sword in someone's guts for Empire. I reject and resist that.

My Brodcasters' Code of Ethics? "More fuckin', less killin'."

#897 ::: James Quixotic ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 04:10 PM:

OtterB @ 891

And here I thought the line came from Yukon Cornelius in the Rankin/Bass Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

#898 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 04:17 PM:

Oh, the Good Dogs particle needs a warning. :-( I don't need any more transferred grief!

#899 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 04:40 PM:

re 873: Personally I preferred My Side of the Mountain and would have equally devoured Hatchet had it been written then. But then there is stage of every red-blooded American suburban boy's life when he wants to go off and live in the woods.

re 892: I'm thinking also that part of the key in is this phrase about The Red Pony, describing it as "[a] wrenching story of adolescent initiation into the world of death, birth, and disappointment." Yeah, well, I dunno: it isn't as if we aren't all going to be stuffed into that anyway, and egads, I hope that isn't all that adulthood is going to amount to for most people. It's also telling that the universal reaction to the protagonists of everyone's favorite prep school novels, by people who actually are at prep schools, is that Holden and Gene are f-ups who made their own hells on purpose (especially Holden); we all saw this happen to various people around us who self-destructed. The obvious message of all this negativity is that Literature is about Reasons to be Depressed About Life, which is a strong inoculation for most against ever reading the stuff willingly.

#900 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 05:13 PM:

John 896: I realize our culture tries to produce good Roman citizens, willing to stick a sword in someone's guts for Empire. I reject and resist that.

Hear, hear.

Our current leaders seem to be taking "bread and circuses" and cutting it back. They seem to think that we won't mind not having bread if we have enough (and gory enough) circuses.

C. 899: The obvious message of all this negativity is that Literature is about Reasons to be Depressed About Life, which is a strong inoculation for most against ever reading the stuff willingly.

...and here we have another arm of the conspiracy, this one to try to stop people from reading. I think they're losing, because of the internet, but we'll see.

(I don't know if it's really a conspiracy. If I were a conspiracy theorist it sure would look suspicious.)

#901 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 05:23 PM:


I'm not much of a TV watcher these days (if I'm going to spend my time unproductively, I do it with video games or arguing politics on the net), but one example that comes to mind immediately is a TV version of _The Matrix_. I remember two things about this:

a. They took out all the cursewords, replacing them with FCC-friendly and rather funny alternatives. "Jesus Christ, it's real" became "Jeepers Creepers, it's real," and so on.

b. They left a lot of scenes in which lots of people got shot to death. I remember my then much younger son (now 13, then probably 6 or so) walking into the room where I was watching it, and being really visibly shaken and horrified by a scene in which several people got shot dead.

I remember that this really struck me--I had been taking the whole thing very casually, whereas he (sheltered enough not to have seen lots of people being murdered on TV) was clearly really affected by it.

As far as the emotional impact of a murder vs a sex scene, I imagine that which of these has a bigger impact has a lot to do with what you're used to seeing. I imagine my son would have been just as shocked by a naked couple having sex onscreen.

And for better or worse, my younger children have been much less sheltered--largely because they have an older brother, and anything he's watching, they're interested in. I'm not sure whether this was a change for the better or the worse overall.

I think something similar applies to what you would consider an overly graphic sex or violence scene. I think you[1] calibrate what seems "too much" based on what you're used to seeing, in much the same way that you calibrate what opinions or ideas seem "too extreme" or crazy or horrifying by what you're used to hearing.

[1] Generic you.

#902 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 05:33 PM:

albatross at 901: I haven't thought about that version is years - I remember watching it on a family ski trip when I was in middle or high school. There's the memorable replacement of one character flipping another one the bird, with the character showing his palm; the dialogue was changed to something like "I'm going to give you the flipper."

#903 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 05:43 PM:

Interesting open-threadiness:

Corey Doctrow talking about the role of DRM in the Hachette/Amazon dispute. I don't know enough about the publishing / book selling business to be entitled to much of an opinion, but I do think that:

a. DRM is in general a force for evil in the world.

b. Amazon has a scary concentration of market power.

c. As far as I can tell, both big parties have given up on any kind of meaningful antitrust law, since we routinely see these huge mergers among competitors going through. I think this is just one more part of the ruling class consensus--mergers between big players in various industries are totally fine. I suspect that this consensus owes less to economic theory than it does to how the resulting concentrations of power work out for people who are already in very powerful positions in our society, though there has certainly been a multi-decade pushback against antitrust law from neoclassical economics.

#904 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 07:05 PM:

With respect to sex vs violence, I think that people (generic people) forget that sex is something that we hope our kids experience if they want to. Violence is not. When movies have to change sex scenes to rape scenes to keep from having too hard a rating, there's a problem.

#905 ::: sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 07:42 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ #669:

Isn't Liquor: A Novel a restaurant procedural?

I understand there's a whole genre of business procedurals in Japan. However, my understanding may be faulty.

I had until recently avoided romance novels, although I did not object to romance plots within a larger story. However, I’ve recently found some original, amateur-written romances online that play more to my particular tastes; and one thing I’ve noticed is that the better ones also tend to be “procedurals” of a sort – i.e. the details of the heroine’s job play a large part in the plot – frex, she’s in love with a co-worker *and* trying to resolve a tricky legal mess one of the company execs has caused.

Apologies if I've made this remark here before, as it's a new thing I'm still pleased to have discovered.

#906 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 07:59 PM:

sarah @905, I really enjoyed the movie Working Girl for that reason; the main focus is on the protagonist's career advancement, not the love interest, even though the work drama and romantic drama are inextricably intertwined and it's classified (IIRC) as a romantic comedy.

#907 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 08:28 PM:

"What are you watching?"
"Some sex procedural."

#908 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 10:56 PM:

As I remember, the lead up to that Dark Willow event was about forty-five minutes of two characters in bed, naked, having a very good reconciliation. Then a trope interrupted.

(Although they were the only long-term stable couple on Buffy.)

#909 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 10:56 PM:

As I remember, the lead up to that Dark Willow event was about forty-five minutes of two characters in bed, naked, having a very good reconciliation. Then a trope interrupted.

(Although they were the only long-term stable couple on Buffy.)

#910 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2014, 11:20 PM:

keranih @ 890: To have an emotional impact? Yes. To have an impact equivalent to two naked people having intercourse? No, not IMO.

We fake a love scene, with lighting and actors giving it their all, and then we tell our kids "no, it wasn't really two people in love and committed to each other, it was a story. Yes, people really have sex, but we don't go into their houses to watch. This is just a story, not real - that man doesn't really love that woman."

I'm not sure that's what we want, either - to teach kids that its okay to pretend to love someone when you don't, the way we teach them that its okay (or atleast better) to pretend to kill someone, when you really don't.

I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you're saying. Everything that an actor is doing is faking—anger, love, laughing, crying. If you don't feel that children should see people pretending, than all acting has to be avoided. I do think that small children shouldn't be watching either graphic violence or sex!

I do think that presenting violence as entertainment is fundamentally different than presenting other story lines. I find it bizarre that a movie can't get into theaters with a woman enjoying sex, but can with beheadings. That is out of balance.

The media doesn't have to show me a blow hitting and the injury for it to be upsetting. In one episode of Fresh Air, Terry Gross was interviewing Bret Easton Ellis about his novel, American Psycho. One of them, I think her, described a scene in the book. I really wish I had brain bleach to not have that in my head, and I wasn't watching it enacted on TV or in a movie. That was probably 14 years ago, and I still recall hearing it. A scene on TV can evoke horrors with camera angles, suggestions, and sound track, just as the spoken (or written) word can.

I don't think that media shouldn't have any violence at all. I agree with John A Arkansawyer that I'd prefer to see more loving and less killing in the balance of TV and movie entertainment. I was cross stitching once with the TV on for distraction, and CSI: Special Victims Unit came on. As far as I could see, the show was about titillating the audience with the torture and rape of a young woman, by a couple who had done this—ending with murder—to several other women. That's a form of entertainment that I just don't understand.

#911 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 04:32 AM:


As it happens I can remember seeing my first explicit sex scene in the cinema and my first really shocking piece of violence: both in films that perhaps would surprise people here, because I doubt anyone would really associate either of these movies with that sort of scene.

The first is the sex scene in The Name of The Rose, which I remember as extremely stimulating. I would have been about 16 at the time. Beyond a very persistent erection that this occasioned, I'm not sure I can remember any real shock or upset.

The second is the scene at the start of Beverely Hills Cop, where Mikey gets brutally shot in the back of the head. I would have been about 14 (I had snuck into a 15 film...). I still remember being really shocked by the violence, which was very real and very frightening indeed. I remember being quite upset and the scene replaying itself in my mind for days afterwards.

Neither of these scenes would probably worry me that much these days: but it seems to me that the violence was much more an end of innocence than the sex, and it pains me far more now that I am comfortable with watching violence, than that I am comfortable watching Christian Slater shagging.

#912 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 08:06 AM:

Today is the primary election in Maryland. My polling place is a former elementary school now housing a child care center. As I'm walking in, there are the usual campaign signs near the sidewalk, then the sign that says electioneering is forbidden beyond this point. And then, on the door, a sign with a red circle with a slash through it saying "No Nut Zone."

I was a tiny bit disappointed to realize that this was about preschoolers and allergies, not a bipartisan constraint on politicians and/or voters.

#913 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 08:12 AM:

@909: The trope aimed for was not the trope hit. ("Joss Whedon is like a tiny George R.R. Martin" was the goal.)

#914 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 10:27 AM:

Andrew M @ #894

Looking at Wikipedia's entries on the Epic Cycle, the Trojan Horse is built in the Little Iliad and the soldiers emerge in the Iliou persis ("Sack of Troy"). Only a few lines of either poem survive.

#915 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 10:38 AM:

James Harvey @911

My middle school Lit instructor got suspended/fired for showing us Name of the Rose for that same reason. It was one of the more gratuitous sex scenes that I remember from films of that time.

Have not ever been a 16 year old male, but I seem to recall from association that "enough to sexually stimulate them" was a pretty low bar. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I would expect that something that hit you hard at 14 would seem more of an end of innocence than something that hit you at 16. Or am I understanding you wrong?

#916 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 11:18 AM:

Janetl @ 910 -

I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you're saying.

Well, there does seem to be a good bit of that rolling around - I'm still trying to figure out how to make our culture tries to produce good Roman citizens, willing to stick a sword in someone's guts for Empire fit with the world that I've seen thus far.

But back to the point about presentation:

Yes, all art is lies. But it is not a lie that we make art. The process of creating fiction is not fiction. In the process of telling a story about a horrible person who does evil, we do not actually do evil (hurt people, destroy other people's belongings, tear up nature, etc.) But in the process of telling a story about love (note: the original question was about sex, not love) we do not actually create the love shown on the screen - that is likewise an illusion - a lie, false.

So there is a more of a market for fake violence, which doesn't really hurt anyone, than there is a market for fake love, where no one is actually wrapt in affection. I'm not really surprised.

The media doesn't have to show me a blow hitting and the injury for it to be upsetting.

Right. And I agree. The artist's skill is in presentation, not content.

I do think that presenting violence as entertainment is fundamentally different than presenting other story lines.

I disagree. I think that far more lives are damaged by misused sex in our society than are damaged by misused violence. I think there is danger and damage available in all parts of human behavior, and singling out one over others is pretty much personal taste.

I find it bizarre that a movie can't get into theaters with a woman enjoying sex, but can with beheadings.

So do I. Which one is this?

OTOH, I'd much rather go to a movie that had a detective tracking down and punishing a group that committed beheadings, showing resolve, respect for law, and intellegence in going after those evil people, than I would a movie that had the same detective enjoying the sex that came with the adulterous affair she was having with a subordinate in stead of doing her job.

#917 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 11:37 AM:

Open threadiness:

The legal memos that justified the assassination of a US citizen (Alwaki) by the CIA in Yemen were released very recently. Connor Friedersdorf has a bunch of interesting links. (He links to both Lawfare and Emptywheel, who have somewhat different views on this sort of thing.)

I don't claim to know the law well enough to know whether this complies with it. But I'm damned sure that the power to assassinate American citizens based on some kind of secret evidence and deliberation is insanely bad policy. Like the massive NSA domestic spying, it's just crying out to be abused, and likely will be sooner or later (if it hasn't already been).

This is bipartisan policy, at this point. It's part of the ruling class consensus. And it's utterly insane.

#918 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 11:48 AM:

keranih, #915: Author Jim C. Hines has described it well:
Do they remember what it's like to be a teenage boy? At that age, a stiff breeze is enough to make you think "impure" thoughts. It's like Pavlovian condition gone mad. School bell rings? Boner! Sit down in the cafeteria? Boner! Adjust your seat belt? Boner! Trying to maintain my dignity as a teenage boy was like a neverending game of whack-a-mole.

#919 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 12:06 PM:


Hmmm: obviously the bar is low for "sexually stimulates 16 yo male", I'd agree with that!

But I'm not sure it would have been any more shocking at 14 than 16. If anything, less so: I had a late puberty and it might not have had the same charge at 14 that it had at 16, I might not have been as interested. Whereas I'm pretty sure the violence would have been shocking whenever I encountered it for the first time.

I don't know, it's all so subjective.

Instinctively I find violence much more disturbing and threatening than sexuality. I am not unaware of the fact that this might have made particular sense for me as a young male: violence is far more likely to be a threatening element in the life of young males than sexuality. Other humans in different situations may feel differently. But I can think of any number of editorial photographs from war zones for instance that have stuck in my mind far more than any sexual image, and continue to disturb me when I bring them to mind.

This is not to say that all depiction of sexuality, or exposure of children to sexuality is fine. Oh no. Not at all.

#920 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 12:21 PM:

keraniah @916:

I think that far more lives are damaged by misused sex in our society than are damaged by misused violence.

We're going to have to disagree on this one. I will just say that using number of "lives damaged", without accounting for the degree of damage, is a very odd metric in this context.

(re: beheadings vs. women enjoying sex in movies) So do I. Which one is this?

Not a single movie to my knowledge, but the general requirements for an R rating. Showing a woman appearing to have an orgasm during sex will get a movie an NC-17 rating, which keeps it out of most theaters. Graphic depictions of violence, including beheadings, will not.

OTOH, I'd much rather go to a movie that had a detective tracking down and punishing a group that committed beheadings, showing resolve, respect for law, and intellegence in going after those evil people, than I would a movie that had the same detective enjoying the sex that came with the adulterous affair she was having with a subordinate in stead of doing her job.

That's quite a red herring. The issue isn't "showing resolve, respect for law, and intelligence" versus "having fun instead of doing a job"; it's "violence" versus "sex". If the detective showed equal intelligence, resolve, respect for law, etc., and was shown enjoying consensual sex with a committed partner on her own time, would you still find it more upsetting than graphic depictions of violence so long as it was clear the violence was being perpetrated by the bad guys?

#921 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 12:37 PM:

Sax and violins...

#922 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 02:06 PM:

Worth repeating: A note on dictionaries.

I have a possibly-false memory of actually finding "A ham and two people" under "Eternity" in my grandmother's dictionary.

#923 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 04:06 PM:

On dictionaries: the dictionary which defined ABATIS as "Rubbish in front of a fort, to prevent the rubbish outside from molesting the rubbish inside" is hard to beat for sheer snark and amusement.

#924 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 04:15 PM:

"A ham and two people"

Usually credited to Dorothy Parker.

#925 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 04:41 PM:

That's the one I expected to show up.

#926 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 04:52 PM:

From Saunder's Veterinary Dictionary:

Tamagotchi - [Japanese; cute little egg] space-age cyberpet; a solely electronic state; indigenous to Japan, appearing as an egg on a liquid-crystal screen. Life history, consisting of hatching, feeding, beeping when not fed, sleeping in 12 hour snatches, growing, dying prematurely if neglected, flying away, is completed usually in 2 weeks with maximum recorded life span 4 weeks. The low maintenance costs and brief life span appear to have been designed to suit society's average desired investment level and affection span for a house pet. An unfriendly addition to the veterinary profession's list of exotic companion animals.

#927 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 05:30 PM:

Keranih @ 916: Are adulterous affairs the only kind of sex scenes you can remember? Is there a reason you reached for "adulterous affair" instead of "Had an orgasm"?

Because I won't say you're wrong about the fact that a number of ways relationships are portrayed on screen are problematic, but the ones that are problematic - stalker behaviour, dubious consent, "be her friend long enough and she'll discover you're there and put out after all", dysfunctional relationships, lots and lots of adultery, etc. etc. are NOT the ones that cause sex to get an NC-17 rating. You can get bad relationships in PG and have it be okay. (But not have a woman orgasm*, which last I checked was healthy sex.) Whereas the sorts of graphic violence that cause R ratings are things like on screen beheadings. And since we're comparing the things that cause R and NC-17 ratings, it seems unfair to complain about Relationships ill done when we're talking about sex.

Also, you @890 make no sense to me, because I can see reasons why one might need to say to a child, "It's okay, it's acting" about seeing traumatic violence on screen. Or "That sort of violence is wrong, don't try it in the real world".

But, while I can imagine needing to say, "That sort of relationship is unhealthy, don't do that in the real world" about some of the relationship crap, I *can't* see a reason one would need to reassure or console a child with "It's okay, it's just acting" about seeing sex. At worst, if the child is *too* young, one might need to say "It's okay, it's something done by grown-ups who love each other very much".

But the pain of feigned violence is very different from the confusion of seeing a relationship consummated. And if you confuse pain with confusion...?

* I CAN think of at least one movie we considered acceptable to play in the video store I worked at, which was pretty firm about "show only PG or lower", and it was a masturbation scene, at that (Pleasantville). You don't see what she's doing, but you do see the orgasm face and hear at least the start right before the tree catches fire. And Amelie gets away with it, too, though as a flashing series of random strangers orgasming, not during its actual sex scenes, and I think it's PA.

#928 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 05:58 PM:

Open-threadiness: It's St-Jean-Baptiste here in Québec (and everywhere with Catholics, I suppose, but here it's a big provincial holiday and also la Fête Nationale), and it struck me that folks here would probably enjoy some awesome Québecois music, so here are two of my favourites.

Le Vent du Nord's "Au bord de la fontaine" is a pretty excellent example of patterns in Québecois folk, with a fiddle player who provides most of the percussion with his feet on a board as he fiddles (podorythmie is the technical term in French. I don't know if there's one in English) and a single-voice, group-repeat style. It's a riff on an older song sung by the voyageurs, "A la claire fontaine". Also it has a hurdy-gurdy!

Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps's (loosely translated as "Lover, You're Wasting Your Time) "Marie Picard" is more modern and is about a group of girls going out drinking and having a great time even though everyone tells them not to. The chorus contains the line "have another glass, Marie Picard, it's only quarter past!"

Bonne St-Jean, tout le monde!

#929 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 06:23 PM:

Lenora Rose @927 -

Well, the original phrasing, back up thread, was "a woman enjoying sex" not "a woman having an orgasm". And forgive me for being blunt, but if "having an orgasm" is the only way to show a woman enjoying sex, then I've been doing it wrong for a very long time.

Furthermore, I can think of two TV shows (Firefly (not once but twice) and Sherlock) that directly referenced a woman having an orgasm.

And on to that - I am trying to recall when an actual beheading (or realistic CGI depiction) has been shown. Walking Dead has them, but nearly always cutaways with a spray of blood. The actual thing - fiberous tissue resisting the knife, spraying blood, rattling windpipe, kicking feet and flailing arms, and the knife getting caught in the spinal column, the victim shitting and pissing themselves - no, that generally doesn't make it on screen, and for good reason.

Likewise, we see neither rutting dogs on Game of Thrones nor actual surgeries on any medical show nor actual animal butchering, complete with blue-green intestines and pink lungs.

So I don't think that "a movie can't show a woman having sex without an NC17 rating but they can show beheadings" is factually highly inaccurate.

Lorax @920 - It's not a red herring, it's an example of how everything is context driven, and how depictions of sex can be worse than depictions of violence. The original comparison was straight up "less killing more fucking" - again, not "love", not "consumation of a committed relationship" - but fucking - and imo that's not a good trade-off.

Also - 2010 - 44,000 people in the USA infected with HIV. Only 16,000 killed by homicide, all causes. We can debate the particulars, and who gets responsibility for rape, and on whose doorstep divorce, abortion, and all the other STDs (many of which are fatal) lie, but I hold to my stance - In this country today, we do far more harm to each other with sex than we do with violence.

James Harvey @ 919 - Entirely subjective. Even for adults, I would hold that some (many?) depictions of sexuality are harmful. I am far less comfortable telling other adults what they should and should not consume for entertainment, though, as the data for determining just what is harmful and what is not is rather weak.

#930 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 06:44 PM:

re: women masturbating to orgasm, PG-rated

Shirley McLaine, with Peter Sellers in attendance - "I like to watch".

From the lovely "Being There", a rare example of a movie that transcends its source book.

#931 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 07:01 PM:

Em, #928: Le Vent du Nord came to Austin Celtic a couple of years ago, and they are fabulous!

I really like "Marie Picard", especially the deep-voiced woman at the end of it. You wouldn't happen to have a link to the lyrics, would you? My high-school French is not up to deciphering songs at that speed.

#932 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 07:06 PM:

Clarentine @898: This world is full of sorrow. I only put warnings on links to sexual material that will get you into trouble at work.

#933 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 07:16 PM:

TNH @932 -

Well, having to cancel a semi-important meeting to run home and hug my dog in the middle of the work day is not going to do wonders for my next performance review, either. I'm just saying.

(I've been trying to figure out how to say "thank you for showing me something I wish I had never read and will never be able to forget and oh damn you to hell, too, but thank you, thank you for the link" for several days.)

#934 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 07:21 PM:

keranih @929: I think the main problem I have with claiming that portrayals of sex have more of a negative effect than portrayals of violence is this: you can have sex without getting an STD, or pregnant, or whatever else you might consider to be a negative outcome. You can't be violent without hurting someone or something. Causing physical harm is pretty much the definition of being violent. Therefore, while sex CAN cause harm, violence on the other hand MUST cause harm.

One of the big things that bothers me about sex in the media is that, according to what I've heard, it is easier to get a R or lower rating for rape than it is to get an R or lower rating for consensual sex. To me, that says we are only willing to show sex if it has negative consequences, and I think that's a problem.

#935 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 07:32 PM:

Lee @931: Le Vent du Nord, I've seen a few times, and they put on an amazing show. I'd go see them anyday! I'm glad to hear they're adventuring to the south.

I couldn't find lyrics for "Marie Picard" so I've transcribed them for you. The Québec accent's an adventurous thing even for folks who are fluent in French (it's a bit like Glaswegian that way, I suppose).

Veillez, veillez, veillez,
Marie Picard, encore un verre,
il est pas tard
il est minuit et moins quart (x4)

En avant, la bande joyeuse,
Dieu protège les bons vivants!
En avant, la bande joyeuse!
La bande joyeuse, en avant!

Il est défendu de crier dans la rue
aussitôt qu'on a sonné la retraite.
Il est défendu de crier dans la rue
et d'y passer des heures indues


En avant, la bande joyeuse,
Dieu protège les bons vivants!
En avant, la bande joyeuse!
La bande joyeuse, en avant!

Bonjour ou bonsoir à vous, chers monsieurs
qui veut nous empêcher d'crier d'la sorte.
Bonjour ou bonsoir à vous, chers madames,
nous vous reverrons une autre soir.

CHORUS x4, then repetitions/rounds/variations on the chorus until the end.

Note that in the habit of needing to make lyrics fit music/dialectical reasons, the above is not necessarily grammatical. It's interesting that the last line (il n'est que moins quart) IS grammatical and changed from the rest of the song where it's not.

#936 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 08:02 PM:

shadowsong @ 934

I'm definitely more uncomfortable with violence-as-entertainment than with sex-as-entertainment (although really, I'm uncomfortable with either). However, comparing them sex to violence on a "harm" basis is tricky. (Consensual) sex is an immediate good, that may do long-term harm or indirectly harm others. Violence is always an immediate bad but may have long-term benefits, or indirect benefits. (Many fictional portrayals of violence seem to be of long-term good--any use of appropriate violence by police, for example. Similarly with many political discussions, where "how about making few decisions as possible relying on violence" is fringe view.)

#937 ::: SamChevre spots spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 08:48 PM:

Oh spammers go away,
Don't come again another day.
Unless with words you want to play.

#938 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 09:29 PM:

keranih #929

Sherlock is a bit of topic, as it's British and the standards are different than for American media.

As for what will get you an R and what will get you an NC-17, I'd like to recommend the (unrated) documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated. It is a scathing commentary on how those decisions are made.

I agree that the balance in the US media between what is acceptable in sex and violence is absurd. Even so, what shows and movies can get away with depends greatly on who is doing the deciding.

BTVS is a perfect example of this. Yes, the show got away with a lot of graphic violence, but as the seasons went on, and the characters went from being teens to being more adult, more and more sex got incorporated into the show as well. There was one show where the supernatural bad-guys (ghosts) were powered by the sexual energy of Buffy and her boyfriend. There were definite scenes of the two of them, naked, under sheets in bed having sex.

Later on, the issue of "how far can we go" was stretched nearly to the breaking point, as Joss Whedon (writer/producer) tried to highlight the network's double-standard between gay and straight sex scenes. He got to the point where he was switching between a heterosexual couple making lovefuckingrutting violently and a Lesbian couple (Willow and Tara) who Standards and Practices would not allow to be both under the covers, undressed in each others presence, or even talk about sex. The nature of their relationship was explored in metaphor, since it couldn't be shown, or referred to, physically.

When Whedon decided to put a kiss between Willow and Tara into a show, he had to threaten to quit the show to get it in. Although in context of the show, the kiss is a small thing, it was regarded as "truly groundbreaking" in the treatment of lesbian relationships on TV.

But they were on Fox. The next season, the show moved to The WB, and you get the song Under Your Spell(youtube link) from the Musical Episode. The first episode aired in February 2001, the second episode aired in November 2001. The country's attitudes towards sex on TV didn't change that much, but rather the executives who were interpreting what that attitude allowed.

Of course, this was 3 years before "Nipplegate". I don't know if BTVS could have gotten away with what it did today.

#939 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 09:39 PM:

Danton had an on-screen beheading including WAVING THE SEVERED HEAD TO THE CROWD after it happened. And I was shown this movie more than once, in high school, for classroom purposes.

I've been watching Penny Dreadful lately (as anyone following my tumblr knows already, because I can't shut up about it). There's a lot of sex along with the horror. One of the things I enjoy about it is that the show is very savvy about the contrast between consensual, pleasurable sex and sex where the consent is dubious - in one scene, the moment that the action changed from kinky-but-consensual to something where consent was lacking was precisely the moment the scene changed from sexy to horror.

It's one of the first things in a long time where the sex scenes have me going "more please" and not "can this be over now?"

#940 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Penny Dreadful has me hooked as well. Eva Green really delivers.

#941 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2014, 10:36 PM:

keranih @ 929: The original comparison was straight up "less killing more fucking" - again, not "love", not "consumation of a committed relationship" - but fucking - and imo that's not a good trade-off.

I strongly disagree. Fucking (I actually said "less killin', more fuckin' " on purpose, but I digress) is, generally speaking, a good in and of itself, love or no love. Killing is, generally speaking, not a good in and of itself. In fact, I'd say that killing is bad even when it's just and necessary and fucking is good even when it's done in an context one may find inappropriate. Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina both wanted and needed to get laid. Good for them. They didn't deserve to die.

(Parenthetical HLN: Local man today acquired a copy of Andrea Dworkin's Pornography. "I'd been meaning to read some of her work," he said. "Getting it with a stack of feminist theology and other feminist theory was just gravy.")

What did I mean by "our culture tries to produce good Roman citizens, willing to stick a sword in someone's guts for Empire"? The sword is, of course, a metaphor. The guts are not, and have recently been scattered all throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. The will to kill and die in service of Empire was a characteristic of the Roman citizen. With your shield or on it, dulce et decorum est, all the true old lies. American boys hate to lose. All that jazz.

See also: Fritz Leiber, "America the Beautiful."

(I've been slowly accumulating an anthology of bad futures that came, or are coming, true. That's one of them.)

#942 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 01:05 AM:

keranih @ 929:

First: Before my post, Lorax had said, at 920 Showing a woman appearing to have an orgasm during sex will get a movie an NC-17 rating, which keeps it out of most theaters.

So it wasn't me who started the comparison of orgasm. I followed a natural line of conversation in using it as a specific example of onscreen sex that tends to be considered unwarrantedly and excessively problematic, especially in comparison to what violence is allowed.

Moreover, how to *Depict* a woman enjoying sex on screen (Or in writing, or in any art) has as much semblance to how sex is enacted in the real world as most dialogue has to real world conversation, or police procedure on Castle has to actual police work. It's been done a variety of ways. And a number of shows do so via the handy *implication* she had an orgasm. And usually they reference a woman having orgasm sidelong, they don't show it on screen. Because to do the latter (without the camera cutting to a whole other scene, in most cases, and in some, focusing hard on another detail while we hear her cry out, or going extreme close up on her mouth or hand) would give the show a rating that takes it off the air/out of theatres much quicker than a beheading onscreen.

And on to that - I am trying to recall when an actual beheading (or realistic CGI depiction) has been shown. Walking Dead has them, but nearly always cutaways with a spray of blood. The actual thing - fiberous tissue resisting the knife, spraying blood, rattling windpipe, kicking feet and flailing arms, and the knife getting caught in the spinal column, the victim shitting and pissing themselves - no, that generally doesn't make it on screen, and for good reason.

This assumes that for sex to be shown on screen and considered 'graphic' it must always be shown a la porn, with penetration visible; a woman sitting naked on top of her partner and writhing is therefore not a sex scene and not to be considered (Although if it involves bare breasts, the rating is definitely getting more 'adult'. And if she appears to change how she writhes to depict orgasm, and the camera doesn't conveniently shift away or go close up on an innocuous body part... we've just been over that.)

The beheadings in Buffy, and the Walking Dead and Sleepy Hollow are on screen beheadings, which, even in their more stylized form are considered graphic violence by most criteria. As are on screen gunshots to the head that don't splatter brains and bone tissue or leave realistically sized exit wounds, and gut wounds that don't show guts actually coming out of the abdomen.

And now I want you to name me one of these shows that uses that level of realism in sex instead of the stylized version, so that you can explain why you considered the concept of absolute utter realism relevant to what is considered "graphic".

Also, I keep going back to this assertion we'd have to explain to a kid "it's okay, it's not real", and why you think we would have to express it thus for sex. Also, this, in your first attempt to explain it, but moving on to love, "So there is a more of a market for fake violence, which doesn't really hurt anyone, than there is a market for fake love, where no one is actually wrapt in affection. I'm not really surprised."

which seems to deny the entire romance genre -- AND the sheer amount of time and attention people give to discussing and wishing for possible relationships in their tv shows, and how very often there's a romantic subplot in otherwise non-romantic things.


On the topic but not addressed to a particular person: I have an additional theory besides "We're completely messed up about sex and violence both," which I think is true, why on screen violence happens more.

It's a difference bwetween sex and violence as story elements: violence ALWAYS involves conflict; the creation of, continuation of, alteration of, or resolution of. Sex often resolves conflict (the tension of whether a relationship is happening has just been most definitely decided), but only sometimes causes or alters conflict.

And when it *is* the cause of conflict, or alters existing conflict, it's usually because the two characters in question should not have been having sex for one reason or another (those unhealthy relationship issues I referred to above, like adultery or dysfunction), and those consequences don't happen during the sex act (A perfectly pleasuring sex act can still be a problem in the relationship ways), but in scenes afterwards.

So with violence, the immediate moment on screen is usually tied tightly to the immediate conflict, where with sex, most conflict is deferred during the act.

#943 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 04:01 AM:

Buddha Buck @939: When Whedon decided to put a kiss between Willow and Tara into a show, he had to threaten to quit the show to get it in.

That’s odd, because Fox was willing to show Callista Flockhart kissing half the female cast of Ally McBeal the previous two years. (Maybe not half, but three different co-stars.)

Marti Noxon said the executive resistance wasn’t to the kiss itself, but the ongoing relationship.

#944 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 05:51 AM:


2010 - 44,000 people in the USA infected with HIV. Only 16,000 killed by homicide, all causes. We can debate the particulars, and who gets responsibility for rape, and on whose doorstep divorce, abortion, and all the other STDs (many of which are fatal) lie, but I hold to my stance - In this country today, we do far more harm to each other with sex than we do with violence.

I have to say I find that a highly tendentious use of the statistics if we are going to go down that route.

First, HIV infections are not, either in intention or in outcome (given modern therapies) remotely comparable to homicides.

Secondly I would point out that shows 1,246,248 violent crime instances in the US in 2010. Whether or not the 84,767 rapes sit in one or both of sex/violence categories doesn't move the dial. But within the category of violence, I think you have to take into account the 367,832 robberies and the 778,901 instance of aggravated assault (which I think broadly means assault with a deadly weapon). That's well over a million scary potentially life threatening instance of violence that paint a rather different picture for me of the relative harms being occasioned on the US populace by violence as opposed to sex.

#945 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 05:51 AM:

Avram #943

There were a lot of stunt lesbian kisses earlier, including the three on Ally McBeal. It was definitely the relational context that Fox objected to.

#946 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 05:55 AM:

James Harvey@944

At least two instances of "instance" in that post should be instances of "instances"

Why do I never sport these things in preview?

#947 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 05:55 AM:

James Harvey@944

At least two instances of "instance" in that post should be instances of "instances"

Why do I never spot these things in preview?

#948 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 05:56 AM:


#949 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 07:57 AM:

Buddha Buck@938,945

BtVS started on the WB and aired there for the first five seasons. It switched to UPN for Seasons 6 and 7.

Fox was the production company for the show, not the broadcaster.

#950 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 08:04 AM:

Michael #949

Thanks for the correction. I know when it switched networks I was unable to get it anymore; I thought we didn't have a local WB affiliate. Still, my point stands, with a switch of labels.

#951 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 08:58 AM:

Em @935: Thank you for the transcription. The speed of delivery and the accent québecois were too much for me! Love the song!

#952 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 09:32 AM:

James Harvey @944 (et al)

HIV is a fatal, incurable, extremely expensive disease. That many cases can be controlled and the patient's lifespan extended does not change the fact that infecting someone with AIDS is a deadly assualt. (And the HIV infection numbers I quoted were just sexually transmitted - leaving out all IVD transmissions.)

In 2010 there were over 750,000 abortions. In the 2012 STD report ( the CDC counted 1,422,976 case of clamydia alone, and 334,826 cases of gonerhea.

Please note that here I am not saying that "portraying sex is worse than portraying violence" - what I'm pushing back against is the idea that sex is harmless while violence isn't.

It would not be possible to count all the second and third order effects of sex nor of violence, so I won't go into the impact of adultry, casual hookups, prostitution, and the porn trade. Given what we know about how sex and violence is done in our society, though, I think it is very clear that we, in this culture we do more damage to each other with sex than we do with violence.

This is different from "should we have as much violence in our tvs movies and music as we do" - which is a decent question, I think, and one worth talking about.

But simply doing a find and replace - violence vs sex - isn't going to replace a thing that does harm with a thing that is harmless. Especially as we don't have any decent idea what are the precise impacts of exposure to violence or sex on human behavior. (Monkey brains are screwy things and pick up lots of influences.)

Again, if we were to be talking about how much violence and graphic imagry (which is not the same as violence) is running about in our entertainment, that would be one thing. Advocating an increase in graphic sex as a replace ment is something else.

#953 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 09:46 AM:

keranih @ 952: I won't go into the impact of adultery, casual hookups, prostitution, and the porn trade.

I wish you would. They've all got very positive aspects. We do need more regulation of sex work, of course.

And one person's adultery is another person's way of staying sane in an intolerable relationship. I wonder why you assign the damage to the fucking instead of the emotional and relational damage which leads to it. Sounds kind of uncaring to me.

Casual hookups? Why, yes, please. Let's have more of them.

I'll make a deal with you. You don't shoot me and I won't fuck you. Or vice versa. Or both. Sound fair? Good.

Miss Kitty, another round of casual sex for my friends!

#954 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 09:53 AM:

Open threaded humor - my new go-to response for any Internet argument.

Why you are wrong

#955 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 09:57 AM:

Keranih, I think we might be approaching violent agreement or possibly frustration in goalpost placement.

Sex as it is practiced isn't always harmless. Neither is driving, nor speaking, nor diplomacy, nor computer programming. Many people have been arguing that sex as it *should* be practiced is harmless to a net good: consent, communication, honesty, information, understanding, all these greatly limit the harm done and increase the good. Violence as it *should* be practiced... still violence. Violence can be framed as the failure state of everything else.

I think that returning to what I said a while ago might be useful. The question is not whether sex or violence are harmless in general or specific, but which one we want our kids, our neighbors, our friends, to experience. I know which one I want my two-year-old tinyfriend to grow up to have.

#956 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2014, 10:13 AM:

@ James Arkansawyer

I wish you would. They've all got very positive aspects.

It sounds like you're much more the expert on what is positive about breaking marriage vows, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, and use of sexual partners for convience instead of commitment, so I'll leave that one for you to cover.

I am all ears, though.

I wonder why you assign the damage to the fucking instead of the emotional and relational damage which leads to it. Sounds kind of uncaring to me.

Ah, but I don't - I want to put both the violence and the sex in context, rather than viewing them as things separate from the lives of the people who engage in eating and working and sex and violence.

I'll make a deal with you. You don't shoot me and I won't fuck you. Or vice versa. Or both.

Sounds excellent - it's actually been a habit of mine for quite some time, so won't be much of a burden for me. Tell me, though, as a person who feels there is too much violence running about in our "culture" - what is your solution for those others who don't find it such a good deal?

@955 Diatryma

violent agreement or possibly frustration in goalpost placement

Ah, could be. Get a bunch of decent folk together, they won't always agree, but there might not be so much space between t