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March 18, 2015

Open thread 204
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:27 PM * 978 comments

One of my favorite news stories this week is a local one: IKEA Nederland has denied permission to play hide and seek in its stores.

I totally get this. What amuses the heck out of me is the sheer numbers: thirty-two thousand people signed up on Facebook for a game of it in the southern city of Eindhoven. My local IKEA in Amsterdam was the target for nineteen thousand, and Utrecht came in third with twelve grand.

Another titbit of local news is that the rogue owl of Purmerend has been captured. Runners at an athletic center in the pleasant Noord-Hollands town were targeted for weeks by a large and aggressive eagle owl. The papers dubbed the creature the TERROR OEHOE (pronounced “oohoo”), and reported how locals were being encouraged to protect themselves with umbrellas.

What do these stories have in common, apart from the Dutch?

They’re both about intrusions: the playful crowd intruding on corporate space, the wildness of the owl intruding on human territory. Small intrusions are fine: five hundred people playing hide and seek in a Belgian IKEA last year, flash mobs, the silly waddling oppossums I saw while delivering newspapers as a teenager, urban beekeepers. But then suddenly it’s tens of thousands of people, too many for the targeted shop to safely hold; suddenly it’s “a brick laced with nails” coming after you silently through the air. It’s the urban mountain lions that take out a jogger or two every year few years in Western states; it’s protestors staging #blacklivesmatter die-ins in suburban malls.

On the other hand, these intrusions are only outsized until you see them against the things they’re intruding on. IKEA is a huge global company, one of many huge global companies who have encroached on our physical, legal and cultural commons, hijacking everything from the idea that the market square is a public space to the conversations we have about race. And the outsprawling of our urban spaces has given much of the natural world very little choice but to engage with us. Where else can they go? What corner of the world is free from our presence?

Comments on Open thread 204:
#1 ::: Andrew T ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 06:23 PM:

"the urban mountain lions that take out a jogger or two every year in Western states"
[citation needed]

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 06:36 PM:

OK, researching this, fewer than one or two every year, but also not exactly zero ever either. Given some of my own experiences with wildlife in California, I'm surprised the number is so low.

So now that you've counted coup, O Newcomer, do you have anything to say to the substance of the post? Or, you know, the kind of friendly, pleasant chitchat that we encourage on Open Threads?

#3 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 06:46 PM:

apropos of the "puppy plants" story cited on the previous open thread, I remember seeing a picture from a medieval bestiary of a tree with sheep growing on it, which is said to be what someone drew as a result of misunderstanding a traveler's description of a cotton plant.

#4 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 06:47 PM:

Iowa City has a mostly-imaginary cougar. A couple years ago, there were sightings and kids kept in from recess, but nothing confirmed-confirmed. Iowa also had a moose incursion, though I can't find what happened to it. The articles all mentioned that most of the time, moose coming this far south have brain worms and are really not well.

So I decided that the moose has hallucinated the cougar. It's not exactly the stuff of children's books, but what is?

#5 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 06:53 PM:

The year I moved to Berkeley, there was the infamous mountain lion who decided to say hello one street over from where I was living. It wound up being shot as a public menace by the local PD.

Berkeley tolerates many things, but large felines cuing up for Cheeseboard pizza is a little much. Besides, they're obligate carnivores and vegetarian pizza probably isn't the right diet.

#6 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 06:55 PM:

We've had a bear wander through Ballard (part of urban Seattle); Santa Cruz has had mountain lions; and we fairly frequently see bald eagles.

When a tree with an eagle nest blows down, apparently there are usually a plethora of pet collars. Cats and small dogs make excellent prey for them.

We're currently in the middle of domesticating two semi-feral cats who got moved here from California. The one I brought up has adapted very well (manx calico, now really likes the cuddles but still is wary of being picked up); the other, we see only at night from a distance in our upstairs (orange tabby female, badly traumatized). We've only had her for about 3 days, so the fact that we're seeing her at all (and conducting meowed conversations at 2 or 4 AM) is, in fact, good news. We've chipped the calico, and will chip the orange when she lets us. We're thinking of changing her name to Perdita. It fits in many ways. The calico has been shortened to Tink from Tinkerbelle.

#7 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 07:10 PM:

Diatryma @ #4

It was not me! I have never been to the U.S.A. (though I think the statute of limitations has run out by now so I might be safe - better not to risk it though).

#8 ::: Jonathan Adams ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 07:14 PM:

On the subject of cats (if not wild cat's and mauling people), I recently (January) moved to the western part of Berkeley (just north of San Pablo Park). The number of outdoor cats here is much higher than I've seen before (either in the suburbs where I grew up, which were less dense or downtown SF, which is much more dense). I'll see several (3-8) cats on my typical 25-minute walk to or from the Ashby BART station. Most of the ones I've seen have had collars; our neighbor, for example, has three outdoor cats. I'm enjoying it, but it's a mental adjustment...

#9 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 07:21 PM:

I had the same reaction as Andrew T when reading the mountain lion line.

It does actually matter, at least to me, because I want mountain lions in the wild to be reasonably safe from humans, rather than hunted to the last cat because people have the impression that they fatten themselves on unwary joggers and children.

They do, on rare occasion, attack people, but I'd rather the frequency was not exaggerated.

I have never seen one; my parents, coming back from a hike, saw cougar footprints twining over their outgoing footprints, but they never saw the cougar herself. Cougars have a reputation (among those interested in them) for being curious, but very shy.. I was assured that I would piss myself if I ever heard a cougar scream, to which my reply was "Okay, I'll take a change of underwear." But I don't expect to get that lucky.

But yes, when human and cougar clash, it is the result of humans intruding into cougar territory, though we short-memoried humans often think it's the other way around.

#10 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 07:25 PM:

And then of course, there are the humans who aren't supposed to exist or, at least to be visible: My own town recently tried to criminalize begging downtown; they got mostly squelched by popular outcry, but they did manage to lay some restrictions on the beggars. And those same homeless people regularly get rousted from their camps along the Rivanna Trail.

And then of course, there's the whole issue of folks Driving/Walking/Breathing While Black. Probably not as bad in Charlottesville as in neighboring counties (our police chief is seriously liberal), but even so, we're still part of the Kyriarchy, and sometimes that shows.

#11 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 07:33 PM:

My own reaction to Andrew T is based substantially on how he commented, rather than on his question itself. You'll note that I have amended the post...and that my point the whole time is that we're the actual intruders in the situation.

I have seen a mountain lion in the wild, up in the mountains in Humbolt County. It was quite a sight.

#12 ::: Jonathan Adams ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 07:35 PM:

David (#10): The main San Francisco cathedral recent installed random water sprayers to discourage homeless people from sleeping in their doorways, which is just a part of the current "defensive architecture" trend, which is just bad juju as far as I'm concerned; as the latter article points out:

Making our urban environment hostile breeds hardness and isolation. It makes life a little uglier for all of us.
#13 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 07:52 PM:

Noticeably after the new archbishop arrived. (He's a really bad fit for the archdiocese.)

#14 ::: Jonathan Adams ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 07:55 PM:

Indeed; and the bad publicity today apparently already has them backpedaling and saying they're going to remove the system...

#15 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 08:23 PM:

Back in the days when The Other Change of Hobbit was on Shattuck, in Berkeley, we had several homeless people who slept in our sheltered doorway. We talked to them, and worked out a way for some of them to help us keep it clean. Contrary to some theories, homeless people really don't like to pee where they sleep, if they're sleeping there regularly. It's a lot better to get them working with you rather than trying to hide. We did get some pushback from other merchants and cops about taking this approach.

Oh, and the only person we ever actually caught peeing there was a young man, accompanied by his father who told him it was okay to pee there while we were getting ready to open. Quite well dressed, and an apparent yuppie.

One of the panhandlers I used to see regularly while driving to the chiros I worked with was a Pratchett fan.

No answers, just anecdotes.

#16 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 09:09 PM:

Jonathan Adams #12: The attitude isn't all that new -- when I visited SF 20 years ago, they were already at war with the homeless.

#17 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:28 PM:

Two years ago in Illinois, a conservation officer killed a cougar in a rural area (near a farm); in 2008 a cougar was killed in very different circumstances in a Chicago neighborhood. The debate over the two killings may be found here. It's an interesting discussion: pretty much everyone agrees the cougar in the city was a clear and present danger to the community, but was the cougar on the farm? And why aren't Illinois conservation officers trained to tranquilize and relocate--which might have made the rural cougar even less of a danger?

In other words, who was the intruder, and where?

#18 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:34 PM:

No cougars here, but coyotes show up in our backyard although without any ACME catapult.

#19 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:53 PM:

David H., #10: Here in Texas, several cities have passed laws making it a crime to feed homeless people; we have people exercising civil disobedience in protest of these laws.

Then there's the distressing trend of cities or buildings putting in architectural detailing designed to prevent the homeless from sitting or sleeping in a given area.

Something truly disgusting came across my FB feed today: a church which has adjusted its sprinkler system to drench areas around its property where homeless people have been sleeping... in the middle of the night, so that the dangers of exposure are maximized. A CHURCH.

(And thank you, Jonathan @12, for providing the links I was too sickened to hunt down.)

It's so much cheaper to give them a sheltered place to stay. Why do we insist on doing it the hard and expensive way instead?

#20 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:59 PM:

No cougars yet, but my mom, who lives in a fairly rural part of western Washington, has seen a couple or three bobcats in her neighborhood.
Whilst visiting a favorite swamp today I saw a turtle perched on a floating log. Not so exciting perhaps but it was the first one I'd seen in the wild.

#21 ::: Andrew T ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 11:17 PM:

My comment at #1 was not very smooth and not a friendly contribution to the conversation. I'm sorry about that. I think I was trying to make the size of my comment match the size of the correction I was trying to suggest... that is, small. But it flopped.

Speaking of birds and humans, at my alma mater the seagulls had learned the trick of swooping in on pizza-carrying undergrads from behind and over the shoulder. The victim doesn't suspect a thing until they're getting a face full of flapping wings; by the time they recover from that, the gull and the pizza slice are long gone. I lost two lunches before learning to adopt a protective hunch when crossing the plaza with food. A predator-prey relationship with slightly lower stakes...

#22 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 11:43 PM:

Well, that's a nice recovery, Andrew T. Do you write poetry? (That's the quasi-official welcoming greeting here. No obligation to actually produce any, but many commenters do. If you do write poetry, and feel like posting any, this is an appreciative audience.)

Diatryma @4 - You're likely thinking of a more recent moose in Iowa story, since it's more than 35 years ago that I moved to the Ohio Valley. The one I recall ended badly for the moose. Young bull, wandered south from Minnesota, shot near the Amanas. Guy who did it claimed the moose threatened him, but he'd been boasting in a bar about hunting and killing the only moose in Iowa, so that defense didn't fly.

#23 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:21 AM:

Lee #19: That was precisely the situation in SF when I was there (though they were actually abusing the health laws against Food Not Bombs). Still the only time I've been arrested.

Considering it later, I started getting dubious about the dynamics of the local situation, but these days, I'm starting to suspect FNB was ahead of their time. Regardless, no regrets, I did learn a fair bit in the process.

#24 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:25 AM:

Angiportus #20: IIUC, there is only one species of wild cat in the US, but it has several local strains and even more common names. I remember a ways back (might have been about the same time, for that matter) there was controversy about trying to rescue the Florida population (which had dropped below their limit for genetic stability) by breeding in an imported strain.

#25 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:30 AM:

12 & 19:

Good God Almighty! I'm already an agnostic/atheist, but that moves me towards being a Militant one.

Some years ago, someone (Phil Paine?) combined statistics to point out that the U.S. had almost precisely as many homeless people as it had Christian Church buildings, so if every such congregation provided housing for one person.... But it's pretty clear that "Christians" rarely follow the teachings of Christ.

#26 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:35 AM:

Anne Sheller, this was within the past two years. Definitely a different moose. And argh, that the previous moose got so close! I have never seen a moose in the wild and I kind of wanted to embellish the tale of the cougar and the hallucinating moose.

Moose moose moose.

Andrew T, when I was in fourth grade or so, my family visited the UP of Michigan. We discovered that the gulls would hover above us waiting for food. We got pretty good at tearing bread into strips so the gulls could swoop in. Somewhere, we have a few dozen pictures of brilliantly blue sky with a hand, or a tail, or a foot, just at the edge. And we have perhaps three close-ups of gulls eating from Dad's hand.

In conclusion, moose.

#27 ::: Tzohoqiel ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:59 AM:

Fall in hill country
In Berkeley, goats eat dry shrubs--
Some cats eat dairy.

(Greetings to all. Technically, this is poetry--syllable count works out, and there's even a reference to the season, and the substance of others' comments. I offer Cheeseboard pizza--from memory, alas--and olive oil banana bread, for those who want it. Current Berkeleyans: what's the latest on Other Change of Hobbit?)

#28 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 01:10 AM:

My understanding is that Other Change of Hobbit is unlikely to return as an actual store - their last landlord (in El Cerrito, if memory serves) wound up locking them out a while back, and presumably absconding with stock and fixtures. They were selling at FOGCon a couple weekends back, but I haven't heard anything about a new storefront. Other Fluorospherians may know more, and I'd love to know myself.

#29 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 01:23 AM:

Unlikely to open again, though Dave has some hopes of managing to sell online. The store managed to survive for around 35 years, though. It was an interesting way to spend a lot of my life, and gave me some amazing memories.

#30 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:20 AM:

Don Fitch @25

A gentle reminder (from someone who is, despite the nym, an atheist) that belief in God and participating in religious activity doubly dissociate.

(As one of my teachers once put it: 'I believe in God, but not religion. I think there's some evidence that Christ might have felt the same way.' Since he'd trained as a theologian - albeit. a very Protestant one - before moving into philosophy there was a fair amount of thought behind that apparently throw away line.)

#31 ::: praisegod barebones notes strange behavior of the UI ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:25 AM:

For some reason, the last couple of comments I've posted here haven't taken me to the 'preview page'.

(But this one did, strangely enough.)

#32 ::: Stanoje ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:29 AM:

Sure, Ikea is a "corporate space", but it's also a workplace, and the employees are the ones who get shit on by the people misusing the shop for their own purposes. From liability issues to simply having tons of extra work just because some knuckleheads find it funny to intrude on someone's work environment, there are a ton of reasons why this is a crap thing to do to the people who work there.

#33 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 04:24 AM:

Andrew T @21:
Thanks for the clarification.

When I was at St Andrews, everyone kept their refrigerables outside in plastic carrier bags on their windowsills. The Scottish climate is good for that. The gulls there learned to peck through the plastic, knock the food and milk off the ledges, and feast on the fallen foods. Smart birds. I'm glad they didn't take to attacking students like they did for you.

Don Fitch @25:
But it's pretty clear that "Christians" rarely follow the teachings of Christ.

That's a very broad brush you're painting with. Let me be blunt: it's not appropriate here on Making Light. You can criticize institutions, criticize the people who run them as a group, criticize specific individuals. You do not get to blanket-criticize entire populations like that on Making Light: not Christians, not atheists, not blacks, not whites, not women, not men, not anyone as a collective entity.

(Do we fail at this sometimes? Yes. Am I partly bothered because my ox is being gored? Yes. Still, it's just not good conversation, and let's not. There are plenty of places on the web where you can go to have that rant, but this isn't one of them.)

Tzohoqiel @27:

My mind's hill country
Is now thick with grazing goats.
I'm woolgathering.


Stanoje @32:
And in point of fact, I said in the original post that it was too many for the targeted shop to safely hold. From what I can see from the Dutch media, the original organizers on Facebook were not expecting those kinds of volumes, and were more than a little overwhelmed themselves.

The startling demand for this sort of thing, like the presence of the owl, is an indicator, like water building up behind a dike. The solution is not to dig through the dike and let the water out then and there, let sixty-three thousand people descend on various IKEAs, or letthe owl with a two-meter wingspan stay loose to claw people's faces off as they jog.

But it's worth asking why that pressure is there, where it comes from, who let it build up, and what we could do to lessen it before it manifests in a more damaging way.

#34 ::: Stanoje ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 04:39 AM:

Even the first, small, group was behaving terribly by doing this, but my point, which I lost in successive edits, was that characterizing Ikea as a corporate space is kinda gross to its employees. They're not corporate drones, they're people, and the way the post is written seems to ignore that.

Also, signing up for something on Facebook isn't an indicator that there's a pressure for it & that people will actually follow through; it's an indicator that people will click on funny clickbait FB. One mouse click doesn't mean someone's actually gonna travel around the country to play hide & seek.

#35 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 06:09 AM:

Stanoje @34:

You're reading a heck of a lot into my words that I didn't write. Where did I say or even remotely imply that IKEA employees are corporate drones? What makes you think I even believe in the concept of a corporate drone? I don't. People who work for corporations are people, from the head office to the shop floor.

But the presence of people working there doesn't change the fact that it is corporate space, privately owned, subject to the rules of the corporation. Which is fine between consenting adults, where everyone has a choice about whether to go there or not.

But the community's habits about where it gathers to do its social and communal business haven't caught up with the balance between private, corporate space (staffed and maintained by private employees whose priorities are set by their employers) and public space ("staffed" and maintained by public employees whose priorities are set by the people). There's more and more of the former and less and less of the latter, and that has unanticipated costs about how people can socialize, play, and protest.

It's a growing problem in the United States, where more and more places that "read" as public, suitable for all uses that peaceable citizens may want to put them to, are actually privately-owned and regulated spaces. But because of how they read, because they look like public spaces, their presence masks the loss of the real public squares that they have replaced. It's less of a problem here in the Netherlands, but there's a risk that we're just higher up on the same slope.

(And I don't know how many people were going to show up for hide and seek. The organizers and IKEA took the numbers seriously enough to cancel the event. Like you, I think that even 500 people is a lot to have pranking about in an environment—physical and human—not prepared for it. But IKEA seemed fine with it, and it's their space to decide about. Because corporation. I do gather that they were forewarned and prepared for that event.)

#36 ::: Stanoje ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 07:41 AM:

Not explicitly, but you do set up a dichotomy with the terms Ikea/corporate space/global company on the one side, and people/playful crowd/our on the other.

I'm not saying you think people working at Ikea are hive insects :) But _in this particular post_, there is a bit of an imbalance in the amount of humanity the two groups are characterized with, and that jumped out at me.

#37 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 07:48 AM:

One way the pressure can be released is the Playable City approach. It can sometimes lean a little too heavily on the technological approach to things, but I think it's still good to see play as a goal in and of itself being addressed.

A Guardian writeup from a few years ago looks relevant here: Hello Lamp Post is on in Austin now, I think, and 2.8 Hours Later (linked in the article) looks to me like a merge of the corporate and public spaces - it explicitly uses cash to address scarcity (of places) and cover insurance, while taking place in public spaces and offering free participation for zombies. It's a balancing act.

I was at a talk about playable cities a while ago, and one of the issues raised about the trouble with organising events in public spaces is that the default answer when asking for permission can often be "no". Public liability, reactions to an unexpected change in street flow/activity, or just a change in pedestrian density all need to be dealt with, and unless there's someone who's job it is to deal with that, the easiest answer is no. Too many "no"s can cause/contribute to the build up of pressure Abi mentions, as well as the unregulated pop-up games(? Not sure that's a real thing :) ).

#38 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 08:14 AM:

Stanoje @36:

The corporation of IKEA, which employs humans, has certain corporate policies and behaviors that I am discussing. Although those are chosen by specific human beings, and enacted by other human beings, it's worth dealing with the collective entity as a collective entity as well.

The fact that the employees who staff the shops may very well be getting the short end of the stick is another issue, one I did not touch on because it wasn't the topic of the post. Reading anything into that silence apart from the fact that I have a finite amount of writing time, and my readers a finite amount of attention, is just that: reading things in that aren't there.

You can go ahead and do that. I can't stop you. But I'm going to stop trying to get you to see that I was writing something completely different, about something completely different, than the topic you've spent all morning chewing on my leg about.

For future reference: the fact that I did not mention puppies, kittens, motherhood, and apple pie should not be taken as any implication that I don't think they're good things.

#39 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 08:17 AM:

abi #35 ::: It's a growing problem in the United States, where more and more places that "read" as public, suitable for all uses that peaceable citizens may want to put them to, are actually privately-owned and regulated spaces. But because of how they read, because they look like public spaces, their presence masks the loss of the real public squares that they have replaced.

Even when such spaces are explicitly marked, they're still a private claiming of nominally public space. The core of Charlottesville, by design, is the Downtown Mall. Walk down it, and you see a broad avenue of brick, with stores and restaurants and occasional food carts. But on each side, there are roped-off areas with tables and chairs, each with signs for one of the restaurants.

If you try and sit there with, say, a hot dog from a food cart, the restaurants staff will chase you off. They'll cite health regulations, forbidding you to take food from one restaurant into another... but I think all of us recognize how the law's agendas are not limited to its stated goals. Those seating areas are claimed out of the Mall space. For those who aren't customers, well there's perhaps a dozen public chairs and benches along the length of the mall.

#40 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 08:37 AM:

I must confess to turning my IKEA visits into a double-purpose trip.

I shop assorted things for the home (mostly, these days: pillows, assorted bedlinen, random things that amuse me, cutlery, cooking implements; sometimes also food stuffs from the IKEA food shop after the tills).

I also start a timer when I enter and stop it when I leave. Then I compare that to how fast I managed to make it through last time. Running NOT ALLOWED.

Seems the last trip through was 22 minutes from entry to exit, with actual things bought.

#41 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 08:56 AM:

When I was in high school, my mom and her bestie and me and her bestie's daughter (we were Lamaze-class tummy neighbors, born 5 weeks apart, she and I) did a road trip from Chicago to the East Coast to see my Jersey cousins, spend a long weekend in Manhattan, and come back via Niagara Falls and southern Ontario.

There was a touristico shopping village in South Jersey where we stopped for lunch and to window-shop. I don't know if other places have them, but they are very much A Genre around there: they find older houses in danger of demolishment and move them wholesale to the 'village' (open-air mall, really) site, and then stock them all with lots of handmade-ish chachkis, often Christmas-themed all year.

In any case, the centerpiece of this one was a circular plaza with an adjacent antique ice cream shop, all cast-iron lace and vines around panes of glass that make the (smallish) seating area a conservatory.

We went in to get ice cream, and all noted the LARGE SIGN with clear, bold, dark red text that said "Please do not take ice cream off premises. Enjoy your treats indoors!"

Being reasonable people and of similar accord, we nodded and took it to heart. We got cones and sat down at a cute little confection of an iron table to peoplewatch while we ate.

Then a tourist came in, bought ice cream, and started to leave immediately. The staff called out, but she waved them off and left anyhow, precipitating a scene straight out of Hitchcock's The Birds: at least thirty large seagulls dive-bombed straight at her face shrieking, some of them loosing poop at the bottom of the parabola.

The tourist, quite understandably, threw her hands in the air, shrieking, and fled back into the building ... at which point the gulls cheerfully ate her ice cream and went back to the ridgelines of EVERY BUILDING SURROUNDING THE PLAZA to lie in wait for future scavenge attempts.

The tourist went up to the staff in a towering rage, demanding free replacement of her cone. They raised their eyebrows, pointed at the sign, and apologized, but did not make with the freebie.

I mean, the sign did not explicitly say TERROR BIRDS HAVE RIGHT OF WAY, but it was clear and quite visible, and the staff did verbally warn her. I suppose they make some money from replacement cone purchases, and that sort of village is entirely designed to extract as many centimes from passing trade as humanly possible.

#42 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 09:01 AM:

It was thought for years that occasional coyote sightings well inside Chicago were "lost" individuals who "wandered in" via the railroad embankments, but new info suggests they are in fact quite at home here, living and raising pups in places most citydwellers wouldn't think could support any wildlife bigger than a small rat.

National Geographic helped out with the study, so they put cameras on them (because of course they did) and you can see coyote-eye views of things like watching traffic to cross roads without being hit by cars.

The researchers were surprised that most of the coyotes' food seems to be small wildlife (mice, birds, squirrels) caught in ordinary predation, rather than garbage-eating.

#43 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 09:06 AM:

And sometimes the bear comes to you.. This park is a block from my house. Bears don't live there, but they do visit.

#44 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 09:20 AM:

David Harmon @24:

There are at least two species of wild felines in the contiguous US, bobcats and the many-named Puma concolor; mountain lions, cougars, pumas, Florida panthers, and so on are all the same beast but bobcats are their own thing. I say "at least two" because there are occasional jaguar sightings in southern Arizona but no known instances of breeding in the last 50-odd years (the wanderers are usually young males), and I'm not sure what the current status of lynx in the Lower 48 is.

#45 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 09:32 AM:

There's a large cemetery close to my house that has at least a hundred white tailed deer living in it. They stick to the cemetery itself as a rule because the surrounding area's quite paved.

#46 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 09:48 AM:

Long Island has Canada geese all over the place. They're a nuisance; some golf courses employ resident Border collies to chase them off. The more rural east end of LI has a large deer population. There has been recent talk of measures to cull the excess deer population, but I'm not clear on whether there are actually too many for the carrying capacity of the environment or just too many for the comfort of their human neighbors who want unmolested gardens.

#47 ::: Tyler Tork ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 10:14 AM:

What came to mind for me, reading this, is the way the Salvation Army annually and for far too many days, assaults the hearing of everyone who goes grocery shopping. I always go the service desk of the store and explain that the SA is a gay-hostile organization and that allowing them to camp out on their doorstep is a message to LGBTQ* and allies about their own stance. Plus, they're really annoying and loud.

#48 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 10:36 AM:

Oh, deer. Deer are possibly the largest manifestation of the fact that while we, humans and particularly American humans, change the environment, we pretend we don't and refuse to take ownership of the changes. Pollan had it right: it's all a garden. There is no untouched wilderness.

I would be okay with hunting non-antlered deer to control the population. Maybe that would cut down on chronic wasting disease, which freaks me out because prions, man, prions, and it would definitely cut down on the spread of garlic mustard. It would mean fewer deer sightings for small-city me (it still feels like something special, and I do look for them if I'm in deer areas at dusk, just like I look for eagles on the river in winter) but... garlic mustard and prions.

Also, Iowa has pheasants from a pheasant spill. The Trans-Iowa pheasant pipeline, hailed as a triumph of engineering and fowl transport, was able to meet demand for pheasant in Nebraska, South Dakota, and points west for almost a decade, but alas, the need outstripped the infrastructure and the pipeline began to leak and then rupture entirely. All pipelines leak, but the pressure generated by thousands of pheasants popped that sucker like a balloon full of pointy-beaked birds.

(Okay, there's only one fact in that paragraph and I haven't been able to find a citation for it, but I did learn it in grad school.)

#49 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 10:48 AM:

Elliot Mason at 41, thank you, thank you, thank you. I just laughed aloud.

The Archdiocese of SF has said that it is removing the sprinkler system which drenches the homeless (all of whom are sisters and brothers of Christ; dear Lord, what were they thinking?) Should be gone by the end of today.

#50 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 11:03 AM:

Elliott, #41: It is not quite clear to me from your phrasing whether you think the ice cream shop should have provided a free replacement cone or not. Personally, I think they made their best good-faith effort (prominent sign AND verbal warnings) and were under no further obligation to someone who chose to ignore same; and this has nothing to do with whether or not the venue is a tourist trap.

Tyler, #47: In recent years, I have noticed that a number of the places where I shop (Target and Kroger, among others) seem to have simply disallowed any sort of fund-raising on their premises, including the SA bell-ringers. ISTR hearing somewhere that the decision was made on the basis of "if we let one group do it, we have to let everyone do it, and we really don't want people soliciting on our property year-round". Which also means nobody out front selling Girl Scout cookies, but that's an inconvenience I can live with in a good cause.

#51 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 11:03 AM:

Diatryma @48: The pheasant pipeline may or may not be factual, but most of the US cities that have monk parakeets (aka Quaker parrots, for their "plain" manner of dress -- relative to other parrots, at least) got them because of broken pet-trade crates at airports.

In Chicago, it's quite a clear pattern: Midway Airport got them first, and they became sort of outdoor pets of a lot of the staff who ate lunch on rooftops or the tarmac. Then they spread into the city, nesting primarily on power transformers in alleys, ending up getting called "the Hyde Park parrots" after a south-side neighborhood where they were quite common.

Then West Nile Virus hit and our corvid population plummeted. Within two years, there were nesting groups of parrakeets as far north as my house in the Austin neighborhood (slightly north of the centerline/downtown, quite west), having set up shop in all the most primo and amazing crow-nest habitat like cellphone towers.

Gradually, crow populations have rebounded, but they're having to actually jostle to get their ecological niches back, as there are multigenerationally-established parakeet colonies occupying a lot of them now, and while an individual monk parakeet is well under half the mass of a crow, they tend to nest in assemblages of 30+.

They're quite cheerful and charismatic on bird feeders. Unlike budgies, they don't mind even cold Chicago winters.

In their native Guatemala they're despised as agricultural pests who can descend upon a crop and strip it, but in the city nobody really has any objections (besides noise; they are quite chattery, especially when near their nests). They like bird feeders, peanuts, and black oil seed just fine, and the few people with bearing fruit trees in their yards don't seem to be complaining about disproportionate parakeet damage.

They also go with the blue jay and the cardinal on the list of "birds so easy to identify that even people who know jack about birds can learn to tell them for certain."

#52 ::: Alice Bentley ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 11:06 AM:

Mention of the current status of Other Change of Hobbit, plus the invitation of an Open Thread, prompts me to post about what's going on over at DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis. Three years ago, Greg Ketter downsized his staff to just himself, cut back open hours to one or two days a week, and has relied mostly on mail order and convention sales for his business.
Starting next month (by complete coincidence the store's 38th anniversary) I'm moving from my dim green quiet island outside Seattle to Minneapolis to help the bookstore be more active. If our trial period together goes well, I'll become a partner in the business.
Initial changes will be small: the store will be open from Tuesday through Saturday, Noon to 6:30 pm. More new books will be stocked. Catalogs will get out on a firm schedule. What changes occur down the road will depend on what Greg and I both feel would be best for the store, and fit with our own personal passions.
It's going to be quite an adventure for me.

#53 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 11:07 AM:

Lee @50: I think they are under no obligation to replace, having prominently displayed a warning and called attention to it.

I do think some businesses would take stronger steps to change customer behavior than I observed in the rest of the hour we sat there and ate and rested our feet; some businesses would also take anti-bird mitigation steps (of which none were in evidence).

#54 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 11:26 AM:

Diatryma, what do deer have to do with garlic mustard? Is it some kind of "seeds spread in poop" thing?

#55 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 11:36 AM:

My understanding is that garlic mustard seeds cling to the deer, then drop. A friend of mine says she can spot deer trails by the mustard growing along them.

Elliott, I kind of adore the monk parakeets in Chicago. It's such a better story than starlings in Central Park.

#56 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 11:46 AM:

I'm an agnostic about God, and I've become agnostic about religion in the sense that knowing what religion a person considers themselves to be a member of tells you just about nothing about that person's behavior so far as ethics (rather than ritual) is concerned.

Minus the insult, Don's claim that there are as many religious buildings in the US as homeless people is interesting. I'd be surprised if it's true-- I expect that there are many more homeless people-- but even so, would it make sense for religious organizations that own buildings to supply housing to homeless people?

Monk parrots in Chicago: I like to think that even if everything people created disappeared, aliens in the far future could look at the fossil record and realize that something very weird happens because plants and animals were suddenly showing up far from their plausible habitats.

I also think people from the paleolithic would be really weirded out by most pure-bred dogs.

#57 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 11:53 AM:

I've not seen the monk parakeets in Chicago myself, but I love the red-crowned parrots in Los Angeles. There are various stories about where they originated, with one of the most common being that they were released from a pet store fire, but most people think they're just aggregations and descendants of lots and lots of individual escapes. They're doing well enough in LA, and badly enough in their native habitat, that by some estimates there are now more of them in the LA area than in Mexico. A flock of them squawking in an avocado tree is an amazing, and very noisy, sight.

#58 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:02 PM:

my teenage son and his friends got thrown out of the local Ikea for racing shopping trolleys around the maze. I thought they had just gone to eat cheap meatballs. Another relative works part-time for Ikea in Australia, where humane labor laws ensure he earns $24 an hour for a minimum wage job. Imagine exporting those labor laws to all Ikeas, then to Walmart.. guess I've wandered off into the dreamtime now.

We went to a presentation on mountain lions by a biologist ranger at Rocky Mt National Park. She said "you probably won't see a mountain lion on your visit to the park, but a mountain lion will see you."
There are more of them than one might think, apparently..
The only one I ever saw was crossing a road in Olympic NP, but have stumbled across their kills several times. I take that as a sign to gather up small children and dogs and get out of there just as fast as we can.

We have deer, foxes and coyotes in the backyard. The fox runs along the top of the fence and teases the neighborhood dogs, who just hate that. Great horned owls sit in our old dead cottonwood and hoot for hours, though they have not yet attacked me on the run. In Oregon they have a sign for it:

#59 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:03 PM:

My supermarket has signs that they don't sponsor the collectors-of-money-and-signatures outside their doors, and that the law allows their presence.

#60 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:10 PM:

Nancy @56:
would it make sense for religious organizations that own buildings to supply housing to homeless people?

An excellent question.

My church (admittedly not in the US) ended up offering shelter to a set of asylum seekers for a few weeks last winter. There were significant logistical challenges. For instance, neither the church nor the rectory has a shower. Our pastor convinced a nearby high school to allow our guests to use their gym showers out of hours, but trooping back "home" through the freezing night afterwards was certainly not the best experience of anyone's life. Repeat this for everything from washing clothes ("There are bundles of laundry in the back of the church. We would be grateful if parishoners could take them home, wash them, dry them, and bring them back by Tuesday."), keys, insurance, heating, lighting, smoke alarms, privacy, and bedding, and you have a lot of people's time spent reinventing the wheel.

Can churches do more? Yes. Should they? Yes, though I am leery of relying on charity to bridge what I feel are gaps the entire community (read: taxpayers) should be filling.

#61 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:14 PM:

@Elliot Mason said: "It was thought for years that occasional coyote sightings well inside Chicago were "lost" individuals who "wandered in" via the railroad embankments, but new info suggests they are in fact quite at home here, living and raising pups in places most citydwellers wouldn't think could support any wildlife bigger than a small rat."

This amuses me. Coyotes have been a Thing in "rural" Dauphin county PA for as long as I've been alive pretty much. Rural in this context really means suburbs and Harrisburg (which is not very big as big cities go, and which has a lot of pleasant parkland with good water access). Same goes for the neighboring counties, and the environmental conditions don't vary a great deal until you hit Philadelphia proper. Lots of suburbs with scattered tree cover, plenty of grass for grazing, interspersed with more or less dense patches of woods. Lots of small streams for water. It's holy grail habitat for a really wide range of wild animal species, right on up to bears.

Hawks? Sure. The recovery from DDT was really starting to kick in by the 1990s. Bigger hawks and vultures tended to re-establish first, but I've seen kestrels in the wild back home. Never saw a bald eagle, but I don't think Central PA is really their proper habitat. My understanding is they like more water. And wild turkeys were recovering by the 1990s.

Coyote tracks were a regular thing to see on my woods walks as a teen. I don't think I've ever seen any sort of wildcat tracks, but that doesn't mean they don't exist, just that I haven't seen tracks... I'm not a real good tracker.

Bunnies, at least 3 kinds of turtles, at least 4-5 different kinds of snakes, dozens of different non-raptor birds, at least 3 different sorts of frogs and toads, groundhogs, opossums, raccoons, mice, at least 2 squirrel species, the list goes on. Not tropical rainforest levels of variety, but if you bothered to look there was tons of different wildlife in every corner of suburbia.

Most people didn't look.

I can't ID as much now that I live in Wisconsin. Different climate, different plants, and that means different animals a lot of the time. Some stuff is the same, other stuff really isn't. But I have found toads! HAIL THE TOADS! Such dear sweet little bug eaters!

The news around here is occasionally putting out gleeful pieces about how the University has found there are coyotes and foxes living on campus. And well... duh? Lots of grass with scattered trees. Good water access due to the lake. More or less dense patches of woods. The species of the plants may vary, but it's still gonna be amazing habitat for a lot of different kinds of animals. And that means that there will be predators. I'd way rather it be coyotes than feral dogs. Coyotes are safer, they're scared of people.

#62 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:17 PM:

Alice Bentley @ 52: I'll be holding good thoughts for you, Greg, and DreamHaven. I hope you all make something grow (or grow back) together.

#63 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:24 PM:

Continuing the local-critters-stealing-food theme:

A couple of stories. Sadly, neither witnessed by me.

First: Cold Lake, AB. A friend of mine used to live there, and they have Tolkien-size ravens. A favourite hangout was the A&W parking lot. She told me about this one time she saw a little kid (five years old or so) come out with his family, with a burger in hand. Raven *walked* up to him and calmly grabbed the burger, then strolled off with his snack. Kid, of course, wailed - but no one tried to get the burger back. *g*

The other story: Before I met my husband, he lived in Victoria, BC for a while. He and a friend were walking on a path next to a lake with lots and lots of ducks, all randomly distributed and minding their own business. His friend popped open a bag of potato chips. Without any visible movement, suddenly all of the ducks were pointed straight at them and swimming silently toward them... He said it was super creepy (though in retrospect really funny) and they made tracks out of there!

#64 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:32 PM:


What does "drop the mic" mean-- other than literally "drop the microphone?"

#65 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:37 PM:

@Diametrya said: "My understanding is that garlic mustard seeds cling to the deer, then drop. A friend of mine says she can spot deer trails by the mustard growing along them."

Worse than that.

White tailed deer eat a wide range of grasses, shrubs, herby things, baby trees... Really huge range of plants. Really huge. And their ideal habitat is that nice suburban mix of grass and scattered trees with patches of woods. Yes, Bambi lied to you. Deer do not like deep woods one little bit.

They're not too fond of roses and raspberries. Too thorny and pokey I guess. And they don't seem to like nettles or thistles or a wide range of burr seeded plants very much. Skunk cabbage is ok, and may apple, and sassafras and foxtail millet and so forth. But it's not a coincidence that the edges of a PA woods tend to be covered in roses, raspberries and honeysuckle... they're about the only things the deer much dislike in the viney/bushy category. Oh, and poison ivy. Lots of poison ivy. Dunno that it makes deer itch, but it's a good warning sign of overgrazing.

And if you see a lot of garlic mustard in the understory and not so much baby trees and shrubs and herby things like may apple or skunk cabbage or blueberry? Deer don't like to eat garlic mustard much. It's one of the things they only eat if they're super hungry, and they'll often eat bark off of trees first. It's a reliable sign that the understory is overgrazed, and your deer population is too high.

The more variety you see in the edge species and the understory species, the better.

(I didn't actually learn what garlic mustard is til I moved to WI... I'd seen it as a kid in PA, but the suburbs I grew up in were not hideously overgrazed, so garlic mustard was a sometimes thing, not a monoculture)

#66 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 12:38 PM:

Re religion and homelessness:
One of the more successful organization working to fight homelessness in Hawaii (the one I give my money to) is IHS. Initials not accidental; it was founded by the Rev. Claude Du Teil, and originally was called "the peanut butter ministry" because it started with his regularly making peanut butter sandwiches to bring to the homeless and hungry, and grew from there. Another reverend of my acquaintance, who I met on the board of our local ACLU, convinced his Lutheran congregation to sell their large church, replacing it with a much smaller and less expensive gathering place, and use the proceeds to help the poor.

I wish they were the rule rather than the exception.

#67 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 01:00 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 64: What does "drop the mic" mean-- other than literally "drop the microphone?"

Roughly, "I have just been so awesome that there's no point in anyone trying to follow me."

A history of the mic drop.

#68 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 01:06 PM:

Alice Bentley @52: Mazel tov, good luck, and may it work out incredibly well for you!

Does this mean we'll see you at 4th Street this year?

#69 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 01:08 PM:

#35 abi

We have a local street filled with commercial businesses that is owned/or at least leased by a developer. The developer takes responsibility for recruiting businesses, making sure there is security (I think, both private and calling the local police if there is a big movie showing or something else that makes for a bigger crowd than usual), recruiting bands in the summer, and keeping the area clean (including shutting down political protest & preventing pictures being taken).

The area "reads" as public, it's a street! And it can attract huge crowds. Plus, since it is the dynamic center, the city is moving public infrastructure nearby, like the library and a public building. Political protest now takes place near the public building, but there was an issue while it was under construction.

The other thing I want to mention is public places that can be reserved. Some of them are always fully booked. The booking fees can be as high as those for a commercial place. So where is the difference? There is clearly a large demand for public places.

Very large buildings in this area are required to have some public space at ground level open to the street. An urban planner that blogs says that these spaces are too small and broken up to meet the demand and would change the rules to encourage bigger areas shared by several buildings.

#70 ::: MJ ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 01:41 PM:

Some years ago my parents retired to a place without about an acre of land in the California gold country. One morning when we were visiting, my father found a freshly killed, half-eaten adult deer under a bush not 20 feet from the house and quietly decreed that no small children were to be allowed out in the yard on their own during the day and not at all at dusk. The mountain lion had come to finish off its kill by the next day. The intrusion here was people building country cottages on the cat's territory.

Now I live in Oakland in walking distance of stores and buses, but there is a creek on the property, so in this drought we have quite a concentration of wildlife -- a noisy flock of wild turkeys, deer, and the usual smaller animals rattling around in the brush at night. If they are around, the predators will show up if they haven't already.

#71 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 01:42 PM:

(I am imagining the detective from IKEA Heights deploying his usual world-weariness in this instance.)

#72 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:03 PM:

So, one early morning last summer, I catch a moving black thing out of the corner of my eye, at the edge of the deck. I look again, because what would a loose garbage bag be doing flapping around, and isn't there too little breeze anyhow? It's got black fur, and it's too big to be my cat who is inside anyhow and then the muzzle swings around, and it's a bear.

"Tim! The Littleton bear is outside!" I'd seen one picture of it in the local newspaper, and gotten the phone blasts about it, but although I knew it lived in our neighborhood, and had to have gone through our yard, I'd never seen it before.

It made a beeline for our hummingbird feeder, and slurped its contents right down. (Again. I had found the hanger seriously bent before, and suspected the cause.) We got lots of pictures (work backwards).

Over the next few days, our birdfeeders were assaulted, so we had to take them in in the evening, and put them back up in the morning.

Meanwhile, our local deer herd has gone up from at least nine deer (my count) to at least thirteen (my count).

#73 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:10 PM:

Looks like, according to abi's source, there has been slightly under one fatality every six years on the average for over 100 years now (oooh! cougar crime wave!) And most of them have occurred on Vancouver Island, so all of the rest of us westerners probably haven't much to worry about.

I live in a small city, close to forested areas, where cougars are seen fairly regularly. If they were really all that dangerous I'm sure I'd have heard about it. Interestingly, cougars possess the ability to turn sideways and disappear so they are mostly seen fleetingly, and probably less often than they are actually present within viewing distance of people's homes and jogging paths.

By the way, I don't dispute that cougars are capable of killing people. I'm just saying they don't do it very often. Except possibly on Vancouver Island.

And, abi, I don't understand what is offensive about asking for a citation. I myself was immediately dubious of the accuracy of your figures.

#74 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:17 PM:

Around here, the wildlife that people get most upset about is the flocks of turkeys. Apparently turkey shit is impossible to get off of pathways and lawn furniture.

Turkeys, of course, *were* native to the area, but had been extinct in the wild for a long time. About 25 years ago, someone set a bunch of them free in the mountains nearby, and now they are all over, and come into town. Hard to say who is the intruder here, but clearly we are living a little too close together for the comfort of both species. Local authorities employ sharpshooters to reduce the turkey population. Leading of course to further problems.

#75 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:29 PM:

Claire @63 re ducks: Oddly, my first thought was not of the Second City sketch ("Ducks. What are they? Where did they come from? Why are they here? What do they want?") but the WKRP turkeys episode, when Les said, "And then the turkeys counterattacked. It was as if they were...organized...."

And speaking of creepy experiences, when I watched that episode on DVD recently, Les's traumatized narration simply ends there, while I have a distinct memory of his continuing with, "As if some intelligence were directing them" until Andy puts a hand on his shoulder and asks him to calm down.

#76 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:29 PM:

Older @73:
And, abi, I don't understand what is offensive about asking for a citation. I myself was immediately dubious of the accuracy of your figures.

As is so often the case, it's not what you say but how you say it that makes the difference.

A known name coming in with a history of constructive commenting can be terse without being threatening or rude, because there's a legacy of trust there. I know that you, for instance, are addressing the content and not the commenter.

An unknown commenter with a masculine name comes early into the comments on a thread started by a woman, on this internet we live in right now, with an unadorned "citation needed"? My first thought was "sealion," and it made me deeply tired and discouraged.

(I was tired already—I'm not in much of a blog-post writing mood at the moment, but it was time for a new one and somebody had to do it. I'm always most vulnerable and sensitive about the posts I feel I've cobbled together out of scraps, just to fill a need.)

#77 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Older @ 73: Not speaking for abi here, and definitely not trying to pile-on Andrew T (who has politely amended his original short comment), but "asking for a citation" or a source isn't rude--that is, saying something like "That doesn't sound right to me. Can you tell me where you got your figures?" But simply cutting and pasting the line from the OP and then square-bracketing [citation needed], as if abi were a Wiki-minion or something . . . well, that is a bit rude, it seems to me. It's something I might find myself doing in haste, and without thinking, so maybe I react to it a little more strongly at ML than in other contexts.

#78 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:30 PM:

How weird; coworkers walking by, saying "did you heare about that church?" literally as I am reading this thread.


City of Boulder Black Bear and Mountain Lion guidelines.

A coworker reported encountering a mountain lion on a hike a year or two back. Startled the bejeebers out of both of them.

abi @33: But it's worth asking why that pressure is there

I am firmly convinced that a large, unrecognized portion of the "behavioral problems" schoolkids increasingly get criticized (and medicated) for is driven, to a major extent, by a "woods deficiency." That is, they don't have the opportunity to go out into the wild world, explore, run around, fall in the creek, and shriek on a regular basis.

Deer: My most startling encounter was the morning I was unlocking my bike to go to work, looked up, and realized a deer was staring at me from behind my boxes inside my carport. A nice, sheltered, hidden-from-view nook to sleep in, apparently. Doubtless with bonus late-day pavement-warmies.

abi @60: gaps the entire community (read: taxpayers) should be filling.

Turns out one of the least expensive ways of handling the homeless is to give them homes.

Torrilin @61: Coyotes are safer, they're scared of people.

Um, well, maybe...

#80 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:42 PM:

You know, I feel like I've spent the past day doing nothing but defending this post from all comers, justified and not. I've fixed the factual thing, which was a minor point in a bigger post, and I'm still under fire. I'm kind of sick of it right now.

I'm sure someone will now criticize me for saying this on-thread instead of sucking it up in modly tranquillity. But...way to make a person feel appreciated for keeping the site going, you know?

#81 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:47 PM:

abi (80): I don't say it enough but Thank You. Thank you for all your efforts here, seen and unseen. They are appreciated. *You* are appreciated.

#82 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:49 PM:

abi (80): Thank you many, many, many times for your work here. Also, thank you for the DFD thread. I post regularly there (under a different 'nym), and it's been a really important part of my support network during difficult times.

#83 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 02:53 PM:

I was out with my siblings, and we drove past a clutch of wild turkeys. In the Richmond-San Pablo area, west of the freeway. First time I've seen any myself: they're larger than I thought.
And a skunk was on my sister's apartment patio one evening, cleaning out the cat dishes.

#84 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:03 PM:

Unrelated to anything previous, but I think of interest: There was a major study recently published by an autistic scientist, that challenges lots of the preconceptions we have about autism. News article about it.

To quote: "Dr James Cusack, from the University of Aberdeen, argues that generalisations about people with autism being poorer at interpreting gestures and body language may be exaggerated, and could be overcome by developing their ability to pay attention to signals in their brain which may otherwise go unnoticed."

#85 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Twice I've seen a fox in our back yard here in DC, and once running down the sidewalk a block away. Deer? Can't keep them off with a garden hose. They ate all our hostas last spring, as well as the tulips. I'd post a picture of them here if I knew how and if you'd allow it.

#86 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Well, I think it's an interesting post, abi, and suitable for discussion without needed defending (or attacking). Maybe because I alternate between near-city-living and spending time in a seriously rural environment, I find the tension you are describing both very real and worth discussing, from several angles. Every other summer I have to remind newcomers to the summer place, "don't put your garbage outside, the skunks will come after it." Frequently the response is, "why do you have skunks?!?" Um, because we're in the woods and they live here? Then, a few years ago, the college where I teach had to deal with a skunk "invasion"--and did so by basically telling the students to behave themselves, acknowledging that a skunk presence in an open green space with lots of available food (i.e., the covered but not sealed garbage cans) was perfectly natural. Meanwhile, I believe that some members of the surrounding community were Not Pleased, especially those who liked to walk their dogs on campus.The campus was something they had come to regard as a public park, and they wanted it maintained as such, suitable to their use . . . but it isn't a public space, it's the kind of private-public space the OP refers to, and the balance between private ownership and public use has caused tension more than once.

(Note: the comments about community reaction are not something I'd be able to source--it's just a general impression I gleaned from casual conversation, and may well be an exaggeration, or even contra-factual. Nor am I arguing that living with skunks is always a good thing in an urban or suburban environment. But these skunks were literally doing no harm, less than the equally-prone-to-begging-and-dumpster-diving squirrels, actually, and were really quite good neighbors, so far as the college could tell.)

#87 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:30 PM:

I am reminded of someone's post here regarding Girl Scouts and British Girl Guides.

"Then you haul your food up in a tree so the bears can't get it--"


My uncle once went on a bear hunt and was the only person to bring one home... because he was the one who was so hung over that he stayed in one day and got the bear that went after the garbage cans.

#88 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:31 PM:

P J Evans: visiting the Richmond/San Pablo area and seeing turkeys puts you right around the corner from my house. I know exactly which slope you saw them on; it's one of their usual haunts.

Hi neighbor!

#89 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:31 PM:

Glad I'm not a moderator. I don't think I'd be as good at it. I've been doing my blog for a week shy of eight years, and I average a comment every other month. About a third of those are mine.

And there are times I don't feel quite so bad about that.

#90 ::: heckblazer ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:31 PM:

Speaking of intruders, there's this story from last June: "Bear falls through skylight, eats birthday cupcakes"

#91 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:48 PM:

abi @ 80... You *are* appreciated. It goes without saying. Still, it helps to say it anyway.

#92 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 03:59 PM:

abi @80: Given that ML constitutes a huge portion of my mental health maintenance, I almost feel like you should be getting reimbursed by my medical insurance. :-)

Which is a long-winded, "clever" way of saying that your presence and your work here contributes substantially to my personal well-being.

Thank you.

#93 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 04:22 PM:

abi @80 I don't post here very much. But I read it nearly every day. This place is a precious little island of kindness and erudition and wit and...light among a vast sea of trolling and entitlement and non-engagement and tiresome quibbling and willful ignorance and bottomless anger.

Seems to me your work as moderator is a huge part of what makes this place what it is. Thanks.

#94 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 04:25 PM:

Yeah, sorry about the outburst there. I don't want everyone to feel obligated to be nice to me now just because I've been cranky.

Just, you know, stop and think about whether your comments are making good conversation? Remember that the people you're talking to—including me—are people? With skin and occasional crap days and weaknesses and everything?

Regarding the deer subthread, I always remember this bit from Praying Drunk by Andrew Hudgins:

At night
deer drift from the dark woods and eat my garden.
They’re like enormous rats on stilts except,
of course, they’re beautiful.
#95 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 04:30 PM:

I'm finding myself looking for a clever way to describe ML as a sort of publicly-accessed private space, in light of the post, but it's not turning into anything coherent. Remembering the failure mode of clever, I think I'll drop it at that observation, before I push the metaphor somewhere bad.

abi@80: That's a lousy feeling to have sitting with you at the end of a day. I did appreciate the post, and the overall points in it. More generally, as I've said before, I'm constantly noticing and grateful for the work you do here.

#96 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 04:48 PM:

HLN: Local woman has had a short story shortlisted for an award. Woohoo! Local woman is pleased but apprehensive about Getting Hopes Up.

If we're going with deer poetry, I haven't got any of my own, but I've loved John Steffler's That Night We Were Ravenous, about an encounter with a moose while driving at night, since I read it a decade ago now.


trees detached themselves from the shaggy
shoulder and stepped in front of the car. I swerved

through a grove of legs startled by pavement, maybe a
hunchbacked horse with goiter, maybe a team of beavers
trying to operate stilts: it was the

landscape doing a moose, a cow
most improbable forest device. She danced
over the roof of our car in moccasins."

#97 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 05:03 PM:

abi @ 94... who says we're *obligated* to do so?

#98 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 05:23 PM:

Looking at a map, it was the west end of Robert Miller, just about a mile from my sister's place. (My brother used to work in that area occasionally, when it still had greenhouses.)

#99 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 05:25 PM:

Speaking for myself of course, but I feel confident enough that I also speak for the community on this: We're not obligated to be nice to you because you're cranky, we're obligated to be considerate to you because you're a human, and we want to be nice to you because we view you as a dear friend.

Sorry you were feeling piled-on, sorry that you were having a rough day. (And geeze, that wasn't much of an outburst!)

#100 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 05:27 PM:

I just participated in a local tradition, filling out a Survey of How to Improve Downtown that Will Be Filed and Unused and Replaced with a New Survey in Five Years. I pointed out that the only place left downtown where school-aged children can gather is McDonald's. The library has moved out of downtown, the drugstore was wiped out by Wal-Mart, the city-run Teen Center is nice but heavily scheduled, Subway is tiny, and we haven't had a game parlor in years. The old management let you hang out and do whatever as long as nobody needed the table. The new management has posted multiple signs ordering patrons to stay for 30 minutes tops, less if they're done eating.

We have a large green park and a plaza. We also have a subarctic climate. We need an indoor hangout!

Re churches being dicks: Here's a unicorn chaser for that. Like Catholic churches nationwide, St. Boniface's in San Francisco has more pews than parishioners on most days. So if you need a safe, dry place to sleep with a bathroom right down the hall, come on over. The back pews are reserved for you.


#101 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 05:27 PM:

I live on a little island adjacent to Vancouver Island, so I have to say I didn't blink when I read the original phrasing of the cougar/jogger stat. We have regular grapevine-type notices on where the cougar or the bear (sometimes bears) have been seen lately, and where/when you really should think about letting your dog out unsupervised if it's under fifty pounds.

But what we have to make up for living below the top of the food chain is the Commons. It's an area of land, fair size, held in trust for all residents of the island. Anyone wanting a plot for gardening can sign up for one. There's a group organized for scything year before last; they keep scythes there and teach interested persons how to use them, and have scything parties all summer. Helped a local farmer make hay last fall. The main building is used for fairs and meetings of all kinds, including protests, and the grounds are open to casual use year round. It's pretty much the opposite of the situation abi describes, where all the things that look like public turn out to be privately owned.

But again, the Commons is held in trust; it's not just an understood thing. You can't have understood things anymore; someone will come along and buy it, or squat on it and assert ownership that way. If a town wants a town square, but doesn't want the bills, the town square may happen, but it won't be owned by the town, and ultimately won't be governed by the kinds of public use rules you expect for a proper town square.

It all looks the same on the surface. Sort of like all the columns of numbers look like money, till the bank goes bust.

#102 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 05:27 PM:

I just participated in a local tradition, filling out a Survey of How to Improve Downtown that Will Be Filed and Unused and Replaced with a New Survey in Five Years. I pointed out that the only place left downtown where school-aged children can gather is McDonald's. The library has moved out of downtown, the drugstore was wiped out by Wal-Mart, the city-run Teen Center is nice but heavily scheduled, Subway is tiny, and we haven't had a game parlor in years. The old management let you hang out and do whatever as long as nobody needed the table. The new management has posted multiple signs ordering patrons to stay for 30 minutes tops, less if they're done eating.

We have a large green park and a plaza. We also have a subarctic climate. We need an indoor hangout!

Re churches being dicks: Here's a unicorn chaser for that. Like Catholic churches nationwide, St. Boniface's in San Francisco has more pews than parishioners on most days. So if you need a safe, dry place to sleep with a bathroom right down the hall, come on over. The back pews are reserved for you.


ETA: The server just belched at me. My apologies if this is a double post.

#103 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 05:45 PM:

Following up to cajunfj40 @991 on Open Thread 203:
(which can also serve as a breadcrumb trail back...)

Clifton @#988: Is there a higher-resolution version? That page is unreadably low-rez on both my iOS devices. Do I need a different browser, or a plugin, or something? The art looks neat, but maybe 16 or 32 bit (not quite 8-bit low-rez) and the text is just too pixelated. Frustrating, because it sounds like a powerful comic and I'd love to read it.

It might be the reverse of what you were thinking: I think there may be an image scaling problem in the IOS browser, because the images at are huge. The first one (roughly half the comic) is 1200 pixels wide x 20051 high, and the second half is 1200 x 21543 pixels. While the coloring in both is bright and intense throughout, it's definitely not 16-bit; it's also pretty subtle in places.

I just tried it on my iPhone and it's all fuzzy and I can't fully zoom in; possibly they just take too much memory for my poor phone to fully load and scroll around in them.

#104 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 06:22 PM:

That viruscomix page caused serious loading and scrolling stress for my *desktop* Mac.

#105 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 06:47 PM:

How much I like Steven Universe:

When the creators' Tumblr announced that a new episode was rescheduled to be shown tonight, I considered leaving work early to program the DVR.

But they're usually repeated often, and I still have the last of last week's "OMG!" episodes to watch, so I'm going to be patient.

#106 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 07:03 PM:

I don't want abi to feel further attacked/defensive. I very much do appreciate you, abi!

But I honestly cringed at your responses to Stanoje. I don't even know whether I agree with what Stanoje specifically had to say about your post,* but I'm just deeply uncomfortable with reception it got. From here it looked like Stanoje got attacked and dismissed for trying to point out, in good faith, something they saw as problematic.

So here I am now, trying myself to point out something that struck me as deeply problematic. Recursivity kind of sucks.

I hope you're doing OK, abi. I hope Stanoje is doing OK too.

*(though in other circumstances I would love to get into a discussion about how flashmobs, Improv Everywhere, and other ways of being playful in public come into direct conflict with the whole idea of bystander consent, especially concerning those bystanders who can't easily get away because of being on the clock, or being trapped on public transportation like that poor woman who was pretty much blindsided by the very first Improve Everywhere "performance"...)

#108 ::: Stanoje ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 07:38 PM:

Nicole #106: This absolutely was not a big thing, and nobody needs to worry here, but thank you for your concern.

#109 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 07:42 PM:

98: Ah, that's a different place than the place I usually see them. They like to congregate in/near Richmond Lake Park, which is off of Research Drive, which is off of Hilltop Drive. But they can be seen in multiple spots around here, sometimes in groups as large as 40-50.

#110 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 07:46 PM:

I'm just thinking how ironic it is that people quibbled over the content of a 204.

abi, I hope you didn't take the #LightenUp link at face value. It's the title of the cartoon to which it links, and it's one of the two best non-fiction cartoons I've seen lately.

(the other one)

#111 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 08:04 PM:

My sister works in that area, actually. (Zygo. Extreme-precision optics.) She may have seen the turkeys around there.

#112 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 08:52 PM:

I have observations on the churches and homelessness issues, but I haven't sorted them into something approaching a useful conclusion.

The neighborhood in Richmond where we lived had a history of a lot of homelessness and marginal homes. It had gentrified, to the point that there was only one flophouse left-but many people remembered when that was the norm, rather than the exception. Our church had a homeless person sleeping on the side porch, which was consecrated, for quite awhile. One of our best friends at church, who'd lived in the neighborhood for 50+ years, worked across the street from the church providing assistance to people with serious mental illness and addiction issues, many of whom were homeless. And a fair number of people I knew were involved in Food not Bombs.

Here's the problem. A lot of the homeless have significant differences in mental functioning from "typical" function--because of underlying mental illness, because of substance use, because of stress...and that's especially the case for the long-term homeless. It is not unreasonable for people to feel somewhat guarded/not at ease around the homeless; it is not unreasonable for people to think that not being aggressively propositioned while walking home is desirable.

It is hard to balance the two things. We wanted our church to be safe for everyone; we wanted our neighborhood to be safe for everyone. But figuring out how to be safe for both people who'd been victims of assaults, and people who were drunk and aggressive at times, was not easy. Similarly with public parks; it seems at first glance reasonable to say "if you are keeping others from using the park, you need a permit" and "everyone gets to use the park once before anyone gets it twice," but that really hampers a group like Food Not Bombs.

That's one problem with "taxpayers should pay for this"; in general, even the best support taxes will pay for is not flexible enough to meet all the needs. And groups like Food Not Bombs--with reason--saw the shelter system, regardless of how well-funded it was, as an attempt to keep the homeless out of sight; they wanted them to be visible.

I appreciate this community and what abi does to keep it healthy, hence my last post prior to this one. Thanks again!

#113 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 09:16 PM:

I find the discussion on wildness and the thoughts on intrusions interesting. I find liminal spaces interesting in general.

#114 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 09:21 PM:

Elliott Mason #41:

We went in to get ice cream, and all noted the LARGE SIGN with clear, bold, dark red text that said "Please do not take ice cream off premises. Enjoy your treats indoors!"

I mean, the sign did not explicitly say TERROR BIRDS HAVE RIGHT OF WAY, but it was clear and quite visible, and the staff did verbally warn her.

In the absence of that explanation, the sign you've described reads to me like a rule of the types “politeness” or “protecting our business model”.

I don't mean to say that it's more okay to break either of those kinds of rules, or that this customer should have gotten a replacement, but not presenting what's essentially a safety warning as a safety warning is a (small, in this case) failure to communicate.

#115 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 10:13 PM:

Elliott Mason @41, Kevin Reid @114:

That sign really ought to be accompanied by a graphic of some sort. I'm picturing a basic silhouette type warning sign (black on yellow), with several birds diving at a figure holding an ice cream cone.

#116 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2015, 11:55 PM:

Unexpected acrimony:
Apologies if I'm beating a dead horse and/or poking a bruise, but I think I see where the "corporate space" disconnect between Stanjoe and abi may have come from. Stanjoe seems to have interpreted abi as comparing two groups: happy playful people and fun-ruining corporate people; but I think what abi was trying to do was show the intersection of people and place, rather than two groups of people.

My grandmother lives right next to a protected natural area, so she sees a lot of wildlife. I will always remember the time I was there when she saw a bear down the hill at the edge of the yard: tiny old lady on her deck, waving and yelling at the bear, trying to intimidate it into leaving.
She also loves gardening and thus haaaaates deer. I'll have to show her the poem about rats on stilts.

#117 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 12:41 AM:

The poetry about deer makes me think of Ursula V's deer poet:
(Note: tagged as NSFW, but only if your workplace is extraordinarily prudish.)

#118 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 01:42 AM:

Nicole @106, from my seat, it looks like Stanoje got a grip on an idiosyncratically tendentious reading of Abi’s post, and then wouldn’t let go of it.

#119 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 01:43 AM:

Abi: coming in late, but still want to say that even though I've been a lurker the last few years, I have always appreciated your skillful and measured moderation, and your warmth and openness as a member of this community. Clifton at 99 said it better than I can, so I'll say "this" to that.

About wildlife: here in the hills of Southwest Portland we've had a permanent coyote population for some time; I once saw 4 of them walking along my street single-file. They've severely reduced the permanent racoon population, which few people mind, but they also attack cats and small dogs.

Several years ago we had a bobcat sighting at an elementary school higher up in the hills. Some folks went looking for it, but no one has seen it since.

The most exotic of our wildlife is the occasional peacock; we had some get loose a few years ago, and every once in awhile someone sees one of them. I almost ran one over a while back when it jumped into the road right in front of me and shrieked at me until I backed up.

#120 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 02:43 AM:

Re the frayed edge of wilderness: We get new Coast Guard transfers every year from all over the U.S., plus people coming up from the Lower 48 to teach and so forth. Most of them come from places where wilderness is that thing you get in your car to go and see. They have to be patiently and frequently informed that it is not that way here. For example, I live downtown. There has been fresh bear crap in a yard 4 houses away from me this winter. This is normal for a warm winter. When the police come to your door to tell you that a bear has been spotted in the neighborhood and you need to arrange for somebody to drive your child to school directly from your front door, you had better listen. Also, don't go lookie-louing at bears to the point where the poor harassed animals have to be tranqued or even shot. What you might call the opportunity of a lifetime, we locals call any random Thursday.

It isn't a matter of humans sprawling into bear country; this community has been here for centuries, and bears have felt free to stroll through the downtown area 'round midnight right from the beginning.

#121 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 03:36 AM:

Here, it's sea life. Ever since whaling stopped, the southern right whales have been coming back, and they are now regular sights on passage up the coast after calving in Antarctic waters. True seals and sea lions, too.

But that, of course, has encouraged their major predator, the great white shark. (Great whites can't attack an adult right whale, but they take calves.) They don't normally predate on humans, but they do sometimes. We've had several fatal attacks in the last few years. Definitely great whites.

Well, what do you do with predators that kill humans, even if it's occasionally, and possibly by mistake? We don't extend our reverence for life to the malarial parasite or the chigger or the cockroach. Why to the great white, or even the cougar? Is there a principle involved, and if so, what is it?

#122 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 03:54 AM:

Dave: We don't extend our reverence for life....

Who's this "we" of whom you speak?

And there are many principles involved.

#123 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 07:30 AM:

Kevin Reid #114: Yeah, for that case the sign really could start with BEWARE OF BIRDS...

Abi: I don't want everyone to feel obligated to be nice to me now just because I've been cranky.

Well, there's a different kind of "obligated" in play... Most of us here seem to be pretty empathetic people, and when anybody says they're feeling bad, there's usually someone here who wants to comfort them. And you're an Awesome People who we like, so that's stronger.

Claire #84: My own experience relates to this: I have the classic difficulties in "reading" people, but my trip through Neo-Paganism back in college years gave me much more access to my intuition, and that's helped me a lot in that respect. So has life experience -- I've simply gotten better at it over time. That said, both of those fall squarely under "compensation": The handicap is still there, and it shows much more when I'm tired, stressed, or otherwise distracted.

When dealing with most folks on the spectrum (among others!), it's important to realize that "handicapped" is not the same as "disabled". It's easy for the (currently-)able to dismiss someone as "non-functional" because the other is slow or uncertain, or have trouble understanding or making themselves understood... but really, most folks can do a lot better if you just offer some consideration and patience. (Aka, give them some effing slack! Yeah, it's something I get cranky about myself.)

#124 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 09:15 AM:

The Eastern Cougar seems to be Schrodinger's Big Cat, at least in Canada -- depending on your sources it's either officially extinct, or officially endangered. There have been no confirmed sightings since the 1880s (when one was shot), but a lot of unconfirmed ones. Then you get into the debate over whether those are native to the area or just individuals escaped from captivity. DNA tests on some droppings that were found about ten years ago confirmed the presence of a North American cougar species, but they can't narrow it down to the Eastern subspecies. I don't know if they've even got DNA from the Eastern subspecies to compare it to, unless they've extracted some from the 1880s specimen (which is taxidermied somewhere).

#125 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 09:23 AM:

Sarah @124:

There's also the fact that cougars, especially young males, can wander over enormous distances; in one case a cougar hit by a car in Connecticut was identified based on DNA as having originated in western South Dakota (about 1,500 miles or 2,500 km away, for those not familiar with the details of North American geography). So "native to the area" and "escaped from captivity" aren't even the only options; "native to hundreds of miles away with a serious case of wanderlust" is also in the picture.

Seeing a wild cougar (from a safe distance, like across a ravine) remains one of my life's goals, though it's less likely now that I live in the eastern US.

#126 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 09:38 AM:

Hitchcockian Ice-Cream Yeah, the lack of a mention of WHY or bird-drawings made me wonder if it wasn't at least partially the parlor ensuring they'd get a lot of ... quickly repeat business. Because tourist trap. Doing the minimum required so they could claim they were helping, oh, and by the way, no free replacements, we warned you.

Torrilin @61: I grew up in the early 80s in Chicago and its surrounding natural areas (my mom was involved in wildlands stuff), and didn't know at the time I was growing up in the carnage/aftermath of DDT.

I am still moist-eyed when I see a golden eagle circling over Oak Park (they have lots of rabbits). I feel numinously grateful that eagles and sharpies and Cooper's hawks are now legitimately city birds.

Quick fun story: there is a group that's been doing birdwatching counts on set dates in Grant Park, the enormous lakeside clear parkland area in Chicago, since the early 1900s. A recent count turned up significant numbers of Cooper's Hawks. Someone looked back through the record and there were NONE in 1905. So ... what?

Turns out that back in the days of ubiquitous backyard chickens in the city, Cooper's hawks deeply earned the appelation "chicken-hawk," and were shot wholesale and eradicated. Now that we've had decades of no backyard chickens, generations of people have grown up NOT reflexively shooting the hawks on sight, so they've come back to take over some of their ancestral range.

Toads I adore toad-calls, high and trilling and delicate, very very early in the spring. Video of Bufo americanus, our most common local option. The repeated whistle in the background is a spring peeper, Pseudacris crucifer, which are FREAKING TINY, you're not likely to find one even if they're calling when you look. Best collected in pit-traps with drift fences (does it show that my stepdad did faunal surveys my whole childhood? Yeah).

Getting used to new faunal sets I didn't realize how much I take for granted my knowledge of our local flora/fauna until an extended vacation in Los Angeles that didn't actually involve being in a con hotel the whole time. The drifts of orange on the sides of the highway embankments were just slightly off in hue -- because they were poppies, not daylilies. And people had JADE PLANTS as OUTDOOR HEDGES. Uncanny valley stuff. Felt like wandering around in Second Life where people had just randomly pasted things up.

#127 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 09:43 AM:

Elliott Mason @ #41:

The Skansen outdoors museum in Stockholm have signs saying "watch out for the gulls!" at all the food stalls. With almost no indoors seating. And they don't bother harassing people into dropping their food, I've seen them dive and snag a hotdog out of a bun in someone's hand, without even disturbing the bun (or the hand).

That's seriously scary (if you hold the hotdog) or mindboggling (if you happen to be standing near).

They do less well with ice cream, though. That usually results in a crushed cone, ice cream on the ground and a quickly descending cloud of gulls.

I'm not specifying the type of gull, but I think "both sea gulls and herring gulls" is a fair assessment.

#128 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 09:48 AM:

Moving to San Diego from Pittsburgh was wrenching in more ways than one, but one of the ones that I never would have expected was how odd it was to not recognize any of the plants. What are these drooping vine things with bright pink flowers? What are these red/orange/yellow cluster-flower ground cover things? WTF groves of eucalyptus? Where's the raspberry and maple and wood sorrel?

#129 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 09:52 AM:

Davd Luckett @121: I'm not sure whether any principal, or even reverence for life is involved for me. Malarial parasites, cockroaches--they read as "the enemy," in that they actively endanger human beings just by existing. (Yes, roaches do--they threaten the food supply.) Cougars . . . aren't really even competitors, any more. (Great white sharks I'm not sure of. I want to say, "if I stay away from them, they won't bother me," but I don't know enough about sea life to make that assumption, so I'm focusing on the cougars.) They may be obligate carnivores/predators, but they aren't really stalking US any more, at least not usually, and we really don't need to kill them to protect our food supply. When we go into the cougar's space, don't we have the obligation to share it? And when the cougar intrudes on our space, shouldn't we be certain that it's a threat before we react with lethal force? And just how much of a threat is a wandering moose, or even a deer herd?

That's kind of the point of the dual story I posted upstream. The cougar in Chicago was in an urban area, was actually hunting near a primary school, and people panicked. Even so, it might have been possible to remove the wild animal without endangering human beings; it was a judgement call, based on the situation and on the resources available (Chicago policemen don't deal with cougars that often, and lack the training or equipment to do so). The cougar in the rural area was just--roaming his normal range. Shouldn't the conservation officers there have had the training and equipment to consider alternatives, in that situation? I'd say "yes," myself. Doesn't mean they might not have decided that killing the cougar was the best choice of action, but the alternative should have been available.

Not to dismiss your point, because you are right, I think: it's always a trade-off, between what we need and what the animals need. Still, for better or for worse, we share the planet. When we encroach on wild space, we need to be aware of what we are doing and what are options are. "Kill all the dangerous animals" doesn't make sense to me, without at least a prior consideration of just what's dangerous about the animals and what the options are. If we shoot a bear because it's in the way . . . well, that just doesn't make much sense to me.

#130 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 10:39 AM:

Mary Frances @129:

And just how much of a threat is a wandering moose, or even a deer herd?

Deer kill many more people a year (through car accidents) than any predators do in the US - the estimates I've seen are about 200 people a year. They're extremely overpopulated in much of the eastern US, to the point that they may be the biggest threat to eastern forest ecosystems. They're attractive animals. They're also doing a great deal of damage in their current numbers, and it's important to remember that their current numbers are a direct result of human manipulation of the ecosystem, replacing forests with mixed grassland/forest areas (i.e. suburbia) and cornfields, as well as eliminating their predators.

#131 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 11:39 AM:

The thing is, most large animals will protect their territory against anything that even vaguely looks like a threat. Humans are large animals, and we claim a lot of territory. This is why nearly all the predators more than half our size are now endangered species, and the surviving large predators are the ones that hide from us.

Deer (and rabbits) usually get a pass (unless we're feeling predatory) precisely because they can't effectively hurt us. Getting in the way of our car does not trigger our defensive instincts. Neither does ecological damage... unless it's our gardens, in which case suddenly they're "vermin need to be controlled!"

Likewise, raccoons, possums, coyotes, and such are "cute" exactly until they bite or even threaten someone... or mess with our stuff.

Getting past our instincts isn't easy. Getting other people past their instincts is even tougher....

#132 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 11:42 AM:

Carrie S. @ #45

Apparently there are deer in the St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Pittsburgh, because here's one next to Andy Warhol's tombstone.

#133 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 11:46 AM:

lorax @130 The deer do not actually do the killing, though. If someone hits a tree or a deer or anything else with a car, it's not the thing hit that is attacking, or responsible for the death.

Also pretty sure if one were able to ask deer if they thought deer populations were a problem, they'd point their twinkly hooves in our direction.

More to Dave Luckett's question, if any group, human, animal, insect, threatens my access to a resource I think I need, it is then much easier for me to 'other' them. So while I may condemn a church drenching homeless people on their doorstep, if the same people were on my doorstep every night, I would have significantly more difficulty continuing to see them as members of my tribe.

#134 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 11:54 AM:

I'm not specifying the type of gull, but I think "both sea gulls and herring gulls" is a fair assessment.

I'm going to be a birdwatching pedant and mention that there is no such bird as a sea gull ;) It's sort of a catchall nickname which would include herring gulls.

Absolute sympathy for anyone being divebombed by herring gulls, though. Those things are huge. I've had a sandwich snatched out of my hand by a band of marauding ring-beaked gulls that haunted the carpark of my CEGEP, and they did it very neatly – swoop down from behind, snatch, off they go. It was done so skillfully I barely begrudged it!

#135 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Open-threadiness: I'm looking for a book and a story.

The book (published at least ten years ago, I think) is about a woman with a chronic disease. If I could remember what the disease was, i could probably find the book.

She's Jewish, and she and her social circle have enough money and trust in doctors to do extensive shopping for doctors, but nothing works, or possibly doesn't work well.

She starts exploring alternative treatments, mostly Aurevedic, including light therapy. These doesn't work very well, either, but they calm her down enough so that she can make better use of conventional medicine.

The short story, which I read sometime in the sixties, is about an orthodox Jewish man (probably living in eastern Europe) who started observing Sabbath on Sundays because this made it easier for him to deal with Christians.

He argues that switching back to Saturdays would be an additional sin because it would be a second non-seven-day interval.

I have no idea how he was answered or what he decided to do.

#136 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 01:06 PM:

Further to Lorax @ 130: the Nature blog explores the damage done by extreme numbers of deer in the eastern half of the country, but it’s only part of the causal chain. Studies have also demonstrated the link between deer destroying native understory plants and the explosion of Japanese barberry, an invasive exotic. The deer won’t eat the thorny barberry, so it proliferates. Its foliage creates a microclimate that ticks favor—ticks which carry Lyme disease-inducing Borrelia burgdorferi. In one study, control of barberry resulted in a nearly 60% reduction in Borrelia-carrying ticks. In short, while deer may not be predators, they certainly can be a threat – one which we humans have encouraged, because we’ve removed their natural predators and refuse to take over the role the ecosystem demands.

#137 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 01:10 PM:

Churches and homelessness: Regardless of the practicalities and distribution, it looks like the numbers might be close. There are apparently around 700,000 homeless [HUD number, unexamined] and somewhere around 350,000 churches [one site said 350,000 congregations, another said "11 churches per 10,000 Americans". Both have an interest in underreporting to indicate The Magnitude Of The Problem.] So it might be more like two homeless per church.

#138 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 01:14 PM:

Headline in today's LA Times:
Puma known as P-33 safely navigates 101 Freeway

P-33 is a 16-month-old female, and crossed the freeway northbound (moving out of an area that's somewhat overpopulated) in the Conejo Grade area, between Thousand Oaks and Camarillo.

#139 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 01:20 PM:

All Knowledge Is Contained dept: I saw a description of the War on Seatbelts somewhere, where auto industry CEOs described the mass bankrupcty and loss of jobs that would occur if they were required to put seatbelts in cars. Anyone remember where?

#140 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 01:45 PM:

lorax @ 130: Deer kill many more people a year . . .

That actually wasn't a rhetorical question, though (I confess ruefully) it did heavily imply the answer "not that much of a threat." I tend to support urban deer hunts, if properly managed (big if, I know, and I'm not 100% in favor), for a whole bunch of probably irrelevant reasons. I just wanted to repeat: we need to ask the questions before we act on our assumptions.

Apropos of this discussion, I ran across this in a completely unrelated article by the sociologist Matthew Immergut (about whom I know nothing, not being a sociologist; the article was a Baktinian interpretation of "manscaping," believe it not--I'm not sure I do, and I read it). Anyway, it seemed relevant: "[The way we talk about nature] is deeply shaped by our historical and sociocultural position. For example, a photographer, hunter, and real estate developer will understand the same open field bustling with deer quite differently--the photographer sees a natural wonder ('take a picture'), the hunter a five-point buck ('pull the trigger'), and a real estate developer future profits ('bring in the bulldozers')."

#141 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 01:52 PM:

Sandy B @ 139: Would this help? The reference to Henry Ford declaring that mandatory seat belts would bankrupt the automotive industry is in the last few paragraphs. There might be some links at the site that would take you to other sources.

#142 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 02:08 PM:

Elliott Mason @51, coming in very belatedly into the monk parakeet discussion... I remember some fifteen years ago looking out of the window of my house, blinking, and calling my husband over to confirm I wasn't seeing things.

In all my lifelong experience of the Chicago area, birds are supposed to come in brown, and black, and sometimes gold or red or blue or even purplish... but never, ever green. Brilliantly green, with little yellow bibs.

There was a whole, large flock (probably a hundred or more) of monk parakeets in the neighbor's tree.

I'll never forget the feeling of bemused unreality that sight gave me; I felt like I'd slipped sideways into a parallel, tropical universe...


#143 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 02:14 PM:

We don't have coyotes in the UK, but we do have urban foxes, which are not so different in their prey. Famously, the BBC Natural History Unit made a documentary on the urban foxes of Bristol.

One of their unusual features is their eyes. which have slit pupils like a cat. I remember something about this being down to a special feature of their eye lens.

#144 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 02:14 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #135 If I could remember what the disease was, i could probably find the book...

Not ringing any bells for me, but if a combination of light therapy and conventional medicine ended up working, I imagine the illness was some form of depression/SAD, or at least had it as a component?

#145 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 02:36 PM:

Clifton @#103:
Wow. Got it to load at work on the CAD PC. Dude, I'm an engineer who used to regularly work on FMEA's that had "Patient Death" as one of the possible failure mode effects. I've since shifted from Medical to Semiconductors, but that worry is still out there. If I get it wrong, somebody's gonna die. And yeah, the webcomic creator has a huge point: Even if I do get it right, the resources I expend in doing so aren't saving a life. Or feeding someone hungry. Or clothing someone cold. It can be a hard idea to ponder. So I usually don't. Thaf is just such a powerful story/idea/presentation. "Afflicting the comfortable" indeed. Keeps one humble, it does. And yet: progress. New ideas. New vistas. There are no risk-free endeavors. You get what everyone gets: a life. Life: nobody gets out if it alive. Etc.
Again: Wow.
Thanks for sharing that.

#146 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 02:41 PM:

#144 ::: Sarah

Thanks, but I don't think so, or at least (from memory) no more depression than you'd expect from being a person and having a bad chronic disease.

Also, the light therapy wasn't the light therapy usually given for depression-- it was different colors which were supposed to have specific healing effects.

The reason I asked here was that I remembered the existence of stumpers (a mailing list where reference librarians answer questions) but found it had morphed into Project Wombat, which is temporarily (I hope) not available.

#147 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 03:41 PM:

Here in NZ we are blessedly free of large predators. Worst you could do is corner an Australian Possum and get a nasty bite or scratch.

Open Threadiness:
Speaking Kiwi to advertise a bank in Oklahoma - with subtitles (unfortunately they didn't do a literal expansion of 'A into G').

(You have 5 seconds to stop the video auto-playing)

Steven Adams talks Kiwi

#148 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 04:06 PM:

Cassy B. @142: Yeah, they hit Austin two years after we moved there. I'd had a good solid year of popular bird feeders and thought I knew what to expect, and then one July suddenly there was raucous cacophany coming in the open kitchen door and I was all WAIT WUT ARE YOU LOST LITTLE PET.

Then all zir friends showed up in groups of 10+ and it became clear they'd moved into the cell tower at the end of the block. :->

(then their auxiliary expansion-room next on the electrical transformer CAUGHT FIRE and wow was that exciting to watch from half a block away, a flaming torch atop an electric pole, with occasional sparking blue or green flames)

#149 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 04:23 PM:

cajunfj40: I'm glad it had so much resonance for you. (For me too, even though I never worked on life-saving or -threatening products.)

There is so much else also going on in that story too - subtle themes about the things our culture conserves over centuries* along with the huge things that change, the resonances between different generations of families and how we so often find/create relationships that match the family we grew up in**, the things we may never learn about our own family members***... All just kind of clued in there in the background of the main story. (I realized as I wrote the comments below that by the end of the story, although it's done ever so subtly, if you read closely enough you know the names of all the main characters in both the framing and framed story.)

Rot-13ed spoilers below for those who'd rather pick this stuff out for themselves:

* Gur pybguvat, nepuvgrpgher, fhojnlf, gur jnl zhfrhzf cerfrag guvatf, zneevntrf, envfvat puvyqera, gnxvat lbhe puvyqera gb gur zhfrhz - gur svefg unys qbmra cnaryf pbhyq or nal gvzr va gur ynfg 50 lrnef, gubhtu sebz gur pnyraqnef vg'f bire n praghel sebz abj. (Va bar bs gur yngre nppvqrag ivtarggrf - gur ovt frzv-gehpx naq gur fznyy pne vf n gbb-snzvyvne fprar gbb, rira gubhtu gur frzv vf qevireyrff.)

** V nffhzr zbfg ernqref trg gung gur erq-unverq jbzna va gur ortvaavat vf gur tvey va gur cubgb bs gur EvsGrpu cebgbglcr juvpu fur'f erzrzorevat sebz ure puvyqubbq, fb fur'f gur znva cebgntbavfg Xra'f puvyq (Nyvpr) jub ur naq uvf jvsr Xnera naq sevraq ner qvfphffvat va gur zvqqyr cneg bs gur fgbel. Abj ybbx ng ure uhfonaq Tevtbe naq puvyq sebz gur ortvaavat naq pbzcner gurz gb Xra naq ure ng gung ntr va gur cubgb...

*** Vs lbh fxvccrq bire gur pnyraqnef nf lbh jrag guebhtu, erernq gurz naq ybbx pybfryl ng Nhthfg naq Frcgrzore 2130 sbe gur vzcyvrq fgbel. Gung gheaf gur svany cnaryf nf Nyvpr yvfgraf gb gur zrffntr vagb rira zber bs n fcrnecbvag, gb hfr Wb'f ybiryl grez - orpnhfr gurl qba'g xabj jub erpbeqrq gur zrffntr ("Qvfpbirerq ol nppvqrag ... vgf nhgube ... haxabja".) Fur zvtug creuncf thrff**** ohg fur'yy arire xabj.

**** Naq V ernyvmrq, ba gur agu erernq nf V jebgr guvf, gung vg'f qenja fb jr arire frr Nyvpr'f snpr nf fur yvfgraf. Lbh xabj fur'f srryvat fbzrguvat fgebatyl orpnhfr bs ubj fur'f fgnaqvat naq ubj ure uhfonaq ybbxf ng ure naq fcrnxf gb ure va gur svany pbhcyr cnaryf, ohg vg'f yrsg gb lbhe bja cebwrpgvba jung fur'f srryvat be guvaxvat nf fur urnef gur zrffntr.

#150 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 05:06 PM:

@DaveBell#143: I had the feeling that was the case. Western coyotes are just a couple of sizes bigger than a fox . . . although you'll never spot them sunning themselves on rooftops, as I've seen foxes doing in pictures.

Coyotes seem to be very traffic-aware, waiting for breaks in traffic to dart across busy roads.

#151 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 06:20 PM:

The latest xkcd, "Mysteries," has sent me down a rabbit hole of the Unsolved this afternoon. Monroe grades the mysteries along two axis from "Not that Weird" to "Weird as Hell," and from "Explanation Seems Pretty Clear" to "I have No Explanation."

I'd heard of most of them, but googled the Lead Masks Case, which he places in the Weird/No Explanation quadrant, though from the brief account I read, I think it could be plausibly explained as na rneyvre, fznyyre-fpnyr cnenyyry gb gur Urnira'f Tngr phyg fhvpvqrf.

Thanks to Facebook's "related links," I then spent twenty minutes reading about the Taman Shud/Somerton Man case, which is like an Agatha Christie story with no ending.

I have no suggestions regarding this one, except to note that gelvat gb yvax vg gb n fhvpvqr guerr lrnef rneyvre va nabgure pvgl whfg orpnhfr obgu qrnq zra unq va gurve cbffrffvba, va gur 1940f, pbcvrf bs gur Svgmtrenyq genafyngvba bs Gur Ehonvlng, vf fbeg bs yvxr nffregvat gjb fhvpvqrf frireny lrnef ncneg va gur 1990f zhfg or pbaarpgrq orpnhfr obgu ivpgvzf jrer snaf bs Aveinan.

#152 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 08:00 PM:

Clifton @149 A wonderful story. So many layers. I realised just a bit in that I needed to embiggen it on my screen, for starters, and start over and go sloooow and look at all the things. Worth the journey.

#153 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 08:44 PM:

To get the full impact of Message 652, retype it yourself. Then have your computer read it to you.

#154 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 11:48 PM:

Yes, that's about how I read the Lead Masks case. With a possible side of Gnxr guvf [cbvfbabhf pbzcbhaq], vg'yy or njrfbzr.

#155 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2015, 11:52 PM:

Regarding deer and habitat destruction: I manage a cull of fallow deer (an invasive european species introduced in the early years of the 20th century) on a small BC island. Some ten years ago the herd was estimated at 3,500 heads, on an island only some 3000 acres. There was nothing green growing below the 5' limit of their grazing and browsing. The deer were in sad shape, with much of the herd in starvation.
After 10 years of aggressive work the population is somewhere between 700 and 1000 animals, and needs at least another 400 removed next year - they replace at 40% per year.
The good news is that the work has led to the understory growing again, and even some mushrooms left over for us to eat. The herd is much healthier, but at risk of tipping back to "way too many" almost instantly. We do have birds again though, including owls, bald eagles, and songbirds, now that each gets a bit of ecosystem support.
But it's seriously hard work to try to keep the balance, and just as the hunting season has ended, it's time to start capturing and putting them down again.
And at the same time as the deer population drops, our Scottish Broom outbreak gets worse. And it's pretty much as hard to get rid of as the deer. And hawthorne trees. Everywhere. I want to go back in time 100 years and throttle the guy who set up his nostalgic european hunting preserve here.

#156 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 01:00 AM:

It's past midnight on the East Coast, so...


#157 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 05:29 AM:


So one characteristic of conversation is that it's normative. When we choose among the range of things that we might say at any given moment, one huge factor is "what is this conversation already about"? "How are people already talking?"

This is also the case in online discourse. A cranky, complaining post is more likely to spawn a cranky, complaining comment thread, even if the things the thread itself complains about end up being totally unrelated to the original topic. The early comments in a thread, before the conversation has developed its character, have the same effect. They're all seeds around which the discourse will grow, like rock candy crystallizing on the string in a jar of sugar water. They're pointers about what the conversation will be about (until it drifts), and how it will be conducted (even after it drifts). They tell people, in subtle ways, which of the infinite possible comments that they might make are ones they should make.

Unfortunately, and entirely unintentionally, the first comment in this thread, by its terse tone as well as its content, indicated that one of the topics of the conversation was "what Abi is doing wrong", and that an appropriate tone was "carping".

Normally, as a moderator, my task and my skill is to pinch off unfortunate subthreads before they get going, to turn the tone of the conversation to a better one, to gently (if possible) or bluntly (if necessary) tweak the dynamic normstate to fit what Teresa calls the sitegeist. But when one's actions are "in play", when one's judgment is part of the topic, that's almost impossible to do.

When one is tired, frail, and vulnerable at the ass-end of winter, when finding something to post in the first place was a weary labor undertaken only for the love of the community, it's entirely impossible. Because whatever path of perfection might lie between charity and clarity is too narrow and too intricate for me to negotiate right now.

I don't blame anybody. But I'm also not minded, just at the moment, to be much of a part of this particular conversation. I need some time to grow back, to stop feeling like a mouse knowing the cat's a-prowl.


#158 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 07:28 AM:

Happy birthday to Teresa! We're in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Vericon, the annual con run by the Harvard SF club. An excellent small con that we commend to others.

#159 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 09:15 AM:

Happy Birthday to Teresa!

Of possible interest to people here (read much, do ya? Got a cat?): The Book Seat is a product that props up a book for hands-free reading. I find it absolutely perfect for reading on a tablet or e-reader in a recliner. It is fabulous for managing to keep reading while a cat takes over your lap.

I've rarely used it for an actual book, though it is useful for unusually big, heavy books.

#160 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 09:21 AM:

An AKICIML question:

If you were in, oh, Fayetteville, Arkansas, and you needed, on very short notice, maybe a gross of shakers or rattles or maracas or any sort of hand-percussion-like item, what would you do?

#161 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 09:25 AM:

Dry beans or similar in metal cans or other containers, if I'm not picky about sound. Grocery stores tend to have larger amounts of stock on hand than music stores.

#162 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 09:45 AM:

@160, to add to the excellent suggestion of dry beans, one can also buy dowel rods at the local hardware store and cut them down to make nice percussive strike-against-each-other sticks. And tunable by length! It'd add some variety to your percussion section....

(Always assuming your musicians aren't young children; then they might turn into strike-against-each-other sticks in a whole 'nother meaning of the word... <wry grin>)

#163 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 09:47 AM:

Monk parakeets basically are taking over the ecological niche left vacant by the extinction of the Carolina parakeet. They're going to do fine, and might actually make the area they're in healthier, as long as they aren't nesting in highly flammable electrical substations. When I lived in Florida, they liked palm trees.

#164 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 09:58 AM:

Wonderful ideas! This is my stretch goal for my best friend's memorial service in four hours and change. Everything else has come together nicely. I'd like something to keep us from fidgeting.

So given that constraint, any further thoughts?

#165 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 10:09 AM:

(Extra Johnnie Points* for solutions which are cylindrical and soda/beer can sized.)

*which are good for nothing** yet better than nothing***

**or as my old buddy used to say, "I'd rather owe you than rip you off!"

**or as my dad liked to say, "Thanks until you're better repaid!"

#166 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 10:21 AM:

Wishing Teresa a very happy birthday! I'm sure she'll have one, because the folk at Vericon look awesome.

#167 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 10:38 AM:

Cans or jars of beans, rice, sand, or marbles-- different materials will give different sounds.

Regarding Abi's comment: Yes. I have noticed that with the absence of an endlessly cheerful coworker, my workplace has become very sarcastic and negative-- one coworker has nothing to say about anything that isn't a complaint, and while the rest of us aren't so bad, it is more fun to be negative... in the short term.

And moderation, conversation, is like gardening a wilderness: it's not truly wild because very few places are. Possibly none. There is no neutral state, only choices in one direction or another.

#168 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 10:57 AM:


#169 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 12:28 PM:


P J Evans, Gardener of Gardeners :-)

#170 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 12:42 PM:

Like OtterB @ 113, I find liminal spaces between wilderness and civilization interesting. I become increasingly certain that is all there is.

lorax @ 125: "Seeing a wild cougar (from a safe distance, like across a ravine) remains one of my life's goals, though it's less likely now that I live in the eastern US."

As cougars are ambush predators, I've always assumed that if you can see the cougar you're probably fine, no matter the distance. It's the cougar you don't see you need to worry about.

#171 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 12:47 PM:

John A Arkansawyer: It's probably too late, but cheap plastic cups with lids, like you can buy in bulk for parties, might work, too--filled with any of the lighter suggestions above (like dried peas of whatever).

#172 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 12:48 PM:

Little disposable cups sold for jello shots often have lids.

#173 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 01:18 PM:

Happy birthday, Teresa! And my best wishes to you, Abi.

#174 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Happy birthday, T!

abi, please take the time you need to feel better about this place. The old saying, "You can't take care of others unless you take care of yourself first," seems very appropriate here.

#175 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 02:37 PM:

Happy Birthday to Teresa!

So if you're in Cambridge and need recommendations for tasty food and the like, let me know - it's my old stomping grounds, and my brother works for a Japanese restaurant about halfway between Central and Harvard Sq.

#176 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 05:16 PM:

Happy Birthday Teresa! Later I will write about my Book Festival experiences. It's been interesting....

#177 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 05:37 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @160: Probably too late to be useful, but: (given the time of year, and depending on available $$) a) go to the local chain drugstore, buy out all their plastic eggs, then b) pick up a ten pound sack of beans. Insert (b) into (a), and percuss away...?

#178 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 05:43 PM:

John A A@160 - this is probably too late, but my wife suggests the Diddams party supply store (chain, don't know if there's one in Fayetteville) carries shakers and such things by the dozen or gross.

#179 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 06:37 PM:

HLN: local herpestid went to their first meeting of a trans support group today, and ended up on the committee, which was somewhat surreal. As membership secretary. Local herpestid is still blinking.

The EDL (one of the many nasty little right-wing splinter groups we get in the UK) was demonstrating outside the town hall en route. I didn't take them very seriously; there were, oh, maybe six to eight of them, and a dog. One of them had a loud-hailer and was making a devil of a racket, but he was pretty indistinct. I couldn't make out what he was saying, not that I tried very hard. People were walking past with expressions ranging from bewilderment to annoyance, and there was a fairly strong police presence. In fact, there may well have been more police officers in the area than demonstrators.

Anyway, I didn't think much of it except "huh, I didn't know we had that bunch in this city," and I walked past them with no trouble. I found the place where we were meeting, and got chatting to one of the committee. A few minutes later, a second member of the committee walked in, shaking, almost in tears, and needing hugs. He had been verbally abused by the EDL hooligans as he walked past.

Now, obviously I was horrified and sympathetic, but I'd just walked past those same people and they hadn't said anything to me; and this chap presents clearly as male. Most people, if they saw the two of us together and were asked to say which one of us was trans, would pick me, because I'm the one who looks gender-ambiguous. (Trick question, of course.) And not only do I look ambiguous, I also stand out somewhat, since I'm usually at least a couple of notches more formal than I strictly need to be.

Naturally, I'm glad I didn't get picked on; but I'm appalled that the other person did, and I can't for the life of me work out why he got grief when I didn't. I don't know if they read him as gay, or they just thought he was an easier target due to being relatively young. I'm 50, and maybe I just look like the sort of person who, if they got any abuse, would stop, turn round, and say something like "And what would your mother say, young man?".

Local herpestid is getting really fed up with people who pick on other people.

#180 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 07:37 PM:

Happy Birthday Teresa!

(Coincidentally, I'm baking cakes. But not for Teresa. Delivery within freshness date would be expensive in any case.)

#181 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 07:50 PM:

Happy Birthday Teresa!

#182 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 07:59 PM:

Oooops. I saw Teresa today and utterly failed to wish her a happy birthday. Virtual wishes will have to do!

(And I second Patrick's commendation of Vericon. Fourth Street will always be the con of my heart, but Vericon is running a close second. And I got to see dotless i* and spouse, too!)

*sorry for the misspelling.

#183 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 08:08 PM:

Birthday greetings to Teresa from this moose, too,

Also Hugs++ to Abi.

Because you both make the group a wonderful place.

#184 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 08:30 PM:

Mongoose #179: Possibly: "Hey, someone new! perhaps you know some more potential members?" ?

And I tend to agree that older+more formal and not intimidated by their presence, tends to add up to "don't mess with that one". Possibly the younger person had shown fear....

#185 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 09:43 PM:

The Internet Has Failed Me.

It seems fairly obvious to me that some fan must have, by now, made a supercut of just all the moments from The Flash where (mild spoilers; overarching plot-arc related) Uneevfba Jryyf tbrf vagb gur oevtug ebbz jvgu Tvqrba. But apparently not. Sigh. It would be fun to watch, to see that thread unroll itself in isolation instead of wrapped up within the whole episodes.

#186 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 10:16 PM:

Thanks for the good ideas, y'all.

I ended up not having time to try for it, which is a pity but not a shame, if you know what I mean. And if you do, please tell me, because I'm not too clear on it myself.

This is my first time as a primary planner for a memorial service. There were half a dozen of us. I did a lot of remote control stuff but none of the on-site hard labor till the actual event.

I sequenced it carefully, got handed a surprise, which was wonderful and easy to place, thought I got handed another, which I hadn't, and in making space for it, slightly missed landing the ending.

It was okay. It didn't all have to be perfect. It did what we needed it to do and it did it well.

So my new competency is memorial services.

#187 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 10:30 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer @186: May you have few reasons to practice this new skill, in a long and happy life.

#188 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2015, 11:01 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 187: That is a top ten blessing of all my years. Thank you.

#189 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 01:32 AM:

Happy belated birthday, Teresa! (Hey, it's still the right day here.)

#190 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 02:18 AM:

Re: urban coyotes and invasions of space.

First, coyotes have learned to adapt to human expansion amazingly well, probably better than any other large carnivore; the only mammals that have them beat are largely rodents.

In San Francisco, coyotes have learned to cross the Golden Gate Bridge at night when traffic is low, and apparently do so with some frequency. In Chicago, at least one coyote has learned to ride the El. So they're doing a great job of adapting to us, certainly better than we're doing of adapting to them.

When coyotes first appeared in Golden Gate Park, people were mystified and delighted; it didn't hurt that the first spotted were a mated couple with puppies (cuteness overload pics: However, coyotes have continued to come over from the Marin Headlands, and now there's a population of more than a dozen in the park, and people are starting to get nervous and complain. The biggest complainers ("exterminate the vermin") are those who were supportive of the Park's feral cat population, which is largely now gone thanks to the coyotes and red-tailed hawks.

But Park-goers who complain that they now need to keep their small dogs on leashes get little sympathy, since by law they were supposed to have them on leashes in the first place. Still, as the coyote population grows, I expect them to transform from "adorable Park attraction" to "vermin we can't get rid of" the way other animals do when they go from rare to omnipresent.

Oh, and I have heard a cougar scream while in the woods. It sounds really disturbingly like a soprano being murdered.

#191 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 07:07 AM:

A rule of thumb on predators is that they tend not to mess with other predators of similar size. It's too dangerous. So Coyotes are enough bigger than red foxes and cats that they are a threat. But cats and foxes have enough overlap that the smaller animal isn't greatly at risk. But dogs vary in size far more.

There's other elements. Lone hunters are a bit more cautious than are pack animals.

I just looked up the numbers, and there's a very clear fox-coyote-wolf chain. The size ranges might overlap, but that range depends on food supplies, and you're unlikely to get, for instance, large foxes in the same area as small coyotes.

A Russian researcher has domesticated foxes, by sustained and selective breeding. The experiment gets a mention in the Wikipedia entry, and the 40-year timespan does give you hints of the possibilities.

If you wanted an alternate world, domesticated foxes might replace cats.

#192 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 10:53 AM:

Dave Bell @191: Amusingly, I just read about the fox domestication experiment - in a book about brewing. (Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers - and the best author pic ever. *g*) The author was talking about domestication of other organisms and the genetics thereof (i.e. did we domesticate yeast or did it domesticate us?) and used the fox domestication experiment as an example to illustrate how quickly other organisms can adapt to us. :)

Completely off-topic, of course, but the book is awesome, and I love the author's sense of humour. :)

#193 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 10:55 AM:

In re small dogs on leashes: As in the past decade bald eagle populations on the Hudson have rebounded, some of the breeding pairs circle over Manhattan.

NYDNR posted signs throughout Central Park recommending dogs of less than 50lbs be walked only on leashes or under heavy tree cover. The first couple Very Expensive Teacup Dogs who were snatched up by eagles for frolicking in the Strawberry Fields had owners who attempted to sue the state.

"Thank you for your contribution in support of our endangered species," they were told. "If the collar turns up in any of our nests we'll do our best to make sure you get it back."

#194 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 12:02 PM:

Alutiiq people here on Kodiak kept foxes as pets before first contact. They were considered to be comfort aids for the elderly and might be buried with their owners.

#195 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 12:30 PM:

One of the things I noticed in passing was that the Wikipedia entry on the Red Fox includes figures on the numbers killed by humans, in various countries. It's a total, with no estimates of the fox population, not is it any sort of time series.

But the date is significant. Hunting with dogs was banned in England in 2004, and the figure is dated 2000,

It is a controversial issue, and ten years later the politicians are talking about reversing the ban. As a farmer, I didn't see any signs of foxes being a threat to livestock, and some of the stories seem likely to include a confusion of predation with scavenging. But the traditional image of hunting with hounds is a very class-related activity. The hunting of John Peel was done on foot, in places with a lot of sheep, in arduous terrain, and didn't have the same element of wealth showing-off.

I strongly suspect, from what I have seen, that foxes were hated as competitors for the "farmed" game birds produced to support shooting. And they still are, but you don't have the same chance to display wealth and status. And since young foxes are known to travel hundreds of miles,I rather doubt that a pack of fox-hounds is a cost-effective protector of chickens.

Unless you're worried by a streetwise young fox from The Smoke with a set of lock-picks.

The same as ships and U-boats, you need something like a convoy system.

#196 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 01:16 PM:

Happy belated, TNH!

#197 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 06:45 PM:

Claire @ 63: "The baloney weighed the raven down, and the shopkeeper almost caught him as he whisked out the delicatessen door."

pfusand @ 72: Those are impressive pictures. Have you considered mixing the hummingbird feed with capsaicin?

Kevin Reid @ 114: exactly my reaction. Some people would tune out "For your safety" because that's so commonplace people are concluding it means "for our convenience", but David Harmon @ 123's suggestion (or "Because of scavenger gulls") would have (IMO) caught a lot more attention -- after Finding Nemo, even the people who've never seen a gull have a better idea how that type of flying rat behaves.
      Chris@115's graphic could be even better, but somebody would have to draw it, probably for a fee. (At an SF convention some years ago, I actually met one of the people who get paid to do that sort of quickly-parsable graphic; IIRC she specialized in the safety-instruction cards seen in airplanes, but the principle is akin.)

A practical answer to Dave Luckett @ 121: most of what we do against parasites and their vectors is setting boundaries; we'll never come near wiping out (e.g) the malaria plasmodium, so reducing its effect on us doesn't alter a balance. OTOH, killing an apex predator in any quantity is known to risk massively upsetting the ecological applecart; example, the explosion of deer in the US (as discussed here) which comes at least partly from the slaughter of traditional predators.

re the sprinklers at Our Lady of Maytag(*): there were reports that (unlike Tom W's experience) the cathedral did have an issue with mess, including used needles; I'd be interested to know whether this was true or just an excuse for brooming the homeless away.

I notice that the discussion so far has involved humans seeing fauna not staying away from land the humans have taken over; an interesting issue in this part of the world (Massachusetts Bay) is people apparently expecting geology to be mindful of them. There's some excuse for this unthinking, in that animals are visible immediately where coastlines change over decades or more -- but the solutions are more expensive, and just as likely to show consequences a few years later.

(*) That's what the tour guide claimed the locals called the building; you can see why in the background of some of the photos accompanying the story.

#198 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 07:07 PM:

Probably of particular interest to this community:
Conscious Style Guide, which title is a little vague, but it seems to be primarily a style guide for how one can respectfully talk about different groups of people: "We study words so that they can become tools instead of unwitting weapons."

#199 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 07:34 PM:

CHip @197: That's brilliant! I love the whole two paragraphs quoted here.

#200 ::: MJ ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 07:45 PM:

Abi @157: I feel that I've been remiss for not posting earlier to say Abi, *you* are one of the trellises for me, at least when it comes to online discourse. I'm mostly a lurker here, but I love this community, and I have turned up for a couple of Oakland Gatherings of Light largely because of sane, intelligent, humorous, and gentle atmosphere you help to create. We all have times when our emotional resources are frayed or overextended and something we'd handle easily at other times gets us down. So take good care of yourself and remember that your work and presence here are much appreciated.

#201 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 08:11 PM:

We have sighted the cat that has been missing for 3 weeks! in the basement ceiling, moving and at least semi-alert. Now we're trying to catch him out of the long interstitial-space-between-joists-and-ducts (there's a word for that, I'm sure) through a small hole in the ceiling (and making it larger wouldn't help because, joists and structural issues). If the Animal Control guy doesn't actually show up in the next hour, we'll try using a rope noose on a broom handle to drag him out so we can get him to an emergency vet.

As far as we can tell, he's had no food or water for 3 weeks -- we left food for him, but it never got eaten. So we're hoping for the best. He's better than we thought possible right now!

I'll let you know as we get more news.

#202 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 08:12 PM:

CHip @197: Have you considered mixing the hummingbird feed with capsaicin?

bit rough on the hummers, eh?

#203 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 08:13 PM:

Mellow music video about a coyote -- a tame "actor" I suspect, a handsome female -- riding Portland's MAX train:

An actual wild coyote was found on an out-of-service MAX in 2002, but they haven't learned to ride the train yet.

#204 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 08:16 PM:

Stefan Jones @203 -- and they really can't afford the citation for riding without a ticket.

#205 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 08:31 PM:

pericat @202: I've read that capsaicin has no effect on birds: that in fact the whole reason plants evolved to put it in their fruits was to keep mammals from eating them, in favor of birds that would spread the seeds more widely.

#206 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 09:19 PM:

Re “mic drop” @64 and @67: I watched The Last Waltz last summer for the first time in many years, and was struck by how Van Morrison closed his performance of “Caravan” with The Band -- it had seemed to me to be a classic mic drop.

Based on the article linked to @67, it would arguably have been, in 1976, prototypical. So I rewatched it just now (on a popular website featuring video clips).

Turns out, he doesn’t drop the mic, exactly, but rather, he sort of flails his way into something that could be mistaken for a bow while mumbling thank you, and sets the mic down. Then, arms windmilling, eyes half-shut, he stalks offstage while the band is still playing, without the slightest acknowledgement of the musicians or audience.

It occurs to me that it’s actually something of an anti-mic drop, since they tend to be gestures of self-awareness and a certain sort of fourth-wall-breakage, whereas Van seems adrift on oceanic currents of his own inner music, forever beyond the reach of such earthly and quotidian chores as threading the mic back onto the mic stand (not to mention the dreary task of finding the stand on the overcrowded stage).

But I think the spirit of his departure is very much in keeping with a mic drop: smug insouciance. What just transpired cannot be topped. Not by me, and certainly not by you. Boom. I’m outta here.

#207 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 09:25 PM:

David Goldfarb #205: While the "choice" of capsaicin is compatible with birds dispersing the seeds, more recent research on the wild ancestor of chili peppers suggests that mammals may not be the primary target.

It seems the stuff also fends off a particular insect, which is common in the peppers' original habitat and which does significant damage to the fruit. Of course, it may also work so well against mammals that they are no longer "on the radar".

#208 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 09:34 PM:

Animal Control couldn't get him, so we've set a trap which they provided. We're on tenterhooks. News as we get it....

#209 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 09:48 PM:

David Harmon@207: That's interesting. Thanks.

#210 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 10:00 PM:

Tom: Anybody in your circle have an RC vehicle small enough to travel the inter-joist space and maybe carry some sort of small camera? Also: a quick Google suggests that USB endoscopes are quite reasonably priced. (~$20)

#211 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 10:03 PM:

Tom at 201: good news. Hoping for the best possible resolution!

#212 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 10:07 PM:

TexAnne@182: And it was great to catch up with you. (Awesome spouse is saying "hello" over my shoulder.) It was also lovely to finally get to meet Teresa and Patrick after however many years of enjoying this site.

*sorry for the misspelling.

As I've said before, I can't be too fussy about it. I'm very fond of the "ı" character, but (or because) it's not always computer-friendly.

#213 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 10:35 PM:

Clifton #198: Thank you for that link! Bringing out my own ox, I was particularly struck by the discussion of Person-first language with regard to autism.

TL;DR: The writer noted that in the various communities they'd surveyed, there was a sharp split, with parents and caretakers of people with autism mostly pushing for person-first language ("people with autism"), while the autistic folks themselves tended to prefer "autistic people".¹ (I'm going to stick with the writer's terminology for the next part, but the same arguments apply to "ASD", "Aspergers/Aspie", "spectrum", and so on.)

The writer's argument, which I agree with, is that the "person-first" construction presumes that the person is separable from the autism, that is, you have a person who happens to be autistic, but if they weren't autistic, they'd be the same person, just "normal". But, from both the writer's experience and my own, that is simply not our experience. For us, being autistic isn't be the only thing we are, but it is interwoven throughout our entire experience of the world, and especially of society, and trying to separate the autism from us is attempting to slice apart our identity. (And after writing the above, I read the second article, which makes much the same point.)

(Note: From here down, I intend to post this material on the first article's comment thread.)

It happens that I have a particularly sharp comparison close to hand: One of my sisters is just as intelligent as me -- she went to MIT while I went to Harvard. She's a remarkably capable person, both technically literate and linguistically gifted. But she's not on the spectrum, and I am, and damn right it makes a difference.

Despite being comfortable with technology and having gone to MIT, she doesn't come across as a "nerd" the way I do, doesn't have the micro-obsessions of a spectrumite, doesn't show the abrupt shifts between "attention deficit" and "hyperfocus". And while she's no "social butterfly", she's comfortable dealing with strangers, groups, authority, and more, in ways that I can't ever be. By contrast, my depression is separable from me, it's not always present and when it is, it feels like something distinct from my identity. But being on the spectrum is part of my human condition. (See also Wikipedia: Egosyntonic and egodystonic.)

¹ Why yes, you do see what i did there.

#214 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2015, 10:53 PM:

Thank you, Lizzy. Don't think an RC vehicle would help, Jacque -- and at this point, we don't think waiting for a delivery from Amazon would be kind to the cat! We're hoping he'd gotten himself caught and couldn't find a way out, and that we've now provided that -- and that he'll go for the food and water we've put in the trap, since he can now get to them.

#215 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 12:11 AM:

Wonderful news, Tom. I'm really hoping you got him soon enough that he'll be able to make a full recovery once you've got him out of there. Cats do seem to have amazing abilities to recover from severe starvation and dehydration.

#216 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 05:52 AM:

@Clifton: You say you can't widen the opening for structural reasons. Can you provide a ramp or something similar, possibly constructed from a 2x4? I assume that you're baiting the trap with something suitably smelly.

#217 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 08:46 AM:

Oh, a ramp or set of stairs would probably be a good idea. The Catina ended up in the space between the basement ceiling and the basement wall when we moved into a new house, then couldn't get down. She's learned not to climb up there now.

#218 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 09:46 AM:

Belated birthday wishes to Teresa, who is, once more, older than I am.

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 09:49 AM:

on the cat-trappign thread:
Yesterday a poster at dKos said they'd managed to recover a lost-and-frightened cat by baiting the trap with sardines.

#220 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 09:56 AM:

On Saturday, I listened to the Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong'o talk about the relationship of Africa to the West. It was an enthusiastic talk, but I had a very real sense of having been transported back to 1978. Why?

Part of his argument is that colonialism, imperialism, and the slave trade all resulted in the cultural disempowering of Africa. True. But his argument is not helped by assuming that even half a decade after the colonial era its effects, such as the use of European languages as languages of rule and lingua franca can, be erased.

He sounded as if Africa was as economically subjugated as it was in the 1940s. That I found problematic, especially when he asked rhetorically if any African companies owned businesses or property in Europe. The answer to that is 'yes!' Angola's state investment agency now owns a giant chunk of the Portuguese economy, including, if I recall correctly, majority shares in some pretty important companies. If one goes to the store to pick up a six-pack in the US, there's a good chance that the product you're buying is produced by a company called South African Breweries for a reason.

I was particularly struck listening to this the week after Credit Suisse announced, to great joy on the part of its shareholders, that its CEO from this June on would be Tidjane Thiam, a former government minister in the Ivory Coast, and current CEO of the Pru.

Ngugi also raised, as part of his argument about cultural penetration, the issue of whether any white Europeans had African names. Now, it may be that I am biased, but the fact that Anibal and Amilcar are both ordinary names in Spain and Portugal seems to have slipped his mind.

I would be so much happier if people would actually know what they were talking about. The relationship between Africa and the West is unequal, with the West benefitting far more than does Africa, and historically unjust, but it isn't what it was even forty years ago.

Just wanted to get that off my chest.

#221 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 09:58 AM:

To speak of valour is no great mistake
when each of us confronts the howling gale,
those who are ready when the sandbags fail
know what is meant when city turns to lake,
each of them is that moment wide awake
while in their corners all the cowards quail
left with no benefit save their own stale
as even stoutest bodies bend and shake.
Words that are spoken in the autumn sun
lose all their purchase during winter's turn
but are the currency of many schools.
Repenting of their choices, no one's done
before they see their youthful wishes burn
and know themselves for ordinary fools.

#222 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 10:01 AM:

Edna O'Brien has a nice bit about her experience with urban foxes in her memoir Country Girl (a wonderful read, by the way).

#223 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 10:13 AM:

David Goldfarb @#209

If I've got my science right, birds don't have a trigeminal nerve to react to the capsaicin. They literally can't taste hot peppers as hot; mammals do, because we use our trigeminal nerves as chemosensors, mainly for irritants like capsaicin, ammonia, vinegar, and such.

This is why my hardware store sells 'hot meats', shelled sunflower seed dosed with chili oil, so that squirrels won't raid the birdfeeder.

#224 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 10:39 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @221, <applause>

#225 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 10:59 AM:

neotoma @223:

That's interesting, I'd known the "birds can't taste capsaicin" tidbit but not the actual reason behind it.

I've not had good luck with the spice-dosed sunflower seeds as a squirrel deterrent, though when we tried it was with a separately-sold packet of powdered habanero to mix with the seeds. The squirrels would eat a seed, rub their faces in obvious pain or at least irritation, and then repeat the process. I didn't want to cause pain pointlessly, so we started using cheaper seed in the feeder accessible to the squirrels and reserved sunflower seed for the squirrel-proof one.

#226 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 11:01 AM:

Best concert closer I ever saw was Jethro Tull's. No "Living in the Past" for them — around half their set was new material. If not current, it was after the time of their Greatest Hits.

Anyway, for their encore, they did "What a Wonderful World," with earnest, corn-dripping sincerity, and my heart melted. (With regret, as I was by then on a committed course to the parking lot, following someone already gone.) I've searched vainly for a recording of any rendition of the song by this group.

(If you have one, I would like to be your friend.)

#227 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 11:02 AM:

Had no idea about birds and capsaicin! My partner prepares the hummingbird feed and she's very particular about it, because she says the hummers are themselves very particular about it. But we have a marching problem with wanting to put out feed for the birds (not just hummers) but not attract rodents and bears.

If they'll happily work their way through hot seeds and sugar water, that might be at least a partial solution.

#228 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 11:02 AM:

My experience with terrestrial wildlife in the days when I was a country boy was restricted to two mammals that worried us, and in neither of the ranges of which we were intruding. One was the common brown rat, which raided our corn, and the other was Herpestes fuscus, the Indian brown mongoose, a constant threat to our chickens.

We had a good range of birds, though, some of which were intruders like the white gaulin (cattle egret), which is, as far as I know, the only significant old world animal, to have migrated to the Americas of its own volition in the past few centuries (other, of course, than H. sapiens). The cattle egret is popular with farmers since it eats ticks.

#229 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 11:07 AM:

An interesting thread in abi's examples and the surrounding discussion is the way different uses of a place don't work together.

A park can be a habitat for predatory birds, or a place where people can let their small dogs run loose, but it can't be both. That naturally sets up a conflict--some people say "I want a safe place to let my dog run loose," others say "I want a safe place for these predatory birds to live."

A store can be a place to go buy moderately complicated assemble-it-yourself furniture and Swedish meatballs, or it can be a place for a giant game of hide-and-seek. Both perfectly reasonable things to do in an Ikea store, but you can't do them both at once. Imagine going to the Ikea store to buy furniture the day of a several-hundred-person hide-and-seek game--you'd have a hell of a time finding anything or making your purchase.

A park can be a place where homeless people sleep (and almost inevitably, leave empty bottles and needles and other mess). Or it can be a place where parents bring their kids to play during the day. It won't be both, and letting homeless people more-or-less take over a public park while you try to decide what to do will convince all the parents to take their kids elsewhere.

All of these uses involve trade-offs between different values and different people. The privately-owned space at least has an easy algorithm for deciding what's allowed--the owner of the Ikea store gets to say "no hide and seek in our store." (And the owner has a pretty clear path to getting a decision--Ikea is in the business of selling furniture, and that hide-and-seek game will probably not advance that business much.)

The public spaces are different--there's a debate about what purposes to use those for, with politics and legal battles getting involved. I suspect that our processes for dealing wiht those debates isn't all that great, but I don't know how much of that is inevitable--we're talking about genuine conflicts of values or rights or something. But it does suggest to me one reason why, over time, more and more of the places where we actually spend our time are private spaces which are made up to look kind-of like public spaces--those conflicts can be resolved quickly in most cases, and someone is in a position to say "this is the purpose that I want my space to be put to, not that other purpose."

The church with the sprinklers is an interesting intermediate case. The church doesn't exactly belong to the parish priest or the bishop, but they're the folks making the immediate decisions. My guess is that having homeless people sleeping on the lawn or steps makes the church a lot less appealing as a church--a place for people to come to pray or worship in safety, day or night. At the same time, caring for the poor and the outcasts is a really fundamental part of Christianity, one the Church overtly sees as their (our) mission. We're back to a conflict of values, within a different community--not the whole community of all Americans, but the community of Catholics or parish members or something.

I think in all these cases it is *way* too easy to boil it down to some simple good guy vs bad guy narrative, and that's not really a very accurate picture of the world. It's not like the people who like eagles are the good guys and the people who like small dogs are the bad guys--they both care about something valuable, and there is an inevitable conflict in the use of this public space.

#230 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 11:59 AM:

The cat didn't trigger the trap. Our vet laughed hysterically about all the antics, and believes the cat will be just fine once we get him out. Re: ramps and stairs -- the trap is on a (very sturdy) folding table, and we put a bench up on the table: there's less than a 3-foot drop to the bench, similar from that to table. So, we're already there. The vet said to put food and water up where he can get it, and not just in the trap. So, we're doing that. Sardines sound like a good idea (we've been using other smelly fish, but we'll try that).

The next step is to go in from the other side: take up floor stuff on our main floor. We have good contractors to call. We were using a multi-tool to cut the drywall -- noisy, but only goes a small distance in, so it won't harm the cat.

#231 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 12:02 PM:

On a different, and much sadder note: former Worldcon chair Peggy Rae Sapienza has died. She was a major link to 50s fandom as well (her father, Bob Pavlat, created the first major fanzine index). I could talk a lot about how much she meant to me, and to others, but right now I'm still letting the information sink in.

#232 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 12:50 PM:

Actually, Bob Pavlat was her first husband -- she was the daughter of Jack McKnight, who manufactured the first Hugo Awards. So much for my fact checking abilities....

#233 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 01:34 PM:


Aren't the malaria parasites species specific? My understanding is that the human malaria strain is dependent on humans for a critical part of their lifecycle; other strains afflict birds or other animals, but the (I think three) strains that affect humans are tuned to us.

That makes it possible to wipe out, in principle. There's no endemic malaria in the US anymore, and there used to be. It was wiped out partly by draining swamps, but I think more by breaking the chain of transmission--keeping humans from getting infected, and putting infected humans inside some building with screens on the windows to keep mosquitos from carrying his malaria parasites to the next victim.

If the malaria-heavy areas of Africa and Asia get rich enough, is there some reason they won't be able to do the same thing? Alternatively, if anyone ever gets a really effective malaria vaccine going, it seems like it would be possible to eliminate it entirely, because once humans stop getting it, the parasite stops being able to complete its lifecycle and it dies off. (But that would require a malaria vaccine that prevented infection or transmission, rather than just making the symptoms less horrible.)

#234 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 02:35 PM:

And we actually did manage to eliminate smallpox (aside from the odd vial or two that still turns up occasionally). It's odd how people who want to reintroduce various species don't seem to want to reintroduce that one....

#235 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 03:26 PM:

So I work for a state university.

Not accidentally our campus is also an arboretum. We have a tree walk on campus in addition to the slow, but steady of construction of a botanical garden. Since we're a research university our trees also qualify as lab equipment.

Deer, feral cats, foxes and other assorted wildlife are pretty much shrugged at. One time a deer got confused and wound up in the Chemistry building via a large window. Except for that, we ignore them, they ignore us. What really got people wound up, was the time a beaver navigated about three miles of buried stream to set up house on campus. It took them the better part of a year to figure out he had denned under an intersection near the campus' creek. Billy the Beaver (some of our office staff named him) was navigating the storm water drainage system to get his business done unseen.

#236 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 03:36 PM:

Tom Whitmore #234 Doesn't seem that odd, really. Smallpox in the wild is pretty harmful to humans in a way that, say, the eurasian beaver isn't. It doesn't really seem all that inconsistent to support the reintroduction of species that are largely harmless to humans and beneficial to their ecosystems while taking more of a guarded approach to the reintroduction of species that are more dangerous.

The most charitable way to read that remark is that it's a joke that I don't understand. What am I missing?

#237 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 04:01 PM:

Tom @ 230: Speaking from personal experience with cats in hiding, patience and provision of food will entice your lost one out. Your description of the available food locations and surfaces should do the job, but it will still take a little time for your cat to ease out into public again.

albatross @ 233: There's more than 100 species of Plasmodium, and scientists are pondering the possibility of integrating Hemocystis as some of them are more like Plasmodium than the rest of the Hemocystis genera. In any case, there are four known species that routinely infect humans, and one that is mainly macaque-borne, but has been shown to be zoonotic, as well as others that can infect humans if given the right opportunities. Malaria has not been eliminated from the US (see here), although as you said, it is no longer endemic. In addition to Africa and Asia, it's found throughout Latin America. A vaccine for Plasmodium has been very difficult to design because the parasite itself has developed methods for evading the immune system, starting with its propensity for living within host cells.

#238 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 05:19 PM:

How one church kept homeless people off the church steps. it was more work than turning on sprinklers, but it's working.

#240 ::: C. Wingate is internally ill-served ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 05:28 PM:


#241 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 05:46 PM:

Tracie@238: I go to that church! (Not as a parishioner; they host a theater company that does four plays a year.) I'm glad to hear that they're good people.

#242 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 06:40 PM:

So, I just steamed some beet greens. As usual, I'm amused how the pile of greens that I needed my second-biggest pot for, shrinks down to a single bowlful.

Hopefully, the vitamins will help me fight off my current cold. Which is almost certainly by dentist's fault, as he put in my temporary crown while he himself was still suffering from laryngitis. :-( By the end of the week I was getting "something coming on" symptoms, and the last 2-3 days it's gone to congestion, dripping, and sneezing.

#243 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 07:24 PM:

Oh hey, Dutch-style urban planning is catching on. Looks like a cool idea, but I'm not sure how well it would scale in the US. I'd especially worry about "road rage" incidents.

#244 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 07:50 PM:

Laertes @236: I guess I do need that sarcasm mark after all. Now where did I put it on the keyboard?

Ginger @237: Working on that. It's a lot easier to be patient when he's in the ceiling than when he was wrapped around the car's steering column.

And he's been variously and severely traumatized (tooth removal and moved to Seattle), so that adds to the time necessary.

#245 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 07:59 PM:

I'm getting to like Citylab...

On the Road Again: Mapping All the Cities in Willie Nelson's Songs. "And as the song [Me and Paul] says, they probably still don't like Willie Nelson in Buffalo. Good thing they love him in lots and lots of other places. "

#246 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 08:03 PM:

Tom @244: You don't really need the sarcasm key. It was reasonably apparent--I just thought it'd be more charitable to assume a joke that I wasn't getting. It's good form to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially here.

Since it's sarcasm, I expect your point is that people who think that reintroducing species is sometimes a good idea are either fools or hypocrites since they don't also support infecting the world's human population with smallpox? Have I got that about right?

#247 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 08:14 PM:

P J Evans, #83: Over the weekend, one of our customers related a story about her sister, who lives out in the country and has a couple of outdoor barn cats. The cats mostly feed (very well) on rodents and other small vermin, but she still puts out a food dish for them in the mornings as a thank-you. One morning she was astounded to discover a mama skunk and her litter waiting at the top of the deck stairs instead! This led to the vexed question of, "How do you shoo a skunk?" -- to which the only real answer is, "You don't."

Theophylact, #85: What you do if you want to post a picture here is upload it to your own blog / Flickr or Picasa account / whatever, and then post the link here so that people can click thru and look.

Soon Lee, #107: Definitely food for thought. :-)

#248 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 08:26 PM:

Laertes @246: significantly more nuanced than that, but you've hit the sound-bite version. Some number of the people who support reintroduction of species claim to do so on purely principled grounds, and those who are pushing the ideological purity of the principal are, to some extent, being hypocritical. I personally support the reintroduction of many species into places they've been forced out of (and the removal of invasive species): I think it's worth looking closely at the costs and benefits in each case, rather than pushing blindly ahead. There are some species I do not care particularly about preserving; and I have a degree in zoology, so I know that a certain amount of extinction is useful and inevitable -- not as much as we currently have, but it's not useful to try to eliminate extinction entirely.

And even that's a relatively short version.

#249 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 08:34 PM:

#243 ::: David Harmon @243: Chicago's getting its first sorta-woonerf this upcoming construction season, on Argyle under the elevated tracks. Some interests are shrieking that HAVOC WILL ENSUE if cars are at all restricted in any way at all. It's a tiny pilot that, if it goes a year or two with no carpocalypse, will give local urbanists a working, local pilot project to point to and go WELL DUH PLEASE LET US.

Because around here, it doesn't matter WHO's done it and had it work, if you can't show someone a working full-scale version in Chicago it's really, really hard to get it built.

#250 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 08:38 PM:

Crushed to hear the news about Peggy Rae. She was kind to me when I most needed kindness, and I bet I'm one of about 100,000 people who can say that.

#251 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2015, 09:36 PM:

Mary Frances, #129: One of the major reasons for animals "encroaching on human space" is that, for whatever reason, the local population is not in breeding balance -- more individuals are surviving than the available habitat can support, so they try to expand their range and run into us.

Now turn that around. Humans are by far the fastest-expanding breeding mammal population in the world, and the situation gets worse with every passing year. We are outbreeding our habitat, and expanding into ranges that would more reasonably belong to other animals.

We could solve a lot of our problems, both physical and social, by getting the human population back down to around 4 billion again and keeping it there. The problem, of course, is how to do that.

John A., #160: My first thought would be to see if there's a part of town that supplies things like convenience-store items at wholesale; in Houston, that would be "down on Harwin", but I have no idea whether a similar area exists in Fayetteville. But if there is, that's where I'd look. Second idea: a large party-favors store.

(Very late to the party here, but YNK when someone else might need similar knowledge.)

Claire, #192: Ooh, that sounds interesting! Added to my Amazon wishlist.

#252 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 02:08 AM:

albatross #229:

It's pertinent that the church in question is the Cathedral of San Francisco, and is led by an Archbishop whose relationship with the city of San Francisco -- even with its Catholic population -- could best be described as "hostile, bordering on open warfare". Recently, for example, he has been requiring the staff of San Francisco's many Catholic schools to swear to a "moral code" which isn't at all popular. It's generally believed that Cordileone was assigned to San Francisco to "punish" the city for being on the forefront of gay rights.

So from the perspective of the local news, hosing down homeless people to drive them off the church steps is completely in character for the archbishop. And the story went to the national news from the local.

#253 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 07:23 AM:

Xopher Halftongue #250: Crushed to hear the news about Peggy Rae. She was kind to me when I most needed kindness, and I bet I'm one of about 100,000 people who can say that.

Well, that's one hell of an epitaph.

Lee #251: Yup, humans are the ultimate invasive species, trashing ecosystems wherever we go.

#254 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 09:13 AM:

I was talking with a friend about trends in dystopian fiction, and we talked a little about the underappreciated rights that don't get as much airtime. So I created Randomized Dystopia. You can hit Reload on the main page to get a right from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or use the Custom Terribleness page for the option of a specifically sexist or ageist dystopia.

I hope writers find this interesting as a writing prompt, and I'd also like to raise awareness (especially in the US) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Too often in the US I hear people talk as though the first ten amendments to the US Constitution comprise all the rights we ought to honor, and humanity has done some more thinking on those topics in the intervening centuries.

#255 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 10:59 AM:

Patrick on the closed thread: I hope you feel better soon. RSIs are nasty.

#256 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 11:02 AM:

I second the sentiment - I know that pain myself, though not quite to that degree.

#257 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 11:41 AM:

Re: Patrick: Yuck. I managed to inflame a nerve-root in my neck some years ago. Man that was miserable—all the way down to my pinkie on that side. Good luck!

#258 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 12:08 PM:

Patrick, I feel your pain. I mean that quite literally, having had some experience of neck and back pain for a while.

#259 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 12:15 PM:

Just came across these photos of a coyote in a photographer's (semi-rural) backyard, playing with, and eventually leaving with, the dog's toy.

#260 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 12:21 PM:

*nods* Yup. Much sympathy, and empathy, to Patrick; I have chronic RSI myself. Hope it clears up as fast as possible.

#261 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 08:08 PM:

Last summer, we got a cougar in downtown Sacramento. (Not too difficult; there's clear parkway along the American River all the way up to Folsom Lake, and wild access clear into the Sierras from there.)

And some friends of mine in Colorado got a bear in their backyard. Their house isn't really up against rural space, though that area—right next to Boulder—isn't too far from outright wild areas.

#262 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 08:30 PM:

During the time I lived in Portland, Oregon, I recall an elk finding its way into the zoo—it jumped into an enclosure with some antelopes. A bear traveled through, apparently swimming the Willamette river, judging by the sightings on one side of the river and then the other. Another bear came through last summer, after I'd left. I haven't gone to check the news about it. I just know it happened because (ahem) he started tweeting, and my friends were retweeting him.

#263 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 08:34 PM:

SFGate has some pictures of a bear seen in Tracy last night. It was on the west side, so apparently out of the hills.

#264 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 08:42 PM:

Cat update: he's out of the ceiling, at the emergency vet, with an excellent prognosis (on IV fluids, eating solid food voraciously). We'll bring him home tomorrow, most likely. Thank you all for the good thoughts.

#265 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 08:48 PM:

#264 ::: Tom Whitmore

That's quite a relief.

#266 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 08:58 PM:

Tom Whitmore #264: Yay!

#267 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 09:50 PM:

On Ceiling Cat: oh, good. I like hearing tales of organisms where they should not generally be turning out well. Plus it matches the theme of the thread.

#268 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 10:02 PM:

Patrick: Ow. Even minor RSI sucks; what you have sounds completely horrible. Hope it clears up as fast as possible!

Tom Whitmore: Hooray for Ceiling Cat!

#269 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 10:03 PM:

My sister lives near Horsetooth Reservoir, in the foothills of Colorado. When her oldest daughter was still catching a bus to school in the morning, a bear was seen nearby. She was with a responsible grownup, who promptly ran off to get a camera. They also find bear poop on the back deck once in a while — a deck that's eight or ten steps up from the ground.

#270 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 11:49 PM:

Patrick, huge sympathies with your current pain. I had a nasty RSI in my right arm & hand (i.e. the mousing hand) about four or five years ago. It all had to do with positioning and I ended up having to buy a new desk. I hope your situation resolves easily and swiftly.

Tom: great news about the cat!!

#271 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2015, 11:50 PM:

Many thanks to Kier Salmon, who some of you know, for being in at the final save and having very good sense about cats. She is reliable in a pinch.

#272 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 12:09 AM:

Patrick: I have the impression you don't want comments on your RSI pain, so I'm going to instead ask: do I have permission to do magic for you? (Just the Green Tara chant, nothing too oogy-boogy.)

#273 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 01:30 AM:

Sympathies to Patrick (I've had sciatic nerve spazzouts), and happy to hear about the retrieval of Ceiling Cat.

#274 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 10:13 AM:

Yay for the rescue of Ceiling Cat!

#275 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 10:21 AM:

Apropos of nothing, Charlie Stross has a new post out that has both a discussion on that new EBook Bowldlerizer software and the beginnings of an NSFW language parlor game that may amuse some of the commentariat here.

#276 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 12:07 PM:

Since "moderation, the effective doing thereof" is often a topic of discussion here, I thought I'd offer up the best example of, "How to piss off the users the fastest way possible!" that I've seen in a very long time. It's ... educational. It's a classic example of everything NOT to do, including some things I've never seen a siterunner do before. (A request for gardening advice in what should be an abject apology? A claim to be a member of MENSA by the CEO? Really?)

(Background on this is that homesteadingtoday has been around for well over a decade. Sometime over the last few years, a TOS was put in place that was, to put it mildly, a rights grab. Users weren't notified. That new TOS asserts all ownership of any content posted, and the right to edit/modify/alter said content. Current users were not notified of the change in TOS. The new owners have now copied and pasted posts by users to other forums owned by the same company, attributed them to somebody named Alice, and then had this sock named Alice respond to comments to "her" posts. Once the plagiarism was discovered, things went downhill from there. I'd say they went predictably downhill, but Carbon Media seems to be making an extra-special effort to blow the whole thing up.

I would note that homesteadingtoday contains fiction posted to a forum for stories on the site, as well as farming discussion, recipes, instructions, etc. They are, technically, claiming to own the rights to the users' fiction and other creative content, and they are refusing to delete user content. The TOS even claims the ability to publish private messages between users.

User reaction is about what you'd expect.

#277 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 02:14 PM:


I think that ties to abi's original post in another way.

Online communities almost always happen on someone's private space--Facebook or Livejournal or somebody's blog or forum. The owner of the space owns the space, owns the servers, and is spending money providing the services that give the community a place to live, a place to store and find the fanfic or old archived discussions, etc.

Sooner or later, the owner may decide to sell the infrastructure on which the community is living. Or they may decide that they'd like to make a living running this infrastructure, instead of doing it as an ever more demanding labor of love. Or they may want to move on, and hand the control of the infrastructure to someone else. But the value of the infrastructure is based on the community that lives there. Many changes that would make it possible to make money from that community (even if it's just enough to pay the bills for keeping the servers running) will also alienate the community. When you sell that infrastructure to someone new, they won't know much about the community, and may not care--they just want to make some money. Rights grabs, throwing away important-to-the-community stuff, heavy-handed treatment of community members, etc., are all pretty common.

I've seen this pattern happen many times. We don't have a good general way, yet, to establish online communities in a way that isn't subject to this kind of failure mode. It's not obvious how to do it, either. Hosting those communities without someone owning the space gives us spammers and trolls with no way to shut them down--the equivalent of your public parks being taken over by homeless guys and junkies and drug dealers. (See usenet.) Hosting them on someone's private space means a different set of problems. I wish I knew of a good general solution.

#278 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 02:19 PM:


It's a nice story. I wonder if it will still look so positive a year from now. Maybe it will, too, but I wonder why, having cleared off their steps, they won't find themselves with some new people trying to sleep on them.

#279 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 02:27 PM:

#278 ::: albatross

I expect they could supply ongoing services to new people. The hard problem is if there are so many new people or people with worse problems that the church doesn't have enough resources.

#280 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 02:55 PM:

Ceiling Cat (alternative names: Mr. Tippy, Garbo) is now home and doing well. We've got him in a large cage with a privacy box; he's used the litter box there, and is spending most of his time in the private space (which we expect to be true for several days, if not weeks). No more reports expected unless he does something else interesting.

Thank you all for the good thoughts.

#281 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 03:22 PM:

@277 Albatross -- the best model I've seen is Archiveofourown, which is run by a non profit, with reasonably savvy people in charge. Or this site here, which is run as a labor of love.

The drama continues. The CEO claims he OWNS the COPYRIGHT to all user content. This includes user photographs, stories, recipes, how-tos, and a whole not of the usual forum chit-chat. He also asserts a license to use content is the exact same thing as owning content. And he's refusing to allow users to delete/edit/modify their content, while banning those same users. Users used to be able to delete or edit their own posts.

He tried to claim the rights they've made a grab for are the exact same as Youtube and Facebook, and when I said, essentially, "Youtube and facebook both say YOU own YOUR content and also that you can delete your work!" and provided citations for proof, he changed his tune to, "But if we delete user content, threads won't make sense any more!"

That abusive TOS claims rights to stuff like private messages (explicitly, in so many words) and rights in perpetuity on any content posted on the site (explicitly) ...

Oye, what a mess.

#282 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 04:55 PM:

Cygnet @281, as I understand it*, Compuserve (that old and venerable site) *shares* copyright; they hold copyright of the stuff posted on their site, but so do the people who post it. And those people can delete, change, or what-have-you. (Sometimes, they'll have to request a sysop to do it for them, but the principle holds.) Sysops (moderators) can also change/delete, but they'd better have a darn good reason (as per disemvowelment on this board).

And Compuserve has never (to my recollection) claimed the right to repost or republish anyone's works elseweb. (Sometimes it might be used as clickbait on the forum home page, mind you...)

*I hope I understand it; while I'm not a forum owner, I've been a sysop on one Compuserve forum or another for something approaching 20 years now.

#283 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 04:56 PM:

albatross #277: That can go both ways. I recently set out to start up a game wiki, for favorite Minecraft mod, Thaumcraft. (It "didn't have a real wiki", because prior efforts had been scattered over too many sites.) One person I was discussing this with on the forums was dubious about setting up on one of the hosting sites, instead they wanted to run the wiki off a server owned by a friend of theirs (who wasn't on the forums). I was very dubious about that, precisely because that meant the real-world ownership would be by a person I didn't know, by way of someone I'd only met on the forums. What if the person I was talking to "got hit by a bus", or the friend wanted to do something else with that machine?

What I went with,¹ was "adopting" a Wikia site which had been abandoned by the last people who'd tried that, over a year (and several mod versions) ago. My reasoning was that Wikia had been around a while and showed every intention of wanting to stay around for a while longer, they had a clear concept of governance which involved not messing with the individual sites... and, they'd demonstrated that if a site was abandoned, it would stay up... and after 60 days with no activity by any administrator, it would be eligible for adoption by someone else. Which means that if I give up on it, my work will stay as a foundation for someone else to build on, just as the previous folks left something for me to build on.

Results: I brought over some prior work I'd done elsewhere, and found a couple of other people who were interested in working on it. One of whom did enough work that I made them the "backup" admin... Not too many editors yet, but it's only been a couple of weeks, and with our initial work, we've already got a fair bit of material. It may fly, it may not, but it's at least more than we had before, and the mod developer gave us a link in the mod's "original post" on the forum, so I can reasonably hope it will collect attention over time. And while I've been putting a fair bit of effort into it, it's not dependent on me, personally, continuing to carry it. (For anyone interested, it's the Thaumcraft 4 Wikia.)

¹ I got to decide, because I was bringing the initiative. I think understanding that is key to grasping how to get stuff done on the Internet. That person who wanted to run it on their friend's server? They haven't shown up on the wiki.

#284 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2015, 06:34 PM:

Sometimes sports figures will surprise you. Sometimes they even do so with a sense of linguistic joy.
(h/t Slacktivist)

#285 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 12:11 AM:

David G @ 205: exactly so. I've heard of the treatment as a way of disinteresting squirrels in a bird feeder, but expect bears would be affected similarly. (I've read that the meat of US Southwest wild turkeys who have been gobbling chilipiquines is a delicacy, but I've never been offered any.)
      wrt various followons: does anyone know whether birds are similarly insensitive to Szechuan peppers?

albatross @ 229: "A park can be a place where homeless people sleep (and almost inevitably, leave empty bottles and needles and other mess). This is debatable. I don't know \why/ the SF cathedral had a problem -- but I do know that the church where my chorus rehearses commonly has a number of people sleeping rough by the door I use after rehearsal, and I've never seen a scrap.
      NB: raptors aren't the only issue. I've seen a lap-sized yapper nearly reduced to collops by a gander in gosling season, prevented only by a native warning the owner to reel in their nuisance.

@243/249: Meanwhile, Boston has just announced that a troublesome stretch of road by Boston University will be reconfigured from 3 traffic lanes (one with bike stripes) to a bike lane between parking and sidewalk, plus two traffic lanes. I like the principal -- the area probably wouldn't work as a woonerf -- although the example of why this is necessary appears to have involved a massively careless cyclist.

#286 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 01:34 AM:

Lee @284:

Now, that's what I call a student-athlete. Grinning ear-to-ear over here.

#287 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 02:55 AM:

Abi: I'm only an occasional contributer here, but for whatever it might be worth I think you're perfectly qualified to be Horribly Grumpy from time to time. It goes with the job. (I also think you were only moderately grumpy at the beginning of this thread.) My feelings on this are largely because... oh... 99% of the time you do a yeoman job of nudging us and the general approach to the thread well away from being grumpy or obnoxious in any way.

However, I want to reserve the right to be grumpy about Patrick's arm pains. I've had (thankfully brief) periods of various pains like that, and don't think he deserves them, or that the world ought to work like that. (Mind you, pains starting the the left armpit (whether or not they "radiate down" -- a code phrase in the Medical Books -- if they're ameliorated by taking nitro-glycerine tabs are even more frightning.)

#288 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 08:23 AM:

Completely OT: entry of the month, at least, in "the past is a different place." From 1960, about a surgery:

I often tell my clients: “You light a cigarette when the operation begins and the operation will be over before the cigarette is finished.” There is no exaggeration in this statement. Many who did smoke on the operation table have confirmed it.

Source here

#289 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 09:35 AM:

cajunfj40 @275: In re the new Clean Reader app (that amends your local copy of a variety of ebooks to "bleep out" words that the people who wrote the word list think you might think are objectionable) ... an interesting example of both what it looks like when it works as intended, and what happens when you use it on a work whose filthiness it can't see.

#290 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 09:40 AM:

I would first like to thank Mary Frances@141 for her answer, and ask her pardon for my tardiness.

Second: I knew someone who house-sat for a local club [similar to the Elks] hall - she got to live there rent free and she took care of maintenance, cleaning and the like. Often there were homeless people hanging out around the back of the building. Her approach was to say hi and say they were welcome to hang out, but please pack up their trash when they leave. She was a little scuffy-looking and very friendly, which may have helped with communication. She had, by her report, no problems. I guess that's the difference between "treat people with consideration and most of them will respond with consideration" and "We Have A Homeless Problem."

Third: I have heard of wikia sites being infested with malware more than once. How is wikia organized? Is this a problem at the top level, or is this a group-by-group problem?

#291 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 01:58 PM:

I'm a moderator, and I'm trying to figure a policy for an upvote/downvote system without discussing it in public.

If anyone is willing help me out, I can be reached at nancyl (at) panix (dot) com.

#292 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 04:35 PM:

Nancy @ 291: I'll make one suggestion in public which may not fit your needs and is so yes/no it isn't even worth a discussion: Don't use downvotes.

#293 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 04:51 PM:

I think the community prefers having downvotes, though perhaps I should raise the question. Also, even the upvotes can be misused.

#294 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 10:35 PM:

Another comment on the homeless sheltering outside buildings. I was in line at my local post office several months ago, and a police officer was ahead of me. When he reached the desk, the clerk handled his transaction, and then also told him not to bother the homeless person who sleeps in the post office building's doorway. He said that the person always left before they opened in the morning, and never made a mess. The police officer said "sure thing", and I left feeling a little happier (if still sad that people need doorways).

#295 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 11:12 PM:


(No, not me. A friend none of you know. Gingers shouldn't live in LA and should never, ever go to the beach.)

#296 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2015, 08:03 AM:

Sandy B. #290: Third: I have heard of wikia sites being infested with malware more than once. How is wikia organized? Is this a problem at the top level, or is this a group-by-group problem?

AFAICT, this is a top-level issue (central ad distribution), which they are aggressively fighting on that level, including blacklisting advertisers. This is their helpfile on the topic. They do have some top-level spam protections as well, which are generally transparent to the individual wikis, but individual admins also have ban capabilities.

#297 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2015, 08:39 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @295, sympathies to your friend, and to you.

#298 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2015, 09:31 AM:

I sometimes manage to quote enough of this on Twitter to get the point over. Here is the whole thing:

Matthew Arnold
[First published 1867.]

Crouch'd on the pavement close by Belgrave Square
A tramp I saw, ill, moody, and tongue-tied;
A babe was in her arms, and at her side
A girl; their clothes were rags, their feet were bare.

Some labouring men, whose work lay somewhere there,
Pass’d opposite; she touch’d her girl, who hied
Across, and begg’d, and came back satisfied.
The rich she had let pass with frozen stare.

Thought I: Above her state this spirit towers;
She will not ask of aliens, but of friends,
Of sharers in a common human fate.

She turns from that cold succour, which attends
The unknown little from the unknowing great,
And points us to a better time than ours.

#299 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2015, 10:20 AM:

Today's xkcd is very sfnal.

#300 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2015, 11:32 AM:

Open threadiness. One way to fight back against laws that allow businesses to refuse service because of their religious beliefs: a campaign to help businesses post Open for Service signs and be on a corresponding online list.

#301 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2015, 11:41 AM:

OtterB #300: Brilliant!

#302 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2015, 01:33 AM:

Damn. He can sing, too. Who knew?

#303 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2015, 08:20 AM:

I'm going to attend Norwescon next weekend. Will anyone else here be there?

#304 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2015, 10:42 AM:

#302 ::: Jacque

Does anyone know what the tune is?

#305 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2015, 11:36 AM:

iamnothing @303: I'll be there, mostly at the Sasquan table. I've been off their list of program participants for a couple of decades, and I don't push to get back on for some reason -- probably inertia.

#306 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2015, 08:02 PM:

Nancy: I'm betting, since it's Sesame Street, that it's original.

#307 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2015, 10:36 PM:

My posts are disappearing, without explanation, including my reply here to Tom @305! I suppose I should refrain from further efforts (and it _is_ an effort to post) until notification.

#308 ::: Cally Soukup Alerts the Gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2015, 10:41 PM:

iamnothing is having a problem; see above. I suspect the spam filter needs to be tuned a bit.

#309 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2015, 11:52 PM:

First, they came for the snipes, and I said nothing, for I was warm and dry at home, laughing my ass off.

#310 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2015, 12:29 AM:

My partner will be running the Pegasus Publishing table at NorWesCon. Which means he'll be busy during the day, but may be interested in company for dinner.

#311 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones also for the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2015, 12:44 AM:

Another of iamnothing's posts disappeared from the sadpuppies thread when I reloaded the page. They were asking if a comment had been unpublished, so evidently it wasn't the first.

#313 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2015, 03:05 PM:

Open-threadiness: I have been watching this supercut of dancing from the movies set to "Shut Up And Dance With Me" all morning, and it is making me smile so much. If you're looking for a happy thing, I'd recommend it.

#314 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2015, 04:24 PM:

Here's one last attempt, because people may be expecting a reply.

Tom Whitmore @305: I'll look for you there.

Lee @310: I'll look for your partner as well.

That's it.

#315 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2015, 06:24 PM:

iamnothing, I know you know, you know I know, you've been suspended. Perhaps we can discuss it at some later point when I'm less wroth.

Cally, thank you for the heads-up.

#316 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2015, 10:35 PM:

Posting over here because it's really not on-topic for the original thread it was posted in, but I located the other course text for that science fiction class I took, and it turns out that the one thing I was sure about (that Gardner Dozois was an editor) was the main thing I was completely wrong about. Isn't memory wonderful. It was actually Visions of Wonder, edited by David G. Hartwell and Milton T. Wolf. I wound up just googling the titles of three stories I knew for sure were in it.

On a different note, I'm spending tonight editing an assignment for a first-year B.Sc. student in Nursing*. It's fascinating; not in the subject matter, though that's interesting enough, but because the writer has a Master's in English Literature, and had not quite realized that the difference in probable audience* necessitated a different writing style. Lots of metaphors and long, complex sentences, which is not really what you want in a "step-by-step guide to X protocol for novice nurses".

*Who, due to the vagaries of the Quebec medical and educational systems, is a qualified and practicing nurse already.

#317 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2015, 10:53 PM:

I went to a talk by George Takei this weekend. He is a fine speaker, with interesting and important things to say. Should you have the opportunity to hear him, do go.
He was the closing speaker for the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival -- "Smart talk about stuff that matters". This was its first year, and just a few days long. I only got to 3 things, but it looks very promising. It was unfortunate that it was on the same weekend as PIX, the PIttsburgh Indy Comix Expo. I chose PIX on Saturday, and had a splendid time. I do like a small comic con. I got to meet Joyce Brabner! It was quite the weekend for SJWs like myself.

#318 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 02:20 AM:

I discovered a couple of days ago that I had forgotten all about a book purchase (no one here's ever done this, right? just me?) : Ursula Vernon's Toad Words and Other Stories. I sat down to read it before I forgot again, and was so utterly delighted with the stories I immediately picked up Nine Goblins and The Seventh Bride*. And that was how I spent yesterday evening and well into this morning. And now they're all read and I don't have any more and this is sad for me.

But! While I was reading, I was very, very happy. Very. No doubt I will be able to obtain more soon. So, Ursula Vernon/T Kingfisher, books. Highly recommend.

*that's actually two books. Though it could have been one. It would have been a different sort of book then.

#319 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 07:53 AM:

That Indiana "Freedom to Discriminate" law has sponsors fleeing their "Big Data" conference.

We'll see if that makes an impression....

#320 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 10:33 AM:

HLN: the chilly "Spring"(*) in Boston has had at least one good effect: Sunday was so clear that our rooftop solar panels had their first day over 22 kWh. (They were turned on last June, but a typical fine summer day here includes lots of "cumulus of fair weather", intermittently blocking the most direct sunlight.) Yes, I'm geeking about this.

Meanwhile, the combination of cold and cloudburst made the Charles threaten to spill ice over its banks.

(*) We need a new name for the time past the vernal equinox when there are still 3-foot-high piles of snow in my yard. It's not even Mud (traditional New England 5th season) yet. I suppose I sound like a wimp next to Minnesotans -- or even Montrealers -- but Boston isn't supposed to be either of those.

#321 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 11:03 AM:

David H., #319: In all honesty, I don't see the loss of a convention whose stated purpose is the discussion of "mining big data for big profits" as a completely negative thing. :-) But yeah.

I'd heard a rumor that another large media-con company was pulling a con out of Indianapolis, but Google research suggests that either this was in error (because I don't see an Indianapolis con listed on their website) or they've done an amazingly fast scrub without leaving so much as a "this event has been canceled" notice. I'm more inclined to think the former.

#322 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 11:12 AM:

Lee @321: Was it GenCon? They currently do have a contract with Indiana for the next few years, but won't be renewing it as far as I understand.

#323 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 11:36 AM:

CHip @320: The five seasons of New England as I learned them when my parents were in New Hampshire: Tourist season, Winter, Winter part 2, Mud, and But they told us we wouldn't *need* air conditioning!

#324 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 12:03 PM:

Em, #322: No, and my first guess as to which company it might have been was also incorrect. It was Indiana Comic Con, of which this year's iteration was completed just before the bill was signed. The company that runs it is based out of Florida, and there is as yet no announced date for next year's Indianapolis event on their website. Which could mean either that they just haven't updated yet, or that they're doing a wait-and-see before deciding whether to go forward with an event in 2016.

#325 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 01:47 PM:

Someone suggested that if GenCon wants to pull out now, they should just say that not doing so would violate their beliefs. That should work, right? (No idea, of course, but it sounds like something satisfying to say.)

#326 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 03:08 PM:

I have green shoots and visible grass in my sunny yard, but no crocus blossoms.

I envy my local-but-not-immediate friends, who have had crocuses for GOING ON A MONTH NOW due to the exigencies of microclimates (and yards with less shade).

Sigh. Maybe I should plant snowdrops when I redo the bulb bed. In the sunniest possible spot. So I can at least have something flower-like to look at when my South Carolina internet friends are posting pictures of tomatoes.

(my mail-order tomato seedlings will not arrive until May 15th, because in Chicago we don't deserve nice things like tomatoes until after we can prove we REALLY MEAN IT about the no more frost for the year)

#327 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 03:22 PM:

My parents were told, when they moved to est Texas, that it was a bad idea there to plant gardens before Easter, because they frequently get freezes right about then. (The farmers tend to not plant until late April or early May, but that's because the big crops for many of them are cotton and maize, both of which need warm weather.)

#328 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 06:20 PM:

It was apparently nice in the Hill Country for my sister and brother-in-law, who went down to clean out Dad's storage unit in Kerrville (while Dad was parked with his brother in Canyon). Now they're pulling a U-Haul full of Dad's boxes. Some hard work, but they got to relax and watch the Guadalupe go by.

#329 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 06:34 PM:

So of course when I went to get the kid there was a crocus blossom that wasn't there this morning. So I feel a little better. April just seems ridiculously late for 'first flowers in yard,' even here in Chicago, and at least it's still March.

#330 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 06:48 PM:

Kip W @ 328 -

I've been discussing the idea with my wife that we should retire in Kerrville. I've always wanted a home in the Hill Country.

I know there are a good many retirees there. I figure that my white hair should fit right in. :) And while the skies aren't as pristine as they once were, it would still warrant a backyard observatory.

#331 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 07:06 PM:

Steve C. @330

Kerrville has some good eateries, and my sister says all the help in stores they visited were helpful and courteous. I love the area (partly because we visited there almost every Christmas all through my childhood while staying at my grandparents' ranch) anyway. I'll warn you that their YMCA is nothing but a baby-sitting venue that supervises some kid sporting activities. Surprising for a place that's otherwise a prosperous (the HEB food store is relatively opulent) and civilized spot.

Observatories. One of the houses I drive past in my suburban neighborhood here in western NY has an observatory out back. By chance, I mentioned it to someone who knew the owner of it, or former owner (the woman who put it in died). I keep wanting to go knock on the door of the house and ask if there's still a telescope in it.

Colorado State University still has an observatory. I remember visiting it in grade school. They don't use it much now, because Fort Collins, nestled in the foothills, has a microclimate that causes pollution to cling to the area in a brown cloud that was clearly visible from the Interstate when I lived there.

Similarly, the observatory at University of Houston was a relic when I worked there around '83–4. We went up there once, because I had this idea of projecting the solar eclipse through it, and that worked fine. A clear night in Houston was one in which the moon had an outline.

The light spill here is such that I wouldn't go out and buy a telescope, but I have one that my other grandfather made. He was a dedicated hobbyist, and for a while edited The Earth Science Digest. His rock collection, now dispersed, included a diamond and a piece of nickel-looking meteorite a little smaller than my fist.

Anyway, you could do a lot worse than Kerrville. Oh, and drive down to Bandera, too. The Frontier Times Museum there is a delightfully cluttered little thing, and they clearly believe not only in hanging on to things just because they're odd, they also believe in showing as much as they can of what they have. It's a refreshing change from the pristine simplicity of a single white pedestal with one object on it in a ten by ten gallery, which is sadly what the museum in Fort Collins has become: Nouvelle Cuisine Museum.

#332 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 07:46 PM:

Kip W @ 331 -

Thanks for the observations. IIRC, HEB's original store was in Kerrville.

I've been through Bandera a few times, and Boerne as well. I'll have to check out the Frontier Times museum next time.

I've visited the U of H Observatory a long time ago. As far as I know, their telescope is still set up.

Far West Texas is home to a number of homes with observatories because of their dark, dark skies. There's one fellow with a 48" scope. Some amateur astronomers go all out.

#333 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 08:46 PM:

I'm bothered because down in Central Virginia, I'm still not seeing any leaves on the trees, which seems unduly late (though at least one sort is flowering).

#334 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 09:56 PM:

Zelda @ 323: that's the country version; Boston sees tourists at almost any time, not just leaf-peeping. But I'll remember that last season, as it was certainly what I hoped when I finally came to a north-temperate-zone city on the coast.

#335 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 10:07 PM:

abi @ 0: a weird historical connection to your opening line just hit me; my wife saw Logan's Run for the first time this weekend and said how 70's it looked -- not realizing the public scenes were shot in a Texas trade center (which probably looked very up-to-the-minute to the civilians). I wonder what had to be done to clear the trade center for filming; I don't think they could have done something like the gunning down of a runner in an uncontrolled crowd in Texas, even in the 70's, without side effects.
      Filming is more an imposition of one un-nature on another than the sort of nature/un-nature I read you as pointing at -- but watching the shifting attitudes towards Hollywood's intrusion on living environments (however developed) has been interesting. It's even more interesting now that many of the states that gave huge discounts to get movie productions to work in said states have started realizing how much the states lost on the deals.

#336 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 10:54 PM:

Bad news -- Joni Mitchell has been hospitalized, she was found unconcious in her home late Monday afternoon.

#337 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2015, 11:11 PM:

I hope she will be okay. A more-than-handful of her songs are lodged in my soul.

#338 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 08:45 AM:

I hear that Mary Robinette Kowal will be working for a few days on Sesame Street.
Congratulations to Mary Robinette!!!

#339 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 10:30 AM:

Joni is in intensive care. She regained consciousness on the way to the hospital. They're doing testing and so on now. I hope she recovers and realizes her instrument still
makes beauty happen.

#340 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 10:40 AM:

One-day only exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum:

#341 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 11:15 AM:

Jon Meltzer@340; such a pity this exhibit is only on display today. I'd've liked to be able to go and not-see it in person....

#342 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 11:37 AM:

What I posted above apparently was Mary Robinette pulling a prank on us.

#343 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 11:45 AM:

Someone on Reddit mentioned that April 1st would be the worst day for a zombie attack.

#344 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 11:51 AM:

The Yarn Harlot's latest post has Chris Hadfield meeting a sock. With photos.
(Prepare for LOL.)

#345 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 12:08 PM:


#346 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 02:23 PM:

Clifton @345 - those who go to the New Improved Inverse Google should pay special attention to the options in Google Maps.

#347 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 02:59 PM:

Hmph, the reverse google isn't working for me -- I just get a blank page, even after enabling scripts. (Firefox on Ubuntu)

#348 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2015, 06:18 PM:

David: My office-mate spent a while trying to figure out how it works; I think it depends on support for HTML5 canvas transforms, which perhaps your Firefox doesn't yet have.

#349 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2015, 09:40 AM:

A beautiful little short story about books and libraries. From the point of view of a book.

Donation, by merriman

I cried. In a good way.

#350 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2015, 12:30 PM:

Elliott @349: Oh, that is wonderful. I shelved books in my libraries until I finished college. That's so delicate and lovely. It makes me glad I'm donating my books to the patient library here.

#351 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2015, 12:58 PM:

Happy Birthday, Mongoose!

#352 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2015, 03:35 PM:

Happy birthday, Mongoose!

#353 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2015, 02:53 AM:

Re the Particle about cover art:

I first ran across this one in an FTP archive, back when they were a common fannish cross-pollination method. To the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands."

There's a spaceship on the cover of my book.
There's a spaceship on the cover of my book.
The action never leaves the planet,
But it needs a spaceship, dammit,
Hence the spaceship on the cover of my book.

There's a bimbo on the cover of my book.
There's a bimbo on the cover of my book.
She is blond and she is sexy;
She is nowhere in the text; she
Is the bimbo on the cover of my book.

There's a white guy on the cover of my book.
There's a white guy on the cover of my book.
Though the heroINE is black,
With Art that cuts no slack,
Sooooo a white guy's on the cover of my book.

#354 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2015, 03:27 AM:

Jenny, #353: I knew I'd heard more of it than that.

This would actually be a great song for filkers (and others) to continue to build on, in the style of "Old Time Religion".

Also, I should mention that I couldn't find my copy of Dream Park when I went to Detcon1 (it turned out I'd lent it to a friend and forgotten), so I bought a second copy to have autographed. When I handed it to Steven Barnes, I said, "Y'know, I don't recall there being a dragon in that book," and he laughed. The closest thing to a dragon in the story is the Spruce Goose.

#355 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2015, 07:45 AM:

Lee #354: This would actually be a great song for filkers (and others) to continue to build on,

From the evidence, they already have. I LOL'ed at every knight is fit for battle/But the action's in Seattle.

"Y'know, I don't recall there being a dragon in that book,"

At least that could plausibly be a scene from the titular park... just not the part the story was following.

It occurs to me that we need some pithy name for this slapping-on-of-irrelevant-covers. Possibly the name of someone who was particularly known for it, but I'd have no idea who to pick on.

#356 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2015, 11:53 AM:

In other, happier news, I think last night I was in the presence of genius, and I don't just mean Blake.

#357 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2015, 03:15 PM:

David Harmon @333: I walk past Capitol Square in Richmond every day on the way from bus stop to office, and I'd observed a couple of weeks ago that the camellias there had yet to even pop their buds, though they usually are in full bloom during General Assembly (that's the state legislature, for those not familiar with VA). They started blooming a week ago. So, we are effectively about three weeks behind the usual spring timing.

#358 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2015, 07:38 PM:

California drought update: I was just in Yosemite. Falls are at late spring/early summer levels; ephemerals are absent. My parents were there four years ago in JULY and there was twice as much water going. Oy.

#359 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2015, 08:42 PM:

Four years ago the snowpack was about double its normal level. Ouch.

(I see a bright future for composting and incinerating euphemisms in the western states. And probably nonstick coatings for sinks and basins.)

#360 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2015, 09:20 PM:

So, I just got back from family Pesach dinner at my sister's. As always, it was a reaffirmation of family and community, with plenty of good fun.

All my sister's kids are plenty old enough for meaningful conversations now; I was discussing XKCD volume 0 (they had it lying out) with my 12-year-old nephew (and earlier, introduced my stepfather to it with "you're one of today's lucky 10,000!"). Also, my other nephew's macaroons have reached professional standards of excellence. Nice chats with my sister, BiL, and her friends, too.

#361 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2015, 06:19 AM:

I idly wondered just now how many comments I've made here. Turns out this very one is #3000.

Happy Surprising Round Number Day, everybody!

#362 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2015, 10:29 AM:

...and this is my #1,500. Does that make me a halfling TexAnne?

#363 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2015, 10:31 AM:

I'm at 1655 -- for this email address, which I believe is the third I've used here. Possibly the second.

#364 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2015, 12:59 PM:

A student turned in an essay late. It's opening sentence is a classic: 'In this Essay, I will analyze and produce an analytical analysis on Max Weber and his arguments regarding politics while providing a brief background of his writings.'

A tree died for this.

#365 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Ursula V. is Artist GOH for MileHiCon this October!

Be still, my heart!

#366 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2015, 02:39 PM:

I have a Worldcon/Sasquan question that is not directly Hugo related so I thought I'd ask here - has anyone this time around gone on the installment plan? I'm ready to make another payment, but I'm really not sure how. The Webform indicates I can do it through there, but it's the same form that I made the initial payment on. There is no space to list your membership #, and no "notes" area to scrawl a little note stating that this is Installment #2 of Existing Membership. I'd like to avoid accidentally being registered twice. Also, my friend has deleted the Hugo Nomination email that had her membership # - is there a way to get that number?

#367 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2015, 04:15 PM:

Elliott Mason #349: Wow. I cried too.

#368 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2015, 04:49 PM:

nerdycellist @366: Your friend should get another email when the electronic packet is ready to download, and that should include the membership number and PIN. He or she could also message the con (using the contact form on their website) and ask about it.

#369 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 01:09 AM:

It's still Saturday here on the Left Coast, and I've spent a while today (and yesterday, and the day before) reading the threads about the Hugo nominations. Sigh. Wishing the moderators and the gnomes many adult beverages of their choice.

Looking forward to tomorrow's Making Light topics...

#370 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 01:12 AM:

Lee@354, David Harmon@355 - Maya and Jeff Bahnhoff do a nice version of "There's a bimbo on the cover of my book" in concerts, and it's probably on one of their albums.

#371 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 02:05 AM:

It's not a good day to come here for soothing and uplifting. [sigh]

#372 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 03:13 AM:

Clifton @ 371: Some days are like that. I could use a little of it myself, for reasons unrelated to all this. So you know what? You got my sympathy for whatever.

And don't forget to

#374 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 05:23 AM:

Here's an AKICIML question: How do those of you with a large Twitter feed manage it? I'm finding it very hard. Possibly it's got to do with text size and screen space and me being old, but still.

#375 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 08:02 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer @374:
As I understand it, some use filters or lists. One way or another, it boils down to coming to terms with knowing you won't be able to read everything.

I use a filter, in a way. Twitter simply doesn't give me all the posts. The button says to click it for, say, 783 new posts. I click, and it gives me 150 or so. I have the option of hitting refresh, and it may give me more than 150, in tiny dribs and drabs (like it has prostate problems).

Knowing this, some people make the same tweet at different times of the same day. I stopped following Andy Borowitz because he does this about six times a day. I sometimes will repost a tweet of my own if I think it was pretty profound and want to expose it to the next shift.

#376 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 08:08 AM:

And I don't have what most would consider a large feed, by the way. I've grown mine slowly, as far as who I choose to add. I get added to feeds fairly frequently, and most of these are fair-weather sorts who may have added me because I used a particular noun that they are gaga over. For instance, if I'd said that last bit there, I might find myself friended by a fake Lady Gaga or a fan, and they'd be gone again after a bit, replaced by someone who adds anybody that mentions the string "Edgar Allan Poe." I block/report the ones who are spam. If someone seems to be hate-following, I'll generally block that as well.

Most peculiar is that I still seem to be getting a follow from a deadbeat client who walked out on several hundred dollars worth of really aggravating work I did for them. No idea why they are there. They never seem to post anything. Maybe they're waiting for me to declare that they're off the hook or something.

#377 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 08:52 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @374 How do those of you with a large Twitter feed manage it?
I don't regard it as something that I need to stay on top of. I think of Twitter more like the radio, always on, but I only listen occasionally. I read in reverse order -- most recent first -- and just read as far as I have time for. On tweets that are replies, I click on the tweet to read the thread in one go, to get things in context. I believe there are Twitter apps that will make it clear which tweets you've already read. I don't use that, since I'm not trying to read in order or see everything.

I do use lists. I have one called "friends and family" for the handful of people that I don't want to miss a single tweet from.

#378 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 12:53 PM:

It is a glorious sunny weekend. I had a splendid walk in the park yesterday, and I'm going to get outside today, too. And then bake a flourless chocolate torte, and glaze it with ganache. Life is good!

#379 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 01:10 PM:

I only read Twitter on laptops or large tablets, not on phones, so it's a bit easier to cope with volume. Mostly I don't subscribe to really high-volume posters; anybody who writes more than 5-10 tweets a day is just too much, even if they're good.

What takes the most time for me isn't the tweets themselves; it's that many of them are "Comment + URL", and following the URLs takes the time. Even so, my browser's got a large stack of tabs open that I haven't actually read, and probably won't get to.

#380 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 01:55 PM:

LIke janetl @ 377, I don't try to read everything on my Twitter feed -- I just dip in and out. (I have unfollowed people who tweet like firehoses, though, because when I dip in, I won't see anything but their tweets.)

For tweets with URLs, sometimes I read the linked item, sometimes not -- depends on the comment and who made it. Sometimes I can tell immediately it's something I don't really care about (e.g. a sport I don't follow), or something very in-depth that I don't have the time for. Sometimes I'll click on the link, quickly scan the headline and the first bit, and then decide if I want to devote time to reading the whole thing or just close it.

I let a lot of URLs just go by unclicked, if nothing about the comment especially grabs me. If I see the same linked item tweeted or re-tweeted by a number of trustworthy sources, I'll generally bump it up on my priority list.

I don't feel any sense of obligation to follow and read all the URLs tweeted by the people I follow. It means I can't participate in every conversation, but that's OK. It would be way more than a full-time job to do that.

#381 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 02:06 PM:

Bill S., #370: It doesn't seem to be on any of the 3 albums I have (as in, not by that title), but that probably is where I've heard it, from them in concert.

janetl, #377: That's a really good analogy for Twitter. And for Facebook too, come to think of it.

#382 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 02:40 PM:

Good Things: despite overtiredness due to far too little sleep last night, I got a bunch of dandelions pulled in the garden this morning, and the kid helped me plant some sunflowers and prep some planters for our (eventual) tomatoes and carrots.

Now if I walk to the store for some Gorilla Glue I can put our new radish planter (a length of aluminum guttering) into service and set in the first batch of seeds to begin to sprout.

#383 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 03:12 PM:

I was a read-everything Twitter person, then I realized that my job prevents me from doing Twitter 'right' in the way I had been trying to. I'm at work about seven hours a day, away from any ability to check Twitter. I'm asleep another seven. So there's a fourteen-hour chunk where Twitter is happening, conversations are moving on, and I can't participate... so I manage my Twitter list by reading blog posts by people who follow the conversations I think are important.

I missed the honey badgers. I miss games. But I also miss a lot of angrymaking and fluff. I'm okay with that.

#384 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 06:25 PM:

HLN: Area cyclist visits a favorite swamp and notes that the duckweed has almost entirely turned from green to pink. Any possible explanations would be welcome. Is it being replaced by some other life-form? I am not able to scramble down in there to get a close view.
I've been a swamp fan all my life but have never seen a pink one before. [All other vegetation was normal color for the season.]

#385 ::: nunc nominatur Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2015, 09:31 PM:

Well, I didn't change my mind.

Thanks again for all the good wishes and helpful suggestions.

#386 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 12:30 AM:

HLN: Local man attends Wondercon for the first time and enjoys the experience. May attend next year. Local man notes that the practical effect of 60,000 attendees roaming around a convention center is more different from the practical effect of 130,000 attendees roaming around a convention center than local man would have expected.

(Wondercon is basically a smaller scale version of San Diego Comic-con. It's run by the same organization that runs the San Diego con and has been in Anaheim the past few years. 130,000 and 60,000 are roughly the 2014 attendance estimates for the two conventions.)

#387 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 12:43 AM:

SamChevre at 385: Happy Easter! Alleluia! Welcome!

FYI: Thomas is the name I took at my confirmation, for both the Great Doctor and the Apostle, with whom I have always felt an affinity. He was a natural skeptic and rationalist who came face to face with a great Mystery, and he did the rational thing, which was to admit to what he did not know and to acknowledge the Risen One.

#388 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 01:10 AM:

Angiportus @384

I googled 'pink duckweed' and found this blog entry. Sounds like it might be similar? There's pictures.

#389 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 01:39 AM:

I tend to dip in and out of the Twitter stream, and don't feel the need to "keep up".

I have a "real person" list (in addition to a few others), and I occasionally just read a few people's daily content, if they're high volume but interesting.

In other news -- Hey, congratulations, Sam!

In other other news, there are things sprouting. I still haven't seen a durn crocus, but it'll come.

#390 ::: I don't usually go by Ruth ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 05:49 AM:

Welcome, Thomas! It's been 26 years since I was where you are right now (albeit a bit damper; I got the wash and wax), but I remember it well.

#391 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 06:16 AM:

#349 ::: Elliott Mason

Thank you for recommending "Donation".

And I'm putting in a good word for Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore, a book I enjoyed tremendously and which I wouldn't have found if I hadn't seen someone saying it should have at least been on the Hugo shortlist for a previous year.

#392 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 07:09 AM:

John A Arkansawyer #373: Oh, man, those need to go into a computer game somewhere.

#393 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 09:22 AM:

Pericat, #388: Yes, it looks like what I saw here in Pugetropolis. I didn't know that stuff came in 2 colors. Thanks.

#394 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Angiportus: It's a life-cycle thing. A local bike trail has a sign up about it. Pretty alarming the first time you see it.

#395 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2015, 04:45 PM:

OT and favour asked of the ML commentariat - may also be of interest to those who follow such thing: I'm reading credible reports - from, for example, AnadoluAjansi, the state run news agency - that the Turkish government is planning to block access to Twitter at 1.30 am Turkish time.

The official reason is that they want to stop Google linking to images taken during a hostage crisis last week. Given that they haven't tried to ban Google over, for example, images of be headings perpetrated by ISIS, there's speculation that the real reason is that a big and damaging story is about to break here and that the government is in the business of making it hard for people to follow's also possible there's nothing to such speculations.

If the speculations turn out to be true, and any of you hear about it, could someone post a link or details here? It looks like we're getting bans on Facebook and Twitter, which is where I'd normally hear about these things (and also YouTube and Gmail).

(Also:I should probably add: if I don't check in here for a couple of days, please don't worry excessively: Mme Barebones is going to be away for a few days, so I'm going to be a temporary lone parent.)

#396 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 09:19 AM:

Open threadiness. Better than a treadmill desk, a hamster wheel desk. (via Quantum Theology)

#397 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 10:43 AM:

pgbb @395, looks like your access is supposed to be back. Here's how (DC-area all news radio station) describes it

#398 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 01:05 PM:

Thanks, OtterB. I was just on my way to let everyone know that the Great Turkish Internet Meltdown didn't seem to have happened.

I'd be interested to know more about what happened with Google: I'd like to believe it was largely a matter of explaining to the judge how search engines work; but I bet it wasn't.

#399 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 10:45 PM:

Stan Freberg is dead at 88.

And another of the world's oldest people has also died, at the age of 17.

It's been a day.

#400 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 12:12 AM:

I think it's time to turn Lake Michigan into a giant chocolate sundae.

#401 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 04:56 AM:


Or start a goodies smuggling ring.

#402 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 06:07 AM:

Many thanks for the birthday wishes, and sorry for the late reply; I've been in Kendal visiting my parents for a few days, as I generally do around my birthday, and when I came back I was trying to reinstall the OS on my desktop. (Insert long convoluted rant about that here. Suffice it to say I appear to have a curmudgeonly BIOS on the desktop, because I did the same thing on the laptop and it worked just fine. I'm currently in consultation with a pair of geeky friends.)

I appear to have missed a lot of trouble while I was away. I'm not going to ask for details. Seems I went at the right time. I hope everyone affected is all right now.

Congratulations, Sam!

#403 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 06:57 AM:

Oh, also, I've got a problem: I don't seem to be able to comment on any of the more recent threads, although I see that others are doing so on some of them. I do realise that comments have been closed on a few of them, but not all, since people have commented on the latest thread since I last commented on this one.

Have I been partially suspended, and, if so, what have I done wrong? Whatever it is, I apologise profusely for it, but I'd like to know what it was so I can avoid doing it again. Thanks.

#404 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 07:02 AM:

Mongoose -

Bruce Schneier is the only person posting on that thread. He's the post author, and I presume has special posting priveleges. From the sounds of things, he has limited time and is posting in the little time he has today.

I can't comment there either, and those threads are locked because trolls are likely to show up. The moderators are all too sleepy to cope at the moment.

#405 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 07:03 AM:

Mongoose, 403: Do you mean Bruce's comments on his eponymous thread? He's Bruce Schneier. Closed threads mean nothing to him.

#406 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 07:22 AM:

Ah, I see! Thank you both. (Having been away, I haven't been able to keep up fully with what has been happening.)

#407 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 07:53 AM:

TexAnne @405: I am now going to hear or see "Bruce Schneier" every time I come across a Chuck Norris joke.

#408 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 08:18 AM:

Pendrift @ 407

You might then enjoy this website that Teresa linked yesterday.

#409 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 08:29 AM:

HLN: Local woman has elaborate dream about editing Making Light, in which she learns that one can simply reach into Patrick's screen, grasp a corner of a post, and pull it out with a ::shloop!:: Dreaming woman exclaims how cool this is, compares it to science fiction stories she has read.

#410 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 08:49 AM:

Pendrift #407: The general pattern is called "Memetic Badass". Schneier is one of the more unlikely cases I've seen....

#411 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 09:19 AM:

So for reasons that are a long and dull story I've been entering the Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition for the last few years. The results for 2014 have been announced, and I have won nothing (there's some good stuff over there if anyone is interested), but that does mean the embargo on posting it on the internet is over.

The Maid of Summer

I think we always knew
She was a changeling child
Fay, elf-daughter, not like the rest of us.

She talked to the trees and flowers
And they whispered back their secrets.
From the plainest of ingredients she could make
Baroque dishes that would flatter a bishop.

And once there was a man, an evil man,
Who would steal kisses from the village girls
And try to steal other things too.
And after he tried it with her, he vanished from sight
(You can still hear him crying in the woods for a way home).

I was there when at last they came for her
Fifteen years old on a bright summer’s day
In her second best dress and a new straw hat
As we giggled and gossiped while gathering greens.
They accused her of witchcraft and cursing.
She denied it. I tried to speak.

They would not listen to my maiden’s defence
(Although they would hear another girl’s accusations).
She left that night through a solid wall
(Certainly no one stole the key
Or convinced the guard to look away
Or packed a bag and a purse of money
And left them with a mule at the milestone in the woods
To aid her in her escape).

It was a year and a day this morning
Twelve months of storms and floods and unseasonable snow.
This midsummer dawn I can see her
Sitting by the well, laughing with the birds
In a gown of scarlet silk with a saffron shawl.
I will go over and greet her in just a moment
As the sun rises and melts away the frost.

#412 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 09:28 AM:

And in other news, BBC Radio have an adaption of The Left Hand of Darkness on Sunday. If/how people who don't have Radio 4 can listen to it, I do not know.

#413 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 10:12 AM:

Neil W @411, <applause>

#414 ::: Arkady Martine ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 11:08 AM:

It's an odd time to delurk, especially to delurk without wise or entertaining commentary on the current turmoil -- I've mostly been watching the Voting Systems thread and being amazed at how little I know about voting -- but I've been lurking for years, with very occasional comment, and I love this place. You're where I go to find good discussion of the SFF community.

and Abi and Fade and Zombie PNH on Twitter told me to do it.

So, delurking. I will attempt to be a participant as well as an observer. Hi, guys.

#415 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 11:17 AM:

It's generally a wise idea to obey Zombie PNH.

From a distance.


#416 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 12:06 PM:

Neil W #411: Magnificent.

#417 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 12:36 PM:

Arkady Martine @414: welcome! I have seen you around on Twitter. (I'm Ardsley Wooster over there.)

#418 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 12:42 PM:

We all find our own ways to make the workday bearable.

This Is Just To Say

I have reversed
the handle
that is on
the men's room door

and which
you were probably
relying on
to get you in

Forgive me
it was annoying
the last time
I couldn't get out

#419 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 01:15 PM:

So Barry Manilow and his (male) business manager tied the knot? Good for them.

#420 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 02:25 PM:

My kid is dancing along to a YouTube video of some kids slightly older than her committing ballet to Amilcare Ponchiarelli's "Dance of the Hours" (better known to my daughter, until this morning, as "the tune to Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" -- because we're attempting to give her a classical education here) in the middle of our living room. It's adorable.

#421 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 04:15 PM:

Mongoose @417: And somehow that confluence of identity had escaped me (I am so very, very bad at tracking people), so I've learned something new today already!

#422 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 04:44 PM:

Welcome, Arkady! Good to see you posting here.

#423 ::: Nicklas ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 05:16 PM:

I know I posted here before but alas
what email seem to be mindlessly renounced.
I'm certain it's not what I used in rassef,
that one's old enough for mail to be bounced.
Oh, the dilemma to not flood
or to delurk as I should,
I just have to hope to not be mispronounced.(1)

(1) not really a requirement.

#424 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 03:38 AM:

****MESSAGE FOR CADBURY MOOSE**** (and anyone else in the B'ham, UK area). Hi Moose, will you be at the Brum group meeting with Ian Stewart talk tomorrow (Friday) evening? I'm in Birmingham for a conference and intending to go. (I do manage to pick good times to be in B'ham for conferences - last time it was Charlie Stross talking!).

#425 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 08:36 AM:

Someone on FB posted this claim that new, unpublished authors must have thousands of social-media followers to be considered by an agent.

It seems implausible, but I thought I'd check with the professionals here.

In other news, my browser suggests "Sandy B. misspoke" as an option, every time I start a comment here. My feelings about this repeated reminder of my own fallibility are mixed.

#426 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 08:49 AM:

Sandy B @ 425: I have a friend locally who got an agent and sold a book to Harper Collins with almost no social media footprint, so I call bullshit on whatshishame (sic).

#427 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 09:22 AM:

Just started Ancillary Sword. I was worried I'd need too much "previously on..." to get back into that world, but was pleasantly surprised that I experienced very little turbulence on reentry.

I was still half-asleep this morning when I found myself distracted by the thought of a ship called the "Sword of Shannara."

Oh, oh: and another called "Mercy of A Rude Stream." Someone stop me.

#428 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 09:24 AM:

Just heard in the news: an asparagus-carrying drone crashed and burst into flames in the Netherlands. I feel that there ought to be a tie-in to abi's top-level post, but I can't quite find it.

Video here, although I can't follow the narration.

#429 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 09:48 AM:

dotless ı #428: You can't make this stuff up....

I was wondering how a drone that small can actually burst into flames from a crash... Most likely the motor or battery actually failed first (overstrained?), and the crash was just a result.

#430 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 10:18 AM:

The big social-media (or other media) footprint usually comes after the book is published.

#431 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 10:34 AM:

I'm halfway through The Three-Body Problem and had a thought that I needed to share, but couldn't think where. Then I realized that this was the place. So here goes:

Vg'f gur Ynfg Fgnesvtugre nyy bire ntnva!

I don't mean this very seriously.

#432 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 10:50 AM:

Robert Z @427, and now you have me thinking of "Justice of Kagan", as probably the SCOTUS member whose name sounds most Radch-like. I can't stop, so instead I'll share.

#433 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 11:09 AM:

David Harmon @ #429

Either a catastrophic battery failure or someone needs to seriously review the MSDS for freshly picked asparagus.

#434 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 11:10 AM:

Lithium-ion batteries have a tendency to burst into flames. The preferred euphemism is "thermal runaway".

#435 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 11:26 AM:

" asparagus-carrying drone..."

I'm sorry to hear it caught fire, and I hope nobody was injured as a result; but I can't help being rather pleased that such a thing exists.

#436 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 11:37 AM:

Mongoose #435, and delivers flame-roasted asparagus...? <gd&r>

#437 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 02:22 PM:

Cadbury Moose @433: Please read my @424!!!

And yes, an asparagus-carrying drone!

Also, a colleague of mine was late to the conference we're both at because not one, but two train lines got closed, on the same journey, both due to people throwing themselves in front of trains. We were agreeing that if you put that into a novel, everyone would say it was far-fetched...

#438 ::: Cadbury Moose paging dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 02:37 PM:

Hmmm.... this moose hadn't planned on going (being a thoroughly lapsed member of that group), but Ian Stewart sounds extremely interesting.I should be able to make it (assuming it isn't packed to the rafters (in which case I'll be in the Wellington)).

#439 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 02:37 PM:

Open threadiness:

Junk/fast food plated like high-end cuisine. I am well impressed by the creativity, skill, artistry, wit & whimsy.

More at their Instagram.

#440 ::: dcb paging Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 05:39 PM:

Well, yes, it seemed silly to miss it, since I happen to be staying maybe 10 minutes walk from there. I do hope it's not so full you and I can't get in. If it is, then I'll look for you in the Wellington.

#441 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 06:49 PM:

Sandy B., #425: As you suspected, that claim -- as a categorical assertion -- is pretty much a load of crap.

#442 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 07:16 PM:

Different subject: nobody seems to have expressed annoyance over my sidebar link to Lawyers, Guns and Money's coverage of what they refer to as "150th Crushing Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Day", otherwise known as the 150th anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox, which today is.

I am pretty completely unsympathetic to political, legal, or cultural defenses of the Confederacy, but on this day, the last of the great 150th Civil War anniversaries, I feel like I should pause and acknowledge my four ancestors who fought in that war, two on each side:

James S. Hayden (1836-1908)
Company K, 4th Kentucky Infantry (Confederate)
My father's father's father's father

Henry Isaac Newton (1836-1893)
12 Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry (Union)
My father's father's mother's father

(Yes, this means that my paternal grandfather's own two grandfathers fought on opposite sides. And their children married one another.)

Jefferson Porter Workman (1835-1919)
Company E, 46th Tennessee Infantry (Confederate)
My father's mother's father's father

William Henderson Parker (1824-1898)
Company F, 18th Kentucky Infantry (Union)
My mother's father's father's mother's father

I don't hate or revile the people who fought for the Confederacy. Future history may mark me as having been on the side of bad causes. We are never large enough to know all ends.

#443 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 07:26 PM:

And while Teresa's Mormon ancestors mostly spent the Civil War in Deseret, far from the conflict, her father was a convert, and two of his forebears fought for the Union:

John Coston (1835-1865)
Company H, Indiana 79th Infantry (Union)
Teresa's father's mother's father's father

Louis Joubert (1841-1919)
Company I, 6th Illinois Cavalry (Union)
Teresa's father's mother's mother's father

Like his wife Emilie Bastien, Joubert was born in Quebec and emigrated to Illinois during a period of hard times. Only in recent years have we (thanks to research by a distant relative) learned of Teresa's enormous Quebec ancestry through this couple, going back to the beginnings of New France. It's interesting stuff--and it's fascinating to me that Joubert didn't just fight for the Union, he fought hard and long. His service included the Battle of Port Hudson (22 May 1863; 10,000 Union casualties, 7,500 Confederate casualties); the second Battle of Franklin (30 Nov 1864; 2,633 Union casualties, 7,300 Confederate casualties); the Battle of Nashville (15 Dec 1864; 3,061 Union casualties, 6,500 Confederate casualties); and the minor engagements the Second Battle of Memphis (21 Aug 1864) and the Battle of Okolona (22 Feb 1864).

History is often a list of really bad days.

#444 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 08:44 PM:

#400 & #401:

Or dance about soup.

(Wonder whether Stan ever typed up the promised second volume to his autobiography?)

#445 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 09:17 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden #442: I don't hold with blaming someone for their ancestor's actions -- even outright evil isn't hereditary, let alone loyalty misplaced due to regional or cultural affiliations.

But I'm not too happy with folks who try in the present day to celebrate Lee's or Jackson's achievements. If nothing else, Lee lost the damn war. And the cause, and the verdict of history.

#446 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 09:24 PM:

Dewitt Clinton Krone, private, 41 Illinois Volunteers. (He went up Red River in 1864, not being counted as a veteran at the time; his older brother, Duquesne H Krone, got home leave then, having been in from the end of 1861. Both of them were on the March to the Sea, and through the Carolinas, and the Grand Review in Washington.)
James Brown Evans, Captain, Kentucky Home Guard, killed by Confederate raiders (Everett's raid) in June 1863, a week before his 52nd birthday.

Probably others, but I don't have all the information in one spot. (I have been posting the Krone letters and journals.)

In less-immediate parts of the family, there is James Dudley Harp, who died in Camp Douglas in January 1865, while they were setting up an exchange of prisoners. And Henry S Arnett, who died in Andersonville.

We shouldn't forget, but we don't have to keep the war going.

#447 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 09:35 PM:

P J Evans, #446: "We shouldn't forget, but we don't have to keep the war going."

Oh, certainly not! The war is over. The South won.

#448 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 09:40 PM:

TexAnne, #405: You made both me and my partner LOL. In return:

"Bruce Schneier doesn't always need a password, but when he does, it works everywhere."

Neil, #411: Very nice!

Sandy, #425: That's happened to me a couple of times. The method that fixes it for me is (1) close the browser, which wipes my sticky information; (2) re-open Making Light (all the ID fields should be blank); make a post, filling in the ID information as I want it to appear, and checking the "Don't make me type all this again" box. That will hold until the next time I have to close the browser. I'm using Firefox under Windows 7.

lorax, #432: Heh. For me, that goes straight to the late Janet Kagan, whose book HellSpark was very much about justice in several forms.

#449 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 10:18 PM:

And 'Justice of Kagan' would so apply to that one. (Would the uniforms be as versatile as the suits in that story?)

#450 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 10:25 PM:

Today I got a message from the library saying that my holds on The Dark Between the Stars and Ancillary Sword were ready for pickup. Well, I got the Anderson book, but the other one with my name on it turned out to be a copy of The Magician King, by Lev Grossman. I've read that, and it's a good book, but I can't really consider it an adequate substitute.

#451 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 10:39 PM:

Eww, eww, eww! Don't translate the rot-13 unless you want to read the NSFW thoughts that popped into my mind about some recently notorious characters.

V jvfu V'q arire urneq bs Ehyr 34, ohg zl fhopbafpvbhf chfurq guvf hc naljnl. Ner lbh n Gbeervn sna, be vf Jevtug/Qnl lbhe bar gehr cnvevat? Vg jbhyq freir gurz nyy evtug gb unir fynfu jevggra nobhg gurz, ohg abj lbh nyy jvfu lbh unqa'g urneq bs Ehyr 34 rvgure.

#452 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 10:49 PM:

Yeah, I can't say I needed that image.

My brain decided that the maximally awful version of that terrifying idea wouldn't be fanfic: it'd be filk. Really catchy filk. It wouldn't just drag certain named through the mud - after that kind of treatment, "mud" would sound good as a name.

#454 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 12:04 AM:

My dad's ancestor Jacob Kemnitzer, a Captain in the 110th Regiment (a.d.-African Descent, but not the officers).

I have in recent years come to realize that some of our understanding about who we're related to is flawed (there are a lot more Kemnitzers than we thought, and many of them don't at all fit our family's origin myth).

Also, some places list him as a Captain in the "1st Regiment Artillery Volunteers," which appears to be kind of meaningless without another word like "New York" or "Massachussetts" or something in there.

#455 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 12:36 AM:

451/452: *snerk* While I like the idea of fanfic, I think I'm going to have to agree with Benjamin here. "Never piss off a bard, for they are not at all subtle, and people remember funny songs."

#456 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 12:50 AM:

Yeah, that's why I like the idea. Fandom will be singing about them for decades.

They'll be famous, but not in the way they wanted.

#457 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 01:36 AM:

I learned it as "Do not annoy a bard, for you are memorable and your name scans to Greensleeves.

BTW, if you search Youtube for "SCA Bardic," you'll find, oh, easily half a dozen songs that were written by bards for this express purpose. At least one of them was a command performance by the Queen of--was it the Midrealm?--anyway, they can do that in the SCA. Heh heh heh.

#458 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 05:55 AM:

Randomly: it's just occurred to me to wonder if the idiom "pardon my French" to mean "excuse my profanity" is rooted in the ironic recognition that most curse words are from the Germanic half of the language. Anyone know about this one?

(Crossing my fingers and hoping this escapes my double-post curse.)

#459 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 06:57 AM:

AJ Luxton @458.

I can't speak to the origins of the expression but I have a story about it. When I was very young, I had a very Cockney child-minder who was fond of using it (and of other Cockeyisms, such as, when asked to do something when busy 'I've only got two pairs of hands, and those I'm using')

My parents are both language teachers. Apparently, for a certain period of my young life I was under the misapprehension that they spent their days teaching children to swear properly.

#460 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 07:34 AM:

praisegod barebones @ 459 'I've only got two pairs of hands, and those I'm using' Oh, perfect! I want this on a sampler! HUNG OVER MY DESK AT WORK!

This makes me want to hear more Cockney sayings, since this one is so apt....

(Now I'm considering how to photoshop myself, with an extra pair of hands, into wallpaper for my work computer... not that anyone but myself would ever see it....)

#461 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 07:49 AM:

A.J. Luxton #458: I suspect it's more about blaming the French for anything "dirty". See also "French letter" for condoms, and at least two sex acts I can think of offhand.

#462 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 10:52 AM:

A day late, but I'd like to acknowledge my own Civil War ancestors. (I have fewer than I'd expected - in several lines the war fell between generations: neither fifty-something father nor teenage son fought.)

George W. Dunlap (1846-1926)
Company F, 12th New Jersey Volunteers
My father's mother's father's father's father
Lied about his age to join up in 1862. Fought at Gettysburg.

Clark A. Wood (1834-1927)
Company E, 99th Indiana Infantry
My mother's mother's mother's mother's father
Action included Vicksburg and the March to the Sea.

Dr. Thomas H. B. Brown (1836-1900)
Lived in Virginia
My mother's father's mother's mother's father
Mentioned in several Civil War memoirs as a surgeon with the Confederate army.

And, as an honorable mention:
Jacob Henry Rindlaub (1830-?)
My father's mother's mother's mother's father
Born in Gettysburg and may have lived there at the time of the battle, which was visible from the attic window of the family home.

Brigadier General William Jackson Palmer was most likely a cousin of some degree to my father's mother's father's mother's father, C. Albert Palmer. (Both were born in the same small town in Delaware, just a few years apart.)

#463 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 11:11 AM:

When I was rehearsing my small part in The Andersonville Trial, I found out that one of my ancestors on Mom's side (the Union side) had been imprisoned in the Andersonville stockade. Ancestors on Dad's side fought with the South. I remember Grand-Dad having a big history of the war with a number of Confederate notes pasted on the endpapers. Another cousin had a prior claim on that. I hope he at least kept it.

Before I lived in Georgia, I used to grumble about people who wouldn't shut up about the Civil War. By the time I spent twenty years in Virginia, I figured out that they'd shut up about it some time after they stopped fighting it. And they will. Maybe.

#464 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 09:55 PM:

I suspect the crowd here will appreciate this! I volunteer with Girl Guides, specifically with girls aged 9-12. They decided that they want to put on a play. We brainstormed plot ideas!

Girl 1: It should be like Romeo and Juliet!
Chorus: Yeah!
Girl 2: But better!
Chorus: YEAH!
Girl 3: And funny, with a happy ending!
Chorus: YEAH!.

That was the beginning. They've written the script and it bears little resemblance to Shakespearean tragedy. It's pretty awesome! It features:

A Narratrix, Little Red Riding Hood, a Witch, a Fairy, Snow White,a Baker, a Farmer, a Princess and BATMAN.

You can imagine our delight when the girls got halfway through our thus-far-entirely-in-French play and Petit Chaperon Rouge encountered Batman in the woods and said, "Bonjour, Batman!" and Batman replied with "I'm sorry. I don't speak French." and the rest of the play's dialogue includes people periodically explaining to Batman what's going on.

#465 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 10:16 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 457: Youtube is probably missing a lot of classic examples, including "To the Green Iguana", the bastard offspring of a Yang prank that snarked (among others) a Midrealm queen who was a little short on humor.

Luxton @ 458: I expect Dave H has it; irony tends to be too thin to carry idioms. See also "French disease", "French leave", Frenching a room, etc. etc. & soforth.

#466 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 10:40 PM:

CHip @465:

A Mongol on the roof,
A most amazing sight --
It may not mean a thing...
But then again it might.

#467 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 10:45 PM:

I remember Dick Cavett doing some standup (I forget the context) in the early 70s, talking about how one side always uses the other side's name for pejoratives, and thus the English called syphillis "The French Disease," and the French called it "The English Disease" — "And everybody puts their own slant on what I call 'Johnny Carson's Disease.'"

#468 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 01:01 AM:

I believe that pretty much any derogatory implication of "French" ultimately goes back to the long, bitter rivalry between France and England, and that since we're speaking English we only get that side of it.

And speaking of don't piss off a filker...

#469 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 03:40 AM:

Re the Sidelight about Mullan's article: I had figured out what was going on before I reached the penultimate sentence. Oh, look, another multi-page "Well, I like it, and it's fantasy, but fantasy has cooties, so this one can't really be fantasy because this and that and so on" argument. F'cry-yi, fantasy has long since come roaring out of its juvenilia-and-hippies niche past the lucrative-subculture marker and is now mainstream. It's okay to like it. Even the part with the dragon. Even if you're a grown-up.

#470 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 10:43 AM:

Em (464): That is wonderful.

#471 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 10:55 AM:

So I ran into an interesting fact when reading about current events: George R. R. Martin won his first Hugo for a story that beat out Robert Silverberg's "Born with the Dead". That blew me away, as "Born with the Dead" is one of the best stories I've ever read. And now that makes me wonder: If I'm allergic to vast series and prefer SF to fantasy, where to start with GRRM?

(Obvious answer is obvious: "A Song for Lya", which won that award. If I were where I could get to my old Analogs, I'd almost certainly have that one available. So what else?)

#472 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 11:01 AM:

Tuf Voyaging is another good place to start with Martin.

#473 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 11:10 AM:

I didn't like Tuf, but I liked Dying of the Light.

#474 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 11:35 AM:

Fevre Dream.

BTW, now that George is GEORGE!!, has anyone picked up the movie option to FD? I'd love to see the steamboat duel ...

#475 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 11:36 AM:

Okay, I glossed over the "prefers SF to fantasy" part. But I still recommend FD.

#476 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 11:59 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 475: It's a preference but not a strong preference, so your advice is welcome! As are the other suggestions. I'm going to keep my eyes open for each of those and grab one soon.

#477 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 12:34 PM:

Em, I'd like to see a script or a video of the performance when it's done. :D

#478 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 01:09 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 466: but is there Youtube of the author performing? (Have you seen YAotB perform? Haven't seen him on in quite a while, but he was \good/.)

Lee @ 468: Wonderful! I've passed the link to my wife, who was doing hotel liaison for Philcon when the Army-Navy game was in town and the Middies were lodged in the Philcon hotel.

#479 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 02:33 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @471 "A Song for Lya" prompted my first-ever fan letter when I read it in Analog. I was in high school and I don't think I knew enough to send a SASE, but I got a nice response from GRRM anyway. The out-of-print A Song for Lya and Other Stories has at least one other story that I still remember despite not having reread it for 30+ years, "With Morning Comes Mistfall."

I loved Dying of the Light enough that I've kept it through multiple moves and book culls, despite never having reread it. At first I didn't reread because the original experience was intense. Now I'm reluctant to reread because if the suck fairy has been at it, I don't want to know.

I have mixed feelings about Tuf Voyaging. The main character and the worldbuilding are fascinating. The things I dislike about it are the reasons I never read past the first volume of ASoIaF - just too gritty for my taste.

#480 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 03:58 PM:

Personally I'm a huge fan of The Armageddon Rag, a marvelous novel about sixties rock and roll. Martin did something very new with fantasy there, and it was amazing. It's never talked about as an urban fantasy novel, but with a 1983 publication that category didn't really exist yet: de Lint's Moonheart is 1984, and was probably written before AR came out, but War for the Oaks (certainly a seminal novel for the modern urban fantasy revival) isn't until '87, and was probably highly influenced by AR's combination of music and fantasy (as well as by Moonheart). I'm also a fan of the other items mentioned here; I don't want AR to be forgotten!

#481 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 04:06 PM:

GRRM did something very sneaky in "Armageddon Rag" - write a horror novel with all the occult action offstage. Did the evil manager make a deal with the Great Old Ones to bring back the singer? We don't know ...

#482 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Em@464: I love it -- of course, it's a highly inaccurate story, since of course Batman speaks French. This is Batman we're talking about -- he speaks Macedonian and Hmong!

Kathe [Mrs. John]: What do you mean, you wish you knew how to do on me . . . ?

#483 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 04:17 PM:

Em@464: I love it -- of course, it's a highly inaccurate story, since of course Batman speaks French. This is Batman we're talking about -- he speaks Macedonian and Hmong! {/comic book pedant}

Kathe [Mrs. John]: What do you mean, you wish you knew how to do {/comic book pedant} on me . . . ?

[Sorry -- I didn't know that everything inside of the brackets that look like a "^" turned sideways would disappear, and I didn't preview carefully.]

#484 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 05:39 PM:

John M. Burt #483: The angle-brackets normally mark HTML tags, and the blog software clips unknown tags for security reasons. The trick is to use an HTML "entity" for the open- bracket: &lt; Also, to quote an entity like I just did, you can use another entity for the ampersand: &amp; . Beware the spell-checker, and the semicolons are part of the entities.

#485 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 05:50 PM:

John at 482: Of course Batman speaks French! I didn't mention that, though.

Batman is very polite. Every time someone translates the conversation for him, he says "Oh! Thank you."

#486 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 06:06 PM:

Em, my initial response was "of course Bruce Wayne speaks French! ...but perhaps not knowing it is part of his Sekrit Identity. I don't remember him showing up in "Romeo and Juliet" either.

Your ongoing commentary is hilarious. Please do continue.

Any chance the kids will have such a hit that they take their show on the road? As in, to Denver?!

#487 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 07:48 PM:

CHip @478:

Since Bob Asprin sang it to me in 1975, I doubt very much there was ever a Youtube. Huh, he gave me a couple of photocopied SCA songbooks...I wonder if I still have them?

#488 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 09:31 PM:

I don't know anything about specific Civil War soldier ancestors but considering that the patriarch of our branch of the Wingates came over to NC from County Durham back in the 1740s it's hard to imagine that I don't have Greatnfathers/uncles who fought.

#489 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 09:48 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer, 471: "Sandkings." Creeeeeeepy, haven't reread it since it came out in Omni, not going to reread it because it's creeeeepy and also what about the suck fairy.

#490 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2015, 09:54 PM:

So, just back from my family gathering. Our Hannukkah gathering usually gets pushed into January, but this is the first time it got shoved past Pesach! (Delayed for my aunt's cancer treatments, now complete with good prognosis, yay!)

Head's still kind of ringing... Especially since I read Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior on the train ride back, so just now I have her family spirits wandering around my head too.... (Amazing book.)

#491 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2015, 10:22 PM:

Problematic timing: this has nothing to do with David Harmon@490, which only makes me want to say: "Yay for a good prognosis!"

However, pushed by local events this weekend (not involving any direct family), I really need to say:

"Hurrah for community, and those who act as community nucleation sites!"


"Fuck cancer!"

#492 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2015, 10:58 PM:

C. Wingate, #488: Obviously I don't and can't know anything about my bio-ancestors. And I don't know anything about my father's family except that they were up in the Iowa area, so if there are any veterans of the era on that side, they're almost certainly Union. But... my mother's family is Tennessee born and bred for generations back; my maternal grandfather was the county sheriff in Pulaski, TN in the 1920s. (There was a family joke to the effect that my mother was "born in the jail", since the sheriff's house was connected to the jailhouse.) Which means that I almost certainly have relatives who fought on the Confederate side, and I might (given the financial position of my mother's family) have had ancestors who were slaveholders.

I have decided that this is something I really, really don't want to know about. I reject that heritage utterly; it is against everything I am and everything I stand for. Let them fall into the dark unremembered.

David H., #490: Yay for good prognoses!

#493 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 12:19 AM:

Lee, I have a great-grandfather who was also born in the jail for the same reason. Good job, ancestors! There's a black hole in family history between Conrad Weiser, who made treaties with the Mohawk and I don't think screwed them over hugely except maybe this one semi-apocryphal thing with an island, and my great-grandparents. Not that I couldn't find the information, but that it's between the Old So On Wikipedia and New So Parents Tell Stories.

Anyway, probably Union all the way back, if any fought, some great-uncles were patriots in the Revolution, and I'm not sure when the English-via-Canada folks showed up, so maybe I had people in 1812? That might be cool. Hm.

#494 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 12:54 AM:

Diatryma -- any relation to the publishing Weisers?

#495 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 01:45 AM:

David Harmon @484, keep in mind that, even if our CMS wasn’t clipping unrecognized HTML tags, the standard behavior for web browsers is to ignore them, so they’d vanish anyway.

#496 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 08:37 AM:

I don't know of any publishing Weisers, but like I said, there's a shadowy area, kind of like in history books and popular culture references, where it's not old enough to be explained but too old to be picked up by osmosis. We're (well, my grandmother's family, but we count still) the ones in Centre County, Pennsylvania. Other places, too, but that's where we have the reunions.

#497 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 02:31 PM:

There was a family split in my ancestral line in the early 1800s that is only referred to as "that which we do not talk about". And nobody did, so we'll never know the story. Given that half the family moved to a slave state, and half appear to have joined the Campbellites (it's unclear if they joined or not, but they were certainly somewhat associated with them), it was probably something related to slavery. I'm very pleased that my half of the family wasn't on the pro-slavery side.

The only Civil War vet I'm aware of in my ancestry spent the war as a Union garrison soldier, and never actively participated in a battle. (He was in the reserve force for one, but his bit weren't called into battle. He was eventually invalided out for dysentary.) In contrast, I've got a Revolutionary War vet ancestor who joined right after Lexington and Concord, fought for 7 years right through Yorktown, and was in all the New Jersey battles, not to mention the infamous winter at Valley Forge.

#498 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 02:42 PM:

Heads up, everyone.

It turns out there is a shady pay-for-ebooks site called that seems to have content from Wattpad, AO3, several online scientific journals, and at least some traditional published works. (I found a children's book from Simon & Schuster just by random browsing).

I'm going to send them a DMCA take-down notice for my stuff, but anyone with self-published works might want to take a look.

#499 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 03:06 PM:

My family was thoroughly on both sides of the slavery divide. In addition to the Civil War soldiers, my ancestors include Southern slaveholders, Northern slaveholders, and a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

#500 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 03:29 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 487: was that actually his work, or did he just perform it? I've always thought it was by Yussuf Alaric of the Baliset, but my copy of The Pre-Dawn Leftist Filk-song Book is missing all of its contents. (I also recall the full text as including some concerns I wouldn't have ascribed to Yang.)

belatedly joining the ancestry discussion: one reflection of the span of generations in my male line is that a great-uncle (yes, one "great") died in the Civil War. (I expect there were other relatives who fought for the Union; my clearest lines go to New England and Pennsylvania, so I don't have the interesting border linkages that Patrick does.)

#501 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 04:11 PM:

Diatryma @496: Samuel Weiser, Inc. is one of the major occult publishers in New York. They publish a lot of Crowley-related stuff, among other things. You may want to Google them, for your amusement.

#502 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Neotoma - thaks for the heads up. Those fuckers have my ebook on alchemy for sale. Any advice on getting them to take it down is welcome.

#503 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 04:35 PM:

CHip @500: He and Lee Darrow regaled me with the whole Mongol/Fiddler shtick the first time I met them. Provenance: uncertain.

I'm going to have to figure out where I stashed those old songbooks...

#504 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 05:11 PM:

UrsulaV! Paging UrsulaV! Please come to the 'dorable wombat courtesy phone!

#505 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 05:20 PM:

Jacque @504 Per LJ and Twitter, UrsulaV is on safari in Botswana and mostly offline.

But I thought of Digger when I saw those pictures too. :-)

#506 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 06:22 PM:

Re ebooks-tree: the fine folks at ef-yeah-copyright-law have posted a how-to on issuing DMCA copyright takedown notices on behalf of one's content.

#507 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 07:21 PM:

I strongly suspect I have gone off topic on another thread, so here's a link to the arms of Sir George Martin (the Beatles producer, amongst other things). Conspiracy theorists will note that it only has 3 beetles on it.

#508 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 09:47 PM:

Speaking of cancer, this fall I mentioned here my friend V. who had been diagnosed with a major brain tumor. At the time it was assumed to be a stage III or IV glioma, since it had come out of nowhere in about 6 months. It turned out after surgery to be something else, extremely rare but considerably more treatable, and they went after it with all available tools, both radiation and chemo. This weekend I received an email she sent out to all her friends, including these marvelous words: "I just completed my first post-treatment brain MRI and there is no sign of cancer."

#509 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 10:19 PM:

Yay for your friend!

#510 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 10:31 PM:

Always good to hear that cancer was cheated of a prize.

#511 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 11:05 PM:

Clifton #508: Yay! Nice also to be reminded that a change of diagnosis can be good news.

#512 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 10:06 AM:

Cassy B @#460: 'I've only got two pairs of hands, and those I'm using' Oh, perfect! I want this on a sampler! HUNG OVER MY DESK AT WORK!

So I've been known to do a wee bit of cross-stitch designing in my time; do you embroider? (If you don't, I also do actual cross-stitch. :)

#513 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 11:16 AM:

Well known on Making Light, I think, but here are the arms and crest of the late Sir Terence Pratchett.

#514 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 11:42 AM:

I keep looking at this thread for the trickle of posts. I will be so glad when the community is able to turn its attention to something besides the H***s.

#515 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 12:07 PM:

Carrie S @ #512

"It's not the light at the end of the tunnel, it's a man with a torch bringing more work."


"Owing to the current financial stringencies, the light at the end of the tunnel will be switched off until further notice."

(Both traditional, I think.)

#516 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 12:12 PM:

Cadbury @ 515: Or as a college friend of mine was wont to say, "Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel turns out to be a a train coming the other way."

#517 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 12:18 PM:

Brenda @ 514 -

Yeah. I can't believe there would be so much ruckus about a Martin Scorsese film. :P

#518 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 12:21 PM:

Clifton @ #515

<pessimist>...and it is late.</pessimist>

#519 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 12:22 PM:

neotoma @ #498, I was planning to post about that as well, since I found they'd put up three of my works. Thanks.

Clifton @ #508, hurrah!

Brenda Kalt @ #514, me too.

#520 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 12:42 PM:

Lila, #519: You're the second person I know who's had fanfic scraped. How do you even go about looking for fanfic that's posted under a nick? (Not that I think I'm likely to have been hit -- I mostly write very short stuff, and they seem to be looking for novel-length. But they do have a popular-science book written by the io9 writer who shares a name with me!)

#521 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 12:46 PM:

Lee (520): Search under the nick? They don't seem to have anything of mine, but I only have one very short piece up on AO3.

#522 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 12:55 PM:

Searching under the nick got three of my stories. As for their length preferences, that pseudonym has several stories that exceed 20k words, but none of the three that were scraped are longer than 6.3k. I think it's just what they managed to get before AO3 shut them down.

I sent them a takedown notice late last night, and as of a few minutes ago my pseudonym no longer appears in their author list; I assume that's a good sign.

#523 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 01:13 PM:

Lee, you'd be surprised. I also write very short stuff, and it's not that popular, but they'd stolen two of my pieces - granted, one of them was the longest one I'd ever written and the other was something that was well-reviewed, but still. They don't seem to have discriminated. A friend of mine had something scraped that was "hey, so and so did a podfic of this! Here's the link!"

#524 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 01:44 PM:

neotoma @498 et al: indeed. They scraped twelve of my stories from AO3. I sent take-down notices both to them and to their hosting provider.

#525 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 01:52 PM:

I'm not sure if this goes here or not, but the Hugo kerfuffle has led me to this tweet:

"Alex von Thorn ‏@alexvonthorn:
Creating a new region code for the #registration database: ISS, for International Space Station @sasquansf @astro_kjell"

That's a Sasquan admin noting that a ASTRONAUT CURRENTLY ORBITING THE EARTH is now a Worldcon member and Hugo voter. A frickin' astronaut! Is this world amazing or what!?!

#526 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 02:10 PM:

You can literally be off of this world and be a member of Worldcon?
Gee, I don't know. Seems like they're letting just anybody in these days.

(Mr. W., he makes the jest.)

#527 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 03:02 PM:

Open threadiness: I had my first encounter with Wikipedia vandalism earlier today; pleasantly, it already has been reverted. (Martin O'Malley, possible Democratic presidential candidate, was listed as having met his wife in "adult films" - now reverted to "law school". )

#529 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 04:44 PM:

#492: Dozens of my ancestors owned slaves. The Hayden line traces back to 17th-century immigrants who became farmers in St. Mary's County, Maryland; by the end of that century, most of them were slaveowners.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before on Making Light, but a good book touching on several aspects of this transition is Robert Cole's World: Agriculture and Society in Early Maryland by Lois Green Carr, Russell R. Menard, and Lorena S. Walsh (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991). The immigrant farmer Robert Cole whose unusually well-preserved business records are the focus of the book happens to be one of my 9X great-grandfathers.

#530 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 04:47 PM:

#525: Actually, astronaut Kjell Lindgren is scheduled to go to the ISS next month; he's not circling the earth just yet. But, still, cool!

#531 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 05:22 PM:

Lee @#520, I found mine by searching for my pseudonym.

#532 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 05:44 PM:

Brenda Kalt #514: Amen!

#533 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 06:45 PM:

Carrie S @512, Yes please! I do cross stitch (I've never picked up the knack of doing embroidery).

My email is (rot13) pnffl@obbxjlezr.pbz (if you unscramble it and find a literate dragon, that is correct.)


#534 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 06:51 PM:

Keeping the open thread alive with something I'm happy about: I've started listening to a recap podcast for a show I don't watch.

Why would I do something like that? Because NPR's Brooke Gladstone has gotten a wide variety of incredibly skilled Washington insiders to sit around and talk in depth about episodes of Netflix's "House of Cards". Journalists, former White House aides, former Senatorial staffers, and far more. They often cheerfully argue about what the least realistic moment (or the most, in some rare cases) in a given episode was, or what moments of real Washington history (sometimes not widely known to people who weren't working inside the Beltway when it occurred) they are reminded of by tactics taken by the fictional politicians.

For anyone interested in the nuts-and-bolts, ground-level view of US capital politics, I highly, highly recommend the On House of Cards podcast. You can listen to it with no knowledge of the show and still enjoy it. It might be better if you do watch, but I wouldn't know (it's too unremittingly grim and full of horrible people for me to be able to watch it right now).

#535 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2015, 09:46 PM:

#530, Patick, thank you for your kind reply.

There's something about the first name being "Kjell" that makes it extra perfect. A name that has that SFnal ring to it. It could have been the name of any one of a number of traditional protagonists, human or alien, of the paperbacks I read in middle school.

Of course, the fact that I'm tapping this out on a quarter inch thick piece of luminous glass with more computing power than any twenty computers that existed when I was born - that doesn't even need to be plugged in...! (Not to mention that I'm going to watch subtitled cartoons in my pjs on the same device - from a country on the other side of the world, one considered completely inscrutable and suspect until I was in college!)

Life got very SFnal, very fast didn't it?

#536 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2015, 08:02 AM:

re # 498 et al, ebooks-tree appears to have taken down at least some of the illegally offered fics, or at least made them unfindable by searching the author's name/pseudonym.

#537 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2015, 08:36 AM:

Trying to keep the Open Thread visible on Recent Comments:

It seems I have Resting Asshole Face. See also 22 things that only happen...

#538 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2015, 03:50 PM:

Thank you, mods, for dealing with that spam flood!

#539 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2015, 05:14 PM:

@RBF: People never sit next to me on the bus. :-(


#541 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2015, 05:36 PM:

Kimiko, #535: I love living in the future!

David H., #537: Note that "Resting Bitch Face" de facto translates to "any woman whose default expression is not a smile".

IOW, if you don't constantly smile for men, you're a bitch.

This is what institutionalized sexism looks like.

#542 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2015, 05:48 PM:

So, it turns out that this is my thousandth comment on Making Light (or at least, the thousandth linked to this email address - there may be a few strays in the database.)

That being so, I'd like to express my fondness for and appreciation if the commentariat, both collectively, and in may cases individually (I'm not going to list names, because omg way too many;) to the front-page posters, for so often giving me things to keep coming back to and thinking about; to moderators, for sustaining a community which has contributed a great deal to my happiness over the past five years, and especially for their efforts in dark and difficult times; to Teresa for inventing Making Light (and for not inventing any of the front page posters) and to Patrick; and to Avram, who replied to the first thing I ever posted here; to Jim, wherever he is these days and to Abi, who coaxed me out of lurkerhood some time in about 2010; to the memory of Mike Ford; and to the gnomes for fighting back the floods of spam.

With that preliminary out of the way, I've recently found myself wondering whether .pbz could be opened up as a top-level domain for hosting spoiler threads. (Is this a job for ICANN?)

#543 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2015, 06:16 PM:

It was a revelation to me, some years back, that the hostile glances of strangers were merely their resting faces, and that mine was no doubt just as welcoming. When I think my expression is neutral, it's actually a step or two from it, and seems to bear some negative intent that's not really there.

#544 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2015, 06:59 PM:

Lee #541: I generally agree with you, but note that the women of the PSA did get to play turnabout.

And I have often enough been asked "what's the matter" etc, when there wasn't anything the matter.

#545 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2015, 07:03 PM:

542, praisegod barebones,
What you said. I agree. Thanks everybody.

#546 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2015, 02:15 AM:

David Harmon, Kip W., et al.: sounds like reasonable surmise. praisegod barebones: That is beautiful and I greatly approve of it.

Apropos of first-time Worldcon discussions in the other thread: I am rather wondering if anyone here is going to Sasquan and looking for or open to having a roommate/cot/floorborrower. I'd be a first-timer, and am trying to decide whether to make the pilgrimage and attend in solidarity with Loosely Arranged Sentients For Sensible Hugos or stick to a supporting membership; I'm located in PDX, so it won't be a terribly difficult drive, but hotel cost is probably make-or-break for whether I can fit it into my finances. Apologies if I've been too long away for anyone to remember me posting here regularly.

#547 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2015, 02:19 AM:

Also, I'm amused to note, I was responding to people's responses to me upthread (comment numbers lost on small device screen) but the commenters I was responding to have also commented immediately before me and my responses seem just as apt here. "General affirmative noises in your collective direction."

#548 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2015, 09:10 AM:

As usual, Ta-Nehisi Coates is making a lot of sense on the internet.

" To ask, at this late date, why the police seem to have lost their minds is to ask why our hammers are so bad at installing air-conditioners. More it is to ignore the state of the house all around us."

#549 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2015, 11:18 AM:

Someone in comments was asking about the S.F. Archbishop.

(He had been the bishop of the Oakland diocese, and we were very happy when he was promoted elsewhere, although we also knew that San Franciscans would not, um, appreciate his views.)

#550 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2015, 11:23 AM:

I thought he'd been in San Diego. (And no, apparently not at all appreciated by many. He's right out of the 50s, as far as I can tell.)

#552 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2015, 03:51 PM:

A.J. Luxton at 546. We might have space. I'll have to check with Barbara though.

#553 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2015, 04:02 PM:

P.J. Evans @550: According to Wikipedia, he was born in San Diego and served there for a time.

"He's right out of the 50s, as far as I can tell." Yeah. The 1850s.

[ISE. Uh-oh.]

#554 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2015, 05:37 PM:

A. J. Luxton @ 546: if you're driving, you should consider a non-core hotel/motel, with a mixture of driving and city-busing to the con site. A site visit on con business found cheap parking (by Boston standards) near the site, and the city bus system is extensive. (Hotel Ruby was cheap, acceptable, and in walking distance for this fit 61-year-old, but it was not available for a committee span -- which means it's probably booked for peak con nights.)

Netherlands rulz OK! The Beeb says they spend substantially more on the environment than any other country surveyed, and particularly notes that 27% of commuters go by bicycle. (Hi, abi!)

In weirder news, video of a racing shell being assaulted by Asian jumping carp.

#555 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2015, 02:21 AM:

Another irregular installment in my occasional forays into public domain children's books: The Voyage of the Nancy Bell by John Conroy Hutcheson (London: Blackie & Son, 1885). It is a tolerably interesting based-on-a-true-story account of a shipwreck off the coast of Kerguelen Island and what happened to the survivors. But the same old strain of racism runs through it like mold.

I've read some nasty, nasty stuff in these old boys' own adventure books. One of them, set on my own island, tried to present the efforts of two stranded boys to get back to the port of Kodiak as a heroic venture, but to modern eyes they're just a couple of thugs who break into somebody's summer house, terrorize a poor little old man, and make a slave out of a hunter who stops by to see if they need help. The racism is less violent in The Wreck of the Nancy Bell, but in some ways even nastier. The cook, referred to by everybody as n-----, darkie, or "Snowball," is upset when taking one of the ship's coppers ashore in the jolly-boat proves impossible. This is presented as silly, useless fretting. Even when it becomes clear later that he is trying to feed almost 30 people using one saucepan, he is still seen as childish and amusing for being happy to learn that a copper in usable condition was found caught in the rocks. That's just one of the indignities heaped on this guy whose real name we never learn. He gets it about every other page, mostly for being perfectly sensible or understandably worried. At the end, an American in the crew (whose favorite ejaculation is "Snakes and crocodiles!" for some reason) tells "Snowball" that he is going to take him with him to Philadelphia because he is such a good cook, and "Snowball," who could have gone to England, agrees like a happy dog.


#556 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2015, 07:10 AM:

@554 "The Beeb says they spend substantially more on the environment than any other country surveyed"

That might take in the bit of their environmental protection that mostly involves walls, though.

#557 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2015, 08:20 AM:

Noting some good news for our moderators and others:

Vatican Ends Battle With U.S. Catholic Nuns’ Group.

#558 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2015, 08:28 AM:

And in more Atlantic news, here we have Conor Friedersdorf writing about how the capture and trial of Mohanad Mahmoud Al Farekh shows that the whole drone assassination program has no basis in legal/moral reasoning.

#559 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2015, 09:01 AM:

Praisegod Barebones #542: It is a good thing that you post here, frankly. It has also been a good thing to make your acquaintance in person.

#560 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2015, 09:03 AM:

Praisegod Barebones #542: It is a good thing that you post here, frankly. It has also been a good thing to make your acquaintance in person.

#561 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2015, 11:23 AM:

Open threadiness: This study of octopus locomotion made me happy. Maybe some of y'all would like it too.

#562 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2015, 10:04 PM:

And now for some Hugo-related whimsy which has *nothing* to do with current events. I hope it may distract you from them, in fact.

Behold, the Anti-Retro Hugos of 2065. (A little-known clause of the WSFS rules which allows a Worldcon to award Hugos to the best science fiction to be published *fifty years in the future*.) (requires javascript)

Click the "Next Year" button to see the list for 2066. And then 2067. In fact, any year beyond 2065! They're all available to browse.

(Just the titles, I'm afraid, not the works themselves.)

For bonus points, try to imagine what each story is about.

#563 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 02:35 PM:

So, the Batman V Superman trailer looks like the movie will even surpass Man of Steel's cinema style of superhero movies that suck any trace of fun or adventure out of the theater.

#564 ::: Nickelby ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 03:28 PM:

What Praisegod Bare bones said in #542... Hear! Hear!

In otter newts, looks like is having fun & adventures with Verizon tech support. (Google " down")

Way upstream & in the scary Hugo thread lands people were pondering duplicate awards with all the possible winners ready to go. Yes possible, even easy if the name is on a metal plate affixed to the award. We get a couple such requests most years.

#565 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 04:32 PM:

Apropos of nothing, I'd like to toss some flowers at K-mart for doing right by handicapped folks.

For a while now, my local K-mart has had a wheelchair-bound woman staffing the subscription-pitch desk for the Progress (a local newspaper). And today, I saw a new guy working out front of the store, with a rather alarmingly distorted face (Halloween-mask level¹). Not hidden away in back, but working the entrance like anybody else. I didn't strike up a conversation (I was already having a "shy day" myself), but from behind me I overheard him exchange greetings with another worker.

¹ At a guess, something akin to a bowling ball smashed his face and he couldn't get proper reconstructive surgery.

#566 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 09:12 PM:

Regarding being down: The only link I could get to load was their twitter feed. Seems they only use that when their main site is down... and they've been having occasional service problems at least back to 2009.

#567 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 09:52 PM:

A note about Helen Keller: She was a religious activist as well as a political activist, writing multiple books about both, and her religion was arguably more distinctive than her politics were. (Lots more people in her day were leftists than were Swedenborgian, a faith whose take on Christianity differs notably from many better-known churches.)

I'd argue that her advancement into college and the public sphere despite her disabilities was still the most distinctive characteristic of her life. And I'm happy to have more people know about her political work as well. But any account of her that includes her politics in "what they don't teach" but omits any mention of her religion is incomplete.

#568 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 01:18 AM:

I'm sad to report that Art Widner, 97-year-old eofan, has died. He was an amazingly pleasant, vibrant, and youthful member of First Fandom, and helped a lot of people recognize just how contemporary old folks can be. I'll miss him.

#569 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 03:12 AM:

In #562, Andrew Plotkin draws our attention to the Anti-Retro Hugo page, which explains:

The Chronoviewer was invented by Richard Hoen in 1948 in order to inspect science fiction headlines from future eras.

But of course it was!

#570 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:53 AM:

Re: The Anti-Retro Hugos, I can't help feeling that a bit too much computerpunk makes the list. Okay, so there are excellent works in the genre that really examine the strange mores of the 2000s and 2010s, or at least come up with some really bizarre computing devices, but there are at least as many that just slap circuit boards and blue LEDs on everything. The number of stories about aliens that try to ignore species already contacted so the author can populate the galaxy however they like is rather disappointing too.

I shouldn't be too down on the winners, though -- in particular, it's an excellent era for Mundane SF, with "The China Spin"'s treatment of time-travelling AI Singularity wars making its ripped-from-the-headlines material feel astonishingly fresh.

#571 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:52 AM:

Steve C @563 Still waiting for the reveal of Jar Jar Binks.

#572 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:50 AM:

So I'm sitting in Kansas City looking to discover which, if any, church I'm headed to this morning, and I see I am a week early to catch this one:

Insanely but Divinely Inspired Fandom as a Spiritual Practice - Elizabeth Arnold

Found my folks!

#573 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 12:46 PM:

Neil W, maybe someone could photoshop the melted Vader mask into a Gungan skull.

#574 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 01:17 PM:

Browsing through the Anti-Retro Hugos, I came across A Stranger in a Strange Fire, a winner in 2068.

The site doesn't carry any details, to avoid timeline pollution or visits from the TimeCops, I suppose, but it does sound excellent.

Shadrach: Gettin warm...
Meshach: Yeah, but it's a dry heat!
Abednego: Say, who's that dude?

Nigel: Good afternoon, gentlemen, can you tell me where I am exactly? I am...

A Stranger in a Strange Fire!

Coming soon in Panavision!

A Quinn Martin Production, starring...

Clint Eastwood, as Shadrach
Bill Paxton, as Meshach
Chris Rock, as Abednego

and introducing...

Hugh Laurie as:


Stranger in a Strange Fire!

Coming soon to your nerve plexus!

#575 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 02:29 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer @572 -- You may have found my people instead. My mother was born Elizabeth Arnold, and at least two of my first cousins have that name....

And yesterday I met for the first time a first cousin that I didn't know existed a year ago, even though he's 10 years older than me. My father's sister gave up a child for adoption during WWII (wartime romance). He found me through my website, and we've corresponded a bit. I gave him a couple of pictures of his birth mother, and let him read some of her letters from the 1950s (I have more than he had time to go through). We also talked about family health issues around aging. Nice guy.

#576 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 04:50 PM:

AKICIML request:
I'm trying to find the words/vocabulary for a concept I read about quite recently, likely in a discussion related to fandom.
It was about those who directly observe or experience a thing vs those who are a layer or two away from the direct case. For example, there exist people who paint a tree vs. those who paint based on the painting of a tree. In writing there are groundbreaking books, then a generation inspired by one GB, and then those who are only inspired by the "inspired by" who didn't read the GB. Is there an art-history or philosophy vocabulary to describe generations or derivative-ness.

#577 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:00 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale #576: I believe you're thinking of the "Third Artist Problem".

#578 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:04 PM:

James Moar @ 556: Having walked a section of the Zuider Zee wall(*) 50 years ago, I have my doubts about the amount of money spent on walls in recent years; abi may have more-precise data.

Kathryn: I can't speak to philosophy or art history, but other humanities (e.g., history) speak of primary and secondary sources. Asimov has an amusing reflection of this (without using the term) in one of the original Foundation stories.

#579 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:28 PM:

The concept of "the third artist" was invented by Heather Rose Jones (who I believe has posted here a few times). You can read the original article on her website here.

#580 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:43 PM:

David Harmon@577, David Goldfarb@579:
That's it, thanks! The concept is a useful one, good for contemplating how ideas form and persist in a group.

#581 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:27 AM:

more open threadiness: best headline ever:

KRA-KOOM! Billionaire fingers valve in ROCKET WIBBLE PRANG EXPLOSION

In other news, ROCKET WIBBLE PRANG EXPLOSION is the name of my new Devo cover band.

#582 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:28 AM:

I'd like to posit something like a Fourth Artist problem, which is for works by people who've heard vaguely about the works of the first three, but not actually studied them or looked at them in any depth.

See also Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey, and other naifs coming in to use the furniture and shapes of a genre in ways that are completely nonsensical to people who actually deeply understand what the naifs are attempting to point at.

#583 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:13 AM:

Elliott Mason #582: I'd say that's the Third Artist Problem itself, just in exceptionally full flower.

#584 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:17 AM:

Well, except that the Third Artist is actively in conversation with the genre in question, and the Fourth Artist is assuming it as unexamined background radiation that doesn't even need to be understood.

Relates to cultural appropriation, really, because the poisonous parts of that are when a clueless outsider sees something Shiny in another culture, abstracts it with no research at all, and uses it however they like, without realizing there might be a problem in doing so.

#585 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:41 AM:

Elliott Mason #584: A fair point, especially noting the appropriation issue.

#586 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:12 PM:

HLN: Signs of the season. Local family yesterday:

  • opened the last box of Passover matzoh;
  • started on the last octant of a truly enormous chocolate Easter egg;
  • admired the daffodils that are now blooming where, five minutes ago (it seems), there were five-foot drifts of snow; and
  • fired up the charcoal grill for the first time in months.
It must be Spring.

#587 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:43 PM:

I suspect something Third Artisty is going on with a lot of political cartoonists. It seems doubtful they've ever seen Obama, but base their representation off of some Alpha cartoonist.

The artist who was drawing Dick Tracy just before Joe Staton came to the franchise had his own version of it. He introduced a tiger into the strip, and the first drawing showed a lot of effort. The second time through, he seemed to be copying his first drawing, and after that, he appears to have decided that he had it down pat, and from then on drew a series of increasingly abstract tigers that would have rated a confused stare from Louis Wain.

#588 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:01 PM:

Bye and thank you, Art Widner. You'll be in our thots*.

*Art spelled thoughts that way.

#589 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 10:16 AM:

This article about book restoration is interesting for the way that it handles "restoration" (possibly closer to remaking?), as well as just plain old being eye candy.

#590 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 01:33 PM:

Kip W.@587: With political cartoonists it may be deliberate: they want to convey the elements of their scene as directly as possible. If there's an established set of symbols for representing one figure or another then it probably works better for them to use those symbols than to use anything more realistic: even if the artist can draw a much better representation, any extraneous details or breaks with convention are just going to get in the way of the message.

Of course, this fails badly when the readers don't read the same visual language, and the cartoonist's concise expression suddenly jars (or slaps, or punches). I thought there was some interesting discussion of this in the Charlie Hebdo thread.

xeger@589: Thank you; that was fun.

me@586: I left out the other major sign of Spring: rain. Fortunately, after we finished grilling.

#591 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Ongoing saga of The Girl Guide Play:

The fairy's wings are inflatable. A scene has been added in which the fairy has a lightsaber duel with Villain*.

*I'm not missing a "the". Villain is the name of the Villain, whose opening line is:
"Hello, I'm Villain. I'm the villain, in case you couldn't tell."

#592 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 05:40 PM:

590: dotless ı
It feels like a lazy convention, like how every impressionist who does Ed Sullivan is doing the Will Jordan impression of him, and when they do Lawrence Welk, they're doing Stan Freberg's Lawrence Welk.

#593 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 06:21 PM:


I'm waiting on results of blood tests and X-rays of my suddenly-declining old dog. Her favorite things are walking and eating, and showing no interest in those is a bad sign. Could be something temporary, but the vet is hinting at a belly full of tumors.

Having seen the family cat go the hard way, I'm prepared and resolved to see her off with some dignity. I'm even mentally thinking of places to dump spoonfuls of ashes.


#594 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 06:33 PM:

Stefan Jones @593, that's the hardest responsibility of pet ownership... and it sucks.

<hugs> if welcome.

#595 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 06:38 PM:

#594: Thanks. I've been dreading and preparing for this for years. Seeing how miserable Kira has been the last few days is making it easier to come to terms with what has to be done . . . although not with losing her.

* * *

Go figure: At least three dogs in the local humane society "Adopt Me!" web page are missing eyes.

#596 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 06:39 PM:

Stefan Jones @593: that is tough, and it doesn't get easier with experience: I just get more certain that I'll know when it's time. (We lost two cats in the first 3 months of the year, which was difficult indeed.)

#597 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 07:06 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 593 ...
Ughhhh! My empathies and sympathies.

Tom Whitmore@596 ...
it doesn't get easier with experience: I just get more certain that I'll know when it's time.

That is painfully and unfortunately true :(

#598 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 07:15 PM:

Stefan Jones #593: My sympathies. It always sucks. (Which reminds me that my boss has a dog with end-stage Lyme disease, and I forgot to ask about him today. On the other hand, that's not the only thing I forgot -- I'll ask when I go in tomorrow to pick up my phone. :-/ )

#599 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 07:21 PM:

I would be so grateful if Kira died peacefully in her sleep tonight.

There. I said it. Uh, wrote it.

#600 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 07:25 PM:

@599, please don't feel like a horrible person for writing that. You want her to go peacefully.

#601 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:03 PM:

Stefan Jones @599: I've had that happen (with a cat) and it's indeed a blessing, when they don't suffer. If they're suffering in the night, that's no sort of blessing (and I've had that happen too).

You're not alone in this -- and you are alone in it, since all we can send is sympathy.

#602 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:16 PM:

Stefan @ 593 and 599:
I'd feel the same way, Stefan. I had to see off my cat Newton about two years ago; he had metastasized cancer all through his abdomen and encircling the intestine. He was so relieved to get the penultimate shot while I was holding him, he perked up, stuck his head up and started purring very loudly. It must have really dulled the pain, and it made me feel very sure we'd made the right choice.

We just had a bad scare with our dog Maggie too (a tumor-like lump which turned out not to be cancerous) so I'd been thinking about those issues again.

There's no question in my mind that you're wishing the best for her; but no question that it's hard.

#603 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:36 PM:

Stefan, I'm sorry for you and your dog. It all sounds way too familiar.

#604 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:51 PM:

Steafan, #599: That's not a bad thing to wish. My Genevieve died peacefully in her sleep one afternoon, and it was much easier to deal with (although no less painful) than having to take Mina on that last trip to the vet when it became obvious that she was miserable.

If it's any comfort, I firmly believe that you will do the right thing for Kira, whatever that turns out to be.

#605 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 09:39 PM:

Arrrgggghhhh . . . freaking inconclusive tests!

Kira doesn't have a belly full of lumps, but will need an ultrasound to look at an enlarged spleen and liver. And what little abnormal bloodwork there is, and slightly swollen lymph glands, points toward an infection . . . but of what?

She'll chill out at home tomorrow and go for tests on Thursday afternoon.

Thanks all for thoughts.

#606 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 10:28 PM:

I am having a bit of a conundrum. Has anyone here read Ken Liu's "The Grace of Kings"? I am about 50 pages in and am really, really liking the world-building and finding the characters interesting, so normally that would be all well and good, but I'm getting the following suspicion (Rot13 for speculative possible spoilers):

Fb sne jr'ir "zrg" gjb znyr cebgntbavfgf naq tbggra ybgf bs onpxtebhaq ba gurz. Jr xabj gurve zbgvingvbaf naq gurve hcoevatvat. Jr'ir nyfb zrg n pbhcyr bs frpbaqnel znyr punenpgref jvgu fyvtugyl yrff onpxtebhaq. Naq gura gurer'f Gur Jbzna. Jung qb jr xabj nobhg ure? Gung fur'f sebz n tbbq snzvyl, fur'f qvfnccebirq bs nyy zngpurf znqr sbe ure, naq fur yvxrf gur znva punenpgre. Bu, naq fur'f ornhgvshy. Orpnhfr bs pbhefr. Jul qbrf fur yvxr gur znva punenpgre? Jub xabjf. Ohg ol thz, ur'f tbvat gb zneel ure!

V nz qrfcrengr sbe fgbevrf jvgu jbzra. Gurl qba'g unir gb or nobhg jbzra, abe qb gur jbzra arrq gb or fjvatvat n fjbeq be xvpx-chapuvat gurve jnl guebhtu ONZS-ynaq, ohg jura lbh'er qbvat fb zhpu jbeyq ohvyqvat gung V pna svther bhg jung xvaqf bs jrncbaf ner ninvynoyr va lbhe havirefr naq lrg gur jbeyq orvat ohvyg fbzrubj qbrfa'g vapyhqr jbzra... jryy, V qba'g xabj. Gurer ner ehzbef gung jbzra jvyy orpbzr zber vzcbegnag yngre va gur gevybtl, ohg V'z abg frrvat n ybg bs nggragvba cnvq gb guvf. Pna nalbar jub'f ernq guvf obbx yrg zr xabj vs gurer'f nalguvat yvxr n srznyr punenpgre jvgu ure bja aneengvir, ure bja nep naq jubfr srryvatf naq zbgvingvbaf jr haqrefgnaq ABG bayl guebhtu gur yraf bs ubj n znyr punenpgre frrf ure?

#607 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 12:56 AM:

Stefan, sounds a lot better than it could have been, at least! May it prove to be some infection that can be quickly (and inexpensively) knocked out.

#608 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 01:04 AM:

#607: That's what I'm hoping. Fingers crossed!

Still dealing with a sick dog who barely eats and doesn't want to walk.

An I am *FRIED!*

#609 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 11:15 AM:

Stefan Jones@608: Hoping for the best for you and Kira. Even at the best, it sounds exhausting.

Kip W@592: It feels like a lazy convention

Well, often it is. The convention can serve a purpose for communication; but if the only purpose of the cartoons is the representation itself then it's just a snide visual game of Telephone.

#610 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 01:10 PM:

Open-thready musings on movable feasts:

I've been thinking about anniversaries that are tied to moveable feasts, in a broad sense. Spring brings a cluster of the "feast days": Passover, Easter, Easter, civil "nth Monday" holidays, etc. Locally, we've just had Patriot's Day. And Hugo nominations, of course, come out on the first Saturday on or after the Pachal full moon (although I suppose that in the early days they might have been announced on the 13th of Nisan).

Last week there were local observances for the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, which felt like they were on the wrong date, since this year's marathon was still several days away (on Patriot's Day). More happily, co-workers have been pointing out my work anniversary; but since I started at my job the Monday after a big annual festival, I always think of my work anniversary in relation the festival instead of the calendar, and I never remember the calendar date. (That festival, in turn, is timed to the end of a school holiday week, which I think is roughly tied to Patriot's Day.)

I assume that thinking of anniversaries according to nearby feasts was the norm at some point in the not too distant past, since more people would remember a big festival than a particular date. What I notice now is the dissonance when I mentally observe an anniversary according to the "feast" but the people around me use the calendar date instead.

#611 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 02:17 PM:

An AKICIML-type question:

Given that I am about to pick up my third pair of prescription sunglasses in four years, and given that I've lost two pair of the slippery little bastards, how can I best keep ahold of this pair?

#612 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 02:21 PM:

I have a very small number of places I put mine when I'm not wearing them. It reduces the chances of mislaying them (usually by forgetting where they were put, when it isn't one of The Usual Locations).

#613 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 04:29 PM:

So a friend got tickets to a film premiere. However due to the font and the poor quality of the photograph he posted, it appears the film he went to see was "Avengers: Ass of Ultron".

I assume this is the director's cut with seven and a half extra minutes of CGI mo-capped shots of James Spader's backside.

#614 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 04:38 PM:

613: It's made of shiny metal, and he urges the Avengers to bite it.

#615 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:04 PM:

nerdycellist @ 606

You may find the review at the Booksmugglers to be useful to your question. Although the impression I get is that this is one of those "it gets better in later books, I promise!" situations.

* * *

Entirely separately...

I confess I've been somewhat in hiding from ML threads after having surfeited on Hugo discussion that first weekend. So it feels a bit self-serving to pop back in just in time for self-promotion, but...

My second novel, The Mystic Marriage is now out and received a lovely review from Liz Bourke at And for those who might have been thinking of picking up book one at some point, since Daughter of Mystery just got short-listed for the SF/F category of the Golden Crown Literary Awards, it's within the realm of possibility that it will be on sale in the near future. (At least, I know that last year Bella Books did a promotional sale for all their short-listed titles. Though I don't recall the exact timing.)

#616 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:07 PM:

[annoyance] no e-book yet [/annoyance]

#617 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:18 PM:

Nerdycellist @606. It might get better? I don't know, but I gave up on it many, many pages further in and took it back to the library in part for the reason you're asking about.

#618 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:24 PM:


We adopted a pair of cats from the Seattle Humane Society about a month ago. This morning, someone from the humane society called to ask how they, or we, were doing.

They are fine cats, ages two and three, a bonded pair of snuggle-cats, well-behaved and basically healthy. They seem to have been well cared for before we got them, and I wander between wondering why anyone would give away such fine cats, and feeling sorry for their previous humans that they had to.

We didn't want a long-haired cat, but Kaja said "snuggle snuggle your cat now" and she and Molly were a pair. So we have a fine friendly long-haired cat, who fortunately is relaxed about being combed.

#619 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:50 PM:

P J @ 616

You can get all the standard e-book formats with no DRM direct from the Bella website. But if you want the convenience of outlet-specific kindle/kobo/nook/etc. files, you have to wait a month. Sorry.

#620 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 10:41 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @615 -

Thank you! I had lost track of Booksmugglers and that was exactly the review I was looking for, and indeed, probably the review I would have written had I a.) finished the book, and b.) been gifted with the ability to analyze things concisely.

I will probably hold on to it until book 2 comes out and then start again, knowing that it will eventually ramp up to a more complete story. Lord knows I have enough to read between now and then, especially since I have not read Ancillary Sword, and will need to add that to the 2nd in that series as well as Goblin Emperor. Not to mention the various YA books that have no problem whatsoever with... well, the problem that Grace of Kings seems to be having.

#621 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 10:48 PM:

Overeager, I guess. (Kobos can handle standard e-pubs. I've loaded stuff from Project Gutenberg on mine.)

#622 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 10:56 PM:

John A Arkansawyer #611: There are various straps, commonly sold in sports-equipment stores, which slide over the earpieces and allow the sunglasses to hang around your neck.

They don't solve higher-level forgetfulness, though -- I actually need to get a new strap, as I left my (non-prescription) sunglasses at my aunt's house, and K-mart had the glasses but not the strap.

#623 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 11:36 PM:

I gave my dog permission to die tonight, but she's stubborn.


Looking at the Humane society sight, I realize that Kira was an incredibly lucky find. Smart, beautiful, healthy and already mostly trained. It will be really hard to adopt a dog anywhere near as good.

#624 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 11:50 PM:

Dotless i, we used to say that our dog's birthday (unknown, but probably eight weeks before we got him, ish) was Thanksgiving because that moves around somewhat. It's an anniversary with an error bar.

I'm able to remember certain things by slightly-moving dates-- Wiscon is Memorial Day (argh, must find room), whenever that may be, spring break is the week containing St Patrick's Day because the school district matches the university and there is no way the university is having undergrads in town on said holiday. Let them be rowdy somewhere else. I have heard that you plant potatoes by Good Friday and I know that Mother's Day weekend is when you do your gardening because it's safe then.

I didn't know Patriots Day was a moving holiday. I like them. They seem less arbitrary because there are so many pieces going into when they are. Plus, as I said, error bars.

#625 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 12:16 AM:

Third Monday in April! (Though I still think it should officially be the 19th of April, but I was outvoted on that before I was born.)

I like rolling holidays, too. Or, holidays with error bars. It's why I like Passover/Easter more than Christmas. (I practice both Christmas and Solstice, but like Solstice more because it's slightly movable, itself.)

#626 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 12:52 AM:

Kate, #625: Whereas I generally prefer holidays with a specific date to the ones that jump around. Christmas and Halloween I can keep track of, but I never have any idea when Easter is, and even "second Saturday in May" only sticks on the years when it interferes with my birthday.

But then, I'd also be very happy with the kind of calendar reform where we'd get an intercalary day every year (2 in leap years) and the day of a given date would never change again.

#627 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 02:02 AM:

I have one friend who got married on a date that I always think of as 'Saturday of Worldcon', or 'Saturday before Labor Day', even though those aren't usually the correct date.

#628 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 08:29 AM:

WisCon is my fanniversary because WisCon was my first con -- even though in that year it was in March (my dad bought me the membership as a birthday present) and now it's end of May.

(My first year of convention-going was WisCon in March, GenCon in May in Milwaukee [two things that no longer pertain to it], then DucKon in June)

#629 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 08:38 AM:

And of course I always think of John's and my anniversary as a couple as dating to "the Thursday before finals week," because in college that's when it was. Several years after we were both no longer attending classes, I actually went and found my old Chandlers calendar and researched the date so I could write it down as an actual day. :->

(and now it turns out, ex post facto, that our wedding anniversary is the day after Beka's birthday, so I'm never going to forget it again, after years of celebrating our "real" anniversary and ignoring when we got legally hitched)

#630 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 09:45 AM:

Elliott Mason @628, and of course DucKon is on hiatus this year so no DucKon in June, either....

#631 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 10:15 AM:

Lee@626: ObXKCD.

#632 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 10:17 AM:

Having acquired the epub version, I was up half the night reading (no, really: finished at 2:30am).

#633 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:16 AM:

So one of my colleagues made a comment in an emailed technical discussion today that...well, it just rang my poetry bells. With his permission, I added some line breaks and am posting it here.


To me it seems
that they use C++ 11

which we cannot use

so I think we should make sure
it does not use C++ 11

before trying to use

Call it found art. I like it.

#634 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:25 AM:

abi@633: I especially like the visual parallelism in the repeated "C++ 11".

#635 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:49 AM:

Okay, here's a new one: I just got a UPS Tracking email telling me that the 50# box of hay I ordered for the guinea pigs has been delayed due to a train derailment. O.O

#636 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 01:29 PM:

Jacque, it seems a gang of heifers have been derailing trains with carefully placed pennies, and stealing bales of guinea pig hay from the wreckage.

Journalists are calling them "The Jersey Girls".

#637 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 01:50 PM:

Neil @ 636: Should they not be the Guernsey Girls? Those soft brown eyes distract many a security person.

#638 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 02:14 PM:

Niall, #636: Heh.

Somewhere around here I've got a flattened penny from the railroad tracks that used to run behind my grandmother's house. My parents were appalled when I brought it home, yammering about how "You could have derailed the train!"

Physics says NOT. If trains were that easy to derail, you'd be hearing about a dozen derailments every day.

#639 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 02:30 PM:

My apologies, Niall, at 636.

#640 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 02:36 PM:

Arkansawyer @ 611: Have you considered using overglasses instead of separate sunglasses? I have a pair of Fitovers; they weren't cheap, but they were a lot cheaper than prescription glasses and I like the ~wraparound format -- they keep out the glare even when the sun isn't right in front of me. They're bulky enough that they're much harder to lose than regular glasses.

Jacque @ 635: Interesting. I've had fun tracking multimodal shipments (e.g., Boston to the Pacific, in a trailer put in a flatcar in Chicago or Buffalo), but never seen that happen before.

#641 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 02:42 PM:

Seconding the recommendation of Fitovers from CHip @640. Most useful sunglasses I've ever had.

#642 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 02:51 PM:

I like the Cocoon fitover glasses.

#643 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 02:54 PM:

P J @ 632

I should be more sympathetic, but there are few things more delicious to the ears of an author than, "I stayed up all night finishing your book, dammit!"

I'm just hoping that this one gets a bit more buzz-propagation than the first. Daughter of Mystery picked up a number of enthusiastic first-line fans, but somehow it felt like nobody else quite believed them. (That's an exaggeration, of course, but I'm talking about my emotional impression.) This time I worked really hard to try to set stuff up in advance of publication, but very little of it panned out. I'm finding that even when you have a publisher, if you're doing all your own promotional leg-work, people treat you as if you were self-published. And that's before you get into the immense wall of prejudice among SFF readers against books coming out of queer presses. It's very discouraging, so every enthusiastic reader is a brick in the wall against despair.

#644 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 03:24 PM:

Lee, 638: I agree, it's piffle. My mom used to squish pennies too--and also pins in an X, to make scissors.

#645 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 03:40 PM:

@638, @644 - I remember being told not to squash pennies on railroad tracks not because I'd derail a train, but because "it's a FEDERAL OFFENSE to destroy money!!!!" Imagine my amusement, many many years later, seeing one of those mangle-a-penny machines in an arcade. Imagination furnished Secret Service agents laying in wait to swoop down on unsuspecting ten-year-olds...

#646 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 03:46 PM:

I was at the train station one day when some youngers decided to put a nickel on the track. They left before the train showed up, so they missed what it did: lots of noise as the train ran over the nickel - it was thrown off the track, which could be hazardous to bystanders. It was not only flattened, but also elongated, and you could still see the designs on the faces.

#647 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 04:05 PM:

I love my fitovers! I have a thing that makes my eyes super-sensitive to light. Fitovers make daily life possible for me. They also literally make everything look rosy; the tint in those dark-amber glasses makes light warmer and richer.

My husband paid extra for the polarizing feature for his regular glasses, so he never has to worry about where he put his shades.

#648 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 04:21 PM:

Niall McAuley @636 & Ginger @637: *snrk!* :-)

#649 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 04:30 PM:

Ginger @639, no worries. I do pronounce it "rhymes with real", so Neil is perhaps closer than the "rhymes with trial" pronunciation, and I am entirely resigned to answering to that.

There are also apparently 100 ways to spell McAuley, all of them wrong.

#650 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 04:49 PM:

My parents collected pressed pennies from various places. The last time I drove to Alpha, I made sure to get a few from rest stops on 80. The tough part is finding the all-copper pennies, which I'm told are better on the machines than zinc ones.

Iowa State Fair pennies cost a dollar or something ridiculous like that. No, the price is fifty-one cents, because that is the price I know.

#651 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 05:27 PM:

Niall McAuley @649: I went from a name most people were reluctant to try to spell (but was reasonably phonetic if they were willing to try it) to a first name with four completely legit and nearly equally-common spellings. :->

(I grew up using the name Eloise Almeda Beltz-Decker, for those of you who've only known me since either my marriage or my first-name change)

#652 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 05:27 PM:

P J Evans, #646: The kids in my grandmother's neighborhood never stuck around to watch; the protocol was, you put the penny on the tracks and then came back the next day to look for it. Finding it could be interesting, as they may fly a surprising distance. And yes, my penny is somewhat oval, and you can still see the ghost of the designs both front and back.

Obviously, a tourist-trap machine won't give the same kind of results.

#653 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 05:34 PM:

Lee @652: My top tip is to make sure you use a really GROTTY penny in your penny-squisher of choice, because then the patterns of browning or corrosion leave a ghost of the relief better than if it were a shiny new penny, which basically turns into a moire disk of copper color.

#654 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 06:36 PM:

I regularly hang out with high-voltage maven Bert Hickman, who engages in quarter-shrinking. Given a suitably fast and violent pulse of magnetism, a quarter becomes a small, fat cylinder about the diameter of a dime. Examples here.

I've admired a collection he made of shrunken U.S. quarters, each representing a different state.

#655 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 06:51 PM:

Perhaps magnetically compressing nickels to make them smaller than dimes (again) would make US coinage somewhat comprehensible to the rest of the world?

#656 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 07:16 PM:

My dog almost certainly has lymphoma; waiting on the results tests to see whether it is the indefinitely-treatable kind.

I wouldn't mind having Kira around for a few more months or up-to-a-year. And the steroids would help her arthritis.

Fingers crossed.

#657 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 07:26 PM:

Stefan Jones @656, <fingers crossed>

#658 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 07:34 PM:

CHip #640: I should clarify that the sunglasses I referred to above are in fact fitovers, though not by that name -- I just grabbed the (only) style of sunglasses from the rack that did in fact fit over my prescription glasses, and also provided side shading.

Aside: I finally made an appointment for my eye exam, so hopefully in a few weeks I will no longer need to take off my glasses to read....

I've got a few pressed pennies and other coins myself. Some are "blanks" found near train tracks, others are from souvenir machines. I note that there are now "medallion" souvenir machines that press them from blanks while you wait -- I suppose that simplifies supply/demand issues for multiple designs. I got a couple of those at the Statue of Liberty, one of which I use for a worry-piece/pocket-stone.

#659 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 10:52 PM:

Semi-lost information dept: There was a story - I think from here - about an insanely active chemical compound , that nearly burned peoples faces off at, like, -200 C. And the scientists KEPT MESSING WITH IT. Google has failed me, or I have used Google to fail myself. Sound familiar to anyone?

#660 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:02 PM:

Sandy B. #659:

It's not chlorine triflouride is it? (Linked site is a good resource of other possible candidate chemicals.)

#662 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:17 PM:

Chlorine Trifluoride is it! Thank you.

#663 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:51 PM:

We stayed at a tourist cabin in South Dakota on the family trip to Mt. Rushmore in the late 60s, and as the train tracks were right there, my sisters and I picked up the penny-smashing bit from (I think) some other family that was there.

Subsequent conversations with my neighborhood peers introduced the new factoid that three nickels in a stack would derail a train. I didn't ever test the theory, mostly because who wastes three nickels at a shot like that? Cah MON!

In 11th grade, I started taking electronics at the voc-tech for a couple of hours per day. Our first classroom was a temp location, because the building we were going to use wasn't finished yet (they got it partly finished, and we moved into an unheated closet there in the dead of winter, but I digress), and this room opened right onto the railroad tracks. A couple of times per session, we'd hear a train coming and drop what we were doing to go out and watch it and smash pennies. Watching was particularly fun for me, because standing still at a certain distance from the train sometimes gave the illusion that the train was standing still and I was zooming sideways at a great velocity.

My classmates and I were a little put out that the coins tended to leave the tracks right away, and considered sticking them down with something. I don't recall if this ever went anywhere.

I do a fair amount of driving from time to time, and several states have their own local penny smashers. I think I went for a John Glenn in Ohio, and petitioned a friend on one trip to get me a Frank Zappa coin. Most of the designs don't do a whole lot for me, but I might go for a dinosaur I find one some time.

#665 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 06:52 AM:

Sandy B. #659: And the scientists KEPT MESSING WITH IT.

Not directly relevant, but see also the fluorine martyrs. (Scientists can be either determined or foolhardy, depending on your perspective....)

#667 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 12:34 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @664 I suspect that a lot of the source material for that story came from Ignition, an Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants by John D Clark.

One crazy bit -- The US was actually thinking of using Mercury as a propellant, and doing a test firing in NJ, before they were talked out of it.

#668 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 12:51 PM:

Abi #633: Perhaps '11' should be given Dutch rather than English pronunciation.

#669 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 12:53 PM:

Abi #633: Perhaps '11' should be given Dutch rather than English pronunciation.

#670 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 01:30 PM:

I'm hustling to Monterey, CA for a show.

I happen to have a spare ticket which wants to be valued for itself; that is to say, I'd rather give it away than see it go to waste. If this sounds appealing and feasible, drop me a line:

The Dirt Underneath

#671 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Sandy, also from the "Things I Won't Work With" series at the Corante Pipeline blog, there was dioxygen difluoride, with the evocatively named chemical formula FOOF!

This might be the one you're thinking of, because all of the experiments with it had to be done at incredibly low temperatures.

He quotes a paper from a chemist A. G. Streng who did some experiments with it in the 1960s:

"Being a high energy oxidizer, dioxygen difluoride reacted vigorously with organic compounds, even at temperatures close to its melting point. It reacted instantaneously with solid ethyl alcohol, producing a blue flame and an explosion. When a drop of liquid 02F2 was added to liquid methane, cooled at 90°K., a white flame was produced instantaneously, which turned green upon further burning. When 0.2 (mL) of liquid 02F2 was added to 0.5 (mL) of liquid CH4 at 90°K., a violent explosion occurred."

Note that's 90° KELVIN - this is a compound that reacts explosively at -180°C (-300° F), and he cites a long list of further chemicals that Streng tested it with, in all cases explosively.

#672 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 12:26 AM:

I'm getting intermittent (very) long load times & occasional timeouts. Is it just me?

#673 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 02:28 AM:

Signal boosting: Cheyenne Wright, the colorist for the Girl Genius webcomic, has hit a rough patch and needs financial help. If anyone is so minded, go here to drop some coin in the bucket.

#674 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 08:28 AM:

Sad news from the O'Brian and knitting fandoms: Lisa Grossman, the co-writer of the Aubreyad cookbook, and (as the Tsarina of Tsocks) creator of a million incredibly nerdy sock patterns, is not doing well these days.

#675 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 11:16 AM:

Soon Lee (672): Not just you. Although I've been getting that on several sites, so I thought it was my connection.

#676 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 02:51 PM:

HLN: Local man's son is reading Digger now, having finished all the Discworld books. He is loving it fully as much as I thought he would, particularly including the vampire squash, and the dinner with the hyena tribe.

#677 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 10:13 PM:

Today I was reminded how much I once really liked -- and, a shocker for someone whose persistent self-image includes the term 'klutz', am actually kind of GOOD AT -- rollerskating.

We hit the rink with my kid and two borrowed kids, and had a bad moment the first time I stood up on the rented wheels -- I suddenly felt like if I even BREATHED wrong I'd pratfall and break my fool neck. But after babying the length of the outside track to escort a kid to the water fountain and then inching back to put quarters in a locker for our shoes, I felt a little more stable.

After two laps escorting one or another of our three unstable under-8s around the track, during which I fell exactly never, I was feeling a lot more confident, and after another two or three inchworm laps escorting the kids I genuinely felt competent.

By the time we left, I was gleefully taking a few speed laps (well, speed laps FOR ME, nowhere near the birdlike skimming of the most skilled adults present) and feeling kinda graceful.

I clearly need to make time to do it more often. Well, more often than once every 10-15 years, certainly. :->

Adding a me-sized set of wheelyshoes (preferably foursquare; rollerblades still annoy me) to my keep-checking-at-thrift-stores shopping list.

#678 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 11:49 PM:


I just love the phrase "Delightful pleasure."

#679 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 12:26 AM:

re: the Sidelight, Jason Scott says the Archive Team made a backup of last year.

I don't know that it has everything which they took down, but I hope it has some of what was lost.

#680 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 08:58 AM:

That's good to hear. I asked yesterday or the day before if it was findable on the Wayback [sic] Machine, and was told it wasn't.

#681 ::: Tom Whitmore sends a note to a moderator ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 11:53 AM:

The Hedgehog video that TNH has in the Particles has a bad URL. I can find the Vimeo video on my own, but I think you want to correct it. Thank you!

#682 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 11:56 AM:

Apparently the time machine was invented at Harvard some time in the recent past according to a student of mine: John Rawls was an American philosopher, born in 1971. He studied at Princeton University and became a professor at Harvard University in 1962 and remained there for over thirty years.

#683 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 05:38 PM:

Another thread has touched on British Constitutional matters, so I'm going to rant here about the fact that in the UK we're going through a constitutional change (or two) to the extent that the Queen may actually have to do something.

First and most obviously: The West Lothian Question. Can a Westminster MP that represents a constituency in a part of the UK that has a devolved assembly/parliament and powers vote on matters that do not directly effect the devloved area? Can a Scottish MP vote on a bill that only effects England? And in the event of a hung parliament, can such an MP form part of the coalition?

Despite the assertion of various party leaders and other people to the contrary the current (slightly illogical answer) is yes, of course. There is no mechanism, protocol or agreement otherwise. Interestingly, there is a traditional method for deciding a change of this magnitude: the ruling party makes it's case, then holds an election.

To be fair, David Cameron has made a proposal* although this is mixed in with everything else in this election.

That's because it runs into the other constitutional novelty; the Fixed Term Parliament Act. Created to give solidity to the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, with the odds of no majority and a coalition government of some sort in the next House of Commons it's likely to become a permanent part of the political landscape. This act requires a two thirds majority vote to dissolve parliament for a new election (and time limits to form a new government in the event of the loss of a vote of confidence). In theory this bill can be nullified by being altered or repealed, but I believe this would require going through the regular legislative procedure (three readings, the House of Lords etc.)

tl;dr: The UK parliamentary system is transforming and no one seems to be bothered or (mostly) noticing.

* A Grand Committee of only English MPs will need to approve English only legislation. This is not actually a terrible plan, just complex and with difficult edge cases.

#684 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 10:24 PM:

I got confirmation that my dog has lymphoma. The steroids are doing their job; she's pretty much back to normal, and should stay that way until the inevitable, unmistakable relapse.

There's a chance Kira will still be around for when my mother and sister visit this summer . . . but honestly, if she quietly slipped away on her own tonight I'd be content and grateful.

#685 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 11:01 PM:

Stefan Jones @684, Kira's a beautiful dog, and I hope she goes when she wants to go, gently, and without pain. <hugs> if welcome. And <scritches>, of course.

#686 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 07:48 AM:

Stefan Jones #684: Again, sympathies.

#687 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 09:22 AM:

Sympathies, Stefan.

#688 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 02:41 PM:

Argh... Not very long ago, someone posted a link to a story here about a "distributed" world/nation, centered around flowering mint, and evocative of Judaism. Unfortunately, I find I've already lost the link (yeah, I need to organize my bookmarks again), and can't seem to find it in the most likely recent threads. (There have been a great number of stories linked and referenced here lately, in both the Open and both Hugo threads.)

Can someone with better memory please point me to the link? Thanks in advance!

#689 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 03:15 PM:

David Harmon @688: It's Ruthanna Emrys, Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land:

Her latest story there is The Litany of Earth, which is also amazing (though in Tehanu's world):

#690 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 03:16 PM:

One ohnosecond later: though NOT in Tehanu's world. Sigh.

#691 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 03:24 PM:

Elliott Mason #689: Thank you! (I was actually just reading the Litany of Earth....) I've now sent the link off to my aunt (host of our recent family gathering).

And by re-bookmarking it, I rediscovered that Firefox has two completely separate trees of bookmarks.... (It was in the main-menu one, rather than the menu-bar one....) Oy....

#692 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 04:57 PM:

Elliott Mason #690: Even worse: It's "Tikanu". ;-)

I totally see what happened there... it's so frustrating when a better-known name "occludes" a newer one.

#693 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 07:53 PM:

In the department of This Is A Very Fluorospherian Thing: observant Jewish blessings and rituals for a variety of nonbinary-gendered life experiences.

There's a blessing to say when binding one's chest while getting dressed for the day, for example. And instructions for a pre-transition mikveh.

#694 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 09:43 PM:

Best wishes to you and Kira, Stefan. May all her remaining days be filled with love and joy.

#695 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 10:11 PM:

Thanks for the thoughts, all.

The steroids are doing a marvelous job. I was sure Kira was a goner on Wednesday; today she's back to her normal self. *Maybe* even nimbler than she's been in a while, because the steroids help with arthritis as well. (If she weren't facing death within a year, the vet wouldn't give her steroids just for the arthritis, because the stuff is so hard on the system. )

And get this: I've been getting advice from *Daniel Pinkwater* on Twitter about handling sick dog. Which amounts to "don't treat her like she's sick."

#696 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 10:34 PM:

Stefan (if I may presume) best wishes for you and for Kira...may your time together make the ending easier, and I'll offer St. Francis a candle on Kira's behalf.

#697 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 10:34 PM:

Stefan (if I may presume) best wishes for you and for Kira...may your time together make the ending easier, and I'll offer St. Francis a candle on Kira's behalf.

#698 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 10:36 PM:

Ok -- how the heck did that happen?! No internal server problem message, so I've no clue why it double posted.

Gremlins, we got gremlins...

#699 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 11:04 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 695: Daniel Pinkwater! Have you read "Super Puppy" and "Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories"? Good books.

I'm glad to hear that Kira is feeling better.

#700 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 11:14 PM:

All best wishes for Kira's health and an easy passing are welcome.

@Janetl: Yes indeed! My twitter-conversation with "Captain" Pinkwater begain when I mentioned to him that I was going to give Kira a chicken breast a day to convince her that life was worth living, an idea I got from one of the Uncle Boris stories. (He credits the chicken meat for keeping his dog Maxine alive far past her expected time.)

#701 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 01:15 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 684 ...

Best wishes and good energies -- and I'll bet she was a right bit of excitement when she was younger... she's still got that bit of mischief going...

#702 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 01:21 AM:

How cool to have Pinkwater responding! And I like his advice. I continue to send good wishes, Stefan. We got an extra 7 months out of one cat with large cell lymphome by giving her chemo -- another died within the week. Different animals respond very differently (even to steroids).

#703 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:58 AM:

re the GMO maize particle: the teosinte-to-maize as GMO is rather an exaggeration. The general view (based on back-crossing work) is that there are only about five genes whose differences account for the huge discrepancy between the two, and there's no evidence that they did anything exotic; it's thought unlikely that they even bred in any of the other Zea species.

OTOH one of the things that makes maize a SuperGraintm is that it is a C4 plant, which makes it more efficient at photosynthesis than the average plant. Well, there is a project to turn rice into a C4 crop too, which if it can be made to work would be a huge win, because the C4 cycle advantage increases with temperature.1 Funding by Gates.

1 Short form: there's a back oxidation reaction which tends to dominate as temperatures increase. The C4 cycle mitigates this by splitting the carbon fixing cycle in two, so that the oxygen can't get at the vulnerable spot.

#704 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 09:52 AM:

Hyperlocal News... Local fan had his medical checkup yesterday, and got the blood work's results the same day online, thanks to modern technology. Cholesterol is in the borderline-high zone, but at the low end. Also, no sign of cancer.

#705 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 09:52 AM:

Hyperlocal News... Local fan had his medical checkup yesterday, and got the blood work's results the same day online, thanks to modern technology. Cholesterol is in the borderline-high zone, but at the low end. Also, no sign of cancer.

#706 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:01 AM:

Serge Broom @705, Hurrah for no sign of cancer!

#707 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:06 AM:

Cassy B... Indeed! There were suspicious marks on my skin, which had me decide it was time for a checkup. They turned out to be age spots. How can I have age spots? I won't turn 60 until September. All right, I'll take age spots over the Other Thing.

#708 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Re the latest PEN/Charlie Hebdo controversy, I thought this article in the Spectator had a lot of home truths.

#709 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 03:24 PM:

re GMO corn, there is a huge difference between capitalizing on a mutation in regulatory genes that turns teosinte into a "monster" that can't self-sow but is much easier to harvest, and inserting foreign genes into your corn to confer herbicide resistance. (Which in itself opens up new cans of worms.)

Even without the GMO issue, there is a whole lot wrong with corn, from topsoil loss and water-hogging to subsidies that result in huge surpluses (leading to putting corn syrup in EVERYTHING), to the effect on cows of feeding them a corn diet (not unrelated to antibiotic overuse).
Corn and erosion
Michael Pollan on corn-fed cattle
Corn subsidies and obesity

#710 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 05:00 PM:

Lila #709: And then there's the issue of Monsanto's sterility genes, meant to make the farmers dependent on them for replacement seeds. (And that's not just for corn, or other hybrid crops.) Monsanto has a lot of the responsibility for the backlash against GMOs....

#711 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:33 PM:

I have long felt that I almost understand the Schubert song (to a poem of Schubart), "The Trout." In addition to loving the music from first hearing, I've pondered the lyrics many times (mostly in translation), and I could see that it is an analogy in which fishing stands in for, well, wenching, just as hunting does in old English folk songs. I could see that the fisherman who caught the pretty little trout through deception was a man who had nabbed a young woman through his wiles. The narrator calls this unethical and mourns for the trout. I got all that.

What I never really grokked in fullness was how the writer of the verses really felt about it. Was his indignation feigned, with a wink? Or was it serious? Was he serious and feigning the wink? I couldn't tell. I couldn't read sarcasm or its absence with conclusive certainty at the distance.

Today, for some forgotten reason, I looked it up on Wikipedia, and learned that the poem had six verses, and Schubert only set five of them in order to leave it possible for the singer/narrator to be male or female. Schubert leaves off with the narrator critical of how the fisherman caught the trout. Schubart continues:

You who tarry by the golden spring
Of secure youth,
Think still of the trout:
If you see danger, hurry by!
Most of you err only from lack
Of cleverness. Girls, see
Seducers with their tackle!
Or else, too late, you'll bleed.
And there it is. The poem seems not to be winking or condoning, but outright warning. I finally get it. And I'm glad it was this way, and not smirkingly facilitating what it decried.

The last verse is in the same rhythm as the rest (in the German). No reason, seems to me, that someone couldn't sing the verse along with the rest.

#712 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 07:34 AM:

Why, oh why is it, that one is always just too short of yarn to reasonably claim completeness -- or far enough over to have just enough yarn to not be able to make something else?!? -mutter-

#714 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 08:21 AM:

Kip W @711:

My associations with Schubert's "The Trout" are entirely overset by the fact that my washing machine plays it whenever it's finished with a load.

I am not kidding.

#715 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 08:24 AM:

I am delighted to see you've found the hedgehog video, Teresa.

#716 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:01 AM:

David Harmon @710, yes. The terminator gene (which bothers me in a way even deeper than my rational response of the economic dependence; it feels like a denial of the nature of agriculture itself. If Monsanto had the andat Sterile at their command, this is what they would have it do.

It took me a long, long time to realize that most people who oppose GMO aren't doing it for the reasons I do (Roundup-Ready's devastation of local ecosystems and the terminator gene's cynical denial of fertility) but because of perceived issues about consumption of GMO foods, so for a very long time proponents of GMO products and I were talking past each other; they kept bringing up what I thought were complete non-sequiturs in responses to arguments other people had made in other conversations.

#717 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:30 AM:

lorax (716): perceived issues about consumption of GMO foods

My mother, who has weird food allergies, is allergic to GMO soybeans* but not regular ones. She's not sure about GMO corn but tries to avoid it just in case.

*~70% of the commercial crop, the ones used in things like soy sauce and soy lecithin (used in most mass-produced breads and chocolates)

That being said, however, I agree with what has been written here about GMO foods, which all sounds remarkably sensible.

#718 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:34 AM:

#710 #716 I thought that the terminator gene was an urban legend. AKICML?

#719 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:59 AM:

Mary Aileen #717: One of the things Monsanto did, early in GMO soya, was splice in some peanut DNA to boost its protein content.

Like soya didn't have enough protein content to start with.

Also, they didn't bother to check, but the proteins they were splicing in are the ones people with peanut allergies are MOST COMMONLY allergic to. So now there were a lot of people getting peanut allergen exposure when they didn't expect to ...

Supposedly they killed off that line, but their soybeans have been giving people weird reactions since then, so I have my doubts.

#720 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:25 PM:

Elliott Mason (719): That sounds depressingly* plausible. My mother isn't allergic to peanuts (she doesn't have any of the common food allergies, just some weird ones), but that the problem is something unusual spliced in.

*"depressingly" because of course they didn't think about the fact that they were splicing in a common--and nasty--allergen

#721 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:55 PM:

At last. My ticket to publishing a best-seller.

Fifty Shades of OMG

As Doctor Smith would say, "Oh, the pain."

#722 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:59 PM:

Did they know it was an allergen at the time they did it? (And I'd bet that if the soybeans aren't self-pollinating, that it spread.)

#723 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 02:00 PM:

Did they know it was an allergen at the time they did it? (And I'd bet that if the soybeans aren't self-pollinating, that it spread.)

#724 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 02:01 PM:

muttermutter Dreaded Internal Server Error muttermtuter

#725 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 02:25 PM:

P J Evans (722): Peanuts have been a known allergen for at least 40 years (i.e., I knew about it as a kid). Peanut allergy may be more common now, but it's not exactly new.

#726 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 02:52 PM:

I was thinking about the specific protein, not about the allergy generally. Because if they didn't know which protein was most often responsible, it would be somewhat less reprehensible than if they knew it was an allergen before they engineered it in. (I know someone who's allergic to corn, including corn-based alcohol. There's something there that gets through all the processes, including distillation.)

#727 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 03:10 PM:

P J Evans (726): "We need to give these soybeans more protein. I know! Let's splice in a peanut protein! Sure, lots of people are allergic to peanuts. But we don't know which protein is responsible, so using a random one is totally not problematic, right? There's no way that can go wrong."

Yeah, "somewhat less problematic" than deliberately splicing in the specific allergen. But still pretty bad; it's the scenario I was thinking of when I said "depressingly plausible".

#728 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 03:18 PM:

Is there any reliable citation that can be given about the splicing a peanut allergen into soybeans?

A search for info about nut allergens in GMO soy found a discussion of an attempt to put a Brazil nut gene into soy, where it was found to be an allergen in pre-market testing, and never released. I have not seen anything from reliable sources (e.g, not Mercola or an anti-GMO site) that even mention peanut allergens in soy.

#729 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 06:08 PM:

lorax #716: it feels like a denial of the nature of agriculture itself.

Exactly. As far back as we have records, farmers saved some of their grain for seed. The thing is, we already had a problem with hybrid grains, which already fostered dependence. Killswitch seeds made that worse -- and not only did it spread the problem to new crops, but it caused trouble for neighboring farmers whose crops got pollinated by the bollixed crops.

#730 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 06:30 PM:

Buddha Buck @ #728: Terminator technology.

#731 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 06:49 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 719 ....
Mary Aileen #717: One of the things Monsanto did, early in GMO soya, was splice in some peanut DNA to boost its protein content.

Do you have a reference for that? That might explain a few things ...

#732 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 06:49 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 719 ....
Mary Aileen #717: One of the things Monsanto did, early in GMO soya, was splice in some peanut DNA to boost its protein content.

Do you have a reference for that? That might explain a few things ...

#733 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 06:58 PM:

I haven't seen anything about peanut genes in soy, but this article mentions cross-reactivity between soy and peanuts, and suggests that this phenomenon may be more common with GM soy.

#734 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 07:02 PM:

I'm not finding one. I heard about it in what I remember (ha ha ha, like eyewitness testimony is accurate even when fresh) as being a reputable scientific context, like ten years ago, but the most relevant thing that turns up now are comments about US GMO soybeans showing up on allergen tests for nut proteins (sometimes), while European non-GMO soybeans do not.

#735 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 07:50 PM:

Lila @ 709: just so. I'm still listening to both sides of the GMO argument (as much as I have the stomach for), but I find this article stupidly insulting -- not quite as bad as claiming that people trying to ban atomic weapons should also be concerned about everything down to spears, but getting there.

I don't remember seeing anything from before. Are they generally reliable, or reliably slanted, or just occasionally random, or all over the map?

#736 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 08:36 PM:

Lika @730:

That article says nothing about peanut allergens in GMO soy, and it explicitly says that 1999 Monsanto pledged to not use "terminator" genes, which makes that a moot issue.

Besides, buying new seed every year is standard operating procedure for conventional hybrid crops already, since hybrid crops don't breed true.

#737 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:06 PM:

My favorite example of 'you have to buy it every year' is seeds for seedless watermelons. Because, yeah. (They may have seed coats in the melons, but they're not actual seeds.)
There was at least one farmer in the area of west Texas I lived in who grew the melons to produce the seeds for seedless melons. The melons ripened all the way to yellow, then they came along and harvested them by scooping them all up for smashing, straining, and rinsing.

There's a sizable market for 'heirloom' varieties, where you're encouraged to save the seeds. Some, like peppers, will hold three or four years if they're kept cool and dry; others don't keep.

#738 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 11:43 PM:

Am I the only one who

  1. ...didn't find the plot of Donnie Darko all that difficult to follow? I mean, it's a standard precognition/timeloop story, right? Yet I keep seeing the claim that it's incomprehensible.
  2. ...Underworld, same question? People keep referring to its 'convoluted' plot, but it's simpler and more straightforward than, say, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
  3. really enjoying the Netflix series Hemlock Grove? I'm really enjoying the struggle of the poor werewolf character, who's almost the only person in town who isn't a shit of some variety, and another Skarsgård brother playing a (sort-of) vampire, and Famke Janssen just oozing evil from every pore. Can I really be the only one who likes this?
Is this stuff obscure enough that I risk being infected with hipsterism by liking it?

#739 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 07:28 AM:

Xopher, 738:

1. No, but I thought it was all a hallucination while he was getting squished by the airplane. (I may have read "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" at a formative instant.)

2. I know I saw it, but I don't remember anything about it; this implies that I didn't have trouble understanding it.

3. This is the first I've heard of it, but it sounds like something I should check out.

#740 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 08:29 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @738, I can only speak to your #2; haven't encountered the others. But Underworld has a pretty straightforward cross and double-cross plot, if memory serves. Not much more complicated than, say, Hunt for Red October.

#741 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 10:00 AM:

By way of David "Wondermark" Malki: The U.S. Copyright Office has launched an index of Fair Use cases.

#742 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 10:28 AM:

In the case of Underground, I have a sort of impressionistic memory of the whole thing. Werewolf/vampire machine gun fights in crowded subway cars with no hint at any time that there might be a police investigation. Century old vampires yelling "You can't make me ! You're not my real father!" And Kate Beckinsale ass-cam for about half the movie as she angrily stomps everywhere at all times.

There was a plot in there, and I followed it at the time, but I couldn't tell you what happened. Something stupid with vampires and lycans and love and, like, poison or something.

#743 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 10:31 AM:

1. Donnie Darko leaves a couple of questions unanswered, but is hardly incomprehensible.
2. Underworld is not a simple plot, but it is fairly stupid (from memory)*. This makes it a bit harder than usual to work out what's going on as most horrory-actiony-fantasy films tend to have quite simple plots so there's few enough moving parts that they can be remembered even if they don't make sense.
3. (not seen)

* Also I'm unconvinced over how practical Kate Beckinsale's outfit is.

#744 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 11:39 AM:

1. Donny Darko is pretty comprehensible to someone who knows some basic SF tropes, such as closed and excised time loops, and probably pretty confusing to anyone who does not. At the time it came out, there was a pretty fancy gamified web site with some supplementary information that effectively confirmed this, but of course it wasn't maintained. (It had excerpts of the book written by the "crazy old lady" which said stuff about time travel and closed universes and such, confirming that's what was going on.)
2., 3. Never saw them.

#745 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 02:36 PM:

Me@742: Underworld. Derp.

#746 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 03:22 PM:

Inspired by today's influx of commercial postings:

Hooray, hooray, the First of May,
Hair-loss spamming begins today!

#747 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 03:40 PM:

re 709: No-till is pretty much SOP in these parts; I haven't seen a field plowed in a very long time. The trade-off is in use of herbicides, because plowing helps keep them down to a degree. Corn, I suspect, is less of an issue with herbicides because because it takes off so fast that anything else is shaded out. Soybeans, not so much.

#748 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 03:48 PM:

Ripped from the headlines of, er, my Twitter stream, Here's how western media would cover Baltimore if it were happening somewhere else in the world. A sterling performance.

#750 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 11:31 PM:

a topic dear to the hearts of many making-lighters.

#751 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 02:43 PM:

We just saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's very good in some ways [no spoilers, but rot13 for the nervous]: rkpryyrag rlr pnaql (vapyhqvat ng yrnfg bar ornhgvshy frg cvrpr); vagrerfgvat svtug puberbtencul; cvrprf chg va cynpr sbe gur arkg cunfr bs ZPH svyzf; naq fbzr phgr ersreraprf sbe pbzvpf naq Jurqba snaf. Gur arj grnz zrzoref jrer orggre unaqyrq guna V rkcrpgrq; naq, va trareny, Jurqba qvq n tbbq wbo bs xrrcvat guvatf pburerag jvgu n ynetr ahzore bs punenpgref.

Some of the bad, or disappointing [with spoilers, but little detail]: abg fher vg'f n Orpuqry cnff, qrfcvgr n tbbq unaqshy bs vagrerfgvat srznyr punenpgref; punenpgre qrngu nccneragyl whfg "fb vg zrnaf fbzrguvat", be znlor gb tvir na ntbavmrq punenpgre zber zbgvingvat ntbal, orpnhfr Jurqba; n ernyyl obeqreyvar ovg bs zbgvingvba sbe Oynpx Jvqbj; naq fbzr onpxtebhaq va cynpr bs npghny punenpgre qrirybczrag sbe Unjxrlr. Nyfb, vg'f zvabe, ohg V jnf fbeel gurer jnfa'g zber ersrerapr gb gur Ntragf bs Fuvryq cneg bs gur havirefr.

Overall: definitely worth seeing if you like the MCU films, but not the best of the lot.

#752 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 07:54 PM:

I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron yesterday, at the 10:45 AM showing. This was perhaps a less than ideal choice after getting up at 4:30 AM to go to the dawn May Day festivities by the Charles River, especially since I'd slept poorly the night before; I dozed off sometime after they were making plans to deal with the problem & woke up in the middle of the penultimate battle sequence, & the friend I saw it with tells me I missed absolutely nothing of importance. I did have to lean over and ask her a few questions, but they were more of the "friend is a far more informed Marvel geek than I am" type rather than the "am mystified by plot" type.

I figure I'll watch it again when it comes to DVD or Netflix, just for completeness. I doubt it'll ever go on repleated pleasure rewatchings like the first Iron Man, Thor, and Avengers movies.

#753 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 08:01 PM:

AKICIML: does anyone know of a good app for journaling health symptoms? I have some ongoing issues that may or may not be related, and I'd like to be able to show a log to my doctor, and I find that I'm more likely to use a thing if it comes in app form than any other. I thought of just making a calendar for it with my other calendars, but it's not really set up for what I want. and I lack the spoons to make my own spreadsheet from scratch, even though a spreadsheet would be well suited to my needs, what with the graphing functions and all.

#754 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 08:54 PM:

Odd. I hadn't noticed this before, but as of right now the bottom two pictures from Salt are overlapping the next entry down, Affinities. The middle picture runs over the border between the two entries; the bottom picture is completely in the next entry, shoving the text around.

(I'm using Firefox 35.0.1 on Windows 7, if that matters.)

#755 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 09:36 PM:

Rikibeth @ 752: where are the festivities? I keep thinking I should go some year, now that I can crash after getting up at dawn instead of having to imitate a useful worker for a day, and not finding out enough in time.

The next time you're just downstream of the Cambridge end of the Weeks footbridge, note the bench dedicated to Marian Walke; it was supposed to say "Dum possumus vivamus".

#756 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 10:04 PM:

I didn't go out for the dawn festivities in Seattle this year (at Gasworks Park, if you're out here) -- though the weather was perfect, I was quite tired.

#757 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 12:02 AM:

À propos of Teresa's demonic spelling test (and the list of words over the comment box), I notice that the Kentucky Derby winner this year is American Pharoah (sic).

#758 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 12:31 AM:

An interesting factoid about the "Save against Death" Particle: according to the Wikipedia article on the actuarial value of human life, the value of a human life has been estimated by they US government at various times at between 7.1 and 9.4 million dollars. So, rolling a D8 for a chance at a million dollars vs dying: that's only just getting to be a reasonable bet, about even money for the value. So it wouldn't be overwhelmingly surprising if a lot of people turned it down: you're not getting that much of an advantage. I'd comment there, but I couldn't figure out how to make a comment work -- it's not obvious, and it may be only open to his friends.

It's a good article anyway, and a good thought experiment. Just less surprising than he seems to think. And note that, as he surmises, an unpleasant year of survival is worth significantly less than a pleasant one, again according to the actuarial stats referenced on Wikipedia, which should be taken with the usual grains of salt.

#759 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 01:15 AM:

CHip, the festiviites begin just the other side of the bridge from Marian's bench (which I hadn't noted, so thank you) thence progressing to a Harvard quad, and IIRC they eventually end up in front of Au Bon Pain, in the area I think of as Holyoke Plaza, though I understand it's been renamed. I didn't stick around for all of it this time; I heard breakfast calling me, though my friend vetoed Sound Bites.

Part of it is going through a receiving line of formally-dressed Harvard students who dance on the bridge for their own ceremony. 25 years ago I remember all the young women in long white dresses with red sashes. This year they were less formal and less coordinated, though the young men were still in tuxedos and suits. Still, a lovely tradition.

I hadn't been in many years, due to living out of state. Now I'm back, and I wasn't going to miss it for the world.

#760 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 02:21 AM:

Thanks to everyone who engaged with my questions.

I was disappointed to find that the Hemlock Grove writers apparently couldn't take 45 seconds to Google "Romani" and discover that the Roma are not from Romania. Yes, they send someone "home" to Romania (why they didn't send her to Roma (Rome) I can't imagine). In the first season, I thought it was just a captioning error when they had a caption that said "(speaking Romanian)."

Romanian is a Romance language like French or Spanish; Romany/Romani is Indic; its close relatives are Hindi and Urdu.

I wonder if the book was as bad. Just putting "Gypsies" in as magical/scary people is pretty stupid; not even finding out the most basic facts about them is appalling and wrong. Any decent copyeditor would have caught this.

In S1 I could pretend that the racism was all on the part of characters; now it seems to be coming from the writers.

#761 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 02:31 AM:

Xopher @ 760: I remember learning that from an R. A. Lafferty story; from memory, "There were 7 sister languages, Hindi, Sindhi, Urdu, [something something something]. The seventh sister ran away with a horse trader."

#762 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 04:59 AM:

Xopher @ 760: I'm unfamiliar with Hemlock Grove, but here in the UK Romania is currently a pretty common origin for Roma immigrants. Back in Romania, Wikipedia has Roma at 3.3% of the national population - the third largest group, after ethnic Romanians and Hungarians - but use of the Vlax [= 'Vlach' as in Wallachia, i.e. Romanian] Romani language at only 1.1%. Both figures are probably underestimates, since Roma identity is traditionally under-reported to officialdom for depressingly predictable reasons.

Whatever else they got wrong, that bit doesn't look like the "can't be arsed to Google" level of Wrong that the coincidental similarity of 'Romani' and Romania would otherwise suggest.

#763 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 09:53 AM:

"'People called Romanes they go the house?'"
"It... it says "Romans go home!"
"No, it doesn't."

#764 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 01:40 PM:

That still doesn't explain why an American Roma would be sent to Romania. If she had kin or friends there, that would be one thing, but they explicitly stated that she didn't know anyone there.

#765 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 02:31 PM:

Re my 758: if anyone has a way for me to send that comment to Mr. Henley, I'd like to send it. I can't see how to make comments on his blog, as I said. If he's reading here -- I don't need to push it further, but I'd like to know.

#766 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 03:32 PM:

Xopher @ 764: Okay, that does make the plot completely WTF on every level. I'm not even going to try to follow the thought processes that went into that: suddenly your theory is looking a lot stronger to me than it did.


#767 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 04:55 PM:

Xopher @760 - That actually came up in an episode of weird-conspiracy-thriller Utopia. The characters thought the key to the mystery was held by a senile man they thought was speaking Romanian. When they got hold of a translator he told them the man was actually speaking Romani.

(Although it turned out he was originally from Romania as well, which didn't stop the translator from calling out their ignorance just because they were lucky)

#768 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 06:33 PM:

The pollen is mighty right now in SW Pennsylvania, and I recalled something that helps—using a neti pot every night. I'm sharing it here in case other allergy sufferers might benefit. It's also a good idea after doing something that stirs up a lot dust.

In related news, I'm starting to garden for the first time in this house. We moved in late last June, and my priority was the inside, not the outside. I just kept the weeds down and put a flower pot on the front stairs. I'm being a lot more ambitious this spring. I visited nurseries this weekend, to get a sense of options. There's a tiny one called Sylvania Natives that is wonderful! She just carries local natives, which she propagates herself. I bought some wood poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) and a Bowman's Root (Gillenia trifoliata).

#769 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 06:36 PM:

BTW, the individual flowers of Bowman's Root aren't flashy, but I like the way they stir in the slightest breeze. It's a small, deciduous shrub, and I think the foliage is handsome throughout the growing season.

#770 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 08:12 PM:

Not quite brain-to-brain USByet.

#771 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 08:54 PM:

janetl, #769: FYI, UrsulaV is also a native-plants gardening enthusiast; although she lives in a more southerly part of the country and therefore probably wouldn't have much specific information to share, you might still be interested in what she has to say on the subject. I follow her blog on LiveJournal, at the same username.

#772 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 09:20 PM:

Two links inspired by the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, but not at all spoilers for it (other than the latter including a bit of a trailer):

Sesame Street: The Aveggies: Age of Bon Bon

Saturday Night Live's Black Widow movie trailer

The latter was... Ok, let me borrow my spouse's words: "I was almost crying as I was watching it. I am telling myself they were tears of mirth, but really they were tears of despair."

#773 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 10:40 PM:

Lee @ 771: Pointing people to UrsulaV's LJ is a good thing to do, whether they are native plant fans or not! I started following her on LJ and Twitter after she won the Hugo (first I'd heard of her), and I'm a huge fan.

#774 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 05:00 AM:

May the Fourth be with you.

<runs away>

#775 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:08 AM:

< chases Cadbury Moose, with lightsaber >

#776 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:11 AM:

Patrick Connors @775, the Moose has a lightsaber and you're chasing him anyway? <settling down with popcorn> This should be good...

#777 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 11:55 AM:

Surfacing long enough to announce that I quit one of my part-time day jobs to go all in on freelance translation. Took me a few years to get to this point, and now that I'm here opportunities are popping up in all sorts of places, expected and otherwise. So the timing is just right, and I'm excited to move into a new career!

Also, re: the Super Boubous particle: At my other part-time day job (which I am keeping for now, and in fact am at right now), I know a couple of people from Burkina Faso. I'll try to find out more from them.

#778 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 01:01 PM:

We have some interesting news with regard to the movement on school choice. It isn't at all good.

#779 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 02:07 PM:

Does anybody care to join me in whinging that today's Google doodle uses a piece that was never intended for the instrument in question? Couldn't they have used Mozart?

Fragano @ 778: I wonder whether anyone at the local voucher-pushing newspaper (Boston Globe) is paying attention to that link; maybe I can throw it in the next time they start demanding that the current cap be lifted

#780 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 09:55 PM:

CHip, it's kind of painful watching that one-finger player tomenting ol' Jesu like that ("Ach! Mein Herz!"). They managed to make a lovely piece boring. I understand Bach got to play on a cembalo piano e forte near the end of his life, and may have written the keyboard fugue in "The Musical Offering" for it. Would have been a better choice, but only if they don't torture it.

#781 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 09:58 PM:

Cassy B, #776: It's perfectly safe: everybody runs faster than I do. And I also have a lightsaber, though I lack batteries at the moment.

More popcorn anyone?

#782 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:27 PM:

I'm waiting until next weekend to see Avengers. Thanks all for using the spoiler thread!

After a good week my dog is weak and shaky. I'm hoping she's just a little ill; if it is the lymphoma roaring back, that was a damn short reprieve. Prepared for anything, but fingers crossed!

#783 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:52 PM:

Keeping my fingers crossed for Kira, Stefan.

Please keep your fingers crossed for our Maggie too - only about 3 weeks after her surgery to remove the big lump in her back, a new one appeared right next to the previous incision, and has grown really large in only one week. Tomorrow she gets it examined by the vet who did the previous exam and surgery; the other vet who looked at it Thursday didn't want to venture an opinion without having him look at it. We're pretty worried, of course.

#784 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:10 AM:

Sending hope Maggie's way.

#785 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:15 AM:

Hopes for Maggie and Kira from here, too.

#786 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:38 AM:

Weather open-threadiness.

There's a severe weather forecast for some of the NZ West Coast, with widespread forecasts for 250mm (10in) accumulation over 24 hours, and up to 500mm in some places. I know, I know, those of you from more northerly climes are saying "Twenty inches? It doesn't count as a blizzard until you measure in in feet".

This is rain.

#787 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 05:48 AM:

Chip writes: Does anybody care to join me in whinging that today's Google doodle uses a piece that was never intended for the instrument in question?

When it was invented, nothing could have been written for it yet. So he's picking out an existing tune on his newly invented instrument.

#788 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 10:14 AM:

thomas (786): Twenty inches of rain?! Holy suffering cats!

Even ten inches is a lot. Thirteen inches in Islip, Long Island (New York), last summer flooded highways and drowned cars.

Stay safe.

#789 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 10:29 AM:

I am considering setting up a Patreon. If this is the sort of thing that feels open-thready, I can chat about it here; if you've made a Patreon before and are willing to talk things out with me about logistics on a sideband, please email me at 2ells2tees via the place that is gmail and I would be delighted.

#790 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:50 AM:

We've had storms in LA (not in the last few years) that have dumped rain in the 5-to-10-inch range in a day. Flooding, yes. (They tell people to lower the water level in pools beforehand, to limit overflow. Not everyone pays attention.)

#791 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:55 AM:

Interesting thing found via @Falkvinge being retweeted by @doctorow on twitter: Once content is published without access restrictions on the internet, it is in the public domain, says ECJ.

Note: @Falkvinge has their own blog post about it here and I dug up the court docs on that Harvard site from the description in the blog post.

TL;DR: In the EU, it appears that once a piece of "content" has been published on the Internet without any "access control" (ie: a paywall, subscription service, similar) it has been deemed "communicated to the public". In order to infringe the copyright on that content, someone would need to make the content available to a "new public" on the Internet. Without any access control on the original publication, the entire public has already been communicated to - there is no "new public" available, therefore no infringement may occur. So: post content to the internet without access control, that content is effectively public domain in the EU.

The ECJ also made it clear that member states *cannot* enforce laws that add more restrictions/change the definition of "communicate to the public" as that would create law/enforcement differences and that's not desired within the EU structure.

The only thing I can't figure out from it is whether, if content is published without access control, is then scraped (say a Google archive or news aggregator, or random blogger, etc.) to another freely accessible website while there's no access control, and then the original publisher adds an access control, is the remaining scraped content that is freely accessible still non-infringing? It seems so, as the discussion I can find only really covers someone (other than the copyright holder) linking past a paywall or similar to get access to the content without permission. That's infringing - if the content is beyond a paywall (or similar access control), then anyone who has not been granted access to the content (ie, payed their fee, etc. to get past the paywall) is not part of the initial public to whom the content was communicated, and is thus part of a "new public".

Very interesting. Hoping some more savvy copyright-folks will poke at the idea, find (or have) good discussion on it, etc. How's this affect stories posted on Tor UK for example? Also, I wonder how this affects, say, US copyright holders' work that is viewable on freely-accessible websites in the EU, like stories on Tor, books in the Baen Free Library, etc. I would assume (IANAL) that it's all fair game now.

#792 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:06 PM:

cajunfj40 - That's not quite what the linked ruling says. What it says is that you can provide a clickable link that makes it appear that the stuff you're linking to is on your own website rather than your own. It doesn't put it in the public domain; you can't freely copy, adapt, sell etc. the copyrighted work.

It does seem to say that here in the EU I can link to (say) someone else's online story and make it appear that the story is published on my website. Which is nuts, but not the same as Public Domain.

#793 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:24 PM:

Elliott Mason @789, no experience with Patreon myself, but Sharon Lee just posted on her LJ (rolanni) an accounting of Lee & Miller's first month with it, which you might find informative.

#794 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:27 PM:

Hyperlocal news: Local amateur astronomers tries some photography of the full Moon Sunday night.

And also some video of the moonrise.

#795 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:28 PM:

Ah, the internal server error strikes again.

#796 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:49 PM:

Niel W @#792,

While it is true that the judgement (in the first link) was specifically on a case about linking, the discussion at the second link is about how the ruling appears to apply beyond just linking.

There's three main parts that lead me to think the ruling lets the copy-cat out of the bag:

"the concept of communication to the public includes two cumulative criteria, namely, an ‘act of communication’ of a work and the communication of that work to a ‘public’" (judgment paragraph 16)

"The public targeted by the initial communication consisted of all potential visitors to the site concerned, since, given that access to the works on that site was not subject to any restrictive measures, all Internet users could therefore have free access to them." (judgement paragraph 26)

"Therefore, since there is no new public, the authorisation of the copyright holders is not required for a communication to the public" (judgement paragraph 28)

The way I read this, you don't need the copyright holder's authorisation to make another "communication" of a "work" to the same "public", because there's no "new public".

What I do not know is whether other parts of the laws involved prohibit showing someone else's content once they take it back down again - the ruling already says it's OK if you make it look like the linked content is on your site. It would seem that since there's no way to tell (from a reading on a browser perspective) that the copy is local or linked, that enforcing a ban on one but not the other would be very difficult, but that's why I'm asking.

The EU "moral rights" aren't abridged by the ruling at all, so you still have to give attribution, can't deface it, modify it, etc.

IANAL, however, and of course none of the above protects anyone from a big fat lawsuit, it only means there might be a way to "win" that lawsuit, assuming one survives the process financially! (IE, even if the copy-cat is out of the bag, the folks with money can still stomp you flat for being percieved to cut into their financial interests...)

And I think that's enough neepery from me on a subject I don't know enough about to be authoritative on for today. Still curious what you (and others) think. That it didn't get wide press attention suggests, as you do, that it's not a big deal, but other big deals also don't get press attention.

#798 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 08:49 PM:

Stefan Jones @782 and Clifton @783: All my best wishes for recovery and comfort to Kira and Maggie.

In the distant future, should you find yourself heading to the vet to put your dog to sleep, I suggest bringing some chocolate. When my late dog was at that sad point, they administered the sedative, and then waited for it to take effect before doing the fatal dose. She was taking some time settle down, and the veterinary technician was giving her some snacks to make her happy. She gave her some chocolate. That dog was blissed out. Of course, chocolate is dangerous for dogs, but at that point—no problem at all.

I hesitated to share this, as it's not about a positive outcome, but remembering that time with my dog, her reaction to that chocolate is a little light.

#799 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:15 PM:

Well, that's that. . .

I was hoping Kira would last long enough to see my sister and mother when they visited this July, but when I read today that prednazone therapy was generally only good for a month, and saw that the end-stage symptoms were what Kira was displaying this morning, I knew things were coming to an end. When she couldn't walk when I got home this afternoon, I brought her right to the vet. She was stoic to the end; I suspect in a lot of pain.

By no means a perfect dog, but a great one:

#800 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Stefan Jones @799, <hugs> if welcome.

#801 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:21 PM:

Stefan, I'm so sorry for your loss.

#802 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:28 PM:

Thanks, all.

I'm so grateful that Kira's condition was . . . unambiguous.

I'm going to try to stay functional enough to get in a long walk and eat something. It is actually a beautiful afternoon and I don't think Kira would have wasted it dwadling inside.

#803 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:49 PM:

I'm so sorry, Stefan.

#804 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:55 PM:

I'm so sorry, Stefan.

#805 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:55 PM:

Condolences for your loss Stefan.

#806 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:57 PM:

I'm very sorry for your loss.

#807 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:57 PM:

Oh, Stefan, that video! She is so good, calm and patient. My dog Maggie had to be muzzled at the vet -- she was usually fine with people, but Did Not Approve of some vet procedures. And she dissolved into whimpering panic at the sound of clippers.

It was very good of the two of you to be such stalwart blood donors.

#808 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 10:03 PM:

I'm very sorry for your loss, Stefan. She was clearly blessed to have you, and you have cared for her in the best way.

#809 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 10:18 PM:

My condolences, Stefan, may flights of angels sing her to her well earned rest -- and may they say to her the words all dogs want to hear:

Good dog, Kira.

#810 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 10:23 PM:

My condolences as well, Stefan.

#811 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 10:28 PM:

My condolences on your loss, Stefan. It's never easy.

#812 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:40 PM:

Stefan Jones #799: My condolences. You did your best for, and by, her.

#813 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:29 AM:

Thanks all.

After dinner I dropped off a letter and a tip for Kira's boarding kennel / groomer folks. The kennel owner actually kept Kira in the house, as a watch dog, during her visits. Did a lot of remembering on the way back, as we -- I -- passed the places we reached on our four-mile-or-more weekend walks. Memory palace stuff.

@janetl: Believe it or not, after I turned off the camera Kira jumped BACK on the donation table. "More treats! More fussing-over!" It was so sad when she aged out of the program.

#814 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:40 AM:

I'm so sorry about Kira, Stefan. That's never an easy thing.

HLN: Local woman is taking a "Video Games As/And Literature" class which started today (squeee) and, finally in possession of the syllabus, sat down this evening to play the only game on it she had not already played. Local woman cannot, cannot recommend "Gone Home" highly enough, even if you're not someone who generally enjoys video games. It's small enough that I played it in an evening; complex enough that I'll be thinking about it for weeks; and very, very moving.

What a work of art.

#815 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:08 AM:

Condolences, Stefan. It's hard even when it's obviously right.

Em, it's easy enough to google it: but to make things easier for the commentariat, here's a link for Gone Home. I hope it's the game you meant.

#816 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:21 AM:

Thanks, Tom! That's the game, indeed.

#817 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 02:49 AM:

Stefan: My condolences on your loss. It's never easy, and Kira (from the way you talked about her here) was a very nice dog.

#818 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 09:24 AM:

Stefan, my condolences on your loss. Even when you know you're doing the right thing at the right time, there's still a hole in our existence.

#819 ::: sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:39 PM:

Stefan: I can't imagine your loss. I'm sorry.

In local news: 44-year conservative dynasty in oilpatch province ends with the election of left-wing New Democratic Party government, coming to power with a solid parliamentary majority under a female leader.

A Different Kind Of Miracle On The Prairies

I never thought I'd see this day.

#820 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 02:41 PM:

Stefan Jones @684: lymphoma. The steroids are doing their job

Damn. I wonder if that works on guinea pigs? That would have made Kit Fox and JJ's final approaches much easier. I'll have to check with my vet....

#821 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 04:50 PM:

HLN: Local Man has gotten all three of his signatures and handed in all of his paperwork to UC Berkeley's Graduate Division.

Local Man is now, for all intents and purposes, Dr Wolfe

Local Man's Amazing Fiancé will file her paperwork by next Wednesday, then we'll both be Doctors.

#822 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 05:04 PM:

#821: Congratulations!

You have the perfect secret identity for a werewolf crime fighter.

#820: Prednisone (sp?) is used on cats, at least. There are reputable web sites about vetrinary matters that should give you an answer.

#823 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 05:17 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe (821): Congratulations, Doctor!

#824 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 05:37 PM:

Stefan Jones @799: Sincere sympathies. It's never easy, even when you know absolutely that you're doing the right thing at the right time.

May your memories of Kira continue to be good.

#825 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:01 PM:

New York City folks are welcome to see my geeky stand-up comedy this Friday the 8th and next week, on Tuesday May 12th. Admission is free. The venue is in Park Slope, Brooklyn, near the 9th Street D/N/R stop and the 4th Avenue F/G stop. Address, times, and other details.

#826 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:19 PM:

#821, Congratulations, Dr. Wolfe and Dr. Fiance.

#827 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:47 PM:

Kira was a seriously good dog:

#828 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:33 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe #821: Congratulations, Doc!

#829 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:05 AM:

Congratulations, Dr. Wolfe! Did you get a lollipop?

#830 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:29 AM:

Congratulations from here too, Dr. Wolfe.

Now you need to see if the house at 2222 Dwight Way is available.... (Obscure Anthony Boucher reference to capitalize on 822.)

#831 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:39 AM:

Condolences, Stefan.

And congratulations, Dr. Wolfe!

#832 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:43 AM:

Life is crazy, but I did get to see the Flatiron building on Sunday.

Seen elseweb, and my near-immediate response was "Abi would LOVE this."

A review of The Collected Works of Kahlil Gibran. I'm not going to excerpt it: it really needs to be read end-to-end to get the impact.

#833 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:47 AM:

Stefan: My condolences.

Benjamin Wolfe: Welcome to the work-crew.

#834 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:47 AM:

Stefan: My condolences.

Benjamin Wolfe: Welcome to the work-crew.

#835 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:33 AM:

@774 & 775: A moose with a lightsaber; that sounds positively Jungian.

Chris Quinones @777: What are you translating to/from?

#836 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:39 AM:

thomas @786: There's a severe weather forecast for some of the NZ West Coast, with widespread forecasts for 250mm (10in) accumulation over 24 hours, and up to 500mm in some places.

Back in '13, we got 12" of rain in 24 hours and it was bad news. We're still cleaning up the mess.

#837 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:47 PM:

Thanks, everyone - to answer David Goldfarb's question at 829 (and to give context), when you get your PhD at Berkeley, you also get a lollypop with a wrapper that says "Phinished" - I haven't collected mine, since I was waiting on final approval for my uploaded dissertation PDF. My committee was the final arbiter for the content, but the Graduate Division also validates formatting before your dissertation enters the university archive.

I just got the final approval for mine (I'd left out a committee member's middle initial), so I can go pick up my lollypop anytime I care to. My Amazing Fiancé won't be able to drop off her paperwork until early next week, so we're going to pick ours up together. Because that's the kind of people we are.

On a related note (as I mentioned to Abi on Twitter), I decided to celebrate by baking a fruit tart for the TA meeting I have this morning. It's either the last one (or next to last one) for this class, and baked goods always improve meetings. Once we've walked (on the 21st), I'll crack open my Doctoral Bottle, though - that's a bottle of 50 year cognac that I picked up as a present to myself (yay for good liquor stores that do serious importation work).

#838 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 01:15 PM:

Stefan Jones @802: I'm so grateful that Kira's condition was . . . unambiguous.

Boy howdie. That's the worst—the balance between letting them have what fun they're capable of enjoying at the risk of leaving it too late.

Benjamin Wolfe @821: Dr Wolfe

Say! Just the man I want to talk to: When I get my eyes dilated, all light sources take on that shiny starburst effect. f-stop broken, no question there. But here's my question: why do I only see the starburst shining from the bottom side of the light source?

#839 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:31 PM:

An open-thready Avengers movie question:

The daughter is almost twelve and really liked Guardians of the Galaxy. Should I cue up Captain America, The Avengers, and Winter Soldier for an MCU marathon and then take her? Or just take her?

#840 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:01 PM:

I stumbled across some pretty pictures of an old(?) building in a green space called Yokuonkan Park in the Koganei section of Tokyo. I'm curious about what it is. Unfortunately, I can't read kanji, and the sites that appear to describe Yokuonkan Park don't allow my browser to translate. Has anybody here ever been there?

#841 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:46 PM:

SamChevre @832:

I'm crying with laughter. Also, Parheliating it.

#842 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 05:14 PM:

839: John, I'd do the marathon. One question, has she seen any of the Iron Man movies?

In the meantime, I am inwardly howling with laughter at the newbies on the Outlander Facebook page. It seems some of them think the show is filmed in book order... What the heck do they think a film editor does?!

#843 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 05:46 PM:

You really need at least Avengers 1, which is greatly aided by seeing Cap 1 IMO.

I haven't seen Winter Soldier (just read a couple of brief summaries) and I have seen Ultron; I don't know what references I was missing, but I didn't feel there were any out-of-left-field bits caused by missing it.

At least Iron Man 1 and possibly 2 would aid enjoyment as well, I think.

#844 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 05:47 PM:

Dr. Wolfe @ 821: Congratulations to you and to your Dr. Fiancee!

Jacque @ 838: That's probably a higher-order aberration -- near-sightedness and far-sightedness are lower-order aberrations. For explanations, you can see here.

#845 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:40 PM:

Jenny Islander@840

Are you sure that it is not Koganei park actually? There is an Open Air Architectural Museum there -- Site of the Museum in English and as the name shows, it has interesting restored buildings (and the two parks are close enough to each other so if it is a picture, it may have been labeled wrongly)...

I was on a business trip to Tokyo a few years ago after work, we went to Koganei park one of the evenings - of course my camera was not with me (you travel a lot, you start forgetting to get one occasionally) and my phone did not have one but it was a very nice place. Unfortunately we could not get into the museum (open hours and all that) but even the museum building was worth it. One of the places in the world I am definitely planning to return for a real visit one day...

If it is really from Yokuonkan Park someone else will need to help you identify it - but thought I should share in case it is the Museum :)

#846 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:55 PM:

Jenny Islander @840:

I've never been there, but I can read kanji. If I'm looking at the right building, that's the "Yokuonkan" that gives the park its name. Built as a training school around 1930, it now houses a local cultural center.

#847 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:14 PM:

AKICIML -- What's the best adhesive for polymer clay? I bought a pretty White Rabbit pin which was described as "very sturdy", but apparently not sturdy enough to hold up to being hauled around in my travel bag for a couple of years, and one of the ears has broken off. If I can get it glued back together, it will be retired from the traveling jewelry. I don't work with polyclay, but I have 527 and E6000 on hand for my jewelry work, and have access to various kinds of epoxy via my partner.

#848 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:45 PM:

"This to That" suggests LePage's epoxies (regular and 5-minute) for plastics. They don't have anything specifically marked for polymer clay, so....

#849 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:54 PM:

Stefan, I've also had to help my cancerous dog take her last breath, almost two weeks ago now. I had warning, so I did a bit of pre-grieving and made sure she got to see some of her favorite places and eat hamburgers before she died.

#850 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:57 PM:

I'm going to just leave this here and go SQUEEEE:

#851 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 05:18 AM:

Ginger @844: higher-order aberration

Ah, yes. Googling Images starburst visual effects of higher order aberrations produces, among other stuff, this, which is approximately what I see, only 90° anti-clockwise. I grok "wave front shape," but I'm going to have to scratch my head over how that actually plays out in my eyes to get a grip on the optics involved.

#852 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 08:39 AM:

I want my country back!

#853 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 08:55 AM:

dcb @ 852 Do you remember where you were when you last saw it? Have you checked under the sofa cushions?

#854 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:28 AM:

What I want to know is whether there really is a beach under the pavement.

#855 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:37 AM:

Good news! "Agent Carter" has been renewed.
Bad news... "Forever" has been cancelled.

#856 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:37 AM:

Good news! "Agent Carter" has been renewed.
Bad news... "Forever" has been cancelled.

#857 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:38 AM:

I liked Forever better when it was called New Amsterdam and the protagonist wasn't a complete asshole.

They cancelled that too.

#858 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 10:02 AM:

Agent Carter was splendid.

(But . . . tou know . . . if Carter had been properly suspicious of the friendly *waitress* in her local *automat* she might have saved herself a lot of trouble.)

(I want there to be an automat in my neighborhood.)

#859 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 10:32 AM:

The particles on secret police are fascinating -- especially considering that the bits I've heard from/about Marvel and Torchwood suggest that the creative/controlling people slant state-neutral liberal. Sounds like the meme that power \can/ be made to work effectively is just too ... powerful....
      I note that the author doesn't suggest that her argument is shown/reflected in the idiocies of SHIELD's "World Security Council", although that could be taken as another example of a lone-hero fallacy. (Or are supervisory boards always idiots? Think the Watcher council in Buffy....) I would be interested to see a non-hardleft analysis of unintentional/unthought Randism in mainstream ]comics[ -- has TNH done such?
      And for the really paranoid: are the stories being subverted, as in a more subtle version of "The Big Flash"? cf discussions of cop shows, 24, etc. slanting us to believe the smash-to-fix paradigm.

Tom W @ 830: Yup, that's obscure; I would have missed it completely without the author -- but I note that was a rescuee's house.

SamChevre @ 832: now \that/ is an evisceration. One is tempted to hold it in front of the Puppies' noses as an example of crafty invective (rather like Crowley send Hell an EULA with the message "Learn, guys.") but it would be wasted on them.

#860 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:27 AM:

The eternal equipoise is maintained in the House of Commons: George Galloway leaves, Boris Johnson enters.

#861 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:02 PM:

Chip @859: Stories with a werewolf hero from the 1940s for 1000, Alex....

#862 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:09 PM:

I found that open thread! Go me ? ! ?

I haven't read everything here so sorry I am totally threadrupt. I am just glad I found the place.

Just wanted to say "Hi" and complain that I just graded a stack of papers finding that about 2/3rds of the class all turned in the same wrong answers (it's all calculations). ARGH!

I would much rather be getting on with my Hugo's reading or with something. I feel like I am searching in vain for evidence that they learned anything.

Oh, I spotted this as I was scrolling frantically past lorax @716 RE:GMOs - it's the same for me. In my classes students want to talk about the spectre of frankenfoods or something while I am trying to talk about issues of monoculture and local ecosystems. Frequently headdesk time.

and Condolences Stefan.

#863 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 02:35 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 858: Um, Peggy ended up sharing Stark's house with that friendly waitress. I think you mean her neighbor the corn-fed ballerina.

(When she showed up, I told a non-Marvelphile friend that you never, ever trust a ballerina in the Marvel Universe.)

#864 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 02:52 PM:

@Rail: Ahhhhh . . . that's what I get for reading Twitter while watching TeeVee.

But still, automats shouldn't have waitresses.

#865 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 03:38 PM:

Elisa: Yay! And welcome again.

#866 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 03:38 PM:

Cally Soukup @853: Last seen five years ago (before the Tories got in last time). Cannot believe how many people have believed their lies and let them in AGAIN. Oh, and 10% of those who voted are bigots (voted UKIP). So now everywhere I go I know that on average, one in 10 people I see is a bigot... AAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!

Benjamin Wolfe @821: Congratulations Dr Wolfe - feels good, doesn't it? And congrats to your fiancee as well.

Elisa @862: Welcome to the OT (Open Thread)!

#867 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 03:57 PM:

Welcome, Elisa! I thought I'd linked it. That's what I get for posting sleep-deprived.

Oh, in case you see us using it, "AKiCiML" means "All Knowledge is Contained in Making Light," and if it's the first thing in a post it means they're saying, "So, you're a varied bunch of people who know weird things, any ideas?"

#868 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 05:58 PM:

Serge, despite my known love for Ioan Gruffudd, I couldn't hang in there with Forever. The thing that killed it for me was the episode where his wife had him committed to an insane asylum. It would have been next to impossible for a wife to enforce that upon her husband in the early 1800s, and shockingly easy for a husband (or a father, or a brother if he were head of the family) to do to a woman. It just sat really wrong with me for them to use it that way.

#869 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 01:01 PM:

HLN: I can be polite to street preachers.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have seem me tweeting yesterday about hollering back at a shouting, sandwich-board-wearing God-botherer on the train to shut the fuck up. Which didn't work, of course, but I was purely out of patience with him, and I figured I could throw the hostility back at him.

Today, as I was walking home from the library, waiting for the crosswalk light, a lady asked if she could give me a tract to take home to read with my Bible. I smiled and said, "No thank you, I'm Jewish." I didn't get into the atheist-Jew part because that's a whole 'nother can of worms. She nodded and wished me a nice day. After a pause, she asked me if I believed in Jesus. I said, "I believe he existed, I believe he said some great things, but I don't believe he was the son of God. We're still waiting for our Messiah."

She thought about that for a minute, and asked, "Do you know who your Messiah is?" I said, "Nope. We won't know until he shows up!"

Then the light changed and I went on my merry way, feeling as though we'd retired with about equal honors.

If I'd been thinking REALLY quickly, I would have said "we won't know until she shows up," but I was thinking more about the classic Universal Monsters DVDs I was going to indulge in when I got home.

I do object to street preaching on principle, though I acknowledge the tension between the injunction to spread the word versus the injunction to pray in your closet, but it's a LOT easier for me to maintain a cheery demeanor with a polite, soft-spoken sort than the kind who comes onto trains shouting and damages my calm.

#870 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 07:31 PM:

So, there's this student who, in an area where not only am I an expert, but all the other experts actually think so, comes up with an idea so insane, that I want to put him under the madhouse. My problem is, how do I manage to get through the next few days of the grading period without shooting myself?

#871 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 07:43 PM:

I suggest alcohol to blunt the pain of grading. I get to grade 75 finals before flying to a conference the next morning, so I'll be in a similar painful boat.

#872 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 05:54 PM:

Dear fellow Boston history nerds,

Rikibeth and I are going to this next Sunday, and we'll be getting takeout banh mi beforehand lest I die of hunger. We welcome any and all of you.


#873 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 06:20 PM:

Without more context, Fragano @870, I couldn't say. Is there some way to give the student enough rope for self-hanging?

#874 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 12:52 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 870 ...
So, there's this student who, in an area where not only am I an expert, but all the other experts actually think so, comes up with an idea so insane, that I want to put him under the madhouse. My problem is, how do I manage to get through the next few days of the grading period without shooting myself?

That's about the point at which I tend to start leaving comments like "Author should familiarize themselves with basic concepts and required reading in field", since "I find your ideas fascinating, and would like to subscribe to your (fiction) newsletter" would likely be inappropriate.

That said, I've always found that a good (private or sufficiently distant) snarking session works wonders on my ability to continue to slog through papers that I'd just as soon set on fire.

#875 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:30 AM:

Fragano @ 870: I was introduced many years ago to the "Dear Toad" letter, which can be passed around colleagues for mutual amusement but is not sent. Would scribbling on (and passing around) a copy of the paper give you any satisfaction?

Texanne @ 872: sounds fascinating, but I'll be at the other end of the metropolis -- Judy Collins is singing in Stoneham.

#876 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:07 AM:

Elliott: TFTI. I'm not surprised that data is weak, especially due to interlinked results; we already know that one nice specific-looking push pretty much anywhere in a lifeform will have unexpected side effects. Interesting that a fast transition can ruin a singing voice; I was more wondering whether a slow transition would let the voice change smoothly (as suggested by your subsequent YouTube link) without a long period of "breaking" randomly between ~original and ~destination ranges -- not the subtle changes-over-years described in your later link, but the inability to be sure which register each word of a spoken sentence (or line of music) would come out in. (I don't even know how common this kind of instability is; I just remember feeling very sympathetic to Piemur, even though Dragondrums came out a long time after my voice changed.) I wouldn't be surprised if data were weak; you make it clear there's enough critical stuff to monitor in-process.

Cassy B @ 778: I'd go <headdesk>, but I've seen too many cases of competent women being propagandized into thinking they're undesirable exceptions. And cf Craig R @ 781 for an opposite side; doctrine of any sort is a poor alternative to most self-found choices.

abi @ 791: fascinating; I remembered flat lands but wasn't thinking about the side effects and how to handle them.

Sandy B @ 800: I accidentally(*) played a female D&D character 40 years ago. Didn't see any of those issues (or others mentioned downthread), but D&D at MIT back then was rather primitive; somebody looking at those sessions now might say the only time the character wasn't a MWB was when she tried to vamp a smith to get a better price to adapt a set of wormface(**) armor.
(*) The DM was whimsical ALL THE TIME, and put a high-level mage reflecting himself in his dungeon (along with Hokas, Valerians, Scientologists, and did I really tell him he needed a vatch to complete the set?).
(**) from Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. I said the DM was whimsical; he was also heavily into SF, fantasy of the time not having much variety.

Leah @ 816: my read (for what it's worth as someone who admittedly doesn't "get" people a lot) is that the biggest divider/scale is the extent to which people are uncomfortable with uncertainty; being able to say "You are an X so I must use behavior set X-prime on you" is very comforting to some people, even if their own behavior/presentation/... is rule-unusual. (I see this as not entirely orthogonal to David@820's discussion of power, but not nearly parallel.) Working around this, and towards requiring that individuals be accepted as such rather than members-of-classes (as I see you doing) seems valuable to me.

#877 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:10 AM:

Gah. That's what comes of trying to juggle threads. Reposting where it belongs....

#878 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 12:32 PM:

Dear TexAnne @ #872,

Thank you for your kind invitation. Unfortunately, I must pass on my regrets as I am not in Boston for the next few months; our rental place is being rented at summer rates to the landlord's usual guests (such is the price we pay for living by the ocean).

[Speaking of not-being-in-Boston, should anyone be interested in meeting a mostly-lurker and spouse, we'll be in Portland, OR, from June 7-July 4; Jersey City from July 4-August 1; and Raleigh-Durham from August 1-31.]

Enjoy the food, lecture, and excellent company!



#879 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:07 AM:

On the AKICIML front: I was introduced last night by way of one of those wonderful late-night conversations where you suddenly realise it's 3AM to Sacred Harp singing, and it's absolutely gorgeous. I'd like to try it!

I had a look for a group that does it in Montreal, and found one, but their facebook page leads me to believe they sing in the context of a worship service. I'm totally okay with singing religious music in a non-worship context (a lot of it's really gorgeous), but I'm not comfortable singing religious music in a worship service. It feels dishonest and disrespectful to the people actually worshiping, even though I'm pretty sure the folks involved won't mind*.

So: does anyone know of any secular songs which use the same style of music? Or of a group which sings the music in Montreal in a non-worship setting?

This may be a completely silly hangup to have, but I do have it.

*Or even know, for that matter, it's not like I have "atheist" branded on my forehead! I just do my fair share of "sitting quietly during weddings and funerals and admiring the windows while people pray".

#880 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:07 AM:

On the AKICIML front: I was introduced last night by way of one of those wonderful late-night conversations where you suddenly realise it's 3AM to Sacred Harp singing, and it's absolutely gorgeous. I'd like to try it!

I had a look for a group that does it in Montreal, and found one, but their facebook page leads me to believe they sing in the context of a worship service. I'm totally okay with singing religious music in a non-worship context (a lot of it's really gorgeous), but I'm not comfortable singing religious music in a worship service. It feels dishonest and disrespectful to the people actually worshiping, even though I'm pretty sure the folks involved won't mind*.

So: does anyone know of any secular songs which use the same style of music? Or of a group which sings the music in Montreal in a non-worship setting?

This may be a completely silly hangup to have, but I do have it.

*Or even know, for that matter, it's not like I have "atheist" branded on my forehead! I just do my fair share of "sitting quietly during weddings and funerals and admiring the windows while people pray".

#881 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:12 AM:

Em @ 879:

This event in Montreal sounds fairly secular.

The Social Harp (a 19th-century collection) contains a few secular songs in this style. Cordelia's Dad do a nice version of Wake Up.

#882 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:06 AM:

I was interested in doing some sacred harp singing, if I could find a group near me. Unfortunately, I live in Amsterdam, which is...the name of one of the songs. (One I like, by the way.)

It took a while to tease through the Google results to find out that there was, in fact, not anything suitable.

#883 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:54 AM:

Carol, #878: *boggle* How does that even work? Do you have to effectively move out, pack up your own belongings and put them in storage for the summer (at the usual fairly high rate for such) and then have to bring them back and move back in again in the fall? I would plotz. And if you don't, how do you know the summer renters won't waltz off with your things?

#884 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 09:18 AM:

in re the surveillance state Particles:
I recall reading pseudo-anecdotal stories that, prior to the advent of automated processes to deal with information collected, bureaucratic instrumentalities such as the E. German secret police and the Ottoman Empire's foreign service received so much written material from their operatives and representatives that there was no practical way to review, analyze, collate, prioritize and summarize the information, resulting in inaction on events or information that could have potentially wide-ranging implications.

#885 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 09:29 AM: is a good resource for Sacred Harp/shape-note music, and has a pointer to a long list of local singings, including one in Montreal at a café rather than a church. Nothing in the Netherlands, though.

#886 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:04 AM:

Lee @ #883: The house comes fully-furnished. A lot of the stuff we moved from Toronto was still packed in bins, so it was a matter of hauling it out of the basement and into storage for the few months. It was much more of a problem for the person doing the actual hauling than myself, although there was still plenty of fretting.

The timing wasn't great since it was happening at the end of my school term, and we were also deciding what and how much to pack for all of our travel. We have the house until May 15 next year, so we're hoping we know what's happening with my husband's work by then (which is why we're going to check out NJ and NC for a few weeks each, since he'd likely be based out of one of them if he signs on permanently).

It's an adventure!

(By the way, Lee, I'm formerly CarolB -- the RealSpace Lurker -- from alt.callahans and #callahans, back in the days of Callahanicons and Nashville Annexes.)

#887 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:30 AM:

That sounds familiar. (I read emptywheel's blog.)

#888 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:14 PM:

Em @879: Problematic lyrics are a Known Issue with Sacred Harp (and shape note singing in general). Abortive efforts have been made over the years to filk them. I'm not aware of any that actually "took."

You could do something really silly and start your own group! :-)

Also: Sometimes, when Jon Singer goes to Minicon, he brings along his hymnal and a sheaf of photocopies, and convenes SH sing-alongs in the hallways in the evenings. The spiritual orientations of the participants generally runs to the Pagan/Atheist/Jewish, with a few Christians thrown in for seasoning.

#889 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:28 PM:

Jacque: the Clams used to sing an allegedly period filk:
How long, dear savior, oh how long
Shall dinner hour delay
Fly swift around ye idle maids
And bring a dish of tay.

(sometimes after singing the footnotes to the piece).

#890 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:53 PM:

YAAKICIML* question:

Sometime--I'm not sure when, but it was no later than yesterday and no earlier than Saturday--the fridge door got left ajar. This morning, I found my half-and-half was clabbered. I hate to throw away everything in the fridge, especially the meat. (It's shameful to waste the suffering of the little animals.) I also hate the thought of eating spoiled meat or yogurt.

Do you have any thoughts on how to figure what's good and what's not?

*Yet Another AKICIML** question
**All Knowledge Is Contained In Making Light***
***If that's true, you knew that already, right?

#891 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:14 PM:

John @890:

A lot of stuff that we refrigerate as a matter of course turns out to have been designed/selected to have long shelf-life anyway, and will be fine. Meats, however, aren't one of them.

Cheeses, butter, and other non-liquid dairy should be fine. Mold on hard and semi-soft cheeses can be cut off safely. Liquid dairy (like your half-and-half) are easily identifiable by smell or texture as gone bad, but if in doubt, toss.

Condiments (mustard, ketchup, mayo, pickles, relish, etc), as well as preserves (jelly, jam, etc) are already preserved and might not even need to be refrigerated anyway, even if opened. They can be kept.

Eggs can stay at room temperature for a long time; in the non-US, they are commonly sold at room temp and the advice is to not refrigerate them. The US mandates different processing which makes refrigeration a good idea, but a few days in an open fridge won't hurt them much.

Beverages (soda, juices, bottled water, etc) shouldn't go bad over 2 days.

Veggies should be obvious from a visual inspection if they are rotting.

I'd toss left-overs.

The meat is probably the stuff that'll go bad the fastest, unfortunately.

#892 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:32 PM:

And Dr. Amazing Fiancé (who filed yesterday) and I have just gotten back from the Graduate Division offices with our Phinished lollipops (and receipts of filing). It's a silly tradition - and the quality of the lollipops leaves much to be desired (no, See's isn't worth buying as a Bay Area souvenir), but it's fun.

#893 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:41 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 891: I was afraid of that because I thought it would be the case. An bit more information and a couple of somewhat more specific questions, if you're willing?

The half-and-half was cool to the touch when I took it out; the door was cracked, not wide open.

Do I need to worry about the sealed containers of yogurt?

What about non-meat pasta sauce? Juice rules?

Are any of the meats in question sufficiently resilient for me to risk it? Namely, these are: Hot dogs and hot dog-like objects, both opened and not; unopened bacon; opened lunchmeat ham.

#894 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:54 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer (893): After Sandy, I had to clean out my fridge after more than a week without power. I can't find the exact USDA chart I used at the time (or maybe I can and it just looks different), but these look like the same information:


#895 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:33 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 894: So helpful! Thanks! They are obviously being very careful (throw out pizza that's four hours old? I eat pizza left out overnight). Two things strike me as unreasonable:

Do I really have to discard cut packaged unopened salad greens? That just seems wrong.

I think I'll take my chances on the pasta sauce--no meat and high acid.

#896 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:03 PM:

CHip@889: Cf. Nowell Sing We Clear's "original" lyrics to Sherburne.

Em@880: If you're worried about the people worshiping, it might be worth asking how they feel about it; but I understand being reluctant to join in a worship service that isn't your own, regardless of the feelings of the hosts. (I've been in that situation often enough,* and worked out my own accommodations for the most common cases, but it's a very individual accommodation.)

* See my previous comments about going on a religious pilgrimage for a religion not my own.

#897 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:06 PM:

John A., #893: I'd say that the sealed bacon is almost certainly safe; bacon is, after all, one of the "processed to keep" meats and has a lot of salt in it. Based on personal experience, the sealed hot dogs are probably safe as well (left a sealed package of bologna in the car overnight, had no trouble with it). Opened hot dogs and ham... I wouldn't eat them raw, but if they smell okay, a trip thru the microwave should remove any potential risk. That's how I'd handle it, anyhow.

I share your bogglement about tossing pizza that's been unrefrigerated for 4 hours. My lunch yesterday was a leftover slice of pizza bought Saturday night, which sat in the car (but not in direct sunlight) all day Sunday and that night as well. It was fine.

#898 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:12 PM:

If the bacon is cured, it should be good. (that's the whole point of curing) Unfortunately, a lot of what's sold as bacon is really uncured flavored pork belly. But it will say on the label.

Ham can also be cured, but cut lunch ham isn't going to be as durable as the whole hams that get hung in the rafters. I'd consider them suspicious. Hot dogs, at least they're precooked so there's not likely to be an existing colony on them. They're a grey area.

I wouldn't worry about the yogurt. It's essentially already pre-spoiled in the process of making it. Unless it's green and fuzzy, then avoid.

I think that the general guideline that they're going on is that if there's preexisting contamination that is being held in check by low temperature, then you don't want more than x hours above 40 degrees. So, something that's somewhat pathological like ground beef (it's all surface) is a way different than a steak (searable surface + essentially pristine interior volume)

#899 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:16 PM:

Sealed packaged greens should be okay. Yogurt, sealed, probably okay (it might get more acid from the culture in it, but it's a way of preserving dairy). It's not like you left it out on the counter for a day or so.

#900 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:54 PM:

I think the warning on pizza may be because as a category, "pizza" can include toppings like meatballs and chicken than shouldn't be left at room temperature for four hours. A pizza with tomato sauce, cheese, mushrooms, and peppers would probably be safe.

#901 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 04:17 PM:

The warning about packaged cut salad greens is probably because a.) the cutting process could increase the risk of contamination by anaeobic pathogens which would b.) party unchecked in the sealed package and c.) cause problems if subsequently eaten in a raw salad. I'd say cook them into a soup or casserole etc.

#902 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 06:26 PM:

Rikibeth @868 - Forever was not really interested in any of the historical periods, rather in what effect they had on Henry. His committal requires his wife to take her fears to a trusted doctor and/or male family member and have Henry explain what happened in front of them etc. etc. But all they want is his wife not understanding and having him locked up. They aren't even very interested in 19th century mental health care, except to point at it and say - hey this is horrible*.

(My frustation was that the way the show was set up there was no one to call Henry on his bullshit; I can accept an asshole character, but somebody has to push back. Abe doesn't because of their relationship, Martinez can't because she doesn't know and the show doesn't really care about anyone else so they obviously won't.)

Craig R @884 On non-secret bureaucracy, this wikipedia article suggests the 1880 US census took 7 years to process and the 1890 one was estimated to take 13 years (thus being overtaken by the 1900 one, which would inevitably be obselete by 1910 etc.). Fortunately they were able to count faster by using a punched card machine.

* Compare Penny Dreadful which said, here's a murder, here's some demonic possession, here's another horror, here's someone locked up in an asylum - oh by the way that last one's real. It wanted to use it in the story rather than say "and that's why Henry doesn't reveal that he comes back from the dead." We've watched TV before show. Obviously bad things happen when he tells people. Give us a new and interesting bad thing.

#903 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 06:57 PM:

Neil W., maybe this explains part of why I love Penny Dreadful so much, even though on many levels it's ridiculous. It doesn't feel slipshod. Forever did; it almost lost me in the pilot, because how the HELL is there a healthy baby in a camp at the time of liberation, and how on earth did they give it a number and then let it LIVE? The camps, they did not work that way. If I yell at Penny Dreadful for messing something up, it tends to be "that haircut makes NO SENSE for 1892, what are you doing" or "Dorian Gray, where is your cravat?" And occasionally I grumble that Sir Malcolm ought to have more servants than just Sembene. But those are little things, not huge insults to my intelligence.

I think it might help that John Logan is a longtime fan of the horror and SFF genres and knows the tropes he's playing with forwards and backwards, as well as knowing his history.

And in that vein, AKICIML: Is anyone sufficiently familiar with the Frankenstein sequels House of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, and Ghost of Frankenstein to know if any of them contain a liquid-filled tank in which the to-be-revived creature floats? Because if it turns out that Penny Dreadful was making direct visual allusions to Rocky Horror, I am NEVER going to stop laughing.

#904 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:25 PM:

Rikibeth, I found this reference to a tank in Kenneth Branagh's film version of the story. I never saw the movie, though.

#905 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:30 PM:

Rikibeth -- there was a made for tv mini-series with Michael Sarazin and Jane Seymour that uses a tank, called "Frankenstein: The True Story." It was made in 1973.

My goodness, I had forgotten how deep the cast was for this one:

Cast List

#906 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:51 PM:

Neil W @902: If you want a (IMO better) take on the Forever premise that is less full of assholes and thinks through the historical implications in much more interesting ways, may I recommend the pre-cancelled-for-your-convenience show "New Amsterdam"? Especially notable for the (eventually) recurring character of his son, and their relationship, and also his AA membership.

It is not without stain (anything at all that happens onscreen in relationship to the Lenape native subplot IS SO BAD), but it is so much better than Forever, IMO.

#907 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:10 PM:

Well - Forever got Burn Gorman back on my screen - so no matter what else is wrong with it, it was not a total wash.

#908 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:17 PM:

I may need to track down that miniseries, because WHAT a cast list, but given the way the shots were set up (HAND ON EDGE OF TANK!) I now bet that Penny Dreadful was quoting Rocky Horror. With only 2 years between, I'm not sure if Rocky Horror would have quoted the miniseries. Which still leaves me to wonder if there was an earlier source that Rocky Horror and the others were quoting, because it's not in the original Universal Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein.

Penny Dreadful (and the recent Benedict Cumberbatch/Jonny Lee Miller production) seriously colored my reaction to the originals, though. Here's a guy who's suffered the equivalent of a stroke or TBI and instead of giving him rehab you're poking torches at him? What the hell did you expect?

#909 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:31 PM:

Annie Y, TURN - Washington's Spies has Burn Gorman in a featured role, so you could try that. They depart from the history at times, but it's still pretty cool.

I wasn't watching Forever for its premise, and while I always love good historical drama, New Amsterdam doesn't tempt me, because the real draw for me in Forever was Ioan Gruffudd, sometimes in historical costume and occasionally nekkid. Pity the show wasn't good enough for that to sustain me.

#910 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:34 PM:


Yeah - I know about TURN. I bounced from it badly last summer after an episode and a half - had been planning to try it again and see if it will work somewhat better. Thanks for the reminder!

#911 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:57 PM:

904 Steve C.
Yes, the Branagh Frankenstein uses a tank (I don't remember is the reason is described in the film, I would presume the "scientific" reason would be to ensure delivery of the electric charge over the entire surface of the body)

#903 ::: Rikibeth :::
They may very well have been referencing Rocky Horror...

Ghods - I've never seen that 1973 Frankenstein. With that cast I really want to see it.

Aha! on Youtube, full movie

#912 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 09:15 PM:

Given John Logan's age and background, I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of the earliest generation of Rocky Horror fans. I was a fan as a teen in the mid-'80s. I freely admit I was saying callback lines to the screen during the Bride sequence!

#913 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:42 PM:

Here is the extended trailer for "Frankenstein: The True Story".

#914 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:44 PM:

Oh, and it *is* available on dvd.

#915 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:56 PM:

I'm amidst my first reread of Jurassic Park in probably 10-15 years (John and I have started a Thing of bedtime reading novels we're likely to want to snark at, remark upon how the world has Jossed them, etc -- I'm really looking forward to making him read the computer code sections while I laugh at his faces).

In passing, once-top-of-the-line tents are mentioned, specifically 1978 North Slope octahedral (sic) ones.

I decided I kind of wanted to see a picture. Because ubiquitous googling is a thing, I Googled it - and got only references to Jurassic Park, no matter what spelling of octohedral I used.

The internet has failed me. Does anyone know better keywords could use?

#916 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:17 PM:

Rikibeth, when you asked about the tank, my memory gave me a flash of Jane Seymour in the tank. Using her name plus Frankenstein on IMDB gave me the title and year.

It also reminded me of why I watched the movie -- David McCallum...sigh.

#917 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:24 PM:

"Dome tent" comes to mind.

#918 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:25 PM:

Jane Seymour, nee Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg, as the Bride.

#919 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:44 AM:

John A Arkansawyer - The main thing that goes wrong with plain yogurt if left unrefrigerated is that it turns slightly more yogurty. Opened containers of it left in the back of the fridge for way too long can acquire green mold on top, and flavored yogurts are more susceptible to things, but it's highly unlikely anything will have gone wrong.

Meat will usually tell you if it survived the lack of refrigeration, though any that hasn't gone bad you should probably cook any of right away.

#920 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:58 AM:

Shameless plug department: Karen's gotten on the advisory board of a new attempt to marry technology journalism and near-future SF. They've just started a Kickstarter to fund their first issue. They're calling the venture Scout -- and it looks as if it may be a very interesting group, and a potential futurist community. I went to the launch party for the Kickstarter, and they've got reasonable business skills at the top: which puts them ahead of a lot of people who'd try to do this; and most of the people at the party were actually interesting. I recommend looking at it. There's more there than shows in the Kickstarter presentation, which is also a good thing.

#921 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 05:19 AM:

Rikibeth @903 - Forever suffers because it is a police procedural; if there is a mystery there should be a solution. When they find a body walled up in a nightclub, they investigate and find out what happened. There's a healthy baby in a concentration camp, it's frustrating when it's unexplained. I'm willing to accept a ludicrously convoluted plot (after all I'm watching a crime TV show) but I need something. They're just sweeping everything historical into the box marked "Henry's immortal. How does he react to that?"

(I guess what I'm saying is that they've spotwelded an unexplained (unexplainable?) death-rebirth historical thing onto a slightly above averagely interesting set of murder mysteries and the seams show.)

Penny Dreadful doesn't need to explain anything because it's not in the same genre. It's about mood, and imagery and characters reacting to Terrible Things. Dorian isn't wearing a cravat? He's already Scandalous and Outrageous and Outside Decent Society (although he still gets invited to the Best Parties*). It's not a clue to be explained, it's an image that represents his character. It's wrong in a similar way to everything in the entire Penny Dreadful world being wrong, because it's horror.

The anachronistic haircuts I won't try to excuse.

Elliott @906

If New Amsterdam made it across the Atlantic I missed it at the time. I will add it to my ever expanding list of things to watch.

* Ones in which awful people dabble with the occult, obviously.

#922 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:33 AM:

"Tell her."

Judd Hirsch to Ioan Gruffudd in the last episode of "Forever", and the relationship between them is why I enjoyed that story, in spite of its warts. Not that Alana de la Garza was a wart.

#923 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:42 AM:

Apropos of nothing much except my learning this guy is a real good writer:

If you’re a public figure who says something offensive, we’re going to rake you over the coals until you apologize … but if you make that same offensive comment under the protection of anonymity, whether it’s on YouTube’s comment section, Reddit, a message board or whatever, that’s totally acceptable.
#924 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 11:01 AM:

Also apropos of not a lot except running into it last night and getting a lot from it.

Well, and also that it bears on the discussions we've had previously about the difficulties some old-time radical feminists have with trans* issues. It really was a different world then, and the people who pioneered it were different from us, culturally. It's the same generational disconnect/discomfort/lack of understanding this touches on.

#925 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:07 PM:

dotless ı @ 896: AUGH!

#926 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:17 PM:

You know how Congressional oversight over intelligence agencies is marked by all kinds of restrictions on which congressmen can see what, which staffers are allowed to see what, and sometimes weird restrictions on whether people are even allowed to take notes?

In this story, we discover that this kind of secrecy is just as necessary for what trade treaties we're considering.

During the Bush administration, I consoled myself by thinking that this kind of bullshit was simply a Bush-specific perversion, or perhaps a Republican one. But now, more and more, I am coming to believe that it's a change in the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches. The president and his people no longer have to keep Congress in the loop or happy with them, and no longer even much have to pretend to do so. Officials of this administration have lied to congress and spied on it with no consequences. People allegedly doing oversight aren't allowed to know what's being done by the people they're overseeing, and again, there are no consequences.

If this were a partisan difference, I'd know how to vote against it. But it looks more like a change in the balance of power--perhaps caused by changes in the way political parties and fundraising work, or by improved surveillance of recalcitrant congressmen and journalists, or by decades of overt and visible congressional dysfunction and loss of public respect.

It appears that the future, under both parties, is more government secrecy for things that used to not be secret, because that works out well for the people making the decisions. As with so many other changes to our government and our relationship with it, our input is simply not wanted on this matter.

#927 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:36 PM:

Thanks for the positive comments. Unfortunately, I try to avoid alcohol while marking papers.

I'm now just past the point where my office was besieged by young people demanding explanations for why I couldn't show them compassion for bad writing, missing assignments, and lack of intellectual integrity. One student, who cannot graduate because of a slight plagiarism problem (among other things) said to me 'How can we solve this problem', 'we don't have a problem', I said, 'it's your problem'. 'It's our problem', he insisted. 'Get out of my office', I explained.

#928 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:21 PM:

albatross @926: As with so many other changes to our government and our relationship with it, our input is simply not wanted on this matter.

See also.

#929 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 10:34 PM:

An open thread seems like the right place to note this: I was skimming the "last 1000 comments" (looking for comments on "The search for rock...ets") and noticed an odd thread title. I clicked, expecting to be changing my "name" to "Vicki has spotted spam", and instead found that someone had gone back to a specific nine-year-old thread on purpose, looking for a quote. (The post title is "Joy.")

I understand why a lot of blogs close comments in ten days, or a month, or maybe three months. But our hosts doing it the other way allows for this sort of serendipity.

#930 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 10:58 PM:

Vicki, I agree. Even going back to an old thread to flag new spam can turn out to be an occasion for joy on reading or rereading something lovely there.

#931 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 02:03 AM:

Neil W., I'm well aware that Dorian's lack of cravat is a character-driven costume design choice - John Logan talked about it on the SDCC panel. It just became a bit of a running joke among the historical costume nerds in the fandom, of which there are predictably many. It doesn't throw me out of the show, because, as you said, it's all about mood, and his historically nonsensical clothing still works for his characterization - an atypically sweet one for Dorian Gray, I've been saying he's had all the Bosie scrubbed off him, but I've certainly been enjoying it. Now,if they could just integrate him into the plot, as opposed to only using him as the Show Bicycle...not that they should stop that part, mind you, just ALSO give him ssome plot!

Whereas the mere existence of a healthy baby in a death camp threw me BADLY.Sure, we needed a backstory for how Henry has someone who LOOKS like a father figure but turns out to be a child he raised. But that offered backstory was so VERY implausible that it made the whole thing feel slipshod. Henry is a character experiencing a supernatural phenomenon in an otherwise mundane world, so the rest of the show's details should conform to reality as we know it.

I can only give a Doylist rather than Watsonian explanation for the Haircut That Makes No Sense: Billie Piper must have been wearing extensions in season 1 & had Had Enough of them. It's also my explanation for why the Belfast accent disappeared for no apparent reason, and the mystery of that was at least nicely lampshaded.

When Penny Dreadful does incorporate real history (I'm thinking of the Ripper references) it doesn't get it wrong for the sake of plot convenience. It's largely decoration, but it's used as it was. They haven't even asked us to believe one theory over another; it's just there, as unsolved as ever.

#932 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 05:53 AM:

I've graded with and without alcohol as a TA; on reflection, with a modest dose (a beer or two), it's more tolerable, but slower. More than that, and my faculties become impaired, requiring the grading to happen at a later point. I don't think I could usefully grade papers with more than a beer onboard, though.

Yesterday's teaching fun was proctoring a three hour final exam (in a gymnasium, in the finest of Berkeley traditions), and subsequently needing to immediately grade my students' exams, as my Amazing Fiancé and I are flying to a conference this morning, and grades are due while we're out of town. For reference, manually grading 70-odd exams (150 questions; about 110 multiple choice and 40 or so 1 or 2 word short answer) takes about four and a half hours from start to finish, with the able assistance of said fiancé.

One might wonder why I'm typing this at basically 0300 local - well, we need to be up at 0340 for our 0635 flight, and sleep has mostly eluded me, unfortunately. At least it's an 0635 out of Oakland, not SFO.

#933 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:20 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe #932: Anything more than a glass of beer or wine in a day would leave me unable to mark papers. Now that exams are over I can think of something harder.

#934 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 11:35 AM:

Dr Ben #933:

I always used caffeine--seemed to make things actually go a lot faster and I didn't get as bored. (Also it may have had something to do with the fact that I did as much grading as possible in the coffeehouse that was my informal office.)

BTW: Congratters to the both of you on phuddiness!

#935 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 12:05 PM:

They are phuddies, but certainly not duddies.

#936 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 01:31 PM:

@927 Fragano Ledgister

Oh thank god I don't have one of those this semester.

I did have a slightly worrisome moment when one slightly erratic student who missed the final/critique class (presentations and discussion rather than a paper exam) showed up in my office. Fortunately all they wanted to do is say they were sorry they overslept and that they had enjoyed the class. It was a lovely change from the students who show up to cry at me or to to argue with me.

#937 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 01:41 PM:

A question for abi and other Latinists...

What would 'Pain in the Ass' be in Latin?

#938 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 01:41 PM:

A question for abi and other Latinists...

What would 'Pain in the Ass' be in Latin?

#939 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 02:34 PM:

Fragano #927, Elise #936: oh yeah, it can definitely get worse. A professor of my RW acquaintance has been suffering with a student who barely "passed" threat assessment....

#940 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 02:51 PM:

A pain in the ass: dolor in natibus

(Though of course a literal translation is likely to create a rather odd image and potential secondary interpretations, as is often the case when translating idioms.)

#941 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 02:58 PM:

Fade Manley @ 940... Thanks!

#942 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 04:43 PM:

I'm not quite sure what to think about the upcoming Supergirl TV show. One the one hand, it looks like it could be fun, but on the other, it seems too cutesy.


#943 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 04:49 PM:

Steve C.
I think it looks amazing, and I want it nownownownow.

#944 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 04:55 PM:

Congratulations to Drs. Wolfe and Fiancée!

I've already discussed with Benjamin the fact that he's the third Dr. Wolfe in his family, so the answer to "how tall is Dr. Wolfe?" would be:

"Dr. Wolfe 3? 5'9"."

#945 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 05:01 PM:

Thanks very much to the folks with information about Sacred Harp singing - it's much appreciated!

People may be interested to know that the Guide play "L'aventure du Petit Chaperon Rouge dans la forêt enchantée" has its dress rehearsal tonight in front of some visiting Brownies. The Farmer is unimpressed at the idea of having to spend time entertaining her little sister, but the rest of the team is very excited, particularly the Villain (whose name, for your convenience, is Villain) and the Fairy, who get to have a lightsaber battle.

There has, however, been a major disaster in the production department! The girls spent two hours painting a really gorgeous backdrop featuring trees (with a squirrel on every branch, lovingly detailed by S. who really likes squirrels), a castle, and a stream. This was, once dry, rolled up and placed atop our cabinet in the church hall where we have our meetings. Last weekend, the church had its annual bazaar, and had to move our cabinet for some reason (we're not sure why - they seem to have swapped it with a different cabinet!), and somewhere in the kerfuffle the backdrop got recycled. No malice in it at all, obviously, mistakes happen, but it's such a shame. :(

#946 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 05:40 PM:

I had a bunch of spare "Usenet" rhymes lying around from yesterday, and some of them came together like this. Since it's not about The Three-Body Problem, or Puppies, or pot-lucks, or even Usenet, I guess it belongs here, if it belongs anywhere.

"vers libre"

It may be "the
     news that stays news,"

yet this game
     doesn't have many

rules set.    So take
     up your racket -- but
         if you can't hack

it, the note
     on the box
         says: "Includes Net."

#947 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 05:42 PM:

Elisa #936: That, at least, is a good ending to that sort of crisis.

Over the years I've had quite a few students turn on the waterworks when confronted with the fact that intellectual dishonesty means that they can't graduate. Memorable ones include the lass who burst into tears when I asked her how long she'd been teaching at the University of New South Wales (her paper on Mussolini had been plagiarised from a highly controversial piece by a lecturer there), and the young man who stammered incoherently when I asked him how he had managed to learn Latin suddenly (his paper on Machiavelli contained large chunks copied from the Catholic Encyclopaedia online, and that is some of the most Latinate English imaginable verily I say unto you). Even more memorable was the young man who stalked me, even to my department's graduation dinner; he seriously put me in fear for my life.

#948 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 06:26 PM:

Fragano #947:

I was a trifle worried about the foreign student who turned in a project that was simply photographs of the art objects instead of answers to the questions I had posed about them. He also flunked quizzes, skipped class with great frequency (by departmental edict, we took off points for more than X absences), and was more than a bit annoyed when I told him that I could not in any conscience allow him to drop passing; a negative average did not in any way equal "pass" in my book. Fortunately, I heard no more about it, but I expected to for some time.

#949 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 06:46 PM:

Fragano @ 926: there have been a number of comments recently (here and elsewhere) about people who think reality is a matter for negotiation rather than compliance. This is hardly new; I've commented on it wrt a curriculum overhaul ~40 years ago.
      The problem with so blunt a statement as this is that a lot of "reality" (e.g., disparate qualifications of type K vs type I) has turned out to be more a consensual hallucination. It would be interesting to set a bunch of grad students to finding out whether people who've had some from-birth assumption broken are more likely to consider that anything they don't want to believe is mutable -- and come back in a dozen years to see whether they conclude anything....

#950 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 06:57 PM:

Steve C., #942: I don't think it's any more "cutesy" than BTVS was, and the humor bits are there for the same reasons. I love the glimpses of the relationship between Kara and her sister, too. And Jimmy ("James.") Olsen -- is it getting warm in here?

Xopher, #944: 8888888888888888888888888888888888888
(handful of peanuts thrown at the punster)

#951 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 07:53 PM:

Delightful HLN: area man has a new daughter, Margaret Elizabeth. Small, cute, and both she and her mama are doing very well.

Area man's older daughter is delighted to have "a sister, instead of just brothers."

#952 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 07:56 PM:

Kicking a server error, with a link that may or may not work.

#953 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:06 PM:

Congratulations, Sam! May she bring all of you much joy, and may all of you bring her much joy.

#954 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:31 PM:

Congratulations, Sam! And best wishes to your family!

#955 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:45 PM:

I'm sort of surprised that there was no mention of this version of Frankenstein (I don't know which video's best to watch, so I linked the search results) from the Edison studio 105 years ago.

This is as good a place as any to repeat something I saw on Twitter (no doubt paraphrased here):
Intelligence is knowing that Frankenstein is the doctor.
Wisdom is understanding that Frankenstein is the monster.

#956 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 09:04 PM:

Congratulations, Sam.

#957 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 09:33 PM:

Congrats, Sam!

Minor squee I don't know where else to put: Feng Shui 2 looks like just as much fun as the first RPG was. I have a .pdf but not yet a physical copy. Now all I need is players and time.

#958 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 09:37 PM:

Congratulations, Sam, and best wishes to the whole family.

#959 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 09:46 PM:

Congratulations, Sam and family!

#960 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:05 PM:

Congratulations Sam and family :)

#961 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:39 PM:

Thank you, Lee. *throws all the peanuts back into the gallery, which thus becomes...*

#962 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:47 PM:

And congratulations, Sam! Welcome to the world, Margaret Elizabeth!

#963 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 11:53 PM:

Welcome Margaret Elizabeth!

#964 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:29 AM:

Congratulations, Sam and enlarged family! I'm glad.

#965 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:07 AM:

Congrats, Sam and family!

#966 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:38 AM:

Congratulations Sam and family!

#967 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:26 AM:

Note that there is a new open thread.

#968 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:58 AM:

Welcome Margaret Elizabeth! (Now, will she be Maggy or Margie or Madge or Peggy...?)

#969 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:02 AM:

re: Margaret Elizabeth

Or Molly?

In any event, welcome, and best wishes to the family!

#970 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:45 AM:

Congratulations, Sam!

#971 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:48 AM:

Congratulations Sam, glad everyone is doing well.

#972 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:47 AM:


Also kittens, and puppies.

Well, not really, but this thread has some stability issues and there's that damned raccoon that keeps getting in the attic.

#973 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:37 PM:

Re: Margaret Elizabeth, nicknames and namesakes.

Baby Margaret is named after many people. Both my grandfathers had sisters named Margaret; one went by Margaret[1] and one by Marge. My mother has a sister Margaret who goes by Maggie.

My wife's grandmother was Elizabeth Margaret.

And the OB is (a different-language version of) Margaret Elizabeth, although we didn't know that till after she was named.

1) If she were a historical character, she'd have been Margaret the Butch. I first met her when she was nearly 80.

#974 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:54 PM:

Pictures of baby Margaret with some of her siblings.

#975 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:37 AM:

Sam: I love that last one: "Yes? You want something?"

#976 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 02:45 PM:

Elliott Mason @Hugos III/671: I can produce a long and entertaining rant about the squishiness of species and how species "work" as a piece of scientific technology (not all technology can be banged on a rock)

Did this ever get followed-up upon? If not: yes, please.

#977 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 03:01 PM:

Maybe in the other Open Thread, not this one?

#978 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 11:27 AM:

abi: Argh.

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