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July 31, 2016

Open thread 213
Posted by Patrick at 01:13 PM * 1023 comments

Because the previous one is at well over a thousand comments. Oops!

Also, Worldcon members, today is your last day to vote in this year’s Hugo Awards.

Comments on Open thread 213:
#1 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 01:47 PM:

And voting is a good idea -- even if you don't know about some categories, vote in the ones you do!

#2 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 02:11 PM:

This moose recalls the old "Vote early, vote often" expression and realised he has left it far too late, so will vote once (as soon as the reading list notes have been reviewed).

Hopefully most people have not left things this late!

(I do have an excuse: a house move and pressure of work.)

#4 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 04:20 PM:

I have failed in my responsibility as a fan, a Social Justice Warrior, and a human being.

I kneel before and bow my head to the Great Axe of Justice.

#5 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 04:22 PM:

(All that time spent trying to persuade Dead-End Berners to vote for Hillary instead of Stein: wasted. I could have spent it doing Hugo reading.)

#6 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 04:54 PM:

Voted in a few categories where I got my reading done in a timely fashion. Others just have to go by the wayside.

Next two weeks involve pulling together the costumes and other things for WorldCon

#7 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 05:59 PM:

Does anyone have experience or advice for dealing with changing one's name after one has already been published? I've seen companies handle it by having salesfolks always introduce them as "Company X, formerly Company Y" but that doesn't seem sustainable in the long term for an individual. Unless I find a better option I'm probably just going to assume that my older works aren't notable enough for the change to matter, but I'd really like some input.

#8 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 06:15 PM:

One person I know who's dealt with this just adds "(as Anne Baker)" or "(as Andrew Baker)" (not her real names) as appropriate.

#9 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 06:34 PM:

I cast my votes this morning in all the categories I'd finished reading. Much appreciated the committee emailing a reminder Friday.

#10 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 06:45 PM:

Seth, HelenS (#7 & 8): Sherri Tepper has a few mysteries under different names, which (damn, I thought I still had one!) are published as "$PSEUDONYM" followed by "who is also Sherri S. Tepper."

#11 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 06:53 PM:

guthrie at #1030 in previous open thread: the typical American supermarket only has the celebrity gossip magazines in the valuable checkout lane shelves. The special interest magazines, if they have any, are off somewhere else in a non-food aisle next to the greeting cards.

#12 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 07:09 PM:

At the supermarket I go to, the magazines and most of the books are in the aisle with the office/school supplies - they have the greeting cards a couple of aisles away, along one of the walls (a good location).

#13 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 08:51 PM:

Seth @7, D. Potter @10: Tepper's two mystery pseudonyms are A. J. Orde and B. J. Oliphaunt -- at least, those were the two she had several years ago. There may be more.

Megan Lindholm doesn't try to keep the connection, AFAICT. Kristine Kathryn Rusch mentions on the website for her pseuds that she also writes under Rusch. In some cases, the copyright page tells us that one author is actually another. J. K. Rowling tried to keep her mystery pseudonym a mystery, but failed. Stephen King eventually admitted to being Richard Bachman.

In other words, there are nine-and-sixty ways to handle it, and every single one of them is right. Pick one. The only one you can't change later is being completely open about it (and it's very likely that the information will get out eventually, even in a high-stakes case -- see Rowling).

#14 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 10:10 PM:

There's an anthology, The Inheritance & Other Stories which is credited to Lindholm and Hobb on the cover, but I don't know what she does on her other books.

#15 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2016, 11:40 PM:


213 is Los Angeles's traditional area code. I thought I'd use the occasion to recommend:

A podcast about Los Angeles. They've had some very powerful episodes.

And in case you haven't tried it yet, The Memory Palace continues to deliver poignant stories from American history. Nate DiMeo performance of "An Imagined Plaque" is almost literally breathtaking; a dissection Nathan Bedford Forrest's legacy delivered with barely concealed righteous fury.

#16 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 02:02 AM:

Tom @212/1049 & @3: :-) Thank you!

#17 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 02:04 AM:

Xopher @5: Focus instead on younsters who think their vote "won't count." I've got one at work that I may frog-march to the polls.

#18 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 02:37 AM:

@ GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! #4 and 5

I kneel before and bow my head to the Great Axe of Justice.

Instead of a blade, you get a pillow-y, sugary blob on the back of your neck. You put a hand to it, and discover the blade of the Great Axe of Justice is, in fact, a sachertorte.

Crazy(you're welcome!)Soph

#19 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 03:56 AM:

I have a food mystery. I ordered a platter called jelly and seaweed at a vegan Chinese restaurant.

I could recognize the seaweed, but the jelly (which was sort of gelatinous and sort of crunchy) looked like wide noodles made out of compressed tofu and tasted a bit cabbagey. It could have been compressed tofu cooked with cabbage (there were some vegetables with the noodles, but none of them were cabbage, I think), but the texture isn't obviously related to tofu.

The waitress didn't have a name for it.

Anyone know what it might be?

#20 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 04:25 AM:

Seth @7: I follow a couple of trans authors on Twitter who have dealt with or are dealing with this. Elliot Wake is about to publish his first book under that name and the cover says "formerly known as Leah Raeder"; Fox Benwell has yet to publish a book under that name, but mentioned that trade journals have quoted him as "Fox Benwell (pub'd as Sarah)".

#21 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 05:12 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @19: based on your description, my first guess would be jellyfish (the stuff in the middle of the platter).
You said it was a vegan restaurant so it could have been something else. That said, several restaurants I know sell jellyfish as "seaweed".

#22 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 08:51 AM:

No, the seaweed was fairly narrow dark green strips. The white stuff wasn't seaweed.

#23 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 09:01 AM:

Nancy @19: Could it have been shirataki? Those are sometimes described as having a jelly-like consistency, although I haven't heard of them being "crunchy".

#24 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 09:19 AM:

Buddha Buck, shirataki doesn't look right. The noodles are much too narrow, and what I had in the restaurant was mostly the noodles and fairly filling-- the restaurant noodles were maybe half an inch wide.

The restaurant is Su Xing-- is anyone local enough for an expedition?

So far as crunchy is concerned, that's the best word I've got, but I mean a wet crunchy, not (as I think the usual connotation is) a dry crunchy.

The difficulty with finding the right word reminds me of Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, an account by an English woman of travelling in China and making a serious effort to learn how to cook the food.

From memory, she said that the cliche is that Chinese people enjoy chewy and gelatinous textures which aren't popular in the West. What she found after a few years was that she could distinguish between those textures, had a vocabulary for them, and could tell whether a dish including them was good or not.

I can get Vietamese headcheese here-- I found that I enjoyed it more when I learned that the variety in textures of the pieces (they range from quite chewy to tender) was part of the fun.

#25 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 09:46 AM:

Sounds like what we had in Beijing when a friend there took us to a place for local specialties. We also had pork belly. I don't have a strong culinary memory, though, so the details are probably somewhere over the Pacific now, or in it. Pretty sure it was jellyfish for me, though.

#26 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 10:35 AM:

@24 Nancy Lebovitz :Budda Buck could still be right. konyakku can be made into skinny or wide noodles and they have a weird crunch to them. I don't see your dish on that menu but the jelly slices in the appetizer say konyakku in Chinese.

I can't think another vegan food that would act like you describe, since other noodle materials don't have the same crunch.

#27 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 10:45 AM:

Moving is a drag. It's amazing how much utter crap you can fit into a small apartment, even when you think you've been pretty ruthless about keeping things pared down. Multiple trips to Goodwill and dumpsters both were required. Moving is complete, grocery stores and bookstore located, new dishes and cutlery acquired. I have a gas stove again!

Got my Hugo voting done at a coffee shop because my new ISP lied to me.

Now for unpacking...

Xopher @ 4 and 5:

There were a few items on the ballot worth re-reading multiple times, yes.

Stefan Jones @ 15:

Thanks for that podcast link. Los Angeles is a very strange city. I do like it, but am also confounded by it despite living so near to it for several years. I'll definitely have to check that out.

#28 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 10:54 AM:

#26 ::: Mea

Thanks. Which appetizer? The "jelly slices" appear twice on the menu: #2 Chef's Specialties and #3 Lunch Specials.

Konyakku seems to be translucent brown, and the mystery noodles were opaque white. On the other hand, the description of the texture matches.

#29 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 11:19 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @24: So far as crunchy is concerned, that's the best word I've got, but I mean a wet crunchy, not (as I think the usual connotation is) a dry crunchy.

"Crisp," maybe? As in cucumber?

#30 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 11:20 AM:

With the script of the Harry Potter play having been published, to much rejoicing by fans, critics are apparently disappointed by it being just a script.

My own experience of Shakespeare plays leaves me with a little sympathy, but school-teachers could have done more to bridge the gap. See what Ada Palmer wrote about Pericles and Loves Labours Lost and maybe watch the Kenneth Branagh musical version to see what you can do with the gaps left by the script.

As for the Harry Potter, I hope somebody makes a good video record.

#31 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 11:25 AM:

Nancy @28: Konyaku is often used as a base for vegan meat substitutes and can be clarified so that it's opaque white; the texture and flavour in the description match.

(Source: I married a vegan! Who sometimes cooks with it.)

#32 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 11:38 AM:

Nancy @28: I just asked a sinophone friend to take a look at the menu you linked to, and she said that the entries for "jelly slices" say "yellow jellyfish" in Chinese.

#33 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 12:48 PM:

#31 ::: Charlie Stross, #32 ::: Pendrift

Thanks to both of you. I have no idea if it might be jellyfish-- they seem so consistent about being vegan, generally speaking.

At this point, I'll go with Charlie's hypothesis.

#29 ::: Jacque

Not enough water to be that much like cucumber.

Just in case anyone is tired of tracking down the mysterious noodles, I'm wondering about publication vs. chronological order for Gladstone's Craft books.

I got the first book and liked it a lot. Got somewhat bogged down in the second (hot damn, publication and chronological match on that one), but was trusting enough to get the next two.

Also, The Cursed Child.... I noticed that Rowling took a turn for the dreary in the last Potter novel-- a whole lot of wandering in the woods. I wasn't sure about what was going on there, but A Casual Vacancy had someothing of a fun deficiency. What's the general emotional tone of the new book?

#34 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 01:19 PM:

William E. Butterworth wrote lots of books, some under his own name, some under pseudonyms. When one of the pseudonyms (W.E.B. Griffin) hit the Times list big, some of the other series got reissued with covers that said "Originally published under the pseudonym Alex Baldwin" (in the case of the Men At War series; that's on the cover of the paperback currently available on Amazon, and the switch happened in the early 90s at the latest). Similarly, the current covers of his Badge of Honor series say "Originally published under the pseudonym John Kevin Dugan".

Joel Rosenberg and I had already identified those series as by the same guy who wrote the Men at War series; his tics are fairly consistent, and he has a fairly definite writing voice (of the type that people think of as "transparent", but he sounds nothing like other "transparent" writers, nor do they mostly sound like each other).

I'm a little surprised the publisher is keeping the original author name on the covers this many decades later.

#35 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 02:13 PM:

@Pendrift no. 32: Some people's grasp of vegetarianism is a little off. I once had to take a vegetarian cookbook to the librarian and point out that about 80 percent of the recipes in the book called for chicken broth! Out of the collection it went.

#36 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 02:18 PM:

I've read some of the W.E.B Griffin stuff. One of the series apparently has a different set of titles in the UK, and I don't think he is that good on the British armed forces. I think it's sometimes details that it would now be easy to check on Wikipedia.

I think I caught him after the initial success of the name. Looking at his bio, I was surprised at the stuff he did write that I had heard of. It's a dozen or more years since I read anything by him, and the recent stuff I'd be wary of.

#37 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 03:15 PM:

Crazy(in the best way)Soph 18: Mmm, sachertorte! Thanks.

#38 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 03:20 PM:

Jacque @16 -- you're welcome! Part of community is noticing what's become standard, and filling it in when someone else (for whatever reason) doesn't. It seemed important to have it near the beginning, and I happened to be here.

#39 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 03:43 PM:

On pseudonyms: saw this book today and the name RA Penfold brought back many memories of the days I was interested in electronics. Name any hobbyist subculture of the last few decades connected with electronics—amateur radio, synthesizer-building, audio amplifiers, model railways—and RA Penfold has written a book, usually published by Bernard Babani, on it. A polymath with a long career, or a house name? House names lived on at the lower end of British SF publishing (Badger Books et al) into the sixties; do some tech publishers still use them? If he does exist, RA Penfold is a very versatile man(*) with a surprisingly low Internet profile for someone who, over a long career, has covered everything from the breadboard-and-transistor sort of electronics to cloud computing and Photoshop CS6. If he exists I admire him; if he doesn't, he's immortal and a book under the name RA Penfold on Uploading Yourself To The Singularity For Beginners will probably be the last book ever published.

(*)RAP's pronouns are he/him/his, according to everything I can find on the Web. But who knows?

#40 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 03:47 PM:

Jenny, #35: I've known people who insisted that they were vegetarians even though they ate fish. IMEAO*, if you're eating muscle or organ meat, or including broth made with animal parts/bones, it doesn't qualify as "vegetarian". I'm willing to give ovo-lacto a pass on the term as long as it's qualified as such.

* In My Extremely Arrogant Opinion

#41 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 04:05 PM:

Allan #11 - Yes, I saw that aisle. I think the thing is, "if they have any". I didn't manage to stumble into a magazine shop either when I was walking about town, might be my fault. Anyway, it looked like there were a lot fewer magazines on sale in California, compared to the UK and France.

#42 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 04:12 PM:

I think people are mixing up 'meat' meaning "any animal flesh" with 'meat' meaning "considered fleishig in kashrut" or "not to be eaten on Fridays during Lent."

I have literally had a Jewish friend who knew I was vegetarian expect me to eat fish, and apologize profusely when I explained that no, fish counted as meat. She explained her thought pattern as "but it's pareve!"

Someone who eats fish but no other meat is a pescatarian. Someone who eats poultry and fish but no red meat is "someone who doesn't eat red meat."

#43 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 04:26 PM:

Lee @40:

I'd expect a "vegetarian" to eat eggs and dairy, and to call themselves "vegan" if they didn't. I only see ovo-lacto used in discussions where the fine technicalities of what lots of different individuals will eat and there are some who eat dairy but not eggs or vice versa. If I'm asked to bring a vegetarian dish to a potluck, I'd expect cheese to be okay.

(We always label our potluck dishes at any rate; they're always vegetarian because my wife is, but we'll indicate the presence of eggs, dairy, wheat, and nuts.)

#44 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 04:31 PM:

There are vegetarians who don't eat anything with a backbone -- for them, jellyfish would be okay, as would crab, where finny fish wouldn't be. The question of where one draws the line on the phylogenic tree is a difficult one!

Some people don't consider honey as vegetarian, for example. Others do.

#45 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 04:52 PM:

Tom Whitmore@44: huh, I would have absolutely assumed that honey is vegetarian on the grounds most vegetarians that I know drink milk and 'honey is to bee as milk is to cow' (not that I'm imposing my probably-duff syllogisms on vegetarians in order to Prove Them Wrong About Vegetarianism, you understand).

[Not a vegetarian, I eat a lot more fish than meat, with the uneasy feeling that the environmental costs and terrible human-labour practices in much of the fisheries industry might actually be worse than factory farming. Tried vegetarianism for a few months in the 90s when it had become clear that BSE could indeed pass to humans; didn't bother to learn to cook and lived off a terrible diet of mainly cheese sandwiches. If I do it again, I'll need to actually put some effort into it.]

#46 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 04:57 PM:

I know that honey is not considered vegan, but had not encountered a vegetarian excluding it before. Interesting.

#47 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 04:59 PM:

estelendur @46:

That's been my experience as well (honey, like eggs and milk, being okay for vegetarians but not vegans).

#48 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 05:30 PM:

That (eggs, milk, honey OK) is certainly how I've used the term 'vegetarian' for the past 38 years.

IME vegans tend to object, not only to the eating of animal flesh, but the exploitation of animals for food (and, in extreme cases*, for any purpose). So even though milk and honey are both produced as food by the animals who produce them, they believe that the bees should keep their honey and that only a calf should drink cow's milk.

*PETAphiles are an extreme case. They won't wear wool because the animals are being exploited.

#49 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 05:33 PM:

Vegetarian here (plant-based diet mostly, but I do eat a bit of eggs and cheese).

Tom Whitmore @44: They may call themselves vegetarian, but if they eat any animal, backbone or no backbone, they don't fit the normal definition of vegetarian any more than someone who eats fish, for example.

I've never come across honey not being considered acceptable for vegetarians, but did know it was not acceptable for (most?) vegans. I went to Vegfest (a vegan festival) a couple of years ago to hear Scott Jurek (top ultramarathon runner, vegan) speak, and remember someone being horrified, horrified!!! to discover a vegetarian, organic energy bar which did contain honey in one of the stalls. The seller had had no idea honey was 'forbidden' and quickly took the offending item from view.

#50 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 06:11 PM:

I've seen people argue that some shellfish (bivalves?) don't have enough nervous system to feel pain, so they aren't an ethical problem for vegetarians.

#51 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 06:19 PM:

They really ought to talk with beekeepers, then. It's absolutely necessary to leave bees enough honey to feed the hive (and even then, sometimes things get bad and they have to be fed sugar syrup); what's sold for use by people is the surplus.

#52 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 06:23 PM:

There are vegetarians (like many Hindus) who eat dairy products but not eggs; the ones I've known who eat eggs but not dairy are usually either Chinese or lactose-intolerant eastern Europeans. Like Xopher, I've run into the "fish are vegetables" a lot, though obviously more in Catholic areas like New Jersey or eastern Europe than here in California (less in Jewish contexts because kosher or kosher-style restaurants usually have hummus or falafel or something else I can eat.)

#53 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 06:31 PM:

I've run into strange jelly-like noodles at the local northeastern Chinese place. I think they were probably wide yam or maybe rice noodles cooked in some kind of broth, but I don't have enough vocabulary of that region's ingredients, and it's also the kind of place that the dish you receive is usually within plus or minus two or three lines from what you order unless you get the right waiter.

#54 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 06:33 PM:

The whole raft of misconceptions non-veggie folks have about vegans is hilarious if annoying at times.

I'm neither vegan nor vegetarian, but have been married to/partner of a vegan for most of 25 years, so I have a ringside seat.

(It comes in handy sometimes, as when writing the fictional "meet the parents" dinner party scene where making one of the characters a vegan provides endless scope for stupid-meat-eater gags ...)

#55 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 06:42 PM:

Father of my ex, upon finding out I'm a vegetarian: "How do you eat?"

#56 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 06:48 PM:

I've known non-vegan vegetarians to object to either eggs or milk on various grounds, but it's definitely an exception rather than a rule: usually I hear "vegetarian" used to mean "ovo-lacto and possibly invertebrates and sometimes even fish." I definitely know plenty of vegetarians who eat shellfish and such and don't feel a need to footnote their vegetarianism, and also some pescatarians who usually describe themselves as "vegetarian" because people know what that means and it's just a much easier shorthand for "don't order all the pizzas with pepperoni."

My "how vegan are you really?" edge case is silk, rather than wool. It seems pretty easy to justify either take on wool (on the one hand, the sheep are probably fine with it, on the other if you object to the keeping of livestock as part of industrial agriculture then maybe you just want to draw a clear line). Silk's more interesting: if you don't wear leather or eat honey, you can't really justify that scarf, now can you?

#57 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 07:04 PM:

I still can't see the word vegan without thinking of the denizens of s star 26 light years away in the constellation of Lyra.

#58 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 09:04 PM:

Dave Bell @36: At this point I've read nearly everything under the Griffin name. And would support your suggestion of being wary of the more recent stuff.

I would say, particularly, be VERY wary of everything written with his son.

Also, there seems to be a tendency for the first book or two of a new series to be a lot better than the later books.

The Brotherhood of War series, which as I remember it was the breakout series that established the Griffin name, is in many ways the best of them for my taste (though it has lapses, inherent flaws, etc.). There is a lot of good stuff in the Corps series, too, especially the first book or two. (One of the big story arcs in Brotherhood is the development of Army aviation after WWII, which is fascinating.)

Seems like the best books are ones when he was nearby (like, he worked for SCATS at Fort Rucker), or knew people who were nearby and told him all the good stories (friends with General Almond in retirement). Can't be completely sure of course, not knowing who-all tells him stories.

Long ago, he wrote a number of "boys book" under the Butterworth name (his actual name so far as I can tell), which aren't deep but are pretty good of their kind. They usually involve racing and automotive engineering. And, not being series, he doesn't get bored and start slacking off :-) .

I was very amused when the Marine series caught up with the Army series -- and there were two different Griffin versions of the story of the intelligence detachment at Socho Ri or however it's spelled in Korea, with different people running it, etc.

Where does he do much with the British Army? (Show how much attention I'm paying to the newer ones!)

#59 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 09:16 PM:

I have family members who were surprised that the shrimp in the mirliton casserole disqualified it from being eaten by my vegetarian husband. Most of my family is Catholic and, I think, were doing the usual "Fridays in Lent" conflation.

Silk is more complex than it sounds. There's silk produced by boiling the cocoon with the worm still inside so that you can get the entire unbroken thread--I mentally categorize that with leather, in that it's a substance you can't get from the animal without killing it. But you can also buy silk* that is recovered from the cocoon after the critter flies away. Since it doesn't involve killing the worm, that seems more in line with the question of honey, wool, or milk.

*Unspun silk, anyway. Not sure about silk products, but it seems unlikely a market would not have arisen for vegetarian silk apparel by now.

#60 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 09:57 PM:

FYI I was talking about legally changing my name for reasons wholly unrelated to publishing, but that's still some cool information. I'd seen WEB Griffin's name but I hadn't realized it was a pseudonym (no high tech, no magic, therefore not my genre, despite being a mythical creature himself).

A friend of mine was once confronted by a couple of self-righteous teenagers who asked if he knew how many cows had died for his boots.

"None," he answered. "They're kangaroo."

#61 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 10:53 PM:

Open Threadiness: Haven't been visiting these pages for some time, but here's Hyper Local News:
Person, after years of waiting, gets the specialist referral she has been asking for, and gets a new round of diagnostic tests. Latest test says there is progression and person is now a bear of smaller brain than three years ago. The good thing is that there is now evidence of progression, and person can now show parental units that this condition is not "imaginary", and that the specialist MD is not a "pusher wanting person to get addicted to prescription drugs". The bad thing is that there is now evidence of progression.

Other good news, now that person has a low normal B12, person has nice excuse to eat grass fed beef and lamb if desired.

#62 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2016, 11:11 PM:

ma larkey, sorry to hear about the diagnosis. <hugs> if welcome.

#63 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 12:14 AM:

Hi there! I'm writing my very first post from my brand new Windows 10-enabled little black Dell with the huge red "working" light that looks like the maw of a furnace aboard the Death Star.

First impression: The entire handbook is a foldy-uppy glossy thing that's smaller than a map of my town. This could be really good or really bad.

Second impression: They're telling me to set up my keyboard and mouse using the documentation that came with it...there isn't any. OK then.

Third impression: OK, it all pops together pretty easily. Mouse is comfy, keyboard is a bit cramped but I like the resistance and lack of noise, fan is amazingly quiet...

Fourth impression: Oh, look, it does the thing where it continues to sell itself to you after you bought it and broke the factory seal. Now I know I'm using a Microsoft product!

Fifth impression: Oh hell no way am I letting you look at where I browse and who I talk to and what I type! Off, off, off, off, off!

Sixth impression: McAfee? Well...if I gotta. For now.

Seventh impression: Apps.


They're apps now.

Why, yes, I would like to purchase some apps for my comp, along with a frosty cup of Flavo-Syntho-5! How many centicreds does that cost, please?


Eighth impression: Yeah ha ha nice flippy pictures all over my desktop, sure I want the news to be beaming at me 24/7, I just love overstimulating graphics, that's why I'm at the sports bar every night!!! :D

Ninth impression: Installing DuckDuckGo right the heck now.

Tenth impression: No, I don't want that cloud service. No, not that one either. Go away, bug somebody else.

Overall, as soon as I've pruned off the apps (gack) I don't want and installed the programs that I do want, I can live with this.

#64 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 01:01 AM:


Man, I have to relearn touch typing every time I wear out a keyboard.

WOW. I had no idea the Internet (or whatever they call it these days) was so fast! I knew my old machine was, well, old, but I had no idea how much it was dragging me down.

#65 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 03:00 AM:

Oh look how many passwords I forgot to write down! Argh.

#66 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 03:21 AM:

@Nancy Lebovitz,
I'm inclined to agree with Charlie Stross that what you describe was konjac/konnyaku; they can come in a variety of shapes & colours.

If the restaurant follows Chinese Buddhist tradition, they would be vegan. Mum used to eat that way certain days and when she didn't want to cook, we'd get taken to the local Chinese vegetarian restaurant.

As for the different flavours of vegetarianism, I generally ask to get clarity (whether they're coming over for dinner or we're going out to eat). It's more straightforward with vegans (no animal-derived products).

Jenny Islander #6:
Within days my Quick Start menu stopped working: left-clicking on the Windows icon on the bottom left did nothing. After consulting the web, reinstalling "apps" fixed it. Not exactly an auspicious start to the Windows 10 experience.

#67 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 03:55 AM:

I have to reinstall Flux, download OpenOffice, and figure out how to make the things that go flippity-floppity all the time on the home screen go away. If I want to read the news I will read the news. If I want to shop I will shop. Quit waving them at me!

#68 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 04:20 AM:

Konjac! I hadn't made the connection with konnyaku. That brings back good memories. I used to scarf down konjac fruit jelly cups while cramming for exams back in college.

Now that I'm in Belgium, I find myself craving the different gelatinous-crunchy-rubbery food textures that are far less ubiquitous here than they are in southeast Asia. On the other hand, western Europe taught me I could eat raw tomatoes as snacks and actually enjoy that.

#69 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 04:31 AM:

Veg*nism discussion: I'm pescetarian (also wear leather and eat honey, etc.) I'm also dairy-intolerant. I'll usually say "vegan" if I have to specify dietary requirements for an event, though, because it seems to be the only way to guarantee that I won't get given meat or cheese.

(I did a work thing last month for which I had ticked both "vegetarian" and "dairy free" on the little chart, since it was specific enough for me to do so, and lo and behold, I got the cheese sandwich even then. They had options that would have worked - there were vegans present! But no, cheese.)

#70 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 06:57 AM:

David Dyer Bennett @58

It's the one with the OSS in Europe, entangled with atom-bomb plans, and apparently it has a totally different set of titles in the UK.

I am going by somewhat unreliable memory here.

His lead character gets involved with an ATS officer who is a Duchess. It seems to be a habit of his that his lead characters get involved with high-class dames, and it only starts looking bad when you realise it is so predictable. But he so totally gets it wrong about the names of the ranks, and even refers to the ATS as the Women's Royal Army Corps, which didn't even exist until after the war.

As I recall, he also gets a bit mixed up about the English peerage.

Essentially, it's all pretty basic stuff, at the level of a good Engyclopedia.

And now, I admit, I'm wondering if I even am remembering the author correctly.

#71 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 08:17 AM:

Jenny Islander #63: apps

Be warned that some basic functionality, notably playing DVDs, has been outsourced to apps.

#72 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 09:15 AM:

On the question of "peace silk" - it sounds nice, but someone who is well regarded in the parts of the fiber arts community where I hang out is dubious about whether it's actually what people are getting, and if it is, whether it's actually as benign as it sounds. Here's an article with links that he wrote about it.

#73 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 09:44 AM:

Craft (Alchemy) (69): I'm pescetarian ... I'll usually say "vegan" if I have to specify dietary requirements for an event, though, because it seems to be the only way to guarantee that I won't get given meat or cheese.

My brother does that. He's pescatarian for health reasons* but says "vegan" in restaurants because it's a readily understood way to signal "no dairy, no eggs". He will eat some non-fat dairy, but it's easier not to have to explain every little exception.

Because his diet is for health reasons, not philosophical ones, he sees no contradiction in eating (mostly) vegan while using leather, etc. Some of the commentary above has assumed that all vegans are doing it for the ethics--not so.

*Ornish cardiac diet, mostly

#74 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 09:58 AM:

Jenny, #63: Yeah, "app" has become the default term for user programs pretty much everywhere. As a former programmer, this doesn't bother me as much as it does a lot of people, because there was always a distinction between "system software" and "applications software" -- I was an applications programmer, not a systems person. So to me, "app" is a logical progression, not a sea-change.

#75 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 10:27 AM:

Aside from health reasons, I find it interesting that folks will give up meat but not fish. Fish are afaik the only wild animals that still make up a large part of the average first-worlder's diet, and I for one have serious concerns about how sustainable that is. (Not that fish farming is necessarily a better option.)

We harvest massive numbers of top predators who can live for decades, like swordfish and tuna. Then there are animals like the freshwater eel (who is so very, very tasty) whose fishery is wildly unsustainable, in part because we do not understand their life cycle. We can't breed them in captivity and we don't know where they go to breed in the wild. (There's a great PBS documentary about freshwater eels -- The Mystery of Eels -- that I highly recommend. I also recommend Swordfish by Richard Ellis)

#76 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 10:36 AM:

John Creasey wrote over 600 novels under 28 pen-names; the best-known (other than his own) are probably J.J. Marric and Gordon Ashe. I don't know how many names Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore used, together and separately, probably in the dozens:

Their work together spanned the 1940s and 1950s and most of the work was credited to pseudonyms, mainly Lewis Padgett and Lawrence O'Donnell. Both freely admitted that one reason they worked so much together was because his page rate was higher than hers. In fact, several people have written or said that she wrote three stories which were published under his name. "Clash by Night" and The Portal in the Picture, also known as Beyond Earth's Gates, have both been alleged to have been written by her.
L. Sprague de Camp, who knew Kuttner and Moore well, has stated that their collaboration was so intensive that, after a story was completed, it was often impossible for either Kuttner or Moore to recall who had written which portions. According to de Camp, it was typical for either partner to break off from a story in mid-paragraph or even mid-sentence, with the latest page of the manuscript still in the typewriter. The other spouse would routinely continue the story where the first had left off. They alternated in this manner as many times as necessary until the story was finished.

#77 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 11:53 AM:

#72 ::: Naomi Parkhurst

Thanks. I was wondering about that.

#78 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 12:00 PM:

@72, @77 - Thanks for the link. I've only had the briefest introduction to the process via my own local fibergeek community up until now (not least because I haven't learned to enjoy spinning silk, so I hadn't sought out more information on how the fibers are produced).

#79 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 12:02 PM:

Many years ago, while in London, I went out to a fancy vegetarian Indian restaurant. I did not enjoy it, because of the thick clouds of cigarette smoke to which I am allergic. Tobacco. It's a vegetable.

#80 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 12:22 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz and Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: Glad I could help! Things like that are often more complicated than they look on the surface, so it's helpful to have something which explains things in more detail.

#81 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 12:59 PM:

In #70, in describing a novelist's shaky grasp of UK culture, Dave Bell writes:

Essentially, it's all pretty basic stuff, at the level of a good Engyclopedia.

I smiled at this coinage. A moment later, I realized that I was already familiar with an Engcyclopedia, one which is quite famous and has existed for a couple of centuries, but that it has a different name.

#82 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 02:06 PM:

TomB @79: smoking in restaurants/bars/public places was banned some years ago in the UK. It's supposed to be illegal everywhere in the EU, although there are loopholes/exceptions: Amsterdam coffee shops (which don't sell coffee) would be doomed if they were forced to ban smoking, so the city government merely banned smoking tobacco. In Berlin, smaller bars are still allowed to have a smoking room, and this tends to be interpreted excessively liberally (by the standards of this borderline-asthmatic guy who likes beer and chokes on cigarette smoke). But in general, things are better that way than they used to be.

#83 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 03:19 PM:

Charlie Stross @82:

One small correction: many Amsterdam coffeeshops do also sell coffee.

#84 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 03:22 PM:


I seen konjac/konnyaku advertised recently as a low calorie/low carb alternative for pasta. I wonder if pasta lovers are accepting of the textural difference. (As far as I am concerned, it is its own thing, in the same way that carob is not chocolate.)

Deathiversaries can be hard.

#85 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 03:24 PM:

Charlie, it seems that most of France is an exception as well. It's been years since I've seen that many smokers in resturants. (Tho, it may have been that most of the resturants had outdoor seating, but seriously, Tons of smoking.)

#86 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 03:49 PM:

Craft (#69) We have the occasional care of a young person who has a recently discovered milk allergy of some kind. At home his every need is seen to by adults, but with us he has to take more responsibility. After a little thought, we explained veganism to him and said it was the label to look for to be sure of avoiding milk-based ingredients. He is quite a canny shopper, and has taken to reading the labels carefully. (It's a good skill for kids to develop anyway.)

#87 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 04:02 PM:

Four years ago, the London Olympics was about to start, and the politicians were on shaky ground over some issues. Instead of the incompetent training of the unemployed for temporary public-facing security jobs (which might have paid off if the training had been done), there was a rather rushed deployment of the British Armed Forces.

Don't expect all soldiers to be angels, but they did a good job.

The London opening was on the 27th July. And we had The Queen appearing with James Bond. So many things got a mention: Brunel, Tim Berners-Lee, The Beatles, Monty Python. And The Daily Mail being offensive about a multi-cultural Britain being depicted.

There were clues to so much of the next four years there.

And two years later the Worldcon was in London.

#88 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 04:02 PM:

Seth @60:

I once heard a story about someone who was confronted by some PETA types for her *fake fur* coat, and shouted back: "How many animals died for this? Twenty-six muppets and a toilet-seat cover."

#89 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 04:17 PM:

Pendrift @ 68 ...
On the other hand, western Europe taught me I could eat raw tomatoes as snacks and actually enjoy that.

Raw tomatoes also go nicely when dipped in sugar (ditto french fries), as one would dip in salt.

#90 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 04:48 PM:

Dave Bell @70: So...the older "Men at War" series, I think, rather than the newer "Clandestine Operations" series which is a spinoff of the "Honor Bound" series. Maybe. (And if individual titles vary, series labels may also.) The newer series is mostly about protecting General Gehlen and his network (including actual Nazis) after the war, and I do think the old one had a lot of atomic content.

My British WWII history is weak; things like when various military organizations existed I won't notice. (So if I wrote books about them I'd have to look them up and might then get it right :-) ).

As I think I said earlier, he's one of the few authors I read heavily yet would still describe as a bit of a guilty pleasure.

#91 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 04:53 PM:

ma larkey @61: Good to hear from you. Sympathies for the progression; good for the definite diagnosis with physical evidence.

Good thoughts your way.

#92 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 07:53 PM:

Older, another thing to look for is the kosher markings on packaged food. Anything marked pareve or meat has no dairy in it.

#93 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 09:52 PM:

ma larkey #61: It is good to hear from you again! I hope things are going well for you. I well understand the mixed feelings of having such a diagnosis confirmed....

#94 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2016, 11:32 PM:

Ma Larkey, I hope the diagnosis leads to best care and support.

At Alpha this year, we had a lot of interesting discussions on vegan food, mostly in the context of the dining hall presenting what wasn't. I was not aware that some vegans disapprove of domestication to the extent that it has been done on some animals. Or because of the extent. The extent to which.

I came home from Alpha and spent eight hours there before going to a training. Brain's not entirely online at the moment.

Anyway: I like the poetic nature of fish and eggs as something you gather, like fruit, rather than farming. I am functionally an all-parts-of-the-buffalo carnivore, meaning that I seldom eat an actual meat but more often end up with meat-flavorings and meat-composites. Of course, this is completely thrown off by the training and Alpha itself. Dorm food: it is reliable.

#95 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:16 AM:

Charlie Stross #82: With the Dutch coffeeshops there's also the problem that Europeans often mix their other smokable materials with tobacco.

In at least some of the coffeeshops they have part of the area (not including anywhere the staff are) that is walled/glassed off and where smoking of tobacco+ is tolerated. It probably isn't legal, but cannabis isn't legal either, just officially tolerated. I don't know if the smoking workaround is officially or unofficially tolerated

#96 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 08:23 AM:

I was recently on something like the Ornish Diet for about three weeks and I lost ten pounds. It took gallstones for me to keep that diet, though, and I didn't like anything I ate.

(I've gained six pounds back since then. Oops.)

#97 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 10:36 AM:

I was used to coping with smokers, and yes, it's gotten much nicer now, thank you. But still I marvel at the realization that tobacco is vegan. It's gluten free too, has no cholesterol, and zero carbs. Not tested on animals. However, despite all those virtuous attributes, for some reason it's hard to find organic tobacco at health food stores.

#98 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 10:52 AM:

thomas @ 95:
Folks around here mix marijuana and tobacco as well. It's not unusual to see little piles of cigar tobacco left where people have emptied out cheap cigars to make blunts. (I asked a friend why they don't keep the tobacco and smoke it later, and was informed that cigar tobacco is actually pretty nasty outside of cigar form -- not being a smoker I can't confirm this.)

I have to say, I do prefer the smell of cigarette smoke -- the way I prefer a headache to a toothache. Neither are *pleasant*, but.

Vegans who object to domestication/harming animals... I have so many questions. What fate do they see for all of our domesticated animals? And how do they plan to run sustainable farms without harming animals? I don't want to come off as a bully shouting I DEMAND ANSWERS but... I still wonder.

(Just like how I still wonder about a woman on TV who insisted that honey can't be organic. Why did she think that? What was her reasoning? It bothers me that I'll never know.)

#99 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 12:08 PM:

Seth @ 98

While I'm fully carnivorous, I can answer your Vegan question about domestication/harming of animals. No animal or animal byproducts (milk, eggs, honey, etc.) means you don't need to farm animals. As a result, domesticated animals will be turned loose to channel their wild ancestors, allowed to turn feral and roam the world at will. Not that domesticated animals remember how their ancestors survived. In the short term, there will be much starvation and/or vehicular accidents with the aforementioned*. (Growing up in rural USA, all of the vegans I know are that way because of dietary issues, not ethics. The vegans I know also wear leather.) In the long term, they would become like deer, antelope and other large grazer/herbivores/fowl/etc. My question is "How many ethical vegans have pets?" Because if they were truly against the exploitation of animals, they wouldn't allow for pets, either.

Sustainable farming of plant-only foods, is actually easy, small-scale. (compost, compost, compost) Industrial farming, not so much. (Not enough compost to go around once you take animal-generated manure out of things. Municipal waste plants could pick up some of the slack, but the nation's infrastructure would have to be re-engineered. So would popular opinion^ when push comes to shove.)

As for honey "can't be organic"... that depends on how you define the word "organic." If "organic" means "not touched by lab-created chemicals at any part of the production cycle" then, no, honey is not organic -- or at least not certifiably organic. There's no way to make sure that the honey bees are not going around and getting pollen/nectar from flowers/crops sprayed with fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides and so on. Bees do not differentiate between GMO and non-GMO crops, crops. (GMO being an automatically de-linked with "organic" in some of the more extreme opinions.)

To be defined as "certified organic", you have to go five years between the last application of man/lab-made chemicals and qualify for official certification per the USDA. Upthread someone equated honey to milk produced by bees. If you look at organic milk produced by cows... The cow being milked has to be either hormone/antiobiotic injection free for five years, (or be born from an organic cow) that only eats organic grass/hay/grain. If the dairy cannot guarantee that all pasture/feed/purchased hay/cattle/etc. are 100% organic, they don't get to sell their product as organic.

* Mostly because hungry cows equate automobiles of any kind with food. Stop at a stop sign, get mobbed by cows. There's a Farside cartoon in that. "Mommy, why are the cows saying 'fooood' instead of 'moo'?"

^ "Wait, you want me to eat veggies grown in the stuff I just flushed down the toilet? That scene in 'The Martian' wasn't artistic license?" Yes, it's possible to do it so harmful bacteria is killed, rendering the "natural fertilizer" sterile.

#100 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 01:11 PM:

Veganism can't be a universal panacea if the goal is to limit harm to animals. Take my home island for example. Most people buy most of their food, hunt/fish/gather some, and grow a little. Going vegan would mean either buying nearly all of their food or growing nearly all of it. Well, if we buy more of it, that means more cargo coming from somewhere, probably more visits by cargo barges, and thus more engines thumping through whale habitat. It also means more ground broken to the plow, which would require displacing more native wildlife. OK, what if we grew more of it? Well, we would have to use the best land available, because the next best land is not fit to grow crops on. And the best land available is next to salmon streams, which must be kept clear of sediment or the salmon can't reproduce. Plus, only a few of the keystone crops of a vegan diet will grow here, so a bad year or a crop disease would be a disaster.

#101 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 01:12 PM:

Open Threadiness. Thanks, Cassy, dcb, David Harmon and Diatryma.

I've been reading Jonathan Carroll's posts and wrote something in response.
I received a harrowing and very beautiful letter from DVW who is terminally ill. She asked that I cite this passage from my novel OUTSIDE THE DOG MUSEUM because it has been a comfort to her as she endured her ordeal. I am humbled.
“The dying have a quality that even a child senses. Not because they are already removed, but because even young hearts sense their inability to stay longer. Behind the looks of sickness or fear is also the look of the long distance traveler, bags on the floor, eyes tired but nervous for any change that may come. They are the ones going on the twenty-hour flights, and although we don’t envy their coming discomfort or time-zone skips, tomorrow they will be there  — the place that both terrifies and thrills us. We peek at the ticket they hold, the inconceivably far destination written on it, impossible yet monstrously alluring. What will it smell like where they will be tomorrow? What is it like to sleep there?”
posted on Medium by Jonathan Carroll

“What is like to sleep there?”
I have clues from L, who was in the ICU for months and spent time drifting in and out of consciousness before he died. he said he dreamed he was a luck dragon, he saw things that weren’t there, he was not sure what was real and what wasn’t. He said he was looking forward to death, and possible reunions. I agreed, saying, “well, it is probably bigger and deeper the more you go in”, referring to the way Narnian heaven seemed to unfold in The Last Battle. Sometimes a story is all you have to anchor yourself to comfort, no matter how transitory it may seem. Sometimes it’s a flying doglike creature that takes you away. Sometimes it’s just a matter of stretching out your hand, as my dying grandmother did, repeatedly, to what looked to me like empty air, to greet my grandfather coming to fetch her as she lay in bed in their old house. Sometimes it’s stories like this that make me want an afterlife, a beyond with answers and people I’ve lost, and pets I’ve loved. It may not be true from a materialist, empirical perspective, but so what. As Eustace says in The Silver Chair, my play world licks your real world hollow. Sort of. Sometimes I prefer the meaning I can get here, now, and hold that as enough.

#102 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 01:24 PM:

Jenny Islander @63
These days, the built in Windows Defender is on par with 3rd party antivirus, and is often preferred because it's more likely to play well with the rest of your Windows ecosystem.

And regarding the various dietary restrictions, we mustn't forget Jainism:

  • They don't eat things that kill animals (including eggs),

  • They don't eat honey (they consider collecting it to be violence against the bees),

  • They don't consume cultured or fermented products (wine, yogurt, cheese),

  • They don't eat fungi,

  • They often don't use butter,

  • But they usually do allow milk.

And the most unique part in my opinion: they don't eat root vegetables, because harvesting them often kills the plant. (Plus metaphysical reasons like ananthkay and tamas that I don't really understand, but mostly the avoidance of killing.)

The restriction on culturing and fermenting appears to be concern about the micro-organisms killed in the process. The restriction on fungi, on the other hand, is because they're considered parasitic and unclean.

#103 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 02:54 PM:

TomB, #97: Probably because despite all those nutritional pluses, it's still full of carcinogens.

Seth, #98: Cigar tobacco is pretty nasty even in cigar form -- at least for everyone around the smoker, as you note.

#104 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 03:13 PM:

Jenny Islander @100: It also means more ground broken to the plow, which would require displacing more native wildlife.

Maybe not?

#106 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 03:46 PM:

Jacque @104, Jenny Islander @100

Recent ag research is showing that inoculating bad/dead/worn out soil with good/needed bacteria in small amounts will help the land recover and produce vegetation/crops. As little as a centimeter of "healthy soil" spread over the ground will work and show notable improvements within five years.

All you have to do is search for "inoculate soil with topsoil" to get a bunch of research and vendors. It's targeted terra forming. Soil bacteria have a symbiotic relationship with the plants that grow in them.

#107 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 04:09 PM:

Is there any interest here in a spoiler thread for "Star Trek Beyond?"

Just got back from the theater and really enjoyed the film. It's got the feel of the original show.

#108 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, fourteen lines later ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 04:15 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @105:

Between the damp and beetle-ridden dark,
Arising from a core of self-regard,
And gold-and-ice cream, sunshine in the park,
I think your poet's palmed at least one card.
One doesn't have to be a plaster saint
(Or really any kind of saint at all)
To exercise some basic self-restraint,
Or clean the mess up if you fail and fall.
It's really very simple! If you fight,
Apologize for what you've done that's not
Appropriate; you still can make it right.
The battle's won that's never even fought.
If you can make it work when face to face,
It's not the comments that are a disgrace.

#109 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 04:28 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee, fourteen lines later@108: Applause.

#110 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 04:30 PM:

More applause.

#111 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 04:33 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee @ 108: Nice. Gives me something to think about. I'll see what Philip says. Or possibly he'll drop by here and speak for himself.

#112 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 04:34 PM:

Veganism vs. dairy—veal is essentially a by-product of the dairy industry, and it seems pretty reasonable to be against that if you're going to be against anything in what you eat.

Nobody seems to have mentioned "fruitarians" yet. The Wikipedia article doesn't put it this way, but when I first heard about it the tagline was that they ate only what was "freely offered" by the producer, which tended to focus on seed-containing fruits. Seems kind of extreme to me.

#113 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 04:46 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee #108: Excellently done, and a very good point.

#114 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, fourteen lines later ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:03 PM:

That last was somewhat irate, I confess. Try this one for another angle on the same point.

We're making conversation in these threads
Which rather does require that people read
The comments. More than that! We really need
To not dismiss them, shrug and shake our heads.
But listen deeply, see the soul behind
The anonymity that websites grant;
To find the pain that bursts out as a rant
And underneath that pain, a heart and mind.
Denying that the comments can be good,
Abandoning all hope of betterment,
Is fine on other sites, if that's their bent.
But where I moderate, it's understood
That who we are online is what we write
That we can choose; and we choose making light.

#115 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:05 PM:

I would love a Star Trek spoiler thread!

#116 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:07 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee @ 114: I didn't find it irate. And he did reply:

Very nice, though it amplifies, rather than rebuts my point.

I myself think the disconnect, if there is one, is in taking the comments here to be the same thing as comments on, say, the average news story in the average newspaper.

#117 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, ἀνεπίθετη ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:13 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @116:

Let me put it in prose, then, because verse is not getting through.

I, personally, am taken aback that you came into the comment threads of an internet community where I, personally, do a good deal of work for and take a great deal of pride* in the readability of the comments, to tell everyone not to read the comments on the internet.

* vicarious; the pride of accomplishments I have enabled rather than ones I can take credit for

#118 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:15 PM:

Yes. When John said "[Categorical assertion] about [arbitrarily specified group]," he didn't mean the members of [arbitrarily specified group] present in this conversation, he meant those other generally-agreed-to-be-terrible sub-members of [arbitrarily specified group]. How could we be so crass as to fail to read his mind, and take offense on behalf of all members of [arbitrarily specified group]?

Really, people, don't you realize it's just the proper and well-ordered way of the world that some people get to make sweeping and overbroad statements, that it justly falls to others to clean up and clarify, and that calling anyone in the first group to account is an offense against the natural order of things.

#119 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:17 PM:

#118 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden

I resemble that remark!

#120 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:22 PM:

I am very sorry.

It was not intended as a reference to commenting here, but had I been thinking more deeply, I might have realized that, given my long absence here, it might be so taken.

Again, I am very sorry. I apologize wholeheartedly and without reservation.

And I particularly appreciated the middle quatrain of the first sonnet, which I took to possibly be a kind remark directed toward me.

#121 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, ἀνεπίθετη ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:25 PM:

The good parts of both sonnets were about you, as they are about anyone who is willing to participate in the conversation with genuine engagement and respect for others.

#122 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:27 PM:

I also greatly appreciated that Patrick and Teresa sent their hellos to me via my wife last March. It was a kind gesture which I did not expect but which did delight me.

#123 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:36 PM:

And now I'll stop talking for a while, except to say once again, I am very sorry and I sincerely apologize. I could have avoided giving offense if I'd taken given sufficient thought, but I didn't.

#124 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 05:39 PM:

re 107: I would like such a thread.

#125 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 07:45 PM:

I've been sitting here opened mouth at the train wreck that the Republican party has become. Hopefully it will change into an party that embraces the worker friendly organization that it was in the 1950's and 1960's. They were pro-union, pro-workers, pro-civil rights. The party I grew up in believed in paying workers well with generous benefits which boosted people into the middle class and helped send kids to college.

#126 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 09:14 PM:

There is an aspect of reading science fiction in ebook format that I hadn't anticipated: if I haven't finished the book but can't stand to go on reading it, I can now return it for a refund instead of just throwing it at the wall!

This not only saves me money, it helps stop me from torturing myself by insisting on finishing the latest from a one-person British slush factory. I feel I can't in good conscience return a book once I've finished it, no matter how much the name of a major Plot Point building changing back and forth between Freedom Tower and Kingdom Tower might bug me in retrospect.

It's not just that I'm objecting to the notion that the outside-world time to go some distance "at the speed of light" is the time taken by light in the unaccelerated frame of reference plus the time taken by the ship in the accelerated frame of reference is arguably beyond a reasonable expectation. Mostly I'm able to pretend that it's just a coincidence.

However, when the author has been moving characters around in "spinners" (which seem to be about the size of typical civilian helicopters) and "flitters" (which seem to be big cumbersome flying machines because this is apparently taking place in the Irony Universe) for hundreds of pages, then suddenly introduces a helicopter as the mode of transport in the least Earth-like environment depicted so far, I exceed my capacity to ignore the shenanigans. I this day and age, I think any copy editor worth paying should be struck by the incongruity of the mundane aircraft and query that word choice.

Thanks,, you can have this one back now.

#127 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 12:23 AM:

Victoria @ 99
Compost is fine, but you'll still have to kill pests and varmints. Especially if we let all the pigs loose -- a sounder of feral hogs can do amazing amounts of damage.

I was reading the other day about problems that early Americans had in the period between their colonization of the land on the other side of the Appalachians and the opening of the Mississippi to American trade. Grain was too bulky and rotted too quickly to be shipped back east over what passed for roads in those days. Folks solved that problem by converting their grain into whiskey and pork.

#128 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 03:37 AM:

@Jacque no. 104, Victoria no. 106: The issue is that the best (i.e., the only good) land is next to salmon streams, which means that disturbing the ground cover puts soil into those streams. Do that often enough and you kill out the salmon--even if you are using best practices to nourish the soil.

Also it rains like hell here more often than not.

#129 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 04:53 AM:

Essentially, the thing about adding a thin layer of topsoil as remediation is what Heinlein described in Farmer in the Sky, and it made sense to this farmer's son in the early Seventies.

My father was one of the early adopters of pesticide application, essentially part of the Green Revolution as it hit England, and I remember a few of things he said after he saw some American farming, on a visit to my mother's cousins. I saw reports in the farming press which left me with the feel that wonderful new technologies were Americans playing catch-up, while farmers in Europe were doing even newer things.

An example: farmers in Europe are required to have barrier strips by watercourses. It's a ban on pesticide and fertiliser application. The chemicals have passed safety tests, but they still should be kept out of water. Because of the effects on crop yield. it's not worth cultivating the barrier strip. The grass cover that develops stops surface run-off carrying sediment into the watercourse, and your plough furrows routinely run across the slope, not up and down hill.

The barrier strips are specified by law and regulation. There are rules on fertiliser application, but a farmer would be a fool to apply fertiliser when the crop can't use it, and rain could wash it away. There are rules on keeping records, but we kept records anyway.

There is a thing called "T-sum 200" that guides on when it is worth fertilising grassland. It's to do with accumulated daily temperatures, so that the grass is growing and taking up the nutrients when you apply the first dose of fertiliser. That date varies, depending on where you are, altitude is one factor, but it has been coming sooner and sooner.

And some of the stories I have heard, some of them here, leave me feeling that farming in America is strong on huge machines, and sometimes a bit short on brains. Nitrates and phosphates getting into rivers and lakes amounts to throwing money way. Blaming farmers, when a big source is human sewage from cities: we've had that too, and some of the UK food industry is scared of the idea of using it. I vaguely recall a mention of chemical films on water surfaces in farming areas of California. It's wasting money even without the farmer having to pay for pollution.

And some things are difficult because of the initial Victorian engineering involve. Sewage systems have been taking industrial waste since the start, and so much is contaminated with heavy metals that you have to wonder whether it would be usable as agricultural fertiliser. (That, incidentally, is a good clue as to where pollution in rivers and lakes has come from. Farmers don't put them on crops.)

#130 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 07:47 AM:

the name of a major Plot Point building changing back and forth between Freedom Tower and Kingdom Tower

Though that might be a fun detail in a story where the timeline is getting changed without the characters noticing.

#131 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 09:06 AM:

Seth @127:

Compost is fine, but you'll still have to kill pests and varmints.

Yeah, that's the one that I keep coming back to for the "totally organic and totally vegan" hypothetical. Organic gardeners do a lot of hand-picking of insect pests.

#132 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 09:56 AM:

I can't ask this in the spoiler thread:

Is the new Star Trek movie worth seeing?

Old fan, but not compleatist.

Enjoyed, but not totally thrilled by, the first two. I'd have trouble telling you what happened in them.

#133 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 10:48 AM:

Stefan Jones@132:I would guess that you would find it fun, then.

#134 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 10:51 AM:

Jenny Islander @128: disturbing the ground cover puts soil into those streams.

Key phrase from the article linked above: human cultivation of soil, plowing or tilling are unnecessary. I.e., the whole point is that you don't disturb the soil. Further: The system is based on the recognition of the complexity of living organisms that shape an ecosystem and deliberately exploiting it. So one would carefully replicate the functions of the in-place ecosystems, just tuning to emit human-consumable food.

(A discussion in a previous Open Thread hipped me to the idea that this was the approached used by First Nations American cultures before the arrival of the Europeans. A good reference is the book 1491.)

Additional benefits of permaculture is that one can often make use of "less than optimal" ground (such as hillsides) for growing food crops, such as orchards. I'm haven't gotten far enough into the topic yet to have a sense of how the yields compare to cultivated ground, but from what little I've read, it's nothing to sneeze at.

Ah, here we go:

the yields in his orchard and fields compare favorably with the most productive Japanese farms which use all the technical know-how of modern science.

Dave Bell @129: farming in America is strong on huge machines, and sometimes a bit short on brains.

The whole American agribusiness model is very monolithic and reductionist. (This is not limited to farming, sadly.)

Nitrates and phosphates getting into rivers and lakes amounts to throwing money way.... I vaguely recall a mention of chemical films on water surfaces in farming areas of California.

Ahem. Not just California.

lorax @131: Yeah, that's the one that I keep coming back to for the "totally organic and totally vegan" hypothetical. Organic gardeners do a lot of hand-picking of insect pests.

Permaculture's answer is two-fold: poly-cropping is an intrinsic barrier to pests, and pest removal is delegated to, frex, ducks and chickens. (This makes its vegan status questionable, but only if you eat the poultry and/or the eggs. Especially if you argue that even keeping poultry is anti-vegan.)

#135 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 10:52 AM:

(Can we tell Jacque's a little obsessed with permaculture right now?)

#136 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 11:58 AM:

@Jacque no. 134: I don't think it would translate here though--can you do permaculture if you must first construct raised beds in order to confine your enriched soil (local soils being lousy, water tables high, and rainfall violent) and raise the temperature enough to allow common vegetables to mature to eating size? Local organic gardeners work-work-work that soil, because literally tons of free fertilizer are available from beaches and farms, but it has to be added in a specific way.

And if you put in stream buffers, you're out of room.

#137 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 12:13 PM:

Jenny: Do, please, understand that I am talking  out of my hat  from my current obsession. Not knowing the particulars of where you live, I am, of course, blowing smoke.

The idea is: if there's already stuff growing there naturally, you observe it and carefully replicate the natural form/function relationships for you "cultivated" stuff. Therefore (in principle) your cultivation has no more negative impact on the landscape than the natural ecology. This may mean you don't get to use the "standard vegetables." (For example, The Land Institute is working on developing perennial grain crops that would replicate the natural succession/relationships of wild prairie.)

But permaculture seems like such an intrinsically powerful idea that I would be really curious to conduct the thought experiment, at least.

As to lousy soils, that's one of the gotchas with trying to farm rainforest soils, and why cleared land in (frex) the Amazon wears out after a couple of years. Indigenous cultivation practices that don't kill the soil tend to replicate the multi-level structures of the rainforest. And even at that, they tend to move their plots around, folding into the natural successionary processes.

So, without knowing the particulars of your location, I can't speak with any confidence. (Not that I could, anyway. ;-> )

#138 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 12:16 PM:

Seth @127: The other issue about pigs and white settlement of the United States is that many of the early conflicts with Native Americans were sparked or exacerbated by the fact that the colonists would turn their pigs loose outside their fenced fields, without knowing or caring that the animals were feeding themselves by grubbing up whole fields of Natives’ crops, destroying their woodlands, or — most especially — strip-mining entire oyster beds.

Native groups who’d never seen a white man suddenly had this plague of huge, aggressive, alien animals destroying their stuff, because pigs will range twenty miles or more from home while foraging. So they shot them. And then colonists got ENRAGED that anyone would DARE infringe their PROPERTY RIGHTS to their pigs, so they went and murdered some uppity destructive savages. Lather, rinse, repeat …

#139 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 12:20 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 128

I'm not talking about farming the good land, I'm talking about terra forming the not so good land.

Dave Bell @ 129

Conservationists have been trying to get the grass barrier strips in use by farmers, but there's no money in it for the farmer. The last big push to get land back grass and other pollution reductive measures was contained in a CRP program. It paid farmers to pull land out of production. However, the CRP payments have not kept up with inflation, so farmers are pulling land out of grass and farming it again.

US agribusiness is focused on farming more land with less effort by one person, so yes, we're very mechanized here. People like cheap food.

As for human created sewage... I think it depends on population density, and what kind of industry is in the area. Kansas City is looking at turning waste into compost.

Jacque @ 134

Poly-cropping is a wonderful thing. I agree it may or may not be vegan in nature, depending on how much of a fundamental vegan the person is. It's also the best way to obtain certifiable organic produce/meats. However, it doesn't scale up very well beyond the locavore movement if you want it to be comparable in consumer purchase prices.

The US food economy/infrastructure moved away from the agrarian model of farming post US Civil War thanks to John Deere's self-scouring plow. US Ag really ramped up into industrial farming after WWII. I suspect it was partly in reaction to the rationing of the war years combined with replacing horses with tractors and threshers with combines.

#140 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 12:27 PM:

Victoria: WRT agribusiness: I think there are major economic feedback loops in play, as well.

Yeah, polycropping on an industrial scale would definitely be a challenge. I'm confident, given human ingenuity, that it could be done, but we're still a (probably considerable) ways off from practical applications. Not least because it requires an intimate understanding of the relevant ecologies, and that's a science that's still in its infancy.

But, you know. A person's reach should exceed their grasp.

#141 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 01:57 PM:

Dave @129:

Be careful about comparing UK farming practices with American farming practices. Scale is a major factor.

For instance, one of our major farming state, Kansas, could be reasonably thought of as one large flat arable field, divided by roads and spotted with towns and cities here and there. How big? There is more farmland in Kansas than there is total land in England and Wales, combined, and the average farm size is greater than a square mile.

This scale has help lead to the "big on machines, short on brains" aspect. It's also one of the reasons why some American farmers are really interested in more advanced technologies -- drones which can observe the fields and highlight areas which need attention; solar-powered robots which crawl across the fields, planting seeds, pulling weeds, spot-application of fertilizer, etc.

#142 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 02:16 PM:

Victoria, #139: And then you get howls about "You mean we're paying farmers NOT to grow food?!!" Which seemed really weird to 12-year-old me too, because I didn't have the full context -- and of course, no one who was ranting wanted to explain it, because then it would make sense.

#143 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 02:17 PM:

For some idea of US farming, use Street View at this location and turn around the circle. (Local major crops: field corn, cotton, winter wheat, sorghum and milo, vegetables.)

#144 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 02:23 PM:

Stefan Jones @132: Go see it it IS fun.

Warning -- if you have ANY tendency to motion-sickness there are some sequences that will set your inner ear at war with what your eyes are seeing. (Brain: "Your butt is in a seat, stationary." Eyes: "Wooo! Round and round, no local vertical." Inner ear: "What the hell is the matter with the data feed? We're NOT moving!" Stomach: "Bugger that -- much more and I'm jettisoning breakfast...")

Normally that only happens when I'm watching IMAX, NOW the visuals are SO good I'm getting motion sickness just from the CGI.

#145 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 02:28 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 141

Don't spoil a good Yankee-bashing with facts.

Jacque @ 134

I'm not convinced that we can feed seven billion people on the natural emissions of the landscape. Also, the scenario under discussion is one where all domesticated animals have been turned loose to fend for themselves, so there won't necessarily be any convenient ducks or chickens to pick bugs off of your crops.

#146 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 03:38 PM:

Seth: Well, that was the discussion upthread. I was specifically responding to Jenny Islander.

It would surprise me a great deal if we could feed seven billion people. But that doesn't mean it's not a meaningful discussion to have. (And if we can't feed the human population from the land's capacity, that's, you know, a problem.)

#147 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 03:47 PM:

On large-scale farming: for a variety of reasons, I drive to Alpha each year. So I'm heading from Iowa to a bit past Pittsburgh, and hey, I'm a Midwesterner, I have a background process of observing the crops.

This year, the theme was, "Wow, Iowa's a lot better at this." Because in Iowa, the corn is very regular*. It's tall, it's all the same size except where there's an even slope of shorter and paler plants heading to a section of too much water, it's very aesthetically pleasing because of that regularity. In Ohio, much less so-- the corn that wasn't growing as well was a lot less linear about it, and sometimes there were plants in the highway verge. Even knowing that the contrast is due to industrial farming, even knowing that very little of this corn is going to be eaten directly by humans (though the portion that is is going to be delicious), I had a real sense of pride about the whole thing.

And my graduate work included a lot of learning about runoff mitigation, like planting a strip of poplar trees on the drainage ditches. Poplars grow fast, are a cash crop rather than 'wasted', suck up fertilizer and water like whoa, and are native to the lower 48. Plus, if you're a family farm, you don't have to worry about your kid tipping a tractor into the stream.**

Jenny Islander, I think that the thoughtless, simple solution to veganism in your area is 'move'. Which is not a solution. People live a lot of places for a lot of reasons, and going from 1491 and such, if agriculture were possible, there would be some. Your area is a really good counter to the glib argument.

*Corn itself is a problem. You can track the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and it correlates decently to the amount of corn.

**A scale thing: if you look at just number, basically all the waterways in the Midwest are drainage ditches running through fields. There hasn't been a huge amount of research into the biology of them, either. I kind of want to do this.

#148 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 04:07 PM:

Diatryma @ 147

Farm kid here. A lot of the grassed in waterways/drainage ditches/draws in my part of the midwest are treated like hay fields. The farmers who have cattle and row crops, use them to grow prairie hay for winter fodder. They buy the grass in them from the neighbors who don't raise cattle. This is different than putting land into CRP, because the program was to create wild life habitat and not be "farmed as hay fields".

However, the midwest is a pretty big place, I'm sure there are several waterways/draws that aren't farmed. It would be interesting to see what the biology is doing in them.

#149 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 09:52 PM:

Even the farmed ones, though, have pretty significantly different potential biology from 'wild' waterways. Potentially really interesting on a fairly basic science level. Plus, ideas for runoff mitigation and more reasons to plant poplars (my lab in grad school was all poplars all the time.)

#150 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 10:01 PM:

In reference to the link PJ Evans shared @143: Zooming out to the map and then looking at the satellite imagery might be illuminating too.

And you'll see why, on flights westward from Chicago, I mentally label that area "Polka-Dot Land" (or, sometimes, "Mondrian Fields").

From Chicago to Los Angeles, the areas flown over are "more city," "Corn," "Polka-Dot Land," "Getting Crinkly", "Crevasses and Mesas", "Ooh mountains for real," and "Some cities again". Unless we go over Utah, which is somewhat different and involves a lot of towns with shockingly green golf courses and subdivisions with boat parking in the back (surrounded by desert).

"Getting Crinkly" has ranching, because at fence lines you'll have bitten-to-dead-dirt separated from greenish-with-bushes. Crevasses and Mesas has an area I call "the red-and-black land", because the rocks are distinctly those colors up the slopes of the mesas.

Polka-dot land is also really pretty in the late fall and early winter, because of the snow/no snow effects on the geometry.

#151 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 10:20 PM:

Center-pivot irrigation systems. They can put the water below the leaves, which reduces the evaporation (and the amount of water needed). The one to the southwest went in the winter of 1994/1995 - I remember watching them put it together. (The house next to the road, with the pine behind the mailbox, is the one my parents had built to order. The guy who bought it added the wing in back.)

#152 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 10:28 PM:

OK, so I binge-watched Stranger Things. I liked it, and I think they left abundant sequel hooks. The following contains spoilers for the entire season.

V ernyyl yvxrq gur snpg gung gurl tnir Fgrir n erqrzcgvba nep, rira gubhtu cnegf bs vg vaibyirq uvz orvat fghcvq nf uryy. Vg jnf terng gung sbe bapr n znyr naq srznyr grrantre pna jbex gbtrgure gbjneq n pbzzba tbny naq ernyyl or whfg sevraqf. Bs pbhefr, jub xabjf jung gurl'yy qb arkg frnfba, ohg V'z fher ubcvat Wbanguna pbzrf bhg!

V jnf nyfb qryvtugrq ol gur znff qrngu bs gur ntragf naq rzcyblrrf bs gung qnza yno, rfcrpvnyyl Pbaavr Senmvre, jub xvyyrq gur xvaqyl qvare thl, jub qvqa'g rira xabj nalguvat qnatrebhf.

Gurl cynlrq gur zbgure irel jryy. Fur jnf qrgrezvarq orpnhfr fur xarj jung fur fnj naq urneq, naq ab bar, abg rira Ubccre (hagvy ur fnj gur snxr obql) oryvrirq ure. Jvaban Elqre vf xvyyvat vg va guvf ebyr VZB.

Questions. I have questions, and I'd love to discuss them with other fans of ST.

1. Qvq gur bgurejvfr-urebvp Ubccre ernyyl eng bhg Ry naq gur bgure xvqf?
2. Vs fb, qvq ur xabj gur onq thlf jrer cynaavat ba xvyyvat gur oblf? (Jr qb, sebz gurve cerivbhf orunivbe; frr nobir er Senmvre.)
3. Vs fb, juvfxrl gnatb sbkgebg?
4. Jul qvq ur tb onpx jvgu gur ZVOf jub pnzr gb trg uvz va gur pne? Jung'f gung nobhg?
5. Jung gur uryy jnf va gung rtt? Gurl arire rira zragvbarq vg ng nyy.
6. Jung jnf gung yrrpu gung Jvyy pbhturq hc? N onol bs gur fanxr guvat gurl chyyrq bhg bs uvz va gur Hcfvqr Qbja?
7. Jul qvq Jvyy synfu vagb gur Hcfvqr Qbja sbe n frpbaq? Qbrf ur unir cbjref abj?
8. Vf Ry ernyyl qrnq? Vs guvf jrer n zbivr V'q fnl fb, ohg ure qrngu jnf nzovthbhf.
9. Vf Oeraare npghnyyl qrnq? Jr fnj gur zbafgre whzc ba uvz, ohg gur zbafgre nyfb gbbx Jvyy, nsgre nyy, naq ur qvqa'g qvr.

Vpxl gurbel #1: Gung vfa'g Jvyy. Vg'f n qhcyvpngr gur Hcfvqr Qbjaref ner hfvat gb vainqr gur Evtugfvqr Hc. Gurl terj vg va gung rtt.

Vpxl gurbel #2: Gung jnf na Nyvra-fglyr oerrqvat frghc, jvgu gur fanxr tbvat vagb uvf genpurn, naq Jvyy vf tbvat gb trg irel fvpx irel fbba.

Yrff-Vpxl gurbel #3: Gur Hcfvqr Qbjaref jrer gelvat gb pbaireg Jvyy vagb n pbzcngvoyr yvsr-sbez. Nf n pbafrdhrapr ur pna fjvgpu onpx naq sbegu orgjrra gur Hcfvqr Qbja naq gur Evtugfvqr Hc.

#153 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 10:35 PM:

My favorite quotation from Chesterton's The Napoleon of Notting Hill comes in here: "There was Mr. Edward Carpenter, who thought we should in a very short time return to Nature, and live simply and slowly as the animals do. And Edward Carpenter was followed by James Pickie, D.D. (of Pocohontas College), who said that men were immensely improved by grazing, or taking their food slowly and continuously, after the manner of cows. And he said that he had, with the most encouraging results, turned city men out on all fours in a field covered with veal cutlets. Then Tolstoy and the Humanitarians said that the world was growing more merciful, and therefore no one would ever desire to kill. And Mr. Mick not only became a vegetarian, but at length declared vegetarianism doomed ("shedding," as he called it finely, "the green blood of the silent animals"), and predicted that men in a better age would live on nothing but salt. And then came the pamphlet from Oregon (where the thing was tried), the pamphlet called "Why should Salt suffer?" and there was more trouble."

#154 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 11:34 PM:

@Jacque no. 137, Victoria no. 139, Diatryma no. 147: I burble on about my home island so much that I forget how recently I have described it. Apparently not very recently here! The native ground cover is mainly tussock, which is knee- to shoulder-high grass and forbs growing from ankle- to knee-high tufts of compacted dead grass and raised roots, often with water trickling among them. There are also alder hells, which are kind of like being shrunk down to rabbit size and trapped inside a mosquito-infested hedge; boreal rainforests, whose dense trees overshadow either thick moss or bare earth (or mud); sedgefields; bogs; tundras; fern meadows; and groves of cottonwoods, which like to drop hundred-pound chunks of themselves at random intervals.

Also, it's extremely rugged here. Crumple a sheet of paper into a ball and spread it out just enough to see that it was once a rectangle: that's Kodiak.

#155 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 12:55 AM:

Did I mention here that when I applied for a job in Ketchikan, I looked it up? I thought, "What do they grow there?" Salmon and pine trees, basically. That was when I realized that yes, I'm Midwestern.

#156 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 02:24 AM:

Grumbling about Worldcon. We just got the "Oh, sorry, we won't actually have your hotel built by the time Worldcon starts" from the Residence Inn staff. They're being helpful, to the extent that they can. (We'll have my mom joining us, so we'd had a two-room suite reserved, and there seem to be none of those to be had in the area either.)

#157 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 10:32 AM:

@Diatryma no. 155: Indeed! We are on the fringes of the boreal rainforest, but they're firmly inside it. Local cooperative extension advice is centered on keeping your crops from drowning or being beaten to death by rain. But the salmon and the locally adapted conifers just love it.

#158 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 12:04 PM:

P J Evans @ 143

It was very funny to open that link, say "this looks like west Texas", and then see that it was Plainview. My little brother lived there for several years.

#159 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 01:55 PM:

Some time in the past year I heard an item on NPR here in the US about how incomprehensible and defiant of detailed analysis the US "Farm Bill" has become. Can't find it now, the "Farm Bill" is a recurring subject of squabbling among interested parties and legislators and apparently countless original and plagiarized college essays.

Volume of purportedly analytical writing notwithstanding, this legislation is a major "pork barrel" item, and as such should be presumed to be rife with corruption. Since it's an integral part of the consumption-driven economy, I believe nobody with the resources to really riddle out the details and separate the wheat from the chaff is willing to do so as food for public conversation.

Who's going to hire an agricultural college graduate who spills the beans on how the sausage is made to the wider public? Clearly, the people putting money into lobbyists presumably have an analysis of their part of the mega-bill and have their ducks in a row. To the extent that the budget is finite, some of them must fight against each other: it might even be illegal for them to form a commensal relationship among corporate predators. It seems unlikely that any of them are looking out for the welfare of the nation as a whole.

The policies of this bill have a lot more to do with the conversion of US farming to agribusiness than the amount of space we have stolen for our kind of agriculture in, say, Kansas. Keep in mind that this goes beyond ploughs and combine harvesters: agribusiness includes livestock birth to slaughter and crops requiring hand tending, where the current economy uses poverty-wage stoop labour rather than mechanical automation.

Tiling Kansas with smaller holdings under the control of small groups of farmers (families or whatever) could reasonably be argued to produce more socially and environmentally beneficial results than treating it as one big farm. I think I've heard an argument that agribusiness is more economically efficient than more human-scale agricultural practices, but I think we ought to ask who benefits from this "economic efficiency?"

As an analogy, airplanes in flight are considered to be subject to four main forces in opposing pairs: thrust, drag, lift, weight. You might think it would be most efficient to eliminate all that drag, but it turns out that in a working airplane the main kind of drag is actually lift. A very efficient economy might move some from Rich as Croesus to Rich as Romney. A less efficient economy might make farming a merely huge holding a sufficient source of wealth to make being a farmer a career alternative instead of an inherited life sentence in poverty

#160 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 02:14 PM:

One of my uncles described farming as the only business where you buy retail and sell wholesale.

#161 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 03:54 PM:

It may have been here that I heard this joke: A farmer wins the lottery. They ask him what he's going to do and he says "Probably just keep farming 'til it's gone."

#162 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 04:10 PM:

#160 ::: P J Evans

Good one! And like the proverbial mudhole, deeper than it looks ("It only comes up to here on my duck!").

With a few big business entities dominating agricultural production and distribution, dominant enterprises can use near-monopoly power to keep smaller farmers from cooperating to buy closer to wholesale or sell closer to retail. Maybe this amounts to making farmers more like employees and less like vendors in an open market.

#163 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 05:03 PM:

The only good year that uncle had, farming (after he got out of the oil bidness), was the year he grew white corn under a contract with Frito-Lay. The vineyard should have done better - but weather is a problem in that part of Texas.

#164 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 06:15 PM:

Jenny Islander @154: Ah, Kodiak. Thank you. I was speculating something in a higher latitude.

Most of the stuff about permaculture I've read focuses on more temperate latitudes. But I'll bet it could be done! she says determinedly.

It probably has been done by indigenous peoples in the past, but that probably wouldn't support a modern population. And from what little I know, indigenous peoples in higher latitudes rely heavily on animal products. Based on what little I know, traditional circumpolar peoples' tech is almost entirely animal-based. And even at that, the population was probably much sparser.

Bob Webber @159: I think we ought to ask who benefits from this "economic efficiency?"

Well, the first-order answer to that is doubtless some variant of "Follow The Money." :-\ (Who me? Cynical?) What I'm waiting to see is an economic model that actually accounts for the whole system (including ecology, climatology, and thermodynamics, as well as economics). I expect we're just getting to the computational power needed for it to be feasible to start thinking in those terms. Maybe.

Dealing with the entrenched interests? Maybe not so much (cf. climate change).

@160 & 161: *snort.*

#165 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 09:41 PM:

We've pretty much got it down as to how the Russians pulled off their hack of the DNC. It was done by hacker groups from the FSB (foreign intelligence service) and the GRU (military intelligence). They masqueraded as a Romanian who called himself Guccifer 2.0. The original Guccifer is currently in jail in the US for the crime of hacking into celebrity cellphones and putting their pictures on the Internet. The FBI had known for about a year that the DNC systems had been hacked but didn't tell anybody. Kaspersky Labs has said that the language of the comments is Russian, the timehacks correspond to Moacow time and it would have taken the resources of a nation-state to perform the hack. The stolen files, along with a sizable amount of money, were transferred to Julian Assange and WIkileaks.

#166 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 10:19 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 212::1017: I do the Numbrix in Parade, just to make sure I can still do graphic problems quickly.

albatross @ 212::1023: I kind-of wonder how much longer magazines will exist in print form, since both tablet apps and web pages do the same basic job better. I find tablets too small and difficult to maneuver, and web pages on larger machines aren't portable. Possibly this reflects my tastes (including large-photograph zines such as Smithsonian and National Geographic), my dexterity (or a bad touch screen on a cheap tablet), my usage (a lot of reading while using a stair machine), and/or my general unwillingness to squeeze down for someone's commercial convenience. (My wife reads books on her "phone". Even if I had a pocket computer rather than a phone, I'd have trouble with the tiny amount of visible text.) </rant>

Nancy L @ 33: IIRC, Gladstone once said that the numbers in the titles matched the chrono order (modulo some numbers that may never happen).

The discussion on veg* is fascinating -- takes me back to when I was supporting computer R&D in Cambridge MA; at peak our group had ~10 people, of whom the non-omnivores ranged from didn't-eat-red-meat to didn't-eat-milk-or-eggs. Made group celebrations interesting -- although easier in Cambridge than they would have been in most US cities back then (1980-85).

Dave Bell @ 129: Nitrates and phosphates getting into rivers and lakes amounts to throwing money [a]way. ISTM this assumes it's possible to analyze exactly how much fertilizer a crop needs and that fertilizer is expensive. Not getting a better harvest because one underestimated how well the weather would support growth (given adequate fertilizer) may not be cheap. (Granted that a bumper crop often pays less per unit -- but if others get good harvests and you don't, the market hoses you.)

Jacque @ 134: pest removal is delegated to, frex, ducks and chickens. The last time I visited Toronto, a local zine told of a vineyard that brings in lambs each spring; they eat weeds and the low (undesired) leaves, and fertilize, and in the fall they can be eaten with a previous year's product.

#167 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 01:00 AM:

CHip: One of the things often forgotten in this day of plenty is that a major function of livestock historically has been to convert human-inedible substances (weeds, grass, bugs) into stuff humans can consume. One problem is that this also hooks into humans' scarcity-honed tastes such that even when non-meat sources of food are arbitrarily abundant, high-density foods like meat and fat are still disproportionately compelling.

#168 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 02:03 AM:

@Jacque no. 164: Yes, extremely heavily dependent on animal foods. The line between hunter-gatherer and farmer tends to blur more than we might think, though; people would look after valuable berry patches, cutting back encroaching inedible plants and such, before moving on to the next stop on the yearly circuit.

I don't think the Northerners would have developed plant-based agriculture given time. Nomadism was required for survival except for certain communities that were able to stay in one place year round because they killed whales, and the latest research I know of suggests that sedentary living has to be possible before farming can begin. There is no native food plant rich in protein and carbohydrates that can be farmed in large quantities on top of permafrost. There are various plants that yield small roots known as Eskimo potato/mouse food/mouse nuts, including Claytonia tuberosa, which is a type of spring beauty, and Hedysarum spp., which are related to lupines. These might be bred for bigger yields by people living in whaling villages--but the Hedysarum, for one, have to be eaten with animal oil or they cause constipation. I also don't know whether you can till the soil over permafrost year after year, even with hand tools, without melting it.

On the other hand, some imported food plants have done rather well in the river valleys of northern Alaska. The best mix for a northern subsistence farm seems to be potatoes and other roots with brassicas and other dark greens, berries, and goats. Although there are some success stories, such as the apple orchardists of the Fairbanks area and the potato farmers of the Mat-Su, this is mainly subsistence and hobby farming. Food from Outside is still cheap enough that people mostly eat that instead. However, there could be a hell of a lot of farming north of the Alaska Range and south of the Brooks Range. I saw a map of potential agricultural land produced before global climate change took hold. Farms could cover at least the area of Massachusetts and New Hampshire combined.

#169 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 04:19 AM:

I was farming.

Fertiliser requirements for a crop are pretty well understood, and the way to get around weather variations is to do multiple applications, The nitrate element in the one most affected by rain and leaching. The phosphates and potassium stick around in the soil better, which is one reason why I am a little doubtful when farming is blamed for phosphate pollution. There are a few trace elements that can need an occasional boost, not every year, such as magnesium.

Remember, the US average wheat yield is about 3.5 tonnes per hectare, while in Europe 7 tonnes per hectare is the low end of the range, and 10 tonnes per hectare is possible.

That takes up a lot of nutrients from the soil, and application rates are close to the point of diminishing returns. Officially we use the metric system, but the acre in a conveniently sized unit for thinking about fields. Ten square chains, and a chain is 22 yards, the length of a cricket pitch.

I remember some pesticides where the application rate of the active ingredient was measured in grams per hectare. It's mixed with a rather large quantity of water, 220 litres, and there are adjuvants to help control the droplet size at the spray nozzle (you have to use the correct size) and help the droplets stick to a plant leaf. Look closely, and you might see tiny hairs on a leaf, and the mix needs wetting agents for the droplets to stick rather than just bouncing off.

Small droplets might not bounce off, but they evaporate too quickly.

I recall an article in a magazine put out by John Deere, describing how some American farmers were adopting more European-style methods, and getting better total production by not cultivating some land. Those huge square fields aren't uniform, and even narrow uncultivated strips at field boundaries were supporting more insect predators. In one of those big fields. the pest insects might still be safe from predators in the middle.

Another thing you get from smaller fields is a patchwork of crops and crop varieties which slows the spread of insect pests and plant diseases. Google Earth shows something of that. The bright yellow in many of the images of rural England is what in known in the USA as Canola. It's a great opportunity for hammering weeds that plague crops such as wheat. Weed grasses are a bit too much like wheat and barley, but weeds that plague canola crops become easy targets.

Some of farming is surprisingly simple.

#170 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 10:47 AM:

I once nailed a Geoguessr location based on, "Huh, it's big and flat and seems to be on the right side of the road, and everything is full of yellow flowers. Rapeseed? Canola, yes. I am probably somewhere in Alberta." Which is definitely within my error bar for guessing based on the agriculture.

#171 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 11:01 AM:

It's my understanding that the fertilizers aren't used on wheat so much as on corn and soybeans. both of which are grown in huge quantities in the US.

#172 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 12:10 PM:

CHip@166: reading things in a format that presents the wrong amount of text at a single glance is surprisingly distracting to me. I always had difficulty reading stories in SF magazines, as all my initial binge-reading of short stories had been in yellow-jacketed hardback Gollancz collections or tatty old A-format paperbacks. However good the magazine layout, it never felt right.

And re doing puzzles in print publications: I read about 10 years ago that a cryptic crossword for a UK daily newspaper might earn the setter only about £100; I know the supply of setters much exceeds demand, but that still feels like a mean amount of money given just how many people buy newspapers only or mainly on account of their crossword habit. During a multi-year obsessive crossword fixation in the last decade I bought the Independent every day, and often another broadsheet. A good cryptic is a little work of art; weekly columns by very highly-paid 'name' journalists—I'm looking at you, Boris Johnson—often aren't.

The only magazine I buy these days is Private Eye, which for all its faults does break genuine scandals regularly. It's kept up its circulation by having very little web content and forcing you to fork out £1.80 every fortnight. Its typography has improved a bit, though the letters column is done in an italic font that is almost as unreadable as the worst Wired typesetting of the 1990s.

#173 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 05:31 PM:

Me 152: Nobody, huh? No Stranger Things fans here?

What a waste of time 152 was. Note to self: check for interest BEFORE typing long, detailed, spoileriffic comment.

#174 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 05:48 PM:

Sorry. To be honest, that was the first time I'd even heard of Stranger Things.

#175 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 06:36 PM:

I recommend it highly.

#176 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 09:38 PM:

Nancy Mittens -- Thanks for the tip. I hadn't really thought that far ahead, because so far the only things he buys for himself are snacks -- cookies, slices of pie, etc. I have tried to get him a hot dog at the local farmers' market, only to discover that it's actually harder there than in the supermarket to find milk free meat products, and in the supermarket they are labeled, whereas you have to ask the vendor at the farmers' market, and a lot of the time, they don't know!!

#177 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 11:19 PM:

For those who haven't heard, "Wild Cards" will be made into a tv series. My congratulations to Melinda Snodgrass, whose perseverance led to this.

#178 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2016, 11:26 AM:

Science News just posted a story on an exhibit at the Corning glass museum: it's a show of glass sea-life.

#179 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2016, 11:13 PM:

Found: a heavy cylindrical container in the kitchen, at the estate sale of a doctor who was a radiologist, judging by the souvenir pins from an interventional radiology conference. Bought the container thinking it was an antique kitchen storage thing. Nerdy bf recognizes the container is a lead pig used to contain radioactive isotopes. He insists I leave it with him. I ask if we now need Silkwood style showers.

I call Poison Control and ask them what they think. They say a call to the fire department to ask for a Geiger counter would not be unreasonable. I call the nerdy bf who says, aint going to happen, he will find a Geiger counter at his workplace instead.
I feel ultraderpy now. Not that I was about to store vanilla sugar in the thing, but still.

#180 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2016, 11:23 PM:

A question for the candyfolks among us: my excellent boyfriend has mentioned that his candy, as in Pokemon candy, would probably be chocolate buttons, but not the kind you get here that are sort of like nonpareils only without the nonpareil part, the kind he got from Wonka when he was in Ireland. They were milk and dark chocolate together, looked sort of like a bundt cake with a little morsel shoved in, and... are completely impossible to find via the internet.

Do these actually exist? Can they be gotten?

Ma Larkey, that sounds like a really interesting story to tell once you know what's going on with it. I'm glad your nerdy boyfriend alerted you to potential dangers before it became a really interesting story to read in the obits.

#181 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2016, 11:34 PM:

Even if it isn't radioactive, there might be problems storing vanilla sugar in a lead container, in terms of lead contamination.

#182 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2016, 11:37 PM:

#179: Wow . . . you conceivably could have ended up in some real-life version of House, MD.

"We've got to track down everyone who visited that bake sale!"

#183 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 12:24 AM:

By "glass sea-life" I mean critters made of glass. (The octopus is impressively life-like.)

#184 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 01:05 AM:

"Stranger Things" was very satisfying.

I don't in the least resent Netflix raising their prices. I feel like I'm helping fund shows like this.

#185 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 02:53 AM:

Yup, sometimes I think a visit to Dr. House would fit right into my strange little life.
I think, in hindsight, that I have seen a lead pig before, but somehow didn't recognize that it was indeed a lead pig because it was presented in a different context, among pots and pans and kitchen utensils. I am fortunate the bf knew the homeowners and also has enough science lab experience. I'll let you folks know what the Geiger counter says. If only this were a comic book superhero origin story. Then maybe I would wake tomorrow with searing power.
Props to the local poison control people, they contacted me again to make sure I was okay and that the container wasn't in the same room, if possible, until it's checked out. Bf put it outside the house.

#186 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 02:58 AM:

HLN: Man who two years ago complained about life being too much of a rollercoaster can now report that life finally seems to have settled down. In the intervening two years got a dog (golden retriever), bought a bigger house and got married.

Old house is now sold and her work situation seems to be stable, or at least stabilizing. Man reports being very happy with the outcome.

#187 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 08:33 AM:

I've heard a lot of people say Stranger Things is good, many of whom I actually know. I have put it on my vague, indeterminate list of Things To Watch.

#188 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 09:31 AM:

(thumbs up) to Roy!

#189 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 10:45 AM:

Trying to get started with the latest version of Word:

who are you







Trying to get started with the latest version of OpenOffice:

Click this link and choose Custom or Default. Hope you like it! :)

I so very much hope that OpenOffice 4 can handle the gigantic "app"-like files that the school district keeps sending me so I don't have to touch Word ever again.

#190 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 11:29 AM:


I found out the name of the home owner, he was an interventional medicine guy. So the lead pig was probably used to house samples for calibration of equipment. BF says he has not found a Geiger yet, but the phosphor CRT says no alpha or beta.

#191 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 11:36 AM:

I have MS Office 2007 and LibreOffice 4. The later can actually handle larger files than the former, at least as text/doc files.

#192 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 12:56 PM:

ma larkey @179: You get the Geek Award for the day! Having to check an estate-sale score for radioactivity is SO COOL. :-)

#193 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 04:53 PM:

#190 ::: ma larkey: Maybe try a scintillation counter or scintillometer instead of a Geiger counter? or if you have film and a darkroom lying around, you could use Becquerel's original discovery-of-radiation method with photographic materials.

Hmm, I bet you could also put a USB camera in there in a dark room and see if you get more noise on it than you do on a reference camera in the same room. Maybe in a polythene pig.

#194 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 07:38 PM:

ma larkey @179: I don't know what superpowers involve vanilla sugar, but there are probably far worse ones.

#195 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 08:24 PM:

HLN: Local woman woke in the middle of a restless night, looked at the clock, which read 4:04, and thought blearily "404, sleep not found". Then she went back to sleep.

#196 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 08:27 PM:

#192Thanks, Jacque, no one running for any awards, but the bf is certainly a valuable geek because his workplace has instrumentation! people who know these things(TM).
193: No need for the photography experiment, but that is an excellent idea.
194: Powers involving vanilla sugar? It does depend which witch you want.

BF certainly thought it was funny enough to announce to no one in particular--"the gf likes to bring home possibly radioactive stuff".
The idea of radioactivity sent me scurrying to all the regulatory websites, looking up waste disposal, ethics, etc. Overplanning just in case the thing turned out to be worthy of a bad movie, of course, determines that it won't rain when you bring the big umbrella. It worked: nothing on the Geiger counter, and the pig will be reborn in someone's bullet making project.

#197 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 09:22 PM:

I would just like to thank Æsklepios, Hygeia, and all of y'all who folded me all those cranes 5 years ago for the fact that I am officially CURED* of the cancer that gave me my second electronym.

No need for congratulations; I'm just thanking the higher powers (like a real COMMUNITY!) that have helped keep me going.

I do hope I never have to breathe through a tracheostomy tube again, ever. Today it just became dramatically less likely that I ever will!

*As of today's examination, I have passed five years without a recurrence. Still at higher risk then the general population, but now I go once a year for a checkup.

#198 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 09:52 PM:

Hurray, Xopher!

#199 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 11:00 PM:

Xopher@197: That's excellent news!

#200 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 11:03 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 195 ...
HLN: Local woman woke in the middle of a restless night, looked at the clock, which read 4:04, and thought blearily "404, sleep not found". Then she went back to sleep.

I believe that you owe me a box of screen wipes now... or your subconscious does...

#201 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2016, 11:13 PM:

WOnderful news, Xopher!

#202 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 12:09 AM:

Glad things worked out, Roy Ovrebo. Congratulations, Xopher!

HLN here: area man, 48, officially enters late middle age by being put on a daily prescription medication. "I had to stop giving blood because they couldn't get a diastolic reading below 100," he said. "I don't know why they won't take blood from people with hypertension: surely if anything it would help? But those are their rules." Sources say that the man's blood pressure reading today, after a week on lisinopril, was 140/96, which while still on the high side is a noticeable improvement over last month's readings, that were more like 150/100.

Area man is expected to check back with his doctor in a few weeks.

#203 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 02:13 AM:

@PJ Evans no. 191: I hope it can still save as a Word file too. I'll use Word if I have to, I guess, but I would rather not have to save every piece of school paperwork directly to the desktop because if I don't force it like that Word will "helpfully" diagnose the twelve grillion macros the IT department "helpfully" shoved into the document as an app, and "helpfully" save the thing in an app folder that I can't open because I'm just the silly little user and I might mess it up.

I have been known to describe Word, to school district personnel, as Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With.

#204 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 03:51 AM:

ma larkey: Glad to hear there was no cause for alarm. And good to see you posting again!

Mary Aileen, #195: That's been me of late. My sleep cycle is screwed all to hell and gone, I'm not sure why.

Xopher, #197: YAY!!!

David G., #202: Got you beat by one -- a diuretic/anti-hypertensive, and my estrogen-suppression med courtesy of the late breast lump. Also taking a daily Vitamin D/calcium pill by recommendation of the doctor, as (hopefully) a preventive against osteoporosis.

#205 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 04:37 AM:

I am on two kinds of injection, a pill and an inhaler, all multiple times daily, and am rather amused by the implication that this makes me middle-aged before I'm thirty.

I'm presently in the full swing of preparing for Nine Worlds convention, at which I am participating in three paired talks and one solo filk session. This is rather nerve-wracking, but in the good way. Cosplay has fallen by the wayside due to running short of blue thread with 24 buttonholes still required on the tunic and no way to obtain more thread in time; cosplay may yet happen next year as the outfit is almost made.
And I've just remembered I have nowhere to sleep on Thursday night. It's possible to get from my home to the convention hotel in time for my Friday morning panel, but requires an early start and for the buses to be on time. Travelling Thursday is safer, but I don't have a hotel until Friday - was expecting to sleep at my partner's and both go on the hotel Friday, but they have houseguests. Hm. Must get on and find a solution to that. Quickly.

Are other denizens of Making Light attanding Nine Worlds? I am not, despite proximity of subject, proposing to impose on your hotel room. I am wondering about a gathering.

#206 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 09:33 AM:

Xopher @197: That's really, really good news. Five years ago we folded those cranes? Wow. Where does the time go?

Mary Aileen @195: That's funny!

#207 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 09:43 AM:

Xopher @ 197:


Lee @ 204:

The calcium tablets that are the size of horse pills? Good luck.

#208 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 10:51 AM:

xeger (200): I'll send the bill to my subconscious...

Lee (204): It's not unusual for me to awaken briefly around then, but that was a bad night in general.

dcb (206): It amused me the next day when I was awake enough to think about it.

#209 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 11:08 AM:

If daily medication makes you middle-aged, then I've been middle-aged since puberty.

What is HLN? Google tells me it's a cable news channel, but that makes no sense in context...

#210 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 11:14 AM:

Seth @209: HLN == Hyperlocal news.

#211 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 11:16 AM:

I grew up with a younger kid down the street who had crippling arthritis and a friend with a hearing aid; most of the 'but it makes me old!' laments I've heard make little sense in that context. Plus knowing several people whose hairlines started backing up in high school. I guess some of the 'old' reads 'adult' to me instead.

#212 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 11:25 AM:

Seth (209)/Bruce H. (210): To expand on that, ML's hyperlocal news shtick started with this offhand comment and flowered from there (read down the thread a little).

#213 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 01:37 PM:

The company that brought you Soylent, the creepily-named meal-replacement beverage out of Silicon Valley, is now bringing you Coffiest, a coffee-based Soylent drink with added theanine to (supposedly) enhance the effects of the caffeine.

I'd not have taken note of this were it not for the fact that about three weeks ago I read The Space Merchants, by Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth, and behold:'s what makes this campaign great in my estimation - each sample of Coffiest contains three milligrams of a simple alkaloid. Nothing harmful. But definitely habit-forming. After ten weeks the customer is hooked for life. It would cost him at least five thousand dollars for a cure, so it's simpler for him to go right on drinking Coffiest - three cups with every meal and a pot beside his bed at night, just as it says on the jar.

I guess they figured taking a name from a creepy product in an old sci-fi story worked well before, so they may as well do it again.

#214 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 01:51 PM:

estelendur: One wonders how deliberately they are relying on knowing (or not knowing) the relevant genre referents...?

#215 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 02:25 PM:

The guy who owns the Soylent company is apparently a terrible neighbor. Built a shipping container shack, invoking the "eco" label supposedly, and then abandoned it and now it's a blight on his neighborhood.

Now if only someone would invent something tasteful, like Lembas.

#216 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 02:39 PM:

ma larkey @215:

There used to be a "Lembas Bakery" a few miles from me. (It's since either been replaced by or renamed itself as the far more prosaic "Harina Bakery".) I remarked at the time that while multilingual store names and signs aren't at all unusual around here, this was the first one I'd seen including Elvish in the mix.

#217 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 03:29 PM:

I have occasionally considered creating a box supposedly from Keebler lembas. Baked by Elves! Nutritional content: per serving (1 cake), 100% of RDA for everything. Ingredients: dust, ashes, Elvish magic.

Xopher @197: congratulations!

At the last filk con I went to, one of the performers did a song: "F*ck Cancer". It's a sentiment I can get behind, notwithstanding my aversion to profanity; I've lost a couple of friends to cancer, one just a few months ago. But the song got fairly graphic: "F*ck it hard! F*ck it in the ass! F*ck it over and over!" Which to me was getting away from the metaphorical and into the rape-y.

The next day, I encountered the performer and chatted with her about the song. She disagreed with my assessment: "But some people like anal sex." Which I thought was rather missing the point; if one were to interpret it that way, then her song would be positive towards cancer.

I'm still rather conflicted about it.

#218 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 03:53 PM:

Excellent news, Xopher!

#219 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 04:57 PM:


Lovely news!

#220 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 06:30 PM:

Xopher #197: Great news!

ma larkey #196: Whew! As I'm sure you know by now, medical radioactives getting into landfills is an actual issue, and a garage sale would be in the same vein.

Jenny Islander #189: Heh. In fact, OpenOffice's compatibility isn't perfect, because Microsoft is actively interfering with outside compatibility. You will certainly get the text from the original message, but formatting might be a bit wonky. Macros and such might be perserved, but I doubt they'll actually work on your system -- if only because OpenOffice insists on more security than Microsoft.

Seth #209: If daily medication makes you middle-aged, then I've been middle-aged since puberty.

While I apparently went from middle age into adolescence (Ritalin et al). But then there's my hearing aids, from 4th grade on... and then back (?) to middle-age in college (antidepressants). Also, my hairline started receding at 16.

#221 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 06:32 PM:


The Lembas box sounds excellent. Maybe it could be done as a shirt in some form? (Quite possibly has profit potential there. maybe.)

Yeah, English use of sexual metaphor is deeply strange, perhaps also deeply stupid, certainly extremely inconsistent. And no doubt is reflecting extremely weird social beliefs.

#222 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 06:38 PM:

Joel Polowin @217:

This is why I have stopped using that construction, about cancer or anything else. It feels like rape culture to me, and I'm not comfortable with it.

Obviously, other people are free to say what they want to, and I agree with the underlying sentiment entirely. It's not something I make an issue of, particularly when people are in the midst of grief, fear, anger, or triumph.

But I, personally, don't use it.

#223 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 07:11 PM:

As I understand it, LibreOffice is the current most-up-to-date descendant of OpenOffice. I've saved files in it in both doc and docx formats, without problems when opening them later in Word.

#224 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 07:21 PM:

Mary Aileen @212:

Thank you for the extended answer. I had no idea HLN was an actual journalistic thing. I thought it was a home grown fluorospherian trope.

Apparently it didn't work for the Phoenix. Their web site says they published their final issue on March 14, 2013.

#225 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 07:45 PM:

Joel Polowin #217, abi #222 :

On a similar note, I've wondered if "Go fuck yourself", given that most people afaik enjoy masturbation, generally means "go have a fantastic time".

It's sort of the opposite of a very sarcastic "have a great day!"

#226 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 09:45 PM:

Thank you, everyone!

Joel 217: The next day, I encountered the performer and chatted with her about the song. She disagreed with my assessment: "But some people like anal sex." Which I thought was rather missing the point; if one were to interpret it that way, then her song would be positive towards cancer.

Well, yes. It's rapey, homophobic, or both. It can't be both anti-cancer and NOT anti-anal sex.

abi 222: You're right about this, and I've tried. But I haven't yet found something to say that avoids the problem and yet has anywhere CLOSE to the impact, even "Death to cancer," which is as close as I've come.

Cancer treatment, among cancer patients, is not regarded highly either. The phrase 'cut, poison, and burn' is used a lot, in reference to surgery, chemo, and radiation respectively. So for example "burn cancer" isn't what we want to say.

Em 225: Hmm. I'll just say that self-fucking and masturbation...well, the former is a proper subset of the latter, and leave it at that. Best response I've heard to that was "Don't think I haven't tried!"

#227 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 10:06 PM:

How about "No more cancer!"?

#228 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 11:30 PM:

I'm tempted to write a batch of lyrics like 'fuck cancer, I hope it steps on a lego and gets the hiccups and its muffler falls off right before a long trip, I hope a mosquito bites its foot and its shoes don't fit, la la la' or something.

#229 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 11:47 PM:

I hope it drops its transmission in the middle of an intersection, and the cops find out it has a stolen sticker and is two years overdue on the registration.

#230 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 12:05 AM:

May it drive over an unseen pothole and hear a massive "THUNK BOINNNNNNG" as its shock absorbers snap clean in two.

#231 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 12:25 AM:

Belated congratulations to Xopher!

Re "Fuck Cancer," yeah, "Let's Vengefully Rape Cancer in a Homophobic Way" is not exactly... yeah. I was actually mulling this over in the car today and came up with something a lot more...shouty?...than I usually make. Certainly more foul-mouthed. I just have a fragment or two. Something like this:

wham wham wham wham
mouth pretty much directly on microphone
enormous dissonant thunderous chord

#232 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 12:42 AM:

Push cancer down the stairs.

Seriously: An old college friend, who lost his 5 yr old son to leukemia about ten years back, and whose wife is in remission from lymphoma, let us know his teen daughter has cancer again. Note quite yearly for the last five years. Guts, kidney, brain . . . colon this time. It is a genetic thing, and it likely won't stop. Until . . . well.

Seriously. Right down the stairs. Long stairs.

#233 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 01:13 AM:

Or an escalator.

Push cancer down an up escalator.

#234 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 08:08 AM:

Mary Aileen #212, Bruce H. #224: Actually, I always thought it originated with the Onion. But I can certainly believe they would pick up an existing buzzword and mock it unmercifully.

#235 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 10:12 AM:

Xopher #197 & #226

I'll add to the congratulations and happy "WoooHooo!"s.

One of my sisters, Belle, is currently going through her something-odd set of chemo treatments, (if it doesn't work, it's her last one ever). At one point, she said, "I'm going to take off my big girl panties and put on my steel toed boots so I can kick this cancer in the ass."

Since she was maxed out on pain killers and still feeling pain, I felt the need to clarify. "So with the panties off and the boots on, does that mean you'll kick it in the ass first and then piss on it?"

"Yes, I am." Was her reply.

Since her oncologist decided that the tumor might be cancer B and not cancer A -- her original diagnosis from 4 years ago (long, LONG story) -- the treatments seem to be working again. Knock wood.

#236 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 12:30 PM:

"The Butterfly Effect election" Did George VI's speech therapist give us Trump? tl;dr (or firewall avoidance): Lionel Logue fixed the severe stutter of Rupert Murdoch's father; without this there would have been no empire of press viciousness, without which Trump would be just another loudmouthed clown businessman instead of tapping a vein of cultured idiocy.
      I'm not sure I believe this; ISTM that there's always room for Teh Stupid (see, e.g., Barnum's Dictum). But one can dream....

Dave Bell @ 169: Note that most wheatlands in North America are former grasslands that never got enough rain to support taller growth -- which probably also means they were poorer soil to begin with. (The bison chips probably wash off the hardpan into the rivers instead of improving the soil.)

Mary Aileen @ 195: grumble people who can be witty in their sleep grumble grumble (says the man who \has/ to get up at least once, or be forced awake too early to be satisfied and too late to get back to sleep)....

Xopher @ 197: many cheers. In the past few years I've lost one good friend to cancer and seen a few declared survivors (and am watching a friend's child go through it); chalking up another on the right side of the board is always good.

David Goldfarb @ 202: giving blood is to help someone else; since the donor center can't know whether the hypertension relates to something in the blood, their reluctance is understandable.

Jenny Islander @ 203: do any of them get it?

Bruce H @ 224: the Phoenix went further and further to the edge; I suspect that it became unviable because too many people thought of it as their parents' "underground" paper (or grandparents; it was going strong when I came here 45 years ago). Being a huge nominally-free paper probably didn't help.

#237 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 01:11 PM:

Are there words or formulations for talking about the sensation you get when good things happen, far more quickly than expected, but there is also a dissonant or awkward or creepy edge to the stuff that is Good?

The only one I can think of is Miles Vorkosigan's "vertigo at apogee," which to me implies an immediately following fall. Not appropriate here.

This relates to some ongoing, long-sought, vertiginously-sudden medical things I've been going through (details available if not TMI, and/or if they'd help find a coinage. I can rot13).

#238 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 01:34 PM:

Elliot @237:

Something like "Every silver lining has its cloud"? Or maybe waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Both of those imply that there's a hidden bad side to the good thing, which might not be exactly what you mean.

I'm also picturing the Far Side chicken soup cartoon: one chicken is in bed, being served a bowl of something by another chicken. "Number one, chicken soup is good for the flu; and number two, it's nobody we know".

For that, I'm thinking "good news/bad news", but that may not be quite right, either.

#239 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 01:47 PM:

Elliott Mason @237: The image in my head is at right angles to Miles': you've been pushing at something that's been stubbornly reluctant to move, and all of a sudden something gives way, and the obstacle slides forward much faster than you'd expected, and you're now at risk of falling on your face. I can't think of a succinct phrase for that, but maybe the image could help someone else come up with one.

#240 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 02:04 PM:

CHip @ 236

Do not mistake the height of grass cultivars for lack of rainfall. Image 38 of 42 shows tall grass in a dry year. Image searches focus primarily on panoramas and not "person next to grass tussock". In a normal year, it grows over six feet in height. Buffalo grass, which is also found on tall grass prairies only grows about 1 inch in height. The biology is very diverse as well. Bison dung doesn't get washed away very much. Assorted insects carry it off first, stashing it underground.

Taller, woody plants don't grow on the prairie because of poor soil, it's because of fire, both natural (set by lightening strikes) and managed (set by man). There's a lot of biodiversity, you just can't see it driving 75 miles an hour on the road. You have to go on foot and pay attention, because 99.9% the fauna tends to be small.

#241 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 02:26 PM:

AKiCiML: what factors should be taken into account when choosing an electric razor nowadays? Which features are marketing nonsense, and which others warrant the price, or are particularly useful?

I know zilch about the tech (except that some have a triangle of circles and others have sort of a long edge at the business end). User of said device does not have thick or wiry, coarse growth to be mown, if that matters. Also not necessarily seeking a baby-butt smoothness (that's what blade razors and brushed soap foam are for).

#242 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 02:42 PM:

If your buffalo grass is Buchloe dactyloides, it can get as much as four or five inches high, with lots of water. It's not going to get taller than that, though - it's a short prairie grass. (I like it - it's pretty and very tough.)

#243 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 03:34 PM:

Elliott @241

When looking at razors with rechargable batteries, some of them will only run off the battery & not off of wall current, which can be inconvenient if the battery runs out before you're done. If you leave the razor plugged in all the time, that's not likely to be an issue, but I've always tried to find razors that would run off either battery or wall current, just in case.

As for the straight vs circular cutters, I've never used one of the circular ones. I've always been pretty satisfied with the straight line ones.

Some of Braun's razors have a self-cleaning feature that uses a container of cleaning fluid that has to be periodically replaced. I have one of those now & don't think it's worth the money. It doesn't do a better job of cleaning the razor than I would do myself, and the fluid evaporates after a couple months regardless of how frequently you use the cleaning feature.

#244 ::: Sten Thaning ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 03:54 PM:

Elliot @237: Is it closed to what TV Tropes refers to as "Blessed with suck"?

#245 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 05:02 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #241:

Take this advice with a few pinches of salt, I haven't used an electric shaver for 20+ years, but I used to use them...

The "triangle of circles" will cut about as well no matter what the direction you're pulling it across your face. The "long row" tends to cut better in two specific "movement directions", with fairly narrow constraints on angles.

There are "wall-plug only", "batteries only" and "rechargeable", the last will usually happily allow use while charging and is what I tended to go for.

Some will advertise some lifting attachment, they tend to (from memory) give a smoother shave, but ended up with me feeling as if my face was burning. That may be a lack of habituation.

No matter what design you go for, you will need to, occasionally, open up the shaver head and clean out the hair caught there.

Depending on actual growth rate, electric may be enough for "one a day" or may end up being "a few times a day" (this also depends on the hair colour and a few other factors, as far as "how noticeable"). Razors (even disposable) tend to give you slightly longer remit, in my experience.

#246 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 06:34 PM:

re 241: I've used Norelcos back from when I first started to shave, and in my opinion the cheapest one that will run while charging is perfectly acceptable; if you don't mind being tethered to the wall the cord-only kind tend to be a bit gutsier. The Norelcos are all dual voltage, if that matters. The other thing that people haven't mentioned thus far is that the blades do wear out and need to be replaced.

#247 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 06:40 PM:

I've personally found shaving with normal safety razors in the shower is much more convenient that using even an electric razor: and indeed, electric razors do not shave as close. And hair conditioner is a much cheaper alternative than shaving foam (brush and soap is even cheaper).

#248 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 06:43 PM:

On cancer- a recent Cancer Research UK advert showed a city of blobby cell like beings, busy going about their daily business, apparently being hit by asteroids from orbit and other nasty things. It then pulled out to show a grinning scientist squirting anti-cancer stuff on cells in a petri dish. I don't think you can get much more anti-cancer than that.

Unfortunately I can't find it online.

#249 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 07:35 PM:

Answer to my own candy question: Appears to be Wonka Exceptionals Domed Chocolate Bar. Still can't be had at the local candy shop, but they were able to find it basically immediately, and I'm not sure how. Magic, I guess. They haven't steered me very wrong, anyway; the non-vegan non-gluten-free Turkish delight I got for the Wiscon SH Tea Party was an understandable error, and I caught it.

#250 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 08:42 PM:

This March on Cancer promo?

#251 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 09:41 PM:

Jenny 231: Yeah! That's more like it. Still has the 'fuck' problem, but it goes with heavy-metal thrashing.

#252 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 06:28 AM:

Would there be any interest in having a Gathering of Light at NineWorlds? I'll be checking this thread intermittently during (at least) Thursday (today) 11th and Friday 12th and if there's any takers, I'll try to arrange something, if nothing else "find a recognisable somewhere, and a time, see who turns up".

#253 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 06:52 AM:

Elliott Mason #241 : Also not necessarily seeking a baby-butt smoothness (that's what blade razors and brushed soap foam are for).

One thing about that -- whichever you're using of electric or blade, you'll acclimatize to that. Switching either way will be less effective and probably slightly painful for a few days.

what factors should be taken into account when choosing an electric razor nowadays? Which features are marketing nonsense, and which others warrant the price, or are particularly useful?

As far as I'm concerned, electric razors have become commodity appliances. You probably want to stick to one of the big names such as Phillips/Norelco; a fast test is whether you can get the replacement blades and/or "heads" at your local Kmart/drugstore/etc. After that, as others have noted, pick your blade type, and the power characteristics. My Phillips 7380XL has the triple circle blades. Once charged up, it lasts for a couple of weeks (note: I am shaving around a fairly extensive beard). It's normally used cordless, and if it runs out, it only takes a few minutes of charging before it can finish the current shave.

In other news, I seem to have come down with something -- chills (last night I had 99.9 temp), and gut/lower back cramps. I worked Tuesday, but spent most of yesterday napping, and also the night -- woke up a few times, but still managed to spend most of the night sleeping. I just sent off an E-mail to my doctor, and am likely to call in sick at the bookstore today. (Fortunately I left my boss in good shape Tuesday.)

#254 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 07:59 AM:

Ingvar #252: I'm very interested. I am presenting several things Friday and early Saturday, but please don't feel obliged to work around my commitments - organise as you see fit and I'll come if I can.

#255 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 08:01 AM:

Ingvar #252: I'm very interested. I am presenting several things Friday and early Saturday, but please don't feel obliged to work around my commitments - organise as you see fit and I'll come if I can.

(double-posting because of the Dreaded Server Error)

#256 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 09:16 AM:

I think it puts us in a bind when we look for an emphatic, viscerally appealing metaphor for defeating a deadly opponent, but for certain reasons are excluding anything we wouldn't do or willingly see done to a friend. That knocks out a lot.

What are we actually doing when we defeat cancer? Are we burning the invader? Poisoning it? Starving it? I know we sometimes amputate it, bombard it with radiation. Perhaps there is something in the range of things we specifically do to it (victoriously!) that would work here. Do folks with more pertinent experience than mine have any notions along these lines?

(Do we do that? How lucky I must be not to know that, at my age.)

#257 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 10:19 AM:

Kip W (256):

How about this?


Personally, I'd like to avoid things we actually do to (try to) defeat it; Xopher noted above that that's the problem with "Burn cancer". We want something nasty and emphatic, evocative of our extreme hatred, without being too literal. It's a tough problem.

#258 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 10:23 AM:

Somehow, "shun cancer" doesn't quite have the right ring to it... <wry>

#259 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 10:29 AM:

Mary Aileen @ #257:

duckbunny @ #254-#255:

I shall have a chat with Ops and see what can be done, in terms of borrowing a room. Otherwise, I will pick a spot and a time, probably on Saturday afternoon.

#260 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 10:50 AM:

How about a verb which refers to one particularly over-the-top way to get rid of something, is inapplicable to actual cancer treatment, and can't be confused with something pleasurable?

Defenestrate Cancer!

#261 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 10:56 AM:

And, altogether too aptly, the actor who played Admiral Ross during the Dominion War arc on DS9 has died following a battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Dammit, 2016!

#262 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 11:50 AM:

I am using a Panasonic shaver and really like it. I used to use a Braun. I switched because my old shaver had worn out and when I went to the store all the Brauns were high-end models with features I didn't want. Considering that I drive a Japanese car and have a Japanese camera, I thought okay, let's see how Japanese engineering works for shavers. Turns out to be pretty good. I like Panasonic's approach for cleaning the shaver - squirt some liquid hand soap on it and run it under the tap. No special cleaning fluid required. A charge is good for a week so I can take the shaver on short trips without the cord. It has a few flaws. It won't run while plugged in (but it charges fast). And the charge level indicator is illuminated only when the shaver is on. If I were designing the shaver I might make the same compromises, but they're definitely compromises.

#263 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 12:41 PM:

Anyone else having trouble seeing comments on

#264 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 01:26 PM:

Good news, Xopher; I'm glad to hear it.

"Exterminate cancer"? The inside of a Dalek does look like some sort of terrifying repulsive mutation.

#265 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 01:54 PM:

Weird fact of the day: there were two defenestrations of Prague.

#266 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 01:55 PM:

IIRC, someone here was talking within the last couple of years about their youngling getting into fan-vidding and being quite good at it. I would like to commission a vid; contact information for that person or anyone else with that skill would be welcome. Send info to fgneqernzre@zvaqfcevat.pbz.

#267 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 02:07 PM:

Kip W @ 256: but for certain reasons are excluding anything we wouldn't do or willingly see done to a friend

I think it's more about things we think are, ethically, inappropriate to do or see done even to an enemy.

#268 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 02:44 PM:

Lee @266: I did some work with Melissa Singer's daughter. Would you like me to pass your email along to her?

#269 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 03:46 PM:

me @ #259:
duckbunny @ #255:

No rooms, I'm afraid, Meet at the hotel bar, 16:30, Saturday 13th? I'll wear a green vest-like thing and a lanyard with a badge on. If I can source some paper, I'll write "GoL" on it and have it visible.

#270 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 03:53 PM:

Speaking of Gatherings of Light, are we planning anything of the sort for Worldcon next week*? The Tor party was mentioned, but nothing else that I've seen.

*Next week already?! Ack! How did that happen?!

#271 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 05:55 PM:

Soon Lee #250 - yes, that's the one. I can see lots of imagery and tropes from films too, I think usually horror films.

#272 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 06:41 PM:

#256 ::: Kip W

Like you I have so far been lucky enough to eschew cancer, so have been reluctant to offer thoughts.

From my fortunate perspective, it looks like cancer is not an invader, it's an insurrection.. When you develop cancer, you can burn cancer and slice and hack cancer and poison the living shit out of cancer, but not without doing the same thing to yourself.

I'm not really confident that I know what I am talking about. I hope I haven't offended any folks currently being treated for cancer or who have survived cancer. And if that's part of your life story, I defer to whatever preferences you have for calling cancer names or imagining ways for a personified version of your cancer or cancer in general to be killed gruesomely. "F Cancer" seems a little rape-y to me.

Oh, and Xopher, thank you for sharing your health update. I'm glad to know you have that set of contingencies off your mind.

#273 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 08:51 PM:

Thanks again, everyone. Knowing that this community was pulling for me was a comfort in harsh times.

Buddha 260: As Judy Harrow would have said, "Defenestration's too good for it! Throw it out the window!"

#274 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 09:12 PM:


I remember a story I read in Analog in summer '78 (I think) where there was a landlord named Sam with a cockroach problem. At his wit's end, he answered an ad in the back of a magazine and got little electronic cars to chase the cockroaches. However, eventually the cars chase him down and kill him, having been rewired by smart cockroaches. The punch line was "the cars were no longer working for Sam."

Does anyone know who wrote the story or what the title was?

#275 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 12:33 AM:

HelenS @263: It's been a frequent ongoing issue for me that I get to the end of a article and find one line saying how many comments there are but none of the comments actually rendered on the page. What works sometimes is to click on the link saying "skip to newest" and then refresh the page -- if I do that enough times, I can nearly always get the comments to load eventually. Sometimes I just give up on it before it works, though.

#276 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 12:49 AM:

Re: F… Cancer:

How about switching to a different profanity? "Cancer be damned!"

#277 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 01:35 AM:

The Tor comments are back for me, for no discernible reason. But yeah, same symptoms you described, David, except I've never gotten the skip-to-newest link to work, either.

#278 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 02:44 AM:

Forgot to follow up here, but yesterday the hotel people got back to us, and they have found replacement rooms for us, so yay! And it seems to be even closer to the conference center than our original reservation. (We'd had a reservation at the Residence Inn, which was supposed to be done building and ready to stay in back in April, and is still not done yet. I think the person my wife was working with was from the Marriott chain, as opposed to Passkey or the con.)

#279 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 04:29 AM:

Carol @ 265: And possibly more, depending on what you consider to be a "Defenestration of Prague". A lot of people consider the death of Jan Masaryk in 1948 to be the Third Defenestration, for instance.

#280 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 11:16 AM:

Some cancer treatments target something very specific on the cancer cell, not on most other host cells. Maybe "assassinate cancer" would catch the sense of this.

There's also immunotherapy, which I guess would be described by "reject cancer."

And oncolytic viruses (viruses that don't hurt host cells, but kill cancer cells), you could describe with "infect cancer."

#281 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 11:42 AM:

albatross @280: The metaphor even works, because some therapies are commando teams that get in, get out, and do the job, while others are more like campaigns of IED bombing, hitting a lot of collateral areas and not always getting all of the target.

We're currently working on sneaky shit that parallels "slip something past the food taster" -- treatments that will selectively affect just the blood vessels forced to hypertrophy by the cancerous region, and so on.

#282 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 12:27 PM:

How I know I have white privilege: Yesterday I was in a (fairly minor*) car accident and didn't have to worry about being shot by the police officer who responded.

*Someone opened a car door right in front of me, and I was not able to swerve far enough out of the way. My passenger-side mirror was destroyed and there's a deep scratch in the side of my car. Time, money, and hassle, but no injuries to either party.

#283 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 02:07 PM:


Is there a particular URL that is best for demonstrating Making Light's compulsive poetry pastiching to outsiders?

#284 ::: terezarex ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 02:29 PM:

greetings... first time poster (long time semi-regular lurker), and first time worldcon attendee here, and i have a heap of worldcon questions and am uncertain where to get answers. here perhaps?

(possibly helpful background info is that i am going alone, know no other fans, and am not part of any online fandoms or groups.)

sample: what's the difference between a kaffeeklatsch and a literary beer? (they sound like the same thing with different names.) do i need to be there at the very beginning of sign up time to have even a chance of getting in on the fun? *are* they fun?

if this is an appropriate place to ask, i will happily ask more. if not, i would love suggestions of where better to go for answers.

thank you!

#285 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 03:40 PM:

shadowsong @ 283

My favorite is Composing the Rejected Canon, which is based on hymns.

For sheer awesome, though, it's hard to beat The soft and unmistakable sound of a gauntlet landing on the dusty ground.

#286 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 04:47 PM:

Terezarex, the difference between a klatsch and a beer is basically the drinks served. I've enjoyed that kind of get-together quite a bit; I am social and have been to both SRO klatsches (people just kept adding lines to the signup) and ones where I knew one person, vaguely, but the conversation was good.

Also, several of us will be there, at least. If you're a writer (particularly if you're a young writer) I'm doing a few programming things involving short story markets (okay, I'm doing them even if you aren't a writer, but you know what I mean, grammar). I'm happy to talk with just about anyone, really.

#287 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 04:59 PM:

#284 ::: terezarex

At the literary beer, drink only from the Chalice with the Palace. At the kaffeeklatsch the Vessel with the Pestle has the Brew that is True.

#288 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 05:00 PM:

terezarex @284: The single most useful thing anyone ever told me about Worldcon was something I think of as the Worldcon Affirmations:

If I am enjoying what I am doing right now, it doesn't matter how many other things I would like are going on simultaneously. Do not beat yourself up over which of five amazing things you finally choose to do, or the sheer volume of things you "missed out on".

Conversely, if I am NOT enjoying something I am doing right now, glance at the program and go do something else. There's no reason to stick it out for half an hour of boredom or annoyance when there ARE four other things you could be perfectly content doing.

Relatedly, mark up your program. Go through it in detail and annotate in some way that makes sense to you your first choice(s) (ties are inevitable in some slots, for me), second, etc. I use multiple colors of highlighter on the paper version, but other methods work for other people. That way if I suddenly realize I could be going to programming, I can flip to the right time, scan quickly, and say to myself, "Oh! THAT thing! I could go to that thing now, it looked fun."

Don't be afraid to get into conversations. Bring cards, if you have them; otherwise bring a pad or index cards to write your contact info on so you can reconnect with people you meet over single subjects at the con. You could also (I have) run a notebook all weekend and write down people (WITH why you were interested -- I never remember the details afterwards), books recommended and why, thoughts sparked by panels, etc. Then you can go over it in the evening or weeks later and relive the con, follow up, and generally maximize enjoyment.

If you can, walk the whole convention space before you're trying ot get anywhere in a hurry. Consult the map. Mark up the map, if needed. Get comfortable with the layout, where the food, water, and bathrooms are, etc. You're not going to want to have to figure that out on the fly in a ten minute passing period between panels.

Scope out offsite eating options in your price range in free time before you get enmeshed in the con, so when it hits lunch break and there's a thing you've GOT to get to at 1:30, you've already made some decisions about where to try and how to get there.

Eat food. Preferably containing food groups. I find that eating at least one hot, cooked meal containing significant vegetables each day greatly prolongs my ability to stay up all night and socialize without being a zombie in the morning. If there are things that work well for you, do them. If you have food items you can bring along to keep in the room (munch cereal, boiled eggs, etc) or buy nearby and bring back to the room, that can really help.

Take breaks. Really. If you have had too-many-people, go back to your room or find a reading nook (or whatever recharges you). Pushing through it and making yourself miserable saves no fun at all, even if the thing you're "missing" is very exciting.

If you see terms in the program book you don't understand, google them. I was four years into congoing before anyone told me "F I L K" means "they have guitars and they stay up all night". Most Worldcon program books try to explain stuff, but google the jargon to be sure.

The "fan lounge" is primarily a socialization space for people who write zines. They claim it's for All Fans, but in my experience it can be really alienating if you're not already inside the culture.

#289 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 05:02 PM:

Oh, one more: if you take pictures of people you particularly enjoyed hanging out with, INCLUDE THE BADGE IN THE SHOT. Seriously. It's a beautiful little in-image caption. :->

And write your email on your badge if you want to help people reconnect post-con.

#290 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 05:29 PM:

Let me just emphasize something Elliott mentioned above.


At my first Worldcon, I saw someone go into a petit-mal seizure. Some of us stayed with her while others ran for Security to get help. Turns out that she'd not eaten anything but a few handfuls of snacks from the consuite for two full days, exacerbated by having gotten next-to-no sleep. She woke from her seizure protesting that she didn't have epilepsy; why were we asking her about seizures....

(I'd never seen anyone literally foam at the mouth before. Scary. But a good object lesson. EAT REAL FOOD.)

#291 ::: terezarex ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 05:34 PM:

#286 Diatryma - thank you! my thinking = vindicated! i would like to meet you, and am planning to go to at least a few story writing related panels (though i am by no means young anymore). if you see me wandering around in a daze please do introduce yourself...

in a related vein, has a ML meetup (sorry i forget the jargon for it at the moment) been arranged? or is there some other way i can recognize folks who hang out here (who generally seem to be a good sort)?

#287 Bob Webber - i shall most earnestly endeavor to do so.

#288/9 Elliott Mason - thank you! so much good information! and a follow-up question: is the fan lounge different from the consuite? i appreciate the (for me, others' MMV) warning re: the lounge.

i especially giggled at the suggestion to google unknown terms, as woobie/woobify (is that right? please don't hurt me if not) was utterly new to me and google is indeed what i did.

i am perhaps further hampered in my quest to enjoy worldcon by watching no tv and very few movies. i do, however, do this silly thing called reading, and i do it quite a bit.

thanks for helpful replies. i look forward to meeting at least some of you soon!

#292 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 05:35 PM:

SamChevre @285: Perfect! The gauntlet has been thrown shared.

#293 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 05:41 PM:

terezarex @284 - There is much good advice here. I don't know if there has been a more recent thread along those lines..?

#294 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 05:42 PM:

Re: real food at conventions

I always bring "emergency crackers" and share them liberally. They're those snack packs of peanut butter crackers - sugar in everything gives you instant energy, carbs in the crackers give you medium-term, protein in the peanut butter gives you long term.

I stop being able to make decisions when I'm really hungry, so I just eat a pack of crackers and then I can make a decision about eating an actual meal. You could probably subsist on them all weekend if you had at least a dozen packs and spaced them out right, although I wouldn't recommend it.

#295 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 05:59 PM:

Seconding Joel's recommendation @293 and highlighting this: "Remember to eat at least two meals and get five hours of sleep within any twenty-four-hour period. Spend at least half an hour each day outside the hotel, doing something that has nothing to do with the convention."

PLUS: At least one shower per 24-hour period!

And have fun! - Whatever YOUR idea of fun is. There's a wide variety of possible types of fun available.

If you do sign up for a kaffeeklatsch (you can drink tea rather than coffee if you prefer) or a literary beer, double-check venue and try to turn up a little early - I booked for one at my first Worldcon, arrived a minute or two late and nobody was there: the author had moved the whole thing outside because it was lovely weather. I found it with about 15 minutes left. :-(

#296 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 08:40 PM:

HLN: Local woman has first publication of something she's written in a physical print medium. It is a warning label and blurb on a video game box. It is not Great Literature, and does not have her name on it, but she wrote it, was paid to do so, and it is a Real Thing, so she's taking the win.

Worldcon advice: wear shoes you can walk for miles in, if you're going to be walking and not using a mobility device that doesn't require you to use your feet (there's probably equipment for those, too, but I don't know it). It is true that Whatever You Want To Do Next will be three floors up and the opposite end of the convention location from What You Are Doing Now. Sore feet suck.

#297 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 08:46 PM:

Seconding Cassy B. @ 290 ! With the additional advice that you ought to bring extra of whatever meds you need. I was friends with the security team for a local con, and we always had at least one seizure every year. Usually it was some kid who had arrived without a sufficient supply of medicine, or hadn't taken their medicine, and/or hadn't brought enough money for real food.

I like the "at least one shower" rule -- it's great in theory -- but I can't shake the memory of a time a volunteer was sent to my desk with an incredible funk. I told him that I had plenty of staff right then, so he could go up to his room and take a quick shower.

His response? "But I already took one." @_@

One of my other volunteers promised to work night shift so I could go to bed, if and only if I made that guy go away and never come back.

#298 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 09:41 PM:

terezarex, #284: Welcome to the ranks of posters! In addition to all the excellent advice you've already received, I will add:

- Yes, the consuite and the fan lounge are two different things. The consuite (or hospitality suite) is one of the amenities of the convention, available to anyone who has a badge. It has free snacks and drinks, and places to sit down if you need to get off your feet for a few minutes. The fan lounge is, as Elliott said, primarily for people who are involved in fanzine fandom, and some cons have in fact taken to labeling it the "fanzine lounge" instead. (The traditional usage dates from the days when pretty much all SF fans participated in fanzines because that was all we had outside of the physical conventions.)

- WRT shoes, bring more than one pair! You'll want sturdy, comfortable walking shoes during the day, but in the evenings give your feet a chance to relax by wearing something lighter. I use surfer flops (the kind with rubber soles but fabric straps) for this purpose.

- The convention center will certainly have a concession stand, which is another option for food. Prices at these vary widely from one venue to another -- some are quite reasonable, others downright rapacious -- so go scope it out early on and decide whether it's an option for you, because it's going to be the closest source of real food during the day.

- If you have a smartphone, the convention has a schedule app for it; downloading directions for the app are on the main con website. I discovered that, after having picked out all the things I was interested in on my desktop, I couldn't download from there directly to the smartphone (maybe there was a way, but if so I didn't see it), but at least that allowed me to re-enter everything onto my phone much faster.

- If you have fannish T-shirts, the con is a great place to wear them; you'll attract people who share whatever interest is on the shirt. If you don't have any and you'd like some, they'll be on sale in the dealer room. :-)

- Do make time to go thru the Art Show. You'll see Fabulous Stuff that makes you wish you had lots more money!

- If you don't have business cards of your own, you can buy a pack of blanks, 10 cards to a sheet, at any office supply store and just print out a bunch at home. They don't have to be fancy if you're just going to use them to exchange contact info with other people.

- Last but not least, please do drop by my dealer table (Starcat Designs) and say hi -- I'd love to meet you. I'll be on one end of Table H in the dealer room, and there will be a sign.

#299 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 09:56 PM:

Oh, one other thing I forgot: if you do any sort of small, portable craft that fits into a tote-bag, bring it along. When you want to get off your feet for a while, take it out and work on it. This will attract people who either want to know what you're doing, or do the same kind of thing and want to geek out about it with you. It's also not uncommon to find that a particular corner of the consuite, or a table in the concession-stand area, or the back of one of the filk rooms has been taken over by crafters.

#300 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 11:22 PM:

terezarex @284: Welcome to posting status, and welcome to convention-going!

There are 15 program items running at 1pm Wednesday afternoon (that's 4 hours before Opening Ceremonies). There are pluses and minuses to this much "stuff", but one thing it does well and good is it makes it instantly obvious that you will not get to everything! Pretty much regardless of your level of insane desire and denial, you just won't. So that simplifies things in some ways :-) .

People who choose to go to things like this mostly like to meet people they've interacted with online, so mostly we like it if you say "Hi, I think I may know you from Making Light?" or similar. (Usual social attention needed to make sure they aren't deeply buried in a private conversation at the time, etc.)

People do tend to use multiple names, so the name you know may not match the badge you see, though. You can do something about that yourself—if your convention badge won't show a name we'll recognize from here, you might consider finding another way to display names you want people to recognize you by. Anything from writing in Sharpie on the con badge, to getting an artist to make a fancy and beautiful badge that you'll keep and wear for years. (Of course, for people who use different names different places, wearing all those names at once then connects them for people who want to keep track, which may not be what you want; ya pays ya money and ya takes ya choice, I guess.)

People talk about food, but also, WATER! Hotel and convention center air tends to be very dry, and talking to people all day exacerbates that. Stay hydrated (looks like Tor is sponsoring the water service, since it was too expensive for the convention to afford; yikes).

Convention-attending style varies wildly, but many of us are in severe danger of wearing ourselves down to the point of collapsing and getting sick; hence all this well-intended advice about basic self-care. Many of us started quite young, and didn't have to worry (so much) about those things, and have known lots of people who have messed themselves up ignoring them. So we warn people, especially new people, a lot. For example, at the first MidAmeriCon 40 years ago I went to bed about 7 one morning, and then got up at 8:15 in time to shower and get to the Heinlein autographing. And that wasn't the first night of the convention. These may not be the warnings you most need, but we've seen many people suffer from not taking them to heart.

I'll be around somewhere, always happy to meet online acquaintances in person. And my badge will have my full name or "dd-b", so I'm easy.

#301 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 11:47 PM:

DD-B @300: Tor is sponsoring water service for the panels, which is different from water service in the convention center. There may or may not be water available. Terezarex @various, I'm seconding DD-B's comment about water. Hotels and convention centers are notorious for having very low humidity, which evaporates water out of you.

Most of the advice here has been really good, and all of it has worked for some people: you get to figure out exactly what works for you. One thing that hasn't been said: Open parties are just that. Open parties. Go to them. They're a chance to meet people and chat. If you see a party that relates to something you've read, go. If you're interested in where the worldcon might be in the future, go to the bid parties and talk with the people running them.

I also recommend volunteering for a few hours: the con should have a volunteer desk, and they're not always good at figuring out how to use people well. But you may find yourself doing something really fun: possibly helping with the masquerade, or the art show, or whatever. I've been going to Worldcons for a very long time, and I've always enjoyed working on them -- I'd rather work than attend, which is one of my particular kinks. The con is run entirely by volunteers: nobody (except professional security) gets paid to do this.

You don't say whether you've gone to other conventions or not. That makes a big difference in what kinds of recommendations I might make for you. My first con was a worldcon (back when they were much smaller, around 1,000 people). From another venue, I'll just say that going alone to a large event like this has both dangers and opportunities: you actually get a chance to experiment with who you are, with a large group of people who have no expectations of you. This can be a life-changer.

I'm one of the people who posts here under the same name I use throughout the world. Feel free to come up to me and say "Hi!" I'm sometimes busy and distracted, but I'd like to meet you. And I'll be working at the LOCUS table in the dealer's room for most of Thurs afternoon, and helping out at the Site Selection table at a few other times. I could write a lot more, but I'd like to know what level of experience you're looking for. I get in late-ish Weds.

#302 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 12:06 AM:

terezarex @284 If you come by the fan lounge when I am around, I will endeavor to give you some fanzines. And we can talk about whatever you are interested in.

#303 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 01:07 AM:

WRT water at cons: I long time ago got in the habit of packing a little 8oz Nalgene bottle full of water in my purse; this has saved me more times than I can count. If you're flying, just empty it before going into Security, then fill it on the other side. Also, as mentioned above, a pack of nuts/pemican/granola bar/cheese-/peanut butter -crackers (anything pocket size with a good spread between fat/carbs/protein). I've found this to be a handy ward against random flaming crashes.

Second the advice to pre-mark you program book. I've found a handy precursor to that is to calculate ahead of time what your topic/personality priorities are. First pass: mark anything that looks interesting. Second &sub pass(es): rank by interest/priority. I also use the colored highlighter trick.

Party management: where possible, when there are multiple party floors: take the elevator to the top, then (if possible) walk down fire stairs, a floor at a time. This saves considerable elevator wait time.

My first not-Trek con/Worldcon was Iguanacon, the '78 Worldcon, which memory suggests was ~5K. I knew no one (except one person I'd met over the phone, I think). I had a blast. It was my 21st birthday, and at last, I'd Found My People. Met a half-dozen other folks from Boulder, too!

#304 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 01:14 AM:

Iggy was my first Worldcon also - though I'd been lucky enough to go to a few cons before that, including a Westercon.

#305 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:04 AM:

Jacque, I was the Fort Collins contingent at Iggy. Wait, was Gordon Garb there too? Jon Singer? Kevin Dunn? I don't seem to recall any of them, so maybe I really was it. It was an interesting mix of the delightful and the hellish.

#306 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 10:30 AM:


It's hotter than blazes and very humid in a large swath of the US right now. The NYC area has a heat advisory through tomorrow night. Please remember to drink plenty of fluids. Anything nonalcoholic will work: water, juice, tea, soda, whatever you can stand to drink. (Yes, caffeinated beverages work just fine for hydration purposes.) And do whatever you can to stay cool. Many areas have designated "cooling centers"--libraries, community centers, etc.--or go to the mall or the movies.

Jim Macdonald on heat stress. Be alert to the warning signs in yourself and others.

#307 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 12:30 PM:

I'm pretty sure Singer was at Iggy. And I certainly was....

Karen and I have just taken a shift in the Fan Lounge from noon to 2 on Friday. We can talk about stuff other than fanzines. Drop by!

#308 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 12:31 PM:

Seth @297, sounds like the extra-funky fan forgot the unspoken corollary to "shower at least once a day" -- put on clean clothing (and deodorant) afterwards. No matter how favorite your favorite t-shirt may be....

#309 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 12:35 PM:

Kip: Gordon might well have been; I don't recall encountering him.* That's where I actually met Jon; wasn't 'till the last day, when he finally came up for air. ISTR that he was on the concom, in some capacity (working the Den, maybe?) so he would have spent most of the con behind the scenes.

Kevin Dunn is a name that rings only the faintest of bells, so I don't know if I ever met him. What were the hellish elements for you? I had an unreservedly great time. Besides coming down off a summer bout of mono. :-\

* I primarily have Gordon associated with DASFA, but I don't recall knowing to look for him. I think I probably met him later.

#310 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 12:36 PM:

Ah. Well, Singer was everywhere then, so why not Iggy? My next worldcon was Balticon, where I gave out IVAW buttons (Iguanacon Veterans Against Worldcons) to all the former concom members I ran into. Well, to Tim Kyger, anyway.

#311 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 12:37 PM:

Jacque, the good part was seeing all the friends (the majority of them Phoenix fans) who urged me to come down. The bad part was that they were all trying to sabotage one another. Also, not being able to lie down on a bed for however many days that was got sort of old.

#312 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 12:53 PM:

Cassy B. @308 - I strongly believe that a lot of the "personal funk" effect can be due to people who just don't launder their clothing properly. There's a dank mustiness that lingers even after someone has apparently bathed, which gives me the impression that the clothing has been air-dried very slowly in a basement and/or washed without any kind of soap or detergent. IIRC, one of these people wrote in our APA about how laundry gets clean just fine if it's washed with just hot water - detergent was (supposedly) an unnecessary expense and bad for the environment.

#313 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 12:55 PM:

Cassy B. @308 - I strongly believe that a lot of the "personal funk" effect can be due to people who just don't launder their clothing properly. There's a dank mustiness that lingers even after someone has apparently bathed, which gives me the impression that the clothing has been air-dried very slowly in a basement and/or washed without any kind of soap or detergent. IIRC, one of these people wrote in our APA about how laundry gets clean just fine if it's washed with just hot water - detergent was (supposedly) an unnecessary expense and bad for the environment.

(possibly a repost, whacking the server)

#314 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 01:42 PM:

HLN On 22 June area man went into local hospital for an operation. This was major surgery since the surgeon in question was a neurosurgeon, and the operation was to untether area man’s spinal cord. Said major nerve having been tethered to the base of area man’s spine since he was a foetus. Many of area man’s health problem’s and physiological issues over the last several decades were due to this congenital condition. The neurosurgeon assured area man that he, area man that is, would have to spend only five days in hospital recovering.

53 days later, area man was released from rehab hospital, the third hospital he had been in within that hospital system since initial admission. This included a week-long stay in the Intensive Care Unit of one hospital. The explosion of his surgical incision in another hospital. The reclosing of said incision in yet another hospital by a surgical team including someone with the most famous surname in Ghanaian history. And those are just some highlights.

But let us take things in order. I have no recollection of anything between saying goodbye to Gail as I was wheeled into surgery on the 22nd June and waking up on the 4th of July to see Gail and my younger son Jeremy in the room with me. I was surprised to discover I was in the ICU. I was also surprised to discover I’d gone through yet another near death experience (the previous two were in 2010 and 2011), with my stomach distended all the way across my abdomen, my lungs forced into the top third of my thorax, and my heart pushed up to the point of failure. I had pneumonia. I had a pulmonary embolism. Or maybe, it turned out later, I might not, the pneumonia made reading the x-ray difficult. The odds were 4 to one that I did. Then, after I got out of ICU, there were alarums and excursions because one test came back suggesting that I might have tuberculosis. I suggested that in view of the fact that I was breathing normally and had no chest pain, they might just be a teeny bit mistaken. But no, suddenly everyone dealing with me had to wear a face mask. Then they got more results back, and behold, I did not have TB.

So, off I went to the rehab clinic. For one weekend. For lo, on the Monday as my rehab was about to begin, I was turned over in bed and I felt a giant pimple burst. My incision had broken open and my blood gushed forth. Nurses tried to stanch the flow with sponges. Gail demanded that they call the supervising physician. He finally came and dithered about which ambulance to call to transport me the block and a half to the emergency room. Finally, I was transported. Then I had to wait till I got IV saline, and wait for hours till I could be moved to surgery and resutured.

This was followed by several days on the Neuroscience ward. Including visits to the ultrasound lab to be hammered over my legs and arms to determine that my limbs were not generating bloodclots (I heard the word ‘bloodclot’ so often that my inner Jamaican nearly died of laughter). They weren’t. Apparently, one cardiologist had decided that I was a clot generator. I’m not. Also we had the nurses on the ward panicking because I hadn’t had a bowel movement after a day with no food, followed by a day with only a little. So they fed me four different laxatives (including senna; my father used that as a universal medication for his animals as he believed that all their ills were caused by constipation). The inevitable result shocked them. Gail asked them what they expected given that they’d overreacted to a situation that would have corrected itself.

Then back to rehab. This was three weeks of turning from a nearly immobile lump of flesh back to a human being who can walk upright. There’s a reason why physiotherapists are called ‘physical terrorists’, and mine certainly exemplified it. She took no bullshit. But she also encouraged me along every stage, and carefully moved from getting me to sit up to getting me to stand, to getting me to walk in stages from zimmer frame to quad cane (which is where I am). So did the occupational therapists who worked on my upper body strength and coordination.

I’m not where I need to be. I’ve got weeks of out-patient therapy ahead of me, plus some other delights. In order to deal with the possible embolism, my blood has to be thinned. Consequently, I’ve got weeks of Lovinox injections and at-home rat poison pills to which to look forward. Imagine my deep delight. 45 years ago, I was spreading Rattex to poison rats. Now the same stuff has been prescribed to treat me.

The important thing is that I’ve managed to cheat death yet again, thanks largely to the indomitable Gail with my surprising constitution playing second fiddle. I’m hoping to produce a fourth monograph (and have done about 30 percent of the work on it), and it looks like its chances of being completed are as good as ever. I’ve managed to return to the world with a weak body but a functioning brain, and as good a chance at happiness as ever.

#315 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 01:52 PM:

I'm glad you're back, Fragano, and that your sense of humor (at least) is still functioning well.

#316 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 01:55 PM:

Repeating my sympathies for Fragano's ordeal, and best wishes for his continued recovery, since I got an Internal Server Error the first time.

#317 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 01:56 PM:

My God, Fragano! That's a harrowing experience!

Best of luck for your healing and convalescence. Good to see your words again.

#318 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 02:02 PM:

I look forward to seeing many more years of your writing here, Fragano. I'm glad you're still with us.

#319 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 02:12 PM:

Fragano, I'm glad you (and your unique voice) are still with us.

#320 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 02:19 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #314: Wow, sounds like you went through the wringer on this one! I hope the original operation at least achieved its intent, but even if so those are some nasty complications. My sympathies and hopes for a complete and speedy convalescence.

#321 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 02:27 PM:

In my own, much smaller health crisis, I went to the doctor and after a CT scan discovered I apparently have diverticulosis. I was promptly prescribed dual antibiotics, with a scary laundry list of restrictions and possible side effects. However, after a couple of doses I'm already feeling a lot better -- no more chills or cramps, and much more clear-headed. Still kind of dragged out, likely from the antibiotics. (And yes, I will finish out the 10-day course.)

#322 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 02:53 PM:

David Harmon (321): I think you mean diverticulitis; that's the one that requires antibiotics. (Diverticulosis is a necessary precursor but not the thing itself.) I had a mild bout of that earlier this summer--no fun at all. It took me a surprisingly long time to shake the fatigue afterwards. Here's hoping you get well soon and avoid all of the dire complications.

#323 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 03:04 PM:

me @ #269:

Light was gathered at NineWorlds, me and duckbunny sat around and chatted for a while. There was a sign (made from my program), which it seems I managed to leave behind, with one of my pens clipped to it. Ah, well.

#324 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 03:17 PM:

terezarex @291:The "fan lounge" is an area where lots of fanzines are set out to read and peruse, and the people who make them hang out. It generally only exists at Worldcons.

The "consuite" is a widely available amenity at most US fan-run conventions, and is what professional conferences call a "hospitality suite". They have an assortment of beverages and snacks available, and at some conventions quite an enormous amount more than that: ranging up to complete meals in some cases.

It is becoming more common for at least SOME kind of protein and/or hot food to be kept on hand all day: boiled eggs, perhaps, or hot water and packages of instant oatmeal, or peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich makings. You can almost guarantee some assortment of soda pop and salty-crunchy snacks, though.

Most consuites also have copious seating, with tables, and serve as a social space. At some conventions people who order delivery food (which you usually have to pick up from its bringer in the lobby) bring it to the consuite to share and consume with their party in great conviviality.

Some consuites also serve alcohol, and have their own methods of checking ID and verifying that it only goes to those for whom it is legal.

#325 ::: terezarex ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 04:09 PM:

many folks @various-- thank you so much for the advice and welcomes. i feel all warm and fuzzy(tm) now!

Joel Polowin @293 very useful indeed, thank you.

shadowsong @294 will definitely use emergency cracker idea!

dcb @295 early kaffeeklatsch arrival advice duly noted-- perhaps your misfortune will keep me from a similar fate.

Em @296 congrats on your first publication!

Lee @298 so much helpfulness! especially re:footwear, i have added an extra pair on your advice. will try to stop by your table and thank you in person!

David Dyer-Bennet @300 i am pretty good at self-care after many years of chronic illness, but it's a good message to have reinforced. i hope our paths cross at con.

Tom Whitmore @301 i'm feeling more encouraged to volunteer now!

and re: other cons, i've been to wiscon and fogcon, once each. much smaller, shorter, more focused cons. i enjoyed myself, but had hoped to get to know (not just meet) more people than i did. i am not shy or socially anxious, conversing is not difficult for me, but i often found myself out of the loop when conversation turned to media i rarely or never consume (games, tv, movies). and while most folks were friendly, they generally seemed to be there to spend time with already-made friends.

i will try to find you (perhaps at the LOCUS table?) to connect. thank you!

TomB @302 thank you for the kind offer!

#326 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 04:25 PM:

Thanks to everyone for the good wishes. Dealing with convalescence is a strange business.

#327 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 04:28 PM:

terezarex @325: Addendum to other comments about wardrobe, I would add that a well-known filker who shops mainly out of catalogs (because she lives in a remote area) says, "The great thing about coming to science fiction conventions is that I never have to look at anything again and think to myself, 'But where would I wear THIS?!?'"

Come with your fabulousness and share it, I guarantee it will not be the weirdest item in sight in any given hallway. Worldcons don't go in for as much elaborate hall costumery as, say, ComicCons do, but amazing pieces are still appreciated, and are also a great way to get people to come up and talk to you (if that's something you want). Wear gear or jewelry or a t-shirt or a reference to something you really, really like and see how many other people recognize it. :->

Related to shoes and emergency snack, make sure you have a comfortable, capacious bag or carrier or cart for whatever you're going to want to haul around with you all day. For me, a backpack is great. Other people bring a small crate-on-wheels or wire mesh cart, or one of those handbag-sized carry on luggage items. Some use a totebag.

It depends what you want to carry. I have wallet, small electronics, probably a book, a pad of paper and pen, business cards, index cards, pens, a small craft project ... and usually four or five other things, depending on the day. You will also accumulate stuff, so make sure you pack "empty space" to carry around with you, too, since you don't want to turn down something from the freebie table just because you can't comfortably carry it for the next five hours before you go back to your room. :->

Since you have been to WisCon and Fogcon, I want to be explicit: if anyone, at any time, says or does anything to OR NEAR you that makes you uncomfortable or feel creeped out, please do feel you have the ability to take it to the convention security staff (not the facility's security). They usually wear high-visibility vests labeled "SECURITY" or "SAFETY" or some such, and carry two-way radios. Their purpose is to keep an eye out for things not going as they should, and to help enforce the con's Code of Conduct.

If you see someone making blatantly racist jokes and other bystanders being visibly queasy or uncomfortable, you can report that. If a guy keeps leaning close to you and flirting even after you've tried to disengage, DEFINITELY report that. Get badges and badge numbers (printed by the name) if you can, it'll help staff track them down. Don't worry that it will lead to instant-pariah status. Report early, report often, and let the Incident Response Team sort 'em out.

Fandom has a much bigger problem with victims feeling it's unsafe to report than with floods of "unjustified" or "deceptive" reports "ruining" the lives of people whose conduct was exemplary.

If it makes you uncomfortable or seems off, you don't have to put up with that feeling as the price of admission to attending conventions. The fact that we HAVE for decades doesn't make it right, and the people running MidAmericon are part of the group working to change the norms.

#328 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 04:32 PM:

Survival Tip for making friends/connections at a con:

If you're going out of the hotel/center for dinner at a time when many other people are doing so, make a sign that says, "Seeking Dinner Companions!" and hold it near where everyone is milling about. If people are open to adding someone to their party it lets them know you're there and want it; you may also connect with several other singletons and come to a common decision about cuisine and price points.

#329 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 04:42 PM:

@ Fragano Convalescense is strange, and at the time it feels like nothing will ever change, and nothing will get better. However, generally it will. I am glad that you have people who will stay with you. Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.

Regarding itis/osis and other jargon -- I cannot be the only one who is annoyed by the fact that so much medical terminology is just your symptoms translated into Greek/Latin. I, for instance, have on occasion been diagnosed with "idiopathic hypersomnia", which is just Medical Latin for "You sleep too much and we don't know why." Which I didn't actually need a doctor to tell me. Another one is "tendonitis" and "fascitis" -- "your tendons or fascia are swollen and painful!" Yes they are. That is why I am in the office. WHY are they inflamed and what can I do about it?

("NSAIDs" Yes thank you I never thought of that.)

I will defend modern medicine against all comers. AND I understand the function of Latin jargon in aiding collaboration between folks who speak different languages. However I believe a lot of this is a holdover from the bad old days, when doctors used their jargon to keep their art secret from the unwashed masses (and never mind that the doctors in those days were equally unwashed).

tl;dr my bad knee is acting up and I'm out of Aleve, dammit.

#330 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 04:50 PM:

Seth @329: I had "hyperkeratosis pilaris" for a number of years.

It means when my dead skin sheds, the bits of it around follicles tend to pile up into towers instead of actually shedding, leaving bumps (that then can have other problems).

So yeah, too much skin (bits) around the hairs. Thanks, medicine ...

I decided years ago that "syndrome" is medical jargon for "We have no effing idea. Try this, it worked for some folks a while ago."

(I also for a number of years had active endometriosis, which is a "syndrome". It went into remission a while ago, dayenu, and more recent medical interventions in my life are likely to keep it gone for good. Those same interventions mean my skin is now much oilier, so my dead-skin towers scrub off quite nicely!)

#331 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 05:01 PM:

"Benign tachycardia of idiopathic origin." Which means "Sometimes Jenny's heart will suddenly begin beating really hard and painfully and then just as suddenly go back to normal with no other symptoms besides coppery mouth and dizziness, and we don't know why."

It took about 20 years after the first episode for somebody to say to me, "Hey, you know, this sounds like the physical symptoms of a panic attack, without the emotional ones."

#332 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 05:01 PM:

No, excuse me, about 30 years.

#333 ::: terezarex ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 05:04 PM:

Elliott Mason @327 - besides confirming that, yes, i *do* need to bring my sparkly-silver-laced high-top converse shoes, this makes me think i may also have to up my conbudget to include the purchase of fannish clothings... fingers crossed that i can find my size and things i know and like. (though if not, that means more room for books! mmmmmm, books...)

and thanks for the encouragement re: reporting code of conduct violations. i have lately been reporting blatantly racist/sexist/homophobic/etc comments on facebook and been pleased that they have all been speedily removed.

and @328 - excellent, will definitely try the sign idea.

and @330 - "dead skin towers" sounds like a good name for a deathmetal band. or a zombie apartment building.

#334 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 05:29 PM:

"Idiopathic dermatitis". Or "Neurodermatitis".
Thanks, now how do I get the nerves to stop telling me my skin is itchy? (FWIW: SSRIs can be helpful for this. Not for everyone.)

#335 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 05:46 PM:

Seth #329: Thanks. It's not people but one person, my wife Gail. Without her I might not be here.

Eliot Mason/Seth: All professions develop jargons intended to exclude the untaught, unwashed &c. masses. In the social sciences, we use terms like 'median voter' (halfway between the top voter and the least likely voter) or 'demand flexibility' (how easily people will abandon a production).

#336 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 05:52 PM:

Mary Aileen #322: I've lately been learning as much on the Web. Along with comments like "your doctor may prescribe a low-fiber diet" -- which mine didn't. She did warn me about dairy blocking the antibiotics, which was otherwise somewhat buried in the warning sheets.

Re: Terminology, it's not there to "keep their art secret".¹ It's about having terms for things which have three features:

(1) They're standardized across all practitioners, with agreed-upon meanings, range of meaning, and implications. That's common to all jargon.

(2) They're concise for the people who use those words often; note that the various plain-English translations above are all several times the length of the formal terms. Also common to nearly all jargon.

(3) The reason science and medicine use Latin (and some Greek), is because they're meant to be standard for all practitioners regardless of their native language. And especially without favoring whatever nation is currently "hot" in a given field, or provides the current lingua franca

It's probably inevitable that we early gave up on Latin for scientific papers, but the cost of that is information barriers between nations, which is a real issue. And even with native-language papers, a specialized translator (human or computer) can still handle scientific and medical papers more reliably than normal translators can handle most complex texts, precisely because of the standardization.

¹ What "keeps the secrets" for medicine and science isn't any attempt to hide things; it's simply that you need to learn a lot of stuff to keep up with even fairly basic discussions, let alone complex concepts. And of course, learning a lot of stuff takes a lot of time and effort. q.v. complaints about having to learn Feminism 101, Race Issues 101, Fandom 101, and so on before joining certain discussions.

²Which last term reminds us that the common language of trade and science hasn't always been English, and likely won't be so forever.

#337 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 05:59 PM:

P J Evans #334: "Idiopathic dermatitis". Or "Neurodermatitis".

And there's an example! Those two terms are not the same: One says explicitly "unknown cause" (without implying "imaginary", as natural language easily could). The other says "we believe that this is coming from the nerves", an immediate hint for further investigation.

#338 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 06:35 PM:

Fragano -- May your recovery be less exciting from here forward.

HLN, Medical edition. The nearly 7 year old youngest child, the one we've always suspected would be the first to break something, broke his arm at the elbow this week, leading to an overnight hospital stay due to the potential for surgery to wire the bits together. They were able to set the bones under general, so no wires were actual necessary. This particular break is seen 90% of the time in kids, usually boys, and generally from ages 5-7.

The hardest thing is keeping him from bouncing all over the place. He was standing in the hospital bed at one point, and attempting to climb in the park today, 24 hours after discharge.

#339 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 06:37 PM:

David Harmon (336): Based on the research I did when I had it, the low-fiber* diet thing is old news. More recent studies have shown that a high-fiber diet is generally better. (There are no universals, of course.) Also, taking probiotics seems to help avoid a recurrence.

I never heard that about antibiotics and dairy. Something for me to watch out for!

*more usually low-residue: avoiding not just fiber but seeds and nuts and such

#340 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 06:37 PM:

PS: I'm sorry if my #336 comes off as cranky; this is not the place I'd have expected to find an outbreak of resentment against jargon.

#341 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 06:48 PM:

Or "atopic dermatitis", which is the other one I've heard.

(It's definitely "neuro" - I took SSRIs for a couple of years, and the stuff stopped. Off them, and it came back.)

#342 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 06:49 PM:

Having studied Latin extensively in high school, and picked up a certain amount of Greek along the way, I've got to say that anatomical terms are more useful for me than for many people in my line of work. Most names either describe where a muscle is (latissimus dorsi: side-most muscle on the back), what it looks like (rhomboid: diamond-shaped, or biceps: two-headed) or what it connects (sternocleidomastoid: sternum, clavicle, and mastoid process right under the ear). Gave me a real leg up on learning the anatomy!

And that reminds me: it's rather wonderful that the difference between adrenaline and epinephrine is just the difference between Latin and Greek. They're the same hormone, secreted above (ad, epi) the kidneys (rena, nephron).

#343 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 06:56 PM:

Mary Aileen #339: I never heard that about antibiotics and dairy.

Both the doctor and website agree that the issue seems to be the calcium levels, so calcium-fortified juice, and many ur-milks (soy, almond, etc) are included. I was also warned not to take multivitamins, under the same constraints (not within 6 hours before or 2 hours after). This may or may not be specific to the antibiotic Cipro/ciproflaxin. My other antibiotic, metronidazol, seems to lack that warning, but has its own warning against alcohol use (no biggie for me).

#344 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 07:32 PM:

David Harmon @ 336

It is my understanding that one of the rules here is that one must give the interlocutor the benefit of the doubt. I would recommend that you reread my comment.

#345 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 07:57 PM:

Seth #344: Indeed, you note the interlingual issue, but then hedge it with "I believe a lot of this is a holdover...". Also your comment spawned several less nuanced responses, which was what mostly prompted me to speak up.

And yeah, I was being a bit cranky, partly because it's an old hobby-horse for me, and partly because I'm still getting cramps when I eat, plus dietary disruption. Oh well, at least I can have a yogurt cup in late evening, 2+ hours after dinner/dose.

#346 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 08:12 PM:

Jenny Islander #331: I had exactly that thing (physical symptoms of a panic attack without emotional/cognitive ones), and it turned out to be a combination of having panic attacks while dissociating hard enough I couldn't feel the emotional side, and mania.

I'm on lamictal and it hasn't recurred. Which isn't to say this is a diagnosis (I don't even play a psychiatrist on TV), but a single point of anecdata.

#347 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 08:22 PM:

And to find a completely different topic:

An Indian woman congratulates the USA on maybe shattering our glass ceiling..

Wry and pointed, but then, we deserve it.

#348 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 08:27 PM:

David Harmon (343): Oh, okay. I've never taken cipro, so it's never come up. It makes sense that calcium is the issue.

While we're on the subject of drug/food interactions, does anyone know if the grapefruit (juice) problem is any amount or would a tiny bit be safe? From my reading, it sounds like the answer is "no, none, don't even think about it while you're on these medications" but nothing I've found makes that explicit. I'm asking because I've been experimenting with zero-calorie flavored fizzy water and would like to try the grapefruit flavor. Problem is, the drinks do have juice in them; the label says 3%, which if my math is right works out to roughly half an ounce per 17-ounce bottle. I wouldn't be drinking more than one a day....

#349 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:06 PM:

Mary Aileen @348: I expect that some amount would be safe, but it would be very difficult to predict how much, for a given individual and medication. It's a matter of how particular enzymes interact with both the medication and components of the juice, and there's considerable variation between individuals with respect to the enzymes. Two people both have, say, CYP1A1 enzymes that work on particular classes of compounds, but would have minor variations in those enzymes due to slight genetic differences.

And especially because there's a risk of some people saying that, well, a little is safe so why not a little more?, the safe instruction is "none at all".

#350 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:06 PM:

Mary Aileen #348: While we're on the subject of drug/food interactions, does anyone know if the grapefruit (juice) problem is any amount or would a tiny bit be safe?

Wait, are we still talking about antibiotics? ;-) <gosub DDG> Found: this PDF pamphlet from the FDA about some interactions. Interestingly, they don't mention Prozac and kin, which I've often heard have the potentiation issue. (Though I'm surprised to hear it's from the small intestine rather than the liver.)

For the SSRIs, the effect is moderate and dependent on how much juice -- the problem is mostly when someone happens to drink much more or less of it than usual, and it throws off their effective dosage. I would expect this is more of a problem for drugs where slight variations in dose have nastier effects.

#351 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:09 PM:

Fragano round(10Π): Thank heavens and all gods above, below, and beside us! And also the magnificent Gail.

Keep on cheating Death. She can only make you pay Her back once, after all!

#352 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:15 PM:

The antibiotic where I got told to avoid dairy at the same time was tetracycline.

#353 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:20 PM:

Me too on the tetracycline. I was lactose intolerant for YEARS after being given it. Eventually the problem went away; I have no idea when, because I was religious about taking lactase tablets whenever I ate dairy. Could have been years before I noticed. (I screwed up from time to time for the first few years and got sick every time, so it wasn't just a few months.)

And apropos of absolutely nothing, thought of another aphorism. This one's about the consuite Libertarians who think they can go off and form their own Truly Free Society™ and never even think about where they will get cloth, as abi pointed out.

They're born on first base and think they can build a ballpark.

#354 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:32 PM:

Joel Polowin (349): That's pretty much what I figured.

David Harmon (350: No, not antibiotics. Sorry to alarm you. The question has been on my mind, and I leaped on a related topic without making myself sufficiently clear. I was thinking of statins (and Allegra, which I hadn't known about until a few weeks ago). Thanks for the link. It doesn't exactly clear things up, but it's more information than I had before.

I should just give up on the idea of the grapefruit-flavored fizzy water. Pity, it was the only one left to try that sounds at all palatable; I don't care for any of the others.

#355 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:47 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @314: Yow. Sympathies, and best wishes for recovery.

eric @338: You remind me of my nephew Everett, who managed to fracture his wrists three times before he turned 5. His parents were a bit worried about someone calling CPS. (Nobody did, so far as I know.)

#356 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:49 PM:

terezarex @325: Lots of long-term con-goers such as myself are seeing people they've known for decades and mostly see at conventions (and, these days, communicate with online or in fanzines; formerly letter and in fanzines), so yeah, one of the issues of being new is lots of the people are very very busy. But what we're mostly busy with (aside from volunteer shifts!) is mostly socializing with friends, so there's often room to add one more.

In fact I got a ping today from a highschool friend who I probably haven't seen since then, or close, so around 40 years, mentioning he would be at MACII. In addition to all the ones I already knew about :-). Lots of people who were heavily active when I was getting started have moved one, but here's somebody I never associated with fandom (SF yes, but not fandom) suddenly turning up (and I suspect it's not all that sudden on his end).

Certainly there are people, even at Worldcon, who consume SF mostly in media form. But lots and lots of us far prefer books. (Then again I'm not all that current or all that thrilled with what I know of recent SF mostly, either.)

Anyway, will try to keep your handle in mind so I can react if I see it!

#357 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 09:50 PM:

Fragano@314: Yikes. That sounds far more interesting than I was wishing for you! Glad you're back, hope the rest of recuperation is as easy as those days you were unconscious! :-) (But I doubt you'll be that lucky.)

#358 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 10:06 PM:

Joel, #312: If it's a sour kind of smell, I'd agree with you. Occasionally we run a load of laundry and forget to transfer it to the drier, and after sitting damp overnight it goes sour and has to be re-washed. But I also once dated a guy who had to have it explained to him why he shouldn't just put the same underwear back on after he'd taken a shower.

Fragano, #314: Ye ghods! I'm glad it was no worse, although it sounds as if it was bad enough. Good to see you back, too.

terezarex, #333: If you're looking for Really Cool Clothes, check out Earth Wisdom -- she carries gorgeous velvet ruanas and other neat stuff that you won't see most places.

For T-shirts, you have multiple options: Instant Attitudes (my partner), Pegasus Publishing, and Offworld Designs are primarily T-shirts, Starship Cat has a good selection although it's not their only focus, and a lot of dealers have a few designs related to their own products.

For jewelry, don't miss David Freeland (EXPEN$IVE but you get what you pay for, and he doesn't mind if you just stand there and drool for a while) and Elise Matthesen (one-of-a-kind freeform wirework pieces); a lot of people will have some jewelry in addition to whatever else they sell.

David H., #343: My experience has been that some antibiotics are sensitive to dairy and others aren't. Anything related to tetracycline almost certainly is; that's where I first heard about it. Check your pill bottle -- they've developed a good set of standardized stickers for med warnings these days. If it doesn't have a "no dairy" sticker, no need to worry.

#359 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 11:51 PM:

Fragano @314 - Yeek. I'm glad you made it.

In my case, it was a pocket of CS fluid that gushed, the day after I got home. Back to the hospital I went.

Recovery is frustratingly slow, but it does come.

DDB @300 - People who choose to go to things like this mostly like to meet people they've interacted with online

Well, that's a way of having the ice semi-pre-broken. But people who go to cons are generally happy to meet anyone who shares their interests. I remember my first trip to Minneapolis for a con -- I'm pretty sure it was a Minicon; I don't think I did Fourth Street until later -- and meeting a bunch of people I'd known from the FidoNet SF echo. But I had fun talking with a bunch of other people too.

#360 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 12:06 AM:

Kip W @311: not being able to lie down on a bed for however many days that was got sort of old.

?? You were unhoused?

Fragano Ledgister @314: Good ghod, that's much more spectacular than my little medical fiasco back in '97.

I heard the word ‘bloodclot’ so often that my inner Jamaican nearly died of laughter

::Googles:: Oh, my! That's an excellent insult. I may have to add it to my collection. (Except nobody would know what I was talking about. :-( )

I’ve managed to return to the world with a weak body but a functioning brain, and as good a chance at happiness as ever.

Congratulations and Good Lord!

& @335: All hail Gail! :-)

David Harmon @321: Thank Ghu for CT scans. An acquaintance back in the day was actually misdiagnosed as having appendicitis. Needless to say, the appendectomy didn't help. I apparently have a few diverticuli(ae?). I'll bet I know exactly where, too, which I rediscover anytime some food (beans, raisin bran) gives me gas.

And yay for (proper use of) antibiotics. When they're the right thing, they do work wonders.

& @336: The reason science and medicine use Latin (and some Greek), is because they're meant to be standard for all practitioners regardless of their native language.

And also, AIUI, because these were classically the languages of "the educated" through most of (at least) Europe. First with religion and philosophy, and then the practice carried forward as other sciences were spawned.

As with Mr. Whitmore, one of the unexpected benefits of taking Latin in high school has been that medical jargon doesn't slow me down much. And it got me in the habit of thinking in terms of etymology, which has assisted in unpacking other kinds of jargon on the fly.

& @340: this is not the place I'd have expected to find an outbreak of resentment against jargon.

I think the resentment is not against jargon per se, but rather against those with a self-aggrandizing tendancy to use jargon as a distancing/excluding tactic. Not the norm, by any means, but I have encountered this attitude in the wild, usually by somebody who is feeling defensive about their own status (which would certainly, by all accounts, include those practitioners who preceded the use of actual, you know, science in medicine).

Elliott Mason @330: I decided years ago that "syndrome" is medical jargon for "We have no effing idea. Try this, it worked for some folks a while ago."

I'm given to understand that a depressingly large percentage of treatments prescribed are diagnostic in nature: "If this helps, this is probably what you've got." :-\

#361 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 12:14 AM:

Jacque @360: I got into that same etymological mindset because of Latin in high school, and was baffles in community college when I asked my Spanish teacher I'd two words were etymologically relates or false friends. She had no idea of the etymology.

#362 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 12:27 AM:

@Elliott Mason no. 346: I had DID (since resolved) and PTSD (much improved), plus the emotional odd-wiring of ASD. Yes, my brain is pretty much alphabet soup. That isn't even all of it. And I had no diagnoses at that time. My "galloping heart" episodes decreased after I entered therapy and learned improved self-care.

#363 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 03:27 AM:

Hoping this will make the internal server see the error of its ways.

#364 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 03:28 AM:

Nope. Trying again:

Etymology is useful, but has its limits. For example, the German word 'Tier' is cognate to English 'deer', but means "animal" more generally. And if you etymologically dissect the word 'manufacture', you will correctly conclude that it comes from words meaning "make by hand," but that's no longer what the word means.

I seem to recall having said this here before, probably in the context of See Johnny Write saying he hasn't got any homophobia, he just things snttbgf should all be killed. Forgive me if I'm droning on about a point long since made.

#365 ::: David Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 07:50 AM:

@xopher: my preferred gambit when it comes to people insisting on literally interpreting the word "homophobia" is to point out that its *most* literal meaning is "fear of the same"

#366 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 08:17 AM:

A doctor once wrote down, on a chit that I had to take to another doctor, that I was suffering from hypochondrial pain, which I thought was pretty damned dismissive until I remembered a few seconds later that the hypochondrium is an Actual Medical Thing.

The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes by Jonathan Rose (great book) talks about the great 19th-century era of working-class amateur naturalists. The introduction of Linnaean classification was, unexpectedly, advantageous to them: they needed to learn a bit of Latin, but it was learnable, and it replaced a chaos of random local names for plants and insects with a universal system that let amateurs make real contributions to the scientific community.

I knew grapefruit juice has problematic interactions with a lot of medicines but I'd never heard of an interaction with SSRIs—none of the leaflets I've got with SSRIs has mentioned this, though the British National Formulary says, warily, 'plasma concentration of sertraline possibly increased by grapefruit juice'.

#367 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 08:58 AM:

Fragano, I'm glad you're still with us and everything. Also glad I ain't got what you got. Shee! I was briefly concerned that you were seeing a neosurgeon, which I presumed was an extremely new surgeon, till I saw there were more letters there. So glad they all ultimately did their jobs for you.

"Diverticulitis." This always cues an anecdote my sister told me in the daytimes when she followed the soaps, about an actor portraying a doctor, who (in the brief rehearsal) just couldn't say the word during a tense scene talking to a patient's wife. One of the other actors suggested he learn the word by thinking of the coffee-perk jingle, "Di-ver-tic-u-li-tis, da da da DA da!" So of course, that was how he delivered it.

I can't swear it's a true anecdote, of course.

Jacque, I was officially a gopher. I was most often attached (platonically, of course) to Hilde, but was lent out to Octavia Butler for an event at A Room of Our Own, and that was kind of fun, staying quietly near, alert for the chance to serve, and so on. Anyway, it was assumed, because it was the policy, that I'd be allowed to crash in the Gopher Suite, which was a locked door in a hall of rooms. I have no idea what was inside the room, or if it was an actual door that really opened. The Head Gopher and I stood outside the door and made futile noises at least once. I was offered crash space by a fellow D'APAn who begged off when I showed up looking to fall over and sleep on her balcony as promised.

So I slept on a sofa in the Fan Lounge one time, when it was pretty empty, and I overnighted on the floor of the Con Suite (where Harlan Ellison stepped over me in the morning), and probably other places that included corridors. I also had a box of stupid junk with me that stayed in the Gopher Whole the entire time, none of which I ever needed, and which (miraculously, I think) made it back with me in its entires.

#368 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 09:54 AM:

Jacque #360: I will say that knowing a little Latin and a lot of terminology does give me a +3 save against bafflegab: "Sorry dude, I know what those words are supposed to mean".

#369 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 10:05 AM:

Steve with a book #366: In the USA 90's at least through early 00's, the pamplemousse/Prozac issue was a usual warning both from doctors and peer-support groups.

#370 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 10:24 AM:

Xopher #364: Besides the false friends and drifters, there's also a few stumpers: I've heard nobody really knows where the word "dog" came from.

#371 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 11:22 AM:

Xopher@364: On "manufacture", that's interesting (and, yeah, obvious). Given how old I imagine it is...hmmm, OED cites it only back to mid 17th century (for the verb; noun is a bit older), not that old. It appears that the "by hand" bit isn't completely foreign to early uses. But I don't, then, understand what the distinction being made was. Was there some other widespread way of making things? No indication of clear-cut coinage, so we're not likely to get any statements on why it was invented.

Language is fun!

#372 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 11:53 AM:

Fragano: Yikes! I'm glad you're recovering, and hope that from here on out recovery proceeds rapidly and fully!

Worldcon stuff:

I saw mention of party floors and of staying up all night; to the best of my understanding there will be no party floors this year: none of the official hotels are allowing parties (so any parties in hotel rooms are likely to be secret to semi-secret), and all parties are supposed to be held in the Convention Center.

Which, if memory serves, closes at 2 am. I have no idea what, if any, late-night facilities will be open. I know of at least two groups who had been planning on holding parties but have decided not to, because of that and because of the Convention Center's draconian restrictions on providing food to people.

As for the consuite: Worldcons (and parties at Worldcons) have often provided meal-type foods to their members, but this year I highly doubt there will be much meal-type food available. Snack-type food, yes, but the convention center seems to ReallyReallyReally want people to buy from their (no doubt well marked-up) own concessions. Blame the convention center; when I talked to people who knew the Hospitality volunteers quite a few months ago about this they were really upset about not being able to provide more. I hope this has changed, and perhaps it has, but I wouldn't count on it.

I'll be bringing several boxes of toaster pastries with me (perfectly edible even untoasted!), and granola bars. That way I won't have to worry quite so much about whether that overpriced hot dog is really worth it.

#373 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 11:54 AM:

My understanding is that a part of the problem with grapefruit is the effect of heat on the enzyme, and there is so much where heat is part of the process. So that can of grapefuit might be safe, or it might not. And is the grapefruit juice fresh squeezed, or reconstituted from a concentrate? How was the concentrate made? Add in the variation there might be in the original fruit, and any pharmacist would be wary of an effect he couldn't predict.

#374 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 12:25 PM:

Huh. Just opened one of the rolls of "fruit leather" I bought on the way back from Africa. This is a very different stuff than what I'm accustomed to call "fruit leather": Instead of a smooth, soft, and slightly sticky stuff, this looks more like actual leather, and chews like dried fruit. Perhaps 2-3 mm thick, stiff in the curl, with both sides of the sheet textured like the back side of leather.

#375 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 02:01 PM:

On Latin: this is part of why I pronounce my here-name with the long I sound for the Y, rather than the long E sound. Latin was a scientific language, and as such... kind of more written than spoken. So I can pronounce it how I want. I know a professor at UIowa who switches from social German to scientific English, though still spoken.

'Bafflegab' is a wonderful term.

On cons and making friends: a very good friend of mine went to Wiscon and felt incredibly excluded, when I had had the experience of being welcomed. She felt she had to be working constantly to stay present in a conversation, like she'd introduce herself to people and they'd nod and turn away. So in terms of con culture being welcoming, mileage may vary.

This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you if you don't click with people. My friend is one of the best people I know using any definition of 'best people'. I don't know how to potentially fix it, either.

In any case, my professional name is Catherine Krahe. I hope to run into you, plural.

#376 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 03:22 PM:

Hmm, I take sertraline, and was never given any warning about grapefruit. Maybe I'll play around and see if it boosts my levels on bad days.

On second thought, no I won't. There's a fine line between "uncontrolled" and "dangerous," and I'm too cautious a person to play with that particular fire.

#377 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 08:15 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #314:

Crikey!!! I'm glad you are still around to tell the tale, and wish you all the very best as you continue getting better.

Lee #358:
That sour aroma is one I'm sensitive to, and though I know it's a damp clothes (promoting microbial growth) issue and not because of poor personal hygiene, it still makes my nose wrinkle.

#378 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 10:12 PM:

Xopher #376: Also, my experience (backed by some discussions with others) from those days was that the side effects for ADs (at least SSRIs and Effexor) scale in intensity to the rate of change of the blood level, so bumping that around can be rather unpleasant.

#379 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2016, 11:50 PM:

Fragano, that's quite an ordeal. But you are still here!! YAY! Wishing you continued recovery.

#380 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 12:17 AM:

GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! @364: if you etymologically dissect the word 'manufacture', you will correctly conclude that it comes from words meaning "make by hand," but that's no longer what the word means.

The canonical example being "GAFIA"* which started out meaning escapting "real life" into fannish activities, and evolved to mean abdicating from fandom entirely.

he hasn't got any homophobia, he just things snttbgf should all be killed.

Well, if you agree with the thesis that hate is putrified anger,** and anger is a secondary emotion in response to pain, frustration, and most especially fear, than the "phobia" idea most decidedly still pertains. Just because the homophobic isn't conscious of his fear doesn't mean it's not driving his reactions.

* Get Away From It All

** Though the argument could be made that hate is a direct reaction to fear, cutting out the "anger" middle-man, as it were.

#381 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 12:22 AM:

David Harmon @368: knowing a little Latin and a lot of terminology does give me a +3 save against bafflegab

More than once I've had to school medical professionals to, yes, please, use the big words with precise meanings. If I don't know what it means, I'll either ask or look it up. Fortunately, I've got my current crew pretty well trained.

#382 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 12:28 AM:

Cally Soukup @372: [wrt party, hours, and food restrictions]: What!?

Suddenly I'm glad I'm not going. That's...heresy is the politest term I can come up with. For some of us, parties are the whole point of the con. What are the filkers going to do?

Not that it would make any practical difference to me, these days. Last con I went to (MileHiCon in '13), I wound up sleeping through most of the con. :-\ (This getting old and feeble thing righteously sucks.)

#383 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 12:41 AM:

Diatryma @375: Latin was a scientific language, and as such... kind of more written than spoken.

Spoken Latin always sounds to me like a badly-designed con-lang. Kind of awkward and stilted. All those "hic"s and "nunc"s. :-)

It's fascinating to me that Italian, which is a direct descendent, is so much more colorful and lyrical. How the hell did that happen? (Though I vaguely recall Ada Palmer saying somewhere that Italy at some point made a conscious decision to pick their prettiest dialect as the "official" Italian.)

a very good friend of mine went to Wiscon and felt incredibly excluded, when I had had the experience of being welcomed. She felt she had to be working constantly to stay present in a conversation, like she'd introduce herself to people and they'd nod and turn away. So in terms of con culture being welcoming, mileage may vary.

I was able to cheat in my early days in fandom: I just road on Jon Singer's coattails. Haven't had nearly such good luck without him, though it depends heavily on my mood of the moment. Especially as I've gotten older, the feeling of "missing out" and being overlooked has been an increasing problem. Though some of that is lack of practice/patience on my part, I'm sure. Sadly, I've also concluded that a decrease in physical attractiveness has been a factor, as well.

#384 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 12:47 AM:

Dave Bell @373 -- The problem isn't due to enzymes in the grapefruit/juice, but to compounds in the grapefruit/juice that interact with enzymes (and other processes) in the human body.

Jacque @381 -- Whereas my partner Inge, who's an M.D. with a lot of medical problems, has been told by doctors and nurses on any number of occasions that when she's a patient, she's just a patient. She can't see her charts without a doctor there to explain things, per hospital policy (and in violation of privacy law, which states that patient records belong to the patient). One nurse, after Inge tried to explain symptoms precisely with appropriate terminology, said -- and I quote -- "I'm not used to patients talking so complicated. Just talk normal."

#385 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 01:33 AM:

Since we have such a wealth of medical knowledge assembled here, I have a question:

For years I've noticed a phenomenon among doctors. In the course of an exam, they will begin jabbing their fingers into my belly. I'll say "ow," which seems to startle and upset them. They say "That hurts?" and jab me some more. I explain that yes, it hurts very much, and I would appreciate it if they stopped. They stop, and immediately start squeezing my ankles. That seems to satisfy them, and together we move on to something else.

I suspect that they are looking for internal bleeding or some other serious condition. But my belly is just sore -- always has been, probably always will be. I don't know how to explain that to doctors. I don't like upsetting them, and while I don't mind the ankle-squeezing, I really, really don't like having my abdomen prodded. I wish I did have some jargon that I could use -- "oh, I have mild chronic abdominal fasciitis, it's nothing to worry about"

#386 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 01:35 AM:

terezarex @ 325

while most folks were friendly, they generally seemed to be there to spend time with already-made friends

I know it doesn't necessarily help but, I hear you. I know this. My fall-back when I get that feeling is to look around and see if I can find someone else who's feeling left out. It isn't the same as feeling like people are actively seeking my company, but it distracts. It's tided me over through a few shaky moments.

Another strategy: the "big names" may seem always busy and surrounded by people, but less famous people are often dying to have someone talk to them. It's a opportunity to become one of those "already-made friends" for next time.

#387 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 07:54 AM:

Seth #385: To give you my example of what that's for, the doctor did the same to me at my exam a few days ago. When I said "ow" for my lower left abdominal quadrant, the doc alerted and confirmed that yes, I was tender there -- and later said yes, that was a typical presentation for diverticulitis. If I'd had tenderness in my lower right abdominal quadrant, that would have been much worse news; it would have suggested appendicitis.

Basically, our organs are arranged quite consistently within our body cavities; individual people may have variations, which get noted in their medical records. The exact location of a pain narrows things down a lot, often to one or two likely diagnoses.

What you should do: Before they start that part of the exam, warn them that your belly has always been tender. When they do the prodding, you should report to them any places, where it hurts more than usual. That said, you might well have a long-standing congenital condition; if it's practical, you might want to ask your doctor about chasing that down when you're not dealing with some other crisis.

#388 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 08:54 AM:

In another part of the forest, Mike Glyer was hit hard by an illness that knocked him off File 770 for around a week as the most recent Pixel Scroll became as long as an Open Thread here. Occasional bulletins came from friends. He was in the hospital. He was on the mend.

Then Mike posted from his phone to say he'll be back before too much longer, probably taking it easy as he gets himself back. Congratulations and good wishes from all corners are showing up in the "getting better" thread, some from familiar names I don't usually see at File 770.

All we wretched scum who inhabit his hive of villainy are damn glad he's getting past this bout of infection, I can tell you.

#389 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 08:55 AM:

posting before breakfast, sigh: "long-standing congenital condition" is of course redundant. Putting an "or" in there makes it not so much.

#390 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 10:18 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @314

I'm glad you survived!

#391 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 10:25 AM:

Cons and elevators. There are never enough. If you can, take stairs and leave elevators for those exhausted or reliant on wheeled devices. I *think* Kansas City Convention Center is mostly horizontal space, not vertical, so this will not be as limiting as other cons that aren't in a horizontal space.

There is a program for new participants. On Thursday, Aug 18, 1:00pm-2:00pm starting in the Marriott Lobby and called a tour (so they will probably be walking around).

#392 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 10:51 AM:

Oh! For some reason it just clicked that not everyone here has been to Bartle Hall before. It's a super cool space, and it is mostly horizontal, like LadyKay says.

One thing I would warn y'all about, though: There are tunnels underneath Bartle that go to a lot of useful places like nearby buildings and parking garages. The signage down there is terrible, though, and it's super easy to get turned around and lost. You aren't going to end up anywhere dangerous, but it's really frustrating.

#393 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 11:20 AM:

381 ::: Jacque @381 said: More than once I've had to school medical professionals to, yes, please, use the big words with precise meanings. If I don't know what it means, I'll either ask or look it up. Fortunately, I've got my current crew pretty well trained.

We were apparently one of the only sets of parents in our pediatrician’s practice who reflexively said ibuprofen and diphenhydramine and loratadine and so on instead of their most common brand names.

This is because we both come from doctor-heavy, nerdy, chemical-aware families … but also because we buy generic and that’s WHAT THE BOTTLE SAYS, so it trains my brain.

In regard to Cally’s revelations @372 about MidAmericon’s consuite’s inability to serve food, this is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for all cons. We’re either too small or too big for hotels to want us anymore.

— If a hotel is geared mostly towards weddings and small conferences like Amway, they have maybe four biggish function rooms, some smaller ones, and lots of sleeping space, plus one hotel restaurant and one bar.

These are big enough for fairly small fan-run SF conventions, but often have a bad mix of function space for us (we want more fits-120-and-a-panel-up-front rooms and fewer echoing, cavernous ballrooms). They can be made to work, but we’re “annoying” from their point of view, because we want water service all night, want to run a consuite that might be destructive (liquids, power usage, possible flames, loud activity at all hours), want to stay up all night in certain rooms (loud again, though they can sometimes put only convention sleeping rooms around them in a barrier so airline staff or wedding guests won’t complain). We have specialized needs and demands that, really, none of their other events or clients ever have, so we need to train them up and “force” them into unnatural procedures.

But they don’t really want us. They want to fill the hotel with weddings every weekend, because weddings are offing lucrative. They don’t, usually, fill the sleeping space (and some conventions do, to the brim), but they only need a ballroom and 3-5 non-ballroom spaces, and they only use them for 12 hours or less. They can charge through the nose for this, and the procedures for dealing with their needs is utterly standard.

— If a hotel is geared mostly towards big conferences, we’re way too small. These spaces have even MORE echoing enormous ballroom-esque space, except now it’s trade-show space. They have several concession restaurants and a concession bar or two. They have many, many hallways connecting their varying-size echoing huge spaces, and very few small 120-person-scale rooms. They are often adjacent to several hotels, but do not themselves house a very big one.

This is why convention centers set up this way it LOVE comicons or SF gate-show type conventions — they’re mainly dealer floor or big announcement spaces, with maybe 10 breakout programming “panel” rooms, and almost all the attendees stay in the big space or else go outside or in the public, hallway-type spaces in the convention center. They’re easy. They rarely need all-night service of any kind. An AWFUL lot of attendees come on day badges or sleep somewhere else, which is even simpler for convention centers to deal with. They want Comicons, or the Boat Show, or the Auto Show, or wedding-supplies shows (where dealer after dealer shows you the latest in styles), or similar shows for any other industry. Then they can rent a third or half their space to a single function that can pay them an AWFUL lot, because of dealer fees or because the event just makes that much money.

What they don’t want is us. We use maybe four of the big echoing rooms, or take more cut them up into really bad smaller rooms. We use every one of their small meeting rooms, and grouse that there aren’t more. We want water service at all hours. We want to make noise, and be obvious, and “bother” all the other clients they have that weekend — and they HAVE to have other clients that weekend, because we don’t take up anywhere near half their space. We’re way too much of a pain in the ass, and we want discount after discount (to get the membership price down to what fen expect to be a reasonable maximum).

This is why it’s a really bad idea for bid committees to try to put Worldcons in “first-tier” cities anymore, because they only have those two kinds of site and zero that are a size to want Worldcons even a tiny bit. Midrange hotels, with our ideal mix of function space, haven’t been constructed new for well over a decade. They’re just too neither-fish-nor-fowl for modern hospitality conglomerates to want. We are one of the few functions remaining that actually USE that space mix (with professional conferences like AMA and university subjects; and even they can usually make a big “wedding” hotel work, plus are more likely to be able to expense costs and therefore make it up to the site financially).

“First-tier” cities like London, Chicago, San Francisco, etc, have lots of groups like Cisco Live and the like vying for space in their huge convention centers AND WOULD FILL those spaces. They really don’t want to cut a Worldcon any deals at all, because they can make a lot more money than us for less pain in their asses.

Some “second-tier” cities, like Reno, Kansas City, Helsinki, etc, have venues with just enough space to really throw a good Worldcon, but no bidding wars for them, and their venues tend to be just a LITTLE less towards the modern construction ideal of all-ballrooms-and-trade-floor, zero-panel-rooms. We can actually get concessions on rate and features in cities like this … or used to be able to, in the past decade.

However, it looks like even that gap is narrowing. Convention spaces REALLY REALLY do not like all-hours events, because their nightly staff drops heavily from the daytime payroll, so they’d have to hire on or give more hours solely for us, which is expensive. They REALLY REALLY want a captive audience eating only at their concessions (or going outside to eat in the main city; places where this is common are more likely to allow at least minimal consumes), because, as in movie theaters, that’s their main profit engine. If they have to charge us bargain-basement prices and then let us undercut their actual revenue sources with faucets of free food — why on earth would they ever take us?

And site voters — the people who care enough to join future conventions and bother to vote — seem to overwhelmingly vote on the criterion “Where would it be nice to extend my vacation before or after?” which biases strong to first-tier big destination global cities. If those cities still have surviving conference infrastructure from the days when Worldcon-able hotels were actually being built, maybe they can pull it off. It’s my understanding that’s what the most recent LACon did. But from here on out bid committees are going to have a much, much, MUCH harder time of putting Worldcons right into the middle of an urban fabric (or even in the close suburbs) of a major, first-tier, tourist-destination city. At least without upping membership fees by far more than twice their current acceptable levels, which would tank attendance (and raise fees, etc; feedback loop) because a lot of Worldcon-attending fen genuinely cannot afford anything higher.

It is a puzzlement.

In Chicago, we're finding that even our medium-large (300 attendees or so and up) conventions are being squeezed by this. Hotels are reconstructing themselves to reduce their panel-room space (WisCon's hotel did this, for example, crippling programming this year, and causing significant angst about needing to change venue, when there really aren't any good options that exist), or to enlarge their ballrooms, or in one longtime Chicago convention hotel's case, eating an entire wing of great panel rooms to install an indoor water park and try to get some nearby parents-and-kids weekend hotel room business.

Nobody wants groups like us, economically.

#394 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 11:22 AM:

More good wishes to Fragano.

#395 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 12:22 PM:

Elliot Mason @393 -- Columbus, Ohio's hotel/convention center that is used for Marcon would be perfect for a Worldcon. But every time we've had a bid committee, the voters choose somewhere else.

There have been 3 attempts since I got into fandom in 1974, none successful. Damn shame, but I think it's going to be a long, long time before anyone in town has a big enough war chest to try another bid.

#396 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 12:26 PM:

Marcon's site is the closest to an absolutely perfect largeish-SF-convention site I've EVER seen. And you can actually walk to food from it.

#397 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 12:42 PM:

I'd like to see Columbus bid again. It took KC several tries to get a Worldcon.

Anyone who is bidding for a small or mid-size location for a Worldcon would do well to talk up their similarities to Spokane.

#398 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 12:44 PM:

Elliott Mason, that's the reason that all the "Chicago" general SF conventions* have moved out to the suburbs. The suburban hotels still have a suitable mix of function-room size.

*Windycon, Capricon, Duckon,** and Musecon -- listed in order of age and coincidentally also of rough attendance levels from (very approximately) about 1500 at Windycon to about 300 at Musecon

**assuming it resurrects

#399 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 01:40 PM:

CassyB @398: Musecon is moving, because it's now too big. There are maybe three (and more likely two) Chicago-area hotels we could host a convention in anymore. That's why they keep ending up in Yorktown -- they still WANT us. The Woodfield hotel really seriously quit wanting any of us; it used to be in rotation and have two a year.

And on and on.

#400 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 01:50 PM:

Elliott, #393: I agree with your assessment. We need to be looking at second-tier cities -- places where we're the right size for the space and large enough to be a Big Deal. Spokane loved us; we were the biggest event they'd ever had in their convention center, and the whole downtown went out of its way to make us welcome. But do you remember the howls from some of the Old Phart Phen about having a Worldcon in a city that required a change of planes to reach? That's what we're up against even more than the "nice vacation spot" thing, I think.

Also, you may be mistaken about Reno not having bidding wars for its convention space. I don't know because I wasn't on the committee, but ISTM that any convention center in a city full of casinos is going to get a lot of business.

#401 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 02:24 PM:

Lee @400: Reno has multiple competing convention centers of varying sizes and ages (which is why they have so MANY conventions in a year).

#402 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 02:35 PM:

Fort Worth's convention center is actually an interesting one for a Worldcon -- I got a look at it when the AMTA convention was there, and it's not a bad mix. Didn't actually spec it out completely, but it's worth checking. It may not have the hotel rooms we'd need, though. (Massage conventions need many mid-size meeting rooms for what we'd think of as smallish panels because hands-on training requires one massage table per 2-3 people, and they take up significant space.)

#403 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 03:12 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 393
More than once, I've encountered doctors who only recognized drugs after I used the brand name. I.e. "I'm on omeprazole." "... which is... uh..." "Prilosec." "OH yes of course, blah blah..."

(not for that specific drug, but you get the idea)

(Chrome's spellchecker recognizes "Prilosec" but not "omeprazole" ...)

Anyway let's not judge MidAmericon too harshly before any of us even get there, ok? AFAIK their party setup is designed after London's, which apparently was very popular (I wasn't there).

#404 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 03:16 PM:

Fragano @ 314: I'm glad you made it, and I hope your recovery is both quick and thorough.

#405 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 03:55 PM:

Stumbled across on Twitter: Krugman offers the Serenity Prayer for the economy. The man has learned wisdom....

Much more distressing stuff on Twitter too, but I don't feel the need to focus on that today.

#406 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 04:08 PM:

HLN: While I have not yet replaced the laptop that was destroyed last October (because it really needs to be able to run Photoshop and a couple of other intensive programs so that I can finally set up the occasional work-from-home deal), we did score a lovely cheap tablet on Prime Day, so I can at least be on social media. Yay.

terezarex: Don't forget that book signings may be part of your plan, and you will need to check ahead of time which books you want to lug around that day. You may also want to extend your budget to the art show, because it is possible to pick up a nice artwork for as little as $10, and not just at the print shop. (Prices can get into four digits, but that is super-rare.) Art tours are also lovely, and if Ctein is leading one, I would recommend that.

Scoping out the consuite before the convention gets going is something I didn't figure out until my third Worldcon. (Admittedly, my second one was hampered by distance since we had a new baby to tote, and that was the year the DNC cross-scheduled and loused up the whole setup, so that things that would have otherwise been centralized were pretty far-flung. I didn't find the consulate until the after-party.)

Wear a conversation starter. I didn't precisely wear one last year—I just dressed up my 11-month-old and let the conversations start naturally from "He's so cute!" Briefly (briefly!) give plaudits to the authors you find in the hall. ("I just wanted to say I love your story. Have a great con!") And if all else fails, it never hurts to ask to join a conversation. "I couldn't help but overhear this fascinating topic. May I join in?"

#407 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 04:35 PM:

Still wandering across the 'Net, I found a new-to-me blog by a brilliant writer: Hope Jahren, a scientist/blogger. Much of her work is painful, and some rates trigger warnings; this one is a tearjerker, in the voice of the abused dog she adopted.

I am a dog, and I don't know what's going on. But I know who I am.

#408 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 05:40 PM:

B. Durbin: If memory serves me right, the post elsewhere on the blog about PNH and TNH's schedule includes a TNH/Ctein art show docent tour. I've been to four Worldcons in this century, and I've gone on four Ctein/TNH docent tours, and they've all been splendid.

#409 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 07:49 PM:

David Harmon @ 374 ...
Huh. Just opened one of the rolls of "fruit leather" I bought on the way back from Africa. This is a very different stuff than what I'm accustomed to call "fruit leather": Instead of a smooth, soft, and slightly sticky stuff, this looks more like actual leather, and chews like dried fruit. Perhaps 2-3 mm thick, stiff in the curl, with both sides of the sheet textured like the back side of leather.

Yup -- that's the stuff that I first encountered as "fruit leather" -- made, I suspect, by spreading fruit pulp out manually, rather than involving machines.

#410 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 09:38 PM:

I see from the program guide there is a volcano eruption every night, so if there is a Gathering of Light, that could be a decent first approximation of an area.

#411 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2016, 09:41 PM:

Fragano, I have had a ridiculous number of near-death experiences. For one thing, I have some sort of bleeding disorder, which from time to time causes me to lose all my blood (or almost). I told a friend about my history in an e-mail headed "Living on Borrowed Time."

Her response was "You must have very good credit!"

Sounds like you enjoy an excellent "credit rating, too."

#412 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 01:45 AM:

xeger @409, that is how we made fruit leather back in the day: boil fruit pulp (plums work really well) down to a thick slurry, spread it on plastic wrap and put it on racks in the fruit dryer. Roll it up and stash it in jars or wherever, it lasts for years without canning.

#413 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 06:32 AM:

Just caught up on the Open Thread since my last post, and all the medical news happened since then. Huge congrats to Xopher (I remember folding those cranes with Jacque!), and a gasp of shock followed by gratitude to the fates for the continued existence of Fragano.

To commiserate with someone way upthread about daily medication: I had my 40th birthday this year - which didn't make me feel old, why should it? - but I went on medication to control my blood pressure - which damn well did, even though it shouldn't either. This is yet another medication that means no more grapefruit. Beans nothing, it's grapefruit is the magical fruit; it seems to interact with EVERYTHING. I got my doctor's blessing to continue drinking grapefruit La Croix, because clearly that stuff is flavored by merely waving it around in the near proximity of the fruit in question, but I am not allowed any more grapefruit IPAs. Which is a pity, because up until then the only IPA I liked was Abita's Grapefruit Harvest seasonal. I have since been experimenting with other citrus IPAs and have found New Belgium's "Citradelic" (tangerine) a decent replacement.

The doctor keeps confusing me by referring to the medication by its brand name, despite that what I've actually picked up at the pharmacy has one of two possible generic names on it.

I'm terribly jealous of everyone who'll be at World Con this weekend. I'll be here instead (Boulder County Bombers, Seed 8 in the bracket) for my first time ever, so I guess I can't complain too much. It is all very exciting. (Link relevant to anyone interested in the livestream, which will naturally be limited to those *not* at World Con because come on. For y'all, footage should be up under "Archives" sometime after the weekend's over with.) If everything goes to plan and we win our first two games, I should be free to watch the Hugo Awards livestream if there is one, so that's something.

Argh. I should be asleep. Off to try to fix that.

#414 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 08:16 AM:

Apropos of nothing... it has randomly occurred to me that the word "atom"... isn't atomic. The root is atomos, or a-tomos, "not-" and "cut".

#415 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 11:24 AM:

David Harmon @407, I got as far as "I realized that your babies, though furless and helpless, were not prey. Because they are sacred to you they became precious to me." before I broke out into the spasmodic noises through peeled-back teeth which sound more like laughter than sobbing (and might be) which is how I respond to powerfully moving things, like when I read the words of the Gettsyburg Address off the marble wall of the Lincoln Memorial, or more recently when I heard my youngest say, "I get it now! All men are my brothers, and all women are my sisters, and all animals are my brothers, too -- only cuter!"

#416 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 12:44 PM:

A nightly volcano eruption at the Worldcon?

I remember the tree at Loncon III, which sufficed as a landmark but which nevertheless disappointed me. In my distant schooldays I had a dual role in the school's production of the Lincoln cycle of Mystery play, a brief speech as a prophet "ecce vox clamantis in deserto", followed by pulling a string on cue to generate a miracle involving a tree.

We had better fake trees in my youth.

I am not sure what sort of volcano to wish for.

#417 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 01:57 PM:

Victoria @ 240: I was referring to woods, not just tall plants, but wasn't clear about the distinction. The lack-of-water explanation for trees was one I got some time ago; do fires really account for all of the million or so square miles of prairie? (I'm noticing that fires don't clear the adjacent mountains for more than short periods.) Or are fires on the plains an effect of water shortages?

re a subthread: "Send cancer to Coventry" just doesn't seem strong enough -- although ISTM that it has a certain gruesome resonance with the medical reluctance to say that a cancer is outright cured.

Elliott Mason @ 281: you're working on vascularization? Neat! I was watching local efforts on this some time ago, and heard that some promising ideas that were cleared for more-general use hadn't done as well as expected; glad to hear this is still being chased. (Very thin connection: Judah Folkman's wife sang for some years in the chorus I've been in since finishing college.)

terezarex @ 284: The two may be in different places to make getting the chosen liquid easier/cheaper. This may mean leaning across the table in a noisy space -- but don't let that stop you if the headliner interests you. You've already had a lot of excellent advice; I'd emphasize getting out, as KC barbecue is a must for meat-eaters. (Ask five locals for the best in the neighborhood and you'll probably get at least six favorites; I was last there 35 years ago so I won't suggest anyone. One tactic: follow your nose.)
     One addition to various comments on water: if you're tiring, drink first, then think about eating -- it's very easy to become dehydrated enough to feel blah without specifically feeling dry. If you have pack space, carry a bottle; a $1-$2 ~24-ounce ]single-use[ bottle can usually be refilled repeatedly, as water fountains are required in most states, and sipping is easier than gulping.
     IIRC, the con suite for MACII is in public space rather than squirreled away, so it's easy to look in on. But also look for loose seating: Worldcons \try/ to scatter couches around large spaces, both easing one's feet and providing nexuses(?) for impromptu gatherings. (I don't know whether MACII had the money for this.)

Fragano @ 314: glad to hear you survived that grinder; best wishes for continued improvement.

David Harmon @ 336: just so. Chondromalacia patellae may just mean "the cartilage under your kneecap is damaged" (a long time ago, from excessively-vigorous orienteering when I was out of condition), but it's easier to index clearly and hence to look up.

DDB @ 371: Could "manufacture" be the semi-opposite of "grow"?

Elliott @ 393: I've been winding down my involvement in conrunning after ~40 years, but I wonder whether you're extrapolating too much from issues with one monster city (cf NYC, which hasn't had a downtown regional or a convincing Worldcon bid in decades) and one ... peculiar ... hotel. I see many medium-to-large pure hotels built with space that can be subdivided by airwalls, because they know that makes them attractive to more kinds of conventions; IME only the oldest hotels fail on this. (e.g., in metro Boston the worst hotel for subdivision is the Park Plaza, which Wikipedia says opened in 1927.) Flexible hotels are certainly still being built; Boston's harbor-area Westin is only about a dozen years old and has 3 large subdividable spaces plus a lot of smaller rooms, and the Marriott that hosted the last Readercon may be even newer. (And like both Readercon's previous site and the Westin its biggest room had end slices that could be further subdivided.)
     wrt site selection voters choosing for tourism, I note that Orlando got creamed when it ran for 2015 despite running against Spokane -- which AFAICT is a destination only for people who run more to outdoor occupations than typical fans.
     "We're bottom feeders, Henry" has been true for a long time; convening hobbyists of any sort are at a disadvantage compared to professionals who can write off (or get reimbursed for) high fees. But there are still good hotels looking for groups; whether they're looking at times when a fannish group can pull together may be another question. (e.g., Boston starting bidding for Orlando for 2001 because it was asked for unworkable rates+conditions; the offers for 2004 were usable.)

Lee @ 400: what howls? Practically every non-hub requires a change of planes unless you want to pay through the nose (and hubs tend to have higher airfares). I'm sure there were stupid remarks on Teh Interwebs, but that's hardly surprising or a concerted movement. I personally had \two/ changes each way for the convention (just one for the site visit) -- but I was going for the absolutely cheapest airfare (and not calculating that I'd arrive so late both ways that I spent most of the savings on taxis, or realizing that codesharing the hop between Spokane and the coast meant I'd pay for luggage on the way back).

David Harmon @ 414: you mean it's het rather than hom? (Can't find a link, but I remember ~35 years ago a ~game: finding words that opposed or matched themselves.)

#418 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 02:24 PM:

Dave Bell@416:They are claiming it to be Olympus Mons--so it had better be mighty indeed.

#419 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 05:11 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @314: Phew! Sympathies for all of that, Fragano. Here's hoping convalescence goes smoothly from now on. Sounds like you have a good physio - keep doing the exercises and rest lots in between (most people underestimate how much energy is taken with healing).

#420 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 06:39 PM:

John M. Burt #415: Yah. I mostly just tear up, but I do it at all the Mysteries.

CHip #417: I think these days, we'd need to find less loaded terms for that distinction. "self-describe" works fine.

#421 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 07:36 PM:

I am in Kansas City. Xopher posted on Twitter that he is, too. And I passed Patrick in the hotel lobby a little while ago.

The art show is behind on getting set up; I spent most of the afternoon ziptying* pegboard and helping move panel assemblies and tables yet again. By the time I left, the placements were final and some of the art (including mine) was in set up, although the bid sheet printing was having problems.

I'm going to take it easy this evening, just hanging out in my hotel room. I got up far too early this morning to catch a flight, and it's been a stressful couple of days in general.

*ziptie-ing? neither way looks right

#422 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 07:38 PM:

Oh, and the obvious place to meet in the public con spaces is by the ~20 foot high inflatable astronaut.

#423 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 08:37 PM:

I'll be in tomorrow afternoon/evening -- I'm missing all the fun, clearly!

#424 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 09:09 PM:

I have achieved Kansas Cityness, after many many many travels (and spotting roughly 10% of the candidates for this year's Rose of Tralee, walking from hotel reception to hotel room yester, um, Monday). Apparently I've been up for ~20 hours and I think one or two more should suffice to force-sync to local-time after sleep.

There were not a few fans riding the 18:21 Metro bus from the airport.

#425 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 10:24 PM:

Finishing off various things tonight. We're driving down, starting in the morning, far too early. Getting in late afternoon, if all goes well.

I have all the videos for tomorrow up in the Dropbox folder :-).

#426 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 11:22 PM:

I'm here late packing my Fermilab office for a move. Need to put in some time working on a slide show, too.

Morning, throw everything in car, drive to KC. Look for me starting Thursday morning.

#427 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 12:10 AM:

I've just been asked to take over the Worldcon program item Mike Glyer was supposed to be running on remembering folks who died this year, on Sunday afternoon at 5. Some of you might want to be there -- and I hope there are no surprise additions before the item.

#428 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 08:25 AM:

Xopher, your email may have been hacked; I discovered something in my spam trap claiming to be from you with a pretty clear spam link payload. The email address was kbcure_unggba@rqevire.pbz.oe

#429 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 09:20 AM:

Or someone who has Xopher in their address book.

Defenestrate hackers.

#430 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 10:10 AM:

CHip @ 417

Yes, fire makes a huge difference in keeping woody invasive species out of grass lands. In fact, fire is essential for healthy prairies and pastures (which are not prairies, but rather former crop ground seeded with grass).

Grass fires get up to 800C/1,472F. With temperatures that hot, any sapling, seedling, or sprout is toast. Grass fires also spread very quickly. Burn bans (as in no fires set anywhere that is not a BBQ grill, and preferably not even there) are in put in place when the weather is windy and the ground not saturated with water. (Saturated ground means damp-ish dead grass, so it takes longer to start/burn) This is because grass fires move fast. Every so often, a local research area* gets accidentally set on fire by passing motorists flicking a cigarette out their window while driving on the interstate. The whole 8,616 acre (13.4 square miles) research station burns in a few hours -- with fire fighters trying to put it out and mostly failing. Once a grass fire gets going, the only thing they can do is keep the permanent structures from catching fire.

Before Europeans settled the prairie, Native Americans burned the prairie on a regular basis. Spring burns did two things for the native populations. Drive game before it (and into traps) and draw bison and other game back afterwards. Spring burns encourage new, fast growth in grass. Research has shown, that the early, fast growth has the best nutrition for grazers. Between lightening strikes and set fires, woody plant growth was discouraged on the prairies for centuries.

As for grassland research, if no one burns grass, after 5 years trees and other woody species get established enough to withstand the grass fires. After about 10, gallery forests (thick stands of trees along water courses) form. With time and lack of range management, forests will form where once there was only grass.

* I once had a conversation with a rancher who used to manage the Konza when it was an actual ranch, before it was bought by the Nature Conservancy and turned into a research station. His rant about "them over-educated idiots not burning when they should just ruined the ranch!" was only the beginning. He cussed out the biologists for close to 45 minutes. It was impressive.

#431 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 02:29 PM:

#429 ::: TomB Only if they're not using Linux or MacOS (or *BSD, etc., just not Windows, get it?).

#432 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 02:36 PM:

Come to think, why personalize it at all? Trash cancer.

#433 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 08:06 PM:

I just came up with a story-seed, whcih I offer to any who (unlike me) is likely to make use of it:

The protagonist is... quite a nasty fellow: Violent, debauched, treacherous, and a bully to boot (he'd say he's a "real man", who's accepted his strength as a predator), he delights not only in indulging those traits, but in tormenting the kind (who he disparages as weak), and messing with other people's relationships ("deluded fools").

In the course of his debauchery, he has been experimenting with making his own drugs, and in fact has strayed from chemistry into alchemy. One day, he stumbles upon the lost notes of a certain 19th-century doctor. The fellow had been a total nebbish -- fat, weak, and repressed -- but he'd found a serum that not only made him younger and stronger, but taught him how to unleash his animal passions. Unfortunately for the doctor, his serum proved to depend on an unknown contaminant in the ingredients -- but our protagonist, with the benefit of history and modern knowledge, is able to figure out what it was, and recreate the serum. He takes it eagerly, expecting to become even more "strong" and "passionate".

Unfortunately(?) for him, that's not what Dr. Jekyll's serum does. It unleashes and gives form to whatever traits the taker has repressed....

#434 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 08:08 PM:

Addendum: Yeah, I can't be the first one to think of that, but it just struck me hard enough that I had to let it out....

#435 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 10:19 PM:

We ended up eating at the same restaurant as Tim Caine tonight in KC. Brushes with real world fame! And there were at least 3 ex-Worldcon chairs at the restaurant....

#436 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 12:57 AM:

Carrie 428: Thanks for drawing my attention to it. I've never used any email address from that domain; the pre-@ part appears to be derived from my old Yahoo account. So they haven't so much hacked my email as created an email account to fool people into thinking the email is from me.


TomB 429: That seems likely, yes. As the late Judy Harrow would say, "Defenestration's too good for them! Throw them out the window!"

#437 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 06:29 AM:

Spoofy Email: I've been seeing a few like that, supposedly from my family, in my spamtrap. I consider them in the same category as "Fidelity Bank" <>.

#438 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 08:37 AM:

David Harman #433: oh, I like that. The chemically enhanced awakening of conscience has a lot of potential.

#439 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 08:43 AM:

The Hyde-Jekyll idea seems promising. It's a little like the origin of Menthor, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. agent, in the 60s Tower Comics. He's a spy, planted in the organization, and tests so well they put him in the helmet that gives the wearer telepathy and telekinesis. He gloats inwardly as he puts it on, but finds that the helmet constrains him away from evil, and he becomes a regular agent like the rest. (Oddly, when the helmet is worn by someone else, there is no such effect.)

#440 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 09:46 AM:

And then there's Borgel by Daniel Pinkwater.

Gur onq thl rngf Tbq, jub vf cerfrag nf na benatr cbcfvpyr cynlvat va gur sberfg (guvf vf Cvaxjngre, nsgre nyy). Ur qbrfa'g raq hc qbzvangvat Tbq.

#441 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 12:50 PM:

Again thanks for all the good wishes.

Older: I told an old friend that I felt like a cat. She pointed out that meant I still had six lives left. I'm going to attempt to hoard them. I have fewer years ahead than behind.

#442 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 12:53 PM:

Victoria 430: Tropical savannas also need to be maintained by regular fires, I understand. In fact, I've understood this for several decades and I'm nowhere near being an expert on the subject. Is there a huge difference between temperate grasslands like prairies and pampas, and tropical grasslands like savannas?

#443 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 03:11 PM:

African savannas and their adjacent forests are also extensively terraformed by elephants.

#444 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 03:40 PM:

in science news: Hoverflies apparently have no sense of gravity - they orient themselves using visual cues.

#445 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 10:09 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 442
I don't know. Nor am I willing to speculate.

I live near the Konza and have taken advantage of the guided tours they have every other year during their Open House weekend. 95% of the Konza is closed to the public and the remaining 5% is in danger of being closed. Too many people are not following the signs instructing about hours of operation and no food/drink on the walking trails. The picnickers and the random bits of trash from hikers are damaging the experiments and/or polluting the watershed -- which is also researched*.

Locals can tell when the Konza is accidentally set fire. The research plots are about .25 to .5 square miles in area and are burned in the spring based on the research happening in that area. So the smoke is small and fades quickly. When a passing motorist is careless** and the whole research station burns, the smoke travels for miles and lingers for two to three days.

Elliott Mason @443
Bison do for the prairie what elephants do for the savanna. They dig out wallows in the grass where they can roll around in the dust or just lie down. Those depressions collect and retain water that smaller species rely on. A fun fact about bison. When storms come, they don't head for low ground and shelter with their back to the wind like cattle. They head for high ground and face into the wind. According to the old rancher I mentioned up thread, they're mean, too. They'll chase a horse and rider down "on a whim". On one of the tours I took years ago, a bull stood between the hay rack and his herd. Someone commented that he was posing for us. All I could think was "He's assessing us to see if we're a threat and need to be gored."

*There are a number of streams running through the area, one of which originates on the prairie itself. There is clear signage saying "stay out of the water, both you and your pets" but people keep ignoring it.

** The Konza has several burn crews to keep wild fires from starting when they do controlled burns.

#446 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 10:46 AM:

Victoria @445: There are also signs that the inhabitants used to purposefully manage where forests were in the northern reaches of bison ranges to encourage them to migrate to places it was convenient to hunt them (and to collect their dung afterwards).

Bison are also not, generally speaking, fenceable. The current ranches manage it by having very large areas and having convinced the founder calves that this is a migration pattern.

#447 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 11:22 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 421: I'm not surprised artshow setup is running late; I got a panicked call on Monday night from an associate who was trying to get setup moving. Apparently nobody ]realized[ that somebody who knew how to run setup needed to be found, since (AFAIK) none of the people experienced in that system are in KC. (If they'd admitted having an issue a while ago I might have called someone who I know is going and has some experience, but I wouldn't bet on that working.)

Ingvar M @ 424: ?candidates for this year's Rose of Tralee? I'm guessing it's a subtle compliment?

Victoria @ 430: As for grassland research, if no one burns grass, after 5 years trees and other woody species get established enough to withstand the grass fires. ISTM that that suggests that the \entire/ prairie burns at least once every five years; were fires (natural+set) that prevalent before the European invasion? I've seen high estimated populations before then, but those were mostly in larger communities that I wouldn't expect to accommodate major burnoffs.

In this year's Murphy shortlist: one of the reasons I'm not in KC is I expected it to be hotter than I like -- perhaps not San Antonio levels (100F every day of LSC3) but not pleasant. Looks like you're getting no worse weather than Boston, and tomorrow will be significantly cooler; have fun.

AKICIML: a conversation elsewhere raises a question: just what is it about crossroads that demons and other powers are believed to appear there, vampires (and other monsters?) should be buried there, etc.? I surmised that roads are supposed to connect adjacent settlements and so to meet where people are, making an unsettled crossing a place of suspicion -- but that's a wild guess.

#448 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 11:32 AM:

CHip @ 447 ....
I thought it was that something buried at the crossroads wouldn't know what road to take to wreak vengeance.

#449 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 11:46 AM:

CHip@447 - I thought it had something to do with ley lines and the power they gathered, that two ley lines intersecting had great power which someone/thing who could sense and manipulate it might use?

#450 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 11:54 AM:

Clarentine, ley lines are a very recent thing--like, mid-20th century. The crossroads idea is much older.

#451 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 12:49 PM:

CHip #447: As Xeger notes, a vengeful spirit would not know which way to go¹, but AIUI, Hecate was also supposed to be a patron of crossroads, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was shared by various sinister characters in other mythologies.

One of the perennial roots for mythology and folklore is fear... and how many travellers over the millennia, have come upon a crossroads and experienced that flash of uncertainty, "now which way do I go"?

¹ It occurs to me that such a being would be really screwed in a modern grid city. ;-)

#452 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 01:44 PM:

Hecate is not a sinister figure! She was the ONLY one who heard the cries of Demeter when Kore was taken from her, and came to comfort her. She represents, among other things, resistance against the patriarchy (which is, of course, why she's painted as evil by them).

She's the goddess of difficult decisions, of mystery, and of the night. Hers is the power that comes in your worst moment and lets you pull through it, and hers is the chaos that begins all creativity.

(I am not an unbiased source. I still have the little coin I made on the press at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in 1977; it says HAIL HEKATE QUEEN OF DARKNESS.)

#453 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 01:53 PM:

I'm not offended. An opportunity to teach something, that's all. Well, and due caution not to piss off Hecate. She's not evil, but she IS dangerous! But lucky for me has a sense of humor, or I couldn't have written the below and lived.

The most powerful Crone in the universe: Hecate!
All the Crones in the world are a whole lot worse: Hecate!
Hecate, Hecate, Hecate...
Hecate! I've drawn down a Crone named Hekate,
And suddenly that name
will never be the same
Hecate! I stood there and shouted "Hecate!"
And down the Lady came
with Earth and Air and Flame
and rain!
Hecate...say it loud and there's thunder crashing.
Say it soft: in the sky lightning's flashing. careful invoking Hecate.
The most powerful Crone in the universe...Hecate!

#454 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 05:39 PM:

Xopher, there's a difference between reclaiming a figure and whitewashing them. Hecate comforted Demeter just as older women have always comforted bereaved mothers, and and ISTR she was the one who told Demeter what had happened. But as I recall, she also told Demeter, essentially, "this is a done thing, you have to accept it". As a crone figure, she was standing with tradition and the power structure.

It was Demeter herself who challenged the Powers That Be in that story: Both striking directly against Hades with the Eleusinian Mysteries, and facing down Zeus himself by going on strike. And though she didn't win outright, she did force both of them to the bargaining table, and made them reckon with her.

#455 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 07:34 PM:

In terms of crossroads, they're liminal spaces, associated with decisions and turning points. They're neither part of one road nor part of the other, and at the same time they're part of both. Most places with magical associations have that sort of neither-but-both quality, I think.

In terms of burial (and possibly also demon-summoning), there might be something associated with the cross imagery in Christian and Christian-derived cultures. You can summon a demon but it won't be able to hurt you; what better place to bury a vampire than under a holy symbol?*

*Presuming a 90-degree crossroad and not the infernal six-way crossroad I used to have to navigate to get to work.

#456 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2016, 10:19 PM:

Elliott Mason @446

In Canada, at least, some time after the grasslands turn to forests, the beaver start building dams, and making swamps that turn to meadows.

My favorite beaver story: I saw this while driving by a semi-suburban house with a ditch in front. One tree on the lawn, about a 3-inch caliper transplant. But it's spring, there's running water in the ditch, and a beaver has neatly felled the tree. The "national rodent" can be a pain.

(Actually, Canada's national symbols: the maple tree, the Canada goose, and the beaver can all be nuisances quite easily.)

#457 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 02:43 AM:

Turns out the trick to herding beaver is: they plug where they hear turbulent water. If you want tell a beaver where to dam, pound stakes into the bottom such that the water runs noisily around them.

#458 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 07:51 AM:

Jacque @ 457 ...
Thus proving that beavers do give a dam?

#459 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 07:53 AM:

Jacque@457: neat!

#460 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 11:41 AM:

Victoria #445: I understand your reluctance. I'm left wondering, after what you and Elliot wrote, what animal(s) played a role in the maintenance of the llanos and pampas in South America, comparable to those of the bison and elephant. It couldn't be the llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas as they don't live in those environments.

#461 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 12:54 PM:

Fragano: I'm glad you made it back! Hopefully you can avoid more medical (mis)adventures for as long as possible.

#462 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 01:09 PM:

@Fragano Ledgister no. 460: Mastodons lived in South America, but I can't find a range map.

#463 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 02:20 PM:

Albatross #461: Thanks. I profoundly hope so too. Three hospital stays in six years, each of them involving knocking on the Reaper's door, is already too many.

#464 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 02:22 PM:

Jenny Islander #462: The mastodons were undoubtedly important to maintaining the llanos and/or pampas (or vice versa) a few thousand years ago. However, they're not around now, while the llanos and pampas still are.

#465 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 03:55 PM:

@458: Walked right into that one, didn't I? :-}

#466 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 06:22 PM:

I had always assumed that the crossroads would keep you from digging out because it was so busy-- you're getting twice the traffic stepping on you.

And with a lot of traffic (like Worldcon) comes not being able to find who you're looking for (like Worldcon). See you at the Hugos.

#467 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 08:48 PM:

The pampas might be like the steppes -- weather and soil conditions hostile to trees.

#468 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 09:03 PM:

There is a camelid that lives in the pampas, the guanaco. It's not as huge as buffalo/elephants/etc -- if I'm reading this right, it's about the size of a small white-tailed deer. I wonder if rheas also fill some of that ecological niche?

#469 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2016, 11:49 PM:

For those not following the Hugos this evening: the puppies got shut out again.
Novel: The Fifth Season
Novella: Binti
Novelette: Folding Beijing
Short Story: Cat Pictures Please
Related Work: No Award
Graphic Story: Sandman: Overture
Dramatic, Long: The Martian
Dramatic, Short: Jessica Jones
Editor, Short: Ellen Datlow
Editor, Long: Sheila Gilbert
Pro Artist; Abigail Larson
Semiprozine: Uncanny
Fanzine: File 770
Fancast: No Award
Fan Writer: Mike Glyer
Fan Artist: Steve Stiles
Campbell Award: Andy Weir

#470 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 12:02 AM:

Congratulations to the Hugo winners!
I'm looking at the Hugo statistics & longlists and will be keeping them in mind when I'm looking for something/someone new to buy & read.

#471 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 02:06 AM:

I didn't take notes on the Alfies, but I'm a very small part-winner of one -- LOCUS won one, and George included "all the guys and gals" as well as the editor. Since I'm a contributing editor (which means I write for them on an occasional basis), Liza said that includes me. It's an honor to not even be nominated....

#472 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 01:19 PM:

EPH was ratified. (Not without a lot of noise from various people who either like to listen to their own voices, or who like slating.)

#473 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 03:28 PM:

EPH+ passed first reading too. 4&6 was changed to 5&6 and ratified. 3-Stage Voting, which I thought was a TERRIBLE idea when I first heard about it, passed first reading after a lot of clarification convinced me and many others.

#474 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 05:59 PM:

PJ Evans @472: Thanks for the update. Mlle. Barebones - who is currently in Finland - was enquiring about this over on Twitter. (All being well, she's going to be at the WorldCon in Helsinki next year, and hoping to have a worthwhile set of nominees to vote on.)

(She's also hoping to meet some members of this fine community there. As am I, in fact.)

#475 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 06:52 PM:

Further updating:
Helsinki will use EPH and 5/6. It will need to ratify 3SV and EPH+ if those are to take effect in San Jose.

(San Jose and San Juan won their bids.)

#476 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 08:59 PM:

Can someone link to a good explanation of EPH+? I'm not familiar with it.

#477 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 09:23 PM:

There might be something at File 770 - there were several threads about the various proposals, and I was staying out of them because my brain wasn't following the ins and outs. (Voting theory is part of the problem, for me.)

#478 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 09:47 PM:

Here's my quick list of File 770 posts concerning the voting: Hugo Voting Rules Proposals Sponsored By Harris, Buff, Standlee, Others 22 jul Hugo Voting Proposal Status Update 13 jul All Hugo Nominees Who Finished Behind No Award Prior to 2015 18 jun To Say Nothing of the Dogs; or, How We Confound the Hugos’ Third Slump (Hugo voting proposal discussion 5) 31 may They’d Rather Free Ride: Hugos and Game Theory (Proposal Discussion Thread 4) 22 may Hugo Voting Idea Toolkit 17 may Three Possible Hugo Voting Alternatives 17 may Analyzing EPH 16 may

#479 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 10:23 PM:

Mary Aileen, I'm going to assume you remember how EPH works? Each category gets one point, divided among your nominees, so that if you nominate five works, each get 1/5 of a point, or three works each get 1/3 of a point.

With EPH+, the fractional points get smaller by some mathematically determined amount. So, two nominations get slightly less than one full point when added together; three nominations get a little less when totaled than two; four get a little less when totaled than three, and five get a little less total points than for four. As slates condense, the fractional point totals for the remainders grow towards one.

Examples: nominate one work - that work gets one point.

Nominate two works, each work gets 1/3 points (total .66... points) (until one is eliminated, then the remainder gets a full point)

Nominate three works, each work gets 1/5 points (total .6 points) (until one is eliminated, then the remainder gets 1/3 points each.)

Nominate four works, each work gets 1/7 points (total .57... points) until one is eliminated, then the remaining three get 1/5 points each.

Nominate five works, each work gets 1/9 points (total .55... points) until one is eliminated, then the remaining four get 1/7 points each.

Apparently this mathematically supercharges EPH and makes it measurably more effective at condensing slates.

Hope this clarifies.

#480 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 10:25 PM:

EPH+ is the same as EPH with different point division. So, you divide the ballot points as:
1 point for 1 remaining nominee,
1/3 of a point each for 2 remaining nominees,
1/5 of a point each for 3 remaining nominees, 1/7 of a point each for 4 remaining nominees, and 1/9 of a point each for 5 remaining
nominees (extending this pattern as needed if a ballot legally has more
remaining nominees).

See: Webster/Sainte-Laguë method

#481 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 10:26 PM:

P J Evans (478): Thanks. That helped a lot.

#482 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 10:29 PM:

Cassy B. (479)/Steve Halter (480): Thank you both. That was exceedingly clear. (I should have refreshed the page after following P J's links, before my previous comment.)

#483 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2016, 11:53 PM:

Here's a bit of explanation I posted over on File770:

EPH takes advantage of two facts about slate ballots: they are always a full list of 5; and they lose nominees at a slower rate than organic ballots do. EPH makes ballots weaker, the more candidates that they have still in the running. As we run through the process, eliminating works, organic ballots suffer losses and are strengthened for them, while the slate ballots do not. Eventually the slate ballots become relatively weak enough that they do lose a nominee. In the full cycle, this happens several times, so that the slate can’t sweep the ballot.

EPH+ makes larger ballots even weaker, thus increasing the strength of organic ballots relative to slates, and so ends up with a larger number of organic finalists.

#484 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 12:38 AM:

I greatly enjoyed Worldcon, though the list of people I meant to meet up with eclipses the list of people I actually met up with. One of these years, I will figure out the proper balance of planning and spontaneity for meals and coffee/ice cream.

Now I am going to seek the proper balance of catching up on sleep and getting things done. Starting in about twenty minutes, when I decide I can't read the entire internet at once.

#485 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 02:04 AM:

For those who haven't been following Chuck Tingle's reactions to being on the puppies Hugo-slate:


#486 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 09:02 AM:

I am not sure I want to read any of Chuck Tingle's fictions, and an internet image can be misleading, but he's a class act.

#487 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 09:51 AM:

Was he actually at the con? He seems like he'd be a lot of fun to hang out with, based only on the description of "Pounded by the Pound" ('In this horrific future [..] the Queen’s Guard have been replaced by flying reptiles with machine guns and the River Thames runs red with molten lava.')

He's making the world a better place, I say.

#488 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 10:07 AM:

SandyB @487: Impossible to tell, as he is massively pseudonymous and uninterested in being identified to any particular human.

#489 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 10:43 AM:

CHip @ 447
Were fires (natural+set) that prevalent before the European invasion? I've seen high estimated populations before then, but those were mostly in larger communities that I wouldn't expect to accommodate major burnoffs.

Yep. One, the plains Native Americans were very nomadic and followed the bison herds. (Which is why Custer and the US government encouraged/performed wholesale slaughter of the animals for their hides alone and left the carcasses to rot. The bison were the native peoples larder and tool box.)

Two, spring burns occur naturally because the previous year's grass (which could grow over 2 meters/6 feet tall, depending on the species) is nothing but dry tinder with very low nutrient value. While the ground would/could be damp, the taller stuff could easily be set on fire by lighting strikes. If the lightening landed before the rain hit, the storm winds (which can get up to 58 miles per hour or more. 58 is where NOAA calls it a "severe thunder storm"; the average storm wind speed is between 34-40 mph) would only fan the fire and drive it in advance of the storm front. One lighting strike could burn thousands of acres/hundreds of square miles easily. If you get a long line of thunder storms instead of the isolated kind... you're up to thousands of square miles burnt because of one rain event. Remember, modern burn bans are put in place when the A) the weather is too dry and B) the winds are too strong. While these are put in place year-round, they're most prevalent in spring when plant material is still winter-dry.

Because native Americans wanted healthy, plentiful bison, they made sure there was plenty of new, nutrient rich grass every spring. That meant starting fires when the weather wouldn't. Spring burns actually encourage grass growth by removing the dead matter that causes plant stress. (horticulture is a hobby I took classes on.)

Henry Troup @456
My favorite beaver story:

Heh. My day job is on a university campus with 1) an arboretum going back to the founding of the university 2)a small creek that only daylights on campus because the city has paved over everything but the last mile or so that empties into a nearby river. I was walking to an appointment and took the path that goes through one of the botanical gardens with a water retention pond in it. (Because the creek is buried, heavy rains flood the nearby streets enough that it drowns cars and allows the college students to inner-tube it down one of the streets like they're on a giant water slide.) I saw a 2 inch diameter tree had been gnawed off by a beaver. That's when I learned the grounds crew had been trying, and failing, to catch the culprit for a few months. It took down several trees (my second sighting was a 5 inch diameter tree) before it was finally trapped. It had been building its new dam/den in the culvert under the cross roads that covered one section of the creek. I estimate that the 10 pound animal had caved its way up 3+ miles of covered creek before finding the beaver equivalent paradise on campus.

Fragano Ledgister @460
I'm left wondering, after what you and Elliot wrote, what animal(s) played a role in the maintenance of the llanos and pampas in South America, comparable to those of the bison and elephant.

Possibly the Greater Rhea an ostritch relative. Research/summaries tend to list the most important first where "most important = keystone species." My google-fu for keystone species netted me this which may answer your question with a handy side-by-side click list of biological features. In an interesting side note, I recently learned that wolves are a (if not the) keystone species in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas.

#490 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 10:57 AM:

Victoria #489: Thank you. That does provide an answer.

Now, if only someone could come up with something for the llanos.

#491 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 11:37 AM:

Victoria @489: I recently learned that wolves are a (if not the) keystone species in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas.

And their influence is broader than one might expect: presence or absence of wolves actually impacts the hydrology. Like so: where there are wolves, dear are reluctant to go into the thickets around watercourses because there might be wolves lurking there to, you know, eat them. Therefore, the brush and saplings around watercourses grow more freely, providing food and material for beaver. Beaver become more prevelant, dam the waters, and improve the water-retention of the watercourses.

Saw a documentary on re-beavering a while back, and it was impressive. Fairly dry semi-desert landscape, but green and lush for a couple of miles upstream of the beaver dam.

#492 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 11:53 AM:

Coincidentally, I've just finished reading 1491 by Charles Mann this weekend, which goes into great detail about how much of the landscape of North and South America was created and maintained by the original inhabitants. Intentional burning to maintain the desired types of grasslands and forests was common throughout much of North America and also large parts of South America, along with arboriculture to create a forests of trees that could be harvested. There is not only physical evidence to prove it, we have diary and journal entries from early explorers and colonists describing it. (They were mostly baffled and saw the burning as pure vandalism or mischief, not understanding the purpose.)

The book is dense, fairly heavy reading for a non-technical book, but very rewarding. I kept having my mind blown every 30 pages or so by something completely new to me. (E.g. the Peruvian site of Norte Chico - clusters of cities in 3500-3000 BC, contemporary with some of the earliest cities of the Old World; or the evidence for millenia of arboriculture of the Amazon basin.)

#493 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 12:36 PM:

Jacque 360: I got around to googling 'bloodclot Jamaican meaning' just now. Let's just say that the definitions in Wiktionary and elsewhere online are just plain wrong.

The Jamaican word is 'bloodclaat' or (Cassidy-LePage orthography) 'blodklaat'. It is literally 'blood cloth', that is to say menstrual pad (or as Cassidy and LePage put it in their Dictionary of Jamaican English 'sanitary towel'). This makes it an exact synonym of another Jamaican swear word 'bumboclaat' or (Cassidy-LePage) 'bomboklaat' (literally, 'female genital cloth'), but given as 'sanitary towel'. I couldn't find the third synonym 'pussyclaat'/'pusiklaat' in the DJE.

#494 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 01:10 PM:

1. Nicole LeBoeuf-Little: My husband has great love for Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA (which won a worldwide award a couple of years back, something like "third best in the world.") It apparently gets its flavor from a somewhat grapefruit-y hop species, but to appease the FDA, who wants actual citrus content in something with "citrus" in the name, they toss a grapefruit into one of those huge brewing containers. (One of Evil Rob's high school classmates is a part owner of the company and told us the story.)

Hop Valley is out of Eugene, so you may have trouble getting some, but they have been acquired as a subsidiary of a national company and their beers are starting to spread.

2. Don't defenestrate. Transfenestrate; it means exactly the same thing, except you don't bother to open the window first.

#495 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 02:55 PM:

I'm reading The Fifth Season, and I got to the bit where ur oernxf ure unaq. This is really not the kind of thing I want to read, especially in what looks to be a semi-benign ongoing relationship.

My guess is that there will be more of the same, in which case I don't want to keep reading the book. Should I bail?

#496 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 03:01 PM:

No. This is part of what drives the plot.

#497 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 03:20 PM:


I'm wondering whether, at a sufficiently abstract level, the book is rather like Nassim Taleb's idea that if you try hard to prevent small problems, you get extremely large problems instead.

#498 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 06:04 PM:

Elliot Mason @488

Could Chuck Tingle be a Pseudonym for somebody well-known in our community? The Pel Torro of the 21st Century.

#499 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 06:41 PM:

@Dave Bell, it's not at all unlikely. If so, however, he (or she) has been very successful at not revealing their Secret Identity. (If not, she (or he) is a very quick study when it comes to Vox Day and What Would Irritate Him.)

Whoever Chuck Tingle is, I'm quite surprisingly chuffed that they came in third for Short Story, just after No Award. If only there was a Hugo for Best Performance Art....

#500 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 06:54 PM:

Cassy B. @ 499:

I'm still planning on nominating him for Best Related Work for the next Hugo awards.

#501 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 08:24 PM:

The Fifth Season is told out of chronological order, for reasons best explained by someone who understands literature better than I do. Some may find it part of the fun to figure out how the different parts relate. But if you want a more straightforward reading, try:

  1. Part 1 of Seveneves. I think it actually works as a contemporary account of the origin myth of Jemisin's world. (Sngure Rnegu vf natel...gurl qrfgeblrq uvf bayl puvyq.)
  2. The Damaya chapters.
  3. The Syenite chapters.
  4. The Essun chapters.

#502 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 08:35 PM:

The Obelisk Gate complicates that scheme. There are at least two factions in both the Stone People and the Orogenes.

#503 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 08:38 PM:

Current fun contemplation: retell _The Fifth Season_ from the point of view of (a) Toph Beifong; (b) Yellow Diamond.

(Further discussion on this is all spoilery, of course.)

#504 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 08:56 PM:

Re: Chuck Tingle: The first I heard of him was from here; did he start out writing "ordinary" formulaic gay porn (sold by the pound, "so to speak"), before he started in with the Dinosaurs & Sodomy theme?

#505 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 08:57 PM:

Clifton @492: The biggest "Oh, yes, I SHOULD have known that!" world-shift I got out of 1491 is that the legendary "blackening the skies, breaking boughs off trees" enormous flocks of passenger pigeons weren't "primal bounty," they were the kind of bizarre, destructive overpopulation you get when a major crown predator (native humans and their hunting practices) is eliminated.

Because of course they are. But the whole story has been passed down through white-people history as a valorization of Bountiful Nature For No Reason, when it (as with most of the Bountiful Nature Because God's Providence stories) is actually tied directly to the former presence of the Native Americans who have been systematically written out of history as simultaneously never-having-been-there and lost-and-romantic-as-an-allegory.

#506 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 09:57 PM:

I know nothing about the identity of Chuck Tingle. Based solely on the Dinosaur Sodomy theme, I'm more than half inclined to think that "he" is a Fluorospherian.

#507 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 11:14 PM:

Or maybe was at that particular writers' workshop.

#508 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 11:16 PM:

Yes, that's possible. I'd have to research when CT came on the scene vs. when the Dinosaurs and Sodomy discussion started here to differentiate, and I wouldn't have ANY way of finding out when that workshop was held.

#509 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2016, 11:44 PM:


#510 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 12:11 AM:

I was reading the comments on that thread and laughing so hard I was having trouble breathing.

#511 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 07:14 AM:

Okay, but that isn't exactly what I was asking. Having finally realized that of course he's got a Wikipedia page, I see that they (and GoodReads) don't list anything for him before December 2014, and yes he was doing dinosaurs from the start.

Now, C.T. could easily have read the story here, or heard it somewhere else, or even been at the workshop. And he's clearly aware of happenings in the SF community. But, the D&S thread here dates clear back to 2005, and the original prank was of course even earlier.

It was in 2013 that this NYMag article¹ interviewed a couple of women about their dinosaur erotica. And then late in 2014, here comes Chuck Tingle.... My guess is he read that article, and decided to work the other side of the street.

¹ Linked to our thread at the time, by Kevin Marks.

#512 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 08:22 AM:

More Chuck Tingle: An interview of sorts, and it seems he's also a sex columnist. Also, apparently running for Vice President under Channing Tatum. ;-)

#513 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 08:33 AM:

It's an interesting supposition. I emailed long-time regular Tuck Chingle to see if he had any theories, but Tuck's address doesn't seem to work now. I guess I haven't had much contact with him since about 2014, come to think of it. Good old Tuck! Hope he's okay.

#514 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 10:05 AM:

Elliott Mason @505, that was one of the big lightbulbs for me too, that really brought home the extent to which the Europeans were moving into a post-apocalyptic landscape in North America without realizing it. I thought that the passenger pigeon overabundance was less due to hunting (or a sudden lack thereof) than to the sudden lack of competition for acorns, but it's been a while since I read 1491. Must reread.

#515 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 10:55 AM:

I take for granted that Chuck Tingle is Steven King. Not because there's a shred of evidence (there ain't) but because that would be the most awesome thing if it turned out to be true.

#516 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 11:04 AM:

Chuck Tingle also gave a fabulous interview over at the Smart Bitches Podcast:

#517 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 12:45 PM:

Allan Beatty @501: I've actually been using a variant of this trick for movies that don't quite work for me. I skip ahead, watch for a bit. If I realize there's a bit of backstory I need, I scroll back until I find it. Then skip ahead again when I get bored. Lather, rinse, repeat. Last movie I tried this on, I actually wound up enjoying quite a bit. "Viewer's Cut" maybe?

#518 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 12:53 PM:

#516 ::: cyllan

Thanks for the link. I had no idea Tingle was going to be a reincarnation of Dr. Bronner.

As a general point, I have no idea how people can maintain anonymity if they give voice interviews. People would recognize my voice when I called in to NPR, and I think Tingle has a more distinctive voice than I do.

Getting back to The Fifth Season, it seems to me that in older sf, prejudice was a bad thing imposed on harmless people (think Slan or Methuselah's Children) but there's more recent work where sometimes people are oppressed because they're genuinely dangerous. Is this an actual trend? If so, what do you think is going on?

#519 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 01:19 PM:

B. Durbin @ 494 - Thank you for the recommendation, you make it sound utterly delicious! I wonder if "they tossed a whole grapefruit in and then took it out again" renders it sufficiently homeopathic* for avoiding medicine interactions? I suppose that'll be a question for my doctor if I manage to get hold of some.

*When I described grapefruit La Croix as "having been waved vaguely near the fruit in question," my husband said, "Ah, homeopathic soda," and it stuck.

Obligatory roller derby update: Our bracket had 10 teams. We played 4 games. We won 3 of them, two of them by as little as 1 and 3 points. We made off with fifth place, making history not only within our league but also within WFTDA as the lowest seed (#8) to ever upset a #2 seed in playoffs. Yay stats! I am full of bruises and pride and will be enjoying some well-deserved time off from practice.

#520 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 01:27 PM:

@Elliott Mason no. 505: Learning that it was so easy for colonists in some areas to spread around and grow food in the "wilderness" because that "wilderness" was farmland that had recently been depopulated by Western diseases was a bit of a shock. And of course they called it Providence.

#521 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 01:52 PM:

Finally home and catching up...

Seth, #392: We used the tunnels to go back and forth from the convention center to the Marriott (with a cart and when it was raining), and found the signage at least for that to be perfectly adequate. In fact, the heavy rain on Friday night vindicated my choice of the Marriott as our con hotel, because I made that decision based on the availability of a covered connection.

CHip, #417: I think Orlando lost for a combination of reasons:
- Florida. In August.
- They were bidding a Disney property. Disney is (understandably) ferociously opposed to people who are not employees wearing costumes of any kind. They said they'd negotiated an exception for us, but I suspect a lot of people didn't trust that.
- They were bidding Labor Day weekend, which (while traditional) is not practical for a lot of people any more.
- That was right around the time Florida enacted Stand Your Ground, making it a potentially lethal location particularly for fans of color. But I was worried about that as well (and still am) -- I have a temper, and I don't want to go to an event where if I get into a brangle with one of the locals he's going to feel that he can just up and shoot me and get away with it.

And some of the howling about Spokane was going on right here on ML -- you can probably find it by searching the site for "Spokane bid".

Mary Aileen, #421: I think it would be "zip-tying". At least, that looks right to me.

Clarentine/Carrie, #449-50: I first encountered the concept of ley-lines in Mercedes Lackey's books in the 1980s, and took it as part of her world-building. It might have predated that, but probably not by much or I'd have encountered it earlier.

Jacque, #457: Cool!

P J Evans, #472: And 3SV was passed on for ratification in 2017, also not without some sturm und drang. There was some dude named Joe Rhett who (1) didn't seem to understand the difference between 3SV and EPH, (2) appeared to feel that the rules weren't supposed to apply to him, and (3) eventually stormed out in a tantrum before they had to eject him. After that, things went much more smoothly; I think everyone else decided that no matter what objections they had to a proposal, they didn't want to be That Asshole.

Jacque, #491: When we went thru Yellowstone last year on the way back from Sasquan, my partner noted that the water in the rivers was now clear... as opposed to when he had last visited in the 70s, when it was opaque brown. The difference? Wolves, keeping the deer from overgrazing the grassy areas along the banks, which means that soil retention is greatly increased. Ecology is like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle.

Cassy, #499: There's also been speculation that Tingle is a consortium, based on what I'm told are stylistic differences in his writing. I'm certainly planning to nominate him (or rather, his response to the Puppies) for Best Related Work next year!

Worldcon notes:
- If there was any organized ML activity this year, I never heard about it. The only Fluorospherians I saw were those I ran into randomly (hi, Diatryma!) or at Teresa's reading.
- I bought a Martian Flat Cat, made by Mary Aileen, at the Art Show. It's a handsome critter, in a fur style and color that reminds me of a red Somali.
- Xopher, I'm sorry I missed you. It's quite possible that I saw you at the business meeting and didn't register who you were, and if that happened I'm even sorrier.
- My Saturday costume got tweeted on the MACII Twitter feed! Sadly, nobody got the character without being prompted; it was obscure, but I figured if it would be recognized anywhere it would be at a Worldcon. (Said character being Geremy Kantyka from HellSpark.)
- The "volcano" manifestation of Olympus Mons featured Frodo and Sam on a rock at the base of the eruption!

And a request for advice/help. I'm so used to taking pictures in portrait orientation (because I take mostly costume photos) that I made the mistake of taking a couple of videos in that orientation, and now they display sideways. Is there a way to rotate a video, or am I just SOL on those?

#522 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 02:10 PM:

Lee @521: Ley lines pre-date Lackey's 1980s use. First publication is Alfred Watkins' The Old Straight Track in 1925. I suspect, were I to dig out my Dion Fortune books that I would find some mention therein...and considering how many of those are still in print, between Fortune and Valiente would be where the concept leapt into the wilds of modern fantasy.

#523 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 02:12 PM:

Lee @ 521:

Windows Movie Maker is the free and easy way on Windows. It's also useful for other simple video edits and composition.

Instructions and download link.

#524 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 02:43 PM:

AKICIML: Anybody out there know whether chlorophyll would still be the best thing for plants to make food with if our sun were, say, blue? Or red? My daughter is curious and I can't seem to ask DuckDuckGo the right question. Would one of the other substances that we see in autumn leaves be better?

#525 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 03:03 PM:

Lee @ 521: I'm certainly planning to nominate him (or rather, his response to the Puppies) for Best Related Work next year!

I was thinking Best Dramatic Production: Long Form. Very long form.

#526 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 03:13 PM:

I, like many others, was following it at File 770. Which at least means I don't have to listen to someone who thinks that their purpose in life is to prevent changes by the business meeting. (There were some comments about Ben Yalow, also.)

#527 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 03:18 PM:

I can't help on the chemistry, but one of the terms you might want to try is "absorption spectrum".

#528 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 03:23 PM:

In re chlorophyll, remember that "green" is the wavelengths it DOES NOT absorb. The wavelengths it absorbs are the ones it gets energy from. So you want something whose absorption spectrum is related to what the star puts out -- and whatever it DOESN'T absorb is what color the plants will look like.

#529 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 03:27 PM:

Jenny @524:

There are at least 6 different types of chlorophyll out there, each with subtly different chemical structures and different absorption bands. The choice of which form a species produces seems to be based on habitat adaptation (e.g., chlorophyll a and b are produced by terrestrial plants and absorb blue and red light (slightly differently), and are what make plants look green. Chlorophyll d is produced by marine algae and cyanobacteria, and absorbs near-infrared (710 nm), which is easier to get in moderately deep waters via sun penetration.

If you were to rerun terrestrial evolution on a habitable world orbiting a redder star (close in to a red dwarf, for instance) you'd probably get a completely different set of photosynthetic chemicals because evolution can't be rerun. But if you were to transport Earth plants to such a world and let evolution continue, you'd probably evolve towards chlorophyll's better attuned to reds and infrareds.

#530 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 03:28 PM:

Jenny Islander @524: There are probably better search strings, but here's a first stop: optimal phytopigments for different sun colors

#531 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 03:46 PM:

Jenny Islander @520: Yet another example of (imperialist) white folks starting on 3rd base, working kinda hard, and then celebrating their home run with cheers and acclaim. Not even slightly the first time we'd be doing this on the continent.

See also: the entire Southern cotton economy only worked because two of the inputs (land that wasn't sucked dry yet, and labor) were effectively free. Paying fair rates for either of those would have tanked it far beyond economic reality.

#532 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 08:46 PM:

Elliot Mason #531: John Locke celebrated the free land in 1688: 'In the beginning, all the world was America'.

#533 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 10:38 PM:

Lori @522: I know there is mention of ley lines in Dion Fortune's "Goat-Foot God" published in 1936. The characters draw lines on a map to figure out the ley lines and locate a good place to look for property for a temple.

#534 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2016, 11:38 PM:

@Jacque no. 530: Phytopigments! That's the word I was missing! Thanks!

#535 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 01:19 AM:

Lee @ 521

I was surprised and delighted to see useful signs in the tunnels! I used them to avoid the downpour on... Friday? The day it rained.

MidAmericon 2 was awesome. Books! Costumes! Blood donations! Seeing all my friends! BBQ! So good. Yes.

Regarding the degree to which local people affected the landscape of present-day America: I was once told by a fellow SF fan that we would have no trouble colonizing Mars because we had had no trouble colonizing the prairie (aka the Great American Desert). They would not believe me when I said that humans had lived there for thousands of years (tens of thousands?) and had done extensive work to make the place useful for humans.

Also I heard a delightful theory regarding the turkey -- that they HAD been domesticated before white folks came along, and that we basically shot all the friendly trusting ones, which is why wild turkeys are such paranoid critters today. (altho that might be changing now that wild turkeys are everywhere.)

Also-also I will not hear ill spoken of beavers. Beavers are awesome.

#536 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 02:47 AM:

In addition to human cultivation of the prairie, there's the geological time which went into giving it a human-compatible atmosphere and ecology. Also, it's got the gravity we're used to.*Maybe* we can do well for the long term with Mars gravity, but we don't really know yet.

#537 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 04:09 AM:

In fairness to Ben Yalow, I should note that one of the amendments he argued against, The 5% Solution, repealed a rule that he was instrumental in putting in place. I tried to phrase my argument in favor as gently as possible ("This may have been a good idea when it was adopted, but conditions have changed and it's become a problem", basically), but he may have felt on the defensive.

#538 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 06:03 AM:

I saw both pnh and tnh at a distance several times and finally managed to say "hi" to them Monday evening. I did what seems to have become habit and volunteered for setting up and tearing down ("go team MIMO"?).

#539 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 08:23 AM:

So the phrase 'ley line' comes, as Lori Coulson says, from the 1921 book Early British Trackways by Alfred Watkins--The Old Straight Track is the 1925 followup. His thesis was that people liked to make sure that important sites (where 'important' usually meant 'sacred') lay along straight lines for ease of navigation, and that new important sites tended to be built on top of old important sites when necessary. There wasn't anything particularly mystical about it. He called the phenomenon 'ley lines' because a lot of the sites he noted (this is in Britain) had ley/lay/lea/lee/leigh in their names.

Statistical analysis has been done showing that any reasonably dense scattering of random points will have "ley lines" within the tolerances Watkins was using, and given that archaeological sites, standing stones, and sacred wells are not exactly uncommon in Britain, ley lines are pretty much pareidolia.

It was a guy called John Mitchell in 1969 who hooked the whole idea up with power, feng shui, and general New Age woo in the book The View Over Atlantis.

#540 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 09:12 AM:

Interestingly, words such as "ley" and "lea" go back to meaning some sort of patch of open ground, and the classification would include "field", "meadow", and such, so Watkins was really seeing something so common as to be meaningless. And England was by then a much more open countryside, so straight lines were easier. But most roads followed other geography. Some places might have had a visible landmark, but so much can block your view.

#541 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 12:45 PM:

Seth @535: Not to mention,
(a) the area contains quite a bit of life that is chemically compatible enough with us that we can eat it, and
(b) the air comes free.

If we had both of those on Mars we could totally handle building to deal with the radiation and dust. But.

Carrie S. @539: Something else that’s true about the landscape of England that wouldn’t necessarily occur to us Americans as a baseline reality of the area is how very much the touch of previous human occupation piled upon occupation actually shows in the current map.

Many field boundaries (lines demarcating one plot of property from another, either as farm plots or streets or even lines between one house and another) date back even before the Roman occupation, or into the Paleolithic.

North America has just as long a record of continuous human occupation, but many of the technologies and farming methods used here do not leave such obvious, permanent results. We have groves of only-food-species of trees, or old bent direction-finders, plus the more dramatic mound builder remnants (or the stone-built remains in Central America) or the standing cliff dwellings along the western river canyons.

#542 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 01:51 PM:

Elliott Mason, apropos of nothing in particular, but I sent you an email about that Windycon panel we discussed at Musecon. My emails seem to be going astray intermittently so I thought I'd mention it here, Just In Case.

#543 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 01:54 PM:

Ingvar M @538

My most unusual task in Worldcon moving in was to take plastic potted ferns out of their cardboard shipping boxes and put them in the parks. Those boxes were hard to open!

What was your most unusual task?

#544 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 02:27 PM:

I know there was supposed to be a Tor party, but I never heard when or where it was. AFAICT, it wasn't in the main party area.

#545 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 02:38 PM:

Well, now, The journal of record reporteth that we may have a compatible neighbour just within the reach of our current technology. That's over at Prox

#546 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 02:57 PM:

Lee@544:The Tor party was Friday night at the Crowne Plaza from 9PM - 1AM. I was there for awhile and chatted with DDB for awhile even though the noise level was fairly high.
They had tasty brownies.

#547 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 03:25 PM:

Lee @544: The Tor party was at the same time Friday night as the great deluge that we (barely) missed. Alas, the Crowne Plaza was not connected to the same tunnel system as the Marriott and Aladdin, and I didn't particularly feel like cosplaying a drowned rat, so I ended up not going.

#548 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 03:29 PM:

Steve Halter@546: Whoa! I did indeed talk to you then/there, and remember your name even--but did not then remember you were associated with this place :-( . My apologies!

The food at the Tor party really was quite good, quite varied. And the view out those windows was excellent, especially when I managed to catch lightning striking. (The party was on the 28th floor, with large windows in several directions.)

#549 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 03:44 PM:

DD-B@548:lol, no problem--it was a nice chat.

#550 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 04:40 PM:

The party situation led to at least three parties off-book, including the Tor one. I wouldn't have known about it if I hadn't managed to (finally) find people I knew. Had this been my first con, I would have learned about it later and felt horribly stupid for not knowing about it, but it was very much a word-of-mouth thing. Very good food, it is true.

#551 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 04:55 PM:

#541 ::: Elliott Mason

It's not like the colonizers took any time to try to understand if certain things were monuments or artifacts of intentional construction. I think it's Circleville (or Moundville?) Ohio that's laid out on a strict grid on the flat area made by bulldozing the existing ring mounds.

Presumably in Europe fewer of the changes of control over things like agriculture and boundary were as genocidal as the colonization of America. If you're a new people pushing up through Great Britain, you probably keep enough people around to show you how things were worked out up to that point. Then you take over existing systems because it's easier than starting over marking everything.

#552 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 05:02 PM:

O'Reilly Publishing sends me updates on new publications related to my interests in computer technology, for example the "container" software known as Docker.

Today's recommendations include a paper entitled "Delays entering a container port," which wins the "Which of These Things is Not Like the Others?" award:

In 2014, the average volume of cargo handled within Australia was 30,000 containers per month. Container volume has grown in the past couple of years, and Lozziestistics must improve the speed of its port operation, to enhance the quality of customer service and manage the increasing demand volume effectively and efficiently.

#553 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 08:12 PM:

Bob Webber @552: Had you seen this kickstarter project? It was a small desk-top computer intended for hosting Docker containers, in a case that looks like a lego-scale intermodal shipping container, complete with your choice of shipping-company livery. Sadly, it looks like they sold them all, with no sign of a 2nd round.

#554 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2016, 01:45 AM:

Brenda Kalt @ #543:

Amusingly, either "extract and move plastic potted plants" (I was sent to help out when there were one flower and somewhere in the region of 4 of the tallish "bushes" left) or "demolish the river".

Actually, all things considered, I think "demolish the river" probably takes the prize. In total, I recovered "more than 12 plastic ducks" (I know it's more than 12, because I stopped counting at the third set of 4 (what I could comfortably hold while still making demolishing progress) and there were more after that).

#555 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2016, 01:56 AM:

Me @ #554:

I also ended up asking the same (IIRC) question, twice, during the business meeting (basically "would passing this delay ratifying that?", phrased as "in Mr Chairman's opinion, does this constitute a lesser change").

#556 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2016, 03:40 AM:


The Gripping Hand featured the same pattern w.r.t. the Moties.

#557 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2016, 11:21 AM:

Ingvar M, I think I meet you after the Hugos in the Consuite, with Dr Helen.

Lesser or greater change was a highly useful question with all the changes that were considered or approved.

#558 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2016, 07:52 PM:

Nicole LeBoeuf-Little: The tanks in question are those great big steel ones that are what, 500? 1000 gallons? I'm pretty sure they're sufficiently homeopathic with one grapefruit in all of that.

#559 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2016, 08:25 PM:

Henry Troop @ 456: IME the Canada goose is a nuisance habitually, not just easily. New England is flooded with non-migratory Canada geese, but they've spread beyond this continent; when I first set foot in Kew Gardens, I took one look at the walkway and said "They've got geese here!". Turns out somebody thought Branta canadensis was ornamental and imported them; I suppose we could call it revenge for starlings....

Victoria @ 489: Fascinating! I know of the violent storms of the midwest, but hadn't realized they caused that much [useful] destruction.

Beavers: I went rafting on the middle Deerfield ("Fife Brook" section) shortly before MACII; events of noted included the promised sighting of "Justin Beaver" and another in his(?) company.

Nicole @ 519: Congratulations! Can you tell us about how winning 3 of 4 puts you in 5th place of 10? I would have thought that would place higher; was it something about the narrow margins, or were there eliminations that caused the top placers to be in more matches? (I know a \very/ little about roller derby and nothing about its tournaments.)

Lee @ 521: I didn't hear about the costume issue. If anyone was pushing that meme, I have some sympathy for a bid that I found distinctly offensive; I had to deal with the same claim (definitely untrue for our properties, not clear it was true for them) for Boston for Orlando in 2001.
      How does one search this site? I don't see anything on the front page, and I'm lazy enough to have quit after tapping a few open threads with no hits other than the announcement that they won.

#560 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2016, 08:30 PM:

I'm using Firefox with the default search engine set to Google.
I open a new tab and put site: and whatever I'm looking for into the search box.

#561 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 01:42 AM:

Carrie S.@539, et al, on ley lines: This post on the Bad Archaeology blog is mostly peripheral to the discussion at hand, aside from comfirming a few points people have made, but might be interesting to some folks here.

#562 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 08:33 AM:

Lady Kay @ #557:

That is probably correct. At least your name (now) rings a bell.

#563 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 11:05 AM:

CHip @ 559
Fascinating! I know of the violent storms of the midwest, but hadn't realized they caused that much [useful] destruction.

One person's destruction is another person's opportunity. Flooding also does interesting things to landscapes and the things that live in them. It speeds up normal erosion so the formation of oxbow lakes is usually sudden after years of slow erosion. At least the one on the family farm did. Most of the low land (as opposed to up land) prairie is in places where glacial action carved deep and very, very wide river beds in the underlying limestone of the area. Modern rivers are mere trickles in comparison to what came before. (I absolutely adore google maps.[1])

Yesterday I ran into one of the Konza researchers at work (a grad student) who rolled his eyes when I relayed this thread. "Everybody who wasn't raised on a farm or ranch thinks that!" He gets asked the "why no trees here when I have them at home" question a lot[2]. I also found out that if I sign up as a docent I can help with the spring burns. (muaaaahaaaahaaaa!) Methinks I'll be signing up.

[1] In addition to making the guided hunts we do for our Texas cousins easier, Shorts and I can spend hours "walking" the area. I didn't realize there were so many small slip fault lines in the county where I grew up. You can spot them by the hard left or right turns -- with a short, ruler straight stretch in between -- when the creeks encounter one.

[2] He's researching/studying invasive species. One person's flower is another person's weed and all that. Or as Dad used to say. "A weed is a plant out of place." I got the impression that Rory-the-Researcher was a lot like Dad. Trees are weeds.

#564 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 12:07 PM:

Huh. Just stumbled across this: Scientists discover a 'dark' Milky Way: Massive galaxy consists almost entirely of dark matter.

It'll be interesting to see if this shed any, um, light on the nature of dark matter.

#565 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 02:18 PM:

Jacque, cool! Thanks for the link.

#566 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 05:32 PM:

Edge. Edge. Sweetie.

I understand that you're a snoop and a blabbermouth, and that by using you when I got this new mini-tower instead of immediately installing something else I may have compromised the security of my data. I realize that your search engine is a sad little app with delusions of adequacy; that's why I set DuckDuckGo as my default. I was actually willing to risk using you for a while longer because I have Other Stuff To Do.

But when simply trying to send a message on my webmail makes you run the mini-tower's fan for five minutes? When the scripts on a website that was no problem for my creaky old desktop, which couldn't grok any OS that is even updated anymore, make you sit down and cry while you spin your little blue hamster wheel?

Byebye, honey. I'm using my precious lunch hour to install another browser. It's not me. It's you.

#567 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 05:47 PM:

Chip @ 559: Nicole @ 519: Congratulations! Can you tell us about how winning 3 of 4 puts you in 5th place of 10? I would have thought that would place higher; was it something about the narrow margins, or were there eliminations that caused the top placers to be in more matches? (I know a \very/ little about roller derby and nothing about its tournaments.)

It's to do with the elimination method used in the tournament brackets, and also how a lower seed translates to a tougher path through them. Probably the easiest explanation is just to link the bracket chart.

Basically, once you lose a game at all, you get knocked out of the main bracket and into the consolation bracket. The later you make your first loss, the higher you can potentially place.

Add to this that the Friday AM games were a bit like NFL's wild card week: You take the lowest four seeds, make them play each other, and then take the winners of those two games and make them play the #1 and #2 seed on Friday PM.

So by winning our first game we ensured we couldn't place lower than 8th. By losing our 2nd, though, we limited ourselves to a highest possible placement of 5th. Meanwhile, Jet City's first loss came one bracket level later, and it kicked them directly into the contest for 3rd.

It does seem a little hinky that Jet City played fewer and won fewer games than we did (not to mention never had to play two on a single day), but placed higher, but that's bracket construction for you.

I'm currently watching this weekend's D2 Lansing tournament. Bear City (Berlin) are taking the same path through the bracket we did: came in seeded #8, won their game against the #9 seed, then were thrown into the maw of #1 seed Charm City (Baltimore). Their score was a lot more lopsided than ours against Jet though. John and I watched the footage of that loss last night, and came away very impressed with ourselves.

(Have I mentioned archived footage is up? Archived footage of our tournament is up. In the playlist we are games 2, 5, 11 and 15.)

(If you watch and you want to spot me, look for #504 with the very long braid and the hand-knit leggings.)

#568 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 06:01 PM:

B. Durbin @558 : The tanks in question are those great big steel ones that are what, 500? 1000 gallons? I'm pretty sure they're sufficiently homeopathic with one grapefruit in all of that.

Yeah, that sounds harmless enough. Thanks again!

#569 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 06:04 PM:

Nicole, #567: Heh. I should feel bad that your team beat the Houston team, but I don't. Apparently having a friend on the team > home-team loyalty.

#570 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2016, 07:31 PM:

Lee @ 569: The Houston skaters were a class act! They hit hard and push strong, and their walls are so solid. I want to take them home and play them all the time--it can only make both leagues better.

(Also one of their jammers, skating under the SFnal name of Arrak-kiss, has this fantastic tattoo of the Golden Mean diagram on her left shoulder. I was admiring it all weekend.)

#571 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 09:44 AM:

A specific and general OT question:

What is the origin of "Beaten like a rented mule"?

How does one research this sort of thing on one's own?

I think this is an actual Go To The Library question, and I'm terribly out of practice on that...

#572 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 10:17 AM:

I'm curious about "beaten like a red-haired stepchild" as well. Why would red-haired kids get special treatment?

#573 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 10:27 AM:

Stefan Jones, I've always assumed that the red-headed stepchild is being beaten because he or she is OBVIOUSLY (by virtue of looking different; that red hair) not part of the birth family. Also, I gather that in some parts of the world there is a prejudice against "ginger" hair. (Which I don't understand, myself; I always wished I had auburn hair, but I never wanted the upkeep of dying it....)

#574 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 10:43 AM:

I've heard 'red-headed stepchild' to mean 'visibly Not Us and unwanted'. Likewise, the rented mule-- you don't drive a rental car carefully, and I assume rented livestock would be much the same.

My derby name is Terror Bird; I am a nonskating official rather than a skater because physical fitness and also not owning skates. Derby names are as close as I can get to a superhero name, and I imprinted on a combination of X-men and American Gladiators for those.

#575 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 01:33 PM:

Although I believe Diatryma is overgeneralizing by saying "you don't drive a rental car carefully", there is certainly a body of evidence to the effect that some people are less heedful of a rental vehicle than they would be of one they owned, just as some people will trash a rental property and others won't. (I don't understand this; I want my damage deposit back!) So I'm inclined to agree that this is the likely origin of the "rented mule" phrase.

"Red-headed stepchild" gets more interesting. Red hair is a visibly genetically-connected trait -- people with no awareness of genetics can observe that it tends to run in families -- so the sudden appearance of a red-headed child in a family previously devoid of them is strong evidence of what geneticists call a "non-paternity event", aka a child who is not the actual biological child of their presumed father.

This brings in all the shaming associated with terms like "bastard", and in areas where there is a prejudice against redheads can also invoke some of the connotations of "a n****r in the woodpile". A man confronted with an unexpectedly red-headed child might refuse to acknowledge it, relegating the child to "stepchild" status, and then you get into all the issues about step-parents who treat their stepchildren more harshly than their biological children.

So there's a lot of interlocking stuff going on with that particular phrase.

#576 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 01:43 PM:

"Beaten like a rented mule" is the same as renting a car specifically to take to a track and learn to drift: when you don't have to keep the long-term consequences of your treatment of a piece of property, some asshats will take that as carte blanche to damage it however they please.

See also the coinage in some craft circles, "Somebody else's microwave" -- crackle a CD in somebody else's microwave, race peeps in somebody else's microwave, set dyes in somebody else's microwave. Not the one you use for food. (We have a "somebody else's" microwave in our basement for craft purposes)

#577 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 02:28 PM:

Red headed stepchild: I figured it was a combination of prejudice (Judas, Delilah ... it goes way back) and the stepmother-stepchild rivalry (as seen in Cinderella). Everything the stepchild does is wrong.

I phrased the "rented mule" question poorly. What is the first known (or first written) usage of the phrase?

#578 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 02:49 PM:

Diatryma @ 574: My derby name is Terror Bird; I am a nonskating official rather than a skater because physical fitness and also not owning skates. Derby names are as close as I can get to a superhero name, and I imprinted on a combination of X-men and American Gladiators for those.

I have all the admiration for NSOs. Our crew seems to be on a mission to train me as a jam timer. The first time someone put a whistle and two stopwatches in my hand, I asked her, "And do you also hand out extra arms?"

Do you NSO outside your particular league? Any chance of running into you on the tournament circuit?


Another paranoid-careful rental driver here. We rented a car to get to Wichita, as the '97 Saturn has been retired from high mileage duty since The Incident With The Transmission on our way to Salt Lake City back in June. I was running errands in it the morning in preparation for our eight-hour drive, and just about had a fit when I thought I'd picked up a rock on the highway and cracked the windshield. Turned out to just be a bug that hit the glass very noisily. *whew!*

It was a very nice rental car. It had cruise control and a start button and brakes that went errrt! When we eventually buy a new car of our own, it will absolutely have cruise control. It's worth like another hour per shift on road trips.

#579 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 03:03 PM:

Cruise control is great. The drive back from Alpha-- actually the drive back from my grandpa's in central Pennsylvania-- is pretty much 'find 80, point the nose west, and set the cruise'. I've noticed it keeps me from the stress of passing or being passed. I can set my speed at a reasonable level, then know that I am okay, and I don't have to rush or feel guilty. I don't use it for anything but interstates, though I probably would if I drove on two-lanes more often and during the day.

I phrased the rental car thing poorly, as I also drive borrowed cars carefully. I do know people who know people who rallycross rentals.

On derby: I'm in Iowa, which seems unlikely to overlap with Texas. I haven't been doing much lately, either-- it's tough with the summer. It seems that derby is the nonprofit/volunteer work I do that is easiest to drop, since it's only a night a month or so. Do you have a two-finger whistle holder thing? That makes timing easier.

#580 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 04:05 PM:

Nicole, #578: Cruise control is SO worth any extra money you have to spend on it, if you do any significant amount of long-distance driving. For me it's not so much "an extra hour per shift" but a tremendous difference in how tired I feel when I arrive at my destination.

#581 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 04:11 PM:

Diatryma@579: I shoot photos for the Chippewa Valley Roller Girls, and I know they've played teams from Iowa during the time I've been shooting for them, so that makes running into each other at least not obviously impossible in that context, too. (Mostly I shoot home games, so if you're ever in Eau Claire the odds of my being there are quite high.)

#582 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 05:29 PM:

Lee @#575 -- Yes, I'd always assumed that the logic was "that kid's the only one with red hair, and therefore must have been fathered by someone else," but the "stepchild" part would seem to provide a legitimate explanation for the hair, assuming the deceased first spouse had had red hair or come from a family that included redheads.

#583 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 06:01 PM:

Red hair makes you stick out more, assuming you're not a Weasley. So there's no pretending, no forgetting that the kid isn't yours.

There's some kind of music and cultural festival going on outside the library. Quite loud, but fun-sounding.

#584 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 07:17 PM:

Sarah, #582: That explanation only works if you're not living in the same town you've both lived in all your lives, where everyone else knows perfectly well that neither of you has never been married before. Small towns have ZERO privacy.

#585 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 08:11 PM:

But if there's no previous spouse, wouldn't *any* stepchild, of any hair colour, be suspicious?

#586 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 08:57 PM:

Regarding red hair.

It is my understanding that red hair was (in some places) considered a marker of undesirable ancestry going back more than one generation, possibly related to the days when the Irish were not White.

ISTR discussions here on ML about this, in relation to Little Orphan Annie, and Anne of Green Gables. Red Hair was not quite the Tar Brush, but that sort of thing.

J Homes.

#587 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2016, 10:21 PM:

Diatryma @579:

I'm not the one who's in Texas - it's just that our team had the pleasure of playing against Houston at the D2 Playoffs in Wichita. I play for the Boulder, Colorado team. Well, Longmont to be precise, but we're the Boulder County Bombers.

Considering that we played The Chicago Outfit twice this year (once in Wichita, once in Salt Lake City), and Iowa's between Colorado and Illinois, I guess it's not entirely geographically impossible for our paths to cross--especially if you wind up NSOing at tournaments. But I totally understand how derby things can fall right off the priority list when things get busy.

Have not been introduced to the whistle holder thingie. Have mostly just tried to hold the jam timer stopwatch in the same hand as the whistle, and sometimes just stuck the whistle in my mouth and kept it there. But I've only served as jam timer twice thus far. Will probably have an opportunity to try it again next week while my team is still enjoying time off but the B and C team skaters will be having scrimmage.

David Dyer-Bennet @581:

We haven't personally connected with Chippewa Valley, but I know we played Brewcity last year in D2. That's at least in the same state... I wasn't on the A team at that time, but I hear from those who were that it was entertainingly brutal.

Suppose when we know our 2017 travel schedule I should make a note in the then-current open thread, just in case.

#588 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2016, 02:52 AM:

Between special-ed sub work and NSOing, I have serious opinions about timers and stopwatches. Mostly that whatever someone else hands me is likely to be non-ideal.

I haven't traveled for derby, since it's a kind of weird social limbo thing for me, too. Lots of complicated feels there. I did teach a new NSO to knit using a pair of mechanical pencils, though.

#589 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2016, 02:20 PM:

Nicole@587: CVRG isn't competing at that level, as I understand it (I'm pretty focused on the photography side rather than paying deep attention to derby more widely), though individual skaters have moved on to teams that do in Madison or the Twin Cities. But I occasionally play with the thought of expanding my derby photography, too.

#590 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2016, 08:35 PM:

An open question about next year's eclipse! Distantly on-topic because one prime viewing city will be Kansas City. I hear some of you have experience travelling to Kansas City in the month of August.

(August 21, 2017. Totality track from South Carolina to Oregon.)

Has else anybody started thinking about this? I really have no sense of how crowded hotels, etc will be for this event.

#591 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2016, 08:48 PM:

I've been thinking about it for a while; I live within driving distance of the totality, and hope to get to it that way (and drive home afterward) so I'm not looking for lodging.

From my experience with the previous one going through Oregon: having a car is a really good idea. Portland was socked in the morning the eclipse was going to happen, so we drove east along the river until we found a clear place. I'd driven up from Berkeley and stayed with friends: if we'd gotten a hotel in Portland and flown, we'd have been out of luck.

This vantage point allowed me to see a phenomenon that was obvious in retrospect, but that I hadn't seen mentioned anywhere. As the terminator rolled along the valley (W to E), a very thin fogbank accompanied it (as the temp dropped, the water precipitated out of the air). It was obvious in hindsight, but not in foresight.

#592 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2016, 09:06 PM:

I just finished a really intriguing book by Bonnye Matthews, Ki'Ti's Story: 75,000 BC. It's the first one in a series called Winds of Change. She published through one of those houses that doesn't edit, but speaking strictly as a casual reader, all she needs is polish.

It's a story about life, love, and conflict in the Stone Age, but it's more like Always Coming Home than Clan of the Cave Bear. I loved the worldbuilding. Some of the characters are Neanderthals and some are H. sapiens, but being unaware of sweeping historical forces, they don't think of each other as people vs. aliens, but as Us and The Funny-Looking Tribe Over the Hill. Speaking of historical forces, Matthews used a fascinating metaphor in her Neanderthal culture: the web. Her characters think of mental maturation as building a web, trauma and dementia as tearing it, future planning as choosing the correct pattern for the web, etc. The web affects their thinking as much as the Western metaphor of forward progress does ours. Anyway, if you're into that kind of thing, give it a try.

#593 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2016, 09:08 PM:

Oh, forgot: It has a big fat bibliography, and the cover illo is of a happy little old man with a walking stick instead of a Brunette Babe in Buckskin.

#594 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 10:41 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 590

First I've heard of it, so thanks for the info. What kind of experience are you wanting to have? KC does have Powell Observatory. You might contact them to see if they have anything planned. (and, yes, you will need to rent a car.)

#595 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 11:11 AM:

So the eclipse will not overlap with Worldcon... I just have to make sure I'm back in the US by the 21st. That's totally doable. Yes.

#596 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 12:03 PM:

My parents do the eclipse chasing thing, and have travelled many places to see total eclipses. Most of the time they see totality, though there have been a few times where it's been really uncertain if they're going to get a break in the clouds until it happens. I think the China one was like that, they saw about half of it.

Cruises tend to do a reasonably good job, as the captain can figure out a course early enough to find a break in the clouds. This is not an especially useful point for the US eclipse though, other than the possible need to move hundreds of miles to get around a storm system.

I'd think that eastern Oregon or other desert land would be pretty good, The midwest might work, but you might also get one of those days where it's just rain.

#597 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 12:22 PM:

Elliott Mason, #576:

See also the coinage in some craft circles, "Somebody else's microwave" -- crackle a CD in somebody else's microwave, race peeps in somebody else's microwave, set dyes in somebody else's microwave. Not the one you use for food.

Tullio Proni and his family have often hosted groups of rambunctious General Technics members for weekends at the House of Isher. Sometime in the Eighties, Tullio expressed the hard-won wisdom known among GTers as Proni's First Law:

"There's nothing a techie won't try-- in someone else's house."

This is still quoted frequently, and applied broadly, so you'll hear fans in this crowd allude to Someone Else's Car, Someone Else's Microwave, et cetera.

#598 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 01:50 PM:

Is there a moratorium here on discussing Trump's ongoing antics? Or just some kind of fatigue?

#599 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 02:16 PM:

Andrew Plotkin@590: it's been on my calendar for over a year, and we've been corresponding about it for the last week (the crew that drove down to KC together the other week).

Specially good viewing areas are reported by my more serious friends to be heavily booked, even booked up, already. We did not find any difficulty with space in the general KC area so far, yet, though.

Given the track, there doesn't seem much chance for a view from a height where I could really see the shadow move (unless I could get permission to climb a big radio tower, but that seems unlikely).

I'm also debating between taking the photography seriously, and not. There's lots of good eclipse photography out there and the best depends on the location a lot, and we won't be in a particularly good location -- so maybe I'm better off just "appreciating the experience". But if I regret it, it's a while until my next chance in driving distance. And, really, what's an "experience" with no photos?

#600 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 03:05 PM:

Cuing up the Kinks' "People Take Pictures of Each Other" for DD-B, to answer his question.

#601 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 03:50 PM:


I don't know about anyone else, but for me it's mainly outrage fatigue. The success of Trump seems like it says all kinds of very bad things about our media ecology and a big chunk of our electorate, but those are mostly things that were pretty obviously screwed up before but are just a lot worse than I thought.

I do not expect any kind of good outcome from this election. The best we can hope for is a continuation of a lot of the policies (some good, many bad, a few really awful) that we've had for the last 20+ years. If Trump is elected, the best we can hope for is that gridlock plus Trump's apparent lack of interest in any policy details leads to not much being done by the executive branch.

The worst likely outcomes probably involve war with Russia or China. Given Hillary Clinton's hawkishness, I'm not sure she's *less* likely to get us in such a war than Trump[0]. (And it's pretty hard to guess what Trump will do if he gains power, since he pretty convincingly seems to have few actual beliefs and almost no interest in policy details.)

Even assuming Trump loses, he's moved the Overton window toward more harsh treatment of Muslims[1] and more immigration restriction[2] and against free trade[3]. Hillary Clinton will probably triangulate a bit on those issues, and future candidates will try to follow in his footsteps. I also suspect the Republican party coalition that's held together since the Southern Strategy is going to ultimately fall apart. I'm not sure that will happen immediately, but I think it will happen, and I have no idea what will take its place.

I suspect Trump's rise is ultimately the result of a lot of things that have been broken for a long time, and the bill's finally coming due. For example: Essentially all the media sources we count on for news about what's going on in the world and in our government are in the process of slowly going bankrupt, because Google and Facebook ate all their ad revenue, and the internet provides a lot of alternative stuff to read. (Note that many newspapers used to have foreign bureaus, and now very few can afford them.) We have had political dysfunction for decades now--federal judge positions going unfilled for years because of partisan bickering or some petty feud, the parties able to come together for more surveillance or wars but not able to reliably pass a budget. The Bush administration basically destroyed the credibility of the Republican elites to their own party, in order to hang onto power a little longer, and finished off their credibility with the 2008 bailouts. Inequality of income and wealth and experience in the US has been growing worse for decades. And so on.

[0] I'm not completely convinced by most of the apocalyptic rhetoric w.r.t. a Trump presidency (and some similar rhetoric gets hauled out every election). But it's hard to say--the potential outcomes in a Trump presidency have a very wide variance, and I doubt even *Trump* knows what he will do if he gets power. If he's got a glimmer of intelligence, that ought to be scaring the hell out of him--the way you'd be scared if someone informed you that you'd be doing brain surgery on your kid in six months, or that you'd be put in command of an aircraft carrier and sent off to fight a war in six months. But I'll admit I don't really understand what makes him tick.

[1] We were actually doing a fair job of treating Muslims badly before his campaign, but it will probably get worse.

[2] Which could be done sensibly and humanely, but I see little reason to expect that.

[3] Again, you can imagine sensible changes to US trade policies, but I don't see a reason to expect such changes from the current political system.

#602 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 03:52 PM:

2016 does it to us again. This time, it's Gene Wilder (83).

#603 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 07:21 PM:

Joel, #598: I can't speak for anyone else, but in my case it's a combination of "there's no there there" and trying to avoid hypervigilance mode. The reliable answer to the question "what is Trump doing/saying today?" is "something horrible", and there doesn't seem to be any reason to waste time and effort discussing what flavor of horrible it is this time. And you can't discuss things like his foreign policy because he doesn't have one -- or any other policy, for that matter; he's just saying whatever he thinks will please the people he's standing in front of today.

Maybe in October I'll feel more like discussing the possible outcomes of the election, but at this point it would only raise my blood pressure to no purpose.

#604 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 08:45 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @590: My family is getting up a geek weekend trip down to Mammoth Cave for the preceding Fri-Sun, ending up in a motel closer to totality for the Sun/Mon night, then drive into prime viewing, see it, and then head back towards Chicago.

#605 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 08:52 PM:

Small amusement for the evening:

eCard from a "secret admirer," threat or menace?

Got email from "Amelia" with the subject line "Re: jacque we must talk." In all likelihood this is a phishing scam, just a variant I haven't seen before.

jacque a smile comes to my face every time I think about u [ URL] it has really been hurting me lately

Then maybe s/he should stop doing that?

(Probably foolishly*) I followed the URL to find an ecard (with the Hallmark logo, but possibly phished. It's on what looks like an Amazon account.) claiming that this person is somebody I know. Further URLs supposedly contain photos depicting my name written on this person's body. (Downcheck #1: if this person knew me at all, they'd probably have a clue that I would not find this concept appealing.) I would have to "create an account." Assuming for the moment that this is legit:

I have never been able to tell you for reasons which you would quickly identify as obvious if you knew who this was.

Downcheck #2: Seems like this would be a strong argument in favor of keeping any prospective relationship in the hypothetical, doncha think?

I want you to guess who I am and then approach me yourself. not happening. Dude wants a relationship with s/he, needs to step up and say so. Not being willing to do so presents a veritable bouquet of red flags. Not least being a lack of willingnes to own their feelings and desires. Sorry, BTDT, (minimal) curiosity entirely satisfied. In the negative. Downcheck #3.

I'm shy and this is the bravest thing I've probably ever done,

Yeah, really, not so much. Not willing to present yourself in your proper person is kinda the definition of cowardly, in my book. Downcheck #4.

but you need to do the rest.

Yeah, no, I don't think I do. I think I will survive just fine without, thanks. Downcheck #5.

The one hint that this might be for real and not Just Another Scam is that the email is addressed to my name, not my email userid. But even if so, all the points above stand. And the form of the proposition hints strongly that whatever attracts them to me, their concept may be wearing my face, but exists largely in their head. BTDT too. Not a fan.

What do you-all think? Anybody else seen this particular type of scam?

If legit, wanton speculation as to the circumstances expressly invited.

* To give 'em due credit: my most powerful weakness is curiosity. Does require some restraint to resist following the trail.

#606 ::: Jacque detained by the Gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 08:52 PM:

Butter & Garlic sauteed Sea Scallops on offer!

#607 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2016, 10:17 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 598

I just wonder if history is going to regard me with the same contempt in which it views those of my relatives who didn't bail out of Austria after WWI...

Those who learn from history are doomed to watch with horror as it repeats itself.

#608 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 03:11 AM:

I got an email from LinkedIn, asking me if I wanted to be part of somebody's network.

I did once check on somebody through LinkedIn, and the details of their career were consistent with the Blowhard PHB boss impression I was getting from other sources. They're still working for the same company now, and I have wondered if it is an example of the Peter Principle.

So that single seven-year-old contact may be all that LinkedIn knows about me. The email might not even be genuine, but that makes it look pretty pointless.

The internet is useful, for honest men and crooks, but which is which?

#609 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 04:12 AM:

Jacque@606: Lucky gnomes!

Dave Bell@608: I'm not on LinkedIn, so this is a speculation based on invites I've received from LI in the name of friends/relatives who did have profiles there, combined with being aware of Facebook having a similar practice - but I think it means that some trusting soul of your acquaintance shared their email address book with LI when it asked.

#610 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 07:31 AM:

Jacque #605: Totally a scam, I've gotten them too (even from "Amelia"!). Most likely, they're trying for chances to drop malware on you (viral ads or Trojans). Alternatively, to hook you into a long-con with a sweet-talking Nigerian peahen truck-driver named Ogbana. If you're lucky, just to farm adclicks and/or scrounge information.

#611 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 09:09 AM:

albatross, #601: From where I sit (England), war with either Russia or China, or both, seems increasingly likely, not because of what the US is doing – or might do in future under a GOP presidency allied to a GOP-dominated Congress – but because of Russian and Chinese adventurism. Whether the US gets involved, in either case, depends ...

Putin is building up his armed forces, especially threatening Ukraine and the three Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (which were under the Russian Empire from 18th century, freed after WWI, occupied by the Soviet Union in 1944 and freed again 1990/1). Russian military incursions into EU airspace have increased in recent years, especially in the Baltic, and the Russian army often runs 'exercises' close to Eastern European borders. NATO has moved troops and aircraft to the Baltic countries to counter the Russian threat; Putin of course calls these moves 'provocation'. If Putin thought that a US president wouldn't support NATO, a ground incursion is not at all unlikely IMHO.

China has occupied islands in the South China Sea, outside its recognised territory, which are also claimed variously by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, and islands in the East China sea claimed by Japan. This has being going on for decades, but now that there may be oil and/or gas reserves there, China has been fortifying its bases on some of the islands and from time to time there have been armed stand-offs. The Philippines went to arbitation under the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea; China didn't take part; last month the tribunal found for the Philippines, but China simply rejected the result. The US Navy and USAF have patrolled through the area, of course being accused by the Chinese of escalating tensions. Sooner or later there'll surely be an incident, over oil or even over fishing, which could spark armed conflict. The US has been very committed in this area and even Trump might not be able to avoid being drawn in.

#612 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 09:29 AM:

When the Leonids (IIRC) came, Cathy and I were in a car with a friend, trying to find a spot in the Hampton Roads area with no, or minimal, light spill. We weren't having much luck until I remembered the Jamestown ferry, which is part of the highway system there—you just drive on. No fare.

Luck put us on the boat (there are three) that had an upper deck that happened to have a corner where the lights of the boat itself weren't visible. We stood there and watched the stars calve till we got to the other side. I don't recall if the trip back was as fruitful, but the trip over was incredible.

#613 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 09:50 AM:

I get Linked in invites from current and former co-workers, and in one case a neighbor. I suspect they're genuine, but inadvertantly spammy. I'm not on LinkedIn, and unlikely to join.

#614 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 10:03 AM:

I've gotten them also. Part of it is that they seem to think of themselves as social media, and therefore want more people to sign up to expand their reach.

(I had an account, when I was working, and deleted it when I retired.)

#615 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 11:14 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 598 asks about Trump and the Presidential Campaign

albatross @601 ...for me it's mainly outrage fatigue.
Yep. This.

Lee @603 my case it's a combination of "there's no there there"... The reliable answer to the question "what is Trump doing/saying today?" is "something horrible"
AKA: "There is no such thing as bad press as long as they spell my name right." Hucksterism at its very worst.

I can't speak for anyone else, but my usual voting methodology is overturned this year. "i.e. vote for who ever hasn't ticked me off". Right now my current plan of "Whichever candidate can get more votes than Trump" is still in play. As for Trump as a presidential candidate... when I found out that he loaned his campaign money from his personal accounts and is soliciting donations from the public at the same time, I figured that he was seeing what kind of money could be made while running for president. Trump is also relying on a lot of free press (and they are spelling his name right) to get his "optics" out in public. In previous years, I'd be seeing paid-for presidential ad campaigns by now. Long before now, actually. I've not seen any in my usual media haunts (note, I don't watch TV, so TV ads are a serious non-starter for me.) That fact that Trump is on his third campaign manager is a sign, to me, that he's not taking the race seriously. Or that he suffers from an extreme case of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Paul Begalia (Clinton-Gore political strategist) said "Politics is show business for ugly people" back when he was running/helping run that campaign. As in "there's an element of caprice to any political career -- just as there is for any struggling actor who beats the odds to become a star. Both take a lot of talent and drive and discipline, but there's also the element of lightning striking." The lightening striking, in this case, is rage-baiting. Trump is tapping into the anger of the enfranchised voter in order to ride the lightening strike. The disenfranchised voters may not like Hillary Clinton as a candidate, but they're quietly realistic - which is why the poll numbers are doing what they're doing right now.

I've seen two different news shows where they asked the viewers what they wanted to see during the national debate. The responses boiled down to one of two things. "Deatails on Policy" and "Not what we've been getting."

#616 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 11:44 AM:

Dave B., #608: LinkedIn is notorious for scraping the e-mail address books of its members and spamming the addresses it finds relentlessly. I had to threaten them with CAN-SPAM to get them to stop, and then they got snippy about it -- literally said that if I insisted on them removing my address from their spamming database, I would have to BEG to be added back on later. As. If.

Unless you have some sort of high-level corporate career, I can't see any reason to put yourself out there.

#617 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 11:57 AM:

David Harmon @610: Totally a scam, I've gotten them too (even from "Amelia"!)

Oh, darn! :-) Have to say, shaped perfectly to slot right into my particular obsessiveness.* Spent way too many cicles thinking about it while trying to go to sleep last night.

* Which is doubtless not even slightly unique. ::sigh::

#618 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 12:02 PM:

I never gave them an address book to access. It's useful, sometimes, to find out what's happened with people I worked with or otherwise know - but I'm doing it from outside, via search engine..

#619 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 12:08 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 598:

I think it's mostly that there's not a lot to discuss. Media treats him like he's a legitimate candidate, but everything he says is vacuous or horrible or both.

It's good to know what he's up to, and I'm seeing some truly terrifying things coming out of that movement. I'm seeing some very disturbing historical echoes, and I'm duty bound to stand up and say "No, never again." But I'm not sure there's much to really discuss that would be anything more than preaching to the choir here.

Jacque @ 605:

Threat and menace! And kind of creepy. Spammers manage to get names and email addresses from lots of places[*], to better make it look like they actually know you and get you to click. Some also pick names that they know that you know. Typically they want to lure you onto their site either for phishing purposes, or drive-by malware installation, or both.

The level of writing fluency there reminds me of a paper I read a couple of years ago about how badly-written Nigerian scams served to immediately weed out people who wouldn't fall for the scam and select for gullible people instead.

[*] Particularly That Family Member who always forwards Those emails, who clicks on All The Links, and has 50 million bits of malware on their computer that riffle through their address book looking for new marks.

Dave B. @ 608 and Lee @ 616:

I seem to recall that a couple of years ago LinkedIn actually got into a bit of trouble with the authorities because they were spammy spammers who spam. Because of their behavior, I would not have anything to do with them even if they paid me.

Well, maybe if they paid me a lot.

#620 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 12:17 PM:

Jacque @ 617:

And I realize that the way I worded my comment could be read to suggest that you're gullible, which is not what I meant at all. If any one part of a scam can get its hooks in, it can really throw you for a loop. I nearly fell for an apartment hunting one a few months ago that should have activated all the "run away screaming" alarms, because I really wanted it to be true.

#621 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 12:32 PM:

KeithS: And, yes, creepy. Forgot about the creepy, in amongst all the other red flags.

my comment could be read to suggest that you're gullible

Well, except that I am, sadly, somewhat gullible. I constantly fall for hoaxes on Twitter, like that crashed-and-abandoned Google street-view car pic that went around a few weeks ago. (Doesn't help at all that I've actually had "friends" run the "secret admirer" trip on me a time or two. Didn't bite then, either, but it's not unprecedented in my experience. >:-[ )

#622 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 12:37 PM:

Jacque @605:

Some ten years back, I got a weird E-mail, subject: "Bet you're wondering who this might be, and, no, it's not spam!" I had never heard of the sender, but the brief message went on to reference an event that I really had been at about ten years earlier.

I waffled about replying. My obsessive-compulsive sociopathic stalker hadn't attacked me directly for a few years. The message wasn't as illiterate as those from my romantic stalker, also some years in the past. Eventually I did respond, and eventually learned that the message was from a former member of one of my social groups who had transitioned and changed her identity. It took several exchanges.


I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this... but I'm really terrible with names, and I'm sorry to say that I can't place yours. Where do I know you from?
That's because you knew me as somebody else!
I very nearly dropped the discussion at that point. There are several people that I avoid communication with.

#623 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 12:45 PM:

Joel Polowin @598

Plenty of fatigue here, but my husband is busting his butt volunteering for the Democrats. I'll start volunteering in October.

#624 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 01:00 PM:

Re: the current political season

I haven't said anything because my candidate won the nomination of her party, and I've volunteered to be part of the GOTV efforts. Trump is a disaster, and the third party candidates a joke.

I'm tired of the nonsense about the emails -- funny, no one confronted the Bush Administration for its use of a private server and the destruction of 22 MILLION emails regarding the (illegal) firing of U.S. Attorneys who weren't GOP toadies.

Plus, all of the Federal employees I knew were using their private email addresses up until their departments got around to having an email system, and some continued to use both until our IT office forbade it. No one seems to know that the government agencies are sucking hind tit -- many are using out-of-date software and equipment.

Outrage fatigue here too, and ever since Trump pulled his "why can't I use the nukes" bit, 'Alas, Babylon' has been haunting my dreams.

#625 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 04:24 PM:

Re LinkedIn, one of my acquaintances in the email professional space expressed it as, "LinkedIn's core competence is delivering unwanted email that's technically not spam."

#626 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 05:20 PM:

P J Evans, #618: I didn't phrase that as well as I could have. What I was trying to say is that if your address appears in the address book of a current LinkedIn member, it will be scraped and spammed -- from what various friends have told me, with or without your having granted permission. I kept getting "invitations", purportedly from people I knew, who when asked said that they had not issued any such invitation. The whole thing smelled so bad that I was willing to go to some effort to get my name out of their spam database.

It might be that using an obscure e-mail client would be enough to protect against them doing this, but I wouldn't want to bet on it.

#627 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 05:34 PM:

I got to Lucky 10,000 someone on Quora while answering (well, approaching an answer to) their question about how many words is a reasonable minimum for an English language learner to need to memorize before being able to get by, conversationally.

I told them about Up-Goer Five and Thing Explainer, by Randall Munroe.

In doing so, I found out about this:

It's called the Up-Goer Six text editor, and if you type or paste some text into it, it'll color code the words by how common they are in some English corpus they're using. You can click each colored word and find out where on the list it is -- I think they go out to ten thousand, because I saw one of mine that was 8K-and-a-little.

Fascinating to play with, and more flexible than the editor that just won't let you use words outside Munroe's Ten Hundred.

#628 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 05:37 PM:

(and if you're interested in reading my specific answer on Quora, here it is:

I don't talk a lot here about what I write on Quora, but I've been doing most of my activism and a lot of careful nonfiction writing there. If you're interested, you can click through and then surf around on my content. The site tends to want to make you make an account after the first thing you read, but you can give them fake info and pick five random topics to "follow".

#629 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 05:41 PM:

I find LinkedIn mildly useful, and I don't have a corporate job. But I'm very careful not to accept invitations to connect from people I don't recognize, and wouldn't know on the street. I mostly hold it to people I've worked with on one level or another. And it occasionally lets me know that someone I've worked with is doing something cool.

It's a lot less work and a lot less spammy than FB.

And yes, they do regularly ask to spam my address book, but I don't let them.

#630 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 05:43 PM:

Tom Whitmore @629: I've never been able to prevent them. All three of the times I have gone there to login, the process of doing so spammed ALL my contacts with cheerful "Elliott wants to connect with you on LinkedIn!" messages.

There's a reason I don't log in there anymore, though I regularly get connection invitations from people I know. When I go back into the job market I'm going to have to do it again, alas, because it's a thing hiring managers look at.

#631 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 05:58 PM:

I get the impression that if you even once give LinkedIn permission to scan your address book -- they'll do it forever. Which is why I never give them that permission. They've never (AFAICT) spammed anyone from mine.

There may be some setting that prevents them from doing it again, but you'd have to log in to find it, which in your case Elliott indicates that they'd spam everybody again. Sigh.

#632 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 06:04 PM:

Lee @626: It might be that using an obscure e-mail client would be enough to protect against them doing this, but I wouldn't want to bet on it.

My email host is Panix (which I access via webmail), and I haven't detected any incursions from LI, so I think it's possible at least in principle.

#633 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 06:27 PM:

Social networking sites tend to *really want* your contact data, because that helps them try to draw more people into their network, and more people in the network = more ad revenue and (before the IPO) more ability to raise money from investors.

#634 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 06:41 PM:

Open Threadiness, HLN-style:

I was recently in California with my family on vacation. An interesting aspect of the trip was the constant awareness and presence of the fires. Everyone we talked to about our plans (involving driving up the coast) warned us to check the locations of the fires. (And in fact, we changed our route to avoid them.) For the last hour of our drive one night, we could smell the smoke of one of the nearby fires. The next day, driving out of town, we could see the flames of a small grassfire close to the road, with a bunch of firefighters around trying to put it out, and a couple airplanes flying overhead and apparently dumping stuff on the fire. (From what we learned later, they succeeded in putting it out.) Everywhere, there were signs thanking the firefighters, especially as we got close to a couple of the really big, still out-of-control fires.

The trip was fascinating and fun in dozens of ways, but somehow, the way the fires and the drought wove through everything else has really stuck in my mind.

#635 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 07:01 PM:

That Thing Where ...

... you know you own at least 3 of (object class), but can't find any of them. You know you saw one about three weeks ago while looking for something else, because you remember having thought, "Oh, an (object class)! I better put this somewhere I can find it, those are useful."


Ha ha. Sigh.

In my particular case, a stiff portfolio-style folder. I've started doing doodling and inked pencil drawings, and sandwiching them between two large-format kid books is really not working well for keeping them flat in transit as I go from place to place ...

#636 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 07:27 PM:

That Thing Where ...
... you know you own at least 3 of (object class)

That's how my father ended up with three glass-cutters. (One was still on the card, buried in the sawdust under the bench saw. I dunno how that happened.)

#637 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 07:27 PM:

That Thing Where ...
... you know you own at least 3 of (object class)

That's how my father ended up with three glass-cutters. (One was still on the card, buried in the sawdust under the bench saw. I dunno how that happened.)

#638 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 07:29 PM:

...mutter mutter server error mutter mutter...

#639 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 07:53 PM:

That thing where...

This happens to me with hair combs. Once I bought a 6-pack and in a couple months they were all gone. Three of them turned up in the map pocket of my car, but I never found the rest.

#640 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 08:29 PM:

That thing where... seems to be happening to me in reverse. I shaved my head in 2007 and haven't had hair longer than a slightly shaggy pixie cut since, but I'm growing it out at the moment. Bought a set of hair elastics... and suddenly I'm finding other sets in every box and drawer I open. The damn things are everywhere and for some reason they're all pink.

#641 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 08:30 PM:

That thing where... seems to be happening to me in reverse. I shaved my head in 2007 and haven't had hair longer than a slightly shaggy pixie cut since, but I'm growing it out at the moment. Bought a set of hair elastics... and suddenly I'm finding other sets in every box and drawer I open. The damn things are everywhere and for some reason they're all pink.

#642 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 10:26 PM:

So, this happened.

I was, as they say east of the Atlantic, right chuffed.

#643 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 10:32 PM:

My friends and I have had discussions of the things that you put in every location you'll look for them because you'll need them at some point. So in the junk drawer, and the shelf where you put things, and the bathroom drawer, and the desk, and the other desk, and the hutch with the stationery... you put scissors, a tapestry needle, a Sharpie, and something that was variously a tape measure, one of the good mechanical pencils, an embroidery hoop, and ibuprofen.

#644 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 11:23 PM:

Heh. Redundancy saved my hide at Worldcon. I normally keep my necklace displays in what I call "the merchandise bin" -- it also has the bracelets, the pendants that go on the overhead rack, the overstock of earrings/other pendants, the box full of loose bead packages, other miscellaneous stuff-for-sale that varies, and a couple of table covers. When I was merging new earrings and bracelets in before Worldcon, I forgot to put the necklace displays back into the bin!

Fortunately, I also keep some spare necklace displays in what I call "the display bin", which contains things like the bracelet display rack, the canister for the bookmarks, my business cards, paper bags to put sold items into, more table covers, etc. There were just enough spares in that bin that I didn't have to start improvising. But if I hadn't had those spares, I'd have been in trouble.

#645 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2016, 11:49 PM:

I tend to keep only one of (object class), because I know, paradoxically, if I have more, I'll lose them. Contrariwise, I have (kit)s that live at various stations around my environment, the contents of which vary slightly with context. In general, I'm really obsessively anal about keeping (item)s in fixed locations, because it annoys the living shit out of me to lose stuff. Inevitably right when I need it.

The weird thing that's gone walkies today is a Netflix DVD. I never lose those. I've got the envelope and the sleave, but the DVD is nowhere to be found. (It's not even still in my Mac; I double-checked. At some point, if it doesn't turn up, I'm going to have to tear apart my living room. In all likelihood, I had it in my hand and absently set it down somewhere, in which case Ghu knows where it's got to.

#646 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 12:34 AM:

Question for y'all:
Some folks are using a name that belongs to a historically marginalized group. I believe at this point that they're doing it out of ignorance -- when I asked where they got the name, they gave me a perfectly valid and completely unrelated reference.

Do I tell them that, hey, that name also belongs to said oppressed group? I think the sunk cost fallacy will kick in, and they won't bother to change, but there's always a chance I'm wrong.

What would you do?

#647 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 01:43 AM:

Seth@646: I wouldn't raise the issue with them, unless perhaps I was a member of the relevant group (whose name they are perhaps unknowingly appropriating) myself. Or if I did, it would be more as "Hey, did you know that's also the name of X?".

#648 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 09:09 AM:

albatross: I lived in San Diego and LA for about a year and a half, and towards the end of that time I drove from LA to San Francisco.

There was a fire that closed the interstate (fortunately, after the exit I was supposed to use) with clouds of blowing smoke. And when I got off the interstate onto the state route, there were people in fire suits actively engaged in fighting fire, within sight of the road. And at one point a clump of weeds growing at the base of the guardrail was burning as I drove past it.

It was a bizarre experience for me, who grew up in western Pennsylvania--not that there was a wildfire, but that people were so nonchalant about it.

#649 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 09:16 AM:

Xopher @642, <applause>

#650 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 11:52 AM:

Xopher #642: There's a chap named Blake here who's asking for your address.

#651 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 03:36 PM:


Avon calling.


#652 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 04:15 PM:

Regarding Elliott Mason in #635 and subsequent responses on redundancy:

I mentioned Proni's First Law the other day in #597. Well, as I as I have written elseweb, this is Proni's Second Law:

Tullio can't resist a surplus bargain. Once he came home with an armload of cheap screwdrivers and deposited them in various strategic locations all over the House of Isher, saying, "If you can't find something, you don't own enough of them."

At our house, tape measures embrace Proni's Second Law, as do micro-USB phone-charger cables.

#653 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 06:45 PM:

Yeah. This is also why I own at least 8 seam rippers, and can always find only at most one of them.

The portfolio strikes me as a different problem, though, as it's not of a Second-Law prone (hah) class.

#654 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 08:41 PM:

Oh, yes, screwdrivers, particularly the red-handled interchangeable ones my parents got at Farm and Fleet and gave us for Christmas a number of years running. We made the (probable) mistake of mentioning this on Facebook, and like the shoemaker's elves, the now-noticed screwdriver supply dried up.

In completely unrelated news, I have produced Braille schedules for my particular student as well as a Braille Pancheros menu. And half a local noodle place's menu; the embosser was printing weird for the second half (it happens and it's a pain). Braille is satisfying me a great deal right now.

#655 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 09:13 PM:

I only wrote the tweet about the detritus of my dream. The Jerusalem pastiche was Kip's.

#656 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2016, 10:39 PM:

HLN: Area cyborg praises the miracle of the Faraday cage.
I for a long time have carried data on flash drives in a neck-pouch, hung close to my heart. After a dip in a therapy pool when I forgot to take it off, I invested in a waterproof plastic container to go inside this. But I figured I'd really play it safe and put them in an Altoids tin inside that, just in case of an EMP. Well, today it almost happened. I was scheduled for an MRI in advance of getting a 2nd new knee. Had all my other stuff off and the guy was rolling me into the giant donut/sarcophagus when all of a sudden I felt this neckbag was *levitating.* "STOP!!" I hollered. The medic put his hand over mine, preventing me from moving the errant bag, while he pulled me out. He put it a safe dx away and completed the procedure, after making doubly sure I had no other metal objects, save the gold in my teeth, the silver in my hair, the iron in my blood and the lead in my pants. He later said that he almost crapped when I grabbed that bag, because he thought for a millisecond I had a pacemaker or something. Well, when I got home, after more traffic woes than even an unworried person should have to face, I found that such files as I had time to check were intact. Thanks to the metal box, and to the fact that we got it out of there before the fields started oscillating, or whatever it is they do.
And maybe the drives would have been all right anyway, I am not sure, MRI's are something I hadn't read up on. But that guy said I had been in the middle of maybe 400 gauss, and the way that box just lifted up was something I don't see every day. Best to be on the safe side...
Scientific literacy, it's a wonderful thing.

#657 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2016, 07:01 AM:

I came across this about the changes to American literature, post-War, via Elf Sternberg.

A review of a book about the emergence of writer's workshops.

I don't think Science Fiction was taken seriously enough to have been caught up in this. although it would be unsurprising if some of the ideas about what makes good writing have not crossed over. We are all fish in the same sea.

Incidentally, Elf Sternberg was writing about what's different in fan-fiction, and it fits in that so much fan-fiction is doing stuff that pro writers, not just for films and TV, don't seem interested in.

I wonder if the old anti-Communist attitudes are one of the things that lie behind the dogged refusal to accept that readers want to give the Hugo Awards to a different style of material.

What is intriguing is that people such as Hemingway and Upton Sinclair were writing books that challenge some of the modern rules of good writing. Or, from another political viewpoint, Ayn Rand, except I am not sure she was a good writer by any politically impartial standard.

Fan-fiction does seem to exist in some of the same niches as ebooks, and maybe that is a sign that a bias might fade. Good writing can break out of those niches, but it would be hard to find.

Does all this throw new light on the differences between SF and the "mainstream"

#658 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2016, 08:38 AM:

This poem by Ursula Vernon, addressed to that obnoxious man who comes up and tries to flirt when all you want is for him to go away, made me laugh.

#659 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2016, 10:00 AM:

Cassy B. @ 658

It made me laugh, too. Especially "Your mother abstained."

#660 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2016, 11:38 AM:

Angiportus @656: 'Minds me of a tale told by a friend who worked at Argonne, Back In The Day. Somebody dropped a spool of solder near one of the magnets, and it apparently did a couple of orbits before it finally got loose.

#662 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2016, 12:54 PM:

Clearly involving a lot of Budgie commentary! :-)

#663 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2016, 04:35 PM:

Cassie B.: "not that there was a wildfire, but that people were so nonchalant about it."

I grew up in California, and "burning down" is a regular season. In fact, I was living in Aurora (greater Denver area) when a particularly large fire called the Hayman Fire happened. (Was set; they caught the arsonist, who wanted to be a hero.) It blew up one day when I was at work in Englewood (south Denver) and had to pick up my husband in Littleton (southwest of Denver.) A lot of my co-workers were worried about it getting to the city, and I was soothing people left & right. Most of their concerns were overrated, because it wasn't nearly as close as they thought it was, and it would have to get through one of those suburbs with the overwatered lawns and all.

I realized, partway through the first day, that my internal reaction was, "oh, it's just the state burning down again." And then I realized that wasn't precisely a normal response to a large-scale wildfire.

I've driven through a wildfire (Idaho, probably a few acres of grassfire, and wasn't being fought yet.) I've FOUGHT a wildfire (summer camp, yay!) I've reported on wildfires while being a newsreader-board op in Spokane. (One was said to have started by "a flaming grasshopper." Sounds like a drink to me.)

Probably the most astonishing one I've encountered was when we were moving from Spokane to Eugene, one carload at a time (because we did not want to take a moving van down the Columbia River Gorge.) Drive down Wednesday, stay over Thursday, drive back Friday morning so I could be at work by 5PM. One of those weeks, somebody mentioned that it was good we weren't driving up on Thursday, because I-84 was closed "due to smoke." The interstate was open the next day when we drove through. It hadn't been closed because of smoke. It was charred, everywhere. Miles and miles of it, and it had jumped the river (at least a half-mile wide, at this point, and the hills on the far side* were hundreds of feet tall... and charred.)

I worked at a news station at the time, so I looked up the fire. 60,000 acres. Sixty THOUSAND acres in about a day. Mind you, it was all grass fire—the Palouse is pretty much high plains—but holy moly.

*At some point you should look up the history of Lake Missoula at the end of the ice age. It took thousands of years to carve the Grand Canyon. The Columbia River Gorge could have been carved in as little as a day. It definitely resembles a sand table...

#664 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2016, 06:36 PM:

Cassy B. @ 658 ...
That poem is totally for the win!

#665 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2016, 06:56 PM:

A month ago, when I cam back from visiting my sister, I noticed a charred mountainside right at the north end of the Grapevine grade. It was recent enough that you could still see red fire retardant around the top edge, several hundred feet above the road. (Vertical grassfire, basically.)

#666 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2016, 07:07 PM:

@B. Durban, I know our names look similar, and that's cool, but the quoteback was from Carrie S., not from me. <smile>

@xeger, yes, Ursula Vernon is a terrific writer.

#667 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 10:58 AM:

Do I remember correctly that someone on ML makes buttons? I've recently lost my very favorite button and I'd like to replace it, because an obscure Greek mythology joke makes for a great geek-trap...

#668 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 10:59 AM:

I fought a wildfire once, along with family and neighbors, at a family vacation home by Winan's Creek. It was Christmas morning, and Grand-dad showed up in the truck and said let's go, and we collected where the flames were eating into the long grass between the creek and the road. I had a moistened broom, so I went through the fence to see what happened when I whacked the flames with it (as seen on television!). The results weren't promising, and as I said later, they were many and I was few, so I went back through the fence and waited.

I ended up hauling a large plastic garbage bin and alternated between distributing water to people and flames and refilling it. I don't know how full it got. Couldn't be too full, as I was able to lift it and move it around. We made short work of it, taking maybe a quarter of an hour to extinguish all we could see. The volunteer fire department came past about that moment, and saw they weren't needed here, and sped off to the next fire of the morning. We gave them a good cheer.

In some places, the grass looked as graceful and unperturbed as ever, only it was grey-black and crumbled to the touch.

Grand-dad made sure we wetted down all the fence posts, and made another trip later to be sure none of them were harboring any sparks. Clearly, this wasn't his first rodeo.

#669 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 11:21 AM:

Carrie S. (667): Most of my custom (and other) buttons were made by Nancy Lebovitz. The convention list on her website hasn't been updated in a couple of years, though, so I'm not entirely sure she's still in business.

#670 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 11:47 AM:

A series of amazing microfictions around the subject, "Alien invaders discover they ARE NOT PREPARED for encountering Terran wildlife. They drop like flies and flee in terror."

All the stories are text inside images, unfortunately, making them inaccessible to screen readers.

#671 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 11:47 AM:

Carrie S., I have a friend that I think might have a button-maker. (You're talking those 2"-or-so diameter buttons with a pinback, right?)

If you can't find another source, let me know and I'll give you an email address to send your artwork to.

#672 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 12:05 PM:

Cassy: Yes, exactly that kind of thing. An address would be great!

Actually now that I think about it, I want two buttons. :)

#673 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 12:59 PM:

I too have a button maker, though I haven't used it in years and the supplies may not be aging gracefully.

#674 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 02:30 PM:

I'm still in business-- in fact, I'll be at Chessiecon, I just need to update my website.

Please get in touch if you'd like to order buttons.

#675 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 02:41 PM:

Huh. I know I wrote a comment, but it's not showing up either here or in my VAB, which means I probably got distracted and forgot to actually hit Post on it.

In any event, it was to say that my partner and I do buttons (and have in the past provided the ML identification buttons at various events). While we are now out of the button business at cons, we still have the equipment, and a one-off or short run would be no problem. But I'll defer to Nancy on this, because she's still making money from the buttons.

#676 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 02:59 PM:

Since I'm basically volunteering the equipment of a friend who may or may not actually still have a button-maker, I'll defer to Nancy as well. <smile>

#677 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 03:12 PM:

Post-apocalyptic ant farm. In a bunker! Because of the Cold War!

#678 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 06:12 PM:

OK, it's possible that I got my favorite button from you, Nancy, as you have the Actaeon Figure listed in your catalogue! But I can't figure when I would have encountered you to buy it.

#679 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2016, 06:27 PM:

Carrie S., there are people who resell my buttons-- it's quite possible you bought it from one of them.

#680 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2016, 03:07 AM:

Oh, man, I hope somebody's up. Our flatscreen TV just turned itself on and then off again in about a second. It's never done this before that I know of. Do I have to wake up my husband, who has to be up very early, or can I let it slide?

#681 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2016, 03:22 AM:

OK, I finally drilled down past the amateur answer websites to an actual professional with the right combination of keywords. Basically don't worry, troubleshoot and if the problem recurs call the repair service. The word "ignite" was not used anywhere on the page. Whew!

#682 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2016, 11:57 AM:

I just saw the news about the Oklahoma earthquake. By California standards 5.6 is a moderate earthquake, but when that magnitude takes place in a landscape that doesn't have them all the time, it's worrisome.

If you're in the affected area, please please do not light any fires--you could have cracked gas pipes. Don't use candles or your fireplace or barbeque until the area is checked--and realize that it might take a while for it to happen. Check on your neighbors, and be very wary of masonry.

#683 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2016, 05:23 PM:

I note that CNN is talking up front about "disposal wells" -- that is, injecting fluids into deep geology. And they embedded this tweet.

#684 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2016, 10:40 PM:

Ah, takes me back to the days when Rocky Mountain Arsenal was disposing of nerve gas by pumping it down old gas wells. Fun times, fun times.

#685 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2016, 02:43 AM:

B.Durbin #663 "At some point you should look up the history of Lake Missoula at the end of the ice age."

Indeed you should. I particularly like the scientific history

J. Harlen Bretz: Those unexplained gorges and waterfalls aren't a problem. They're exactly what you'd get from water erosion.
Serious Geologists: I suppose they look a bit like that, but, dude. You're talking water hundreds of feet deep moving at hundreds of miles an hour.
J. Harlen Bretz: Yup
Serious Geologists: Where TAF would that even come from?
J. Harlen Bretz: Not my problem. I'm just saying, those are water erosion features.
Serious Geologists: You realise they're going to be all "Noah's Flood" about this
J. Harlen Bretz: Another of the many things in this world that aren't my problem.
Serious Geologists: ⟨sigh⟩ ⟨look for block button⟩

And, you know, the Serious Geologists had a lot going for their argument. Everything, in turns out, except being right.

#686 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2016, 08:33 AM:

The Missoula flood certainly opened the way for large scale cataclysmic geology but I suppose it also needed plate tectonics for the story that Julian May wrote over thirty years ago.

There's been a lot done to refine both ideas. I'm old enough to remember when plate tectonics was new enough to not be in my O-level geography classes. Oddly, it was my Religious Education teacher who seemed to have a better idea of how old the Earth was than the Geography teacher did.

#687 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2016, 12:51 PM:

I love that guy in the twitter thread (linked in @683) who keeps claiming Oklahoma is spiderwebbed with active faults.


No. Really no. Geologically active fault lines that can be expected to throw regular earthquakes, in the contiguous 48 states, are basically:
-- one up the east coast
-- another by Maine-ish
-- the ones up the Pacific coastline
-- another one in the Rockies

And then one everyone keeps saying is the cause of the New Madrid incident, but that's a Serious Geologist way of saying "There are fairly regular earthquakes here. It walks like a fault and quacks like a fault, so there's probably a fault somewhere. Um. A fault that vibrates up and down instead of slipping sideways or pushing up/down. Yes. Because earthquakes, so fault."

Yes, there ARE ancient fossil faults all over the US, where movement once (millions+ years) happened, but for all intents and purposes are still now.

Except when you inject fluid into them at high pressures, at which point -- you just lubed the joint, dude, it's gonna move ...

#688 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2016, 12:55 PM:

I just realized a great metaphor.

Say you have a large, stable, heavy thing: say a cube of solid stainless steel about two meters on a side.

It's resting on a very, very slightly uneven surface: say a concrete floor with about a 1cm-per-five-meters slope.

You put the weight on the floor. You walk away and look at it. For any reasonably forseeable timeframe, with no outside influences, that sucker is SITTING STILL. It's stable. There is no "tension", there is no "buildup," there is stability.

However, if you decide you want to inject graphite powder or silicone lubricant underneath it quite energetically -- it's a great place to store it, right?? -- there will definitely be a point where the block starts to slide downhill.

Loudly claiming that the tiny slope and how smooth the surface of the block are the "cause" of the sliding is profoundly missing the point.

#689 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2016, 12:58 PM:

(and yes, Oklahoma has a lot of teeny tiny quakes in the course of most years. That's a whole different issue than one as huge as the recent one)

#690 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2016, 04:37 PM:

Looking at the Preliminary Fault Map of Oklahoma - OK Geological Survey (PDF), "spiderwebbed" with faults is a good description. According to the USGS,

A fault that is likely to have another earthquake sometime in the future. Faults are commonly considered to be active if they have moved one or more times in the last 10,000 years.
The Earthquake History of Oklahoma describes several quakes over the last 100 years. At least some of those faults are active.

I'm a Californian. As everyone knows, we have our faults, but at least we don't get tornados. Except that we do get tornados. I remember when one came through our area and the winds were so strong they pulled water through closed windows into the house. But everyone knows we don't get tornados, so it must have been just a funnel cloud or something.

I like to recommend The Rift (by Walter Jon Williams). It is about the next New Madrid earthquake. The 1811-1812 earthquakes happened when the Mississippi valley was mostly wilderness. Now the area is intensively developed with major engineering works and large cities. And since everyone knows that earthquakes don't happen in the middle of the continent, we are very poorly prepared. It is a hell of a story.

#691 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2016, 08:16 PM:

TomB, #690: The Jericho Iteration by Allen Steele plays out against a background of St. Louis some years after New Madrid cut loose again. It's outdated now, but still worth reading for the physical details of what happened. (I remember liking the story a lot when I read it, but I haven't gone back to it in a while, so I don't know how well the rest of it holds up. I do recall that there were several important and non-stereotypical female characters.)

#692 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 04:14 AM:

TomB @ #690:

"It's a hell of a story" describes most, possibly all, of what Walter Jon Williams has written. He is, co-incidentally, GoH at WorldCon 75 in Helsinki next year.

#693 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 05:14 AM:

While railways were getting to run between the Mississippi-Missouri basin and the East Coast, the vital transport link at the time of the Civil War was still down the river to New Orleans. Most of the old trails started from Independence, Missouri, which was the head of river navigation.

So control of the Mississippi was vital for the westward expansion of the USA. Then, in 1861...

There was more to the Civil War than slavery.

That example has echoes today in Brexit. The political hot potato sometimes seems to be the migrants and refugees, but much of Ireland's physical trade with the rest of the EU passes through the UK, much of the UK's business depends on the EU. Few manufacturing companies depend wholly on UK supply sources feeding in to their factories.

And now, at the G20, Theresa "Brexit means Brexit" May is finally discovering the problems.

There's only one May in this mess: there will be dark times ahead, and she's not Fred Astaire. She's not even Ed Balls

And the Referendum was only supposed to be "advisory".

#694 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 05:27 AM:

Lee @691. Cool. I will have to check that out.

Ingvar @629: I was using "hell" to refer to what happens in the book as well as the excellence of the writing. For Walter's other works I would use words such as "unique", "dazzling" and "fantastic".

And yes, I know about Worldcon 75. I'm hoping to make it. A friend even gave me a "Työn Orja" t-shirt in case I want to volunteer.

#695 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 10:13 AM:

I point out that the Mississippi was as important then as it is now, every time someone says something about letting those states go. (Great-grandfather and his older brother were in the Union army at Vicksburg. He also was on the Red River expedition. Perspective.)

#696 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 01:08 PM:

Speaking of the Mississippi, I just finished reading Bill Bryson's book One Summer: America, 1927, and he talks about the 1927 Mississippi flood, one of the US's most devastating natural disasters.

Not only were thousands of lives lost, but it had an important sociological consequence in providing an impetus to the Great Migration of African-Americans from the the south to the Midwest and North.

Fascinating book, well worth checking out.

#697 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 04:54 PM:

The Puppies get their own awards!
The setup and execution of same were not without glitches, but I consider that to have been ordinary growing pains. I expect that next year things will go more smoothly.

#698 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 05:08 PM:

Oh, sweet Ghu. Just ran across these. There should be a "keep a rock handy for when you want to crawl under it" warning.

Go here if you have stories to contribute. I've got a few to add. ::redface::

#699 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 06:03 PM:

Jacque @698: Ref. earlier discussions at Making Light about awkward scenes in fiction: The most recent example I remember was Miles' dinner party in A Civil Campaign. I can read these things without much discomfort, but I absolutely cannot watch them.

#700 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 06:30 PM:

Friends, I'm getting serious about jobhunting.

I'm looking for full-time, W2 work, ideally. Contracting through an agency who pays me on a W2 basis would also be OK. Looking in NYC and close environs; I don't drive, so my commute will be mass transit and foot.

I'm an experienced QA tester, technical support specialist, and writer of both technical and non-technical documentation. I've picked up quite a bit of related stuff along the way; I can manage a WordPress site with reasonable facility, for example.

If you'd like to see my resume, or just get a copy for future possibilities, email me at chatton three wun ate at the mail of g.

#701 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2016, 09:21 PM:

Nicole @ 567: that sounds like an interesting format; I wasn't thinking of something resembling double-elimination due to the single defeat, but I haven't studied tournament theory (I'm sure it exists), especially how to deal with any number of competitors that isn't a power of 2. I watched a few minutes of your first match; I think I'd have to watch a lot more (or some animations) to catch all the subtleties the experienced-sounding announcers were calling.

#702 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 03:26 AM:

CHip @ 701: Come to think of it, it's not really an elimination bracket at all, but more of a sorting bracket, designed to produce a complete and meaningfully ranked list of ten. Well, it's sort of single elimination in that your first loss means you won't be one of the top four, but you always get at least three bouts (four if you're a low seed), even if you lose them all.

We're now in the four weekends of D1 playoffs, and those brackets are designed exactly like the D2s. But where each of the two D2 will send their top two to Championships (to compete for 1st through 4th place in the usual manner), each of the 4 D1s will send their top 3 to compete in what looks a lot more like an elimination style bracket:

1. Each team that took 2nd place in their D1 bracket will play a team that took 3rd in theirs (from different brackets, so not one they've played already); the losers are done, while...

2. the winners of those games go on to play one of the teams that took 1st place (again, no one they've played before). Losers are done, while...

3. winners go on to sort themselves into 1st through 4th places over the course of four games in the usual manner.

We only really figured that out by looking at last year's champs bracket. It's not explained as thoroughly as we hoped in the "who plays where?" guides.

Watching roller derby as a spectator seems to be a skill all its own, almost as challenging to pick up as watching it from the vantage point of one of the players (i.e. "pack awareness," something that's difficult to teach, but that we only seem to pick up "osmotically" over time and (sometimes painful) experience). There's a video that explains the basics of the sport to newcomers, but I'm not sure how well it succeeds at preparing them to watch it at full speed. And I'm afraid not all of the announcers are as helpful as the others.

If it were a thing you wanted to come back to, I'd suggest starting with archives of last year's championships where the players, the referees, and the announcers are presumably as top-notch as you're going to get, ever. Better still if you can find an experienced player or fan who'll watch it with you and field all your questions. (Possibly over some form of online instant chat? I could be convinced to volunteer.)


ON A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SUBJECT we just sat down and watched the first two episodes of Stranger Things. I expect it won't be long before we sit down to the third. And the fourth. And etc.

At one point I turned to John and said, "This is what Super 8 should have been!"

I'm really enjoying the show, for the most part. We had to adjust our TV's brightness/contrast for it, though. This is a show that really wants you to know how very little comfort a single light bulb can be.

#703 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 09:45 AM:


It sounds vaguely like a Swiss Tournament system, where in each round teams are paired based on their current score (e.g, in round 4 teams which have won 4 games play each other, teams which have won 3 games play each other, etc). If a grouping has an odd number of teams (like would happen in round 2 of a tournament with 10 teams) either one team gets a bye or cross-grouping games are played. After a fixed number of rounds, the tournament is over, and hopefully there's a decent spread of scores to be able to rank everyone.

The differences I see is that losing in round 1 of a Swiss tournament doesn't prevent you from being the overall winner; everyone else could lose 2 or more, for instance.

#704 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 01:36 PM:

Today's Science Report:
Rosetta got a photo of Philae. The lander is lying on its side in a crevice.

#705 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 03:55 PM:

Cassy B.: Oops. That's what happens when I post from a mobile and have to remember who I'm addressing instead of being able to copy-paste more than one thing at a time.

#706 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 04:33 PM:

B. Durbin, Not to worry. I have an identical twin. If I got bent out of shape every time I was mis-named, I'd be a pretzel... <smile>

#707 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 05:03 PM:

Lee #697: Who on earth can read the work of John C. Wright without laughter (at, not with, the author)?

#708 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 06:00 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #707:

I recently re-read his Golden Age trilogy and while the Suck Fairy had paid it a visit, I still found it readable. In contrast, I really struggled to finish his fiction from recent years. So for me, his writing has deteriorated.

#709 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 07:05 PM:

Fragano, I read the works of John C. Wrong* that were nominated for the Hugo last year without laughing. Mostly I just groaned.

*Normally I wouldn't play with someone's name like that, but he has shown he doesn't think it's important to respect other people's names.

#710 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 07:39 PM:

I recorded a couple of songs last week that I think could interest some of you all. I was working on learning "The Cowboy's Lament" on mandolin and got intrigued by some of the lyrics. So it turns out the song has some ancestry in the English ballad "The Unfortunate Rake" -- and googling further, I find that "St James Infirmary Blues" can also claim some descent from the same ballad -- I ended up cobbling together a version of the rake's ballad set to the approximate beat and melody of the gambler's ballad. And then went on to rough out a new setting for the New Orleans tune. Longwinded, sorry; but if you are still reading then chances are low that you will regret listening: check it out, "St. James Hospital Blues" playllist

#711 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 09:21 PM:

Soon Lee/Allan Beatty: I read the Hugo packet last year, and Wright's oeuvre, as contained in it, was truly horrible. If his work continues to be of the same standard, then I can only presume that the Dragon, in the eponymous award, bears the personal name of Yurasis.

#712 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2016, 10:42 PM:

My opinion of Wright's Golden Age trilogy, at the time, was that it was two and a half books of very readable SF. Then there was the last half-book, which put me off him for life.

#713 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2016, 08:17 AM:

I wish I'd ever bought any of Wright's that I could ethically burn it. The Saint Nicholas story in particular aroused this feeling in me, for all that it doesn't seem to have ever been printed on paper.

#714 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2016, 08:56 AM:

#713 ::: Carrie S

Would buying a used copy be good enough?

#715 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2016, 11:01 AM:

Better, even, because then he wouldn't be getting my money. :)

#716 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2016, 11:14 AM:

Open-threadiness: An article at the Science News site discusses newly-discovered ultrasmall bacteria, e.g.

To filter this water, she and her colleagues used a mesh with openings 0.2 micrometers wide — tiny enough that the water coming out the other side is considered bacteria-free. Out of curiosity, Banfield’s team decided to use next-generation sequencing to identify cells that might have slipped through. Sure enough, the water contained extremely minuscule sets of genes.

(Elsewhere in the article, the text distinguishes the new microbes from bacterial debris.)

What caught my attention was that one of the arguments against the ALH008 "fossil microbes" from Mars was that they were too small to contain enough genes to survive. With new discoveries on Earth, that argument may go away.

(Unfortunately, you may not be able to get at the entire article on microbes unless you subscribe.)

#717 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2016, 02:56 PM:

Brenda Kalt @716: Interestingly, there are also huge viruses (bigger than many bacteria) that weren't getting found because samples for viral assay were first filtered on a size that the investigators figured would take out the bacteria and make their job easier, because obviously viruses are small, right?

#718 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2016, 06:45 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @ 519: I wonder if "they tossed a whole grapefruit in and then took it out again" renders it sufficiently homeopathic* for avoiding medicine interactions?

There are a few options in the beer-only realm. Cascade hops are famous for their grapefruit notes, so you might look for beers that feature them. On the other hand, I find that Hanger 24's Betty IPA has the strongest grapefruit effect of any beer I've tried, and it has a completely different hop bill, so go figure. (It's also my current favorite beer.) Note that any beer sufficiently hop-forward to produce the effect is going to be fairly (or unfairly) bitter as well.

#719 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2016, 06:47 PM:

And you probably knew this, but just in case: make sure you drink the beer from a glass, not the bottle, if you want to catch any aromas (grapefruit or otherwise).

#720 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2016, 08:49 PM:

Tim Walters #718: Last summer (that is, 2015), I was rather annoyed to find that pretty much all the new beers on draft at my then-current watering hole tasted like grapefruit to me. And they weren't supposed to be fruit beers. :-( Haven't run into the problem this year

#721 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2016, 11:06 PM:

Sierra Nevada Otra Vez has prickly pear cactus and grapefruit in a gose style beer. Sounds weird, but it's actually very refreshing.

#722 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 12:07 AM:

@ 716 - re: microsmall bacteria

The article in question seems to have scrolled off the front page there, but it has me curious. I work in biotech, and when we run something through a 0.2micron filter, although we aren't technically able to call it "sterile-filtered" it's considered to be functionally sterile. And--in practice--behaves as such. (When the thing you're filtering is cell culture growth medium, it's pretty easy to tell when you have organisms you don't want growing in it!)

So I'd be curious to know whether these ultra-micro-bacteria have highly specific grown requirements that make them unlikely as casual contaminants.

#723 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 02:11 AM:

Just wondering, since several regulars at least were reading it - does anybody know what happened to the webcomic 'Stand Still, Stay Silent'? It stopped updating at the end of May and I couldn't find any note on the website as to why.

#724 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 02:17 AM:

David Harmon @ 720, Rainflame @ 721: To my palate, beer with fruity notes is as different from actual fruit beer as wine with citrus notes is from sangria. I have only found a couple of fruit beers that I enjoy at all.

Haven't run into the problem this year

This seems to be the year of barrel-aged stouts, which I enjoy even though they're the polar opposite of the IPAs I usually favor. They tend to be expensive, though!

#725 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 03:08 AM:

Heather Rose Jones #722:
Direct link to small bacteria article.

My initial thought was that filtration through a 0.2 micron filter removes cells bigger than that size, but the assay they were using detects DNA.

So it was entirely possible that the signals they saw weren't from really small cells but were from DNA (next generation sequencing is high throughput DNA sequencing) whose molecules are soluble in water so would have passed through the filter.

So it was good that they investigated further and were able to get image corroboration of ultra-small bacteria.

#726 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 07:30 AM:

Clifton @723:

Stand Still, Stay Silent is still running; she does take occasional breaks between chapters. But I read a brand new page just last night, and have read a whole bunch of story this summer.

You've got the right link there, so I haven't the slightest idea what the trouble is. Try clearing cache? Try a different web browser? Put www. at the beginning of the link?

this is the most recent page, in case it helps.

#727 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 07:54 AM:

Clifton, the page I linked isn't particularly spoilery, but I could also link to the page right after the last one you're seeing, if you'd like. Just let me know what number or date it is.

#728 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 10:01 AM:

Jeremy Osner
I happened to tune in (late, so I didn't tape it) on a show on the Nashville Network that was put together by, I believe, John McEwan, and it had versions of songs I hadn't heard. His "Streets of Laredo," (aka The Cowboy's Lament) had the dying cowboy (another title) asking to have a pretty whore-girl sing him a song, and requested flowers in his casket so he wouldn't stink too much. It was more affecting, I thought, than the usual version. Also, it did remind me of St. James Infirmary Blues, a comparison I was making in meatspace not too long ago.

I've looked in vain for a repeat of the show. Maybe it's online somewhere, but I don't even know what to call it. Search by name? Dunno.

#729 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 10:28 AM:

Clifton @723, I also have been following "Stand Still Stay Silent" with no problems or interruptions. Other than trying a different browser I have no useful suggestions, I'm afraid. But the comic never stopped running.

#730 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 01:39 PM:

Thanks, Kip@728 -- I will certainly look around for that. "The Unfortunate Rake" is traditionally sung to the tune of "Spanish Ladies" but it can be forced into the "Cowboy's Lament" tune pretty easily. It includes the line about the flowers keeping the smell of the rake's corpse off ("So you won't smell me as you carry me along"), I flubbed that in my recording.

#731 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 01:41 PM:

:) first search hit is to a livejournal comment by one kip-w

#732 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 01:44 PM:

I bet it was this version by Webb Wilder.

#733 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 05:11 PM:

Thanks Naomi and Cassy B!
How weird! For me it stopped at page #533 (5/31/2016 was the exact date) and that's what pops up at the link I gave. My home and work computer both show the same thing. I will try clearing browser cache and other associated voodoo. Glad I asked.

#734 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 05:21 PM:

Aha! Mystery solved: (the link I was using) and (the link Naomi gave)
give different results.

My guess is the web hosting must have changed, and the first address must be going to an old server address from before the change which is no longer being updated.

#735 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 06:28 PM:

Somebody's cell phone down in the lobby (I assume) is emitting the mockingjay call....

#736 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 08:46 PM:

Clifton, I'm glad you figured it out.

Happy reading!

#737 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2016, 09:12 PM:

Clifton @733: SSSS was being wonky in my feed reader for a while - it looks like some pages got html-named as "bonus" instead of the regular numbers, so if you had something auto-iterating, those pages would break it.

#738 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 01:58 AM:

#722, #725. So I'd be curious to know whether these ultra-micro-bacteria have highly specific grown requirements

That's a definite maybe. The Nature Communications paper
says the bacteria appear to be missing genes for some important metabolic pathways and suggests they are dependent on other members of their microbial communities for some nutrients.

It takes a very, very small village.

#739 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 11:08 AM:

AKICIML. Does anyone have experience with a Nia dance class? I need something that (a) fits my fairly constrained schedule and (b) encourages me to enjoy moving my significantly overweight and out-of-shape body to increase fitness and energy. I like water aerobics but can't make a class work with my current schedule. There's a Nia class convenient in time and location. What I've read about it sounds good but I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has tried it.

#740 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 12:24 PM:

Scientific study of know-it-all internet commenters by Microsoft and Stanford. Link here.

User contributions in Reddit were rated on "dogmatism" on a scale of 1 to 5, essentially "Let's talk" to "Flame on." Not surprisingly, some topics brought out more dogmatic comments than others, but also not surprisingly, especially dogmatic commenters carried that quality to other threads where it was less common.

The paper finds that dogmatic commenters post frequently and in favourite communities, but since they are “not as inclined to engage with discussion, once it has begun”, also seem to most value placing a first or at least early comment.

The paper also studies the language and vocabulary of the absolutely-certain internet commenter, finding that references to ‘they’ and ‘you’ are far likelier to prevail in a dogmatic post. Examples given include ‘You are a moron’ and ‘They are keeping us down’.

Not terribly surprising, but I find it interesting to see this stuff quantified.

#741 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 01:44 PM:

It is really time to start thinking about NaNoWriMo.


I know I started on the game the month before I had my car accident, and I got back home just in time to see President Obama's first inauguration. But a lot of other things have happened since,

And I am thinking of writing the sort of book that the Puppies might like, thud and blunder space opera, and maybe flogging it through Amazon. But I doubt it will be quite what they expect. Not so much Bulldog Drummond as Patricia Holm or Emma Peel.

Is it silly to think I might get one of those Dragoncon awards? Probably, but the Puppies aren't what I would call good writers.

Anyway, I have done something a little like this before, a sort of Triplanetary-style adventure, but I should probably drop the furry-fiction angle. I can dial all the numbers: the undercover agent stopping a pirate attack on a Mars-bound space-liner, the hives of scum and villainy, the problems a law enforcement agency has in getting money to its spies without being spotted in a modern computerised banking system.

But how long can I manage to not mention that the gun-toting nuclear-reactor engineer is a woman?

And do I give the lady a Colt, a Browning, or a Glock? Does it matter that asteroids move? Have I been playing too much Kerbal Space Program?

All this, and more, may not be revealed in the next episode, same time, same day, last week...

No, that isn't quite right, is it.

#742 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 01:57 PM:

I rather liked this bit when I wrote it.

Many decks below her feet, in the engineering section, a figure in the Chief Engineer's space armour stood by the Main Air Plant, but it was not the Chief Engineer. Oh, the height and build were similar, else the space armour would have been unwearable. But instead of the bear, polar with a slight touch of the tiger from a distant ancestor, the occupant of that bipedal behemoth of bullet-proofed steel and alloy was a cat, anonymously domestic and amply fed. He grinned as he watched the drill, held by its magnetic clamps, work its way into the main air duct. With the steady rumble of the air flow, and the scream of the drill, he heard nothing as a slim, almost boyish, vulpine figure stepped out of the shadows behind him, placed the muzzle of her Erfurt against the back of his neck—rather, against the armour that covered the back of his neck—and squeezed the trigger.

He might not have been able to be surprised by what hit him as the yawning barrel of the Erfurt blasted the needle-thin tungsten-carballoy penetrator into the armour. It was designed to penetrate, and put the full force of the column of expanding gas in the barrel into no more than a tenth of the cross-section of an ordinary round. The propellant, a hellish combination of stabilised dioxygen-difluoride, aluminium, and polynitropentaborate, took the barrel to the limits of its elastic strength, and such was the unimaginable velocity of the projectile that both needle-dart and armour acted more like liquids than respectable solid matter. The armour dimpled slightly and the imposter's head started to move forward, but that was due more to the muzzle-blast. A jet of unbearably hot plasma entered the base of the helmet, needle and armour vapourised by the collision and followed by the hot, corrosive, gasses from the barrel of the pistol. Whether the prospective pirate had the chance to sense their arrival, none can say, for the hypersonic stream punched through skull and brain faster even than the speed of thought. And the near impenetrable visor, taking the impact from the inside, snapped the hinge pins and almost slowly, clattered to the deck.

The vixen reached past the corpse, slowly crumpling against the resistance of the armour's joints, and switched off the drill. She released the clamps, and laid the heavy drill on the deck with surprising ease, before applying a patch over the half-drilled hole, the sort of patch that any spacer might carry in case of a sudden air leak. She tapped her 'phone. "Boss, we were right."

Her ear twitched. "Nope, no trouble. His metabolic processes are now history. He's shuffled off his mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PIRATE!!"

I have seen some of the puppy litter and the depressing thought is that this isn't that good, but it still feels incredibly better.

#743 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 03:11 PM:

That's a fine pun.

As for the puppies, I think they're a tin-eared bunch, but not completely so. Marko Kloos would have been a puppy nominee if he hadn't turned it down. And as for a female lead, aren't they fans of Honor Harrington?

I've been wondering whether it's about time to have an award for best self-published work.

#744 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 04:00 PM:

Dave Belll, you can probably get away with it longer in the first person. Seem to recall there was a whole book in which it was never explicitly mentioned that the narrator was agendered, because the whole thing was in first.

#745 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 04:13 PM:

While we're discussing gender in writing:
Quite a while ago someone posted here a link to a first-person short story they'd written about a truck driver picking up a hitch-hiker, in a setting which apparently involved Hell and demons being in a physical location somewhere in the Southwestern US. I'd like to read it again, if anybody saved that link, because the story never referenced the gender of either character, even including a delicately-described consensual sexual encounter. I thought the story was well-written and evocative, and both its setting and its handling of gender were fascinating.

#746 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 04:29 PM:

Quinn Yarbro wrote a story back in the 70s where none of the characters were gendered: they all had ambiguous names like Chris, and words were carefully chosen to keep out all gendered references. She said that nobody had yet ascribed the same gender to all the characters that she had in mind while she was writing it. I don't remember the title, but I'm sure I could ask her for the reference.

She also did not make a big deal of it. It was just one of the odd background facts about the story, not marked from the outside in any way.

#747 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2016, 07:47 PM:

Dave Bell@742: Boy, you sure have been reading Doc Smith! Bits of both the attack on the Hyperion in Triplanetary, and Kimbal Kinnison's attack on Helmuth's base.

#748 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2016, 12:30 AM:

Soon Lee @ 725

DNA can simply mean remnants of dead cells. (Part of the purification process for my job-site's product is removing the cell wall fragments and DNA from the host cells that manufacture our protein.) So, yeah, corroboration for actual whole cells that size is necessary.

#749 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2016, 02:26 AM:

On the question of novels with non-gender-specific participants, I just found out that one of the best, The Kindly Ones by Melissa Scott, is finally now available as an e-book.

#750 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2016, 08:13 AM:

Your humble correspondent had signed up for Kindle publishing with Amazon. It has become a lot easier than it used to be.

Now just to write the book, maintaining an adequate quality throughout. I hope I can at least match that of the above sample. It has been recommended that I should provide 60 pages about whales, just in case.

Mr. Dyer-Bennet is quite correct about the sources of my inspiration, that year. In my teenage years, Doctor Smith's ouvre, and some of the questionable spin-offs involving other authors, was being put out in mass-market paperback editions by a British publisher.

Meanwhile, we shall wait and see what Amazon say after the weekend.

#751 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2016, 08:18 AM:

Dave Bell:

Space Whales?

Interplanetary Walrus?

Or something else? ITWSBT

#752 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 04:29 AM:

It's the day in my time zone. Happy birthday, Xopher! I'm glad you're in the world.

#753 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 06:49 AM:

Characters of unspecified gender... this has reminded me for the first time in years of The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler (spoiler, since it's probably not on many of your to-read piles: mildly naughty but goodnatured narrator is revealed only near the end to be a girl). One of the books that pretty much every child in the UK in the late 70s was exposed to. I wonder how much it's read now?

#754 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 08:36 AM:

Happy Birthday Xopher!

#755 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 08:41 AM:

Another example of a character of unspecified gender.

In the novel "At Amberleaf Fair" by Phyllis Ann Karr, the gender of Alrathe (one of the three viewpoint characters) is never specified.

#756 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 08:52 AM:

Happy birthday, Xopher!

#757 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 09:03 AM:


#758 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 09:38 AM:

Happy Birthday Xman!

#759 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 10:37 AM:

Hippo birdies to Xopher!

#760 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 10:39 AM:

Over at File 770, there's a plums-in-fridge version that needs to be read to be appreciated.

#761 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 10:57 AM:

Subhead: Real Estate NOT All About Location

Local woman turns down apartment in wonderful location because the kitchen is incredibly tiny. "I absolutely love the location," she explained, "and the overall size of the rooms is good, but the kitchen is impossibly cramped. I'd be banging my elbow on the wall every time I washed the dishes, and opening the oven door blocks access to the counter (what little there is of it). I thought seriously about the apartment anyway, but I just wouldn't be happy there."

The search for a new apartment continues.

#762 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 12:30 PM:

Happy Birthday, Xopher!

Instagram is nearly as bad as Tumblr to set up. Among other things, there are important parts of the process that can only be done from the mobile app.

#763 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 02:36 PM:

Felicitous natal anniversary to Xopher!

#764 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 02:39 PM:

Thanks, abi! Thanks Michael! Thanks Lila! Thanks Kip! Thanks Stefan! Thanks PJ! Thanks Lee! Thanks Fragano!

I would not have made it to Steak Sauce had it not been for this community, among others. So: much love back!

Speaking of almost not making it, I wrote a thing about today's other anniversary, much on my mind lately. It's on FB, but you shouldn't need an FB account to access it. Warning: it's a bit intense, but nothing graphic or gory.

#765 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 03:08 PM:

I'm glad you're still here, Xopher. And happy birthday.

#766 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 04:13 PM:

Happy birthday, Xopher!

#767 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 10:12 PM:

Speaking of gender in SF, does anyone know of an[1] SF species that has a reproductive cycle like ferns? One generation is asexual, and reproduces by parthenogenesis, while the next generation is gendered, and reproduces sexually?

Or, for that matter, any other unusual, not strictly sexual, reproductive strategy? I know Varley did a multi-gendered reproductive system in Titan, but that never seemed reasonable, it seemed engineered, not evolved.

#768 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 10:28 PM:

@Buddha Buck,

Closest I can think of right now is David Brin's "Glory Season"...

#769 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 10:38 PM:

Speaking of File 770, I finally got to the Southern Reach trilogy and wrote down some thoughts about why I liked it so much.

#770 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2016, 11:29 PM:

#767 ::: Buddha Buck

I think Tiptree's "Your Haploid Heart" might qualify.

#771 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 12:00 AM:

Almost belated happy birthday Xopher!

#772 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 12:27 AM:

Buddha Buck @767,

ISTR that the locals in Hal Clement's Cycle of Fire had alternating generations, if that's the sort of thing you are looking for. It was a loong time ago that I read it, so details are hazy.

J Homes.

#773 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 12:28 AM:

Buddha Buck #767: IIRC, it was explicitly engineered.

#774 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 01:19 AM:

Asimov's "The Gods Themselves" has an alien race (in a parallel universe to ours) with 2 stages, an immature reproductive stage with 3 sexes, who eventually permanently merge to produce a single individual in the mature stage. I think the aliens were also photosynthetic.

#775 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 01:55 AM:

Buddha Buck@767: Well, Doc Smith's Palainians probably had a really weird reproductive scheme (certainly more than two sexes), but apparently no warm-blooded oxygen breather will ever understand what "emfoozing" actually is (probably because it takes place partly in a fourth spatial dimension). So...the idea is hinted at, but there's not enough detail, I'm guessing, to do anything with it for whatever you have in mind.

#776 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 02:26 AM:

Fifteen years...

That's more than a quarter of my life

And that includes an invasion of Afghanistan, which rarely ends well, for anyone.

I think the best thing that came out of that evolution might have been Sherlock.

#777 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 10:41 AM:

GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! @ 764

Belated happy birthday, glad you're still with us.

I read your post. It sent me back to that day, too. You see, one of my sisters, Twosie, was flying back to New Jersey after a visit home. I was at work when a co-worker came by and asked if I'd heard about the towers. I hadn't. I tried to find a on-line, streaming news station that wouldn't hang up or cut out on me due to server overload. (I had no access to a radio or TV at work.) It was tough. All the major and minor news organization web sites in the US were overloaded. Once I'd gotten enough data, I realized my sister could have been on one of those flights. The timeline was right. She would have been entering local airspace when the first plane hit. She didn't own a cell phone at that time.

I called Tino, another sister, who had taken Twosie to the airport so I could find out her flight number and carrier. I googled the airline's main office and called them. It took a few tries to get through. A very harried woman answered the phone in a forced-calm voice. Her stress was very evident. So was her professionalism.

The multiple dialing attempts had given me time to order my thoughts and get control of my emotions. My voice was forced polite because I know screaming and ranting at customer service will get you nowhere fast. "Hi. I know you can't tell me anything. My sister is on flight 457 out of MCI departing 7:45 am, and the destination is New Jersey." I gave her the airport code, arrival gate and time. (I've forgotten those. It somehow seems wrong.) "I want to know if she's okay. Is that possible?"

"I'm not supposed to do this..." she murmured. I heard typing. "Her flight is pulling into the gate."

"Thank you. Thank you very much," I said and hung up.

So, yeah. I know all about the puddle of relief.

I called Tino back and together we spread the word among family that Twosie was safe. Twosie, due to travel snafus, didn't know what happened until she reached her place of work that afternoon and they fell on her crying in relief. Because of fandom, I knew about the BBC and its web site. It was the only place I could get news that day. So thanks to all the Whovians on this list and in other places I inhabit (or inhabited) on the net. You kept me sane.

#778 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 10:49 AM:

Open thready question: What do you call the top of a bookcase? It's not, technically the top shelf; it has molding on the edges which seems counterproductive for a book-storing surface.

We are starting to prepare to move, and have heroically cleaned the 8-deep piles of books off the top of the bookcases. They look strange and short now.

#779 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 11:18 AM:

Sandy B. (778): I would call it the top. If it has a more specific name than that, I've never heard it. I agree that it's not the top shelf; that would refer to the uppermost of the actual shelves inside the bookcase.

#780 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 11:51 AM:

GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! @764: ::oof!::

Well, I, for one, am grateful you decided to sleep in that day.

The world has a bad habit of having Weird Shit happen around my birthday (Princess Di's death on my 40th, Katrina around my 48th, like that), but not a patch on yours. And, yeah, that whole "see you tomorrow" thing. I've lost enough friends that I try to be mindful that any given time I see them might be the last time I see them, and to treat the occasion with proper respect.

That all said, I hope you had a splendid day yesterday. And today, too, for that matter.

#781 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 12:40 PM:

Sandy, #778: Most of my bookcases don't have molding on the top. Of the ones I can see from where I sit, two are completely squared-off, one has the top extending out into a little horizontal lip beyond the sides but is still completely flat across the top surface, and two have a raised lip with decoration around the back and sides, but not on the front; like the completely flat ones, they would still require bookends if I wanted to store books on that surface. I concur with Mary Aileen that it's the top but not the top shelf.

#782 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 04:53 PM:

Sandy B @778: I've seen it called the pediment (like the triangular part on top of the entrance to the Parthenon).

Bookcases with pediments aren't meant for mass storage; they're meant to echo the decorative motifs of the room they're in and genteelly hold a curated collection of things. :->

#783 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 05:09 PM:

Sandy B. @ 778 ...
Open thready question: What do you call the top of a bookcase? It's not, technically the top shelf; it has molding on the edges which seems counterproductive for a book-storing surface.

"That place where the cats are sleeping" ? ;D

#784 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 05:52 PM:

Thanks for words! (also, Elliot@782, I would argue that my bookcases DO hold a "curated collection of things" until my breath gives out. But my argument is not with you, it is really with people who don't own books and yet design and sell bookcases. MUST THEY SAG OBVIOUSLY?)

Speaking of incompetent segues, anyone have any experience using a needlework-style magnifier+light for reading? I looked at one online, it seemed to have a higher-magnification center section and I thought, "That's probably not right. Who do I know that loves crafts, reads a lot and might be over forty?"

And, dear ML, that was your collective self.

(P.S. I am rereading a Vorkosigan book in paperback. Was the type always that small?)

#785 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 06:25 PM:


I would have thought that would be on the bottom of the bookshelf. At the, you know, foot.

Sandy B.: Yes.

Either that, or it shrinks while the books are sitting on shelves over a period of years....

#786 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 09:43 PM:


Heh. I suspect most bookcases are designed for "occasional" readers, with likely some knicknacks mixed in, not "heavy" readers who triple-shelve their paperbacks and stack the coffee-table books. Me, I bought steel-frame industrial shelves. ;-)

So, birthday party for my elder nephew (16) and stepfather (84). Both cakes had their candles in binary (as is the custom in my sister's family), which turned out comparatively neatly this year. My gift to the nephew was the first three volumes of Sandman. "I didn't know Neil Gaiman did graphic novels!" (lucky 10,000)

#787 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 11:32 PM:

Sandy B. @784

I have progressive lenses which are fine for driving and adequate for computering, but entirely useless for reading. I just take my glasses off now and close one eye, because I can't focus both eyes when I hold the book close enough to see.

#788 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2016, 11:43 PM:

Thanks everyone.

#789 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 02:06 AM:

Here's a type of zoo enrichment I had never heard of:

At Busch Gardens, Florida, you can play tug o'war with a tiger twice a day. The rope is fed through a heavily reinforced port in the tiger enclosure. The tiger sure seems to be having a good time, and I don't see how it could have been coerced. I gather that they do this elsewhere as well.

#790 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 03:27 AM:

Sandy, #784: Particle-board bookcases will always sag visibly after a few years; it's the nature of the material. Try thrift/antique stores and see if you can find some made from real wood -- or if you're handy with tools, build your own. I have 2 thrift-store bookcases holding my hardbacks, and they've been solidly filled for a decade and look just fine.

#791 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 05:04 AM:

Lee @ #790:

I have some non-sagging, book-filled, IKEA Billy shelves who are well into their second (one may actually be into its third) decade and second country. It is possible, although unlikely.

#792 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 09:37 AM:

Happy belated birthday, Xopher!

The particleboard bookshelves I bought from Target have held up to some serious use and abuse as well, but I think they and the Ikea ones are the exception to the rule. I had another cheap set of shelves that bowed noticeably when holding DVDs. DVDs!

And, yes, a lot of bookshelves aren't made with books in mind, as evidenced by the catalog photos that go with. A couple of pictures, some knick-knacks, a bowl of twig balls (twig balls always make me think of Phil Dick's swibbles), a candle or two, and a lot of empty space. Oh, and also a couple of books chosen more for their decorative purposes than anything else.

#793 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 10:02 AM:

KeithS@792: Don't disrespect the twig balls. Our rabbit absolutely loved those things. You could put one down for her and she'd be the happiest lagomorph on the block for half an hour, at the end of which time you'd have a flopped over exhausted bunny and sawdust everywhere.

#794 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 10:38 AM:

One of the reasons I liked the condo I'm in now when I was shopping was that the east end of the living room was paneled over in wood. The previous owners, when painting after the contract was signed, painted it over. I was so pissed.

But a few years later, I had enough spare money on hand to spring for bookshelves to cover that wall (4 3'-wide cases), so I went for knotty pine. The shelves themselves are 3/4" plywood, with a 3/4" lip. Ain't no sagging happening here!

Mostly books (with the requisite stack of unshelved books heaped on the top), but also four shelves of disordered tchotchkes. Some Day, Real Soon Now, I'm going to reorganize, dust everything (::cough:: ::hack::), and put in some sort of glass (or, more likely, plexiglass, since that's what I have on hand) doors to keep the knick knacks from picking up quite so much dust....

I ordered a bunch of extra shelves when I got them, not being sure what my final configuration was going to be. Many of the unused shelves serve as guinea-pig-proofing baseboards around the edge of the room. (My coffee table books are laying flat on a bottom shelf—dumb move, because the dust covers for Norman Rockwell and Der Tourmalin no longer have spines, only raggedy-edged front and back covers.

#795 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 12:44 PM:

We recently got glass-doored bookcases installed in our living room, after we shortened a couple of windows so they'd fit. We use the room a lot more now, and have some nice books on display.

Karen looked into various methods of getting built-ins. She called the local Well Known Bookcase company, and then decided to see if a local craftsman would be a similar price. She hits the internet and finds a guy named Michael Rosen, who comes over and looks and makes some really good suggestions. So she takes him downstairs to look at the cool bookcase we found at a garage sale. He notices all the science fiction, and says "I've got a bunch of signed Asimov and C. J. Cherryh books." Karen asks him why he has these, and he says "Oh, I got into them when I was building the bases for the Hugos for Constellation."

Needless to say, he got the contract.

#796 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 02:03 PM:

As Tom Whitmore PWNs the bookcase discussion....

#797 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 03:27 PM:

David Harmon / Tim Walters @ 719/720: I detest hops that taste like grapefruit; most of this is the taste (I got the beer habit from Boston's first brewpub, which was run by a Yorkshireman >30 years ago), but some is the we've-got-a-lemon-so-you-have-to-drink-lemonade marketing hype that leads more and more critics to praise citrus-tasting beer as if that should be the principal flavor. AFAICT the flavor is an accident coming from trying to up the overall bitterness of hops, whose flavor is based on dozens of compounds, without paying enough attention to the overall taste; now the breeders have to persuade people that beer should taste of citrus, just as a previous generation of Burbanks convinced most of the US that a sphere of pink styrofoam is a tomato. If the change were just increasing the number of styles available I'd be all for it, but finding beer that \doesn't/ taste of grapefruit to me is getting more and more difficult; at this point I'm wary of anything brewed west of the Appalachians. (One pleasant exception: Goose Island's Honker, from Chicago, is my current choice when I'm grabbing a pack of bitter in the local store.)</rant>

Xopher: thanks for the link. I knew you'd had a narrow escape, but not the details; I wouldn't call that getting lucky, but sometimes fate overlooks us.

David Harmon @ 768: I suppose that's why my Ikea bookcases are sagging, despite having only a single row of hardbacks. I expected better of them (and couldn't use steel shelves as I wanted to go with living-space wainscotting, not to mention my father's handmades) but will not make that mistake again. I could turn the shelves over and live with the exposed supports, but that wouldn't fix the tops....
      Ingvar M @ 790: mine are also Billy; you may be lucky, or I may have gotten a bad set (although the add-on top is also sagging), or the US may just get the dregs (cf a Canadian telling me the only Molson exported is the "moose piss" they won't drink themselves, or the tale I've been told of Guinness (from a pub very near the brewery) strong enough to lift a stone-top pub table).

Bruce H. @ 787: that sounds like poorly-made progressives; I use an intermediate pair for computering when I need the full screen in focus (e.g., convention space design) and have no trouble reading. I wish you better results with your next exam.

Tom Whitmore @ 795: You modified the windows to fit in bookshelves? Now \there/'s a fan! (Said by the owner of house where the first fan to walk in (on moving day) said "I see your problem: too many windows, not enough wall space.") That's some contractor you found.

Some time ago abi put up a link to an entry in "Fear of Landing", which I've been following ever since. Some of the material is too geeky even for this former lightplane pilot, but I found this one hysterical; search for "turbulence" for the entry that made my wife observe she'd never heard me squeak before.

#798 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 05:23 PM:

Say, have you tried image-googling "weird bookshelf?"

#799 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 05:51 PM:

Jenny Islander @789: There are zoos where an otter can hold your finger, too (through a small reinforced port in the glass).

In re The Bookshelf Thread, specifically sagging shelves, I've found this staggeringly useful:

It's a web-based calculator for how much a shelf of a certain length and thickness will sag under a specified load, based on what material it is.

Also it's called "The Sagulator." Which I love.

#800 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 07:24 PM:


God, I HATE hiccups.

Crazy(Yes, I've tried the recipe shared here by DDuane, of this parish)Soh

#801 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2016, 10:09 PM:

@800: So annoyed, she forgot her p.

Last week, a coworker made the mistake of making (gentle, well-intentioned) fun of my hiccups. All she got was a lecture. (After the spoonful of sugar had taken effect.) I'm not sure she realized how lucky she was.

Hiccups are not unlike being elbowed repeatedly, hard in the solar plexus.

#802 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 12:01 AM:

CHip: the contractor was an old friend of Karen's who does some contracting on the side. He's a perfectionist, which is good in a contractor. And a fine artist, which made it easy for him to match the old paint. He even re-used a lot of the molding.

The room is a lot nicer now -- one of the old windows looked onto our neighbor's bathroom, and the trees only hid the view for about half the year. Now we can sit there and feel a little bit of privacy. And the new windows open a bit (the old ones were unmoving double-panes where the seal had been breached). It's a big win. We can show off some exciting collections.

#803 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 07:59 AM:

Those who do such things, spare a kind thought/prayer/spell/whatever for my sister-in-law, who died yesterday after a decades-long fight with Hepatitis C, while waiting for a double transplant (kidney/liver).

Damn the drug profiteers who made it impossible for her to get effective treatment until ineffective treatment had destroyed her kidneys, and damn the "health care system" that made it impossible for her to marry the kind man who loved her to the end (he would have been responsible for her over $1M in medical bills if they'd married).

#804 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 09:54 AM:

Lila, Condolences. <hugs> if welcome.

#805 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 10:08 AM:

Lila @803

I'm sorry for your loss.

#806 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 11:28 AM:

Lila #803: My condolences, and may her memory be a blessing.

#807 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 02:17 PM:

Lila, I'm so sorry. Condolences to you and to the kind man, and others who loved her. That's awful.

#808 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 02:18 PM:

Lila -- condolences.

#809 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 02:23 PM:

Lila - condolences, and amen to every word. We do not have a health care system in this country; we have a disease monetization system, and it's obscene.

On a cheerier note: Peter Hollens does Hamilton.

#810 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 03:44 PM:

Lila, I'm sorry for your loss.

#811 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 04:27 PM:

Lila... My condolences,

#812 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 07:22 PM:

Lila, my condolences. And I share your anger.

#813 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 07:36 PM:

Lila, I'm sorry for your loss. Bright blessings if welcome for swift healing from the pain for you, the kind man, and all who mourn her.

This kind of thing happens too often, and it enrages me beyond words.

#814 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 07:44 PM:

Lila, my condolences.

#815 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2016, 08:39 PM:

Lila, my condolences.

Lee@809: Do you mind if I steal that "disease monetization system" line?

#816 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2016, 12:42 AM:

I'm sorry to hear of your loss, Lila. Condolences.

The Hep C treatments sound like the kind of thing that would *save* money in the long run, given the disease's terrible side effects.

#817 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2016, 02:33 AM:

I'm so sorry, Lila.

On another cheerier note (sort of), courtesy of a friend: It's a pity that Ryan Reynolds didn't play Jay Gatsby, since he's both Green Lantern and Deadpool.

#818 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2016, 07:48 AM:

Stefan Jones @816: Many things are well-proven to save money, like long-acting birth control methods made available without charge to young (well, and mature) women.

Doesn't mean they'll be paid for by penny-wise, pound-foolish insurers, who may well be betting that the customer will shift providers before the bill comes due.

#819 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2016, 03:46 PM:

Open threadiness: can anyone tell me why one of my favorite weekly entertainments, the "tumblr gets deep" tag on, now redirects to a page that says that URLs containing hyphens can't be registered on wordpress?

#820 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2016, 03:52 PM:

At least the Hep C medicines are charging tons of money for something new that works better than the stuff in the past. The recent dust-up about Epipen pricing involves charging tons of money for something that's not new at all, that used to be cheap, thanks to the US producer having a temporary monopoly (due to a combination of luck and gaming the regulatory system).

There are two different kinds of cleverness going on here. In one case, it's the cleverness needed to develop a new drug that treats a disease that was previously really hard to treat. In the other case, it's the cleverness needed to game the regulatory system to extract a lot of money for something that's been off-patent for decades.

As a society, we really need to work out ways to make that first kind of cleverness (the kind that makes the pie bigger) pay off better and more consistently, and to make the second kind of cleverness (the kind that focuses on getting a bigger slice of the existing pie, perhaps with a shrinking of the pie as a side-effect) pay off less well.

It seems to me that we are beset with smart people engaged in that second kind of cleverness. A whole bunch of finance and law and business fall into this category.

#821 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2016, 04:15 PM:

Lila @819: I can't help you with the question you actually asked, but does this link take you where you want to go?

Also, my condolences on your sister's death, and the accompanying circumstances :(

#822 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2016, 08:44 PM:

estelendur: Thanks, but it also leads me to the same page with this message:

" doesn’t exist
The address cannot be registered. Site names can only contain lowercase letters (a-z) and numbers. But you can sign up and choose another one."

#823 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2016, 08:55 PM:

FWIW, that link takes me to the same page Lila is getting. As does Googling "pleated-jeans" and clicking on the link that comes up labeled "". I'm guessing that the site might be down hard for some reason.

#824 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2016, 09:10 PM: (without the hyphen) does work. It may not be the right site, of course.

#825 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 02:44 AM:

CHip @ 797: AFAICT the flavor is an accident coming from trying to up the overall bitterness of hops, whose flavor is based on dozens of compounds, without paying enough attention to the overall taste; now the breeders have to persuade people that beer should taste of citrus, just as a previous generation of Burbanks convinced most of the US that a sphere of pink styrofoam is a tomato.

I don't have any particular knowledge of the brewing history involved, but my subjective experience as a West Coast beer drinker is exactly the opposite: twenty-five years ago the prevailing trend in pale ales (e.g. Sierra Nevada) was heavy bitterness with little added flavor, whereas now I am usually reminded that hops are, you know, flowers. It could be Stockholm syndrome, I guess—there's no question that I've built up some IBU tolerance—but I also like perfume-y gins, lavender lemonade, etc., so I think it's mostly my taste.* And I've always loved grapefruit.

But I hope that big malty barrel-aged stouts head your way soon, to grant you some relief! And Eagle Rock in L.A. makes a quite decent mild.

*That said, elderflower liqueur as the current trendy cocktail ingredient can bite me.

#826 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 04:29 AM:

This moose will admit to being partial to "Hobgoblin Gold", which is very definitely grapefruity and ideal for the current hot weather.

Youngs "Double Chocolate Stout"[1] is the choice for winter months, and there's definitely no grapefruit tang to that!

[1] What else would you expect a chocolate moose to drink?

#827 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 07:06 AM:

Lila @ 803
A thousand of bread
A thousand of beer
A thousand of every good thing
May she ascend, and may you and her other loved ones be comforted.

Lila @ 819 (et seq)
A very nonspecific explanation - which seems to have been posted while I was in the process of seeing if I could come up with anything helpful, since it wasn't there a few minutes earlier. Because you'd mentioned the 'tumblr gets deep' tag, I thought I'd try clicking the sidebar link to the Pleated Jeans Tumblr, and got bounced right back to the WP site (where, lo, a new post had appeared); I suspect (as distinct from!) is in fact a Tumblr with its own domain, and is what's having sufficient 'technical problems' that its owner set up a redirect to the (old, apparently not used since Jan 2011) WP blog as the only means he had of letting his readers know what was up. (Or, technically, what was down.)

#828 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 07:46 AM:

HLN: ventilation fan noise, update - resolution!

Just after I posted my first two notes to Open Thread 211, we ended up deciding the noise nuisance situation needed hired legal help.

Happily, we live in a jurisdiction that employs a "reconciliation process" - a less formal hearing in an ordinary meeting room, but with the presence of a judge and lawyers (optionally in the second case, but not recommended if the other side is already lawyered up).

The new business running the noise-making fan had managed to commit a few other errors that impacted a second set of neighbors, so we had the good fortune of having another party in "our" corner. Interestingly, while the business owner himself didn't hire a lawyer, his landlord did. As Dear Hubby opined, it was likely the landlord viewed the likelihood of his premises remaining empty/not being paid rent for a long time if the current occupant vacated it under the pressure of the dispute or any findings against him.

This might have looked like an "Oh sh*t!" moment for us, except that after the first reconciliation session, the business-occupant turned somewhat less recalcitrant: we figure the landlord had a long talk with him, along the lines of, "You will take care of these matters, because if you don't, you make me liable as well."

Fast forward through to August: the reconciliation process has been through 3 meetings, and an agreement for a complete rebuild of the fan installation, with fit-for-purpose equipment and attention to preventing low-frequency noise, has been completed, and a deadline stipulated. I was away for the period, but when I got back home in early August... ah. So quiet. So very, VERY quiet.

So much relief. And vindication: the rebuild involved not only a new fan, but one that was designed for the job the occupant had been trying to make it do. DH says the business-occupant even said, somewhat grudgingly, that he supposed he should thank us, because the change of installation means the inside of the premises is also no longer unpleasant for him.

Crazy(but at least no longer hearing /v/o/i/c/e/s/ low-frequency fans)Soph

#829 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 07:54 AM:

crazysoph @828 Thanks for the update. So nice to hear about processes working like they should.

#830 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 02:19 PM:

Homeowner Blues: Our house has two full bathrooms, one on each floor.

The upstairs toilet has been having a persistent leakage problem (from the bottom half, not the upper -- aaaagh), which we have attempted to address several times without full success.

Now the downstairs toilet needs its rubber stopper thing in the tank reseated manually after every flush.

I think "FML" is how the Kids These Days would put it ...

#831 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 03:46 PM:

Thanks for the help, everyone. Technical difficulties still ongoing, but at least I can now reach the page that says they're having technical difficulties!

Also, thanks for the kind wishes. They help.

#832 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 04:09 PM:

Elliott Mason, assuming the leak is happening at floor level, it sounds like the wax ring seal between the toilet and the floor needs to be replaced. I've never done this myself, but I'm told it's not that difficult. That should solve your leakage problem. The trick (I'm told) is to set the toilet back down on the new wax seal and DO NOT WIGGLE IT. (There are a host of youtube videos that show you how to do this repair.)

Your flapper valve problem is a ten minute, five dollar fix. Again, lots of youtube videos on how to do this. Or ask Cally over to help... <grin>

(I fixed all the flapper valves in the house for my mother-in-law. I got LOTS of daughter-in-law credit for that one...)

#833 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 04:34 PM:

We already did replace the wax ring. Then the process of taking the toilet up and down apparently knocked something looe in the floor and now it wobbles like a very wobbly thing (even though we shimmed).

So now we need ANOTHER wax ring and alos a plan for redoing that section of floor, and possibly doing something with the collar/flange part of the waste pipe, which (it was discovered when replacing the ring the first time) has some Major Hinkiness about it.

And all this happens wiht the toilet off, possibly for an extended period of time ... sigh.

IT's all doable, we just have limited time and spoons, and it keeps looking like it's going to be hugely expensive AFTEr we put time and spoons into it.

In other words, a psychological problem more than a basic home-improvement one. :->

I know how to fix a flapper valve, it's finding the kid-free time and gumption to actually take it apart, determine exactly what's up, go to a home center, get parts, etc.

#834 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 04:45 PM:

The major problem with bookshelves, as sold for mass consumption, is that they are either designed around the idea that they will never hold books (hence the cheap materials), or if they don't have that issue, they will be certain to have the design issue of being a couple of centuries behind the times. You know, back when books were not only bigger, but stacked horizontally, because the spine couldn't stand up to being stood on its end.*

When I found out about that second thing, I was glad to find out that there was a reason there were all of these "bookshelves" that were not only way too deep, but too shallow for that depth. If you get shelves custom-built, your best bet is to go with a 10" depth at most for your hardbacks, and honestly, 8' will capture most standard hardback sizes quite well, especially if you have trim on the front. Some "bookshelves" have a depth of 18".

*I don't know when the changeover took place, but it does make me wonder if certain period pieces have their libraries all wrong. Is Pemberley a problem?

#835 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 05:09 PM:

Elliott, my sincere apologies for being hlepy; I know too many people who are afraid of plumbing.

I have absolutely no free weekends in the next two months or I'd offer to come over and see what I can do to help.

(I hate doing plumbing, but I'm not afraid of it. I fixed our dishwasher last week; it needed a new inlet valve...)

#836 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 06:16 PM:

B. Durbin #834 - that's sensible advice, although here in the UK I have found that there is quite a variety of bookcases available, such that with a little care you can find that can be filled efficiently with books without wasting any space. Or you do what is above my desk, 7 foot lengths of shelving board on 5 rails screwed into the wall. It is made of breezeblock so is strong enough.

#837 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 06:29 PM:

I had never heard the term breeze blocks before: the US name is cinder blocks, it turns out (breeze meaning ash in various other parts of the world). I feel part of the lucky 8000 when I find a new word, so thank you, guthrie! (nb: I do not recommend watching the video for the song that shows up if you google "breezeblocks" if you are triggered by violence against women. I didn't like the song, either.)

#838 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2016, 07:30 PM:

B. Durbin #834: Doesn't have to be a couple of centuries behind the times -- my boss built the bookshelves for his store (largely embedded into walls) a mere 40-odd years ago... in particular, the paperback sections reflect the point that back then, "trade format" paperbacks were not really a thing. Which is why a fair number of paperbacks either get stacked horizontally, or overflow into the hardcover sections.

#839 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 04:15 AM:

B Durbin @834:
You know, back when books were not only bigger, but stacked horizontally, because the spine couldn't stand up to being stood on its end.

Huh? Source? Because I'm a bookbinder and that's not what I know.

The last time that the standard book was not supposed to be to be stood on its end was pre-Gutenberg. Well before books were even common, their structures were designed to stand up, not lie down. Indeed, the modern hardback book, which is basically a paperback with boards, is the least suitable book to stand up since about 1150.

I think shelves are deeper to hold knick-knacks.

#840 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 05:41 AM:

OMG, I swear to ghod: there are two owls, hooting outside my window, in fercrissakes harmony—!

#841 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 08:28 AM:

Tom #837 - I knew the American term was cinder, but didn't know that breeze means ash.

The thing about storing books vertically that has bugged me since I was fairly young, is that the boards are longer than the paper, so there is always a slight downward pull on the binding. Perhaps this doesn't matter so much when it is fully hand stitched etc, but I've got a lot of century old books and the like and there are definite weaknesses in them due to the paper pulling downwards.
Logically the bottom of the paper should be at the same height as the bottom of the boards so they can both sit on the shelf. Of course this would forfeit some of the protective value of having the boards overlap the paper, but I don't think that is such a huge thing given the state of the pages of many paperbacks I own.

#842 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 08:41 AM:

B. Durbin #834 - actually, as far as I am aware, libraries often did store books vertically in the medieval period. Now there are lots of drawings then showing them stacked in piles on shelves, but that is in relation to a scribe or saint being depicted at work.
Instead, you had things like the chained library at HEreford:

(What I really need to look for now is some decent images of a medieval book chest/ chest of books. I know of one, would like some more)
The interesting bit being that they didn't tend to write the name of the book on the spine, so they were often shelves with the paper side outwards.
If you can find some pictures of medieval and early modern libraries with their books packed sideways that would be nice, but as far as I know they did stack them on the edge.

#843 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 10:22 AM:

I've heard that male and female great horned owls hoot at different pitches. Harmony is a possibility.

#844 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 12:39 PM:

Re: @840 -- for anyone in need of a laugh today:

Owls Are Made of Knives

#845 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 01:36 PM:

Dave Harmon@838: I really like the small paperback format and I think it's a shame that it's not used as much as it used to be; it's particularly good for serious non-fiction that might take a while to read and that you therefore might carry around with you for a while. The old pocket-sized turquoise-covered Penguin non-fiction line of the 50s and 60s was altogether admirable.

#846 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 06:04 PM:

Jacque @480: Coyotes deliberately sing in both harmony and disharmony, wavering their notes, because it makes it sound like there are more of them.

Other than that, animals tend to "sing" on key with each other. I discovered this when my miserable, going-to-vet dog's howling was in key with the songs on the radio, even when the songs changed. So I googled. :->

#847 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 10:09 PM:

@843: The hooting did have a decidedly "Romeo & Juliet" kind of tone to it....

#848 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 10:18 PM:

@840: I am now following Seanan McGuire. Better'n Dogs In Elk.

#849 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2016, 10:24 PM:

Elliott: Well, not unreasonable, since "key" is an actual physics thing.

I recall reading that when John Lilly was trying to get dolphins to mimic human speach, they would sometimes achieve lower tones by making beat notes from two higher tones, emitted from different sides of their "melon." Confused the crap out of Lilly for a while, I guess, because those tones weren't audible in the recordings they'd made of the sessions.

Whenever I'd play John Denver, my budgies would go bananas singing along. I think it was the jangly twelve-string guitar + triangle. Luuurve them high frequencies.

#850 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 02:52 AM:

There are times when I thing my fiction should come with a vocabulary warning.

This fiction makes use of an unusually large vocabulary, which may not be appropriate for all readers

Alice would have welcomed nausea. Instantly there had come a sensation akin to a tremendously intensified vertigo; but a vertigo as far beyond the space-sickness of weightlessness as that horrible sensation is beyond mere Earthly dizziness. She reached weakly toward the board, but her leaden hands refused utterly to obey the dictates of her reeling mind. Her brain was a writhing, convulsive mass of torment indescribable; expanding, exploding, swelling out with an unendurable pressure against its confining skull. Fiery spirals, laced with streaming, darting lances of black and green, flamed inside her bursting eyeballs. The Universe spun and whirled in mad gyrations about her as she reeled drunkenly to her feet, staggering and sprawling. She fell. She realised that she was falling, yet she could not fall! Thrashing wildly, grotesquely in agony, she struggled madly and blindly across the room, directly toward the thick steel wall. The tip of one lock of her flaming hair touched the wall, and the slim length of that single strand did not even bend as its slight strength brought to an instant halt the sixty-odd kilograms of mass—mass now entirely without inertia—that was her hard-muscled and shapely body.

But finally the sheer brain power of the vixen began to triumph over her physical torture. By force of will she compelled her grasping paws to seize the crash-couch, almost meaningless to her dazed intelligence; and through that nightmare incarnate of hellish torture she dragged herself back to the control board. Bracing herself with a knee under the board, one paw pushing hard in opposition down at the writing ledge, she made a seemingly enormous effort and released the red plunger; then fell flat upon the floor, weakly but in a wave of relief and thankfulness, as her racked body felt again the wonted phenomena of weight and of inertia. Pale, trembling, frankly and openly sick, the two Patrolmen stared at each other in half-crazed relief.

I think I may have laid it on a bit thick.

#851 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 09:46 AM:

Pitch and animals and physics thread:

Vi Hart has a relevant video about the physics and biology and mathematics of human hearing. I also recommend every other video on her channel, because awesome, and sometimes mindblowing in the ways they recontextualize things I thought I was familiar with.

#852 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 12:20 PM:

Cassy B. @706: I have an identical twin

I seem to recall that you're mirror twins? I do remember that you looked very similar, with differences I couldn't quite put my finger on apart from your wedding ring (which may give you some idea of how long ago that was).

Lori Coulson @844: That owl story reminds me of an event in Farley Mowat's Owls in the Family, when Wol took on a local outdoor cat, bully of the neighborhood. They'd been worried that Wol might be badly hurt or killed, so tried to make sure that he was kept securely in his "pen" (IIRC). But one night he got out, and they started searching for him the next morning. They had to gently pry Wol loose from his cooling foot-warmer, with some grumbling from Wol.

#853 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 12:51 PM:

Joel Polowin, Cally and I are mirror twins. I can generally only tell which one is me in old photographs (where I don't recall where I was/what I was wearing) by picking the one that doesn't look like me. (I only see myself in mirror, you see...) For some reason, although (of course) Cally's face is also reversed from mine, this trick works most of the time.

(I'm the sinister one. Lefthanded but trained right so early that the only thing I reliably do with my left hand is throw darts....)

#854 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 01:07 PM:

Dave Bell@850: "I think I may have laid it on a bit thick."


Nicely done.

#855 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 01:43 PM:

As if ‘Doc’ Smith were a Doctor of Divinity and rode a motorcycle.

#856 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 03:02 PM:


There can be only...

(starts counting)

(runs out of fingers)

I'll be back...

#857 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 03:03 PM:

Joel Polowin @852: I have only run across, and read, Mowat's Never Cry Wolf, so I've now placed a request for Owls in the Family with my local library.

He has a strange and delightful sense of humor.

#858 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 03:15 PM:

Dave Bell #850: "Black and green." Surely you mean "ebon and viridian".

#859 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 03:26 PM:

Lori Coulson (857): Mowat's The Dog Who Wouldn't Be is terrific reading, too.

#860 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 04:19 PM:

Q: What's the difference between Trump and the Chelsea blast?

A: One is an out-of-control explosive dumpster fire; the other's in Chelsea.

#861 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 06:06 PM:

Xopher #860 - the funny thing is there just hasn't been much discussion of the Chelsea blast in the usual places I hang out online. Perhaps people are totally overloaded due to Trump and his chances at getting to be president, or everyone is just fed up with this sort of news.
What it sort of reminds me of is the anthrax attack, albeit with less panic.

#862 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 08:17 PM:

Cassy B @853: Any dextrocardia to speak of?

#863 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 09:37 PM:

Dave Kyle has passed away, at the age of 97.
Announcement by Kerry Kyle on Facebook.

File 770's report.

He has been one of our last links to 1930s fandom.

#864 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 10:24 PM:

#863: Goodness, 97!

Kyle was a perennial guest at I-Con, the campus SF convention I helped run back in the day. Always a polite and sprightly guy. He once pointed out that my name incorporated an obscure old name for SF, STE, and "Fan."

(I-Con got a lot of the old timers together, year after year. Julie Schwartz, Raymond Z. Gallun frex)

(PS Bill bad facebook link.)

#865 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 10:25 PM:

#863: Goodness, 97!

Kyle was a perennial guest at I-Con, the campus SF convention I helped run back in the day. Always a polite and dapper guy. He once pointed out that my name incorporated an obscure old name for SF, STE, and "Fan."

(I-Con got a lot of the old timers together, year after year. Julie Schwartz, Raymond Z. Gallun frex)

(PS Bill bad facebook link.)

#866 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 11:13 PM:

Where the terrifyingness of owls is concerned, there is Matt Braunger to remind us that baby owls are cute but deadly and they all want to kill you.

#867 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 11:22 PM:

At some point I should read Owls in the Family; it was excerpted in a Childcraft book and I always wanted to find it, but not enough to actually look.

#868 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2016, 11:39 PM:

Jacque, I'm not that much of a mirror. As far as I know, my heart is on the left-ish side and my appendix is on the right side. But I was initially left-handed, before training.

Actually, I call myself "ambiclumsy", because I'm not as good with my right hand as born-righties, but I'm lousy with my left hand (although better than born-righties).

#870 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 12:22 AM:

Cassy B. @ 868 ...
Actually, I call myself "ambiclumsy", because I'm not as good with my right hand as born-righties, but I'm lousy with my left hand (although better than born-righties).

I'm rather fond of 'ambi-useless' [equally useless with both hands]

#871 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 12:52 AM:

Thanks, Bill. Sad to hear that Kyle could have been around if not for a complication from a procedure.

#872 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 01:24 AM:

Cassy @868, xeger @870: I've always liked ambisinister....

#873 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 08:14 AM:

868, 870: My father-in-law refers to himself as "ambi-sinistrous". Both his brothers are left-handed (but not clumsy).

#874 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 09:03 AM:

Diatryma@867:"Owls in the Family" is a book I recall reading with great fondness.

On a related owl note, we used to have a whole family of great horned owls in the woods in back of our house. They were there for a number of years until their oak tree decided to fall over. They escaped the fall but headed somewhere else.

#875 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 09:31 AM:

From the "I don't use the computer where I have Making Light open on the weekends" department,

I highly recommend the book The Book On The Bookshelf by Henry Petroski as a general history of bookshelves, and the adjacent history of libraries and book collectors (the people and places who would have enough books to need shelving).

One especially neat story I recall was the guy who was so fastidious about his books that he had a set of custom nautical bookcases made (the nautical ones have doors to keep the books from falling off) so that he could store his books sorted by height. The tallest one on the left side of the bottom shelf in one case, then getting smaller as it circled the room, going up a shelf each time around, until the top shelves were very small. The shelf spacing in each bookcase is slightly different of course, and books which were bound in different heights but had to be stored next to each other also had custom-made shims to lift them to the proper appropriate height.

If I recall, the earliest illustrations he had did show books stored horizontally, but it wasn't libraries of books, just a few, on a single shelf, in a workshop or similar.

#876 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 10:26 AM:

Buddha Buck @875 -- That sounds interesting for a static collection. But Acquisitions?

#877 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 02:12 PM:

Shims! That could be the solution for hardcovers whose bindings don't endure vertical storage. I can believe that this isn't a typical problem, but if the binding is shoddy, the book is thick, and the paper is dense, the book could use some extra support, and a custom shim (labeled with the book information, natch) would do it.

My original idea was something like florist's foam for the whole shelf, but that's too static and might accumulate humidity.

#878 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 02:48 PM:

Poly batting under the books, as a shelf cover?

#879 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 03:28 PM:

#839 abi: You know, I took the word of a woodworking article that it was the case. (It was a bookshelf tutorial called "A bookshelf that breaks the rules" which then proceeded to tell why those "rules" were outdated.) I think a bookbinder history trumps that. The point they were making is that carpenters, like many other trades, tend to do something a particular way because that's they way they were taught, when the truth of the matter is that we need to re-examine why certain things are the way they are, and if it's not a standard for a reason, like actual safety issues, perhaps it should be looked at again.

I was very sad when the local Borders closed that I did not have access to good transportation. I would *really* have loved to snag some of their bookshelves with the slight backwards tilt. (Somewhere between five and seven degrees, with the appropriate adjustments to the top and bottom to sit level. If I ever have bookshelves custom-built, that will be a feature.)

#880 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 03:32 PM:

eric @876: I agree. It's been years since I read the book, so I'm uncertain as to how it described solving that problem. The guy certainly had a large book collection before having these bookcases made; perhaps by the time he could afford them, his collection was static.

Nancy @877: The shim would have to be the width of the book block, right? It might not even be visible on the shelf when the book is there, as it would be within the covers. It seems to me a fairly uniform thickness would be sufficient, as I can't imagine much variation.

I don't see how florist foam would work. Isn't it fairly rigid, and the covers would rest on it? Or would you cut notches for the covers?

#881 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 03:57 PM:

#880 ::: Buddha Buck

I'm imagining the shims as being as wide as the book block (if that's the pages but not the covers) and not visible when the book is shelved.

I don't know how much variation there is in the overhang from the covers. Optimisticly, you wouldn't need more than two or three thicknesses for shims.

Florist foam is stiff but not very strong. I was assuming you could press the book down to make notches without damaging the book, but I'm guessing. Someone whose serious about the details would probably cut the notches.

#882 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:03 PM:

Thinking about the Bookshelf of Procrustes, where books get 1/4" shaved off the top so they'll fit, or get a block of wood glued to the bottom....

And if the margins aren't big enough, that's life.

#883 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:05 PM:

Our lovely cat has a fist-sized mass in her abdomen - possibly spleen, possibly part of liver, possibly something else. She goes in for an exploratory laparotomy tomorrow. Best-case scenario it's removable and she comes home as a not-very-happy-kitty for a few days and then we have lots more time with her. But I'm expecting worst-case scenario: that it will be an obvious no-go and she won't be coming home. She's only 12 and otherwise well, and almost-normal on just a daily dose of meloxicam (to reduce the discomfort of the space-occupying mass), and it's hard.

Good thoughts appreciated.

#884 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:21 PM:

dcb: Good thoughts of kitty health and longevity: on their way to you.

#885 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:23 PM:

dcb, <hugs> for you and <gentle scritches> for your cat.

#886 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:23 PM:

dcb, #863: That sucks. GoodThoughts being sent for both you and kitty.

#887 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:29 PM:

dcb: may your mog have a successful result and a speedy recovery.

#888 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:35 PM:

dcb: Good thoughts.

#889 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:45 PM:

Good thoughts indeed, dcb.

#890 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:52 PM:

dcb @ 883 ...
Good thoughts appreciated

Gleep! Good thoughts speeding to both of you!

#891 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 04:56 PM:

Best cat wishes. Mr. Tippy sends advice: don't hide in the ceiling.

#893 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2016, 09:02 PM:

dcb #883: I hope you and your kitty get the best possible outcome.

#894 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 01:33 AM:

For those who haven't been following this, apparently there were supposed to be two, possibly three bombs this weekend, not just the one dumpster bomb. The others didn't come off for what seems to me an utterly New York reason: they were promptly stolen.

There was another bomb left in a roller suitcase (fused and active.) A couple of thieves stole it, pulled the bomb apart and dumped it in the trash, and walked off with the bag. When the police found the bomb in the trash, they found the cellphone intended for the detonator had the bomber's personal info on it, which is how they tracked him down so fast.

There was also a backpack full of explosives (unclear if it was set up with a detonator) left in an NJ train station. A couple of guys stole that too, but in that case they looked inside and immediately went to the police.

Citizens of New York (and Elizabeth, NJ) I salute you!

(Dubious source:

#895 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 01:35 AM:

dcb, my best wishes for you and your cat.

#896 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 03:07 AM:

dcb @ 883 - Good thoughts on their way.

#897 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 05:46 AM:

I hope this one-off plug doesn't count as spam. My very small press Ansible Editions has published the first book edition of Rob Hansen's THEN: SF Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980 – heavily revised and expanded by about 40,000 words from the original four-volume fanzine incarnation.

#898 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 07:41 AM:

Thank you, Jessie Graff, for showing my princess-and-pretty-dresses obsessed daughter why it's important to be able to MOVE in the pretty dresses and shoes you choose.

Because -- she's a stuntwoman and former trapeze artist -- she did a crapton of high kicks and show-offy martial arts moves on the red carpet for the photographers who were there to advertise dresses. :->

The amazing red-carpet photo montage most news outlets printed instead of just a dress-pose:

High kicks, video:

Less impressive in motion because she looks much faster in the photos. :->

Back handspring:

I wish there were a wider-shot video of that. Note her silk dress follows through the move for her instead of binding her limbs. :->

She's the regular stuntwoman on Supergirl, and also did the Wonder Woman movie. Plus, in the obstacle-course-competition show that I wish weren't called "American Ninja Warrior"★ she ran their stage-one course (there are several heats, eliminating each time, with different obstacles) and completed it under the required 2min 20sec time, becoming the first woman to complete any of their stage-one courses. Some women have been passed on to the next stage in previous years, because they have X places in Stage 2 and if the number of full finishers does not exceed X they make up numbers in order of "who got the farthest down the course before blowing it".

But Jessie finished it.

And she can do awesomely athletic things in her Pretty Princess evening gown TOO.

★ because warrior, and ninja, are not English words that are actually being properly used here, even if it's a direct translation of the name of the Japanese show they imported

#899 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 09:18 AM:

When Chuck Rozanski was my boss at the comic shop, we were setting up cinderblock-and-board shelving for the used books. Seems almost inconceivable in this seismically active world, but we did things like that. His directions were to start away from the wall at the bottom and go back a quarter inch each shelf up, so that they had a proper wallward bias. Good advice for anyone doing the same thing, if they must do the same thing we did.

dcb, best wishes and good skritches for your kitty.

#900 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 09:34 AM:

dcb @883, sending good thoughts as well.

#901 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 10:23 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 898

Heh. Back when I was throwing dinner parties on a regular basis, one of my then-barely-teen nieces had one for her friends as part of a birthday sleepover. One attendee was a 9ish year old who had brought two dresses to change into. She asked for my help in tying the sash on the second one.

"This one is lovely, too, but why did you change out of the first one?" I asked.

"Because I couldn't do this," she said, and dropped into a deep squat before jumping up and diving back into whatever game they were playing while I was cooking. (The evening ended with a rousing game of hide-and-seek.)

#902 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 10:40 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 898

...forgot to add... Back when I had college interns working for me, I occasionally had to have "appropriate office wear conversations". One of them included the following exchange.

student: but it looked fine in the dressing room!
me: Did you do clothing calisthenics?
student: what's that?
me: face the mirror and squat like your sitting in a chair. Or just squat. does it still feel good? does it still look good?
student: no.
me: then bend at the waist and hunch your shoulders. Check to see what shows. Stand back up and cross your arms over your chest like you're hugging yourself. Does anything pull? Twist side to side. walk in place. If anything gaps, looks funny, pulls, and doesn't feel comfortable don't buy the outfit.
student: *looking thoughtful* Oh.
We never had to have the clothing conversation again.

#903 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 10:56 AM:

Victoria @902: My hip-to-waist ratio is strongly different than 1:1, and the specific way my nethers are shaped mean the front-to-back crotch seam on many pants that otherwise ought to fit me is far too short.

I always do very deep knee bends in the dressing room before deciding if I'm going to buy a particular pair or not, because automatic wedgies every time I sit down are not comfortable ...

#904 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 12:08 PM:

Elliott Mason @898: And she can do awesomely athletic things in her Pretty Princess evening gown TOO.

...though the shoe design clearly needs work....

WRT clothing fit: if I can't do a crescent kick, the pants go back on the hanger. Not least because it means I won't be able to get onto my bike.

#905 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 12:26 PM:

Jacque @ 904: WRT clothing fit: if I can't do a crescent kick, the pants go back on the hanger.

Same for me, almost! I'll usually check pants fit with a chest-high snap kick in the dressing room. If they bind, they go back.

#906 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 03:13 PM:

Everyone: MANY thanks for the good thoughts! Amazingly, kitty is now back home, with a large area of belly shaved and a line of staples down her, but lighter by one tumour the size of a man's fist, and with a probably good prognosis. Have to wait for the histo results, but cats with single massive tumours of the liver generally do well if it can be fully removed - and this one was pedunculated (on a stalk) and relatively easy to remove, thankfully.

#907 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 03:14 PM:

"Automatic Wedgies" should be a band name.

#908 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 03:28 PM:

dcb@906:Good news! And hopeful.

#909 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 03:30 PM:

Lila: belated condolences.

Elliott @ 818, re Stefan @ 816: I suspect that the average determiner (person, not firm) probably won't be in that slot when the bills mount up, and so won't get raked for not having been properly proactive, but will take the heat for spending money now; this means the customer is screwed even if the insurer is not pound-foolish AND expects to keep them (admittedly less likely these days). Long-term planning has not been a strong point of U.S. industry generally for some time now (thanks at least partly to brokers' emphasis on quarterly results); it's not surprising that insurance doesn't buck the trend.

Tim Walters @ 825: Interesting. There have always been hops that provided flavor (and even aroma), not just bitterness; however, they require ore care in handling and (AFAIK) were more expensive to begin with. I also don't know whether they were being grown in the US 25 years ago; AFAICT the Madison-area growth is very small, and the Finger Lakes area collapsed after Yakima Valley etc. started growing industrial quantities.

Clifton @ 894: the bomber could put the pieces together (including a more-sophisticated-than-usual explosive, from what I read) but not buy a burner in place of his own phone? You may be right about the reliability of that source.

dcb: hoping for the best even if it's past time by now. (Our 9yo's kidneys failed a few weeks ago; there's never ]enough[ time.)

ElliottMason @ 898: talk about backward and in high heels....
and @ 903: an acquaintance put it more bluntly, something like "being groped by [her] own clothing".

#910 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 03:31 PM:

Cadbury Moose @907: Presumably for a shoegazer band.

(footnote for context: )

#911 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 04:05 PM:

CHip (909): Long Island's Newsday (a respectable paper) is also reporting that the bomber was ID'ed via the cellphone in one of the unexploded bombs. I had seen the details about the stolen bombs on Twitter last night but don't remember the source; Newsday doesn't have it.

#912 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 05:27 PM:

CHip @909: No, there's never enough time. But I'm glad of the reprieve. And sympathies for you.

Lila: belated condolences re. your sister-in-law.

#913 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 05:32 PM:

I have a sister going in for exploratory surgery. It's not sudden, we were expecting her to need a colostomy. However, when all of her doctors are scratching their heads in unison and going WTF, I get worried. It's some sort of complication related to her cancer.

Prayers, thoughts and good vibes all welcome. Thanks.

#914 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 10:09 PM:

I'm glad to hear things seem positive (in the positive sense), dcb. I hope she recovers quickly and that that's the end of it.

#915 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2016, 10:52 PM:

Victoria, good thoughts being sent to your sister.

#916 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 12:58 AM:

CHip @ 909: Have you tried Anchor Liberty (an IPA before the revival of the name)? Back in the day, it was the exception to my earlier generalization, with plenty of hop flavor as well as bitterness, but quite different in character from modern IPAs. It was a bit ahead of its time, and not as popular in bars as I would have liked. For that matter, it still isn't.

A lot of Anchor products are still ahead of their time, e.g. their recreation of small beer and their Estonian-style ale.

#917 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 02:12 AM:

Wow, that's wonderful! That is way better news than I was expecting - I was afraid it sounded much like the situation with my late cat Newton, who proved to have several inoperable tumors. May your kitty have many more happy years!

T. Kingfisher, aka Ursula V., is starting a new thing: Summer in Orcus!
Reading the introduction had me sold.

#918 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 09:31 AM:

Re: Summer in Orcus. Are we going to need a spoiler thread for this? Nf fbba nf Fhzzre fnj gur jnyxvat ubhfr bire gur tneqra srapr V gubhtug, "Bbu, guvf vf tbvat gb or onq."

#919 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 09:51 AM:

I would be happy to have a commentary thread for Summer In Orcus the way there is for various TV shows and such, if there's enough interest; I remember when the beginning of this story was on LJ, lo those many years back, and I'm very excited to see it as a full thing now.

#920 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 12:41 PM:

Bruce H. @918: Are we going to need a spoiler thread for this?

Yes, please.

Nygubhtu V guvax guvatf jbhyq tb engure qvssreragyl vs vg jrer *whfg* gur ubhfr.

#921 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 01:59 PM:

I have an aversion to posting on top of the DF thread on the Day Itself. Gimme a day or two and I'll do a spoiler thread.

#922 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 02:08 PM:

Jacque @920:

Gehr, ohg V fhfcrpg gur ubhfr vf yvxr gur Gneqvf. Rira vs vg pbzrf nybar, vgf erfvqrag jvyy fbba sbyybj.

Idumea @921:

A reasonable point, and I will be patient.

#923 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 04:03 PM:

Buddha Buck: Jryy, gehr. Ubhfrf ner abg, va trareny, erabja sbe gurve vaqrcraqrapr.

#924 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 04:32 PM:

Me too, both for the Summer in Orcus thread and for the waiting a while to get it

#925 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 06:08 PM:

Victoria @913: Sympathies for your sister, and thinking good thoughts.

Clifton @917: I hadn't dared hope, even with all her blood haematology and biochemistry parameters being normal. Obviously histo may reveal a nasty surprise, but I tend to think something that big would already have spread if it was going to. And if the reprieve is only for a few months? We'll take it! And if she stops taking out her staples and gives the skin time to heal that would be good too!

#926 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 06:48 PM:

dcb @925: Nothing like a near-death cat experience to make us appreciate the time we have with them! Best wishes for skin healing and easy staples.

#927 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 08:55 PM:

Late Show segment called Inappropriate Musicals. Whoever wrote this probably remembers the jaw-dropping travesty of Carrie: The Musical, which I'm still not convinced wasn't produced by Bialystock & Bloom. They do Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and Stranger Things.

A little spoilery for ST, but not seriously so. I think the GoT one has the best song.

#928 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 09:04 PM:

Idumea @921 I also look forward to a spoiler thread on this but don't think there's a rush to displace the new DFD post. Reading of Summer in Orcus will proceed at a stately webserial pace, so there will be plenty of time to talk about it.

#929 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2016, 11:15 PM:

Good news: I'm on holiday & family are coming to visit us, arriving just before midnight.

Bad news: When my holiday ends, so does my current contract. Though positive noises have been made, I have yet to see any paperwork for further employment.

(I'm going to enjoy spending time with family, and showing the niece our town. She's eleven now and the last time she was in town, she was a toddler. The work worry, I'm putting on hold, or at least that's what I tell myself.)

#930 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 01:11 AM:

Various comments about contracts and employment reminds me to point out: if you're in the US and looking for work, check your county's clerk & recorder office (or whoever handles elections). Ours is nearly pleading for help. I've known more than one person who has gone on to be a permanent hire after working through an election.

#931 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 09:04 AM:

Almost fifteen years ago, I saw a show by the University of Nebraska (I think) theatre folks called "The Amazing Broadway Jukebox." The premise was that some terrible shows have good songs, so they were going to do those according to the suggestions of the audience, who had filled out forms beforehand if they wanted. One song, "Don't Waste the Moonlight," was from Carrie, and it was charming and cute. I don't know what they'd put in from the last sesquidecade, but I'm sure there's something.

#932 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 09:34 AM:

My sister's surgery went well. They removed the tumor that was partially blocking and fully aggravating her intestines. As for the rest, she's got cancer everywhere in her pelvic cavity except the bones. All three doctors are talking about hospice, palliative care and various kindly-meant versions of "she should just give up and die" when she's not done fighting for her life.

I hate seeing her in pain, but if she wants to fight her illness to the bitter end, I'll support her doing it.

#933 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 09:58 AM:

OK, so I'm thinking that ABC's Designated Survivor is a Gary Stu version of The Goblin Emperor. At least that's what it sounds like from the Atlantic review.

#934 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 10:19 AM:

C. Wingate, I've seen nothing at all (other than a TV ad) about Designated Survivor. Could you unpack your statement a bit, or link to the review you mention? I'm curious. I've been bingewatching Veep and I could use a positive show about American politics... <wry>

(My husband jokes that West Wing is the White House we wish to have, House of Cards is the White House we fear we have, and Veep is the White House we half-expect we already have....)

#935 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 10:43 AM:

Victoria @932, glad the surgery was successful but sorry the overall situation is not good. Sending good thoughts in the direction of your sister.

#936 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 10:54 AM:

The idea is that there's a terrorist attack during the State of the Union address (a blimp ride back from a state wedding) which kills the president and all the cabinet (the emperor and all his sons) except for the Secretary of HUD (the emperor's son by an unwanted political marriage) who is the Designated Survivor in case of such circumstances (who has been relegated to a hunting lodge in a swamp and forgotten about). The thing is that (apparently) Kiefer Sutherland as head of HUD is too much Walter Mitty as bureaucrat who morphs into Jack Reacher.

#937 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 11:08 AM:

C. Wingate@936:It seems more likely it is borrowing from Tom Clancy's "Debt of Honor" where he kills off the government leaving Jack Ryan to man the helm in fine Gary Stu fashion.

#938 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 11:31 AM:

Kiefer Sutherland has very strange taste in projects. I really enjoyed the first season of Touch. The second season devolved into Yet Another Procedural (I smell network interference), losing virtually all the elements that made the first season so great. The only thing that kept me going was the character Avram, who was just too adorable for words. But even he was reduced to the autism-whisperer equivalent of "What's that, Lassie? Timmy fell down the well??"

#939 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 12:00 PM:

Stev@937: Oh, I'm pretty sure the people who did this project had never read TGE. It was just the extreme parallelism of the premise, and the Gary-Stu-itude. I can't see TGE on network TV, though the costume department would have a complete field day.

#940 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 12:13 PM:

On a different topic, the universe has decided to beat up on Peter Watts some more. He has some form of debilitating ailment causing fatigue, loss of range of motion and motor control. Watts' doctors are baffled despite many tests. He is welcoming ideas with full info at: The Salt Vampire’s Ugly Cousin

#941 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 04:47 PM:

to wound the autumnal city.*

*Offer good north of the Equator. In Australia and New Zealand, please wound the vernal city instead.

#942 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 07:00 PM:

C Wingate @936 and other Designated Survivor stuff: My favorite iteration of this kind of extirpation of the US government is in the comic "Y: The Last Man," which starts with the premise that, for reasons nobody understands until several books into the comic, and certainly didn't understand when it HAPPENED, all the male mammals on earth over a certain body size suddenly died horribly and no new male fetuses can be born.

The highest-ranking member of the US government who survived was the (female) Secretary of the Interior, who was suddenly President, with a bunch of other DC women trying to keep government and democracy going.

(Israel has the most badass surviving military, with the most intact chain of command. Australia has the only remaing non-sunk nuclear submarine. Etc)

#943 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 07:00 PM:

(tries to knock loose an Internal Server Error post)

#944 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 07:02 PM:

And, of course, the unexpectedly charming film King Ralph, where the entire British royal family is killed in a freak accident except for one American descendant of a by-blow from several generations back.

#945 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 07:52 PM:

And the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, where the Secretary of Education, Laura Roslin, suddenly becomes President of the Twelve Colonies after the attack on Caprica killed the 42 people senior to her in the line of succession.

#946 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2016, 07:56 PM:

Arrrgh. Botched verb agreement. Should read

And the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, where the Secretary of Education, Laura Roslin, suddenly becomes President of the Twelve Colonies after the attack on Caprica kills the 42 people senior to her in the line of succession.

#947 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 01:10 AM:

Some SFnal aspects of life in some of the more remote corners of Asia.

I know I saw this earlier this year, but it just popped up again on Metafilter:
61 Glimpses of the Future

#948 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 09:21 AM:

The Nine Worst Provisions in Your Publishing Contract

Available free till the 25th.

Recommended by Tom Simon.

#949 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 09:21 AM:

The Nine Worst Provisions in Your Publishing Contract

Available free till the 25th.

Recommended by Tom Simon.

#950 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 10:05 AM:

#933 ::: C. Wingate

I thought it was a take-off of Tom Clancy's "Debt of Honor/Executive Orders".

I watched the first episode last night, and it fit the overall premise/plot of the books. Honorable, civic minded guy accidentally become President of the USA after a terrorist/explosion wipes out the Congress & House of Reps during a state of the union address. The fallout must be managed and the "country" re-built while the old order and the new order politicians battle it out for power.

The biggest difference so far with the show, the "Jack Ryan" character is the Secretary of Housing and was "fired" (well, told he was to become the ambassador for a NATO air group in Canada) the morning of the attack. (The now-dead president was getting ready for his second term campaign and wanted to change up his cabinet.) Plus there's more hot button war-mongering, "Strike fast and hard with the military at the first group to take advantage of our distraction lest we be thought weak." A change in times and political climate, if not plot. The books were published pre-9/11, in 1994/1996 respectively.

#951 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 10:09 AM:

AKICIML, birthday gift edition:

My infant nephew's first birthday is next week. He lives well over a thousand miles away; I've never met him, I barely know my brother-in-law and don't know his wife at all to speak of; we're not on such terms that I can ask them for gift ideas. Infant has a 9-year-old sister; I've had some success with giving her books. (Apparently, I'm the "book aunt".)

So. What do people suggest for a one-year-old? I have to be able to order it from Amazon for shipping to them. Anything in the $30-60 range would be good. I could probably stretch that limit higher if the gift idea is amazing....

#952 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 10:12 AM:

AKiCiML 1, Timer Apps:
I want something to go off every 45min or so (to remind me to get up and walk around), except when I've turned it off. I can't seem to get my iPod's clock app to have a continually reoccuring alarm, it wants me to manually reset it every time, which is annoying. Does such a thing exist?

(my fitness tracker doesn't do this on its own)

AKiCiML 2, Motors and Switches:
I have a device with a variable-speed (dimmable, as it were) motor in it. A simple double-wire cord exits the device, terminating in the switch/control.

Current switch takes 2 AA batteries and has a thumb wheel that effectively dims the motor. Current switch is dying.

What keywords would I use to find something I could wire in to replace the switch, retaining all current function? I have basic lamp plug/electrical outlet skills, I just don't know where to get the doohickey or what it'd be called.

#953 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 10:36 AM:

I have digital timers, intended for kitchen use, that can do that, if you don't mind pushing a button to start and stop.

#954 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 11:09 AM:

Elliott Mason: for the timer app, try the key word "pomodoro".

#955 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 12:17 PM:

Elliot Mason @952 #2: Are the 2 AA batteries in the switch powering the motor, or does the motor have its own batteries, or does it run on house current from a plug?

If it were me, I'd see how easy it is to open up the switch housing and see what's inside (while everything is powered off and not plugged in, of course!) If the batteries power the motor, it might just be a variable resistor in series with the batteries and motor, in which case you might be able to identify which part is failing with a multimeter, and replace it with a soldering iron.

Also, how is it dying? Does wiggling the wire, or turning the thumbwheel a little, or shaking the controller sometimes make the motor stop or stutter?

#956 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 01:23 PM:

Jeremy @955: The AAs that happen to be in the same housing as the switch power the whole shebang.

Turning the wheel gives variable results: sometimes the continuous ramp-up it's supposed to do, but there are "bald spots" where the motor cuts out entirely between, as it were, speeds 4 and 5, and sometimes when I'm NOT turning the wheel the speed jumps up for a while and then goes back down to what it's set for.

#957 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 02:14 PM:

Elliot @956:

You have a variable resistor (rheostat) that's failing. If you open up the housing, you'll see that the wheel is connected to a shaft going to a round electrical thing with three connectors on it. My bet is that the middle connector and one of the side connectors are connected, one going to the batteries and one going to the cord to the motor. The other connector to the batteries gots to the cord to the motor.

You are unlikely to be able to buy a replacement for the housing and switch. But you may be able to get a replacement for the rheostat, and solder it in. I would use an ohmmeter to measure the resistance across the two outside terminals of the rheostat, and see if I can find online a replacement which looks similar, probably on or similar.

#958 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 02:16 PM:

"Summer in Orcus" spoiler thread open, with some apologies due to Gershwin.

#959 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 02:41 PM:

Cassie B @951 : I had very good success with bath toys for one-year-old nephews. The biggest hit was a set of octopuses that had a mummy octopus and eight (numbered, for numeracy!) baby octopuses that squirted water when you squeezed them. They're still a favourite now he's three and a half.

#960 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 02:44 PM:

Seconding Buddha Buck, except I think you'll have better luck searching on "potentiometer" or "variable resistor" than "rheostat". They all mean pretty much the same thing, but "rheostat" in my experience is more often used for large high-power-capacity devices. I'd start with the "thumbwheel potentiometer" category on DigiKey or someplace simmilar, and see if you can find one with approximately the right resistance, and with a photo that looks similar to yours.

#961 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 03:08 PM:

Em, that sounds adorable! I don't suppose you can find a link to a place that sells them....?

#962 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 03:45 PM:

Second Jeremy Leader@960 and hence third Buddha Buck@957.

My take -- the power-and-control module sounds like it's going to be one of those moderately miniaturized plastic shells with a circuit board in it. This means finding replacement components that are both physically and electrically compatible at the same time is going to be hard and annoying, probably, but it might be possible.

If you care enough, the next fallback is to figure out everything in the current shell and build a new doohickey that's electrically the same, and connect it to the wires (sounds like you have the basic wiring skills for that part to be no problem). The new shell would be hugely bigger, 10x the volume not unlikely; depending on where the original lives that could be anything from hopeless to no problem.

#963 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 04:11 PM:

For a one-year-old, I'd go with bath toys, puppets (Trashcoon is a favorite of the tinyfriends), Sandra Boynton books, and blocks. The folding cardboard ones are great and last a pretty long while.

#964 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 04:41 PM:

New to me:
I found Brian Bilston's THE PEDENTS’ RE-VOLT eye-watering in its painful genius (the two are not mutually exclusive).

#965 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 05:16 PM:

On advice here and elsewhere, I got nephew eight Boynton board books. And an adorable pull-toy dachshund.

Thanks, all!

(I'd still like a link to those octopus bathtoys if possible... Christmas is coming, after all!)

#966 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2016, 09:51 PM:

Elliott @ #944:

I was thinking of King Ralph, but also of Headlong, the book it's loosely based upon, in which an airship disaster kills off the royal family at the beginning (the book is set in the 1930s).

#967 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 12:19 AM:

@Steve Halter no. 937: I liked that book. I think that Ryan avoids Gary Stu-dom because of the number of "Oh, crap, what did I just do" moments he has. "The two Chinas" comes to mind.

#968 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 12:28 AM:

I looked around for that particular octopus toy, and alas, I can't find it anywhere. I bought it at Indigo Books (Canada's brick-and-mortar book giant store), and it may have been their own toy line. They don't seem to sell it any more. :(

#969 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 12:33 AM:

AHA! I was being too specific with my search terms. Tomy Aquafun Octopals, on Amazon. They squirt! They help count! They stick to smooth surfaces!

#970 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 03:39 AM:

Cassy B. @951: Maybe a gift to parents? Not sure if 1 year is too late, but how about Baby Sign Language?

#971 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 03:46 AM:

Soon Lee @964: Geoffrey Chaucer, meet Norm Crosby.

#972 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 09:13 AM:

Oh my gosh, those octopals are adorable. And what kid doesn't like squirting things....? (And subtle learning. Nice.)

Jacque, I think that's be a great book for the parents of newborns, but by a year, I'm guessing that they'll likely have worked out their own ad-hoc communication.

#973 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 10:15 AM:

Dying Rheostat Thread (incl. Jeremy Leader @960, Buddha Buck@957, dd-b@962:

Re micro-miniaturization, the original object dates back before at least 1997, and possibly up to five years before that, so.

I'm going to grab the technical screwdriver set and open up the guts to look at, this should be fun.


- Yes, take the batteries out BEFORE opening the main compartment! Sometimes I am adult who makes good decisions.

- grrf that one tiny screw is FIRMLY in there. I mean, never been opened since manufacture, which we already talked about, but wow. Having John make a try at it.

- A HA HA HA HA that's not so much "microminiaturization" as "stone knives and bearskins" -- it's got a rheostat wired in and zero else. Pix because it happened:

John's getting out his multi-meter.

#974 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 10:22 AM:

Also now I kind of want to see a ballet solo entitled "The Dying Rheostat".

#975 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 11:11 AM:

Baby Sign Language is a great idea! We taught Sarah a couple of signs right off. Her language was delayed because she was on the verge of speaking Chinese, when she was suddenly yanked to the other side of the globe where everybody spoke some lingo with a totally different basis. Signing a handful of words helped alleviate some of the frustration from that.

#976 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 11:48 AM:

I've heard it helps even without the change in location. Kids know if they're hungry or wet: they just need a way to communicate it to others.

#977 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 01:00 PM:

I watched it be useful with a baby back when I lived in cohousing. It is astonishing to me just how much pre-verbal babies can communicate! We think of words as necessary for a lot of situations, but they really aren't.

#978 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 01:13 PM:

re baby toys, my kids got more mileage out of stacking cups than any other toy--good for in and out of the bath.

If I had a baby to entertain now, I would give them stacking cups and also show them video of Harley the Cockatoo, who loves/hates stacking cups, depending on whether or not they're stacked:

#979 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 01:32 PM:

John and I relentlessly used sign to each other while speaking for her whole life (and a few months before, to get used to it), but she didn't use one herself until she was more than 9mo old. Then she used them a lot until her words got really fluent, after 2 years.

#980 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 04:59 PM:

Elliott Mason @974

And they should go here (Shameless plug for my home city) for the costuming, says my wife.

J Homes.

#981 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 08:23 PM:

I just discovered a thing, via John Scalzi on Twitter: I'm going to add it to my regular reading beat, along with Captain Awkward.

#982 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 09:36 PM:

Wow. Do check your voter registrations, US friends. I just checked mine, and NJ has no record that I'm registered.

I voted in the Democratic Primary June 7. I've voted in every election since moving into this apartment in 1999. There's no reason at all for my registration to have gone away.

Except, of course, that New Jersey has a Republican governor (the infamous, vile, and loathsome Chris Christie), and perhaps my voting in the Democratic Primary is just how they decided I needed to be "cleaned" from the voting rolls.

I'll re-register, of course. I have until October 11.

If this is widespread, and is being done in the way and for the reasons I think, then a) Donald Trump will be our next President and b) no one will investigate it, because the Republicans will be in power, in a de facto one-party state.

More reason the GOP must be entirely driven from our politics. They should not hold a single office anywhere in the United States.

IF, of course, this has happened as I think it has, and it's not just the website glitching.

#983 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 09:56 PM:

No problem on mine, Xopher. Thanks for the suggestion.

#984 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 10:56 PM:

one place to start checking:

#985 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2016, 11:48 PM:

Voting: this reminds me that, despite living in a liberal oasis, I should bite the bullet and update my Colo ID. It expired in 2013, and I can just see that being an issue this year.

It's going to be a PITA. Fortunately, the DL bureau is less than a block from my house. Now I just need to look up what docs to bring....

#986 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 01:34 AM:

HLN: Area woman sees The Pirates of Penzance for the very first time. "Where have you been all my life?" she was heard to utter through her giggles.

Also, how did this production (the '83 with Angela Lansbury) only get an 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes?

#987 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 01:37 AM:

Also, exactly how much PP have I been quoting without knowing it?!

#988 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 01:44 AM:

They just crashed a performance of HMS Pinafore and my kids can't stop dancing. Apparently Leopold (LEOPOLD!) is now fighting a pirate. The entire cast just came avalanching out past a modern EXIT sign. Oh oh my ribs

#989 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 02:14 AM:

Jenny Islander, I loved that movie as much as you did. Totally fabulous!

#990 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 02:17 AM:

Today is the 10th anniversary of John "Mike" Ford's death. It seems impossible that 10 years could have passed without him, but they have.

I've been thinking about him a lot recently, and searching ML for old samples of his writing, which is why I recognized the anniversary.

His memory *is* a blessing.

#991 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 06:52 AM:

Clifton #989: What is this "movie" you speak of? Seriously, the movie is a decent adaptation, but it was a stage play first, and Jenny was talking about "performances" and "cast".

#992 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 09:40 AM:

You may have heard of the Yahoo accounts hack. Half a billion accounts...

A lot of them are little used. I have a Yahoo account to give me access to a mailing list. And I don't have to log in to Yahoo to use it, but I have a Yahoo account.

Anyway, this is one comment I saw: Yahoo did not encrypt all the security questions it stored, and so some are readable in plaintext. While it may be irritating to have to change a stolen password, it is somewhat worse to have to change a stolen mother’s maiden name.

First reaction: how do you steal a mother?

#993 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 09:42 AM:

HLN: The Fluorosphere might remember that since the beginning of 2011, I've made mention of my significant other as my Amazing Girlfriend (since the beginning of 2015, she's been my Amazing Fiancée). We're getting married today. So, she'll be my Amazing Wife.

(You might ask: how are you on ML the morning of your wedding? Well, hair/makeup starts for my Amazing Fiancée and her bridesmaids at 10am, and my Groomsmen won't materialize until noon, so I might as well keep myself amused).

#994 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 09:47 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe (993): Congratulations! May you have a long and happy life together.

#995 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 09:50 AM:

Dave Harmon (991): Jenny said that what she watched was "the '83 [production] with Angela Lansbury" and mentioned several bits specific to that movie. (Which I have never seen, although I've seen Pirates on stage at least once.)

#996 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 10:09 AM:

Here's to Mike Ford. I met him at Boskone, after accompanying part of his Cabaret. I was able to say hi, but people were clamoring around him, and I figured there'd be another time.

#997 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 10:45 AM:




Yes, damn, I miss him. He used to hang about Steve Jackson Games' BBS as well.

Congrats, Benjamin!

#998 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 10:47 AM:

This Open Thread is nearing 1,000 posts. I like to imagine too-large threads starting to glitch, revealing glimpses of a vast echoing space with graph paper floors and looming presences overhead.

#999 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 10:51 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe, congratulations!

#1000 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 11:11 AM:

Mike: missed.

Although I imagine him wandering past sites, and flash poetry and flash fiction showing up in his wake. (I wonder how the shoggoth at File 770 is doing?)

#1001 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 11:28 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 993: Congratulations to you both, and best wishes for many, many years of happiness.

#1002 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 11:55 AM:

Benjamin @993: Congratulations! May you never face anything worse than what you've already overcome, and may your joys only increase.

#1003 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 11:56 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 978: The thing about seminal cultural works is that we gradually hear only quotes-of-quotes and quotes-of-quotes-of-quotes.

This is why many people my age or younger who haven't been around horses think the idiom is "to reign something in", instead of rein. There are sports metaphors throughout English that many people don't know are from sports.

And we use Shakespeare and Gilbert and Sullivan and Biblical quotes every day without knowing where the idiom came from. There are turns of phrase from the Five Foot Shelf of dead-white-guy Important books that have worked their way into the everyday speech even of people whose parents or grandparents have never read the work itself.

More personally, I had enjoyed a lot of my father-in-law's "family jokes" that come up at various points when the comment is reliably triggered. Some are from Le Cage aux Folles; my husband knew where those had come from. Some were Goon Show (which, again, John knew the source material). Some he didn't know.

And then I got a box set of all the albums of Flanders and Swann and found they were quoting my father-in-law back to me -- and that often there were second lines in the jokes. :->

This is why we're going to make special effort to show my kid a good number of Looney Tunes cartoons -- not only for the Looney Tunes jokes but because of the way it transmits vaudeville tropes and jokes forwards. We're going to share a book of Bible stories, because so many idioms and metaphors work their way into American culture from that. And so on.

I want her to be culturally fluent with the original source texts, not just the copies-of-copies. It's what I've heard called the Third Author Problem (though I may be naming it wrongly -- Google doesn't help): the first author writes something amazing and original. The second author riffs on it. The third author riffs only on the riff, without the depth of knowledge of the first text that the second author had.

Now multiply that by six+ generations of American pop culture and language change ...

#1004 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 01:30 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe #993: Congratulations, and may the years of your joint happiness be long.

#1005 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 01:40 PM:

Elliott, I've called it the Third Artist Problem, with the thought experiment of a museum filled with great works and kids raised within it, then a museum of their works and kids raised within that, and so on.

#1006 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 03:09 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @993: Mazel Tov! ::throws flower petals::

wrt Mike Ford: I managed to just miss encountering him. I have a copy of How Much for Just the Planet that Susan Crites gave me, laying around somewhere. I need to pull it out and read it, now that I'm over my abreaction to the ST novelizations I'd encountered in the past.

Elliott Mason wrt quotes: The first time I saw Hamlet (Mel Gibson—yes, I'm a prole), I had trouble following the story for all the Notable Quotes poking out here and along.

#1007 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 03:23 PM:

Jacque (1006): My reaction, on reading Hamlet for the first time, "What are all these cliches doing here? Shakespeare's better than that! [pause for realization] Oh! This is where they came from!"

I'm not talking about the famous lines/speeches, either; those I mostly knew were from Hamlet. It's the similes, etc., that are now over-familiar from overuse but first appeared in Hamlet. (It's possible that they were already extant verbally, but I'd guess that Shakespeare originated them.)

#1008 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 03:30 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe, congrats!

Elliott, re quotes with original source unknown. My father used to quote his father, in bad weather, saying "'taint a fit night out for man nor beast!"

At college, at an old movie film fest, I found the apparent original of this in a recurring bit from the W.C. Fields and Mae West movie "The Fatal Glass of Beer." Fields, for reasons that escape me, is holed up in a cabin in Alaska. Periodically he opens the cabin door, looks out, says "'Taint a fit night out for man nor beast!" and is hit in the face with a bucketful of fake snow.

#1009 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 04:24 PM:

OtterB (1008): My inner pedant insists that I correct the punctuation in the first word of your quote:

'tain't (it ain't) not taint

Sorry. I'm squelching my inner pedant now.

#1010 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 05:07 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe #993:
Congratulations, and wishing you both continued joy.

Diatryma #1005 & Elliott Mason #1003,
This was my first encounter with the concept of The Third Artist Problem.

#1011 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 05:39 PM:

@Benjamin Wolfe: I assume that as I type this, you're at the reception, or preparing for it. Congratulations, best wishes!

@Soon Lee: I was just going to link to that, and you've ninja'd me. I can corroborate that that is the primary source for "third artist".

#1012 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 06:19 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe: Mazel Tov! Bright Blessings if welcome! Many years of happiness!

Let him first number the dusts of Africa, and the stars in the heavens, who would number the many thousands of your delights!

#1014 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 09:29 PM:

Mary Aileen @1009, You are correct. I thought it looked like it was missing an apostrophe but didn't think closely enough about it to reason out where it ought to be.

#1015 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2016, 09:32 PM:

Elliott Mason@1003: Fossilized quotes, I guess. And yeah, they're all over the place. I know the Gilbert and Sullivan ones pretty well, and the Monty Python, and the Flanders and Swann, and even the Shakespeare. The biblical ones I can usually spot by the smell.

Also--the sailing ones! People still "learn the ropes", and worry about a "loose cannon" (a few thousand pounds rolling around the deck of a pitching ship, ouch!), listen to "scuttlebutt" (talk around the water container), and are "taken aback", and so forth and so on. When most of them have never been on a sailing ship.

#1016 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 03:26 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe #993: Congratulations!

Mary Aileen #995: Sorry, I got confused with her next comment. I'm getting confused a lot this week... mostly from the antibiotics for Return Of The Diverticulitis. (Almost done with those, happily.)

Elliott Mason #1003, Mary Aileen #1007, et al: Also known at TV Tropes as "Hamlet is Cliched", or something to that effect. I think of the Third Artist Problem as applying to higher-level structures, like the worldbuilding issues that HRJ cites in that article.

#1017 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 10:28 AM:

Dave Harmon (1016): Sympathies on the Return of the Diverticulitis. Here's hoping it clears up soon.

#1018 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 11:09 AM:

#993 ::: Benjamin Wolfe


#1019 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 11:43 AM:

Elliott Mason @974: Also now I kind of want to see a ballet solo entitled "The Dying Rheostat".

"I die! OH, I AM DYing! For LOVE, I DIE! OH WOE, I am slain, DEATH, BE <*click*>

(Hmph. Apparently the "<big>" tag isn't permitted here.)

#1020 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2016, 06:16 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 993: Congratulations! May you both have a full and happy life together!

#1021 ::: Jeffrey ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2018, 06:15 AM:

This is a wonderful article. By the way in this site I find many essay about history

#1022 ::: OtterB sees probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2018, 06:22 AM:

old open thread, new poster, irrelevant comment

#1023 ::: P J Evans sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2018, 09:34 AM:

I agree: that one is spam.
(They sure picked the wrong site for that ad.)

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